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Neighborhood Watch Efforts in Sugar Grove

In recent months our community has experienced several minor crime waves that involved items being taken from parked vehicles left unlocked in driveways and out buildings as well as a few suspicious characters walking around after dark. These are all things that should heighten your awareness and bring about some concern not only for yourself but your neighbors as well.

Neighborhood watch programs are very effective in stopping would-be criminals but they are only effective when they are actively and regularly carried out. In the past, neighborhood watch programs just involved a basic phone tree. If you see something, you call a few people and let them know so that they get a heads up on what’s going down. Now we have more resources and information can travel much quicker via the internet, security camera footage and more.

Several inquiries have been made via the community Facebook page about a neighborhood watch. It’s been frequent enough that a group has been set up on Facebook for those who are interested in participating. Sugar Grove Neighborhood Watch can be found here. The group is a private group and is available to those who want to act in the capacity of neighborhood captains. Once we see how much interest there is in making this happen, and once we have an adequate number of individuals from neighborhoods in the community, we will then set up a page through which verified and validated information will be disbursed. The Sugar Grove Neighborhood Watch program will strive to stay involved with local authorities, EMS groups and sources of official information as well as keep in communication with various neighborhood captains in an effort to deliver important information about what may be going on in our community at any given point and time.

Those interested in acting as neighborhood captains are currently the only individuals who will have posting access on the Facebook group. Posts are read and comment only at this time.

If you are interested in this effort, please check out the Facebook group and request access.

Sugar Grove Farmers Market Opening Soon

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market will be opening soon for the 2017 season!  We have all new vendors lined up and some returning vendors from previous seasons! You won’t want to miss what we have in store for 2017.

If you are a vendor and would like to offer your merchandise at our market, please contact management at SugarGroveVirginia@gmail.com with inquiries and a description of the merchandise you’d like to offer.

NEW THIS SEASON, we will be offering hand crafted furniture from Duble A’s, USDA certified organic pork products from B&R Farms and a variety of other locally sourced items with more arriving as the season moves forward.

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market strives to provide locally sourced, high quality merchandise and create a high standard for both vendors and customers. This year is no different. You will find that our all new online shopping experience will make even more of the great products we have to offer available to you. This year, we are partnering with vendors from other local markets to broaden the variety of merchandise.

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market was established in 2013 and has grown exponentially since. The market began as a small setup at a physical location. As time went on, we found new ways to serve our customer base while working with vendors in a manner so as to grow the market and offer much more to our community. While we aren’t your everyday conventional farmers market, we are doing something good in our small rural community that will hopefully come full circle for the greater good of our community.

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market is scheduled to open on May 15. Please check back for updates on how to shop!

Sugar Grove Yearbook Collection Now Available

For the past few years, Sugar Grove School Alumni have found a small corner of the web on a private Facebook group where a variety of yearbooks, photos and other school related items have been shared and discussed. Our little group has flourished since its creation originating from a small but growing collection of school yearbooks. The group has digital copies of all published Sugar Grove High School yearbooks from 1949-1969 as well as most yearbooks from 1970 to present. Until now, these yearbooks were not available outside of the group except in their physical form at events or by appointment for private viewing.  Nonetheless, these yearbooks are a community resource that should be publicly available to anyone wishing to browse them.

Though the fact that there was a book scanner available for public use at Smyth Bland Regional Library–soon to be the Smyth County Public LIbrary–it only recently came to my attention. Hopefully these yearbooks will be digitally available on the S-B Digital Repository as well as through this website. The S-B site will feature searchable text while the Sugar Grove page here will just provide general browsing options.

Currently the available options are available under the COMMUNITY > ALUMNI GROUP drop down at the top of the page in our YEARBOOKS section.   As the available digital resources of this website grow, they will be further categorized and organized into sections for more efficient browsing.  If you have a yearbook to donate or lend to digitize please email SugarGroveVirginia@gmail.com

All New Sugar Grove Farmers Market for 2017

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market, established in 2013 has been a major success in the community pairing vendors with consumers. Since 2013, we have seen several changes. We have moved from a physical location to an online location after having record turn out at our physical location events and after having been copy-catted by other organizations but we are still going strong!

Last year, we brought you the online farmers market experience. That was hugely successful for those who used it but it presented some hurdles for a lot of people as well. Over this past year, we have looked at those issues and taken every available measure to simplify the process. This year the farmers market will continue to be online however, it will be accessible to more people and will be more user-friendly.

