Conservation group awards area projects

Daily staff report

The Valley Conservation Council recently awarded several area projects that “exemplify development that respects local character, creates livable communities and conserves natural and cultural assets,” according to a press release.

The VCC in Staunton presented its 2013 Better Models Awards in May. Local winners include:

“Community Pride: New Life for an Old Landmark” awarded to the town of Toms Brook and People Inc. of Virginia for the Toms Brook School Apartments. The project turned the former school into 14 affordable apartments and community meeting space. The VCC lauded the community support given to the project.

“Building Community in New Construction” awarded to Terry and Randy Fogle and Warren Schennum for the Fort Valley Nursery. The local business – with its retail center in Woodstock and a tree nursery in Fort Valley – contributes to town livability and the agricultural economy. The garden café serves as a venue for after-hours events and the business also is home to the local farmers market.

“Best Town Conservation Area” awarded to the town of Woodstock for its Indian Spring Wetland Park. The town acquired the spring in 2005 and the Woodstock Tree Board spearheaded the creation of a park. Partners cleared invasive plans, built an observation deck and developed educational materials about the wetlands that buffer storm water runoff while the park protects the ecosystem.

“Rural Heritage Award” given to Scott Plein and the White House Farm Foundation for putting the 270-acre White House Farm in a conservation easement; restoring the historic farm house and outbuildings; and for planting a 52-acre riparian buffer. The foundation Plein started serves as an education and research center for students and local groups.

“Outstanding Corridor Transformation” awarded to Winchester for Amherst Street Improvement and Green Circle Trail that blended infrastructure overhaul with a multipurpose trail for walkers and bikers.