The inaugural nursing class at Emory & Henry. Courtesy of Emory & Henry.

Here are news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Emory & Henry welcomes inaugural nursing class

Emory & Henry College welcomed 10 students as its first class of nursing students on Jan. 12 with a formal White Coat ceremony.

Video remarks were shared by leaders from Ballad Health and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

The Emory & Henry ceremony.

“This group of current students at E&H are among the first to enter the new pre-licensure BSN program,” Laurie Anne Ferguson, founding dean for the School of Nursing, said in a statement. “They have met the GPA and prerequisite course requirements, to be admitted to the nursing program.”

Graduates will be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam to become registered nurses.

The baccalaureate degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and has received initial approval from the Virginia Board of Nursing. For more information, visit

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COVID vaccinations available at Chatham McDonald’s on Thursday

The Virginia Department of Health’s Pittsylvania-Danville Health District is partnering with a local McDonalds restaurant to provide COVID-19 vaccinations this week. The event will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Chatham McDonalds at 13721 U.S. 29 near the intersection of Tight Squeeze Road. 

“Not only is this a convenient location for area residents, this partnership is a win-win for our community. The purpose of offering the vaccination clinics is to help protect our citizens from severe illness. In addition to the protection, the vaccines also reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” Scott Spillmann, director of Pittsylvania-Danville and Southside Health Districts, said in a statement. “Thanks to the generosity of our restaurant partner, a card good for one free combo meal or one free Happy Meal will be given to every child and adult who comes to receive their vaccination.” 

The clinics will offer first, second, additional primary and booster doses at no cost to the public. The Moderna vaccine and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson are available for anyone 18 and older. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for anyone 5 and older. Additionally, 5- to 11-year-old vaccine recipients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible to receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after the second dose. A parent or guardian must accompany anyone under 18.

The Pfizer BioNTech booster vaccine can be obtained by anyone 12 and older at least five months from the  date of their second mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine or at least two months from  the date of their Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The Moderna or Johnson & Johnson booster vaccine can be obtained by anyone 18 and older at least five  months from the date of their second mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine or at least  two months from the date of their Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Walk-ins are welcome, but to make an appointment, visit or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). English- and Spanish-speaking operators are available. Translation services also are available in more than 100 languages. Individuals with an appointment should arrive no earlier than 20 minutes prior to the appointment time.

Individuals who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose may choose which vaccine product they would like to receive as a booster. For those individuals that choose a different product than their primary series, VDH urges you to consult with your doctor or health care provider who can assist you in making the best decision for your own situation.

If you are coming for your second, third or booster dose, please bring your vaccine card to confirm the date and type of vaccine you received in previous doses.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, its safety and answers to frequently asked questions at VDH’s website and CDC’s website.

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National Park Service invites feedback on Ironman event on Blue Ridge Parkway

The National Park Service is inviting public input on a proposed temporary, full closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke on June 4-5 to allow use of the parkway by the Ironman triathlon, which is returning to the Roanoke Valley for the second year.

The permit application requests a full closure of both directions of the motor road go into effect the afternoon of Saturday, June 4, from Milepost 91 (Virginia 43) to Milepost 112 (Virginia 24) and reopen by mid-afternoon Sunday, June 5, according to a release from the National Park Service.

The agency says that parkway closure requests as part of special use permit events are considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Because event organizers have submitted a closure request as part of the permit application for a second year of this large-scale, regional event, park managers are providing the opportunity to comment on any issue or concern related to a 21-mile closure for this year’s proposed event,” the parkway said in a statement. “Additional management costs related to this proposed permit and incurred by the National Park Service would be the responsibility of the event organizers, per National Park Service policy. The public is invited to provide comments related to the proposed closure using the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at The comment period is open now through Tuesday, February 1, 2022. The National Park Service appreciates the public’s input, which will be one of many factors considered in the final permit decision.”

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The Liberty students who will attend Harvard’s National Collegiate Research Conference. Courtesy of Liberty University.

23 Liberty students to present research at Harvard’s National Collegiate Research Conference

Liberty University says that 23 of its undergraduate students have been invited to present research projects at the National Collegiate Research Conference, hosted by Harvard University on Jan. 21-23.

NCRC is the largest student-run research conference in America. The multidisciplinary forum is held annually at Harvard, where undergraduate students from across the United States and abroad convene to share their research in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences fields. Last year, over 300 participants from nearly 100 universities attended NCRC.

The conference will be virtual this year due to COVID-19.

The student projects include research on NCAA concussion screening protocols, the lost city of Mesoamerica, and a fire extinguishing method that replicates the defense mechanism of a bombardier beetle, among many others.

In a release, Liberty cited mechanical engineering senior Elijah Yoder, who will be presenting his research on bombardier beetles. His work was overseen by school of engineering professor Wayne Strasser.

When threatened, bombardier beetles create a very hot, pulsating spray out of their abdomen that shoots around 20 centimeters in length. Yoder is hoping to replicate that sort of mechanism (on a much larger scale) in a fire extinguisher by heating liquid inside of a chamber and vaporizing it into steam before throttling that out of a chamber.

“What I’m doing specifically is using antifluent as a computational fluid dynamic simulation program that will actually simulate what is going on in the chamber to see how it reacts and to see if it is a viable method of fire extinguishing,” Yoder said in a release. “I love looking at God’s creation and being able to create from that and draw inspiration from that.”