Nelson County, Virginia
As we first reported on Thursday, the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton has accepted a matching grant from The Dominion Foundation for a windows project at the center. The grant, at times, has recently become a lightning rod of discussion since Dominion subsidiaries are also responsible for pursuing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project through Nelson and adjoining counties.
Friday evening BRL received a response from Marilyn Shifflett of Nelson County regarding the publicity on the grant. She met with the center’s Executive Director on Thursday. Ms. Shifflett’s remarks are posted verbatim below.
“Regarding the acceptance of the Dominion Foundation grant by RVCC for their Green Initiative, I’d like to clarify some points, as I dropped in to see Stuart on Thursday morning after hearing that RVCC has accepted $20,000 from the Dominion Foundation. First of all, be clear that my meeting was not as a representative of the groups I work with opposing the ACP. I went solely as a nearly 50-year resident of the Nelson community. Stuart was gracious and offered a detailed explanation at how the community center came to apply and eventually be offered this grant. He explained the need to match the funds from the Perry Grant and with a deadline looming, the center’s subsequent application to the Dominion Foundation. I agreed that the Nelson community is not in a position to fund such a project on its own, but questioned the approach with Dominion. Stuart explained that initially, the grant was turned down but the foundation suggested they work with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as dollars for such community efforts are built into the ACP’s budget. He then stated that they took issue with this opportunity and explained to the Dominion Foundation that the pipeline was too controversial for the RVCC to consider taking such a donation/grant. He then told me that the RVCC board had collectively decided to remain neutral on the pipeline and they went back to the foundation and asked that they reconsider funding, in order to fulfill the “mission” of the foundation. The grant at some point after, was clearly offered.
Again, solely my views and not necessarily the views of the groups I work with in opposition to the ACP, I found this to be very disturbing. While I respect the RVCC’s decision to remain neutral on the pipeline, the acceptance of this grant generated the following remark, as quoted by Stuart yesterday:
“The Dominion Foundation is proud to partner with the Rockfish Valley Community Center and support the great work it is doing to provide a vital and thriving community center that serves as a safe and caring place for people of all ages and walks of life.”
I find the word “partner” to be indicative of how this industry works in “targeted” communities to come forward as “good neighbors”. Their disrespect for private property owners all along this route is widely known and documented. Dominion, under the guise of the ACP, LLC has little interest in being a good neighbor. Good neighbors do not put lives and property at risk purely for profit. Good neighbors understand the negative impacts of their actions, and respond appropriately.
The RVCC will lose little by the loss of my support in the future, as I cannot afford to contribute the large dollars needed to fund their future needs, but I applaud Blue Ridge Life Magazine’s courage to come forward at great risk, to truly support this community.
And with all due respect to the dedicated folks at RVCC, how can the community center be viewed as “neutral”?