Friday, May 28, 2010

Partners Marketing Bridgewater Pointe at SML

The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties are partnering with the Atlas Companies to market the once-troubled Bridgewater Pointe, a gated luxury waterfront community offering 48 three- and four-bedroom condominiums at Smith Mountain Lake.

Prudential Waterfront Properties will be accepting contracts from 10 a.m., Saturday, June 5, through 5 p.m. Saturday, June 26.

Acceptable contracts will be entered into a lottery sale with a drawing and brunch on Sunday, June 27, at The Waterfront Country Club. Contracts will require a $5,000 deposit with special BB&T financing options available to qualified buyers.

Says Ron Willard, president of The Willard Companies, “This will truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a luxury waterfront condo at Smith Mountain Lake. The timing is perfect with such attractive pricing on a top of the line quality product.”

Starting at $199,500, Bridgewater Pointe, a maintenance-free community, offers three different architectural plans to choose from. The condos, ranging from 1,685–2,294 square feet and quality appointments.

There are eight penthouse units. Bridgewater Pointe features two reserved covered parking spaces per unit owner. A swimming pool and pavilion area will open later this summer. In addition, purchasers can join The Waterfront Country Club with no initiation fee.

Don Foust, executive vice president of Atlas, says, “The Willard companies in succession has developed The Waterfront, The Water’s Edge, The Boardwalk, Westlake Towne Center and their most recent residential project, The Farm. Willard’s real estate company, Prudential Waterfront Properties, has been an established leader in selling premier lake properties since it was founded in 1987. The company has been associated with thousands of families across the country who have purchased lake-front property for their retirement, as a second home, or as a primary residence.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New River Voice Region's First Non-Profit Publication

Nonprofit journalism has been a growing trend nationwide, and now non-profit journalism has come to the New River Valley. This week, Freedom Foundation of Southwest Virginia (FFSWVA) received its 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service and is now a nonprofit community organization ready to accept tax-exempt donations.

This step forward for the FFSWVA will allow it to support the online publication called the New River Voice. New River Voice Editor Tim W. Jackson says it has been a goal for quite a while to move to non-profit journalism.

We hope that our new affiliation with the Freedom Foundation of Southwest Virginia will allow the New River Voice to become the model of small-market, non-profit journalism in the United States,” Jackson says. “We are looking forward to expanding our coverage and being the kind of news organization that this area deserves.”

The connection between the FFSWVA and New River Voice is a positive move for journalism in the area. Russ Walker, Elections Editor at Yahoo! News as well as a member of the Voice Editorial Advisory Board says, “I’m excited about the work NRV will be doing. It, along with a handful of nonprofit startups across the country, is paving a new way forward for journalism—one that’s not mourning the past but instead embraces the future.”

Dan Smith agrees. “I believe it is vital, especially in areas not fully served by large news organizations, that a new form of journalism be encouraged to grow and prosper,” says Smith, Editor and Founder of Roanoke-based Valley Business FRONT, and a member of the Voice Editorial Advisory Board. “Help may be on the way in the form of independent, online, nonprofit publications that don’t depend on Kroger’s Thursday advertising of weekend specials to pay the bills.”

Jackson, who just returned from the Knight Digital Media Center News Entrepreneur Boot Camp at the University of Southern California, says there was a lot of talk in Los Angeles about the growing trend and value of non-profit news as well as the importance of investigative journalism and community news.

Jackson says, “I’m excited because it indicates that journalism and business professionals on a national level have faith in what we are doing and the direction we’re heading with the New River Voice. We truly want to be a voice for the community, and we hope the community will support us in that endeavor.”

Opera Roanoke Appoints New Artistic Director

Scott Williamson (left) will become the Opera Roanoke’s general and artistic director, beginning in June, replacing Steven White (above), who has served as artistic director for the last several years. White will remain as artistic advisor and principal guest conductor.

An experienced conductor and operatic tenor, Scott Williamson is a familiar figure to Opera Roanoke audiences. For more than a decade he has served in a variety of important artistic capacities, including associate conductor, chorus-master and production manager. As a singer he has appeared in more than a dozen Opera Roanoke productions.

Roger Dalton, president of the board of trustees of Opera Roanoke, says the move was a recognition of White’s increasingly busy schedule away from Roanoke, including 25 weeks next season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. “Scott Williamson is the obvious and ideal choice to maintain artistic continuity and provide dynamic leadership as we move into the future,” Dalton says.

“I could not be more enthusiastic about the company’s decision to bring Scott Williamson to Roanoke,” says White. “While Scott’s artistic prowess speaks for itself, his on-the-ground leadership will be a big boost to the company. I know of nobody who can more persuasively make the case for the necessity of opera in Southwest Virginia. And I believe the community will respond.”

Williamson has a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Maryland, as well as degrees from Westminster Choir College and James Madison University. He has taught on the faculty of Washington and Lee University. He also serves as the artistic director of the Virginia Chorale in Norfolk. As general and artistic Director, Williamson will be responsible for all aspects of Opera Roanoke’s operations. The announcement comes as the company prepares for the 2010-2011 season, featuring a fully-staged and costumed production of "Madama Butterfly."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hotel Roanoke Wins Four Top Awards

The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center (above) has earned top awards from the Doubletree Corporation with its Pride Award, Hospitality Award of Excellence, House Keeping Award of Excellence and Food and Beverage Award of Excellence.

The hotel’s employees will celebrate the awards with a Carnival of CARE celebration in the Roanoke Ballroom Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. More than 220 Doubletree properties around the world were assessed and evaluated for these awards.

