School Board Special Called Meeting

The Lee County School Board will hold a Special Called Meeting on Tuesday, April 20 at 6pm at the School Board Office. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and consider personnel along with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural utility Service Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant.

With the 2021-22 school year being held with all in-person classes, the school board is needing to ensure they have the right personnel in the correct places to ensure that all state requirements are met.

The school board will also discuss the opportunity provided by The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. This grant program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another.

Grant funds may be used for acquisition of eligible capital assets, such as:
Broadband facilities
Audio, video and interactive video equipment
Terminal and data terminal equipment
Computer hardware, network components and software
Inside wiring and similar infrastructure that further DLT services
Acquisition of instructional programming that is a capital asset
Acquisition of technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment

The board will be required to match 15% of the grant-only awards and these funds cannot be from another federal source.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 17th. Lee County Walk 4 Autism in Jonesville. This is the eighth year for the Lee County Walk 4 Autism. The Run/Walk 5k event will be held on Saturday, with registration beginning at 8am at Jonesville Middle School with the cost being $25.00 including an event t-shirt. This 5k event will begin at 9am with the proceeds going to purchase equipment and materials for students in our area. For more information for the Lee County Walk 4 Autism look up their facebook page or email to leecounty-walk4autism@gmail.com

Saturday, April 24th – Scouts in the River. Scouts in the River is an annual event held in conjunction with the Town of Pennington Gap and Girl Scout Troup 603. This event is a great time to clean up our Greenway along the Powell River and get out in the fresh air with your friends. Although it is too late to make a donation to sponsor the t-shirts, donations of water and snack items would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to participate, you are asked to meet the morning of the event at the Greenway entrance at the Riverbend Shopping Center. The first 100 people to participate will receive a free t-shirt along with the supplies needed to help in this cleanup

Friday, May the 14th at 6pm. The town of Jonesville will hold a parade to honor Lee County 2021 Graduates. Cody Lane, a senior at Lee High School, made a request during the last Jonesville town council meeting to hold a parade in honor of the 2021 graduating students. This parade was unanimously approved by the town council, an act that helps show the appreciation to these students who have had to endure the hardships of not being able to hold in person class, along with the other events students get to participate in during a normal school year.

No More Remote Leaning for Lee County Students

For the 2021-2022 school year, all Lee County students will be able to be in the classroom.  This decision comes on the heels of new guidance from the state concerning in class learning.  This is welcome news to many students and parents looking forward to the new school year.  All school board members were in agreement that in person learning is the best possible situation for everyone involved.  The only possible exception to allow remote learning will be days where inclement weather plays a factor.  The infrastructure put in place for remote learning will be a great asset to the schools and students during these periods.

The board also discussed the calendar for the new school year with District 2 member Rob Hines requesting the new year start on a Thursday instead of a Monday.  The reasoning for wanting this change would allow students a little time to adjust to their new schedules. 

In other school news, it was reported that over 500 students have enrolled in this year’s summer school which will be held June the 1st thru the 24th.  Classes will be held Monday through Thursday from 8:am until 1pm.

Public Hearing on State Route 739

The Lee County Board of Supervisors will address the proposed abandonment of 1.1 mile of of Harris Hollow Road and Hunting Club Road during their scheduled meeting on April 20th. The propsal of this abandonment also includes the swinging pedestrain bridge which is currently not in use. Currently, Virginia Department of Transportation maintains the road and bridge, but if the board approves the abandonmnet, it would be under new supervision.

This proposal was brought up by the land owner, Greg Estes, who owns most of the property in the area, would like to see it closed offering to create a new access area to the river a few miles away. This new access area would include a boat ramp, picnic area, horse and walking trails and other amenities for the public that he believes will be a much better for the people wanting to keep this road access open. He also stated there is plans to restore the swinging bridge and make improvements but the process could take years.

This proposal has met with some backlash from local residents, as petition was created and is circulating online to keep the road open and the bridge the way it is. This online petition, at the time this article was written, has 250 supporters. These petition signers do not want to lose the bridge and current river access saying the area is a landmark and hold many memories for them.

The board stated in their previous meeting they would gather more information about the closing and address this closure on their scheduled meeting April the 20th.

