The top 10 stories of the year
By THE NEWS STAFF
Jan 1, 2014, 12:04
1. Development in downtown Hopewell
Downtown has seen major changes in 2013. It has not been a single event, but one event after another that have had a cumulative effect to show that progress is being made to rejuvenate the area.
Notable events include the ongoing renovations of the Beacon Theater, the addition of an upscale Asian restaurant, the first annual Jazz and Arts Festival, and a major grant that could bring a coffee shop and art gallery.
The renovation of The Beacon Theater is nearing completion and the first act, Leon Russell, is set to perform Jan. 13.
The $4.1 million controversial renovation of the 650-seat theater has been years in the making.
In June, Herman Lam opened Harvest Asian Bistro where the old Pearl River Restaurant was located. The restaurant has hosted special events and has been successful at drawing people downtown for their Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
In December, the city of Hopewell was one of five localities to be awarded an Industrial Revitalization Fund grant. The $387,900 grant will go toward the project that Evan Kaufman, director of the Hopewell Downtown Partnership, said will bring a coffee shop and art gallery to downtown Hopewell. The grant will be used for the rehabilitation of the former Hopewell Furniture building, one of the largest on Broadway.
Two building other building are getting a facelift, the former Rick’s TV Service building, 219 E. Broadway, and the former building that once housed Poe’s Antiques, 226 E. Broadway.
Homer Eliades, of Eliades and Eliades in Hopewell, who has owned the former Poe’s Antique building since inheriting it in 1972 after his father’s passing, said the upcoming changes to the downtown, such as the Beacon Theatre, helped move him to make the leap and bring a new face to the building.
2. The Colonial Heights Courthouse project
After years of arguing, planning and building, Colonial Heights finally opened its new courthouse to the public in October.
The new courthouse’s copper-topped cupola stands tall in the south end of the city, visible far down the Boulevard. Its classic design features a brick exterior with massive columns welcoming visitors at its front entrance.
City leaders speaking at a ceremony hailed the project as a fresh landmark that will not only be a point of pride for residents but will help boost redevelopment.
The 57,000-square-foot, $22 million project is the largest single building project in size and cost in the city’s history. The new courthouse more than doubles the size of the 35-year-old courthouse on Temple Avenue, which is expected to be replaced by a Kroger grocery store.
There are three courtrooms in the new building compared to two in the old one. The new building has the first juvenile and domestic relations courtroom in the city. Court hearing started at the new building Oct. 28.
The new courthouse is also the first LEED certified building constructed by the city.
Along with the courthouse, the city is in the process of widening and improving the Boulevard through the southern part of the city and plans to make improvements along Dupuy Avenue, which intersects the Boulevard at the courthouse.
3. Virginia State University double drowning
Four men have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in relation to the April 20 drowning of two Virginia State University students.
On April 20, police said, seven male VSU students attempted to walk through the Appomattox River to complete their initiation into an organization known as Men of Honor. The current swept the students down river; some were pulled to safety and others drifted to shore. Two students, Marvell Edmondson, 19, and Jauwan M. Holmes, 19, were reported missing.
Officials from Chesterfield Police and Fire, Colonial Heights Police and Fire, Virginia State Police and Virginia State University Police searched the river for days using boats, divers and even a helicopter.
On April 22, Edmonson’s body was recovered from the river. He was a freshman at VSU and a graduate of Churchland High School in Portsmouth.
Holmes body was recovered on April 24. He was also a freshman at VSU and a graduate of Bruton High School in York County.
In April, police obtained warrants for hazing for four men, James A. Mackey Sr. of Midlothian, Eriq K. Benson of Quinton, Cory D. Baytop of Newport News and Charles E. Zollicoffer II of Newport News, in relation to the incident. All are affiliated with Men of Honor. Each man faced five counts of hazing and was arrested in April.
On May 20, each of the four men was indicted on two counts of involuntary manslaughter in relation to the incident.
4. Ethanol plant reopening announced
After a long and somewhat painful history, the ethanol plant in Hopewell will finally open its doors in February. The announcement was made at the Hopewell Community Industrial Panel meeting by Vireol plant manager Larry Wilson.
Earlier this year it was announced that the Appomattox Bio Energy Plant in Hopewell was bought by Future Fuels LLP, based in Great Britain, for $13 million. Ged Russell, technical director for Vireol Bio-Industries PLC came to the city in the weeks following the announcement and said the plant would be taken apart and shipped overseas to England to be used to build a plant, almost identical to Osage, to produce bio-fuel.
