From the President
As you know, July brings the 'new year' for VAPDC and changes to the leadership of the Association. I am pleased to be serving as your president for another year and look forward to working with the VAPDC board of directors and PDC executive directors as we continue the good work of the organization. Serving on the VAPDC board of directors has given me a better perspective and some new ideas on how PDCs work regionally to solve state and local issues economically, efficiently, and effectively. Your PDCs are doing a great job representing your local jurisdictions as well as working hand-in-hand with the Commonwealth to make important things happen!
As we move into our new year, VAPDC continues to work with Bill Leighty and his team from DecideSmart to refine and execute its strategic plan. This effort is helping to move VAPDC forward along with supporting our member PDCs and the many entities our PDCs work with to promote regionalism and efficiencies in government.
We're also very appreciative of the efforts of Connie Long, Liz Garrett and their colleagues at Association Builders for the structural and logistical support they provide VAPDC. They make us all look good every day through their hard work.
When you run into Bill, Bob, Lane and Bill or Connie, Liz and their crew, please take a moment to stop and thank them for their help.
As you read this column, more than 100 PDC staff members, commissioners, sponsors, speakers and guests will gather at Wintergreen Resort to celebrate the past year and VAPDC's accomplishments, as well as, look forward to 2013-2014 and the many opportunities we have to see our organization, and our PDCs grow and prosper. In an effort to explore the Commonwealth, the board has chosen to move the VAPDC Summer Conference this year and will continue to look for new opportunities to meet in other Virginia locales as we plan future conferences.
VAPDC continues to make great progress as an Association in working with state agencies and providing a forum where PDCs can network and exchange best practices to Create Regional Opportunities. I look forward to continuing to work with all of Virginia's PDCs as President. Get involved and help us continue approaching issues from a regional perspective to find solutions that work for Virginia.
Virginia's Planning District Commissions
Cumberland Plateau PDC
Mount Rogers PDC
New River Valley PDC
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany RC
Central Shenandoah PDC
Northern Shenandoah Valley PDC
Northern Virginia RC
Thomas Jefferson PDC
Region 2000 LGC
West Piedmont PDC
Richmond Regional PDC
George Washington RC
Northern Neck PDC
Middle Peninsula PDC
Hampton Roads PDC
2014 VAPDC Sponsorship Opportunities
The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC)
Sponsorship opportunities are now available for 2014.
Four levels of sponsorship are available: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. All sponsors receive the following:
~Recognition on the VAPDC Website
Company profile in Winter and Summer conference registration materials
~Company logo or listing on signage at the Winter and Summer conferences
New this Year:
~Sponsors become Associate Members of VAPDC, receiving member discounts on conference registration along with other benefits.
Other recognition and perks are offered for each level of sponsorship.
To view all the details of 2014 sponsorship opportunities and to become a sponsor,
2013 VAPDC Website:
We are very excited to announce the completion of the new VAPDC membership management system on our VAPDC Website. As you know the new website has been up and running for a while and is being populated with new information frequently. This newest feature will serve you better allows potential Associate Members to join online, register for conferences, sign up to be a sponsor and much more! VAPDC members can also login to the system and update their personal profiles.
Check the website often for new information and features.
Email Jeanne Ali with any questions or comments.
VAPDC Connections is published quarterly by the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions.
The deadline for the next issue of the newsletter is
October 15, 2013
Please share your news with your peers by submitting your articles to VAPDC.
Region 2000 Highlights Alternative Transportation Option This Spring
May was National Bike Month, and to promote bicycling and other forms of alternative transportation like walking, carpooling and using transit, the Region 2000 Local Government Cou
ncil, RIDE Solutions, the Lynchburg Area Greenway Alliance, and numerous other community supporters hosted Bike Month and The Clean Commute Challenge.
The goal of these initiatives was to inform, empower and challenge citizens in Region 2000 to do the following:
- Consider using a bicycle as a commuting resource.
- Use another alternative, clean and healthy commute option for one or more days of the week.
The Clean Commute Challenge was a web-based challenge to individuals and local companies to use a clean commute option one or more days during the month of May. This was the third year of the challenge with 79 participants representing 38 different businesses. different businesses were represented, and Forty-eight of the participants noted that they had bicycled at least once, accounting for 2,776 miles cycled during the month.
