Thursday, December 31, 2009

Handicap Parking Violation Increase to Take Effect

Beginning January 4, 2010, parking fines will increase to $200 for illegal parking in handicap zones within the city of Richmond. Richmond City Council approved the violation increase and the ordinance was formally adopted on November 23, 2009.

Violators will be ticketed and fined for illegally parking in a handicap parking space or in front of a handicap ramp. Fines were previously $100 for parking illegally in a handicap zone.

For more information, citizens are encouraged to call the city’s Customer Care Center at (804) 646-7000 or visit the city’s website at www.RichmondGov.com.

Contact: Jemila Woodson, (804) 646-4642

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Procurement Director Named - Information Technology Acting Director Made Permanent

Cheryl Wright has been named Director of the city’s Department of Procurement Service. Wright possesses more than 18 years experience in leading procurement and diversity programs with numerous governmental entities throughout Chicago, Illinois. Most recently, she worked as a Business Development Procurement Consultant for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Charlotte, NC, providing business development for the Minority Business Development Agency. Wright had previously served as Chief Procurement Officer for the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago, IL; Director of Purchasing for the Chicago Park District, Chicago, IL; Manager of Contract Administration for Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL; and Senior Contract Compliance Officer for the city of Chicago, IL. She obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree from Purdue University’s School of Technology and a Masters in Project Management from Keller Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois.

Annette Flowers has been named Director of the city’s Department of Information Technology (DIT). She previously served as DIT Manager for the Applications Solutions Division for the city of Richmond and other various technology roles over the past 27 years. As director, she will oversee all technology resources and agency employees. Her responsibilities include technology planning, maintaining business operations, and managing technology services for all city agencies. Flowers obtained an Information Technology Networking degree from the University of Phoenix. Her professional memberships include: Project Management Institute (PMI) and Virginia Association of Local Government IT Executives (VALGITE). Flowers had been serving as the city’s Acting Director of Information Technology since October of 2008.

"We welcome these two additions to the leadership team of the city of Richmond. Both individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit the city and enhance our management efforts," said Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Saturday, December 19, 2009

City to Provide Update to Winter Storm

WHO: Byron C. Marshall, Chief Administrative Officer
Anthony McLean, Acting Director of Emergency Management

WHAT: Update of city's progress in responding to the winter storm

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 19, 2009

WHERE: City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
Richmond Ambulance Authority
2400 Hermitage Road

BACKGROUND:

City officials will provide an update on the city's efforts in response to the winter storm. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a central command and control facility where city officials are coordinating the city’s response to the storm.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Mayor to Provide Update of Winter Storm

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones

WHAT: Update of City's progress in responding to the winter storm

WHEN: 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 19, 2009

WHERE: Department of Public Works Parker Field Operations Center
at Hermitage Road and Avenue of Champions

BACKGROUND:

Mayor Jones will provide an update on the City's efforts in response to the winter storm.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mayor to Present Toys at City & Radio One Holiday Toy Drive

Who: Mayor Dwight C. Jones

Who: Present toys to residents during toy drive distribution event

When: 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. on Friday, December 18, 2009

Where: Arthur Ashe Athletic Center
2907 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23230

Background:

Mayor Jones, the city of Richmond and Radio One present new unwrapped toys, books and clothing to residents in an effort to “Build a Better Richmond” for area youth this holiday season. The toy drive began on Tuesday, December 10, 2009, with donations being accepted at any city fire station, City Hall, Southside Community Service Center, and two Radio One events at the Brook Road and Sheila Lane Walmarts.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Celebrate the Holiday Season in Downtown Richmond

The city of Richmond will host a number of citywide events in celebration of this holiday season. City residents and visitors can enjoy the spirit of the season at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market’s Grand Illumination celebration on Friday, December 4 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Local crafters and food vendors will be highlighted at the event, and the Salvation Army International Brass Ensemble will perform a variety of holiday classics.

Holiday celebrations will still be in full swing on Saturday, December 12 at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., over 80 tuba players will perform in four-part harmony at this year’s Tuba Christmas. Singing Santa will also be at the event, caroling the crowd. This is a must see holiday event for the entire family. For more information on the 17th Street Farmers’ Market, call (804) 646-0477 or visit
www.17thstreetfarmersmarket.com.

Main Street Station will host its annual Holiday Open House on Friday, December 4 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the train station. The event features a Polar Express theme and includes free kiddies’ train rides, hot cider and cookies, decorations, tree lighting and live entertainment. This year’s event will focus on literacy. Professional storytellers will be on hand to read to children, as they enjoy cookies and cider by the fireplace. The Richmond Public Library will also donate books to the first 300 children in attendance. For information on Main Street Station, call (804) 646-5607.

