Danville’s Institute to host first Hemp Grower Expo in January

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) will host the region’s first event focused specifically on meeting the needs of area hemp growers. The 2020 Hemp Grower Expo, to be held Tuesday, Jan. 28, at IALR, will allow producers to network with peers, connect with providers of hemp seeds and clones and discuss ways to successfully prepare for the next growing season.

“We are a tool for our community to thrive and grow, and one of the important audiences we serve is growers, especially since agriculture remains Virginia’s largest private industry,” said Mark Gignac, executive director of IALR. “While hemp is an exciting opportunity for diversification, as an emerging industry, there are still many guidelines and best practices to work through. We look forward to offering this platform for growers to openly discuss challenges and solutions and to connect with hemp seed and clone providers.”

The 2020 Hemp Grower Expo will occur from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28. The agenda will feature a networking and exhibit showroom of hemp seed and clone providers the entire duration of the expo.

From 11 a.m. to noon, IALR’s own Yimeng “Jack” He, Analytical Chemist, will present “Unraveling the Mysteries of Hemp Testing.” His remarks will address the testing process and the six causatives IALR has identified regarding lab-to-lab discrepancies.

Gignac also will discuss the ways IALR is using its research assets and expertise to help inform guidelines and best practices moving forward as consensus methodology is developed for hemp testing.

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County recognized for workforce development achievements

5ddd955d5c07f.imageHalifax County was recently recognized for its workforce development achievements over the past year at the ACT Workforce Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. The annual summit, which brings together experts in business, education, workforce and economic development, included the ACT Work Ready Communities Awards Ceremony and Recognition.

Meagan Owen, coordinator of learner success and engagement for Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC), accepted the award on behalf of Halifax County for completing a new set of goals to maintain its certification as a Work Ready Community.

“We are so happy to recognize and award our Work Ready Communities at our annual convening of workforce experts,” said ACT president of measurement Suzana Delanghe. “These participating communities have demonstrated a commitment to developing a strong workforce pipeline, which is paramount to building stronger communities and fostering business and economic growth.”

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Grand Springs CEO elected board chairman of International Bottled Water Association

5ddd6215756b4.imageRobert Smith, of Grand Springs Distribution in Alton has been elected to serve as chairman of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) Board of Directors for 2019-2020.

IBWA members elected the association’s leadership during the 2019 Annual Business Conference held in Anaheim, California, from Nov. 18-21.

Smith is a member of IBWA’s executive committee and board of directors. He previously served as vice chairman.

Grand Springs bottles water at the source in a controlled environment within its Alton facility for assurance of quality and purity.

The plant is located on 495 acres with numerous pristine spring sources located within the property in a protected environment. These springs have been protected for the purpose of producing premium water products.

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Longtime employee named to lead public works department

5ddd8efd7dd15.imageLongtime public works employee C. W. Crowder Jr. is the new South Boston public works director, succeeding Danny McCormick, who announced his retirement last month.

Town Manager Tom Raab made the announcement at Monday’s work session, noting Crowder’s knowledge with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) regulations, including VDOT’s state of good repair program and his experience working with the public works department in a number of capacities for 24 years.

Known as state of good repair (SGR), the program provides funding for deteriorated pavements and structurally deficient bridges maintained or owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation and/or localities as approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
Crowder, operations supervisor since 2006, will supervise 23 public works employees in his job as public works director.

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Health care, social assistance jobs projected to expand in the region

Brian Brown, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), had some good news and some not so good news during a presentation Friday at the IDA board’s planning session, with some job sectors showing an increase in job opportunities, while others contracted.

Brown told board members the strongest forecast by numbers of jobs over the next five years is for health care and social assistance with a projected increase of 116 jobs, followed by information-related jobs with a projected increase of 14 jobs and utilities-related employment with a projected increase of 11 jobs.

According to Chmura’s Jobs EQ data, the best-paying jobs in Halifax County are utilities ($75,978), finance and insurance ($55,102) and management of companies and enterprises ($52,799).

Chmura also reported the average worker in Halifax County earned annual wages of $36,542 as of the second quarter of 2019, and that average annual wages per worker increased 3.7% in the region over the preceding four quarters.

For comparison purposes, annual average wages were $57,025 in the nation as a whole as of the second quarter of 2019, according to Chmura Jobs EQ.

In terms of a strategic plan, Brown asked how the board and staff can help their training partners, schools and community deliver information about job opportunities and teaching skills necessary to fill those positions.

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Praising conservation efforts, Adam Davis takes top honor at group’s annual awards banquet

5dd6f5a75efc8.imageHalifax Soil and Water Conservation District hosted its annual awards banquet earlier this month and bestowed its most prestigious award on Adam Davis.

Approximately 50 invited guests, district directors and staff were in attendance at the banquet earlier this month, as Luke Hudson, district conservation technician, recognized efforts of Davis with presentation of the 2019 Outstanding Cooperator Award, given annually to individuals who do an outstanding job of conserving the land and natural resources and cooperating with the Soil and Water Conservation District on implementing conservation.

This year is Davis’ fourth year participating in the district’s cover crop programs to scavenge remaining nutrients and prevent soil erosion. He is extending his conservation efforts to his cattle operation with exclusion practices set to be installed, which will prevent direct deposition of contaminants and improve water quality.

Davis knows the importance of conservation efforts and knows that not only will the environment and local community benefit from his actions, but his farming operation will benefit also.

He has been active in many of the district’s programs as well as other local organizations and is always willing to speak up and ask important questions or share his personal experience with others.

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Downtown brewpub preps for spring debut

brewery side copyThe wave of brewpubs opening in the region will sweep into South Boston in the spring, if all goes according to plan.

The owners of Factory Street Brewing Company are shooting for a spring opening. The brewery, located at the intersection of Factory Street and Seymour Drive in the Venture Center building, is within short walking distance of The Prizery and SVHEC, downtown shops and the Tobacco Heritage Trail.

“We hope the brewery will support the economy of local businesses in downtown South Boston,” said Lisa Francisco, co-owner with Jeff Francisco, general manager Cyndi Overby and brewmaster Brigid Layman.

The historic tobacco building, built in 1920, is currently undergoing renovation as part of a complete overhaul. The support beams are being sandblasted, the floor plan rearranged, interior walls have been knocked down, and the ceiling is being painted black to enhance the interior’s natural beauty.

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New businesses in the works

va auto mart copySouth Boston, which has seen two auto dealerships open in town since 2018, is about to welcome a third.

Virginia Auto Mart has purchased the 3625 Old Halifax Road location formerly occupied by Puckett Auto Sales & Service and plans to be open by Dec. 2 with a large inventory of pre-owned cars, trucks, SUVs, work vans and bucket trucks for sale.

“We are excited to come to Virginia and do business,” said Heather Harvey, business manager. Virginia Auto Mart is an expansion of Oxford Car and Truck, which has been in operation for 15 years in Oxford, N.C. The company is owned by Eddie Caudle.

Virginia Auto Mart’s arrival comes on the heels of two other chain dealerships opening car and truck lots in South Boston over the past year and a half. In April 2018, CrossRoads Ford of South Boston moved out to its new showroom and facility on U.S. 58. CrossRoads, the county’s only new car franchise, bought out Crowell Motor Company in late 2016.

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