Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Phoenix Packaging Opens Pulaski Facility; 240 Jobs

Phoenix Packaging opened its new state-of-the-art, 108,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Dublin today with Gov. Bob McDonnell in attendance. Phoenix Packaging Operations, a subsidiary of Phoenix Packaging Group, will invest more than $20 million to establish its first U.S. operation in Pulaski County.

The company will manufacture thermoformed rigid plastic packaging for customers in the United States and also establish its North American headquarters in Pulaski. The project will create 240 new jobs.

McDonnell said, “Phoenix Packaging is an international company that produces the packaging for many major companies and household names. With this Pulaski County operation, the company will be in closer proximity to serve its U.S. customers.”

Phoenix Packaging Group, a family owned Latin American company dedicated to the creation, design, and manufacturing of plastic packaging and food service disposable products, is one of the most important packaging manufacturing conglomerates in Latin America with sales in more than 30 countries.

The company was established in 1999 with the integration of several industry leading companies in Colombia and Venezuela, and in 2003 a Mexican company joined the group. The company has eight locations in Latin America, employing 4,000 people in four countries. Its customers include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Keurig, Van Houtte, Agro-Farma, General Mills, Sturm Foods and Colgate, for products such as ice cream and other dairy products, margarine, desserts, and soaps, as well as single-serve products such as yogurt and coffee.

“Phoenix Packaging chose the Commonwealth of Virginia to be the home of its U.S. operations after analyzing more than 40 possible locations in six states from the standpoint of geographical location, availability of qualified workforce, energy costs and state and local incentives, among others,” said Alberto Peisach, President and CEO, Phoenix Packaging Operations.

“We found that state and local authorities in Virginia were seriously committed to helping new companies set up their manufacturing facilities and bring in high-paying jobs. The state government’s proactive attitude in finding ways to meet our needs, and their flexibility in creating a program to help us find and train the right workforce, was far more forward-thinking than any competing states. With three major higher education institutions in the area, and the government officials’ unwavering interest in creating jobs, Pulaski County was hard to beat.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Roanoke Chamber Opens New Enterprise Center

Lynda Foster of Synergize My Business in her new office.^

Jeanie Patterson and Luis Garcia pose with Mayor David Bowers at Send Out Cards.^

Jeanie Patterson (white suit) talks with Chamber President Joyce Waugh (black suit).^

Officials prepare to cut the ribbon.^

The ribbon snaps and the Center is open.^

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center cut the ribbon today for the Entrepreneur Center in the Chamber offices downtown.

The new center is something of a business incubator for the firms located in it. They are Synergy Sessions, SendOutCards, Virtual Marketing and Next Generation Design.

This is Phase I of an initiative aimed at offering support for local start-up businesses. The ultimate goal is to open centers like this throughout Southwest Virginia.

Monday, March 28, 2011

VTK Schedules Student Concepts Competition

VT KnowledgeWorks in Blacksburg.^

VT KnowledgeWorks has selected the finalists in the two Student Business Concept Competitions to be held on April 13, in conjunction with the Third Annual Entrepreneurship Summit at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

The student teams will present their business concepts before a panel of angel investors and business leaders, as well as those in attendence. Participants represent colleges and universities from Virginia and Western North Carolina.

The winning teams in the Virginia Tech and Regional Student Competitions receiva $5,000 and workspace provided in the VT Corporate Research Center for summer 2011. Both first place teams also qualify to compete in the 2011 VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Challenge for which the team will receive a week-long, expense-paid celebration of student entrepreneurship and may win the $25,000 grand prize.

The finalist student teams from Virginia Tech will present their business concepts at 9:30 a.m. April 13, including Aerus, Juce Powered Bags, Kiwee Stroller Company, Lujure, and PodShare. Finalists of the Regional Student Competition will present their business concepts at 1:30 p.m., including Closed Loop Energy, LLC, Dear Career, Kera10, and Masalah.

The Open Angel Forum to be held on April 14 and four companies have been selected to pitch before a panel of directors from PAN, CIT Gap, Third Security, 460 Angels and event attendees. Last year, three out of the five companies that presented were funded within 90 days.

Fees are $30 for April 13 and $50 for April 14. Contact Christine Pushaw for details at 540-443-9100.

