Virginia Clean Economy Act: Goals and Implementation

Posted November 11th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The Virginia Clean Economy Act was signed into law in April.  This makes Virginia the first state in the South to target 100 % clean power.  The deadline for this is 2050.  The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is one of the Commonwealth’s agencies charged with making sure the VCEA’s goals are met.

Listen to a podcast of the meeting.

Watch a video of the Zoom meeting held on November 11 by clicking here.  The program was moderated by Bob McGrath, SSV board member and past president.  The speakers:

Al Christopher has been director of the Energy Division of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy since March 2009.  For about four years prior to that he was executive director of Virginia Clean Cities, a nonprofit coalition that promotes alternative fuel and electric vehicles.  Al was a second-generation fuel distributor and a newspaper editor and reporter, working in Hampton VA; Tampa FL; and Washington DC. He has a B.S. in mass communications and an MBA, both from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Michael Skiffington is the director of policy and planning for the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.  He serves as the agency’s primary liaison to the General Assembly, as well as being the agency’s regulatory coordinator since January 2010,  Michael also leads the agency’s strategic planning team.  A lifelong Virginian, he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Old Dominion University and a law degree from George Mason University.  An avid musician since the age of eight, Michael lives with his wife in downtown Richmond, anxiously awaiting the return of live music.

Program Summary


The Virginia Clean Economy Act passed by the legislature this year. By 2050 Virginia targets to be 100 percent clean power. After an explanation of the role of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), the speakers focused on the implementation of the Clean Economy Act. There are benchmarks to be met along the way to a 100% clean power economy with penalties for failing to reach them.
For example, by 2030 30 percent of energy must come from renewable resources and any new building has to account for the cost of carbon pollution. Penalties are administered by DMME.

Past legislation has tried to address the problem of pollution, but in recent years there is renewed interest, and additionally new to this legislation is the requirement that there can be no negative effect on disadvantaged communities.

Wind and solar power are additional areas that offer opportunities to reach the 2050 goal. Twenty-seven miles offshore of Hampton Roads there are three wind turbines that could produce enough energy for 5,000 homes with many more turbines in the works.

The speakers also spoke about the economic opportunities for business in Virginia such as research and development and job training. Virginia is involved in regional cooperation in this venture as well as “cap and trade” efforts with northeastern states. There are two major companies affected by this act, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power with separate goals for each one.

Redistricting and Gerrymandering — Virginia Proposed Constitutional Amendment #1

Posted October 15th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

A debate was held on the pros and cons of a constitutional amendment on redistricting that is on the November ballot.  An explanation of the amendment by the Virginia Department of Elections can be found here.  The SSV meeting was held via Zoom. Click here for a video recording of the meeting. A podcast recording is also available.

Brian Cannon was the executive director of OneVirginia2021 for five years and lead their grassroots, nonpartisan organization in lobbying legislators to pass a constitutional redistricting reform amendment. Brian is now the executive director of FairMapsVA, a ballot campaign dedicated to educating Virginians about Amendment 1 and urging them to vote yes to end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia.

 

Christopher Ambrose is a small business owner from Fairfax County and has been a longtime community activist and long-standing advocate against gerrymandering.  Mr. Ambrose supports independent redistricting and is a founding member of Fair Districts Virginia, a grassroots group that supports independent redistricting and opposes the constitutional amendment.

 

Program Summary

 

Christopher Ambrose, Brian Cannon and moderator Bob McGrath

Christopher Ambrose, an opponent of the proposed constitutional amendment #1 on this year’s ballot, and Brian Cannon, a proponent of the amendment were the presenters. The men agreed upon the problem: The need to remove the legislators from the drawing of district lines. Each has a different vision of how we get there. Brian Cannon who is for the amendment feels this is a “good government” issue and agrees that it is not perfect. He is pleased that there is a hybrid commission of one-half legislators and one-half citizens that are evenly balanced by parties, is transparent and makes racial gerrymandering illegal. This amendment has a lot of support from independent organizations who have fought for redistricting reform around the country.

Christopher Ambrose is opposed. From his perspective the amendment trades one type of gerrymandering for another. His ideal is to get legislators totally out of the process. His objections include that though judges pick citizens for the commission, they are picked from a list provided by legislators. His compromises would be to have some legislators on the commission, not as effective would be half legislators on the commission. This amendment also includes legislators setting criteria. New Jersey passed a similar amendment and results have been the incumbents there have an advantage and voter turnout is diminishing. Questions from the audience then followed.

