James Cho: Making the World a Better Place

Business Major James Cho poses.

One step at a time, Radford University Business Major James Cho has extended the power of “servant leadership” amongst his peers.

“My life philosophy is if there’s an issue that can be solved, then I want to solve it. Someone needs to be the catalyst for everything,” Cho said.

He described one of the most precious things in life as the ability to find beauty in others.

“I want to be the catalyst to inspire [everyone in] the world to not only make themselves better, but also make their neighbors happier and better. I just want to spread my idea of what servant leadership is, and leaving the world better than you found it.”

So, what exactly does the phrase “making the world better” mean?

Refer to professional speaker and author Scott Sorrell’s saying: “You make the world a better place by making yourself a better person.”

In other words, an individual’s positive, inner-changes would circulate through others; accelerating betterment to a global status. And in Cho’s understandings, such betterment in a person may encompass the potential to see perfection in others.

“We’re all connected. We’re all citizens of a city, citizens of a country, of a state, of a nation, of a government, of a religion… We’re all connected in one way or another, so why not appreciate that relationship?” Cho said.

Cho’s philosophy blossomed at Frank W. Cox High School, where he became an active and influential figure. He joined the German Club his sophomore year of high school, and attained presidency his junior and senior year. In 2006, Cho expanded his avid identity by becoming a member of the National Honor Society and the Class of 2007 Executive Board. He became founder of the Guitar Club, as well as Cox Live, an open-mike night for students to showcase their talents. He represented two leadership programs, both inside and outside of school as co-chairman for the Frank W. Cox Leadership Workshop and as a prime advocate for the Virginia Beach Leadership Workshop. Cho concluded his senior year as vice president for the German Honor Society and as a loyal member to the Key Club and as vice president of the SCA (Student Council Association). He was awarded the Falcon Medallion by faculty and administration, which exemplifies overall excellence in school performance (only eight students receive this each graduation).

James Cho (center) spending time with his fraternity brothers.

In 2007, Radford University opened a new playground of opportunities into Cho’s life. His first plan of action was to join the SGA (Student Government Association), but he found himself wanting more. Cho acted on his next challenge: Greek Life.

“I just needed a sense of community; a sense of a place where I could make a difference, and I could take my philosophy into a new aspect,” he said.

Theta Chi-Iota Zeta Chapter was the perfect solution.

The fraternity’s motto, “extend the helping hand,” closely relates to Cho’s service mentality. The brothers aim to set

individual, ethical standards to serve the community. As a whole, they are able to accomplish much more than Cho was ever able to do on his own. He explored this advantage first hand.

Cho stepped up as president of Theta Chi in the fall 2010. His fraternity exceeded expectations, such as going to finals with the Radford University basketball team in intramurals, giving back more service hours than any other traditional organization on campus, having the highest GPA across the board in all Greek Life, and most recently, winning the President’s Cup (the highest award received by a fraternity for the most outstanding, overall achievement). Following his term as director of programming of Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) in 2010, he was elected president of IFC. This position enabled him to organize and communicate his ideas at a larger scale. He was, and still is, responsible for overseeing all of Greek Life at Radford University, as well as arranging retreats, leadership conferences, campus speakers, philanthropy events, community service efforts, and any other project pertaining to Greek Life. He is currently a peer instructor for New Student Programs and Community Liaison. Accordingly, Cho has been recognized as “Greek Man of the Year”. His peers are very supportive.

“Cho is an awesome person,” said Criminal Justice Major and Theta Chi Brother Jared Fraser. “He works really hard for what he believes in, and I feel like he shows that every day. He’s always working towards being better. He’s always striving to make other people feel good and make other people happy. He’s just a very influential person.”

Frank W. Cox High School classmate and Theta Chi Brother Da’mon Brown met Cho while rushing for Greek life.

“I didn’t know him personally, but Cho was like that guy in school who was always the head of something, always doing some kind of extracurricular activity, and always helping people.”

Cho further empowered Brown’s decision to take on the position as president of Theta Chi Chapter last year.

“I wasn’t even going to run for president, but Cho was like, ‘No. You would be a really good president,’ and he pushed me to run for it,” Brown said.

Today, Brown appreciates the strength of their relationship.

“Besides being fraternity brothers, I see him as like my best friend and mentor because ever since we’ve known each other, he’s been the one there for me; the one always pushing me to do more. I’ve realized that Cho is one of the good people in my life.”

Nonetheless, Cho hasn’t always been the same person he is today. Growing up in Virginia Beach, he lived day-to-day; setting aside concerns for when the time came, and living in the moment with not a care in the world.

“Life was simple. Life was easy, because I didn’t have to worry about a past. I didn’t have to worry about a future. I just had to worry about what’s going on now, and I just had to worry about future me worrying about future me,” Cho said.

On Feb. 29, 2004, a close friend’s passing channeled his “simple” lifestyle into a meaningful quest.

“She saw the light in everyone,” he said. “I took her philosophy for granted. She appreciated everyone, and that made me think, ‘What was I doing? Why couldn’t I see people in that aspect, and how could I make that a reality?’”

Frank W. Cox High School friends with Cho (left).

Cho promised himself that he would do everything it took to bring her philosophy to life, even if it meant changing himself. That’s where Catherine McCallum Bowles came in.

Bowles is a teacher and faculty advisor at Frank W. Cox High School.

“She says that I came to her, but honestly, I think she came to me. She found this random, little Asian kid that had potential. She saw so much potential in me that she said, ‘You can do this,’” he said. “She taught me so much about the philosophy of servant leadership. I see her as a leader. I see her as my role model. I see her as the kind of person that I want to be.”

Through Bowles, Cho was able to identify his own strengths and establish his objectives.

“I try to keep a smile on my face at all times,” said Cho. “I try to show none of my weaknesses, and at times of anger and at times of frustrations I’ll be stoic just so people won’t know that I’m angry; just so people won’t know that I’m sad, because I’m here for them.”

William Taylor Hall, a Communications Major at Auburn University, recalled how Cho “extended his helping hand” to him at Frank W. Cox High School.

 “Everything that I’ve done in my leadership career he has inspired me to do,” Hall said.

