Henrico County VA
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‘Twas the night before Henrico’s Christmas

(Written by Henrico County Public Relations & Media Services Director Tamra McKinney and presented by County Manager Virgil Hazelett during the Henrico Business Leaders' breakfast meeting Dec. 12.)

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
the full moon was bright,
I hadn’t slept much the previous night.
I kept thinking about the budget spreadsheet,
And the reality that the ends did not meet.

The staff was exhausted but kept up the pace,
When trying to put this budget in place.
We knew we would solve it, someway or somehow,
But we’d hoped this recession would be over by now.

I kept thinking about better days gone by,
When the market was up and earnings were high.
Real estate was a solid investment back then,
And I believe in my heart it will be again.

All of us here now are in the same boat,
The bottom line is we either sink or we float.
With the right combination of good luck and skill,
We’ll get through this together, I know that we will.

In Henrico we have good reason to boast,
With a business community stronger than most.
These times have been tough, but the things that you’ve done
In this year alone are second to none.

SnagAJob! Fareva! Wells Fargo! PPD!
Bank of America! QTS! Capital One and G.E.!
You’ve all added jobs, weren’t afraid to expand,
And you gave our economy a big helping hand.

Our small businesses play an essential role too,
The strength of Henrico’s due largely to you.
We’re one solid county, and our history is long,
Four-hundred and counting, we’re old but we’re strong.

In August more good news came our way,
When our bond rating was reaffirmed triple, triple-A.
Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and of course Fitch,
All agreed we belonged in this elite niche.

Henrico’s not really in such a bad place,
Considering what other localities face.
The services you expect, we’ll continue to give,
To make this the best place to work and to live.

Looking at the big picture made me smile,
And that hadn’t happened for quite a while.
Relatively speaking, everything was really all right,
So I had one final call to make that night.

I grabbed my phone and punched the number in quick,
1-800-4-ST. NICK.
His voice mail picked up, he said “I’m not here,
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m busy, call back next year!”

“Santa, it’s Virgil,” I said after the tone,
“If you’re there, please, pick up the phone.”
With that, the phone beeped once again and went dead,
So I sent him an instant text message instead.

“Santa, it’s me again, I just wanted to say,
Merry Christmas from all of us in Henrico, V-A.”
Within moments I received a reply from S. Claus,
And I anxiously read every word without pause.

“Virgil bear with me, I’m trying to fly,
It’s not easy to text from a sleigh in the sky.
I’m glad you’ve come to your senses and see
That Henrico’s the best place in the world you could be!”

As I see all of your faces today in this crowd,
I am very humbled, and so very proud.
And I hope you all know I am truly sincere,
When I say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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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Innsbrook After Hours will present the Eli Young Band, with guest Erik Dylan, at 6:30 p.m. at the Snagajob Innsbrook Pavilion. Gates open at 5 p.m. General admission is $15… Full text

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