VAPDC Connections

Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions - October 2012

In This Issue
President's Message
Summer Conference
NRV Regional Open Access Network
From the President
      I'm deeply honored to have been given the opportunity to serve as President of VAPDC for 2012-2013. While our Past President (he should actually be a "Passed President", he did such a great job!)  leaves big shoes to fill, he also leaves a clear path to follow. 
     I first became involved with this organization some years back when I was chairman of Crater PDC and attended the summer conference.  Temple Kessinger from Covington (one of my friends through VML) was president of VAPDC at the time.  As with our individual PDCs, we've been blessed in VAPDC with a consistent level of strong leaders and active, well-informed board members. 
     Thanks to all of you who have worked so hard in the past to position us where we are today.  Where we are today, is an improvement over just a few years ago.  At the outset of the McDonnell administration, Virginia's PDCs were targeted for elimination in the Governor's first submitted budget.  Nothing gets your attention like a swiftly swinging budget ax and our PDCs went to work with our contacts in the legislature and Governor's office and were successful in getting funding restored.  The VAPDC board appropriately determined that proactive measures were needed to raise our profile, educate those in the General Assembly and Administration about our role, our mission, and our successes in regional collaboration and effective, efficient work.  We hired DecideSmart to assist in a multi-year strategic planning process that very quickly paid tangible dividends. The formal strategic plan is available on our revamped website along with additional new content thanks to the continued efforts of another valuable partner, Association Builders.  You know them as Connie and Liz! 
     Like all of us, VAPDC is a work in progress.  The important point is that we are moving in the right direction, thanks to all of your hard work, both in your own PDC and through VAPDC.  None of you hear this often enough, but thank you!  I look forward to working with you for continued success.     

Woody Harris

President, VAPDC

Thank You 2012 Sponsors
ImaginIT Technologies
Joyce Engineering
Virginia Resources Authority
Draper Aden
Terra Tech Engineering Services, PC
The Berkley Group
Thompson & Litton

Virginia's Planning District Commissions

Lenowisco PDC

Cumberland Plateau PDC

Mount Rogers PDC

New River Valley PDC

Roanoke Valley-Alleghany RC 

Central Shenandoah PDC

Northern Shenandoah Valley PDC

Northern Virginia RC

Rappahannock-Rapidan RC

Thomas Jefferson PDC

Region 2000 LGC

West Piedmont PDC

Southside PDC

Commonwealth PDC 

Richmond Regional PDC

George Washington RC

Northern Neck PDC

Crater PDC

Middle Peninsula PDC

Accomack-Northampton PDC

Hampton Roads PDC

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NRVPDC reports on livability initiative

Interim Report on the Livability Initiative

     The Livability Initiative planning process has been in full swing for just over a year now and has compiled a report detailing the research results, key trends and issues, and potential intersecting goals and strategies that have been identified by the working groups to-date.  The full report can be found at

     The information in this report was gathered by Livability Initiative partners, New River Valley Planning District Commission staff, seven topic area working groups (arts and culture, community health, economic development, energy, housing, natural resources, and transportation), and through numerous outreach events during August 2011-  September 2012 in which more than 1,500 residents participated.

     This report provides a summary of major issues and trends in the New River Valley region. The following six trends are major drivers behind the region's biggest challenges: An Aging Population, Agricultural Shifts, Commuting Patterns, Housing Costs, Jobs & Education, & Community Health.

     Focusing on how to address these trends will enable the New River Valley to more effectively improve the quality of life for residents.  As always, your feedback is valued and can be sent to Kim Thurlow or Carol Davis at their email addresses listed below.

Working Groups Update:

     At the close of the first year of the planning process, the working groups are completing their respective "silo" work - in which each has gathered data on current conditions and trends, identified issues that the region faces and citizen priorities and preferences. Each group has also generated a list of potential goals and strategies that could help address the most pressing challenges in our communities, and has done some preliminary work on prioritizing those goals in advance of the next phase of the planning process which will entail identifying intersections.

     Furthermore, the working groups
came together on October 2nd as a larger group to openly share with each other their work to-date and began the process of integrating the goals and strategies that emerged from each. 