The new Sugar Grove Farmers Market online will require management’s approval on new vendors however, vendors will find that once their items are listed, there will be an option to offer them locally OR list them in a broader marketplace to reach a much larger customer base.

The same rules will apply as have been applied before and those can be found here. The listing process will be much easier than before. It’s as simple as take a picture, upload it, set a price and write a description.

Over the past few years, our market has never charged vendors one penny to participate and sell items–we are keeping it that way! Vendors sell for free and keep 100% of their profits.

If you are interested in being a vendor, please contact management at SugarGroveVirginia@gmail.com with details about the items you would like to sell at our market.  This new online format presents not only a great selling opportunity but also a wonderful community opportunity to increase visibility and online presence, reach potential customers outside of the community and do it all from the comfort of your own home until the opportunity is available once again for a physical location.

History of Sugar Grove School Sold Out!

History of Sugar Grove SchoolLast August, 2016, Sugar Grove Alumni hosted a gathering at Sugar Grove School that was attended by approximately 200 people, all having ties to the school. A special alumni edition of “The History of Sugar Grove School” written by Sarah R. Combs especially for this event was part of the ticket price. Everyone who purchased a ticket received a copy of the book with the opportunity to purchase extra copies at a special price at the event.

The alumni edition copies have officially sold out! Only 195 copies were printed prior to the event for purchase. This makes the original alumni edition now a collector’s item. Recently, it’s been noticed that copies of the book have even turned up for sale listed on ebay for prices upward of $50 and some even outside the country! (who would have thought our school would be of interest internationally!)

Over the holidays, several made inquiry as to how they may obtain a copy for themselves. 2nd edition copies are available from Create Space, Amazon and Books A Million.

What’s the difference in 1st and 2nd edition copies? The 1st edition copy features a special Sugar Grove School Alumni page with green lettering in the front cover and the alumni logo. The 2nd edition features a title page with plain black & white lettering and no alumni logo. Only 195 “Alumni Edition” copies were printed. They were printed and sold exclusively at the August 2017 event at Sugar Grove School with all extra copies now sold.

Web Research: Best Practices

Research on the web can be a daunting task with numerous approaches whether it’s a school project or a professional effort. Today we are going to focus on a source of information that most may not even be aware of that is free and available for those who request.

Data.gov is available from the United States Government and provides links to all sorts of information collected and compiled by the government. The fact is, there are lots of government websites which are noted with a .gov URL. Many of them you may be aware of already but did you know that Data.gov organizes information by subject matter to make it more easily accessible?  It’s true!  The site has categories for broad research such as agriculture, education, climate, consumer, ecosystems, education, energy, finance, ocean and more–lots more!

There is also a general search option on the main page that you can use to bring up all of the articles from the database on any given topic. This simplifies your search should you know exactly what information you are searching for or if you want a quick overview of what’s available within the many databases of this vast web resource.

When you click on one of the main topics, you will be able to drill down to more specific categories within that data set. Education, for example currently provides over 300 data sets for the subject covering topics such as teacher shortages, college campus safety and more.

Next time you need some information or you just want to check on data the government collects and makes public, check out Data.gov. You never know what you might find out.

Alumni Group Continuing to Sponsor Book Drive to Benefit School

Sugar Grove School Alumni Book DriveThe Sugar Grove School Alumni group is currently sponsoring a book drive to benefit the Sugar Grove School library. The goal of this book drive is to fill the gaps where budgets fell short and to provide the library with books on approved reading lists that coincide with Standards of Learning goals. Many of these books are popular ones that children at other schools enjoy but are not available in our school library. A wishlist has been put together by working with school administration, the local librarian and students and contains over 150 different items to choose from in a variety of price ranges.

The group’s goal was set at 50 books over summer break; to date, 48 new books have been shipped to the school to be cataloged into the library for the new school year. Some community groups have contributed to the drive as well making it possible to place group orders and therefore get free shipping so that every dollar spent can go toward books, not shipping.

The Sugar Grove School Alumni Group is made up of 360+ members hailing from all across the country with one thing in common–a love for Sugar Grove School.  Since the group has grown exponentially since it’s creation just a few years earlier, a unanimous decision was made to sponsor several efforts throughout the year to improve the school, provide needed materials, items, etc. for the benefit of the students, faculty and staff.

