The latest on the programs and projects of
the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission.
Around the Region
 November/December 2017 
New Fields of Gold Video Released

The Fields of Gold Farm Trail has released a new promotional video titled "Meet Our Farmers." The video features the stories of multi-generational farming families and highlights the role of agritourism in the sustainability of their farms.  Spotlighting a mixture of Farm Trail members from the six-county, five-city region, the video includes insight from Shenandoah Valley historian Nancy Sorrells and a variety of regional "farm facts." 

A shorter video, "See You on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail," debuted in July.  That video shows a family enjoying a fun-filled day on the farm trail, and highlights the convenient web and mobile-ready tools available for trip planning and navigating the farm trail. Both videos will be used to showcase the many ways visitors can have farm adventures in the Shenandoah Valley.
Braiding the Way Celebrates Completion of Outdoor Recreation Plan

In October, the steering committee for Braiding the Way for Outdoor Recreation in the  Rockbridge Area celebrated the completion and endorsement of the Rockbridge Area Outdoor Recreation and Trail Plan.

The project, underway since 2015, has been a collaborative effort composed of key partners including Rockbridge Area Tourism, Rockbridge County, City of Lexington, City of Buena Vista, and representatives from government, educational, and community-based organizations.  The project was assisted by the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program and a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant through USDA-Rural Development. CPSDC provided grant management, mapping, and staff support.

Moving forward, the steering committee will transition to the Rockbridge Area Outdoors Partnership which will serve as a coordinating entity and forum for continued collaboration, networking, project development, and promotion.  Twenty-eight organizations have committed to joining the Partnership.
TDM Plan Developed for Region

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) adopted the Long-Range Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan at its October meeting. The TDM Plan includes a review of the organization and operations of the region's TDM program, service changes and expansion, financial plan, and TDM program monitoring and evaluation.  

CSPDC staff provided input, assistance, and review during the development of the Plan to Michael Baker International, the lead consultant.  The development of the strategic plan balances initiatives that are attainable and inspirational. A total of 23 strategic initiatives were developed, including augmentation of existing efforts and entirely new projects. All initiatives were stratified into five categories: marketing and community outreach; carpool/vanpool/ride matching; employer services; alternative travel mode promotion; and TDM and regional planning and coordination.
TDM programs are designed to promote ridesharing and other transportation alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. This helps assist individuals seeking transportation options to their workplaces and other destinations, mitigate congestion on roadways, and reduce environmental impacts caused by vehicle emissions, roadway expansion, and other transportation-related factors.
Bike Walk Summit Held

The 6th annual  Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bike Walk Summit was held in November on the James Madison University (JMU) campus.  The 80 people in attendance represented local elected bodies, community advocates, bicyclists, small business owners, and local, regional and state government staff.

This year's summit featured the theme, "Engaging to Build More Walkable and Bikeable Communities," and Fionnuala Quinn presented the keynote speech and hands-on, interactive activities.  Ms. Quinn is the founder and director of the non-profit Bureau of Good Roads, which develops and delivers to schools and community groups STEM-based learning materials and activities related to the design of transportation infrastructure.
Buena Vista, Lexington and Rockbridge County to Update Emergency Operations Plan

CSPDC staff will be assisting Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County with the update of their joint Rockbridge Regional Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).  The EOP update is supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The Code of Virginia requires each local jurisdiction to maintain an EOP that is reviewed, revised, and formally adopted by their City Council / Board of Supervisors every four years. CSPDC has also assisted Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County, and Bath County with their EOPs in the past. 
Grant Applications Submitted to Transportation Alternatives Program

Eleven  Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant applications totaling $3.32 million were submitted to VDOT in November by the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Lexington; the towns of Bridgewater, and Glasgow; and Augusta County. Projects seeking funding include streetscapes, Safe Routes to School projects, sidewalks, and a shared-use path.