Outreach Update:

     Over several months, the Livability Initiatives and its community partners reached out to some lower-income groups through a survey effort that was modified to be more accessible to those with a lower level of literacy.  Over 300 citizens were reached; results of that targeted survey effort are available on the Livability Initiative website -

     For further information, please contact Kim Thurlow ([email protected]), 540-639-9313, ext. 202 or Carol Davis ([email protected]), 540-639-9313, ext. 222. 
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission receives NADO Innovation Awards 

     The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission received two 2012 Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation.  One award was for the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Economic Development Map Tool.  The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, in cooperation with the Roanoke Regional Partnership, developed the Economic Development Map Tool, an online mapping system using open source software that can be used free of cost. The application can display GIS layers created by the Regional Commission in GoogleMaps, giving economic development officials at the Roanoke Regional Partnership the ability to use the map tool to locate and view sites, buildings, parcels, and enterprise zones for internal reference and external marketing. Commission staff updates the website as needed to add layers or make other minor changes. The project website is located at  

     The other award was for the Save-A-Ton campaign, which was recognized for its regional approach to energy conservation education awareness program, and the effort to reduce duplication across local governments. Save-a-Ton was started in 2011 by Roanoke County, the City of Roanoke, and a number of non-profits and other partners.  The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission assumed management of the program in July of 2012.  The program uses its web presence, including a website ( social media, to share information about local energy efficiency/ conservation programs, and to connect citizens with businesses that provide energy-related goods and services across the Roanoke and New River Valleys.

NADO names new executive director
     Following a nationwide search, the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) is pleased to announce that Joe C. McKinney has been named the association's Executive Director. McKinney most recently served as Executive Director of Land-Of-Sky Regional Council in Asheville, North Carolina.
     McKinney has twenty-one years of experience in local and regional government, having served in city, county, and regional government management since 1991.
    Headquartered in Washington, DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the national network of 520 regional development organizations. The association and its members promote regional strategies, partnerships, and solutions to strengthen the economic competitiveness and quality of life across America's local communities.
VAPDC Connections 

VAPDC Connections is published quarterly by the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions.


The deadline for the next issue of the newsletter is

December 21, 2012.

Please share your news with your peers by submitting your articles to VAPDC.

Walk in Lincoln's final footsteps

     In conjunction with the release of Steven Spielberg's new movie, Lincoln, Petersburg Area Regional Tourism (PART) will launch a new tour, Walk in Lincoln's Final Foot-steps. This film, starring Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, will be released nationally on November 16, 2012. Lincoln, was filmed entirely in Virginia, in Petersburg's Old Towne, downtown Richmond, and in counties outside of Richmond.cpdc-lincoln story

     Walk in Lincoln's Final Footsteps will present the story of the final weeks of Abraham Lincoln's life. President Lincoln spent two of the final three weeks of his life in the Hopewell and Petersburg areas overseeing the final push to end the nine and one-half month Siege of Petersburg (the longest battle on American soil) that resulted in the collapse of the Confederate Army. This tour will "connect the dots" as visitors go to the places visited by President Lincoln, including General Grant's headquarters at City Point in Hopewell, Centre Hill and the Wallace House in Petersburg and Point of Rocks in Chesterfield County, the location of a Civil War hospital. The tour will also include the story of Elizabeth Keckley, born a slave in Dinwiddie County, who later became a Washington, D. C. seamstress and confidante of Mrs. Lincoln's and accompanied the Lincolns on their journeys to Hopewell and Petersburg.

     While visiting The Best PART of Virginia, visitors will also have the opportunity to visit Old Towne Petersburg and "walk in Spielberg's footsteps", see where the movie was filmed and the buildings that were in the movie. They can stop in for a drink or dine where the actors dined and shop where the cast and crew shopped - "lots of great stories".

     The filming of Lincoln in Petersburg, which occurred over a three-week period, was a wonderful economic "shot in the arm" for the City during December of 2011. City data revealed that the production company spent almost $575,000 in the City getting the Old Towne area ready for filming, and on a variety of other goods and services including hardware, corporate housing, food wholesalers, grocery items, restaurants, vehicle rentals, telephone & computer services.