Katherine Walker Presented Hollins Medal

Clark Baruch of the Hollins Board of Trustees presents the Hollins Medal to Katherine Walker. President Nancy Gray is at the left.^

Hollins University has presented Katherine Fralin Walker of Roanoke the Hollins Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed by the school. She was recognized during Hollins’ 168th Commencement Exercises, Sunday.

The Hollins Medal is awarded “for distinction, service to Hollins University and to women’s life and education in general.” In 2001, Walker was one of the catalysts in establishing the Batten Leadership Institute, a unique leadership program designed to give undergraduate students the self-awareness and executive leadership training to work with a variety of people and organizations. As the institute’s founding director, she provided the essential vision and expertise to guide the program, which enables Hollins students to complement their majors with a Certificate of Leadership Studies, a combination of classes, skill-building groups, seminars, and student-designed, team-based leadership projects.

As of Spring 2010, ninety-three students have graduated from the program. Walker recognized a need for leadership development in the community at large and helped expand the institute’s service in 2006 to include local businesses and organizations.

Women in the Roanoke area can now receive innovative training opportunities through the institute’s year-long Certificate in Professional Leadership program. To date, more than 60 women have gone through the program.

“Katherine has brought distinction to our campus through her exemplary efforts to make Hollins synonymous with women’s leadership,” says Hollins President Nancy Gray.

In addition to her role in leadership training at Hollins, Walker has served as a founding board member with the Roanoke Women’s Foundation, which has financially supported a number of organizations including the Craig County Health Center, St. Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation, and the Second Harvest Food Bank; as a trustee with North Cross School; as the host of a weekly series of discussions designed to facilitate leadership in grassroots initiatives for the Roanoke community; and as a force behind the Kirk Avenue Music Hall, whose proceeds go to support the Downtown Music Lab in its outreach to talented and deserving youth.

Roanoke Region Leads Nation in College Students Per Capita

Roanoke College is one of the region's top-notch liberal arts colleges.^

Within an hour’s drive of the Roanoke region are nearly 90,000 undergraduate students at 19 institutions of higher learning, from liberal arts colleges to the state’s largest research university.

That gives the region the most undergraduate students per capita of any locality in the U.S. Two additional schools are graduate-only institutions. With a total population an hour in any direction from downtown Roanoke of more than 833,000, that means a per-capital undergraduate college student ratio of 0.108.

By comparison, the San Francisco Bay comes in at 0.060, with the Research Triangle at 0.057 and Boston-Cambridge and Austin tied at 0.049. Richmond comes in at .047.

“The Roanoke region is surrounded by some of Virginia’s, and the nation’s, most recognized colleges and universities,” says Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, which tracks data about business and quality-of-life issues. “While many people from the region choose the local colleges and universities for higher education, these institutions also attract diverse student populations from around the United States and the world who enjoy easy access to the outdoors and a vibrant arts scene.”

The colleges and universities in the region are:
  • Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg;
  • Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Low Moor;
  • Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (graduate only), Blacksburg;
  • Ferrum College, Ferrum;
  • Hollins University, Roanoke;
  • Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke;
  • Liberty University, Lynchburg;
  • National College, Roanoke;
  • New River Community College, Dublin;
  • Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville;
  • Radford University, Radford;
  • Randolph College, Lynchburg;
  • Roanoke College, Salem;
  • Skyline College (formerly ECPI), Roanoke;
  • Southern Virginia University, Buena Vista;
  • Virginia Military Institute, Lexington;
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (graduate), Roanoke;
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg;
  • Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke;
  • Washington & Lee University, Lexington.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NBA's Philadelphia 76ers To Play Here in October

UPDATE: The Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets will play the first preseason professional basketball game at the Roanoke Civic Center in 13 years when the two teams tip-off on Tuesday, October 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets will go on sale on Saturday, May 22 at 10 a.m. exclusively through, by phone at 1-877-HTB-TIXNOW or in person at the Roanoke Civic Center ticket office.

Global Spectrum, operator of the Roanoke Civic Center, is a subsidiary of 76ers parent company Comcast-Spectacor, and was able to secure the preseason game for the Civic Center. The last preseason game at the Roanoke Civic Center was in October 1997, when the then Charlotte Hornets met the Detroit Pistons.

“This is a very exciting time for basketball fans in the City of Roanoke to see some of the premiere players in the sport right here in Roanoke," said Global Spectrum's Chris Connolly, General Manager of the Roanoke Civic Center. “Being part of the Comcast-Spectacor Family of Companies provides us with a wealth of opportunities, one of which is to have the Philadelphia 76ers play right here in Roanoke.”

"Global Spectrum is committed to the Roanoke Civic Center and we will continue to seek opportunities to provide the ultimate sports and entertainment experience to our residents," added Connolly.

City Manager Stresses Preservation at Awards Event

Roanoke City manager Chris Morrill talks to the Preservation Foundation tonight.^

Crowd listens as awards are presented.^

View from inside the Anstey Hodge Agency, a preservation award winner for renovating an old filling station.^

George Kegley presents the Golden Bulldozer Award (on the podium) to Greene Memorial United Methodist Church.^

Award winners Mark (left) and John Garland (right) chatted with Pete Larkin and former State Senator Granger Macfarlane. Foundation President Mike Kennedy talks (below).^

Story and Photos by DAN SMITH

New Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill, who left a job in Savannah, Ga., Ground Zero for Southern preservation efforts in recent years, told a crowd of Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation members tonight that "preservation does not have to be old and stodgy. It can be cool and sexy, like this building."

