IDA provides dinner for HCHS leadership class

May 13, 2019

Leadership dinnerThe Halifax County Industrial Development Authority provided dinner at Berry Hill for this semester’s 2019 Halifax County High School leadership class, community cohorts and guest speakers. This would not be possible without the community’s support. Several students, cohorts and guest speakers are not pictured due to prior engagements.

From The Gazette Virginian

Sentara honored in patient satisfaction

June 19, 2019

Sentara Halifax Home Health and Sentara Halifax Hospice have been recognized by Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) as a “Superior Performer” for achieving an overall patient satisfaction score that ranked in the top 20% of all eligible SHP clients for the 2018 calendar year.

The annual SHPBest™ award program was created to acknowledge home health agencies that consistently provide high quality service to their patients. The 2018 award recipients were determined by reviewing and ranking the overall satisfaction score for more than 2,500 home health providers.

With the largest HHCAHPS benchmark in the nation, SHP is in a unique position to identify and recognize organizations that have made patient satisfaction a priority and have been rewarded for their efforts with high marks on the HHCAHPS survey.

“SHP is proud to present the SHPBest awards to our top-performing customers. We commend these organizations for their continuous focus on delivering the highest quality of care to their patients”, said Rob Paulsson, president of SHP.

Sentara Halifax Home Health and Sentara Halifax Hospice serve a large swath of the southern Virginia region, providing the highest-quality home health care and end-of-life services to members of the community

“I couldn’t be more proud of our staff for the dedication and excellence that they bring to our organization every day,” said Wendy Fisher, RN, BSN, administrator of Sentara Halifax Home Health and Sentara Halifax Hospice. “By winning this award, we reaffirm our devotion to providing the highest-quality care in both home health and hospice settings.”

Read more about the SHPBest awards program, including methodology and award recipient lists at

From The Gazette Virginian

South Boston offers training template for Microsoft

Microsoft has been quietly expanding its presence in Southside Virginia since opening its cloud computing datacenter in Boydton a decade ago. Aside from numerous site expansions — Microsoft’s regional campus has now grown to 1.1 million square feet — the tech giant has stepped up its philanthropy in Southside, such as by contributing $200,000 to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center IT Academy and donating 10 Surface Pro 3 tablet computers to the Mentor Role Model program.

But Microsoft has taken some lessons from the local community, too.

“It can be said that the model for the DCA (Data Center Academy) program began with the partnership between SVHEC and Microsoft and we now are scaling this program to our global portfolio of datacenter communities,” explained Anthony Putorek, Senior Lead Workforce Development Program Manager at Microsoft.

The Datacenter Academy program is a Microsoft-specific training program modeled after the IT Academy in South Boston. Microsoft has taken advantage of the most successful parts of the IT Academy and used it to design a training program that the company has implemented worldwide.

“As a result of this partnership, Microsoft has incorporated these features into ... the Microsoft Datacenter Academy (DCA),” Putorek said.

Because datacenters require large amounts of land and access to electricity and water, all at low cost, Microsoft builds these massive facilities in rural areas. At the same time, however, rural communities pose a unique challenge to Microsoft’s recruitment staff by making it harder to recruit skilled labor. The IT Academy provides a model of how to train those workers locally.

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Donation from Microsoft aims to aid coding students

MicrosoftPetrina Carter noticed a gap between the haves and have nots in Halifax County in terms of access to technology when she came aboard as president and CEO of Tri-County Community Action Agency.

Microsoft’s donation of 10 SurfacePro 3 laptops to the Halifax County Mentor-Role Program on Monday should help address that learning gap, Carter noted.

She noticed a technology gap in youth ages 5-18 in the county, an area where more than 30 percent of those youths live below the poverty level.

The donation of the 10 laptops will allow the Mentor-Role Model Program, now underneath the umbrella of Tri-County Community Action Agency, to help girls in the organization’s girls’ coding program to get a leg up on computer skills, according to Carter.

The coding program as it currently exists is for girls ages 6-18, but one of Carter’s goals is to bring it to girls at the pre-school level.

