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Newsmakers 2005

This is the final installment of Newsmakers 2005, where the News-Herald staff took a look at the stories that make the newspaper’s front page during the year. Today we look at those that appeared from Nov. 1 through Dec. 22. The dates are the days the stories and photos appeared in the newspaper. We selected only stories that impacted Suffolk and its residents and excluded national and international stories that appeared throughout the year.

Nov. 2 – The Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless will be receiving funds withheld by the city and state for the past five months in coming weeks.The city will be handing over approximately $17,000 during a special meeting Nov. 9, said Allen Brown, newly elected chairman of the shelter’s board of directors. Another $33,000 earmarked in the city’s current budget is also in the pipeline, he said.

Nov. 3 – The Suffolk City Council broke ground on the $4.7 million, 22,500-square-foot library, slated to open next fall on Bennetts Creek Park Road. The long-awaited library is the latest in a string of capital projects under way in the community off Shoulders Hill Road, including Creekside Elementary School and the new north Suffolk YMCA.

Nov. 4 – City Council voted 6 to 1 to ask the 2007 General Assembly to change the city charter to allow residents to give input on issues through a referendum. Currently, the charter does not permit the city to hold referendum.

Nov. 6 – The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a girl, 13-years-old at the time, who was sexually assaulted and abducted at the Suffolk YMCA in April 2002, cannot sue the YMCA for liability in the incident. According to Virginia’s highest court, the organization is considered a charity, and therefore has charitable immunity.

Nov. 9 – Suffolk Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs Jr., was reelected to a fourth term by a sweeping 50 percent margin. Isaacs received a total of 12,026 votes, beating out political newcomer Timothy Mallory, who received 6,206 votes.

Nov. 11 – A former clerk in the magistrate’s office who dipped into the public till will spend 30 days in prison. Henrico County Judge James E. Kulp on Thursday sentenced Keisha T. Townes, 29, of Portsmouth, with a total four years in prison for two counts of embezzlement. He suspended all but one month of the sentence.

Nov. 17 – Suffolk city officials, Planters’ Suffolk Plant Manager Dan Huss, and as Dennis Craff, the city’s director of communications said during his introduction, &uot;The big man himself, Mr. Peanut,&uot; celebrated the official opening of a new warehouse facility at the Planters factory on Culloden Street Wednesday afternoon. The 57,000-square-foot facility can accommodate 15,000 pallets of finished products while awaiting their final destinations.

Nov. 18 – The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) Thursday approved the location for a new Route 460 that would be built south of the existing road, providing an east-west transportation link connecting I-295 in the Petersburg region to Route 58 in Suffolk. The new road would be a four-lane divided highway with interchanges at towns and major secondary roads.

Nov. 19 – The plan to restore the former Phoenix Bank of Nansemond building moved forward Friday as Congressman Randy Forbes announced the allocation of $200,000 for the East Washington Street building. The Phoenix Banks was the first financial institution for the city’s black community. Forbes requested funding from the House Appropriations Committee in order to restore the historic structure and convert it into an African-American history museum.

Nov. 22 – A leader in Army modeling and simulation projects for the past 15 years has been tapped to lead Old Dominion University’s Virginia Model-ing, Analysis and Simulation Center

in north Suffolk. Col. Michael McGinnis, 51, head of the Department of Systems Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., will assume the helm of VMASC in June 2006.

Nov. 23 – All Vann Johnson ever wanted was to be an Eagle Scout. And on Monday, nearly six decades after meeting the requirements to reach the highest level in Boy Scouts, the 74-year-old Bennetts Creek man raised his right hand and solemnly uttered his Eagle oath.

Dec. 3 – An automatic sifter is shearing years off the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ cleanup of the former Nansemond Ordnance Depot in northern Suffolk. The shifter, in use on the 975-acre site since September, is allowing the munitions cleanup to move six times faster than originally planned, said Rick Aiken, a project spokesman. That portion of the project was anticipated to last until 2010; that completion date has since been revised to 2008.

Dec. 7 – On Monday night, a group of Ukrainian orphans sang a special Christmas story to the Wilroy Baptist Church community. About 40 seven- to 16-year-olds presented the classic Russian tale, &uot;The Shoemaker,&uot; the story of a lonely old man who realizes that the Lord is in us all. The Berdyansk group, on a trip sponsored by Operation Blessing International and IMPACT Suffolk, arrived in America Nov. 28. The children are staying with host families in Raleigh, N.C., Williamsburg and Virginia Beach.

