.John McCormick/University of Lynchburg.

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

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University of Lynchburg adds harmonica program

The University of Lynchburg this fall launched an accredited harmonica program, thought to be the only one of its kind in the U.S.

The half-credit course, Applied Music-Harmonica, is taught by world-renowned musician and adjunct music professor George Miklas.

Miklas, who also teaches tuba, has played the harmonica for as long as he can remember. He was 4 years old when his dad — a World War II veteran who played harmonica for generals George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower — first put a harmonica in his hand, according to a news release from the school.

While on a family camping trip, the young Miklas asked his dad for arcade money. Instead, he was handed a hat and a harmonica. “[He] told me to ‘play the harmonica, entertain the campers, and hold the hat,’” he said.

Miklas started playing professionally in high school, then went on to the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. He later pursued a master’s and doctorate in music and wrote two books about the harmonica.

At Lynchburg, Miklas plays with the faculty brass quintet and Wind Symphony and Orchestra.

Miklas currently has three harmonica students at Lynchburg.

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Danville chamber hosts candidate forum

The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum Oct. 13 for candidates running for seats on the Danville City School Board and the Danville City Council.

The forum will be held at the George Washington High School auditorium, 701 Broad St. School board candidates will be featured from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by city council candidates from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m.

Six candidates are running for four available seats on the school board: Keisha Averett, Kushana Galloway, TyQuan Graves, Michael Pritchett Jr., Keith Silverman and Keisha Walker. Averett and Graves are incumbents.

Six candidates also are running for four available seats on the city council: Maureen Belko, James Buckner, Petrina Carter, Bryant Hood, Alonzo Jones and Gary Miller. Buckner, Hood, Jones and Miller are incumbents.

All candidates have been invited to participate.

Candidates will be given an opportunity to make brief remarks and answer questions from the public. To submit a question, email Christy Harper at chamber@dpchamber.org by Oct. 3.

The event is free and open to the public, but online registration is required. The event is sponsored by SoVa Legal and the Danville Register & Bee.

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Hokie BugFest returns

Hokie BugFest, Virginia Tech’s annual bug-centric celebration, is back with in-person events this year after two years of online programming.

A 2019 Hokie BugFest participant gets an up-close view of a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Photo courtesy of Krisangel Lopez for Virginia Tech.

Hokie BugFest 2022 will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 8 in Squires Student Center in Blacksburg. (A special pre-opening from 9 to 10 a.m. is reserved for people with mobility or other special needs.)

This year’s event will feature 30 exhibitors including Virginia Tech labs, area museums, community groups and industry experts. Visitors can interact with hands-on activities, working bee hives, a bug library, 3D insects and live arthropods including scorpions, blue death feigning beetles, tarantulas, millipedes and hissing cockroaches.

Bugs are also coming to Tidewater and the Richmond area. The Southeast Virginia Hokie BugFest will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. And the Henrico Bug Bizarre will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Deep Run Recreation Center in Henrico.

For those who can’t attend one of the in-person events, Virtual Hokie BugFest will offer an online bug world from October through May 2023. Visit hokiebugfest.org for videos, photo galleries, downloadable activities and fun facts about bugs.

The public events round out more than a month of bug-related activities across Virginia. Hokie BugFest on the Go, a traveling field program, visited 42 elementary school classes and more than 700 students in Radford and Pulaski County throughout September.

Virginia Tech bug festivals are free and open to the public, and are hosted by Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Department of Entomology and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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National forests in South waive campground fees for storm evacuees

The Southern Region of the U.S. Forest Service is immediately waiving fees and making campgrounds available for individuals and families displaced by Hurricane Ian.

As a precaution, several campgrounds on national forests throughout the southeast have closed due to the looming threat of Hurricane Ian. These campgrounds will reopen as soon as possible once the safety of campers, the visiting public and employees can be assured.

Information on closures in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests recreation closures will be updated online.

Please call ahead or check websites to determine what is open and available. Also, individuals requesting campsites need to check in with campground hosts at each site or with Ranger District offices.

For more information:

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest – 770-297-3000

Cherokee National Forest – 423-476-9700

Daniel Boone National Forest – 859-745-3100

Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests – 803-561-4000

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests – 540-265-5100

Kisatchie National Forest – 318-473-7160

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area – 800-525-7077

National Forests and Grasslands in Texas – 936-639-8501

National Forests in Alabama – 334-832-4470

National Forests in Florida (Ocala and Osceola National Forests remain closed)– 850-523-8500

National Forests in Mississippi – 601-965-1600

National Forests in North Carolina – 828-257-4200

Ouachita National Forest – 501-321-5202

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests – 479-964-7200

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