Grundy is a town in Buchanan County, Virginia, United States. The population was 1,105 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Buchanan County. The town is noted for its educational institutions and their role in the town's economic rebirth. In the past, the town served as a stopover for Union troops on their way to the Battle of Saltville. The town is also noteworthy for its flood control project, where the mountain across the river was blasted to make way for new development.
The town, founded in 1858 upon the formation of Buchanan County, was named for Felix Grundy (1777–1840), United States Attorney General (1838–1839) and United States Senator from Tennessee (1839–1840). It was incorporated in 1876. The present courthouse dates from 1905.
On the way to Saltville
In October 1864, Union raiders under Brigadier General Stephen G. Burbridge passed through Grundy on their way to destroy the saltworks near Saltville in Smyth County, where they were met by Confederate troops commanded by Brigadier General Alfred E. Jackson at the Battle of Saltville. The Union troops were defeated in the battle, but returned later and succeeded in destroying the saltworks.
Grundy flood control project
Since 1929, Grundy has suffered nine major floods of the adjoining Levisa Fork River. After the inundation of April 4, 1977, many businesses did not reopen, and the buildings that housed them were abandoned.
A project to relocate much of the town to higher ground has been completed. The project started in 2001 and consisted of blasting the mountain across the Levisa Fork to create of land. After a few years of blasting, utilities were placed and new bridges across the river were built. A new downtown is planned that will include a multi-level Wal-Mart with a parking deck. Buildings backing on the river have been demolished and a new flood wall protects the county courthouse. U.S. Route 460 has been relocated to the top of the flood wall. Businesses formerly located downtown were relocated to an industrial building located just outside of town. State Route 83 will be rerouted to meet U.S. Route 460 down the street where U.S. Route 460 originally took a directional split to go through downtown Grundy. Additional work under study upstream reroutes U.S. Route 460 inland from its current path.
Start of a regional grocery store chain
Grundy was the home of the predecessor to the Food City Stores when Jack Smith opened a Piggly Wiggly franchise in 1955. The store was Smith's first and the chain has now grown to 107 stores in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The chain is best known for sponsoring the Food City 500 NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway. That store remained open one day short of 50 years as it was closed in November 2005 and a new replacement store opened up just outside the town limits in Vansant.
The store was re-opened on June 28, 2011 as one of K-VA-T food stores Super Dollar locations.
Education as a new sustaining industry
Grundy is home to the Appalachian School of Law, which opened in 1997, and the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, which opened in 2005. Buchanan County chose Grundy as the site for the ASL to revitalize the town, which had been in a steady economic decline since the Flood of 1977. The presence of ASL has brought $12 million to the local economy, and is credited with construction of rental homes and the opening of additional businesses in the area. Additionally, ASL has successfully demonstrated the concept of creating institutions of higher education as an economic development tool. This success led to the creation of the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, located in Oakwood, which, like the Appalachian School of Law, was created as part of a continuing economic redevelopment effort. ACP is forecast to add $20 million per year to the local economy.
Appalachian School of Law shooting
On January 16, 2002, tragedy hit the town when Appalachian School of Law Dean Anthony Sutin, Professor Thomas Blackwell, and 1L student Angela Dales were shot and killed by disgruntled student Peter Odighizuwa, 43, of Nigeria on the law school's campus. At trial, Odighizuwa was found mentally competent, pled guilty to the murders to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.
2011 Deskins Shooting
On Sunday, March 13, 2011, another shooting took place in the municipality of Deskins, just outside of the Grundy-Vansant area. Two officers were killed, and two more were injured. The shooter, Randy Newberry, was killed during the event. The event was said to have started after a disturbance at a service station, resulting in the death of one officer, and the injury of another (both previously mentioned).