City residents and visitors can also enjoy mid-day caroling from Richmond Public Schools youth choirs. Eighteen of the city’s elementary, middle and high schools will be singing the “Sounds of the Season” each weekday from December 7 through December 17. Most performances are at 12:00 noon on the first floor of City Hall. Please check the city’s website at www.RichmondGov.com for the lineup of the schools and the times.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mayor Jones to Kick-Off City & Radio One Holiday Toy Drive

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones
Linda Forem, General Manager Radio One Richmond
Clovia “Miss Community” Lawrence, Community Outreach Director Radio One Richmond

WHAT: Event to begin the City of Richmond and Radio One Holiday Toy Drive

WHEN: 10 a.m. Wednesday, December 2, 2009

WHERE: Richmond Fire Station 10
900 Hermitage Road
Richmond, Virginia

Background:

Donations of new, unwrapped toys, books and clothing are appreciated and will be accepted at any city fire station or at City Hall through December 17. Radio One will also be accepting donations at the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 2501 Sheila Lane from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Dec. 17.

Donations will be distributed to children in need within the Richmond community.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

City Kicks Off Holiday Season at 17th Street Farmers' Market

The 17th Street Farmers’ Market will kick off the holiday season with the 11th Annual Holiday Market on Friday, November 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature local crafters, artisans, food vendors and live entertainment.

The 17th Street Farmers’ Market will have Frasier Fur trees available for the “Virginia’s Finest” Christmas tree sale. These trees are grown on the mountains of Floyd County in southwestern Virginia and are known as some of the finest Christmas trees in the region. The Christmas trees are priced at $37 for 6 to 7 foot trees and $47 for 7 to 8 foot trees. The Christmas tree sale will continue to December 13, or as supplies last.

Holiday Market proceeds benefit the 2010 17th Street Farmers’ Market children’s garden program. The program provides funding for local children to purchase seeds and plants for a new children’s garden in the spring of 2010.

The market is regularly open on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the 11th Annual Holiday Market, call the 17th Street Farmers’ Market at (804) 646-0477 or visit www.17thstreetfarmersmarket.com.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mayor, City Council and School Board Agree on Plan

Mayor Dwight C. Jones attended today’s informal session of Richmond City Council to speak in support of expediting a resolution to accept the Richmond Public Schools Phase 1 Construction Plan. Eight members of City Council signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution with the Mayor.

“Education remains a top priority for the city of Richmond and this administration,” said Mayor Jones. “We have waited too long to deal with the long-overdue problem of antiquated schools. This is a fiscally-prudent and educationally-imperative plan. We are at a juncture now where we are ready to move forward together and develop very specific timelines for the construction of our schools.”

Phase 1 of the school’s construction plan consists of two parts, the building of new schools and substantial renovations to some existing schools. Phase 1A of the plan includes a new Huguenot High School, Broad Rock Elementary School, Oak Grove Elementary School and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. The new Huguenot High School would be the first high school built in the city in more than 40 years.

The city anticipates total construction cost of Phase 1A to be $173.5 million. The next step in the construction process is to solicit community input for the design of the new schools.

“I look forward to working with City Council, Richmond School Board and staff of Richmond Public Schools to begin the community and neighborhood input phase,” said the Mayor. “It is incumbent upon us to quickly agree on the designs so that we can move forward and start construction of a new school in 2010.”

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772


Thursday, November 19, 2009

DCAO of Human Services Carolyn Graham Press Release Correction

The city press release sent on November 16, 2009, incorrectly detailed the educational background of Carolyn N. Graham, the city’s new Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Human Services.

Graham majored in psychology at the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland however; she did not receive a bachelor’s degree as previously noted, as she was allowed early enrollment in graduate school at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She obtained her first master’s degree in education from Antioch College, and she also holds a masters in public administration from City University of New York Bernard Baruch College in New York, New York; a masters of divinity from the New York Theological Seminary in New York, New York; and a doctorate in ministry from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

She has previously served as deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, Families & Elders for the District of Columbia; national director for Council Services, Girl Scouts of the USA; director of the Human Services Department in Broward County, Florida; director of the State Health Planning & Development Agency in the District of Columbia; as well as vice president for External Affairs for the Greater Southeast Community Hospital. Dr. Graham also served as a member of the District of Columbia School Board.

As Richmond’s DCAO of Human Services, Carolyn Graham will have oversight of the Department of Social Services, Department of Justice Services, as well as the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mayor Jones Announces Revised City Revenue Projections

~Outlines initial strategy to respond to projected revenue shortfall~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that city revenue projections for the current fiscal year (FY 2010) are tracking behind the officially adopted FY 2010 Budget. Reductions in state funding, as well as the drop in sales taxes, were cited as leading to an overall projected revenue shortfall of $10 million for FY 2010.

“The entire nation has been experiencing lingering effects of the recession and Richmond is no exception,” said Mayor Jones. “A number of key revenue sources weakened in FY 2009, and they are continuing to falter in the current year (FY 2010). Moreover, we have to be realistic and assume that the ripple effects will continue into FY 2011.”

