Republicans, Democrats ready to race to fill open House seat


When Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, announced on March 18 that he would not run for re-election, local Republicans and Democrats prepared for a fight, ready for the race to fill his seat.

Massie, who said in his announcement on Facebook that his time in the House of Delegates had been “the greatest honor of (his) professional life,” had served the 72nd House district since 2008. He said he prayed before making a difficult decision.

Eddie Whitlock, the chairman of the Henrico County Republican Party, praised Massie’s record in the House. > Read more.

HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.
Bail Bonds Chesterfield VA

Business in brief


Gumenick Properties moved its headquarters this month to Libbie Mill-Midtown, a new 80-acre, mixed-use community being developed by the company. Libbie Mill-Midtown is under construction between West Broad Street and Staples Mill Road near Libbie Avenue. The community is the largest revitalization project in the history of Henrico County. Gumenick Properties will become the second organization operating from office spaces at Libbie Mill-Midtown. The first group to open an office there was the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, a regional, private health legacy foundation. The foundation moved in during autumn 2014. When complete, the community is projected to have 994 homes for sale and 1,096 apartments. Libbie Mill-Midtown also will have a total of approximately 160,000 square feet of retail space. The neighborhood is estimated to take approximately 10 years to complete. > Read more.

A dream remembered

Dr. Arthur Roots of Richmond (at right) sings a capella during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Commemoration at Highland Springs United Methodist Church Jan. 19. The event also featured Henrico native and actor Tony Cosby giving his impassioned version of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech and a performance by the seventh-grade chorus from Fairfield Middle School. > Read more.

Longtime RIR fire chief honored by NASCAR

Longtime Richmond International Raceway Fire Chief Donald “Doc” Jernigan, recently received NASCAR's Excellence in Track Services Award at the body's annual summit for safety, security and track services personnel. Jernigan was one of five officials from NASCAR's national, touring, IMSA and weekly series events to earn the award.

“Doc is dedicated to this cause and is a true leader who is highly regarded within the Richmond organization and industry as well,” said David Hoots, the managing event director for NASCAR Race Services. > Read more.

Lawmakers seeks to restrict drones

Five bills before the General Assembly would restrict the use of drones in Virginia, including two that would let localities prohibit even hobbyists from flying small unmanned aircraft.

Bills proposed by Del. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, and Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, would allow local governments to ban individuals from flying drones under 55 pounds. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration allows hobbyists to fly such model aircraft as long as they follow safety guidelines. > Read more.

Bill outlawing housing discrimination fails


A Senate committee on Monday killed a bill making it illegal for landlords to reject potential tenants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Bill 917, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, failed on a 7-7 tie vote in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee. Six Democrats and one Republican voted for the bill; seven Republicans voted against it.

Wexton, who sits on the committee, said the bill would have included sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under the unlawful practices in the Virginia Fair Housing Law. > Read more.

Twin Hickory ES celebrates ‘Blue Ribbon’ designation

Twin Hickory Elementary School celebrated a milestone earlier this month with poetry, music, student tweets and blue food. The school was one of seven Virginia public schools named a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors schools that are either academically superior, or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. Nationally, only 287 public schools earned National Blue Ribbon honors.

Mike Dussault, Twin Hickory principal, presided over the gathering of blue-clad faculty, staff, parents and students as the school celebrated its honor. > Read more.

Bills would regulate license plate readers


Police could retain for only a week the data they collect from license plate readers, under legislation proposed by a pair of Democratic and Republican lawmakers from Northern Virginia.

Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Rich Anderson, R-Prince William, introduced bills last week to put limits on the collection and retention of LPR data by police departments in Virginia.

Currently, Virginia has no limits. As a result, for example, the city of Alexandria keeps license plate data for up to two years, while the Virginia State Police delete their data within 24 hours, according to Petersen’s office. > Read more.

Transparency efforts designed to help citizens (and legislators)

Overlapping committee meetings create challenges

Delegate Dickie Bell faces a quandary every Monday. As a member of the House Education committee, he has a weekly meeting at 8:30 a.m. He’s also a member of the House Finance committee, which meets at the same time.

“I’m often forced to miss one committee meeting, depending on whose agenda is more important,” said Bell, R-Staunton.

Sometimes he’ll try to catch some of each hearing, climbing the stairs between the first and ninth floors of the General Assembly building, where the meetings are held. > Read more.

Governor outlines ‘opportunity’ agenda


In a move he said would boost the state’s economy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is asking legislators to remove the requirement that Virginia women get an ultrasound before having an abortion and to “create a more inclusive environment for LGBT Virginians and business owners.”

McAuliffe announced his “full equal opportunity agenda” on Monday, calling on the General Assembly to:

· Remove references to “husband and wife” or “man and woman” in Virginia laws about marriage. Such terms would be replaced with the word “spouse” now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state. > Read more.

McAuliffe sets the stage for General Assembly


Gov. Terry McAuliffe called on Virginia legislators Wednesday to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses and to make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to attend public colleges and universities.

McAuliffe laid out those goals in his State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, which kicked off its 2015 session earlier in the day.

McAuliffe, who is beginning his second year as Virginia’s chief executive, wants the assembly over the next six weeks to pass several measures concerning education. > Read more.

Business in brief


University of Richmond and Secure Futures, a solar energy developer based in Staunton, Va., have reached an agreement to install solar panels on the roof of UR’s Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. Once complete, the 204-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array will allow the university to have the capacity to generate more than 226,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, potentially offsetting the emission of more than 344,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. That is equivalent to the average annual electricity use of 21.5 American homes, or the annual electricity needs for one campus residence hall. Installation is expected to begin in July 2015, and the panels will begin generating electricity for the university before students arrive back to campus for the 2015 school year. A PPA, or Power Purchase Agreement, is a critical financial instrument for solar energy development. Under the arrangement, Secure Futures will install, maintain and own the solar array – and its associated tax benefits – and will sell the electricity generated by the array to the University of Richmond at a set rate over a 20-year period. > Read more.

Panel rejects bill to expand hate crimes law


A Senate committee on Wednesday defeated a bill to include sexual orientation and gender identification in the state’s definition of hate crimes.

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 7-6 against Senate Bill 799, which was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. All six Democrats on the committee supported the measure; all seven Republican committee members opposed it.

SB 799 would have expanded the definition of “hate crime” to include offenses committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification. It would have required law enforcement agencies to report such crimes to State Police. > Read more.

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Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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The Henrico County office of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Henrico Master Gardeners will present a series of free workshops this spring to help residents care for their lawns and gardens. The second workshop, “Getting Started in the Vegetable Garden,” will take place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center. The class will discuss how to plan, plant and harvest a vegetable garden. To register, call 501-5160. Full text

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