Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke.

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

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Grants announced for food projects in Floyd, Franklin, Martinsville, Prince Edward

Gov. Ralph Northam has announced eight projects that will receive nearly $160,000 in funding through the inaugural round of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) Fund Infrastructure Grant Program. Projects supported through this round of funding support local food systems and include new and existing meat processors, goat dairies, farmers’ markets, and community canneries.  

Of those, four are in Floyd County, Franklin County, Martinsville and Prince Edward County.

The bill creating the project was introduced by Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke. In a statement released by the governor’s office, Rasoul said: “The Local Food and Farming Infrastructure program benefits both our communities and farmers, In the first round of grants, more than half of the projects are in economically distressed communities giving these communities access to fresh food and produce. This is exactly the way building a sustainable future should look.”

The new program competitively awards matching grants of up to $25,000 in partnership with local governments to develop community infrastructure development supporting local food production and sustainable agriculture. Targeted projects include food hubs, farmers markets, commercial kitchens and other value-added facilities such as those for the processing and packaging of meats, dairy products, produce, or other Virginia-grown products. The AFID Infrastructure Program provides reduced match requirements for economically distressed and underserved localities, and promotes projects that serve multiple producers.

The projects receiving funds include:

Equipment for New Meat Processor, Floyd County: $23,124. The Economic Development Authority of Floyd County is partnering with Firehouse Farms to establish a new meat processing facility for local livestock farmers. The facility will open as a custom-exempt facility later this winter and will become a USDA-inspected facility in two to three years. Funding will be used to purchase needed equipment for the facility, including meat saws, a meat grinder, and a vacuum sealer. 

New Boilers for Community Canneries, Franklin County: $25,000. Funding for this project will support infrastructure improvements for the Callaway Cannery and Glade Hill Community Canneries. The canneries allow for community members and local producers to support each other and preserve their harvests. Funds will go toward replacing the boilers at the facilities, which have been in operation for 80 years.

Farmers’ Market Improvements, City of Martinsville: $4,088. This project will assist the City of Martinsville in improving the Uptown Martinsville Farmers’ Market. Funds will be used to purchase shades to protect produce and vendors from the sun, new commercial grade scales to speed transactions, and a storage shed. In addition to securing valuable items when the market is closed, it will serve as an office for the market manager and provide an easily identifiable location for customers to go to take advantage of SNAP benefits.

New Boiler for Community Cannery, Prince Edward County: $25,000: Prince Edward County seeks funds to replace the nearly 50 year old boiler system at the Prince Edward County Cannery, which has been unable to keep pace with growing demand. As an FDA-registered Food Canning Establishment and VDACS-inspected commercial kitchen, the facility serves both public and commercial clients through an innovative partnership with the non-profit Virginia Food Works.

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Danville Community College now open for spring registration

Danville Community College is now open for registration for the Spring 2022 semester.

“With spring enrollment well underway, we are taking a look at the students that we serve and what they need from us in terms of accessibility,” said Muriel Mickles, interim president for DCC. “Many of our students work, care for children, or have other barriers that might make it difficult for them to come to campus during traditional business hours. Providing a weekend option for these individuals to come to campus and get registered for classes will support this need.” 

The DCC admissions office, as well as other student-serving areas, will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individuals can come in to inquire about classes, apply to attend DCC, register for classes and apply for financial aid. 

DCC will also be holding an Enrollment Event on Jan. 8, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to provide weekend access to those who wish to apply and enroll in classes for the spring semester.

For more information about Danville Community College, or to apply, visit

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Nicole Holt. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Veterinary college welcomes new director of Master of Public Health program

Nicole Holt has recently joined the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine as assistant professor of practice and director of the Master of Public Health program. 

Established in 2010, the MPH program focuses on rural/Appalachian health and One Health principles. One Health recognizes the interdependence of animal and human populations and promotes collaboration among medical, veterinary, public health and other professionals. 

The MPH program has the distinction of being the first MPH degree to be accredited at a veterinary college in the United States. The college also offers a dual degree program for those simultaneously pursuing their doctorate in veterinary medicine. 

“There are very few universities in the United States that have a one health focus — and here, it’s integrated throughout the entire program. That component really makes this program unique,” Holt said in a statement.

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Connie Allen of Pinkway. Courtesy of VCEDA

VCEDA approves seed capital grant for retail store in Richlands

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority recently approved a $6,500 seed capital grant for Pinkway, a retail store in Richlands that sells outique-style children’s clothing and unique home décor. It also has a bakery.

The business is owned by Connie Allen. She said Pinkway used the seed capital grant to purchase flooring for the bakery section of the store and for roof repairs on the store building.

Allen worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College in the development of her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year old and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise counties and the city of Norton.