Monday, November 30, 2009

Oakey's Pet Funeral Home Opens Tomorrow

Crematorium designed for pets at Oakey's^

The Pet Funeral Home & Crematory on Airport Road^

Roanoke-based Oakey’s Pet Funeral Home & Crematory opens tomorrow to area pet owners faced with end of life decisions for their companions. The facility is at 5416 Airport Road and is unique to this region.

“The Oakey’s Family is passionate about our own pets and we understand the meaning of the human-companion animal bond,” says Sammy Oakey, President. “Our goal is to treat your pet the way we would treat any family member we serve, with respect and dignity, and with a level of care families have come to expect with the Oakey’s name.”

According to the American Pet Association, of the 106.4 million households in the U.S., there are 45 million dog owners. More than half of those owners say they are more attached to their pets than to at least one other human being. Of those households, there are 77 million cat owners.

The new facility offers a private room for families to have a farewell. The facility was constructed specifically for the cremation of pets and is separate from Oakey’s human funeral services. All cremations are performed onsite in the facility and pet owners receive a certificate of cremation along with the pet’s remains.

Oakey’s Pet Funeral Home & Crematory, offers services that include private cremation of pets, traditional burial, customized memorial celebrations, prearrangements and aftercare. Customized merchandising is also available for pet owners to choose from. (From press release.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

3G Available from AT&T in Roanoke

iPhone users who have become almost chronic complainers in the past year or so because coverage has been so spotty in this region may have received some relief with the new installation of a 3G network in Roanoke by AT&T announced today.

The 3G network is the third generation system from international Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) and features wireless voice phone and video, wireless data in mobile telephones. It allows use of speech and data services simultaneously and has much higher data rates. The network enables the use of more advanced services and achieves better network capacity via improved efficiencies, according to several sources. AT&T is the third company in the region to offer 3G.

Verizon and Sprint have offered it for a while.

Much of the Roanoke Valley has been covered with the latest AT&T offering. It plans to expand coverage along I-81 from Salem to Radford later this year. Blacksburg and Virginia Tech have already been covered.

Customers have consistently complained that the expensive iPhone’s exotic offerings are of little use without a signal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

tba Wins Most Summit Awards

Here's the entire group of winners^

tba (the becher agency) in Roanoke has won eight Summit Awards—the most of any entrant—from the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in recognition of excellence in public relations.

Golds were won for ads for United Way Roanoke Valley, Roanoke Regional Partnership, Oak Hall Cap and Gown and Lanford Brothers. There were four silvers, as well (one for crisis management support for Luna Innovations’ Chapter 11 filing).

Access Advertising & Public Relations in Roanoke won three gold awards for work for Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association, Citizens for Positive Growth-Glenvar Asphalt Plant Opposition and Lewis-Gale Medical Center. The Compass Award went to Darren Jackson, CEO of Advance Auto Parts.

Other gold winners include: Roanoke County Public Schools; Heidi Ketler, APR, NEWSource; and City of Roanoke.

Synchrony Gets Whopper of a Contract

The boys from Synchrony show off a magnetic bearing. CEO Victor Iannello (FRONT executive of year for 2009) in the suit>

Roanoke County-based Synchrony, Inc., which makes rotating machinery and power conversion systems, has received what could eventually be a $16 million an order from McQuay International for serial production of integrated drive trains to be used in high efficiency chillers.

McQuay will incorporate Synchrony's technology into its line of frictionless chillers. The chillers are designed for commercial and industrial buildings demanding high performance heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. They include sustainable buildings designed to meet requirements for LEED(R) Green Building Certification.

McQuay, part of Daikin Industries, is the world's second largest HVAC company, specializing in green HVAC systems. Synchrony's technology reduces energy use, oil disposal, and operating costs by replacing oil bearings, gears, and low speed induction motors with high-speed motors on magnetic bearings. This provides a dramatic improvement in the efficiency of the system, whether at full load or part load.