A Life Saver from Blacksburg's Portaqua

This is one of Portaqua's vehicles.^

Portaqua, which is in the VT KnowledgeWorks center in Blacksburg, has manufactured a truck that will be used by the FEMSA Foundation in its effort to provide clean, safe drinking water to populations impacted by natural disasters.

The vehicle provides advanced water purification system capable of supplying safe drinking water from many sources, including brackish water (sea water/fresh mix), surface water that may be contaminated with hydrocarbon and herbicides, and water containing high levels of solids.

The system provides on-board water distribution to provide the water purified by the system to individuals affected by a disaster. Not only can the vehicle bottle the water in traditional five gallon containers, but also in Portaqua’s water storage device. The system stores flat like a zip bag but, when filled with water, becomes a transportable, sanitary water bucket.

In addition to safe, clean water the system provides ice that is bagged on board for distribution to the affected community. In addition to supplying purified drinking water and ice, the vehicle provides a range of support to a community including housing for personnel responding to the relief effort and support for emergency facilities such as hospitals and medical services.

The system includes a complete laboratory area for testing and monitoring water quality. For support personnel, the system includes an air-conditioned living area, including a bedroom for four persons, kitchen, and bathroom including a shower.

By providing a complete living area, a laboratory and production facilities, the vehicle enables personnel operating the plant to perform their jobs at the highest level. Portaqua sells packaged purification systems for small communities in rural underserved regions and highly mobile emergency water purification plants for use in response to natural disasters. It has a manufacturing plant in Mexico.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ideal Cabinets Expands to Greensboro

Ideal Cabinets, a Roanoke.-based custom kitchen and bath designer is the new owner of My Dream Kitchen in Greensboro. The new location marks Ideal Cabinets’ first expansion beyond Virginia. The company operates stores in Roanoke, Christiansburg and Charlottesville.

According to Pat Rakes, co-president of Ideal Cabinets, the decision to expand into Greensboro was an opportunity offered by My Dream Kitchen owner, Tim Koehler, in anticipation of an upcoming retirement. “We’ve had a long standing friendship with Tim and were thrilled when he approached us about taking over the business he’s cultivated for the past 25 years,” says Rakes.

Super Shoes Cuts Ribbon in Salem

Shown in photo from left to right are Chamber Ambassador, Gloria Patton, Chamber member, Dennis Robarge, Regional Manager, Mark Granahan, Store Manager, Alison Gordon, Salem Mayor, Randy Foley, Council Woman, Lisa Garst, Chamber Board Member, Dee King, Chamber member, Lynn Lautenschlager, Chamber member, Jeff Beamer, Chamber Director, Debbie Kavitz.^

The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for Super Shoes, Salem Thursday. Members of the community and the Chamber of Commerce joined management and staff to celebrate their Grand Opening. Super Shoes is located at 1838 West Main Street, Salem.

nTelos Wins Alleghany Chamber Award

Ray Lipes, Manager of Service Operations, and Mark Jackson, Product Planner for the fiber optic network submission, shown with the award.

The Alleghany Chamber of Commerce and Tourism named nTelos its 2010 Business of the Year. nTelos was recognized for winning a broadband stimulus award from the U.S. Rural Utilities Service, and for building a fiber optic network in unserved and underserved areas of the Alleghany Highlands.

The project will add $16 million and 40 jobs to the area economy. The chamber recognized nTelos’ support as a small business advocate and a longtime corporate sponsor of community service organizations and events.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nancy Agee Replaces Ed Murphy at Roanoke's Carilion Clinic

New Carilion CEO Nancy Agee.^

Ed Murphy will join an investment company.^


Carilion Clinic has named Nancy Howell Agee CEO, replacing Dr. Ed Murphy, who has resigned to take a position with an investment firm and physician company. Murphy will remain on the board of directors of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and he will retain one of his two homes in the area, while moving his primary residence to Connecticut. He has a home at Smith Mountain Lake.

Agee, a Roanoke native and graduate of the University of Virginia and Emory University, takes over one of the region’s largest organizations and employers July 1. She has been with the company for more than 30 years, starting as a nurse and in the last 20 years in management slowly working her way up the ladder. Early this year she was named president and CEO of Carilion Medical Center, the company’s hospital services.

