Arctic ‘Igloo’ Takes Shape On Burlington Property

Lindstrand USA

from the Gazette-Virginian

HIGH-TECH IGLOO – That’s what this inflatable structure appears to be, but it’s actually a drilling warehouse manufactured here by Lindstrand, USA, and bound for the north slope of Alaska. Pictured, from left, are Richard Tisch of Fairweather Exploration and Production Services, Angela Lewis of Lindstrand and Dan Gilbert of Base-X, which are cooperating in the venture. (G-V Photo/Doug Ford)


Like something out of a science fiction movie, it rises from the pavement next to the former Burlington plant in Halifax, but its final destination is the north slope of Alaska.

It may look like an igloo for a very large Eskimo, but it’s really an inflatable drilling warehouse, built here by Lindstrand, USA and bound for Prudhoe Bay, according to Richard Tisch of Fairweather Exploration and Production Services of Anchorage.

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Dominion proposes plant for Halifax County

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 15, 2010

Dominion Virginia Power and Halifax County want to build a demonstration solar power and battery storage plant in the economically stressed locality in Southside Virginia.

The proposed $27.9 million pilot project could mean as many as 150 manufacturing jobs for Halifax while helping the power company meet state renewable-energy goals.

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Dominion Power to build pilot solar power and battery storage facility in Halifax

HALIFAX, VA – The Industrial Development Authority of Halifax County and Dominion Virginia Power today announced plans to develop an initiative to build a pilot demonstration facility for solar power generation and battery storage. The facility would generate about 4 megawatts of power and be the largest integrated solar-battery facility in Virginia.

Solar energy holds enormous potential in Southside Virginia; however, the challenge is integrating this variable resource in a reliable way on the electric grid. Battery storage provides a means for effectively managing, storing and optimizing solar energy to regulate intermittency, enable peak shaving and increase grid reliability.

Dominion estimates that that they will invest up to $27.9 million dollars on the project and will create about 100 construction jobs to build the facility. The IDA of Halifax and Dominion submitted a $5 million grant proposal to the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission’s (TIRC) Research and Development Fund to help support the project. Dominion plans to ask the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in Q4 2010 or Q1 2011 for permission to build the facility. If all approvals are received, the integrated solar and battery storage facility is expected to begin operating in 2012.

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Prizery raises curtain – and bar – with professional summer musical theatre

The Prizery arts center is betting everything that the arts do, indeed, transform communities.

And in this post-textile, post-tobacco reality, why not?

Never one to languish or stagnate, The Prizery’s latest endeavor will explode onto the scene in June: professional Summer Musical Theatre. Known as “summer stock” and common to resort areas, June, July and August will bring in about two dozen professional actors, dancers, singers, a choreographer and designers to produce three crowd-thrilling musicals: “Dames at Sea,” “Annie” and “The All Night Strut.”

The young entertainers will live and play in Halifax County for the summer, and Prizery Executive Chris Jones, who will double as the musicals’ director, was pleasantly surprised to find that he had no trouble luring them here.

With toe-tapping tunes and upbeat, family-friendly themes, the musicals are sure to win ovations from the local crowds, but Summer Theatre has myriad additional aspirations: being yet another factor putting Halifax County on the map, nurturing talent (local and otherwise), buoying the quality of life, stimulating the economy and enhancing tourism.

With multiple shows, matinees galore and affordable tickets, Summer Theatre will be reliant on an influx of theatre-lovers from outside the immediate area in addition to enthusiastic local support. Toward this end, The Prizery will try new and creative marketing that will spill over into its regular season of visiting performers, which begins in the fall.

Best known for hosting in its Chastain Theatre touring professionals (from bluegrass icon Dr. Ralph Stanley to pop-folk star Suzanne Vega to the Vienna Boys Choir, Shakespearean theatre, the Richmond Symphony and Chinese acrobats), The Prizery is also famous for its often excellent Halifax County Little Theatre productions, the art shows and exhibits of Parsons-Bruce Art Association, Halifax County Historical Society’s permanent Crossing of the Dan installation, and classes in classical ballet, pottery and painting for all ages.

Five mornings a week during the school year, The Prizery operates its acclaimed Pre-K Arts Academy, with art, music and dance for public-school four-year-olds, most of whom are deemed at-risk.

Founded by a small army of arts- and civic-minded folks who realized that their organizations and interests deserved a physical and spiritual home, The Prizery serves as an umbrella for a half-dozen lively “User Groups” who enjoy a symbiotic, reciprocal relationship with The Prizery and, increasingly, with one another.

And while The Prizery’s Summer Musical Theatre may be one piece of the solution to transform Southern Virginia, it might just transform the careers of the fresh-faced young actors. Meet them this summer in person while you can; one day they may be on Broadway, television or a movie screen.

