Library dedicated as symbol of ‘new Varina’

County and state officials, including Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas (far left), Board of Supervisors Chairman and Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson (fifth from right), House of Delegates member Lamont Bagby (fourth from right), Fairfield District Supervisor Frank Thornton (third from right) and Virginia state Senator Donald McEachin (far right) cut a ribbon to dedicate the new Varina Area Library.
JUNE 1, 10:40 P.M. – Even without the late afternoon sun, which splashed its rays across nearby wheat fields, passing cyclists and hundreds of anxious citizens, this was bound to be a bright day in Varina.

Henrico County officials joined more than 2,000 spectators to dedicate the new $28.1-million Varina Area Library, a long-anticipated facility whose arrival was met with lots of smiles and nearly as much awe.

“Tonight, we celebrate a library and a facility that is an example of the new Varina – of what is possible within great communities,” Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas told the crowd during the dedication ceremony.

(View a photo album of the library and dedication ceremony here: http://tinyurl.com/zq6ohqe)

Vithoulkas praised the efforts of Board of Supervisors Chairman and Varina District member Tyrone Nelson, who he said worked tirelessly with other county officials and architect BCWH to craft a unique facility that reflected the character of Varina.

The result: a library that offers a number of individual sections for various age groups, as well as opportunities for individual and group learning, along with sweeping views of the undisturbed nature that surrounds it.

The library “will be the heart of the Varina community,” Nelson said. “This library is a transformative community center of learning, and I believe it will be a destination site for Henrico County.”

The project was the final piece of the $349.3-million bond referendum Henrico voters approved in 2005.

At nearly 44,000 square feet, the new library is nearly eight times larger than its predecessor a mile or so away near Varina High School. Among its features:

• special sections for children and for teens;
• a digital media lab, with two 3-D printers;
• more than 100 computers and other devices for public use;
• several group collaboration areas;
• meeting, conference and study rooms;
• large windows to the rear of the building overlooking woods and wetlands;
• a demonstration kitchen;
• a drive-up book return and pick-up window
• internal and external automated book returns.

County officials named a downstairs conference room in the building for Nelson’s predecessor, longtime Varina District Supervisor Jim Donati.

Planned outdoor trails through the woods will take further advantage of the location of the library – which perhaps, Vithoulkas said, is no longer an accurate description of the facility.

“We have to come up with a new term,” he said. “A ‘library’ is not sufficient for what happens in this building. They’re community centers. They’re business incubators. They’re an extension of our schools and our community. This – this is your resource.”

The former Varina Library is expected to have a new tenant soon. Former Varina High School, Penn State and Seattle Seahawks football player Michael Robinson's Team Excel/Excel to Excellence organization likely will locate there, Nelson said. Robinson took a cross-country flight from Los Angeles, where he works as an analyst on the NFL Network, to attend tonight's dedication. His organization mentors youngsters through academic and athletic programs.

Nelson admitted he’d been awaiting this day – and the celebratory ribbon-cutting – for some time.

“The future is bright, and it’s now. I couldn’t sleep last night,” he said. “I was like a little kid, waiting to go to Toys ‘R Us on my birthday.

“This was the last project on the 2005 bond [referendum]. I say it was the best project.”
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The Autism Society of Central Virginia will present its 15th annual 5K Run/Walk for Autism at 8 a.m. at the Innsbrook Pavilion. This family-friendly race includes entertainment, food, exhibitors and a Kid’s Fun Zone. The 5K Run/Walk is one of ASCV’s primary sources of income, raising over $100,000 last year. Funds raised here, stay here. For details, visit http://www.ascv.org/ascv-5k. Full text

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