Synchrony has received a purchase order from McQuay for the delivery of 150 integrated drive trains that will be incorporated into McQuay's Magnitude chillers. These units represent the first portion of a Letter of Intent that McQuay provided to Synchrony earlier in 2009 with an expected total sales value of $16 million.

Under the terms of a previous agreement, Synchrony also has exclusive rights to develop new integrated drive trains for McQuay. This product launch is a significant step for Synchrony, which was the recent recipient of the prestigious R&D 100 award for its Fusion(R) magnetic bearing. Synchrony's technology is creating broad new opportunities for use in motors, generators, pumps, compressors, fans, and blowers in the HVAC, renewable energy, oil and gas, air separation, power generation, and defense markets.

"The market for our magnetic bearings and high-speed drive trains is rapidly expanding with increased industry attention on energy efficiency and the environmental sustainability," says Synchrony President and CEO Victor Iannello.

(From press release.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tech Works on Electric Grid Efficiency

Dominion Virginia Power is working with Virginia Tech to create technology technology that will improve the electric grid’s efficiency and reliability. Known as “synchrophasors,” it provides dynamic real-time information about conditions on the transmission grid. The work is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy.

“If you characterize the current state of technology for monitoring the power system as an X-ray image, synchrophasor technology will provide MRI-quality data,” says Arun Phadke, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

“Dominion’s system is a unique and good proving ground for application of these techniques.” Phadke’s work with synchrophasor technology, which provides precise, real-time data on transmission system conditions, began nearly 27 years ago. He invented the key building block of this technology -- the phasor measurement unit -- and credits the 2003 blackout of the northeast United States for initiating the emergence of this technology.

Phadke joined Virginia Tech’s Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1982 and held the American Electric Power professorship.

“A smarter, more efficient and reliable electric grid means better service for customers, benefits for the environment and lower costs in the long run,” says Dominion Virginia Power Chief Executive Officer Paul Koonce. “What is particularly appealing about this technology is that it can be applied to our existing transmission network, not just new projects.”

The new technology provides grid operators with the ability to better foresee, prevent and manage potential overloads on the grid, and route power more efficiently. This enables maximum efficiency and reliability for Dominion’s transmission grid. As part of a larger project submitted by PJM and 12 member transmission owners, Dominion will also receive federal stimulus funds to help put these efforts to practical use and install the new systems as this tailored research and development is completed in the laboratories.

(From press release.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Optical Cable Division Wins Suit

Applied Optical Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Roanoke-based Optical Cable Corporation since October, has won a patent infringement lawsuit brought three years ago, by Amphenol Fiber Systems International, a subsidiary of Amphenol Corporation.

The jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas unanimously determined that an AOS' fiber-optic connector design does not infringe on FSI's U.S. Patent 6,305,849. The jury decision follows an earlier U.S. District Court ruling.

The fiber optic connectors at issue are most often used in military and other harsh environment applications, and include a four-channel second generation tactical fiber optic cable assembly (or TFOCA) connector design that has been a reliable standard for the U.S. military and allied militaries for a number of years.

"OCC acquired AOS to enhance the integrated fiber optic and copper datacom cabling and connectivity solutions we provide in our targeted markets,” says Neil Wilkin, president and CEO of Optical Cable. "The favorable resolution of this lawsuit advances that strategy, permitting OCC to pair AOS' innovative and unique fiber optic connectivity products with OCC's field-proven fiber optic cabling products for military and other harsh environment applications.”

The findings in the U.S. District Court clear the way for AOS to continue to manufacture and distribute its two military specification compliant four-channel TFOCA-style fiber optic connectors, as well as its EZMATET connectors, which is designed for other harsh environment applications. Still pending are AOS' allegations against FSI for improper use of the litigation and the patent in violation of U.S. antitrust laws.

(From press release.)

Pamplin, VCOM Launch Co-Degree Program

Pamplin Dean Richard Sorensen>

Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business and the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) have teamed up to launch a cooperative two-degree program that allows students to earn both the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Master of Business Administration.

“After medical school, many osteopathic physicians go directly into private practice for which a certain amount of business education is needed,” says Pamplin Dean Richard E. Sorensen. “A business education is particularly valuable for physicians seeking positions as hospital or other health-care administrators or those seeking to manage their own practice.”

