BREAKING: Vicki Gardner in Stable Condition Following Fatal Shooing Live on WDBJ Mornin' Show, Suspect Dead of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

apshooterSMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Sheriff Bill Overton says the shooting suspect, Vester Flannigan, known as Bryce Williams on-air, died around 1:30 p.m. today from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


Carilion has confirmed to Cable 12 that Vicki Gardner, SML Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, is recovering from surgery and is in stable condition after being shot on-air. 

The alleged shooter, Vester Flannigan, described as a disgruntled former employee, had worked on-air under the name Bryce Williams. 

State Police say Flannigan shot himself after being confronted on I-66 in Fauquier County, but has a pulse.


SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - WDBJ has just confirmed on-air that reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were fatally shot during the station's morning show, WDBJ 7 Mornin'.

The shooting occured at 6:45 a.m. during a live segment with SML Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Gardner. 

Route 122 is closed in both directions. 

A screengrab of the video shows the man holding a gun. 

Cable 12 is working the situation. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone at WDBJ 7 and at the SML Chamber.

WDBJ was covering the lake's upcoming 50th anniversary.

Vicki Gardner had just sent Cable 12 a press release at 6:29 a.m., 16 minutes before the shooting.

Below is the press release sent by Vicki at 6:29 a.m., minutes before the shooting.

Chamber Members,
You are invited to attend a special 50th Anniversary of SML business persons meeting TODAY at 3pm at the YMCA (LakeWatch).  Come out to share ideas on how to participate in the 2016 celebration of our area. 
And if you are reading this message early in the morning, tune in to WDBJ 7 as we are doing a three segment live broadcast on the 50th Anniversary of SML  (6am and 6:45 am) and meeting to be held this afternoon at 3.
Give a call if you have any questions on today's meeting.  
Hope to see you there!
Vicki Gardner


Humane Society's Planned Pethood Credited With 50,000 Spay/Neuters

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

ROCKY MOUNT - In many ways, Tuesday, August 15 was like any other at the Franklin County Humane Society. However, the day marked an important day in the humane effort to control the pet population as the staff completed spay/neuter procedure number 50,000! 

The encouraging and high number comes as just last week, it was reported hat some surrounding Humane Society Centers in other areas say they are having to put down an unusually high number of dogs and cats.

But in Franklin County, the Humane Society is doing well with a dedicated staff on a continuing mission to ensure puppies and kittens are adopted and cared for so the pets can live long and happy lives.

The spay neuter program is part of Planned Pethood's mission to create a community where all dogs and cats get a chance for a healthy and happy life in a loving home by promoting rescue, adoption and spay/neuter by 4 months of age

In addition to providing low cost spay/neuter surgeries for community animals, the Planned Pethood Clinic Supervising Veterinarian Marybeth Chaconas and her staff provide wellness care for the animals at our Adoption Center and in foster care. 
unnamedPlanned Pethood Clinic was founded by the Franklin County Humane Society Inc. in 1999 as part of our goal to reduce the numbers of animals brought to shelters and pounds or abandoned at dumpsters.  Planned Pethood Clinic was the second low cost spay neuter clinic to open in Virginia and initially opened in a rented building in July 2000.  The clinic moved to the current location in 2003 when the Humane Society purchased the property.
This month Planned Pethood Clinic with funding support from PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal welfare efforts in North America,  is participating in the “Primp Your Pit ”spay/neuter campaign. Through the  “Primp Your Pit” campaign, Planned Pethood Clinic will provide a special $20 spay/neuter surgery and free nail trim for pit bull terriers and pit bull terrier mixes during the month of August. This special $20 rate is even less than the organization’s normal low-cost prices and is available to all pit bulls and pit mixes with no geographical restrictions.
“Spaying/neutering a pet is the most effective thing a pet parent can do to prevent unwanted litters from being born that will ultimately end on in local shelters,” says Dr. Chaconas.
For more information on Franklin County's Planned Pethood Program, visit their website.

Father Arrested After 3-Year-Old Son Dies of Gunshot Wound

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

ndHARDY - Charges have been filed against the father of a 3-year-old boy after he was found dead of a small caliber gunshot wound Sunday morning. 

The Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office says Jeremiah Keith Neiderhiser, 32,
 has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and f
elony child abuse and neglect after the boy was found unresponsive around 10:52 a.m. Sunday, investigators say.

The incident occured off of Heatherton Drive in Hardy.

Neiderhiser is being held in the Western Virginia Regional Jail on a $250,000 bond. 

The case remains under investigation.




New Tourism Development Manager Begins Work in Franklin Co.

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

ROCKY MOUNT - Mr. David E. Rotenizer is Franklin County's New Tourism Development Manager, Franklin County Economic Development Director Michael Burnette announced Tuesday

As a unit of the Office of Economic Development, Rotenizer will supervise the Tourism & Film Division, Burnette explained.

3bd1996Rotenizer is a former AmeriCorps VISTA member where he served in community economic capacity building. In previous positions, he launched new tourism programs in Carroll County and Martinsville-Henry County, which included the establishment of state certified visitor centers. Rotenizer was involved in the development of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail; the Wilderness Road: Virginia’s Heritage Migration Route; and Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network. He also helped spearhead the effort that led to the creation of one of Virginia’s newest tourism regions: Southern Virginia.

Rotenizer helped as Committee Co-chair to bring back the Carroll County Agricultural Fair after a 40-year absence, an experience that will greatly benefit the newly revived Franklin County Agricultural Fair. He also participated in the development of the Southern Virginia Artisan Center and the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, as well as the Town of Hillsville Downtown Revitalization and the Beaver Dam Creek Community Trail. Rotenizer served as social media chairman for the Archeological Society of Virginia and maintains the organization’s Facebook page. Mr. Rotenizer most recently worked as a West Virginia State University, Community Development Extension Agent in Raleigh County, West Virginia through a partnership with the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority where his work included historic preservation aspects of community and tourism development.

He is a native of Blacksburg and graduate of Radford University, where Rotenizer earned a Bachelors of General Studies Degree with a concentration in Appalachian Heritage Resources. He attended the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College.

“We are very pleased and excited to bring David on board due to his experience in elevating tourism efforts in this part of Virginia,” said Burnette.

Mr. Rotenizer currently resides in Rocky Mount and his first day on the job was August 17th.


VDOT Traffic Alert: Valley View Ramp Onto I-581 South to Last One Week

Written by Jamey Singleton. Posted in News

ROANOKE – Valley View Shoppers trying to return home to Franklin County can soon expect delays in the area as VDOT continues to work on a better solution to the ramp onto I-581 South. While progress is being made in the area with a new ramp scheduled to be open to the public August 31, the current delays are expected to take an enitre week, VDOT announced Tuesday.


 A seven-day closure is planned for the ramp from Valley View Boulevard onto southbound Interstate 581 as part of the construction project on the new interchange in Roanoke. 


From 10 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23 through 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 31, the Valley View on-ramp to I-581 southbound will be closed. All traffic needing access to southbound I-581 will be routed back to Hershberger Road.  The ramp closure will not impact northbound I-581 traffic exiting onto Valley View Boulevard.


vdotIn addition, the southbound right lane of I-581 at Valley View will also be closed along with this seven-day ramp closure.


The closure is needed to lower the grade at new ramp connection point on southbound I-581.  This seven-day closure will provide less overall traffic disruption by not requiring a multi-week ramp impact.


Traffic will be switched to a newly constructed ramp from Valley View Boulevard onto southbound I-581 on Monday, Aug. 31 when the ramp closure is removed.