He was referring to one of the foundation's award winners (the entire list is here), the Ansty Hodge advertising agency, which is now housed in a renovated filling station, where the ceremony was held. Morrill called the renovation of old buildings "the highest form of recycling" and suggested that "we must change the national dialogue about what preservation is."

Morrill offered several recommendations to help accomplish foundation goals for preserving as much of Roanoke's history as possible. "You have to concentrate on your circle of influence, rather than your circle of concern," he said, quoting Stephen Covey. "Do what you can do and grow it. Promote preservation as an economic development tool. Organizations like yours should pick manageable projects that can be done; look for a revolving fund" and finish them.

Most important, he says, "is to remain optimistic."

The Preservation Awards event helps highlight some of the contributions important renovation projects and individuals have made in the Roanoke Valley during the past year. Those awards, says the foundation's George Kegley, help focus on what can and should be done to save some of the area's diminishing resources.

(Dan Smith is a member of the Preservation Foundation board of directors.)

Virginia Colleges Form Health Care Consortium

Hollins University is part of the consortium.^

The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) has formed a benefits health care benefits consortium, designed to keep health care affordable. CICV, an association of Virginia non-profit private colleges, formed the program after studying similar efforts in a handful of states where private colleges have formed similar consortia.

The members are: Bluefield College, Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Ferrum College, Hampden-Sydney College, Hollins University, Lynchburg College, Mary Baldwin College, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Sweet Briar College and Virginia Intermont College.

CICV is the only organization in Virginia authorized by the Virginia General Assembly to operate a self-insured plan of this type. “This unique partnership shows that private colleges are serious about health care cost containment and good stewardship of tuition dollars and contributions,” said Robert Lambeth, CICV president.

“Quality employee benefit plans also serve to attract the best faculty and staff to private colleges in Virginia so that we can continue to provide the finest liberal arts education available anywhere in the country.”

Twelve CICV colleges united after eight years of research and planning to form the consortium. With 3,000 employees at the 12 institutions, the consortium can achieve more flexibility in medical plan design, enhanced benefits, more effective cost controls, greater presence in the health care marketplace, and the stability that comes with being part of a larger risk pool. The consortium will be able to use the extensive data available to a self-insured program to gain a better understanding of health care issues that are driving costs and help member colleges mitigate those costs.

In addition to lowered insurance costs, the consortium board will try to reduce demands on the health care system through the implementation of wellness programs.

KSPH, a Richmond benefits consulting firm, provides consulting services to the consortium. After extensive research and a competitive bid process, the consortium contracted with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to administer health care coverage for 2010. Anthem brings a network of providers and claims management experience to the consortium. The benefits consortium has recently hired Tim Klopfenstein, FSA, CERA as executive director.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaching Them To Edit Their Photos

Valley Business FRONT Publisher Tom Field (outlined against the screen) taught a full house of students at the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge tonight in his photo editing class. The class is the first of three that will be presented for two more months (two classes) in the Writers Workshop Series. Students ranged from writers to musicians and even two former bankers.

Field strongly stressed that photo editing is as important as shooting the photos in the first place with today's digital cameras.

LeClairRyan Celebrates Morse's Chairmanship

Clinton Morse chats with Roanoke Chamber President Joyce Waugh earlier tonight.^

LeClairRyan in Roanoke held a celebration tonight for shareholder Clinton Morse, who was named in January chairman of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

In his new role, Morse will lead the Virginia Chamber’s aggressive advocacy efforts to spur job creation and economic growth in the Commonwealth.

"Clint adds a wealth of knowledge and experience to the leadership of the Virginia Chamber as we work to renew our state economy," says Hugh Keogh, president and CEO. "As one of Virginia’s leading labor and employment attorneys, he is a passionate and highly effective proponent of a probusiness environment that will create economic growth and well paying jobs."

Morse joined the board in 2004 and also served as Chair of the Chamber’s Management Relations Committee. He has since served as first vice chairman and vice chairman for Southwest Virginia on the Chamber’s executive committee.

Fitzpatrick Designs In the City T-Shirt

Roanoke Artist Eric Fitzpatrick has designed the shirt for this year’s In the City T-shirt Day. Fitzpatrick produced the print for Downtown Roanoke’s 50th Anniversary. In the City T-Shirt Day is an annual event celebrating everyone who works in downtown. Official celebration day is Friday, June 18.

Order forms are available here. You can also call 342-2028 x11 for more information.

Hershberger McDonalds sold for $1.3 Million

If you’ve ever wondered what a McDonald’s restaurant costs, here’s the answer: $1.3 million. That’s what the Puglisi Family LLC paid Fairway Roanoke for the McDonalds restaurant on Hershberger Road in Roanoke.

Jake Copty of Thalhimer, who handled the sale, made the announcement today. Copty says there will be no changes.

Todd Conner of Thalhimer also announced the sale of North Roanoke Plaza on Peters Creek Road in Roanoke for $917,500. The center has 16,000 square feet and is a retail strip.

HomeTown Bank Declares 10 Percent Dividend

Roanoke-based HomeTown Bankshares Corporation announced at its annual shareholder’s meeting that the Board of Directors voted to declare a 10 percent stock dividend.

The dividend will be paid to shareholders of record as of June 18, 2010 and will be paid on July 19, 2010. The dividend will increase shares outstanding by approximately 294,500.

William R. Rakes, Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors, said, “In declaring the stock dividend, the Board of Directors wants to recognize and reward the loyalty and confidence of its ownership base. This dividend is evidence of our belief in the strength of our Company and our faith in the communities we serve.”

