News and Notes

New Director of Public Safety

The Amherst County Administrator and Board of Supervisors announced last summer that Sam Bryant is the new Director of Public Safety for Amherst County.

Sam started his extensive emergency services career at Amherst Life Saving Crew as a volunteer in 1983, where he remains a Life Member. He served over 20 years in the United States Army as a flight medic leading 30 soldiers and flight medics,and attaining the rank of Flight Platoon Sergeant.

Sam also had 21 years of service with the Lynchburg Fire Department, where he earned the rank of Captain. Sam served as an Engine Company Captain in fire suppression and EMS for 5 years as part of the Hazardous Materials Team. Sam was one of the original EMS Captains for Lynchburg Fire Department.

He has a multitude of certifications that include Nationally Registered Paramedic, Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport Paramedic, Fire Instructor I, Fire Officer 2, various Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials certifications along with a great deal of practical experience in both the Fire and EMS areas.

In 2010 went to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Physical Security Specialist performing paramedic support during national security missions and Hazardous Materials operations traveling abroad and across the United States. Sam was one of the original flight paramedics for the Virginia State Police Med-flight III program based in Lynchburg in 2001. Upon returning to this area in 2013, Sam has worked for Centra Health on the Centra 1 helicopter as a flight paramedic providing emergency air transport. He has been serving as the Deputy Director of Amherst County Public Safety since September 8, 2014. He has served as Acting Director since the prior Director’s departure April 27, 2018.




The New Amherst County School Superintendent

The Amherst County School Board announced last May that Robert Arnold, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent / Instruction for Campbell County Public Schools, has been appointed as the new Superintendent of Amherst County Public Schools. After an extensive three-month search process, the Board chose Arnold for his broad and established instructional leadership roles across all grade levels, strength in collaboration and focus on increasing student learning and achievement. His started July 1, 2018.

Dr. Arnold has been a passionate and committed educator for the past 25 years. His career has been dedicated to providing all students with the opportunities needed to reach their full potential and attain their future goals.

After graduating in 1993 from the University of Virginia, Rob started his career as a seventh-grade science teacher and a football, basketball, and baseball coach at William Campbell Combined School in Campbell County.

In 2009, Dr. Arnold was appointed Assistant Superintendent in Campbell County Schools and served in that position for nine years.

Dr. Arnold is most proud of the development of several programs that provide students with opportunities to become career and college ready upon graduation. These programs include Early College, the CTE Dual Enrollment Program, STEM Academy, and the Advanced Placement Initiative.



The Amherst County Visitor Center Is Now State Certified

The Amherst County Visitor Center has become a state certified Tourist Information Center. The center opened its doors at the Train Depot in August 2017. The depot was moved approximately a quarter-mile from its original location on Depot Street to its current location at 328 Richmond Hwy in 2008. Earlier in 2017, staff of the Amherst County Economic Development Authority and Amherst County Chamber of Commerce began using office space in the restored structure.

The interior of the visitor center includes a video that showcases Amherst County, brochures from area and regional attractions and numerous visuals promoting Amherst County locations and events such as the Clifford Sorghum Festival, the Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival, the Monacan Indian Nation Powwow, the town traffic circle and Sweet Briar College, among others.

There are many rules and regulations in order to become a state certified Tourist Information Center. The center must be open year-round and a minimum of five days per week, two of which should be Saturday and Sunday. There are also many benefits in becoming state certified. With the certification there will be high way signs denoting the visitors center. There will also be a brochure rack with the Amherst county Visitor Center information other certified centers in the commonwealth.

From August 26 to December 31st (2017), the visitor center had 679 guests from all over the United States and event residents from Sweden, Germany, the UK. The new tourism website,, has recently launched and there is now a Visit Amherst County Facebook page.

The Amherst County Chamber of Commerce manages the County’s tourism program and will serve as the official destination marketing organization (DMO). A destination marketing organization is an organization that promotes a town, city, region, or country in order to increase the number of visitors.


New Amherst Mountain Bike Club Formed

A new club has formed in Amherst to promote exercise and healthy family activities, and partner with local businesses to bring more trails and riding opportunities to Amherst.

Currently there are already over 50 members in the Amherst Mountain Bike Club, and the officers and directors are as follows. Officers:  President, Alex Motley;  Vice President, Carter Massie; Treasurer, Jason Buendorf; Secretary, Justin Ware; Director, Drew Ramsey; Director, Tim Ware.    

Club members can ride together as a group and trips are announced via email through their newsletters.