Under the dual-degree program, VCOM students would complete the requirements between their third and fourth years of medical school. “We may later offer students an option to complete the MBA before starting medical school,” Sorensen says.

Steve Skripak, Pamplin associate dean of graduate programs, says the program expects to admit three to five VCOM students a year, to be selected jointly by VCOM and MBA administrators. Admitted students must meet academic benchmarks for admission to the dual-degree program, he says, and would have passed their first round of medical board exams. Students would take a combination of existing MBA courses, new hospital administration courses to be created by VCOM, and free electives from either courses in the Pamplin College or from within an approved set of VCOM courses.

(From press release.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pinkerton to Acquire Royal Auto Dealership

Bill Pinkerton (left), owner of Pinkerton Chevrolet, and Glenn Wood (right), owner of Royal Chevrolet

Salem-based Pinkerton Chevrolet plans to acquire Royal Chevrolet, Cadillac in Lynchburg. The move will extend Pinkerton's customer base to the Lynchburg market and expand its service capabilities to current customers in the Roanoke Valley.

Royal Chevrolet, Cadillac will be renamed Pinkerton Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac.

"We're excited about being a part of the Pinkerton family," says Tracy Cooper, sales manager for Pinkerton Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac in Lynchburg. "And we're pleased to be able to continue providing the Lynchburg community with excellence in customer service and vehicle ownership."

Existing and new Pinkerton customers will also benefit from the full body shop at the Lynchburg location, a service not offered at the Salem location, as well as an on-site EnterpriseC Rent-A-Car.

Royal Chevrolet, Cadillac has been operating in Lynchburg at its current location at 801 Graves Mill Road since 1997. The company employs a staff of 85, and offers a complete service facility, parts and body shop operations and a recently added quick-service maintenance facility.

Among GM dealerships nationwide, Pinkerton Chevrolet has consistently ranked at the top for customer satisfaction and the strength of its business operation. It is the goal of Pinkerton Chevrolet to exceed the standards set forth in the General Motors "Standards for Excellence" program.

The program's mission is "to continuously improve dealership competencies, increase sales, foster employee involvement and enthusiasm, and deliver outstanding customer service and an outstanding ownership experience."

Inventory for both Pinkerton locations will now be available online at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Small Piece of Lynchburg Heading to Space

Lynchburg's Leland Melvin, an astronaut with NASA, has gone into space for the second time and this time he has a piece of home with him. Melvin, who spoke at Liberty University about 18 months ago, is wearing a Liberty University School of Aeronautics patch on his trip to the space station. He is to dock Nov. 18.

You can read the whole story here.

Scott Martin Leaving Franklin County

Scott Martin, the dynamo who in effect brought a kind of adventurous and successful economic development to Franklin County--based on what it is, rather than what some would have it be--is leaving for a job in Louisville, Ky.

His leaving follows closely behind his virtual twin in Roanoke, Stuart Mease, who left his position in economic development a couple of months ago for a job with Rackspace Email & Apps in Blacksburg, where he has lived for years. Mease and Martin were considered two of the brightest young stars in government in this region and maybe in Virginia.

In his e-mail to the FRONT, Martin said, "Jenn and I have decided to take a career challenge/opportunity in Louisville, Ky. I’ll be joining a community led non-profit initiative (21st Century Parks) that is seeking to construct a 3,000+ acre park within the city limits.

"This is a completely new challenge and we’re fired up about the concept of building, and managing a public park of this size.We’re going to find out if it is possible to build a public park in the finest Olmstead tradition in this day and age. We’ll start work in Louisville on January 4, last day of work in Franklin County will be on December 18.

"We’ve loved our time here in Franklin County and want to thank everyone who made our experience here so terrific. Together, we’ve built some special parks and I think helped improve our community’s quality of life."

Scott says the leaving was difficult, but "Louisville is exciting because [it has] made the commitment to do exactly what our area says it wants to do: build access to the outdoors. It's going to be a blast to work on a project that has committed supporters and a 'let's get it done' ability on the financial and political front."