It was a pleasure to watch a presentation where both parties could have a civil disagreement with each articulating his position of a complicated issue clearly, acknowledging common ground and offering options for moving forward. SSV encourages watching the video to better understand this important issue.

Fifth Congressional District Candidates Forum (2020)

Posted September 10th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Mr. Bob Good (R) and Dr. Cameron Webb (D), candidates for the US 5th Congressional District participated in the September 9 SSV Candidate Forum, which was held via Zoom.  Allison Wrabel of the Daily Progress was the moderator.

There is a video of the meeting that can be accessed here. 

The podcast below begins with Jeff Gould, president of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.

The event went as described below with the podcast times indicated.

00:00 - Introduction from Jeff Gould
01:30 - Moderator Allison Wrabel introduces the candidates
04:45 - Democratic Candidate Cameron Webb
18:30 - Republican Candidate Bob Good
30:30 - Webb is given change to rebut Good's concluding statement
32:00 - Question #1 - The 5th District encompasses different kinds of area from rural
 to small cities. There can be a difference in ideology among those constituents.
 If elected, how in any specific way would you bridge that gap?
37:00 - Question #2 - What will both of you do if elected to address environmental
 conditions and climate change?
43:00 - Question #3 - Which specific actions are you going to take to get broadband
 to the 5th District
48:30 - Question #4 - Can you each discuss your views on health care?
55:40 - Closing statement from Good
59:00 - Closing statement from Webb

Virginia General Assembly Legislative Report (2020)

Posted June 12th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Our June program recaps the recently concluded session of the Virginia General Assembly with reports by our local legislators. Present at the meeting were Del. Sally Hudson (D) of the 57th District, Del. Chris Runion (R) of the 25th District and Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) of the 25th Senatorial District.

The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by Meg Heubeck, Director of Instruction for the Youth Leadership Initiative, UVA Center for Politics.

Program Summary

 

Delegate Sally Hudson

Delegate Chris Runion

Senator Creigh Deeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.  Del. Hudson and Del. Runion are both first session members of the General Assembly and Sen. Deeds is completing his 29th year in office. The members spoke about the successes and disappointments of the session. All three were pleased with the passage of the budget on March 12,2020 and concerned about the anticipated $2.2-3 billion deficit (2% of total budget) anticipated because of the COVID virus. The unknown effect of COVID-19 was an overriding concern of all three.

The members were asked questions on their primary goals. Deeds said education, healthcare and safety, Hudson replied budget with both more equitable taxation and less spending, and Runion listed non-partisanship, redistricting, agriculture, clean energy, and broadband to rural areas. All three agreed on needed concern and responses of government to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Deeds emphasized the need to reform policing and stressed importance of training for de-escalation skills and implicit bias training. Hudson said racism should not be a separate issue, but a consideration in every decision made. Runion agreed with his colleague’s goals but said the conversations on the topic were important though the solutions each have may differ.

Asked about the Confederate statues Deeds replied that local government control made sense and Hudson pointed out that the legal aspect of removing statues is determined by different laws in different locations. Other topics of conversation centered around redistricting, on-line vs. mail voting, clean energy, gun control, and the agenda for the August session.

 

Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege

Posted May 16th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The deadly invasion of Charlottesville, Virginia, by white nationalist militias in August 2017 is a microcosm of the challenges facing American democracy. No one is better placed to tell the story of what really happened, and to draw out its larger significance, than Michael Signer, then Charlottesville’s mayor. His new book, Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege, is a vivid, first-person chronicle of the terror and mayhem of the August 2017 Unite the Right event that reveals how issues of extremism are affecting not just one city but the nation itself.

Mr. Signer sets the events on the ground, the lead-up to August’s “Unite the Right” rally, the days of the weekend itself, the aftermath-into the larger context of a country struggling to find its way through the Trump era.

Mike confronts some of the most pressing questions of our moment. How do we:

  • Reconcile free speech with the need for public order?
  • Maintain the values of pragmatism, compromise, even simple civility, in a time of intensification of extremes on the right and the left?
  • Address systemic racism through our public spaces and memorials?
  • Do something about the widespread disaffection with institutions and a democracy that seems to be faltering and turning on itself?

The siege of Charlottesville shows how easily our communities can be taken hostage by forces intent on destroying democratic norms and institutions. But Mike concludes with a stirring call for optimism, pointing out, with evidence drawn from Charlottesville and work it has spurred since, that even this tragedy contains an opportunity to bolster democracy from within and defend our very ability to govern.