 Hall, who is four years behind Cho, met Cho through a friend his freshman year of high school. He has since become an active member in the SGA, as well as in the student leadership workshops at Virginia Beach. He earned the honor of Student Body President his senior year, and works closely with his church. Cho was one of the reasons why he is a student at Auburn University today.

“He told me every time I see him that he looks up to me, and every time he told me that I kind of took it upon myself to be his mentor,” Cho said. “He told me he chose Auburn University because of me… Hearing from someone that I was a mentor makes me so satisfied because that’s exactly what I want in life: To allow everyone to live their lives in a positive way.” 

When asked if he saw himself as a leader, Cho thought otherwise. He said he saw himself as more of a guide who showed each individual his or her true potential. And, perhaps, this role is just as important. Much like how Bowles did for him, guides tend to be the navigator behind a leader’s success.

 Still, Fraser saw Cho in a different light.

“He’s definitely a leader. Other people just kind of listen to him,” he said. “He’s very level-headed when he needs to be, and he can look at situations from an outside view without having his personal feelings involved. He’s very good at putting himself into other people’s shoes and being able to delegate things through that.”

Leader or no leader, Cho stands out from the crowd. He continues to put his needs aside to work toward a better world.

“Collectively, if we’re all on the same page, and we’re all on the page of bettering the world, then there are no boundaries or shackles where we can say, ‘Let’s make a better world today. Let’s make tomorrow better than today. Let’s make a month better than the day before that month,’ because if we’re on that mind set, we’re continually, progressively getting better.”

Cho with his "family" in Theta Chi Fraternity.

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Blacksburg Crime Report Analysis April 2011

Each week, the Blacksburg Police Department releases crime reports online that are distinguished by 68 possible types of crimes. For the month of April, however, only 16 of these types of crimes were reported: larceny, larceny from vehicle, larceny of vehicle parts, public intoxication, damaged property, aggravated assault, assault, drug possession, burglary, DUI, underage alcohol possession, fraudulent activities, robbery, shoplifting, trespassing, and forgery.

After reviewing Blacksburg crime statistics and reports over the course of the month of April, I have come to the following conclusions and inquiries:

There were a total of 195 crime reports released. Forgery was the most infrequent crime, while larceny outnumbered the other types of crimes by 53 reports. Through this finding, I’d have to wonder if larceny is related to college students at Virginia Tech trying to find a way to get by in the town of Blacksburg, or if this is a common understanding in most towns. 

Public intoxication was the next big issue, in which 43 arrests were made. I also associated this number with college students because alcohol tends to pose a problem in college environments. Even so, underage alcohol possession crimes were not issued frequently.

I found it interesting that damaged property crimes were so high- at 34 reports. Could these damages be related to leased housing and residential units in the area?

At 19 reports, assault was the fourth biggest crime. The crimes were rather scattered in their locations, as I struggled to make any correlations.

Finally, at the 3100 Block of Prices Fork Rd., fourteen crime reports were issued. This happened to be the biggest hot spot for crimes in the month of April. Is this location a low-income area? Is neighborhood watch in action?

Overall, crimes varied in their locations and by types, but the statistics did not surprise me, or at least, they did not stand out to me as anything out of the ordinary. To get a better understanding of where the town of Blacksburg stands in its relation to crimes, I could always study neighboring towns and compare statistics, frequencies, and locations. 


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Easter Egg Hunt for Rescued Pets

An unusual Easter Egg Hunt at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Blacksburg, Va., inspired dozens of children and community members to give back to the Montgomery County Humane Society.

Purina Cat Chow for the older kids to find

“We found this to be a terrific project because the kids got it. They really understood what they were doing,” said Karen Hager, the Director of Religious Education.

The project collected donations; such as, toys, bowls, food, litter and cleaning products listed on the Humane Society’s wish list, for four weeks. Its biggest feature, however, was the egg hunt. Nearly 500 plastic eggs were filled with dog treats and cat treats by the children to hunt for on Easter Sunday.

“We have a couple children here who have taken the religious education classes to heart and started volunteering for the Humane Society. That was kind of an inspiration to us,” said Hager.

This young man holds up a prized egg he found

She informed the kids ahead of time that the eggs were not going to be filled with candy, but doggy treats instead this year. They didn’t seem to mind.

“I felt really good about it, and I can’t wait till all the things get going,” said egg hunter and Humane Society volunteer, Benjamin Lally. “We got a lot of stuff.”

Lally started working with pets at the shelter two weeks ago.

“It’s a fun activity because as soon as you walk in the room, they are all whining and barking, and they have the things on the door that tell you what and where they came from. You are also allowed to go in the cages,” he said.

But the hunt wasn’t just about the animals. Five special eggs held a ticket inside, in which the children who found them received a choice from a selection of stuffed animals.

The kids bring their eggs back

“They’re having fun while they’re helping the pets,” said Hager.

She said the church already has social action committees in place that are helping with other organizations, so why not do something different?

“We’re all cat lovers and we’re all dog lovers,” Hager said.

Contributions were taken to the Montgomery County Humane Society immediately after the hunt. William Thomas, another recent volunteer at the shelter, rode along with his family to help.

“I’m thinking about going back [to the shelter] today, if I have the time,” Thomas said.

He is a proud owner of two cats, and hopes to adopt a dog from the shelter in the future.

Hager said the event went from one to get the kids involved, to one that captivated the adults into action. After receiving much positive feedback, she plans to host a second Easter Egg Hunt for rescued pets next year.

The nursery students gather for a picture



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Radford Circuit Court Hearing April 21, 2011

On April 21, 2011, Gloria Jo Chavarria pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery in the City of Radford’s Circuit Court.

“I would just ask that you go by any judgment you feel is right,” she said.

In the event of her crime (dated July 27, 2010), Chavarria was found intoxicated outside of a building waiting on a friend. When a law officer approached her, she demanded a light for her cigarette. He would not comply with her request, in which she began to curse and argue with the him. Soon after, someone walked by and offered her a light. The officer ordered her not to light the cigarette, but she did anyways and failed to obey his command. The officer than proceeded to arrest her. He handcuffed her and put her into a patrol car, where she began to kick at the officer, curse at him, threaten his life, and spat on him and inside the car. Her wreckless behavior continued into the holding cell. She later assaulted a second officer.