Scott has been the driving force in emphasizing Franklin County's natural environment and selling that for eco-tourism, festivals, sporting events and a wide variety of efforts aimed at today's active--and often well-to-do--travelers and those seeking permanent residence.

Liberty Gets $300,000 Engineering Grant

Simio, an industry leader in simulation software, has awarded a $300,000 grant to the School of Engineering & Computational Science at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

The grant is in the form of the Simio Software Academic Edition allowing the engineering program to learn and create simulations using Simio’s innovative software, which allows users to users to rapidly model almost any system without programming. The faculty will use Simio to teach students the core competencies of Engineering and Systems Design.

“The faculty at Liberty is committed to providing the best environment for their students to learn simulation,” says Dr. Dennis Pegden, Founder and CEO of Simio. “We are honored to provide them with the best software available to teach their students."

“Our Engineering faculty came with a request for simulation software. After looking at the various options, we decided to look at Simio,” says Scott Pleasants, manager of LUSECS Technology & Research Labs. “The interface and feature set contains everything a modern software package should offer. The interface is simple, which allows our students to begin their work immediately. Simio’s ability to incorporate objects from Google’s 3D Warehouse allows the students to create robust and dynamic simulation processes without sacrificing time.”

The engineering faculty at Liberty is counting using Simio to teach the students how to solve real world problems in a visually-rich environment, while utilizing models provided by Google.

Robert Rich, professor of Industrial Engineering at Liberty, has been pleased with the software and how quickly the students are grasping the technology. “Simio offers the capabilities of examining real world processes, such as the U.S. Air Force supply chain to the traffic flow of Lynchburg, or specifically Liberty University," he says. "It provides an analysis of growth rates over an X number of years and while offering an analysis of bottlenecks for potential conflicts. This helps in the allocation of resources where action would be needed at a future time. Since you can model into the future, Simio allows us to model the processes to find conflicts and to objectively forecast resources and budgets accordingly.”

(From press release.)

Distracted at the FRONT Party

Rarely are we so busy or distracted at Valley Business FRONT that we neglect to pick up a camera and start firing away when we are at events. Our own, though? A problem.

Last night at our First Anniversary/Holiday Open House this shot was the only result and it came as an afterthought as we were packing to leave after a full three hours of packed house at our offices at the Jefferson Center.

The four remaining FRONTers (designer Nick Vassen had left) posed with charicature artist Kyle Edgell (that's a drawing of the editor and the publisher on her easel). Standing in our brand new FRONT logo shirts (the publisher picked the color) are (from left) ad exec Deborah Vaughn, editor Dan Smith, publisher Tom Field and senior ad exec Jane Dalier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Job Fair at Roanoke Civic Center Dec. 29

This shot is from one of Roanoke's recent job fairs. There have been several and they're popular in this economy^

As a result of the continued economic environment and large turnout at previous Roanoke Career and Lifestyle Fairs, the City of Roanoke will be hosting another job fair on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Roanoke Civic Center Special Events Center.

Exhibitors will include companies offering jobs, entrepreneurial organizations showcasing resources to assist with business startups, and lifestyle organizations offering a diverse mix of social and cultural amenities.

"Recent job fairs have been very successful and we continue our responsibility to provide opportunities for job seekers to interact with employers,” says fair coordinator, Lisa Soltis. “We hope to reach those living in the region, as well as individuals returning home for the holidays, and December graduates entering the job market with the Holiday Career & Lifestyle Fair.

"This event offers the opportunity for job seekers to meet face-to-face with employers to learn what opportunities are available for them and the best way to proceed with the application process.”

Admission to the fair for attendees and exhibitors is free. For more information on being an exhibitor, contact Lisa Soltis at 540-853-1694, e-mail, Web site

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Red Sox Hire Dennis Robarge as Sales Head

The Salem Red Sox, the Advanced Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox have announced the hiring of Dennis Robarge as the team’s new Director of Sales. Robarge, a 26-year veteran of professional sports, will oversee all areas of ticket, hospitality and corporate sales.