“Nancy is a national level health care leader,” says Murphy, “and I am confident and comfortable table she will do a remarkable job.”

“This is a unique organization with truly remarkable people,” says Agee, “and I am honored to have this opportunity. I still remember the faces of my patients back in 1973 and as I see our patients today I know that even with new technology, new facilities and a new medical school, our core mission.”

Murphy will begin work in July with TowerBrook Capital Partners, a New York and London based investment firm. He will become chairman of the board of South Physicians, which will help TowerBrook acquire and develop businesses to assist physicians, hospitals and health delivery systems. He will become chairman of the board of Sound Physicians. It is a provider of hospitalist physician services.

“The decision to leave Carilion was difficult, but the time is right,” Murphy says. “At Carilion, the building blocks for successful transformation are in place, especially in light of our new relationship with Aetna. The organization is in good position to move forward with excellent, stable leadership.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Speaking of Green (as in Money and Environmentalism)

Pete Krull faces an eager audience at the meeting.^

All eyes forward as Pete talks ethical investing.^

You might wonder what in the world Pete Krull, who owns an investment company, was doing tonight talking to a room full of greenies, whose green isn't necessarily the color of money.

A little deeper examination shows they have a lot in common. Krull & Company has a lot of investment clients in the Roanoke Valley (it is based in Georgia) who care a great deal about where their money is invested, not just how much it returns. And that is where Krull's specialty comes in handy: he's into "ethical" investment, which often means environmental investing. Hence the tie.

He talked to a room full of people at the Claude Moore Center (an environmentally friendly meeting facility) tonight about the why, what and how of this kind of investing and, as you can see from the faces, the level of interest was high.

--Dan Smith

Friday, March 18, 2011

An Evening with the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce

Dawn DeHart (left), Virginia Community Capital, and Sara Owens, Aerotek Inc.

Anna (left) and Kamran Karbassiyoon, both with Sir Speedy Printing & Marketing Services, and Garry Norris, Express Employment Professionals.

Paulette P. Parkhill (left), Virginia Western Community College, and Jeff Parkhill, Hughes Associates Architects & Engineers.

A good-sized crowd showed up at the Vinton War Memorial Thursday evening for the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours. Here are some photos from what turned out to be a pleasant evening for everyone involved.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Modea Moving to Middle School in B'burg

Montgomery County announced today a development agreement with Blacksburg-based technology firm, Modea, to expand its operations to the site of the Old Blacksburg Middle School. The expansion would include construction of Modea’s corporate headquarters and will allow for future growth and the creation of several hundred new jobs.

“This is wonderful news for Blacksburg and Montgomery County,” said Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam. “Modea is an exemplary, locally grown company, and we couldn’t be more excited about their commitment to remain in Blacksburg.”

“For years the Town and County have discussed the best and most viable use for the Old Middle School property. Modea’s interest couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Blacksburg Town Manager Marc Verniel. “While the company has a contract on the parcel facing Main Street, our next step will be to work with Modea and the County to develop a master plan for the entire 20 acre property.”

Earlier this week, the Town of Blacksburg and Montgomery County announced that master planning work will begin immediately with Arnett Muldrow Associates, of Greenville, SC. A series of public input sessions are scheduled for the next two months. Once the property is rezoned from its current residential status, Modea will move forward with construction plans.

Airport Kiosk Features Region Outdoors

A new interactive, touch-screen kiosk in the gate area of the terminal at Roanoke Regional Airport features information about the region’s outdoor recreation opportunities, whether on land, on water or with a guided trip.

It’s part of a broader marketing campaign to remind visitors and residents alike--some of the region’s best assets are found right outside the window. “The Roanoke Region is quickly establishing itself as one of the best places on the East Coast to enjoy the outdoors,” says Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “Now we’re able to make everyone aware of our outdoor offerings in a place where they usually have to wait to board a flight.”

The slim kiosk sporting the words “Now Boarding” and “Destination: Outside” provides information about getting outdoors, including ideas for hiking, camping, mountain and road biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, tours, trips and more. One of the features enables travelers to e-mail information to plan their next adventure.

