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Golden Paw 2013

Virginia Living Museum Presents Golden Paw Award to John Biagas and Bay Electric Co.

Sept. 26, 2013

The Virginia Living Museum in Newport News has presented its highest honor, the Golden Paw Award, to John F. Biagas and Bay Electric Co. to recognize their exceptional support for the museum’s environmental and education mission.

“John is a man of big ideas. So when the museum wanted to go with a big idea of getting a grant for installing solar panels, we went to John. John and his team saw our vision,” said VLM President Brian Skinner in presenting the award Sept. 25.

“Their technical advice helped us put together a proposal that resulted in a $150,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation.” John also “worked with his vendors and made a personal donation that expanded the project” beyond the grant, said Skinner.

The project installed 165 solar panels on the museum’s south-facing roof. The panels will save the museum $5,000 annually on electricity, and also teach about solar energy and conservation.

Skinner said Biagas’ gift “keeps on giving.” Bay Electric is helping the museum apply for Renewable Energy Credits, which pay a fee above what the museum saves on its energy bill.

In accepting the award, Biagas talked about growing up in Louisiana as the youngest of 14 kids in what was essentially “a living museum,” between the chickens, ducks, horses, cattle, pig and other animals his parents had, and the foxes, raccoons, nutria rats, possums and other wild animals in the surrounding countryside.

“It was not until much later that I saw where we could bring nature to life, here at the Virginia Living Museum. In a small way I hope Bay Electric and my family have done a little to support the VLM and keep its educational opportunities alive for years to come,” Biagas said.

Since Biagas purchased Bay Electric Co., Inc. in 1997, the Newport News company has expanded its offerings to include general contracting as well as design/build general and electrical construction, security/technology solutions and services, and solar photovoltaics, establishing a remarkable presence from Maine to Florida and west to Louisiana.

The award was presented during a reception Sept. 25 honoring museum supporters. The award is a bronze otter statue by Eastern Shore sculptor David Turner.

The museum began giving the Golden Paw Award in 1995 to recognize outstanding service and support of the museum. Past recipients are: Warwick Rotary Club, Junior League of Hampton Roads, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert V, Kelly, Sr. (deceased) and Herbert (Bert) V. Kelly, Jr., George R. Goodson, Jr., Harry H. Wason, Mary Sherwood Holt, Cynthia C. Andrews (deceased), James B. (Jake) Thomas, Jr., Dr. John Q.A. Mattern II, the Abbitt family, Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. (twice), the city of Newport News, Charlie and Mari Ann Banks, John R. Lawson II, Joseph R. Witt and the VLM Volunteers, and Newport News Shipbuilding.

The Virginia Living Museum is a private non-profit museum and education center. It has been in operation since 1966 and is accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Association of Museum. It is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News.

For more information call 757-595-1900 or visit the web site at

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