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

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Project Hope grantees receive $91,287 in funding

Nine programs have received Project Hope grants from the Martinsville-based Harvest Foundation. The grants total more than $91,000, according to a news release from the foundation.

[Disclosure: The Harvest Foundation is one of our donors, but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy.]

Project Hope is an annual grants program designed to fund small projects that involve volunteers to build hope in communities in the Martinsville-Henry County region. This year’s recipients:

  • The city of Martinsville: $5,000 to work with volunteers on crosswalk design and painting projects.
  • Bee City USA-Martinsville: $4,000 to host a Bee Flight Festival in April.
  • Henry County Food Pantry: $9,750 to expand services to include a hygiene and clothes closet for referrals and provide part-time job opportunities.
  • Hope Box Builders: $15,000 to place pantry-like boxes throughout the community stocked with non-perishable food items, hygiene products, job postings and other information about resources.
  • Just Call Granny: $4,450 to sponsor events for grand families to connect and share resources, as well as promote the program and recruit new volunteers.
  • Spencer Penn School Organization: $15,000 to provide two large garden beds for anyone in the community to work and harvest from.
  • Uptown Partnership: $12,000 to rejuvenate uptown planters, remove decaying trees and incorporate new seating options.
  • Carver Road Ruritan Club: $11,087 to buy three gateway signs into the Carver Community to welcome visitors and residents.
  • Hope Center Ministries: $15,000 to revitalize the baseball/softball field on Compassion Church property in Axton for use in youth and family activities.

For more information about the grant program, call 276-632-3329 or visit

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SML chamber accepting applications for Leadership Academy

The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications for its 2024 Leadership Academy, which starts in January. 

According to a news release from the chamber, the 12-month program aims to develop a “diverse corps of informed, committed and qualified individuals who will assume leadership roles in Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania county organizations in the future.”

Sessions will cover topics including economic development, education and tourism, the release said.

To apply, visit by Nov. 13. The class is limited to chamber members and their employees and is also limited in size. Tuition is $750, which includes orientation, classes, networking mixers and graduation.

For questions or additional information, contact Andy Bruns, the chamber’s executive director, at 540-721-1203 or

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Youngkin announces board appointments

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced additional board appointments, including several residents of Southwest and Southside:

  • Virginia Data Advisory Commission: Keith Costello of Rocky Gap, professor, Wytheville Community College.
  • Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation: Sharon Buchanan of Cleveland, Southwest Region manager, Virginia State Parks; Kevin Byrd of Blacksburg, executive director, New River Valley Regional Commission; Saul Hernandez of Washington County, vice president of IT, Food City; Joshua Hess of Christiansburg, district director, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem); Julie Steele of Stuart, director, Reynolds Homestead.
  • Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers: Robert Slusser of Clifton Forge, funeral service licensee, Nicely Funeral Home.