WYTHE COUNTY, Va. – Wythe County emergency officials are encouraging local residents to attend the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN Weather Spotter training course, which is slated for Monday evening, August 3.

The two-hour training course will be held inside the Max Meadows Fire Department (823 Max Meadows Road) beginning at 6 p.m. and is open to the general public free of charge. The class will cover a multitude of storm development and safety practices for weather related events.

Students will be instructed on six key elements, including the basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, identifying the potential impacts of storms and severe weather safety.

In addition to learning the fundamentals of weather events, participants in the training session will also be provided with instructions on what to report to the National Weather Service and how to properly report weather.

In January 2011, Wythe County became one of only a handful of Virginia counties to be recognized by the National Weather Service as a StormReady Community – periodical SKYWARN training for local citizens is a necessary step in obtaining re-certification. This designation has the potential to lower insurance rates for homeowners throughout the county, as well as aid emergency response organizations in obtaining grants and additional funding from the state and federal government.

The last SKYWARN training course was held in December of 2013 at Wytheville Community College. More than two-dozen Wythe County residents, including first responders, local officials, truck drivers and teachers attended the training course. Class participants received National Weather Service accreditation as a certified weather spotter.

“In this part of the country, there’s sometimes a mentality that if there is no tornado warning, there is no danger,” stated Phil Hysell, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Weather Forecast Office in Blacksburg. According to Hysell, statistics prove non-tornado storms are often just as deadly.

Students who attend the evening workshop will be given a weather spotter’s field guide and awarded a certificate acknowledging their completion of the course; making them National Weather Service certified SKYWARN spotters.

“In recent years, severe weather has become a greater concern for communities throughout the nation. By offering this course to the public, we’re hoping to give people the knowledge they need to remain proactive in staying safe,” said Jason Kinser, Wythe County’s emergency coordinator.

Residents interested in learning more about the class are encouraged to contact Jeremy T.K. Farley, Wythe County’s public information officer: (276) 223-4522.

Pre-registration is not required, residents simply need to arrive at the Max Meadows Fire House by 6 p.m. on Monday to attend the class.

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WYTHE COUNTY, Va. – Wythe County officials are calling on local artisans and crafters to produce a Christmas ornament worthy of being displayed inside the Virginia Executive Mansion.

The theme for this year’s decorations is “Celebrating Virginia’s Localities.”

“The Executive Mansion is looking for a one-of-a-kind, handmade ornament from each county that uniquely represents some feature of the county,” stated an official representing the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo).

Local residents, 16-years-old or older are encouraged to create a hand crafted ornament that is a representation of a Wythe County landmark (either historic or modern) and submit it to the county administrative office (340 S. Sixth St., Wytheville) by September 21, the last day ornaments will be received.

After all ornaments have been accepted, Wythe County will judge the ornaments based upon a number of factors, including originality, aesthetic charm, as well as how well the ornament captures the spirit of Wythe County.

In addition to having their ornament displayed on a tree inside the ballroom of the Virginia Executive Mansion, the winning designer will receive a $200.00 cash prize for their work.

County officials say that all ornaments should be handmade, not purchased, and have the name of the artist and locality (Wythe County) on the back.

Runner-up ornaments will be used to decorate a Christmas tree inside the Wythe County Court House.

All winning ornaments will be retained to decorate future trees at VACo.

Individuals wishing to learn more about the contest are encouraged to contact Jeremy T.K. Farley: (276) 223-4522 or [email protected].

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WYTHE COUNTY, Va. – Wythe County tourism leaders are calling the second annual U.S. 21 Road Market an overwhelming success.

The +100 mile long three-day road market stretched from Wytheville to Harmony, North Carolina, passing through a dozen localities along historic U.S. Route 21, known in Wythe County as Grayson Turnpike.

The multistate road market is part of an initiative known as “Take a Break from the Interstate,” a committee comprised of tourism leaders from western North Carolina and southwest Virginia.

This year’s road market was expanded by more than 30 miles and featured hundreds of yard sales, sidewalk sales and community events along the route.

Wythe County Tourism Director Jeremy T.K. Farley said that he has been in close contact with businesses along Wythe County’s stretch of U.S. 21 and that all have reported substantial earnings thanks to the three-day event.

“It was incredible to see the level of commerce taking place along Grayson Turnpike,” said Farley, adding, “Not only does the road market benefit local businesses, but it puts cash directly into the hands of Wythe County residents – I talked to several people who made hundreds of dollars in just a single day thanks to hosting a yard sale. That money, the majority of which came from outside of our county, will be used to buy back-to-school clothes, pay bills, make home renovations – a number of different things. It will be cycled through our local economy over and over again.”

Bobby Primm, co-owner of the Lakes to Florida Grill, just south of the town limits of Wytheville, said that his restaurant saw 907 transactions in just a single day.

