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

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Two state departments and Roanoke foundation sign agreement on medical equipment

Three organizations have signed a memorandum of agreement to donate and distribute used durable medical equipment to statewide disaster shelters in the event of an emergency.

The MOA is between the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services and Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment, headquartered in Roanoke.

F.R.E.E. donated three sets of sanitized durable medical equipment “shelter kits,” including wheelchairs, walkers, rollators, canes, bedside toilets and crutches. VDEM is storing the equipment in its Richmond warehouse and will transport it to shelters as needed during a declared disaster.

DARS’ Virginia Assistive Technology System facilitated the partnership between F.R.E.E. and VDEM to provide a sustainable and coordinated approach, according to a release from the groups.

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Alleghany County will hold bicentennial celebration Sept. 17

Alleghany County’s bicentennial celebration has been set for Sept. 17 at Mountain Gateway Community College.

Festivities begin at 3 p.m. and include free live music and fireworks, a 4-H and kids festival, food vendors, local arts and crafts, a car show and a beer garden. Performers include Eaglemania, Caleb Bailey & Paine’s Run and Caleb Carpenter.

The committee tasked with planning the bicentennial celebration was appointed over the last several months by the board of supervisors. Members of the Alleghany County Bicentennial Celebration Committee include Williams, Suzanne Adcock-Nicely, Beverly Bowers, Ricky Bourne, Teresa Hammond, Megan Persinger, Paul Linkenhoker, Shelly Mongold, Reid Walters, Pam Warren and Michelle Rucker.

A banner commemorating the county’s 200th anniversary has also been designed and is on display at various locations throughout the county.

Alleghany County was formed from parts of Botetourt and Bath along with a portion of Monroe County, now a part of West Virginia, on Jan. 5, 1822, by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. Its name was taken from an old Indian word meaning “endless,” which was used to describe the Appalachian mountains that surround the county.

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Deadline for Kendig awards extended

The nomination deadline has been extended for the 2022 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards, which recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations in the greater Roanoke region that provide exemplary leadership in or support for the arts.

 The deadline for nominations is now Monday, August 15, at 4 p.m. EDT. The nomination form and other information can be found at

Celebrating 37 years of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. This year, the awards presentation and celebration will be held at Hollins in October.

Kendig Awards are presented in each of the following categories:

  • Individual Artist (selected from all disciplines, including dance, literature, music, media arts, visual arts, and theatre)
  • Arts and/or Cultural Organization
  • Individual or Business Arts Supporter

Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the greater Roanoke region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are past Kendig Award recipients from 1985 – 2012. Programs and full-time employees of Hollins University and Roanoke College are eligible to be nominated as well.

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the awards were presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge for 27 years.

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Sisters Jan Brown and Melissa Hubbard returned to their native Lee County, Va., to open Whistle Pig Country Store, LLC, a recent recipient of a VCEDA seed capital grant. Courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards grant to general store in Ewing

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 matching seed capital grant to Whistle Pig Country Store LLC in Ewing in Lee County.

The business is owned by sisters Jan Brown and Melissa Hubbard. The two Lee County natives had left the area for work, but after retiring from their day jobs and after Melissa’s husband passed away, they said they both felt a calling to return home and began to work to develop Whistle Pig Country Store LLC in Ewing.

They bought the old Wheeler Store on U.S. 58 near Ewing and ultimately plan to add on to it to develop a general store featuring quality fresh foods and coffee in phase two of the project, set for fall 2023. In the meantime, they will host local farmers who will be on site to sell produces, as well as arts and crafts vendors.

The new business’ first farmers market is planned for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The business projects three full-time and 12 part-time employees within five years, according to  Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. 

Brown and Hubbard worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Lee County Economic 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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