Chavarria accepted and agreed to all terms that she would be subjected to should she be found guilty in court.

In the end, she was charged with a felony and sentenced to two counts of five years in a state penitentiary with a suspension time of four years and four months. She was fined $200 and an additional $1,065. She will be on supervised probation for four years after she has completed her time. 

The officers did not wish to appear in court to testify.

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The Four Year Term

Radford University Spring Class of 2011 Graduation Cap

If anyone can recall the legendary Van Wilder from the 2002 teen hit movie Van Wilder, Wilder strayed in college an extra four years past his graduation term. During that time, he perfected his skills with the ladies and threw parties, courtesy of his Daddy’s paychecks. In essence, Wilder was the guy every girl wanted to get with and every guy wanted to be.

“No party gets started until it gets Wilder,” Wilder said.

So, what’s the deal? Does the “Van Wilder fantasy” exist on campus today? Are students lingering in college longer out of comfort?

Stevan Nape, the Vice Provost for Enrollment Planning and Management at Radford University, confirms that data suggests students are graduating later. While the total number of degrees distributed in the last few years has increased, graduation rates within the four year term have decreased, and graduates within the six year term have increased.

There are six major reasons why students may not receive their diplomas within the expected term: (1) financial dilemmas, (2) the student transferred to or from another school, (3) the student studied abroad, (4) the student changed majors, (5) academic performances, or (6) disciplinary charges. Other reasons include: the student realizes that staying longer is an option, the student may not fit into the social setting at the attended university, or the student takes fewer credit hours per semester.

“I think they are afraid that they won’t be able to find a job, especially with the way that financial situations are in the economy right now,” Nape said.

Aside from having to think about finding a job after graduation, some students are already burdened by the demands of a part-time job while attending school. This may account for a longer graduation term. Other students are forced to apply for financial aid.

Assistant Director for Financial Aid Karen Hedge works with students to help them accomplish their academic goals.

“The biggest thing we do here is guide them [the students] in the right direction. We don’t do it for them, but we show them how to do it, so that in the future they can do it themselves,” she said.

She directs them to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website, which is how all aid is awarded at Radford. Anyone is eligible to get student loans. FAFSA just determines what makes that person eligible and what type of aid the student should obtain.

The application is government funded and looks at a student and his or her family’s assets, income, dependency, household size, and the number of students from the household in college. This is an accepted assumption that the parents will contribute to their child’s education.

According to Radford University’s 2010 Fact Book, 51 percent of undergraduates who graduated borrowed while enrolled in the 2009-2010 school year.

“We encourage students to take out the loans enough so that they can stay in college, and that’s why they’re there, but we also encourage not to take out so much debt, because when they get out, they can’t afford to pay it back,” Hedge said.

The government does have caps on how much money can be borrowed, but it also regulates how much a student can get each year. Generally, students who spend more than four or five years in college run out of loan funds and are not allowed to attempt more than 180 hours without a degree.

“Unfortunately, some students don’t realize that they’re hard up for money, but so are we,” Hedge said. “Financial aid is not limitless. We get only a certain amount of money and it has to go to those students we feel who need it.”

This dilemma goes hand in hand with the recently passed In-State Tuition Surcharge. The law works to discourage professional students from staying past the recommended graduation term, in which it states that “for the 2009-2010 academic year, the surcharge will amount to $187 per credit hour for all credits earned beyond 152 credits for BA/BS students.” In other words, students attending college beyond their recommended 152 credit hours will be charged a fee for every credit hour they take.

Spring 2011 Graduation Gown

Some students feel this educational sacrifice for money is a vicious cycle. If it weren’t for the finances, staying in school longer could potentially provide a stronger foundation for a future career.

“The benefit of staying in school is furthering your education, but unfortunately, it’s too expensive to do that,” Junior Elizabeth Jackson said. “If I had the opportunity to get my master’s degree and my doctorate, I would definitely do that.”

Alumni Andrew Kinas agrees. He did not plan on staying an extra semester in school, but he transferred as a Social Science major from Lenior Ryan. Reality set in quick for him.

“I feel like it takes longer to get your degree than what your plan tells you. It’s better to take the extra time to know your stuff than finish early,” Kinas said.

Nonetheless, Nape warns that graduating late may not look good on a resume, as it reflects a student’s ability to get done on time. Even more importantly, the less people getting out into the job market, the harder the economy is hit. This is because a larger working class would feed a larger economy.

For these purposes, Radford University offers many opportunities to help students graduate on time. Some of these resources include: the Counseling Center, the Dean of Students, Disability Resources, Freshman Orientation, the Learning Assistance and Resource Center, McConnell Library, Multicultural and International Student Services, New Student Programs, Registrar, Residential Life, Residence Hall Association, Student Activities, Student Health Services, Student Support Services, and Substance Abuse and Sexual Abuse Services.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent not graduating on time is to come to college prepared.

Students should start researching their options in high school. They should use the career center, attend interest inventories and job seminars, take surveys, meet with strength career counselors and academic advisors, and simply talk with other college students. These would all help build a plan for success.

Sophomore Lucy Genidy hopes to be graduating a year early. She changed her major from Media Studies to Criminal Justice, but she took summer classes and had to override into classes for a couple of semesters to make up for lost time.

“It might be a little hard after I graduate, because I’m not going to be old enough to be a cop, but I feel like the Criminal Justice program has taught me a lot about what I’ll need to be prepared for,” Genidy said.

Debra Templeton and William Dixon of the Institutional Research Department at Radford deal with federal/state reporting for first generation statuses of students. They help with student financial aid, and report information on every student in terms of enrollment, graduation and employees.

They reported that annually, there are about 10,000 students at Radford University. There were 9,007 in the fall of 2010. A high 92 percent of these students came from Virginia, and another large percent came from out of state in the New England areas. Fifty-eight percent were female, and thirteen percent were minority students.

