A1 A1
Northam announces grant funds for Blackgum water project in Scott County
  • Updated

RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday announced that Scott County had been awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for a water project in the Blackgum community, where several homes have been without water for more than a year.

Six rural localities received funding to support COVID-19 response, housing rehabilitation, and water and sewer improvements across the state. Scott County, along with the Scott County Public Service Authority, will receive funding to extend public water service to Blackgum residents, creating a safe, reliable water source for nearly 20 households.

“Supporting housing, infrastructure and other immediate needs of our rural communities is more important now than it has ever been,” Northam said in a press release. “This funding supports projects that will enable these six localities to continue delivering essential services to Virginians during the pandemic and help build a stronger future for our commonwealth.”

About the grants

More than $3.8 million worth of CDBG was awarded to the counties of Montgomery, Scott and Southampton, the towns of Appomattox and Independence, and the city of Norton. Funds will benefit more than 1,400 low- to moderate-income Virginians throughout the six communities.

The federally funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development since 1982 and annually receives approximately $18.5 million to distribute to small cities, counties and towns. Most CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process, with a goal of benefiting low- and moderate-income households, improving housing and infrastructure, and addressing an urgent community need.

“These grants fund six vastly different projects, all targeted to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in these communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “One of CDBG’s great advantages is its flexibility to support a wide range of projects, and it is an important tool in solving issues caused or exacerbated by COVID-19.”

About the project

The Blackgum water project was awarded $313,500 from a CDBG Community Improvement Grant.

The project will serve 19 households and 31 low- to moderate-income individuals, who have been relying on reservoir water and bottled water since November 2019.

Delegate Terry Kilgore and Senator Todd Pillion release the following joint statement about the grant: “We are grateful for the DHCD’s decision to fund the Blackgum water project in Scott County. This funding will be used to provide public water to the residents of Blackgum Lane, who have been without access to running water since Thanksgiving of 2019. The community of Blackgum came together to help each other during a time of need. We are glad that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for the residents of Blackgum. This effort was a collaboration between our offices, LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, and the Scott County Board of Supervisors to secure funding and we appreciate DCHD for selecting this project.”

During its August 2020 meeting, the Scott County Board of Supervisors heard from four residents of the Blackgum Lane area about their lack of water access. A week after that meeting, the county declared a local emergency for the community in an effort to bring quicker attention to the problem.

Two months later, the BOS approved a resolution supporting the CDBG application.

Now that the funding has been awarded, BOS members expressed hope at this month’s meeting that the project could begin soon.

“Hopefully we can get that thing started sooner than later,” Supervisor Danny Mann said during the meeting. “It’s been approved and the funding’s been approved for it, so hopefully they can get it done.”

Several local venues are available for prom photoshoots in the coming weeks, including the Kingsport Carousel.

Kingsport Carousel reopens today on limited basis

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Carousel will reopen to the public on Saturday with limited hours and limited capacity.

The carousel will be open Wednesday through Sunday, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The facility will close from 2:30 to 3 p.m. each day for cleaning to help ensure the health and safety of all guests and staff.

Preparing for your visit

• Please wear a mask or face covering.

• Be familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19. If you are not feeling well, stay home.

• Follow social distancing guidelines.

• Please note there are specific entrances to the carousel, one on the Farmers Market side and one on the Food City side of the building. All guests will exit through Carousel Park.

Kingsport and carousel staff are following protocols to reopen the facility in a safe manner under the guidelines of the governor of Tennessee, the CDC, and Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

The staff asks that you please observe the new protocols so that all visitors can continue to enjoy the carousel.

top story
COVID-19: Active cases continue decline as Ballad sees slight increase in hospitalizations

Northeast Tennessee’s active COVID-19 case count fell by 71 after the region reported a slight bump on Thursday, with 1,262 active cases in the upper eight counties.

Friday’s active case count is the region’s lowest since Oct. 9, when the region had 1,192 active cases.

Active cases fell in six of the region’s eight counties, with Unicoi (+4) and Washington (+10) seeing an increase. Sullivan County (371) remains the region’s leader in active cases, with Washington County (265) trailing.

Since hitting a second peak of 5,260 active cases on Jan. 10, the region’s active case count has fallen by 77.3%. Active cases have declined by 34.1% since Jan. 31.

{p class=”tncms-inline-link”}Daily COVID-19 Info

Ballad reports slight increase in inpatients

Ballad Health reported a four-person increase in virus-related hospitalizations on Friday, up from 103 on Wednesday.

It is the first time inpatients have increased in consecutive reporting days since mid-January.

Ballad Health cut down the number of days a week it releases its scorecard from seven to three earlier this week, so data for Thursday is not available.

In addition to the increase in inpatients, the hospital system’s critical care patients also jumped up.

As of Friday, there were 23 (+3) people in intensive care and 16 (+4) on ventilators. Both are at their highest levels since last month.

