Tourist spending in Henrico climbs to $783.6 million

Henrico County captured $783.6 million in spending by domestic travelers during 2013, the most of any locality in central Virginia and the fifth most in Virginia, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association.

Tourist spending in Henrico increased by 5 percent for the second consecutive year — well above Virginia’s increase of 1.4 percent. Similarly, the state’s top four destinations for tourist spending — the counties of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun and the city of Virginia Beach — saw their expenditure totals increase by less than 2 percent or decrease slightly, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

“The secret is out,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “Henrico has long been a preferred choice among homeowners and businesses. Now, more visitors are discovering all that makes Henrico special, including its parks and recreational amenities, historic sites and abundant shopping.”

Henrico’s expenditure total reflects spending on food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, retail and other services by travelers from within the United States who had taken day or overnight trips at least 50 miles from home.

In 2013, tourist spending in Henrico supported more than 7,800 jobs with a combined payroll of $184.5 million, and it generated tax receipts of $23.8 million for the county and $28.2 million for the state. Overall, Virginia attracted $21.5 billion in visitor spending, which supported nearly 213,000 jobs and provided more than $1.4 billion in state and local taxes.

The U.S. Travel Association compiled the data for the Virginia Tourism Corp. Its report, The Economic Impact of Domestic Travel On Virginia Counties 2013, is available at vatc.org/research/economicimpact/.

Henrico has worked to boost tourism in recent years by launching the Visit Henrico County campaign to attract leisure travelers as well as youth and adult recreational sports tournaments. A website, VisitHenrico.com, and a smartphone app help visitors plan where to stay, shop and eat, and what to do.

This month, about 1,000 Civil War reenactors from across the country will come to Henrico to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Market Heights. The free event, featuring battle reenactments and living history exhibits, will be held Sept. 27-28 at the Runnymede property adjacent to the Malvern Hill site of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, 8750 Willis Church Road.

In addition to its many historic sites and sports complexes, Henrico’s attractions include Richmond International Raceway — the site of two NASCAR races per year — as well as Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Three Lakes Park and Nature Center, and the Dabbs House and Meadow Farm museums.

“Tourism is another growth industry and a smart investment for Henrico,” Vithoulkas said. “Visitors support our hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and they have minimal impact on public services. Every dollar spent by a tourist helps to maintain low taxes and high-quality services in Henrico.”



Fairfield meeting Sept. 24 to highlight new voter ID requirement

Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Sept. 24 to provide an update on voting requirements, including a new Virginia law that requires voters to present an official photo identification before casting a ballot.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave.

Henrico County General Registrar Mark J. Coakley will join Thornton for the discussion and to answer questions. Residents also will have an opportunity to register to vote.

For information, call (804) 501-4208.



Tuckahoe town meeting Sept. 22 to highlight Henrico parks

Tuckahoe District Supervisor Patricia S. O’Bannon will hold a town meeting Monday, Sept. 22 to discuss Henrico County’s park system, including its history and plans for improvements.

The meeting will include sessions at 1 and 7 p.m. at the Tuckahoe Area Library, 1901 Starling Drive.

Neil Luther, director of the Division of Recreation and Parks, will join O’Bannon for a presentation and will answer questions. Tuckahoe town meetings are open to the public. For more information, call (804) 501-4208 or go to patobannon.com.



Henrico to mark historic Civil War battle with reenactments, activities Sept. 27-28

Henrico County will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Market Heights — a battle significant for the role played by African-American soldiers serving in the U.S. Colored Troops — with reenactments and living history exhibits Sept. 27-28. Descendants of some of the soldiers will be recognized as part of the activities.

The event will be held at the Runnymede property adjacent to the Malvern Hill site of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, 8750 Willis Church Road, located between Darbytown Road and Route 5/New Market Road. Gates open at 9 a.m.

Admission and parking are free. Handicapped parking will be available at the site. Other visitors will be directed to off-site parking and then shuttled to the event. Visitors should plan to arrive at least one hour prior to a battle reenactment. Directions, maps, schedules and other information are available at civilwarhenrico.com.

The event will feature more than 1,000 reenactors from around the country bringing to life three battles fought in Henrico — New Market Heights and Fort Harrison, both of which took place on Sept. 29, 1864, and the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, which stretched from Aug. 14 to 20, 1864.

Fourteen African-American soldiers received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, for their heroism in combat at New Market Heights. Two white officers serving in the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) earned the award that day as well (black soldiers were barred from holding commissioned ranks of lieutenant and above). Over the course of the Civil War, 18 Medals of Honor were earned by black infantry soldiers.

The reenactment of the Battle of New Market Heights, set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, will be a highlight of the weekend’s activities. Spectators will watch from an area in the middle of the battlefield. As the action unfolds, a narrator will describe the combat and troop movements.

Following the reenactment, Henrico will hold a ceremony honoring the Medal of Honor recipients. The descendants of three medal winners — Sgt. Alfred Hilton, Sgt. Edward Ratcliff and Lt. Nathan Edgerton — will attend and be recognized.