The bike club is seeking pledges towards becoming a non-profit organization, but this process can take 5-7 months.  They do accept donations, but they are not tax deductible at the moment.

According to Jason Buendorf, Secretary, they have been encouraged by the Amherst Town Council.  “We are working with the Town to determine the best place(s) for trails, proper use and access rights, and are working through the proper planning stages to make sure the trails are constructed properly,” Buendorf said recently.

How can one join or donate? Simply email to be placed on the mailing list or message them through Facebook.

Contact Tim Ware at Warehouse Antiques in downtown Amherst for general information.



Promoting Business in Amherst County


from July 2018 County Press Release

In August of 2017, the Board of Supervisors asked the county’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Planning Commission to look at the county’s reputation for being unfriendly to business and come up with recommendations to change that perception. The EDA held focus group meetings, conducted interviews of business owners in the county, and collected survey data. That information as well as the EDA’s recommendations for changes were presented to the Board.

Now underway are the following initiatives:

  • The county’s website has been completely revamped to make it easier for citizens and businesses to find what they need.
  • Building and zoning permit applications can be completed and paid for online.
  • Cell tower ordinances have been updated to make many approvals automatic (by right).
  • A county-wide broadband provider is being given access to county radio towers to get internet service into our rural areas.
  • An aggressive incentives program for new investment by existing businesses.

At the workshop, the Board of Supervisors heard comments from the EDA and almost a dozen members of the business community. The Board has asked staff to move a number of initiatives onto its business agenda. They are numerous and vary widely but here is a sampling:

  • Improve connectivity to the public with fillable PDF forms, live chat, unified online payment mechanisms and other technological improvements.
  • More advertising, spotlighting and promotion of local businesses.
  • Move away from regulatory controls toward policy guidance to give staff authority to say “yes”.
  • Have an outside consultant look at our tax structure and business incentives to encourage business.
  • Clear out old regulations and modernize the rest to increase ease of use and understanding.
  • Find ways to reduce the burden of water/sewer availability fees.
  • Equip staff to be friendlier and more supportive as they guide businesses through government processes.

The goal of the workshop was find ways to improve the county’s reputation for business friendliness. The community wants the government to honor its mission statement, that it is “open for business”, by developing a reputation of speed, convenience and cheerful assistance to business owners. It wants Amherst to be a place where businesses can expect to hear “yes” from local government when they want to move projects forward.

Over the past year, Amherst County has incentivized over $51,974,000 in reinvestment by local businesses. Developers are pursuing purchase and redevelopment of the County’s Winton Country Club. A repurposing of the Phelps Road School into apartments is underway. The first water-powered brewery in the nation is under construction by Waukeshaw Development LLC, the parent company of the Trapezium Brewery in Petersburg. The Riveredge Park trail continues to receive grants and local funding to extend its reach down the James River. Route 29 Business in Madison Heights is funded to receive shade trees and banners to promote beautification and pride throughout that corridor. These and other projects are in the works to move the County’s economic development goals forward.

Amherst County is working hard to demonstrate the County is, indeed, open for business.

Additional information may be obtained from Layney Sandifer at or (434)-946-9400.



Winton Country Club

Winton Country Club Opportunities

Two-hundred and 85 acres of extraordinary possibilities! Amherst County is seeking offers for redevelopment of the Winton Country Club property that provides the greatest amount of benefit to Amherst and its residents. For many decades Winton has been a place where the Amherst County community has enjoyed an 18-hole golf course, swimming, and events in a beautiful setting on Rt. 151. The property was bought with a gift in 1967 and given to Amherst County.  Unfortunately, it has become more and more of a struggle to financially operate a rural golf course. Winton continues to operate as a Club during this process.




The former Phelps Rd. School

The Phelps Rd. Project


The former Phelps Road School in Madison Heights, a historic property of significance to the Amherst community, will be redeveloped into 30-50 market rate apartments while maintaining the historic character of the building and incorporating modern conveniences. The construction is expected to begin in 2019 and is estimated to cost $5-7 million. This project will increase economic activity, employment, corporate investment in the County, and generate new local tax revenues for the County. The Economic Development Authority estimates Amherst County could gain tax revenue and jobs as a result, with the total economic activity projected to be $6,583,839.






