County issues precautionary tips, as dangerous storms move through southeast

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Over the past 48 hours a string of violent storms have torn through the southeast, causing numerous fatalities in multiple states.

This afternoon, tornado warnings were issued for a handful of Virginia counties west of Wythe and as the evening progresses the threat of additional storms will increase for the County of Wythe.

As a precaution, the Wythe County departments of public information and emergency management are seeking to remind local residents of important safety tips to follow in the event of a tornado.

Know the signs:
• Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud
• Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel
• Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
• Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder does
• If it’s night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These lights are power lines being snapped by very strong wind, perhaps a tornado.
• Persistent lowering of the cloud base

Know the definitions:
Tornado Watch: a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.

Tornado Warning: a tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.

Know what to do:
Stay informed: Pay attention to weather announcements during severe thunderstorms. Listen to weather-alert radios to stay informed of tornado watches and warnings. Also monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet.

If at home: If you’re at home and a tornado WARNING is issued for your area, move quickly to your basement and take cover under a stairway or sturdy furniture. If you don’t have a basement, take shelter inside a first floor room near the center of your home and stay away from windows or glass doors.

If in a vehicle or mobile home: The most dangerous place to be during a tornado is inside a car or mobile home. Tornadoes can easily lift a car or mobile home off the ground. When a tornado WARNING is issued for your area, immediately take shelter inside a nearby sturdy building. There are no tornado shelters in Wythe County.

If outside: If there’s no time to get indoors, or there are no buildings nearby, lie in a ditch or low area away from your vehicle. Bridges and overpasses won’t protect you because flying debris can get blown under them.

If at work or school: Tornadoes often occur when we’re at work or school. If a tornado WARNING is issued for your area, go to the basement, stairwell or inside hallway at the lowest level you can safely reach. Stay away from windows. Get under sturdy furniture such as a heavy table or desk. If you’re outdoors and a tornado is approaching, get inside a sturdy building right away or lie in a ditch or low area and cover you head.

For more on tornado safety, visit or

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WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Last summer, Wythe County’s combined emergency communications center began taking calls for the first time. The project was a join effort between the county and towns of Rural Retreat and Wytheville, made possible by hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding.

Consolidating the emergency dispatch centers from all three jurisdictions gave local leaders an unprecedented opportunity to implement more advanced tools; while at the same time splitting the high costs associated with manning a 24-7 emergency call center.

Nearly a year into the transitioning process, county officials are praising the move and celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicator’s Week.

James Copeland, Wythe County’s Emergency Communications Director, says this week provides an opportunity to showcase the incredible work dispatchers do each day.

“A call to 911 is a call for help – no one ever wakes up in the morning expecting to call 911 that day – and our staff answers dozens of these calls each day,” said Copeland, adding “This week gives the public an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for the wonderful job they do.”

Amanda Shelton – who is responsible for training new dispatchers – agreed, saying “New hires are often shocked to discover all that takes place in handling a single 911 call.”

In addition to receiving a certificate of recognition from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, thanking dispatchers for their hard work, the county is also encouraging followers on its social media pages to leave thank you messages to dispatchers.

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Law Enforcement not issuing tickets for expired county decals

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – In 2012, the Wythe County Board of Supervisors voted to eliminate the county’s windshield decal beginning January 1, 2014.  The decals were replaced with a license fee that is now added to resident’s personal property tax bill.  Many local residents, however, have chosen not to remove their old county stickers; which expired in December.

Over the weekend, an erroneous rumor began on Facebook, alleging that county residents were being fined for not removing these decals.

County officials reached out to Doug King, Wythe County’s Sheriff, as well as leaders from within the Virginia State Police who have all stated that their officers have not and will not be issuing any citations to motorists displaying the 2013 Wythe County decal.

The Code of Virginia may require this sticker to be removed in order to be given a passing inspection; however, law enforcement officers insist they will not be issuing tickets to individuals driving with their expired county decal.

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Progress Park: Virginia Mega Site

Progress Park

Learn more about our new rail-served SuperSite Lot 24 project. (For a Virginia Economic Development Partnership brochure on site, click here.)

Key attributes of Progress Park are:

  • Quick access to I-77 and I-81 via a frontage road at the southern entrance and Peppers Ferry Road at the northern entrance
  • Class I rail-served
  • 90-MW electrical substation in park
  • Natural gas substation on site
  • New water plant on New River
  • High-capacity fiber optic service provided by CenturyLink and Citizens
  • Large (166-acre pad on 232-acre lot) rail-served Lot 24 site under construction
  • Lots 1, 2, 3, and 8 are graded. Lots 2 and 3 can be combined to accommodate a 245,000 sq ft building
  • 100,000 sq ft virtual building for Lot 8
  • International Trade Area planned
  • “Mini-Park” area for smaller industries
  • Virginia Enterprise Zone providing state and local incentives
  • Utility providers are Wythe County (wastewater), Town of Wytheville(water), Atmos Energy (natural gas), Appalachian Power (electricity), and CenturyLink and Citizens (telecommunications)
  • Protective covenants

Progress Park is owned by Wythe County. Phase I Environmental Assessment, archaeology, and soil boring report are available upon request. Protective covenants are in place to ensure proper land use consistent with an industrial park. Click here to download the covenants in Microsoft Word.


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Wythe County officials are encouraging local dog owners to ensure their pets have been properly vaccinated for rabies; as a recent outbreak of the zoonotic disease has been noted by the county’s animal control department.

Arlan Dunford, supervisor of Wythe County Animal Control, says that health officials have recently processed an above average number of rabid animals – a trend he says places local pets in danger.

“Rabies is a very serious and fatal disease. Pets lacking current vaccinations run the risk of being infected,” stated Dunford.

According to the World Health Organization, the disease can be spread to people through close contact with infected animals, usually saliva, via bites or scratches.

In an effort to ensure public safety, Dunford says his department will be conducting compliance checks throughout the county in the coming days. During these checks, officers will be confirming that all dogs – in the county and towns – are wearing their county issued dog tag. The $5 tags are issued only after dog owners have presented proof to the county’s treasurer that the animals have been vaccinated for rabies.

“In addition to it being the law, having your dogs properly tagged and vaccinated is just good insurance for pet owners. They show that you’re in compliance and that your dogs have been immunized should any question ever arise,” said the veteran officer.

Dog tags for animals that have been spayed or neutered are available at a reduced rate of $4 for one year, $8 for two years and $10 for 3-year tags.

Failure to purchase dog tags is considered a class-3 misdemeanor and subjects the dog owner to additional fines and court costs.

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