There are nearly 70 types of degrees available to students. The top five majors are: Pre-Major, Interdisciplinary Studies and Elementary Education, Exercise, Sports and Health Education, Pre-Business, and Criminal Justice. The top three degrees awarded are in History, Marketing, and Accounting. Very few students graduate with a BA versus a BS degree.

Like any other school, retention rates vary among students, but everyone is allowed the same opportunities and freedom to use as much time as they need to be successful and graduate. In fact, one of the beauties of college is a student’s ability to learn about oneself and what needs are right for him or her.

Collins Monette, a Business Administrations major and transfer student, will not be graduating on time. He says he feels concerned to enter the real world, but has become more confident as he takes more courses in his major.

“It’s all about the victory lap,” Monette said, in reference to his last two years in college.

This was the same part of the journey Van Wilder was forced to discover within himself. He had to recognize his fear of graduating and make a decision about his future beyond college. In the end, Wilder chose facing the unknown in the real world over living in a “college fantasy”.

Congratulations, Spring Class of 2011!



Radford University Fact Book 



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Larry Gibson

Larry Gibson looks over a mountain top removal site

“See these mountains right here?” Larry Gibson said as he gazed over miles of flattened land. “They used to be taller than the one we’re standing on.”

Gibson’s family history on Kayford Mountain goes back to ancestral times. He now uses that land to educate people about Mountain Top Removal (MTR).

“Whenever you all come to anything, the best weapon you can have is what you’ve got in your head,” Gibson said.

MTR is an alternative mining technique that blasts off the tops of mountains in order to reach coal. It has been in practice since the 1960s, and was driven by the high demands for fossil fuels during the petroleum crises in the 1970s.

For 20 years now, Gibson has fought back against MTR in West Virginia. He refuses to sell his fifty-plus acres to coal mining companies, for which his property is now encircled by coal mining sites.

“I’ve got a fortress here. I’ll tell you why: I’m staying, man. Every room I’ve got, I’ve got protection,” he said.

He asserts that the realities of MTR are what drove him to seek change.

Every blast into the Earth’s crust releases toxins into the air. The exposed particles, usually made up of sulfur compounds, are hazardous to human health and are likely to settle on nearby properties. As of a result, the rates of lung cancer, chronic heart and kidney disease have all increased near mining sites.

Fly-rock is another issue connected with mine explosions. Rocks blown from mines are unpredictable and can be as large as a full-sized pick-up truck. In an event that these fragments are over-shafted, they could potentially block roads, stream ways, or even worse, take lives. This possibility leads to the alteration of landscapes, where species are forced to adapt to their new environments. In a number of cases, some have even become endangered.

The green grass plays a deceiving role at an MTR site.

By law, the shape of the mountain must be pieced back together. Coal companies try to get around this regulation by using a fast-growing topsoil “substitute”. This makes it tough for trees and vegetation to grow, and it is not stable enough to build on. Excess rock is also displaced into valleys below, over streams and spring water, causing permanent loss of ecosystems and an increased release of metal ions, electrical conductivity, and pH. Destructive particles are responsible for eating away at the bones of natural and man-made structures. On that note, chronic pulmonary disorders and hypertension have been diagnosed in humans as a result of this chemically polluted water.

Gibson is currently suffering from the effects of MTR on his own property. Large cracks on surfaces caused by underground mines are dangerous to his home. Mine explosions have made his water undrinkable; the air he breathes has become contaminated, and he is unable to visit his family’s grave site without acquiring permission from the coal company (the coal company took over this site). For these purposes, Gibson has risked his life.

“You know what’s really cheap here? That has no value whatsoever?” he said. “Life: the most precious thing you need here! And we cannot survive without water and air… Why do we, in the Appalachians, got to negotiate for all these things?”

In order to spread the word about MTR, Gibson founded a number of organizations, two of which include the Stanley Heirs Foundation and The Keeper of the Mountain. These groups “aim to educate and inspire people to work for healthier, more sustainable mountain communities and an end to mountaintop removal.” He is also affiliated with many other social action groups, such as Mountain Justice and Citizens Against Coal Ash.

His advocacies; however, come with great penalties. Gibson has literally put his life on the line. One of his dogs was shot, while another was hung from his porch. His cabin was burned, and he was raced off the road in his truck. He’s been beaten up, and shot at in drive-by shootings, but he refuses to give up.

Gibson is no longer just fighting for his land. He is fighting for human rights to live in peace without the effects of MTR. 

“I’ve been shot at and everything, but I’m still here! You cannot back out of what you believe. If you give that up, then what do you own? What do you have that belongs to you? Once you give that up, it belongs to somebody else. If you give that up, then you have truly lost,” he said.

Scenic view of the mountains in West Virginia.

But it doesn’t mean the coal mining companies are necessarily “bad”. The problem with the sustainability of coal mines is that nearly half of the electricity generated in the United States is produced by power plants fueled by coal. More importantly, West Virginia claims one of the highest percentages of coal fuel use in the country. The loss of the coal industry would devastate West Virginia’s economy, where unemployment is high and jobs are scarce.

Nonetheless, MTR not only accounts for less than five percent of fuel production in America, but it offers less occupational positions than any other mining technique. The controversy is that standard mining methods may endanger more workers.

The most that the coal companies can do is to be responsible for the environment, but they’ve still got a long way to go before they even consider leaving the mountains. And in that case, Gibson will continue to march on.

“I’ve got rights too. I’ve got rights. I’m somebody, and I don’t need no damn body to tell me I’m somebody. Shit, I count, you know?” he said.

In the year 2012, the United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that MTR will clear over 2,200 square miles of Appalachian forests.

“If you got somebody who’s approaching you today, and you want to stand for something, and they say to you, ‘How do you feel today? Do you still feel like what you’re fighting for is worth it?’ And if you answer like he wants you to, you will take that day with you for the rest of your life. You should answer like you should… You should never let intimidation work… Let this individual know that you’re talking to somebody who still wants to be there… you come to stay… you brought your lunch.”

Larry Gibson's truck

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West Virgina Mountain Top Removal Photo Gallery

This gallery contains 27 photos.

