The bridge dedication. Courtesy of Pittsylvania County.
The bridge dedication. Courtesy of Pittsylvania County.

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

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Pittsylvania renames bridge

Pittsylvania County held a ceremony Tuesday to officially rename the “Deputy Sheriff J. Holland Thomas, Sr. Memorial Bridge,” which crosses U.S. Highway 29 along Chalk Level Road. Thomas, a longtime deputy with the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, died in 1956 as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty.  

On October 8, 1952, while attempting to arrest a man wanted for killing his employer, who supposedly owed him $18, Thomas received gunfire from a 12-gauge shotgun blast to his chest and abdomen area. Doctors were able to remove most of the pellets, but he was never able to fully recover. He retired from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. Thomas ultimately died as a result of an infection and internal bleeding caused by one of the fragments in 1956. 

Thomas had been involved in law enforcement for 33 years.

The Board passed a resolution in July of this year requesting that the Commonwealth Transportation Board rename the bridge. The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the request in October. 

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Junior Achievement names president

Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia has announced that Keri Garnett, former Financial Empowerment Center Manager at Freedom First Enterprises, has been named president. As president of the Junior Achievement, Garnett will manage the organization’s work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy programs that currently reach over 5,000 K-12 students annually in the area.  

Garnett was recently chosen as a Roanoker Magazine’s “40 Under 40” citizen who is a making a difference in the community, being described as a “purpose-driven, influential and compassionate part of Roanoke.” 

Garnett received a Master of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Northeastern University, Boston.  

Following twenty-four years leading Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia, the current President, Katherin Elam, retired on November 15. 

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HopeTree names chief advancement officer

HopeTree Family Services has appointed Lisa Clause as Chief Advancement Officer. In this role, she will oversee HopeTree’s statewide strategic planning and execution for fundraising, development, marketing, and communications.

Most recently, she served as Senior Director of Marketing and Philanthropy, Public Information Officer at Richfield Living where she oversaw all marketing efforts, led fundraising campaigns that exceeded goals of $1.2 million, and was critical to the development of the organization’s Roanoke campus.

Clause is a graduate of Virginia Tech, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management and a Master of Business Administration from Liberty University. Currently, she serves on four nonprofit boards including Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce, American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball, and YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, where she successfully chaired the Annual Campaign for two years. 

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Lynchburg church to screen documentary on Ukaine

Gospel Community Church in Lynchburg is set to host a screening of the documentary “Slava Isusu Khrystu” (Glory to Christ Jesus). The film portrays war in Ukraine and the work taken to evacuate those in danger and provide essential relief to many Ukrainians. 

The vent will be Monday, December 12, 6-8pm ET – Gospel Community Church, 1301 Rivermont Ave, Lynchburg, VA 24504.

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Forest Service temporarily closes road in Carroll and Grayson

The USDA Forest Service is replacing a failed triple barrel culvert and has temporarily closed a section of Tate Road (Forest Service Road 667) in Carroll and Grayson counties, Virginia. Tate Road is the loop road off of Snowbird Lane (Forest Service Road 690), which intersects Brush Creek Road (State Route 602) and Scratch Gravel Road (State Route 738).

The 0.6-mile section of Tate Road is closed to all entry at the Forest Service gate near the intersection with Snowbird Lane through the intersection with Forest Service Road 667A. Because of the nature of the construction activities, and for public safety, the work site is closed to all public travel and visitors must not walk around the closed gates.

Heavy construction vehicles will be using Snowbird Lane and Tate Road to haul material and equipment to and from the job site. Please exercise caution while driving on these roads and be prepared to yield the right-of-way to larger vehicles.

The road work is weather dependent and may not be completed until early spring. Once the repair work is complete, the road will re-open.

“This is a popular road for hunters and horse riders alike. We thank the public for their patience as we work to improve this road for access and safety,” said Area Ranger Barry Garten.

The new culvert will improve drainage capacity during storm events and protect the road surface and stream from excessive erosion, which can impair water quality. The new culvert is sized and countersunk to improve the stream flow and allow for natural streambed material to accumulate, providing easier fish and amphibians’ passage under the roadbed.