Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week: June 6 – 14

Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, June 6 through 14, is a time to appreciate the culture, history and natural beauty of the Nation’s largest estuary. In the CSPDC region, all precipitation and runoff from Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham Counties drains into the Potomac and James River basins, making our region part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

To help ensure that pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay are in place no later than 2025, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) contracted with the CSPDC, and 14 other Bay PDCs across the state, to assist with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP III). Since 2018, the CSPDC has provided technical and administrative assistance to local governments and stakeholders as they implement the WIP III plan and determine best management practices to clean up our rivers and streams.

Celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week by exploring our region’s scenic rivers, including the Middle, Calfpasture, and South Fork Shenandoah. #BayAwarenessWeek.

Afton Express Logo Unveiled 

The logo for the planned Afton Express transit service connecting Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro with Charlottesville and Albemarle County has been unveiled. The HIVE Creative Group of Crozet presented the Afton Express stakeholder group with three potential logos and two taglines for their consideration. Following the presentation, the stakeholders voted to move forward with the logo and tagline shown above which will be used to brand the buses, the website and printed materials.

Grace Blanchard Joins CSPDC Team  

Grace Blanchard has been hired as a new planner at the CSPDC. Grace is a recent graduate of UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.  She has interned at The Highland Center and was a 2019 Governor’s Fellow for the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. Grace grew up in Highland County and has a deep appreciation and understanding of our region. Grace will be primarily working on community and economic development projects throughout the region. Welcome Grace!

Shenandoah Valley Guide to Reopening Business 

To help ensure the safety of our community and to help businesses navigate the new normal, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership along with the region’s Chambers of Commerce, and the Small Business Development Center have created the Work Hard. Work Smart. Work Safe. guide. Included in the guide are many of the recommendations and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal, state, and local resources along with tips and best practices for businesses as they open their doors again to the public.

CERT Volunteers Deliver Masks 

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members have made five trips to Rockbridge County to pick up and deliver over 200 masks to Staunton. The homemade masks are being made by the Rockbridge Quilters Guild and will be used by the Staunton-based Virginia COVID task force in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.

CERT volunteers are members of the community who have gone through a 9-week CERT course provided by the CSPDC and who have volunteered to stay active with the program to help out during natural disasters and emergencies.  There are more than 100 active CERT volunteers in the region. Thank you, CERT volunteers, for helping to keep our communities safe during this time!

Rebecca Joyce Receives Outstanding Public Service Award 

Rebecca Joyce, CSPDC’s Community Program Manager for over 20 years, received the James Madison University (JMU) John B. Noftsinger Alumni Award for Public Service Excellence. The John B. Noftsinger award recognizes those who actively engage with the community, strengthen social equality, demonstrate personal integrity, promote ethical standards of performance and stewardship, and advance professional excellence in the Shenandoah Valley. JMU held a virtual awards ceremony on May 7, where honorees were celebrated for their public service at JMU, in the JMU alumni community, and throughout the Shenandoah Valley region.

Ms. Joyce was raised in Staunton and is a graduate of JMU, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Public Administration degree. With compassion and a light-hearted and witty personality, Ms. Joyce goes above and beyond in her efforts to achieve positive results within the community. Whether it is a project to assist the entire region, one locality, or even one individual- Ms. Joyce is dedicated to her work and assists every citizen with a smile on her face.

BRITE Receives CARES Act Funding 

In May the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved the allocation of nearly $100 million to assist small urban and rural transit agencies such as BRITE Bus offset the revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is part of the federal transportation funding that was apportioned to the Commonwealth under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The BRITE Bus system was allocated nearly $3M in CARES Act funding and is using these funds for operating expenses, hazard pay for bus drivers and front-line workers, the purchase of personal protection equipment including masks for drivers and riders, and to offer fare-free trips for riders.  The CSPDC is also using CARES Act funding to cover all transit partner match contributions for FY21.

BRITE Bus is a public transit service managed by the CSPDC that provides fixed route and ADA compliant paratransit service in the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro areas. Now more than ever, transit is critical to our communities and the residents who rely on BRITE to get them to employment, medical services and essential shopping.

GO Virginia Region 8 

On May 18, the GO Virginia Region 8 Executive Committee approved two projects, Startup Shenandoah Valley and Back to Work. The two projects have been forwarded to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for further review and consideration by the State GO Virginia Board during its June 23 meeting.

Startup Shenandoah Valley is focused on growing and supporting entrepreneurs within the Shenandoah Valley. Led by the Staunton Creative Community Fund (SCCF), the program aims to provide customized virtual accelerator training to entrepreneurs, build out workspaces throughout the region, and provide key personnel to support the network and programming.  SCCF is partnering with the City of Staunton, City of Waynesboro, and Warren County EDA on this program.

The second project, Back to Work, is an initiative proposed by Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) and supported by the localities within LFCC’s service area.  The program intends to offer workers, particularly those recently unemployed, training in higher-demand and higher-paying jobs than they previously held. This includes IT, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and construction sectors which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

GO Virginia supports programs to create high-paying jobs through incentivized collaboration between business, education, and government to diversify and strengthen the economy in every region of the Commonwealth. The program is administered through DHCD. The CSPDC serves as one of the support organizations for the GO Virginia Region 8 Council.

EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance 

Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) was allocated $1.5 billion to assist communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance is designed to provide a wide-range of financial assistance to communities and regions as they respond to, and recover from, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of projects include economic recovery planning and preparing technical assistance strategies to address economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and constructing public works and facilities that will support economic recovery, including the deployment of broadband for purposes such as telehealth and distance learning.

EDA is accepting applications on a rolling basis through its Economic Adjustment Assistance program. CSPDC staff is available to assist localities in identifying eligible projects for this program. The Notice of Funding Opportunity and application package are available through