The AmeriCorps program at 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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Danville institute to interview this week for AmeriCorps positions

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research was awarded $333,933 by  AmeriCorps, the federal agency leading the nation’s volunteering and service efforts. The funds will be  used to continue the support of the Dan River Year AmeriCorps program as it strives to improve K-12  students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Southern Virginia. Open interviews for multiple AmeriCorps positions will be held at IALR on Aug. 11-12 from 12-4 p.m.;  there is no appointment necessary. 

AmeriCorps awarded competitive funding to programs across the nation, five of which exist within Virginia. Of the five awarded grants, Dan River Year AmeriCorps represents the only nonmetro program  awarded outside of Northern Virginia.

With 14 service sites spanning Southern Virginia, including Pittsylvania County, Halifax County, and the  cities of Martinsville and Danville, Dan River Year AmeriCorps connects individuals with opportunities to  advance their careers and education while providing service to their community.

AmeriCorps members have opportunities to provide services that support education, disaster services,  health, environmental stewardship, economic opportunity and service to veterans and military families.  For their service, members receive a stipend and financial awards for education as well as professional  development and leadership skills. Those interested in receiving more information or becoming involved with Dan River Year AmeriCorps may visit or contact Dana Silicki at or (434) 766-6729. The open interviews on Thursday and Friday will fill positions in Danville, Martinsville and Pittsylvania, Henry and Halifax counties for Community Health Educators,  STEM/Literacy Tutors and STEM/Literacy Educators.

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The Paramont Contura team from Norton. Courtesy of Virginia Energy.

Mine safety winners announced

The Virginia Department of Energy has announced winners of the recent mine safety competition held in Blacksburg.

The rescue and safety contest was sponsored by the Virginia Mining Institute (VMI). Virginia Energy employees, along with regulatory agencies from other states and retirees from the coal industry, assist with setup and judging for the event. 

An annual event, this competition puts teams across Appalachia against each other on a field where an underground coal mine emergency is simulated. The mine rescue teams use their training to solve problems and rescue anyone trapped. Those with the least mistakes that finish in the least amount of time are deemed the winners.

The teams competed to conduct rescue and recovery operations in a staged mine disaster scenario. Miners also competed in a First Aid skills competition and a bench contest in which they identified problems within breathing apparatuses.

Danny Mullins. Courtesy of Virginia Energy.

Danny Mullins, a mine safety inspector and captain of the mine rescue team for the department, outscored all other competitors in the pre-shift competition. This is the second time Mullins has earned this honor.

Grand Champion of Mine Rescue: Paramont Contura

1st Runner-Up of Mine Rescue:  Wellmore Coal Company

2nd Runner-Up of Mine Rescue: Arch ResourcesLeer Mine

1st Place Mine Rescue Team Day 1: Wellmore Coal Company

2nd Place Team Day 1: Paramont Contura

3rd Place Team Day 1: Arch Resources Leer Mine

1st Place Mine Rescue Team Day 2: Southern Pocahontas

2nd Place Mine Rescue Team Day 2: Paramont Contura

3rd Place Mine Rescue Team Day 2:  Arch Resources Beckley

First Aid 1st Place: Alpha Metallurgical Resources Southern West Virginia

First Aid 2nd Place: Paramont Contura

Combination Award 1st Place: Paramont Contura

Combination Award 2nd Place: Arch Resources Leer Mine

*The combination award goes to the team with the best combined score for mine rescue and first aid.

Bench 1st Place: BG4- Robbie Middleton, Paramont Contura

Bench 2nd Place:  BG4- Seth Porter, Alpha Metallurgical Resources Southern West Virginia

Bench 1st Place:   240R- Shannon Moore, Wellmore Coal Company

Bench 2nd Place:  240R- Wade Boggs, Arch Resources Leer Mine

Pre-Shift 1st Place: Danny Mullins, Virginia Energy

Pre-Shift 2nd Place: Joey Sykes, Paramont Contura

Pre-Shift 3rd Place: James Thomas, Alpha Metallurgical Resources Southern West Virginia

Mine Rescue Teams:

Alpha Metallurgical Resources Southern West Virginia Team, Beckley, WV

Arch Resources/Beckley Complex Arch Beckley Team, Beckley, WV

Arch Resources, Inc. Leer Mine Team, Grafton, WV

Paramont Contura Paramont Team, Norton, VA

Prairie State Generating Company Lively Grove Black Team, Marissa, IL

Southern Pocahontas Mine Rescue Team, Pineville, WV

Virginia Energy Team, Big Stone Gap, VA

Wellmore Coal Company Wellmore Team, Grundy, VA  

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The Divers family. Courtesy of Bedford County.

Bedford appoints Divers to ag board

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors recently appointed Melody Divers to represent District 6 on the Bedford County Agriculture Economic Development Advisory Board.

Divers is the co-owner of Chapel Creek Farms in Montvale and serves as its chief marketer and event planner.

The Ag Board was established by the Bedford County Board of Supervisors in 2007. Its mission: to develop and implement a continuing plan to sustain and enhance Bedford’s rural economy, including support for farms, dairies, cattle operations, and other industries.

Divers is filling an unexpired term due to the recent resignation of long-term member, Pam Willoughby. She served on the Ag Board since the board was created in 2007, and recently resigned due to health reasons.

For more information about the Bedford County Ag Board visit:

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Sandridge, Goin become office-holders of co-op regional board

The Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) has a new leadership team.

Wade C. House, a director at Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, based in Manassas, has been elected as chairman of the VMD Association Board of Directors for 2022-23. The new vice chairman is C. Michael Sandridge, a director at BARC Electric Cooperative, based in Millboro. Central Virginia Electric Cooperative’s director, George Goin, is the new secretary/treasurer.

The leaders were elected by board members on July 25 at the association’s 78th annual meeting, held at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs. They will be responsible for helping to guide the direction of the association, which includes 15 electric cooperatives from the Cumberland Gap to Delaware, serving nearly 900,000 meters and 1.84 million people in parts of six states.