The University of Virginia's College at Wise. Courtesy of UVa Wise.

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

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State budget includes money for two new majors at UVA Wise

The state budget that the General Assembly passed last week includes money for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise to add two new majors — in applied data analytics and hospitality and tourism management.

The applied data analytics program will be an interdisciplinary program designed to serve needs in health informatics, business analytics and economic forecasting. 

The hospitality and tourism management program will be designed to support the region’s burgeoning tourism economy, including the new Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Bristol. Degree tracks within the program will explore ecotourism and agritourism to showcase the region’s vast natural resources.

The money for the new majors was originally included in the budget that then-Gov. Ralph Northam presented in December, but then was stripped out by the Senate Finance Committee. Budget conferees restored $12 million in funding to support the new programs.

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Foundation gives $750,000 grant to 4H

The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation has given $750,000 to Virginia 4H to allow 4H members to explore future careers in life sciences.

According to a release from Virginia Tech, “the investment enables the creation of a mobile learning experience that targets rural youth and incorporates high-quality, experiential learning experiences in life sciences to engage learning for youth using Virginia 4-H’s renowned programming as the foundation.”

“The mobile lab will serve as a foundation to continue lifelong learning for youth as they find their spark and interest in life and health sciences as well as connect them with careers, mentors, and future opportunities,” said Erika Bonnett, a Virginia 4-H education specialist in a statement.

The mobile learning experience — part of the gift — will allow youth in rural communities the opportunity to participate in high-technology-based STEM learning opportunities around life and health sciences learning experiences in their backyards without the need for prohibitive travel.

Schools often do not have access to the technical equipment used in the fields of life sciences, and the mobile lab enables youth in Virginia’s communities to experience these opportunities themselves. The lab brings the science and research-backed knowledge of the land-grant institutions to the youth to advance the well-being of Virginia.

To further expand education access, Virginia 4-H will partner with the College Access Collaborative, which aims to develop talent and retain it in communities – especially in Southwest Virginia – and improve access to health care services for rural families.

Moore, for whom the foundation was named, was born in Danville in 1892 and grew up in Radford and Roanoke. After service in World War I, he became a doctor in Roanoke and later Washington, D.C. After his retirement, he focused on land investments in Loudoun County.

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Jennifer and Travis Anderson’s new business, Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza, was recently approved for a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching grant. Courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards $10,000 grant to Wise County business

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 matching seed capital grant to Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza in Appalachia.

The food truck business is owned by Jennifer and Travis Anderson. The truck features a fire truck engine and is outfitted with a wood-fired pizza oven trailer.

The business projects three full-time and three part-time jobs within five years, according to Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

“Some people have been asking if we might do a brick and mortar location and that is something we’ve been thinking about for the future,” Travis Anderson said in a statement. “If we found the right building and location at the right price, we might consider it.”

The seed capital grant, the Andersons noted, was instrumental in helping them to get started.

The Andersons worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.

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Radford University Planetarium events celebrate Webb telescope

The Radford University planetarium is joining hundreds of sites across the United States on June 10-11, 2022, to celebrate test images released from the telescope, which NASA launched in 2021 as its next great science observatory. Numerous events, games and activities are planned to celebrate the Webb telescope and build excitement about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education.

All activities are free and open to the public both days. The Radford University Planetarium is located at 925 E. Main St. in Radford in the university’s Center for the Sciences.

The planetarium will offer shows both days (Friday and Saturday) at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The 55-seat theater presents shows on its 10-meter-in-diameter dome and newly upgraded Digistar 7 projection system.

The event is anchored by virtual presentations from Francisco Muller-Sanchez, an astrophysicist with a broad interest in extragalactic astronomy. NASA recently awarded Muller-Sanchez two grants for use of the Webb telescope to study cores of galaxies with active supermassive black holes. Muller-Sanchez, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Materials Sciences at the University of Memphis, will give presentations from 2-3 p.m. each day.

Other events throughout the day include the Make Your Alien activity, presented by the Radford Department of Biology, as well as interactive activities such as space sensory bins, moon sand and marshmallow constellations presented by Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum of Christiansburg, Virginia.

Eventgoers will get an opportunity to survey the sky through telescopes and learn about reliable communication in space and the chemistry of space. The Department of Chemistry will also provide free liquid nitrogen ice cream. A glass-blowing presentation is scheduled, and the McConnell Library will host a button-making event.

Radford University’s Museum of the Earth Sciences will be open during the festivities, giving visitors an opportunity to explore more earth-related themes. The museum is adjacent to the planetarium inside the Center for the Sciences.

Wine and Design of Christiansburg will offer a custom painting class. Registration is required for the class.

Representatives from Radford Public Library will offer science-related crafts and reading information in the Center for the Sciences lobby.

To learn more about the events, contact Herman at Visit the Planetarium website for event parking details.