MBC Announces Grant Awards for Last-Mile Broadband Projects

The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC), a successful open-access fiber optic backbone provider in rural markets, is pleased to announce that $1,514,143 was awarded to MBC Members as part of a last-mile matching grant program, funded by the Virginia Tobacco Commission. These awards will enable deployment of broadband services for residential and business customers in unserved communities in Southern Virginia.

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Ariel Atom, $65,000, Is Rolling Rocket With No Roof, Windshield

Ariel Atom

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Exposed, exhilarated and vaguely terrified. That’s the best way to describe the cocktail of emotions as I roll onto the Lightning racetrack at New Jersey Motorsports Park in a stupidly fast car that has no roof, doors or windshield.

The Ariel Atom accelerates faster than a Ferrari, yet my upper half is sticking out above the hood. Talk about letting it all hang out.

The Atom is a U.K.-designed racer now also produced in small numbers in Virginia. Costing $65,000 and up, it is meant for amateur motoring on the racetrack.

Racetrack culture used to have two very separate camps: Professional teams running million-dollar cars and blue-collar guys who wrenched in their garages and banged bumpers on weekends.

In recent years the allure has expanded to urban professionals who’d prefer to spend Saturday on the track rather than the golf course, testing the limit of their personal sports cars. Few actually race one another. Car clubs and private- membership racetracks have opened around the country.

Click to read the rest of the story and view photos at Bloomberg.com.

Art And The Creative Economy Conference

Design and the Innovative Economy

Nearly everyone realizes: The Arts aren’t a frivolous extra; the Arts are an economic spark plug that can lift your community out of its doldrums, attract industry and stimulate commerce.

Learn how to harness the potential of the Creative Class, buoy your quality of life and be ready to thrive as the global economy roars back to life.

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Dual Enrollment Graphic Design Student Featured in National Design Magazine

First-Year Program Gains National Recognition

Steven Woltz jokingly puts a chokehold on his graphic design instructor, Ben Capozzi.Stephen Woltz looks like an all-American teenager, but when he steps into the wrestling ring his opponents fear him. With chokeholds and flying leaps, he has made a name for himself on the independent amateur wrestling circuit in North Carolina. Using that same fire and determination, Woltz has also distinguished himself as a student in Halifax County High School’s Graphic Arts class held at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. His original design is featured in the July/August issue of “Layers” magazine.

“Layers” magazine is a national design publication that covers the latest trends in design and the Adobe Creative Suite® programs. Each month the magazine issues a design makeover challenge that presents designers with an opportunity to submit their redesign of existing products. Digital Art & Design Coordinator Ben Capozzi lobbied for the magazine to consider students in his Graphic Arts class as a single design firm that could participate in the challenge, and the magazine agreed. Their challenge was to redesign a CD cover for the blues/rock/jazz multi-instrumentalist Terry Shaw.

“This is 21st-century learning and practice in the classroom,” said Capozzi. “The students had a real-world challenge with no single ‘right’ answer. They had to really think, and that can be frustrating, but they all rose to the challenge,” he said. Former student Stephen Woltz agreed that the experience was a valuable one, “The project was really fun and it was good to do something with an actual client instead of just learning concepts. Working with a client was a really good experience as a designer in the real business world.”

With limited time, the class worked together and individually to create a single design that would be a class entry. Recent Halifax County High School graduate Stephen Woltz’s design was selected to represent the class. “Having my design accepted felt good but it was also unexpected for someone like me without a lot of experience. I was overwhelmed with appreciation,” he said.

Woltz is beginning his freshman year at Virginia Tech where he is majoring in Communication. Woltz’s program of study was directly influenced by SVHEC Digital Art & Design Instructor Ben Capozzi and the dual enrollment Graphic Arts class he took at the SVHEC during his senior year of high school.

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Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Wednesday’s ribbon cutting at the newly opened Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites has added 85 rooms to the lodging landscape in South Boston and Halifax County.

Located on Highway 58 between Highway 360 and U.S. 501, the hotel has a conference room, outdoor patio and an indoor pool and exercise room, and has created almost 20 new jobs.

The hotel has 25 suites and 60 standard rooms, and the brand serves business travelers during the week and vacationers and families on the weekend.

James Edmunds, vice-chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, said the hotel is a welcome addition to the county.

“It’s a boon to tourism, economic development and everything that goes with it,” said Edmunds, who expressed the county’s gratitude for locating the hotel here. “We want it filled to capacity every day and I know the owners would also.  The owners could have chosen many other directions but chose instead to locate here.  It was needed, and I hope we get more opportunities like this property in the future.”

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WoodLINKS Students Win 1st Place at Las Vegas Competition

Program Wins Honors in Its Very First Year

chair designed by John Barry and McKenzie StevensIt was a gamble that paid off. Last fall, when the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) partnered with Halifax County High School to bring the WoodLINKS, USA program to the county, it was part innovation and part experiment. Could new teachers be successful with a new curriculum with students who’d never experienced anything like it before? Ten months later with a class project that is a work of art and a first place finish in a national competition, there is no doubt that the bet on WoodLINKS was the right move.

July 14-18, recent high school graduates John Barry and McKenzie Stevens travelled to Las Vegas with their WoodLINKS instructors, Clint Johnson and Kevin Chrystie to compete in the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) Fresh Wood Student Competition.

The competition is the largest of its kind, and highlights outstanding construction and design achievements by students. The competition was stiff as the HCHS students competed against students from across the United States. But it was Barry & Stevens who came out on top, winning first place honors in the High School Class Project category. “It was the best feeling I ever had in my entire life. Ever. Nothing else even comes close,” said John Barry. “I have to agree with John,” said Barry’s partner in the class project, McKenzie Stevens. “When we heard our names called I was overwhelmed with happiness. It was an emotional day,” he said.

The awards for the Fresh Wood Student Competition were handed out at the AWFS Awards Dinner that included leaders and CEO’s in the wood industry. “After the awards were handed out,” recalls instructor Kevin Chrystie, “there were many people that came by and  congratulated both John and McKenzie on their achievement. It was really wonderful to be there to witness their future unfold before their eyes. “I can’t express how proud we are of them,” said WoodLINKS instructor Clint Johnson. “To see your students have an achievement like this is a great feeling for an instructor and really positive for the program itself,” he said. For their part, the students credit their WoodLINKS instructors for making their success possible.

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WoodLINKS Students Heading to National Competition in Las Vegas

Two students in Halifax County High School’s WoodLINKS, USA dual enrollment program are headed to Las Vegas to compete in the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) Fresh Wood Student Competition. Recent high school graduates John Barry and McKenzie Stevens will be representing the WoodLINKS program as they compete against high school students from across the United States.

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Local Company Featured in Wall Street Journal Video

Flag Business Flying High

Annin & Co. is the largest flag manufacturer in the U.S., and IDA Board Member Bill Kellehar is the Plant Manager at the company's Virginia factory here in South Boston.  WSJ's Shawn Bender reports on how the flags are made at the South Boston factory, and how the business is holding up in the recession.