Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $703,900 in federal funding for communities throughout Southwest Virginia in order to boost economic development and upgrade old and out-of-date equipment used for critical public services. The funding is awarded through two programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development division, which aims to support economic development and essential services that improve quality of life in rural communities.

“We are glad to support investments that will spur economic development and fund much needed equipment for public works,” the Senators said. “These grants will help to ensure that Virginia’s rural communities have equipment they need to safely and effectively serve residents, from trash collection and construction to providing community safety services and well-maintained gathering spaces.”

Awarded through the USDA Rural Business Development Grants:

  • $250,000 to the Town of Hillsville, VA to assist with the completion of the fifth phase of the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market, including pavement, curb, and gutter.
  • $105,000 to the Town of RichlandsVA to create a revolving loan fund that will serve as a recruitment and retention tool for micro- and small businesses.

Awarded through the USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program

  • $200,000 to Grayson County for the purchase of two sanitation vehicles to replace older vehicles that are unreliable and in need of costly repairs.
  • $93,700 to the Town of Coeburn for the purchase of a backhoe to be used by the public works department. 
  • $50,000 to Alleghany Highlands Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Covington, VA for the purchase of two fourteen-passenger vehicles, which will help replace older, unsafe vehicles.
  • $5,200 to the Town of Boones Mill for the purchase of a law enforcement vehicle to replace an older, unsafe vehicle in need of costly repairs. 

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $682,479 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for projects in Carroll County and the towns of Hurley and Whitewood. The funding will go toward expanding access to broadband and supporting recovery efforts following devastating flooding in Buchanan County.

“We are proud to announce these investments in Southwest Virginia,” said the Senators. “This funding will help rebuild homes that were devastated by flooding and bring critical infrastructure to rural communities by expanding access to high-speed internet.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  1. $582,479 to Carroll County for the Pipers Gap Fiber Project to install 8.2 miles of fiber to expand wireless broadband and fiber in the area. The Pipers Gap Fiber Project is expected to expand access to 402 households that currently do not have high-speed internet.
  2. $100,000 to United Way of Southwest Virginia, Inc. for the Hurley-Whitewood Disaster Recovery Project to help the towns of Hurley and Whitewood recover from multiple devastating flooding events. The Hurley-Whitewood Disaster Recovery Project will assist 129 households with disaster relief and constructing or rehabilitating 50 homes.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, including Virginia, with a mission to build community capacity, strengthen economic growth, and bring the Appalachian region into socioeconomic parity with the nation. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for a fully funded ARC that can increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have pushed for federal assistance following the August 2021 flooding in Hurley and July 2022 flooding in Whitewood. In October 2021, they successfully pushed the President to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. In September 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully urged President Biden to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan and Tazewell Counties following the July 2022 flooding.

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,165,000 in federal funding for four economic development projects in Southwest Virginia.

“We are excited to support this investment in Southwest Virginia’s economic development. These funds will create jobs, increase recreational opportunities, improve public health, and make necessary advancements for Virginia’s underserved communities as we continue to support increasingly diverse local economies,” the Senators said.

The funding is broken down as follows:

  • $1,500,000 to Appalachian Sustainable Development for the Food Sector Workforce Development in Central Appalachia Project to address new opportunities and challenges facing agricultural producers and food processors across Southwest Virginia.
  • $1,500,000 to the New River Valley Regional Commission for the New River Water Trail Expansion Project to construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail in Fairlawn, VA.
  • $665,000 to Henry County for the Dick & Willie Passage Trail 6A Completion Project to complete the last mile of an existing gap in the D&W Trail in Henry County, VA.
  • $500,000 to St. Mary’s Health Wagon for the Expansion of Dental Services for Central Appalachia Project to facilitate education and training of new dental professionals in Clintwood, Virginia.

This funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)'s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. This initiative provides grants to communities that have been affected by severe job losses in the coal industry and the changing dynamics of America’s energy production.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for a fully funded ARC that can increase employment and economic opportunities in Appalachia 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) issued a statement after President Biden formally approved the Commonwealth of Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration in response to the severe flooding event in Southwest Virginia on July 13, 2022. This declaration triggers the release of Public Assistance in the affected areas, while the Commonwealth’s request for Individual Assistance remains under review.

“We are pleased that the federal government has taken this crucial step to aid recovery efforts in Buchanan and Tazewell counties,” said the lawmakers. “We will continue pushing for Individual Assistance and all resources needed to help residents rebuild following this devastating flooding.”

Today’s announcement comes after Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith urged President Biden to issue a Major Disaster Declaration earlier this month.  

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $2,067,003 million in federal funding for three projects to improve water service in Southwest Virginia.

“Reliable, up-to-date water infrastructure is critical for the health and safety of our communities,” said the Senators. “We are glad to see these federal funds go towards necessary improvements in underserved communities in order to ensure dependable service.”

The funding is broken down as follows:

  1. $1,000,000 for the Project Jonah Water and Sewer Improvements to provide water and sewer service improvements in Tazewell, VA.
  2. $525,000 for the Upper Clip Mountain – Phase II Water Project to extend public water service in unserved areas in Scott County, VA.
  3. $542,003 for the Ocoonita – Miller Smyth Chapel Interconnect Project to connect two separate water supply systems in order to provide greater reliability of water supply in Lee County, VA.

This funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  The ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian region.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) wrote a letter to President Biden, formally requesting the approval of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and federal assistance for individuals affected by the extreme and devastating rainfall event that occurred on July 13, 2022. This request includes Individual and Public Assistance for Buchanan County, Public Assistance for Tazewell County, and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“This extreme storm event dropped seven inches of rain on eastern Buchanan County and northwestern Tazewell County within several hours, which resulted in flash flooding that damaged waterlines, transmission lines, roads, bridges, homes, and businesses. The joint preliminary damage assessment found that this severe storm event destroyed 37 homes and caused significant damage to 54 other properties in Buchanan County,” wrote the lawmakers. “This major storm event comes less than a year after the community of Hurley, Virginia – located in Buchanan County – experienced a devastating rainfall event that resulted in heavy flooding, landslides, and mudslides that destroyed 31 homes and resulted in major damage to 27 other properties, along with extensive damage to other public and private infrastructure.”

“Our constituents in Buchanan County are still grappling with the aftermath of this devastating storm event, which resulted in a Major Disaster Declaration, and are now forced to respond to this debilitating storm event. Many residents in Buchanan County remain displaced from last year’s extreme rainfall event and are already facing another uprooting of their lives,” they continued. “The impact of these two natural disasters within a calendar year has severely stressed the resources and capabilities of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. We hope you consider this cumulative impact on this community as you review the Commonwealth’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration.”

In their letter, the lawmakers noted the particular need for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County and its residents, who have withstood multiple natural disasters within a year. The Administration’s approval of a Major Disaster Declaration would provide a surge of federal resources and support, allowing Virginia to more quickly respond to and recover from the direct and indirect consequences caused by July’s storm.  

Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith have been pushing for federal assistance since the devastating floods of August 2021. In October 2021, they sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden to express their strong support for former Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam's September 30th request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. Later that month, the President approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which provided Public Assistance for Buchanan County and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, on October 29, the Administration issued a formal denial of Governor Northam’s request for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County. In December 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith sent a letter to President Biden asking his administration to approve an appeal that would grant federal assistance to individual residents in and around Hurley, Virginia. Despite these efforts, Virginia’s appeal was ultimately denied in January 2022.

Today’s letter comes after Sen. Warner visited Buchanan County on August 22 and Sen. Kaine and Rep. Griffith visited Buchanan County on August 26 – all to see the impacts of the flooding and hear from impacted Virginians.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear President Biden:

We write today to express our strong support for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the counties of Buchanan and Tazewell, following the extreme and devastating rainfall event that occurred on July 13, 2022. The Governor has requested Individual and Public Assistance for Buchanan County, Public Assistance for Tazewell County, and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On July 13, 2022, Governor Youngkin declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth following severe flooding that occurred that morning. This extreme storm event dropped seven inches of rain on eastern Buchanan County and northwestern Tazewell County within several hours, which resulted in flash flooding that damaged waterlines, transmission lines, roads, bridges, homes, and businesses. The joint preliminary damage assessment found that this severe storm event destroyed 37 homes and caused significant damage to 54 other properties in Buchanan County.

This major storm event comes less than a year after the community of Hurley, Virginia – located in Buchanan County – experienced a devastating rainfall event that resulted in heavy flooding, landslides, and mudslides that destroyed 31 homes and resulted in major damage to 27 other properties, along with extensive damage to other public and private infrastructure. Our constituents in Buchanan County are still grappling with the aftermath of this devastating storm event, which resulted in a Major Disaster Declaration, and are now forced to respond to this debilitating storm event. Many residents in Buchanan County remain displaced from last year’s extreme rainfall event and are already facing another uprooting of their lives. The impact of these two natural disasters within a calendar year has severely stressed the resources and capabilities of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. We hope you consider this cumulative impact on this community as you review the Commonwealth’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration.

A Major Disaster Declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of this significant storm event. Federal assistance – particularly the issuance of Individual Assistance – is needed in Buchanan County to help our constituents recover and rebuild following multiple natural disasters.

We thank you for your consideration of Governor Youngkin’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration. We look forward to working with you, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other relevant federal agencies to ensure the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to support our constituents following this tragic event.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Last week, Sen. Warner hit the road, making 14 stops across Southwest and Southside Virginia to highlight a wealth of accomplishments from a session of Congress that he believes “will be looked back upon as one of the most productive years – literally – since the 1960s.”

From Wise to Washington to Wythe, and everywhere in between, Sen. Warner met Virginians, talking to kids about biscuits and civic engagement… to education leaders about access to high-speed internet… and to residents and volunteers about the devastation caused by flooding in Buchanan County. He also toured revitalization efforts in downtown Danville…  sat down with community leaders to discuss manufacturing expansion opportunities in New River Valley… and even exchanged famous recipes with Russell County’s very own Linda Skeens, who won an astounding number of ribbons at the Virginia-Kentucky State Fair earlier this year. Rumor has it that Ms. Skeens has even agreed to include Sen. Warner’s tuna melt recipe in her upcoming cookbook.

Sen. Warner also proudly delivered millions in federal funding for very worthy projects that seek to improve access to rural health and dental care, as well as tackle food insecurity and substance use disorder. He also discussed and answered questions pertaining to some major accomplishments out of Washington, including his landmark infrastructure law, his law to restore American technological leadership and manufacturing of semiconductors, and President Biden’s recent signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowers prescription drug costs, closes tax loopholes for billionaire corporations, and provides financial security for miners by extending the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate.

Bristol Herald Courier: Senator Warner's visit to Wise County Health Wagon is worth $1.25 million

WISE, Va. – U.S. Sen. Mark Warner looked around the most quiet Wise County Fairgrounds Monday and remembered more hectic times.

Warner, D-Va., returned to the fairgrounds – longtime host site of Remote Area Medical clinics -- to formally present $1.25 million to the Health Wagon for construction of its new dental clinic.

“The reason why this fairgrounds is so special, it was 2002 – the first year I was governor – and I’d heard about what you guys were doing here,” Warner said prior to the check presentation. “I remember dentists from all over the commonwealth, but who was going to show up? It ended up being thousands and thousands of people – not only Southwest Virginia but from Michigan, from Florida – driving for days just to come here and get dental assistance.”

Warner returned many times, brought each of his children to help volunteer and had his Senate staff members come from across the state to volunteer so they better understood the issues.

“The memories I have are of hot days, 60-70 chairs at once where people were being taken care of,” he said. “One of the things that was so typical of Southwest was it was people caring for people. No matter how much crummy stuff was going on in the country or around the world, you could not come to the whole effort and not come away with a belief in the basic goodness of people.”

Similar efforts – on a lesser scale -- are underway at the fairgrounds for much of this week. About 100 military personnel and volunteer dentists and other health care providers are offering free health care, X-rays, dental care and vision screenings. Similar to RAM, the event is the Move Mountains medical mission. Appointments are required, but there is no charge for care.

“What’s happening at the fairgrounds is great. It is not a permanent, long-term solution,” Warner said. “

The $1.25 million in Congressionally designated spending will go toward construction of the Health Wagon’s new dental clinic, now being built in Wise.

[…]

Martinsville Bulletin: Stuart hospital to reopen in 2023; two mobile health units coming to Patrick Co. soon

The Stuart hospital that closed in 2017 has an aggressive timeline of being reopened in 2023 with the help of a bipartisan effort between Virginia officials and a $600,000 check to better the health care available in Patrick County with the addition of two mobile medical units.

Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick in Stuart closed in 2017 after filing for bankruptcy in 2016 due to financial hardships. A crowd of over 30 people gathered to hear the official announcement of the reopening.

“At this time last year, we were a county that didn’t have a hospital or even one on the horizon and had extremely limited means of providing adequate health care to our citizens, tourists and local businesses,” Patrick County Director of Economic Development Sean Adkins said. “Fast forward to today, and we stand at the site of our future Foresight Hospital of Patrick County opening in 2023.”

[…]

“This is a team effort,” Warner (D-Va.) said. “Patrick County is a special place … Getting these hospitals reopened is an enormous, enormous challenge and what your delegate [Virginia Delegate Wren Williams (R-9th District)] did, the process … was expedited. This would not be happening anywhere near this time without his good work.”

“Over the last 25 years, there have been close to a thousand rural hospitals that have closed across America,” Warner said. “And there have been virtually none that have reopened … There will be federal hurdles that we’ve got to go over … This is a very aggressive timeline … But the idea of getting this hospital reopened by 2023, ambitious, but you’ve got our commitment that we’ll do our part in the federal stage.”

[…]

Coalfield Progress: Senator talks health care, brings funding

WISE — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and state Sen. Todd Pillion discussed the area’s dental services, insulin prices and black lung benefits Monday when visiting The Health Wagon’s Move Mountains Medical Mission.

