Broadband fiber. Courtesy of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority.

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

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Southwest, Southside broadband projects receive $36 million in state grants

Seven broadband projects in Southwest and Southside Virginia are among the recipients of nearly $60 million in state grants, the governor’s office announced.

The grants, awarded through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative, will help fund 14 projects across the state that are designed to extend broadband service to underserved areas, according to a news release.

The Southwest and Southside awards accounted for almost $36 million of the total.

“In today’s increasingly digital world, having access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury, it is necessary in order to fully participate in daily life,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in the release. “These investments will allow us to reach underserved communities, grow Virginia’s economy and close the digital divide across the Commonwealth.”   

This year’s VATI funding leverages more than $118.6 million in local and private sector matching funds and will help connect more 29,400 homes, businesses and community anchors, according to the release.

VATI received 35 applications requesting more than $300 million in funding. 

Grant recipients were selected through a competitive process that evaluated each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project area.  

The Southwest and Southside awards are:

  • Bedford County: $1.4 million
  • Floyd County: $1.3 million
  • Shenandoah County: $4.9 million
  • Southside Planning District Commission: $8.6 million
  • West Piedmont Planning District Commission: $19.7 million

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University of Lynchburg offers half-day Heart of the Art workshop for students

University of Lynchburg English professors Kelly Ann Jacobson and Jer Bryant will host Heart of the Art, a free event that celebrates writers of color and LGBTQIA+ artists, on June 24.

The half-day workshop is for high school students and current University of Lynchburg students, including incoming first-years, transfers and Access (nontraditional-age) students. Lunch and an optional campus tour are provided. 

Jacobson writes young adult fiction, including the queer YA novels “Tink and Wendy” (2021) and “Robin and her Misfits” (2023), which reimagine classic stories. She is currently on a book tour. Bryant directs the Wilmer Writing Center and serves as interfaith chaplain at Lynchburg.

The event kicks off at 8:45 a.m. and features two concurrent workshops hosted by Bryant and Jacobson from 9 to 10 a.m. and again from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m.

Bryant’s session is titled “The Eye of Diversity: How Writers of Creative Nonfiction Celebrate Uniqueness.” Jacobson’s session is “Speculative Fiction Prompts for Writing Diverse Stories.”

The workshops culminate in a one-hour lunch discussion followed by an optional tour of campus at 12:30 p.m.

To participate in Heart of the Art, register online. For more information, email Susan Hogg at

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Richmond Ballet to perform in Covington

The Alleghany Highlands Arts Council will close its 2022-23 Performing Arts Season on May 18 with Richmond Ballet II at the Historic Masonic Theatre.

Curtain time is 7 p.m.

Richmond Ballet will present an evening of classical and contemporary works, including Stoner Winslett’s “Rachmaninoff Rhapsody”; “With Gold,” a 2023 world premiere by choreographer Nicolo Fonte; and “Ershter Vals” by Ma Cong.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and are on sale online at

They can also be purchased at the door on the night of the performance. For more information, call 540-962-ARTS (2787).