All participants in Bike Month and the Clean Commute Challenge were eligible for great prizes during the month. Two lucky winners won round-trip tickets along Amtrak's Northeast Rail Line from Lynchburg to Boston, compliments of Amtrak Virginia and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit.
With the help of regional partners, other special programs were held during May to make commuting easy and fun and to encourage new habits all year long. The Lynchburg Downtown YMCA allowed anyone using a clean commute option to use their shower facilities at no cost. In honor of National Bike to Work Day, the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company, GLTC, and the Altavista Community Transit Service (ACTS) offered free bus rides all day on Friday, May 17.
For Region 2000 residents who wanted to participate in the Clean Commute Challenge but lived too far to bike or walk to work, or perhaps lived outside an area served by transit, there were additional options. A number of "Park & Ride" lots were available and promoted as a place to park and then take a clean commute into work.
There were a number of additional special activities on Friday, May 17 which was "National Bike to Work Day." A guided morning commute convoy encouraged novice and long-time bikers to join the fun. After meeting at Riverside Park off Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg, bikers were led by experienced cyclists to Depot Grill in downtown Lynchburg for a free continental breakfast. Walkers, runners, carpoolers and bus riders were also welcomed and thanked for their clean commute. That afternoon, Bedford County Parks * Recreation and the Bedford City Police Department hosted a fun bicycle ride with Chief James E. Day. Finally, participants in the Clean Commute Challenge were also encouraged to come out to Riverfront Festival Park in downtown Lynchburg that evening to join the celebration at Lynch's Landing's First Friday Cheers. Special bike valet "parking" and bike reflector lights were offered for anyone with a bike, and the first 50 received free admission.
"Our Clean Commute Challenge and biking initiatives are continuing to grow in the region," said Region 2000 Local Government Council Senior Planner Kelly Hitchcock. "They are all about offering residents safe and healthy options for commuting, and these programs are great for the environment as well."
HRPDC Welcomes New Deputy Executive Director
By Joe Turner, Communications Manager, May 9, 2013
May 1st marked the first day on the job for Randy Keaton. Keaton assumed the duties of the HRPDC's Deputy Executive Director following the January retirement of 40 year HRPDC veteran, John Carlock. Mr.
Keaton is starting his second career as a municipal servant, this time in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Keaton began his career 30 years ago as the Register of Deeds in Camden County, North Carolina. From that position, he became Perquimans County's first County Manager and moved to Pasquotank County in that same capacity. For Pasquotank County, he was responsible for the day to day operation of the County including budget development and implementation, as well as administrative support to the Board of Commissioners. He was responsible for implementing the Board's policies.
According an editorial in The Daily Advance, he shepherded several multi-million dollar County projects including the construction of a new Pasquotank County High School, a reverse-osmosis water treatment plant, and several new county services buildings. He was also recognized by the northeastern North Carolina community as a strong supporter of education, in particular the county's public schools and the College of Albemarle.
When the hiring of Keaton was announced, HRPDC Executive Director Dwight Farmer told The Virginian-Pilot, "Running a county for that many years gives him a huge breadth and depth. He's going to give us a dimension we never had before."
Mr. Keaton will provide his experience and guidance to an agency which provides the region's jurisdictions with expertise in such areas as economic analysis, planning, water resources, emergency management and housing.
Welcome aboard Mr. Keaton!
Web-tool Upgrade Makes Conservation Data Easily Accessible
NHDE Press Release
A few clicks of a mouse are now all it takes to reveal a wealth of information about Virginia's natural assets.
The new Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer at www.vanhde.org provides public access to maps and data about protected lands, ecologically significant areas, wetlands and more to help in making conservation decisions. Natural Heritage Data Explorer merges three previously used web tools into a single powerful tool - and most of it is available free of charge.
With a few more clicks, users can create customized maps or, for consultants, land trusts, or government agencies through a subscription, submit projects for review to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Program.
"We have a lot of information, and people trust our information," said René Hypes, the program's project review coordinator. "We're hoping the new system will encourage more people to use this resource."
The Virginia Natural Heritage Program is responsible for the identification, protection and stewardship of Virginia's natural heritage resources - such as the habitat of rare, threatened or endangered plant or animal species, significant or rare natural communities and other sites of scientific interest. Managing, using and sharing information about these resources is a key component of the program.