Roughly 100 Army, Navy and Air Force medical personnel were on site to render medical service as part of an Innovative Readiness Training program.

Warner thanked the troops for protecting the country, which involves providing medical assistance to those in need, he said.

Health Wagon CEO Teresa Tyson said dental work has seen the highest demand, with more than 1,600 procedures performed since the start of the mission, Aug. 15.

The General Assembly recently improved the reimbursement rates for dentists providing Medicaid services for the first time in 17 years, said Pillion, and this momentum needs to continue.

Warner later presented Health Wagon officials a $1.25 million check to build a new dental office, which is currently under construction. Warner and U.S. Sen Tim Kaine secured the money through Congress' member-directed funding policy.

Warner said insulin prices need to be capped and that if the Democrats win the majority in the November congressional elections, the effort to achieve this will be renewed.

The $35 cap on insulin copays for Medicare beneficiaries should extend to everyone, Warner said.

While mentioning the exponentially increasing rate of black lung in young miners, Warner said the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act establishes black lung benefits on a permanent basis.

The act includes a permanent extension of the Black Lung Excise Tax, which is the only revenue source for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

The News & Press: Putting points on the board, Warner touts string of legislative victories

RICHLANDS, Va. – U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D – Va.) came to Richlands Monday on the heels of a string on legislative victories that has transformed a stalled Democratic agenda to a series of accomplishments the senator could tout to constituents.

[…]

He said the major infrastructure bill has money that should allow 98% of Southwest Virginia homes to have high speed internet at a rate of less than $35 per month by 2024-2025.

Warner said miners and their families now have Black Lung benefits guaranteed thanks to legislation introduced by him and Joe Manchin.

He said the U.S.  is going to do what Canada and other countries do and use the power of negotiation to bring down the cost of medicine.  Warner said the hope is to get the cost of insulin below $35 for senior citizens right away and eventually for everyone.

[…]

Warner spoke with State Senator Travis Hackworth about the need for affordable housing. Hackworth said the area from New River Valley down has a projection of 10,000 new jobs but the biggest drawback is the need for affordable housing.

[…]

He said the people of Ukraine have given him hope and restored his faith that we have the best system of government.

“The people In Ukraine have said we will sacrifice our lives to have the kind of system you have. The right to vote, the right to a free press and the right to disagree with each other,” Warner said.

 

Bristol Herald Courier: Warner aims to bring microchip production back to America

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner made stops in Marion and Wytheville Tuesday on a three-day tour of Southwest and Southside Virginia to talk with community leaders.

Among the topics at the forefront of the conversation were the state of the manufacturing industry, improving Virginia’s infrastructure and Warner’s CHIPS bill.

At both stops Warner touted the recent passing of what he called a “once in a generation infrastructure law.”

“What does that mean for Virginia? It means $8 billion for our road system… it means rail all the way to Christiansburg, and I’m committed as long as I have this job to making sure that rail system goes all the way to Bristol. It means money for all the airports… It means resources for water and sewer.”

The package also includes $65 billion to improve broadband access, an effort Virginia has already begun to tackle.

[…]

Warner also discussed his bill to increase semiconductor production in the U.S., saying the supply chain issues with the chips are a contributing factor to high inflation, particularly with the price of vehicles.

“We have tens of thousands of cars that American auto companies have made,” Warner said. “They are sitting in lots in Michigan and Ohio and can’t get to market because we don’t make enough semi-conductor chips.”

Thirty to 40 years ago, Warner said, the U.S. made about 40% of all semiconductor chips in the world.

“Now we make 12%,” Warner said.

He said the U.S. doesn’t make the cutting-edge chips used in advanced technology, airplanes or satellites.

“They’re made in China. They’re made in Taiwan. And I can assure you, as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, it is a national security risk if we don’t bring that semiconductor manufacturing back to this country,” Warner said.

[…]

Richmond Times Dispatch: Chesterfield, Henrico, 2 other Va. localities vie for semiconductor chip sites

Hadis Morkoc, a professor of electrical engineering and physics, led a tour Thursday at VCU’s Virginia Microelectronics Center for a group that included Sen. Mark Warner.

Four local governments — including Chesterfield and Henrico counties — are pitching potential sites for large semiconductor chip factories to take advantage of a new federal law that dangles billions of dollars of incentives to return manufacturing of the critical microelectronic component to the United States.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., one of the principal authors of the CHIPS + Science Act that President Joe Biden signed into law on Aug. 9, convened a roundtable discussion in Richmond on Thursday to showcase sites that the state is marketing to attract big investments by manufacturers eager to take advantage of $40 billion in new federal subsidies for domestic production of semiconductor chips.

“I think Virginia is going to be very competitive,” Warner said in an interview after the meeting and a tour of the Virginia Microelectronics Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. “But we have to realize that certain states at this point are a bit ahead.”

“We’re going to have to put up incentive packages that are frankly much larger than we have in the past,” he said, citing competition from states such as Ohio, Texas, Arizona and New York.

The 90-minute meeting included big county delegations led by Chesterfield County Administrator Joe Casey and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas as well as representatives for other potential semiconductor chip manufacturing sites in Pittsylvania County, outside of Danville, and Chesapeake in southeastern Virginia.

[…]

Virginia Business: Va. officials woo chip manufacturers

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and state and local economic development officials are vying to attract semiconductor chip manufacturing facilities to four Virginia industrial sites as the commonwealth gears up to fight for a piece of the financial pie from sweeping federal legislation that promises to ramp up chip production in the U.S.

Representatives of Chesterfield, Henrico and Pittsylvania counties and the cities of Chesapeake and Danville joined with Warner, Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Jason El Koubi and Micron Technology Inc.’s senior vice president and general counsel, Rob Beard, Thursday during a meeting at Virginia Commonwealth University to discuss how to make Virginia more competitive. Officials from VCU and Virginia Tech also attended the meeting, which was closed to the press and public.

The meeting coincided with President Joe Biden issuing an executive order Thursday to kickstart the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, calling for swift implementation of a component of the bill that provides $52.7 billion in funding for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research. Biden’s executive order establishes an interagency steering council to coordinate implementation of that funding, co-chaired by National Economic Director Brian Deese, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Alondra Nelson, the acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

[…]

It was initially introduced in 2020 in an earlier form by Warner, Virginia’s Democratic senior senator, and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn; the act was passed by Congress this summer and Biden signed it into law on Aug. 9.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S.’s share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has decreased from 37% in 1990 to 12% today because other nations have been outpacing the U.S. in investing in the industry.

As chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Warner has been outspoken about the need for domestic chip manufacturing. It’s a refrain he returned to Thursday as he toured labs at VCU’s C. Kenneth and Dianne Harris Wright Virginia Microelectronics Center.

“We’ve seen over the last 30 years, America dominated this industry to now … we only make about 12%,” Warner said. “And America, on the manufacturing side, we don’t make any of the cutting-edge chips.”

‘In the hunt’

Several sites in Virginia offer the space needed for the potential manufacture of semiconductors, which can require up to 1,000 acres, Warner said. A likely location for a new plant could be found in rural Southern or Southwestern Virginia.

