Henrico temporarily shuts down intake pumps overnight; no oil detected

Henrico County is continuing to test water quality and is taking other precautionary measures to protect its drinking water supply following Wednesday’s crude oil spill into the James River after a CSX train derailment in Lynchburg.

Officials shut down the intake pumps at the county’s water treatment plant from approximately 11:30 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday as a precaution after a reconnaissance flight observed an oil sheen on the river near Cartersville in Cumberland County. During that time Henrico stopped producing drinking water and used supplies from storage tanks while testing samples taken from the river. No oil was detected in the samples and the intake pumps were restarted and were operating normally Friday, said Assistant Director of Public Utilities William Mawyer.

Swift-water rescue boats deployed Thursday by the Division of Fire did not observe or detect oil in the water or along the river’s shoreline.

Henrico now is refilling its water storage tanks, which have a capacity of 35 million gallons. Mawyer said the water treatment plant will continue to run its ozone disinfection system at elevated levels as an additional precaution.

Also, the county will continue to take river samples on Friday to test for the presence of hydrocarbons and to monitor water quality. Hydrocarbons have not been detected in samples taken since Thursday, Mawyer said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is assisting and also is taking river water samples.

The Division of Police’s Metro Aviation Unit has resumed reconnaissance flights to look for and monitor any oil sheen on the river.

County officials continue to work with state agencies including the departments of Health, Emergency Management and Environmental Quality, the city of Richmond and CSX.

“Henrico County will continue to be vigilant and track this situation closely,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “We remain prepared to take additional measures to protect our drinking water supply, if necessary.”

Henrico commits multiple resources to effort monitoring oil spill in James River

Henrico County continues to monitor Wednesday’s crude oil spill into the James River following a CSX train derailment in Lynchburg and is taking a number of precautionary measures to protect its water supply.

County officials anticipate the oil could flow into the region after 6 p.m. today, based on estimates from state agencies and CSX. Officials emphasized there continues to be no indication the oil will enter the county’s water supply.

Assistant Director of Public Utilities William Mawyer said the county’s intake was 10 feet below the level of the James River yesterday, a depth that should allow any oil to pass over. If necessary, the county is prepared to close the intake temporarily.

On Wednesday, Henrico began filling its water storage tanks, which have a capacity of 35 million gallons. The water treatment plant has turned up its ozone disinfection system as an additional precaution, Mawyer said, noting that water quality is tested continuously as standard practice.

Henrico is taking hourly samples from the river and analyzing them for the presence of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons were not detectable in the water samples taken today at approximately 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m., Mawyer said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is assisting with the sampling.

The Division of Fire has launched two swift-water rescue boats, staffed by firefighters from the marine patrol and hazardous materials team, to help assess water quality. The team is deploying its detection and monitoring equipment above the county’s James River intake.

The Division of Police’s Metro Aviation Unit is conducting reconnaissance flights upriver of Buckingham County to look for and monitor any oil sheen on the river. CSX and the Virginia State Police are providing helicopters to assist with river observations.

Representatives from Henrico Fire and the Henrico County Health Department are in Lynchburg assisting with the on-site response and assessing potential impacts to central Virginia.

County officials continue to work with state agencies including the departments of Health, Emergency Management and Environmental Quality, the city of Richmond and CSX.

“Henrico County has multiple resources engaged in this effort and is tracking this situation closely as it continues to develop,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said.

Henrico to offer rabies vaccinations for pets May 17

The Henrico County Division of Police will offer rabies vaccines for dogs and cats from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 17 at the Henrico County Government Center, 4301 E. Parham Road. The clinic will be on the first level of the parking deck adjacent to the Administration Building.

The vaccines cost $10 and must be paid in cash. A rabies tag and certificate of inoculation are included. Pets from all localities are welcome. Cats must be in carriers.

Under Virginia law, dogs and cats 4 months of age and older must be vaccinated for rabies.

Henrico dog licenses will be available for $10, for a one-year license, and $15, for a three-year license. Officers will be available to discuss license options and vaccination requirements.

For information, call the Animal Protection Unit at (804) 727-8801 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Henrico officials monitoring oil spill, taking precautionary steps

Henrico County is taking precautionary measures to protect its water supply in response to a CSX train derailment in Lynchburg today that is spilling crude oil into the James River. There is no indication the oil will enter the county’s water supply.

County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said officials are monitoring the spill and are filling its water storage tanks as a precaution. The county is working with state agencies including the departments of Health, Emergency Management and Environmental Quality, he said.

“Henrico is following this situation closely as it develops and is prepared to implement measures to protect our residents, businesses and other users of county water if necessary,” Vithoulkas said. “The health and safety of our residents is our primary concern.”


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 www.casarun.com.

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 info@casarun.com.

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 www.connect.henricorecandparks.com 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 www.co.henrico.va.us.

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.