Jonathan Belcher (right), VCEDA's executive director/general counsel, presents a ceremonial check representing a $50,000 grant to Theatre Guild of Buchanan County representatives Jessica Savage (left) and Jodi Reynolds. Photo courtesy of VCEDA.

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

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Theatre Guild of Buchanan County receives $50,000 grant for building work

The Theatre Guild of Buchanan County has received a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund.

The award will be used by the guild to finance building renovations and improvements including electrical upgrades, a new HVAC system and repairs to an outdoor shed at the former Coca-Cola bottling facility in Vansant, which was renamed the Community Arts Mainstage and has housed Theatre Guild performances since 2021, according to a news release from VCEDA.

The Theatre Guild of Buchanan County was formed in 2016 as a Virginia non-stock corporation and is also a nonprofit organization. Its goal is to bring the highest standard of community theatre to the county and to cultivate arts appreciation.

In 2021, VCEDA approved a $50,000 grant to help the guild with the initial upgrades and furniture. But additional work was needed. The guild has been using propane heaters in the cold months and there is no air conditioning for the warmer months, and the group also lacks a place to store large props. 

The guild holds a 15-year lease with the option to renew for 10 years on the current building, according to the release.

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Grow Martinsville-Henry County announces business plan awards

Six companies have received funding through the annual Grow Martinsville-Henry County business plan competition.

The program, sponsored by the Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth, includes a small business boot camp that helps participants evaluate their entrepreneurial readiness, write a
business plan and present a business pitch.

This year’s award recipients are:

  • Cozy Temptation, $2,500
  • LeGrant Chiropractic Back & Neck Pain Relief Center LLC, $4,000
  • Wigs Unlimited, $8,000
  • N & T Transportation Service, $9,500
  • Backspace Coffee, $10,000
  • The 3D Shop, $12,000.

The cash and in-kind awards for 2023 total $66,000 for the expanding businesses. Much of this funding comes through a grant from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, which awards a match to businesses from sectors including agribusiness, technology, small-scale production, manufacturing and health care.

To date, the initiative has had 275 graduates and has awarded 60 businesses with more than $420,622 in cash and in-kind funding, according to a news release from the program.

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American flag repository now available at Smith Mountain Lake

A repository station for the collection of faded, old and torn American flags is now in place at Smith Mountain Lake’s Bridgewater Plaza.

A dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting will be held at 11 a.m. June 14, which is Flag Day. The American Legion Post 62 Flag Day Event will follow on Scruggs Road, directly across from Old Oak Café, according to a news release. The event will feature approximately 200 American flags with ribbons that will fly in honor of U.S. veterans, military and first responders.

Ribbon sponsorship is $20 and will be available at Bridgewater Plaza during the dedication ceremony and at the Scruggs Road location from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Flag Day. Sponsorship donations also can be mailed to American Legion Post 62, PO Box 1075, Moneta, VA 24121.

Flags will remain in place throughout the weekend.

The idea for the flag repository came from a need identified during a Smith Mountain Lake Leadership Academy session in January. The project was funded by the community. Collected flags will be properly retired by the American Legion and given to a local funeral home to be placed with deceased veterans prior to their burial.

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Lumos makes $5,000 donation to Mountain Gateway CC eSports team

Fiber optic internet provider Lumos has donated $5,000 to Mountain Gateway Community College’s new eSports program.

The gift will enable the college to pursue its plan to form an eSports team and hire coach Ryan Borden of Hot Springs for the fall 2023 season, according to a news release.

“We are grateful to Lumos for sharing in our plans to develop an eSports program for the college beginning in Fall 2023,” said John Rainone, the school’s president. “The concept and the strength of this plan is solely dependent upon the shared vision that we must bridge the digital divide, growing economic development and digital literacy.”

Borden helped start the eSports program at Bath County High School and comes to Mountain Gateway with four years of eSports coaching experience.

eSports — short for electronic sports — is a form of competition using video games, such as Call of Duty, Halo, Mario Kart, Rocket League and Madden 21. For more information about the program, contact Mountain Gateway Athletic Director Vince Wyatt at or Borden at