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

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Appalachian Regional Commission awards funding to Southwest Virginia

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded a total of $1 million to two projects in Southwest Virginia. The funding consists of:

  • $500,000 for the Russell Theater Restoration Project in the Town of Lebanon to renovate and reopen the 5,590-square-foot Russell Theater. The restored and renovated Russell Theater will attract visitors and residents from across the region to downtown Lebanon and surrounding businesses for live performances, concerts, and other events.
  •   $500,000 for the Hamiltontown Sewer Project in the Town of Wise to install 5,540 linear feet of sewer line to the Hamiltontown community located along State Route 758. Currently Hamiltontown community households are served by onsite septic systems, and existing systems are subject to poor performance due to age, lack of maintenance, and soil conditions. This project will update the sewer system and improve public health and the water quality of the Guest River.

The awards were announced by U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Virginia.

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Pittsylvania County internship program expanding for 2022

For the second year, Pittsylvania County is partnering with several community
organizations to expand the summer internship program in 2022. Thanks to funding from
Pittsylvania County, GO Virginia Region 3, the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission,
and the Danville Regional Foundation, the ExperienceWorks initiative will provide
approximately 30 students the opportunity to participate in a paid summer internship and
allow an additional 115 students to engage in a variety of other interconnected work-based
learning initiatives, according to a statement from Pittsylvania County.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the allocation of approximately $75,800
toward Pittsylvania County’s second summer internship program, which is a portion of the
ExperienceWorks system that is being administered by the Institute for Advanced Learning
and Research (IALR). This effort is also being run in partnership with Pittsylvania County
Schools (PCS) and Pittsylvania County Community Action. In addition to the paid internships,
the effort includes a career-focused local government camp and participation in IALR’s
AspHIRE mock interviews and work-readiness sessions.

Work is already underway to identify internship placement opportunities and post those
opportunities on MajorClarity, which is the online platform where positions will be advertised.
The three-day, work-readiness bootcamp for interns is scheduled for June 7-9, 2022. Interns
will receive up to a $3,080 stipend based on an hourly rate of $11 for up to 280 hours
completed in June and July.

“The Youth Internship Program was a huge success last summer for the students who
participated,” said Dr. Mark Jones, Superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools in a statement. “The work experiences provided to the students by each of the participating businesses wereinvaluable in their development and tied their schoolwork to real-world work
experiences. Pittsylvania County Schools looks forward to having more students able to
participate in the program approved by the Board of Supervisors for this summer.”

Approximately 15 students participated in the County’s 2021 summer internship program.
These students were split between several County departments, including Public Relations,
the Pet Center, Parks and Recreation, Pittsylvania County Public Schools, and a few local

To apply or for more information, students should contact their school counselor or log in to
their MajorClarity account. Employers who are interested in hosting an intern should contact
Dana Wilson at 434-766-6653 or

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ARC issues request for proposals

The Appalachian Regional Commission  has issued a Request for Proposals for its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which supports economic diversification in Appalachia’s communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.

The POWER Initiative makes available approximately $25 million in federal resources to leverage entrepreneurship, workforce development efforts, and infrastructure projects to bolster job training and reemployment opportunities, create jobs in existing or new industries, and attract new sources of private investment in coal-impacted communities.

Since POWER’s establishment in 2015, ARC has invested more than $294 million in 369 projects across 354 coal-impacted Appalachian counties. Together, ARC’s investments are projected to have helped create or retain more than 35,300 jobs and prepare more than 10,000 workers and students for new opportunities in entrepreneurship, broadband development, tourism, and other emerging industry sectors, according to a statement from the commisssion.

Letters of Intent (LOI) for implementation grants up to $1.5 million and planning grants up to $50,000 under POWER are due April 4, 2022. The deadline for final applications is April 29, 2022. Award announcements are anticipated to be made in the fall of 2022. Additional information regarding the application process is available at

Prospective applicants are encouraged to participate in a virtual pre-application workshop on Tuesday, March 10, 2022. ARC staff will outline key points in the new RFP and the characteristics of a successful application, and attendees will have the opportunity to ask their questions during an interactive Q&A session. Learn more and register here.

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Blevins named resident engineer in VDOT’s Salem office

Brian Blevins

Brian Blevins of Roanoke has accepted the position of resident engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Salem Residency office. Blevins will serve as VDOT’s top transportation official for Roanoke, Botetourt and Craig counties by overseeing road maintenance and operations, land development programs, budgets and business operations. He also will be the primary human resources manager for approximately 130 employees at VDOT.

Blevins began his career with VDOT in 2005 and has held several positions including transportation engineer in the Location and Design Division and land development engineer and area land use engineer in the Salem Residency office. Since 2016, Blevins has served as an assistant resident engineer in the Salem Residency office. Before working at VDOT, Blevins was a consulting engineer for six years and served as a lead designer and project manager for Pentree Inc. in Princeton, West Virginia. Blevins worked on several sections of the Coalfields Expressway and one section of the King Coal Highway in West Virginia. Blevins received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology from Bluefield State College. He is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia and West Virginia.

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Roanoke Ballet to perform in Wytheville on Saturday

The Roanoke Ballet Theatre will perform this Saturday, February 26th at 7:00 p.m. in Wytheville Community College’s Snyder Auditorium.

T the Roanoke Ballet Theatre will perform new choreography to the music of Antonio Vivaldi’s famous “The Four Seasons,” Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Copland’s “Hoe-down” from Rodeo. Live music will be provided by the Rainier Trio and guest violinist Camellia Delk.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to support the performers and the Wytheville Community College Food Pantry. For the safety of everyone, all attendees must wear masks regardless of vaccination status. 

Next on the concert series, the Rainier Trio will perform works by Rachmaninoff, Fuchs and Lachner on Saturday, March 19, at 7:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Wytheville Concert Series performances are presented by Wytheville Community College, St. Paul United Methodist Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Wytheville Presbyterian Church the WCC Educational Foundation, and MacDowell Music Club and are under the artistic direction of Kevin Matheson. For more information, please visit