The updated revenue estimates are based on revenue collections and economic data from the first quarter of FY 2010. The main driver in the lower-than-projected revenue is a decline in sales tax collections. The local option sales tax is $7.9 million less than projected and the state shared sales tax is $1.9 million less than projected. Another $2.6 million of the shortfall is a direct result of the state’s budget cuts announced in September 2009.

“We have anticipated a downward adjustment for some time in light of the sour economy,” Mayor Jones advised. “For the current year, the adjustment represents 1.7% less than the approved budget. What we are embarking on now is a number of strategies to help close the budget gap while keeping our fund balance intact.

“A number of upward revisions have helped to offset the declines the city is facing. Real estate tax, personal property tax, and delinquent fees and licenses are all tracking above the FY 2010 forecast.

“The city is also reviewing the best way to implement a new commercial tipping fee at the landfill, which is expected to offset some of the decline. We will continue to look for other ways to offset the projected declines.

“Further, I am recommending that we undertake targeted reductions and specific operational strategies rather than across-the-board cuts. Fortunately, a plan to control spending was already in place with our existing hiring freeze. Our department heads have also been charged with looking for day-to-day operating efficiencies, and I fully anticipate that we will realize savings through improved operations in the current fiscal year.

“I've assembled a strong leadership team bringing skills and experience from around the state and across the country. I have full confidence in their abilities to bring innovative ideas and to strengthen our operations. We've already proposed reorganizing to streamline our efforts and we are going to move forward by budgeting to the realities and presenting periodic changes as necessary,” Mayor Jones said.

There are remaining concerns about how further state budget cuts will impact the city’s overall budget. A two-year budget for the state will be presented to the General Assembly in December by the outgoing administration. Additionally, the state Department of Education has recently recalculated the composite index which determines state funding for the school system. Based on the new index, Richmond Public Schools could lose approximately $9 million in state funding beginning in 2011.

Mayor Jones is establishing a Council of Economic Advisors to help the city navigate the continuing financial challenges. The Mayor will also give residents the opportunity to weigh in on the tough decisions that will need to be made. He expects to have the advisors in place by the end of the year, and a citizen involvement process in place by the beginning of the year.

Richmond’s deputy chief administrative officer for Finance and Administration, Marcus Jones, will discuss additional details of the fiscal forecast and the city’s strategy for responding at the next meeting of the Finance Committee of the Richmond City Council on Thursday, November 19, 2009.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772




Monday, November 16, 2009

Mayor Names Carolyn N. Graham as DCAO for Human Services

~Directors of Social Services and Justice Services also announced~

Carolyn N. Graham has been named Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Human Services for the city of Richmond. In this capacity, she has oversight of the Department of Social Services, Department of Justice Services, as well as the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Her appointment is effective immediately. She is coming to the Richmond area from Washington, D.C. where she has had an accomplished career in human services and support programs.

“We are fortunate that Ms. Graham has accepted this position which now completes our executive leadership team,” said Mayor Jones. “The human services component of the city’s work is such a crucial area for service delivery. Ms. Graham’s training and experience with children, youth and families and neighborhood-based municipal services will serve the city of Richmond extremely well.”

Graham received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland, and her first master’s degree in education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She also holds a masters in public administration from City University of New York Bernard Baruch College in New York, New York; a masters of divinity from the New York Theological Seminary in New York, New York; and a doctorate in ministry from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She has previously served as deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, Families & Elders for the District of Columbia; national director for Council Services for the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. in New York, New York; director of the Human Services Department in Broward County, Florida; director of the State Health Planning & Development Agency in the District of Columbia; as well as vice president for External Affairs for the Greater Southeast Community Hospital. Dr. Graham also served as a member of the District of Columbia School Board.

“I am looking forward to serving the residents of Richmond, Virginia. I also look forward to strengthening the city’s relationships with community partners and developing new partnerships for the benefit of the residents of Richmond,” said Carolyn Graham.

With the announcement of the key DCAO position, additional organizational changes have followed:

Doris D. Moseley, interim acting director of the Richmond City Department of Justice Services, has been appointed to the position of director of Richmond City Department of Social Services. As director, she will oversee an agency of approximately 500 city employees, and is responsible for operations, strategic planning and policy development in the social services arena. She will lead and manage the Social Services Department to ensure program compliance for mandated and non-mandated federal, state and local programs such as foster care, food stamps and child protective services. She is also responsible for developing departmental procedures in response to: disaster preparedness; the need to provide housing and other treatment services to the homeless community; the need to deploy staff to police precincts to cover human service needs; the need to collaborate regionally; the need to enroll children in health insurance; and the need to provide services to families and children in Richmond.

Moseley held various positions within the Department of Social Services from 1989 to 2007 including child protective services worker, social work supervisor, acting human services coordinator, and human services manager. Moseley possesses a B.S. in Administration of Justice and Public Safety and a Masters of Management/Human Resources Management. She has been served as interim director for the Department of Justice Services since March of 2008. Anne Kisor, who has served as interim director for the Department of Social Services since July of 2008, is returning to her role as a deputy director of the department.

