Bristol Virginia Energy Research Center

Bristol, Southwest Virginia Revealed

by Lewis Loflin

In 2011 Bristol-Tri-Cities was ranked number 5 in the 10 poorest cities in America by

Taxpayer waste $8 million Bristol Virginia Energy Research Center another empty building producing nothing. See Green Energy Boondoggle in Bristol Virginia.

Welcome to my website as 2017 makes this my 19th year on the web and have lived in Tri-Cities Bristol since 1984. Oddly this website was started to protest political corruption and poverty in the community, but most of the visitors prefer the religious-historical material over politics.

Starting July 2017 I'll no longer do news reports or politics unless something really big happens - how many times can I write up corporate welfare fiascos? I'll be showing a lot of photos and explain how to live here and what the region has to offer. I prefer to stick with nature, science, rural living, technology, religious and ancient history. See my homepage and electronics background webpage.

The many articles written on this region are list in an archive below starting with more recent.

Quick navigation to archive list below.

Update: It has been just announced a company will create 40 jobs in Lebanon, Virginia (Russell County) to manufacture belts, etc. for the mining industry. They will locate in the empty Teleflex building. Due to Donald Trump reigning in the destructive EPA-Obama war on affordable energy and blue collar jobs coal production has surged 25% from January-July 2017. These are the kinds of jobs we really need not green energy nonsense. July 27, 2017.

Quick navigation to pictures from recent drive:

St Paul Virginia

Sun Community Russell County

Dante Virginia

Bristol Virginia Mall

Shocking: Can't Afford the Basics While Working

Ref. News Center 5 July 25, 2017:

Another not so shocking report confirms what I already know: half the population of Southwest Virginia can't afford even basic expenses even when members of the household work. This is according to the United Way of Bristol. This confirms my claim of the real poverty rate is 35% to 50% plus.

News Center 5 claims the following rates across the region for the real poverty rate which figures in living costs, etc. I'll assume:

Bristol Virginia 45%
Buchanan County 56%
Dickenson County 50%
Lee County 59%
City of Norton 54%
Russell County 53%
Scott County 45%
Smyth County 44%
Wise County 49%
Washington County 43%

This can't be blamed on the downturn of the coal industry engineered by the Obama EPA because half of the counties have no coal industry. The report went on about the trap so many working poor face: many earn too much for government benefits yet not enough to get ahead and are often one layoff, blown transmission, or doctor bill from the street.

Those on government money simply give up and live on it totally because the minute they even try to get a job government comes crashing down on them. Nearly all the job growth in Bristol has been in retail or call centers averaging about $9 an hour often part time. Yet near the Panicle Retail development that simply emptied the Bristol Virginia Mall is new housing. They claim the rents run $800-$1000 per month plus utilities.

The report noted the good news is more affordable housing and childcare. Not at $9-$10 an hour. Yet the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Virginia Tobacco Commission, etc. have dumped perhaps a billion dollars into Southwest Virginia alone and this is what we get. Yet nothing ever changes.

Quick navigation to archive list below.

Nulife Glass Bristol VirginiaNulife Glass closed facility Bristol Virginia

Update July 2017: I warned about Nulife Glass and predicted it was a scam. In June they fired the few people they hired and left Bristol with between 20-30 million pounds of CRT glass - glass loaded with lead. Press reports claim Bristol is trying to sue the company but likely will get stuck with disposal. They sold a $1.3 million building for less than $200,000 and half of that was payed for by grants.

This is directly across the street from the Bristol Virginia Mall and on three sides are residential neighborhoods that objected to this nonsense.

Will Bristol Virginia become a toxic waste dump with Nulife Glass?

Being fairly low income I've come to know how to survive in a mostly rural area with few resources - I'll discuss how to make resources not depend on others for them. With a disabled spouse it's been a struggle to maintain any dignity much rather be largely self-sufficient. We know the good and bad of dealing with Medicaid.

For years I've exposed dysfunctional government and high levels of poverty. Now I'll balance that with positive aspects of a community I've lived in over 30 years. I won't pull any punches or engage in political correctness. The positives I'll be expanding on:

Low levels of crime despite a drug addiction problem among the lower class. Low cost of living, good infrastructure, good roads, high speed fiber optic.

Mostly good healthcare, but doctor shortages due to high use of Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured according to health officials I talked to - 75-80% of the population. We have one of the best Veterans Hospitals in the nation in Johnson City.

Low income levels are offset by a high home ownership rates (over 50%) and most other homes not under water. Housing prices are low relative to national averages. On the bad side too much public housing and its crime and social problems concentrated in Bristol Virginia.

Virginia 9th. 2000Southwest Virginia

For this subject I'll concentrate on Bristol, Virginia, Washington County, Wise County, and Scott County. I grew up in Norton, my wife in Scott County, we live in Washington County 7 miles from Bristol and 2 miles from Scott county. Most of Tri-Cities is south of Bristol, Virginia.

In general "Red" states, and Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee are very "Red", we have a high standard of living for the most even with lower earned income levels. The question is where does that income derive? To quote a study from the King Institute for Regional Economic Studies:

"The most troubling aspect of the Southwest Virginia economy is the decline in earned income in recent years. Real earned income fell 17 percent from 2011 to 2014. This is a direct result of declining production and employment in the coal mining sector. Due to the sharp drop in earned income, residents in Southwest Virginia received 72 cents in government transfer payments for every dollar of earned income in 2014. Comparable values for the Tri­Cities and the U.S. are 49 cents and 27 cents, respectively."

See the full King Institute for Regional Economic Studies Report.

