The latest on the programs and projects of
the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission.
Around the Region
 February 2018
Fields of Gold Farm Trail Signs Available for Members

The Fields of Gold Farm Trail has announced the availability of new 18" x 9" metal signs for farm trail members.  These weather resistant farm trail signs can be used on fences, posts, buildings, and other outdoor prominent locations.  The signs will assist in branding efforts and create more curiosity, knowledge, and buzz about the Fields of Gold Farm Trail program.  The latest "Fence Talk" newsletter is also available and features upcoming training and conference opportunities, marketing tools, and profiles of member farms and signature events.
Funds Sought for Interregional Transit System

The CSPDC has applied to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation for Demonstration Grant funding for the interregional transit service, now called the Afton Express, connecting Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County to Charlottesville.  If awarded, the Demonstration Grant will allow for fine -tuning  the route and timings, finalizing contractual terms, and development of a marketing and outreach program in advance of startup in early 2019.  The grant will also fund operations for a one-year period. The Cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Charlottesville, along with Augusta County and the University of Virginia/ UVA Medical Center are being asked to provide the local match funds to the grant.  

The transit service is proposed to operate under the BRITE brand, and will serve park and ride stops in Staunton, Fishersville, and Waynesboro with five trips in the morning and five trips in the evening.  Charlottesville stops will include the University of Virginia, the UVA Medical Center, and the Amtrak and Greyhound stations.

This project is the result of a 2-year feasibility study commissioned by the three MPOs  that studied commuter patterns and rider demand for a transit system connecting localities in the Valley with Charlottesville.
2017 Population Estimates Released

The University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center has released the 2017 population estimates for Virginia and its counties and independent cities.  Population estimates, including components of change, are available on the Weldon Cooper Center website. You can also find population information on the   CSPDC's Regional Data Center.

Floodplain Management Workshop Set for March 27

The CSPDC and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) are hosting a one-day Floodplain Management Workshop in Fishersville on March 27, 2018.  The workshop sessions will provide updated training for local planners, zoning administrators, building officials, emergency managers, and engineers on floodplain management requirements, how to use flood hazard data and maps, pre- and post-disaster considerations, and an overview of the National Flood Insurance Program.  To register, please contact Rebecca Joyce at 540-885-5174 or rebecca@cspdc.org.  RSVPs appreciated by March 20.
HOME Funds Assist First-time Homebuyers

The Homeownership Down Payment Assistance Program (HOME) in the Central Shenandoah Valley region received funding to assist approximately eight first-time, low- to moderate-income homebuyers in 2018.  The CSPDC partners with lenders and housing providers in the area to identify eligible home-buyers.  

HOME is a flexible gap financing program that provides eligible homebuyers with down-payment and/or closing cost assistance in the form of a forgivable loan.  Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Created to help eligible homebuyers obtain decent, safe, and affordable housing, this program has helped approximately 240 people in our region grow their personal wealth and equity through homeownership.
BRITE Rider Wins "Try Transit Week" Grand Prize

Jenny Cox of Verona, was recently named Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Try Transit Week giveaway. Participants from all over the Commonwealth that took the Try Transit Week pledge during the September promotion were automatically entered for a chance to win a year of free transit service from a participating Virginia transit operator, as well as a pair of round-trip tickets aboard Amtrak's Northeast Regional train.

Ms. Cox routinely rides the BRCC South BRITE route and uses other routes as well to run daily errands. She was presented with a unique one-year pass for BRITE Bus transit at a special ceremony in January.

