With ups and downs, and everything in between, we soon will begin a new year. While some of the past causes pain, there also were smiles to share and triumphs to celebrate. We compiled a few of our most memorable and favorite stories and hope you will enjoy the trip down Memory Lane as we look back at 2021.
Work on new Visitor’s Center in Stuart to begin
Work to transform the former Lemon’s Jewelry Store into a new visitor center is set to get underway early this month, according to Sandra Belcher, director of tourism and marketing.
The plan that included a one-year lease on the building was approved by a majority vote at the Dec. 14 meeting of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
Reassessment shows slight increase in property values
According to the 2020 general reassessment, property values in Patrick County are within normal boundaries for the county. Janet Rorrer, commissioner of revenue, said the county conducts a reassessment every six years “to revalue the land.” In a reassessment report to the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, William Cole, appraiser for Brightminds LLC, said properties show a general trend of slightly increasing in value from 2015 to 2021.
Cipko to take council seat on Jan. 20
Erica Cipko, who ran unopposed in the 2020 election, will begin her four-year term on the Stuart Town Council at the Jan. 20 meeting. A legal secretary for attorney Christopher Corbett, Cipko will replace Leon Puckett, who served on the council from 2013 to 2020.
Preparations underway for mutation as state continues to battle COVID-19
With news of the COVID-19 virus mutating around the world, Virginia is preparing to deal with the mutations. “While we have not seen it yet in Virginia, it will surely make its way here if not already so,” Gov. Ralph Northam said at his Jan. 6 COVID-
Schools revert to all virtual after spike in cases , Simmons, Scott reelected to lead board
Patrick County Public Schools were forced to revert to an all-virtual education model last week due to a potential rise in COVID-19 cases in the school system staff.
Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert said, “due to cases and exposures, we did not simply have enough available employees at multiple working locations.”
Harris, DeLoach to lead local board
Crystal Harris and Dr. Clyde DeLoach are taking their turns as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
Bookmobile suspended due to uptick in COVID-19 cases
An uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in our area prompted the Patrick County Library to temporarily suspend bookmobile service.
Godwin to step down as president of PHCC
After nine years as president of Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), Dr. Angeline Godwin announced that she will retire on July 1.
Fairy Stone State Park receives mural from Historical Society
A mural of the lake at Fairy Stone State Park has found its permanent home at the park after being shuffled around Patrick County for over three decades. The Patrick County Historical Society gave the more than seven-foot-wide mural to the park in December after months of discussion.
Thousands in health district register for COVID-19 vaccine
An estimated 15,000 people registered to get the COVID-19 vaccine between the online and paper forms since registration opened on Monday, Jan. 25, Nancy Bell, public information officer for the West Piedmont Health District (WPHD), said.
Former Patrick GOP chairman seeks Virginia’s 9th House of Delegates District
Attorney and former Patrick County GOP Chairman Wren Williams announced Wednesday that he will challenge incumbent Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, in the June primary.
Williams said he decided to throw his hat in the ring because “I’m tired of is losing jobs, opportunities, financing and even our retirees” who move out of the district to be closer to their children.
Brown dedicates more than 50 years to animal rescue
Murphy Brown is on a quest to make the world a better place for animals.
She has devoted her life to serving animals, including more than 50 years in which she was affiliated with one organization or another — or three.
Simply put, “because I love animals. When I was a kid, I remember that I would go around the neighborhood and untie all the dogs that were chained to posts in the ground because I thought it was mean,” Brown said.
Board adopts extended in-person learning plan
In a 4-1 vote, members of the Patrick County School Board approved a plan that will allow students to attend in-person classes 4-days a week starting March 15.
Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert said the decision was made by central office staff. Parents were notified in a call to parents on Feb. 10, the day before the Feb. 11 board meeting.
Commissioner of Revenue to step down
Janet Rorrer, Commissioner of the Revenue, is set to retire July 1, after serving in her position for more than 17 years. “I just feel that it’s time for me to retire,” she said.
Tilley to retire with more than 40-years of service
Stuart Town Manager Terry Tilley is retiring in September, after serving in his current role for 42 years.
“It’s going to be very difficult to find someone who can do everything that you (Tilley) can do, and we’ve got our work cut out for us, unquestionable,” Stuart Mayor Ray Weiland said.