The podcast of the event is below.  This Zoom program was hosted by Rich DeMong, SSV board member and past president. It was moderated by board member Peyton Williams.

 Mike Signer served as the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, from 2016-2018 during the Unite the Right rally of 2017. The Washington Post wrote that he was “one of Trump’s strongest critics.” Afterward, he founded and chaired Communities Overcoming Extremism: the After Charlottesville Project, a bipartisan coalition including the Anti-Defamation League, the Ford Foundation, the Charles Koch Institute, the Fetzer Institute, and New America. National Public Radio featured Mike’s work “sharing painful lessons from the fight against hate.”

Mike is VP and general counsel of the country’s largest independent digital design agency, where he sits on the firm’s executive committee. He has also taught for the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. He is the author of three books: Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy under Siege (PublicAffairs, 2020), Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (PublicAffairs, 2015), and Demagogue: the Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). He has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Time, and has been interviewed on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, The Rachel Maddow Show, AC360, and NPR.

He is a recipient of the Levenson Family Defender of Democracy Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the Courage in Political Leadership Award from the American Society for Yad Vashem, and the Rob DeBree & David O’Malley Award for Community Response to Hatred from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Forward Magazine has named him one of 50 most influential Jewish leaders in America. He is an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow. He has been profiled by the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and the Guardian.

He lives with his wife and their twin five year old boys in Charlottesville. In his spare time, he enjoys running, reading, cooking, gardening, and being a jungle gym for his boys.

Program Summary

Former mayor of Charlottesville spoke on the selection of Cry Havoc as the title chosen for the book. “Havoc” was originally a battle cry and he now feels “cry havoc” is a challenge to understand American Democracy, its democratic resilience and its ability to resolve problems. The title reflects not only the August 12 demonstrations in Charlottesville, but also that Charlottesville parallels what is happening all over America.

Speaking specifically of the problems in Charlottesville, Signer spoke of three major and two minor “brushfires” that led to the demonstrations. 1. The conflict of freedom of speech and public safety. 2. The history of race relations in the community and the statue debate. 3. Accountability leading to tension between government and citizens. 4. Civility and 5. Equity. Democracy is messy and there are lots of gray areas that don’t have simple clear answers to the proper way forward.

Signer then spent time talking about the structure of a city manager form of government and how it influenced the responses on August 12. He made it clear that the role of city council is to advise the city manager whose job it is to make the decisions during an emergency. Mr. Signer is not a proponent of this type of governing and would prefer that the mayor and council have more of a decision-making role and the city manager would become an elected position. He admits the latter was not popular with his colleagues. Mr. Signer spent time to review the actual contacts between city leaders and UVA on August 11 and 12 and the work to try to rescind the August 12 permit.

As a result of a Virginia paramilitary law and August 12 studies that assessed what could have been done to prevent the riots, ideas were implemented on the one-year anniversary and no militia groups returned to Charlottesville.

The Center at Belvedere

Posted March 15th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The Grand Opening of The Center at Belvedere was going to be April 18, 2020, but it has been postponed. The Center will offer all the key ingredients for aging well including programs to promote social, physical and intellectual wellness. In this podcast, The Center Executive Director Peter Thompson shares his plans for the new facility.  The charts shown include photos of the new facility and they can be downloaded here.  The program was moderated by SSV President Jeff Gould.

Peter Thompson joined The Center in 1999. A resident of Charlottesville for more than 40 years, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management from VCU.

While serving from 2006-2012 on the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) Delegate Council, a part of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), Peter chaired a national task force on New Models of Senior Centers; the resulting report was published in the Journal for Applied Gerontology. He serves as a NISC accreditation reviewer and standards trainer.

Recently, he worked with a small group of his peers to found the Virginia Association of Senior Centers within the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society. This association gives senior centers a greater voice in helping Virginia and its localities prepare for the age wave. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UVA, and Madison House. He was a founding director for the Virginia Network of Nonprofit Organizations (VANNO), serving two years as chair, and for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) in Charlottesville. In 2010, the United Way Thomas Jefferson Area selected Peter for the Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership award.

Program Summary

The Center on Hillsdale Drive is now closed and the new Center at Belvedere is opening in April 2020. The Weldon Cooper Research Group was hired to study the case for an expansive vision for the center as a vibrant facility with an ambitious outreach plan. The senior population of our area has increased from 24,488 in 2000 to estimated 42,791 in 2020.

