Around The Region
Newsletter of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission
Commissioners

Terry Kelley 

Augusta County

 

Marshall Pattie

Augusta County

 

Joseph Colvin

Augusta County

 

Becky Earhart

Augusta County

 

Edward Hicklin

Bath County

 

Tim Petrie 

Buena Vista

 

Abe Shearer
Harrisonburg

 

Ted Byrd 

Harrisonburg

 

Adam Fletcher
Harrisonburg

 

Kevin Wagner

Highland County

 

Frank Friedman

Lexington

 

A. W. Buster Lewis
Rockbridge County

 

Chris Slaydon

Rockbridge County

 

Ned Overton
Rockingham County

 

Rick Chandler

Rockingham County

 

Casey Armstrong  

Rockingham County

 

Kim Sandum
Rockingham County

 

Carolyn Dull

Staunton

 

Sharon Angle

Staunton

 

Jeff Freeman

Waynesboro


Rusty Johnson

   Waynesboro    

Commission Staff
Bonnie Riedesel
Executive Director
 
Rebecca Joyce
Senior Planner/Program Manager 
 
Elizabeth McCarty
Economic
Development
Planner/Program Manager 
 
Ann Cundy
Senior Transportation Planner 
 
Scott Philips
Transportation Planner
  
Robbie Huff
GIS Manager/
Regional Planner

Nancy Gourley
Transit Program Coordinator

Hunter Joseph
GIS Specialist/ 
Planning Assistant

Devon Thompson
Planning Assistant

Cindi Johnson
Fiscal Officer

Rita Whitfield
Office Manager

Kimberly Miller
Administrative Assistant

Tracey Coltrain
Fields of Gold
Coordinator
Quick Links
 September 2016
CSPDC Holds Annual Meeting at The Highland Center
The CSPDC held its Annual Meeting and Dinner, August 15, 2016, at the recently renovated Highland Center in Monterey. More than 45 Commissioners, their guests, and CSPDC staff attended the meeting. Betty Mitchell, Executive Director of The Highland Center spoke on the Center's history and the results of the $3M 13-month renovation of the Center. She thanked the CSPDC for its support and technical assistance provided throughout the years.  A copy of the CSPDC's Annual Report - A Year in Review was distributed at the meeting followed by "lightning round" presentations from staff on their projects and programs. 

For a copy of the CSPDC's Annual Report please click  here .
BARC Community Solar Launched
Governor Terry McAuliffe was on hand to flip the switch on Virginia's first community solar project in Rockbridge County on August 29 th . The solar project at the BARC electric facility will provide energy for more than 200 homes and businesses, and allows customers in different communities to get solar power generated electricity from a centralized unit instead of putting panels on their own rooftops.

The project will provide 25 percent of the energy needs for homes and businesses across BARC's electric system in Rockbridge, Bath, Highland, Augusta, and Alleghany counties. Customers who subscribe to the solar project will pay a fixed solar energy rate for 20 years.

The project was funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The CSPDC is providing grant management services to BARC.
CSPDC Releases Bicycle Impact Analysis
A "Bicycling in the Central Shenandoah Valley" Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) was conducted by the CSPDC in conjunction with regional partners from Shenandoah County Tourism, Bryce Resort, Greater Augusta Regional Tourism, Harrisonburg Tourism, Rockingham County, Lexington & the Rockbridge Area Tourism, Massanutten Resort, and the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. 

The study looked at the current direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of cycling within the region's four counties and five cities, and estimated the impact of bicycle tourism on the local retail, lodging, and restaurant businesses. Total economic impact of $13.6 million that supported 184 jobs was reported for 2015.  The entire report can be viewed  here.
HRMPO Completes Bike-Ped Plan and Holds Public Meeting
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization (HRMPO) held a public meeting on September 7 to provide information and gather public input on the final draft of the 2016 HRMPO Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan. The presentation highlighted various elements of the Plan, including regional bicyclist and pedestrian needs and prioritized projects that promote and encourage safe pedestrian and bicycling throughout the region.

The Plan will be presented to the HRMPO Policy Board for adoption in November. A copy of the Plan is available for review at  2016 HRMPO  "Draft" Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan.
VDOT Opens 2016 Smart Scale Application Cycle
The Virginia Department of Transportation opened the 2016 Smart Scale application cycle August 1. The Smart Scale process is a competitive, performance-driven evaluation focused on the areas of safety improvement, accessibility, land use, congestion reduction, economic development, and the environment, and helps address local and regional transportation and transit infrastructure needs.

