The Fraction Family House at Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Here’s a round-up of news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to

After more than 150 years, Thomas Fraction receives honorable discharge from U.S. Army

On Nov. 6, members of Virginia Tech’s Black Cadet Organization presented descendants of Thomas Fraction with a certificate of honorable discharge 155 years after he was demoted and discharged without cause from the Union Army, according to a release from Virginia Tech.

Fraction fought in the Civil War alongside his brother Othello Fraction for the 40th United States Colored Infantry from Tennessee. Thomas Fraction became a soldier after escaping the Smithfield and Solitude plantations, now part of the Virginia Tech campus, where the Fraction family was enslaved by the Preston family.

In July 2021, the U.S. Army made a correction to Thomas Fraction’s military record after his third great granddaughter, Kerri Moseley-Hobbs, author of “More Than a Fraction,” petitioned them to review Thomas Fraction’s case. In addition to receiving the honorable discharge, Thomas Fraction was reinstated to the rank of sergeant, retroactive to April 25, 1866.

The ceremony took place at Smithfield Plantation, near the Fraction Family House at Solitude Plantation, which in April 2019 was named to acknowledge the McNorton, Saunders and Fraction families who all resided on the site at some point. While the ceremonial event commemorated the correction of Thomas Fraction’s military record, it also honored the service of all those who were enslaved and fought for their freedom during the Civil War.

The Fraction Family House was placed on the National Historic Registry, along with the rest of Solitude in 1989, but a living family connection remained hidden for decades.

“It feels like the naming was a spiritual homecoming for all of them who actually wanted to build their homes there,” Moseley-Hobbs said in a statement released by Tech. “It’s like vindication. You were right. You have a right to be there, and now you get to go home.”

Warner and Kaine list what infrastructure bill means for Virginia airports

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that airports in Virginia are expected to receive $399,740,660 in federal funds over the next five years as a result of the infrastructure bill signed into law last week. The expected amounts for airports in this part of the state:

Charlottesville-Albemarle: $15,444,835

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional: $14,977,645

Shenandoah Valley Regional: $5,066,130

Virginia Highlands: $1,480,000

Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive: $1,480,000

Danville Regional: $1,480,000

New River Valley: $1,480,000

Blue Ridge: $1,480,000

Twin County: $790,000

Mountain Empire: $790,000

Dinwiddie County: $790,000

William M. Tuck: $790,000

Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional: $790,000

Emporia-Greensville Regional: $550,000

Farmville Regional: $550,000

Ingalls Field: $550,000

Lee County: $550,000

Tazewell County: $550,000

Lonesome Pine: $550,000

Brookneal/Campbell County: $550,000

The funding represents Virginia’s share of $15 billion in direct grants to airports expected around the country.

Junior Achievement seeks volunteers in Salem

Junior Achievement is looking for volunteers to help in classrooms across Southwest Virginia. The group says the most immediate need is in Salem: “Starting the week of November 29thvolunteers will visit the classroom once a week for 5 weeks. Each visit will last approximately 45 minutes.”

To volunteer, sign up here. If you have any questions about the classes, timing, or dates, please email