     For details about the Lincoln tour and all of the other great things to see and do in The Best PART of Virginia, visit Petersburg Area Regional Tourism is managed by the Crater Planning District Commission.

CSPDC Regional Disaster Preparedness program sees increased interest
     September marked the ninth annual National Preparedness Month, a concentrated awareness and disaster preparation campaign sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) used the month to showcase the Valley's regional disaster preparedness and mitigation program, Shenandoah Valley Project Impact.
     Since its inception in September 2000, Shenandoah Valley Project Impact has conducted hundreds of trainings, demonstrations, surveys, forums and planning meetings, as well as developed important plans and printed materials to educate Valley residents on ways to protect their families, homes and properties, and businesses from the impact of severe weather, emergencies, and disasters. The Shenandoah Valley Project Impact was also recently selected to be a pilot community for the Resilient Neighbors Network, a national program that will forge stronger efforts within local communities to prepare and respond to emergencies.

     Recent Shenandoah Valley Project Impact activities have included its annual Disaster Resistant Forum and a free ten-week Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) course. The forum was well attended by representatives from local governments, human service organizations, businesses, and concerned citizens. Topics covered included a lively discussion about the impact of the June derecho and lessons-learned, a report on the progress of Pet and Animal Preparedness and Planning by local governments, and an update of current activities of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

     Project Impact has been instrumental in providing CERT training since September 2003 and to date has trained 442 people. The purpose of CERT is to train ordinary citizens in a variety of topics including disaster preparedness, fire safety, emergency medical operations, and terrorism awareness so that in the event of a large scale emergency or disaster when first responders are overwhelmed, these citizens will have the skills to assist their families, neighbors, and community.

     SVPI also conducted a survey of the citizens in the Central Shenandoah Region to gather information about residents' experiences during the derecho. Survey respondents were asked to describe what strategies worked for them during the storm, areas they felt were most vulnerable to the storm's impact, and what supplies or items they found useful or wished they had. A report that includes the results of the survey, a summary of the derecho brainstorming session held at the CSPDC's Disaster Resistant Forum, as well as tips and resources to prepare for future storms will be released at the end of October.

     "Reflecting on the past several years where we have faced back-to-back severe winter storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and most recently were significantly impacted by the derecho storm in June, it is more important than ever that Shenandoah Valley residents educate and prepare themselves for severe weather and other emergencies," said Rebecca Joyce, Shenandoah Valley Project Impact Coordinator. "People need to realize that when these types of events hit the Valley, it will be up to us as individuals to 'weather the storm' and be able to provide for our basic needs on our own. We all should be prepared for the chaos and lack of services that significant severe weather or disasters cause. We should anticipate that there could be at least several days that we are cut off from the outside world and must rely on our own resources."
     The Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN) pilot program nomination by the National Hazard Mitigation Association and the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration boosts SVPI's continuing efforts to provide the Shenandoah Valley with cutting-edge disaster preparedness planning. As one of only ten communities in the United States selected to participate, SVPI will be advancing the grassroots peer-to-peer community program by assisting localities in working together to build and strengthen hazard mitigation.

Fields of Gold agritourism program receives best practices award from the Council for Rural Virginia