Then Osage got another future when Scoular Company, based in the Midwest, signed an agreement with Vireol to lease the one-million bushel grain terminal on the plant site. Russell said the parts that were not being shipped to England, would get some use in the city.
Now, another future has been made for the plant. Operations will not begin immediately in February, but the process will start with the inspection of equipment and securing staff for the plant. There will be 75 jobs at the plant, with 45 of the jobs being Vireol employees and 25 being sub-contractors with most of the positions requiring a college degree.
5. Woman charged in deaths of two children
A 22-year-old Prince George woman was charged in the deaths of her two young children in May in Henrico.
Prosecutors say Brittney Downing, of the 4600 block of Baileys Ridge Drive, just outside of Hopewell, left the two children in a hot car for seven hours May 26 when she went to work at a hotel in Henrico, only checking on them once, and she didn’t notice they needed medical help until after she had driven all the way back home. Twenty-month-old Jelani A. Downing-Batson was pronounced dead that same day and 2-month-old Jade Downing died four days later in the hospital.
Supporters say it was a horrible mistake made by a woman who was desperate to keep her new job so that she could care for her two young kids.
In court June 5, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon L. Taylor explained how the two children died.
Taylor said Downing had just started a new job at Comfort Suites in Glen Allen. On Sunday, May 26, Downing worked the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift. Prosecutors say she left the two children strapped in their seats in the car while she was working. They said that although the car was initially parked in the shade, as the day progressed, the car was in the sun the majority of the day. Prosecutors say the windows were cracked but Downing only checked on the children once during the day, around 1 or 1:30 p.m.
The temperature reached a high of 76 degrees in Richmond that day, according to weather records.
Around 6 p.m. after Downing returned home, Prince George Police responded to her apartment in the 4600 block of Bailey Ridge Lane after a 911 call for an unresponsive child.
Emergency crews tried to revive 20-month-old Jelani A. Downing-Batson but were unsuccessful.
Two-month-old girl Jade Downing was rushed to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond. She was in critical condition and died four days later around 12:30 p.m. May 30.
Brittney Downing was initially charged with two counts of felony child neglect on May 28. The charges were later changed to murder when she was indicted July 8.
6. Virginia State University championship game canceled
It was a stellar year for the Virginia State University football team, at least up until the championship game.
Predicted as the 10th best team in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association preseason polls, the Trojans marched to a 9-1 record, an undefeated conference season, and earned a berth into the championship game.
It was the first year coaching the Trojans for Latrell Scott.
During a pre-game lunch with both the Trojans and Winston-Salem State, the Rams’ quarterback Rudy Johnson reportedly rose from his seat and headed toward the bathroom, where police say he was assaulted by at least one Virginia State player. Junior VSU running back Lamont Britt was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury.
The CIAA soon released a statement, canceling the title game, an unprecedented decision.
“Based on the incident that occurred today, and after consulting with the leadership of each institution and the Football and Volleyball championship committees, the CIAA is saddened to announce that this weekend’s Football and Volleyball conference championships that were scheduled to take place in Winston-Salem have been canceled,” the release read. “On the eve of such an important weekend for dozens of our student-athletes, many of whom have waited a lifetime for such a moment, we are left to focus instead on what might have been.”
7. Spice raids in the Tri-Cities
2013 was a year that the Tri-Cities took a stand against the sale of synthetic marijuana, also known as “spice.”
Spice is illegal only if one of the chemicals found in the mixture is outlawed. And manufacturers have been good about changing the formula to stay one step ahead of authorities.
Action started when Fort Lee banned military personnel from two business in the Tri-Cities, Cigarette City at 333 Cavalier Square in Hopewell and the Shell Gas Station at 3320 Boulevard in Colonial Heights.
The Army has greater control over its soldiers and can take action in ways local authorities can’t. The two businesses became the first to ever be put off limits to soldiers for any reason by Fort Lee officials.
But a new bill signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell in March helped police in their fight. House Bill 1941 added more chemicals to the list that are considered illegal.
Shortly after the bill passed, two stores in Colonial Heights were raided by police.
More than 1,500 packets of the substance were taken from the Tobacco Zone, located on Pickwick Ave. Police say a large amount of money has been seized from the Valero on Boulevard in relation to the sale of spice.
