Devon Thompson Graduates from VTLI

Jen Debruhl, DRPT Director, Devon Thompson, CSPDC Transit Program Manager, Deanna Reed, Harrisonburg City Mayor

In September 2023, Devon Thompson, Transit Program Manager, was selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Virginia Transit Leadership Institute (VTLI). VTLI is a program of Virginia Transit Association (VTA), the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and state transit agencies, and is the Commonwealth’s first public transportation focused leadership program focused on cultivating and elevating future leaders within the transit industry.

The inaugural class of fellows, comprised of 15 transit professionals across the Commonwealth, met over the course of nine months. Fellows gained an extensive and comprehensive perspective into Virginia’s public transportation network by participating in six full-day sessions hosted around the state covering 32 transit-related topics ranging from legislation, funding, communications/community outreach, transit network and service planning, and leadership and operations.

The cohort graduated from the program at VTA’s 47th Annual Conference and Expo hosted in Harrisonburg, VA on May 22-23, 2024.

Devon Thompson and Zach Beard Named Program Managers

The CSPDC is pleased to announce that Devon Thompson and Zach Beard have been promoted from their role as Senior Planners to Transit and Transportation Program Managers.

Devon Thompson began working at the CSPDC in 2013 as an intern upon graduating from the University of Virginia’s Urban and Environmental Planning program. Over the years, Devon has worked on just about every program throughout the PDC, expanding her knowledge base first as an intern, then assistant planner, and eventually as a designated Transit Planner in 2017. Since then, Devon has been responsible for the management and oversight of the contracted service provision of the BRITE Bus system, developing budgets, the coordination of transit plans and studies, maintaining and reporting performance data to the National Transit Database, and facilitating the BRITE Transit Advisory Committee. As the new Transit Program Manager, Devon will continue to play a role in the strategic planning and higher order operations of the transit program, and will take on the supervision of the Transit Planner, transitioning some of the day-to-day operational responsibilities to that role.

Zach Beard has served as a transportation planner since 2019, most recently as a Senior Planner. Zach has staffed the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAWMPO), coordinating monthly Policy Board and Technical Advisory Committee meetings. He has worked on countless small-area studies throughout the SAWMPO region, as well as other short- and long-range transportation plans. In addition to working with the MPO, Zach also helps coordinate the Rural Transportation Program, providing transportation planning support to the localities within the CSPDC region that are outside of the MPO boundaries. He also assists localities through their comprehensive plan development, including but not limited to, drafting and reviewing transportation chapters. As the Transportation Program Manager, Zach will take on the supervision of the Transportation Planner, and will work with the Director of Transportation to administer both Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro and Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organizations.  Zach is a graduate of UVA’s Urban and Environmental Planning program, earning his Master’s degree in 2016. With an interest in environmental planning, Zach also leads the CSPDC region’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).

Please join us in congratulating Devon and Zach on these accomplishments and help us support them in their new roles.

GO Virginia Region 8 Helps Fund Apprenticeship Program at VCTC

Eight high school students from the Valley Career and Technical Center (VCTC) recently signed formal apprenticeship agreements with local employers. The apprenticeship program allows students in the Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro school divisions an opportunity to gain on-the-job training and technical instruction while preparing for a career. The partnership between students and their employers will serve to lessen the deficit of skilled tradespeople by empowering students to begin their journey toward careers in electricity and mechanics.

GO Virginia funding is helping to address skill and employment gaps in the manufacturing and transportation sectors in the region. Funds are being used at VCTC to make significant updates to replace outdated training equipment and to support the addition of new programs specifically aviation technology, industrial maintenance, and heavy equipment.  CSPDC staff is providing grant administration for the GO Virginia Region 8 project.

 

CSPDC and Community Partners Host Screening of The Street Project Film

The CSPDC is partnering with Augusta Health, the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, and Waynesboro Parks and Recreation to sponsor a screening of The Street Project, a film about creating safer streets for all road users – walkers, bike riders, and drivers. This event will be held at the Wayne Theater on June 20 at 7 pm. This pay-what-you-will event will include brief opening remarks, the film, and an opportunity for question and answer/discussion with local panelists following the film.

More About the Film

The Street Project is a 52-minute documentary that covers three main topics through an uplifting narrative: 1) the current crisis in bicyclist and pedestrian traffic accidents and fatalities, 2) the historical developments that led us to this crisis, 3) infrastructure, planning, and design strategies to improve road safety for all users, improve transportation equity, and build strong communities.

In 2010, the small community of specialists who pay attention to US road safety statistics picked up on a troubling trend: more and more pedestrians and bicyclists riders were being killed on America’s roads. In fact, pedestrian deaths have increased steadily since reaching their low point in 2009. 2022 (the latest year for which data are available) was the deadliest year for pedestrians in the US since 1981. The Street Project includes interviews with a diverse array of experts, including street historian Peter Norton, city planner Jeff Speck, and urban design expert Mikael Colville-Andersen. These expert interviews are interwoven with the stories of people working to make their communities safer. For more information about the film and/or to watch the trailer, click https://www.thestreetproject.com/about/

The Wayne Theater is located at 521 West Main Street in Waynesboro, VA. Doors will open at 6 pm.

If you plan to attend, please register at this link https://forms.gle/Fi2Q6WdVMnEE6nGF9.

We hope to see you there!