[…]

While there may be shovel-ready sites to lure manufacturers, those locations alone might not be enough.

New York, Texas, Arizona and Ohio have “really raised the bar in going after semiconductors,” Romanello said.

To compete, Virginia needs to offer greater incentives.

“One of the things I think Virginia is going to need to do is both have sites prepared but also be willing to put more resources into these packages if we’re going to be competitive,” Warner said, citing New York’s corporate subsidy of up to $10 billion in tax credits for “green” semiconductor manufacturers over a 20-year period, enacted on Aug. 11, among other states’ incentives.

[…]

Beyond attracting the major chip manufacturers, officials told Virginia Business they’re looking at the entire semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem, which includes the supply chain for components and related materials. And that provides even more opportunities, El Koubi said.

“We are both looking at opportunities for Virginia to attract the semiconductor [fabrication] opportunities themselves for large semiconductor plants, but we’re also looking at ways to cultivate the ecosystem, building on Virginia’s existing strengths in the semiconductor space,” he said.

Those strengths include close to 30 companies in the semiconductor industry — providing production, equipment testing, construction and other services — and an advanced manufacturing and related industries workforce numbering almost 350,000.

Warner wants to see Virginia increase its capacity to manufacture the tools and equipment that go onto the “fab floors.” That’s a niche that has not yet been co-opted by Asian countries that otherwise dominate the semiconductor industry.

[…]

Danville Register & Bee: Swinging through Danville, Warner tours downtown, praises growth

Sen. Mark Warner made a stop in Danville on Wednesday afternoon, where he toured the River District and dropped by a few businesses.

Warner’s visit was part of the Democrat’s three-day swing through Southwest and Southside Virginia, which included a visit to Stuart before he came to Danville and then headed to South Boston.

During a meeting with about 20-25 community leaders after his walk with officials downtown, Warner praised the growth that has taken place in the River District.

He pointed out how empty downtown was several years ago and the resurgence of the River District since then, when “warehouses didn’t have a lot in them.” Now there are numerous locally owned businesses, including restaurants, retailers and other establishments.

“There are great things happening in a lot of communities across Virginia,” Warner told officials in the former Pepsi Building next to the Danville Science Center. “I don’t think there’s anything on a per-capita basis that is close to what you guys are doing here.”

Danville is attracting more people from other areas to come live here, he added.

“Sixty percent of the people coming into the community are not from the community...” Warner said.

He also pointed out Averett and Danville Community College in the city. With a one-bedroom unit renting for $1,100 in the River District and “you’re all full up is really an enormous, enormous accomplishment,” Warner said.

“I want to, you know, give you all the credit,” Warner said. “I hope that the community at large recognizes [that].”

He also referred to the decline of tobacco and textiles in the late 90s and early 2000s, which culminated in the closing of Dan River Inc.

“Very few communities got whacked as hard as Danville did,” Warner said.

City leaders, including the mayor, economic development director and others, led Warner on a tour of downtown on a hot August day. Stops included Ma’s Cakes and Moss Mountain Outfitters on Main Street, The Bee Hotel on South Union Street and Knitting Mills Lofts on Lynn Street.

During the meeting with leaders after the walk downtown, Warner said cooperation between Danville and Pittsylvania County is one factor that has made the community special.

“We’re stronger combined than separated,” he said, adding that it is the model that can enable a lot of other communities around Virginia to perform better.

Warner also touched upon national issues during his meeting with local officials.

Everybody should have access to high-speed, affordable internet, Warner said, challenging local leaders to get training for the region’s workforce to meet that need. About 750,000 broadband installers will be needed across the country, he said.

Danville needs a pop-up training center for that, he said.

“I think that’s going to be an opportunity there,” Warner said, adding that Virginia also needs to get a microchip manufacturing site.

[…]

Gazette Virginian: Warner calls Southside ‘the comeback region’ in South Boston stop

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner spoke to a crowd of about 50 local leaders, professionals and residents Wednesday afternoon at the SOVA Innovation Hub in South Boston.

The visit was one stop on the senior senator from Virginia’s multi-community tour of Southside.

Innovation Hub staff treated Warner to a brief tour of the facility, as the crowd waited for the senator’s comments.

“I have known him for 30 years; he’s been a consistent friend of Southern Virginia,” South Boston Mayor Ed Owens said as he introduced the senator. “He’s one of the smartest businessmen I’ve ever met.”

Warner expressed his admiration for Southside leaders and the community at large for their collective accomplishment of economic revitalization.

“There is no part of the state that is more ‘the comeback region’ than Southside Virginia, and that has required grit, determination — lesser communities would have thrown in the towel,” Warner said.

Warner focused on the accomplishments of Congress this year, suggesting that 2022 has been one of the most significant congressional terms since the civil rights era.

“I think this last year in the United States Congress will be looked back upon as one of the most productive years, literally since the 1960s,” he said.

Warner further added that bipartisanship has figured into the equation of the successes he sees in legislative action this year focusing on the infrastructure bill among other efforts.

[…]

Bristol Herald Courier: Biscuit complaints bring Warner to Ridgeview Middle School

CLINTWOOD, Va. - It was complaints about bad biscuits that brought Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) to Ridgeview Middle School Monday.

Last school year, Ridgeview seventh-grade teachers April Hay and Portia Fletcher noticed their teenage students were not eating breakfast.

“Especially boys, when they are not eating, something is wrong. I started questioning them about why they were not eating and they said, ‘Well, we don’t really like it,’” Hay said. “It was whole wheat instead of the white wheat, and they were just not eating it.”

The director of food services suggested Hay write a letter to the senator about the issue. Hay took the suggestion a step further and worked with Fletcher to turn petitioning the government for better biscuits into a writing assignment.

“We went through the writing process to learn how to write a letter,” Hay said. “We sent those to the senator and I got a call one day from Richmond about it.”

Senator Warner’s office said Warner had seen and read the letters and wanted to help. The first response came last year in the form of breakfast from Hardee’s for the class from Warner. Then representatives from Warner’s office said the senator wanted to come meet the students in person about their project.

“We thought maybe we would get a nice letter or something from the senator,” Hay a teacher for 25 years said. “We never expected this much. This has been the highlight of our careers.”

So on the first day of the school year for Dickenson County, Warner met with the now eighth-grade class to say hello and answer questions, including a query asking if he has any aspirations beyond being a U.S. senator, which would be a run for president. After explaining he felt like he was in a good place to get things done for Virginia as senator, Warner did not reveal any potential presidential run to the auditorium full of eighth graders.

“I’m not sure that is in my future,” Warner said. “I don’t think it probably is in my future.”

Warner also met with area school superintendents and county officials discussing a variety of topics such as broadband access, mental health assistance for students and the issues surrounding teacher shortages.

Warner said he fears the recent controversies surrounding school boards would dissuade citizens from running for office leaving seats vacant in the future.

“I can’t think of a job that’s got less perks or upside and more grief. School board members have always been citizens who care about their community and I just worry that sometimes people’s anger and frustration have gotten so awful at some of these school board meetings around the country that people will just say, ‘I’m done,’ and that would be a huge loss not just to our education system, but to our democracy,” Warner said.