Susan K. Still, president and CEO, told the shareholders, “As we approach our first five years of operation, we are very pleased with the progress of HomeTown Bankshares Corporation, particularly in such a difficult economy. This progress has been realized due to the outstanding support of our customers and shareholders, as well as the commitment of our employees and the dedication of our board of directors.”

Shareholders elected eight directors to serve terms of up to three years. The directors elected are William R. Rakes, Susan K. Still, George B. Cartledge, Jr., Warner Dalhouse, Victor F. Foti, Daniel D. Hamrick, Edward G. Murphy and James M. Turner, Jr.

HomeTown Bankshares Corporation is the holding company of HomeTown Bank. The Bank serves the Roanoke and New River Valleys and Smith Mountain Lake through five branches and a loan production office.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tech Developing Counterterrorism Courses

Joshua Sinai (right) recently joined the Center for Technology, Security and Policy as associate professor/research where he will lead a team of seasoned former government practitioners and academic experts in developing new courses on terrorism and counterterrorism analysis at Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region campus.

The courses will consist of in-class and on-line distance-learning classes, offering practitioner-based, cutting-edge learning opportunities for students. Sinai, an expert on terrorism, counterterrorism, and intelligence analysis, brings more than 25 years of experience in government and the corporate sector, publishing, and teaching at the graduate level.

Most recently, Sinai supported the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterterrorism Division as a National Security and Policy Advisor, working as a contractor on behalf of his former company, The Analysis Corporation (Global TAC/GTEC).

In 2004-05, Sinai worked at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, where he managed a project on the social and behavioral components of terrorism, including assessing the impact of terrorist attacks on society. While at DHS, Sinai served on a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) interagency working group, which produced a report in March 2005 on the contribution of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences to counterterrorism. He also served on the DHS team that developed the solicitation and evaluated proposals to create a new university center on these issues.

Upon successful completion of the curriculum, students will receive a Virginia Tech certificate in counterterrorism analysis. Additional in-class courses are being planned, as well. Sinai will continue his past work in developing a suite of social science-based tool kits to aid the academic, policy, and operational communities in analyzing a spectrum of terrorism-related areas, such as root causes, radicalization, forecasting warfare, and resolving protracted terrorist conflicts.

Preservation Foundation Honors 13; Gives Church Bulldozer Award


Hannabass & Rowe.^

Interactive Achievement.^

Mill Mountain Tollhouse.^

The Sanctuary.^

The Windsor Apartments.^

Interactive Design's Fire Station No. 3.^

Ansty Hodge relocated in an old filling station.^

This is the lush Salem garden, reminiscent of WWII's Victory Gardens.^

The old Roanoke Photo was destroyed within the past few days and won Green Memorial a Bulldozer Award.^

Thirteen awards for preservation practices and a Bulldozer Award for razing a noteworthy downtown Roanoke structure will be presented by the Preservation Foundation of Roanoke Valley at an annual event Wednesday at the Ansty Hodge Advertising Agency in Roanoke (a winner of one of the awards).

The Bulldozer Award is for the demolition of the former Downtown Learning Center/Roanoke Camera Shop (RoPho) building owned by Greene Memorial United Methodist Church. The 74-year-old structure was placed on the Endangered Sites listing by the Foundation last year.

Once the site of a bicycle shop, a photo finishing business and later a child care center, the building was designed in the Streamline Moderne style, a later variety of Art Deco. It was a contributing building in the Downtown Historic District.

Foundation President Michael Kennedy says, “It’s a pity to lose such a distinctive building. It had a good structure and could have been rehabbed into any number of purposes.” It is likely to become a parking lot.

The primary purpose of the Foundation’s annual awards is to raise public awareness of the value of restoring and reusing older structures and to encourage stewardship and recognize the work of individual preservation efforts.

The preservation award winners are:
Anstey-Hodge Advertising Group, Interactive Design Group, Interactive Achievement, Hanabass & Rowe and The Sanctuary, all adaptive reuse; Mill Mountain Tollhouse and Windsor Apartments, restoration; Barfield, rehabilitation; Salem garden, heritage; Bedford County slave history, education; Florine Thornhill (posthumous), lifetime achievement; Ed Barnett (posthumous), education; and Dr. John Kern, education.

Anstey Hodge firm used historic tax credits to renovate the former Sunoco service station, built in 1950. Located along the Lick Run Greenway on the edge of the Gainsboro neighborhood, the building has also been used by a tire firm and two car-detailing companies.

Interactive Design Group, an architecture firm, occupied the former Fire Station No. 3 at 301 6th Street, in September. The station was used by city firemen from April 12, 1909, to April 15, 2007. Interactive Design had an internal competition to select a design for the historic building. To keep the exterior much as it was in 1909, they replaced front garage bay doors with fixed wooden carriage style doors matching early 1900s designs.

Interactive Achievement, a software company helping teachers gauge student performance on Virginia Standards of Learning, is located in a 1936 building at 601 Campbell Ave., once used by Whaley Brothers Motorcycles, Butterfield Cycle and Delmar Photography. Features of the renovation are a restored two-story store-front, re-creation of an interior mezzanine and retention of a garage door and interior sliding fire door. Jon Hagmaier and his wife, Mary, with two friends started the company in a former motorcycle shop and finally completed renovations early this year.

Hannabass & Rowe was built as a 1932 Art Deco service station with an attached 1943 garage located at 419 Salem Ave., a commercial building in the Salem Avenue/Roanoke Automotive Commercial Historic District. Recently renovated by Key Churchill and two partners, the building has adaptive reuse as a records imaging and storage business.. From its use as an automotive body shop, the restored commercial business will enhance the corner property in an evolving residential/commercial property.