“It’s a national program running in conjunction with the middle school,” said Carter.

“I’m hoping it will spark the interest of young people who want to go further in technology, whether gaming or coding.”

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Next step for community strategic plan

Picture of Community Strategic Plan Kick OffThe next stage of the Community Strategic Plan — the implementation — kicked off Wednesday night at The Prizery with a call to action by community leaders who say Halifax County must do more to reverse its recent declines.

Working off that theme, a series of speakers talked about specific areas they hope to address: everything from educational and career training opportunities to expanding the local motorsports economy to organizing more community litter clean-up campaigns. But hovering above it all was a plea for citizens to get involved, and buy into the idea that Halifax County can captain its own ship.

“Change is disturbing when done to us, exhilarating when done by us,” said Board of Supervisors chairman Dennis Witt, one of three co-chairs of an ad hoc steering committee organized to draw up and carry out the strategic plan. “We have an opportunity to change Halifax County for the positive — to move forward, to provide all the quality of life issues we’ve talked about tonight.”

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Students in limelight at Halifax County School Board meeting

The Monday night meeting of the Halifax County School Board meeting was a moment to celebrate student accomplishments.

From Team 977 Cometbots to the Halifax County High School Culinary Arts team that has qualified for national competition in Anaheim, Calif., students were in the limelight during an otherwise uneventful session for trustees in Halifax.

Also receiving plaudits and recognition were HCHS’s award-winning FFA chapter, and junior Jared Dawson of Nathalie, who recently earned a career certification in mechatronics at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and his degree at Southside Virginia Community College, where he took part in commencement this weekend.

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg began the recognitions with a word of praise for the HCHS Leadership Program, under the guidance of Melanie Saunders. Lineburg noted that the juniors and seniors in the Leadership Program have begun taking an active role in school and community affairs, with students speaking before the Virginia General Assembly to help win passage of House Bill 1634, allowing Halifax County to hold a sales tax referendum.

“That class is really starting to turn into one of the most dynamic I’ve seen. It is starting to shape our county,” said Lineburg.

Pronouncing Halifax’s students as good as any school division’s anywhere, Lineburg turned over the floor to students and their advisors.

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SVHEC receives $10,000 grant

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center has received a $10,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, one of $120,000 in literacy grants the foundation announced Thursday it was giving to Virginia nonprofit organizations, libraries and schools.

These funds are aimed at supporting adult, family and summer literacy programs within a 20-mile radius of a Dollar General store or distribution center across the 44 states Dollar General serves.

The grants awarded to Virginia organizations are expected to positively impact the lives of more than 5,000 Virginians.

“In keeping with Dollar General’s mission of Serving Others, we are excited to provide grants to support literacy and education initiatives in the communities we proudly call home,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO and Dollar General Literacy Foundation board member. “Each year, funds provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation make a real difference by providing the tools that students, adults and families need to pursue new opportunities and accomplish their goals. We believe these programs empower the communities we serve, and we are honored to play a role in their success.”

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Prepping the Randolph's Rebirth

Sturdy but in forlorn condition, the Randolph Hotel is being gutted inside to prepare for a brighter future — one that Town of South Boston officials hope to usher in by 2020.Picture of Randolph Motel Sign

Workers have torn out much of the ceilings, walls, and plumbing inside the shuttered downtown inn, prepping it for extensive renovations and eventual reopening as a boutique hotel with a restaurant and rooftop bar. South Boston has lined up a hospitality industry partner to operate the hotel, but first comes the work of restoring the building to its former glory.

Built in 1929 and 1930, the John Randolph Hotel originally featured 44 rooms, each roughly 11 feet square with a shared bath with the neighboring room. “You’d have to lock the neighbor’s door [to the bathroom] and hope you remembered to unlock it,” explained Town Manager Tom Raab.

The plan for the new Randolph envisions a much greater aura of luxury — rooms are projected to go for $130 and $150 a night, with the target audience being the professional class associated with major businesses in the area, such as ABB and Microsoft. The number of rooms will be cut to 22, achieved by knocking out the walls between the old rooms.

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