Sears Hill Bridge project wins 2012 Staunton Heritage Preservation Award

staunton3In front of a packed house at Historic Staunton Foundation’s annual meeting on Sunday, the Sears Hill Bridge project was lauded as “one of our community’s most successful grassroots preservation efforts” by Frank Strassler, executive director of the organization.

The Sears Hill Bridge received the 2012 Staunton Heritage Preservation Award, which honors a group and/or organization that exemplifies the ideas of HSF through significant commitment and advocacy in the preservation of Staunton’s heritage and historic resources.

Accepting the award on behalf of the many groups who came together to advocate for the project were project leaders Bill Frazier and Tom Sheets. Both men thanked numerous people and organizations for helping make this project a success. The Community Foundation was cited for its critical role in making the project a success.

“Partnering with the Community Foundation gave our small group instant credibility. It allowed us to launch a highly focused fundraising campaign which was critical to the success of the project,” said Tom Sheets.

“The Community Foundation is set up to make it easy for people to support causes they care about,” says Becky Kohler, president/CEO of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge. “Part of our mission is collaboration with our partners to solve a local challenge,” adds Kohler.

The historic Sears Hill Bridge provided a valuable pedestrian link between the Sears Hill neighborhood and downtown Staunton for more than a century. The bridge was condemned for safety reasons in January of 2010, but has now been repaired and replaced over the CSX rail line in Staunton’s wharf district. While the bridge has not yet reopened to pedestrian traffic, project organizers say that day is coming soon.

Fundraising for the projects appears complete. “Although there may be some unexpected final expenses, we have met our funding goals by raising $48,000 in the last seven weeks to meet the challenge gift from Gray and Janet Ferguson,” reports Kohler. “It is when the private sector comes together with the non-profit sector and the city government that wonderful accomplishments can be enjoyed by everyone.”

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