Guidelines for 2020 Holiday Gathering

Area health officials are encouraging everyone to not travel for this holiday season, or even to gather with anyone who lives outside of your immediate household because of the reported rising COVID19 cases. They are encouraging further, that if you simply must travel to consider getting tested before you leave town and then quarantining when you get there.
While bigger gatherings are still being discouraged, they’d like you to remember to be careful if you decide to gather. Some of the ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season is to remember social distancing of six feet apart, no physical contact, open a window to circulate fresh air, wear a mask over your mouth and nose when not eating or drinking. Disinfect often and remember to wash your hands frequently and correctly.

No Kid Hungry Grants 50K to Feeding America SWVA

The Feeding America of Southwest Virginia was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from No Kid Hungry of Virginia. This much needed and greatly appreciated grant will help to strengthen local nutritional programs in our area during this pandemic.

Barter Theatre Hosting Appalachian Festival of Plays

This season will be the 21st Annual Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights, and the event will be hosted by Barter Theatre. Another “virtual event’, this two week event will be online and will feature readings of new plays, offer play writing workshops and include panel discussions. This event is slated to begin on January 26,2021. For additional information you can visit online at

Northam’s Latest COVID19 Changes

According to a recent Press Release, the Commonwealth of Virginia will experience some new statewide pandemic related changes in their plan to eliminate the pandemic.
Having begun Sunday November 15th at midnight, all public and private gatherings will be limited to twenty five persons. He has increased the Mask Mandate to include individuals aged five and older. Retail business are required to adhere to the health guidelines and include an On-site Alcohol Curfew of 10pm.

24th Annual Speedway in Lights

Marking the 24th Seasonal Event, the Speedway in Lights at the Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway opened this last weekend. With more than two million lights, an opportunity to visit the Infield Christmas Village as well as an opportunity to take a lap around the fastest half mile track in the World, there’s something for everyone. Open nightly from 6-10pm, from now until January 2, 2021.
More information is available by clicking the link to

Virginia’s COVID19 Updates

According to a recent report from the Virginia Department of Health, two new COVID19 fatalities, and 112 new COVID19 cases have been reported in the Southwest Virginia region. Reports state that both Scott and Wise Counties have one death each, and Wise additionally has the highest New Case count, currently at 26.
Overall the Commonwealth of Virginia, shows a statewide increase of 1,235 reported cases with, 27 fatalities since last Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Salvation Army Needs Help

With the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Drive to begin soon, its important to get the word out that they still need volunteer bell ringers. This year especially the Cover the Need applications are being accepted for paid bell ringers. Keep in mind that bell ringers are needed every day of the week except for Sundays.
Which means as Christmas draws nearer, the need to more bell ringers will increase. Anyone interested in helping out and applying to be a bell ringer, can do so at the Salvation Army Headquarters in Bristol, Kingsport or Johnson City.

Lee County Public Schools Remote Learning

According to the latest Press Release from the Lee County Public Schools, the LCPS, will be operating with remote learning for all students with limited exemptions on Wednesday, November 18,2020. Today, November 17, 2020, will be an in-person day to allow time to prepare for the extended learning designation.
Per the School Board approved calendar, remote learning will continue next week through Wednesday, November 25, and in-person instruction will resume on Monday, November 30, 2020.
This change is being made in an abundance of caution due to the challenges related to staffing and operating several schools and an overall increase in positive and probable cases and related quarantines in Lee County.

LENOWISCO Health District Director Announces Retirement

Longtime LENOWISCO Health District Director Dr. Eleanor Sue Cantrell has announced plans to retire at the end of the year.
Cantrell, who started with the Virginia Department of Health in 1991 as the district’s director, was also the interim Cumberland Plateau Health District director for numerous years until 2016, when she became the official permanent director for both districts.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to work in public health and the many occasions to develop friendships and collaborations in the work with the many community partners in far Southwest Virginia and beyond,” Cantrell said in a statement issued by the Virginia Department of Health. “Our pandemic response efforts have been enhanced by the solid relationships already in place across the two districts, and will continue strong under the leadership of the VDH and the many partners engaged in this work.”
Before becoming LENOWISCO district director, Cantrell had an internal medicine practice in Norton. VDH Southwest Region spokesperson Robert Parker said the agency has begun its search for the next joint director of both districts. Cantrell’s replacement could be in place by the end of 2020. Her retirement takes effect Jan 1, 2021.
“Southwest Virginia has been my home for more than 45 years and I will continue to call it home and will continue to support and advocate for the work of those engaged in improving opportunities and health in our area,” Cantrell said. “However, after much consideration and prayer, I must devote more time to family commitments. which will now be a priority.”

Sammy McMahan Sentenced

Sammy McMahan age 54 of Big Stone Gap, Virginia has been sentenced to ten years incarceration to drug related charges in United States District Court in Abingdon.
According to court records, McMahan admitted his guilt to the charges of Conspiring to Distribute and Possession with the Intent to Distribute 500 grams of more of Methamphetamine.
McMahan was just one more of the original twenty-one individuals arrested in the multi jurisdictional Meth Ring roundup sting that took place in Lee and Wise counties.