The view from the webcam at the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

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Blue Ridge Music Center has webcam for fall leaves

Two new web cameras give online viewers a scenic glimpse of fall at the Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax. The cameras show views of the outdoor amphitheater, surrounding mountains, and Visitor Center.  

Funding for the cameras was provided by donors to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The project was completed in collaboration with the Blue Ridge Parkway/National Park Service. 

Viewers can see the images at They can also view an additional webcam feed at The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park in North Carolina at

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ARC awards more than $4 million in funding for Southwest projects

The Appalachian Regional Commission has announced more than $4 million for projects in Southwest Virginia, according to releases from Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith.

·         $1,500,000 to Appalachian Sustainable Development for the Food Sector Workforce Development in Central Appalachia Project to address new opportunities and challenges facing agricultural producers and food processors across Southwest Virginia. According to ARC, the project will seek to benefit rural communities in Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, West Virginia, and Southeast Ohio through workforce development and strengthening the food sector. It is expected to serve 125 businesses; improve 88 businesses; create 40 businesses, 53 jobs and one plan; serve 310 workers/trainees; improve 35 workers/trainees; and leverage $965,000 of private investment.

·         $1,500,000 to the New River Valley Regional Commission for the New River Water Trail Expansion Project to construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail in Fairlawn. According to ARC, the project will construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail and support website, marketing, outreach, and river stewardship efforts. The project is expected to attract 1,500 new visitors each year.

·         $665,000 to Henry County for the Dick & Willie Passage Trail 6A Completion Project to complete the last mile of an existing gap in the D&W Trail in Henry County. According to ARC, the project will complete the last mile of an existing 2.96-mile gap in the trail and includes improvements to the “Bike Barn” bike loan program. The rail trail’s name originates with a nickname for the Danville & Western Railway.

·         $500,000 to St. Mary’s Health Wagon for the Expansion of Dental Services for Central Appalachia Project to facilitate education and training of new dental professionals in Clintwood. According to ARC, the project will cover Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, and Wise Counties. It will facilitate education and training of new dental professionals and provide comprehensive oral health care services. The project will create four jobs (a dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, and a dental case manager), improve 2,000 patients through the provision of oral health services, and improve six trainees through clinical workforce training over the course of one year.

This funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)‘s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative.

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VCEDA gives grant to Big Stone Gap skin care company

Sarah Mullins Botts, pictured here with her husband, Andrew, opened Sweet Winks, LLC to provide skin care, lash extensions and organic teeth whitening services and more here in Southwest Virginia. Sweet Winks was a recent recipient of a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Fund Grant. Courtesy of VCEDA.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has given a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant to a skin care company in Big Stone Gap.

“Sweet Winks, LLC, provides a variety of personal care services close to home here in Southwest Virginia,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel in a statement. “The new business projects two full-time employees and four part-time employees within five years.”

The business is owned by Sarah Mullins Botts. Botts is a licensed cosmetologist and certified lash artist. The new business opened in March and Mullins said bookings for appointments are about a month out.

Botts worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial 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.  Only businesses in qualifying industry sectors are considered for funding. The seed capital program is funded by regional natural gas severance taxes paid by the natural gas industry.

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7th annual New London Day is Saturday

Liberty University’s Department of History is partnering with the Friends of New London for the seventh annual New London Day, celebrating the historic town of New London, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.

The event is free and open to the public.

Address: 594 Alum Springs Rd, Lynchburg

Activities include:

  • Live music and food vendors
  • Self-guided walking tour
  • Revolutionary War reenactors
  • Live, ongoing archaeology
  • Military history exhibit featuring National Guard history
  • Traditional worship at the old African American church
  • Live craft demonstrations (spinning demonstration, blacksmith)
  • Hands-on children’s activities 
  • Petting zoo

Liberty history students dressed in period clothing will offer tours of two properties.

Representatives from local historical sites and organizations will also be present.