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Fall Into Art

Chestnut Creek School of the Arts’ annual Fall Into Art event was held Sept. 17 in downtown Galax, with games, crafts, a drum circle, music, art vendors and everything in between. Of special note were the paint-filled balloon dart game and an interactive reproduction of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” that, when taken on by youngsters, looked a bit more like “The Giggle” to us.


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Citizens speak out against zoning
  • Updated

HILLSVILLE — Two local citizens spoke in opposition to proposed zoning plans during the Sept. 12 meeting of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors.

Their concerns result from the county’s action taken last November to enter into discussions with regional planning commission officials to draft an updated comprehensive plan, which includes potential zoning provisions.

During open public comment at the meeting, returning citizen and local entrepreneur John Nobili addressed the board with several concerns about the affect he felt that zoning could have on private property owners.

“Carroll County has never had zoning from our founding,” Nobili said. “In 1842 to present day, we see no need for change. The citizens of Carroll County do not want zoning. It is our land that we bought and paid for, and pay taxes on. We want to be able to use it clearly without limitation. We want to protect the surrounding landowners while not restricting our land.”

He next asked a series of questions from a taxpayer’s standpoint. “Why does the county only want to zone a small area of the county? Is that fair? Zoning must be fair and not discriminate. Why do I need someone to tell me what I can and what I cannot do with my property? What gives the county the right to tell me what I can or can’t do? I’ve lived on my property for over 50 years. Why is zoning good for me now? Why does the county want to do zoning? Because of Acadia?”

Nobili was referring to Acadia Healthcare, a company that recently bought the former training center property in Carroll for use as an addiction treatment facility. Though several citizens spoke out against the company’s plans, without zoning, the county was powerless to prevent the deal from going forward.

“Acadia is controlled by the state of Virginia, not by the Carroll County zoning law,” Nobili continued. “Who is going to pay for administering zoning? Will zoning raise my taxes? Will I have to pay for additional permits?”

The supervisors did not address Nobili’s questions.

“Enough of government regulation and control,” he said. “Let the Carroll County voter decide about a zoning law at this November’s election. Put zoning on the ballot, or the ordinance that the planning commission is putting together right now.”

Following Nobili’s comments, citizen Jim Dixon expressed similar feelings about zoning.

“I am with John Nobili that the government does not need any more regulation of properties,” he told the board. “We’ve got the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] and EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] that takes care of most of that. I’m totally against zoning for Carroll County. I know in other counties that we’ve worked at before, zoning was in place and it always posed an extra problem in costs, and it didn’t benefit anybody that we could tell. I’d like to go on record with John on being against zoning.”

Concluding public comment on the topic, Laurel Fork Supervisor Jody Early provided additional clarification. “On the issue of land use planning, and the ordinance that we are talking about, I think there’s a huge lack of understanding. That’s going to be one of the obstacles that we have if we are ever going to protect the beauty of this county. For as long as you live, we’re not going to tell you what to do with your land. We are going to let you continue to use your land the exact way you’ve used it the last 50-some years. We are not in the business of telling people what they can and can’t do with their land.”

Early said education is important with any ordinance, “and this one definitely is going to be one of those things that we need to educate the public on. We’re not putting spot land use on certain places in the county. The entire county will have a plan for land use. Ninety-nine% of the county will be agricultural just like it is today, and nobody is going to tell you what to do with your land.”

No proposed ordinance on land use or a final draft of the proposed comprehensive plan has yet been submitted to the board for approval.

As Nobili pointed out, free use of land has been integral to the county since its founding. On the Carroll County seal as originally founded in 1842, the Latin inscription reads “Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas,” which translates to “Use your own property in such a way that you do not injure other people’s.”

The Carroll County Planning Commission meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in the board meeting room of the Carroll County Governmental Complex.


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Early in-person voting starts Sept. 23

Early in-person voting for the Nov. 8 general election in Virginia begins Sept. 23 and runs through Nov. 4.

Following is specific information for each locality in our area, and some general information that applies wherever you are voting.