If the name seems familiar to Salem baseball fans it is because this isn’t Robarge’s first time around with the franchise. Robarge was the team's assistant GM from 1990 – 1996 and played a key role in the team’s move to the then-Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium. Some will recall Robarge as the President of the NBA Development League Roanoke Dazzle from 2002 – 2006.

From late 1996 to late 2001 Robarge served as General Manager of the Atlanta Dragway of the National Hot Rod Association. In the fall of 2006 Robarge founded More Than a Game Consulting, LLC. For the last three years Robarge’s More Than a Game Consulting successfully helped a variety of businesses, both inside and outside of sports improve their sales and marketing operations.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

White Men in Workplace: A 'Problem'?

Too many companies' diversity and inclusion efforts treat white men as problems that need to be "fixed," instead of partners who need to be engaged, according to "White Men: Enrolling the Dominant Culture in Diversity and Inclusion," a new report issued by the Network of Executive Women, Consumer Products and Retail Industry.

White males, who hold the vast majority of leadership positions in corporate America, are too often misinformed, misunderstood, underestimated or stereotyped, the report concluded. "Successful diversity and inclusion efforts have real bottom-line advantages for every business person," says Alison Kenney Paul, president of the Network of Executive Women and a principal at Deloitte LLP. "But not enough white men are given the opportunity to both understand their role in diversity as well as participate as partner in the solution. Diversity programs often miss the chance to enroll white men in the process. "

Many white men do not appreciate the hidden advantages granted by their gender and skin color or understand the invisible barriers faced by women and people of color, the report noted. An online survey last August of 635 NEW members and supporters revealed nearly eight in 10 believe white men have an advantage in hiring and promotions in the consumer products and retail industry.

Thirty-seven percent believe white men have a clear advantage, while another 40 percent believe white men have "somewhat" of an advantage. The remaining 23 percent believe "the playing field is level."

Seventy percent of survey respondents, all affiliated with the consumer products and retail industry, were white women. Sixteen percent were nonwhite or Latinas , 12 percent were white males and 1 percent of respondents were nonwhite or Latinos.

Nearly half (45 percent) of NEW survey respondents believe the performance of white men on diversity and inclusion issues in their organization "needs improvement." Nearly as many (42 percent), however, rated white men's performance in this area as "good."

Another 9 percent believe white men's performance in their organization's diversity/inclusion efforts is "excellent," while 4 percent rate their performance as "poor." One way to help white men better identify with their diverse colleagues, the report says, is to educate them about their own diverse characteristics, such as ethnic heritage, age, religion, veteran status and political views. This approach moves their perspective from white/black and male/female and encourages a better understanding of the multicultural and multigenerational workplace. That leads to more open communication, stronger teamwork, more creative solutions to business issues and greater input from diverse perspectives.

Only 5 percent of NEW survey respondents believe the consumer products and retail industry is doing an "excellent" job at implementing diversity and inclusion as a business strategy. More than half (53 percent) believes the industry is doing a "good" job.

Nearly 40 percent, however, said the industry "needs improvement" in regard to diversity and inclusion efforts. Another 2 percent believe the industry's implementation of diversity and inclusion programs is "poor."

(This thoughtful Facebook response to the post from Shawn Tickle: To even mention the kind of privilege enjoyed by Roman Senators in the same discussion as the current position of white men in our society is at best a bad joke; at worst, an insult. Take a careful look at the stats in institutions of higher education some time. Those aged about 50 or 60 are almost all white men; those aged under 50 are almost all... Read More female, minority, or both at the same time. I have seen this phenomenon with my own eyes at several institutions. All of my white, male friends with PhDs are either unemployed or working outside their fields of study. I am lucky; I get to teach college-level English classes to advanced High Schools students. If I had finished my dissertation, I would probably be unemployable myself.”)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Roanoke Medical Practices Plan To Merge

Physicians with Roanoke Orthopaedic Center and Carilion Bone and Joint will join to form a new practice, Carilion Clinic – Orthopaedics, March 1, 2010.