ACI Spins Off New Company, MatWeb

Henry Bass (left) of ACI with Dale Kipp of MatWeb.

Automation Creations, Inc. (ACI) in Blacksburg has created a new spin-off from its online materials resource to MatWeb, LLC. MatWeb, LLC is owned by longtime ACI employee Dale Kipp. For ACI,’s spin-out accentuates exciting growth for both the ACI business model of custom software and website development, and the business model of advertising, premium-user subscribers, and content licensing.

ACI’s owner and President Henry Bass, says, “ is now positioned to accelerate its new product and service offerings. ACI, in turn, will benefit from an increased ability to focus on its offerings of web-based software development and support and to innovate in mobile software development. The two business models have been steadily progressing toward this spin-out for several years.” helps engineers and designers find material properties and identify materials that match their design specifications. Over 220,000 unique visitors monthly view, on average, three to five of’s 80,000-plus data sheets during each visit, for over eight million datasheets served in 2010. Most of's revenue comes from advertisers who want to be in front of new product design teams, manufacturing, and R&D users. enjoys additional revenue from premium subscribers who pay to save searches, export data to their design software, and make detailed comparisons, and from companies who license database components. Kipp was instrumental in building the original materials database in 1996, overseeing its growth from 500 materials at launch to over 80,000 materials today.

The search engine and underlying database have evolved through multiple revisions, each one significantly expanding’s capabilities and customer capacity. Participating in’s evolution through custom programming, database development, eCommerce and server hosting was a natural fit for Automation Creations through 2010.

Automation Creations, Inc. has been located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center since its inception in 1996. ACI employs 16 software developers, project managers, software trainers and software quality assurance experts. MatWeb LLC will move into a new office in the Corporate Research Center later this month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cabell Brand's Book Nominated for Top Award

ForeWord Reviews has has named Cabell Brand’s book If Not Me, Then Who as one of its 2010 Book of the Year Awards finalists.

The 21 finalists represent more than 350 independent publishers and were selected from 1,400 entries in 56 categories. The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers selected from ForeWord’s readership.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans this June. The winners of the two Editor's Choice Prizes will be awarded $1,500 each and ForeWord’s Independent Publisher of the Year will also be announced.

Brand’s book, written with former editorial writer Tommy Denton of Roanoke, is a philosophical offering from a man who has often been at the elbows of the most powerful people in the country. The book was featured on the first cover of Valley Business FRONT in October of 2008.

ForeWord, since 1998, has been a review service for small and independent publishers and it employs professional freelance reviewers from all over the United States and Canada. In addition to their day jobs at universities and public libraries, many of them also review for our peer journals.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ISO Training for IT Scheduled in Roanoke

D’Ardenne Associates has scheduled an ISO management training session titled ISO Management Training for Information Technology at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in April.

Courses are two, three and four days and will teach ISO 20000-1:2005 for IT. The courses run April 25-26; 25-27; and 25-28. The cost is $1,295 for the two-day; $1,895 for three-day and $2,495 for the four-day. For more information call 540-320-7975 or go here.

Manufacturing Continues Decline in Roanoke Region

Beth Doughty: "Recovery is starting to take root."

A new report from the Roanoke Regional Partnership shows a mixed picture for the regional economy, though the Roanoke Region seems to have largely escaped the full impact of the nation's economic problems. Manufacturing, other than medical manufacturing, saw the greatest decline in jobs regionally.

The second annual report on Regional Economic Progress shows the region’s Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) declined 0.3 percent between 2008 and 2009 while the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 2.6 percent over the same period.

The region increased employment in the finance, insurance and real estate sectors and in medical manufacturing, research and development, higher education and healthcare. Overall, these industries added 3,338 jobs at a time when general employment declined.

Much of the data in the report is based on 2009 figures, the worst year of the recession. Still, the region’s population showed signs of growth.

From no net positive growth earlier in the decade, the region had an annualized growth rate of 0.6 percent by 2009. “Like other parts of the nation, we saw a decline in new automobile registrations, home sales and retail sales as the recession curtailed consumer confidence,” says Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “But this report also shows recovery is starting to take root. The data also support what we’ve long believed in that the region is somewhat insulated from dramatic shifts in the national economy.”

