REGIONAL VIEW southwest virginia

Fundraising campaign aims to enhance Abingdon museum by Joan Tupponce

fundraising campaign is not only to enhance the facility but also to make the museum’s 20-acre Abingdon campus more accessible and inviting. The “Masterwork in


Progress” campaign has raised approximately $1.3 million. That includes an $86,500 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Com- mission, which will go toward a permanent exhibit of regional decorative arts opening Dec. 3. This will be the

museum’s first renovation in 25 years. Built in 1913 as a school building, William King is the only Virginia museum west of Roanoke accredited by the American Association of Museums. To help with accessibil-

ity, the museum will create a new entrance on the east side of the building that “will go into the first floor where the elevators are located,” says


The Wise County Board of Supervisors approved an ordi- nance Oct. 12 creating the Lone- some Pine Regional Industrial Facility Authority, consisting of Norton and the counties of Wise, Dickenson, Lee and Scott. Each locality will have the option not to participate in a specific job creation project. Also, a local- ity can withdraw from the author- ity after 30 days’ written notice to other localities. The authority will have an office at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Its bylaws allow it to hire or contract for the services of an executive director. (The Coalfield Progress)

Smyth County leaders hope their next economic development director will not only bolster the community’s business growth but

Director Betsy K. White. Plans are also in the

works to extend the museum’s VanGogh Outreach pro- gram, which has served only second-graders. The program focuses on the study of cul- tures in areas such as China, Egypt and Ancient Rome. “Our students don’t have a lot

will also help communicate with citizens and promote a positive image of the county. In October, the county’s Board of Supervisors adopted a new job description for the position, including addi- tional marketing and communi- cations responsibilities. The post was vacated on Aug. 31 when Lori Hester Deel resigned. Deel had held the position since early 2014. In her letter to county officials, Deel attributed the decision largely to the birth of her daughter on June 30. While thanking them for the opportunity to serve, she was forthright in sharing criticism that came with her experience, writing, “My style of planning and leader- ship, along with my venturous per- sonality and my desire to work as a team, unfortunately, doesn’t fit in with the setup and operation of the county.” (

12 DECEMBER 2017

he goal of the Wil- liam King Museum of Art’s $5 million

museum also will create a new program, called Heritage Express, for fourth-graders, focusing on their own cul- tural heritage. The museum already has

The William King Museum of Art in Abingdon is housed in a former school building constructed in 1913.

of exposure to other cultures here,” White says. The museum will expand

the program to third-graders in the Virginia counties it already serves. “We are also going to add counties that border Virginia in Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky,” White says, adding the

Sunset Digital Communica- tions plans to deploy wire- less hotspots to hasten extend- ing broadband internet service to rural areas. Sunset, which is working to finalize its $50 mil- lion acquisition of BVU Author- ity’s OptiNet telecommunications network, will use the technology — called “SunSpots” — to serve areas currently underserved by BVU. Sunset expects to finalize the purchase of OptiNet during the fourth quarter of this year and begin connecting new customers through the wireless technology while fiber-optic connections are extended, according to the state- ment. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Beef cattle production leads the agricultural economy of South- west Virginia according to a report prepared by the Virginia Tech office of economic devel-

received a $500,000 federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for its new Center for Studio Art & Education, which will be housed in the former Washington County office building adjacent to the museum. A $250,000 grant from the Educational Foun- dation of America, the town of Abingdon and private individual donors also is targeted for the new center. The center will house

artists and artisan's studios as well as a digital craft lab for developing art centered around the creative economy. “We want to help students make a living out of art,” White says. “We are trying to be a bigger asset for the region’s creative economy and make this a bigger attraction for the cultural tourist.”

opment. The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Author- ity and Southwest Virginia Com- munity College commissioned the report. The summary showed the area had $53.1 million in beef cattle sales in 2012 from its 2,140 cattle farms. The region had $1.9 million in income from tobacco and $1.38 million from corn. The area recorded vegetable sales of $860,000. (


Bristol has retained Jim Bourey as economic development con- sultant. He is employed as the director of management services for McGill Associates in New- port News, a post he’s held since June. He also has been city man- ager in Newport News and Green- ville, S.C. and managed county governments in Florida and Minne-

sota. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Mark Farris has joined Powell Valley National Bank as a vice president and commercial loan officer in Abingdon. Farris is a native of Washington County.

He most recently served as vice president and regional market area manager for Highlands Union Bank in Abingdon. (News release)

Mark Haynes has accepted the position of customer service account manager at Bristol-based Strongwell. Haynes began his career with Strongwell in 1995 and has held several different positions within the company. Most recently, he led the efforts in Abingdon as the manager, Highlands manufac- turing. (News release)

Photo courtesy William King Museum of Art

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