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Hollybrook resident finally getting closure

As disabled residents of the Hollybrook Apartments on St. Joseph’s Villa property south of the main campus navigate to cross Brook Road, many face difficulties with traffic and are fearful for their safety. Resident Brian Montgomery has been fighting for enhancements for the Brook Road corridor along the Villa’s property since 2000, when he was struck by an SUV while on his way to get groceries. His chair wound up under the vehicle and he barely escaped breaking his neck. Twelve years later, he is finally seeing plans put in motion to make the corridor a safer area for residents and pedestrians.

The Hollybrook complex is a HUD Section 8 apartment community for people living with disabilities and was designed for people confined to wheelchairs. It now serves seniors and people with mental illnesses as well and consists of two developments, Hollybrook I and Hollybrook II; each has 30 units.

For the residents of Hollybrook, crossing the busy intersection is something they do daily because across Brook Road sits a Wal-mart and other stores that many of them frequently use. With a high number of handicapped people in close proximity to a major roadway, the chances of getting hit or dealing with careless drivers has escalated. It’s frustrating for tenants because despite safety concerns, there have been no major improvement to the road for more than 60 years – until now.

Things are finally moving forward, as VDOT and Henrico County are funding a $5.5 million project at the site. The construction budget originally was assessed at $2.4 million, but after a delay of five years to finalize plans, the cost more than doubled.

Project plans include sidewalk enhancements at the Villa entrance and Wal-mart entrance at the back of Hollybrook; sidewalks will be enlarged from four feet to seven feet. A sidewalk behind Brook Road that runs from the corner of Villa Park Drive to the entrance of Hollybrook will be enlarges as well, and an additional sidewalk will be built to run all to way to Parham Road in front of the Villa.

It has taken more than a decade of advocating through letters, e-mails, meeting and phone calls for Montgomery and residents of Hollybrook Apartments to see any signs of change. Montgomery wishes the issue had been handled sooner, so that several life-altering incidents could’ve been avoided.

“I got hit back in 2000 and I met some neighbors of mine and we started contacting Henrico County, trying to get sidewalks and improvements out here in Hollybrook," he said. "When it was built in 1984 they should’ve put the sidewalks in but they didn't. We’ve been going back and forth with Henrico County and VDOT for about 12 years trying to get it all nailed down."

A few sidewalk and crosswalk signals were added to the Brook and Wilkinson intersection more than five years ago, but the changes almost served as a temporary fix to the serious safety issue that residents encounter.

“When crossing Brook Road, you have to put your life in your own hands to get across there because the traffic just keeps on getting worse and worse. We do have countdown clocks and sensors at the stoplights now to help us but it’s not enough,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery has been lobbying for years to see changes made and has dealt with defeat before. His hopes were raised in 2005 when Henrico officials allocated $500,000 toward the project, but when funds from VDOT fell through, so did the transportation fix.

The corridor enhancements have an expected completion date of November 2012. Until then, Montgomery is going to be patient and hope that his continued efforts and optimism will lead to positive changes for himself and the residents of Hollybrook.

“It isn't going to hit me until i see the improvements and I see them putting in the changes,” he 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


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

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.

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CharacterWorks, Inc. will present “Footloose” at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 25-27 at The Robins Theatre at Steward School, 11600 Gayton Rd. Tickets are $13 to $17. CharacterWorks is… Full text

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