Henrietta Lacks Honored by Virginia's Legislature

Henrietta Lacks was honoured today from the floors of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. At the same time, Members of the Henrietta Lacks Family, and Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group were recognized by Senator William Stanley (Virginia Senatorial District 20), and Delegate James Edmunds (Virginia House District 60), as part of efforts to bring to fruition the Henrietta Lacks Commission and Henrietta Lacks Life Science Center (LSC) Project. The following comments were made by Delegate Edmunds from the House floor today:

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IDA gets $590K to revive idle buildings

The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority was notified Wednesday the United States Environmental Protection Agency has made a $590,000 award for the Halifax Coalition Brownfield’s Assessment Grant Program.

It was one of 172 communities across the country to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization.

The award, announced Wednesday, is the largest of five grants given by the EPA to Virginia localities including Bedford, Norfolk, Pulaski and Roanoke, which received amounts of either $300,000 or $200,000.

This program allows funding for communities acting collaboratively to identify and assess vacant and unused properties for potential revitalization and reuse.

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Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital Selected As One of Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals in the US

Sentara logoSentara Halifax Regional Hospital was recently named one of the Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health.

“This achievement is very gratifying and validates our daily commitment to providing the highest level of quality health care possible to our community, while maintaining an efficiently operated facility,” said Chris Lumsden, President and Administrator of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital scored in the top 100 of rural and community hospitals on iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of rural providers. It provides the data foundation for the annual Rural Relevance Study and its results are the basis for many of rural healthcare’s most prominent awards, advocacy efforts and legislative initiatives. The Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals play a key role in providing a safety net to communities across America – and the INDEX measures them across eight pillars of hospital strength: Inpatient Market Share, Outpatient Market Share, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspectives, and Financial Stability.

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Grand Springs expansion to add 20 positions

Grand Springs President and CEO, Robert SmithGrand Springs is expanding its bottled water facility in Alton to accommodate the packing requirements of a new customer, one it will begin packaging for in January.

According to Grand Springs President and CEO Robert A. Smith, the Alkaline Water Company Inc. DBA Alkaline 88 and Grand Springs have entered into a co-packing agreement to expand Alkaline 88’s footprint across the North Eastern United States in the coming year.

Richard A. Wright COO of The Alkaline Water-Company, said, “This agreement creates a great opportunity for us to utilize an SQF certified facility and increase our manufacturing capacity on the east coast. We are very fortunate to have Grand Springs as a co-packer. Their commitment to quality and customer service will allow us to aggressively expand into major retailers in the northeast."

Smith said, “We are very excited to be in business with one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the country, and we are proud to be associated with a group that shares our commitment to producing the highest quality drinking water.”

Grand Springs has grown as a company slowly and methodically since Smith arrived in Halifax County in 2003. With this commitment from Alkaline 88, Grand Springs has expanded its facility from 47,200 to 60,200 square feet.

Also, this expansion will allow Grand Springs to add an additional 20 employees.

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Distillery shows owner’s whiskey making legacy

James GordonJames Gordon, the owner of Springfield Distillery, comes by his interest in whiskey naturally.

“I grew up with memories of my father moonshining,” says Gordon, who is opening his Halifax County distillery in August. “My father is one of the first two private individuals in South Africa to get his license for distilling liquor. I get to tap into 25 years of distillery experience.”

In 2012, Gordon and his wife, Kelly, bought Springfield Farm in Halifax, which includes a home built around 1842. They moved to Southern Virginia from Fairfax County.

“There are rumors that there is an old still on this property,” Gordon says. “This area became known for making corn whiskey prior to Prohibition, and it continues to be a good place to distill whiskey.”

The couple wanted to develop a business that would be a good fit for the local economy and also be “a tourist opportunity that would highlight everything we like about Halifax,” Gordon says.

Springfield Distillery is expected to create five jobs and get all of its corn and barley from Virginia farmers. “Our neighbor across the road is growing our corn,” Gordon says. “I can throw a coin from the distillery and hit the corn we are using.”

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VIR touts economic impact to Halifax County

vir mtgMembers of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority met at Virginia International Raceway on Friday morning approving a motion to appropriate the purchase of a used 2013 SUV for IDA use and moving through an update on finances — all tight and in line with last year’s numbers.

After taking care of business, it was on to the main attraction, an overview of Virginia International Raceway from VIR Chief Operating Officer Kerrigan Smith.

Smith, an eloquent advocate for VIR, offered board members an insight into what he called a “challenging few weeks” during which VIR raced to complete re-paving miles of asphalt roadway across the site. An original contractor, explained Smith, had failed to complete the job with due diligence, and as a result, VIR and the contractor are still engaged in a legal suit.

The good news, said Smith, is that VIR continues to be a major economic asset in Halifax County expected to draw more than 40,000 visitors over three days to upcoming international manufacturers’ races—drivers with million dollar rigs moving “small cities” across the state to compete at VIR.

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Dewberry awarded contract for C-CARE formulation lab

board touring Southern VA Advanced Manufacturing CenterHalifax County Industrial Development Authority Board of Directors on Friday awarded a $101,475 contract for the design, bid and construction associated with the new Center for Coating Application, Research and Education (C-CARE) formulation lab.

During its regular monthly meeting held at the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center (former Daystrom building), IDA directors authorized execution of the contract with Dewberry.

The Southside Economic Development Commission arm of the Virginia Tobacco Commission earlier this month gave a thumbs up to a $600,000 grant that will fund half the cost of the new formulation lab.

According to IDA Executive Director Matt Leonard, the full commission is expected to finalize actions on the grant funding at its Tuesday meeting.

The IDA also approved bond refinancing of existing debt and agreed to enter into a bond purchase agreement with Carter Bank and Trust to advance $616,721.94 in additional funds to pay for the C-CARE formulation lab outfits.

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IDA directors pay visit to Huber

In a show of support for local industry, directors of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority gathered Friday for their first off-site monthly meeting — at the Huber Engineering Woods facility in Crystal Hill.

“This is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” said IDA executive director Matt Leonard, “as we want to see more of what is going on in our community.”

Plant Manager Jeremy Catron welcomed the IDA contingent and thanked the group for helping to realign the local Enterprise Zone to now include Huber.

Mark Yates, comptroller for the company, said Huber has benefited from two of the incentives offered with the Enterprise Zone designation, — a refund of machinery and tools tax payments, and separate job creation incentives offered by the county.

The latter has resulted in the hiring of 17 new employees, bringing Huber’s employment up to 150. Proceeds from the machine and tool tax reduction have been reinvested in new equipment at the plant, said Yates.

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