Charles J. Kehoe, superintendent of the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, has been named director of the Department of Justice Services, replacing Doris Moseley. Kehoe possesses a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Lewis University and a master’s of social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He became superintendent of the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in August 2009; and has served in a number of capacities related to juvenile and adult correctional services for more than 30 years throughout Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and Virginia; including service as director for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Youth and Family Services. He is a past president of the American Correctional Association and has served in leadership roles for a number of commissions and boards related to juvenile justice, criminology, and correctional services. He has several publications in this field of expertise and has received numerous awards for his contributions in the field.

All appointments are effective immediately.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110




Friday, October 30, 2009

10th Annual Brunswick Stew Festival

On November 7, a fall rite of passage will commence at the city’s 17th Street Farmers’ market, the 10th Annual Brunswick Stew Festival. The Brunswick Stew Festival will start at 11 a.m. and run through 5 p.m. at the historic 17th Street Farmers’ Market located at 17th and Main Streets.

This years festival will include music from three bands, Jackass Flats, Proverbial and Native son, beverages from Brown Distributing, and of course plenty of Brunswick stew. There will be over a dozen stew masters ready to take on the challenge of impressing the regions diehard stew lovers.

Stew sample cups will be sold at each both from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m., at which time you will be able to purchase quart sized containers from your favorite stew master.

As with every event at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market, free parking is available at our lot at 18th and Grace Streets.

Contact: George Bolos, (804) 646-0477

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mayor to hold Town Hall at John Marshall High School

“Bringing City Hall to the Community”

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones
City Officials

WHAT: Town Hall to discuss topics such as crime, federal stimulus funding,
economic development, H1N1 virus, and the 2010 census.

WHEN: Thursday, October 29, 2009 from 6 to 8 p.m.

WHERE: John Marshall High School
North Cafeteria
4225 Old Brook Road

BACKGROUND:

Mayor Jones invites residents to the first North Side Town Hall Meeting of his administration, at 6 p.m. this Thursday at John Marshall High School. Similar to the July Southside Town Hall, the emphasis of the North Side Town Hall is to “Bring City Hall to the Community.”

Topics of discussion include crime, federal stimulus funding, economic development, H1N1 virus, and the 2010 census. Officials from the city departments of Community Development; Economic Development; Finance; Fire and Emergency Services; General Services (to include the 3-1-1 Call Center); Hispanic Liaison Office; Human Resources; Justice Services; Libraries; Minority Business Development; Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities; Police; Public Works; Public Utilities; Richmond City Health District; Richmond Public Schools; Sheriff’s Office; and Social Services will be on hand to answer resident questions. City residents are invited and encouraged to attend. Refreshments will also be provided.

Mayor Jones will continue to host town hall meetings throughout the city in the upcoming months.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110


Monday, October 26, 2009

City’s Green Initiatives Result in Green Certification

The city of Richmond is involved in several initiatives to become a greener city by reducing the city’s carbon footprint. The following is a detail of the initiatives the city is currently involved in:


Green Government Challenge

The city of Richmond will receive a green certification award for its participation in the Virginia Municipal League’s 2009 Green Government Challenge during today’s City Council meeting. Michael Amyx, Virginia Municipal League executive director will present the award tonight to Mayor Dwight Jones and members of City Council.

The Green Government Challenge is a competition among local governments to encourage the implementation of specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions. Local governments earned “green points” by implementing or adopting up to 30 policies and actions divided into 11 categories ranging from energy efficiency and green buildings to land-use and innovation. Richmond earned points for the James River Park Conservation Easement, installing a push button lighting system at Byrd Park, tankless hot water systems at Hotchkiss Community Center, and for implementing an Environmental Management System which reduced the city’s waste water treatment facility’s power consumption.

"I want to thank the city departments that have worked together to help us achieve this green certification and I applaud the leadership of our project manager for this effort, Ms. Alicia Zatcoff," said Mayor Jones. "We will continue to reassess ourselves and to work to earn additional points for new activities under the Green Government Challenge going forward."


City Council Ordinance & Resolution

Also scheduled for today’s City Council Meeting is an ordinance, patron City Councilman Chris Hilbert, to establish a Green City Commission, and a resolution, patron Mayor Jones, to support the city’s membership into the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative (ICLEI) Local Governments for Sustainability. Both the ordinance and resolution will provide points for the city in the Green Government Challenge.

The Green City Commission will consist of two members appointed by Mayor Jones and seven members appointed by City Council. The commission will provide expertise and information to support the sustainability efforts of the city by consulting with the state and other local governments about their sustainability efforts and methods; and recommending changes to the Code of the city of Richmond (including zoning regulations and building codes), the Code of Virginia and other laws as necessary to implement sustainable methods in the city.

By joining ICLEI, the city is furthering its climate protection work that includes LEED facilities and initiatives to reduced energy use. Additionally, the city will adopt ICLEI’s five milestones to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the community. This involves conducting a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast to determine the source and quantity of greenhouse gas emissions in city operations and the community. This work will be completed through the city’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG).

