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  • Bagged lunches handed out after high school controversy

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 12:14:15 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 12:29:41 PM EST

    Courtesy Kari Talbert

    There’s a lunchroom controversy going on at Richlands High School.

    Thursday, students owing money were denied lunch in the cafeteria.

    Now, Friday morning, a group of parents was outside handing out bagged lunches.

    People have been calling for principal Kim Ringstaff's resignation.

    News 5 WCYB’s Maggie Smolka spoke to the principal. She said the ordeal was over a misunderstanding from a conversation she had with the cafeteria staff.

    Those food service workers denied food to all students with any outstanding lunch balance. The principal said they were only supposed to focus on those with a balance of $150 or more.

    Maggie will have both sides of the story on News 5 WCYB starting at 5.

  • Community concerned over cafeteria controversy

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 06:56:01 PM EST

    Community concerned over cafeteria controversy

    Many people have been contacting our newsroom in the last 24 hours over a lunchroom dispute at Richlands High School.

    People have been telling us some students with an outstanding lunch debt of even $1.50 had their food taken away.

    "I was told they took his lunch and they wouldn't let him eat," concerned grandparent Cathy Anders said. "If they were going to do it they should have called the kids to the office either before or after lunch and not embarrass them in front of their classmates."

    News 5 talked to the principal and she said this is all a big misunderstanding from a conversation she had with cafeteria staff. In fact, she said she gave the cafeteria workers a list of 15 kids she had talked to in advance.

    "I brought them in individually and talked to them," Richlands High School Principal Kimberly Ringstaff said. "I asked, 'what's happening? What can we do? Have you filled out a free and reduced lunch form? Do you think you could start packing because the school does have to pay for those.'"

    These students were the ones with quite a bit of debt, some owing close to $150. Principal Ringstaff said it was never her intention for this to apply school-wide, but when she was called to the cafeteria to address the issue, the damage was already done.

    "There were trays sitting on the serving line and one of the cafeteria ladies had two in her hand and they had told any kid that had a charge that they couldn't eat," Principal Ringstaff said.

    The principal said she was not involved with grabbing trays out of any student's hand. However, she did step in with a comment she regrets.

    "I went in and I said if you go to McDonalds and you don't have money in your pocket you just can't say charge it," Principal Ringstaff said. "I think that was taken the wrong way and maybe I shouldn't have said it, but I think the point that I was trying to get across is we have a huge debt."

    Now some people are calling for the principals resignation by starting a petition that already has thousands of signatures.

    News 5 was also told there is some good coming out of this. The school has already received multiple donations to go towards paying this outstanding lunch debt. One group even handed out bagged lunches this morning.

    The lunch charges at the school are more than $4,500 and growing each day. Almost 48% of students are on the free and reduced lunch plan. Staff is meeting with students and coming up with fundraisers to help people who need extra help paying for lunch.

  • 2 more suspects arrested for armed robbery in Big Stone Gap hotel

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 02:36:07 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 04:51:36 PM EST
    Cedric D. Mitchell and Malcolm T. Pinkston

    Arrested: Cedric D. Mitchell and Malcolm T. Pinkston

    The two men wanted for an armed robbery at a hotel earlier this week have now been arrested, thanks to tips from the community.

    Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said Cedric D. Mitchell and Malcolm T. Pinkston were arrested without incident by U.S. Marshals and Johnson City police.

    Police said they robbed people at the Comfort Inn hotel in Big Stone Gap, late Tuesday night.

    The two were wanted for robbery, enter into a dwelling place at nighttime with the intent to rob, malicious wounding and displaying a firearm in a threatening manner while committing a robbery.

    Mitchell was also wanted for possession of a firearm after being a convicted felon.

    Two other people -- Presley Carter and an underage person –were also arrested in connection to the incident.

    Pinkston and Mitchell will be held in Tennessee until they are extradited back to Virginia.

  • Emory and Henry professor resignation

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 05:14:54 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 05:15:02 PM EST

    An Emory and Henry College professor resigned following a student walk out and protest.

    Dozens of students rallied outside of the college's President, Jake Schrum's office on Feb. 4.

    They demanded a change, saying students of certain races, sexual orientations, genders and disability are being harassed.

    Professor Delilah White issued a statement today and showed support for the student group and other faculty members face the same kind of oppression and discrimination.

    Her letter said in part, "After the demonstration on Wednesday, further isolation from colleagues and students ensued from the idea that I was behind the deeds not words movement bringing me to a breaking point. I cannot function mentally nor physically in a manner that holistically benefits all of our students when I am immersed in an atmosphere of intimidation and prejudice from the majority of students and now, from a host of my colleagues."

    Professor White met with the school's president and Dean on Feb. 5 where a request that she be released from her contract was approved.