     Following on the heels of recognition in August from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) as "Best Regional Collaboration," the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission's Fields of Gold agritourism initiative received the annual "Best Practices Award" from the Council for Rural Virginia during the 2012 Virginia Rural Summit held in Roanoke September 11-12.
The Council selects and promotes leading organizations and individuals from across the Commonwealth to recognize for exemplary programs, activities and models on behalf of rural people and places. The Best Practices Award is given annually by the Council for Rural Virginia to recognize a program or institution that exemplifies commitment and service to the advancement of rural communities or issues.
The Council for Rural Virginia is a collaborative partner with the Center for Rural Virginia.  The two organizations work collaboratively as the Virginia Rural Center on a non-partisan basis through the development and advocating of rural policy and advocacy coordination, which includes convening groups at the Virginia Rural Summit and Legislative Caucus.
Fields of Gold isa collaborative regional economic development program serving six counties and five cities in the Shenandoah Valley:  Counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, Rockingham, and Shenandoah and the Cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro, Fields of Gold is focused on promoting the Shenandoah Valley as an agritourism destination, creating and retaining jobs on the farm, expanding tourism jobs off the farm, and nurturing an environment for entrepreneurship. By establishing better linkages between agricultural producers and consumers, the program strives to strengthen the local food system and invigorate the economy.
The wide-reaching impact of the Fields of Gold program can also be seen in the growth of restaurants featuring farm-to-table menus as well as grocers, markets, and retailers that carry fresh, local agriculture products daily in many cities and towns in the Shenandoah Valley.   This increased demand for farm products results in increased farm production, which in the long term, will drive job growth.  The Fields of Gold initiative benefits everyone - from the producer to the retailer to the consumer to the local government.
For more informationon Fields of Gold and upcoming events, visit the CSPDC website or Facebook.

HRPDC staff champions locality concerns on proposed storm sewer system regulation  

     HRPDC staff comments were well received at the September 28, 2012 meeting of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board where the Board listened to public comments on the proposed regulation reauthorizing and amending the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) general permit for discharges from small municipal separate storm sewer systems (Phase II MS4 General Permit). Ms. Jennifer Tribo, HRPDC Senior Water Resources Planner, addressed the Board and described three major concerns for Hampton Roads localities.   

     HRPDC staff is pleased that a key concern regarding the proposed regulation's "Special Conditions for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL" will be addressed with language revisions prior to release of the documents for public comment. HRPDC emphasized that the current language does not include an opportunity for localities to report water quality management improvements implemented between 2009 and the July 2013 effective date of the new Phase II MS4 General Permit; this causes an accounting error that short-changes localities on the pollutant reductions already achieved and forces localities to implement additional measures and potentially employ more costly solutions to make up for the error. During the Board discussion, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) staff stated that it was not the intent of the regulation to exclude reporting of improvements made from 2009 to 2013; DCR staff was directed to review the language and make the necessary changes.

     From June to September 2012, the state's Regulatory Advisory Panel (RAP) met to provide input on the proposed regulations. Mr. Leroy Hansen, civil engineer with the City of Suffolk, represented the Hampton Roads region on the RAP with support from the HRPDC Stormwater Committee. The RAP worked through significant changes to the permit's six minimum control measures but was not able to reach agreement on how Chesapeake Bay TMDL is addressed in the proposed permit.

     With the pending revisions noted above, the Board approved proposed regulations for public comment and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency review. The HRPDC plans to submit additional comments during the public review period to elaborate on concerns with the proposed regulation's reliance on model-derived information, to specify problems identified with DCR's data inputs to the model, and DCR's utilization of model outputs.

Regional reporting system helps safeguard public health 

     The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recently applauded Hampton Roads' web-based Sanitary Sewer Overflow Reporting System (SSORS), noting in a July 31hrpodc1  , 2012 memorandum to HRPDC that "SSORS reporting is viewed as one of the best sewage notification systems in the Commonwealth." SSORS, which is administered by HRPDC and funded by local governments and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), is used by wastewater utilities to document and immediately report sewer spills to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and VDH.   

     Timely reporting through SSORS facilitates DEQ and VDH actions to protect public health and the environment. VDH uses SSORS to assess sanitary sewer overflow impacts to drinking water sources, shellfish waters, fish consumption, and recreational swimming areas. Follow-up may include beach closures, fishing advisories, water quality testing, and other regulatory actions.hrpdc2

     The recent SSORS user group meeting resulted in confirmation of system reliability and performance, reinforcement of user and VDH understanding of system functionality, and recommendations for future system upgrades. Through SSORS, local governments, HRSD, and HRPDC continue to support water quality and public health protection efforts across the region. 

Region 2000 and the magic of cooperation

     Region 2000 Local Government Council used the magic of cooperation and made region2000-1possible new bicycle share the road signs in the Lynchburg area.

     A few local cyclists approached Kelly Hitchcock, a Region 2000 Senior Planner, to help coordinate efforts to install share the road signs along frequently cycled roads in the region. 

