WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Over the past two decades, Wythe County has invested over $40 million in the development of Progress Park; an investment that has netted a return of 750 jobs and millions of dollars in additional tax revenue.

In an effort to remain proactive in the ever changing business climate, Wythe leaders say they will begin marketing the county’s premier industrial site in-house.

The idea was first proposed earlier this year, prior to the retirement of longtime Joint Industrial Development Authority (JIDA) director, Dr. Alan Hawthorne.

In a March 2014 letter issued to the chairperson of the JIDA, Wythe County Administrator Cellell Dalton stated, “Wythe County offers to provide the day-to-day oversight of the JIDA activities and staff in order to provide the continuity we feel is essential to the success of the park and other economic centers.”

County leaders say they never received a response from JIDA officials, prompting them to move forward with their plans to market of the county’s industrial development in-house.

According to local officials, marketing the county’s vacant industrial sites at Progress Park will allow the opportunity for the county to best utilize its resources, as well as take the appropriate actions to keep the site at the forefront of potential industries.

The county has already begun taking actions to increase the industrial park’s exposure.

Yesterday, members of the board of supervisors, accompanied by leaders from the Town of Wytheville, met with Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam at Progress Park. The county says it will unveil a new website dedicated to exclusively showcasing the top tier industrial park to potential buyers within the next two weeks, as well as launch a new advertising campaign aimed at blitzing high profile industry leaders with all the benefits that accompany doing business in Wythe County.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!

Wythe County Hosts Emergency Driving Course for First Responders

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – A capacity class of twenty-eight individuals – all wishing to become emergency responders – participated in a state sanctioned emergency vehicle operator’s course [EVOC] this past weekend at Wytheville Community College.

Completion of the two day training program is a requirement for any person interested in becoming a first responder, including law enforcement officers, fire and rescue personnel, as well as those seeking a career in emergency management.

Participants sat through eight hours of classroom presentation on Saturday, as Ikey Davidson, Wythe County Emergency Services Coordinator, lectured the class on the subject of state laws pertaining to emergency vehicles and provided students with safe driving instructions.

The following day, Davidson was joined by Virginia Department of Emergency Management personnel as the class was taken outside, where a temporary road course had been constructed on the campus’ upper parking lot.

Students weaved and raced through the cones in a wide range of vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances and heavy duty vehicles.

The training course was made possible thanks to a grant secured from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.

Instructor Ikey Davidson said the class was an overwhelming success, noting that dozens of people had to be turned away due to reaching capacity.

“We had people from as far away as Newport News calling, wanting to know if there was space available in the class,” said Davidson, adding, “Interest in the class was so impressive, we’re looking at trying to host a similar class next month.”

Persons interested in registering for future EVOC classes are encouraged to call Davidson at the following number: 276-223-4521.

According to Davidson, the class could not have been possible without the generous support of community leaders and organizations, including Wytheville Community College, as well as the several
Wythe County rescue and fire departments who both promoted the event and donated their vehicles to be used in the training session.

Wythe County Hosts Kids Fish Day

RURAL RETREAT, Va. – Over forty children braved the unseasonably cool temperatures last Saturday to participate in the Rural Retreat Lake’s annual “Kids’ Fish Day.”

The event, which is part of a cooperative effort between the Wythe County Department of Parks & Recreation and the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF), began at 9 a.m. and provided many children with their first opportunity to fish.

With DGIF trucks having stocked the lake’s trout pond the previous evening, the county’s youngest anglers were provided the first opportunity of the season to reel in one of Virginia’s famous Rainbow Trout.

Assisting the fisherman were two DGIF field officers and Wythe County Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Williams. The pair of DGIF officers aided the children in fishing, as well as provided casting and reeling instructions, while Williams drew names for prize winners.

Though all participants left the event with a random assortment of gifts, a few lucky prize winners went home with new fishing poles and tackle boxes; courtesy of local businesses, including Sand Mountain Outfitters, Wal-Mart and Kmart.

Though the temperature remained in the mid-40s throughout the morning, by noon, the water had warmed considerably and smiling children could be spotted all along the banks of the pond proudly posing for pictures with their catch.

“It was great seeing the kids – many of them fishing for their very first time – having a fun time and enjoying themselves,” said Williams.

