This building on Roanoke's Jefferson Street will house shared lab space. Photo by Megan Schnabel.

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

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Roanoke labs project receives long-awaited state funding

A project that will bring shared lab space to downtown Roanoke received a long-awaited infusion of state money on Tuesday.

The General Assembly last year earmarked $15.7 million for the project. The governor’s office on Tuesday announced that the funds had been released, meaning construction can now begin on the site on South Jefferson Street.

The project is expected to create about 40,000 square feet of lab space for researchers and startups. It’s part of a larger initiative that also includes a smaller lab facility at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, and it’s designed to meet what economic development and technology leaders say is a critical need for lab space for the region’s growing biotech and life sciences sector.

According to a news release issued Tuesday, the labs are scheduled to open late next year and to generate 250 jobs in the first five years after opening.

The project is a collaboration among a number of Roanoke and New River Valley entities, according to the release:

● The city of Roanoke will manage the project and the money awarded through the state budget and will contribute a $1.9 million match through American Rescue Plan Act funds.
● The labs will be constructed in a building currently owned by Carilion Clinic.

● The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center will manage the facility’s planning, development and operations.
● Verge will launch an innovation studio and new programming to support biotech and digital health startups, while the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council will launch talent attraction and retention programs and RAMP will work with the startups on acceleration.
● Virginia Western Community College will expand its degree and certificate programs to support the biotechnology sector and will provide professional development to K-12 partners.
● Virginia Tech will continue its support of faculty research, startup companies and physician education at the nearby Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Renee Perkins. Courtesy of VCEDA.
Renee Perkins. Courtesy of VCEDA.

VCEDA awards grant to Tazewell Test Center

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development authority has awarded a $10,000 grant to Tazewell Test Center, which provides proctoring services for a variety of professions and employers that require pre-employment exams or certifications.

The business is owned by Renee Perkins.

“The Tazewell Test Center offers a unique service in our area by facilitating testing for a variety of professions and certifications which oftentimes residents need in order to secure employment,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel in a statement. “The business projects one full-time and one part-time job within two years.”

“Many years ago, I had a sister-in-law who had to go to Johnson City to take a test for the postal service and that got me to thinking,” Perkins said in a statement. “When people have to go out of the county to test, it takes money out of the county and that’s revenue we can keep right here.”

In its first six months, the test center proctored exams for Virginia Waterworks and Wastewater, CompTIA, Evaluation Systems, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Microsoft, FBI, IRS, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Board and others.

The test center, located at 165 Chamber Drive — inside the chamber building in Tazewell — officially opened in October.

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American Cancer Society awards lodging grant to Ballad Health

The American Cancer Society recently awarded a $20,000 lodging grant to Ballad Health to alleviate the financial burden of lodging costs for patients with cancer.

The grant, awarded under Mountain States Health Alliance as one of Ballad Health’s predecessor organizations, is one of 90 nationwide lodging grants totaling more than $3.3 million awarded by the American Cancer Society in 2022. Based on assistance provided through previous grant funding, these grants will provide more than 9,000 nights of free lodging for patients across the United States.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society’s transportation grant awarded to Ballad Health, contact Rebecca Jenkins, lead community navigator for Ballad Health’s cancer care, at or 423-783-6408.

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Clinch Ranger District looks for volunteers

 The George Washington and Jefferson National Forest’s Clinch Ranger District is seeking volunteers to assist for the 2023 summer season.

Campground hosts are needed at Bark Camp and High Knob recreation areas. Living quarters are available as needed at both sites for volunteers. 

Volunteers are responsible for monitoring campgrounds, welcoming visitors, and some light maintenance. No prior experience is required for volunteers. All training, tools, and personal protective equipment are provided by the Forest Service. All positions require a valid driver’s license and a background check. All positions require that volunteers be 18 years or older.

All volunteers who complete 250 hours for the year are eligible to receive the Interagency America the Beautiful Pass, which waives entrance fees at all national parks and select recreation sites on National Forest Lands.

Volunteers start in early May to prepare and assist with the recreation season. Volunteers at Bark Camp Recreation Area are needed through Oct. 1. Volunteers at High Knob Recreation Area are needed through Aug. 1. Interested applicants may apply at or by calling the Clinch Ranger District at 276-679-8370.

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Farm Management Institute event set for Marion and Lewisburg, W.Va.

The Farm Credit Knowledge Center will host its annual Farm Management Institutes at the West Virginia State Fair Grounds in Lewisburg, West Virginia, on March 28, and at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion on March 29. Events will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days.

Both sessions will feature David Kohl, a professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, who will talk about agriculture outlooks and suggested actions for producers, agribusinesses and students. Participants at the West Virginia event will hear from Jesse Richardson of West Virginia University, and participants attending the Virginia event will hear from Jennifer Friedel of Virginia Tech. Both will talk about agricultural law.

Register at, or email the Knowledge Center at

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Roanoke College film series launches Wednesday

The fifth annual Roanoke College International Film Series, presented in collaboration with Hollins University, will kick off Wednesday with a lineup of films centered on the theme of ghosts.

The screenings, which will be hosted across multiple campus and community venues, are designed to promote intercultural exchange, learning and world cinema among both students and the wider region.

In total, eight films will be shown between Feb. 15 and Feb. 26. Each screening is free, open to the public and subtitled in English. Panel-led discussions with the audience and faculty members will be held after each film.

The International Film Series was first launched in 2019 as an initiative of Roanoke College’s Department of Modern Languages. Partners in the program include Hollins University, Roanoke Valley Sister Cities, the Grandin Theatre and the Taubman Museum of Art.