NET by the numbers

Cases: 48,503 (+102). Last seven days: 950

New cases by county: Carter 18, Greene -2, Hancock 2, Hawkins 15, Johnson 2, Sullivan 30, Unicoi 4, Washington 33.

New cases among school-age children: 10

Active cases: 1,262 (-71)

Active cases by county: Carter 161, Greene 181, Hancock 13, Hawkins 204, Johnson 40, Sullivan 317, Unicoi 27, Washington 265.

Mountain Home VA active cases: 75

New tests: 1,296 (8.02% positivity rate)

New hospitalizations: 6. Last seven days: 29

Deaths: 956 (+7). Last seven days: 30

Tennessee by the numbers

Cases: 754,279 (+2,246)

New tests: 24,807 (7.59% positivity)

Deaths: 10,893 (+81)

Active cases: 24,637 (-448)

Inactive cases: 718,749 (+2,613)

Current hospitalizations: 1,195 (-33)

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases near 30

The LENOWISCO Health District’s number of new COVID-19 cases climbed to just under 30, according to Friday’s state data report, while more than 550 people got vaccinations.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) said the LENOWISCO district reported 29 COVID-19- related cases but no additional deaths for totals of 6,763 and 172 deaths during the pandemic.

Wise County saw 14 cases for 2,764 and 84 deaths. Lee County had seven cases for 2,219 and 38 deaths.

Scott County saw six cases for 1,544 and 46 deaths. Norton had two cases for 236 and four deaths.

Across the district, 13,861 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given since they became available in Virginia — 558 additional doses since Thursday’s report and 16.03% of the district population.

Allocation of doses to individual health districts was not available on VDH’s vaccine information website on Friday. The last released total of vaccines for the LENOWISCO district was 22,225.

The number of people in the district receiving the recommended two doses is 2,874 — 3.32% of the district’s 86,471 population.

Statewide, 1,243,231 doses have been given and 270,738 people have received two doses — 3.14% of the 8.63 million state population fully vaccinated.

The VDH reported 3,191 more cases and eight new deaths statewide in the prior 24 hours, for pandemic totals of 544,209 and 6,966 deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Friday’s VDH report was 6,976,127 of 8.63 million residents, or 80.84%. For nasal swab testing only, 5,553,955 people have been tested to date, or 64.36%. In the LENOWISCO district, 39,375 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 45.54%.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Friday’s report dropped from 10.1% to 8.8%.

According to the VDH’s Outbreaks by Selected Exposure Settings dashboard on Friday, an outbreak at NOVA Health and Rehabilitation in Scott County was marked closed with 112 staff and/or resident cases and 17 deaths. An outbreak at Ridgecrest Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation was also marked closed with 113 cases and fewer than five deaths.

In Lee County, an outbreak at Lee Health and Rehabilitation remained in progress with 177 cases and 19 deaths.

An outbreak at Heritage Hall Big Stone Gap in Wise County was marked closed with 221 cases and 41 deaths. An outbreak reported Jan. 7 at Eastside High School in Coeburn was marked pending closure with seven cases.

Inmate cases at Red Onion State Prison remained at 61 inmate cases and two staff/contractor cases Friday, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections. Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at 20 inmate cases and one active staff/contractor case. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 24 inmate cases and no active staff/contractor cases.

According to Friday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, daily case incidence in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — was ranked as decreasing after an overall 39-day drop in daily case rates. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results was classed as declining based on an overall 42-day decrease in that measure.

In the LENOWISCO district, Lee, Wise and Scott counties’ school systems were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district, and Norton City Schools were ranked higher-risk. For seven-day case incidence, Lee and Scott counties’ school systems were ranked lowest-risk. Wise County and Norton City schools were ranked highest-risk.


More information about COVID-19 vaccination can be found online at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine. For details on COVID-19 vaccination in the LENOWISCO District, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lenowisco/.

Contact numbers for local health districts are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000

Where to be tested

Do you think you might have COVID-19? Local health departments provide free testing.

The LENOWISCO Health Department, which covers Norton and Lee, Wise and Scott counties, posts regular updates on testing sites across the district and offers free COVID-19 tests at its county offices. Those seeking a test must call in advance for an appointment. Contact numbers for the county offices are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000

Additional testing and COVID-19 precaution information can be found at the LENOWISCO Health District’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Lenowisco.

In Southwest Virginia, online resources are available to help evaluate whether residents might be infected and where to get a COVID-19 test. The Virginia Department of Health’s COVIDCHECK (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/) can walk a user through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.

Vegetable seedlings and citrus plants appear in pots, jars and cans on a ledge inside a home in Westchester County, N.Y. on Feb. 8, 2021. Deep into this pandemic winter, it can be hard to remember what a refuge gardens were for many people last spring and summer. But even in winter the garden can provide comfort and perspective.