                                                                                … Continue reading

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Roanoke County Police Releases April 2011

April 26, 2011

Around 2:30 p.m. at a store on 8th Street and Moorman Road, Roanoke Police responded to an assault crime. Twenty-one year-old Damian Maurice Watkins was allegedly approached by several black males, who seemed to have mistaken him for someone else. When he told them that he was not the person they were looking for, they followed him to his car, and blocked him in with two other vehicles. Watkins fled from the scene, in which he was captured and physically assaulted by the other men. They stole a number of his personal belongings, along with his money, and drove his car to a near by street. The vehicle was recovered unoccupied when located. Watkins’ injuries were reported non life threatening, and he was released from Carilion Hospital. Police ask that any information related to this crime should be reported to the Roanoke Police Department at (540)853-5959 or Crime Line at (540)344-8500.


April 18, 2011

Officers responded to reports of vandalism that took place on April 17. Over twenty-three vehicles were found spray painted with white paint. So far, no arrests have been made, but police ask that information relating to this or additional crimes be reported to the Roanoke Police Department at 853-5959 or Crime Line at 344-8500 for a monetary reward.

The following locations should be monitored for criminal activity: the 3600 and 3700 blocks of Sunrise Avenue, 2700 block of Cedarhurst Avenue, 3600 and 3700 blocks of Round Hill Avenue, 3800 block of Shady Lawn Avenue, 2800 block of Oakland Boulevard, 2600 and 2700 blocks of Broad Street, 2900 block of Clarendon Avenue, and 3900 block of Richland Avenue.


April 14, 2011

Officers responded at 10:18 p.m. to an attempted robbery incident, in which the victim was shot. Alan Wiley Wright, 49, was hospitalized at Carilion Memorial Hospital. He said that he had parked his car near the intersection of 2nd Street and Mountain Ave. to walk to a convenience store at the intersection of 2nd Street and Elm Ave. As he was walking back to his car, he was approached by two suspects, one with a gun. They demanded money from him, and when he attempted to flee he was shot. He said he was able to get into his car, drive home, and then go to the closes hospital. The suspects were described as two black males. Reward money may be offered to anyone who may have information. Contact the Roanoke Police Department at 853-5959 or Crime Line at 344-8500.


April 11, 2011

Roanoke Police responded to a robbery encounter at the 1500 block of Gilmer Avenue. A woman claimed that she had been assaulted and robbed on a walk. She described the suspect as a black, 20 year-old male wearing an orange shirt and gray shorts. He has not yet been located. Police ask that local residences remain on the look out and report additional information regarding this or other crimes to the Roanoke Police Department at 853-5959 or Crime Line at 344-8500. Reward money may be offered to those who are able to provide a lead.


April 7, 2011

Roanoke Police confirmed that an e-mail marketing firm, Epsilon, has compromised millions of consumers’ personal information. The story made national news when it first started problems in Texas. Customers of major retailers and service providers such as Kroger, Walgreens, Home Shopping Network, US Bank, and JP Morgan Chase were receiving e-mails that contained viruses connected to ‘spoofed websites,’ where financial information or identity theft was obtained. This incident enticed Roanoke Police to investigate the branch that serves Western Virginia. They identified the same scam. Police say the breach is not interested in credit card information, rather, e-mail addresses. The department warns e-mail users to exercise caution online, deny e-mails that ask for personal information, and contact the company directly if there is any concern for information.



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Radford Drug Bust

Police Officer E. B. Martin reported probable cause for a search warrant at 1315 Lawrence Street in Radford, Va. The home, described as a two-story, brick residence with a crown shingle roof and a concrete porch, was suspected to house possession of marijuana, records confirming the possession of illegal drugs, owe sheets, photographs, packing material, computer or other electronic media relating to the possession of marijuana, as well as other illegal drugs. The warrant also commanded to seize property for evidence, and to produce the Radford Circuit Court an inventory of all property, persons and objects seized. 

The search warrant went into effect on Feb. 15, 2011, in which 16 counts of items were extracted. Information was processed into the circuit court on Feb. 16, 2011.

Seventeen plastic bags with plant material were located throughout the house, as well as 22 smoking devices, two digital scales, two grinders and one gritter, one glass jar with plant material, and $864 in cash.

No additional information was released.

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Judge James P. Jones Opinions April Review

April 19, 2011

James Renwick Manship, Sr. (Plaintiff) v. Paul H. Thomson, ET AL. (Defendant)

Judge James P. Jones dismissed James Renwick Manship, Sr.’s proposed demand that Jeffrey Franklin Washington receive a new jury trial.

Manship believed that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was violated during the first trial of Washington, an inmate at the Greenville Correctional Facility in Jarratt, Virginia for the murder of Mr. Carlos Marshall.

Manship is part of the “God County Foundation,” serving as “Chaplain” of the “Amos 5:15 Project- an organization to “remodel your courts into true halls of justice”. He claims he is an authorized advocate for Washingotn and that he is the next friend of the daughter of Carlos Marshall. Manship also believes that the law enforcement and the Virginia court system wrongly convicted Washington for the death of Carlos Marshall. This is the second time he has attempted to file a suit against the Virginia court system, in which his first case was dismissed because of a lack of supporting evidence.

Manship is attempting to defend Washington because he believes he was wrongly convicted. He wants to assist Marshall’s daughter who wishes to bring her father’s true murderer to justice.

Any person has the right to present his own claims in court, but one may not litigate on another person’s behalf except for a few extreme exceptions. Manship claims that he is legally allowed to file this claim because of the Virginia’s Uniform Power of Attorney Act, or “next friend” theory. However, a power of attorney does not give him the power to act as an attorney, and he cannot act as an attorney unless he is defending himself. To bring suit under the “next friend” theory to defend the daughter of the murder victim, that “next friend” needs to be proven unable to litigate her own case because of the situation of mental incapacity, or another disability. For instance, most of these cases are for parents defending their minor children.

Manship followed the law in applying his paperwork, but failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted. There was no reason why the daughter of the murder victim, Carlos Marshall, could not litigate her own case. His claim was dismissed for little evidence against the Virginia court system, and he did not qualify as authority on her behalf.


