The Smith Mountain Lake Center, Inc., a non-profit organization with plans to bring a multi-purpose facility to the region, announced today it will conduct a needs assessment survey in January and February.

“We’re looking for input on whether Smith Mountain Lake residents feel there is a need for a community center here and, if so, what that would look like, whether it be a venue for education, performing arts, social gatherings, business seminars – you name it,” said Walter “Woody” Hogle, chairman of the SML Center’s Board of Directors.

“Our goal is to hear from as many residents as possible who live in the greater SML region, whether full time or part time,” said Hogle, noting that the survey is being conducted primarily online with an option for residents without internet access to phone a toll-free number.

From Jan. 2 through Feb. 12, residents may log on to to access the survey, which is limited to one response per household. The survey takes approximately 5 minutes to complete. Participants may remain completely anonymous or enter their e-mail address to be eligible for a random drawing to win one of eight $50 VISA gift cards.

In addition, postcards will be mailed in early January to approximately 5,400 residents throughout Franklin and Bedford counties to assure proper sampling, according to Vince Magnini, Ph.D., executive director of Virginia Beach-based Institute for Service Research LLC, which is conducting the survey and will compile the results.

The effort to establish a community center at Smith Mountain Lake dates back more than a decade but was given renewed interest following the shooting at Bridgewater Plaza in August 2015.

“During that time the community rallied behind Vicki Gardner, the only survivor of the attack,” said Hogle, referring to the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce’s long-time executive director. “It was Vicki who reenergized the vision for a community center here with the hope that something good and enduring would come out of a tragedy that took the lives of two young journalists.”

Initially referred to as Vicki’s Vision, the effort is now known officially as the Smith Mountain Lake Center, Inc., a fully operational non-profit organization made up of a board of 13 directors who meet monthly.

“This is a very talented group of individuals with diverse professional backgrounds who are united by a shared desire to continue to strengthen our community,” said Hogle, a retired Air Force Lieutenant General who has lived at the lake since 2010. 

“We’re eagerly anticipating the results of the survey so we can move forward with developing a venue that will serve the growing needs of all Smith Mountain Lake area residents and visitors, as well as the business community.”

For more information, visit For regular updates, follow the SML Center on Facebook at or on Twitter at

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