The Sanctuary at 1217 Maple Ave., was built as a church in 1926 and evolved into offices and showroom for Bowles Nelson Powers interior design firm from 1982 to 2009. The building was converted into an assembly space on the main level and mezzanine, with offices on the basement level. The sanctuary will be used for luncheons, weddings, receptions and music events.

The Mill Mountain Tollhouse dates from 1924 when the toll road opened with a charge of 25 cents per car. It was recently restored by a joint effort of the City Parks and Recreation Department and a grassroots fund-raising effort.

Windsor Apartments at 2049 Windsor Ave. in the Raleigh Court area, was purchased and restored by John Garland and his sons, Mark and Aaron Garland, last year. The 16-unit, English Tudor Revival building, constructed in 1928, is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The two-story, stone, brick, half-timbering and stucco building is U-shaped with a courtyard plaza containing stone-paved sidewalks, stone walls, historic post lights and two decorative pools. The building and materials are almost completely original.

Barfield at 2147 Mountain View Road east of Vinton, was listed by the foundation as an endangered site in 2001 when it was known as the Fred Gross home, built in 1864. Owners Lance and DaEva Copperman said they wanted to keep the original character of the two-story farmhouse. They kept the pine floors, original walls, brick from three chimneys and refinished the siding. They are adding a side porch.

Virgil "Bo" Childress, a retired state trooper, works a clean garden in west Salem, typical of family “victory gardens,” more popular as the result of the recession and demand for fresh organic produce grown nearby. His model garden produces quality tomatoes, corn, squash, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, cantaloupes and watermelons and his 20 fruit trees produce cherries, plums, pears, apples and peaches.

Descendants of Roderick Higginbotham of Tyalor's Mountain, Bedford County, Virginia is the title of a remarkable genealogy compiled by B. R. Shrader, a Bedford land surveyor. Shrader worked for almost 20 years, researching nearly 1,000 people spanning 10 generations with over 200 surnames. Roderick Higginbotham, 1815-1885, was a slave sold to James Higginbotham for $615. In 1878, after he was freed, Roderick Higginbotham bought 102 acres on Taylor’s Mountain, east of Montvale. Shrader’s research has added significant historical data about a lost community.

Edward Barnett, a Botetourt County native who died last October, left a meticulous collection of notes and documents preserving the history of black communities in Roanoke and Botetourt. He was 69. The first African-American graduate of James River High School, he served in the Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa, studied at the University of Virginia Architecture School and earned a master’s degree at Harvard University School of Design. He practiced architecture in Valdosta, Ga., Beckley, W. Va. and Richmond. He started his own firm in Roanoke and later worked for RRMM Architects in Roanoke.

Florine Thornhill, who died in April, was a leader in cleaning up blighted conditions in the Gilmer Avenue neighborhood of Northwest Roanoke. She started with a church dinner and enlisted volunteers to clean up lots and mow lawns, leading to the formation of the Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization. During her 17 years as president of the environmental organization, the group renovated almost a score of houses and built several more.

Dr. John Kern recently retired as director of the Roanoke Regional Preservation Office of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources after opening the office and leading it for 20 years. An historian who earned a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin and worked in preservation in Michigan, Delaware and other places, Kern has a special interest in African-American history. His research has helped preserve black heritage in the Gainsboro neighborhood, Henry, Bedford and Rockbridge counties and other areas of western Virginia.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Smith Mountain Lake Movie Gets Go-Ahead

Sara Elizabeth Timmins (above), an opening night speaker at the 2010 Roanoke Regional Writers Conference, has the green light on her movie, "Lake Effects," which will be shot at Smith Mountain Lake, near Roanoke, later this year. She had intended to film the movie last fall, but funding fell short. She has worked intensely since then to secure full funding and she now has it, she says.

Says Sara (who was featured in FRONT last summer): “I am honored to have such a wonderful group of investors and for the abundance of community support over the last year.”

The flmmakers (LifeOutLoud Films) will now move on to attaching recognizable talent, a key elementin the film’s success, and continue working with the community. “Without this community 'Lake Effects' would not be possible," says Sara, "and so we will continue to promote local businesses, incorporate Virginia professionals and encourage people to participate hands on in the creation of this film which will showcase the beauty of this region.”

There are many ways for the community to get involved, Sara says. “We are looking for people who have significant frequent flyer miles that want to sponsor a cast or crew members flight, restaurants that want to cater a few meals on set in exchange for advertising and, of course, we will need tons of volunteers and extras.”

says anyone who is interested in getting involved, receiving the newsletter or making a resource or service donation to sign up on the Life Out Loud Films website here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stanley Reportedly Closing Martinsvllle Factory

Stanley Furniture Company, which is headquartered near Martinsville, plans to close its factory between October and December and has laid off 530 workers. The company laid off 190 workers in recent weeks and said at the time of those layoffs that they would help solidify it.

Stanley had a $19 million loss in the first quarter of 2010 and officials say they have "held on as long as we could," according to a report on WDBJ7. Net sales for 2009 were down 29 percent, more than $11 million. The factory will become a Stanley warehouse and some of its jobs in one line are expected to be sent overseas to vendors while others of the remaining 200 or so will be sent to its Robbinsville, N.C., plant.

Stanley blames the deep recession and competition from overseas furniture makers for its failure.

Region 2000 Honors Tech Companies

Technology Award winners are, left to right: Tom Spitnale of ABS Technology Architects (Tech Company of the Year), Oliver Kuttner of Team Edison2 for “The Very Light Car” (Innovator of the Year), and Marcia Yochum, Virginia Episcopal School physics teacher (Educator of the Year.)