Data Explorer was developed for DCR by the nonprofit conservation organization NatureServe. NatureServe is working on similar platforms for other states, but Virginia's is the first to launch.
The free and general public version of Data Explorer provides access to 20 map layers showing the status of all conserved lands, conservation priority lands, boundaries and reference information such as streams and roads. Layers can be viewed on one of eight base maps, such as a street map or topographic map. Users can search backend data with text queries or by clicking a point on the map; details are displayed instantaneously. Users even have the capability to share and print customized maps.
"You can use all of this to make your own maps right on the site," said Jason Bulluck, information manager for the Natural Heritage Program. "You can mark up and label maps, print them, share them, pull in your own data - pretty much anything you want to do as far as mapmaking goes."
Data Explorer also is available on a subscription basis. Subscriptions provide access to sensitive rare species information and are available to nonprofits, land trusts, government agencies and consultants. For example, small land trusts without the capacity for geographic information systems, or GIS, for all staff can use Data Explorer to help in land conservation planning.
The new system is expected to streamline the process for environmental reviews by enabling all projects to be submitted electronically. Environmental reviews typically are required, as part of various federal and state permit applications, to determine whether a project might have an impact on sensitive resources. Natural heritage staff completed 250 reviews in May alone.
Free training on Data Explorer is being offered every other month. The next session will be Aug. 7 in Richmond for nonprofits, localities, planning district commissions, state agencies and consultants. Anyone interested in signing up for training should email email@example.com.
Hampton Roads Reality Check: One Region, One Future
By Julia B. Hillegass, Public Information & Community Affairs Administrator, May 22, 2013
Regionalism and a high quality of life were top priorities at the Reality Check exercise last May. The one-day visioning exercise included 300 leaders from business, politics, environmental, development and civic sectors to discuss and explore how to accommodate the anticipated growth in our region while sustaining a high quality of life. Participants issued a definitive message that Hampton Roads communities need to work together on common goals to support sustained economic growth and vibrant communities, while maintaining the region's diversity and unique characteristics that make the region a top tourist and retirement destination.
Many of those participants gathered again last week to hear the results of that exercise and to learn what the very first Reality Check has done for the state of Utah. Robert Grow, CEO of Envision Utah, commended organizers on such a high level of participation, encouraging organizers to ensure the next steps help today's decision makers understand the long-term consequences of choices being made and how those decisions will affect each other.
Moderator, Joel Rubin assembled a panel to discuss what was learned and what next steps are needed for the region to become a better competitor in the global economy. Dwight Farmer, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) Executive Director, was a part of that panel and he hinted that the region is on the brink of some very exciting opportunities. "The next phase of the strategic visioning effort will allow us to explore all alternatives to help regional leaders make wise decisions in the face of uncertainty. The HRPDC is beginning a strategic planning effort that will springboard from this initial exercise," Farmer said.
Participants were encouraged to sign-up for their areas of interest relative to regionalism, quality of life, business and economics, land use patterns, transportation and the environment to remain engaged in the next phases of work.
Hampton Roads Reality Check was presented in partnership with the Urban Land Institute of Hampton Roads, The ODU Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, Hampton Roads Partnership and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.
Groundwater Levels Drop as International Paper Resumes Operations
By Whitney Katchmark, Principal Water Resources Planner and Tiffany Smith, Water Resources Planner, May 22, 2013
As a follow up to HRPDC's March 29, 2012 Special Report "Groundwater Levels Recover as International Paper Negotiates Permit," staff has continued to monitor trends in groundwater levels since the June 2010 closure of International Paper (IP) and the June 2012 resumption of limited operations.
The chart below shows how groundwater levels responded to changes in IP's withdrawal rates from January 2000 through December 2012. As expected, groundwater levels in monitoring wells 55B and 55A near IP (see map at left) responded quickly when IP reduced groundwater withdrawals, rising rapidly toward the surface. Water levels then began falling when IP resumed operations.
IP's withdrawals appear to have less impact on groundwater levels in areas further from the mill. At monitoring wells 57F and 55E ground water levels still show signs of IP's influence, but the impacts are muted and it takes longer for the effects of changes in IP's withdrawals to appear in water levels observed at these distances.
