Presentations Highlight The Area's Resources

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

BUCKINGHAM – The February 13 meeting of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors included presentations by representatives with the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District, Commonwealth Regional Council, and Ellis Acres.

Kelly Jones Snoddy, conservation specialist with the PFS&W Conservation District, was first to the podium.

She explained that the district represents both Buckingham and Cumberland counties and the office is located at the USDA Service Center at Sprouse's Corner. Snoddy added that they are a political subdivision of the state and are responsible under state law for soil and water conservation work.

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According to Snoddy, Buckingham's elected directors are James F. McDaniel, Jr. and David Ball; and Barbara Teeple is the appointed director.

Along with Snoddy, there are two other employees, Sherry Raglan, administrative assistant, and Kyle Bolt, TMDL conservation specialist.

“Kyle and I are certified as Conservation Planners with Engineering Job Approval Authority through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS),” said Snoddy. “I am also certified as a Combined Administrator through the Erosion and Sediment Control Program overseen by DCR.”

“The district's primary responsibility is to administer the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-share Program and to provide free technical assistance to local agricultural producers,” stated Snoddy. “We are available to local producers and landowners for free assistance with designing and implementing agricultural and environmental conservation practices.”

Outlining other services, Snoddy said they provide soils information and topographical maps; educational speakers on conservation topics; educational programs for youth and adults; and an equipment rental program for two no-till drills.

She said the district also has an on-going TMDL implementation project for the Willis River watershed and in January began one for the Slate River and Rock Island Creek Watersheds. Snoddy described TMDL, total maximum daily load, as the maximum amount of pollutant a water body can hold before it surpasses the state's water quality standards.

“These water bodies were all determined by DEQ to be contaminated with fecal coliform; a bacteria that comes from wildlife, livestock and human waste,” stated Snoddy. “It is because of this bacterial contamination that the district has been able to provide grant-funded cost-share programs to fence cattle out of the creeks and give them alternative watering systems, as well as, offering residential practices, such as septic system pump-outs and repairs.”

According to Snoddy, the district is also in charge of the operation and maintenance of 17 watershed flood control dams in accordance with state dam safety laws and regulations.

Noting that all 17 dams are located in Buckingham, Snoddy shared that through the Department of Conservation and Recreation, they have completed Dam Breach Inundation Studies on the watershed dams; and, the inundation zones have been professionally surveyed and mapped.

Noting that the dams were designed to protect agricultural land from flooding and were classified as Low Hazard, no loss of life, Snoddy said with the increased development some bridges and homes have now been identified as areas at risk for inundation if a structure were to fail.

“The continued maintenance of these dams is a growing concern nationally and locally,” she stated. “They are beginning to reach their life span design of 50 years.” Snoddy added, “I do plan to provide you with more information along with a field visit to a couple of them later on this spring so that you can gain a better understanding of their significance.”

CRC Annual Report

Mary Hickman, the acting president and chief executive for the Commonwealth Regional Council, provided supervisors with copies of CRC's annual report.

Noting that the CRC is one of 21 planning district commissions within the state, Hickman explained that PDCs were created to provide a forum for state and local government to address issues of a regional nature.

She said CRC currently includes six member counties: Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, and Prince Edward.

According to Hickman, the county's appointed representative serves as a regional collaborator and brings local issues to the attention of the CRC. Additionally, the role of the representative is to articulate regional strategies that can benefit the local efforts.

She explained that CRC's benefit and services areas include local and regional planning; grant writing; grant project administration; GIS mapping, where digitized information is available; coordinating and facilitating regional cooperation on issues and opportunities; and conducting studies on issues and problems of regional significance as deemed necessary by the council or requested members.

Providing an overview of the services the CRC staff provided to the Town of Dillwyn and Buckingham County, Hickman listed grant writing for the Buckingham County Volunteer Rescue Squad for Toughbook laptop computers and backboards; and streetscape projects for both Buckingham and Dillwyn through the VDOT Transportation Enhancement program.

Likewise, both Dillwyn and Buckingham were on the receiving end of project administration services from CRC with VDOT Enhancement Projects.

Additionally, she said CRC is working with Dillwyn with the administration of the Downtown Revitalization Project through the town's Virginia Community Development Block Grant.

Moreover, CRC assisted in developing the Buckingham County and Town of Dillwyn Regional Water Supply Plan, which was recently submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, stated Hickman.

Continuing, she said the county was a participant in several regional initiatives through the CRC including the Rural Transportation Planning Program and the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Hickman offered that the goal of these local planning services is to encourage and assist localities to plan, which in turn will enhance the locality and promote the development of the region.

