Erosion at an abandoned mine in Pound. Courtesy of Virginia Department of Energy.

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

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Virginia awarded funds for abandoned mine lands

Virginia has been awarded $22,790,000 in Fiscal Year 2022 to reclaim abandoned mine lands, according to a release from U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Virginia.

They said the funding was made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“This investment into Virginia mining communities will not only create good paying jobs, but will also revitalize energy communities by reclaiming abandoned, unsafe lands for new use,” the senators said in a statement. “We are proud to see Virginia’s mining communities continue to reap the benefits of the infrastructure law passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.”

Abandoned mine line reclamation projects supported by this funding will close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining, the senators said. Through these projects, hazardous lands can be reclaimed into recreational facilities and targeted for other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment, they said.

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Lowe’s distribution center coming to Roanoke County

Home improvement company Lowe’s will locate a new distribution operation in Roanoke County, according to a release from the county. The new warehouse and distribution center is expected to generate 70 new jobs.

Cherney Development, in partnership with Samet Corp., will develop the site and construct the 60,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in Roanoke County’s Valley TechPark. Cherney purchased the 8.45-acre plot of land in January 2021 and has since been working to bring a national brand to the county. In addition to Lowe’s, he also has plans to construct several smaller warehouses, the release said. 

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The exhibit coming to Virginia Tech.

‘Color of Freedom’ exhibition in Virginia Tech’s Newman Library to honor the diversity of American women in the military

In a unique opportunity to celebrate Black History Month and the 100th anniversary of women students at Virginia Tech, the Military Women’s Memorial will bring a special traveling exhibition, “The Color of Freedom: Honoring the Diversity of America’s Servicewomen,” to Newman Library in February. 

Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus is the inaugural stop on the exhibition’s tour, sponsored by Virginia Humanities. It will be on display Feb. 10-28 on the library’s fourth floor, across from the Corps of Cadets Museum space. An opening celebration is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 10, and the public is invited to attend.

Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the contributions of military women of color who have served throughout American history. It includes the stories of military servicewomen of color along with QR codes to access oral histories that provide firsthand accounts of select servicewomen featured in the exhibit.

In 1973, Virginia Tech was among the first of the senior military colleges to admit women to its Corps of Cadets, three years before the federal service academics.

In 2005, the Corps of Cadets named its first Black female regimental commander, Christina Royal, who graduated in 2006 with a degree in sociology from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force. The most recent Black female in that role was Mame Ngom in fall 2020, who graduated in 2021 with a degree in political science from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and was commissioned into the Air Force.

At Virginia Tech, July 2021 through December 2022 marks two major milestones in the university’s history: the 150th anniversary of the university’s founding and the 100th anniversary of women students at Virginia Tech. Women were first admitted to the university for full-time studies in 1921.

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Roanoke College president elected to lead independent colleges group

Roanoke College President Michael Maxey

Michael Maxey, president of Roanoke College, has been elected chair of the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges.

The Council of Independent Colleges, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is an association of 760 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher education affiliates.

Maxey has served as president of Roanoke College in Virginia since 2007, having previously served Roanoke for 22 years in many capacities, including vice president for college relations, and dean of admissions and financial aid. Earlier, he held positions at the University of New Hampshire, Wake Forest University and Averett University.