The International Paper mill in Franklin, Virginia holds a permit to withdraw up to 1,173 million gallons per month of groundwater from its well field. IP began scaling back operations and reducing groundwater withdrawals in the last quarter of 2008. The mill closed in mid-2010 and IP's withdrawals continued to decrease to 45 million gallons per month by January 2012. In 2012, IP resumed groundwater withdrawals with the commencement of a new pulp production process. Withdrawals peaked at over 581 million gallons in August 2012; the average withdrawal from June through December 2010 was 372 million gallons per month, approximately one third of the Mill's pre-2009 withdrawal rate.
Regional Jail Administrators Exercise Emergency Response to Significant Weather Events
Region's Jailors and Staff Plan Contingent Operations in Response to Category 2 Hurricane Threat
Operation Secure Fortress, a tabletop exercise conducted on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission office in Chesapeake, evaluated the preparedness capabilities of Southside local and regional jails for responding to significant weather events, including a Category 2 Hurricane.
Sworn and civilian personnel from the Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Western Tidewater Regional and Hampton Roads Regional Jails gathered to examine what to do with inmates when facing such weather conditions. Shelter-in-place or prepare to evacuate them?
The jailors and staff members discussed appropriate responses, reviewed individual facility plans (strengths and weaknesses) and engaged in group discussions with other jails to gain insight into multiple options and possible solutions.
Common core issues for many of the jails included the performance of backup generators in the event of a major and prolonged power outage, adequate communication systems if internet and cell towers go down, food and water supplies, sewage and trash concerns, how to handle dialysis patients who are transported off site for treatment, in-house medical care and inmate medical records should computer systems fail and what to do with a deceased inmate's body if an inmate passes during the emergency.
"I was able to sit in on part of the exercise and was impressed with the topics covered and the level of dedication and importance our region's correctional personnel placed on the exercise." said Dwight Farmer, HRPDC Executive Director.
"The breadth and detail of the issues they face in such circumstances is staggering. We clearly need to heed the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and do more of these exercises so that this portion of the region's population is ready."
The HRPDC sponsored the exercise in accordance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guidelines. CRA, Inc. of Alexandria, VA provided the exercise support team.
In addition to jail participants, representatives from Dominion Virginia Power, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia Department of Health and the Office of Medical Examiners were on hand to serve as observers and facilitators to the groups to help develop responses to situations and offer additional information to resolve key issues.
A similar tabletop event will be held on the Peninsula with a follow-on regional exercise occurring in July that will include jails from both the Southside and Peninsula.
Training Hopes to Prevent Pollution
By Joe Turner, Communications Manager, May 8, 2013
The HRPDC sponsored two Pollution Prevention training programs for municipal workers on May 1st in Newport News and May 2nd in Suffolk. The goal of the training was to instruct employees on how to prevent pollution through "good housekeeping" practices, how to identify potential pollution risks, and establishing plans for safely responding to hazardous spills. The two sessions drew full houses on both sides of the harbor totaling nearly 125 employees, with all Hampton Roads jurisdictions represented.
Janet Frey from URS, the HRPDC's continuing services consultant for projects involving water resources and stormwater issues, began the training with an overview of the federal and state stormwater regulations Hampton Roads municipalities must follow. Using pictures, she highlighted best practices and what-not-to-dos for the proper handling and storage of potentially hazardous pollutants, such as fuel oils, pesticides and other industrial-related items.
Frey led a group discussion regarding the importance of having a proper response plan in place to address spills when they occur. Exercises included, among others, how to estimate spill sizes for determining response options. The training wrapped up with a review of hazardous materials identification markers including the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) labels and the international adoptions of the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Participants were charged to return to their localities and implement the knowledge they gained from the training through improving housekeeping tactics for potential pollutants, or reviewing/establishing a comprehensive response plan to address spills.
Providing training opportunities such as this is just another way the HRPDC leverages combined resources to assist Hampton Roads jurisdictions efficiently meet federal and state requirements.
Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail Launches Website
By Sara Kidd, Senior Regional Planner on April 30, 2013
On April 19, 2013, a coalition of federal, state and private agencies, including the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), officially launched a new website for the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail (SECT)
First introduced at the East Coast Paddlesports & Outdoor Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, the new SECT website will be the primary source for all-inclusive information on navigating the coastal water trails of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Featuring a detailed, interactive map that highlights access sites, paddlers can now travel an unbroken trail of tidal marshes and rivers more than 800 miles along the coasts of all four states.
