Year in review: News

Published 10:54 am Thursday, December 27, 2012

Franklin Mayoral-elect Raystine Johnson and campain committeeman Chuck Lilley look over results during the May 1 election. Johnson became the city's first elected black mayor. FILE

Editor’s note: The following news made headlines in The Tidewater News in 2012.




Jan. 4: With the pending retirement of Southampton County Public School Superintendent Charles Turner, two current administrators are qualified for the position.


Jan. 6: It appears Southampton County will see little tax benefit from the construction a wood pellet plant at the Turner Tract industrial park until 2015.


• Grace J. Clay, 75, of Ivor died in a car crash at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Windsor.


Jan. 8: The Franklin City Council will hire Morehead City Manager Randy Martin as its new city manager.


• Calvin Taylor, 22, of Boykins will serve nine years in prison for holding up an 87-year-old Capron man at knifepoint and robbing another person inside a Courtland home.


• Lundyn Marie Flythe arrived 11 days early to become Southampton Memorial Hospital’s first baby for 2012. Lundyn was born to Myisha Cowans of Franklin and Robert Flythe of Courtland.


Jan. 13: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4411 is looking into moving from Franklin Municipal Airport to Beaverdam Road in Carrsville.


Jan. 18: Nearly 200 participated in the second annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial March in Franklin.


• The Jameer Woodley Reading Foundation raised $4,500 during its first Benefit and Silent Auction at Paul D. Camp Community College.


Jan. 20: Five area men will serve 10 years to 26 years in prison for operating a drug ring that was busted on July 6 by federal and local officials after a two-year investigation.


• Officials have ruled the death of a Justin Gromlich, 27, of Windsor as accidental. Gromlich, who worked on a fishing vessel in Newport, R.I., on Aug. 7 was found floating in the water about 100 yards from where his boat was docked.


Jan. 25: The state Senate approved a bill that would require Franklin City Council members to resign to run for mayor; the House is considering similar legislation.


• Franklin City Councilman Greg McLemore announced Monday he will run for mayor.


Jan. 27: A grand jury indicted William Byrum Davis, 27, of Carrsville for an accident that claimed the life of Hollyann Heinrich, 23, of Waverly in Holland on March 6, 2011.


Jan. 29: The developer of the Hardee’s in Courtland said Friday the company still plans to build, but set no time frame.






Feb. 1: The Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter is looking for homes for 17 cats with the feline herpes virus. Cats not adopted before Feb. 5 will be put down.


• A number of Western Tidewater hunt clubs say they will not hunt on Sundays if the statewide ban is lifted.


• Franklin School Board member Mona Murphy will run for the Ward 4 seat on City Council.


Feb. 10: A subcommittee of the Virginia House of Delegates voted 5-2 to table making changes to Franklin’s charter.


• Southampton High leads Western Tidewater’s public high schools in percentage of students who attend college, while all area schools trail the state average.


Feb. 15: Southampton County officials plan to borrow $880,500 to upgrade the Boykins sewer treatment plant after it discharged more ammonia and copper than permitted into the Meherrin River.


Feb. 17: Jaquan Williams, 22, of Franklin will serve 23 years in prison for robbing two teens of their cell phones and cash and kidnapping a third after a We Be Jammin’ concert.


• Windsor Town Council voted 4-1 to spend $1 million for 5.2 acres for a new police station, town hall and library.


Feb. 19: Brent Dion Lashley, 35, of Franklin pleaded guilty to entering a home without permission, where he was beaten by the resident and then began eating leftover steak he found on the stove.


Feb. 22: Alonza Bland Jarrett Jr., 35, of Franklin died Saturday in a single-car accident on Story Station Road near Sedley.


• A family with Southampton County roots has donated Nat Turner’s Bible to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.


Feb. 24: After 36 years with Franklin City Public Schools, administrator Ken Raybuck will retire.


Feb. 29: Isle of Wight County Schools’ proposed 2012-13 budget calls for a 20 percent increase in funding from the Board of Supervisors. The $57.2 million spending plan is $5 million more than last year.






March 2: John Smolak, president and chief executive officer for the Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., is resigning to take a new job. Amanda Jarratt, marketing manager for FSEDI, will take Smolak’s place.


• Authorities busted a suspected meth lab in a Courtland trailer park and charged Crystal Drake, 28, Johnny Ray Chapman, 47, and Shelton Cobb, 47, all of Courtland; and Emmanuel Colendrino, 43.


