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Committee approves measure to honor Chafin, aid Breaks park project
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Virginia Senate

Committee approves measure to honor Chafin, aid Breaks park project

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Virginia’s Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday adopted a budget amendment in memory of Sen. Ben Chafin, who died Jan. 1.

The budget amendment, sponsored by Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon, would provide $1.4 million in the first year of the budget to modernize and repair lodge units and the Rhododendron Restaurant at Breaks Interstate Park in Dickenson County. This project is a key component of the park’s five-year strategic plan to make the park more sustainable and boost overnight visitation, according to a written statement.

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“Ben saw the Breaks as the crown jewel of Southwest Virginia,” Pillion said. “He loved the park and never passed up an opportunity to visit, especially when showing it off to those not from the area. That includes other members of the Senate, who now understand all the Breaks has to offer because they experienced it firsthand with Ben. He was a tireless advocate for the park and this is a fitting tribute that will continue allowing Ben to share his love of the Breaks for generations to come.”

Chafin, who represented the 38th District, was a lawyer and farmer from Russell County who died of COVID-19 complications.

“When Sen. Pillion first reached out to the park to express his desire to do something in honor of Sen. Ben Chafin, the commission and I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than a much needed upgrade for the park’s lodge and restaurant,” said Austin Bradley, superintendent of Breaks Interstate Park. “This facility, which was last updated over two decades ago, is located in the heart of the park and is heavily utilized by the many guests who pass through our gates each year.”

The Breaks amendment was adopted with others today and will move forward as part of the Senate budget proposal. Differences in the Senate and House budget bills will be worked out over the course of the special session, according to the statement.

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