Urban Sustainability Directors Network

On behalf of the city of Richmond, Project Manager Alicia Zatcoff joined 65 sustainability directors from cities and counties in the U.S. and Canada at the first annual Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) gathering in Chicago on September 23 to 25. Funded by the Surdna Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Blackstone Ranch Institute, the USDN was formed to enable public sector sustainability leaders to learn from each other and accelerate achievement of municipal sustainability goals.

“We are happy to be a part of this new and dynamic group of sustainability practitioners,” said Mayor Dwight Jones. “Richmond was invited because not only do we have much to impart, but also much to learn, including new ways to save money and develop our local economy while promoting environmental health.”

Topics of discussion included such common issues as energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, green infrastructure, and green workforce development. Participating cities have joined forces to ensure mutual success and sharing of best practices in achieving urban sustainability goals to improve quality of life while solving environmental challenges, achieving cost savings, and promoting inclusive prosperity.

“Being a member of this new group is especially helpful and relevant as Richmond develops its own climate action plan,” said city Project Manager Alicia Zatcoff. “Through this network, Richmond can learn from the efforts of those more advanced in the field of greenhouse gas emissions management such as New York City, Chicago, Toronto, and Portland.”

Contact: Tammy Hawley (804) 646-3110





Tuesday, October 20, 2009

City Welcomes Opening of The Belvidere at Broad

The city of Richmond welcomes The Belvidere at Broad to the business community as the restaurant holds a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. The restaurant is located in the Jackson Ward corridor at 506 W. Broad Street. The Belvidere at Broad is supported by family, friends, neighbors, and the city of Richmond’s Department of Economic Development. The business received financial assistance through the department’s Commercial Area Revitalization Effort Program and the Enterprise Zone Program.

The Belvidere at Broad is locally owned and operated by husband and wife team, David and Julie Hassen. “We wanted to be a part of the downtown revitalization. There is a need for more restaurants in the historic Broad Street Art Corridor to support the thriving neighborhoods nearby,” stated Julie Hassen.

“When we discovered the building for the restaurant, we thought it was a good opportunity to make an improvement to the area. A restaurant offers the visibility and traffic necessary to bring vibrancy to this block,” said David Hassen.

The Belvidere on Broad is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday at 5 p.m. The restaurant offers an eclectic American menu with world influences using traditional French culinary techniques. Fresh ingredients including organic vegetables and natural meats are used. There are vegetarian and gluten free options, as well as an extensive beer and wine selection.

Contact: Sheila Shepperson, (804) 646-5491


Thursday, October 15, 2009

City’s “Imagine Festival” Celebrates Community Diversity

The city of Richmond will host the 5th annual “Imagine Festival” at Broad Rock Park on Saturday, October 24, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission to this community and family event is free.

The Imagine Festival is an exciting event offering free food, dance performances, arts, crafts, vendors, and fun activities for the entire family. A unique component of this year’s festival is a softball tournament including teams from the Richmond Police Department and area community organizations.

“This is a perfect opportunity for the community to come together with city departments such as the Richmond Police Department and truly get to know each other in a fun atmosphere. The Imagine Festival helps break down the “Us – Them” barrier so that we can get to know each other and true communication, cooperation and collaboration can begin. I hope families throughout Richmond can come and enjoy this unique event,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

The Imagine Festival began in 2005 as a community outreach event sponsored by Richmond’s Gang Reduction and Intervention Program. Since then, the city has sponsored the festival which has grown larger with each year. This year’s partners include the United States Census 2010, La Gran D 1480 AM, Radio Poder 1380 AM, Selecta 1320 AM, the Virginia Asian Foundation, Rejoice 1540 AM and the GRIP program.

For more information about the Imagine Festival, please call the city’s Hispanic Liaison Office at 646-0145.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772



City Hall Takes Proactive Approach to Combat Flu

Instituting a hands-on approach to combating flu in the work environment, Richmond City Hall conducted an on-site flu clinic designed to take an active approach to seasonal flu prevention. In partnership with the city’s health provider, Southern Health, the city of Richmond delivered a streamlined process between employer, insurance carrier and provider.

With this approach, city of Richmond employees and dependants over age 18 who are covered by Southern Health simply fill out a form, show their insurance card, and a claim that does not require a co-payment is filed for employees. Employees are then provided their flu shot on-site by Southern Health, IVNA (Instructive Visiting Nurse Association).

During the City Hall flu clinic conducted on October 12, 2009, over one third of the 450 participants had never had a flu shot before. When asked why they chose to get the shot this year when they haven’t in past years, the number one response was "because you came to us and it was affordable," closely followed by "peer pressure from co-workers to get the shot.” Clearly creating a culture of wellness at the workplace provides encouragement and resources for employees who might otherwise shy away from services.

“This is an important proactive approach that I’m encouraging other employers to model with their insurance providers,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “It just doesn’t get much easier for employees than providing an on-site flu clinic partnership setting.”