Bristol Virginia Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Perrigan was one of the local school officials in attendance at the event. He said Warner has always been a big supporter of the public school system.

“Senator Warner, even back when he was governor, has always been a huge supporter of public education,” Perrigan said. “Obviously, at the federal level he doesn’t have the same opportunities that he did when he was governor, but he is always willing to listen and willing try to find a solution.”

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,124,300 in emergency rural health care funding to bolster federal support in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be provided to the Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Tazewell Community Hospital in Tazewell, and Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap. This funding was awarded through the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“As Virginia communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we provide resources to help protect Virginians,” said the senators. “That’s why we are pleased to see these grants go towards COVID vaccination and testing, telehealth and food assistance services, ventilation systems, and financial aid.”

The funding will be awarded as below:

•             $36,800 for Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, VA to provide COVID-19 testing kits, rapid testing supplies, and vaccinations, as well as additional staffing to meet the needs of the rural counties served. This investment will benefit approximately 27,350 residents.

•             $1,000,000 for Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, VA to purchase telehealth, remote monitoring systems, COVID testing, mobile clinic and food assistance. In addition, the funds will be used to train current nursing staff. This project aims to connect rural patients to Valley Health telehealth services and Page County internet infrastructure. This project will benefit approximately 24,042 residents. 

•             $335,000 for Carilion Clinic (Tazewell Community Hospital) in Tazewell, VA to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The HVAC system will follow the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 operational protocols for health care and will service the lab and patient care areas, as the current HVAC system is old and unreliable. This investment will benefit approximately 45,078 residents.

•             $752,500 for Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap, VA to replace lost health care revenue and help with financial difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will benefit approximately 70,997 residents.

The USDA’s Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, both Sens. helped pass the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill that provided $20 billion to improve vaccine distribution, $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential medical equipment, and $50 billion for virus testing, genomic sequencing to detect new variants, contract tracing, and additional PPE. Additionally, Sen. Warner introduced legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Kaine, to expand telehealth services through Medicare, connecting patients to doctors and cutting costs for patients and providers. Sen. Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. The bill passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.

###

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statements regarding the devastating flooding in Buchanan County:

“I’m heartbroken for the families in Buchanan County who have lost their homes, as well as for members of the community who are once again grappling with the destruction left behind by devastating flooding. My office will continue to stay in contact with state authorities and officials on the ground to help provide any federal support that may be needed in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I urge any Virginian in need of immediate assistance to contact the Virginia Department of Emergency Management,” said Sen. Warner.

“My heart goes out to every Virginian affected by this catastrophic flooding in Buchanan County. This spring, I met with families who were still grappling with the aftermath of last year’s flooding in Hurley, and saw up close the need to support the road to recovery. I’m going to do everything I can to be a strong partner to local officials and impacted Virginians to make that road as smooth as possible. I offer my sincere gratitude to the first responders on the scene helping victims,” said Sen. Kaine.

The Senators urge Virginians with loved ones who are missing as a result of the flooding to report those missing persons to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office by calling 833-748-1424, and to go to the reunification center at Twin Valley Elementary/Middle School at 9017 Riverside Drive in Oakwood. The school is also serving as an emergency shelter.

The Senators urge Virginians whose property was damaged in the flood to contact Buchanan County Emergency Management by calling 276-935-5872 to arrange for a property damage assessment. Assessments will be shared with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, which can recommend that the Governor request a federal disaster declaration. Sens. Warner and Kaine would then support that disaster declaration on the federal level, which would enable more federal resources to assist the recovery efforts.

###

 

WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in introducing the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act. The legislation helps miners who have suffered from ‘black lung’ disease and their survivors access the workers compensation they are entitled to receive under the Black Lung Benefits Program. The legislation helps miners and their survivors access legal representation, ensures benefits are not eroded due to inflation, reduces the time for processing claims and protects taxpayers from taking a hit when a self-insured coal company goes bankrupt and cannot pay black lung claims.

“Every day, Virginia’s coal miners put their health at risk to power our country. We owe it to those battling black lung disease as a result of their years of work to ensure that they receive the medical care they deserve,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will allow more miners and their families to access care and benefits as they face this diagnosis.”

“Virginia miners have helped power this nation for generations, risking their health and often developing deadly black lung disease while on the job,” said Sen. Kaine. “Following their sacrifice, they’ve earned benefits to help them combat this debilitating disease. This legislation will make it easier for miners and their family members to receive these benefits in a fair and timely manner.”

“For decades, our country has relied on coal miners to power our factories and heat our homes. Many coal workers risked their lives and their long-term health to do the job of powering years of prosperity, and Congress has an obligation to support them, just as they’ve supported us. This legislation would ensure that every coal miner who suffers from black lung disease receives the benefits they are entitled to,” said Sen. Casey. “Coal miners have pushed our country forward, and I’ll keep fighting to make sure they aren’t left behind.”

“Ohio miners put their health at risk to power our country,” said Sen. Brown. “They’ve suffered enough. They shouldn’t have to navigate an interminable claims process riddled with red tape, all to get the benefits they have earned.”

 “For generations, our brave coal miners have risked their lives and health to power our nation to greatness and as a result, many of our miners suffer from Black Lung Disease. After their enormous sacrifices, they have earned the vital treatment and medical care they need. I am proud to reintroduce the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act with my colleagues to help our miners access the benefits they are entitled to and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help us pass this crucial legislation that supports our coal miners who have given so much to our great nation,” said Sen. Manchin.

Decades ago, Congress established the Black Lung Benefits Act in conjunction with the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 to provide monthly compensation and medical coverage for coal miners who develop black lung disease and are totally disabled. A GAO report found that miners often lack the necessary medical and legal resources to develop evidence to prove their claims. The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act makes needed updates to the Black Lung Benefits Act to ensure Congress is fulfilling its commitment to the Nation’s coal miners. Senators Casey, Manchin, Brown, Kaine and Warner also introduced the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Act in 2021 to extend the current black lung excise tax for another ten year period.

The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act is endorsed by United Mineworkers (UMWA), Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center (UCLC), BlueGreen Alliance and Appalachian Voices.  

###

 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced a Rural Development investment of $1,932,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to the grant, a matching 40-year loan has been approved by the USDA to supplement the costs, bringing the project total to $3,864,000.

This funding will go towards the construction and installation of approximately eight miles of water line, a pump station, 92 water meters, 28 fire hydrants, and related accessories.

“It is essential that Virginians have access to safe, clean water,” the senators said. “This project will provide the Wythe County community with the infrastructure to support a safe water system for its residents.”

Currently, residents in the area are served by private wells with both quality and quantity problems. According to water samples, over 60 percent of the wells have tested positive for Coliform and E. coli, posing a health hazard to community members. This project will correct these health hazards and reduce iron and manganese levels in the water for 214 residents.

### 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $500,000 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for Wise County. This funding will go towards an existing project to extend sewer service to 44 households and 13 businesses in the Glamorgan community by constructing 13,640 linear feet of new sewer line. By providing sewer service along this section of US Highway 23, the project will improve public health and promote future development.

