Attorney General Jason Miyares. Official portrait.
Attorney General Jason Miyares. Official portrait.

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

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Miyares will be ASL’s graduation speaker

Appalachian School of Law has announced that Attorney General Jason Miyares will be the school’s graduation speaker.

The commencement ceremony will take place on May 14, 2022, at Riverview Elementary School in Grundy.

“I am truly honored to be selected as the Appalachian School of Law’s 2022 Commencement speaker,” Miyares said in a statement.  “ASL is an incredible asset to Southwest Virginia.  Their students are well-rounded, hardworking, passionate people who want to serve their communities through the practice of law.  The ASL alumni in my administration are dedicated public servants, and I cannot wait to speak to ASL’s next generation of young, earnest lawyers.”

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A rendering of the new science lab building. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Construction to begin on new science lab building at Virginia Tech

Construction will begin this month on the Undergraduate Science Laboratory Building at Virginia Tech, the school has announced.

Detailed in the university’s campus master plan, the approximately 102,000-gross-square-feet building will be located on the current site of the Perry Street Parking Lot 1. The building will be the latest addition to the north academic district — which includes the Classroom Building, Hitt HallBlacksburg Transit Multi-Modal Transit Facility, and Data and Decision Sciences Building.

The four-story facility will house 26 wet, dry, and specialty laboratories designed to be flexible and adaptable to current and future instructional needs for the College of Science, College of Engineering, College of Natural Resources and Environment, and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Graduate teaching assistant workspaces, classrooms, collaboration spaces, offices, informal study areas, and 24/7 student space also will be incorporated. 

The first floor will feature the Discovery Suite, a wet and dry lab maker space that was envisioned by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members with student input.

“In the last 15 years, we have seen the number of undergraduate students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health sciences majors at Virginia Tech increase approximately 60 percent — from over 8,000 students to nearly 13,000. As we continue to grow our undergraduate student enrollment, consistent with our university strategic priorities, having appropriate, top-notch infrastructure to accommodate them remains crucial,” said Van Coble, assistant provost for academic space, in a statement.

The completion of the Undergraduate Science Laboratory Building will provide sufficient appropriate instructional space for STEM programs to be able to accommodate future renovations to existing facilities — including Robeson and Derring Halls — envisioned in Virginia Tech’s long-term capital outlay plan.

The completion date is expected to be 2024.

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Roanoke announces capital access fund for small businesses

The City of Roanoke’s Economic Development Authority “EDA” has announced a partnership with Freedom First offering Roanoke City licensed businesses the opportunity to apply for a business loan through the Roanoke Capital Access Fund.

In order to apply, City of Roanoke businesses must hold a current business license, must utilize accelerator and mentoring programs including the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program “RAMP”, the Advancement Foundation’s Gauntlet, or the Roanoke Small Business Development Center, and must be entrepreneurs, businesses and/or higher education professionals working to create opportunities and success in research, healthcare and technology.  

Eligibility requirements for the Capital Access Fund can be found by clicking here.

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Roanoke College professor to speak on Ukraine’s history

Roanoke College history professor Robert Willingham will talk about the origins of Ukraine, the history of Ukrainian national identity, and the Russian and Soviet legacies on April 7 at the Salem Mseum.

Willingham is an associate professor and the chairperson of the History Department at Roanoke College. His research and teaching Interests include Modern Europe, the Holocaust, and World History.

Plans are for this talk to be presented in person at the Salem Museum, with a virtual option. The event is at 7 p.m. Masks are optional but recommended in a group setting; precautionary measures will be subject to CDC guidelines in place at the time. Mask requirements, if any, and links to the virtual option will be listed on the Museum’s website,, on the morning of the talk.

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Roanoke Regional Partnershp names Long as marketing director

Stephanie Long. Courtesy of Roanoke Regional Partnership.

The Roanoke Regional Partnership has named Stephanie Long as its new director of marketing. She will lead the Partnership’s efforts in crafting the region’s story to show businesses and potential residents why they should call the Roanoke Region home.

As director of marketing, she will implement the marketing strategies prescribed in the Partnership’s five-year plan, Thrive 2027. Long will design new marketing initiatives to raise the profile of the region when it comes to innovation and economic growth. Additionally, she will work with Roanoke Outside to foster the growth of the regional outdoor economy, while also helping to develop the talent attraction and retention brand Get2KnowNoke.  

Long comes to the Partnership with several years of marketing experience, most recently serving as the marketing coordinator with Roanoke Parks and Recreation (PLAY Roanoke) where she connected residents with their public spaces and one another while advocating for strong social infrastructure. Her role included managing their social media channels, coordinating design and printing of the quarterly PLAY Magazine, creating and placing print and digital collateral, managing, and more. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in English Education, both from Virginia Tech.

Long herself is a boomerang, making her uniquely positioned to tell the region’s narrative. “Roanoke’s story, positive momentum, and potential are what brought me back here from Charlotte eight years ago,” she said in a statement. ” Since then, it’s been my personal and professional mission to make people love it here as much as I do. I’ve spent the past several years telling the City of Roanoke’s story, and now I look forward to doing so on a regional scale.”

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Forest Service will conduct a prescribed burn in Wise County

The U.S. Forest Service is scheduled to conduct a prescribed burn in Wise County today.

Location: Portions of the control lines around two prescribed fire units near Pound will be burned in preparation for burning the larger units later this spring. The Cable Gap unit is located three miles northeast of Pound, VA, 2.7 miles Southeast of Jenkins, KY and approximately 1.8 miles southwest of Gaskins and Burdine, KY. The North Fork Pound burn unit is located two miles west, northwest of Pound and 3.2 miles south of Jenkins, KY. 

Purpose: This burn operation will burn a small portion of the larger burn unit which will act as a safety control line during the prescribed burn later this spring. Ultimately, prescribed burns improve wildlife habitat by restoring open woodlands and grasslands to the forest landscape. 

Additional Information and Road/Trail Closures: Sections of the Pine Mountain Trail (Forest Trail #201) and the Red Fox Trail (Forest Trail #205) that are within the burn area will be temporarily closed. For your safety, please follow posted signs and trail closures when they occur. The controlled burn is expected to have lingering smoke effects in Wise and Letcher counties. Depending on wind direction, residents and travelers in these areas may see or smell smoke.

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