When they aren’t watching a reenactment, visitors can take in the sights and sounds of Civil War camp life.

Activities will include string, fife and drum, and brass bands performing music from the era; demonstrations of baseball as it would have been played in the 1860s; period crafts and games for kids; and food, beverages and merchandise reminiscent of the era. A variety of 21st-century food and drink will be sold as well. In addition, historians will give presentations on the military significance of the campaign for Richmond, the impact of the war on local civilians and other topics.

For more information, contact Henrico Recreation and Parks at (804) 501-7275.

The Battle of New Market Heights was part of a broader Union assault against Confederate defenses southeast of Richmond. Several regiments from the USCT spearheaded an attack on Confederate positions along New Market Road near Four Mile Creek. At the same time, additional Union forces moved against Fort Harrison a little more than 2 miles to the west.

USCT units suffered heavy casualties but dislodged Confederate forces from New Market Road; simultaneously, Union troops captured Fort Harrison.

The actions of the USCT units at New Market Heights helped dispel the notion, widely held at the time, that black soldiers were unfit for combat.

 



Henrico Extension to offer Literature in the Garden class for home-schooled youth

The Henrico County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension will offer this fall Literature in the Garden, a six-week class for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who are home-schooled.

The class will meet from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays Oct. 15 through Nov. 19 at the Armour House and Gardens at Meadowview Park, 4001 Clarendon Road. The class costs $20 per student. The deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 14. For information, contact Lisa T. Sanderson at (804) 501-5160 or lsanderson@vt.edu.

Literature in the Garden, part of the Junior Master Gardener Golden Ray Series, will provide hands-on activities that will accompany the reading of six nature-themed books, including Plantzilla and Miss Rumphius. Students also will learn basics of gardening.



Henrico prepares for heavy traffic during NASCAR races Sept. 5-6

Henrico's Richmond International Raceway (RIR) hosts both NASCAR and IndyCar Series events each year. Total seating capacity is 97,912, and RIR is the only track to hold all of its major events "under the lights."

The Henrico County Department of Public Works will temporarily alter traffic patterns on roads around Richmond International Raceway (RIR) to accommodate fans attending the NASCAR races Friday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 6.

Motorists are advised to expect heavy traffic and delays in the area on both days, especially from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., before the races, and from 10:15 p.m. to 1 a.m., afterward.

Henrico Police officers will direct motorists before and after the races. Race fans and other motorists are encouraged to check traffic updates on message boards along interstates and other roads approaching RIR. Police also will post updates on its Twitter account, @henricopolice, and its Facebook site.

Click here for traffic patterns.



Refuse/Recycling Schedule

Refuse pickup is delayed one day this week with Friday routes scheduled for pick up on Saturday. Curbside recycling pickup by CVWMA is also delayed one day with Friday routes scheduled for pick up on Saturday.



Fairfield, Varina meeting Sept. 8 to spotlight upcoming Civil War reenactments

Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton and Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson will hold a community meeting Monday, Sept. 8 on upcoming Civil War battle reenactments to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Market Heights.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nile Mile Road. Officials with the Division of Recreation and Parks will discuss plans for the reenactments and related festivities, which will include living history exhibits and Civil War-era music, food and games.

The reenactments will take place Saturday, Sept. 27 and Sunday, Sept. 28 at the Runnymede property, which is adjacent to the Malvern Hill site of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, 8750 Willis Church Road, between Darbytown Road and state Route 5/New Market Road. Admission and parking are free.

For details on the reenactments, including directions and maps, go to civilwarhenrico.com and visithenrico.com. For information on the community meeting, call (804) 501-4208.

Fourteen African-American soldiers and two white officers serving in the U.S. Colored Troops received the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest military award — for heroism in combat during the Battle of New Market Heights. Their actions helped dispel the notion, widely held at the time, that black soldiers were unfit for combat.



Henrico Extension to offer lawn-care workshops in September

The Henrico County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension will conduct two workshops in September to help residents use environmentally responsible methods to grow attractive, healthy lawns this fall.

A Do it Yourself: Lawn-Care workshop will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the Belmont Recreation Center, 1600 Hilliard Road. The cost is $6 per participant.

The class, sponsored with the Division of Recreation and Parks, will provide an overview of soil testing and preparation, the selection of grass and when to apply fertilizer. To register, go to connect.henricorecandparks.com or call (804) 501-7275 by Monday, Sept. 8.

A free workshop — I Have a Lawn Nutrient Management Plan. Now What? — will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 at the Extension office in the Henrico Human Services Building, 8600 Dixon Powers Drive.

The workshop is open to anyone, but it will explain how to implement a nutrient management plan, a yard-care plan prepared for each participant of the SMART Lawns program. For information on the workshop or to register, call (804) 501-5160. Participants also may register on-site.

