North Carolina & Virginia Yard Sale Brings New Life into Communities

WYTHEVILLE, Va. — Organizers of the inaugural US-21 yard sale say the multistate, 70-mile long event was a great success.

Dubbed, “The US-21 Road Market Sale,” tourism leaders throughout western North Carolina and Virginia say the event required months of planning and involved the cooperation of dozens of local leaders from at least eight different localities.

“The yard sale was a huge success. Putting the event on didn’t cost any money, but took a lot of work from a lot of different people,” said D.W. Miles, founder of the yard sale’s flagship organization, “Take a Break from the Interstate.”

Tourism leaders in Wythe County say they counted at least one-hundred different households participating in the road market sale, in their county alone.

“Not only did this weekend’s yard sale allow the county an opportunity to market itself to out-of-state travelers, but it also provided residents along Grayson Turnpike with a sense of community,” said Jeremy T.K. Farley, Wythe County’s interim tourism director.

Miles agreed, saying the road market event showcased historic US-21, a road that was at one time the premier route for travelers from northern states en route to the beach.

“The traffic was a non-stop, continuous flow from Wytheville to Jonesville,” said Miles, who added, “We want to make US-21 a destination. There are just so many beautiful sights and it belongs to the people — all the state parks and national forest land along the way — it’s just a special road.”

Miles said his organization intends to promote the +70-mile yard sale on the last weekend of July, every year.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Wythe County code enforcement officer A.B. Dunford says his department is ramping up their litter enforcement.

The announcement comes just weeks after a conviction that resulted in a $1,000 fine for an individual found guilty of illegally disposing of his trash.

Dunford says littering in Wythe County has been a problem in the past and this year, officers are taking a hardline stance when it comes to offenders.

“Littering is a serious crime. It is a class–1 misdemeanor and an officer can arrest you for it. The penalties for littering could be as severe as up to 12 months in jail,” said Dunford.

According to the veteran officer, even what had previously been deemed as a minor infraction – such as flipping a cigarette butt out a window – can result in a $250 minimum fine.

Last year, the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office launched a program in which inmates at the regional jail are assigned a section of highway in the county to clean, each week. To date, inmates have collected several tons of litter; however, program leaders often complain that many of the roads are lined with trash within days of the sweep.

“We’re specifically putting a great emphasis on catching those who litter the roadsides, as well as illegal dumping,” said Duford.

Wythe County leaders say the natural beauty of their community is unrivaled and are encouraging local citizens to offer a hand in ensuring it remains a place where thousands of visitors retreat to each month.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!


Wytheville, Va. — Wythe County Emergency Management officials say that a tractor and trailer hauling two Fed-Ex containers wrecked on the northbound side of Interstate 81 in Wytheville at mile marker 73.3.

The accident occurred earlier this morning at the I-81 / I-77 split.

According to first responders on scene, the wrecked cargo included paint, which spilled onto the roadway.

Due to the fact that paint is flammable and harmful to the environment, Virginia HAZMAT officials are in route to assist in the containment effort.

The public is in no danger, however, responders on the scene say that traffic will be an issue for motorists traveling on the northbound side of I-81 throughout much of the day; crews will be working to clean up the spilled paint.

As of 9:50 a.m. traffic on the northbound side of I-81 had been reduced to one-lane.

Wytheville Fire Department, Virginia State Police, Wythe County Emergency Management and Virginia HAZMAT crews are working the accident.

The accident was a single-vehicle accident and no injuries have been reported.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook.

Wythe County Train Derailment: Weekend Update

The Wythe County Joint Emergency Communications Center received an E-911 call at approximately 6:12 p.m. on Monday, July 14, 2014, from a resident stating that a train had derailed at the intersection of Grayson Rd.

Local emergency responders were first to arrive on the scene and found numerous train cars scattered on both sides of the track, beginning at the “Norfolk & Western” bridge, which spans over US-21, and continuing eastward.

Ikey Davidson, Wythe County’s emergency manager, Albert Newberry, the Town of Wytheville’s director of public safety, and Ronnie King, Wytheville Fire Chief, served as incident managers on scene. After assessing the situation, they, together with the trainmaster and other emergency personnel, determined that the public was in no immediate danger.  Due to this reason, the decision was made not to implement the county’s new citizen alert system.

Immediately following the incident, police officers from the Town of Wytheville, with the assistance of Wythe County Sheriff’s deputies, members of the Virginia State Police and local first responders instituted multiple roadblocks in order to keep the public safe. A base of operations was set up just north of the tracks, where first responders met to direct operations.

In total, fourteen train cars derailed, most of which were hauling Ford automobiles.

By 10 p.m., numerous representatives from multiple government agencies and private companies were on scene, including: local law enforcement and emergency responders, Norfolk Southern, Virginia DEQ, Virginia State Police, VDOT, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and several private contractors.

A press conference was conducted shortly before 11 p.m. with Albert Newberry, Ikey Davidson and Jeremy Farley fielding questions from reporters.  The purpose of the press conference was to notify the public that there had been no injuries or loss of life, as well as make local citizens aware of road closures and the fact that no hazardous materials had been found leaking.

By the following morning, Tuesday, the operation had transformed from the assessment and planning stage to the clean-up phase.  An army of crews and heavy equipment went to work on behalf of Norfolk Southern, clearing the railway line and stabilizing the wrecked containers.

By Tuesday afternoon, the final piece of track had been laid on the line and by nightfall Norfolk Southern had an engine on the tracks testing the new line.

News of the local train derailment quickly reached an international level, as outlets in Canada, UK and elsewhere began running Associated Press and Reuters articles of the event.

Five days later, traffic along US-21 is open to the public, albeit reduced to one lane, and much of the cargo has been loaded onto flatbed trucks and shipped out of the county.