Pay hikes, new positions mulled
A two percent pay raise, and a STEP increase are among the proposals being considered as the Patrick County School officials craft the fiscal 2021-22 budget. “We are working on numbers for a three percent raise, and a STEP to be in line with the state senate,” Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert said at a recent joint meeting of the Patrick County School Board and the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
New, one-dose COVID-19 vaccine begins next week
A new single-dose COVID-19 vaccine will begin being offered in Virginia next week following federal approval of a third vaccination that has been proven to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from the disease, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
PC Rocket Robotics team places 10th at championship
The PC Rocket Robotics placed 10th out of 36 teams at the State Championship in Colonial Heights on Feb. 27 and 28.
School board chairman to seek new post
The chairman of the Patrick County School Board wants to parlay his experience and knowledge to serve his district in a new post come next year. Brandon Simmons said he will seek the Dan River District seat on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors in the November election. Incumbent Jane Fulk has said she does not plan to seek reelection.
County names new finance officer
A Pennsylvania native was selected as the county’s new Finance Officer.
It “feels like a volunteer position that you get paid for, which is a bonus,” said Lori Jones.
New fieldhouse at PCHS dedicated
A new fieldhouse at Patrick County High School will provide “a place to practice when the weather conditions do not allow for outdoor activity,” Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert said at a dedication ceremony on March 9. The facility is named Martin F. “Fill” Clark Fieldhouse, in honor of Clark, who was a longtime attorney and former Patrick County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Local author creates scholarship to honor parents
A local author and historian created a new scholarship to honor his parents.
Tom Perry said his parents “both were really big on education, and I just wanted to do something keep their name alive and honor them. They both lived to be 88 years old, so they had a good run. Both of them. I felt that the best way I could do that is give back to the kids of Patrick County and maybe help some of them get through school.” As a result, the younger Perry created the Perry Family Scholarship.
Longtime volunteer named new director of Food Bank
Rhonda Pruitt was named the new director of the Patrick County Community Food Bank. She had volunteered with the agency for about 10 years.
Team visits cemetery after damage concerns arise
A team from the Cultural Resources Program was deployed to Patrick County this week after concerns of damage at a local cemetery surfaced.
Tony Handy, an area construction manager with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), met family members at the Jacob Fain Cemetery on Greasy Bend Lane on Monday.
County, town plan cleanups to combat litter
County and town officials are working to address an uptick in trash along roadways and other public areas, with cleanups scheduled.
The county received a Waste Management Grant and is planning “to take five different parts of the county, probably one in each district, and devote inmates to each different part of the county,” Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said.
Inmates from the Patrick County Jail are scheduled to perform 18-hours of trash pick-ups in each district, according to the sheriff.
COVID-19 vaccine eligibility now open to all adults
Virginians aged 16 and older are now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
This expansion of eligibility comes as Virginia reaches a new milestone in its vaccination program— approximately half of all adults in the Commonwealth have received at least one dose.
“Over the past few months, we have made tremendous progress vaccinating Virginians as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible, and we need to keep up the good work,” said Gov. Ralph Northam.
Four finalists certified for Patrick Henry Community College Presidency
The State Board for Community Colleges has certified four finalists for the position of president at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC).
The finalists, in alphabetical order, are Dr. Alessandro Anzalone of Tampa, Florida; Dr. Jermaine Ford of Lafayette, Louisiana; Dr. J. Gregory Hodges of Ridgeway, Virginia; and Dr. Tanjula Petty of Pike Road, Alabama.
Results to end contract in Patrick
The Results-CX company in Patrick Springs will end its lease with Patrick County this year.
John Sternal, public relations representative for ResultsCX, said the facility in Stuart will merge with the company’s Martinsville location.
Vernon outlines goals in new post
Mark Vernon wasted no time establishing goals as he undertakes his new role as director of the Patrick County Public Service Authority (PSA).
Vernon, who also serves as the Erosion and Sediment Control & Stormwater Management Administrator, was named to the post earlier this month.
Stuart memorial placed at Laurel Hill
An eight-foot granite monument was placed at the JEB Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust Inc. site on Feb. 9 in Laurel Hill to honor James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart, a Confederate States Army general during the Civil War born in Patrick County.
Virginia set to ease more COVID-19 regulations
Starting May 15, Virginia plans to relax a few more COVID-19 measures, Gov. Ralph Northam said at his May 6 press conference.
“This means 100 people at a social gathering indoors and 250 outdoors, 50 percent capacity for indoor entertainment venues, up to 1,000 people and 50 percent capacity outdoors with no cap. Restaurants will be able to return to selling alcohol after midnight, and dining rooms can stay open later,” Northam said.
If the COVID-19 numbers continue to trend down and vaccination rates keep going up, the state plans to lift the mitigation measures, capacity restrictions, and social distancing requirements on June 15.