  • Read the latest StormTrack 5 Forecast

    Published On: Feb 27 2013 06:28:32 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 06 2016 10:23:35 AM EST
    StormTrack 5 Team

    SUPER BOWL WEEKEND WEATHER LOOKS NICE

    TURNING MUCH COLDER AFTERWARDS

    SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY

    ACCUMULATIONS ARE LIKELY, ESPECIALLY IN THE MOUNTAINS

    COLD AND BREEZY AT TIMES

    This Afternoon: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Seasonable temps. Highs 42-47. West wind 10 mph or less.

    Tonight: Clouds decreasing after midnight. Seasonably cold. Lows 24-30. Light wind.

    Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny. Highs 45-51. West wind 10 mph or less.

    Sunday Night: Clouds increasing. Cold with a mix of rain/snow developing well after midnight. Lows 28-33

    Monday: Starting as a mix in the valleys. Periods of snow then likely, especially in the mountains. Accumulations possible. Highs 31-36. Northwest wind 10-30 mph.

    WEATHER SUMMARY:

    Super Bowl Weekend is here, with calm weather expected. With a mix of clouds and sunshine this afternoon, expect seasonable temperatures - in the 40s. Clouds gradually decreasing after midnight will leave lows in the 20s – again, seasonable.

    Super Bowl Sunday will have great pigskin weather, with highs in the 40s to near 50 and a mostly to partly sunny sky during the day. Later on, clouds begin to move in ahead of our next weather maker – ‘the game changer.’

    A cold front works its way towards the area, with colder air joining it. With enough moisture being fed in, this will give us another chance at accumulating snow. Precipitation may start off as a brief freezing rain/rain mix, before changing to snow in the valleys. Most of our higher elevations will just see snow. Accumulations are probable in the valleys and likely in the mountains. Accumulations will depend highly on what precipitation starts out as on Monday morning.  Stay tuned, as we continue to fine-tune the forecast.

    As the winds turn out of the northwest, we expect on and off snow showers Tuesday and Wednesday. This becomes the kind of setup where you could be in one place that sees higher accumulations, and then go a few miles away and see not as much. Where the bursts of snow develop, that’s where you see more accumulation. It’s still a tad soon to talk exact accumulations, but we’ll be nailing the forecast down over the course of the weekend. Be weather aware through Wednesday.

    One thing is very certain, and that is the cold air and stiff breeze we’ll feel through Wednesday and even Thursday.

    Seasonable temperatures return to the forecast next Friday, but with the potential for more mix/snow later.

    Temperature Outlook: Highs in the 40s Saturday, and near 50 Sunday. 30s for highs Monday, 20s to around 30 Tuesday through Thursday, and 40s on Friday. Lows in the teens and 20s all week.

    Our average high is 47°, low 26°.

    Meteorologist Chris Michaels

  • Man accused of plotting to kill police officers

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 06:12:57 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 11:37:44 PM EST

    A Clintwood man is under arrest for conspiring in a murder-for-hire plot to kill two Southwest Virginia police officers.

    In January, Virginia State Police charged Kenith H. Rose with two felony counts to conspire with another person to willfully, deliberately and with premeditation kill and murder a police officer; and two felony counts of soliciting another person to willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation kill and murder a police officer.

    They said the investigation started in January and remains ongoing.

    Police aren’t releasing information on the officers who were allegedly targeted.

  • IRS tax filing trouble affected people locally

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 05:32:01 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 05:34:04 PM EST

    Tax trouble for the Internal Revenue Service appears to be over.

    The IRS said it resolved a computer system outage and is again accepting electronically filed tax returns.

    Local tax preparers were kept updated several times a day.

    Local Liberty Tax offices in Johnson City and Elizabethton said the glitch caused some panic from the public. People called, wondering if it would affect their tax returns.

    So far this year, Liberty Tax has done 600 returns. They’ve been assuring customers everything is OK.

    The IRS system was down for about 30 hours and locally affected 75 people.

    The IRS blamed a hardware failure with the acknowledge system. That’s where the forms first go electronically, to check spelling and numbers on the form.

    "We assured our customers that if they filed earlier than the actual glitch, it didn't affect them at all. Their tax returns had already been acknowledged and were already processed,” Darlene Cook with Liberty Tax explained. “The tax returns that actually were prepared the day of the glitch and the following morning, their tax returns were held in a cube until the system was fixed."

    Liberty Tax also noted a huge disparity in the time for the tax returns to get back.

    Usually it averages eight to ten days. Now, it’s more than 15.

  • BVU board discussed bill to replace leadership in special session

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 01:04:43 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 06:46:37 PM EST

    BVU board members suspended the second item they were going to discuss during its special closed session. It was intended to be a personnel issue but they discussed a bill in the state legislature to shake up the utility's leadership.

    BVU board members suspended the second item they were going to discuss during its special session, Friday afternoon.

    News 5 WCYB’s Olivia Bailey reported two items on the agenda were going to be closed to the public. State law lets them go into a closed session to discuss specific items.

