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

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Drive-through COVID testing events set in Roanoke Valley

The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are holding two free drive-through COVID testing events this week.

These are nasal PCR tests, no appointment necessary, while supplies last:
Tuesday, Jan. 4, 1-5 p.m., Salem Civic Center
Thursday, Jan. 6, 3-5 p.m., Fincastle Baptist Church

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Vaccination site opens Wednesday in Roanoke

The health districts are also opening a vaccination site in the former Sears building at Valley View Mall in Roanoke. Starting Wednesday, Jan. 5, it will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to administer COVID vaccines. First and second doses, and boosters, are available for those 16 and up.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted. For questions, call 540-613-6597.

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Carilion Franklin implements new visitation policies

Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital has raised its visitation policy to “red status.” No visitors will be permitted with the following exceptions:


  • Patients with physical limitations or cognitive impairments, as indicated by the need for a 1:1 sitter, may have one designated visitor.
  • Two designated visitors will be permitted for pediatric patients (visitors must be family members and 18 or older).
  • One designated visitor for adult trauma patients.    
  • High-risk immunocompromised patients may have restricted visitation on a case-by-case basis as determined by clinical team.
  • Visitation for end-of-life patients will be allowed and coordinated by staff and administration.


  • No visitors, unless staff determine special assistance is required, or physician has asked the patient to bring a responsible adult.
  • One designated visitor will be permitted for outpatient pediatric patients (visitor must be a parent or legal guardian).   

Care teams continue to encourage visitors to remain connected to their loved ones through virtual means, including Skype, FaceTime, and/or phone. While visitation is limited, there is no disruption to regular services for patients.   

Currently, CFMH is the only Carilion facility making this change. Each Carilion hospital is evaluating visitation on a weekly basis based on its own community’s positivity rate, spread of COVID-19, and mask compliance. 

In a statement, Carilion Franklin said: “This was not a decision that CFMH leaders made lightly. Based on the current data, however, it’s the best decision to protect patients, visitors, and staff.”

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Sharon Thomas, one of the owners of Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants, Inc., stands in front of the new business location on Squire Lane in North Tazewell. Above her on the building is a solar-powered parking lot light. Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants, Inc. is a recent recipient of a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant.

VCEDA approves seed capital grant for Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants Inc.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has approved a $6,500 seed capital grant for Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants Inc. in Tazewell County.

North Tazewell residents Sharon Thomas, John Thomas, Jack Thompson and Doug Hutchinson formed the new business in early 2021.

“As renewable energy projects gain additional traction in Southwest Virginia’s e-region, the timing is right for businesses eyeing ways to enhance that energy usage,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher in a statement. “Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants Inc., is seeking to do just that and projects to provide three full-time jobs within five years.”

One goal of the new business is to bring a solar panel manufacturer to Virginia. Thomas said additional goals of the business are to pair solar projects with former abandoned mine property in the region in need of reclamation and to work with farmers to consider the development of solar grow houses to produce organic crops, thereby making the growing season year-round.

“We sold our first solar panel job in late November,” Thomas said, adding, “Southwest Virginia Energy Consultants will not only introduce renewables to the area, but will also focus on training and show the benefits, savings and economic growth that can be obtained from renewables. There are so many things that can spin off from this.”

Thomas worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in the development of the 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 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.