The groundbreaking for the new building at Virginia Tech. School president Timothy Sands is fourth from left. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

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

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Virginia Tech breaks ground on School of Construction building

Virginia Tech has broken ground on Hitt Hall, a 100,000-gross-square-foot facility that will house the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, add dining capacity and provide general assignment academic classroom and collaboration space.

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved design and funding for the Hitt Hall project in August 2021. The project is expected to cost $85 million. Located in the North Academic District and close to a new transit hub, Hitt Hall with serve thousands of students, whether for classes or meals, each day. Spring 2024 is the target for completion of construction. The building is named in recognition of a lead gift by the Hitt family, which founded one of the nation’s largest construction firms, HITT Contracting.

Leaders of several other major construction firms with strong relationships with Virginia Tech were at the event, including alumni John R. Lawson II ’75 of the W.M. Jordan Company, A. Ross Myers ’72 of Allan Myers Inc., and Preston White ’63 of Century Concrete.

White announced at the event that he, Brett Hitt, Lawson and Myers recently committed to endow the Myers-Lawson School of Construction director’s position and name it in honor of Kleiner and former program leader Mike Vorster.

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Patrick & Henry now accepting scholarship applications

The Patrick & Henry Community College Foundation is now accepting applications for the Patrick & Henry Scholars and Commonwealth Legacy scholarship. Each year, up to 10 local high school graduates are chosen to become Patrick & Henry Scholars. These scholars receive a scholarship to cover tuition, textbook and fees for up to two academic years.

“These scholarships are highly competitive, and the guidelines are rigorous,” says Tiffani Underwood, director of the P&HCC Foundation. “We have set the bar high because becoming a Patrick & Henry Scholar is a distinguished honor that is both an experience and an opportunity. It can open many doors, not only at P&HCC but also beyond at the students’ transfer institutions and in their careers.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must have a high school grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. They must be graduates from an area high school or have completed a homeschool program of study. Scholars are chosen for their superior academic achievement, civic involvement, and leadership potential. Graduates of homeschool programs must be seventeen years of age or older at the time of the application and must reside in the P&HCC service region.

Once accepted, Patrick & Henry Scholars must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and be full-time students (enrolled in at least 12 credit hours) at P&HCC. They also will be expected to participate in two extracurricular activities per semester and accrue ten volunteer service hours each semester.

To apply, students can go to

Students who apply for the Patrick & Henry Scholars award will automatically be considered for the Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship. One outstanding student from each community college in Virginia is selected to receive this award which was created by the Virginia Community College System and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. The funds from this scholarship can be used for tuition, textbooks, and fees. Eligible students are full time, associate degree-seeking students attending college for the first time. As a merit-based scholarship, it will be awarded to a student who has demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to develop leadership skills.

For additional information or questions, contact Letitia Pulliam in the Patrick & Henry Community College Foundation Office at 276-656-0250 or

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WCC Bluegrass and Old-Time Jamboree Set for Feb. 19

Wytheville Community College has announced it is bringing back the free monthly Bluegrass and Old-Time Jamboree after being postponed in January due to COVID-19 concerns. This month the Jamboree will feature Jerry Steinberg and His Dixie Bluegrass Boys and The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 19. The Jamboree will be held in the William F. Snyder Auditorium on the WCC campus in Wytheville, located at 1000 E. Main St. Attendees are required to wear a face covering regardless of vaccination status and practice social distancing.

Jerry Steinberg and His Dixie Bluegrass Boys are a traditional style group that has been playing for 14 years in the Virginia and North Carolina area. The group performs old-time, country and bluegrass music for dances and concerts. The band members are Jackson Cunningham on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Jeff Michael on fiddle; Ramona Church on five-string banjo, guitar and vocals; and Jerry Steinberg on bass fiddle.

The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters took their name, in part, from the original Bogtrotters of the 1930s and because bandleader Dennis Hall lives on Ballards Branch. Hall’s home is very close to the home of Uncle Eck Dunford, who played fiddle in the original band. The other members of the original Bogtrotters were Uncle Wade Ward, his brother, Davy Crockett Ward, and nephew Fields Ward, and Doctor Davis.

The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters play in the traditional Appalachian string-band style, often performing around the region and internationally. The Bogtrotters include Eddie Bond, NEA National Heritage Fellow, on fiddle; Uncle Dennis Hall on guitar; Josh Ellis on clawhammer banjo; Bonnie Bond on bass; and Caroline Noel Beverley on mandolin.

Doors to the Snyder Auditorium will be open beginning at 6 p.m., with music beginning at 7 p.m. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to help defray the travel expenses of the bands.

The WCC Bluegrass and Old-Time Jamboree was first organized in 2006. The event is hosted by WCC English faculty member, Jason Settle, whom you may find playing the fiddle along with one of the bands. The WCC Jamboree is an affiliated venue of The Crooked Road.