Aging population impacts not just healthcare, but also community planning, social services, economic development and families. Active aging and increased longevity add more contributors and less cost to society. To that end, The Center sees its role to provide programs that support active aging, partnerships with area organizations, space for community groups, community and civic engagement, and awareness of aging issues.

One could not help but be impressed by the thoughtful design of the new facility to accommodate these goals. Intentionally designed for diverse and changing needs with floating exercise floors, lots of space for activities or private small group conversations as well as the safety concerns in parking lots and lighting.  A Sentara Family Medicine practice is included and there is bus accessibility. Peter added that the Center has come in ahead of schedule and under budget!  Membership options were explained. The new Center has a cost of $24 Million of which $22 million has been raised. Contributions will be gratefully accepted.

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

Posted February 15th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The Alzheimer’s Association Family Services Director Annie Marrs spoke at the February meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia about the more than 5 million individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and 16 million are serving as their unpaid caregivers in the United States alone. The disease is a global crisis that impacts numerous families right here in our community. Alzheimer’s is not normal aging and no one has to face this disease alone or without information.

The Alzheimer’s Association has created an education program covering the basics of Alzheimer’s and dementia to provide a general overview for people who are facing a diagnosis as well as those who wish to be informed:

  • Explores the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Examines what happens in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s.
  • Details the risk factors for and three general stages of the disease.
  • Identifies FDA-approved treatments available to treat some symptoms.
  • Looks ahead to what’s on the horizon for Alzheimer’s research.
  • Offers helpful Alzheimer’s Association resources.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Sue Friedman. The podcast is below. The slide presentation can be found here.

Annie Marrs is the family services director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Virginia Chapter, celebrating over 12 years with the organization. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Annie serves individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in many ways. Annie provides direct services such as facilitating support groups, presenting in the community and to our first responders, as well as providing family and individual care consultations to help navigate the progression of this disease. Annie also provides volunteer training and support to new volunteers joining the Cause to share their own gifts of support, public speaking, event assistance, and more.

Annie lives in Louisa with her husband and two young children. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, taking photographs, and hiking through our state and national parks.

Program Summary

Annie Marrs spoke on Understanding Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Her presentation reviewed many of the issues that surround Alzheimer’s including the impact of the disease, typical changes, risk factors, stages, treatment, research, programs and services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. With rare exceptions Alzheimer’s is a disease of aging, and with the population living longer the economic impact of the disease is immense and serves as a stimulus for research. In normal aging, stress and multitasking may cause confusion. When confusion results in interfering with daily functioning, there may be greater cause for concern.

There are three stages of the disease, early, middle and late. Early diagnosis allows the patient to be a partner in their long-term care plan. In Alzheimer’s there is no cure, but there are steps that can be helpful, medications can be useful with early symptoms and may slow progression. Local support groups are available to patients and caregivers. The Sentara hospital has one monthly. Family members in the audience acknowledged the helpful support of the local Alzheimer’s Association. For further information, contact Annie at amarrs@alz.org or 434-973-6122. A 24-hour hotline is available at 1-800-272-3900.

Remembering Hurricane Camille

Posted January 9th, 2020 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Dick Whitehead

Dick Whitehead, PG, is the resident project representative with Wiley|Wilson, a 100% Employee-Owned engineering firm in Lynchburg. His father, Bill Whitehead, was the Nelson County sheriff during Hurricane Camille. Dick was a teenager during Camille and helped his father look for the bodies of the missing.

Hurricane Camille arrived in Virginia on the night of August 19, 1969, one of only three category five storms ever to make landfall in the United States since record-keeping began. One of the worst natural disasters in Virginia’s history, the storm produced what meteorologists at the time guessed might be the most rainfall “theoretically possible.” As it swept through Virginia overnight, it seemed to catch authorities by surprise. Communication networks were not in place or were knocked out, leaving floods and landslides to trap residents as they slept. Hurricane Camille cost Virginia 113 lives lost and $116 million in damages. It also served as a lesson that inland flooding could be as great a danger as coastal flooding during a hurricane.

The program was moderated by SSV Board Member Madison Cummings, and the podcast follows.

Program Summary

Working with two of his colleges, Jeff Halverson meteorologist and Ann Witt geohazard geologist, Dick Whithead, a geologist, has studied the local conditions that led to the disaster. Twenty-seven inches of rain which did not drift due to the vertical storms on top of the rock formations and topography of the terrain led to landslides and flooding. This storm occurred at night in total darkness as power was out in the whole area.