Last weekend marked the first weekend of the season that the Rural Retreat Lake Campground was open to the public. Williams said the campground’s first week reopened was huge success and park officials are looking forward to another fun-filled season at the iconic lake.

Individuals interested in reserving a campsite at the 90-acre lake are encouraged to call: 276-686-4331.

Flash Flood Watch: Wythe County

The Wythe County Department of Emergency Management is urging residents to take precautions, as a slow moving storm front moves through the region today and into tonight, bringing scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms.

The primary threat will be localized flooding, beginning on Thursday. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Wythe County through late tonight. Residents should expect an average of 1.5 to 3 inches of rain, with even greater amounts in some areas.

Flash flooding of small creeks, streams and urban areas will be possible. Flooding of larger river basins may occur tonight and into Friday.

Motorists approaching roadway flooding are advised to turn around and seek alternative routes. Residents living in areas prone to flooding are warned to closely monitor water levels and take appropriate action.
Wythe County emergency officials will continue to monitor the situation closely and advise the public accordingly.

Click LIKE to share this link with your friends on Facebook.


Rural Retreat, Va. – Wythe County’s Rural Retreat Lake Campground Park will be hosting “Kids Fish Day,” this Saturday, May 17th.

The annual event is made possible by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF), in an effort to provide unique fishing opportunities for young anglers and park visitors.

Registration for the free event is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the lake’s trout pond, with youth fishing lasting from 9 a.m. and until 1 p.m. During this time, only children 15 and under will be permitted to participate in fishing at the lake’s trout pond; located on the south side of Lake Rd. Adult supervision will be required for all participants and snacks will be provided to the children.

In addition to having DGIF wildlife experts on site, providing educational opportunities to the young fishermen, the Wythe County Parks & Recreation Department will be awarding door prizes donated by local businesses.

“Youth Fish Day is a great way to kick off the official opening of the campground and we’re expecting many of the county’s young people to participate in the event,” said Wythe County Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Williams.

Though the lake remains open year round for fishing, boating and hiking, the campground opens to the public on Thursday of this week.

“We’re hoping local families will make a weekend of this event and camp at the lake Friday night, then participate in the youth fishing event Saturday morning,” said Williams.

The trout pond will reopen to the general public after the event has ended. The Rural Retreat Lake will remain open to anglers of all ages throughout the entire day Saturday.

Individuals interested in camping at the Rural Retreat Lake Campground are encouraged to make a reservation by calling 276-686-4331.

Click LIKE to share this link on Facebook!

Wythe County to Participate in 70-Mile Long Rt. 21 Yard Sale Event

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – This week, Wytheville and Wythe County announced the first annual “Road Market Sale” along Historic US Route 21.

The event, scheduled for July 25, 26 and 27 is the product of the multistate initiative known as “Take a Break from the Interstate.” This 70 mile long yard sale will span from Wytheville to Jonesville, North Carolina.

“The road market event has the potential to bring an incredible number of additional travelers to the community,” said Wythe County Tourism Director Jeremy Farley.

Citing the level of cooperation needed between the communities along the route, Mary Jo Babbitt, Wytheville’s Tourism Development Coordinator added “when you work together, you succeed.”

Both partners agreed that the three-day event creates exciting opportunities for Wytheville and Wythe County.

Residents along Historic US Route 21 are encouraged to save the date and plan to participate in this 70 mile long road market event.

Citizens wishing to learn more about the event are encouraged to contact Frances Emerson at 223-3426 or drop by the Town of Wytheville’s Department of Museums at 115 W. Spiller St. in Wytheville. The Wytheville Department of Museums is also giving away Historic US Route 21 “Take a Break from the Interstate” yard signs to residents living along the historic route.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!


WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has designated the entire month of May as “Electrical Safety Month.” The designation comes on the heels of an estimated 25,900 residential electrical fires across the nation, last year.

Electrical fires are responsible for over 275 nationwide deaths annually and lead to more than $1.1 billion in total property loss.

In an effort to combat this alarming trend, Chip Dunford, Wythe County building official, has released a series of tips for local residents to follow in order to adhere to electrical safe practices.

Among the tips Dunford listed are encouraging residents to talk to their children about the dangers of playing around power lines and poles.

