Two Southwest Virginia towns come to the forefront as the web-episode series Save Our Towns begins its fourth season. Town officials in Damascus and Pennington Gap make appearances in the first episode.
The Example of Awesome story shows how Damascus – about 15 miles southeast of Abingdon, Virginia – seeks to nurture a year-round tourism-based economy. Pennington Gap, the Lee County town that will be followed for a year, inspires the question: Can the town survive given setbacks that include a scandal in the police department, the closure of the county hospital, and a fire that destroyed town hall?
In Maxwell’s Number, Maxwell Vandervliet of New York City, a master's student of urban and regional planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, shares data about agritourism. A Pamplin College of Business study of economic impacts turned up fascinating numbers in research that also involved the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Also in the episode, author of best-selling legal thrillers Scott Pratt articulates what defines the heart of Appalachia, and the founding director of the Appalachian Regional Studies Center at Radford University, Grace Toney Edwards, offers an expert tip.
Award-winning Save Our Towns has been recognized in communications and higher-education competitions, including a "grand award" and an "award of excellence" from CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Two national communications awards include the Bulldog Reporter competition, the only U.S.-based contest exclusively judged by journalists, as well as a Best Community Affairs award from PR Daily-Ragan.