Student Government Day provides firsthand look at Henrico government, school operations

More than 100 students from Henrico County high schools on Wednesday got a close look at their local government and public schools administrations during the 57th annual Student Government Day.

The program matched students from nine high schools with elected and appointed officials, including members of the Board of Supervisors and School Board, county manager, superintendent, department directors and judges. Students spent the day interacting with decision-makers, gaining insight into how Henrico general government and Henrico County Public Schools work on behalf of residents and others in the community.

“Student Government Day is a tremendous learning opportunity for our high school students,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “Students have a chance to ask questions of local leaders and see for themselves how dozens of departments and agencies come together to provide core services to our residents. Student Government Day also gives students a taste of what it’s like to participate in a public meeting, where pressing issues are discussed and debated, and policy decisions are made.”

Student Government Day began Tuesday at Hermitage High School with a ceremony in which 32 students swore the oaths required for their respective positions. All of the students spent Wednesday with their designated departments and agencies. Students also had opportunities to tour Henrico’s Jail West and to register to vote.

For students who worked at the Henrico Government Center on East Parham Road, the day culminated with a student-run, simulated work session and meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which included discussions of the county’s sports tourism initiative, preparations for a nine-day bicycle race to be held throughout the region in September 2015 and proposals to allow outdoor dining at a restaurant and to secure an easement for the Virginia Capital Trail.

The Kiwanis clubs of North Richmond, Tuckahoe and Greater Richmond are sponsors of Student Government Day.

Chief Judge L.A. Harris, Jr. (far right), of the Henrico County Circuit Court, administers the oath of office to high school students representing members of the Board of Supervisors during the 57th annual Student Government Day. Pictured left to right are Ilissa Morris, of Highland Springs High School; Ty Merrill, of Tucker High School; Virang Kumar, of Glen Allen High School; Kaelyn Dickinson, of Henrico High School; and Ahmad Abdeen, of Godwin High School.

Varina District meetings to highlight county budget, crime prevention in Varina

Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson will hold two Community Conversations meetings to discuss with residents Henrico County’s budget and crime prevention efforts in Varina.

The meetings will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 24 at the Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Road; and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 6 at Dorey Park, 2999 Darbytown Road.

Nelson will lead the discussions with County Manager John A. Vithoulkas and representatives of the Division of Police.

For information on the Community Conversations meetings, call (804) 501-4208.

Fairfield meeting April 30 to spotlight community enhancement efforts

Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, April 30 to discuss small-area planning efforts in Henrico County and ways that residents can enhance their homes and communities.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave. Representatives of the departments of Planning and Community Revitalization will join Thornton for the discussion. A question-and-answer period will follow.

For information, call (804) 501-4208.

‘Superhero’ runners needed for April 26 race to benefit child-advocacy programs

The Henrico County and Chesterfield County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will hold their fifth-annual Superhero Run on Saturday, April 26 to support local programs for abused and neglected children.

The event, which includes a 5-kilometer race and a 1-mile Kids’ Fun Run, will be held at St. Joseph’s Villa, 8000 Brook Road, in recognition of April as national Child Abuse Prevention Month. Aided by their “superhero” volunteers, the private, nonprofit CASA organizations work with local courts on behalf of children who have been abused and neglected. Dominion is this year’s title sponsor of the event.

“The Henrico and Chesterfield CASA organizations are excited to partner again with our sponsors to hold the Superhero Run to increase awareness of the special needs of abused and neglected children in our community,” said Barbara Herzog, executive director of Henrico CASA.

The 5K race is open to all ages. Each participant is encouraged to run in the costume of his or her favorite superhero character. Prizes will be awarded in each age group to the top finishers and for the best costumes.

The cost to register for the 5K race is $30 for runners 13 and older and $20 for runners 6 to 12. The Kids’ Fun Run is open to children 12 and younger at a cost of $10 and to parents at no cost. All fees will increase by $5 beginning Friday, April 25. To register, go to

Activities will begin with the Kids’ Fun Run at 9 a.m., followed by the 5K race at 9:30 a.m. and a post-race fair, with inflatable bounces, face painting and other family entertainment. The event was inspired by The Superhero Foundation, a Texas-based organization working to prevent child abuse.

For information, call (804) 501-1671 or send an email to

Henrico Citizens Academy set for May

Henrico residents can learn the nuts and bolts of county operations at the 2014 Henrico Citizens Academy, scheduled for five sessions in May.

The free program will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. each Thursday of the month starting May 1. Residents can register at beginning Saturday, April 12. They also can sign up at the Division of Recreation and Parks office in the Human Services Building, 8600 Dixon Powers Drive, beginning Monday, April 14. Registration will close Friday, April 25.

The academy is open to 35 residents, with space reserved for seven individuals from each of Henrico’s five magisterial districts. Participants must be 18 or older.

The academy is designed to give residents a comprehensive look at county operations and services — from plowing county roads after a winter storm and running a youth sports league to preparing an annual budget, providing emergency rescue services and recruiting a Fortune 1000 corporation.