City of Galax

Early voting in Galax is from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and voting will also be held on the final two Saturdays of the early voting period, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Early elections will be held live at the Galax Registrar’s Office in the Galax Municipal Building, 111 East Grayson Street.

Curbside voting is available for voters over 65 years of age and the disabled. Parking spots will be set aside next to the building, and will include signs with a phone number to call for assistance upon arrival.

For any questions about voting in Galax, contact the Galax Voter Registrar’s Office at 276-236-2131.

Carroll County

Early voting will be available at the Carroll County Voter Registration Office from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The office is in the Carroll County Governmental Complex, 605-3 Pine St. in Hillsville.

The office will also be open on two Saturdays — Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 — from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Voter Registration Office will be closed Oct. 10 for Columbus Day.

A ballot drop box will be available Sept. 23 through Nov. 8 during regular office hours. The box will close on Election Day (Nov. 8) at 7 p.m. There will also be a ballot drop box at each precinct on Election Day.

For any questions about voting in Carroll County, contact the Voter Registrar’s Office at 276-730-3035.

Grayson County

Early voting in Grayson County runs weekdays through Nov. 4, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Voting will also be held on the final two Saturdays of the early voting period, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

All early in-person voting will be held at the Grayson County Registrar’s Office at 129 Davis Street, Room 101, in Independence.

Curbside voting is available for voters over 65 years of age and the disabled. Parking spots will be set aside next to the building, and will include signs with a phone number to call for assistance upon arrival.

Grayson County Registrar Stacey Reavis asked voters to make sure they’re aware of their polling place after the recent changes to voting districts in the county.

You can visit online at graysoncountyva.gov/registrar/ or call the registrar’s office at 276-773-2842 with any questions.

General Information

If you vote in person — whether early or on Election Day, Nov. 8 — you will need to bring a form of ID, such as your driver’s license or a utility bill. Note that Social Security cards are not considered valid forms of ID.

You may request an absentee ballot for early voting purposes, as well. If you registered for a permanent absentee ballot last year, you will be mailed one automatically from the registrar. If you did not register for a permanent absentee ballot, you may do so this year, or you may request an absentee ballot for this year alone.

The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is Oct. 28, and your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 8.

If you change your mind and wish to vote in person after receiving an absentee ballot, you MUST bring in your absentee ballot and turn it in, at which point you will be allowed to vote on a machine, if you do not have it, you may fill out a provisional ballot.

The following are other important deadlines for the Nov. 8 general election:

• Voter registration deadline: Oct. 17 at 4:30 p.m.

• Absentee vote-by-mail request deadline: Oct. 28, 4:30 p.m.

• Early in-person voting deadline: Nov. 5, 5 p.m.

• Election Day: Nov. 8, 6 a.m.-7 p.m.


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Fugitive taken into custody

A fugitive on the run for a month was taken into custody last week after she allegedly threatened to burn down a house while barricaded inside, and then escaped Galax police through a window.

In other recent incidents, Galax police arrested two men for drug violations involving suboxone.

On Aug. 20, Sgt. Darrin Alley of the Galax Police Department responded to the 300 block of Poplar Knob Road to attempt to serve a warrant and protective order on Dameia Patrice Brown DeQuezada, 39, of Galax. According to the report, Alley saw her in the backyard and attempted to speak with her, but she ignored him and entered the residence through the back door.

Alley then knocked on all the doors and windows, announcing he had a warrant and she needed to come outside. DeQuezada continued to ignore attempts to come outside or to speak to Alley, the report said. Alley made entrance into the residence to find that DeQuezada had barricaded herself in a bedroom.

According to the report, Alley attempted to talk her out of the room. DeQuezada allegedly made threats to burn the house down, killing both herself and Alley, before she would surrender herself to the police department. Alley was able to get the door open, but unable to enter due to a chest of drawers that had been pushed against the door.

Alley reported that he saw DeQuezada exit through a bedroom window.

He made several attempts to locate her, and obtained more warrants for misdemeanor obstruction of justice and resisting arrest, and a felony warrant for threatening to burn an occupied structure.

