Ground broken on shell building; Halifax County IDA leader calls it a ‘new era in economic development’

gb1Only a small amount of dirt was unearthed Friday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Southern Virginia Technology Park, but it was the beginning of something big for Halifax County.

County officials, along with Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) staff and board members and project investors, all grabbed a shovel and with a celebratory flourish broke ground at the future site of a shell building to attract businesses and industries to the county.

The real work begins this week when contractors will start construction on the shell building. The Samet Corporation, a company based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the contractor for the construction project.

“I look forward to the dawn of the new era in economic development in this community,” said Brian Brown, Halifax County IDA executive director. “The building will provide a competitive advantage and allow Halifax County access to many of the business opportunities we were not able to compete for in the past.”

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Academy named as recipient for ‘Solar for Students’ award

The Career Tech Academy (CTA) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) has been chosen by Dominion Energy and the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) to receive the Solar for Students Award. This award is available to Virginia schools and STEM-related educational organizations.

According to CTA administrator Stephanie Robinson, this award will be a step forward for the program.

“As our mechatronics program makes a shift to introduce mechanical and electrical concepts that focus on the energy sector, this resource will continue to promote educational awareness to not only our CTA programs, but our community and K-12 partners,” she said.

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Program to fund up to 20 new community projects

ChangeX, supported by a Community Empowerment Fund award from Microsoft, launched the Southern Virginia Community Challenge on Wednesday, a $35,000 fund for local community groups, schools and organizations that want to create thriving communities across the region.

The Challenge aims to support up to 20 teams to get new projects kicked off for the benefit of the local community.

People can choose from 12 ideas that have already proven to have a positive social or environmental impact, both in the US and Europe.

Among the ideas groups can choose from are “Pollinator Partnership,” a program to help neighborhoods protect pollinators to ensure healthy ecosystems and food security, “Cycling Without Age,” a Danish program that allows older people in nursing homes to maintain healthy connections with the local community through regular bicycle rides or a “Girls Who Code” club, a free extra-curricular program teaching girls about computer science in a fun and safe environment.

Upon applying to the Challenge, each team has 30 days to build a small team and design an action plan to be eligible for seed funding. The Challenge grants range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the selected idea.

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SVHEC’s Career Tech Academy awarded grant

svhecThe Career Tech Academy (CTA) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) is getting a boost thanks to a grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

According to CTA administrator Stephanie Robinson, the academy has been awarded $5,000 through Dominion’s Environmental Education and Stewardship Program. This annual program considers grant requests from eligible nonprofits and schools that focus on specific, short-term projects that promise measurable results to improve the environment.

“Through the partnership with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation, we are excited to have been selected to receive this grant, which will be put to great use,” Robinson said. “As our K-12 partners and the Virginia Department of Education move forward developing the new 17th career cluster – energy – the CTA has been working toward training our level one and level two students on the educational career pathways.

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Hospital sleep lab receives accreditation

The Sleep Lab at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital recently received program accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

“The Sleep Lab Team at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital has worked diligently to meet the requirements to receive this accreditation,” said Starann Ballou, RN, MSN, and manager of Patient Care Services. “We are pleased to be able to provide this valuable service to the members of our community and surrounding areas. Under the guidance of our Board-Certified Medical Director, Dr. Alan Goldberg, we will now be able to provide in-lab sleep testing, as well as home sleep studies for adult patients.”

To receive accreditation for a five-year period, a sleep center must meet or exceed all standards for professional health care as designated by the AASM. These standards address core areas such as personnel, facility and equipment, policies and procedures, data acquisition, patient care and quality assurance.

“The ability to diagnose and treat sleep disorders is a valuable service to our community,” said Sherri Bee, RN, MSN, NE-BC, director of cardiovascular services and quality. “As we work diligently to improve the health of our community every day, we are proud to be able to offer these expanded services.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited its first sleep disorder center in 1977. Today, there are more than 2,500 AASM-accredited sleep centers across the country. The AASM is a professional medical society for clinicians, researchers, and other health care providers in the field of sleep medicine.

For more information about sleep services at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, visit

From The Gazette Virginian

High school leadership class visits TMI

The Halifax County High School leadership class recently visited TMI AutoTech. Students learned about extensive design, engineering, fabrication and manufacturing capabilities that AutoTech offers to meet the needs of their clients.tmi

New flower shop blooming in downtown South Boston

w1Downtown South Boston has a new business on the block. Wisters flower shop has opened its doors at 441 Main St.

The fragrance and vivid colors of mingled flowers greeted the crowd that gathered Friday morning for the first day of Wisters’ two-day grand opening, a bright spot in the cold, gray January day. Owner Amanda Rose welcomed the crowd into her shop.

“I want people to come in here and feel that they are really comfortable and at home,” Rose said. “I want everyone to feel welcome here.”

Rose named Wisters after her grandfather John Wister, who always kept his door open for friends and neighbors and supported her projects and interests.

She has had the help of her mother Rhonda Day and her aunt Lisa Wilkinson in preparing for the business’ grand opening. Preparations included redoing the flooring and repainting the walls of the building.

Rose believes the building across from South Boston Town Hall is the prime spot for her business. The last business at the location was Sweet Cee’s Gifts & Kids Consignment.

“I just love this location. I feel there’s a lot of growth down here,” Rose said. “I feel at home here.”

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Assistant director selected for IDA

tmA South Boston native has been hired to fill a leadership role at the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA).

Tracy G. Mallard will start her new role as IDA assistant director on Feb. 1.

IDA board members welcomed Mallard to her new position at their monthly meeting Friday morning.

“We’re excited to have her on board,” said IDA executive director Brian Brown. “I think she will be a true asset to this office. I look forward to partnering with her for multiple projects for the betterment of Halifax County.”

Mallard, who has spent the past five years working as a data analyst for Noblis in Danville, said she is happy to have the opportunity to turn her focus to her hometown.

“For me, there’s no greater honor than to serve and advocate for the place where you’re from,” Mallard said. “I care so much about Southern Virginia as a whole, but to get to serve in my hometown is such an honor.”

Mallard said she looks forward to building upon the workforce development pieces that are already in place here, such as the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and the Information Technology Academy at the center, to help recruit talent and industry to Halifax County.

Brown shared with the board at Friday’s meeting that he believes this is the perfect time for Mallard to join in the IDA’s efforts to promote economic growth in Halifax County.

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