Workers say the cleanup phase will take several more days, but hope to have Grayson Road (US-21) restored to normal driving conditions by the end of the weekend.

Evaluating the response of emergency crews, as well as overall derailment, Davidson said that the community was “very fortunate” to have undergone such an event without a single loss of life or injury.

“To undergo an accident of this magnitude and not have a single person injured is a rarity. We were very fortunate as a community.”

Davidson went on to say that upon realizing there were no injuries or danger to the public, local officials transitioned their efforts to protecting local waterways.

“As a precaution, we directed booms to be placed in the streams surrounding the crash site, in order to protect Reed Creek. Thankfully, we have found no evidence of anything leaking into streams and waterways,” said Davidson.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!

UPDATE: Traffic Plans for US-21 / Grayson TPK

UPDATE (7/17/2014 at 12:11 p.m.):

Shortly before noon, officials on the scene of Monday evening’s train derailment in Wytheville made the decision to open US-21 to both northbound and southbound traffic.

A portion of Grayson Road remains single lane, as crews work to remove train wreckage from the scene.  Flaggers will direct motorists throughout the day, alternating the traffic flow.

Drivers are cautioned to expect delays, as the clean-up process is expected to take several additional days.

Local officials say that both lanes are expected to be opened to the public during nighttime hours.


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – This afternoon, local officials from both the Town of Wytheville and Wythe County met with Norfolk Southern crews and VDOT personnel to discuss the overall cleanup plan after Monday’s train derailment.

According to Norfolk Southern representatives, crews will be working in the area “during daylight hours” throughout the workweek and hope to be finished obstructing the roadways by Friday. Their work will include moving several pieces of heavy equipment, as well as transporting wrecked cargo from the scene.

Both lanes of US-21 (Grayson Turnpike in Wythe County and Grayson Road in Wytheville) will be open to the public, once crews have finished working for the day; however, the road will be closed to southbound motorists beginning tomorrow at 7 a.m. Drivers attempting to travel to Speedwell, from Wytheville, will be detoured onto Old Stage Rd. and High Bridge Rd.

In an effort to reduce backup, local officials will allow northbound traffic on Grayson Turnpike to continue throughout the day, however, they do caution that drivers may encounter some delays.

Help us get the word out about the detour. CLICK LIKE TO SHARE THIS ARTICLE! Thank you.

Wythe County Train Derailment

WYTHEVILLE, Va. –The Wythe County Joint Emergency Communications Center received an E-911 call at 6:12 p.m. on Monday, from a caller stating that a train had derailed near the intersections of Grayson Turnpike and Old Stage Road, in Wytheville, Virginia.

First responders arrived shortly thereafter and initially found at least nine train cars that had derailed.

Though no official evacuation was issued, emergency personnel did close parts of Railroad Avenue, as a precaution, until officials could confirm that the public was in no danger.

As the evening progressed, subsequent counts increased the number of derailed cars to fourteen, though no injuries were ever reported.

Many of the derailed cars contained automobiles, while others contained fingernail polish.

Local officials say the nail polish is classified as a HAZMAT Class 9 chemical.

Emergency personnel on the scene say they have not uncovered any spilled chemicals and, at this time, have no reason to believe the public or environment is in any danger.

Norfolk Southern will be responsible for clean-up efforts, which local officials say will take several days.

Additionally, county officials are urging citizens who live south of the Town of Wytheville along US-21 to seek alternative routes to work tomorrow, as the Norfolk Western train bridge, above Grayson Turnpike, is expected to remain closed throughout much of the day and possibly even longer.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook.


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Wythe County’s emergency communications team say they will be testing the county’s new mass notification system Thursday afternoon at approximately two o’clock.

The test is one of the final steps in having the program fully implemented and will give local officials one of their first views of the system in operation.

“Residents and businesses will receive a call on their landlines, informing them of the system test,” said Wythe County Emergency Communications Director, James Copeland.

Copeland added, “Residents who have registered their mobile devices will receive a phone call, text message or email, depending upon their registration preferences.”

The mass notification system was funded by a grant from the Wythe-Bland Foundation and is part of a cooperative effort between the towns of Rural Retreat, Wytheville and Wythe County.

Local leaders are encouraging citizens to register their mobile phones in order to receive special notifications from emergency officials regarding extreme weather and other dangers. Residents who wish to sign up their mobile devices can do so by clicking here or by filling out a form at the county administrator’s office.

“We hope to never have to use this program in a true emergency situation, but it just makes sense to be prepared,” said Ikey Davidson, Wythe County Emergency Manager.

CLICK LIKE to share this important message with your friends on Facebook!

Wythe County to Host Tire Collection Day

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – As part of a larger effort designed at beautify the county, the Wythe County Solid Waste Department will be hosting its tire collection day Saturday, July 19, 2014. The event will be held at the Kents Lane Collection Center, located at 261 Kents Lane in Wytheville.

Residents will be permitted to discard up to 100 tires per household at the event.

County citizens will need to call 223-6119 to make an appointment for their tire removal or use the open time from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. The open time will be first-come, first-served and will end at 2 p.m. or when the trailers are filled.

Wythe County’s code enforcement officer, A. B. Dunford says the collection day provides an ideal opportunity for residents to discard large quantities of tires in a legal and proper manner.

“Illegal dumping of any kind is a serious crime and can result in felony charges under certain circumstances,” stated Dunford, adding “Residents who dispose of their tires at the collection day event will be doing the community a great service.”

In addition to the county hosted tire collection day, which is opened to county households only, the local Farm Bureau will have a trailer on site that will be accepting commercial tires, as well as farm tires from Farm Bureau members.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!