You may read the full rundown of this effort here and also get a link to the wishlist.


Smyth County Needs to Get On Board Early

Sunset Digital Communications is a name that may soon be familiar in households in our area. Why is that? It’s because Sunset just bought BVU’s fiber optic cable and the company is interested in bringing expanded services to our area and using the existing cable to facilitate it.

The fiber optic cable currently takes a right turn off of interstate 81 and runs along Highway Sixteen/Sugar Grove Highway through Sugar Grove and extends into Galax. It has great potential to be the delivery pipeline for improved internet and phone services as well as television options but that’s not all–this fiber optic has great potential to provide some of the technology necessary to support cellular service in Sugar Grove.

Presently, we have a limited number of service options in Smyth County because companies like Comcast and Century Link monopolize these services and therefore keep the prices higher. Fiber optic would allow higher speeds at lower cost which would be passed along to the customers in the end.

Sunset is now asking everyone to fill out their survey to show interest in their services. You can find that form here.  Sunset has already scheduled meetings with the board of supervisors in Dickenson, Tazewell, Buchanan and Russell counties. There are plans in the near future for meetings with Washington county officials. An inquiry was made to the company recently to ask whether or not they would be visiting Smyth County–they indicated that they would be interested but had not yet been contacted or placed on the agenda. In other words, no interest was shown at this time.

If you want more services and to establish cellular service, you need to let your county administrator know that we will settle for no less than an active attempt to attract these services. Please fill out the form and send an e-mail to your representative on the Smyth County Board of Supervisors requesting that they show some interest in Sunset Digital Communications. This is yet another window of opportunity that will close and pass us by if our leaders fail to show some interest!

The next meeting is scheduled for April 12 at 5 PM. Please take the time to show up at these meetings and demand that interest be shown so that Sugar Grove can have the same access to services and resources as the rest of the county.

2016 Sugar Grove Farmers Market

VENDORSThe 2016 season of the Sugar Grove Farmers Market is quickly approaching launch time and we’re ready to kick it up a notch this time around and offer many more options through available technology.

A necessity to review the success, operations and structure of the existing market taking into consideration other local events, community organizations and vendor concerns came about in 2015. This resulted in what should create a much improved experience for both customers and vendors who have enjoyed the Sugar Grove Farmers Market since its establishment in 2013.

For the 2016 season, vendors will have the option to sell their wares online via https://sugargroveva.locallygrown.net and customers can likewise make purchases online OR in person. Merchandise delivery terms are completely left up to the vendor. The current options are in-person pick up or delivery locally or shipping goods and merchandise.  We are also inviting other vendors participating at other local farmers markets to participate in our online market to broaden merchandise options and provide a larger vendor opportunity for the future success of our market.

If you are interested in using our online market, you will need to visit https://sugargroveva.locallygrown.net and set up an account. This is free of charge for the 2016 season just like our physical farmers market has been in the past. If you have questions you can e-mail Sarah Combs, Manager at sugargrovevirginia@gmail.com.

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market invites local businesses, organizations and individuals to participate and to partake in our opportunities for local business networking, to promote products and services and enjoy a community event.

The Sugar Grove Farmers Market is not affiliated with Rye Valley Ruritans.


Sunset Digital Communications Wants to Hear From You!

Sunset BVURemember all of those fiber optic cables that took a right turn off exit 45 and came across the mountain right through the middle of Sugar Grove several years back?  Those lines are owned by BVU and are presently being purchased by Sunset. Sunset is interested in who wants services in our area and they are currently accepting responses from interested people via their online form here. Please take a moment and provide your name and address where you’d like to see this service available and submit it so that our community can develop its infrastructure on the same levels as the rest of the county and greater Southwest Virginia. This could be the start to bringing a wider variety of services to our community as well as more competitive pricing. An introduction package form for our area is available at THIS LINK with more details about pricing, services and coverage.

Sunset provides not only residential services but also a wide variety of business services. This is important to Sugar Grove because we presently do not have a service provider who can offer this type of service in our area. Having these services available as an option may attract businesses to our community and will most certainly have a positive effect on property values, population growth and economic development for the future.

Most importantly, the more services that are available in our area and the more technology that exist, the better our chances are of establishing cellular service. Each new technology that’s available here is an attraction point for cellular providers that can be added to existing efforts to establish service.

Special thanks to Ken Heath for bringing this information to my attention to share with our community.