• Three men face felony charges for allegedly paying a 17-year-old Franklin-area girl for sex. Franklin police arrested Gerald Carr, 44, of Plymouth, N.C.; Ernest Friedel, 40, of Hazlehurst, Ga., and Brad Dunlap, 46, of Mt. Carmel, Tenn.


March 4: Foul play is not suspected in the death of a missing Zuni woman. A team of rescue dogs at 9 a.m. Thursday found the body of Lee Phillips Hughes, 53, about one-quarter mile from her Tomlin Hill Drive Home.


March 9: Franklin native Earl Blythe, 69, is running for City Council in Ward 1. Blythe is challenging Councilman Barry Cheatham, 61, who is seeking a second, four-year term. The job pays $7,896 a year.


• Nineteen have applied for the superintendent’s job for Southampton County Public Schools.


March 11: Real estate taxes totaling $7,276 went uncollected for three years in Southampton County after homes on seven properties were not included on the tax rolls, said Commissioner of Revenue Amy Carr.


March 14: Franklin Councilman Greg McLemore doesn’t want the city to consider raising electric rates to cover a $1 million loss to its electric fund. New City Manager Randy Martin believes it may be inevitable.


March 16: MacKenzie Gay tanned in the sun for more than an hour Thursday, when temperatures in Franklin hit 86 degrees, tying a record-high set for the same day in 1990.


March 23: No one was hurt when a room inside a Windsor-area home used for reloading ammunition exploded at 6:30 a.m. Resident Lee Freeman had just walked out of the room when the explosion occurred at the home at 6208 W. Blackwater Road.


• After 37 years in education, Capron Elementary School Principal Sandra Pettigrew will retire at the end of the school year.


March 25: S.P. Morton Elementary Donald Spengeman will retire at the end of the school year.


March 28: Southampton County supervisors on Monday voted unanimously to pursue allowing the hunting of coyotes with higher-caliber rifles.






April 4: Taylor Vick won the title of 2012 Miss Teen Virginia United States.


April 8: On the heels of announcing a potential $3.2 million shortfall in fiscal year 2012, County Administrator Mike Johnson confirmed Friday that two positions were recently eliminated from the wastewater treatment plant in Courtland.


April 13: The superintendent for Petersburg City Public Schools has been hired as Southampton County Public Schools’ new superintendent. Dr. Alvera Parrish will be paid $131,000 annually.


April 15: For the first time in 21 years, Community Electric Cooperative is asking for a general rate increase of 6 percent. The average monthly residential bill of $115 would increase to about $121 for the 11,000 customers in Isle of Wight, Southampton, Sussex and Surry counties and Suffolk.


April 18: A Conway, N.C., man with family in Southampton County died in a Sunday car accident. Jeremy Vinson, 34, was the son J.D. “Durwood” Vinson of Courtland and brother to Angela Matthews of Capron and Daniel Vinson of Courtland.


April 20: Authorities are looking for two men who allegedly held up BB&T bank in Wakefield.


April 22: Cutting nine lead teaching positions to save $600,000 was among cost-saving measures discussed by the Isle of Wight County School Board.


April 25: Southampton County Jail escapee Sherman Hix, 47, faces several charges after he was found sleeping in a pickup on the Robert Marks farm in the Capron area.


April 27: Southampton County supervisors voted 5-1 to approve a preliminary budget that will not raises taxes, but will result in laying off six teachers and 32 teaching assistants, custodians, and central office and cafeteria workers. Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike opposed the budget.


April 29: The head of the Virginia Press Association called the Southampton County supervisors’ discussion in a hallway during a Wednesday budget workshop an illegal closed-door session.


• The death of Sandra Joyner, 58, of Walters is being considered suspicious, while her husband, Joe Joyner, 62, as of Friday evening remained missing. Sandra Joyner was found beaten to death inside the couple’s home at 31334 Walters Highway.






May 2: Franklin Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson on Tuesday became Franklin’s first elected black and female mayor, defeating 16-year incumbent Mayor Jim Councill.


• Jay Joyner, 37, of Courtland is arrested for killing his father, Joe Joyner, 62, and stepmother, Sandra Joyner, 58, at the couple’s 31334 Walters Highway home.


• Ivor voters chose three-term Councilwoman Sandy Vick for their new mayor, while Newsoms Mayor Harvey Porter won a seventh, two-year term.