Senator Kaine tours Lee County Community Hospital

Lee Regional Health Center closed eight years ago, forcing Lee Countians to travel and worry about being able to get health care from an emergency facility. This worry will soon be a memory as the facility is set to reopen July 1st.
Senator Tim Kaine toured the facility Friday with Ballad officials saying the believed the renovation will make our hospital efficient and effective for the citizens of our area. Lindy White with Ballad Health added that they have started the hiring process and working to get the team of physicians along with other personnel in place.
The reopening of our hospital has faced many setbacks, non the least the Covid-19 pandemic but the process is almost complete and all are looking forward to final state approvals.
Due to many rural hospitals like ours have been closed in the last few years, Senator Kaine long with Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Raphael Warnock of Georgia are proposing a bill to aid rural hospitals to try and keep other communities from suffering the same issues Lee County citizens has endured over the last 8 years. Kaine said he hoped the process that is almost complete between Lee County and Ballad Health can be an example on how to get, and maybe keep, rural hospitals open to serve local communities all over the country.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE CLINIC SATURDAY

THE LENOWISCO HEALTH DISTRICT IS HOLDING A JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINATION CLINIC THIS SATURDAY FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE PRE-REGISTERED TO RECEIVE THE VACCINE ON THE STATE REGISTRATION LIST. ELIGIBLE PERSONS ARE THOSE ESSENTIAL WORKERS IN GROUP 1A, 1B AND 1C ALONG WITH ANY PERSONS 65 AND OLDER OR 16 TO 64 WITH UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITIONS. THE ELIGIBLE REGISTERED PERSONS WILL BE CONTACTED VIA PHONE OR EMAIL PROVIDED WHEN REGISTERING.

THE JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE HAS BEEN PREFERRED BY MANY PEOPLE AS IT IS A ONE DOSE VACCINATION EVEN THOUGH ITS COVID19 PREVENTION EFFICACY RATE IS LOWER THAN THE OTHER TWO CURRENTLY OFFERED VACCINES. EVEN THOUGH THIS NUMBER IS LOWER, STUDIES SHOW THIS VACCINE HAS A PROVIDED 100 PERCENT EFFICACY AGAINST HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS. IT IS TRULY A NUMBER PEOPLE CAN LIVE WITH.

THE GUIDANCE FOR ANYONE WANTING THIS, OR ANY VACCINE, IS TO DISCUSS THE OPTIONS WITH THIER HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. THEY CAN ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE CONCERNING THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND WHICH, IF ANY, IS RIGHT FOR AN INDIVIDUAL.

IF YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS CONERNING COVID-19 VACCINES, WANT TO PRE-REGISTER FOR A VACCINE CLINIC IN OUR AREA, OR JUST NEED MORE INFORMATION CONCERNING THE COVID-19 VACCINE, YOU CAN CALL 1-877-VAX IN VA, WHICH IS 877-829-4682 OR GO ONLINE TO VACCINATE.VIRGINIA.GOV. REMEMBER, YOU MUST REGISTER ONE OF THESE TWO WAYS IN ORDER TO BE ON THE CONTACT LIST FOR THIS OR FUTURE VACCINATION CLINICS IN OUR AREA.

VEC Notifies Local Victims of Unemployment Claim Fraud & ID Theft

In a Press Release by the Better Business Bureau, the Virginia Employment Commission has issued a warning on their website that some customers have had their banking information changed without their permission. This warning comes after several customers have reported this error to the Commission stating their bank account information is incorrect. The VEC is investigating these reports and notifying victims by mail of unemployment claim fraud. If you have received one of these letters, you might be the victim of identity theft through a fraudulent unemployment claim. Also, due to the investigation and information verification, the claims filing website of the agency has limited some functionality until further notice. The way these thieves are working this scam is you receive a phone call from a person impersonating a government agency representative. They request you verify your personal information for your unemployment claim. You could also receive an email and/or text message with a link to an application prompting you to enter in personal data. If you believe you have fell victim to one of these scams, please contact the VEC via their website or call the Fraud Hotline at 800-782-4001.

The full press release is available here.

LEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE MARCH 2021 REPORT

THE LEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE PUBLISHED ITS MONTHLY REPORT FOR MARCH 2021 LISTING OVER 5,000 TOTAL CALLS RECEIVED AT THE DISPATCH OFFICE. OF THE 5044 TOTAL CALLS RECEIVED, 851 OF THESE CALLS RESULTED IN A DEPUTY BEING DISPATCHED. OTHER DOCUMENTED CALLS INCLUDE:

494 CALLS DISPATCHED TO THE FIRE WARDEN, CONSERVATION OFFICER, VDOT, JUVENILE SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, ANIMAL CONTROL, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE AND THE TOWNS OF PENNINGTON GAP AND JONESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENTS.

THERE WERE ALSO 29 RESCUE SQUAD CALLS PLUS 10 AMBULANCE CALLS DISPATCHED AS WELL AS 74 FIRE DEPARTMENT CALLS DISPATCHED.

