Tennessee lawmaker says Virginia needs to do more to fix Bristol landfill’s malodorous emissions

BY: - September 23, 2021

Not satisfied with how Virginia officials are handling the complaints, a Tennessee state senator wants his state agencies to investigate a Bristol, Virginia, landfill linked to air pollution and foul odors plaguing residents on both sides of the border. “In addition to the landfill causing odor nuisance issues, I believe it presents a health and […]

Can Southwest Virginia remake itself as a laboratory for renewables?

BY: - September 20, 2021

NORTON — In September 2020, the highwall came crashing down.  For decades, the more than 75-foot-high remnant of surface mining had dominated the eastern entry to Norton, looming over the intersection of Routes 23 and 58. Officials had long since forgotten what company had left behind the structure, which predated both the state’s mining agency […]

Legal challenge slows rural broadband plans in Virginia

BY: - September 15, 2021

Supporters call it a commonsense way to get broadband internet into more homes in rural Virginia. A Culpeper County couple calls it an unconstitutional infringement on their property rights. The fight, which has already halted an $600 million broadband expansion project, does not appear to be going away anytime soon. At issue is a 2020 […]

In Southwest Virginia, farmers and brewers hope for a grain renaissance

BY: - September 14, 2021

ST. PAUL — On a quiet Thursday afternoon in St. Paul, a town of about 850 that sits on the banks of the Clinch River straddling Wise and Russell counties, Greg Bailey was filling a growler of Scotch ale.  Beer has a colorful history in these parts. Once it flowed like water: so rowdy was […]


More regulation of the industry needed to ensure affordable broadband for all

BY: - August 26, 2021

By the Rev. Rick Willis As a member of the Eastern Shore Chapter of Virginia Organizing and a 20-year resident of Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore, I am responding to Ned Oliver’s August 16 comprehensive article in the Mercury regarding the $700 million the General Assembly has budgeted for broadband in its recent special session.  It […]

Another 38 special: inside the intense battle for a reliably red Virginia senate seat

BY: - March 22, 2021

What was expected to be a pretty predictable special election in Southwest Virginia has turned into a surprisingly intense fight in its closing days. Voters in Virginia’s 38th Senate District will elect a new state senator through 2023 on Tuesday. Incumbent Ben Chafin died on Jan. 1 from complications related to COVID-19. The district includes […]


‘Incredibly important to our long-term viability’: More rail investments coming to Southwest Virginia

BY: - March 3, 2021

Although the General Assembly approved a $83.5 million budget amendment this session, in part to extend passenger rail service deeper into Southwest Virginia, that doesn’t change the fact that there isn’t a train station or even a platform in the New River Valley. However, legislation from local lawmakers that is heading to the governor’s desk […]

A budget amendment is laying down the tracks for a Shenandoah Valley rail trail

BY: - October 19, 2020

When Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, introduced a budget amendment funding a study on creating a new 43-mile long rail trail in the Shenandoah Valley, the odds of the proposal making it into the final budget for the governor to sign looked slim.   After Wilt’s amendment was stricken from the House version of the budget, the […]

In Southwest Virginia, aging wastewater systems pose big problems for cash-strapped communities

BY: - October 15, 2020

Southwest Virginians have long looked beneath the surface of the rugged coalfield region for wealth and opportunity. But just below the asphalt and concrete of the communities that dot its ridges and valleys, the area’s aging and dilapidated wastewater systems are draining the coffers of localities already strapped for cash.  Across Virginia, water and wastewater […]

COVID-19 cases keep climbing at Virginia poultry plants; some members of Congress seek better protections

BY: and - May 5, 2020

COVID-19 cases continue to rise at Virginia’s Eastern Shore poultry plants, with Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday reporting more than 260 cases associated with two facilities run by Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms in Accomack County. “We are also still closely tracking cases in the Shenandoah Valley, which has a large number of plants — […]

COVID-19 pandemic is another strain for rural EMS services

BY: - April 22, 2020

Long country roads and a small, aging volunteer staff have been the norm for rural Virginia’s emergency medical services for years. But the current COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to stress staffing further, jeopardizing EMS providers’ ability to respond to other emergency calls. “That’s our biggest concern. If one of our members were exposed on […]

The State Corporation Commission

Regulators approve major electric rate increase for Old Dominion Power

BY: - April 16, 2020

The State Corporation Commission has approved a rate increase for the roughly 30,000 Southwest Virginians who get their electricity from Old Dominion Power, with the bump set to go into effect May 1.  In their April 6 order, regulators allowed the utility, which is the Virginia unit of Kentucky Utilities and the state’s smallest investor-owned […]