Bristol Virginia Energy Research Center

Bristol, Southwest Virginia Revealed

by Lewis Loflin

See Climate Science & Electronics Technology Links

See 2017 update removing out of date or obsolete material.

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.

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.

Shocking: Can't Afford the Basics While Working

2017 Gov. Race More Empty Promises

Requiring a College Degree to Clean Toilets

Practical Education Key to Escaping Poverty

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Machete Wielding Hispanic Shot Dead

by Lewis Loflin

Who is Roberto Avendano? Nothing is known of him and he is now dead. They don't know his age or if he has a criminal record, or if he is a US citizen.

What started out as a traffic stop and drug bust of a Glendale Arizona couple ends in the shooting of a man we know almost nothing about. "Brian J. Swontek, 49, of Glendale, Arizona, and his wife, Erin K. Swontek, 40, were charged with multiple drug and shoplifting charges" in the highway stop.

Meth, etc. at two other locations led to the arrests of Christopher Carroll Ingram of Bristol, Virginia and Michael Joseph Hauser of Peoria, Arizona. A warrant to a dairy farm led to Roberto Avendano fleeing the residence and barricading himself in an out building. After being forced out, armed with a 2-foot machete he attacked four police officers and was shot dead. All four officers are on leave as the State Police investigate. Sheriff Newman fully and correctly supports his deputies.

Also arrested was 21-year-old Stephanie Mae Browning and her relation to machete boy is unknown. There's just too many unknowns in this case and is still under investigation.

While the presence of the violent Central American MS13 gang across the state has become a political issue in the 2017 governor's race, the problem goes far beyond MS13.

As many as 300,000 illegal aliens in Virginia has caused all kinds of problems from overuse of welfare to petty and violent crime including drug running, identity theft, fraud, tax evasion, etc. that swirl around this organized and ignored crime industry that draws in non-Hispanic criminals into the mix.

Local farmers, contractors, etc. bring illegal aliens from outside the area who then end up dumped in the community unable to obtain any further employment leading to crime. In addition their medical care ends up at the local emergency rooms as their employers dump them and leave. If they show up with kids it's off to the welfare office as they work for cash or fail to report any income.

It's hard to know the real level of illegal alien or immigrant crime because machete boy will be counted as white - there's no offender category for Hispanics in Virginia. There needs to be.

Ignoring what many consider low-level crime and lawlessness can often lead to more violent crime and other social problems. Illegal alien Hispanics in the community and the presence of I81 makes the ready conduit and cover for illegal drugs brought in from elsewhere that has led to this death.

Ref. BHC 10 Oct. 2017 and Washington County Sheriff's Dept.

2017 Gov. Race More Empty Promises

Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are trying to buy the Southwest Virginia vote. They had a debate in Wise on Oct. 9 and Mr. Gillespie brought VP Mike Pence to Abingdon on Oct. 14.

Both made the usual collection of empty promises we've heard for years: free healthcare, job training for non-existent jobs, fix the prescription and opiate drug problems, more fiber optic and HBO, more jobs, etc.

Gillespie is waste of time with more corporate welfare and worthless job training. He is just another corporatist like many Republicans hostile to working people. Gillespie touts cracking down on MS13, etc. but shows no willingness to attack the entire illegal alien problem supported by the Republican establishment.

Northam spouts the usual Democrat racist identity politics across the state, incites more racism by promising to remove Confederate statues, supports illegal aliens and protects sanctuary cities, and more gun control. His remedies for local ills are more government spending and programs - free stuff vote for me. This ploy worked for years until the defeat of Congressman Rick Boucher in 2010 - it won't work anymore as people have wised up.

Both men have no connection to or know anything about the people they are trying to reach. Northam in particular depends on affluent whites in Northern Virginia and a coalition of non-whites and welfare mothers. Gillespie depend on rural working class whites and is trying to ride the Trump Train on illegal immigration.

The "fake news" Washington Post touts voting for Northam is a vote against Donald Trump.

One is running against MS13 the other running against Donald Trump. Northam was campaigning in wealthy Reston, Virginia with ex-VP Joe Biden. Called a "low-key affair" that barred the general public with about 100 Democrat operatives in attendance.

Without addressing the welfare culture and a hostile anti-labor business environment nothing will change here - we must change the culture first. Job training is worthless without a massive increase in reading literacy, science, and math skills - many need to redo three years of high school. That is an expensive and time consuming proposition few are willing to take.

That doesn't count being able to pass a drug test. One doctor at the University of Virginia noted the reason why there's so much prescription drug abuse - poor people get drugs and are sent home even with Medicaid to get them out of the office.

Job training is limited due to literacy problems and the unwillingness of local business to commit to actually hiring those that complete the training - which is often an excuse for more state subsidies. Nobody will move here for an IT job and take a 60% pay cut.

It's the culture stupid and more fiber-optic lines or social workers won't address the problem.

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 has new housing nearby. They claim the rents run $800-$1000 per month plus utilities, which is unaffordable for many.

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 empty 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:

Low levels of crime despite a drug addiction problem among the lower class. Low cost of living relative to much of Virginia, 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.

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.

Practical Education Key to Escaping Poverty

by Lewis Loflin

Many lower income people of all races must end their stupid, irresponsible behavior. Drug use, dropping out of school, unwed motherhood, and simple lack of impulse control is leading to the ruin of millions. They can't afford dumb mistakes and should be held accountable for their own good. People ask all the time how we own a house living on less than $10 an hour in household income and a disabled spouse?