FY 2024 State Homeland Security Program Application Period is Open

On May 17, 2024, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) announced the opening of the application cycle for the FY 2024 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP). VDEM serves as the State Administrative Agency for this program that is sourced from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Grant Programs Directorate. Applications for the Commonwealth of Virginia grant program are due to VDEM by July 19, 2024. Submitted proposals will be evaluated and awarded in accordance with the FY 2024 Homeland Security Grant Program Notice Of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): https://www.fema.gov/grants/preparedness/homeland-security/fy-24-nofo.
The projected period of performance is September 1, 2024 to June 30, 2026.

The aim of the FY 2024 SHSP is to promote state and local efforts to prevent terrorism and to prepare Virginia for the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk to its security. As in previous years, VDEM will allocate funds for local competitive and non-competitive grants. Awarded funding is targeted to support special operation teams for Hazardous Materials, Search and Rescue, Incident Management Teams, and Radio Caches. The SHSP may also fund a range of activities including planning, organization, equipment purchase, training, exercises, and management and administration.

Eighty percent (80%) of SHSP funds must be passed through to local units of government. At least thirty-five percent (35%) of the overall SHSP funds received by Virginia must be dedicated towards law enforcement terrorism prevention activities. Thirty percent (30%) of SHSP funds must be used for national priorities as described in the NOFO (see hyperlink above).

Visit this VDEM webpage for more information on the 2024 SHSP: https://www.vaemergency.gov/grant-opportunities/fy-2024-state-homeland-security-program-shsp

 

 

Construction Continues at the Lewis Street Transit Hub

After great anticipation, construction work officially began on the Lewis Street Transit Hub on April 15. Construction crews from Virginia Infrastructure demolished the existing asphalt and have begun preparing the foundation for the new and improved transit hub. You may have seen activity on the lot as you passed by on Lewis Street. We are amazed each week at how much progress has been made since our last site visit! At the end of May, the contractors completed all excavating and grading work to level the site and have laid the base layer materials that will help mitigate water runoff ensuring the longevity of the pavement.

The most notable change to the lot recently is the installation of the stone retaining wall. This wall will not only serve retaining purposes for the slope of the lot but will also provide additional seating for passengers as they wait for their bus.

Over the next few weeks, we expect to see more curb and sidewalk being poured. By this time next month, it will really begin to take the shape of the future hub. Work on the site is ongoing and on schedule. The CSPDCs still anticipates a completion date by the end of summer.

SAW Housing Summit: The Next Steps, June 27

SAW Housing will convene on June 27, 2024 to discuss the next steps in addressing housing challenges in the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro (SAW) area. Since the October 2023 SAW Housing Summit, the SAW Housing Steering Committee has been actively identifying strategies and solutions while sponsoring “Lunch & Learn” events on specific housing issues. Now, the Steering Committee is ready to introduce its proposed framework for future work.

Attendees will have the opportunity to preview the findings and recommendations from the CSPDC-commissioned Regional Housing Study. Mel Jones from the Virginia Center for Housing Research will present an overview of the SAW-specific data, while Jonathan Knopf from Housing Forward Virginia will outline the study’s recommendations and strategies.

The SAW Housing Summit: The Next Steps will take place from 9:00 AM to noon on June 27 in The Great Hall at the Blackburn Inn & Conference Center in Staunton. For more information on the event and to RSVP, please click here.

SAW Housing is an initiative led by the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Augusta Health, Valley Community Services Board, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Valley Homeless Connection, Community Action Partnership of Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro (CAPSAW), and the CSPDC.

 

Rachel Kinzer Hired

Rachel Kinzer joined the CSPDC as their newest Regional Planner on June 3. She is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture, earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Urban and Environmental Planning. She was an undergraduate and graduate research assistant for UVA’s Environmental Institute’s Climate Restoration Initiative. In that role, she helped conduct qualitative research on the potential of several carbon-capturing land uses and practices in select rural and urban localities in the state. Rachel is from Farmville, VA, and currently resides in Fishersville. In her free time, she enjoys walking trails with her dog. She looks forward to supporting and providing assistance to the communities in the region.

VAPDC Summer Series

The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) is offering a free series of virtual training sessions to be held on June 10, August 5, and September 5 at 12:00pm. Topics include FOIA for All, The Virginia Legislative Process, Communications—Telling the PDC Story. Register HERE to participate.

Celebrating Bike Month: Pedaling Towards a Greener Future in Virginia

May is not just another month on the calendar; it’s Bike Month – a time to celebrate the joys and benefits of cycling! As we dust off our bicycles and hit the roads and trails, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the importance of sustainable transportation and the positive impact it has on our communities. CSPDC and RideShare join the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) in promoting biking as a viable and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Bike Month serves as a platform to raise awareness about the numerous benefits of cycling. Beyond its environmental advantages, biking offers a host of personal benefits, including improved physical health, reduced stress levels, and cost savings on transportation. Whether it’s commuting to work, running errands, or simply enjoying a leisurely ride, cycling enriches our lives in countless ways. During May, riders are encouraged to log their bike-to-work trips for a chance to earn rewards and win prizes. DRPT is giving away an e-bike and helmet to one lucky winner! Each trip logged in the ConnectingVA app increases your chances of winning.

Together with our state and regional partners, we recognize biking as an integral part of Virginia’s transportation system. Both the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro (SAWMPO) and Harrisonburg-Rockingham (HRMPO) Metropolitan Planning Organizations actively promote the development of bike-friendly infrastructure, including dedicated bike lanes, trails, and bike-sharing programs.

As we celebrate Bike Month this May, let’s reaffirm our commitment to sustainable transportation and embrace the power of the pedal. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just starting out, there’s never been a better time to hop on your bike and explore all that Virginia has to offer. Together, we can pedal towards a greener, healthier, and more vibrant future for our communities!