On average, flu related absenteeism can range from two to seven days per employee. Cough and fatigue can last for several weeks, causing a slow return to work. The city scheduled six flu clinics for city employees and is encouraging employees to take advantage of this program and stay healthy. Remaining dates and locations include:

DPU Operations Center
400 Jeff Davis Hwy.
October 19, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Police Training Academy
1202 West Graham Rd.
October 21, Noon to 7 p.m.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110


Monday, October 12, 2009

Mayor Comments on Norman Sales' Retirement

Mayor Dwight Jones issued the following statement on the retirement of City Attorney Norman Sales.

"The city of Richmond is losing a dedicated public servant, Norman Sales, when he retires. Norman has been a balanced and knowledgeable city attorney, and we are the better for his work here. It is with sadness that I received Norman's announcement. However, I know that he makes the move for personal reasons, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110

Statement of City Attorney Norman Sales Announcing his Retirement

City Attorney Norman Sales issued the following statement today:

"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the city of Richmond, effective December 31, 2009.

"It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve in the City Attorney’s office for more than 20 years and over the last four years as City Attorney. It goes without saying that I have many memories, accomplishments, challenges, and successes that will be indelibly etched as part of the fabric of my life forever. I have great affection for the city of Richmond and its citizens. My work with the city will always be a source of pride and satisfaction for me.

"I want to be clear that my decision to retire at this time has no relation to any matters previously or now before Council for consideration and also has no bearing on my relationship with the current or any past administration. Indeed, I feel that my current relationship with the City Council and the Jones Administration has been a cordial and productive one. My decision to retire at this time is purely personal. For me, for my career, and for my family, the time has come for a change. While I have great affection for the city of Richmond, I am simply entering a new phase of my own life and believe this is the proper time for me to retire.

"I owe a great debt of gratitude to Council members and other city leaders with whom I have worked over the years. They have taught me a great deal. They placed a great amount of confidence in me and allowed me to grow as a professional. This time has been among the most personally and professionally rewarding experiences of my life and one that I will always treasure."

Contat: Norman Sales, (804) 646-7969


Mayor to Sign Sister City Agreement With Ségou, Mali

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones
Mayor Ousmane Simaga of Ségou, Mali
City Council President Kathy Graziano
City Councilman Bruce Tyler

WHAT: Signing of Sister City Agreement between the city of Richmond and
city of Ségou of the Republic of Mali.

WHEN: Noon, Tuesday, October 13, 2009

WHERE: 900 East Broad Street
2nd Floor Large Conference Room
Richmond, VA 23219

BACKGROUND:

Through the efforts of Richmond's Sister City Commission and locally based Virginia Friends of Mali, Richmond City Council passed a resolution on June 3, 2009 to pursue official sister city relationship with Ségou, Mali.

In his letter of introduction to Mayor Simaga, Mayor Jones stated, “Our cities have many things in common, from our identity as capital cities, to the rivers that flow through our vast landscape, and the history and culture that make us educational and recreational destinations.”

At noon on Tuesday, October 13, 2009, the two Mayors will meet in person for the first time to sign the Sister City Agreement.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-7970


Monday, September 28, 2009

City Implements Urban Blight Reduction Program

Immediate benefits of organizational restructuring realized

As part of the recent reorganization of several city of Richmond departments, the city has implemented a new program aimed at reducing urban blight. The new program, being orchestrated by the Department of Public Works (DPW) will address the maintenance needs of vacant properties in four city precincts. To date, more than 250 privately owned properties, which previously came under the purview of the Department of Community Development (DCD), will now be mowed and maintained by DPW.

“I believe this new program follows Mayor Dwight Jones’ dedication to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars and implementing operational efficiencies,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. “The Mayor takes great pride in the city, its beauty and rich history. As such, all neighborhoods will receive the same level of service to maintain the aesthetics and integrity of our community, as we work toward making Richmond a tier one city.”

This phase of the program, which began on September 23, 2009, includes mowing and removal of overgrown vegetation and refuse from all four precincts. Three of the precincts (108 properties in total) will be completed by September 30, 2009. The remaining 132 properties in Precinct 1 will be completed no later than October 31, 2009. Subsequent phases of the program include, but are not limited to:

· Coordinating efforts with other city departments to identify and address other areas in need of maintenance.

· Implementing a system for routine maintenance of lots in need of maintenance

· Working with the City Attorney's Office to increase pressure on those property owners with significant amounts due to the city for work performed on their properties to recover the amount due.

The city's division of code enforcement will continue to inspect and identify potential code violations. Once it has been determined that a property has reached the level of non-compliance and the property owner has failed to address the deficiency, DPW will manage the maintenance of such properties. DPW plans also include the use of local inmate labor to bring cited properties back into compliance. Also liens will be placed on each property in an effort to ensure that the city will be compensated by the owners for the work performed.

