The Birthplace of Country Music Museum's Annex, pictured above between the museum and The Bristol Hotel. Courtesy of the museum.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum's Annex, pictured above between the museum and The Bristol Hotel. Courtesy of the museum.

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

Birthplace of Country Music receives three grants for expansion

The Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol has been awarded a total of $1,050,000 in grant funding from a number of sources. 

Last week the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $500,000 for the museum expansion.

In December of last year the United States Congress signed the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law. This omnibus included $500,000 of Community Project Funding to assist BCM with the building project.

BCM was also awarded $50,000 from the Genan Foundation, a private philanthropical foundation created in 1987 by the late Anne and Gene Worrell, who owned and operated Worrell Newspapers. The company started in Bristol and eventually purchased the Bristol Herald Courier, then expanded to include more than thirty papers across the country. (Disclosure: The Genan Foundation is also one of our donors but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy).

The former Automotive Service & Supply building, located next door the museum, was donated to BCM in 2014 by local businessman Joseph R. Gregory and his wife, Cindy.

BCM plans include a new special exhibit area and climate-controlled archival storage, in addition to adding offices, restrooms and event space. Some work has already been done to shore up the building’s structure and dig an elevator shaft. Once historic and new market tax credits are secured, renovations can begin. The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete once construction starts. The $3.6 million renovation will increase the museum’s size to 41,000 square feet.

For more information about BCM and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit

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United Way of Southwest Virginia receives grant for $450,000

The United Way of Southwest Virginia has received a $450,000 grant by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to support Trauma Informed Care work and resilience-based efforts for Southwest Virginia. 

The grant will help with the work of both UWSWVA and local Community Service Boards (CSBs). Grant funds will be used to help build capacity, and to increase communication on the work of UWSWVA’s Trauma-Informed Care Network and Trauma-Informed Schools Initiative. 

UWSWVA will continue to work with local CSBs collaboratively to share data and report trends surrounding youth mental health while addressing strengths and challenges in our region. Funds will also establish plans and partnerships with schools to provide professional development needs to be provided by UWSWVA. A collaborative Trauma-Informed Schools designation will also be created. 

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Rodney Hammill, owner of Hammilltime Construction, LLC, opened his new business to provide quality and affordable renovation and repairs. Hammilltime Construction, LLC is a recent recipient of a VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant. Courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards grant to Clintwood builder

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant to Hammilltime Construction, LLC of Clintwood.

The business is owned by Rodney Hammill and offers home improvements and repairs. Hammill moved to the area from North Carolina where he was also in the contracting business for more than 20 years. He is in the process of getting his licensing in Virginia, which will also enable him to take on bigger jobs and whole house construction.

Hammill worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College in developing his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority.

VCEDA region for-profit businesses, within qualifying business categories, 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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Elton John tribute band coming to Rocky Mount

The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount will welcome Elton John tribute band Yellow Brick Road to the stage Friday, Aug. 11.

A trained jazz pianist, Gerald Brann has been a lifelong Elton John fan and fronts a five-piece band.

Tickets start at $37 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at