HRPDC staff was involved in planning the Virginia segment of the trail as well as providing technical support through developing the new website, creating the logo, collecting data, and creating maps.
The Virginia section of the trail begins at the Lynnhaven Boat Ramp in Virginia Beach and connects to the North Carolina border via canals and the North Landing River. Local partners involved in planning the Virginia section of the trail include staff from the City of Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department, Wild River Outfitters, and several local paddling enthusiasts.
The SECT also provides a connection between two well-known regional trails: the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail that stretches from Virginia to Delaware and the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, which extends from the Georgia-Florida border all the way around the state to the west end of the Florida panhandle. What could be called the "Appalachian Trail of water trails," paddlers can now follow these three regional trails for approximately 5,275 miles through nine states.
The National Park Services Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) was tasked with facilitating the planning for the SECT. The RTCA teamed up with a number of agencies, including the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Natural Resources,The Conservation Fund of North Carolina, the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia, the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (SC) in addition to the HRPDC, to bring the trail from concept to reality over the course of several years.
Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail Exhibit Table at the East Coast Paddlesports & Outdoor Festival, Charleston, SC.
Visit the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail.
By Julia Hillegass, Public Information and Community Affairs Administrator, June 20, 2013
Are Hampton Roads residents more knowledgeable of local environmental issues than they were two years ago? Do they know where to turn for information about recycling, efficient water use and tips for making local living easy on the environment? The answers are yes and yes, according to a fall 2012 study conducted for askHRgreen.org, a regional environmental education and outreach campaign administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) and the focus of this e-newsletter that you receive monthly.
The 2012 study showed that we are successfully changing behaviors and that the askHRgreen.org campaign is helping localities effectively and efficiently meet their state regulatory requirements for improving the health of local waterways, recycling rates, awareness of water resources issues and sanitary sewer overflow prevention.
That's good news, but there is still work to be done.
To consolidate multiple green outreach programs of the HRPDC, and guided by the findings of a fall 2010 online benchmark survey to gauge the region's environmental literacy, askHRgreen.org was launched in early 2011.
Last fall, EAB Research conducted a second online survey to see how the campaign was performing. Four-hundred residents of the region's 16 cities and counties participated in the study.
Overall, the 2012 survey revealed that the askHRgreen.org campaign has proven effective in educating and modifying the behavior of our target audiences. In addition, those who are aware of askHRgreen.org are more likely to seek information, have more knowledge and report positive behaviors. Highlights of the survey found that:
- 12% of those surveyed have heard about askHRgreen.org.
- Online was reported to be the largest source for awareness.
- 33% of "askHRgreen.org aware" respondents have visited the website.
- Overall self-perceived knowledge of local environmental issues has increased. The largest increases are among:
- single females, under $75,000 income
- those aware of askHRgreen.org
- People aware of askHRgreen.org are the most frequent information seekers.
Since the 2010 benchmark study, there have been significant increases in the general use of and how often people are using their own shopping bags, as opposed to store-provided, bags. Pouring fats, oils and grease down the drain or in the yard decreased 12 points from the 2010 survey, and the perceived harm rose 12 points-showing improvement in both the behavior of the action and the understanding that it is harmful.
Areas for Improvement
While there were improvements in certain environmental areas, the findings revealed a "disconnect" between some behaviors and the personal impact of those actions, especially with regard to the effects of over fertilizing lawns and leaving pet waste on the ground.
- 65% of those surveyed understood that over fertilizing lawns leads to excesses of nitrogen and phosphorus in area waterways. Yet, only 7% of these respondents knew that this action results in discolored and foul-smelling waterways that are not desirable for swimming and boating.
- 23% of respondents who are using fertilizer are applying it 3 or more times a year.
- 55% of the people surveyed knew that leaving pet waste on the ground leads to bacteria being carried to local waterways through the storm drain. Of this total, 62% knew this would lead to contaminated waterways. Of the 62%, only 20% knew that contaminated waterways meant you couldn't swim at the beach or eat local seafood.