Other instructions included encouraging residents to inspect extension cords for nicks and cuts, as well as replacing the batteries in smoke detectors on a routine bases.

Dunford says the dangers presented by electricity are very real and warrant everyone’s concern.

“Each year, thousands of electrical accidents occur across the nation. We’re encouraging local residents to take a proactive approach in recognizing the dangers and make appropriate precautions,” stated the veteran building official.

The International Association of Electrical Inspectors, a leading organization in electrical training, also urges homeowners to check the wattage of light bulbs in all light fixtures: “All light fixtures have a label with the maximum rated size wattage bulb required for that light. This also includes table lamps, but especially light fixtures with covers – they hold the heat in.”

Additional information concerning electrical safety may be found at www.iaeivirginia.com.

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!



WYTHEVILLE, Va. – The Wythe County Department of Emergency Management was notified today that a recent grant application to the Wythe-Bland Foundation netted nearly $200,000 in grant funding for the county’s emergency services.

The county’s department of public information & grants submitted the application earlier this year, requesting funding on behalf of the nine non-profit fire and rescue organizations operating within the county.

“The funding provided in this grant will enable the purchase of several items our county’s first responders have badly needed,” stated Wythe County Emergency Manager, Ikey Davidson.

Those items include portable and mobile radios, helmets for firefighters, sets of turnout gear, as well as a thermal imaging camera, which will aid firefighters in navigating areas where zero visibility exists; increasing the odds of being found for individuals trapped inside a burning structure.

The grant was one of many awarded by the Wythe-Bland Foundation for the spring 2014 cycle.

Originally founded in 1991, the foundation was reorganized in 2005 and has since provided millions of dollars to non-profit organizations operating in Wythe and Bland counties.

Wythe County grant coordinator, Jeremy Farley says that local residents owe a debt of gratitude to the foundation, “The level of assistance they provide to our county’s first responders is incredible. Thanks to their generosity, countless lives will be saved in the days to come.”

Click LIKE to share this article with your friends on Facebook!

Wythe County Musicians Featured at Youth Music Festival

Abingdon, VA – Adam McPeak & Mountain Thunder, Leigh Beamer, and Valley Grass will perform at the 3rd Annual Crooked Road Youth Music Festival. David Chrisley will also perform with Close Kin – Our Roots Run Deep. The festival takes place on Saturday, May 10th from 11 AM–7 PM at Heartwood in Abingdon.

25 bands from throughout Southwest Virginia will be performing on two stages throughout the day, and an “Old Time Square Dance” will take place inside Heartwood from 5-7 PM. The square dance will feature Shawn Brenneman, caller, and The Lee Highway String Band. All are welcome to participate!

“The festival is an opportunity for people to show support for young tradition bearers.” said Jonathan Romeo, The Crooked Road’s Program Manager. “It gives folks interested in the distinctive musical heritage of Southwest Virginia a way to encourage its future growth.”

Festival performers include Adam McPeak & Mountain Thunder, The Blackberries, The Butcher Family, Changing Lanes, Close Kin – Our Roots Run Deep, The Floyd Jammers, The Friendship Boys, Gravel Road, Honaker FFA Bluegrass Band, The Jamming Bobcats from Abingdon Elementary School, Kitty & The Stray Cats, Leigh Beamer, The Loose Strings Band, Mountain Music School String Band, Oh Brother Where Am I?, The Patterson Family, Pike City, Tori Bartfai, Travis Starkey & Cheryl Lunsford, Tyler Hughes, Valley Grass, The Yates Family Band, WiseJAMS–Coeburn, WiseJAMS–Big Stone Gap, and WiseJAMS–Norton.

The Crooked Road Youth Music Festival is sponsored by Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau, Abingdon Olive Oil Company, First Bank & Trust Company, Heartwood, Highlands Union Bank, the National Endowment for the Arts, Pepsi Beverages Company, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Wayne C. Henderson Scholarship Program, and Wordsprint.

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway is located off I-81 at Exit 14 in Abingdon, VA, and features food, music, and craft of Southwest Virginia. Admission to the festival is $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children 6-12, and kids 5 and under are free.

For more information call (276) 492-2409 or email: [email protected].

Click LIKE to share this link with your friends on Facebook!