Deputy Fire Chief Will Lose Job Due to Budget
Reporter: Elizabeth Lamb
AUGUSTA COUNTY -- The Augusta County fire and rescue team is restructuring and that put the county's deputy fire chief out of a job.
Administrators cut the deputy fire chief position last week. The man who is out of a job hopes county leadership will keep people who live there safe, despite the changes.
Deputy Fire Chief Mike Armstrong has worked in the county for a year. He will leave his position next Friday after the county board cut it out of its proposed budget.
“I think the leadership in the county is going to have to take a hard look at how they do business. What is their vision for the county? If you want the best schools, the best law enforcement organizations, the best fire-rescue, things like that, these services and these organizations cost money, and that money has to come from somewhere,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong manages the county's team of firefighters, works with state agencies and hired the county's 21 newest firefighters. He said cuts might keep people from joining the county team.
“It's going to be hard to attract those folks when they don't know how stable that organization is. So, when the call comes in a 2 a.m., the citizens want to make sure that there's someone who is going to answer that call. The leadership in the county is going to have to figure out how they're going to accomplish that.”
County supervisors said the deputy chief position would be cut into two jobs: an administrative one and a second which would work more closely with the chief and firefighters.
Supervisor Tracy Pyles, Jr. said he hopes the plan works.
“For where we are now and how we want to proceed, we tried one way, and it didn't work as well as we liked. We're going to try this, and we hope for the best on it,” said Pyles.
Armstrong hopes the county's safety team isn't compromised any more.
“Now that we're losing positions, we want to continue to provide the best service to the public that we can, but we'll do it with fewer personnel,” said Armstrong.
A WHSV reporter spoke with every member of the board of supervisors. They all said they support eliminating the position to balance the budget. They agree it's what's best for the fire-rescue department.
Augusta County May Lay Off Teachers
Reporter: David Coy
VERONA -- Some teachers in the Valley may be laid off if funding doesn't increase. The Augusta County School Board met Thursday to consider its options. The district is looking to try and balance its budget.
During the meeting, Nicholas Collins, Vice Chair and North River Board Member, presented the amount of money teachers in Augusta County earned in the past school year. He said, the district isn't ranked high in salaries but has been efficient.
"We need to do more. We need to do more for our students...we need to do more," said Collins.
With lower salaries the board has been trying to find new ways to balance its budget.
"If you go and see your board of supervisors member, take this sheet with you. And sit and say, let's take a look at this," said Collins.
The sheet includes the funding for the district. The school board was presented with a policy that could mean a reduction in staff. Eliminating five positions in health care, physical education and drivers education.
"We are underfunded locally," said Collins.
The motion to possibility cut those teachers passed 6-1. The board can decide to recall that motion if the district is able to find more money.
UPDATE: One Dead in Late Night Crashes on Interstate 81
Reporter: WHSV News Staff
WEYERS CAVE (6:00 a.m.) -- State Police said one person has died in two crashes on Interstate 81 at Mile Marker 234.
Originally, State Police reported two people dead, but they changed that information around 6 a.m.
Now, State Police said that one was pronounced dead at the crash scene. The other was flown to UVA Medical Center and State Police are unsure of that person's condition.
Police haven't released the name of the victim, and are trying to notify the family.
WEYERS CAVE (5:30 a.m.) -- State Police said two people died in two separate crashes on Interstate 81 at Mile Marker 234.
The accidents happened at around 10:40 p.m. on Thursday night on the northbound side. State Police said they started when the driver of a Dodge Dakota lost control and hit a guardrail, before flipping over into the median.
Then, a Ford Expedition was hit by a tractor trailer. The SUV flipped over several times, and two people inside died. One was pronounced dead at the scene. The other was flown to UVA Medical Center, but State Police learned they died at around 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning.
Police haven't released the names of the victims, and are trying to notify their families.
The driver of the tractor trailer was taken to Augusta Health with non-life threatening injuries.
Police identified the driver of the Dakota as Samuel Russo, of Harrisonburg. He was cited for Reckless Driving. A Trooper said he was fine. Police aren't sure if the first crash caused the second one.
AUGUSTA COUNTY (11:30 p.m.) -- One person died in a crash on Interstate 81 in Augusta County Thursday night. Two others were rushed to Augusta Health in Fishersville.
The crash happened in the northbound lanes at mile marker 234. One person was thrown from a vehicle and found injured.
Christian Ruleman of the Weyers Cave Fire Company says three vehicles wrecked. Two were passenger cars, the other was a tractor trailer. It's not clear if all three cars were involved in the same incident.
One of the cars was found on its side, the other was flipped over. The names of the people involved in the crash have not been released.