“Several years ago we approached Carilion about ways to advance the practice of orthopaedics in the region,” says Dr. Hugh Hagan. “Together we can create a regional referral center for orthopaedic care.”

“We already have a common vision for the future of orthopaedics in the region, and our commitment to service and excellence in patient care,” says Carilion Bone and Joint physician Dr. Thomas Shuler. “Forming a new, comprehensive practice is the best way to move that vision forward.”

Carilion Clinic – Orthopaedics builds a comprehensive and accomplished orthopaedic center. The practice will be:
  • Devoted to excellence in patient care involving musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.
  • The only orthopaedic center in the region to provide a full-range of services; joint replacement and reconstruction; arthroplasty and sports medicine; spine, fracture and trauma care; hand and microvascular surgery; foot and ankle surgery ;and pediatric orthopaedics.
  • Part of Carilion Clinic’s patient-centered philosophy, building an integrated care program alongside colleagues in neurosurgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and trauma surgery.
  • Dedicated to medical education and research, utilizing the synergy and common focus provided by the Virginia Tech Carilion School of medicine and Research Institute, Carilion Clinic – Orthopaedics to expand medical education and research to focus on developing new technologies and treatments.
  • Focused on the future, continuing to develop physician recruitment strategies that will ensure the future availability of needed services to the community, remaining on the leading edge of musculoskeletal care.
The physicians of Carilion Clinic – Orthopaedics will continue to see patients at the current ROC location on Postal Drive and at 3 Riverside, located in Carilion’s Riverside Center at the corner of Jefferson Street and Reserve Avenue.

(From press release.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

GridPoint Buys ADMMicro of Roanoke

A recent celebration at ADMMicro^

Some of ADMMicro's products^

ADMMicro was recently host to candidate Bill Bolling (above); Don Howell (right)>

GridPoint, Inc., a smart grid company, has acquired Roanoke-based ADMMicro, an energy management systems organization serving the commercial and industrial sector. The acquisition extends GridPoint’s service potential to a broader customer base.

The company hopes to transform the distribution and consumption of electricity. “The smart grid cannot be fully realized without integrating intelligent facilities that are equipped to automatically achieve optimum efficiency,” says Peter L. Corsell, CEO, GridPoint.

“Our companies have a closely aligned vision, which involves empowering our customers with visibility and control over energy consumption in order to realize savings and lower their carbon footprint,” says Don Howell, CEO, ADMMicro.

“ADMMicro is an innovative company that has established a leading position in a rapidly expanding market segment. Our respective technologies are highly complementary and will benefit producers and consumers of electricity across the board.”

ADMMicro helps clients manage their facilities to increase energy efficiency. ADMMicro’s energy management and submetering systems automatically monitor and control energy consumption, including HVAC systems and lighting, and provide customers with online reports.

ADMMicro’s commercial/industrial systems, which are in use at thousands of sites nationwide, will work with GridPoint’s portfolio of software solutions, which aggregate and manage distributed sources of load, storage and generation for utilities and their residential customers. GridPoint’s software allows utilities to efficiently balance supply and demand and improve grid reliability and empowers consumers with user-friendly tools to manage energy consumption.

The utility market remains a core focus for GridPoint, which will continue to develop products and services that redefine relationships between utilities and their customers. For example, the extension of GridPoint’s solutions into the C&I market creates new opportunities for utilities to engage enterprise customers in demand response and load reduction programs.

Howell and ADMMicro’s management team are veteran electrical engineers and utility executives who have worked in the fields of energy management, building management, electrical power monitoring, and retail operations for more than 25 years. ADMMicro has been featured in Fortune magazine and was recognized with a 2009 Rising Star Award by the NewVA Corridor Technology Council, which serves the growing technology industry in the region encompassing Roanoke, Blacksburg and surrounding counties.