By ten o’clock on the night of August 19, Camille stretched from West Virginia all the way to Fredericksburg, Virginia, and areas to the north and east of the center of the storm were experiencing very heavy rainfall. The rain landed on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rapidly swelling creeks and exacerbating the effects of the storm. Overnight, rainfall accumulations were measured at about ten inches between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, with Nelson County receiving the brunt of the storm with at least twenty-seven inches of rainfall. So much rain fell in such a short time in Nelson County that, according to the National Weather Service at the time, it was “the probable maximum rainfall which meteorologists compute to be theoretically possible.”

As the water flowed down the mountains, first the large boulders fell out of the suspension, then came trees and debris followed by the sandy sediment. In photos one can see the massive debris field left by these slides. In total 5,600 landslides have been documented during the event and one small stream recorded water 23 feet deep. Studies have shown that 65 percent of the deaths associated with the storm were caused by landslides and the remaining 35 percent of victims drowned.

A new technology, Lidar-Data Laser, which can see through the trees to the original land is providing more details about the land to help study earth’s surface to explain why landslides occur where they do. It has been found that slopes of greater than 25 degrees and six to ten inches of rain in 24 hours are indicators of landslide potential.

During the question and answer period one woman recounted being with her children in her home with a tin roof during the storm and the terror she felt. When asked Dick replied, “Yes, it could happen again.”

Best Seat in the House

Posted December 19th, 2019 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, The Honorable John Hager, talks about his career in politics.  The Best Seat in the House is the title of his 2017 book.

John Henry Hager is an American entrepreneur and politician who served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, assistant secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, and the director of Virginia’s homeland security under Governors Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner.  The podcast of the meeting, that was moderated by SSV Past President Bob McGrath, is below.

John Hager was born in Durham, North Carolina. He started a neighborhood newspaper in 1945. While an undergraduate at Purdue University he ran a vending machine business, was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and was a member of ROTC. One term, his course load was 25 credit hours – about two thirds more than normal. He graduated with a BSME (mechanical engineering) in 1958. Hager earned his MBA at Harvard and subsequently served in the United States Army, rising to the rank of captain.

In 1973 he contracted polio when his son was vaccinated for the disease with live virus vaccine. As a result, he uses a non-motorized wheelchair for daily ambulation – and competes in wheelchair races.

After his active duty military service, Hager began work for the American Tobacco Company in Richmond, Virginia. The company retired him after his bout with polio, but he returned – beginning at the bottom again. At American Tobacco, he served as a government affairs representative. Hager was forcibly retired from the American Tobacco Company after the company’s sale in 1994.

Hager is married to Margaret Dickinson “Maggie” Chase and they have two sons, John and Henry. Henry is married to former President George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna.

Program Summary

The Honorable John Hager, former Lt. Gov. of Virginia, author of The Best Seat in the House spoke about his political and personal experiences as a man in the political area confined to a wheelchair. He began his talk by explaining why he chose to write a book. He gave three reasons. The first is to record history. Encouraged by Larry Sabato and others who felt his experiences were worth recording. And secondly was to tell stories. “People love to hear stories,” he said and then shared many of his. Finally to inspire. John Hager’s experiences are inspirational. As he said his life transcends politics and hopefully can inspire all.

After being ill for several months in 1973, his polio was finally diagnosed and Jonas Salk told him, “The good news is that you have polio.” From then on he made the commitment to be a full participant in life and not just an observer. He looked at his wheelchair as enabling, not disabling and continued his work at American Tobacco, as well as participating in church, community and political organizations.

Politics was new to him and became a volunteer and delegate to the 1980 Detroit convention before deciding to run for political office. After American Tobacco was sold his political interests became a real job rather than volunteer work. Eventually he was Virginia’s Lt. Governor under Jim Gilmore and worked for Homeland Security in the Bush Administration.

His final comments addressed politics today. Bottom line is that from his time politics has changed. He feels that today’s partisanship is based on the influence of the internet, social media, gerrymandering, huge influx of money, and biased media. Politicians no longer work together with members of the other party.

Central Virginia Transportation Policy

Posted November 13th, 2019 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and District Engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District John Lynch talked about transportation policy in Central Virginia at our November meeting.  The program was moderated by SSV Secretary Peppy Linden.  A podcast of the event follows with the PowerPoint presentation.