Virginia’s Region 2000 Technology Council honored two companies and one individual that has made outstanding contributions in the tech sector this past year at its Ninth Annual Awards Night held Tuesday in Lynchburg.

This year’s technology award winners are:

Innovator of the Year
: Team Edison2 of Lynchburg was honored for its design and creation of “The Very Light Car,” a sustainable vehicle capable of getting 125 miles to the gallon with no sacrifice to passenger safety. The car is a contender in the $10 million Automotive X-Prize competition and inspires a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon. Team Edison2 owner is Oliver Kuttner.

Technology Company of the Year
: ABS Technology Architects of Lynchburg was awarded for its outstanding tech support to area businesses. The firm is a Cisco Gold Direct Value Added Reseller that opened a new office in downtown Lynchburg in 2009 to support a high volume of clients in the Region 2000 area with advanced technology solutions such as IP Unified Communications, advanced security services, and MESH wireless services. The company, headquartered in Virginia Beach, has achieved the Cisco Channel Customer Satisfaction Excellence rating for eight consecutive years and has grown its revenues from $9.8 million in 2008 to $9.8 million in 2009. Tom Spitnale accepted the award on behalf of the ABS team.

Educator of the Year
: Marcia Yochum, a high school physics teacher and chair of the science department at Virginia Episcopal School, was honored for her achievements in making science and technology education fun and relevant for students. She most recently launched a VEX robotics program at the school in which her passion for education was evident in her team’s display of critical thinking and genuine love for learning at the VEX Regional Tournament held at Liberty University earlier this year. Prior to joining VES, Yochum worked in both the government and private sector as a physicist and engineer. Following the awards ceremony, Tad Deriso, President and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, delivered the keynote address to more than 175 entrepreneurs, educators, and innovators in attendance. Deriso has boosted broadband access to rural communities and raised awareness about the importance of open access fiber networks as an economic value.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Intermet Foundry Gets New Life; 'A Major Win for the New River'

Steven White photo

Virginia Casting Industries plans to create 300 new jobs and invest $9.1 million to establish a ductile iron components manufacturing operation in Radford at the former Intermet New River Foundry facility.

Virginia Casting Industries is a new company owned by the majority owners of Cadillac Casting Inc. Managers and employees laid off by Intermet will be re-hired by Virginia Casting.

Governor McDonnell, who spoke at the announcement, said, “After a significant loss in jobs caused by the closing of Intermet’s Radford facilities, first in 2003 and then this past December, this is a major win for the New River Valley. Intermet made cast-metal components for automotive and commercial vehicle manufacturers, so the facility is fully equipped to meet Virginia Casting Industries’ current needs and allow room for expansion. Not only will this project bring 300 jobs but many of the employees displaced by Intermet’s closing will again be employed.”

As an industry leader in ductile iron castings, Cadillac Casting, Inc. (CCI), headquartered in Michigan, has gained a reputation for developing and manufacturing superior products. Quality and reliability are the company’s top priorities, and CCI strives to keep its products and facility unparalleled in the marketplace for technology advancements and excellence.

"We are extremely excited with our latest investment in Virginia,” said Dan Minor, President & CEO, Virginia Casting Industries. “We were amazed at the support and cooperation of everyone, including the Governor's staff, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency. We thank both DEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency for their help in obtaining the $250,000 stimulus grant for a Targeted Brownfields Assessment at Radford. Brownfields personnel at Virginia DEQ spent 10 months convincing EPA that the grant would help enhance the marketability of the Radford property.

"EPA’s grant made a real difference in our decision to purchase the foundry. There is no doubt, the state of Virginia is committed to attracting investment and is why the state has been named ‘Best State for Business’ for the past four years. We were overwhelmed with support from everyone from the City, State and Federal Government. This is a great facility, with great people.

"The facility and the City has gone through many hardships over the past 10 years, concluding with the plant closure this past December. We are honored to be part of a positive story that we believe these people, city and state so much deserve.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Radford to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $600,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Radford with the project. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide training assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance also provided support for this project.

“We have a great workforce here in the New River Valley that needs these living wage jobs,” said the Radford Economic Development Director Basil Edwards. “After the closing of the foundry in December of last year we knew that finding another operator to take over the facility was going to be a challenge. Being able to reopen this factory so quickly is great news for the local economy and we are excited to welcome Virginia Casting Industries to our industrial community.”

Boxley Acquires Three Concrete Sites

Roanoke-based Boxley, which specializes in construction materials, has acquired P&T Concrete with sites in Wytheville and Marion and W&S Concrete in Abingdon.

This increases Boxley’s operations to a total of 10 active plants and one portable plant. Boxley is operating the Wytheville and Abingdon plants and plans to initiate operations at the Marion plant soon.

The Marion plant ceased operation in 2006. “Boxley chose to use the downtime created by the recession’s reduced business levels to evaluate how we can improve every facet of our organization and position the company for continued growth and longevity,” says Larry Bullock, Boxley’s VP of concrete. “We see tremendous growth potential throughout this region and are pleased to have the opportunity to become a contributing member of these communities.”

Both companies are privately held and the terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Employees were retained at the Wytheville and Abingdon plants.

Each plant’s environmental operations will be evaluated and necessary improvements made to prepare them for Green-Star Certification by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. Boxley’s other eight concrete plants achieved Green-Star Certification in 2009.

Writing Grants for Non-Profits: A Seminar

About 150 people piled into the Dumas Center for Artistic and Cultural Development's auditorium this morning to hear speakers talk about the art and craft of writing grants for non-profits. The seminar was presented by Rutherfoord and The Hanover Insurance Company in Roanoke. The event was intended to provide non-profits with training on how to recognize appropriate grants and introduce strategic planning tools for identifying short and long-term funding needs. The seminar is one of the largest pro-bono services to bring together nonprofits from across the region to address a common challenge. It is scheduled to be presented in several Virginia locations.