Police visited numerous stores to investigate, but only the two locations were actually searched.
Though those charged ultimately served no jail time, it sent a message to other stores that selling spice would not be tolerated in the city.
Hopewell soon followed suit.
On Sept. 30, police say a manager of a Hopewell convenience store was charged and arrested for the distribution of synthetic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as “Spice.” The Corner Store, located in the 2200 block of Atlantic St., was identified as selling a synthetic cannabinoid, police said.
The charge was later changed to possession rather than distribution and resulted in just a fine.
In October, several employees of Cigarette City at 333 Cavalier Square, and Golden Express, at 11 S 15th Ave., were arrested. According Hopewell police, five individuals were charged with Distribution of Synthetic Cannabinoids. Police said the spice was sold under several brand names and packaged as incense.
8. The Rusty Mack homicide
There have been several killings in our area in 2013. The killing of Rusty Mack in Colonial Heights stands out, not because his life was more important than others, but because of the way it has divided the community.
At the heart of the argument is not what happened the night he suffered his fatal injury, but how much culpability each of the four defendants had in his death.
The altercation that resulted in Rusty Mack’s death happened when four people showed up at his apartment to confront him about harassing text messages and phone calls.
They were Mack's estranged wife, Ashley Mack, Jonathan Guy, Margaret Blair Dacey and Francis Blaha III.
According to testimony at Guy’s trial, Rusty yelled for them to leave from the upstairs apartment, after which Guy got into a car and it drove away.
A neighbor testified that Rusty soon began yelling angrily to a person on the phone to “come over right now” along with several expletives.
Later, a car pulled up outside of the apartment where the neighbor saw Guy, Dacey, Blaha and Ashley Mack.
Ashley Mack was Guy’s girlfriend, and Rusty Mack and Guy were cousins through marriage. Rusty was still legally married to Ashley Mack at the time, although they had been separated for months and filed for divorce, according to family.
Rusty came running out of the apartment and approached them staggering from being drunk.
Rusty eventually fell over in the street, and when he got back to his feet he threw a punch at Guy and missed, to which Guy also responded by swinging a missed punch. Guy then wrestled Rusty to the ground. After Guy got off of Rusty, he stood up and walked over toward Ashley, they screamed and argued with each other before Ashley pushed Rusty and he fell to the ground, the neighbor testified.
Rusty was sitting on the ground, with his legs outstretched, using his hands to push himself up when Dacey, who was 17 years old at the time, kicked him in the head and he fell backwards, the neighbor said.
According to court records and testimony, Dacey said Rusty Mack had splashed water on her.
First responders arrived on scene moments later. Mack died after being in a coma for 17 days at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond.
The cause of death was a “significant amount of force” to fracture the back of Rusty’s skull from falling into a concrete surface, which made his brain swell and shift to a point of excessive herniation over the next weeks, according to the doctor who performed the autopsy.
The doctor said that the break in the rear of the skull was inconsistent with the force of a human punch, elbow or kick, and that although there were “abrasions on the face” there were no injuries to the front of the face that caused any physical trauma.
Rusty Mack also had a high blood alcohol level when he received the injuries, but that this did not have any huge effect on his injuries.
Guy was found not guilty of all charges. Following the verdict, charges were nolle prossed against Ashley Mack and Blaha. Commonwealth’s Attorney William Bray consulted with an independent prosecutor who agreed that he would not get a guilty verdict if they went to trial.
The initial decision to set charges aside drew a protest outside of the Colonial Heights courthouse.
For Dacey, charges of murder by mob and and malicious wounding by mob were nolle prossed Nov. 15, the same day charges were dropped against Blaha, who drove the four to the scene but was not directly involved in the altercation. Charges of murder and malicious wounding remain for Dacey, according to online court records. The trial is set for Feb. 6 and 7.
9. Three killings linked in Chesterfield, Dinwiddie
Herbert C. Bland Jr., 24, was charged with the murders of Elizabeth Fassett, 42, who is believed to be his ex-girlfriend and Barbara Fassett, 65, Elizabeth’s mother. They were found shot to death in a home in the 5200 block of River Road near Ettrick on Jan. 7.
He faces a total of four felony charges, two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Court records indicate that he is also suspected of murdering his father who was found shot to death in Dinwiddie later the same day, although there are no formal charges brought against Bland for the crime. Bland was also shot in the altercation, according to authorities.
