Breaks Interstate Park. Photo by Mary Trigiani.

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

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Infrastructure projects at Breaks Interstate Park receive grant funding

Five infrastructure and other improvement projects planned at the Breaks Interstate Park have received a grant of up to $168,155 from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority.

The funds will help pay for interior and exterior renovations at the park’s hotel and restaurant/conference buildings, including new furniture and improved park entrance lighting; construction of a swimming pool; an HVAC unit for the visitor center; swinging bridge site improvements; and bike rental facility improvements, according to a news release announcing the award.

“VCEDA is pleased to once again assist the Breaks Interstate Park in its continuing efforts to keep the park growing and up to date,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA’s executive director/general counsel. “The park is one of the premier tourism assets in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and something which contributes not only to visitor experiences, but which also adds to the quality of life amenities here for those who live in the region.”

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Partnership provides free admission to Virginia Museum of Natural History for EBT cardholders

Electronic Benefit Transfer cardholders will continue to receive free admission to the Virginia Museum of Natural History thanks to the renewal of a partnership between the museum and Martinsville-based Hooker Furnishings.

An Acrocanthosaurus at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. Photo courtesy of the museum.

The partnership allows for the museum to waive all admission fees for visitors who present their EBT card at the box office now through spring 2024 as part of the Museums for All initiative led by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, according to a news release. Prior to the partnership, EBT cardholders received reduced museum admission fees of $2 per adult and $1 per child.

Since the partnership with Hooker began in March 2021, more than 3,000 EBT cardholders and their family members have received free admission to the museum, according to Ryan Barber, the museum’s deputy director.

The museum’s participation in the Museums for All initiative also is supported by community partner Carter Bank & Trust.

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Dickenson County IDA receives $350,000 for recovery center project

The Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority has received $350,000 to purchase a seventh dormitory for the Wildwood Recovery Center project in Dickenson County.

In January, the IDA and Addiction Recovery Care announced a partnership to bring a 96-bed inpatient rehabilitation center to Clintwood. The seventh dormitory will allow 16 additional men to be treated at the facility, increasing the capacity to 112, according to a news release about the project.

The funding comes from the Rapha Foundation, which is based in Wise, and the Genan Foundation, based in Charlottesville.

(Disclosure: The Genan Foundation is one of our approximately 2,500 donors, but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy.)

“The Rapha Foundation is pleased to work in partnership with the IDA and the Genan Foundation to provide this critical funding,” said Mark Vanover, executive director of the foundation. “The opioid epidemic has had an overwhelming impact on health outcomes for individuals in our region. This project is at the core of the Rapha Foundation’s mission to create opportunity through partnership.”

Holly Hatcher, president and CEO of the Genan Foundation, added: “The Genan Foundation recognizes the impact that mental health and substance abuse is having on communities in Southwest Virginia and is working with partners in the area to help address this problem.”

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Bridge maintenance projects planned along Blue Ridge Parkway

In the coming weeks, six bridges on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina will be part of a bridge maintenance project to replace bearings and joints and address other minor concrete repairs.

According to a news release about the projects, travelers can expect single-lane traffic during the day and the possibility of full evening closures with short detours at the following locations: 

  • Milepost 61.4, crossing over Virginia 130 at Otter Creek 
  • Milepost 121.4, crossing over U.S. 220 in Roanoke 
  • Milepost 316.5, with work on two bridges along the Linville Spur Road 
  • Milepost 388.1 and 388.8, at U.S. 25 

Project work at all locations is expected to be complete by September. 

Visitors can check the parkway’s road status page for updates.

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