April 19, 2011

Ronnie L. Edwards (Plaintiff) v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security(Defendant)

Ronnie L. Edwards was allowed reconsideration to his case involving the Commissioner of Social Security denying him Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Social Security Income (SSI) Benefits. His claims were well-received.

Edwards presented the following evidence to support his argument:

In September 2006, he filed for Social Security benefits relating to his arthritic degenerating discs, heart problems, carpal tunnel, and numbness in his right leg. Edwards received a video hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), in which his request was denied. 

His troubles began after suffering from a workplace injury to his back on Dec. 17, 2001. He was referred to a physical and medicative treatment center, but his pain persisted into 2002. Edwards was introduced to Orthopedist Brenda McKinney, who became his main care physician for chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, and medication treatment. On a number of occassions, McKinney cleared Edwards from work.

In 2004, Edwards’ condition worsened. He was directed to Orthopedist C.S. Whitman. Whitman diagnosed Edwards with chronic back pain with degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine caused by possible facet pain generators. He recommended that Edwards limit his work to three shifts a week, with a day off inbetween each shift. Because he was not able to fulfill a full-time work schedule, however, Edwards was fired. 

He began treatment for depression in 2005, in which he complained of pain and anxiety symptoms that persisted into 2007. This caused him to seek treatment from both Elizabeth Hubbard and Louis Perrot. Hubbard prescribed him a panic disorder medication. Louis Perrot, on the other hand, reviewed Edwards’ medical records and found no severe mental impairment. He also noted that Edwards was not restricted to his daily living and social functioning, with the exception of mild difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistance, or pace. Despite Perrot’s findings, Physician Donald Williams reported that Edwards continued to have pain that significantly impacted his ability to work in 2007.

Finally, in 2008, Whitman performed a functional capacity evaluation on Edwards, only to discover permanent limitations to his lower back of sitting for a maximum of thirty minutes. He was also only able to lift a maximum of twenty-five pounds, carry a maximum of twenty pounds, and was not able to repetitively bend, stop, or lift.

After reviewing Edwards’ medical history, the ALJ found that Edwards suffered from the following severe impairments: lumbar strain with degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease, neuropathy of lower extremities, and headaches. Edwards was found to perform a limited range of work in occupations that existed in significant numbers in the economy. His claims of depression and anxiety were found to have caused only minimal limitations to his ability to perform basic mental work activities.  On another note, the ALJ observed that he was close to the old age category in March 2008. Therefore, benefits were granted to him after March 1, 2008, but his claims were denied for the period of August 17, 2004 to March 1, 2008. Ultimately, the ALJ found that he was not disabled under the Act.

In response, Edwards challenged the ALJ’s ruling for benefits during that period. He argued that the decision was not supported by significant evidence. Specifically, he reasoned that the ALJ did not properly consider the additional effects of his impairments, and that the ALJ correlated little attention to his main treatment sources. Edwards also asserted that his severe mental impairment was supported by evidence.

Judge James P. Jones studied his claims. He recognized that the Commissioner determines benefits based on five consecutive evaluations: (1) the client has worked during the period of disabillity (2) has a severe impairment (3) has a condition that equals the severity of a listed impairment in Act (4) could return to past relevant work, and (5) if not, whether he could perform other work present in the national economy. Should any of the evaluations show that Edwards is not disabled, the inquiry will be dismissed.

Judge Jones found that the ALJ relied on evidence that was not sufficient enough to support the decision. One such example is using his “fairly normal” daily activites as a reference to his overall health. His activities of daily living do not implicate his ability to work under certain conditions. 

He awknowledged that Edwards had approached all avenues of therapy, pain management, and regular follow-up appointments with his treatings sources for recovery. Edwards had also fully complied with given recommendations of his providers. Not to mention, Edwards had a loyal work history and attempted to continue working despite his disability. Dr. Whitman and McKinney deserved more credibility for their assessments of Edwards’ conditions than what the ALJ granted.

It was not necessary to review his mental impairment claims, as evidence provided by Edwards already demonstrated that he had a disability by physical impairments during the time period denoted. Judge Jones settled that the DIB and SSI benefits were indeed appropriate, and the Commissioner’s request for Summary Judgment was denied.

Judge Jones will be entering a final judgment to calculate payments of benefits entitled to Edwards.


April 18. 2011

James M. Stanley (Plaintiff) v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security (Defendant)

Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia supported the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security to deny James M. Stanley Social Security benefits.

In the case, Stanley applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income due to high blood pressure, depression, obesity, hypertension, and dyslexia in May 2006. Coupled with limited education, he claimed that this negatively impacted his impairments. He has received special education up to the seventh grade, but is unable to read or write. On a similar note, he worked on an automobile assembly line in the past, but has not since returned to work.

This is the second time Stanley has applied for benefits since July 2004, in which his claims were denied by the Commissioner of Social Security, and finally, by an Administratice Law Judge (ALJ). The Social Security Appeals Council also denied his request for a reconsideration.

As of a result, Stanley took his case to Judge Jones. He presented the following evidence to support his claims: 

From September 2004 through February 2007, James A. Bell treated Stanley for physical and mental impairments. Dr. Bell noted that his conditions would make it impossible for him to work. He prescribed him medications for his hypertension, gastrointestinal reflux disease, and depression.

At the same time, Stanley received outpatient mental health care from Robert S. Spangler at the Scott County Mental Health Center. Spangler tested Stanley’s IQ in 2005, in which he was placed at a verbal IQ level of 74, a performance IQ score of 85, a full scale IQ score of 77, and he tested positive for borderline retardation. In a medical assessment, he was also found to be seriously disadvantaged in work-related environments.

In 2007, Dr. Spangler diagnosed Stanley with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, low borderline intelligence, functional illiteracy, marginal education and math skills and personality disorder. He also found that Stanley was not able to handle work-related stress well, and that he was unable to manage benefits to the best of his interests. Dr. James M. Turnball confirmed Spangler’s findings in his own assessments of Stanley.

