New tourism director named in Halifax County

lhThe Halifax County Tourism Board announced Monday morning LaTonya Sadler Hamilton has been hired as Halifax County’s new tourism director and will start Wednesday.

Hamilton, a five-year employee and contractor in the tourism office, will replace long-time director Linda Shepperd who retired Tuesday.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead the county’s efforts in this rapidly-evolving industry,” Hamilton said. “I look forward to continuing the impressive work started by Linda Shepperd and working collaboratively with our attractions, economic development and our government leadership to make our county a premier place to live, work and play.”

“We’re excited to have a person with LaTonya’s talent and credentials,” said board chairman Tom Raab. “She will bring great energy and creativity as tourism director and has a good pulse on the community. Her education, experience and understanding of tourism’s economic impact in Halifax County were important factors that led to her selection.”

Hamilton has a BA from the University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration from Averett University. She lives in South Boston with her husband, Will, and their two-year-old daughter.

Hamilton brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position. She has worked tirelessly to promote Halifax County and coordinated local events such as SoBo Brew Fest and Halifax County Restaurant Week.

From The Gazette Virginian

Spainhour’s celebrates new location in SoBo

shdSurveying the food options at the buffet at Spainhour’s restaurant is like checking out the dishes of freshly prepared food in grandma’s kitchen before tucking into Sunday dinner, but with a slight twist.

Individuals will find the traditional favorites like meatloaf, chicken livers, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and succotash, along with more exotic offerings such as Thai chicken.

The style of food comes from co-owner Randy Spainhour’s cooking background.

His grandparents Mary and Frank Spainhour taught him how to cook traditional Southern favorites from a young age, he honed his technique for cooking chicken livers while working at the Golden Skillet in high school, and later learned how to cook for a diverse range of taste buds as a cook in the United States Coast Guard.

“It’s based on what my grandma taught me, so it’s foods that you would get at grandma’s house,” Randy said. “We also do different styles of food (such as) Thai chicken, something a little different to get everybody’s tastes in there.”

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Safety coordinator at Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative earns national certification

meckMecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s (MEC) Safety and Security Coordinator, Matt Shaw, has completed an intensive electric utility safety and loss control accreditation program.

The Certified Loss Control Professional program is structured to guide the Utility Safety Professional to manage workplace safety and ensure the safekeeping of the Cooperative’s resources.

Coupled with Shaw’s 30-year stretch in the industry, this program’s specifically designed workshops enhance the participant’s skills including emergency procedures, disaster recovery, environmental responsibilities, hazard and job analysis, hazard assessment, accident prevention, accident investigation and accident analysis. This unique program is administered and managed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in conjunction with the National Utility Training & Safety Education Association and in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin School of Business to promote the “Best Practices” in electric utility safety.

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Ground broken on shell building; Halifax County IDA leader calls it a ‘new era in economic development’

gb1Only a small amount of dirt was unearthed Friday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Southern Virginia Technology Park, but it was the beginning of something big for Halifax County.

County officials, along with Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) staff and board members and project investors, all grabbed a shovel and with a celebratory flourish broke ground at the future site of a shell building to attract businesses and industries to the county.

The real work begins this week when contractors will start construction on the shell building. The Samet Corporation, a company based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the contractor for the construction project.

“I look forward to the dawn of the new era in economic development in this community,” said Brian Brown, Halifax County IDA executive director. “The building will provide a competitive advantage and allow Halifax County access to many of the business opportunities we were not able to compete for in the past.”

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Academy named as recipient for ‘Solar for Students’ award

The Career Tech Academy (CTA) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) has been chosen by Dominion Energy and the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) to receive the Solar for Students Award. This award is available to Virginia schools and STEM-related educational organizations.

According to CTA administrator Stephanie Robinson, this award will be a step forward for the program.

“As our mechatronics program makes a shift to introduce mechanical and electrical concepts that focus on the energy sector, this resource will continue to promote educational awareness to not only our CTA programs, but our community and K-12 partners,” she said.

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Program to fund up to 20 new community projects

ChangeX, supported by a Community Empowerment Fund award from Microsoft, launched the Southern Virginia Community Challenge on Wednesday, a $35,000 fund for local community groups, schools and organizations that want to create thriving communities across the region.

The Challenge aims to support up to 20 teams to get new projects kicked off for the benefit of the local community.

People can choose from 12 ideas that have already proven to have a positive social or environmental impact, both in the US and Europe.

Among the ideas groups can choose from are “Pollinator Partnership,” a program to help neighborhoods protect pollinators to ensure healthy ecosystems and food security, “Cycling Without Age,” a Danish program that allows older people in nursing homes to maintain healthy connections with the local community through regular bicycle rides or a “Girls Who Code” club, a free extra-curricular program teaching girls about computer science in a fun and safe environment.

Upon applying to the Challenge, each team has 30 days to build a small team and design an action plan to be eligible for seed funding. The Challenge grants range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the selected idea.

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SVHEC’s Career Tech Academy awarded grant

svhecThe Career Tech Academy (CTA) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) is getting a boost thanks to a grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

According to CTA administrator Stephanie Robinson, the academy has been awarded $5,000 through Dominion’s Environmental Education and Stewardship Program. This annual program considers grant requests from eligible nonprofits and schools that focus on specific, short-term projects that promise measurable results to improve the environment.

“Through the partnership with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation, we are excited to have been selected to receive this grant, which will be put to great use,” Robinson said. “As our K-12 partners and the Virginia Department of Education move forward developing the new 17th career cluster – energy – the CTA has been working toward training our level one and level two students on the educational career pathways.

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Hospital sleep lab receives accreditation

The Sleep Lab at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital recently received program accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

“The Sleep Lab Team at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital has worked diligently to meet the requirements to receive this accreditation,” said Starann Ballou, RN, MSN, and manager of Patient Care Services. “We are pleased to be able to provide this valuable service to the members of our community and surrounding areas. Under the guidance of our Board-Certified Medical Director, Dr. Alan Goldberg, we will now be able to provide in-lab sleep testing, as well as home sleep studies for adult patients.”

To receive accreditation for a five-year period, a sleep center must meet or exceed all standards for professional health care as designated by the AASM. These standards address core areas such as personnel, facility and equipment, policies and procedures, data acquisition, patient care and quality assurance.

“The ability to diagnose and treat sleep disorders is a valuable service to our community,” said Sherri Bee, RN, MSN, NE-BC, director of cardiovascular services and quality. “As we work diligently to improve the health of our community every day, we are proud to be able to offer these expanded services.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited its first sleep disorder center in 1977. Today, there are more than 2,500 AASM-accredited sleep centers across the country. The AASM is a professional medical society for clinicians, researchers, and other health care providers in the field of sleep medicine.

For more information about sleep services at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, visit

From The Gazette Virginian