Over the next year, the askHRgreen.org team will be using the survey results to make adjustments to the overall campaign. We'll be focusing more on showing the connection between negative environmental behaviors and the resulting consequences, in addition to driving more people to the website. The survey showed that the more people are aware of askHRgreen.org, the more likely they are to adopt positive behaviors, and that's what this campaign is all about.
As the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission celebrates its 45th year in 2013, the PDC can look back on and be proud of the many accomplishments that have happened in cooperation with its many federal, state, local and regional partners, both public and private. Since 1968, the Cumberland Plateau, through its efforts with these partners, has helped bring in over $465 million dollars in federal, state and regional funding to the region.
In many cases, the Cumberland Plateau has helped to bring localities together to attack problems such as solid waste management on a regional basis. Thru the formation of the Cumberland Plateau Regional Waste Management Authority, the PDC helped the Authority's member counties avoid having to develop new sanitary landfills as well as monitor in perpetuity their old landfills. A professional cost analysis was conducted recently to determine how much had been saved just on solid waste disposal through the Authority's regional transfer station system as opposed to a traditional local landfill system over the past 20 years. This study demonstrated a cost savings of $47.8 million in precious local dollars by having the regional transfer station system.
In other arenas, such as water and sewer system development, the PDC staff has worked with local water and sewer providers and their engineers to write hundreds of applications to successfully bring much needed grant and low-interest loan funds into the region. Without these government funds, local PSA's and towns could not have provided public water and sewer services to their customers at an affordable rate. And as an innovator in broadband and wireless 4G infrastructure deployment, the Cumberland Plateau has worked with various utilities and the Lenowisco PDC to bring high-speed broadband fiber optic and wireless 4G services to the larger seven-county Virginia Coalfields region resulting in hundreds of new higher-paying IT jobs in the area and a better quality of life.
Seth White, newly elected Cumberland Plateau PDC Chairman from Tazewell County, acknowledged the value of the Cumberland Plateau. "The Commission's work in bringing state-of-the-art, high-speed broadband services to the region, as well as the coming 4G wireless service, has brought the District into the 21st Century. Few other rural areas in America can match our telecommunications network."
Immediate Past Chairman, David Yates of Dickenson County, notes that the Cumberland Plateau PDC is approaching an amazing milestone in terms of the grant and loan funding it has assisted in providing to its communities. "I'm proud to say on behalf of my colleagues on the PDC Board of Directors that the Cumberland Plateau has helped bring nearly a half a billion dollars in federal and state funding to the District and the Coalfields region. Without the Cumberland Plateau, I don't know where we would be."
Danny Brown, a long-time Board member from Russell County, stated that these successes are based on cooperation. "I've rarely enjoyed anything more in my time in local government than my representation on the Cumberland Plateau. The spirit of cooperation among my friends from our member counties shows what can be accomplished when we work together."
Roger Rife, a long-time Board member from Buchanan County, noted the value of the Planning District. "We wouldn't have been able to build our extensive county water system without the help of the many grants received through the efforts of the Cumberland Plateau. And by working together, we've been able to provide public water at a reasonable rate to hundreds of homes and businesses in the County and the District."
The Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission continued to work with its member local governments in 2012 to complete numerous economic and community development projects to benefit the citizens of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell Counties. Grants prepared and/or approved in 2012, amounted to almost $19 million. These projects will result in more households in the District on public water and sewer, as well as increased employment, tourism, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for District citizens. The PDC planning staff has over 80 years of grant writing experience and counts it as a privilege to work with our local, state and federal officials to help bring much needed grant dollars to benefit local citizens.
As the Planning District celebrates 45 years of cooperation, many new challenges are on the horizon that will require our communities to work together even more to efficiently provide needed services to our citizens. The Cumberland Plateau will be there to help in any way possible.