Psychologist E. Hugh Tenison, on the other hand, reviewed Stanley’s records in 2007. He found that Stanley only had mild restrictions to daily life, and concluded that Stanley could meet the basic mental demands of work despite his limitations.

The ALJ asserted that Stanley had severe impairments of hypertension, obesity, depressive disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning, but none of these conditions met a listed impairment under the Act. A similar case to Stanley’s also held that someone of his limited abilities could perform as an assembler, sorter, laundry worker, non-farm animal care, street vendor, attendant, or dishwasher. There are over 83,000 jobs in this market available to Stanley. Thus, the ALJ found that Stanley was able to perform work and was not entitled to such claims for Social Security benefits.

Stanley believed that the ALJ did not reference significant evidence, as his impairments are equal to mental retardation under the Act. He also argued that the ALJ flawed in its assessment of his daily functioning. In his appeal, he focused on his mental condition.

Judge James P. Jones determined that in order for Stanley’s claims to qualify for relief, it was necessary for him to show that he is unable to do work, or engage in any other kind of profitable work experience in the economy. A diagnosis alone would not be proof sufficient enough to meet the requirements of a medical condition under the Act.

There are strict qualifications under the Security Act for benefits, in which the applicant must pass all steps in a five-point evaluation, he must demonstrate a full scale IQ of 60 through 70, and a physical or mental impairment imposing additional limitations.

Much of the ALJ’s final decision relied on Stanley’s IQ scores, as Stanley never fell below 70. Another important factor for dissmissing Stanley’s request was that his claims of disabilities were not supported by documentation. The ALJ also presented evidence that Stanley’s limitations were not restrictive compared to prior assessments results. This was supported by B. Wayne Lanthorn’s studies on Stanley. Stanley may, indeed, suffer from physical and mental impairments, but he is able to perform moderate work.

On that note, the findings do not meet the criteria for a disability. Stanley’s case was immediately suspended upon further consideration because it did not meet one of the five points of criteria the Commissioner looks at when deciding who’s applicable.

Judge Jones determined that the Commissioner’s decision to deny Stanley of disabilities should be upheld.


April 18, 2011

Jeannie M. Marshall (Plaintiff) v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security (Defendant) 

The Commissioner of Social Security denied Jeannie M. Marshall’s motion for Social Security benefits. Marshall challenged his decision and was denied additionally by a magistrate judge on the basis of factual evidence. Judge James P. Jones favored the judgment.  

At 31 years old, Marshall was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. She is still able to work and function in the national and local economy, and has not objected to this evidence, either.

Records show that Marshall is not suffering from mental retardation. She is able to take care of her mentally disabled husband and her needs at home. She also received her driver’s license, completed up to the 8th grade in school, and tested to have a full-scale IQ of 79.

Nonetheless, Marshall is only able to perform simple work, so a magistrate judge remanded the case for furthur consideration.

In return, Marshall was awarded simple work guidelines, in which she would receive minimal contact with the public, coworkers and supervisors at work in observation of her conditions. Supplemental benefits were not awarded.


April 18, 2011

United States (Plaintiff) v. Jose Santiago (Defendant)

Judge James P. Jones denied inmate Jose Santiago’s motion to clear his sentence on the basis of claims of court error and ineffective assistance.

On February 22, 2007, a grand jury charged Yayah Talib, James Dawson, Catherine Marie Flading, and Jose Santiago with the possession and intent to distribute heroin in a prison. Talib, Dawson and Santiago were inmates at the United States Penitentiary in Lee County, in which Flading smuggled heroin into the prison for them to distribute.

Flading and Dawson immediately pleaded guilty. Talib, however, trialed with a standby cousel, or an attorney, who was appointed to assist as needed. Because Santiago felt as though this would put him at a disadvantage because his case would most likely be associated with Talib’s, he motioned to separate his hearing. His inquiry was denied, and he was found guilty on two counts of crime charges, possession and distribution. Santiago was imprisoned for 262 months after pleading not guilty.

In response to his sentence, he requested that the decision be reconsidered by the United States Court of Appeals. He believed that he was entitled to relief on grounds that (1) counsel did not remove his case after it was presumed that he would be correlated with Talib’s case, (2) counsel neglected to acquire a forensic voice expert to testify that the voice heard on the recorded telephone conversations was not his, (3) the court faltered in using only one witness to compare and confirm that the voice on the tape was Santiago’s, (4) counsel did not challenge the integrity of the converted audio tapes to digital recordings, and (5) finally, the court failed to separate Santiago’s case from Talib’s case.

Judge Jones investigated the request for an appeal, and found that Satiago lacked supporting evidence. In order for him to have acquired relief, he needed cause for assumed correlation with Talib’s case, as well as proof that a mistake in counsel action would have been reason for a different outcome. If Santiago demonstrated that counsel’s actions violated the his constitutional right to effective assistance, his case would be continued.

Nonetheless, Judge Jones found that claims three and five were barred from review for absense of cause of prejudice. Santiago did not present any specific evidence that Talib’s trial increased the likelihood of his conviction, nor did he demonstrate that he was, indeed, innocent. He also failed to show that separating hearings would have resulted in any different outcome.

At Lee County’s Penetritiary, all telephone conversations are recorded, in which recordings of Dawson, Talib and Santiago were all connected to Flading. They indicated secret langauge codings, in which business was conducted.

Bryant Kilgore, a prison investigator testified against the phone calls. He confirmed that Santiago’s voice was the one on the tapes, and that a prisoner was also connected to Santiago’s telephone access codes.

In one such tape, Satiago ordered a woman named Iris Rivera to hide drugs inside a stuffed animal in coded language. When the stuffed animal was retrieved inside a package sent to Sonya Iris Melendez in New York, it contained a stuffed elephant with heroin secreted in its tail.

Santiago contested against these tapes, arguing that a “spectrograph” should have been used to compare the coice on the tapes with his own. He did not, however, demonstrate that the test would have resulted in a different outcome. He also argued that the recordings of the telephone conversations had been altered when they were transferred from to a CD for digital recording. He said that he heard his own voice at the trial, but could not recall ever saying those things. Kilgore testified that he merely transferred the digital recordings from the prison’s equipment to a CD for use at trial. Again, this goes back to ineffective counsel assistance, in which Santiago alleges that if he had known before trial that the tapes would be admitted against him, he would have asked for a voice analysis.