(From press releases.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scenes From the Green Living Expo

Al Steed of AMSOIL takes time for his granddaughter Heather Meikle, who's nearly 3^

Liz Belcher of Roanoke Valley Greenways explains how they work to Ken Cabay^

Cars dot the floor of the exhibition hall, none of them traditional internal combustion engine vehicles^

Pete Krull of Krull & Company helps people invest their money in green technologies and other ethical ventures^

Stacy Hairfield, publisher of Natural Awakenings magazine, and her son, Noah, investigate wind power at Chesapeake Renewable Energy's booth^

Clean Valley Council (Anne Masters and Laura Wasko sitting) draws an active crowd^

The crowd is large and lively today at the Green Energy Expo at the Roanoke Civic Center, which has reached a level of maturity many of us only hoped for a few years ago when it started as what Rush Limbaugh might have called "a gathering of waco-environmentalists."

Those wack-os are now mainstream business people who have seen the benefit of bottom lines boosted by energy efficiency and environmentally friendly technology. The Expo reflects the maturity of the movement and has vendors showing their wares in a variety of areas from investing to wind energy.

Come by our booth near the back wall if you have time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Best Political Blog Around

Roanoke Times Editor Dwayne Yancey's local/state election blog is a must-read. Dwayne, who spent years covering Virginia politics and wrote When Hell Froze Over about Doug Wilder's unlikely win of the state lieutenant governorship in 1989, has considerable insight on how Virginia politics works (or doesn't work, as we saw Tuesday) and he's about as neutral as a veteran reporter can be.

Dwayne is the guy I always point to when I talk about how well reporters dress. He's the very personification of haute couture among the journalistic elite. You can see him coming blocks away in that calf-length woolen trench coat, frayed muffler, fop hat that has fopped one two many times, glasses from the early 1970s and hair that I swear was combed once and possibly even cut at one time or another. "There's something soothing about walking into the newsroom and seeing Dwayne looking the way he always looks," a Times reporter told me recently. "I just love the guy."

Dwayne's also one of the city's better playrights, having worked with No Shame Theater for several years. His "A Nice Relaxing Cup of Tea," performed recently at Studio Roanoke, was simply superb.

And you'll love the blog if you're a political wonk. It's here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CAER Center Going Up in Bedford County

The Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER) will break ground on its new research and education center on Friday, November 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the New London Business and Technology Center in Bedford.

Funding for the 25,000 square foot research center was provided through a $7.6 million economic development grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. Bedford County provided the land and helped to underwrite some of land planning costs and site preparation at the 500-acre business park.

The park is just off of Rt. 460 West in eastern Bedford County. ”Bedford County has a proactive approach to economic development and the New London Business and Technology Center provides an optimum location for continued growth," says Bedford County Administrator Kathleen Guzi.

”The CAER represents just the type of innovation envisioned for the park and we anticipate great things from the facility and future tenants.”

The CAER provides a central point for applied research, product development, commercialization, and professional training, in collaboration with local companies, research universities, federal laboratories and other partners.

”The CAER has been instrumental in arranging partnerships in our community that lead directly to new jobs,” says Jim Hicks, VP Business Development at AREVA NP and Chairman of the CAER Board. ”It is uniquely positioned to understand the capabilities of the university community and to match those with the needs of local industry.”

According to Bob Bailey, executive director for the CAER, research at the facility will be focused in four major areas that are complimentary to the region’s key industries.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Centra Wins Prestigious Awards

Patti McCue>

Centra Lynchburg General has been named a 2009 Medal of Honor recipient for organ donations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and LifeNet Health. Centra received the award recently at the National Learning Congress in Grapevine, Texas.

The congress brings together the best organ donor hospitals, transplant centers and organ procurement organizations in the country. Centra Lynchburg General was honored during a special recognition ceremony for the commitment of health care professionals and physicians to help save lives through organ donation.

“Being able to work with families through organ donation to give the gift of life to someone else is one of the most rewarding experiences of our profession,” says Patti S. McCue, Centra chief nursing officer and senior vice president. “I am proud of our health care professionals and their national achievement in organ donation.”

Lynchburg General received this prestigious award for achieving outstanding rates of organ donation, and the hospital was honored for its ongoing support and dedication to organ and tissue donation.