“Many of these transactions had five or six people… For a little country restaurant, that’s huge,” said Primm.

The Lakes to Florida Grill went through five gallons of tea Saturday.

Primm went on to say that he was amazed at the number of people who stopped, “We’re glad the county is taking a proactive role in promoting businesses – we’re definitely seeing a bounce from it.”

Business owners along the route say that several northbound yard sale goers (many from Georgia and South Carolina) spent the night in Wytheville, stopping only at locations on the right side of the road going up and coming down – this allowed them to stop at all the locations without ever having to cross traffic.

Corrine Stoots, owner of Stoot’s Corner said that her convenience store / restaurant enjoyed extraordinary sales thanks to the road market.

“We set a very high record. I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to beat it,” said Stoots.

A litter farther south in the community of Speedwell, Debbie Huffman, owner of the Speedwell Market, echoed the sentiments felt by fellow Wythe County business owners.

“Our sales were very good – the deli did great. The road market is really good for the community,” said Huffman, adding, “Something like this is very beneficial for the local families and brought a tremendous number of people into Speedwell.”

Huffman said she talked to a lady from Utah who was visiting her family and decided to attend the road market. Several other customers were from Florida.

Organizers of the road market say they plan to host the annual event on the last full weekend of July and are encouraging people to save the date for next year’s road market: July 29, 30 and 31, 2016.

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At more than 2,500’ above sea level, Rural Retreat, Virginia, is the highest point on Norfolk-Southern’s entire railway line between Norfolk and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Despite the community’s elevation, however, the Rural Retreat Depot Foundation will be hosting a beachfest music event Saturday, August 1 at the Rural Retreat Fairgrounds.

At least four beach music bands are slated to perform at the event, including Jim Quick & Coastline, Band of Oz, Fantastic Shakers and the Atlantic Groove Band.

Gates for the event will open at 11 a.m. with the first band set to begin at 1 p.m. Live entertainment is slated to continue throughout the afternoon, wrapping up sometime around 9 o’clock that evening.

“This is going to be a fun way to wrap up summer,” said Vicki Sprouse, who is the organizer of the event.

Among the entertainers on tab for the show will be Fantastic Shakers, a Carolina band first organized in September 1978 and known as the “South’s Finest Show Band.”

Sprouse says that admission to the all-day event has been set at $20 per person and that concessions will be available – the concert is a ‘bring your own chair’ event.

Proceeds from the beachfest will be used in the restoration efforts of the Rural Retreat Depot, a historic railroad station located in the heart of downtown Rural Retreat.

Built around the year 1870, the structure is one of the oldest railroad stations in southern Virginia, and one of only two to survive from the American Reconstruction Era.

Sprouse and local leaders in Rural Retreat hope to see the historic building fully renovated so that it can become an epicenter for activity in the community.

“We’re working with Virginia Tech to bring events to the depot and believe that the facility will be an asset to Rural Retreat,” said Sprouse, adding, “The building will provide numerous cultural enrichment and educational opportunities for local residents.”

The depot is already being used on Wednesday afternoons for a local farmers market, as well as
periodical auctions and other events.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Rural Retreat Beachfest or the Rural Retreat Depot
Foundation are encouraged to contact Vicki Sprouse by calling 276-356-3235 or via email:
[email protected].

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INDEPENDENCE, Va. – Wythe County’s 2015 Dixie Youth Baseball season came to a heartbreaking end Saturday with the defeat of Wythe-West in the AAA District – I tournament championship game (ages 8-10) to Floyd County.

The season came to a close for county teams in the Ozone Division (ages 11-12) the previous day, when Wythe-East fell to Floyd County by a margin of 13-3 in the district championship game.

The double elimination tournament was hosted in Grayson County and had five all-star teams participating in the AAA tournament and four teams listed in the Ozone bracket.

Despite falling in the final game to Floyd County by a score of 11-20, Wythe-West won game 8 of the tournament against Floyd County earlier Saturday morning 13-2, forcing the showdown in game 9.

All-stars from Wythe County’s regular Dixie Youth season were selected to play on the 12-player teams representing eastern and western Wythe County.

Both Floyd County’s AAA and Ozone teams will now advance to the state’s Dixie Youth tournaments, which will be held in Madison Heights and South Boston, respectively – the winning teams of these tournaments will advance to the Dixie Youth World Series, which will be held in Lexington, South Carolina, the second week in August.

Scotty Vaught, who serves as Wythe County’s youth sports coordinator, said the 2015 Dixie Youth season turned out to be a great success and that he enjoyed watching the young athletes develop their skillsets throughout the regular season and into the tournament.

“A lot of hard work went into making all of this possible for the students and we want to give a big thanks to the volunteer coaches and parents who sacrificed so much of their time,” said Vaught.

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Red Team: Wythe – East (Ozone Tournament Runner-up)







Grey Team: Wythe – West (AAA Tournament Runner-up)