Grants to Localities for Public Boating Access Facilities
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announces the availability of grants for fiscal year (FY) 2014 and request applications. Eligible to receive grants are Virginia localities (Counties, Cities, and Towns). The purposes of the grants are to assist localities in providing public opportunities for boating access facilities for new development or the renovation or improvements to existing public boating access facilities. For more details, go online to www.dgif.virginia.gov/boating/access/grants to download the following information:
* Public Boating Access Grants to Localities Program package
* Questions and Answers
* Accessibility Guidelines for Boating Access Facilities
* DGIF Design Standards
* Cooperator Boating Access Maintenance Requirements
* Areas of Need (for Boating Access)
Recreational boating is a popular activity and there are approximately 250,000 registered boats in Virginia. Many more boats (canoes/kayaks) that are not registered use existing facilities or are in need of additional sites. This grant program provides up to 75% of the approved project costs to construct or renovate boating access facilities for trailer or non-trailer hand launch facilities. Applications are due by October 1, 2013 and award is anticipated by January 1, 2014. Upon notice of award, the local jurisdiction will have until April 1, 2014 to sign a Cooperative Grant Agreement. Funds are provided on a reimbursement basis. For more information, contact Steve Kesler at firstname.lastname@example.org, office phone (804) 561-1447 or cell phone (804) 840-9493.
South Boston Energy Project
Southside PDC secures grant funds for a new wood waste-fired biomass electric generating facility.
"Waste not, want not," goes the age old adage that suits the South Boston Energy Project. South Boston Energy is partnering with Halifax County Service Authority and Halifax County to turn waste, by-products and residue into a useable energy source. The benefit is twofold: the generating of needed electricity and the disposal of unneeded wastes. The first loads of wood waste were delivered at the new power plant in March.
The project is made possible by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development prepared by Southside Planning District Commission on behalf of Halifax County. The $650,000 grant was used to construct off-site improvements to serve South Boston Energy, a 49.9 megawatt biomass-fueled power plant located on a 100-acre brownfield site near South Boston, Virginia. The new wood-fired power plant will have the capacity to burn as much as 600,000 tons of wood waste annually to generate renewable electric energy to serve the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC).
Biomass fuel refers to energy created from biological wastes. In this case, forest product waste. Even though the term may be unfamiliar, anyone who has used a wood stove to heat a house has used a small version of a biomass-fueled power facility. The new power plant will utilize wood waste from local logging operations to produce the power rather than coal or natural gas. The area has an abundance of wood waste available within a 75 mile radius of the new facility.
Tractor-trailer rigs packed with wood waste are lifted high in the sky while the contents are emptied to use as fuel at the new South Boston Energy Plant, which will use renewable biofuels to generate power for customers of the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC).
Photo Credit: News and Record, South Boston, VA
The construction of the new power plant is employing 100 individuals and when completed later this summer will create 26 full time jobs, with fifty-one percent targeting low-to-moderate income individuals.
LENOWISCO Welcomes Jimmy Adkins as Regional Planner
On July 1, 2013, LENOWISCO welcomed Mr. Jimmy Adkins to the LENOWISCO team as a Regional Planner.
Jimmy's responsibilities include most of the projects and items which Chris Starnes formerly was the principal contact.
These items included transportation planning related items, demographic profiles, and general water & sewer application assistance.
For those of you not aware, Chris left LENOWISCO in April to assume a full-time position with Gulf and Ohio Railways in Knoxville.
Jimmy can be reached at: 276-431-1913, ext. 16 or 276-431-2206. His email address is: email@example.com
Glen "Skip" Skinner, Executive Director
LENOWISCO Planning District Commission
276-431-1913 x 22 Office
follow me @skip_skinner
RRPDC Holds ULI Reality Check
RRPDC recently cooperated with the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute to hold a ULI Reality Check event. More than 300 people convened at the VCU Siegel Center in May to use Lego blocks and RRPDC maps to identify future areas for residential and employment growth in the Region. Several PDC Board members participated in this event.
An informative video about the event can be seen here. (Hampton Roads did a Reality Check event as well). Thirty groups developed future land use scenarios for the RRPDC Region, and a VCU class has developed the average among the 30 different scenarios. The first public release of the composite land use scenario will be presented at the RRPDC Board meeting on Thursday.
To read more about this exciting event, click here.
Route 99 Corridor Retail Feasibility Study
Over the last few months, the Planning District Commission has been working with the Town of Pulaski and Pulaski County to develop a Retail Feasibility Study for the Route 99 corridor. Public water and sewer is currently available within existing town limits and can support redevelopment opportunities; however, developers have recently inquired about opportunities outside of town limits, particularly within the vicinity of I-81's Exit 94 interchange. The lack of public sewer and other existing characteristics currently limit development opportunities around the interstate.