She shared that due to the lack of crucial economic development program funding and budgetary shortfall, CRC had to reduce its initiatives geared toward economic development marketing services.

However, Hickman said CRC continued to market and promote the region as the budgetary limitations allowed. She added that CRC is recognized by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership as the marketing organization for the region.

Concluding her presentation on the annual report, Hickman stated, “Regional coordination, collaboration and planning are crucial for the success of undertakings that are too large or complex for any one unit of government.” Emphasizing that times are tight for localities, she offered, “Now more than ever, regionalism is important. It's where federal funding and state funding will continue to be directed.”

Regional Priorities

Before leaving the podium, Hickman explained that County Administrator Rebecca Carter requested that she address the 2012 Virginia Community Development Regional Priorities.

Hickman shared that each year PDCs are asked by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to establish regional priorities for the Virginia Community Development Block Grant (VCDBG) Program.

She advised that CRC was requesting localities rank the nine project types, which include comprehensive community development, four areas of economic development, housing rehabilitation, housing production assistance, community facility, and community service facility.

According to Hickman, CRC is asking that its member localities submit the ranking worksheet form and, if applicable, the form for planned or contemplated VCDBG planning or construction projects by February 24. She explained that in turn DHCD uses the ranking to evaluate the project proposals for its competitive grant awards.

Moreover, Hickman advised that if a locality is considering applying for a block grant, the submission of the form with information about planned or contemplated VCDBG projects is extremely important so that the application process can be put in motion since the deadline is March 28.

Ellis Acres Memorial Park

Wilbert Dean, executive director of Ellis Acres Memorial Park, presented the third presentation, which included a request for $59,100 for 2012 operation costs and $105,000 for Phase II development of the park.

According to Dean's letter to the board, Phase II would include a regulation tennis court with Quick Start features for children ages 6 to 10, a playground, walking/jogging trails, wooded area development and outside maintenance equipment.

Dean began by reporting that Ellis Acres is officially open and operating. Offering that the park got to where it is because of a lot of hard work, Dean shared, “We were able to convert this trash site to a park campus. We were also able to receive national, state, and international recognition.”

He shared that EAMP has received support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He added, “They are using our model of success as a model for other non-profit organizations.”

He added that Ellis Acres, which is on the site of the county's first secondary school for African American students, has been recognized by the Civil Rights in Education Trail.

“And the Virginia Department of Historical Resources in Richmond has given us the preliminary designation as a historical landmark,” said Dean.

Continuing, he shared that the Buckingham Chamber of Commerce bestowed one of the greatest honors EAMP has received by recognizing them with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Noting that he was the actual recipient of the award, Dean shared that he accepted it on behalf of all those involved.

Comparing the park's start with the story about the little engine that could, Dean said, “Ellis Acres is a steaming locomotive now.”

He said the park now offers an operational building that includes a 2,250 square foot multi-purpose community building; a covered 20 by 40-foot picnic pavilion with a presentation platform, fans, electrical outlets and floodlights; and heated outdoor restrooms.

“And, we have done this with $381,158 in cash plus and undetermined amount in in-kind funds,” shared Dean.

“So, in my letter today, I am asking you to help us,” he continued. “We need that support.”

Talking about upcoming events at the park, Dean said they would be hosting their third Earth Day Work Day. He added that on Buckingham County Day, which is being held in Dillwyn on Saturday, May 12, in conjunction with the town's Centennial Celebration, EAMP would be the venue for live music and entertainment.

Providing an overview of the numerous opportunities EAMP offers to youth and adults, Dean stated, “We need some dollars and we need your support.”

When Dean concluded his presentation, Supervisor Bill Talbert asked the retired colonel if he would be willing to come out of retirement and go to Washington D.C.

Talbert offered, “Because what you all have done there with that dump site is a miracle.”

E-911 Coordinator's Report

E-911 Coordinator Kevin Flippen advised that a grant he applied for in September through the Virginia Wireless Board was awarded for $150,000. Flippen said the funds will be used to upgrade the 911 addressing system as well as the mapping system for the dispatch center.

He added that the grant funds could also be used for a GIS mapping system for tax maps. Subsequently, he asked supervisors to authorize him to seek RFPs, requests for proposals, for that system, which they did.

Additionally, Flippen said he would report to the board with a final figure for the E-911 addressing system and mapping for the dispatch center.

After reporting on the grant, Flippen switched gears and requested that supervisors approve a resolution to adopt the proposed Commonwealth Regional Council Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

He explained that both the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA reviewed the plan. Flippen added that the plan was available on-line.

Subsequently, supervisors approved the resolution and thus adopted the updated plan, which outlines ways to protect citizens and property from the effects of hazards.