Classes will be led by Henrico officials and staff and will be held at a different county facility each week. Classes typically will feature a presentation and discussion, facility tours, equipment demonstrations and other activities. Topics will include community and economic development, schools and human services, recreation and parks, public safety and county history.

This year marks the second offering of the Henrico Citizens Academy. The county’s divisions of Police and Fire have been holding academies for residents since 1995 and 2000, respectively.

Henrico supervisors to hold public hearing April 8 on proposed budget

The Henrico County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Tuesday, April 8 on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m., one hour earlier than usual, in the Board Room of the Henrico Government Center’s Administration Building, 4301 E. Parham Road.

Residents may provide oral or written comments on the $1.1 billion plan, which would guide operating and capital spending for the year beginning July 1.

The general fund, which supports the operations of Henrico’s general government, including the divisions of Police and Fire, and Henrico County Public Schools, would total $767.4 million. That would represent an increase of $20.2 million, or 2.7 percent, over the current year’s plan. Schools would receive a total of $20.5 million in additional funding, while general government departments and agencies would combine for nearly $300,000 in reductions. Education and public safety would account for 77 percent of all general fund spending.

The proposed budget recommends no change to the real estate tax rate of 87 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Residents are encouraged to register in advance to speak at the public hearing. To sign up or for more information about the meeting, call Board of Supervisors Clerk Barry R. Lawrence at (804) 501-4318. For information on the proposed budget, call Director of Finance Gene Walter at (804) 501-5200.

Copies of the proposed budget, which includes an overview message by County Manager John A. Vithoulkas, are available for public inspection at Henrico libraries, the Office of Management and Budget in the Henrico Government Center and at

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote April 22 to adopt a budget for fiscal year 2014-15. The board typically meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month in the Board Room of the Henrico Government Center.

Henrico Too Smart 2 Start Coalition to host April 3 forum on youth substance abuse

 Henrico Too Smart 2 Start Coalition will hold its second-annual It Takes a Village Community Forum on Thursday, April 3 to discuss ways to reduce substance abuse by youth in Henrico County.

The forum will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Strawberry Hill Ballroom of the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave. The event is open to the public and intended for youth, parents, professionals and others interested in making a positive impact on the community.

Henrico Too Smart 2 Start Coalition promotes health and wellness in Henrico and focuses on reducing substance abuse by youth.

For information on the forum, call Nicole Gore at (804) 222-8194, ext. 3006, or go to

Henrico Extension to hold open house March 29 to begin registration for Junior 4-H Camp

The Henrico County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension will hold an open house Saturday, March 29 to begin accepting registrations for the 2014 Henrico County Junior 4-H Camp.

The open house will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in the Extension office at the Human Services Building, 8600 Dixon Powers Drive. The residential camp, which is open to boys and girls ages 9 through 13 as of Sept. 30, will be held Aug. 4-8 at the Jamestown 4-H Educational Center, near Williamsburg.

The cost of the camp is $236 and includes a T-shirt, lodging, meals, programs, instructional class materials and transportation by chartered bus. Space is limited, and classes fill quickly. Scholarship assistance may be available. Registration forms are available at and may be submitted at the open house or by mail.

The Junior 4-H Camp provides youths with a fun learning environment while they make friends and discover the outdoors. Activities include swimming, archery, sailing, canoeing, basketball, forestry, marine science, volleyball, shooting sports, fishing, robotics, campfires and crafts. The camp’s theme for 2014 is “What do the animals say?”

The Jamestown 4-H Educational Center occupies 16 acres of woods and open spaces along the James River. Amenities include air-conditioned lodges and cabins, archery and rifle ranges, a swimming pool, a floating dock, a ropes course and an amphitheater.

Accredited by the American Camp Association, the camp is operated by adult and teen counselors and a staff that includes lifeguards, recreational leaders, a dietician and a medical attendant. Parent volunteers are needed. For information, call Henrico Extension at (804) 501-5160, send an email to or go to

Fairfield meeting March 31 to highlight Henrico’s land-use and thoroughfare plans

Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Monday, March 31 to discuss Henrico County’s land-use and major thoroughfare plans.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave. Representatives of the departments of Planning and Community Revitalization will join Thornton for the presentation. A question-and-answer period will follow.

For information, call (804) 501-4208.

Henrico Extension accepting applications for community garden program

The Henrico County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications from residents who would like to grow their own vegetables or flowers on community garden plots.

The Gardens Growing Families program allows the use of garden plots measuring about 15 feet by 20 feet at the Lakeside Garden, at Vale Street and Michael Avenue, near Lakeside Avenue; and at the Highland Springs Garden, on West Jerald Street at South Cedar Avenue. Fees range from $10 to $65 per year based on household size and income.

Participants of the Gardens Growing Families program also have access to free classes and workshops on gardening as well as advice from the Henrico Master Gardeners.

For information on Gardens Growing Families, call (804) or click here for the application.