The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) named Delegate R. Steven Landes 2015 Legislator of the Year. Delegate Landes represents the 25th District in the Virginia House of Delegates and is Chairman of the House Education Committee and Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Delegate Landes has a strong record of achievement in a number of areas supported by PDCs, including reducing unnecessary government spending, spurring job creation and economic development throughout Virginia, advocating for small businesses, and supporting farmers and ag-related businesses, especially in rural Virginia.
In his role as budget conferee, Delegate Landes supported maintaining funding for PDCs during recent budget development cycles when State funding of PDCs was threatened by further reductions.
Planning District Commissions were established by the General Assembly in 1969. There are 21 PDCs and Regional Commissions in Virginia made up of elected officials and citizens appointed by local governments. The purpose of the Planning District Commissions is to encourage and facilitate regional solutions to problems of area-wide significance. This is done by promoting the efficient development of the physical, social, and economic policies of all districts by assisting local governments to plan for the future. For more information about VAPDC visit the website at http://www.vapdc.org.
The Fields of Gold Agritourism Program recently received a Community Economic Development Award (CEDA) from the Virginia Economic Development Association. The CEDA award recognizes communities for outstanding economic and community development programs. The Fields of Gold Program was nominated by the Shenandoah Valley Partnership for its innovative approach to assisting the region's agricultural community by leveraging resources and capitalizing on the region's agricultural assets. Fields of Gold is a collaborative regional project that promotes agritourism in eight counties and five cities in the Shenandoah Valley: counties of Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Highland, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah and the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro. More than 180 farms and agritousim operators are part of the Fields of Gold Program.
On behalf of the Fields of Gold Steering Committee, Ms. Amanda Glover, Augusta County Economic Development Director, accepted the award at VEDA's Spring Conference in Norfolk. The award also qualifies the Fields of Gold Program for the Southern Economic Development Council Awards Program.
More than 150 agritourism farmers, economic development staff and local government leaders gathered March 10-11 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, Virginia for the 2015 Virginia Conference on Agritourism in the Creative Economy. The conference offered attendees fresh ideas on event planning, marketing, regional networks, zoning and conservation, financing, legal structures, farm craft breweries, profitability outlook of wineries, bed and breakfast operations, food safety, and experience-based tips to make agritourism businesses a success in the rural economy.
Special guests included the Honorable Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade; the Honorable Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Ms. Mary Rae Carter, Special Advisor for Rural Partnerships; and Dr. Ed Jones, Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Farm tours along the Fields of Gold Farm Trail featuring Cestari Sheep and Wool Company, Mt. Crawford Creamery, Polyface Farms, Meadowcroft Farm, and White Oak Lavender Farm were a popular part of the conference.
Recent water quality monitoring conducted by The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in the South Fork of the Shenandoah River showed significant water quality improvement, particularly in a decrease of fecal coliform bacteria. The original bacteria impairment on this portion of the South Fork Shenandoah River began in 2002. Through community efforts and water quality projects, the impairment has now been shortened by an impressive 41.73 miles. As a result, this portion of the South Fork Shenandoah River has been removed from the Environmental Protection Agency's 303(d) list of impaired and threatened waters.
The City of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro all discharge into tributaries of the South Fork and have played a huge role in water quality improvement in recent years. Since fecal coliform bacteria is often attributed to animal waste from agricultural practices, the agricultural community also has had a major impact on the decreased impairment. The South Fork still has 16.44 miles of impairments remaining in the watershed's total 1659 square miles, including Blacks Run. The South Fork begins at the confluence of the North River and South River near Port Republic, and flows north 97 miles to meet the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at the Town of Front Royal.
More information about local efforts to improve water quality can be found at cleanstream.org, a collaboration between the City of Harrisonburg and the regional Stormwater Network. The Stormwater Network is made up of stormwater managers from the Cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro, Augusta County, James Madison University, the Town of Bridgewater and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission. With the goal of protecting and improving water quality in the Shenandoah River watershed, the Stormwater Network's objectives include sharing information, capacity building and exploring opportunities for collaboration that strengthen local stormwater management programs.
Staff members Erin Yancey and C.J. Mitchem, PE are now provisionally certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia to perform plan review for stormwater management plans submitted to Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) authorities. Staff will also attend the Stormwater Inspector course in December, and will soon take the exam for the Combined Administrator certification, which will allow the PDC to assist localities with their VSMP needs. The PDC is currently reviewing stormwater management plans for James Madison University. Additional information or questions should be directed to Erin Yancey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around the Region, the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission's monthly newsletter is available HERE.