Our journey starts in Blacksburg, Virginia at Virginia Tech State University where we visit with Jeffrey Marks, President and General Manager at Roanoke CBS affiliate, WDBJ Channel 7. Jeffrey shares his passion for the Roanoke region as a year-round destination for travelers. He also talks about a tragic day in the peaceful region, August 26th 2015, when two of Mark’s staffers, 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27 year-old photographer, Adam Ward, were shot and killed on live TV while interviewing Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce Spokesperson, Vicky Gardener who was wounded but is recovering. Marks talks about the tragic day, but most poignantly, he also talks about lessons learned, and the creation of the Alison Parker and Adam Ward Memorial.
Next stop is nearby Smith Mountain Lake, for a visit with Franklin County Administrator, Brent Robertson, where he talks about the allures of the rural mountain lake and surrounding year-round attractions. Since Brent and I were standing just a few feet away from the location of the tragic WDBJ Channel 7 shooting, we also talk briefly about how Smith Mountain Lake community is healing.
And then it’s off to nearby Salem, Virginia, just a stone’s throw from Roanoke, but a world apart with its historic, Mayberry RFD downtown character. Roanoke College is the centerpiece of town, and in many ways the glue that binds. Cary Harveycutter, Director of Tourism for Salem, and his buddy, John Shaner, Director of Parks and Recreation, explain why Salem is a popular vacation destination. They also tell the back-story as to how this sleepy little town became nationally renowned in the world of high school football—and the host-site for 76 NCAA Division 2 and 3 National Championships over the past 23 years.
Our final stop is Virginia’s in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Botetourt County for a chat with Lisa Moorman, Botetourt County’s Tourism Manager to learn exactly why the region is a must-do travel destination.
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