Dec. 8 – A Northern Virginia lawmaker is planning to introduce legislation during the January 2006 General Assembly session that would put more teeth in the state’s current dangerous dog laws. Nearly a year after an 82-year-old woman and her pet dog in his district were mauled to death by a neighbor’s three pit bulls, Sen. R. Edward Houck, D-Spotsylvania County, will unveil the Dorothy Sullivan Memorial Bill before his fellow lawmakers. The dogs attacked Sullivan last March while she walked her Shih Tzu in her yard in a rural Spotsylvania County subdivision.

Dec. 9 – A 17-year-old is in serious condition in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital after being shot outside his Hall Place home. The victim was heading toward his house in the 400 block of South Main Street when a teenage boy riding a bicycle allegedly shot him in the neck.

Dec. 10 – A Suffolk teen has died of gunshot wounds he received Thursday and authorities are following leads they have uncovered in hopes of finding the weapon used. By Friday evening, police divers hadn’t found the gun used in the shooting death of 17-year-old Dwayne Langston, of South Main Street.

Dec. 13 – Charges against a 14-year-old accused in the shooting death of Dwayne Langston were upgraded to first-degree murder Monday, and he’ll be tried as an adult, said prosecutor Will Jamerson. Langston, 17, a student at Lakeland High School, was shot Thursday afternoon in the 400 block of South Main Street. Later that day, the suspect turned himself in to police. He was originally charged with aggravated assault, but the charges were upgraded after Langston died.

Dec. 14 – BCF Designs Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the BCF Designs Limited in Cirencester, England, will move into an 1800-square-foot office in Harbour Breeze Professional Center in February 2006. The company’s Suffolk location will serve as its customer service center, business development and repair site, said Ian Townsend, the company’s vice president of engineering. The company initially will hire six people.

Dec. 15 – The parents of a Whaleyville toddler mauled to death by the family’s pit pull will stand trial for second-degree murder. A grand jury indicted Heather Renee Frango, 29, and James Jonathan Martin, 25, on charges of second-degree murder/accidental homicide, child neglect/abuse – serious injury and involuntary manslaughter. The couple was arrested early Wednesday in Chesapeake on unrelated outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court.

Dec. 17 – The city has ironed out a settlement with the designer and builder of the flawed Constant’s Wharf bulkhead. Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Rodham T. Delk signed an order on Dec. 5 dismissing the city’s case against Landmark Design Group and Virginia Marine Structures, the Virginia Beach-based companies which respectively designed and built the original bulkhead. Attorneys for both parties submitted requests for the dismissal, saying an out-of-court settlement had been reached and that each party would bear its own legal costs.

Dec. 18 – A prominent Suffolk attorney and former mayor, accused of sexual misconduct by a female client in late 2004, is being sued for $1.85 million. The suit, filed in Suffolk Circuit Court on Nov. 14, accuses Johnnie E. Mizelle of inappropriately touching Tammy Lee Layne, 44, when she went into his office seeking legal services for a pending divorce last year.

Dec. 20 – There are no students yet at Creekside Elementary School.

None of the classrooms are ready.

There’s not even an office. But as of Monday, a little less than nine months before the first classes, there is a principal. Katrina Rountree-Bowers, currently the principal at Mount Zion Elementary, will be taking the same position for the currently under-construction north Suffolk school once a replacement is found for her at Mount Zion.

Dec. 21 – Charges will not be filed against a Jackson Road man in an August fatal shooting at the 7-Eleven on Carolina Road, officials at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

&uot;We found that the shooting was justified, as it was an absolute case of self-defense,&uot; said Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson.

Herb Brinkley, owner of Herb’s Bar-B-Q on Carolina Road, died of a heart attack at the age of 77.

Dec. 22 – A 7-year-old, who on Wednesday carried a toy gun onto his school bus en route to Florence Bowser Elementary School, has been suspended, according to school officials. But the youngster is not facing any criminal charges, said Sgt. Stephen Smith, a detective with the Suffolk Police Department.

Dec. 23 – The city will receive a $1.8 million settlement from its lawsuit against Landmark Design Group, the designers of the bulkhead project at Constant’s Wharf.

The Suffolk City Council approved the settlement with no public discussion as part of its consent agenda.

Dec. 24 – Come July 1, Suffolk residents will begin paying an extra $3.95 per month to improve the quality of the rainwater that drains into the area’s lakes and rivers. The Suffolk City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the new fee, which totals $47.40 a year for most homeowners.