Vithoulkas to succeed Hazelett as county manager

John Vithoulkas
Deputy Henrico County Manager for Administration John Vithoulkas will succeed Virgil Hazelett as county manager when Hazelett retires in January, following a unanimous vote by the county's Board of Supervisors at its meeting tonight. Vithoulkas, 44, will begin his new position Jan. 17.

Vithoulkas will become the eighth county manager since Henrico adopted the form of government in 1934.

The county manager serves as Henrico’s chief administrative officer, responsible for implementing policies established by the Board of Supervisors and for overseeing the daily operations of the county and more than 35 agencies with approximately 4,000 general government employees (the county’s total workforce, general government and Henrico County Public Schools, is more than 10,400). Duties include preparation and oversight of the county’s annual budget, which tops $1 billion in operating and capital expenditures for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and preparation of the county’s annual legislative program before the Virginia General Assembly.

Vithoulkas, a Henrico employee since 1997, rose through the ranks of the Department of Finance, joining the agency as a budget analyst and also working as budget director. He became acting director of Finance in September 2007 before taking over as director in January 2008.

In September 2009, Hazelett named him to the additional position of special economic advisor as Henrico confronted revenue declines and other challenges stemming from the national recession. In December, he was named a deputy county manager.

Vithoulkas has been key in helping to establish Henrico's to fiscal policies that have enabled the county to balance its budget throughout the recession and the lingering problematic economy. The county has absorbed revenue declines of more than $92 million the last two years without laying off employees, cutting services or raising taxes. He was the architect of a series of bond sales during the recession that yielded $17.7 million in debt-service savings for the county.

In August 2011, Henrico was the first locality nationwide to have its debt reaffirmed as triple-AAA — the highest available for a governmental entity — by the three international credit-rating agencies following the downgrade of U.S. government debt by Standard and Poor’s.

Vithoulkas played a leading role in the effort that established Henrico, Va. as an official mailing address with the U.S. Postal Service in October 2008. The address-change initiative is saving the county more than $5 million annually in tax revenues that previously had been misdirected to other localities.

Vithoulkas, a naturalized citizen, is a native of Greece and immigrated to Virginia as an infant with his parents. A product of Henrico County Public Schools, he is a graduate of J.R. Tucker High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989 and received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1992. Before joining the Henrico County staff he worked as a police planner and assistant budget director for Gaston County, N.C. and as a budget analyst for Chesterfield County.

Vithoulkas lives in Glen Allen with his wife, Jenny, and their three children.

He has keyed the ongoing “Changing the Way Henrico Does Business” initiative, an internal project launched in response to the recession. It has led to streamlined, more-efficient operations in departments countywide, producing permanent savings of more than $50 million. He also has spearheaded efforts such as the Henrico Advantage Card, working with the local business community to boost sales for Henrico retailers.
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Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.

McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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American Legion Post 125, located at 1401 Hilliard Rd., will hold a dance with a live band every Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Snacks and coffee are provided; drinks are available for purchase. All dances are open to the public. Cost is $7 on Fridays and $8 on Saturdays and benefits American Legion Post 125, a nonprofit veterans organization. For details, call 716-0800. Full text

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