“This is an investment not only in the health of Virginians, but in the future of a growing community,” the senators said. “By providing Virginians with access to public wastewater services, we are working to safeguard our rivers, our people, and our future.”

In addition to the Glamorgan Sewer Line Project's ARC funds, local sources will provide $254,657, bringing the total for this phase of funding to $754,657. In September of 2020, Sens. Warner and Kaine announced $500,000 in initial funding from ARC for this project.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments that innovates and invests to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in 423 counties across the Appalachian region. 

###  

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,000,000 in federal funding for the Appalachian Veterinary Expansion project. The funding will be used to support construction of a new Veterinary Education and Technology (VET) building at Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine’s (LMU-CVM) DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center Campus (DVTC) in Ewing. The project will also increase the number of students in the region and attract new sources of investment in the Cumberland Gap region.

“We’re glad this federal funding will be used for the construction of a new building at the DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center Campus,” said the Senators. “This investment will help train more aspiring veterinarians and spur economic growth in Lee County and the surrounding region.”

LMU-CVM welcomed its inaugural class in 2014 and is the first veterinary school dedicated to serving Appalachia. In August 2014, Kaine visited LMU-CVM's campus to tour the facilities and learn about the school’s programs.

The funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which provides federal resources to help create jobs in existing or new industries for communities affected by job losses in the coal industry. The Appalachian Veterinary Expansion project also received a $2 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) introduced legislation to formally designate the Blue Ridge Music Center’s outdoor amphitheater the “Rick Boucher Amphitheater” after former Rep. Rick Boucher.

“Congressman Boucher is a pillar of Southwest Virginia,” the Senators said. “We can think of no better way to honor his years of public service than by naming this amphitheater, which celebrates the culture and tradition of Southwest Virginia, after him.”

Former Rep. Boucher, an Abingdon native, represented Southwest Virginia’s ninth congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 2011. Rep. Boucher was an early supporter of the development of the Blue Ridge Music Center and continued to advocate for the project throughout his tenure. He also served as the Chairman of the U.S. House Energy Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet as well as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality while in Congress.

 Located in Galax, VA, the Blue Ridge Music Center is home to a visitor center, outdoor amphitheater, indoor interpretive center, and museum that highlights the historical significance of the region’s musical culture.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) applaud the designation of $1,000,000 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to two projects in Southwest Virginia.

“We applaud this funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission for important projects in Russell and Wise counties. These funds will create jobs, improve public health, and boost local economies,” the Senators said.  

The funds will be broken down as follows:

  • $500,000 for the Russell Theater Restoration Project in the Town of Lebanon to renovate and reopen the 5,590-square-foot Russell Theater. The restored and renovated Russell Theater will attract visitors and residents from across the region to downtown Lebanon and surrounding businesses for live performances, concerts, and other events.
  • $500,000 for the Hamiltontown Sewer Project in the Town of Wise to install 5,540 linear feet of sewer line to the Hamiltontown community located along State Route 758. Currently Hamiltontown community households are served by onsite septic systems, and existing systems are subject to poor performance due to age, lack of maintenance, and soil conditions. This project will update the sewer system and improve public health and the water quality of the Guest River.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) today announced $174,458 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to the United Way of Southwest Virginia, Inc. for the Hurley Disaster Recovery Project following the August 30, 2021 flooding in Hurley, Virginia.

“The Town of Hurley has been left reeling from catastrophic flooding that took place last August,” the lawmakers said. “This funding will provide much-needed relief to the area and help those still dealing with the effects to rebuild.”  

Losses due to the flooding affected 1,000 community members, as 30 residential structures were damaged and more than 40 were completely destroyed. The ARC funds will be used to support a public-private partnership, which is coordinating the long-term recovery efforts from the flooding. The project will support Hurley in its recovery from the August 30, 2021 flood event by assisting 70 households with disaster relief and constructing or rehabilitating 50 homes.

Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith have been pushing for federal assistance since the devastating floods. Earlier this month the lawmakers announced the availability of disaster assistance applications for Southwest Virginia residents and businesses affected by the flooding.

In October 2021, the lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden to express their strong support for former Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam's September 30th request for a major disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. On October 26, the President approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which provided Public Assistance for Buchanan County and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, on October 29, 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a formal denial of Governor Northam’s request for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County.

In December 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith sent a letter to President Biden asking his administration to approve an appeal that would grant federal assistance to individual residents in and around Hurley. Despite these efforts, Virginia’s appeal was ultimately denied last month.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $22,790,000 in Fiscal Year 2022 funding to reclaim abandoned mine lands (AML) in Virginia – an effort that will strengthen coal communities by promoting economic opportunity and addressing dangerous hazards that threaten the health of Virginians and the long-term wellbeing of communities. The funding, awarded through the Department of the Interior (DOI), was made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine.  

“This investment into Virginia mining communities will not only create good paying jobs, but will also revitalize energy communities by reclaiming abandoned, unsafe lands for new use,” the Senators said. “We are proud to see Virginia’s mining communities continue to reap the benefits of the infrastructure law passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.”

AML reclamation projects supported by this funding will close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining. The projects will eliminate dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining, including by remediating abandoned mines that are leaking methane – a key contributor to climate change. Through these projects, hazardous lands can be reclaimed into recreational facilities and targeted for other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment.

These investments will work to supplement traditional annual AML grants, which are funded by coal operators and ensured to be provided through 2034 thanks to language and appropriated funds of $11.3 billion over 15 years in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

###

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) announced that following their efforts to secure a major disaster declaration, businesses and residents in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell County can now file their applications for low-interest disaster relief loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help with their recovery efforts following severe flooding, landslides, and mudslides that occurred in the region on August 30-31, 2021.

“We are glad that following our efforts, the Administration has approved disaster assistance to help the residents and businesses of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell counties impacted by the extreme rainfall in August 2021 and Virginians can now apply for support,” said the Members. “We will continue working to ensure impacted communities have the resources they need to recover from this tragic natural disaster.”

In October, Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith sent a bipartisan and bicameral letter to President Biden to express their strong support for Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam’s September 30th request for a major disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County.

On October 26, the President approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which provided Public Assistance for Buchanan County and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, on October 29, 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a formal denial of Governor Northam’s request for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County.

In December, Senators Warner and Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith sent a bipartisan and bicameral letter to President Biden asking his Administration to approve an appeal that would grant federal assistance to individual residents in and around Hurley. Despite these efforts, Virginia’s appeal was ultimately denied last month. 

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website here and should apply under SBA declaration # 17332, not for the COVID-19 incident. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate and for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Completed applications can also be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.

The deadline to apply for physical property damage is April 4, 2022 and the deadline for economic injury applications is Nov. 2, 2022. 

###

WASHINGTON – Following a January announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DoL) Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launching a Miner Vaccine Outreach Program to deliver free vaccinations and provide educational outreach to mining communities in Kentucky and Arizona, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are calling on the DoL to include Southwest Virginia in the plans.