One example is Roanoke’s position on the Milken Institute’s annual rankings of the 200 largest metro areas in the country. The metro area moved up 21 spots to 105 in the 2010 index, its highest ever. Factors affecting the region’s improvement include growth in high-tech output and job growth.

One economic sector that’s growing is the outdoor industry. With increased local awareness and growing national recognition of the region’s outdoor assets, the region’s outfitters, guides, and other miscellaneous outdoor businesses increased employment by 8.3 percent between the third quarter of 2008 and third quarter of 2009. The same industry group declined 1.4 percent at the state level and 2 percent nationally.

The report also found taxable retail sales declined 8.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2010 as the recession took hold later in the region than in Virginia. However, sales in the region were up 0.6 percent between the fourth quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2010, against a rise of just 0.1 percent in Virginia, suggesting local retail sales are rebounding from their recessionary lows.

New car registrations declined 24.6 percent in 2009 as the recession took hold. Home sales continued their decline. The number of homes sold was off 0.7 percent while the median sales price fell 6.5 percent from 2008-09.

The region has 612 miles of hiking and walking trails, including 3 additional miles of greenways over 2009. Greenway use increased 29 percent in 2010 and visitation to the region’s state parks rose 12 percent. Boat registrations rose 4.3 percent from 2005-2009, compared to 0.9 percent in Virginia.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aetna, Carilion Enter Care Partnership

Aetna and Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic, the largest health care provider in southwest Virginia, plan to collaborate in an accountable care organization (ACO) initiative that should help lower costs. The program will feature patient outreach and engagement and a new payment model that rewards providers for the collective outcomes of patients.

Says Dr. R. Wayne Gandee, Carilion Clinic’s chief medical officer. “We are already on similar paths. Carilion is working to coordinate and improve care on the provider side, and Aetna is doing the same from the health plan perspective.”

The Aetna-Carilion relationship is ultimately expected to encompass the following key areas:
  • Co-branded commercial health care plans for businesses and individuals available later this year;
  • Joint opportunities to better meet the personalized care needs of patients, including Medicaid beneficiaries in Virginia;
  • And new payment models that encourage providers to share accountability to improve patients’ health, including rewards for meeting quality targets and shared costs savings.
Carilion Clinic plans to continue to offer Medicare Advantage products and intends to purchase administrative services through Aetna to lower administrative costs of the products. Aetna also would become the administrator of Carilion’s health benefits plan for its employees.

“Carilion and Aetna's mutual customers and patients are asking to receive more value from their health care dollars,” says Charles Saunders, M.D., president of Strategic Diversification at Aetna.
“Our collaboration is designed to bring new models of health care delivery, advanced technology and payment reform to the market that creates improvements in both quality and affordability of care. By bringing the best capabilities of each organization and aligning incentives across all stakeholders, we can create real value.”

Members and doctors will benefit from more effective and coordinated treatments. Carilion’s accountable medical group features a fully integrated electronic medical record to support information sharing and a comprehensive network of primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and outpatient facilities.

Aetna members using Carilion will have more information and control over their health decisions and dollars through Aetna’s online resources including pricing and quality, and wellness tools.

“Aetna is exploring new ways to work with health care providers, and we’ve found that these discussions are positively received as we collectively seek to improve the health care system,” says Thomas Grote, president of Aetna’s Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., markets. “Our arrangement with Carilion will provide a foundation to grow these new models of care.”

“We have a lot of exciting work to do; some will take time to develop,” Gandee says. “We view the ACO initiative as the beginning of a long-term relationship with Aetna.”

Carilion Clinic physicians and facilities will continue to participate in existing health plan provider networks and will continue to accept members of Aetna plans as well as other private insurance plans.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Corrugated Best in Show; tba Wins Most ADDYs

tba, which won the most awards, was represented by (from left): Aimee Drysdale, Ariel Clark, Chris McAdams, Carolyn Kiser, Thomas Becher.

AAF / Roanoke (formerly Advertising Federation of Roanoke Valley) held its annual ADDY Awards banquet on March 5 at Center in the Square and Corrugated Container Corporation won Best in Show.

