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Thursday, May 3, 2007

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Police and School Officials Respond to the Riverview Bomb Threat.  
(Staff photo/Cathy St. Clair.)

Students Charged for School Bomb Threats

by Cathy St. Clair
News Editor 
Two Buchanan County school students have been charged in juvenile petitions in separate bomb threat incidents in the past week at two different county schools.
  In both instances, the bomb threats were hoaxes.
  A seventh grade Riverview Elementary-Middle School student was taken into custody Monday and charged in a juvenile petition with a felony count of threatening to bomb or destroy a building, according to Sheriff's Department Investigator Eric Breeding.
  A 10-year-old J.M. Bevins Elementary fourth grader was charged in juvenile petitions Tuesday for allegedly making a bomb threat at that school Monday, according to Sheriff's Department Investigator Larry Crouse.
  The Riverview charge stemmed from a threat at Riverview contained in note found at the pre-K through eighth grade school last Thursday.
  The 14-year-old boy named in juvenile petitions in the Riverview incident was transported to a Bristol Juvenile Detention Center on Monday following a detention hearing and will remain there pending a preliminary hearing in two weeks, according to Breeding.
  The youth has also been suspended from school.
  Breeding said the boy allegedly confessed to having made the threat which was allegedly conveyed in a note left in a boys bathroom at the Grundy area school which was found by another student.
  A search of the school did not turn up any bomb.
  The note was found by an eighth grade boy who turned it into a teacher. The school was evacuated and ultimately Riverview and the rest of the Grundy High feeder schools which use the same bus routes were let out early while the building was searched by two state police canine officers flown to the site by helicopter and their handlers.
  Breeding said when the youth was taken into custody on Monday, he allegedly confessed to having left the note.
  Asked if he had given a reason for why he left the note, Breeding said the youth had indicated he “thought it would be funny to be out of school for a day.”
  “The fact is,” Breeding said, “he didn’t realize how serious it was.”
  He noted the youth’s actions had impacted more than 1,000 students and their parents, interrupting classes and after school activity plans, as well as the schedules of working parents who had to make arrangements as a result of the early school dismissal.
  Also impacted were the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.
  In fact, Sheriff Ray Foster said he was looking into whether the youth might be responsible for the costs incurred when the helicopter was used to fly in the canines and their handlers to respond to the threat.
  On Monday, a similar scene played out at J.M. Bevins Elementary, when according to School Superintendent Tommy P. Justus, school officials were alerted around 11:45 a.m. that a student had spotted a threat scrawled on a stall door in the girls bathroom and reported it to school officials.
  Justus said the school was evacuated and he said students were bused to the Buchanan County Career and Technology Center to finish out the school day while law enforcement authorities responded to the scene and searched the school using canine officers.
  No bomb was found at the school which houses students in grades kindergarten through five.
  Foster said the Bevins school threat was a simple one which read, “I’ll bomb J.M. Bevins up.”
  He noted police were able to lift a copy of the note from the stall door and retrieved a palm print as well. A black Sharpie marker was found in the trash.
  According to Crouse, the student allegedly confessed to school authorities and has been expelled pending a disciplinary board proceeding.

For more of the story, see the print edition of the Mountaineer, on sale at newsstands now.  To subscribe to the Mountaineer, call 276-935-2123 today.

Wal-Mart Confirms Grundy Plans

by Cathy St. Clair
News Editor
Wal-Mart made it official Tuesday, confirming its plans to locate in Grundy.
  Kelly Hobbs, senior manager of Wal-Mart Public Affairs for Virginia, confirmed in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that the retailer is coming and will make its formal announcement in the community in the near future.
  "We are planning to come to Grundy," Hobbs said. "This is a big project and we have to coordinate a lot of schedules, but we are excited to be coming to Grundy."
  The new Wal-Mart will be located on the redevelopment site and is part of the overall downtown Grundy Flood Control project.
  Hobbs indicated planning is underway for the formal ceremony announcement to be held in Grundy in the near future.
  Town of Grundy Industrial Development Authority Director Chuck Crabtree, when contacted for comment after the Hobbs interview, said he was pleased with Wal-Mart's decision to confirm its intent to locate in Grundy.
  "It's exciting that Wal-Mart has made their announcement and we are actively working with them in planning the formal announcement in the community," Crabtree said.
  "I'm glad Wal-Mart made the announcement, because it lays to rest the erroneous gossip and rumors which have circulated about the project and allows us to focus fully on the start of construction," he said.
  Permits to begin construction of the new Town Center are actively being sought now by Commonwealth-Grundy Partners, L.P., the project developer.
  The developer was ready to start on construction of the project as agreed in amendments to documents signed between the town and the development company, when he learned that state and federal agencies involved in the permitting process would require the site to be permitted by Commonwealth, even though it has previously been permitted by four other companies as the overall project has moved forward.
  Originally, the thinking had been that the development portion of the project would proceed under a permit obtained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the site. The site has also been permitted by the Virginia Department of Transportation, TAB Construction and Orders Construction, Crabtree said.
  He added that town officials and the developer are actively working to resolve the permitting issues and he added as soon as the permits are granted, the developer is ready to being construction.
  In February, amendments to agreements between the town and Commonwealth-Grundy Partners, L.P., were approved. In that agreement, the town committed to contributing some $2.2 million in additional funding toward construction of a 500-space parking structure on the site.
  The parking structure is the foundation for the new Wal-Mart Super Center planned on the site under the terms of the original development agreement. The amendments to that agreement further called for actual construction to begin within 60 days of the signing of the agreement. It also called for “the public parking structure, Wal-Mart Super Store and other integral retail spaces” to be completed and open for business by October 31, 2008.


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