Henrico County VA
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PAL-ing around

Youngsters help clean up five county neighborhoods
Members of the Henrico Police Athletic League (PAL) joined together to perform community service projects in Henrico communities late last month.

The PAL Summer Camp and Youth Leadership Council sent 250 youths between the ages of six to 18 years old out to clean up apartment complexes July 25.

Participants arrived at 9 a.m. with their black trash bags, disposable gloves and garbage grabbers in hand.

Youngsters were divided into groups in order to cover several apartment areas during the two-and-a-half hour period given for the project.

PAL members visited Essex Village Apartments on Pilots Lane, Bremner Woods on Sprenkle Lane, Seven Gables Apartments on North Laburnum Avenue, Coventry Gardens Apartments on Newbridge Circle and Hope Village on Hope Road to pick up and dispose of trash found on the grounds.

The kids braved the heat enthusiastically, knowing that their efforts would be appreciated by apartment residents as well as the community.

Henrico’s P.A.L program serves to create a safe environment for youths educational, athletic and social opportunities meant to strengthen the relationship between police officers and youths.

Sergeant Kenneth Ragland, executive director and community police officer, started the program in Henrico in 2007.

“PAL's been around for over 100 years nationally,” he said. “We cater to kids from ages six to 18 and utilize youth crime prevention.”

The After School program is open to all members. For $85, youths will participate in a variety of educational and recreational opportunities. The first hour of the After School program is set aside mainly for homework and tutoring. This year’s After School program begins Sept. 1 and runs through late May.

Another opportunity available for older youths between 13 and 18 is the PAL Youth Leadership Council. This branch of the program harnesses skills of the career driven participants.

Youths are given the chance to receive training from government and private industry leaders through several different projects and activities.

“Folks get exposure to community leaders, business leaders, civic leaders and also we incorporate a sense of community service,” Sergeant Ragland said. “We do a number of community projects monthly in our Youth Leadership Council.”

Participation in the Youth Leadership Council requires each individual to meet a certain standard in order to continue instruction. They need to work on monthly community service projects, attend meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m., adhere to the YLC Code of Conduct Agreement and maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average.

A parent or guardian must state that the individual is physically fit to participate and give consent. A physical medical examination is highly recommended.

PAL also offers several sporting opportunities as a youth crime prevention program.

Members joining the Fourth Annual Henrico PAL Summer camp will partake in a soccer clinic, baseball and softball clinic, basketball clinic, karate lessons, roller-skating, bowling, museum tours, library visits and more.

Thursdays are dedicated to extra summer fun. Trips to places such as King’s Dominion, Swaders Sports Park, Hadad’s Lake, Cobblestones, Pocahontas State Park and Water Country USA are organized every week.

Another treat coming up for kids this summer is the fifth Annual Johnny Newman/ Henrico PAL Basketball Camp. Former NBA star Johnny Newman will teach boys and girls ages 6 to fifteen years old the basics of basketball while emphasizing individual and team play. Former WNBA Jessie Hicks and former professional player Jo Jo Chambers will also join Newman this summer. The camp runs Aug. 15-18, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily The participation fee is $80.

PAL participants also are taking part this week in a weeklong camp hosted by the Richmond Strikers youth soccer organization.

PAL is holding its first annual golf tournament at the Brandermill Country Club on Thursday Sept. 29. The price per team is $400, and registration begins at 11 a.m.

Every program that is a part of the Police Athletic League highlights the importance of staying in school, striving for college, saying no to drugs and being a positive member of the community.

“Not only young folks, but older folks alike think it’s important that we instill in our young folks in particular the importance of volunteerism, giving back to the community and having their best interest,” Ragland said. “Hopefully through exposing them through community service and things of that nature, they’ll develop a sense of ownership in their communities.”

The non-profit program is always looking for members in the community to donate or sponsor to make a difference in every child’s life. Volunteers for mentoring, tutoring and coaching are always welcome and anyone interested can register online through PAL’s website, http://www.henricopal.org.

“Most of our kids come through registration on henricopal.org and also referrals from our board members, our police officers, through individual school teachers in the community,” Ragland said. “PAL’s funding comes from donations, sponsorships, grants and registration fees.”


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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