In one of the most evenly distributed award years in ADDY history, tba just edged out the top four agencies collecting the most awards (three gold, five silver and a best in show art direction), followed by Anstey Hodge, Modea, ND&P, and Inprint (five each). Individual entrants with work representing Virginia Tech and Radford University collected an impressive 28 awards.

Aaron Herrington of Modea won Ad Person of the Year and Two Robs Inc. won Vendor of the Year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

TECHLAB To Open Radford Facility

The Radford Industrial Center will become the home TECHLAB Inc., a New River Valley Company making medical supplies. TECHLAB is purchasing the 54,000-square-foot Radford Shell Building, known as the “Branwick Center,” to develop, manufacture and distribute human and veterinary medical diagnostic products.

The company will locate 20 jobs initially, and invest $3 million in the acquisition of the building, adaptation of the space and purchase of equipment. TECHLAB plans to begin operations by the end of 2011.

TECHLAB, Inc. was founded in 1989 by scientists from Virginia Tech, one of only three institutions in the world dedicated to the study of anaerobic micro-organisms. The FDA and ISO 13485 rated company develops, manufactures, and distributes intestinal diagnostics worldwide, retaining an emphasis on science and collaborations with universities.

Products are focused in the areas of intestinal inflammation, antibiotic associated diarrhea and parasitology. The company headquarters is located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, in Blacksburg, VA.

Virginia Castings, RADVA Corporation and TECHLAB have announced investments in the community of $12.6 million and the creation of 320 jobs recently.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

'This Old House' Picks Mountain View Among Best

This Old House, America’s most respected home improvement authority, has selected Mountain View (above) as Virginia’s “Best Old House Neighborhood 2011” in its annual list of “North America’s most timeless neighborhoods—places where lovingly crafted old houses have extraordinary pasts and unarguably promising futures.”

Here is a link to the story.

Mountain View was one of 64 neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada recognized by This Old House, which distributed nomination forms to more than 14,000 historical societies, neighborhood groups, and preservation nonprofits to compile its “biggest-ever list of off-the-beaten-path places that are worth eyeing for a great old home.”

Mountain View resident Valeria Alphin nominated Mountain View and worked with This Old House editors to provide them information not only about the neighborhood, but the Roanoke Valley as a whole. This Old House editors called Mountain View “perfectly located in every respect: It's a cinch of a commute and enjoys stunning panoramas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Roanoke River,” adding, “you may just have the ultimate Roanoke Valley settling spot.”

The historic Mountain View neighborhood covers the area of southwest Roanoke between Cleveland Avenue and Patterson Avenue SW, and between 19th Street and 10th Street SW. The majority of the homes within the neighborhood were constructed in the late 19th century and early 20th century as mansions for railroad executives based in Roanoke. The residential design of the neighborhood is dominated by the two-story American Foursquare and features some of the city’s finest examples of its early architecture.

The neighborhood is named for Mountain View, a Georgian Revival mansion built in 1907 by Junius Blair Fishburn, a prominent publisher, banker, entrepreneur and philanthropist in Roanoke in the first half of the 20th century. The home, listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, is currently undergoing extensive exterior renovations. Mountain View’s revitalization has enjoyed much positive news in the last year, including the opening of Vic Thomas Park as part of an extension of the Roanoke River Greenway.

The upcoming Blue Ridge Marathon will pass through Mountain View on April 16. And a second park will open later in 2011 off Cleveland Avenue as part of further extension of the Greenway. Most significantly, Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley has big plans for Mountain View. Its “Mountain View Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Pilot” project will fund the construction of three new houses on Campbell Avenue, and the repair of seven existing homes in 2011-12.

Some key facts about the Mountain View project:
  • Habitat hopes to complete repairs to seven homes in spring/summer 2011.
  • The three new homes will be located on Campbell Avenue in the 1400 block.
  • Construction on the first new home is tentatively scheduled to begin in August 2011.

Dan Carson To Tech Engineering Hall of Fame

Dan Carson (right), a dynamic electric power industry executive who has also served on countless state, community, and economic development boards, as well as a stint as a chair of a United Way campaign, is the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus for Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. He will be honored May 14.

A Pulaski native, Carson’s father was an electrical engineering graduate of Virginia Tech, and a member of the corps of cadets. Carson worked summers at Appalachian Power and when he was ready to graduate in 1970, Appalachian Power recruited him to its Roanoke office. He started as one of the designers of the groundbreaking 765,000-volt transmission lines, “analogous to the interstate highway system,” he says.

