The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC), Virginia Association of Counties (VACo), Virginia Municipal League (VML) and the Virginia Rural Center (VRC) will join forces again this year to advocate for local governments at the 2021 General Assembly session held on County Government Day, Thursday, January 28. Governor Ralph Northam will address participants and share how his legislative agenda will strengthen Virginia’s communities. Other legislators will also be joining this discussion.
In October, 2020, the 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, 2020 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 part of Highland County’s economic development strategy to increase tourism through retreat conferences and cultural events.
The Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel officially opened to the public on November 21, 2020. After patiently waiting to walk the trail and explore the engineering marvel, visitors arrived in droves. Trail counters installed by City of Waynesboro Parks and Recreation recorded over 8,500 visitors in the first week, 6,500 of whom parked at the eastern trailhead. The Tunnel’s western trailhead just off U.S. 250 is also open, creating options for out-and-back and through hiking experiences. If you are planning a visit soon, remember a flashlight or headlamp, and wear sturdy shoes, as it can be wet inside the tunnel.
The CSPDC congratulates Nelson County and the City of Waynesboro on completing the Tunnel restoration and trail construction. This landmark will support economic development, tourism and active recreation for residents and visitors to the region.
The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley with support from the CSPDC is hosting a free webinar on outdoor lighting technology on Wednesday, January 27 from 10:30 to 11:30 am. Bob Parks, founder of Smart Outdoor Lighting Alliance will lead the discussion and show new approaches to using lighting as a tool within our communities. Mr. Parks has worked extensively throughout Virginia to train and help develop zoning ordinances on community friendly lighting standards. Following the webinar, COVID-friendly walking tours will be scheduled with Mr. Parks to experience firsthand the concepts discussed. Registration is required.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has awarded funding for two years of operations of the Afton Express transit service which will connect Staunton, Fishersville, Waynesboro, Charlottesville and Fifth Street Station in Albemarle County. The planned service will include four morning and four evening trips Monday through Friday, with Charlottesville and Albemarle stops at Bavarro Hall, UVA Health System, Amtrak, the Downtown Transit Center and Fifth Street Station. Discussions will take place with DRPT and the local funders / stakeholders (cities of Staunton, Waynesboro and Charlottesville, counties of Augusta and Albemarle, and UVA) to determine when to safely move forward with implementation of this new transit route.
To kick off the new year, the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) is hosting a series of virtual educational and informational meetings to be held on January 8, February 5 and March 5 from 10:00 to 11:30 am. Topics include Gearing up for the Virginia General Assembly, February Friday with the Fed and Marching Forward; public health restrictions during COVID-19. Registration is required to participate
The 2021 Shenandoah Valley Project Impact Preparedness Calendar is now available for pick-up at local government buildings and libraries or by contacting the CSPDC. Since 2000, the publication has contained preparedness tips and mitigation strategies for dealing with severe weather, emergencies and disasters, as well as fun holidays for each day of the year. This year, local historian, Nancy Sorrells curated the monthly images from a combination of historic photographs and her personal collection. Each image is accompanied by a detailed caption that helps tell the tale of the central Shenandoah Valley.
Augusta Free Press; Oct. 12, 2020
The GO Virginia State board has approved an $81,813 grant proposal submitted by a regional partnership in the Shenandoah Valley creating a Small Business Resiliency Team program….
Augusta Free Press; Nov. 9, 2020
Augusta County has been awarded a $567,063 grant for broadband funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia 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.
High speed internet will be available for those who subscribe or purchase the service.
“We are extremely grateful for this grant which will jumpstart two important projects for underserved areas,” said Pam Carter, Board of Supervisors vice-chair and member of the Augusta County Broadband Committee. “We are extremely fortunate to have robust relationships in place with two providers who have already demonstrated their interest to go the ‘last mile’ for our most remote residents.
Augusta County News; November 30, 2020
Augusta County has been awarded a third grant of $333,378 for broadband funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The Lingo Networks Fiber Project will serve an area between Churchville and Buffalo Gap.
Augusta County has been awarded a third grant of $333,378 for broadband funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The grant funding will be used for the Lingo Networks Fiber Project.
Pam Carter, Board of Supervisors vice-chair and member of the Augusta County Broadband Committee, said, “Grants like these from the state and federal government are crucial to us so we can afford the overwhelming expense for getting broadband to our rural areas. That’s why I feel so fortunate for Augusta County to recently receive more than $900,000 in broadband grant money to benefit the citizens of the county.”
The rural fiber project will serve the Mountain Run residential area and households near the intersection of Heizer Tanyard and Jerusalem Chapel Roads located between Churchville and Buffalo Gap. Last-mile fiber-to-the home (FTTH) for 36 households are included in this project along with middle-mile fiber infrastructure which can serve additional FTTH customers. It was estimated that out of the initial 36 households, at least 25 households need broadband for income-related reasons.
Increased broadband connectivity will 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. High speed internet will be available for those who subscribe or purchase the service. Future FTTH connections will be installed primarily through private funding from Lingo Networks.
Carter added, “We are so grateful to providers like Lingo Network for their willingness to partner with Augusta County to reach pockets of underserved citizens where the return on investment is not as great. Standard county revenue cannot begin to cover the costs to finance this service, so it is our task to identify and obtain funding sources to cover the thousands of households which need this service. The investment of private companies is essential for broadband service in our most rural areas.”
Lingo Networks performed extensive data research and interviews with farmers and landowners in the area in order to plan and prepare this project that would provide fiber connections to residents by December 25, 2020.
Lingo Networks is also a partner in a previously awarded project funded through the CARES Act that was announced on November 9. That project, the Swoope Tower Fixed Wireless Project, will provide last-mile broadband connection and middle-mile infrastructure for 310 households in Swoope. The first two broadband grants, for Swoope and another with New Hope Cooperative in New Hope, secured a total of $567,063 in funding, bringing the total of CARES Act funded broadband grants for Augusta County to $900,441.
The total cost for the Lingo Networks Fiber Project is $416,722 of which 80% (or $333,378) will be CARES Act funded. Augusta County and Lingo Networks will each contribute 10% of the total cost – or $41,672 each.