Applicants in the region include the SAWMPO, Augusta, and Rockingham Counties; the Cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg and Lexington; and the Town of Dayton.  The SAWMPO and HRMPO provide localities with support in completing their applications, which are due September 30, 2016.
Be BRITE; Try Transit
The CSPDC will join the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and transportation partners from across the Commonwealth in celebrating the eighth statewide Try Transit Week from September 19-23, 2016. This is a great time for people to explore new alternatives to their commute and how to get around while saving time, money, and energy.

On Wednesday, September 21st, in celebration of Try Transit Week, the CSPDC will again offer free rides on all local BRITE transit routes including the Staunton Trolleys, the 250 Connector, the Waynesboro Circulator, the Blue Ridge Community College Shuttle, and the Stuarts Draft Link. 
Riedesel Named VAPDC 2nd VP & Awarded 2016 President's Award
Bonnie Riedesel, CSPDC Executive Director, was elected Second Vice President of the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) at their Annual Conference in Williamsburg. Ms. Riedesel also received the 2016 VAPDC President's award in recognition for exemplifying with distinction, the ideals of regional cooperation, planning and development within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Changes Come to Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro & BRCC BRITE Bus Routes
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC), in cooperation with Virginia Regional Transit, has made revisions and schedule improvements impacting several routes in the BRITE Bus public transit system. The Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) North and South Shuttles, the Waynesboro Circulator route, and the 340 Connector route implemented these improvements in August to increase reliability, add more stops at key destinations, and allow for easier connections between routes. The changes were first recommended in the CSPDC's  Transit Development Plan , and were incorporated after feedback received at public meetings indicated positive response to the improvements.  Schedules for the new route changes are available at   www.britebus.org.
Natural Bridge Becomes Virginia State Park
Rockbridge County's Natural Bridge officially becomes a Virginia State Park on National Public Lands Day, September 24, 2016. An Opening Celebration will mark the journey of the Natural Bridge complex from nearly 250 years of private ownership to public land. The Opening Celebration will be held at Natural Bridge from 10:00-11:00 a.m., with a complimentary park and ride shuttle transporting guests starting at 8:30 a.m. Admission to the park will be free for the day, and include a concert from 7:00-9:00 p.m. by The Dancing Chicken Band.
Originally purchased by Thomas Jefferson, the property has passed through a series of private owners. In 2014, steps were taken to protect the bridge in perpetuity thanks to the efforts of former and current owners, local government leaders, conservation organizations, and state agencies that collaborated to keep the National Historic Landmark accessible to future generations. Partially gifted from the previous owner to the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund and partially purchased by loans from several state agencies, the land will not officially pass into Commonwealth ownership until the debt is paid off, but Virginia State Parks will begin immediate management of the approximately 1,500 acres and facilities. The State Park does not include the Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center or the Caverns at Natural Bridge.
DCR Sponsors Virginia Outdoor Plan Meeting
The Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation and the CSPDC will hold a workshop for regional stakeholders of the Virginia Outdoors Plan, September 30, 2016, 10:00 a.m.-noon at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia. Participants will learn what is needed to build a regional outdoor recreation program and receive updates on the VOP Mapper and Virginia Treasures initiative. 

The event is geared for local parks and recreation directors & staff, outdoor recreation-focused organizations, local and regional planners or representatives, land conservation representatives, private sector outdoor recreation representatives, and regional representatives for agencies that support outdoor recreation and conservation. View the agenda here and register for the event here.
Highland Inn Gets Facelift
The Highland Inn in Monterey has received a $600,000 grant through the State's Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF).   The IRF program provides gap financing through grants and loans for construction projects aligned with local and regional economic development strategies primarily in distressed communities. 
 
The funds will be used to renovate and repair the Inn including replacing decks, updating rooms, upgrading plumbing and electrical systems, replacing windows and installing air-conditioning, among other structural improvements.
 
The historic hotel is an important focal point of the town and Highland County and provides lodging and dining facilities both of which encourage more visitors to the area.  The project aligns perfectly with the recently renovated Highland Center that now houses a business retreat and conference center.  Adequate lodging is key to attracting visitors to the area who support the local economy.
Recent CSPDC Staff Changes
New staff:  Scott Philips was hired as a transportation planner and began work in July.  Prior to joining the CSPDC, Scott was a senior transportation planner with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Prior to that, he worked for CAL-Trans as a transportation planner/analyst in Sacramento, California.  Scott grew up in Florida and received his bachelor's degree from Florida State University and his masters from Clemson University.
 
Departing staff:  Kevin McDermott, Transportation Manager with the CSPDC for four years, resigned in July to take a job as the principal transportation planner with Albemarle County.  Erin Yancey, who served as the CSPDC's Environmental Planner for four and a half years, is now working for the City of Harrisonburg in the Public Works Department as a planning manager.  
Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission
112 MacTanly Place
Staunton, VA 24401
www.cspdc.org