But it would be months before Bland could be ruled competent to stand trial in Chesterfield due to his mental state.
A psychological evaluation in February reported that Bland had a history of mental illness and his mother stated that he had previously received treatment for psychosis, and had stopped taking his medication prior to the January offense.
Due to an inability to be rational about his case, including “a complicated delusion involving witchcraft and conspiracies which had been controlling his life” and the belief that Elizabeth Fassett was not actually dead, Bland Jr. was determined to be incompetent to stand trial and was admitted to Central State Hospital for mental health treatment, according to the report.
Bland Jr. demonstrated noticeable improvement to his mental health during his several month stay at the hospital, as written in an evaluation by a psychologist at Central State Hospital.
According to this evaluation, Bland Jr. “was quite floridly psychotic” in May, but as of August 28, “the most obvious and intrusive symptoms of his mental illness have abated with treatment” and he had an adequate knowledge of the charges being brought against him.
A date for the trial has not yet been set.
10. Hopewell city manager resigns
A vote in September by City Council sent shock waves through city government as they authorized the resignation of City Manager Dr. Edwin Daley.
After over an hour in closed session, the special meeting agenda was amended to authorize the mayor to execute the resignation agreement between the City of Hopewell and Daley. The vote was unanimous, with Councilor Christina Luman-Bailey absent from the meeting.
Daley was not present for the vote as just moments before he gathered up his things and walked out of council chambers.
Daley was the city manager for six years in the city of Hopewell.
When asked after the meeting, Daley did not want to provide a comment on his resignation but appeared visibly shaken.
In November, City Council named Mark Haley, the former director of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, as the new city manager.
Other notable stories:
A manager at the Hardee’s on Oaklawn Boulevard was gunned down outside of the restaurant in July in what police say was a domestic dispute.
During the early morning hours, the Hopewell Police Department arrived on scene at the Hardee’s on Oaklawn Boulevard following reports of a person being shot. When police arrived on scene they found a Hardee’s employee suffering from a gunshot wound and in the hours following the call, the shooter was arrested.
Velacita Jones, 39, of the 400 block of Virginia Avenue in Petersburg, was transported to John Randolph Medical Center where she died from a gunshot wound in her upper body.
Police later arrested Joseph Lemue Green, 62, of the 4100 block of Baxter Ridge Road, at a veterans hospital in Richmond.
Shooting death at home in Hopewell
In late April, police responded to the 900 block of Buren Street for a report of a shooting. Upon arrival, officers found Richard Hawthorne Jr., 41, with a single gunshot wound to the chest. Hawthorne was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say the shooting was not random.
The masked intruder broke into the home in the early morning hours and was confronted by Hawthorne. Police stated one of the clues that would lead the department to believe the house was the intended target were words spoken by the suspect before shooting Hawthorne.
An arrest has not yet been made in the case.
Prince George marijuana bust
In August, a drug bust resulted in the seizure of 100 marijuana plants, 11 firearms and approximately 2,500 grams of processed marijuana with an estimated net worth of more than $370,000 in Burrowsville, according to authorities.
Manhunt Monday leads to arrests
A game turned into trespassing charged for numerous young people in Prince George.
Authorities sought legal repercussions for 168 individuals who took part in a game of “Manhunt” in Temple Park after dark.
On Aug. 5 at approximately 9:30 p.m., Prince George police officers were dispatched to Temple Park where an estimated 300 people were playing a game called “manhunt,” essentially a form of tag with teams.
Of the 300, approximately 130 individuals fled the scene during which 25-30 people hopped the fence of a nearby resident and at least one car damaged the park’s soccer field.
The police took down the names of 168 people, formally charging 19 of them.
Virginia State University is in the middle of an expansion.
In December, VSU began construction of a massive new multipurpose center on campus as part of their long-term plan to expand the university and improve the Ettrick area.
The multipurpose center will be located between Second and Third Avenues, River Road and Boisseau Street.
The center will be about 165,000 square feet, which includes an arena for sporting events such as basketball and volleyball games, concerts, convocations, graduation, sports tournaments and community events.
The arena will be able to hold 5,100 people for sporting events and 6,100 for stage events.
VSU said the facility will be the only one of its type between Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., and could be used for large events, such as high school graduations.
