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7 more groups endorse roads plan

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the Apartment & Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington have endorsed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan for funding more than $4 billion in road, rail and other transportation projects across the state.

The groups were among seven business and transportation associations that announced their support for the plan last week. The other organizations were the Virginia Auto Dealers Association, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Virginia Association of Roofing Professionals, Retail Alliance and Virginia Business Council.

Earlier, 36 organizations had endorsed McDonnell’s plan.

The Republican governor’s proposal would require the state to borrow money to fund the transportation projects. Critics, notably Democrats, say they oppose the plan in part because they don’t want Virginia to go into debt.

Mary Beth Coya, senior vice president for public and government affairs for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, said that the group has long been an advocate for more funding for transportation and that this is an initial step.

“Our members, the home buyers and the selling public that we serve spend too many valuable hours stuck in traffic. This is time that could be spent with our families or being more productive in our jobs,” Coya said.

The governor said his proposal would help Northern Virginia and other regions by speeding up road construction, providing employment, easing congestion and boosting economic development.

The proposal includes an employee tax credit for telecommuting and a tax incentive for companies that use water and rail, instead of trucks, to ship cargo.

McDonnell’s transportation plan would fund nearly 900 projects statewide. The plan would be funded by about $3 billion in bonds. Also, a 0.25 percent sales tax in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads would be used for projects in those areas.

Democrats fear that diverting sales tax revenues to transportation will take money away from education and public safety. House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, D-Martinsville, also said the governor’s bond proposal would “run up massive amounts of debt.”

However, Coya said low interest rates make this a favorable time to sell bonds.

“We expect to see proposals in the near future for new funding sources that will address the magnitude of our transportation problem without harming the resources we need for education and other key government services,” Coya said.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

Henrico native to appear on Travel Channel show


A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”

The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.

The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.

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