An advisory group, consisting of the City Attorney’s Office, DPW, and code enforcement, will determine the best method of returning these vacant properties to productive use, as well as developing a system of recouping any costs incurred by the city as a result of code violations.

Contact: Tammy D. Hawley, (804) 646-3110



Thursday, September 24, 2009

City Restructures Economic and Community Development Departments

Office of Real Estate Services is also part of change

City of Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall, along with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Economic and Community Development, Peter H. Chapman, put forth a restructuring plan today that will enable local government to pursue a more comprehensive and strategic approach to economic and community development. "We are announcing the first of several organizational changes that are designed to make the Richmond City Government a much more effective facilitator of both economic development and community revitalization," Marshall said. "The Mayor has asked for a more competent, responsive and technically proficient administration and I believe the changes being put forth will bring about many of the operational efficiencies he is looking for."

Central to the changes being announced is the consolidation of the City's Office of Real Estate Services into a proposed Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). The Office of Real Estate Services, which has been managing the acquisition, disposition, and leasing of city-owned real estate, will become an important division within DECD. This will allow DECD to fully draw upon and better leverage the city's valuable real estate assets. It is also proposed that the Department of Community Development be renamed to the Department of Planning (DOP).

"This restructuring will create a more robust and interdisciplinary agency that is fully equipped to undertake a more aggressive redevelopment agenda for Richmond. This approach will help us grow by design and not by default," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

Additionally, the federal grants unit—which administers Community Development Block grants and other U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development dollars—within the Department of Community Development will be shifted to DECD. This will allow all of the city’s real estate and business development financing programs to be managed by a single agency, enabling the city to address the needs of non-profit and for-profit developers as well as other customers more efficiently. This will also allow the renamed Department of Planning (DOP) to focus exclusively on planning functions as well as zoning, inspections, architectural and design issues; which will help DOP build upon the great work it is capable of as demonstrated by the Downtown Master Plan.

To further enable the enhanced focus on planning and implementation, the private property maintenance functions routinely carried out by what was formerly Community Development are being reviewed and the responsibility for grass cutting and refuge removal has been placed with the Department of Public Works where there is an existing parallel effort for public property.

"Now that we've had some time to evaluate the revitalization opportunities and challenges confronting Richmond, and best practices for addressing complex urban development needs, it's clear that these organizational changes make sense. Among other benefits, this consolidation moves us away from the fragmented management of our reinvestment programs, and positions us to establish real momentum as we try to stimulate the type of growth and development that the Mayor, City Council and citizens expect," said Chapman.

Building on Mayor Jones' theme of communication, cooperation and collaboration, a Development Council is also being established. The Development Council is designed to bring about increased cross fertilization and coordination of effort and resources among relevant city agencies and authorities. It is envisioned that the Development Council, which will be chaired by Peter Chapman, will include the DECD, DOP, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Richmond Public Schools, Richmond Police Department, the Office of Minority Business Development, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities, and the Departments of Public Works and Public Utilities. Based on project need and project interest, other authorities and agencies such as Public Libraries, Public Health, EDA, CDA and the Port of Richmond will work with the Development Council as necessary.

Mr. Chapman noted that the changes being brought about also require some changes in leadership and personnel. Ms. Jane Ferrara, an experienced and respected real estate professional who has served as director of the once stand alone Office of Real Estate Services for four years, will become deputy director and chief operating officer of an integrated DECD. For an indefinite period, Mr. Chapman will assume the duties of the director while continuing in his current role as DCAO. The existing director of Economic Development, Carthan Currin, will be leaving the agency to join a local law firm. The deputy director for Economic Development, Dara Glass, will be leaving to pursue other opportunities as well. The service and contributions of these two have been recognized in many ways and will be appreciated for years to come.

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

City CARE Program Assists Local Entrepreneur

Local Entrepreneur Crystal Richards will open Nappy by Nature, a hair salon, with assistance from the city of Richmond Department of Economic Development’s Commercial Area Revitalization Effort (CARE) and Enterprise Zone Programs. The salon, located at 1820 Hull Street, will hold a grand opening today, September 15, 2009, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be in the hair care industry,” said Richards. “My goal was to one day operate my own salon and I am very excited that the day is finally becoming a reality.”

“It is extremely fulfilling to see a business excel to this point and utilize the financial incentives offered through the city’s CARE program,” said city Director of Economic Development Carthan Currin. “By providing business assistance through financial and enterprise zone incentives, we are stimulating private investment in the city.”

To celebrate the grand opening, Nappy by Nature is offering specials to youth ages 4 -17 on Tuesday. The salon specializes in hair styling, hair cuts, braids, manicures, and pedicures. Nappy by Nature is open Sunday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact: Keisha Birchett, (804) 646-3171

Monday, September 14, 2009

Richmond Healthy Start Initiative Awarded $4.5 Million Over 5 Years

The Richmond Healthy Start Initiative has been notified that they will receive $4.5 million over the next five years through the Healthy Start program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program is dedicated to ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged pregnant women receive the health care they need. Services include outreach, home visitation, case management, health education, perinatal depression screening, interconceptional care and other effective approaches to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth.