“Photograph” (2019)

  • Screening: 7 p.m. Feb. 15, at the Grandin Theatre
  • Language: Hindi
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Details: In this romantic drama, directed by Ritesh Batra, struggling street photographer Rafi learns his grandmother has stopped taking her medication in order to find him a bride. When Rafi meets a woman named Miloni, he convinces her to pretend to be his fiancée in order to convince his grandmother of their relationship. The film highlights Mumbai, refracting the protagonists’ love story through the city’s sociocultural realities. View the trailer here.
  • Panelists: Srikanth Mallavarapu and Meeta Mehrotra

“Volver” (2006)

  • Screening: 7 p.m. Feb. 16, in Wortmann Ballroom (Roanoke College)
  • Language: Spanish
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Details: This comedy-drama, directed by the acclaimed Pedro Almodóvar, tackles difficult themes of sexual abuse, death, and family secrets. Penélope Cruz stars as Raimunda, a working-class woman forced to go to great lengths to protect her 14-year-old daughter, Paula. Raimunda’s dead mother, Irene, also mysteriously reappears. The film, which Roger Ebert praised as “enchanting, gentle, transgressive,” won two awards — Best Actress and Best Screenplay — at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival where it premiered. View the trailer here.
  • Panelists: Charlene Kalinoski and Juan Manuel Portillo

“Russian Ark” (2002)

  • Screening: 6 p.m. Feb. 17, at Visual Arts Center auditorium, Room 200 (Hollins University)
  • Language: Russian
  • Runtime: 159 minutes
  • Rating: not rated
  • Details: A sumptuous cinematic experience and experimental historical drama, with a cast of over 2,000 actors and three orchestras, director Alexander Sokurov’s extraordinary masterpiece is a unique journey through time and Russian history. Filmed entirely in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, this groundbreaking film recreates 300 years of history in a single, unedited, feature-length take. Sokurov’s camera glides through 33 rooms of the Hermitage, moving in and out of cathedral-like galleries, opulent ballrooms and shadowy corridors and workrooms covering three centuries of Russian history and European art. View the trailer here.
  • Panelists: Nathan Lee and Tatyana Munsey

“Rouge” (1987)

  • Screening: 7 p.m. Feb. 21, in Wortmann Ballroom (Roanoke College)
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: not rated
  • Details: “Rouge” bridges past and present in its tragic romance between a humble courtesan (Fleur) and the wayward scion of a wealthy family (Chan), who embrace death by suicide pact amid the opulent teahouses of 1930s Hong Kong. Fifty years later, Fleur returns to the city-state to find her lover, who never showed up in the afterlife. When she posts a newspaper advertisement, she draws a young contemporary couple into her quest to rekindle a passion that may be as illusory as time itself. With its lush mise-en-scène and transcendently melancholy mood, this sensuous ghost story directed by Stanley Kwan is an exquisite, enduringly resonant elegy for both lost love and vanishing history. View the trailer here.
  • Panelist: Stella Xu

“Pulse” (2001)

  • Screening: 6 p.m. Feb. 22, at Visual Arts Center auditorium, Room 200 (Hollins University)
  • Language: Japanese
  • Runtime: 119 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Details: An apparent suicide in Tokyo triggers a chain of mysterious disappearances involving computers in writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s creepy techno-thriller. As ghosts invade the world through the Internet, many more people vanish. The film inspired a 2006 English-language remake. View the trailer here.
  • Panelist: Nathan Lee

“Sicilian Ghost Story” (2017)

  • Screening: 7 p.m. Feb. 23, at Wortmann Ballroom (Roanoke College)
  • Language: Italian
  • Runtime: 122 minutes
  • Rating: not rated
  • Details: Directed by Fabio Grassandonia and Antonio Piazza, in this film, in a little Sicilian village at the edge of a forest, 13-year-old Giuseppe vanishes. Luna, his classmate who loves him, refuses to accept his mysterious disappearance. She rebels against the code of silence and collusion that surrounds her, and to find him she descends into the dark world which has swallowed him up and which has a lake as its mysterious entrance. The film, inspired by true events, is dedicated to the memory of Giuseppe Di Matteo, a victim of Mafia violence. View the trailer here.
  • Panelist: Giuliana Chapman

“Phoenix” (2014)

  • Screening: 7 p.m. Feb. 24, in Antrim Chapel (Roanoke College)
  • Language: German
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Details: This evocative and haunting drama, set in rubble-strewn Berlin in 1945, is like no other film about post–World War II, Jewish-German identity. After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer (Nina Hoss) has her disfigured face reconstructed and returns to her war-ravaged hometown to seek out her gentile husband, who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Without recognizing her, he enlists her to play his wife in a bizarre hall-of-shattered-mirrors story that is as richly metaphorical as it is preposterously engrossing. Revenge film or tale of romantic reconciliation? One doesn’t know until the superb closing scene of this marvel from director Christian Petzold, one of the most important figures in contemporary German cinema. View the trailer here.
  • Panelist: Rob Willingham

Sylvie and the Ghost” (1946)

  • Screening: 2 p.m. Feb. 26, at the Taubman Museum of Art
  • Language: French
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: not rated
  • Details: Director Claude Autant-Lara enters the realm of pure fantasy with this film, conceived during the German occupation and released after World War II. Odette Joyeux stars as Sylvie, in love with a long-dead romantic figure from her family’s past. Sylvie’s father hires three actors to impersonate the ghost of her beloved, while the spirit himself (Jacques Tati) stalks the grounds. Marrying a playful script, artful special effects, and wistful performances, Sylvie et le fantôme stages a delicate dance of enchantment. View a preview here.
  • Panelists: Jeanne Jégousso and Matthew Trumbo-Tual