Archives: The Henrico Way

Officer Wade Ostrowski, Division of Police

Officer Ostrowski recently assisted a young motorist who had a blown tire in the rain on a road without a shoulder. He initially tried to elevate the car with a jack to install a spare tire, but the jack proved faulty. He then contacted a towing company and persuaded the driver to allow the car to be lifted, so the tire could be changed, and the driver could avoid a towing expense.

But after installing the spare tire, the officer and driver noticed it was deflated. Ostrowski followed the young man’s father as he drove slowly to a nearby gas station to inflate the tire. He even offered to follow them to a tire center. The young man’s father later wrote to thank Ostrowski for his helpfulness and excellent service. He also praised the officer for having “set a shining example.” Way to go the extra mile, Officer Ostrowski, no matter how slow!

If you are interested in pursuing a career with the Henrico Police Division, please visit

Ashley Barno, Department of Social Services

A resident praised Human Services Specialist Ashley Barno after she helped his brother continue to receive food stamps. The man and his brother had come to Social Services to pick up a form that was supposed to be left at the reception desk. However, Ashley was unable to find it. In talking with the men, she determined which form was needed and agreed to print a copy from her computer. The resident said Ashley could have apologized and forced them to return another day. Instead, she not only printed the form but also helped them fill it out. This is another example of how exceptional customer service can turn a difficult situation into a pleasant experience. Excellent job, Ashley!

Jay LeReche, Health Department

A resident emailed to acknowledge the excellent service provided by Jay LeReche of the Environmental Health Team. She said that Jay was knowledgeable and patient in helping her determine the work necessary for her failing septic system. He also helped her by describing the process and by indicating which forms needed to be completed. She also complimented Jay for his prompt review of the request and for his final review of the finished work. She said it was a job very well done!

Karen Allen, Department of Social Services

A resident wrote three letters to thank and compliment Karen Allen of the Department of Social Services. He had been homeless and had become despondent when he found out that his SNAP benefits were about to expire. He was near the point of taking his own life.

His demeanor improved after speaking with Karen. He said that she treated him with warmth and compassion and assured him that she would investigate his situation. He added that he appreciated that she did not make him feel like a second-class citizen and once again thanked her for her caring attitude. Thank you, Karen!

Division of Police and MH/DS

A local couple emailed the Chief of Police and Laura Totty to thank them for the sensitive yet strong response by Police and MH/DS to a mental health crisis involving their son. He had been previously diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and was having a serious manic episode. His episodes had been increasing in severity over the past couple of months.

The couple called Police after their son began acting in a threatening manner. Six officers arrived and patiently communicated with their son and convinced him to come out of the basement room in which he had locked himself. MH/DS caseworker Patrick Swann and a supervisor soon arrived and helped the young man and the police diffuse the situation.

All parties agreed that he should be involuntarily admitted to an ER. The officers took him peacefully to the hospital where he received the help he needed. The couple mentioned that they had a similar incident in the City of Richmond seven years ago, but with very different results. They mentioned that Henrico’s mental health team was head and shoulders above their counterparts in Central Virginia and thanked them again for helping them navigate through a difficult time. Outstanding job!

Department of Public Works

A resident recently sent an email complimenting the Department of Public Works for its response to a large tree branch that fell and blocked the street in front of her house. Soon after the woman called the county’s non-emergency number to report the situation, Road Maintenance Supervisor Steve Jinnett arrived and cleared a lane for traffic to pass.

The next morning, Jinnett and Road Maintenance Supervisors J.J. Rada and Mike McLaughlin, as well as Road Maintenance Heavy Equipment Specialists Pat Robertson, Warren Martin, Jeff Kirk and Jason Marshall, returned to clear the rest of the debris. The resident praised the crew for being careful not to damage her property and for asking her preferences regarding many aspects of the removal. The crew even helped the resident get out of her driveway when she had an appointment. She added the county is lucky to have such good employees with Public Works. Excellent work!

Operation Paintbrush, Department of Community Revitalization

A resident sent a note to Varina Supervisor Tyrone Nelson for work done by Team Excel through the Department of Community Revitalization’s Operation Paintbrush program. Operation Paintbrush organizes community volunteers to paint the homes of residents who need this assistance. Team Excel is a group of students who provide hands-on service to the community. It consists of seventh through 12th graders at Varina and Henrico high schools as well as John Rolfe and Wilder middle schools. The students are assisted by their families and other mentors. The resident said she appreciates how Henrico cares for its older residents. Thanks to Team Excel and Community Revitalization!

Juan Little, Department of Public Utilities

A resident emailed to compliment the service provided by Juan Little, labor foreman with the Department of Public Utilities, during work done at her house. She lauded his ability to communicate and to ease her frustrations. She said Juan was friendly, informative and an asset to the county. Excellent job, Juan!

Melvin Conway, Department of Public Utilities

A resident expressed appreciation for the help provided by Melvin Conway, from the Charles City Road Public Use Area. The resident arrived shortly before closing to dispose of a load of debris. After the unloading his trailer the man realized his truck would not start. Mr. Conway recognized the problem with the vehicle, and stayed with the resident for 45 minutes until a tow truck arrived

When the resident expressed concern about his trailer, Mr. Conway offered to park it at the office until he could return to get it. The resident said he had been to the Charles City site countless times over the year but never had met an employee so helpful. Thank you, Melvin!

STAR Team, Multiple Departments

A kidney specialist contacted the Henrico STAR team about one of his patients. The Services to Aid Recovery – or STAR team – is a joint effort by Henrico’s Fire and Police divisions, Sheriff’s Office, Department of Social Services, Henrico Area Mental Health and Developmental Services) to help residents find resources to address social or medical needs.

The patient had dangerously high sodium levels and had not received a dialysis treatment in nearly a week. The Emergency Communications Center had received numerous 911 calls about the resident in recent weeks, and he had been observed with open sores on his forehead and knees from apparent falls. The physician grew increasingly concerned because his patient was refusing treatment. A call to the STAR team resulted in an emergency custody order, or ECO, that got the patient the help he needed.

The STAR team explained to the man that he could go voluntarily to the hospital or a magistrate could issue an ECO to take him to the hospital against his will.  The patient continued to refuse treatment, and an ECO was issued. Eventually, STAR team members convinced the man that going to the hospital was in his best interests. He agreed to go and received an emergency dialysis treatment. The STAR team also gave him food and drink when he admitted that he hadn’t eaten. The man later praised the STAR team and said he knew he needed treatment but resisted because he was tired of hospitals.

The STAR team’s ability to handle this emergency and to provide compassionate help for someone in need give us another example of The Henrico Way. You are truly stars!