May 4: Six puppies seized from a Laurel Street home have died from Parvo, Franklin police said.


• A Southampton County prosecutor sought life in prison for a habitual burglar’s most recent crimes. Jermaine Jenkins, 24, of Franklin ended up getting 28 years in prison for attempting to rob an elderly couple inside their Crescent Avenue home in Franklin in October 2009 and burglarizing Smith’s Jewelers one month earlier.


May 6: Laura Abel, principal of Grafton Middle School, on Wednesday was hired as the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and administration for Isle of Wight County Schools.


May 9: Southampton County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyrece Scott was fired. Major Gene Drewery would not give a reason, or say if it was related to misdemeanor charges filed against Scott for alleged animal cruelty. He began working for the office on Dec. 1, 2008.


May 11: Franklin Public Schools ranked second from the bottom among Virginia’s 132 public school districts on standardized test scores for 2010-11, according to an analysis commissioned by The Tidewater News.


May 16: A motorist hit and killed a bear on U.S. Highway 58 near the Armory Drive eastbound exit. Driver Harry Lashley of Virginia Beach was not hurt when he hit the bear in the Cadillac sport utility vehicle he was driving.


• Franklin’s $52.1 million budget includes a 14-cent real estate tax increase, or 18.2 percent.


• Russell Schools will not seek another four-year term on the Southampton County School Board. The 77-year-old has served for 41 years.


May 18: Scores on Standard of Learning spring writing tests in Southampton County Public Schools ranged from 96 percent to 86 percent for students in its six buildings.


May 20: Dave Lease was named Franklin Public Schools Teacher of the Year


May 23: The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office charged Loretta L. Miller, 48; Randel L. Miller, 47; Margaret J. Allen, 46; and Ross Renicker, 48, with allegedly strapping a 15-year-old girl to a tree before throwing eggs and dumping beer on her at Big Bear Family Campground near Zuni.


• Windsor Elementary School Principal Dr. Stenette Byrd has been named principal for Smithfield High School.


May 27: A majority of the Southampton County supervisors favors allowing the use of higher-caliber rifles to hunt coyotes.


May 30: State officials are investigating a Franklin daycare center for allegedly placing toddlers who misbehaved in a dark supply closet called The Monster Room and failing to prove that all employees had criminal background checks.






June 1: Residents and businesses in Boykins, Branchville, Newsoms, Drewryville and the Edgehill subdivision can expect $2-a-month increases in their sewer and water bills as part of Southampton County’s new $52 million budget.


June 6: Benjamin Jackson “B.J.” Holland celebrated his 100th birthday.


June 10: Southampton High School Spanish teacher David Witt retires after 43 years with the district.


• Two 14-year-old boys have been charged with disemboweling a kitten at Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park.


June 13: Murder charges were dropped Monday against Quadrick Ashburn, 21, of Courtland for the shooting death of Darrin Lee, 28, on Oct. 7, 2010, in Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park.


June 15: Franklin High School holds its graduations at Armory Field. This year’s valedictorian, Jennifer Jervey, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Jervey. The salutatorian, Grace Cummins is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Cummins.


• A man allegedly exposed himself to a parcel delivery driver on Pittman Road near Boykins, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office reported.


• The Isle of Wight County Fair will feature country star Tracy Lawrence on Sept. 15.


June 17: Khalid El-Amin Muhammad, 43, of Franklin was placed on five years probation for beating a Southampton County couple in the Walmart parking lot in December 2010.


June 20: Mary Mills, a biology, earth science and ecology teacher at Southampton High School since 1971, is retiring.


June 24: The Franklin School Board voted 5-2 Thursday not to promote S.P. Morton Elementary School Assistant Principal Lisa Francis to principal.


June 27: John David Rensch, 47, of Old Oak Lane, Carrsville, was killed in a head-on collision at 7:50 p.m. Friday on Route 258 near Windsor.


• Ira Holt “Pete” Barham died unexpectedly after undergoing gall bladder surgery at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk. He was 86. The mayor of Capron for 42 years, Barham owned J.T. Barham in Capron for 65 years.






July 1: June 29’s record-breaking 102 degrees broke a 53-year-old record. The old record for June 29 set in 1959 was 99.


July 6: Franklin resident Justin Sumblin receives the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will pay for his college up to and through a doctorate degree.