     Kelly brought together representatives from Lynchburg and Salem VDOT Districts, Lynchburg City officials, and the cycling enthusiasts and found that each group could offer something to the project, but that no group on its own could make the project work.

      Like an orchestra conductor, Kelly made the project a reality by utilizing what each group could do, rather than being stopped by what they couldn't.

     Kelly discovered that VDOT could provide money for the signs and sign maintenance if matching money was provided.  The bicycle folks were willing to raise the matching money if donations were tax deductible, but they weren't incorporated as a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit. Lynchburg didn't have resources to provide VDOT the cash match but were willing to install and maintain signs within the City.region2000-2

     Each group enthusiastically participated in their niche area.  Everyone was involved in the design and selection of the signs.  The bicycle group raised $5,782 from 33 different business and individual donors using the Dr. John Bell Bicycling Awareness Memorial Fund and the donations were accepted through Region 2000 which made them tax deductible.  VDOT bought the signs and installed them in the areas outside of Lynchburg.  The City agreed to install and maintain the signs in their jurisdiction.

     Soon we will have fifty eight new "Share the Road" signs along 131 miles of local roads in Lynchburg and three neighboring counties.  A small project, but another example of how the magic of cooperation works in Region 2000.

     Contact Kelly Hitchcock, 434 845-2000, [email protected] 

Virginia Farm to Table Conference  2012

     The Virginia Farm to Table Conference will be held December 5-6 at the Plecker Workforce Center, Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

     This two-day conference will be of interest to producers, buyers, school and university officials, community and agricultural development officials, legislators, administrators, and stakeholders working to strengthen local economies and regional food systems.

     Topics include: Food & Farming in the 21st Century; Family Farming and Entrepreneurship: Organic Dairying and Flour Production; Healthy Soils, Healthy Foods; Incubating a Regional Food System: The Role of ACEnet; Healthy Farms, Healthy Waters; Dairy Processing and Value Retention; Emerging and Beginning Farmers; Co-packing/Food Business Incubation; Artisanal Flour and Small Grains; Alternative Markets and Marketing; and much more!

     For more information or to register visit 

Community Fiber Networks: November 8-9 

     This conference will look at the impact of advanced networks on economic development and how communities can e sure today's networks will meet the increasing needs for speed, reliability and ease of use.

     The Broadband Communities have announced the keynote speaker for their November conference. James Salter, CEO, Atlantic Engineering Group is a pioneer proponent of Fiber-to-the-Home; he built the nation's first FTTH City in 2001 and he has designed and built more than 30 FTTH city networks.

     Check out the free post-conference workshops: Hands-on Financial Modeling and Projecting the Pay-off from Broadband Investments.

     For more information visit

EPA announces opportunity to apply for 2013 Environmental Justice Small Grants
     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking applicants for a total of $1.5 million in environmental justice small grants to e awarded in 2013. EPA's environmental justice efforts aim to ensure equal environmental and health protections for all Americans, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. The grants enable non-profit organizations to conduct research, provide education and develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in communities overburdened by harmful pollution. Grants are available for up to $30,000 each.
     "Environmental justice grants support efforts to raise awareness about local health and environmental concerns," said Lisa Garcia, EPA's senior advisor to the administrator for environmental justice. "By supporting local projects in underserved communities, communities are able to develop plans and partnerships that will continue to improve their local environment and better protect human health into the future."
     The 2013 grant solicitation is now open and will close on January 7, 2013. Applicants must be incorporated non-profits or trial organizations working to educate, empower and enable their communities to understand and address local environmental and public health issues. EPA will host four pre-application teleconference calls on October 30, 2012; November 14, 2012; December 1, 2012; and December 13, 2012 to help applicants understand the requirements.
     Previous grants have supported activities including projects to better protect children in the Boston-area from incidences of lead poisoning and asthma attacks, conduct research on air quality in a portside Philadelphia community and provide support to residents on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota to repair failing septic systems and identify water that is unsafe to drink.
     For more information about the Environmental Justice Small Grants program visit
     For Environmental Justice Small Grants 2013 Request for Proposals and a schedule of pre-application teleconference calls visit