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

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ARC awards funding to Floyd County project

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded  $971,639 in federal funding to the Floyd County Economic Development Authority to construct an access road, an industrial cul-de-sac, and a pedestrian and bike path at the Floyd Regional Commerce Center.

The build-out of the center is projected to support 130 new jobs, according to a release from U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Virginia.

Kaine visited the center in August to “to learn more about their work to support entrepreneurs and growth-oriented businesses including in specialty foods and other products.”

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The portable X-ray machine. Courtesy of Carilion Clinic.

Carilion Giles gets new portable X-ray system

Carilion Giles Community Hospital is among the first hospitals in the United States to install GE Healthcare’s next-generation advanced x-ray system, AMX Navigate. Carilion Giles staff are now using the portable, power-assisted x-ray system after weeks of staff training.

The CGCH AMX Navigate system replaces the hospital’s previous x-ray system that had become outdated, according to a release from Carilion. Read the full release here.

Note: Carilion is one of our donors. Under our rules, donors have no influence on news decisions. Read our policy and list of donors here.

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Jacob Valente. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech student wins national award

Jacob Valente, a third-year doctoral student in the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences program, has received the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Award. For more than 30 years, this award, given by the Federal Highway Administration, benefits the nation’s brightest minds in the field of transportation, according to the FHWA website, helping these students earn advanced degrees and support the U.S. transportation industry. 

Valente works in the Advanced Vehicle and Technology Research (AVaTR) Lab alongside Miguel Perez, associate professor in biomedical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering. Together, they are spearheading multiple projects to improve EMS responses to vehicle collisions.

Valente, a first-generation college student, never expected to attend graduate school. But a question, posed by Clay Gabler – the former Samuel Herrick Professor at Virginia Tech until he passed away in 2021 – encouraged Valente to think more deeply about transportation issues and then to apply to the accelerated master’s program in biomedical engineering and mechanics.

Gabler contrasted the public response to plane crashes versus vehicle crashes. When a plane crashes, he said, society deems it unacceptable, resulting in a thorough investigation. Vehicle crashes happen more often, yet do not generate the same level of response.

Why is that?

Gabler’s question sparked Valente’s interest in the study of vehicle safety. Then, a guest lecture during Valente’s senior year as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, explored complications and issues in the EMS system and in hospitals. Valente began thinking about how his engineering knowledge could help solve these problems.

“I was stunned when I thought about the desensitization I had to car collisions,” said Valente in a statement. “It really made me think. As I got deeper into the research and kept pondering the issues I heard about, I realized I wanted to do something to help address these problems. I had the topic in mind – doing more to keep medical services and responders in mind for improved vehicle collision response – and Dr. Perez agreed to go along with it. We hope this research can save lives.”

Valente received his bachelor’s in engineering science and mechanics from Virginia Tech. Read more here.

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Wytheville Community College presents play “Love Letters”

Wytheville Community College will stage the play “Love Letters” February 4-5 and 11-12.

The play begins in 1937, with simple letters of two early childhood friends Andrew “Andy” Makepeace Ladd III (played by Robert Burnett) and Melissa Gardner (played by Denita Burnett). The correspondence between them continues through boarding school, college years, and adulthood, ultimately spanning nearly 50 years. Andy and Melissa journey through moments of awkwardness, humor, frustration, happiness, disappointment, pleasure, and sadness.  

All proceeds will benefit the newly established Bobby Jean Wymer Memorial Scholarship. Wymer was anEnglish faculty member at WCC from 1968 until her retirement in 2002.  As such, there is no set ticket price; donations of any amount will be accepted.

Reservations are strongly recommended in order to ensure appropriate social distancing between groups of people. In addition, all attendees must wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Please call 276-223-4795 or email for reservations. Note, this show is not appropriate for young children due to adult language and content. 

Tickets may be picked up at the box office, which opens thirty minutes before each performance. For additional information or questions about this performance, please check the WCC Theatre Facebook page.

WCC Theatre’s next production is “The Sweet Delilah Swim Club,” April 1-2 and 8-9