CSPDC staff assisted member jurisdictions with grant writing, providing supporting resolutions, and coordinating application materials. TAP applications will be evaluated by VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board over the next few months to select projects for funding consideration. Final project selection and funding will be announced in the summer of 2018. The next opportunity to apply for TAP funding is November 2019.
CERT Assists Augusta County with Smoke Alarm Program
In November, more than two dozen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers gathered to assist Augusta County Fire-Rescue in assembling 2,000 home safety information packets. 

The packets will be used as part of a Smoke Alarm Installation Program that Augusta County is currently conducting, thanks to $114,000 in grant funding. The program will offer 5,000 smoke detectors and installations free of charge to the residents of 25 mobile home parks and more than 1,000 individual mobile homes throughout Augusta County. CERT members will accompany the Augusta County Fire-Rescue teams in canvassing, providing safety information, and enrolling interested residents in the program.
GO Virginia Region 8 Submits Proposals for Funding

At its December 12th meeting, the GO Virginia State Board will consider two proposals submitted by GO Virginia Region 8.  The projects seeking funding are the Rockbridge Area Advanced Manufacturing Project (RAAMP) and the Shenandoah Valley Nursing Scholarship Project.  The goal of both projects is to meet the critical workforce shortage in the region by developing a highly skilled talent pipeline.
RAAMP will provide tuition assistance for 13 students to enroll in a 40-week welding program at Byers Technical Institute in Rockbridge County. The program will prepare students to enter the welding field at the Journeyman level.
Shenandoah Valley Nursing Scholarship Project will provide scholarships and/or interest free loans to assist approximately 100 nursing students to receive their Associate or B.S. nursing degrees.  Scholarships and/or interest free loans would be forgiven over three years given the students earn satisfactory grades and agree to work within Region 8 for three years. 
Virginia Breeze Bus Line Launches

The Virginia Breeze, a new bus line along I-81 and I-66, will launch December 1.  The Virginia Breeze, the program's pilot route, will connect travelers from Blacksburg to Washington, D.C. with multiple destinations in-between, including Lexington, Staunton, and Harrisonburg. 
The Virginia Breeze features a modern 56-passenger coach with free Wi-Fi, in-seat power outlets, and other amenities, and provides a critical transportation connection between rural Virginia communities and the national bus network.  Customers can purchase Virginia Breeze tickets as well as access interline tickets for destinations beyond Washington, D.C. through Megabus.  The program is funded through the Federal Transit Administration's 5311 Intercity Bus Program and administered by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Bath County's School Solar Project is Largest in Virginia

A solar project at three Bath County public schools is the largest school solar project in the Commonwealth. On October 25, Governor Terry McAuliffe visited Valley Elementary to commission the solar project, and he praised Bath County Schools and BARC Electric Cooperative for their efforts to expand solar energy in Virginia.  

Millboro Elementary received 530 panels producing 180 kilowatts of energy.  Bath County High School has 740 panels producing 250 kilowatts of solar energy.  The largest number of solar panels are at Valley Elementary with 1,856 panels producing 622 kilowatts.  This makes Valley Elementary one of the only schools in Virginia that is 100 percent solar.  The project also includes an energy and weather monitoring station that allows teachers and students to track and record solar production and energy savings.
Monterey Receives Grant for Water System Improvements

The Town of Monterey was awarded a grant in the amount of $42,500 from the Virginia Department of Health to fund planning and design efforts for water distribution system improvements. This award will advance the Town's efforts in improving water distribution to homes and businesses following a water system outage in August 2017.
Harrisonburg City Manager Retires

Kurt Hodgen retired as Harrisonburg's City Manager on October 31, 2017. He worked for the City of Harrisonburg for 16 years, first serving as Assistant City Manager before being promoted to City Manager in 2007.  Prior to that, Mr. Hodgen served as Assistant County Manager in Botetourt County and Town Manager in Narrows. Mr. Hodgen also served on the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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