Pocahontas, Virginia, once produced coal of such fine grade that it powered the world's navies. Today the population of the town, about 70 miles west of Blacksburg, has dropped to less than 400, but that hasn't stopped Mayor Benjamin Gibson from touting the town's chief tourism asset: an exhibition coal mine.

In the latest episode of Save Our Towns, mine tour guide Raymond Comer speaks for previous generations of miners when he describes the backbreaking labor that characterizes the underground job. In the Example of Awesome story, Comer shows off the mine to field reporter Hannah Samlall of Warrenton, Virginia, a Virginia Tech senior majoring in communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Save our Towns continues its close look at Pearisburg's economic development efforts, which put its farmers market front and center as Mayor Robert Dickerson promises the town will meet the high bar set by a federal granting agency.

Other topics included in this month's episode are coal mining's lasting legacy on the landscape and a Virginia Cooperative Extension program that uses the setting of farmers markets to promote healthy eating.

During the past 15 months, Save Our Towns has grown to become a multilayered project with the aim to guide and inspire its audience of small-town mayors and town managers. The website showcases Virginia Tech faculty members doing research in Appalachia as well as Virginia Cooperative Extension agents working in the region.

The project has generated thousands of views both on YouTube and on the resource-rich Save Our Towns website. In future episodes, the show's Examples of Awesome stories are scheduled to continue with the theme of coal in the small town of Appalachia and, later, Saltville, where the digging turned up something radically different from coal.

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