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State News: AG announces funds for foreclosure relief counseling
Local News: SNP begins planning for celebration of 75th 


State News: AG announces funds for foreclosure relief counseling

Attorney General Bill Mims today awarded $50,000 for foreclosure relief counseling for Virginia families that are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

The grant funds are from a settlement in January 2009 with Countrywide Financial Corporation. The settlement addressed alleged deceptive acts and practices with Countrywide’s mortgage activities in Virginia. Under the court-approved settlement, Virginia set aside $50,000 for foreclosure education.

The $50,000 contribution will fund grants to nonprofit counseling agencies, and is projected to benefit about 200 Virginia families facing foreclosure.

“In this difficult economic climate, an unprecedented number of families are struggling to make ends meet,” Attorney General Mims said. “I am pleased that these funds from the Countrywide settlement will provide a real benefit to Virginia families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.”

The donation will supplement funds allocated by the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Department of Housing and Community Development. VHDA will administer the grant program.

“It was a pleasure working with the Attorney General’s Office to bring relief to Virginians in distress,” said Susan Dewey, executive director of the Virginia Housing Development Authority. “I am excited that our partnership will help homeowners receive the counseling that they need, as we work to keep Virginians in their homes.”

Virginians facing foreclosure are encouraged to work directly with their lenders or servicers to see whether a loan modification or other relief is possible. Virginians also may consult with a HUD-approved foreclosure avoidance counselor, or the Homeownership Preservation Foundation’s HOPE Hotline, toll-free at 1-888-995-HOPE.

The governor’s foreclosure prevention Web site,, includes data on laws and homeowners’ rights.

As the Attorney General’s Office continues enforcing laws that protect Virginians, homeowners are encouraged to be vigilant to avoid potential scams. Homeowners can protect themselves by avoiding any foreclosure rescue business that engages in any of the following conduct:

– guarantees it can stop the foreclosure process, no matter what the homeowner’s circumstances

– instructs homeowners not to contact their lenders, lawyers or credit counselors

– collects a fee before providing services

– requires homeowners to make mortgage payments to it as opposed to their lenders or servicers.


Local News: SNP begins planning for celebration of 75th

The staff of Shenandoah National Park has begun planning for a year-long celebration of the park’s 75th anniversary. Over 30 people from local county governments, partner organizations and tourism professionals have volunteered their time to work with park staff to engage local communities and ensure a terrific celebration of one of the nations most treasured places. The mission of the anniversary celebration is to inspire the public to value the park resources in Shenandoah’s Blue Ridge Mountains and infuse surrounding communities in the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia Piedmont with a sense of ownership and pride in the park and region.

Generous donations by the Shenandoah National Park Association and the Shenandoah National Park Trust will assist in getting planning off the ground. The Shenandoah National Park Association has hired Donna Bedwell as 75th anniversary coordinator. As coordinator, Bedwell will provide essential liaison functions between the National Park Service and the members of the Shenandoah National Park 75th Anniversary Committee in the planning and coordination of 75th anniversary events and commercial activities related to the 75th anniversary.

Bedwell’s previous professional experiences as product manager for Plow & Hearth, marketing director for Montpelier, and Orange County Director of Tourism will benefit the planning of the anniversary events for the Park and the surrounding communities. Bedwell said, “As a native of the mountains of Virginia, I have a deep personal respect for Shenandoah National Park and look forward to sharing that sense of heritage and preservation through the celebration activities.” She lives in Locust Grove, Va., with her husband, Michael.

One of the first tasks facing Bedwell and the Anniversary committee will be to establish a website, which will showcase “all things 75th”, including events and merchandise. Website design has been made possible through a grant by the Shenandoah National Park Trust.