Tickets are on sale now; prices start at $4 for youth and $12 for adults. To reserve seats, call (434) 572-8339 or visit The Summer Theatre season runs June 24-August 7.

Halifax Education Foundation

The Halifax Educational Foundation, Inc. (HEF) was established in 1997 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the goal of affordable and accessible educational opportunities for the citizens of Southern Virginia. The foundation initiated a successful capital campaign for the renovation of the 70,000 square foot historic former Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse located in downtown South Boston, Virginia, which was donated to the Foundation in December 1997. In 2001, the foundation renovated and furnished the Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse, and in August of that year, a ribbon-cutting was held for the state-of-the-art Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) facility, with high-performance technology as a priority and theme throughout the building. From that humble beginning in 1997 to today, the SVHEC serves as a beacon of this community’s commitment to education to anyone crossing the Dan River into the Town of South Boston.

Since then, the HEF has been successful in responding to the needs for expansion of the SVHEC due to the rapidly increasing enrollment of students at the facility. In 2004, additional unfinished space in the building was renovated for an Advanced Technology Lab for workforce development. Furnished and equipped through partnerships and grants, this lab utilizes high-performance manufacturing equipment to instruct students and train them for employment. In 2005, through grants and contributions, the number of parking spots at the SVHEC was more than doubled. The following year, the renovation of additional unfinished space in the West Wing of the SVHEC provided additional classrooms and office space. In 2008, the HEF renovated even more previously unfinished space in the current SVHEC building to create a high-tech cutting edge nursing training center, the Center for Nursing Excellence (CNE). 2009 brought the renovation of more previously unfinished space to create the Business of Art & Design Lab, providing space for Advanced Manufacturing training. In support of the educational opportunities available at the SVHEC and as a commitment to the education of citizens of Southern Virginia, the HEF also sponsors a scholarship program for students at the SVHEC.

Currently, a student at the SVHEC can earn a degree from a GED to a PhD without leaving the South Boston town limits. Southern Virginia was particularly hard-hit with job losses even before the current national recession began. New industries being recruited to this area find a willing supply of available workers who need retraining and additional education is required for reentry into the workforce. Due once again to ever increasing enrollment numbers, the HEF is currently responding to the need for expansion of the SVHEC by renovating the American Tobacco Warehouse (ATW) Building, which is just down the street from the current SVHEC building and the Prizery (South Boston’s cultural and arts center). The former ATW Building, built in the 19th century and now being called the Innovation Center, was donated to the HEF by Eva Harris and her son, Mike. This center will be operated by the SVHEC to provide programs in Product Design & Development and Digital Art & Design, with advanced technology and digital design laboratories. Also included in the Innovation Center is an R & D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiencies. When the renovation is completed in late 2010, this facility will provide space for the critical education and workforce training programs needed for high-tech and highly skilled 21st-century jobs for the citizens of Southern Virginia.

This trio of historic buildings in downtown South Boston, the SVHEC, the Prizery and the ATW Building, form a campus of high-performance, technology driven facilities available for cultural, educational, job training and workforce development opportunities for the citizens of Southern Virginia. Those citizens are responding in record numbers to this invitation by their utilization of these programs. The clear message is that the Halifax Educational Foundation has the vision needed to continue to revitalize this community and to re-energize and retrain its workforce through the SVHEC in response to ever-changing educational and business needs.

This is an artist’s rendering of how the Innovation Center will appear when the historic
American Tobacco Warehouse renovation is completed in late 2010.

“Go #31—Get this clock for your Mama!”

DrBrowne_clock“Go #31—Get this clock for your Mama,” Dr. Roger Browne says, encouraging his son-in-law, NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, to bring home the grandfather trophy clock designed and built by students in the Product Design & Development Program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. One of the most coveted prizes on the NASCAR circuit, the clock will go to the winner of the Martinsville Speedway Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 race on March 28. Built by high school and community college students in the Product Design & Development program, the clock is an original work of art that showcases the students’ abilities in design, engineering, and advanced manufacturing.

Built with 100+ year-old hard pine repurposed from the American Tobacco Warehouse, the clock includes antique glasswork and a scaled replica of the Martinsville Speedway track on the clock’s back panel. Dr. Browne thinks nothing would be better than to have South Boston’s hometown racer bring this coveted prize back home.

Product Design & Development is one of the SVHEC’s two signature Business of Art & Design programs offered in partnership with Danville Community College. The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center is advancing the region by providing educational opportunities and connections. For more information about the SVHEC, visit or contact Communications Manager Hope Harris-Gayles at or 434-572-5446.