Pickle & Ash is realization of dream
The newest restaurant to open in Patrick County represents the culmination of a seven-year dream for four friends. The Pickle & Ash, a restaurant, market, bar, and community gathering place in Patrick Springs, was created by friends Chelsea Raby, Mitch Sheppard, Anna Lester, and Chris Lester.
Mask mandate lifted, COVID-19 mitigation measures to end May 28
Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate has been lifted to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gov. Ralph Northam said, and added that Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28, two weeks earlier than planned.
Strawberry Festival attracts thousands to Stuart
The 18th annual Strawberry Festival was a massive success, according to Town Manager Terry Tilley, who estimated about 2,000 attended the event.
“It’s actually more of a bigger crowd than I was actually expecting, and there’s more venders than I was expecting, too. It’s been good festival and a beautiful day,” Tilley said.
Hodges named president of PHCC
Greg Hodges was selected as the new president of Patrick Henry Community College.
Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, named Hodges to the post on Friday.
Class of 2021 told to ‘shine bright like a diamond’
More than 180 seniors in Patrick County High School’s Class of 2021 took their place in the annals of history during their commencement Friday, but not before they were told to ‘shine bright like a diamond.’
“While our journey may not be exactly like we pictured, it is unique to the story that helped us develop into the people we are today,” Valedictorian Lauren Largen said.
Sacrifices honored in Sunday ceremony
Heroes were honored Sunday during the annual Twilight Ceremony at Patrick Memorial Gardens.
“Memorial Day is a most sacred time, as we remember our brothers and sisters in arms who are no longer with us,” American Legion Commander Clyde Thomas said during the ceremony that was sponsored by the American Legion Post 105, VFW Post 7800, VFW Post 8467, and the Patrick County Veterans Memorial Honor Guard.
Local college board has ‘no choice’ in renaming PHCC
The Patrick Henry Community College Board has laid the groundwork to find a new name for the college following the State Board of Community College’s rejection of the local board’s decision to either keep the name the same or to rename it as Patrick-Henry Community College.
Last month, the State Board of Community Colleges rejected PHCC’s recommendation to retain its name. It also rejected the idea to add a hyphen into the college’s name.
Eagle Scout creates helicopter landing pad in Woolwine for project
David Bryant, a rising senior at Patrick County High School, created a concrete helicopter landing pad for hospital transports to earn his Eagle Scout rank.
Bryant, a member of Boy Scout Troop 7, said he decided on the project because the sole purpose of the Eagle Scout project is to better and help the community.
“I was honored to do this project and thought to do it because it was going to help this community by helping people (get) medical attention quicker,” he said.
Allen to step down from county post on July 9
July 10 will mark a change for Steve Allen, who on that day begins writing a new chapter.
After 25-years in public safety, including 14-years in Patrick County, Allen will step down from his post as Emergency Services Coordinator, effective July 9.
Commercial truck flooring manufacturer to create 58 new jobs
Canadian-based Prolam, LLC, a manufacturer of high-quality hardwood floors for commercial trucks and dry van trailers, will invest $12.8 million in Patrick County and establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation in the former Ten Oaks satellite facility on Dobyns Road.
Body of missing jogger located Monday
The body of a jogger missing for 10 days from Primland Resort in Vesta was located shortly after noon on Monday, according to Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith.
Sheriff’s deputies and Primland employees located the body of Bruce Rubin, 61, off a bluff, or cliff, in the Roaring Creek Gorge, Smith said. He added the location where Rubin was found was not near a marked trail.
Tower at radio station to be used in broadband project
A tower at the WHEO radio station in Stuart will be used in RiverStreet Networks’ broadband project.
Bryce Simmons, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority, said RiverStreet decided to use that location because the Bull Mountain tower site and the No Business Mountain tower are visible from the station.
Mural completed in Meadows of Dan
After weeks of work, the mural at the Concord Corner Store in Meadows of Dan is complete.
The 7.5- by 35-foot mural is a tourist-like map of the highlights and big scenes of Meadows of Dan, according to Pepper Martin, who was retained for the project.
Constituents petition board for internet, phone services
A petition of more than 240 signatures and personal stories about the need for reliable internet and phone service in the county recently was presented to the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
Sara Dalton, of Meadows of Dan, said she collected the signatures to detail how the lack of reliable service has adversely affected lives in the county.
Council member retires after two decades of service
A longtime member of the Stuart Town Council, John “Mac” Deekens, attended his last council meeting in June after serving on the council for more than 20 years. Deekens’ public service career started in 1986.