With all of this why did Trump get as much as 75% of the votes in this and other similar regions? See Red States Higher Standard of Living

Note: since the election of President Trump coal production has risen 25% in five months, two coal-fired plants in Virginia are back on line, etc. A recent drive to Buchanan County we observed a number of new trucks hauling coal.

Quick navigation to archive list below.

Western Front Hotel St. Paul VirginiaWestern Front Hotel St. Paul Virginia

Tour of St Paul & Russell County

My wife and I went on a visit to Dante, Virginia where she was born. It is a coal community in Russell County, Virginia. We began in St. Paul Virginia which is in Wise County on the Russell County line. Dante is about 8-10 miles from St. Paul. This illustrates why government economic development never works and why Wise and Russell Counties have real poverty rates over 50%.

Above is the Western Front Hotel costing taxpayer millions as a tourism destination. With due respect that's nonsense.

See Taxpayer Funds Wasted To Renovate St. Paul Hotel.

Western Front Hotel St. Paul VirginiaFuture Western Front Hotel St. Paul Virginia

Storefront Church St. Paul Virginia.Storefront Church St. Paul Virginia.

Across from the Western Front Hotel is a storefront church. Make a left go half a block, turn right and come to the St. Paul Farmers Market - closed and closed most of the time. Many shuttered towns across the region have new farmers markets even in communities with no farms. While it's a nice place to eat lunch costing over $500,000 was touted as tourism development. I saw no tourists and many buildings were still empty.

Quick navigation to archive list below.

Driving to Dante from St. Paul

Leaving St. Paul we drove to Dante leaving St. Paul and Wise County. We came to the Sun community about 3 miles from Dante. Most of it was vast roadside junk yard including hundreds of appliances and junk cars.

Sun Community Russell County Virginia with junk along the road.Sun Community Russell County Virginia with junk along the road.

Sun Community Russell County Virginia appliance graveyard along the road.Sun Community Russell County Virginia appliance graveyard along the road.

Quick navigation to archive list below.

Dante Virginia Coal & Railroad Musium.Dante Virginia Coal & Railroad Museum.

Visiting Dante Virginia

Enter Dante one finds the Dante Coal and Railroad Museum, it was closed. Build in an old bank according to some this was touted as another tourism development project. I noticed no tourists, but was a nice addition.

Old building Dante Virginia.Old building Dante Virginia.

Turn to the left from the Museum we have this interesting building - empty with a rusted roof.

Ruin of Dante Virginia Train DepotRuin of Dante Virginia Train Depot

Turn right and look about a block away is the Dante Train Depot. According to locals the County is supposed to put on a new roof and they plan to apply for tourism grants - hope to open a store and deli. Good way to spend several million dollars.

Does anyone really believe this will create any real economic benefit for a community with poverty rates of over 50%?

Hamlin General Store near Dante Virginia.Hamlin General Store near Dante Virginia.

Possible future tourism development? This is the Hamlin Community store near Dante.

Norton, Virginia as seen from Flag RockNorton, Virginia as seen from Flag Rock

Regional Ecology and Geology

I grew up in Norton and this view is from Flag Rock a few miles south of Norton and I'm facing north. In the distance one might see Eastern Kentucky, behind me to the south is Scott County. To the right is Russell County and the Town of St. Paul. To my left would be Lee County and more of Eastern Kentucky. Flag Rock is part of Jefferson National Forest I think.

This view in 1977 when I left for the army would have shown much of Norton on three sides with a lot of damage from the strip mining, etc. of coal, yet behind me few if any coal deposits exist at all. Today most of that has regrown and is filled with deer and wildlife. A trick of geology creates two versions of Southwest Virginia.

Also see 2008 Remote Area Medical in Wise in Pictures

Wise County, Virginia as seen from Flag RockWise County, Virginia as seen from Flag Rock looking left.

Growing up in Norton I developed a great interest in earth science and collected a number of fossils such as petrified wood (some really large pieces) and fossil ferns, etc. Strip mines were a ready place to hike and explore. The "high walls" or cliffs left by mining operations one could see much of the regional geological history. Layers of dark green/gray slate showed wet periods while thick layers of sandstone showed dry periods. Small coal seems could often be seen.

The Appalachians or at least the Blue Ridge is reputed to be 1.2 billion years old and has eroded down several times. At times it was under water.

Before the dinosaurs vast coal swamps covered much of central Appalachia. Tectonic plate collisions between the N. American, African, and Eurasian plates threw up the Appalachian Mountains once the size of the Rockies today. Opening of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the end of the Triassic period split N. America from the Old World leaving parts (land) of Africa and what later became Europe as part of the East Coast. Over 200 million years of erosion give us our present "hills".

Road Cut Eastern KentuckyThis road construction in Kentucky illustrates coalfield geology.

See Bristol Culture of Political and Media Corruption 2016
Growing Poverty Job Losses Tri-Cities VA-TN

Section on science, ecology, and religion

Bristol Southwest Virginia Article Archive

Quoting futurist Ed Barlow before the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce:

"Seniors create low-wage service jobs. They tend to withdraw from working, and they generally don't create new wealth. A retirement community strategy has long-term negative economic consequences unless there is a diverse economic base of other employees around it...A significant component of your economic future in Sullivan County is recruiting Hispanics, making sure they get highly educated and integrated into the community."

See Growing Poverty and Job Losses in Tri-Cities VA-TN

Bristol Virginia Tri-Cities Crime 2014

Obscene Electrolux-Tennessee Incentive Deal by Lewis Loflin