Roanoke Municipal Building. Photo by Dwayne Yancey
The Roanoke Municipal Building. Photo by Dwayne Yancey.

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

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City of Roanoke to host Job Fair

The City of Roanoke will host a Job Fair on November 16, 2022 at the Berglund
Center, from 3p.m. to 7p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet city staff
and ask questions, apply and interview on-site.

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Ashland-based company acquires Roanoke firm

The Ashland-based VSC Fire & Security, Inc. (VSC) has acquired three new life safety companies. One of those is in Roanoke — Fire Equipment Company. The other two are Southeast Fire Protection (SEFP) of Houston, Texas and Outer Banks Fire Protection (OBX) of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

“Our most recent acquisition of the three new companies allows us to not only expand our geographic footprint, but also to add more specialized services in certain markets,” said Tommy Clements, president at VSC in a statement.

FEC in Roanoke specializes in fire extinguishers and exhaust hood work. This unique service offering will round out the existing VSC Roanoke division to become a full-service Life Safety and Security office, VSC said in a statement.

VSC Fire & Security, Inc. (VSC) is a provider of fire protection, life safety, and low voltage solutions to retailers, commercial campuses, healthcare facilities, and government properties throughout the southeast United States. Established in 1958, VSC has grown to employ over 1,400 people across 25 offices in 10 states. Learn more at

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Clean Valley Council, Mill Mountain Zoo seek artists

Clean Valley Council and the Mill Mountain Zoo are partnering for the 2023 Art to Rescue the River program. They are looking for artists to submit conceptual sketches of large-scale sculptures to be considered for the next Art to Rescue the River installations. The project is based on Washed Ashore and is meant to bring awareness of the problem of plastic pollution in the Roanoke River and other local waterways to the public. 

Sculptures must be of an animal species native to Virginia and incorporate collected and repurposed materials such as plastic bottles, tires, plastic bags and other trash that is typically found in river cleanups. Sculptures must be durable and weatherproof, as one or both will be displayed outdoors. This project has been made possible by funding from the Roanoke Arts Commission. 

Selected artists will receive a stipend. For more information, contact Bambi Godkin at

To be considered for this project, artists must submit a brief description of how the sculpture will be constructed, along with a sketch or sketches of the concept. Please send proposals to:

Mill Mountain Zoo
c/o Bambi Godkin
PO Box 8159
Roanoke, VA 24014

Submissions may also be dropped off at Mill Mountain Zoo. Deadline to submit a proposal is December 1, 2022.

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The Happy Goat LLC was a recent recipient of a seed capital matching grant from VCEDA. Owners Vince and Lucie D’Amato (left) are pictured with their son, Joe (right), and Antonio Villa (second from right). The new deli and hiking gear shop will open later this year. Courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards grant to Tazewell business

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant to a Tazewell deli and hiking gear shop, The Happy Goat LLC.

The business is owned by Vincent and Lucie D’Amato, who moved from Virginia Beach where they had lived for 30 years. She grew up in Tazewell.

“The Happy Goat will offer another dining option as well as a place to purchase hiking gear in Tazewell that will appeal to both tourists and locals,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “In so doing, it will create new jobs in the community which is what the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant program strives to do. The new business projects two full-time employees and five part-time employees within five years.”

In 2021,Vince retired from government sales and Lucie had the ability to continue to work remotely in healthcare, so the timing seemed right to move to Tazewell and to start the new business. The couple’s son, Joe, also moved to the Tazewell community and is helping to launch the business. His college friend, Antonio Villa, relocated to Tazewell from Richmond and will help run the deli. Both are graduates of Virginia Tech with agriculture science degrees.

The D’Amatos worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell 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.

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Members of Team Susan Balderson – State Farm Insurance celebrate their victory at the 19h Annual Smith Mountain Lake Fall Chili and Craft Festival on Nov. 5 at Bridgewater Plaza. Courtesy of SML Regional Chamber.

The team from Susan Balderson – State Farm Insurance claimed the top prize at the 19th Annual Smith Mountain Lake Fall Chili and Craft Festival, which took place Nov. 5 at Bridgewater Plaza.

Balderson’s team won first place for Best Chili in blind judging, which was conducted by a member panel on the stage at Mango’s Bar & Grill. The award was determined based on taste, consistency, aroma, color and bite, according to Erin Stanley, Events Director for the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber, which organizes the annual festival.

Smokin’ on the Lake took second place while Lake Haven Trailer Park finished third. Lake Haven also won the Showmanship Award for the third straight year, decorating their booth in bright pink and wearing matching T-shirts.

Drifter’s was the winner of the People’s Choice Award for best-tasting chili. 

More than 1,600 people sampled tastings from 14 cooker teams.