2021: The year in review

Published 8:30 am Thursday, January 6, 2022

January each edition of The K-V Dispatch will highlight the events of 2021 as they appeared each week. This week’s edition takes a look back at the months of January through March of 2021.

JANUARY, 2021

• Kaitlyn Matthews Cooper was named to the Dixie Softball Hall of Fame.

She played Dixie Softball for Lunenburg Girls’ Softball (LGS) from its inception to the point in which she aged out.

Cooper was a standout player for Central High School and was named Female Athlete of the Year in 2013. She continued her softball career by playing club softball for Longwood University, working her way to the position of player/coach by her senior year.

Cooper is the first player from Lunenburg to be named to the Dixie Softball Hall of Fame.

• An inmate sick with COVID-19 at the Lunenburg Correctional Center (LCC) died.

According to Gregory Carter, deputy director of communications with the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC), the offender, a 67-year-old man, died at Southill Community Memorial Hospital Jan. 11 after testing positive for COVID-19.

The inmate, Carter said, was serving the last year of a 37-year, 30-month sentence for crimes of robbery, felony, use of a firearm and indecent exposure.

He was scheduled to be released from prison Sept. 27.

• Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) received a federal grant for $1.7 million that will go a long way in helping

the school system address learning loss and facility repairs and improvements.

“This far exceeds anything that we’ve received so far,” Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations James Abernathy said during a Jan. 14 Board of Supervisors meeting.

The $1.7 million grant is part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA)

• Health officials warn it’s still too early to tell if the area is on the verge of another large COVID-19 surge after cases declined.

Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said during a Wednesday morning, Jan. 27, interview, cases in the health district were seemingly on a downward trend following a record-breaking peak seen Jan. 17.

“Up through yesterday, I would have actually said we’re demonstrating a nice downward trend,” Nash said.

FEBRUARY, 2021

• Lunenburg County Public School (LCPS) students returned to in-person learning for the first time in almost a year.

On Friday, Feb. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance on how schools can safely reopen for in-person learning.

According to the CDC, all schools can safely reopen for full in-person learning if they follow appropriate protocols and are located in communities reporting fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days and have a positivity rate lower than 8%.

The Department of Education also released its own guidance for in-person learning to supplement the CDC’s guidance.

• A major ice storm over the weekend froze most of Southside Virginia, including Lunenburg County, leaving an accumulation of ice on trees and downed power lines and more than 5,000 residents without power.

Monday morning, Feb. 15, 80% of Lunenburg County residents remained without electricity while crews from Southside Electric, Mecklenburg Electric and Dominion Energy worked to restore 5,468 customers.

County Administrator Tracy Gee said that county officials have declared a State of Emergency for the county and are utilizing its Emergency Operations Plans to respond. Gee said officials are using a variety of methods to let citizens know the status of emergency responses that have been launched.

• Lunenburg County still has more than 3,005 people without power a full week after a major ice storm tore through the area knocking down trees, splitting power poles and leaving the Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) power infrastructure in shambles.

SEC brought in 120 additional linemen from Rappahannock Electric but said they did not expect to bring in others because they are at the maximum number of workers they can handle logistically.

• Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash, who has helped to lead mitigation and vaccination efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic retired.

In discussing the reason behind his departure, Nash said he had been communicating his plans of retirement with the health department’s central office in Richmond since the beginning of December, 2020.

MARCH 2021

• Lunenburg county native and 2011 graduate of Central High School Retired Sergeant Ray Purifoy has been named the new head football coach for the 2021-2022 school year at TMI Episcopal, a private school in San Antonio, Texas formerly known as Texas Military Institute.

Coach Purifoy has been a part of the TMI community for the past two years serving as assistant commandant in the corps of cadets and as an assistant coach to the football team.

Purifoy said he credits his success to his family and all the coaches who helped and molded him along the way.

• Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) has begun inspections of its utility poles and overhead lines.

In response to the significant damage that SEC experienced during the February ice storms, the company has recently contracted with Osmose Utilities Services, Inc. to perform line patrol inspections on portions of its overhead electric system.

According to Jennifer Wall, communications specialist with SEC, Osmose will be performing visual inspections of the poles and overhead lines and the overhead meter services on areas of the system that were particularly hit hard during the ice storms.

• With around 20% of Piedmont Health District residents at least partially vaccinated against the coronavirus, local COVID-19 numbers are continuing to look hopeful.

The health district has seen many large vaccination events in the past several weeks, quickly adding to the number of inoculated citizens.

According to Piedmont Health District Interim Director Dr. Sulola Adekoya, the Piedmont District will have two large vaccination events this week in Amelia and Charlotte Counties followed by two more events in Nottoway and Cumberland the following week.

On Monday, March 22, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website listed Lunenburg as having at least one dose in the arms of 21% of the county’s population.

• A sizable sinkhole on the eastbound side of U.S. Route 360 in Meherrin required the shutdown of that roadway Wednesday morning, March 24.

A press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) stated eastbound U.S. Route 360, Patrick Henry Highway, in Prince Edward County from Bruceville Road, Route 701 in Lunenburg County to Moores Ordinary Road, Route 728 in Prince Edward County is closed for emergency repairs and a detour established.

VDOT’s release stated the maintenance work is anticipated to be complete by Thursday evening, March 25. Traffic control devices will alert motorists to the changes in traffic pattern. Eastbound traffic is being detoured off U.S. 360 East to Route 701, onto Route 728 and back onto U.S. 360 East.