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Henrico mechanic to represent Virginia at national competition

Henrico County’s Jason Sharpe recently outperformed mechanics from around the state to capture first place in the Virginia’s Best School Bus Technician Competition, held by the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation (VAPT) in Spotsylvania County. Now he’s making travel plans for San Antonio, Tex., where he will represent the commonwealth at the national School Bus Technician’s Training and Skills Competition in September.

Sharpe, who was recognized by Henrico’s Board of Supervisors at its June 14 meeting, has worked as an automotive equipment mechanic at the county’s Central Automotive Maintenance facility since 2008.

“Jason is truly gifted and dedicated to his work and is a popular member of our staff,” said Automotive Fleet Manager Charles Gibbens. “He will do a great job representing Henrico County and Virginia in San Antonio.”

The VAPT competition consisted of a written exam as well as a timed hands-on segment that tested contestants’ problem-solving skills under pressure. Participants were presented with several buses requiring repair and then were evaluated on their diagnostic ability, speed and application of safety measures. Sharpe said he diagnosed repairs ranging from drivability issues to electrical malfunctions.

“There are times when you need to work quickly, such as when a bus is broken down on the road,” he said. “You pay attention to everything under the bus — that’s when experience comes into play.”

Sharpe, 28, holds an associate’s degree in automobile science from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. He said he grew up around people working on engines and vehicles.

“School buses are very sophisticated, especially in terms of electronics,” he said. “There is something new every day, and that keeps things interesting.”
Sharpe said the upcoming national competition will present an additional challenge — the flight to San Antonio will be his first trip aboard an airplane.

“There’s a little anxiety but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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