Garnett Smith Wins Tech's Highest Honor

Former Advance Auto CEO Garnett E. Smith (right) of Moneta is the recipient of the 2010 William H. Ruffner Medal, Virginia Tech’s highest honor, in recognition of his support of the university.

Smith went up the corporate ladder from assistant store manager in 1962 to president and COO in 1985, and in 1997 became CEO. Advance Auto Parts is the Roanoke Valley’s only Fortune 500 Company. He retired in 2000 as vice chairman of the board.

Smith is a Pulaski native. In 2001, he was named one of Roanoke’s 50 Most Influential People. He has served on the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center Board of Directors as an officer for 35 years, is a former board member of United Way of Roanoke, and he has held every office, including president, in the Pulaski Jaycees.

Smith has been involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Taubman Museum of Art, Goodwill Industries, Virginia Tech, and the American Cancer Society. He was the 1998 Outstanding Philanthropist of the Roanoke Valley,

At Virginia Tech, he served on the Virginia Tech Foundation Board and as a volunteer in various roles for The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future. He contributed to the W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, athletics, University Libraries, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, the Holtzman Alumni Center, and the Skelton Conference Center.

He has targeted endowed scholarships, benefitted capital projects, and provided unrestricted support. He is a Golden Hokie, a Legacy Society member, and a President’s Circle member of the Ut Prosim Society, the university’s most prestigious donor recognition society.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RSO's David Wiley Signs to Stay On

The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor David Stewart Wiley (above) has signed a contract running through 2013. He will continue to lead the region's professional orchestra for at least the next three seasons.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with David Stewart Wiley as Music Director and Conductor for the RSO. David’s great energy and commitment have contributed immeasurably to the RSO’s success” says Board President Richard Maxwell.

The RSO has seen the number of subscribers more than triple during the last five years for it’s Picnic at the Pops Series, presenting renowned pops artists and symphony orchestra in concert together, and a 35 percent increase in the number of Symphony-to-the-Max subscribers (all subscription concerts, including classical programs) during the same period, according to symphony officials.

The RSO has further broadened its programming to provide more “entry points” for diverse audiences to find and enjoy quality performances of live music - at the heart of its mission. This includes new and unique programs in collaboration with rock musicians and visual performers, new commissions, as well as corporate leadership training events created and led by Wiley.

“The RSO and I continue to have a great collaborative partnership,” says Wiley. "We continue to experience responsible artistic growth and continue to operate in the black.”

Wallace Easter, chairman of the RSO Musician Committee says, “This is a great time for the orchestra and the musicians really appreciate the positive environment in which to make music.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

HCA Hopes to Raise $4.6 Billion in IPO

Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem is part of HCA.^

Hospital Corporation of America Inc. (HCA), which operates 162 hospitals and 106 surgery centers in 20 states and the UK, including four in this region of Virginia, reportedly hopes to raise $4.6 billion in an initial public offering of common stock, its third, according to the Associated Press.

The IPA comes a bit moree than three years after it became private, following a leveraged buyout by private equity investors. HCA is based in Nashville and operates Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem, as well as hospitals in Low Moor (Alleghany County), Blacksburg and Pulaski.

HCA has not set a price for its shares and has not said how many it wants to sell, though in an SEC filing, it reported expectations of $2.5 billion. HCA has $26.86 billion in debt.

Pulaski Lures International Packaging Company

Pulaski County is anticipating the creation of 240 new jobs by Phoenix Packaging Group, which plans to invest $20 million into a facility at the Pulaski County Industrial Park.

Phoenix’s executives are based in Miami, Bogata, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela. The company makes rigid packaging for foods and has a value of about $340 million, according to published reports.

Phoenix intends to hire 225 production workers and a handful of managers. The New River Valley has lost a number of jobs in its automotive sector in recent months, so the new jobs—especially jobs in well-paying manufacturing and not in the low-pay back-office industry—are especially welcome.

The various levels of government involved have chipped in $2 million in incentives and will also give tax incentives.

Friday, May 7, 2010

HomeTown Bank Earnings Increased

HomeTown Bankshares Corporation, the holding company of HomeTown Bank, has reported increased earnings for the first quarter at $255,000 compared to a profit of $194,000 for the first quarter of 2009.

“We are very pleased with the consistent increase in earnings that we continued to realize in the first quarter of 2010," said President/CEO Susan K. Still (right). “Our focus throughout 2010 will be to grow earnings by continuing to increase our yield on earning assets and effectively controlling funding costs.”

After a $77,000 gain on sale of other real estate in 2010 and a $160,000 securities gain in 2009, income from operations totaled $178,000 in 2010 compared to $34,000 in 2009. Net income available to common shareholders for the first quarter of 2010 was $105,000 after preferred dividends of $150,000 vs. $34,000 in 2009.

Preferred dividends were payable on the company’s $10 million preferred equity issued via the Capital Purchase Program during the third quarter of 2009. After preferred dividends, earnings per share available to common shareholders were $0.04 per share in 2010 compared to $0.07 per share for the first quarter of 2009.

Earnings performance in 2010 was enhanced by a 50 percent increase in net interest income to $2.5 million, $817,000 higher than the same period of 2009. In addition, the Bank’s net interest margin has increased each quarter since the first quarter of 2009 from 2.90 percent to 3.13 percent for the first quarter of 2010.

