Fest offered blend of politics, peaches and music

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Virginia Peach Festival goers danced the night away Friday to music provided by Sunset Drive and Big Daddy Love. (Photo by Gary Plaster)

Those attending the Virginia Peach Festival on Friday enjoyed the unusual blend of politics and peaches, along with entertainment, food and fun.

Denny Alley, of the Patrick County Music Association (PCMA), said this year marked his first at the fest.

“We’re here promoting the PCMA,” Alley said, as he strummed distributed flyers about the Saturday Nite Opry Show coming in October.

In between, he also did a “little picking and grinning,” he said.

Several peach growers, including those from Wade’s Orchard, Windy Hills Orchard and Dawson’s Orchard offered fresh peaches and more to a steady stream of customers.

Big Daddy Love and Sunset Drive also entertained festival goers, as supporters from both political camps manned booths and talked to voters.

Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith made a swing by the fest on his way to another event.

Griffith, the GOP incumbent in the post, is being challenged by Anthony Flaccavento, an Abingdon democrat.

In Patrick, Griffith discussed ways in which the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) may help with local healthcare.

The commission is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. As part of ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and make investments to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth, the agency recently announced a $500,000 grant to build a health care clinic in Dickenson County.

The commission may be able to help Patrick County, but “not until you have an actual hospital open,” Griffith said Friday.

Griffith said he has worked on that effort with Patrick County Economic Development Director Debbie Foley, and his office stands ready to help as the reopening progresses.

In the meantime, he is intent on progress of the reopening of a hospital in Lee County in hopes it will offer lessons that can be used here.

That facility shuttered in 2013; and Lee County established its own health authority, obtained the property and sold it to Americore to restart operations, according to online reports.

The hospital is expected to open as a 25-bed hospital, with a 24-hour emergency room, a laboratory, and radiology, according to Griffith and online reports.

“It’s a different model,” Griffith said. For instance, “there will not be an ICU,” but he said the hospital will provide access to care and allow patients the peace of mind to know if they are experiencing heartburn, for instance, or a heart attack.

The services of visiting doctors will be used to help provide staff.

Hospital officials are “taking space they’re not going to use” otherwise and turning it into offices for visiting doctors, Griffith said.

He said he understands buying the hospital property in Patrick may be cost prohibitive, but that he also believes “there’s some kind of trigger in 2019 or 2020” that will allow for Virginia Community Capital (VCC), which owns the Patrick County hospital, to negotiate a lower price.

Flaccavento did not attend the peach festival, but will host a Town Hall in Meadows of Dan on August 28, in the Meadows of Dan Community Building.