In 2012, the Town of Pulaski completed a Retail Leakage Report and a Preliminary Engineering Report. The Retail Leakage Report examined quantitative data to identify potential retail opportunity sectors. The Preliminary Engineering Report evaluated potential infrastructure needs and associated costs with extending sanitary sewer service out to I-81's Exit 94.
To determine potential opportunities along Route 99, the Planning District Commission worked closely with key Town staff to collect relevant information. The 2012 reports, along with local data, were used to evaluate existing conditions such as: location of existing retail, undeveloped parcels, transportation system, existing market share of the Route 99 corridor, and the proximity of other businesses. Opportunity sites were identified for new development and re-development potential.
Currently, over 80% of the Town of Pulaski's retail sales tax revenue is generated along the Route 99 Corridor. Redevelopment opportunities exist downtown and new development possibilities exist around the interchange. As the commercial anchor for the town, Route 99 is development-ready, centrally located, and easily accessible to Interstate I-81. Over time and with careful planning, the Route 99 corridor can become a more significant asset for the Pulaski area.
For further information, please contact Elijah Sharp ( firstname.lastname@example.org), 540-639-9313, ext. 210 or Brad Mecham (email@example.com), 540-639-9313, ext. 206.
Commonwealth Regional Council a Co-Sponsor of
Area's "Blueprint Virginia" Event
On Monday, June 10, 2013, Barry Duval, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, held a "Blueprint Virginia" Forum for this area (during a Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting) at Longwood University. The event saw 100 people attend from across the region, representing both business and community leaders/officials. During the Forum, VCC President Barry Duval, provided a four-question survey for each attendee, seeking answers to the following queries:
- What do you think are Virginia's top three priorities to remain economically competitive?
- What should be the next governor's top economic priority?
- What are your top three regional priorities?
- What additional ideas do you have to improve your region and state's economy?
The feedback from this regional forum added to the thoughts and ideas gathered across the state, in similar meetings and via the state chamber's website.
As the area's Planning District Commission and Regional Industrial Marketing Organization, the Commonwealth Regional Council was a co-sponsor of this regional "Blueprint Virginia" Forum. Other co-sponsors of the event included Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), Longwood University, Hampden-Sydney College, Southside Virginia Community College, and Central Southside Community Hospital, and the Robert Russa Moton Museum. The Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce organized and hosted the event.
"Blueprint Virginia," facilitated by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, is a statewide initiative and comprehensive effort to provide business leadership, direction and long-range economic development planning for the Commonwealth. This initiative engages Virginia's businesses and community leaders in a long-range planning process to development a statewide strategy that will move our economy forward. Furthermore, this will ensure Virginia's competitiveness in the global economy. The plan will establish a comprehensive economic development strategy for a least the next 8 years. In the past several months, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce has held forums in a number of communities around the state to introduce "Blueprint Virginia" regionally and gain perspective on challenges and opportunities specific to different geographical areas of the state.
In addition, the Commonwealth Regional Council has been asked to serve on this area's Regional Council for "Blueprint Virginia."
Northern Neck Planning District Commission to Receive 2013 Innovation Award
Northern Neck PDC's Regional Tourism Initiative has been chosen to receive a National Association of Development Organization (NADO) 2013 Innovation Award. The Regional Tourism Initiative consists of a public-private, economic development-focused partnership led by fifteen members appointed by five counties. This partnership, the Northern Neck Tourism Commission (NNTC), works with local businesses/non-profits as well as three towns to promote the historic, recreational and natural resources to increase tourism to and economic development in the Northern Neck.
The Northern Neck is currently under study by the National Park Service to be designated a National Heritage Area and promotes tourism initiatives that highlight the region's traditional industries related to agriculture and maritime business, such as Down on the Farm Tours, and Watermen's Heritage Tours. The NNTC works closely with other programs within the NNPDC to foster environmental awareness, the use of public transportation for events, and community development. One of the goals of the NNTC is to maintain the character of vibrant waterfront communities and assist the region's small towns to develop amenities harmonious with the area.
NADO's Annual Innovation Award program has honored members who have had significant and positive impacts on their regions through innovative approaches to problem solving and program delivery. The award will be given at NADO's Annual Training Conference in August.