In a letter to the MSHA, the senators highlighted that while the Commonwealth has a high vaccination rate as a whole, many mining counties in Southwest Virginia are vaccinated at much lower rates and would greatly benefit from increased vaccination efforts.

“Virginia’s counties vary widely in terms of vaccinations rates, and mining communities in Southwest Virginia are quite similar to the neighboring counties in Kentucky that the Miner Vaccine Outreach Program is serving. In Virginia, mining communities are centered in Dickenson, Buchanan, Wise, Tazewell, Lee, and Russell counties, where the adult population has a fully-vaccinated rate of less than 57%. It is clear that these communities are in critical need of targeted outreach to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates,” the senators wrote.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been leaders in the push to get Virginians vaccinated during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes securing $8.8 million in federal funding to support the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

In addition, Sens. Warner and Kaine strongly supported the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which included $7.5 billion in funding for the CDC and public health departments to expand vaccine distribution and administration.

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Acting Assistant Secretary Galanis:

Thank you for your work to provide safety protections and health services to our miners in Virginia and nationwide. As the Biden administration continues to ramp up efforts to get more Americans vaccinated, we are writing to request that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) expand its newly launched Miner Vaccine Outreach Program into Southwest Virginia mining communities.

On January 25, 2022, the Department of Labor announced MSHA’s Miner Vaccine Outreach Program to deliver free COVID-19 vaccinations and provide educational outreach to mining communities. In selecting Kentucky and Arizona, MSHA notes the “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that vaccination rates are below 60 percent in two states where a substantial number of mining operations exist.”

Mining communities in Virginia are seeing similar challenges increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates. Virginia’s counties vary widely in terms of vaccinations rates, and mining communities in Southwest Virginia are quite similar to the neighboring counties in Kentucky that the Miner Vaccine Outreach Program is serving. In Virginia, mining communities are centered in Dickenson, Buchanan, Wise, Tazewell, Lee, and Russell counties, where the adult population has a fully-vaccinated rate of less than 57%. It is clear that these communities are in critical need of targeted outreach to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates.  

Miners have been essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and MSHA’s Miner Vaccine Outreach Program is one critical way to support their health and safety. We urge you to expand this program into Southwest Virginia so that coal miners there receive the medical services and support they need and deserve. Thank you for the consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $500,000 in federal funds for the Town of Dungannon to go towards improvements to its water distribution system.

The improvements include the installation of 13,840 linear feet of waterline at scattered locations to improve water service for 42 households and 25 businesses. The new waterline will also increase water accountability and create hydraulic efficiencies in the distribution system.

“This project is vital for the Town of Dungannon and will provide businesses and households access to reliable and safe water,” the senators said. “These funds will help to finally replace a system that has dangerously allowed for leaks and line breaks to contaminate public water.”

The funds come from the Appalachian Regional Commission and will be combined with $883,563 in state funding allocated to the project.

Replacement of the waterlines will reduce system-wide water loss, replace inoperable valves, lower maintenance costs, and increase pressure. Additionally, households and businesses in the project service area will have access to a more reliable water infrastructure capable of supporting new opportunities for economic development.

###

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded two grants totaling $2,966,029 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded to Southwest Virginia to strengthen the region’s workforce development initiatives and outdoor recreation economy. The first is a $1,466,029 grant awarded to the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge for the development of workforce training opportunities to help individuals in the region gain key skills for good jobs. The second is a $1,500,000 grant awarded to Russell County for the "Building an Outdoor Recreation Economy in Southwest Virginia" project that will help support increased tourism in the region and create jobs.

“We’re glad to see these grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission go toward education, job training, and economic development opportunities in Southwest Virginia,” the Sens. said. “We will continue to champion policies that create jobs, grow our economy, and provide greater opportunities for families across the Commonwealth."

The grant awarded to Dabney S. Lancaster Community College will go toward the Appalachian Hardwood Training Initiative (AHTI) and will develop training opportunities for people working in sawmills and wood manufacturing facilities throughout the ARC region, as well as underemployed individuals in the region. Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc. members have identified key skills needed by the industry to address current gaps. The program aims to train workers to improve their skills and get jobs.

The grant awarded to Russell County, Virginia will go toward the "Building an Outdoor Recreation Economy in Southwest Virginia" project, which will involve the construction of the Three Rivers Destination Center (TRDC) in the middle of Virginia's coalfield region and serve as a hub to grow tourism in Southwest Virginia. The grant will create 16 new jobs and support $1.4 million in increased revenues for the area's businesses and government. The TRDC will highlight the area's recreational assets, help visitors plan trips, and connect tourists with regional amenities and businesses. The center will be located close to the Clinch River State Park, the Jefferson National Forest, Breaks Interstate Park, and other recreational amenities. The center will also serve as headquarters for area tourism organizations, which promote the 600+ regional tourism assets responsible for employing over 1,900 people with a payroll of $40 million throughout the 7-county region. The investment will help support increased tourism and spending, promote entrepreneurship, and help address the negative economic impacts from the downturn of the coal industry.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA), and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) asked President Joe Biden to approve an appeal that would grant federal assistance to individual residents in and around Hurley, Va. who were affected by the severe flooding, landslides, and mudslides that occurred on August 30, 2021, causing extensive damage in the area.

Following the extreme rainfall event, Hurley, Va. and surrounding areas suffered extensive damage, including loss of life and destruction to homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. On October 26, following strong advocacy by the lawmakers, FEMA approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan County, opening up a range of federal assistance programs for the area. However, it later denied a request for Individual Assistance, which would have allowed individual Virginians in the area to receive financial assistance and direct services.

“We write today to express our strong support for Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam’s request for an appeal of the denial of Individual Assistance (IA) for Buchanan County as part of your Major Disaster Declaration that was issued for the county on October 26, 2021,” wrote the lawmakers. “While we appreciate your recent issuance of a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan County, we concur with the Commonwealth’s assessment that IA should be made available to our constituents to assist in their recovery from this tragic flood event.”

“As you know, IA is an incredibly important tool for communities that have been devastated by natural disasters. FEMA provides IA directly to individuals and households who have sustained significant losses as a direct result of a natural disaster that received a federal disaster declaration. This assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured property losses, and other critical needs,” they continued. “The unlocking of IA for the residents of Hurley would go a long way towards helping this community recover from this extreme weather event.”

In their letter today, the lawmakers stress the need for help at the individual level to ensure a fulsome recovery, and urge the President’s full and fair consideration of Virginia’s appeal for Individual Assistance for our constituents in and around Hurley.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

We write today to express our strong support for Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam’s request for an appeal of the denial of Individual Assistance (IA) for Buchanan County as part of your Major Disaster Declaration that was issued for the county on October 26, 2021.

While we appreciate your recent issuance of a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan County, we concur with the Commonwealth’s assessment that IA should be made available to our constituents to assist in their recovery from this tragic flood event.