ALONG WITH EXECUTING 3 SEARCH WARRANTS, LEE COUNTY DEPUTIES SERVED 107 FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR WARRANTS, 100 SUBPOENAS, 33 SHOW CAUSE SUMMONS AND 205 CIVIL PAPERS FOR THE COURTS. DEPUTIES ALSO PROCESSED 51 PEOPLE ON 107 CHARGES, SERVED 79 PROTECTIVE ORDERS AND TRANSPORTED 4 PROSONERS FROM OTHER JURISDICTIONS.

THE LEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES ALSO ESCORTED 14 FUNERALS AND UNLOCKED 42 VEHICLES FOR THE CITIZENS OF LEE COUNTY. WHILE DOING ALL OF THIS WORK, DEPUTIES TRAVELED A TOTAL OF 58,509 MILES WITH A LITTLE OVER 1400 BEING ON TRANSPORTS.

NEW TRASH CANS FOR PENNINGTON GAP

THE TOWN OF PENNINGTON GAP IS WORKING TO HELP KEEP EMPLOYEES SAFE WHILE SUPPLYING TRASH CANS TO PENNINGTON GAP RESIDENTS. THESE NEW ROLLING TRASH CANS WILL START BEING ISSUED TODAY BY TOWN EMPLOYEES TO EACH PENNINGTON GAP HOUSEHOLD. THIS PROCEDURE WILL NOT ONLY HELP TOWN RESIDENTS BUT HELP KEEP THE TOWN’S SANITATION PERSONNEL SAFE WHILE DOING THIER JOB. THE TRASH IN THESE NEW CANS WILL BE COLLECTED WITH A NEW, HANDS FREE COLLECTION DEVICE WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY NOT ONLY MAKE IT SAFER FOR THESE EMPLOYEES BUT ALSO MAKE IT QUICKER AND EASIER TO COMPLETE THIS SERVICE.

ONE TRASH CAN WILL BE ISSUED AT NO COST TO EACH HOUSEHOLD BUT, IF MORE THAN ONE TRASH CAN IS NEEDED FOR YOUR HOUSEHOLD, YOU CAN OBTAIN ONE FROM THE TOWN FOR A MERE $5.00 CHARGE. THIS ADDITIONAL TRASH CAN WILL BE ADDED TO THE MONTHLY WATER BILL TO MAKE IT MORE CONVENIENT FOR HOUSEHOLDS NEEDING ONE.

WITH THIS CHANGE, THE TOWN OF PENNINGTON GAP TRASH POLICY WILL ALSO BE MODIFIED TO WORK WITH THESE NEW PROCEDURES.

TRASH WILL NOW ONLY BE PICKED UP FROM TOWN ISSUED CANS ONLY.
TRASHCANS MUST BE PLACED BESIDE THE CURB ON THE SCHEDULED PICK UP DAY FOR YOUR AREA.
TRASHCANS MUST NOT REMAIN BESIDE THE CURB AFTER BEING EMPTIED.
TRASH THAT IS NOT IN THE TRASHCAN WILL NOT BE PICKED UP.
THE ACCOUNT HOLDER FOR THE HOUSEHOLD WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TRASH CAN.

IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT OF PENNINGTON GAP AND DO NOT RECEIVE YOUR NEW CAN, NEED ADDITIONAL CANS OR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS CONCERNING THIS NEW TRASH GUIDLINE, PLEASE CONTACT THE TOWN OF PENNINGTON GAP AT 546-1177.

Scouts in the River Cleanup

Scouts in the River Cleanup will be held on April 24th starting at 8am. Sponsored by the Town of Pennington gap and Girl Scout Troop 603, this is the 3rd year of this program that works to keep our stretch of the Powell River Clean. There is an abundance of trash that collects along the Powell River adjacent to the Pennington Gap Greenway throughout the year. This trash, as everyone knows, hurts our wildlife and takes away from the beauty of our area. This day is set aside each year to remove this unwanted trash to clean the river to its normal, beautiful state.

There are many ways you can volunteer your time along with much needed donation support to help with the valuable project. The Town of Pennington Gap is looking for sponsors for T-Shirts at a cost of $25.00 which puts your company name on the back of the event t-shirts. They are also asking for donations of snacks and water for the participants cleaning the area.

If you would like to participate in this event, the first 100 people to attend and participate will be given a free t-shirt you can wear proudly to show your support. Participant Volunteers are asked to meet that the Riverview Shopping Center Greenway entrance the morning of the event to receive instruction and supplies to help with this cleanup event. So come out and join your friends and neighbors while helping our town and environment.

For more information on the 3rd Annual Scouts in the River Cleanup, you can call the Town of Pennington Gap Town Hall at 546-1177.