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

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Partnership brings Hokie-inspired ice cream to market

Virginia Tech and Homestead Creamery of Franklin County have collaborated to create Hokie-inspired ice cream.

The ice cream flavor profiles and recipe development were led by Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology researchers Joell Eifert and Brian Wiersema in collaboration with Homestead Creamery. From left are Wiersema, Bethany Spencer, Eifert, Claudia Pick, Erin Saacke and Kasey Kohl, president of Homestead. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

The first flavor, Hokie Tracks, will roll out to ice cream shops and restaurants around Virginia in early fall. Hokie Tracks is a creamy vanilla ice cream with a ribbon of salted caramel and dark chocolate-covered pretzel chunks, created to celebrate Virginia Tech’s roots in agriculture as part of the university’s 150th anniversary. 

Later this year, Hokie Tracks will be more widely available for consumers in grocery stores and specialty stores along the East Coast, and the Hokie ice cream collection will be expanded in the future. In the meantime, Hokies can get an exclusive taste of the ice cream at events in Roanoke (Sept. 25) and Washington, D.C. (Sept. 14).

The ice cream flavor profiles and recipe development were led by Department of Food Science and Technology faculty members Joell Eifert and Brian Wiersema in collaboration with Homestead’s team and were tweaked along the way with feedback from the Virginia Tech community.

Homestead Creamery is a small, locally owned dairy processing plant in Burnt Chimney that was formed in 2001. It’s made up of a small network of locally owned dairy farms run by families.

“I’ve worked with Homestead Creamery for several years. Being able to formalize the partnership is exciting and reinforces Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission to support agriculture while benefiting the university and the state,” said Eifert, director of the Food Innovations Program. “It’s rewarding to be able to develop the ice cream recipes with a reputable industry partner, while knowing the work will reap rewards that directly impact our department and students.”

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Piedmont Senior Resources honored for virtual program

Piedmont Senior Resources of Farmville received a 2022 Aging Innovations Award from USAging for its virtual program.

Mary Ann Spanos, Jordan Miles, Justine Young and Jack York. Photo courtesy of Piedmond Senior Resources.

“PSR was so excited to receive our second national award in a row from USAging,” Executive Director and CEO Justine Young said. “Our Virtual Program, created and operated by Nikki Dean and Brandon Akers, was so appreciated by clients who were more isolated than ever last year due to COVID-19.”

When the pandemic left many seniors homebound, Dean decided to do something about it.

“We did a survey and found that many of our clients in rural areas of the seven counties served by PSR were interested in doing something virtually,” Dean said. “We purchased tablets and gave instructions on how to do Zoom. The clients loved being able to see each other by connecting virtually.”

The adoption of virtual programming created the need for devices to help PSR clients connect with their peers and families online. Special funding helped purchase five tablets for a pilot program with clients who had varying levels of technological knowledge. With some training, older adults became familiar with the program, and their participation grew. After a successful pilot, PSR extended the program to include an additional 20 tablets.

The USAging Aging Innovations Awards honor traditional and new strategies in a range of categories including advocacy, diversity, equity and inclusion, elder abuse prevention, healthy aging, home- and community-based services, nutrition, social engagement and workforce development. Thirty-six awards were presented this year.

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Intercept Health offers free family portraits to celebrate foster parents

Intercept Health is celebrating the launch of its new foster care awareness campaign, “No Perfect Families,” by offering free family portraits in Roanoke and Richmond.

The events are open to the general public and RSVPs are not required. Families who attend can learn more about the critical need for foster parents in Virginia, and Intercept Health employees will be on site to answer any questions they may have. 

Richmond free family portraits: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 13, 5511 Staples Mill Road, Richmond.

Roanoke free family portraits: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 20, 5673 Airport Road, Roanoke.

Intercept Health’s treatment foster care program is available across Virginia with offices in Chesapeake, Chester, Danville, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Roanoke, Rocky Mount, Stafford, Staunton and Wytheville.

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Virginia Children’s Theatre announces scholarship winners

Roanoke-based Virginia Children’s Theater has announced that Ben Armstrong and Ronin Ramey are the recipients of scholarships for the 2022-23 season.

Ben Armstrong. Courtesy of VCT.

Ben, who’s in 11th grade, will receive the Sarabeth Hammond Scholarship, created in memory of a youth actor who died in 2016. He will be allowed to enroll in as many VCT classes and camps as he desires for the upcoming season, receive private coaching sessions with VCT professional artists and be guaranteed casting in a VCT mainstage production.

Ronin Ramey. Courtesy of VCT.

Ronin, a seventh grader at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Roanoke, will receive the ARD Properties Scholarship, which was created to honor the support that ARD Properties gives to VCT. The award is given to a VCT Academy Theatre artist who exhibits a strong sense of service, leadership and dedication to their community. Ronin will receive complimentary VCT Academy sessions during the school year, one complimentary summer camp session and eight private coaching sessions.