VSU estimates it will take 22 months to complete, and cost about $57 million for construction, with a total project cost of $84 million.
VSU is also working with Chesterfield in Colonial Heights to build a parking lot and make street improvements near Dupuy Avenue.
They also plan to build a massive mixed-use, four-story building along Chesterfield Avenue
Also this year, VSU’s Reginald F. Lewis College of Business was officially dedicated.
A series of fights and a stabbing prompted Virginia State University to lock down campus during homecoming week.
A fight broke out at a bazaar for student groups on University Avenue.
The fight led to other altercations and one student was stabbed in the leg.
Kemal Jackson-Hinton, a 22-year-old, senior English major from Fort Washington, Md., was charged in Chesterfield County with one count of aggravated assault
Hopewell police shooting
A driver was shot by Hopewell officers after police say he rammed his truck into their cruisers in October.
Officers responded to the City Point area for a report of a vehicle that crashed into a building and left the area. Officers located the vehicle in the 400 block of Appomattox Street.
Police say the driver tried to elude officers in his truck and intentionally crashed head-on into a police vehicle. Police say the driver then tried to run over a second officer and then crashed into a third officer’s vehicle.
The pursuit left the City of Hopewell and ended in Chesterfield near Route 10 and Kingston Road, just west of Interstate 295.
Several bullet holes could be seen in the door and windshield of the silver Dodge Ram pickup stopped on Route 10.
Three officers sustained minor injuries, and they were treated and released from John Randolph Medical Center.
Arrest made in 2012 Hopewell killing
Two men have been charged in a shooting death that happened just over a year ago.
Police say Chaz Jherron Brown, 24, of Hopewell, and Andre Cordell Mason Jr., 26, of Hopewell, were indicted Dec. 11 by a grand jury on charges of murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Mason is being held without bond at the Riverside Regional Jail, and Brown is being held without bond in the Petersburg City Jail.
Brown was already in jail in Petersburg, awaiting trial on charges that he opened fire at police officers during a chase earlier this year. Mason was also one of the four men originally charged in the incident.
The killing in Hopewell dated back to Dec. 3, 2012.
Around 10:35 p.m., two men were shot in the 1500 block of Piper Square Drive, in the Piper Square public housing complex. One victim, Morris D. Flowers Jr., 46, died from his wounds. A second victim, Lamonta Ellis, 30, from Spring Grove, was also shot, and he was flown to Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center. He has since recovered from his injuries.
At the time, police said two or possibly three males dressed in all black wearing black masks opened fired on the victims in the breezeway between apartments. They left the scene on foot towards the back gate of Piper Square towards Old Iron Court. A vehicle was possibly parked just outside the gate on Old Iron Court.
Bull run in Dinwiddie
In August, history was made in Dinwiddie as the county hosted the first ever bull run in the United States. The weekend kicked off The Great Bull Run, a nationwide series of events modeled after the infamous ‘Running With The Bulls’ in Pamplona, Spain. The run will occur in 10 locations in eight different states, with the final run in Chicago in July of 2014.
2013 marked the 400th anniversary of Hopewell. Numerous events were planned, with the largest held in the City Point neighborhood, the oldest part of the city.
In late March, Hopewell Police Department, along with other local, state and federal agencies, began “Operation Impact.” The operation is the result of a six-month investigation with the Hopewell Police Department Crime Suppression Unit, along with the assistance of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office and the Central Virginia Narcotics Task Force. The operation netted 222 indictments on 64 individuals.
Dick’s opens at Southpark
After more than a year of work, Dick’s Sporting Goods officially opened its doors at Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights. The store filled the spot left when Dillard’s closed its doors in September of 2012. Dick’s hired about 75 employees.
Deadly fight in Hopewell
A Petersburg man was charged after a deadly fight at a party in June in Hopewell.
Hopewell police say Joseph “Jo Jo” M. Claiborne, 26, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Burton W. Revish, 29, also of Petersburg.
The Hopewell Police responded to the 1600 block of Old Iron Road for a fight in progress. The road runs between the Piper Square Apartments and single-family homes in the southern end of the city.
Upon arrival to the scene, the officers located a male who was lying on the ground. The victim was treated on scene and then transported to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond where he died from his injuries.
Crowd hit by car in Hopewell
A woman was charged after a car plowed into a group of people, sending six to the hospital Thursday, the day after Christmas.