Shannon Valentine was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam in January 2018, and oversees a $5 billion multimodal transportation system crossing seven agencies with more than 10,000 employees. As secretary, she also serves as chair of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).

Valentine is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, serving on the House Transportation and Courts of Justice Committees. Her legislative priorities focused on transportation, economic development, education, and ethics. She led bipartisan efforts to create transparent government, expand clean energy production, and invest in intercity passenger rail service for the first time in Virginia’s history.

Following an assignment as a director of the Transportation Policy Council in 2013 for then Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe’s transition team, Valentine was appointed as the Lynchburg District representative to the CTB in May 2014. During this time she created the first Regional Connectivity Study in Virginia that correlated transportation decisions with workforce, business expansion and recruitment and investment, covering eight modes of transportation. For more than 25 years, she worked to create economic opportunity through housing, education and transportation. Valentine was named 2017 Transportation Woman of the Year by WTS Central Virginia Chapter. She has been honored with the Humanitarian Award by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, Democracy in Action Award by the League of Women Voters, Freedom Fighter Award by the NAACP, Woman of the Year in Government by the YWCA, and the Commonwealth Autism Services Award.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia in economics. She graduated from the Sorensen Institute at UVA, and completed Education for Ministry, a four-year theology course through Sewanee University’s School of Theology. Secretary Valentine is married to Dr. Mike Valentine, and has three children, Catherine, Jack and Brooke.

John Lynch is the district engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District, a position he has held since June 2013. He is responsible for VDOT’s construction, maintenance and operations programs in nine Piedmont Virginia counties, from Fauquier south through Albemarle. Lynch has successfully led the development and delivery of several major highway improvement projects, including the $250 million Route 29 Solutions program in Albemarle County.

Before coming to Culpeper Lynch served as regional transportation program director for VDOT’s MegaProjects Office in Northern Virginia. In that role he was responsible for administration and oversight of a transportation program valued at more than $5 billion, including the I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes projects and the extension of Metro Rail to Dulles Airport. From 2008 to 2010 he was assistant district administrator for construction in the Northern Virginia District, providing oversight for the largest construction program in the Commonwealth. Prior to that Lynch served as the Northern Virginia District location and design engineer from 2003 to 2008. Before joining the Virginia Department of Transportation in October 2003, Lynch worked in the private sector for over 20 years as a department head, section manager, project manager and design engineer for several consulting engineering firms. He started his career with Caltrans in the Los Angeles area. Lynch received his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware and completed a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from George Mason University in the spring of 2004. He is a licensed professional engineer.

Program Summary

Mr. Lynch focused his discussion on transportation issues in Central Virginia with specific references to Charlottesville’s future plans and problem spots. Starting his comments with a safety concern, he said that in 2019 there have been 58 fatalities in the Culpeper District with 50% due to unbelted drivers. This indicates an increase and it is going against national trends.  BUCKLE UP!

In Albemarle County 4 of 10 Smart Scale projects costing $1.4B have been funded from a total wish list costing $7-9B. The 29 Corridor Project including Rio Road interchange has resulted in a 43% decrease in crashes, 15-31% decrease and 8 minutes decrease in travel time. The road handles 25,000 vehicles per day. VDOT keeps a lot of statistics!

The Hydraulic Road grade separated interchange is not funded at this point. Bundling projects has been a more efficient process in obtaining funding. For example there are 6 projects worth $35.9B, including the Double Diamond I64 exit 124 interchange and roundabout at Rt. 151 and 250 West. Charlottesville as an independent city manages its own projects with some federal funding from the Culpeper office. The largest project in Virginia history is the Hampton Roads bridge-tunnel for a cost of $3.8B.

Secretary Valentine explained that VDOT covers a wide range of transportation areas from Wallops Island, Port of Virginia, rails, bridges, tunnels, metro and even bike trails. There are currently 38,000 projects being undertaken for a cost of $22.9B. The three-prong goal of VDOT is 1. execution, 2. innovation with all new modes of transportation including autonomous vehicles, and 3. economic development and competitiveness for the state of Virginia. To improve transportation VDOT is focusing on increasing the diversity of travel options, Jaunt like rural bus service, improving rail on I95 corridor, partnering with other private and government groups (commercial and passenger trains have to share a single lane on Long Bridge over Potomac River) and selective widening of I81.

For further information search the VDOT website. We are in the Culpeper District.