On August 31, 2021, Governor Northam declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia following severe flooding, landslides, and mudslides that occurred on August 30, 2021. On this date, the unincorporated area of Hurley, Virginia, experienced an extreme rainfall event resulting in 8-10 inches of rain being released in a short amount of time. This rainfall event caused heavy floods, landslides, and mudslides that resulted in extensive damage in and around Hurley.

On October 26, 2021, we were pleased that you approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which provided Public Assistance for Buchanan County and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, on October 29, 2021, we were disappointed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a formal denial of Governor Northam’s request for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County.

As you know, IA is an incredibly important tool for communities that have been devastated by natural disasters. FEMA provides IA directly to individuals and households who have sustained significant losses as a direct result of a natural disaster that received a federal disaster declaration. This assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured property losses, and other critical needs. The unlocking of IA for the residents of Hurley would go a long way towards helping this community recover from this extreme weather event.

Again, we thank you for your continued support for the residents of Buchanan County, Virginia, following the August 30, 2021 flood event. To ensure a fulsome recovery for this community, we urge your full and fair consideration of Virginia’s appeal for Individual Assistance for our constituents in and around Hurley.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and please let us know if we can be helpful to you in any way.

Sincerely,

 

###

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $1,558,976 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand access to high-speed internet, health care, and educational services in rural Virginia. 

“Teleservices are essential in today’s world, especially in rural areas where folks have to travel long distances to access resources. These investments will help close the digital divide across our Commonwealth and extend valuable educational and health opportunities to many Virginians,” the Senators said.

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Bristol Virginia Public Schools will receive $993,840 in federal funds to purchase interactive video conferencing equipment to deliver distance learning and telehealth services to 21 schools in eight rural Virginia communities.
  • University of Virginia will receive $267,036 in federal funds to purchase telemedicine equipment to serve a Tribal Nation, a Critical Access Hospital, a new Opioid Use Disorder and Substance Use Disorder clinic, and two federally qualified health centers serving the Appalachian region of Virginia. This equipment will help address urgent health needs, including those related to COVID-19, severe respiratory disease, the opioid crisis, and Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that over 3,000 patients will receive treatment from this project.  
  • Mountain States Health Alliance will receive $298,100 in federal funds to expand virtual access to behavioral health, urgent care, and specialty care in Rural Appalachia. An estimated 33,000 patients will benefit from the telemedical care available facilitated by this project.

###

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded $2,549,875 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for communities in Southwest Virginia. The funding, awarded through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, will go toward three projects in the region to help spur economic diversification.

“We’re proud to see these federal dollars help fund vital economic diversification projects for Virginia’s communities,” said the Senators. “It’s important to ensure no community is left behind and workers have access to good-paying, in-demand jobs. As we continue to build back from the impacts of COVID-19, we will continue supporting policies and investments that improve the lives of all Virginians.” 

The funding will be awarded as below:

  • Appalachian Community Capital will receive $1,500,000 to support a capital access program across Central Appalachia by providing underserved communities with sources of capital. 
  • Virginia Coalfield Coalition will receive $1,000,000 for a broadband program that will benefit Buchanan and Tazewell Counties.
  • LENOWISCO Planning District in Duffield will receive $49,875 to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of creating an agriculture-technology tool to track and report food miles for specific grains cultivated in Lee, Scott, and Wise Counties. This tool will help assess the value-add of Virginia grains to the industry, boost grain market opportunities for Southwest Virginian farmers, and drive additional revenue.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, including Virginia, with a mission to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia and help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. ARC’s POWER Initiative targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. 

###

 

ABINGDON— U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia plans to invest $700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expedite the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas and close the digital divide within the next three years. This proposal will accelerate the Governor’s 10-year goal for achieving universal internet access from 2028 to 2024, with the majority of connections obligated within the next 18 months. In May, Governor Northam and General Assembly leaders released a joint statement outlining shared priorities for allocating the $4.3 billion in federal funds available to the Commonwealth from the American Rescue Plan.

The Governor made the announcement at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon and was joined by U.S. Senator Mark Warner, State Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Luke Torian, who chair the General Assembly’s money committees, and State Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Roslyn Tyler, who lead Virginia’s Broadband Advisory Council. Governor Northam also reported that the Commonwealth has successfully bridged half of the digital divide, with an estimated 233,500 unserved locations remaining. 

“With telehealth and telework becoming permanent staples across the nation, access to broadband is more critical than ever,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner. “Earlier this year, I was proud to help deliver more than $3.7 billion dollars in direct fiscal relief for the Commonwealth through the American Rescue Plan, including hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband. I’m hopeful that my friends in the General Assembly will use $700 million of that funding to expand access to broadband, thereby creating economic opportunity and ensuring that every Virginian can meaningfully participate in our 21st century economy.”

“It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st century necessity that it is—not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all,” said Governor Northam. “The pandemic has reinforced how important high-quality broadband is for the health, education, and economic opportunity, and we cannot afford to leave any community behind. With this historic $700 million investment, universal broadband is now within our reach. I am grateful to Senator Warner for fighting to include this funding in the American Rescue Plan, which will be key to the success of local connectivity efforts and to ensuring every Virginian has affordable, reliable, and equitable access to high-speed internet.”

Since 2018, the Commonwealth has awarded approximately $124 million in broadband grants and connected over 140,000 homes, businesses, and community anchors. Governor Northam and the General Assembly made historic investments—$50 million in 2020 and an additional $50 million in 2021—in the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), a public-private partnership that provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas currently unserved by a provider. With this $700 million allocation of federal dollars and continued state investment, the Commonwealth has the necessary resources to meet the tremendous demand from localities and broadband providers and close the digital divide in Virginia.

“Localities and broadband providers have stepped up over the past three years and helped the Commonwealth connect thousands of unserved Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “With today’s announcement, large regional projects that achieve universal service can be funded across the Commonwealth without delay.” 

Because Governor Northam prioritized broadband expansion well before the pandemic, Virginia is on track to be one of the first states in the country to achieve universal broadband service. In 2019, the Governor worked with the General Assembly to establish a pilot program that promotes collaboration between localities, electric utilities, and internet service providers to connect unserved areas to high-speed internet. In just two years of the pilot program, Virginia’s utility companies have helped connect more than 13,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, Governor Northam signed bipartisan legislation that makes the pilot program permanent.

“The Commonwealth continues to prioritize funding for universal broadband access and I’m encouraged to see these investments coming ahead of schedule,” said Senator Janet Howell, Chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. “This appropriation of federal dollars will go a long way towards supporting the investments that the Commonwealth has already made to bridge the digital divide.” 

“Funding for broadband is more critical now than ever,” said Delegate Luke Torian, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We must continue to ensure that all citizens of the Commonwealth have access to quality internet access.”

“The Broadband Advisory Council has long prioritized funding to reduce the cost of broadband access and connect unserved Virginians,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko, Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council. “With this investment of American Rescue Plan dollars, we will greatly accelerate our progress.” 

“I have lived in a rural area my entire life and I know that the Commonwealth benefits as a whole when we lift up all communities,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Vice Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council. “This investment will have a tremendous impact on countless Virginians and allow our communities to prosper and grow.”

###