Henrico County VA
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Laptop, network enhancements expected

Henrico County's groundbreaking one-to-one laptop initiative for high-school students will conclude its third four-year contract June 30, and school officials are seeking enhancements that will make the next contract more efficient and effective.

The school system issued a request for proposal (RFP) last month to solicit interested bidders for the next contract, which will replace the current deal with Dell Computers for the provision of laptops and support for high school students, faculty and staff.

The RFP asks bidders to bundle the leasing of equipment with service needs, training for technical staff members, loaners and all other components necessary for the program, HCPS Technology Director Peter Taylor said, so that the overall cost to the school system may be more inclusive than in previous contracts.

The new machines will have solid-state hard drives, which are more durable and less likely to need repair than the mechanical drives that are used in the system's leased laptops currently, Taylor said. The new contract also will include a program on each laptop that automatically backs up critical student data to a server in their schools, he said. That way, students will have easy access to their materials at all times – even if they need loaner machines.

Officials will review bids with the School Board early next year, and the board likely will award a contract by the end of February.

In a separate RFP, to be issued by the end of December, school officials will seek bids to update the school system's network infrastructure. The current network, implemented in 2001 when Henrico began its laptop initiative with Apple, is on the verge of becoming obsolete, Taylor said. The chief problem: lack of adequate bandwidth, which particularly at the high school level is threatening to slow the flow of information from the internet and individual school servers to student and faculty computers.

Recommended state bandwidth standards for school systems exceed what Henrico's is capable of handling through its current network system, Taylor said. With so much demand for online content and so many users, high schools in the county likely will reach their bandwidth limitations within a year.

Upgrading the network to a 10 gigabits per second (gpbs) internal capability for all schools will provide more than enough bandwith, while preparing the school system for future needs, Taylor said. (Current bandwith varies from 10 megabits per second at elementary schools to 100 mbps at middle and high schools and 1 gpbs for internet usage.)

It also will provide enhanced levels of security for faculty and staff members, who will be able to submit grades, for example, through a completely secure wireless system.

Officials will recommend to the School Board a vendor and contract for the network enhancements sometime in the first quarter of 2013, with the intention of updating the network during the summer.

Some money for the project – which could cost $1.5 million or more in total, according to Superintendent Pat Russo – is included in the current budget. But the majority of it will need to be added, Russo 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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