On Sept. 17, DeQuezada was picked up by the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office and is currently being held on a $2,000 secure bond in the New River Valley Regional Jail.

Suboxone seized in search

On Sept. 12 at approximately 1:14 p.m., Cpl. Eduardo Mata was assisting Officer Tiffany Melton on a traffic stop in the 500 block of East Stuart Drive, when he observed a male passenger shaking badly, acting nervous, sweating and speaking very quickly with dilated eyes, according to the police report.

The passenger was identified as Richard Dale Hunley, 22, of Galax. As Mata was speaking with him, Hunley kept grabbing in his pockets at something the officers could not see, the report said. Mata requested that Hunley step out of the vehicle and, as he did so, Hunley began touching his pockets again in a nervous manner.

Mata told Hunley he would be patted down and instructed him to put his hands on the roof, the report said. Hunley briefly complied, then turned around quickly and tried to pull away. Mata and Melton then advised him he would be charged with obstruction and took him into custody.

While making sure the subject had no weapons, officers pulled from Hunley’s pockets a bag of marijuana, a clear glass pipe and two bags of white crystal-like substance/powder suspected to be methamphetamine and suboxone, including the wrapping with an orange strip, according to the report. He stated he did not have a prescription for the suboxone.

Hunley was charged with felony possession of a Schedule I or II drug (methamphetamine), misdemeanor possession of a Schedule III drug (suboxone) and obstruction of justice. He was given a $3,000 secure bond and sent to regional jail.

Man faces drug charges

On Sept. 14 at approximately 10:04 a.m., Officer Tyler Garcia was called to the Speedway on East Stuart Drive in reference to an individual to be barred from the property for leaving blood splatters in the bathroom during a previous visit to the store, the police report said.

Garcia identified the individual as Brandon Fields, 26, of Galax. Fields was asked if he had any weapons or drugs and he said he did not, according the the report. He consented to a search, at which time Garcia located a syringe and a medication bottle with the label scratched off, which contained pills. Fields stated the pills were suboxone. Another container with a clear bag containing a white residue was also located; Garcia suspected the substance to be methamphetamine.

Fields was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and issued one summons for possession of a controlled Schedule III substance and felony possession of a Schedule II substance. He was released on a summons.


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APCo requests fuel rate increase

Appalachian Power says the rising costs of coal, natural gas and purchased power over the past year will increase the rate Virginia customers pay for electricity, starting Nov. 1.

The utility said a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours in a month would see an approximate $20 monthly increase in their bill.

APCo, a utility subsidiary of American Electric Power, outlined the effect of rising energy market prices and the steps it is taking to reduce customer costs in its annual fuel factor update filed this week with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC).

The SCC reviews the company’s fuel factor each year to determine whether it should be increased or lowered. Fuel costs are the portion of a customer’s bill used to recover the cost of purchasing natural gas and coal for its power plants, as well as the cost of purchased power. APCo said it does not earn revenue from fuel.

“Energy costs began to spike in 2021,” the company said in a news release last week. “The rapid rise was due to several factors including the resurgence of the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine.”

Instead of recovering the increased costs over one year, the company has asked the SCC for approval to spread the amount over a two-year period, decreasing the impact on customers.

“We recognize these are challenging financial times for many people and families,” said Chris Beam, APCo’s president and chief operating officer. “We strive each day to keep fuel costs as low as possible, continuously monitoring energy markets for opportunities to purchase fuel and energy at prices that are advantageous to customers.”

APCo said it is incorporating more renewable sources of power — like solar and wind — in and effort to decrease fossil fuel costs. Approximately 6% of power is generated by renewable sources, rather than coal or natural gas.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act requires APCo and other utilities to generate electricity with 100% carbon-free sources by 2050.

Customers experiencing difficulty paying their monthly bill are encouraged to contact the company for assistance. APCo said it offers energy efficiency programs and payment options, including the Average Monthly Payment Plan (AMP), which helps customers avoid seasonal spikes in their monthly bills by spreading costs throughout the year.


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