Amherst County became the first Certified Entrepreneur Community in Virginia in November 2017. The certification shows that Amherst is open for business and small business is a priority. The process of becoming certified took 13 months and involved numerous people and organizations from the community.  A retreat was held at Sweet Briar College with business owners, community leaders and resource providers. From that meeting two initiatives were identified that would engage and support entrepreneurs. LINK Amherst was created because business owners wanted an all-inclusive network that allowed them the freedom to share their stories with each other while navigating business growth.  Business owners are busy growing their business and do not have time to track down a resource provider to ask for help and often multiple providers are needed. The second initiative introduced a matrix that puts all the resource providers in one easy location. Small businesses are the foundation of Amherst County economy. Almost 90% if the companies in the County employ less than 10 people and 25% are sole proprietors.

Courtesy of Economic Development Authority of Amherst County



Rockster North America Opens Amherst Location


An Austrian-based company, Rockster International, recently opened a sales and service office on Rt. 29 in Faulconerville.

According to a news release from the Amherst County Economic Development Authority, the company develops and manufactures mobile crushing and screening equipment for recycling of asphalt and construction waste, as well as the efficient processing of natural stone.

Rockster moved into the former Cottle building and brings four positions and hopes of growing the business, which has sales in the U.S., Canada and South America.

“Amherst County was an ideal location for our company,” said Daniel Civinski, Rockster North America Director, in the release. “With lower taxes and great accessibility, we are now able to keep our operating and transportation costs down.”

Since 2004, Rockster North America has grown into a worldwide company by saving space in landfills and reducing the amount of trucking to create a more environmentally-friendly earth, according to the press release.

Moore & Giles Expands into Amherst County


Amherst County, Va. – Moore & Giles, a luxury leather goods company, is expanding its operations into Amherst County. Old Dominion Footwear, a shoe manufacturer and distribution company, is selling its warehouse and land in the Amelon Commerce Center in Madison Heights to Moore & Giles. The 50,000 square foot distribution center and fourteen-acre property will be the second location for Moore & Giles, who currently warehouses a broad range of leather from all over the world in their Forest, Virginia headquarters. Plans are in place to begin operations in the new location as early as September 2018.

“We are looking to expand our tannery relationships to maximize their full potential in order to create better access across all markets we serve,” shares Sackett Wood, President. “This new location provides the perfect opportunity at just the right time for us. We are excited to be there.”

Amherst County welcomes Moore & Giles and is pleased they have chosen to expand their company in the Amelon Commerce Center. New businesses bring new investment and jobs into the community and that’s a major economic benefit to the Amherst community. “It’s exciting to see businesses expand into Amherst County. We are glad to have Moore & Giles grow their brand here and we look forward to working with them,” said Calvin Kennon, chairman of the Economic Development Authority of Amherst County.

“Old Dominion Footwear has been a wonderful business for 20 years with great employees and customers. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it’s time for us to close the business,” said Malcolm Sydnor, President of Old Dominion Footwear. “We have thoroughly enjoyed being in Amherst County – it’s a great place to do business. We are happy Moore & Giles is buying our facility and this great company has come to Amherst.”

The Amelon Commerce Center is located two minutes from the US 29 bypass and has multiple lots for sale, including a graded 14-acre lot that can accommodate a 110,000 square foot building.

Courtesy of Economic Development Authority of Amherst County


A New Restaurant For “Dawg” Lovers

The Bunns gourmet hot dog establishment opened in Madison Heights last summer. Their 15  signature all-beef hot dogs come with a choice of 20 toppings, including tomato, salsa, Cheddar and cream cheeses, pulled pork, bacon crumbles and crushed chips.

Co-owners Yvonne and Chris Paige decided to open their unique restaurant after they determined there were none like it in the area. For more information, see their ad on page 43.


The Amherst County Chamber of Commerce Celebrated the
Move of Ladle & Blade Kitchen Supply Into Their Larger Location on S. Main St., Amherst

On the Move!

Freeman Miller moved his Amherst Corner Restaurant across Rt. 29 to a larger location at the corner of Rt. 130…Cascio and Sons has moved into their new Design Center at 3712 S. Amherst Hwy. in Madison Heights…Elizabeth Simms, Realtor is now working with Sam E. Davis Real Estate and ConstructionEl Mariachi is planning to open another location in Lovingston in the Fall of 2018…Hester Wholesale moved their store from Rt. 29 in Monroe to 4804 S. Amherst Hwy…The Ladle & Blade Kitchen Shop moved to a larger location at 243 S. Main St. in Amherst…Queen B’s Treasures moved their shop from the Seminole Plaza to the corner of Rt. 29 and Dixie Airport Rd. in Madison Heights…and Kim Z. Gardner has moved her State Farm Insurance Agency to the Amelon Square Plaza on Rt. 29 near Amelon Rd.


If you know of something new in Amherst County, please e-mail


Speak Your Mind