BARC Rural Economic Development via Broadband Project – Virtual Bid Opening Announcement

Due to the recent COVID-19 restrictions and precautions, the bid opening for the BARC Rural Economic Development via Broadband Project will be conducted by video conference call, rather than in-person. Bids should still be submitted to the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) at 112 MacTanly Pl, Staunton, VA 24401, until 3:00pm, local prevailing time by December 9, 2020. Bids will then be publicly opened and read aloud via video conference call at 3:15pm. Join the Zoom Call on December 9th at 3:15pm by one of these three ways:

1) Through your browser:
2) Download Zoom Mobile App for iPhone or Android
Meeting ID: 879 0454 8711
Passcode: 6668137
3) Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 879 0454 8711
Passcode: 6668137
Find your local number:
For more information about this virtual bid opening, please contact Ms. Hunter Moore at 540-885-5174 or

CSPDC Welcomes New Planner

The CSPDC is pleased to announce that Nathan Garrison has been hired as a CSPDC Regional Planner. Nathan, a native of McGaheysville, acquired his associate’s degree from Blue Ridge Community College and transferred to James Madison University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. Nathan was the Town of Grottoes Town Manager for two years and before that was the Parks Director at Weyers Cave in Grottoes. He is a life-long Rockingham County resident with a passion for local government.

Fields of Gold Members Join Maple Syrup Trail

This fall, Highland County, known for its award-winning maple syrup production, launched the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail. The trail includes a passport program and offers visitors the chance to experience eight participating Highland County sugar camps throughout the year. The Maple Syrup Trail was formed to bring awareness to this long-standing tradition and encourage tourism to this beautiful and rural part of Virginia. Five Fields of Gold members are participating in the trail, including Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard, Laurel Fork Sapsuckers, Mill Gap Farm, Back Creek Farm and Sugar Tree Country Store. Passports can be picked up at various Virginia Welcome Centers or at the sugar camps themselves upon arrival.

The Highland Inn Receives Brownfields Grant

In October, CSPDC and Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) staff toured and received an update on construction of the renovation project at the historic Highland Inn in Highland County. In June, the CSPDC assisted the Blue Grass Resource Center in applying for a $50,000 DEQ Brownfields Grant for the Highland Inn’s restoration project. The Brownfields grant is funding the removal of lead paint during this initial renovation phase. Other projects underway include reconstructing the Inn’s iconic front porches, replacing exterior fire escapes and stabilizing the foundation. Located on Main Street in Monterey, the Highland Inn is a part of Highland County’s economic development strategy to increase tourism through retreat conferences and cultural events.

CSPDC Participates in Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership

CSPDC staff are members of the Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership. The Partnership is a coalition of volunteers, local and PDC staff, advocacy groups, local and state elected officials who are working to build support for the project. CSPDC Executive Director Bonnie Riedesel serves as the Vice-Chair of the Rail Trail Partnership, and her counterpart at Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, Brandon Davis, is the Chair. The Partnership hopes to convert a disused Norfolk Southern rail line running from Broadway and Timberville in Rockingham County 38 miles north to Strasburg, VA into a rail trail facility. The Rail Trail would connect 8 towns, 6 Civil War Battlefields, and Seven Bends State Park as it travels through Shenandoah and Rockingham Counties, and crosses two PDCs. Delegate Tony Wilt, and Senators Mark Obenshain and Emmett Hanger shepherded a FY21 budget amendment through the 2020 special legislative session to dedicate Department of Conservation and Recreation resources to evaluate the feasibility of turning the disused rail line into a rails-to-trails facility. The Partnership will play an integral role in the feasibility study in the coming year.

CSPDC Launches Recovery Dashboard

Follow regional impacts of COVID-19 using the CSPDC Recovery Dashboard, scheduled to launch this November on the CSPDC website. The Recovery Dashboard will feature interactive graphs that display data on localities’ unemployment rates, unemployment benefits claims, COVID-19 cases and tax revenues. The purpose of the dashboard is to illustrate the Region’s recovery process from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Virginia’s Stay at Home order. Data tracking began in March 2020 and will follow economic, health and community statistics for each locality over the next two years. This project is administered by the CSPDC and is funded through EDA’s CARES Act.

CARES Funding for Broadband

On October 8, Governor Northam announced a new, fast-track program to distribute $30M in CARES Act funds, targeting rural broadband access across the Commonwealth. With a requirement that the funds be expended and service in place by December 25, 2020, Rockbridge County, the Rockbridge Area Network Authority (RANA) and BARC Connects moved quickly to identify projects that could be built within the scheduled requirement, applying for a total of $1,140,649 in funding. The application included $770,000 for BARC Connects projects and $178,139 for RANA projects. Rockbridge County has been notified that $770,000 has been awarded for the BARC Connects portion of the project. The RANA portion is still under review by the Governor’s Office.  In addition, Augusta County has been awarded $567,063 in broadband CARES funding that will be used for the Swoope Tower Fixed Wireless and New Hope Telephone Cooperative Fiber projects. Both projects will increase broadband connectivity to improve distance learning, telework, and telehealth capabilities in response to COVID-19 for underserved areas identified in Augusta County’s 2016 Broadband Telecommunications Strategic Plan.

Localities must apply for the funding and are encouraged to partner with broadband providers to complete the projects.

CTB Approves TAP & State of Good Repair Applications

On October 21, 2020, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) amended the FY 2020-2025 Six Year Improvement Program to include new projects in the CSPDC region. Eight localities applied for funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) in 2019 for sidewalks, bike/buggy lanes, greenways, and urban bike boulevards, or for funding to repave local streets and roads through the State of Good Repair program. Funding to begin these projects will be available in the next two years, and the TAP program requires a 20% local match. Three towns in Rockingham County — Bridgewater, Elkton, and Timberville — are expanding their sidewalk and trail networks, while Rockingham County with consideration to its Old Order Mennonite Community will begin design on a bike/buggy lane on Garbers Church Road. The cities of Harrisonburg and Waynesboro will expand their greenway trail networks with TAP grants. The CSPDC offers administrative support for these programs.

2020 Census

Exceeding their 2010 Census response rate, the CSPDC localities of Augusta, Buena Vista, Rockingham, Staunton and Waynesboro recorded response rates of 70% or higher. However, Bath and Highland rank among the 10 lowest response rates in Virginia. Out of all responses collected in the CSPDC region, 50% of residents filled out the 2020 Census online.

The Census Bureau concluded data collection on October 15 and will report population counts to the President by December 31, 2020. This data helps determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and the amount of funds allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers each year.