Henrico County VA
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Vithoulkas sworn in as county manager

JAN. 16, 7:50 P.M. – As one era in the history of Henrico County ended today, another began.

John Vithoulkas, a 16-year-county employee and nearly lifelong county resident, was sworn in as Henrico's eighth county manager, replacing Virgil Hazelett, whose retirement took effect today after his 21 years in the position and more than 40 with the county.

Vithoulkas' financial knowledge and work as Henrico's director of finance is credited with helping the county maintain its fiscal edge through the recent recession.

During an address to elected officials, family members, business leaders and others during an investiture ceremony at the western government center, Vithoulkas said that he would enter his new role with a "profound sense of humility and excitement."

He vowed to continue the "Henrico way," a dedication to customer service that he said has defined the county for years.

"This is what sets us apart," he said.

Vithoulkas also said he would work to enhance the strong business climate the county enjoys and to attract more corporations to Henrico, while finding ways to fund the county's critical needs – including education and public safety.

"We will meet the near-term economic challenges that are before us – I can assure you of that," he said. "We will leave a better future for the generation that follows us."

Board of Supervisors Chairman Dave Kaechele said that the county would be in good hands moving forward.

"Unlike the federal government, John knows how to balance a budget," Kaechele joked, turning to Vithoulkas. "I know you will try to squeeze blood from a turnip – or better yet, dollars from the General Assembly."

Hazelett received a standing ovation as Henrico Circuit Court Chief Judge L.A. Harris, who presided over the ceremony, recognized him during the event. Hazelett praised Vithoulkas as a dedicated public servant who would adapt to his new role well.

"John's potential as a leader was evident to me," Hazelett said. He told Vithoulkas: "You will face many, many challenges in the months and years ahead, but you will undoubtedly enjoy many, many successes."

Vithoulkas thanked Hazelett for providing him with guidance and friendship through the years.

"You have been a mentor to me, and you will always be a friend," Vithoulkas said. He praised Hazelett's wisdom and willingness to give advice, as well as his intense work ethic.

"Many nights, I'd leave [the government center] thinking I was the last one there, but then I'd see Virgil's office light still on," Vithoulkas 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

New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tim Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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The Short Pump Ruritan Club's 24th Annual Craft Show will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Short Pump Middle School, 4701 Pouncey Tract Rd., Glen Allen. More… Full text

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