July 13: Former Franklin resident Randy Blythe, who is the front man for a Richmond heavy metal group, is jailed in the Czech Republic for a fan’s death. The lead singer for Lamb of God, Blythe was picked up in Prague in connection with the death from a show on May 24, 2010.


July 15: The Isle of Wight County School Board unanimously agreed to spend $446,000 annually for three years so every teacher and student in Smithfield and Windsor high schools can have iPads.


July 18: Chris Smith on Monday was unanimously chosen as Southampton County School Board’s new chairman.


July 20: The cause of a Wednesday fire that destroyed a home on Clarksbury Road is believed to have been accidental, said Branchville Fire Chief Justin Overby.


June 27: Enviva Pellets Southampton breaks ground at Turner Tract industrial park. With a shovel in hand, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and other officials dug up the first ceremonial scoops of dirt to build the plant.


• The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office issued warrants for Andrew Holdsworth, 23, and Tyrone Gay, 24, both of Ivor, for allegedly stealing heavy equipment valued at $100,000.






Aug. 1: Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that Tak Investments would invest $60 million to establish a recycled tissue plant at International Paper’s Franklin mill.


Aug. 3: The Children’s Center in Franklin will create 95 jobs with its $2.3 million contract to administer the Head Start program in Franklin, Suffolk, Smithfield and Courtland.


Aug. 12: Sedley resident Jo Ann Blair won Best in Show from more than 400 entries in the Home Arts Department at this year’s Franklin-Southampton County Fair. Her tie-dye wall hanging entitled “Scale” will be on display when the fair continues Saturday, Aug. 11.


Aug. 15: Western Tidewater school districts saw an almost across-the-board decrease in state test scores for math as a result of tougher standards over last year.


Aug. 17: Lorraine Greene Whitehead and Tilghman Phelps will have 100 bridesmaids in their wedding on Saturday, March 16, at the Regional Workforce Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College.


Aug. 19: International Paper officials, employees and state leaders, including Gov. Bob McDonnell, cut a fluff pulp ribbon signaling the $90 million repurposing and reopening of Franklin’s paper mill.


Aug. 22: Boykins received four to five inches of rain within 30 to 40 minutes, flooding the downtown and parking lots.


Aug. 24: Southampton County supervisors will revisit July’s decision to terminate a $1,800 monthly contract with retired Sheriff Vernie Francis to maintain the emergency communication system, which includes 911.


Aug. 31: Former Franklin Police Chief John Graden “Grady” Britt died on the day he was to be released from a Norfolk hospital after suffering a heart attack.






Sept. 5: Jonathan Aaron Olsen, 21, of 640 Cameron St., Franklin, has been charged with allegedly holding up the Kangaroo Gas Station at 1643 Armory Drive.


Sept. 7: Hubbard Peanut Co. in Sedley received one of five awards in a statewide competition that highlights the most resilient businesses in economically challenged parts of Virginia.


Sept. 9: Citizens for Responsible Government has asked Southampton County supervisors to give up their pay for three years to save $300,000. Supervisors Barry Porter, Glenn Updike and Bruce Phillips gave up their $458 monthly pay. Dr. Alan Edwards, who as the board’s vice chairman receives a higher salary, gave up his $558 monthly pay.


Sept. 14: A BMW driven by Southampton County’s assistant administrator Jon Mendenhall is not registered in Virginia more than a year after he was hired, records show. Mendenhall violated a state law that requires permanent or temporary residents of the state to register their vehicles.


Sept. 16: Ground was broken for the Georgie D. Tyler Middle School in Windsor.


Sept. 19: A record-breaking 33,732 attended last week’s Isle of Wight County Fair. The previous record was 29,500 set in 2010.


• A spokeswoman for Money Mailer in Franklin confirmed the company in Pretlow Industrial Park is closing.


• Three Richmond-area residents were arrested for the Sept. 9 murder of James Earl Porter, 39, of Richmond and formerly of Southampton County.


Sept. 23: For the first time since 2001, Southampton County officials will ask a bank for a line of credit of up to $3 million to pay its bills.


Sept. 28: Franklin murder suspect Charles Steinert’s decision to change lawyers for a fourth time will delay his trial. Steinert, 38, allegedly killed his estranged wife, Tammy Jo, on the June 12, 2010, at her home at 200 Southampton Road.


Sept. 30: Southampton Memorial Hospital will go with a tobacco-free campus beginning Nov. 8.