VIR's Connie Nyholm Featured on


Connie Nyholm

Steering a racing resort

An opportunity to come home put Connie Nyholm in the driver’s seat

Connie Nyholm was running her own real estate company in New York City in 1998 when she met Harvey Siegel, a shopping center developer with an odd project in mind. Siegel, a sports car enthusiast, wanted to buy a road racing track near Danville that had been closed for decades. Nyholm, a William & Mary graduate, is from Martinsville, and she had been looking for a real estate project that would bring her closer to her home. But she had never been to a racetrack before she and Siegel surveyed the overgrown expanse of Virginia International Raceway, a track that had operated from 1957 to 1974.

Siegel and Nyholm reopened the track in 2000. Today, Nyholm is managing partner of VIR, a racing resort that attracts professional and amateur drivers from around the world. The 1,200-acre property includes a motorsports country club, two hotels, 12 residential villas, an industrial park and a full-service restaurant, the Oak Tree Tavern. The track can be configured in a number of ways that allow two events to be running at the same time.

Nyholm began racing herself in a variety of cars about seven years ago. She took the past two years off but plans to return to the track this year.

Virginia Business interviewed Nyholm in Richmond where she was attending a meeting of the board of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. She was appointed to the board by Gov. Mark R. Warner and reappointed by his successor, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.  A full transcript of the interview is available at

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MBC Wins Big in the Race for Broadband Stimulus Funding

Award proves the viability of open access wholesale transport networks that enable private sector telecom providers to reach unerved and underserved communities.

The Mid‐Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC), a successful open access fiber optic backbone provider, is pleased to announce the award of a $16 million Federal Broadband Stimulus Program grant from the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Informtion Administration (NTIA). This grant will enable the expansion of MBC’s existing middle mile infrastructure to provide fiber optic connectivity to 121 K12 schools in Southern Virginia that do not have access to a fiber optic network. Over 464 miles of new fiber routes will be built, bringing an estimated 75 new jobs to the region as a direct result of this broadband stimulus investment.

The Virginia Tobacco Commission (VTC), which provided $4 million in matching funds, continues to provide strategic support to expand MBC’s robust fiber optic infrastructure in the region.  Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R‐Gate City), Chairman of the VTC stated, “I am excited about the award and what it will mean to Southside Virginia. This is a great example of what we at the Tobacco Commission can do to help our communities compete for these federal dollars.

“This is indeed great news,” said State Senator Frank Ruff (R‐Clarksville), Vice Chairman of the VTC. “I commend all who have worked hard to provide the needed information for NTIA to understand the needs of our region.  We are all committed to use this funding in the most prudent way to provide high speed broadband to a part of Virginia that hs been struggling economically.”

In addition to strategic connections for educational institutions, this grant provides additional access points within the unserved and underserved region for MBC Members, who are private sector telecom providers, to provide affordable retail telecom services to the school systems and to extend last mile services to residential and busines customers.

“This grant award will enable critical investment in Southern Virginia’s K‐12 school system and its students,” said Tad Deriso, MBC’s President & CEO. “We will ensure that we manage this important project and the dollars invested from the Recovery Act in a fiscally responsible mnner, to ensure the greatest return on investment for the American Taxpayer.”

The roots of MBC’s success lie within the Cooperative movement. Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) was instrumental in supporting the need for fiber optic networks in rural Virginia for purposes of attracting jobs and investmnt to the region. ODEC provided the critical funding to help create MBC and its initial business plan. MBC’s mission today remains the same – the goal of bringing jobs and investment to Southern Virginia.

MBC has created a unique ecosystem of private sector telecommunications providers, key points of interconnection with carriers and an efficient staffing model that is returning jobs and capital investments to ural Virginia. Using the latest generation of Optical Transport Networks has enabled MBC to provide carrier‐class transport services to telecom providers and has leveled the playing field for broadband connectivity and pricing in ruralVirginia.

MBC was featured as an example of a successful middle mile system in the President’s National Economic Council’s report released in December 2009. MBC’s public/private partnership business model has gained national and international recognition, leading to invitations for MBC to speak at a number of worldwide conferences on solving the rural challenge of telecommunicatins infrastructure for economic development.


About MBC
The Mid‐Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) owns and operates an advanced open‐access fiber optic backbone network that provides wholesale optical transport services, collocation, dark fiber, and tower construction/leasing. Over 55 private sector telecom providers are members of MBC. They use MBC’s open access network to expand their network reach, reduce their transport costs, enable new services and applications and drive advanced broadband services in Southern Virginia. MBC’s mission is economic development, job creation and private sector investment in Southern Virginia. For more information about MBC, visit www.mbc‐

About the Virginia Tobacco Commission
The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (Virginia Tobacco Commission) is a 31‐member body created by the 1999 Virginia General Assembly. Its mission is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco‐dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement.  For more information on the Commission, visit their website at