Ferrum College students utilize resources available to them in the Carter Center for Academic Success, located in the lower level of the Stanley Library. Courtesy of Ferrum College.

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

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Ferrum College gets grant for center for academic success

 Ferrum College has been awarded $143,000 in grant funding by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to support the Carter Center for Academic Success in expanding and initiating programs intended to ensure equity in student outcomes, student academic success, and persistence.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is a charitable foundation based in Jacksonville, Florida that strives to lift up members of society who have historically been prevented from accessing basic opportunities, and operates within communities with which Jessie Ball duPont had a personal connection.

For educational institutions, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund focuses on increasing retention and/or graduation rates of first-generation, low-income, and underserved students at private and public universities. The $143,000 grant award will support Ferrum College’s academic support services to increase the academic performance, persistence, and graduation of first-generation students, low income students, and students with disabilities who demonstrate an academic need for support. 

 The vast majority of Ferrum College students come from low income families and many are the first in their families to attend college, according to a release from the school. Sixty-three percent of students are Pell Grant-eligible and ninety-nine percent receive some form of financial aid. Approximately forty-three percent of Ferrum College students come from high schools in rural areas and the transition to academic coursework comes with additional hurdles in navigating unfamiliar academic processes, loss of social support networks, difficulty connecting with professors and classmates, and the realization of knowledge gaps in foundational areas like math and writing, according to the school. To remedy this, the staff of the CCAS has formulated ten initiatives for success,

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund grant will be funded for two years. Upon completion of the second year, progress and outcomes will be reviewed to potentially fund a third year.

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Roanoke County to hold community meeting Wednesday on U.S. 460

Roanoke County is hosting a second community meeting for the Route 460 Land Use  and Connectivity Study on May 18 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Bonsack Elementary School. At  this open house-style meeting, attendees will review and provide comments on recommendations  proposed to address feedback provided from the January community meeting, survey and stakeholder  group.  

All recommendation materials are available at www.roanokecountyva.gov/460Study with a means to  provide comments until May 31.  

The Route 460 Land Use and Connectivity Study began in Fall 2021 with the following goals:  

1) Recommend ways to travel around the Bonsack community that are alternatives to Route  460/Challenger Avenue; 

2) Consider existing zoning classifications and future land use designations to determine potential  changes to match desired development types; and 

3) Examine existing at-grade railroad crossings for potential improvements that may create  development opportunities between the railroad and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

The first community meeting was held on January 13 at Bonsack Elementary School. Over 40 area residents, property owners and business owners attended this meeting. County staff, consultants  from Timmons Group and VDOT representatives reviewed aerial images of the study area with meeting  participants and discussed a variety of topics including funded transportation projects on Route 460,  roadways that can be improved, potential areas for development as well as possibilities for future  greenway and trail connections. Attendees also answered a survey at the meeting, which was open  until the end of January. Over 200 surveys were completed. 

Please visit www.RoanokeCountyVA.gov/460Study to learn more about the Route 460 Land Use and  Connectivity Study.  

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Roanoke County wins three national awards

 Roanoke County has been recognized with three Achievement Awards from  the National Association of Counties. The awards honor innovative and effective county government programs that  strengthen services for its citizens. The awards received include: 

1) The Capital Improvement Program Web Application which provides citizens easy access to public data and increases government transparency. 

2) The Rural Broadband Initiative Application which allows citizens to view information about availability of broadband projects in their neighborhoods. 

3) The Reimagine 419 Plan which leverages public-private partnerships to develop a town  center in the heart of the County’s commercial corridor. 

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive  services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public  safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many  more. 

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county  government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other  applications received. 

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National Forest lists sites open in Scott, Wise, Lee and Dickenson

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests welcomes visitors to the Clinch Ranger District in Scott, Wise, Lee and Dickenson Counties for the 2022 summer season. Some recreation sites are already open for the season and the district soon will be opening additional seasonal campgrounds and day use areas.

The Cane Patch Campground and the Phillips Creek Day Use Area are scheduled to open May 21. The bathhouse at Cane Patch campground will be temporarily closed as forest managers work to repair water leaks. Portable toilets will be available until the repairs are complete.

The High Knob Recreation Area, including the day use area and campground, is scheduled to open May 28. The water system was replaced last year thanks to assistance from the Wise County Public Services Authority, Wise County, the city of Norton and the Lenowisco District Planning Commission. The High Knob Music Festival also helped improve the High Knob Recreation Area. Some repair work still remains, including needed repairs in the large bathhouse; showers will not be available until repairs are complete.

Opening of the Bark Camp Campground is delayed until a campground host is found for the site. The Bark Camp Day Use Area is open. Campground hosts are essential in maintaining and operating the campgrounds. They provide information and assistance to campers and help maintain and clean campground facilities. Individuals interested in volunteering as a campground host may call the Clinch Ranger District office at 276-679-8370 for more information.

The Cave Springs Campground will not open this recreation season. Spearhead Trails, due to a lack of capacity, is unable to assist with operations and maintenance of the recreation area as in past years. Since 2018, Spearhead Trails has been a key Forest Service partner and has operated, maintained and completed substantial repairs at the Cave Springs Recreation Area, Lake Keokee Day Use Area, and numerous trails.

Visitors are encouraged to check the forests’ website for the most current information before planning to visit as there may be changes to the planned openings: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/gwj/recreation

“We are facing another challenging year as we manage aging infrastructure at our much loved recreation sites,” said Clinch District Ranger Michelle Davalos in a statement. “I am especially thankful for our volunteers and partners who help us deliver recreation opportunities to our forest visitors and our volunteer hosts who help operate our campgrounds.”

Many recreation sites, including hiking and biking trails, are open year-round. Other recreation sites on the Clinch Ranger District that are currently open include:

  • Birch Knob Observation Tower
  • Devils Fork Trailhead: Users are encouraged to park at Scott County’s Stony Creek Park; the access road is in poor shape and requires a high-clearance vehicle.
  • Guest River Gorge Trailhead
  • Hanging Rock Day Use Area
  • High Knob Observation Tower
  • High Knob Multi-Use Trailhead (accesses High Knob Loop Trail): The access road is in poor shape and requires a high-clearance vehicle.
  • Lake Keokee Day Use Area
  • Little Stony Trailhead (accesses High Knob Loop Trail)
  • McGhee Creek Trailhead (accesses High Knob Loop Trail)
  • Little Stony National Recreation Trail: The portion of the trail from the Little Stony Trailhead parking lot to the second waterfall is open. The remainder of the trail is closed due to landslides; repairs are scheduled to begin this summer.
  • North Fork of Pound Boat Launch

For more information, please contact the Clinch Ranger District at 276-220-1670, visit www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj or follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GWJNF and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GWJNF