Oct. 5: This year’s scores for SAT tests taken by students from Western Tidewater’s three public high schools were lower than state and national averages.


Oct. 10: The state Department of Labor and Industry is investigating Friday’s death of a North Carolina man from an apparent industrial accident on the International Paper grounds in Franklin. James “Jimmy” Denny, 38, of Roanoke Rapids died after the 12:55 p.m. incident allegedly involving a crane. Denny was doing contract work for Tak Investments.


Oct. 14: The Southampton County Planning Commission unanimously recommended rezoning 20 acres for a $4 million to $6 million concrete and asphalt plant on Route 460 west of Ivor.


Oct. 19: Farmers Bank is considering opening an office in the $1.5 million building that the law firm of Stallings, Bischoff and Randall is constructing on Route 58 across from Food Lion in Courtland.


Oct. 24: Community Harvest Outreach in Windsor celebrated the donation of six acres for a community center.


Oct. 26: Beverly Rabil, associate director of instruction for Franklin City Public Schools, is taking a job with the state Department of Education working with low-performing schools.


Oct. 28: Franklin City Council voted to meet with the school board after all of Franklin’s schools were placed on an accreditation-warning list, which means they didn’t fulfill state benchmarks for achievement in English, history, math and science. Franklin High and J.P. King Middle schools came up short in math, while S.P. Morton Elementary School dropped in reading.


• Western Tidewater from Saturday night into Sunday can expect 2 to 4 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 50 mph for what’s being considered the “perfect storm.”


Oct. 31: Damon Riddick, 17, was shot to death during a Friday evening break-in at a home at 307 Faison St. in Seaboard, N.C. A second murder on Sunday claimed the life of Kelvin Wilson Branch, 24, of 107 Calbert St., Seaboard


• “Today Show” anchor Lester Holt displayed a can of Hubbard peanuts on national television. Reporting from the University of Richmond on the presidential campaign, Holt received the peanuts as a gift from the college.






Nov. 7: Beginning Jan. 12, the post office in Drewryville will change its hours from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday.


• Two North Carolina men were charged for allegedly spotlighting deer with loaded guns in their vehicle near Ivor, said Patrick Popek, a conservation police officer with the Virginia Department of Game of Inland Fisheries. Suspects are Jeremy Wayne McClanahan, 33, of Elizabeth City and Timothy Paul Leary, 34, of South Mills.


Nov. 9: Former Southampton County residents Imo and Marshall Beaton on Oct. 27 celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.


Nov. 11: Franklin police issued a warrant for the arrest of Sol “Dukey” Damacus Burke, 25, of Suffolk for allegedly killing Eric “E.T.” Smith, 31, of Franklin.


Nov. 16: Ten properties owned by the Town of Windsor are for sale.


Nov. 18: A 15-year-old Franklin boy was arrested for a Friday break-in on Edwards Street after he was caught leaving a home with a television and remote control, Franklin police said.


Nov. 21: State police cited Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Sheridan with failure to yield to the right of way and not wearing a seat belt after an accident Nov. 14.


Nov. 23: Joshua Moss, 28, of Capron was killed after he crashed the car he was driving on Barrow Road, Virginia State Police said.


Nov. 25: Family and friends of Lon Bickham of Hunterdale welcomed the burn victim to his parents’ home to Chuckatuck after 19 months of hospitalization and rehabilitation.


Nov. 28: Southampton County supervisors will ask U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., to check into the delay of getting wireless Internet to the county.


• Authorities seized several hundred child pornography photos on a computer connected to a 47-inch monitor from a Franklin-area home. The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office arrested Michael Alan Butzlaff, 52, of 2268 Elmwood Drive.






Dec. 5: Franklin City Councilman Don Blythe continues to recover from cranial bypass surgery.


Dec. 12: Lloyd Oldham, 79, of Sedley died from injuries he suffered in a crash outside Franklin.


• Franklin City Council voted unanimously to refinance $4.2 million of its debt.


Dec. 14: Ronald “Butch” Turner will retire as athletic specialist for Franklin Department of Parks & Recreation.


Dec. 19: William Kendale Jordan, 27, of Holland was murdered at 2 a.m. Monday in the 800 block of Dutch Road.


Dec. 21: Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that the state has contracted with two entities to finance, design and build the new U.S. Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg.


Dec. 23: Courtland gun dealer Dawn Doxey’s requests for assault rifles have increased five-fold.