Victor Cardwell. Courtesy of Woods Rogers.

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

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Roanoke lawyer Cardwell elected first Black president of Virginia Bar Association

Victor Cardwell, chairman of the board of directors of the Roanoke-based Woods Rogers law firm, has been elected as the 134th President of the Virginia Bar Association. He becomes the first Black lawyer to serve in that capacity.

“I am proud to be a member of the VBA,” Cardwell said in his first letter to the membership. “Yet I am smart enough to know that multitudes of lawyers who have gone before me, Black and otherwise, deserved this honor, and I stand on their shoulders.”

Cardwell joined Woods Rogers PLC as an associate in the firm’s Roanoke office in 1991 and became a Principal in 2006. His practice focuses on labor and employment law, and he is co-chair of the Woods Rogers Labor & Employment practice group.

Virginia Lawyers Weekly has recognized Cardwell as a “Leader in the Law,” and he has been named Roanoke “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America®. He has been listed twice in Virginia Business’ “Virginia 500 — The Power List.” In 2019, he received the Martin Luther King Jr. “Drum Major for Justice” honor awarded by Roanoke’s chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Cardwell is the seventh Woods Rogers lawyer to serve as VBA president. The others:

Thomas R. Bagby (2013)

Thomas T. Lawson (1989)

John L. Walker Jr. (1983)

John L. Walker (1947-1948)

Frank W. Rogers (1937-38)

Whitwell W. Coxe (1928-29)

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Virginia Tech receives $2.8 million grant from the Department of Defense

 Virginia Tech has received a $2.8 million grant from the Department of Defense to continue developing the Department of Defense (DoD) Senior Military College Cyber Institute (SMC2I), in its second year at Virginia Tech.

“The National Security Agency is excited to partner with Norwich, the Citadel, University of North Georgia, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, and Virginia Military Institute in the DoD Cyber Institute pilot program,” said Diane Janosek, the commandant of NSA’s National Cryptologic School, in a release from the school. The school houses the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Program. “The multi-disciplinary programs created by these six Senior Military Colleges will build crucial leadership skills as well as critical cybersecurity competencies for the cybersecurity professionals who will serve the nation as DoD civilians or as military professionals. This innovative pilot is a key element in expanding the pool of eligible and certified cyber experts who will protect and defend the nation’s national security posture.”

This grant builds upon the $1.5 million grant awarded in January 2021 that aims to prepare civilians to work in the DoD cybersecurity workforce and related professional roles, Tech said.

The SMC2I is aimed at equipping undergraduate students with skills and experience necessary to work in the DoD cyber workforce, simultaneously addressing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s shortage of qualified cyber professionals. 

The grant will be allocated toward two efforts: supporting scholarships for undergraduate students interested in careers focused on cybersecurity and critical foreign languages and supporting experiential learning opportunities within the National Security Institute, the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology, and other Virginia Tech academic departments, including computer scienceelectrical and computer engineeringmathstatistics, and the Pamplin College of Business.

The Senior Military College Cyber Institute started with 10 students in the fellowship this past fall. Director Stephanie Travis said the goal is to add 10 new fellowship students each year moving forward. 

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The project on Hurricane Road

Work underway in Wise County to halt erosion from abandoned mine

An Abandoned Mine Land (AML) project underway on Hurricane Road near Wise will stop erosion and drainage for residents living below an historic underground mine.

The Bullion Hollow Coal Company completed mining in the area in 1963 and, at that time, was not required to meet reclamation requirements that would prevent water runoff from the mine, according to the Virginia Department of Energy. The department oversees the AML program that develops projects to reclaim issues caused by coal mining before 1977.

C&S Construction and Excavating, Inc. received the contract to complete the work. Sediment is blocking previously installed drains causing water to flow onto the residents’ property. The company will install new French drains, clean the debris and add rock in the original ditches to prevent water going to the wrong place. The project is funded through an AML grant of $52,350. Work should be completed in March, the department said.

Virginia Energy’s Abandoned Mine Land program was established after the passing of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act in 1977. The agency manages a federal grant to reclaim issues caused by coal mining that occurred before that date. The federal funds come from the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE).

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‘Last Best Hope’ Author George Packer to Speak at W&L

George Packer, staff writer for The Atlantic and author of “The Unwinding” and “Last Best Hope,” will speak at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. in the University Chapel. This talk is free and open to the public.

Packer’s other works of non-fiction include “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq;” “Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade;” “Blood of the Liberals;” and “The Village of Waiting.” He is also the author of two novels, “The Half Man” and “Central Square,” and a play, “Betrayed.” Packer is the editor of “The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World,” and of a two-volume edition of George Orwell’s essays.

After the talk concludes, Packer will be available to sign books in the back of University Chapel. Copies of “Last Best Hope” are available for purchase in the Washington and Lee University Store.

All attendees are expected to be masked indoors in compliance with the university’s COVID-19 guidelines.