He earned his master of business administration in 1977 and the opportunity to work as an administrative assistant to the president of Appalachian Power in Roanoke. He earned his third degree at MIT and it opened the doors to just about any management position with American Electric Power.

He returned first to Roanoke as an assistant manager for six months, and then moved to Abingdon, to become a division manager. In 1992, Joseph Vipperman, a Virginia Tech electrical engineering graduate and now a retired vice president of American Electric Power, appointed Carson to a vice-president position. Carson dedicated more than a fourth of his career with the power company to refinement of the regulatory framework for the electric utility industry.

In 1996, his accomplishments led him to the position of American Electric Power President for Virginia and Tennessee, and he later returned to a similar position with Appalachian Power, based back in Roanoke, when a regional operating structure was reinstituted across the AEP system.

In 2010, at the age of 62, he retired from his Roanoke office. His charitable work has been and remains very important to him, serving as the 2009 annual campaign chair for the United Way of Roanoke Valley, and currently in a leadership role for the March of Dimes efforts. In 2010, he successfully proposed and brought to fruition a $1 million gift from AEP to Virginia Tech in the name of his friend and colleague, Vipperman.

Carson is also a chairman of the board of directors of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, past chairman and director emeritus of the Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, and formerly served as board chair for the Roanoke Valley Business Council, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Advisory Board, and Roanoke Country Club.

He served in leadership capacities for the Virginia Manufacturers Association, the Virginia College Fund, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education (Virginia FREE), in addition to a number of Roanoke-area organizations.

He is a member of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Committee of 100, a former member of the College Advisory Board, and in 2007 was inducted as a member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Huge Sale of SML Rec Land Scheduled

Jim Woltz (right) will conduct the sale.>

Twenty-five waterfront lots on Smith Mountain Lake, in addition to 164 acres of prime recreational land, will be sold at absolute auction on Saturday, April 9, with Woltz & Associates marketing the properties and managing the sale.

Each of the 25 lots, located in Waterside on Smith Mountain Lake, features water frontage and will sell to the highest bidder, regardless of price.

“This is a perfect opportunity for someone who has always wanted a home on the lake, either for a permanent residence or a vacation home in one of Smith Mountain Lake's nicest lakefront communities,” says Jim Woltz, president of the auction company. “This is premium lakefront and recreational property selling absolute, which means it will sell to the highest bidder regardless of price. And that can translate into the opportunity of a lifetime for a smart bidder.”

In addition to the lakefront lots, 164 acres of recreational land will sell in five tracts, all absolute. The land has excellent timber strands, creeks and views along the Roanoke River arm of Smith Mountain Lake. And because the waterfront lots adjoin the recreational land, bidders may combine their purchase of home sites with recreational land to form their own unique property.

"Imagine having your lakefront home with the shoreline as your front door and a 164-acre playground out back," said Woltz. “This auction is unique because it’s essentially combining two sales – home sites and land,” said Woltz. “And that diversity gives buyers some great choices – they could purchase one lot for a single family home with water frontage and gorgeous views, or they could obtain multiple lots and adjoining recreational land for a hunting and fishing getaway.”

For further information call (800) 551-3588 or visit

Jewelry Store Continues Tradition in Grandin Village

Geoff Jennings (above) has opened F. Geoffrey LTD in Grandin Village.

After 39 years in his grandfather’s business, Frank L. Moose Jeweler, Jennings is continuing the family tradition for a third generation as F. Geoffrey LTD, a new family owned jewelry store at 1919 Westover Ave.

“I will carry on the legacy and excellence that kept Frank L. Moose a cornerstone in downtown Roanoke since 1928. We are smaller but we still feature the same quality and service,” says Jennings.

Closing Frank L. Moose Jeweler earlier this year and opening a new smaller store was a quality of life decision for Jennings. “This is a quality of life change that enables me to service my loyal customer base and expand to new families and friends,” he says.

F. Geoffrey LTD ofeature lines of sterling silver, pearls, and John Medeiros designs. The store will handle estates, consignments, fine jewelry, and crystal giftware.