John Bebber

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

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Appalachian Council for Innovation announces new Executive Director

The Appalachian Council for Innovation (ACI) in Lebanaon has hired John Bebber as its new Executive Director. His most recent position was serving as District Director for Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, from 2019 to 2021.

“I am excited for this opportunity to promote regionalism, cooperation, and growth among our businesses, localities, schools, and communities,” Bebber said in a statement. “Promoting these ideas in our region is vital to long term success and sustainability, as well as showing our youth that they can grow up and build a life here without having to sacrifice prosperity, or any level of success or happiness. I believe that ACI will be a driving force behind building this model of sustainability and changing the way we look at ourselves as a region. I am thrilled that I get to be a part of that.”

Bebber is a United States Navy veteran. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from King University in Security and Intelligence Studies, and a Master of Arts from Appalachian State University in Political Science/International Relations. He is a husband to Crissy and a father to four children (Layla, Preston, Caedyn, and Connor).

For more information about ACI and INAppalachia, please visit 

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Holley Scheffel

Bedford County hires business programs coordinator

The Bedford County Office of Economic Development has hired Holley Scheffel as Business Programs Coordinator. She started the position on January 3. She most recently served as a special education teacher for Roanoke County Public Schools. She is also a licensed real estate agent in Virginia.

Her primary responsibilities include coordinating the Bedford One program industry tours that link high school students with local businesses based on their career interests, as well as providing support to the EDA and coordinating economic development programs for the County, both for existing and prospective businesses.

Scheffel holds a Master of Science in Education from George Mason University, a Master of Arts in Adult Learning from Virginia Tech, a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University, and an endorsement in Administration and Supervision from Longwood University. She resides in Huddleston with her husband.

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Virginia Western seeks nomination for alumni award

 The Virginia Western Community College Alumni Association is calling for nominations for its 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award. The annual recipient or recipients will receive the award at a special Scholarship Awards Ceremony in the spring, and a plaque will be placed on the Virginia Western Distinguished Alumni Wall outside Whitman Theatre. 

The Virginia Western Alumni Association established the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006 to recognize those alumni who have achieved outstanding success and made a lasting impact on their community. The award is intended to showcase the diversity of Virginia Western graduates and their range of influence on our region.

Prior honorees:   

2021 – Mary Catherine Lawrence ‘06

2020 – Tony Pearman ‘10

2019 – Deborah L. Petrine ‘74

2018 – Elizabeth Testerman ‘06

2017 – Dr. Carol Swain ‘78

2016 – Mary B. Loritsch Ed.D., R.T. (R) ’74 and Michael A. Crawley

2015 – Deborah A. Yancey ’97 and ‘98

2014 – Chief Craig S. Harris ’00 & J. David Wine ’73

2013 – Cheryl Cunningham ’86

2012 – Anne Hogan ’76

2011 – Carolyn Webster ’81

2010 – Russell H. Ellis ’80

2009 – Shirl D. Lamanca ’75 and Dennis R. Cronk ’72

2008 – Donna L. Mitchell ’81

2007 – Dr. Kent A. Murphy and Charlotte C. Tyson ’84

2006 – John B. Williamson, III ’75

Anne Hogan (’76), serves as chair of the Alumni Association.

To be eligible for nomination, the candidate must:

  • Be a graduate of or have completed a minimum of two semesters at Virginia Western Community College.
  • Have attained extraordinary distinction and success in his or her profession or life.
  • Be a person of such integrity and stature that the College will take pride in his or her recognition.
  • Have attained regional, statewide or national prominence and significant involvement in civic, cultural or charitable affairs.

How to nominate:

Anyone may nominate a Virginia Western Community College alumna/us or former student for this award by completing a nomination form. This form can be submitted online or downloaded from the College’s website at  Two letters of reference are also required.  


Nominations must be received by Feb. 28, 2022.

For more information, contact Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director, Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, at or (540) 857-6962.