Blackstone Data will operate out of this building. Courtesy of VCEDA.

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

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The ribbon was cut celebrating the announcement that Blackstone Data Services, LLC, will locate in the Bluestone Business and Technology Park shell building, bringing with it five new jobs and private investment of $18 million. Representatives from the company, Tazewell County, the Tazewell County IDA and VCEDA, along with Ninth District Congressman Morgan Griffith and Virginia Sen. Travis Hackworth, were on hand for the announcement, Tuesday. Behind them are two of the data pods utilized in the mining of cryptocurrency. Courtesy of VCEDA.

Data center to create 5 jobs in Tazewell

A data center plans to locate in the Tazewell County, creating five jobs, according to a release from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority. Attracting data centers — which house computer operations — has long been an economic goal for Southwest Virginia. Blackstone Data Services becomes the fourth data center to locate in the region, according to VCEDA. The total investment is put at $18 million.

Blackstone is a data center hosting services and cryptocurrency mining business, according to the release. The company will provide data center hosting; server and node maintenance and cryptocurrency mining container asset manufacturing. It will be in the Bluestone Business and Technology Park shell building.

“We are pleased to welcome Blackstone Data Services to the Bluestone Technology Park,” said Eastern District Board of Supervisors Member Charlie Stacy in a statement. “They will bring much needed high tech, diversified job opportunities to Tazewell County and significant capital investment.”

“We built the Bluestone for technology companies,” said Tazewell County Administrator Eric Young in a statement. “Blackstone Data Services is our first high tech tenant and is a welcome addition to the Bluestone.”

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Emergency training exercise in Rocky Mount

An emergency training exercise will be held at the Franklin County Health Department, 365 Pell Avenue, in Rocky Mount on Wednesday, October 26 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. While the training is designed to resemble a real emergency with area emergency agencies participating in the drill, the public is advised the sounds of sirens, shouting or shots are strictly part of the simulation to test agency crisis plans. 

“This is going to be a very realistic exercise,” said Jeanette Losee, Public Health Emergency Coordinator with West Piedmont Health District, in a statement. Emergency teams will practice treating injuries utilizing manikins. They will also use gurneys to transport the manikins as they loaded them into on-site ambulances. While shots resembling actual gunfire may be heard coming from inside the health department, the public should be aware that “blanks” are being used as part of the simulation and no projectiles will be involved. 

The training will be conducted in partnership with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Mount Police, Rocky Mount Fire, Franklin County Department of Public Safety and the Virginia Department of Health. Members of the Smith Mountain Lake Pistol Shooting Association also take part in the activity. 

“With the increasing number of life-threatening incidents taking place in so many communities, preparedness for unexpected and potentially harmful events is vital. This activity will bring a group of our community partners together to test our crisis plans, especially as we look to protect our residents, clients and staff and effectively address those threats which could occur within our own localities,” Losee said in a statement.

Due to the number of emergency vehicles expected at the Franklin County Health Department between 4:30 and 6 p.m., the public is asked to avoid this area to eliminate congestion. 

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Jason Ahner. Courtesy of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Martin guitar archivist to be next speaker for Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Jason Ahner, archivist and museum manager for C.F. Martin & Co., will be the next speaker in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum Speaker Series. The event will be held online only at 7 p.m. EDT, Nov. 8, and is free and open to the public – however, you must register online to join the conversation via Zoom. For more information visit

“Jason Ahner is an authority on the origins of Martin guitars and their expert craftsmanship,” said Dr. René Rodgers, head curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol in a statement.

Based in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and family owned and operated since 1833, C.F. Martin & Co. is known worldwide for innovations in quality, beautifully crafted instruments. Founder C.F. Martin revolutionized the way luthiers build guitars with a technique he invented known as X-bracing, which made guitars sound better and more durable. A few decades later Frank Henry Martin created the Dreadnought, considered by many to be the most important development in the evolution of guitars. 

Jason Ahner is a native of Pennsylvania and has been with C. F. Martin & Co. for more than a decade, serving as the company’s archivist since 2018 and managing its museum since 2019.

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Country Boys and Slate Mountain Ramblers will play Wytheville jamboree

Wytheville Community College is sponsoring its free monthly Bluegrass and Old-Time Jamboree featuring the Country Boys and the Slate Mountain Ramblers on Saturday, November 19, 2022. The jamboree will be held in the William F. Snyder Auditorium at WCC located at 1000 East Main Street in Wytheville,

The Country Boys have been playing traditional bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music throughout North Carolina and Virginia for over 40 years.

The Slate Mountain Ramblers are a family, old-time band from Mt. Airy, North Carolina.The band has a winning tradition at fiddler conventions, and they perform for dances, shows, family and community gatherings, and benefits.

The music begins at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to help defray the travel expenses of the bands.