Continued loan growth, higher yielding investments and consistent repricing of deposit liabilities, in line with current and historically low levels of interest rates, contributed to the improved margins. Non-interest income continued to be an important contributor to the company’s year-to-date financial performance for 2010. A sizable increase in the number of transaction accounts and revenues associated with these accounts resulted in a 37 percent increase in service charge income. The Bank also realized a $77 thousand gain from the sale of other real estate owned. Income from residential mortgages thus far in 2010 was down from 2009 due to a sluggish mortgage market during the first quarter.

National Bank (B'Burg) Reports Another Phone Scam

Area residents are again reporting a rash of scam phone calls requesting confidential debit card and account information from National Bank of Blacksburg customers.

The fraudulent automated calls say that they are from the National Bank of Blacksburg, but they are from criminals trying to trick people into giving account information, say bank officials. The current round of calls appears to be a continuation of a large-scale phishing attack that began in mid-April and used fake e-mails, text messages and phone calls.

James G. Rakes, National Bank’s Chairman, President & CEO, says, “National Bank never asks for customer information by e-mail, phone or text message, except in direct response to a bona fide customer request. We encourage any of our customers who may have responded to these fake messages to contact the bank immediately.”

Rakes says, “Law enforcement officials tell us that since January there have been more than 20 phishing attacks directed at community banks all over the country. These cyber criminals are trading on the fact that customers have a trusting relationship with their local bank. We want to emphasize once again that the bank’s own computer system has not been compromised, and the bank is not the source of any information, including phone numbers.”

Radford U Breaks Ground for New Business-Econ Building

Artists drawing of the new Radford University building.^

That's President Penny Kyle (red suit, center) and Dean Faye Gilbert (beside Kyle) breaking ground.^

Radford University officials have broken ground on a new $44 million, 110,000-square-foot home for the College of Business and Economics (COBE). It is a LEED certified building. The planned completion date is fall 2012 when COBE faculty, staff, and students will move out of their current home in Whitt Hall.

“This new building will make a very bold, very confident statement about what the world can expect from Radford University and the Radford University College of Business and Economics,” says President Penelope W. Kyle.

Located at the corner of Jefferson Street and Tyler Avenue, the new signature building will also redefine the gateway to campus. “Visitors will see a beautiful, traditional, but modern building that makes the right kind of statement about a university that is on the move,” says Thomas E. Fraim, rector of RU’s Board of Visitors.

The project is the result of a public-private partnership in which the Commonwealth of Virginia will invest $34 million and RU will raise the remaining $10 million. The new COBE home will include auditorium-style classrooms, conference rooms, and gathering spaces designed to stimulate collaboration and teamwork. It will also feature the latest in educational technology and financial research capabilities, including a “trading room.”

“Our new building…is called a ‘transitional design,’” says COBE Dean Faye W. Gilbert. “We consciously wanted the building to incorporate RU’s traditions and at the same time convey the impression that this is a university that is moving forward. Each room and space in the new building will accommodate the latest technology and enhance our ability to reach out and develop the distinctive connections that come from ‘teaching in person.’”

Healthcare Talk Draws Big Crowd

Roanoke law firm Woods Rogers seminar on the effects of healthcare legislation on local companies before a crowd that represented more than 50 companies yesterday at the Claude Moore Center.

WR’s attorneys studied the 1,017-page legislation and shared their insight to professionals who will have to deal with the legislation in real terms. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide oversight of the new healthcare system and since many of the regulations come from various agencies, the process will be somewhat piecemeal.

Some changes kicked in immediately, said presenters. The effective dates of many of the regulations aren’t until 2014 and nearly every provision has already been amended in some way. It's a huge piece of legislation to implement and execute.

A training session on OSHA record-keeping is scheduled for July 14.

(Photo by Susan Ayers.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Inprint of Roanoke Wins National Awards

This is the Gold Award winner for the Convention & Visitors Bureau.^

Inprint, a Roanoke advertising agency, received two Platinum Awards and one Gold Award in late April when the Hermes Creative Awards announced the 2010 Winners.

The Hermes Creative Awards honors outstanding work of creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional and emerging media. There were over 3,600 entries from throughout the United States and several other countries in the Hermes Creative Awards 2010 Competition.

Entries came from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers. Winners were selected from 144 categories in seven forms of media and communication efforts – advertising, publications, marketing/branding, integrated marketing, public relations, electronic media and pro bono.

Only 18 percent of the entries won the Platinum Award, the organization’s top honor. A list of Platinum and Gold winners can be found at the Hermes Creative Awards website here.

Inprint received the following awards:

Platinum Award – Integrated Marketing Campaign for Upper James River Water Trail for the Botetourt County Office of Tourism

Platinum Award – Publications/Annual Report for the 2008 Annual Report for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

Gold Award – Integrated Marketing Campaign for Crossroads to Settlement, a heritage tourism initiative for the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Inprint specializes in building brands in the tourism, hospitality and food service industries. The firm works in all facets of print and interactive media including brand identity, advertising, publications, website design and more. Inprint was started in 1991 by David Harris and David Mikula and currently serves clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Partners Buy TPS Displays of Forest

Scott Llewellyn of Lynchburg and Shauna Parsons of Appomattox have bought TPS Displays in Forest, a 30 year old company with strong ties in the community.

TPS specializes in trade show displays and hasin house printing capability as well as display design, rental, storage and fulfillment. Parsons and Llewellyn own EC Services, a trade show promotion company and display sales company.

“TPS is well known in the industry and we are happy to carry on the TPS tradition and infuse it with some of our energy and new ideas.” says Parsons.