Another piece of significant evidence that Santiago was not innocent was Dawson sent nearly identical items in a package to Santiago’s to Iris.

In conclusion, Judge Jones denied Santiago’s motion for a separate trial. 


April 14, 2011

Patsy Edmonds Smith (Plaintiff) v. City of Galax (Defendant)

Judge James P. Jones ordered that Patsy Edmonds Smith’s requests for motion against the City of Galax be both granted and denied. His conclusion was reasoned upon the following arguments:

After nearly 19 years of employment, Smith was asked to leave her job as a dispatcher from the Galax, Virginia Police Department on April 7, 2008. She believed that her termination as an employer was based on her gender and age. 

In defense, the Police Department countered her claims under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. This would leave out the details of the case for later, in which the actual law would be accentuated over Smith’s allegations. The motion was granted. Smith, however, was allowed to re-file a complaint against the City of Galax on the basis that she could present factual evidence.

She did just so.  

After tens years of valuable employment at the Galax Police Department, Smith endured a challenging divorce with her ex-husband. The changes in her personal life crippled her work ethic, in which the department reported that she would smoke outside the office building, she was not readily available to pick up extra shifts, and failed to follow vacation and sick leave procedures. Smith argued that this triggered the disapproval by her fellow employees, including Chief Rick Clark, who treated her “differently”.  

In 2002, Smith was suspended from work for 15 days and was ordered to seek psychological counceling after her ex-husband asked police that Smith not enter their former home without his presence. No filings were documented.  

Finally, in March 2008, Smith asserted that she was granted vacation time to care for her sick sister. When she returned to work, she was surprised to receive a termination letter written by Chief Clark. The only explanation that he could provide was the incident in 2002 involving her ex-husband. 

Smith was immediately replaced by a younger female dispatcher from outside the department. She felt convinced that her termination was motivated by Chief Clark’s desire to hire this younger woman. But because Smith’s replacement was female as well, and her position at the office was not subjected for another six years after her divorce, her claims for sex discrimination were dismissed. 

Smith failed to reference any direct evidence, but instead showed that the employer’s actions were motivated by discriminatory intent through indirect circumstantial evidence. 

Smith mentioned that a former officer’s wife told her that Chief Clark questioned her husband’s retirement plans, and than fired him shortly after he heard that he had no plans. Chief Clark told him he would be terminated if he did not file for retirement. This proved an intent of discrimination by Chief Clark.  

In this manner, Smith’s claim for sex discrimination was denied, however, her claim for age discrimination was continued.


April 11, 2011
United States of America (Plaintiff) v. Francis David Sherman (Defendant)

After failing to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Francis David Sherman’s motion to dismiss charges by the United States of America was denied.

Sherman was convicted as a sex offender in the states of Illinois and Missouri after committing rape and sexual assault in 1981 and 1998. He was required to register as a sex offender under Virginia and Federal Law when he moved to Virginia in 2008.

Every 90 days, Sherman followed through with the Virginia Code, in which he updated information and provided his address from initial registration. His next reporting date was due April 8, 2009.

In March of 2009, however, Sherman left Virginia. He stole an automobile and credit card with his girlfriend from her mother. They reappeared in Casper, Whyoming, and then hitchhiked into Canada. He was arrested in Carberry, Manitoba in September of 2010.

Sherman composed three arguments against his convictions: (1) he believed that he was not obligated to notify Virginia authorities of his intention to relocate to Canada, because SORNA does not practice jurisdiction over United States citizens in foreign countries. (2) He contended that relocating was not a criminal offense, and that he was only reponsibile for notifying authorities in his new residency. (3) Sherman claimed that SORNA was unconstitutional.

Withal, the court found that it is a criminal offense to neglect to register as a sex offender, in which the consequences could run as high as up to ten years in prison. The offender also must register and inform authorities if certain information is changed, such as an address.

Sherman also lived in Wyoming for an extended period of time, where he was temporarily employed. Regardless of his foreign jurisdiction argument, this information indicated that he was not following correct procedures. 

In disputing the constitutionality of SORNA, Sherman claimed that the Attorney General’s ability to apply guidelines and regulations on offenders convicted before the enactment date was unconstitutional, because it created new penalties not known at the time the sex offender committed his offenses. Even so, such authority has been found acceptable, as long as Congress does not intervene on SORNA rules. 

Sherman also found SORNA’s registration requirements to be punitive in effect. In a previous Supreme Court case, however, the court decided that the expectations were nonpunitive for safety reasons on preventing future sex crimes.

For these reasons, Sherman’s arguments failed.

March 28, 2011

Buchanan County, Etc. (Plaintiff) v. Equitable Production Company, et al. (Defendants)

After considerable review, Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia denied Buchanan County’s request to move their case against Equitable Production Company (EPC) to the state court. He reasoned that legal judgment involving state tax law is a fair gesture in federal courts.

In the initial case, Buchanan County claimed that EPC, an electric power company, made false calculations in taxes charged to the county. The county filed against EPC for a review, as well as compensation from taxes owed from previous years. EPC removed the case to the circuit court.

Buchanan County argued that a circuit court hearing was “improper,” and responded by motioning to advance the case to state court in conformity to the Tax Injunction Act.

Under the Tax Injunction Act, the power of a federal court to hear and try a case is surrendered to the state court. This would allow for the desired relief sought by the county.

Nonetheless, Buchanan County did not account for the act’s rejection to hear action sought by taxpayers to stop procedures. The county also failed to reference similar cases in which the trial was removed to the state court. In fact, the same argument was dismissed in other cases.

One example is a case in Jefferson County, in which the court held that the Tax Injunction Act does not bar jurisdiction in federal courts. The only exceptional circumstance to this case, as with all similar cases, would be when a difficult question or matter is raised. In this way, federal review would not be an appropriate approach.  

In Buchanan County versus EPC, a hearing in the circuit court is deemed acceptable and not necessary to be tried in a state court.


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