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

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Wellspring Foundation pledges $4 million toward new workforce hub in Abingdon

Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia will give $4 million toward the creation of a new workforce development and child care hub in Abingdon.

The 87,000-square-foot facility is expected to open next summer. It will include a child care center, STEM labs for teacher training, a career simulation center and other workforce programs. The project, which was announced last month, is a collaboration among United Way of Southwest Virginia, Food City and the town of Abingdon.

“As we learned in our community health needs assessment, insufficient access to childcare is a major factor in loss of young talent in the workforce,” Sean McMurray, executive director of the Wellspring Foundation, said in a news release announcing the gift. “Leveraging collaborative partnerships with United Way of Southwest Virginia and other local organizations is a great step in addressing the dire need for additional childcare in our region as well as making a positive impact on meeting critical workforce needs.”

The Abingdon-based foundation was created in 2021 following the sale of Johnston Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s minority ownership stake in Johnston Memorial Hospital to Ballad Health.

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Appalachian Power warns of fluctuating water levels on New and Roanoke rivers

Water levels on the New and Roanoke rivers downstream of Claytor and Leesville dams could rise rapidly starting June 2 and continue to fluctuate throughout the weekend, according to Appalachian Power.

The National Weather Service is calling for high temperatures and PJM, the organization that manages the electric grid in 13 states, has notified Appalachian Power it may need to increase power generation at its hydroelectric plants, the utility said in a news release.

Appalachian Power urged boaters, kayakers, tubers and other river users to be alert to changes.

Below Claytor Dam, water levels could increase up to 2 feet in a matter of minutes. Water levels below Leesville Dam could increase as much as 8 feet over a seven-hour period. AEP’s website and the Smith Mountain and Claytor Facebook pages will provide updates.

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Danville-area partnership will discuss results of ‘The Big Sort’ at June breakfast

The Partnership for Regional Prosperity, an organization focused on growth in Danville and Pittsylvania County, will host a breakfast to share the results of a series of community workshops designed to prioritize regional challenges and opportunities.

The event will be held from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. June 21 at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

From December to April, the partnership hosted a series workshops called “The Big Sort” that brought residents and local leaders together to talk about regional trends and strategies. The results will be shared at the June 21 breakfast, and the partnership will discuss the next steps in the process.

The program also will feature Greg Payne of Economic Leadership LLC presenting “Growth Goes Where It’s Easiest,” case studies of communities facing opportunities for significant growth.

The breakfast costs $10. Participants can register at

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Roanoke College appoints new VP of enrollment management

James Pennix. Photo courtesy of Roanoke College.

Roanoke College has named James “JP” Pennix as its new vice president for enrollment management, effective July 10.

He will oversee the offices of admissions and financial aid, according to a news release from Roanoke College.

Pennix currently serves as senior associate director of recruitment at Virginia Tech. Previously, he was vice president for enrollment management at Ferrum College and dean of admissions and associate vice president of enrollment management at Radford University. Early in his career, Pennix held the role of director of admissions at Roanoke College.

He holds a bachelor of science in mathematics from Roanoke College and a master of social work from Radford University.

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City of Lynchburg to give away free trees

Lynchburg’s departments of public works and parks and recreation will give away free trees to city residents on June 3.

The giveway will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Diamond Hill Recreation Center, 1005 17th St. Residents can choose from an array of trees including northern red oaks, white oaks, fringe trees, chaste trees, sourwoods and magnolias. Members of the Lynchburg Tree Stewards will be on hand to help residents select trees and provide information on planting and maintenance.

The trees will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and proof of city residence such as a driver’s license or utility bill must be provided.

Funding for the project was provided in part by the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.

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Roanoke residential facade improvement program opens for applications

Applications are now being accepted for a residential facade improvement program in the 600 to 1200 blocks of Jamison Avenue Southeast in Roanoke’s Belmont/Fallon area.

The program offers up to $8,000 in matching funds for property owners to make exterior improvements to their homes and rental units. Buildings selected for the grant must be in need of facade renovations and structurally sound upon completion. Grants will be available for qualifying residential projects on a reimbursement basis for half of eligible renovation costs, with a minimum reimbursement of $2,000 and a maximum of $8,000.

The program is funded by Community Development Block Grants allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Any non-commercial structures in the area may be eligible, and grant eligibility isn’t based on income of the owner or tenant.

Contact Renovation Alliance at 540-400-0959 or for applications. There is no deadline to apply, but funds are limited.