Try Transit Week is an annual educational event designed to spread the word about public transportation accessibility and its benefits and to encourage Virginians to reduce their use of single-occupancy vehicles by trying a form of public transportation. Try Transit Week is celebrated in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County with a Free Ride Day on all BRITE Bus routes.
Community Strong Programs Wrap Up in Dayton and Craigsville

In 2014, the CSPDC was awarded a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant from USDA-Rural Development to implement the CSPDC's Community Strong Program.  The program concluded at the end of 2017, and has helped seven small and rural localities build their capacity to address the challenges of community development and economic competitiveness.  These communities include Buena Vista, Glasgow, Goshen, Lexington, Rockbridge County, and most recently, the towns of Craigsville and Dayton.  Craigsville identified priorities for community revitalization, jobs, and youth activities and recreation.  Dayton identified priorities for beautification and restoration, community facilities, and economic development.  The communities will now work on steps towards implementing their individual action plans.
VAPDC Holds Annual Winter Conference

The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) is holding  its annual winter conference in Richmond on February 8-9.  Each year, this annual event is held in conjunction with Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) Government Day.  

As part of the conference, VAPDC will host an Agency Appreciation reception to recognize the strong relationships PDCs have with state agencies and to show our appreciation to the state agency leaders for all they do for the Commonwealth. Agency heads from DHCD, DEQ, DCR, VDEM, and VEDP are  just a few of the attendees.  Also, in attendance will be Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax and Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Esther Lee.

The conference concludes with a tour of Richmond's Main Street Multimodal Transportation Center, a project that will increase long distance and cross jurisdiction commuter travel in support of the major development corridor located in the State's Urban Crescent. The Main Street Multi-modal Transportation project is a cornerstone of Richmond's urban center place-making strategy, which features high-density living arrangements and car-lite lifestyles aimed at attracting and retaining young workers. 

CSPDC's Executive Director, Bonnie Riedesel, serves on the VAPDC Board of Directors and is the Program Committee chair for the Association.
SMART SCALE Round 3 Application Cycle

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) SMART Portal opens on March 1, 2018, for SMART SCALE Round 3 applications. In preparation, VDOT has scheduled several training sessions to provide applicants with SMART Portal user training as well as updates regarding changes and enhancements to the SMART SCALE program and the Round 3 application process. All training sessions will be done via Webex, and space is limited.  Two training sessions are scheduled in February:

February 13: Organization Administrator Refresher and Pre-Application Training, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

February 27: Pre-Application Refresher and Full Application Training, time TBD

To sign up for a training session, please contact the VDOT Staunton District SMART SCALE point of contact Terry Short at Terry.ShortJR@VDOT.Virginia.gov. Please direct questions regarding the SMART SCALE Round 3 application cycle to SMARTPortal@CTB.Virginia.gov or contact the CSPDC.

For a complete schedule of training events and Round 3 application cycle submittal dates, please visit SMART SCALE .
Farm to School Network  Workshop Scheduled for March 9

CSPDC is assisting the Virginia Department of Education in hosting one of a series of kickoff meetings around the state  for its regional Farm to School Network program and invites school nutrition professionals, farmers, distributors, produce company representatives, and anyone interested in Farm to School to attend the workshop  on Friday March 9th from 9am to 3pm at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.   

 Topics for the workshop will include:
* Food safety from farm to school
* Reading, writing, and responding to solicitations for bids
* Creative delivery and distribution models

Attendance is free, but pre-registration is required.  Details can be found online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/nutrition/. If you need more information about this workshop, you can also contact Spencer Eavers, Fields of Gold coordinator at spencer@cspdc.org.
William C. "Bill" Shelton Retires from DHCD

William C. "Bill" Shelton recently retired from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) following years of service under five governors. During his 20-year tenure as Director, Mr. Shelton was responsible for a myriad of housing and community development improvements across the Commonwealth and managed the Appalachian Regional Commission and Community Development Block Grant Programs. His focus on supporting initiatives for rural communities, especially those in the Appalachian counties, has earned him a nomination by Virginia's Local Development District (LDD) Executive Directors for the 2018 John Whisman "Vision" Award.  

Mr. Shelton is succeeded as Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development by Erik Johnston. Mr. Johnston served as Deputy Director since January of 2017. Prior to joining the department, he served as Deputy Policy Director in the McAuliffe administration and spent a number of years with both the National Association of Counties and the Virginia Association of Counties.
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