    In the first, the board decided to sell BVU OptiNet to Sunset Digital Communications, Inc. for $50 million. That sale would enable BVU to become debt-free. BVU will continue to own and operate its electric, sewer and water operations.

    The second item was intended to be a personnel issue, but the details have been revealed.

    Board members discussed representation at the state level. The state legislature is considering a bill to reduce the number of BVU board positions and the process by which those members are chosen.

    Board members voted to send a letter to the legislature explaining the improvements the board has made to correct poor judgment, and criminal acts that have plagued the utility in recent federal lawsuits.

    BVU plans to undergo several changes in the coming months when it comes to leadership and services.

    The latest announcement came Friday as the company announced the sale of its internet and fiber-optic technology, BVU OptiNet.

    While board membership and the service do not sound interconnected, they are. New legislation would reduce the number of board members for BVU, and the number all depends on whether the company owns the OptiNet service.

    "I was just meeting with the US Attorney and FBI Agent before I came in here," BVU CEO Don Bowman said in discussion of new legislation that is an attempt to eliminate corruption at the public utility.

    The topic of corruption is a pressing priority for the BVU board as legislation proposed in Virginia would replace, reduce, and change the way board members are appointed.

    "A lot of people in Bristol consider us as a part of that corruption and I resent that fact to the max because there is no way I'm involved in any of that that went here," Board member Guy Odum said.

    The board has proposed a letter to government leaders with a list of 15 points and arguments for unintended consequences in an attempt to fight that legislation.

    "The board still is opposed to the bill. We don't want the change. We feel like we've dealt with the corruption," Board chair Jim Clifton said.

    A factor in that bill is the ownership of BVU's internet and communications technology, BVU OptiNet. Friday, the company announced Duffield-based Sunset Digital will purchase the service for $50 million.

    "We have peaked in our ability to compete, and again, if we can't get grants, and even with the grants, we can only go into certain areas. We can only go into a 75 mile radius of our footprint," Clifton said. He said as a public utility, they have reached the peak for providing those types of services.

    "That's a big difference between rate  payers and customers. Rate payers don't have much choice. They have to buy electric. They have to buy water. They have to buy sewer. Customers have a choice," Clifton added.

    Sunset Digital Co-founders say they have plans to expand into eight more southwest Virginia counties. Paul Elswick said, "We're going to start developing the rural broadband and expanding the footprint and the ability to service many more people."

    Company co-founder Ryan Elswick said, "This would probably increase our residential size probably about 5 times."

    Bowman said the deal has a few perks for BVU as well.

    "This is going to leave us with a debt-free utility. We will have no debt in the sewer system, no debt in the water, and no debt in electric," Bowman said.

    The Bristol, Virginia City Council will consider the purchase agreement at tuesday night's council meeting before it goes on for approval from other parties.

    We reached out to the company with the first right to approve or reject, Cumberland Plateau Planning Commission. They told us they were surprised to hear the deal was going through Friday. Their legal counsel says they still have to review the contract.

    As for the legislation on the table that deals with the BVU board, it is currently on the second reading with amendments. Senator Bill Carrico expects it to go to a third and final reading next week. That bill would reduce the board numbers from 9 to 5.

  • NC highway signs 'predict' Super Bowl score

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 12:53:17 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 05 2016 04:08:31 PM EST

    Highway signs in North Carolina showing the distance to the towns of Denver and Newton have Carolina Panthers fans feeling pretty good going into Super Bowl 50.

  • February 5, 2016: Joe Fairchild, Rogersville, TN

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 06:35:23 PM EST

    February 5, 2016: Joe Fairchild, Rogersville, TN

  • David Crockett wins Big 7 regular season title

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 11:48:42 PM EST

    David Crockett won their first ever regular season title in the Big 7 conference with a 68-52 win over Science Hill. The Pioneers are 10-0 in conference play.

  • Friday Night's StormTrack 5 Forecast: 02-05-16

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 05:48:07 PM EST

    Calm weather this weekend.  After that?  Not so much.  Dave Dierks has your StormTrack 5 forecast.

  • Local newborns on National Wear Red Day to help fight heart disease in women

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 06:51:01 PM EST

    Local newborns on National Wear Red Day to help fight heart disease in women

  • 'Spread The Glove' campaign brings in 1,000 items

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 11:34:40 PM EST

    Over 1000 items have been donated and city staff will be passing out gloves, hats and cold weather apparel to those who need it on Monday.

  • Saturday Morning's StormTrack 5 Forecast: 02-06-16

    Published On: Feb 06 2016 07:43:08 AM EST

    Super Bowl weekend looks great!  After that, winter strikes back.  Meteorologist Chris Michaels has your StormTrack 5 forecast.

  • Friday Afternoon's StormTrack 5 Forecast Video: 2-5-16

    Published On: Feb 05 2016 12:34:17 PM EST

    Seasonably cool this weekend, then COLD and breezy with snow showers likely early next week.