These are the counties covered by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Courtesy: ARC

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

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Appalachian Regional Commission gives grant for virtual program in Roanoke

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded $249,000 for Center in the Square’s Virtual Get Schooled Field Trip Program, a Roanoke program that brings together local nonprofits and businesses to offer virtual field trips showcasing the Appalachian region.

The funding was announced by Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Virginia. The Virtual Get Schooled Field Trip Program is expected to serve 25,000 participants and feature 25 local organizations, according to a release.

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Smith Mountain Lake Center puts together education committee

The Smith Mountain Lake Center has put together a committee of educators to assist in the development and administration of the proposed facility’s educational offerings.

Greg Beecher, who serves as director of talent development at Virginia Tech, announced the following appointees:

  • Jesse Griffin, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Roanoke College.
  • Kathy Hodges, executive director of the Franklin Center for Advanced Learning and Enterprise.
  • Matt Karris, a New York theater actor, director and educator who joined the SML Center board to guide its theatrical arts programming.
  • Scott Weimer, Virginia Tech’s executive director of Roanoke Regional Initiatives.

Vicki Gardner, the SML Center’s board president, recently announced that more than 70% of the funds needed to purchase the vacant 40,000-square-foot structure have been secured. 

Tax-deductible contributions may be made online by visiting and clicking the “support” tab. Checks made payable to Smith Mountain Lake Center may also be mailed to P.O. Box 786, Moneta, VA 24121. For more details, including a preliminary layout of the proposed facility, visit

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Bedford County names deputy county administrator

Justin Stauder. Photo courtesy of Bedford County.

Justin Stauder has been hired as Bedford County’s deputy county administrator, the county announced Monday.

Stauder, who has served as assistant county administrator for New Kent County since 2019, will start his new job Nov. 1. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Villanova University and a bachelor’s degree in geographic science from James Madison University. 

Prior to joining New Kent County in 2017 as the environmental programs manager, he worked in similar environmental compliance roles with Prince George County and the city of Lynchburg.

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Wise County landscaping company receives VCEDA grant

WM3 Enterprises LLC of Wise County has received a $10,000 seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, the agency announced Monday.

The business offers general landscaping and lawn care services as well as small construction and driveway repair.

Owner Wallace “Tre’” Mullins III said he used the grant toward the purchase a new mower and other equipment.

“The grant really gave us a leg up,” he said. “We needed a new mower and getting it allowed us to add another member to the crew and added to our productivity. We are so appreciative and thankful we received the grant – it really helped us.”

The business projects employment of five full-time and seven part-time employees within five years, said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel.

As the business grows, Mullins said he hopes to branch out more into site reclamation and small land development projects. He said he currently rents a small excavator and skid steer as needed.

Mullins worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College in developing his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.

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Irene Kelley takes the stage at the Historic Masonic Theatre

Singer-songwriter Irene Kelley will perform at the Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge on Oct. 14.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $15 to $25, plus fees, and are available online.

Her music combines bluegrass, country and Americana. Her most recent full-length album, “Benny’s TV Repair,” landed five No. 1 songs on the Bluegrass Today charts.