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

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Virginia to receive $11.7 million in federal assistance this year to reclaim abandoned mine lands

Virginia will receive more than $11.7 million in federal funding this year to reclaim abandoned mine lands, part of a larger package of $135 million going to six Appalachian states and three tribes, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Established in 2016, the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization, or AMLER, program funds projects that return coal mining sites to productive uses through economic and community development. 

Virginia has one of the highest number of high-priority abandoned mine land problem sites in the U.S., according to a release from U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Virginia. This funding will go toward closing abandoned mine shafts, reclaiming slopes, improving water quality and restoring water supplies damaged by mining. A goal of the program is to make these lands available for recreational areas and other economic redevelopment uses.

This funding comes on top of more than $22 million in fiscal year 2022 funding for Virginia’s abandoned mine land cleanup efforts made available as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

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Gate City restaurant receives $10,000 VCEDA grant

Kane St. Smokehouse LLC, a restaurant in Gate City, has received a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority.

Owners Josh and Courtney Cress bought a building that had been a service station, a garage and a flower shop and turned it into a restaurant that serves grilled and smoked meats and homemade sides.

The business expects to have four full-time and 10 part-time employees within five years, according to a news release from VCEDA.

The Cresses and their three children came to Southwest Virginia from central Florida. Courtney Cress was a registered nurse, and Josh Cress has a background in construction and cattle but learned to cook barbecue with his grandfather, Donnie Cress.

“I’ve been cooking barbecue since I was a kid and I always liked it,” Cress said in the news release. “My grandfather and I cooked together.”

He said the VCEDA funds were used to purchase kitchen equipment and for operating capital.

“Getting the VCEDA grant was key to our business and really put us ahead,” he said. “We had put everything we have into getting it open and running. Having the grant gave us a boost and allowed us to turn what we originally envisioned into reality.”

The restaurant seats up to 60 inside and another 12 to 15 at picnic tables outside.

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Coalition funds expanded behavioral health training that focuses on children

Several Southwest and Southside Virginia philanthropic foundations are part of a coalition that’s funding expanded behavioral health training for those who treat children, adolescents and young adults across the state.

Eighteen foundations contributed a total of more than $170,000 in an effort to address the need for improved access to mental health care for children. Participating groups include the Alleghany Foundation, the Harvest Foundation, the Danville Foundation and the Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia, according to a news release.

The Virginia Mental Health Access Program will coordinate two training sessions that will serve up to 80 primary care providers. The three-day, 16-hour courses for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are designed to build skills and confidence in diagnosing and treating pediatric behavioral health problems.

The Medical Society of Virginia Foundation administers the VMAP program through a contract with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Visit for more information.