Extension continues to accept registrations for SMART Lawns. The cost is $20. Sign-ups are requested by Friday, Sept. 5. The program follows the concepts of SMART — Soil test, Measure, Aerate, Right fertilizer and Trouble-free maintenance. To register, go to henrico.us/extension or call (804) 501-5160.



Henrico prepares for heavy traffic during NASCAR races Sept. 5-6

The Henrico County Department of Public Works will temporarily alter traffic patterns on roads around Richmond International Raceway (RIR) to accommodate fans attending the NASCAR races Friday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 6.

Motorists are advised to expect heavy traffic and delays in the area on both days, especially from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., before the races, and from 10:15 p.m. to 1 a.m., afterward.

Henrico Police officers will direct motorists before and after the races. Race fans and other motorists are encouraged to check traffic updates on message boards along interstates and other roads approaching RIR. Police also will post updates on its Twitter account, @henricopolice, and its Facebook site.

The following traffic patterns will be in effect Saturday, Sept. 6 during peak hours:

• Carolina Avenue between Laburnum and Azalea avenues will be one-way outbound after the race. Access to businesses along Carolina Avenue will be maintained from Laburnum Avenue.

• Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road from the Henrico/Hanover county line to Azalea Avenue will be one-way southbound from about 1 p.m. until the race starts. Sections of Meadowbridge Road farther north in Hanover County will continue to accommodate two-way northbound and southbound traffic at all times.

• After the race, Laburnum Avenue from Carolina Avenue to Mechanicsville Turnpike will be one-way eastbound. Eastbound Laburnum Avenue from Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road to Carolina Avenue will be closed until race traffic disperses. Two-way traffic will be maintained on Laburnum Avenue west of Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road.

• After the race, beginning at about 10 p.m., Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road north of Azalea Avenue will be one-way northbound to Atlee Road in Hanover County. Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road will be restored to two-way traffic when race traffic disperses.

• After the race, three lanes of Azalea Avenue from Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road to Henrico High School will be routed westbound; one lane will be routed eastbound. This change will require all median crossovers on Azalea Avenue from Richmond-Henrico Turnpike/Meadowbridge Road to Henrico High School to be closed from about 10 p.m. until race traffic disperses. Police will assist motorists turning from Azalea Avenue onto Thrush Lane and Pony Farm Drive.

While the traffic modifications are in effect, median crossovers on Laburnum Avenue will be closed from North Avenue to Mechanicsville Turnpike, except at Alma Avenue, Pilots Lane and Austin Avenue. Only right turns will be permitted to and from Laburnum Avenue. Police will be at these intersections before and after the race to assist motorists turning onto or crossing Laburnum Avenue.

On-street parking on major routes to RIR will be prohibited each day. Parking will be available for $6 on Saturday, Sept. 6 at the Richmond Coliseum parking deck at 501 N. Seventh St. in downtown Richmond. Free shuttle bus service to and from RIR will begin at 1 p.m.

The Henrico Police Division recommends the following routes for traffic approaching the raceway:

From the east (Hampton Roads area) — Follow Interstate 64 west to Interstate 295 north (Exit 200). Follow I-295 north and exit onto Mechanicsville Turnpike west (Exit 37B).  Follow Mechanicsville Turnpike to Laburnum Avenue. Turn right and proceed to the raceway.

From the east (U.S. Route 360) — Follow Route 360 west (Mechanicsville Turnpike), cross I-295 and continue west to Laburnum Avenue. Turn right and proceed to the raceway.

• From the east (local traffic) — Follow I-64 west and take the Laburnum Avenue exit (Exit 195). Turn right and proceed to the raceway.

• From the north — Follow Interstate 95 south to the I-295 south interchange (Exit 84A: “Rocky Mount NC-Norfolk”). Follow I-295 south and exit onto Meadowbridge Road west (Exit 38B). Follow Meadowbridge Road (Richmond-Henrico Turnpike) and proceed to the raceway.

• From the north (local traffic) — Follow U.S. Route 1 (Brook Road) to Azalea Avenue. Turn left onto Azalea Avenue and proceed to the raceway.

• From the west — Follow I-64 east to the I-295 south interchange (Exit 177). Follow I-295 south and exit onto Meadowbridge Road west (Exit 38B). Follow Meadowbridge Road (Richmond-Henrico Turnpike) and proceed to the raceway.

• From the west (local traffic) — Follow I-64 east to the Laburnum Avenue/Powhite Parkway exit. Take the Laburnum Avenue exit, turn left and proceed to the raceway.

• From the south — Follow I-95 north to the I-295 interchange south of Petersburg. Follow I-295 north and exit onto Mechanicsville Turnpike (Exit 37B). Follow Mechanicsville Turnpike to Laburnum Avenue. Turn right and proceed to the raceway.

• From the south (local traffic) — Follow I-95 north to the I-64 east interchange (Exit 75). Follow I-64 to Route 360 east (Mechanicsville Turnpike). Follow Route 360 east to Laburnum Avenue. Turn left and proceed to the raceway.