The logo for Ronald Mark Associates.

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

* * *

Resin company to create 29 jobs in Tazewell County

A New Jersey-based company that makes custom resin and vinyl fabric products will locate in Tazewell County, creating 29 jobs, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Ronald Mark Associates, Inc. will invest $13.5 million to establish a manufacturing operation in the former Komatsu Mining Corp. facility at 1081 Hockman Pike in Bluefield, the governor’s office says. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina and South Carolina for the project, which will create 29 new jobs.

Headquartered in Hillside, New Jersey, Ronald Mark Associates has been marketing, distributing, and packaging PVC resin since 1971 and manufacturing vinyl films since 1979. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Tazewell County and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Glenn Youngkin approved a $116,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Tazewell County with the project. Ronald Mark Associates is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

* * *

Harvest Youth Board gives $5,000 to Piedmont Arts

The Harvest Youth Board has funded a $5,000 grant to Piedmont Arts to support the “Poetry to Lift Us Up” project within high schools in Martinsville and Henry County. The program features engaging workshops taught by Roscoe Burnems, a National Poetry Slam winner and Richmond, Virginia’s first-ever poet laureate, and by Angela Dribben, of the Poetry Society of Virginia. 

The primary focus of these sessions is to make poetry accessible to students of all ability and literacy levels. In addition, the workshops enable students to break away from the monotony of nonfiction-writing prompts and essays, while also strengthening students’ ability to write and analyze them.

Sarah Short, Education Coordinator for Piedmont Arts, said in a statement that poetry readings, slams and groups are a fantastic way for students to hone their public speaking skills. 

For more information about Piedmont Arts, its programs or how to donate, visit To find out more about the Harvest Youth Board, visit

The Harvest Youth Board was created in June 2015 to develop projects and initiatives important to young people in Martinsville-Henry County, and to advise the Harvest Foundation Board of Directors on issues relating to youth. The board is supported by the Harvest Foundation and the Kiwanis Club. Grants are available to nonprofits in Martinsville-Henry County for up to $5,000.

Disclosure: The Harvest Foundation has given us a grant to hire a reporter in Martinsville, but donors have no say on news decisions. See our policy.

* * *

Sarah Ioannides. Courtesy of Sarah Ioannides.

Internationally known conductor to lead Roanoke Symphony concert

Sarah Ioannides will lead the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s Virtuoso Strings performance on November 12th and 13th at Shaftman Performance Hall. The concerts will feature William P. Parrish, Jr. on oboe.

Ioannides in in her eighth season as museum director of Symphony Tacoma. “The RSO was fortunate to secure Sarah for this limited engagement,” said David Crane, Executive Director of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in a statement. “We had to compete with many renowned orchestras for a place on her schedule.”  

Ioannides has been lauded by the New York Times as a conductor with “magic” and “unquestionable strength and authority.” She was named by the Los Angeles Times as “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium.” She has worked with international orchestras such as the Tonkünstler, Orchestre Nationale de Lyon, and Bilbao Symphony Orchestra.

Saturday, November 12th at 7:30PM 

Sunday, November 13th at 3:00PM 

Tickets are available at

* * *

Salem woman wins national award

JDRF, the leading global type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and advocacy organization, has announced that Sally Southard of Salem as the recipient of the Erwin Lurie Award for her noteworthy contributions as a volunteer leader. Named for Erwin Lurie, who helped found JDRF in 1970 with his wife Carol, the Erwin Lurie Award is annually presented to a chapter volunteer whose commitment to the volunteer/staff partnership has significantly advanced the mission and strategic priorities of JDRF over the past year.

“Sally is an all-around T1D champion, from welcoming new members into the community to sharing her knowledge and raising funds to accelerate life-changing research,” said Jaclyn Toll, executive director of the JDRF Mid Atlantic Chapter in a statement. “We thank Sally for her longstanding commitment to our mission and congratulate her on this well-deserved award.”

For more than 40 years, Southard has worn many hats as a former JDRF T1D Voices Council member, JDRF Greater Blue Ridge Chapter president and board member, walk chair, gala chair, and honoree. In 2020, she provided volunteer leadership as regional chapters in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., consolidated to create the JDRF Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

Southard has been living with T1D for more than 57 years. Sally currently serves on the JDRF Mid-Atlantic Chapter Community Board of Directors, executive council, and serves as the president of the Virginia Mission Board.

* * *

Roanoke Women’s Foundation announces grants

The Roanoke Women’s Foundation has announced the largest annual total of grants in its 18-year history. Nine organizations received a combined total of $378,000.

The 2022 recipients include:

  • Apple Ridge Farm – $30,000 toward its academic summer camp, serving low-income, inner-city youth
  • Dan River Basin Association – $30,000 toward its educational stewardship program for grades 2 to 5 at Snow Creek Elementary School in Franklin County
  • Floyd Community Center for the Arts – $30,000 toward facility improvements and equipment to expand its programming capability
  • HopeTree Family Services – $30,000 toward increased security systems for its campus in Salem
  • Roanoke Higher Education Center Foundation – $50,000 toward creation of a Career and Workforce Training Center for assistance to its graduates as they enter or return to the workforce
  • Roanoke Valley Speech and Hearing Center – $71,000 toward improvement of its Roanoke building’s accessibility to meet the needs of patrons
  • Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center – $50,000 toward purchase of equipment to provide critical care for injured native wild animals
  • Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary – $47,000 toward on-site housing and research facilities for its apprentices and beekeeping students
  • YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge – $40,000 toward expanding its pilot afterschool initiative designed to enhance learning and living skills of Roanoke City middle school students.

According to RWF president, MaryJean Levin, “After two years of COVID constraints, our membership of generous women has increased substantially, allowing us to provide increased support for more projects than ever before in a single year. It is especially satisfying that we are able to fund such diverse needs throughout our local communities. These awards bring our 18-year total of contributions to $4,889,500 given to 72 nonprofits for implementation of 90 projects.”

The mission of Roanoke Women’s Foundation is to connect the power of women and their pooled resources to enhance the quality of life in our community. In its previous 17 years, RWF has provided more than $4.5 million to 64 nonprofits throughout the region which includes the cities of Roanoke and Salem and the counties of Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, and Roanoke. Eligible organizations serve the community in the areas of 1) arts and culture, 2) education, 3) environment, and 4) health and human services.