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School Board tables possible tobacco ban for one month

Board will reconsider issue at Sept. 27 meeting
The Henrico County School Board yesterday tabled for at least a month a proposal that would ban tobacco use on all school property and at school-sponsored events held elsewhere.

The board opted to continue surveying stakeholders during the next month through an online survey to receive more feedback about the issue. Board members also requested specific statistics about how many schools in the county already are entirely tobacco-free and whether those schools have experienced any problems with their policies.

The proposal, recommended by the school system's 15-member safety committee, is designed largely as a public health matter, according to Chris Bailor, the safety and security coordinator for the system. About half of all student visits to school clinics are related to respiratory issues, she said.

Current HCPS policy allows individual principals to set their own conditions for tobacco and cigarette use on their campuses by adults, staff members and visitors, and some schools already ban tobacco entirely. Some offer designated smoking areas for staff members and visitors, while others do not, Deputy Superintendent Pat Kinlaw told the board.

During a work session yesterday, Fairfield District School Board member Lamont Bagby initially suggested that it might make sense to provide a designated smoking area, particularly at campus-style schools and events such as football games.

"I don't want people who support children to not be able to feel like they can go support children," Bagby said, suggesting that smokers might opt to stay home rather than attend school events if they couldn't smoke.

Bagby seemed to back-track later, however, after hearing from Henrico High School Principal Ron Rodriguez, whose campus-style school has outlawed tobacco use for years. Rodriguez told the board there had been no initial pushback to the policy from staff members or visitors after it was implemented and no issues with it in the years since.

Deputy County Attorney Tom Tokarz told the board that the proposed policy likely would need to be adjusted slightly so that it did not overstep its legal bounds. The current proposal would attempt to prohibit tobacco use at school system events off county-owned property – which theoretically could include a sporting event hosted by a school in another county. It would be unlikely that Henrico could impose such a restriction on another jurisdiction's property, Tokarz said.

Thirty-three other school systems in Virginia – none in the Metro Richmond region – currently are tobacco-free, Bailor said.

The online survey, which had concluded, is expected to be re-activated soon on the school system's website here: http://www.henrico.k12.va.us/survey/TobaccoUseonSchoolProperty.html .

The board expects to consider the issue again during its Sept. 27 meeting.



Community

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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To help celebrate twenty years of service to advocating for abused and neglected children in Henrico County, Henrico Court Appointed Special Advocates, Inc. (CASA) will host an evening with bestselling author K.L. Randis on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Belmont Recreation Center in Lakeside.

Randis is best known for her bestselling novel, Spilled Milk, which tells her painful – but ultimately triumphant – personal story of abuse and of child abuse prevention. The book is her first novel.

The event is free to the public, but seating is limited Reservations may be made by e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Belmon Recreation Center is located at 1600 Hilliard Road. > Read more.

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While enjoying some of the cultural performances at the festival, the ambassador and his wife had a private lunch with Vithoulkas, Glover, Eldon Burton (an outreach representative from U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner’s Office) and Father James Begley, the pastor of OLL. > Read more.

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The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

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The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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