Task force to help with rebranding effort
Last week, Virginia’s State Board of Community Colleges voted to add an ampersand to the name and the college immediately became Patrick & Henry Community College.
Dr. Greg Hodges, president of Patrick & Henry Community College, will create a task force to help with the multi-layered rebranding effort.
Vaccine rates lag, but virus is not going away
Less than a month after the state of emergency ended, the entirety of Southwest Virginia is struggling to vaccinate its residents, according to West Piedmont Health District (WPHD) public information officer Nancy Bell.
Board sets slate of goals at retreat
The Patrick County Board of Supervisors set nine goals as part of its strategic plan at a July 23 retreat. The goals are to be completed before the end of the year.
Charles Hargrove, director of Virginia Student Government at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia (UVA), facilitated the retreat.
He said the goals can be accomplished in six-months and will help with the board’s long-term goals.
“Once you get through all of this, you’ll be better for it,” he said.
The goals can be broken down into three categories: finances, board-committee relationships, and healthcare.
Simmons tapped for post with town
Bryce Simmons, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA), is set to be Stuart’s new town manager.
Simmons, who has served in his current position for just over two years, submitted his resignation on August 27. His first day with the town is September 7.
Board forced to reverse decision following mandate
The Patrick County School Board had no choice but to walk back on its Aug. 9 decision to strongly recommend but not require masks in classrooms, following a Public Health Emergency Order issued Aug. 12. The order mandates universal masking in all indoor settings in Virginia’s K-12 schools for those aged two and older, with exceptions for eating, drinking, or sleeping and was effective immediately.
COVID-19 cases surge locally
The number of COVID-19 cases are surging in many areas, including locally and among school-aged children.
Patrick School officials encountered a positive case at Patrick County High School last week and notified those affected.
Dr. Richard Cole, of Patrick County Family Practice, said he noted “a sharp increase” in the number of positive cases in the county. “This increase involves school aged children.”
New data shows population losses in Patrick, Henry and Martinsville
Patrick County, Henry County, and the City of Martinsville all saw a population loss over the last decade, according to detailed population and demographic data from the 2020 census released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan public access group, released an online Census Lookup tool which allows viewers to “see how population and demographic data have changed over time in your area,” according to an email.
County board gives $1 million to support broadband
The Patrick County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to authorize a $1 million commitment to RiverStreet Networks for the development and promotion of Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant applications.
Clyde DeLoach, vice-chairman, said the money shows the board is committed to expanding broadband.
Gilbert to retire in September
Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert plans to retire September 30.
Gilbert, who has served as Superintendent since Jan. 1, 2020, said it was time.
“I’ve been at this for a good while and just decided that it might be a good time to retire and move to a different stage of life,” he said.
VDOT details construction plan at meeting
The $300 million design-build project to widen 7.4 miles of U.S. 58 over the Lovers Leap area will begin this fall or early winter and will continue for five years – until the spring of 2026, according to representatives and a video from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
“The primary purpose of the program is to enhance economic growth potential and to provide an adequate, safe, and efficient highway system along Virginia’s southern boundary,” according to a video presented at the meeting.
Hoback unanimously appointed to council
The Stuart Town Council unanimously voted to appoint David Hoback to fill the vacant seat left by John “Mac” Deekens’ departure. Hoback, a former Patrick County Administrator, will attend his first council meeting on Wednesday, September 15.
More than 80 COVID-19 cases in county schools
COVID-19 cases in the Patrick County Public Schools system continue to rise as quarantine numbers drop.
County students rank higher than state average in SOL scores,
Despite a significant drop in Standards of Learning (SOL) scores in the county and the state, students in the Patrick County school system scored better than the state average on most subjects, according to the state assessment data released by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
Dr. David Martin (pictured) was named Interim School Superintendent.
Jail visitations halted due to pandemic
The Patrick County Jail was closed abruptly closed to visitors on Sept. 11 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said two of the 109 inmates on Sunday had tested positive, “but several have been exposed.”
Martin “coming home for a while” as superintendent
When Dr. J. David Martin reprises his role as Acting Superintendent on October 1, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
“It’s like I’ve been away to college, and now I’m coming home for a while, and in December I’m going away again,” he said, chuckling.
Patrick County Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert will retire, effective September 30.
Groundbreaking ceremony marks start of U.S. Route 58 expansion project
The $300 million project to expand 7.4-miles of U.S. 58 over Lovers Leap Mountain officially began with a groundbreaking ceremony at Fred Clifton Park in Meadows of Dan on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
The project, which is expected to be completed by the spring of 2026, is part of the U.S. 58 Corridor Development Program that started in the 1990s to improve the highway system along Virginia’s southern boundary and promote economic growth in the area.