Police say the age of the victims ranged from 4 to 34 and all were transported to Southside Regional Medical Center with injuries that were not believed to be life threatening.
Police say Satesha Ceria Linton, 24, of Hopewell, was arrested a short distance away and charged with six counts of felony hit and run and driving on a suspended license.
Witnesses said about 15 people were walking on Bolling Drive shortly before 2:30 p.m. when a silver Kia turned the corner off of Gloucester Drive about 50 feet away and gunned the engine. As the group tried to disperse to avoid being hit, the car swerved into several people as they lined up along a three-foot-tall chain-link fence.
The brother of one of the victims said his 15-year-old sister beat up the driver before the crash occurred.
Trooper killed in Dinwiddie
In March, a Chesterfield man was charged with capital murder after a state trooper was gunned down in his patrol car on the side of the highway.
Master Trooper Junius A. Walker, 63, died after being shot multiple times on Interstate 85 South near the 45 mile marker, near Dewitt. Walker, a 35-year veteran of the Department, was assigned to patrol Dinwiddie County.
Police say Walker pulled up next to a black midsize Lincoln sedan that was stopped on the right shoulder of the southbound lanes of I-85 to check on its driver. Moments later, the sedan’s driver opened fire on the trooper, police say. Walker’s patrol car then lunged forward and ran off the right side of the road, coming to rest in the woods about 30 feet from the interstate.
A passing motorist called 911 to report a trooper was in distress. The first two state troopers to arrive on scene were approximately three miles north of the incident assisting with a work zone in the southbound lanes of I-85.
One of the two troopers witnessed a man standing outside of Walker’s patrol car with a weapon. The responding trooper and the man exchanged gunfire before the gunman fled on foot into the woods. Deputies with the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office took Russell Ervin Brown III, 28, of Chesterfield, into custody without further incident. Police say Brown was discovered hiding at a local business approximately a half mile away from the scene of the shooting.
It was a close election for several races this year.
In Hopewell, Rick Newman was re-elected to serve another four years as commonwealth's attorney and sheriff’s Lt. Luther Sodat will be the new sheriff come the first of the year.
Newman won the election with 2,804 votes, 54 percent, with his challenger, David Cloninger, receiving 2,371 votes, 45 percent.
The race for Hopewell sheriff was also close, with less than 400 votes between Sodat and challenger Cathie Mitchell. The third challenger in the election, John Hunter, received 12 percent of the votes with 664 total. Mitchell came up with 2,161 votes, 40 percent, and Sodat won with 2,549 votes, 47 percent.
In Colonial Heights, a sheriff’s deputy edged out two other candidates to win the race for commissioner of revenue. Bill S. Feasenmyer Jr. won with 43 percent of the vote, followed by Gayle R. Braswell with 31 percent and Tammy Foster Ferguson with 25 percent.
In Prince George, School Board incumbent Kevin Foster retained his position for District 2 after he received 64 percent of the district’s vote. Foster took 2,848 votes running against Melissa Riddick who received 1,580 votes.
In Chesterfield, there were no local contested races, but voters did have important choices to make. Voters finished election night in favor of $353 million worth of bonds towards public safety and school reconstruction, but shot down a two percent meals tax which would have gone towards funding the bond payments.
Both bond referendums won with more than 70 percent of votes, with 71,830 of 100,424 voting ‘yes’ for the school bond projects and 70,525 of 100,472 voting ‘yes’ for the communications system project. However, the meals tax lost the vote by a much closer margin, earning just under 44 percent of voters’ consent, or 44,899 of 102, 268 votes.
Woman saved at marina
In November, a call came into the Hopewell Police Department for a woman trespassing on private property at the Hopewell Marina and in the moments following the arrival of law enforcement, it turned into a water rescue after the woman jumped into the river.
Police Chief John Keohane said Officer Cathie Mitchell and Officer Robert Stamper jumped in to rescue her and were able to successfully bring her back to shore.
B-I Chemicals layoffs
Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals Inc. announced that the company will close its Petersburg plant at the end of 2014, laying off 240 employees.
The company said the closure will occur through a multi-stage process starting in December 2013.
The direct loss to Petersburg by the closure of BI will be over $2.5 million dollars per year in machinery and tools taxes, and over $385,000 in real property taxes. Petersburg will also see an undetermined loss in revenue from the money BI employees spend in the city.