The Poff Federal Building in Roanoke. Photo by Megan Schnabel.

Federal judgeship opens in Western Virginia

The federal bench in the Western District of Virginia is seeking a new jurist as a longtime judge prepares to take senior status.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski, who sits in Roanoke, will assume senior status July 4, 2024, according to a news release from Sen. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia.

The senators are accepting applications for the judgeship through Aug. 14. Interested applicants should visit Warner’s website for instructions.

A panel of lawyers will review applications and interview qualified candidates. The senators will use those recommendations, as well as input from bar associations and other experts, to recommend nominees to the president. Whoever is selected by the president must then be confirmed by the Senate.

Urbanski became a federal magistrate judge in 2004 and was elevated to a U.S. District Court judgeship in 2011. Judges on senior status often continue to hear cases but typically maintain a less-busy docket.

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Cumberland Plateau outdoor economy plan wins statewide award

The Cumberland Plateau Planning District has been recognized by the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association for its outdoor economy plan and companion guidebooks.

The Jamestown Locality of the Year Award recognizes the value of sound and innovative planning practices achieved through various efforts, expanding beyond a single plan, according to a news release announcing the award. The Cumberland Plateau Planning District’s outdoor economy plan and multiple supplemental guidebooks “collectively identify strategies to increase tourism and outdoor recreation” throughout the district’s four localities: Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties, the release said.

The project team created a five-guidebook collection that identifies regional recreational opportunities, economic growth and quality of life factors, the release said. The team focused on healthy downtowns, scenic trails and destination attractions, including Breaks Interstate Park, the Clinch River and the town of Tazewell, as well as motorized and non-motorized trails.

The team will receive the award Tuesday at the Hotel Roanoke.

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Youngkin announces board, authority appointments

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced a number of new board and authority appointments, including several people from Southwest and Southside:

  • Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Margaret Ann Smith of Lexington, owner, Southlex Cattle Co.
  • Virginia Wine Board: Megan Seibel of Roanoke, manager, Mountain View Farm and Vineyard.
  • Fort Monroe Authority: Charletta Barringer-Brown of Chesterfield, dean and professor, Southside Virginia Community College.
  • Virginia African American Advisory Board: Owen Cardwell of Lynchburg, Rosel H. Schewel Distinguished Chair for Education and Human Development, University of Lynchburg; pastor, historic Diamond Hill Baptist Church.
  • Institute for Advanced Learning and Research: Ben Davenport of Chatham, chairman and CEO, First Piedmont Corp. 
  • Governor’s Substance Abuse Services Council: Kevin Hall of Covington, Sheriff, Alleghany County/City of Covington.
  • Real Estate Board: Kit Hale of Roanoke, principal broker, MKB, Realtors.

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Botetourt County launches remote worker survey

Botetourt County officials are asking residents who work remotely to take a survey as part of an effort to support remote workers and attract new talent to the county.

Earlier this year, the county formed a Remote Worker Focus Group, with a goal of becoming a State Certified Remote Work Community and developing new remote-worker initiatives.

The survey asks about employer and employee attitudes about remote work, and about what the county could do to better support or attract remote workers.

Botetourt County worked with the Roanoke Regional Partnership to develop the survey, which will be active through July 31 at Four people who complete the survey will receive gift cards from local businesses. The survey is only open to Botetourt County residents.