Long-term employees retire from Reynolds Homestead
Lisa Martin and Beth Almond Ford, who have collectively served the Reynolds Homestead for 33 years, celebrated their official retirement at a Farewell Celebration.
Saturday Nite Opry marks return of live monthly concerts
Tune up those instruments and put on those dancing shoes, to prepare for Saturday Nite Opry on Oct. 16 at the Rotary Building in Stuart. The headline event marks the first after an 18-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Denny Alley, president of the Patrick County Music Association (PCMA).
Adkins sees potentiality in county’s economic future
Sean Adkins is unpacking his concepts and beginning to lay the groundwork for economic development in Patrick County by incorporating various sectors into the equation.
After starting a new stint as the new director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA) on Oct. 12, Adkins is still getting up to speed on some issues – for instance, he doesn’t yet feel confident discussing the county’s broadband project.
Promise program seeks donations to help local students
A new initiative in an adjacent locality is helping to underscore the need for the Patrick County Promise Program, which was developed by the Patrick County Education Foundation (PCEF) three years ago.
The Harvest Foundation recently announced a $10.3 million, 13-year grant to the Student Excellence in Education (SEED) Fund, which gives every current K-12 student in Martinsville and Henry County the opportunity to attend Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) for free.
Patrick County student earns top honors in 2021 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest
A high school sophomore from Patrick County and a middle schooler from Fairfax were the first-place winners in the Virginia War Memorial’s 2021 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest.
The winners were announced at the 65th Annual Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony held Thursday, November 11 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond and livestreamed on social media.
Baliles, Reynolds to be honored at dedication event
Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) will hold a dedication event on Tuesday, December 7,
at its training facility in Stuart, unveiling the new name which will honor two major donors.
The facility, located at 221 Wood Brothers Drive (the former Food Lion building), will officially be named The Gerald L. Baliles and Richard S. Reynolds, Sr. Learning Center during the event that begins at 2 p.m.
A brief reception and a tour of the facility follow.
Capewell going strong with military contracts
Started in the late-1800s as a horseshoe nail manufacturer for the United States Cavalry, Capewell Aerial Systems Inc. in Meadows of Dan has kept its military roots and expanded to supply personal safety equipment to the U.S. armed forces. While Capewell uses a lot of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, the knowledge of how to sew is still needed for a lot of the work. As a result, many employees are female.
Ararat community fears isolation due to road condition
The Wolf Creek Lane community in Ararat is in desperate need of help as its road is close to being destroyed due to rain damage. Jill Terry, community resident, said the issues began during Hurricane Nicholas in mid-September when the storm rains were hitting the area.
General from Patrick to take final to rest in Arlington
Stanley O. Smith received his general stars from General Harley Hughes (left) and his wife Linda (right). He was promoted to the rank of general on March 1, 1988. The Patrick County native will be honored with a formal burial in the Arlington National Cemetery – a United States military cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Smith lays out pay raise proposal as Patrick faces officer shortages
Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith discussed the need to increase the salary of those who earn least in his office at a Nov. 8 meeting of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.
Mechanical Designs nears 40 years of service
Started in 1983, Mechanical Designs of Virginia has grown from a small machine shop with a handful of machinists to a largescale metal fabrication center. Wayne Gilley, president of Mechanical Designs of Virginia, has worked at the company since it’s opening in 1983.
Cooper takes over the helm of EMS
Scott Cooper will rely on his knowledge and experience to reach his overall goal of ensuring calls are answered and Patrick residents are served. Cooper, 53, recently accepted the county’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) Coordinator post.
Worley Machine Enterprises continues to expand
Worley Machine Enterprises, Inc. is the busiest they’ve been in years according to office manager Carin Belcher. Machinists at Worley Machine Enterprises create parts for the automotive, gas and oil, power generation, and heavy equipment sectors.
Company to expand facilities, increase operations
Ten Oaks, LLC, a manufacturer of high-quality residential hardwood floors, will invest nearly $9.3 million in Patrick County to construct a state-of-the-art hardwood sorting and stacking facility. Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring presented a $40,000 check from the state’s Agriculture & Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to assist Patrick County with Ten Oaks’ expansion. From left to right: Sean Adkins, Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director; Ring; and Patrick County Board of Supervisors member Clyde DeLoach.
County offices closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak
Much of the Patrick County Veterans Memorial Building will be shuttered for the rest of the week due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The closing may be extended, if needed, according to Patrick County Administrator Geri Hazelwood. Courts remain open.