Stephen Coles, Angel Lea and Chaquita Chappell of Piedmont Access to Health Services (PATHS) help serve the community at a COVID vaccine event. PATHS is one of several partners that will work with new Public Health AmeriCorps members as part of Regional Engagement to Advance Community Health (REACH), organized by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. Courtesy of IALR.

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

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Institute for Advanced Learning and Research awarded $203,558 to build Public Health AmeriCorps

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville has announced that it has received a Public Health AmeriCorps grant of $203,558 from AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. The grant will expand IALR’s presence in the Dan River Region, where IALR has been providing services for Southern Virginia since 2002. IALR has also served as the lead agency for the Dan River Year AmeriCorps program since 2015, with members serving over 15,000 hours focusing on building the region’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and literacy capacity.

IALR is one of five Virginia Public Health AmeriCorps recipients and the only one serving a primarily rural population, according to Dana Silicki, IALR program manager. The funding will support 15 AmeriCorps members.

Public Health AmeriCorps, a partnership between AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supports the recruitment, training and development of a new generation of public health leaders. Supported by a five-year, $400 million investment from the American Rescue Plan Act, Public Health AmeriCorps will help meet public health needs of local communities by providing surge capacity and support while also creating pathways to public health-related careers.

With this new funding, IALR will leverage the skills and experience of REACH AmeriCorps members in the Dan River Region to expand capacity for public health service by providing direct outreach and education service in Danville, Pittsylvania County and Caswell County, North Carolina. These AmeriCorps members will be responsible for serving 960 individuals, increasing their health knowledge and healthy behaviors through education, outreach, referrals and COVID response.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, AmeriCorps has established aid networks, supported vaccination efforts and provided food and resources to those in need,” said Michael Smith, AmeriCorps CEO, in a statement.  “Public Health AmeriCorps is a first of its kind response to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and social determinants of health. These new AmeriCorps members will add capacity to strained public health systems and build a career pathway for future public health leaders from underserved communities.”

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a REACH AmeriCorps service member, contact Dana Silicki at or 434-766-6729.

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Carilion says Montgomery County solar farm has generated $113,633

Carilion Clinic has announced that the solar arrays at its Carilion New River Valley Medical Center have generated $113,633 from the sales of solar renewable energy credits and reduced Carilion’s carbon dioxide emissions by 5,368 metric tons.

Carilion purchases services from Staunton-based solar company Secure Futures LLC, which finances, owns, operates and maintains the array. The 4,000 panels, which first became operational in December 2017, were installed on farmland adjacent to the hospital in Montgomery County. The property is maintained by a local sheep farmer and his herd, which graze beneath the panels.

In total, the system is anticipated to generate an estimated $1.5 million in savings over 20 years and significantly reduce the facility’s carbon footprint, Carilion said in a statement. The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a $500,000 grant from the Rural Energy for America Program.

At the time of the arrays activation, CNRV was the first hospital in the state to utilize a single-axis solar tracking system. The system allows panels to tilt from east to west throughout the day, following the journey of the sun to maximize efficiency. This technology has allowed CNRV to produce 7,574,917 kWh of electricity, the equivalent electricity used to power 975 homes for one year.

Disclosure: Carilion is one of our donors but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy.

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The Tallis Scholars. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Tallis Scholars renaissance music ensemble to perform at Virginia Tech

The Tallis Scholars ensemble will perform at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech with a program commissioned in part by the Moss at 7:30 p.m. April 28.

The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

Called “the rock stars of Renaissance vocal music” by The New York Times, Tallis Scholars was founded in 1973 by director Peter Phillips.

For the Moss performance, the ensemble bridges the 15th and 21st centuries, pairing a masterwork of Renaissance polyphony with a new composition by composer David Lang.

Lang received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for another a cappella work, “The Little Match Girl Passion.” 

This performance is supported in part by gifts from G. Davis Saunders Jr. and Dr. E. Fred Carlisle and Mrs. Elizabeth A. Obenshain.

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Bluefield University hosts Community Day on April 30

Bluefield University will host  the BU Community Day on April 30. The day will feature the  Annual Jason Elswick 5K Challenge, Appalachian Music Festival, Community Mud Pig Day, BU baseball, Bluefield Youth Theatre’s production of “Frozen, Jr.” and fireworks. The  community is welcome to all events and admission is free for the Appalachian Music Festival, Community Mud Pig Day and BU baseball game.  

Registration for the race will begin at 7 a.m. The race will begin at 8 a.m. at the Dome Gymnasium. Participants can register online at  

Performances from a variety of Appalachian musicians in the Harman Chapel Auditorium from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Mug Pig Day events begin at noon. The baseball game is at 5 p.m.

Bluefield Youth Theatre presents Disney’s “Frozen, Jr.” in Harman Chapel Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The play features a cast of 32 children and youth from the two Virginias, ranging in age from 6 to 18. For more information about the production, visit Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior adults in advance and $12/$7 at the door. Admission is free to BU  students, faculty and staff. Tickets are available online at