The answer is simple - get a damn job even if it's below what one expects. Even with college I've cleaned yards and basements to make ends meet. Yes we get a little help from the government (Medicaid because my wife is uninsurable), but I choose to work and refuse most government aid. Yes the job market sucks and some employers are abusive, but most will work with anyone willing to put in some effort.

We refuse food stamps, I raise a garden. We learned to can our own food, buy in bulk and buy reduced meat, and shop at Dollar Tree. We stay away form over using credit cards and never touch drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. I buy older fuel efficient cars (Japanese) I can repair and maintain. We saved and bought an energy efficient refrigerator, used new LED light bulbs, heat with a wood stove (and cut wood by hand without a $1500 log splitter) and cut our energy bill to about $100 a month! We don't sit around cold or in the dark.

The computers and electronics I use most have been built by me or come from salvage. Why billions of dollars in perfectly good stuff is being crushed or thrown into landfills just mystifies me. I taught electronics and electricity at a community college (part time) and have a website devoted only to electronics gadgets I designed and built. See

Yes I went to college, but most of what I do is self-taught. Most of what I've done can be done by the average person with some effort. People must learn to rely on themselves as much as possible, but the rest of us might have to step in and help those that really need it who try the best they can.

As an educator myself I know for a fact that any student of any race or social standing can learn and succeed, but all will never have an equal outcome. That doesn't mean for one minute that a calculus major is somehow a better human being than a high school graduate that can repair a car or build a beautiful wood cabinet.

We've developed this socially destructive attitude that there's no value in actually working with one's hands or creating real things we can use. Labor has no value and only a piece of paper is what everyone should have.

Oddly many lower income immigrants have figured this out. See We Can Learn from our Latino Community.

There is more real demand for good vocational workers than most liberal arts majors and they often make more money. So why don't we look at people as they really are and utilize what talents they have? Like it or not income disparity is largely based on education and economic policies destructive to low skill people. Note that,

"Of the top 10 hardest-to-fill positions in the US, only three - engineers, nurses, and teachers - require university degrees. The other seven are: skilled trades, IT staff, sales representatives, accounting and finance staff, drivers, mechanics, and machinists.

The reasons employers cannot fill these positions are lack of experience, candidates asking for more money than they can afford (or willing) to pay, and lack of talent and training."


The problem in this region of Tr-Cities Virginia-Tennessee, and I daresay much of the country, is our education system is utterly determined to keep those entering skilled vocational trades from receiving a better academic background in science, math, etc. As a vocational instructor myself I have fought this problem for years only to be stonewalled time after time by the so-called education professionals.

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."

Requiring a College Degree to Clean Toilets

by Lewis Loflin

February 19, 2013 The New York Times article It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk shows just how bad the job market has become even for college graduates. Even a $10 an hour job now requires a B.A. degree even when the job has nothing to do with education:

Economists have referred to this phenomenon as "degree inflation," and it has been steadily infiltrating America's job market. Across industries and geographic areas, many other jobs that didn't used to require a diploma - positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters - are increasingly requiring one, according to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads from more than 20,000 online sources, including major job boards and small- to midsize-employer sites.

This up-credentialing is pushing the less educated even further down the food chain, and it helps explain why the unemployment rate for workers with no more than a high school diploma is more than twice that for workers with a bachelor's degree: 8.1 percent versus 3.7 percent.

This has nothing to do with becoming more technical, but simply a way reduce the number of people even applying for a job, which can often number in the thousands. Those with true usable scientific, technical, and vocational skills don't have this problem.

A college degree is no longer a path to a middle class lifestyle it once was, in fact for some a degree is becoming an expensive joke. But if one can control the cost of their student loans they still have a better chance than those with no degree at all. It's become more related to drive and ambition than simply a piece of paper.

Disproportionate Black Homicide Rates

As shown by the above studies violent crime in particular Murder and robbery are a black industry. Driven by self-inflicted social ills and being driven from the labor force by mass immigration black death rates mainly at the hands of fellow blacks has exploded.

The Washington Times (Oct. 12, 2017) notes that while everyone is focused on millionaire black football players attacking the National Anthem that,

More than any other demographic group, black men are paying the price with their lives with a surging violent crime rate over the last 2 years, including a 20 percent (or 900 per year) jump in the overall homicide rate...

This come as the rare police shootings of blacks has declined "from 259 in 2015 to 233 in 2016." (Source: 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report and Manhattan Institute fellow Heather MacDonald.)

They note that it's true blacks are shot by police in disproportionate numbers based on population, based on levels of violent crime and behavior the numbers are low. Yet the Obama war on the police has led many departments such a Chicago to pull back on law enforcement leading to an exploding body count.

Yellow journalists go to extremes inflating police shootings of blacks nearly all proven justified in court while censoring the level of violent crime in these communities - thus inciting racial violence that led to the murder of a white mother of two on the Volunteer Parkway and five cops in Dallas. In fact Liberals Ignore Minority Violence for Political Gain.

Calling Out Yellow Jouralism

The Bristol Herald Courier, in my opinion the king of yellow journalism in Tri-Cities. The reprint racist hate and incitement from the Washington Post and post-publish racist and bigoted cartoons often attacking many of its own readers. One example last year was a cartoon depicting those opposing taking in millions of illegal alien children as racist' rednecks aiming an AR15 at two little children.

Added October 2017