U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott stated, “Healthy Start is exactly the type of community-based prevention program that will save lives and also millions of dollars in healthcare costs down the road.”

“I am thankful that the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative has been selected to receive this funding,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Congressman Scott has been a true champion for our program and I thank him for his efforts in ensuring we receive this funding.”

Richmond’s Healthy Start program is located in the city’s Department of Social Services. Project director of the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative Rose Stith-Singleton said, “This funding will allow Healthy Start to continue providing community-based services to improve the health of mothers and babies.”

The Richmond Healthy Start Initiative is one of 100 Healthy Start sites across the country specifically focused on reducing infant mortality, reducing the incidences of low birth weight babies and eliminating racial disparities in perinatal outcomes. An area is eligible for Healthy Start if it has an infant mortality rate 1.5 times the national average.

The federal Healthy Start Initiative receives $100 million in funding from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Health Resources and Services Administration. Established in 1991, Healthy Start is comprised of approximately 100 community-based programs that respond to the medical, social, cultural and social service needs of women and their infants. Richmond’s Healthy Start Project is a member of the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA). The NHSA supports the expansion of efforts that are rooted in the community and actively involve community members in their design and implementation. For information, visit www.healthystartassoc.org, or contact the NHSA at (202) 296-2195.

Contact: Rose Stith-Singleton, (804) 205-3684

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dr. Ian Smith Joins Richmond in Walk Off Challenge

50 Million Pound Challenge Walk Off Set For Saturday

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones
Dr. Ian Smith (founder/creator of The 50 Million Pound Challenge,
New York Times bestselling author of The 4 Day Diet)

WHAT: 50 Million Pound Challenge Walk/Run Off

WHEN: September 12, 2009
Registration begins at 8 a.m.
Opening remarks at 8:30 a.m.
Challenge Walk/Run Off begins at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Chimborazo Park
East Broad Street and 32nd Street

BACKGROUND:

The 50 Million Pound Challenge is a free national health initiative encouraging people to come together and take control of their health by getting fit. Richmond joins 15 cities and more than 37,000 teams from across the country that will be participating in the Challenge Walk Off on September 12. Challenge event activities include a 2-mile walk/run-off, line dancing, clowns, arts and crafts, and wellness vendors. State Farm will provide raffle prizes during the event to include $100 Visa gift cards, iPod Shuffles, a Wii Fitness system, and more. Everyone that signs up for the Challenge walk or run will receive free healthy snacks and a free 50 Million Pound Challenge t-shirt provided by State Farm.

To join Richmond’s Challenge team, ROCK! Richmond, and connect with fellow Challenge members, visit the Richmond Team page at www.50millionpounds.com or visit www.Richmondgov.com. Those who sign up for the ROCK! Richmond team, either online or at the event, will be eligible for additional incentives.

Residents should call (804) 646-5733 for more information on the Challenge Walk/Run Off.

Contact: Tammy D. Hawley, (804) 646-3110


Join Mayor Jones in the 50 Million Pound Challenge Walk Off

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Dr. Ian Smith, founder and creator of the 50 Million Pound Challenge, invite residents to participate in the 50 Million Pound Challenge Walk Off, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 12, at Chimborazo Park.

In an effort to encourage citizens to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle, Mayor Jones, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities and the Richmond City Health District have planned a family friendly event at Chimborazo Park, East Broad and 32nd Streets. Event registration begins at 8 a.m. and the 2-mile walk/run begins at 9 a.m. Other activities for the Challenge include line dancing, clowns, arts and crafts, and wellness vendors. State Farm will provide raffle prizes during the event to include $100 Visa gift cards, iPod Shuffles, a Wii Fitness system, and more. Everyone that signs up for the Challenge walk or run will receive free healthy snacks and a free 50 Million Pound Challenge t-shirt provided by State Farm.

To join Richmond’s Challenge team, ROCK! Richmond, and connect with fellow Challenge members, visit the Richmond Team page at www.50millionpounds.com or visit www.Richmondgov.com. Those who sign up for the ROCK! Richmond team, either online or at the event, will be eligible for additional incentives.

"It is very important that we take the time to maintain our health and live healthier lifestyles. Obesity is a major concern for Americans and if the city of Richmond can help engage residents to get involved, then why not start now," said Mayor Jones.

"I applaud Mayor Jones and the city of Richmond for their leadership in this important cause,” said Dr. Ian Smith. “We are thrilled to bring The Challenge Walk Off to Richmond on September 12 and ask Richmond residents to join us in an important first step to becoming more focused on their personal physical well-being.”

More than one million U.S. citizens have already joined The 50 Million Pound Challenge—a free national health initiative, sponsored by State Farm, encouraging people to come together and take control of their health by getting fit. To date, the Challenge Walk Off includes 16 cities and more than 37,000 teams from across the country.

For more information, call (804) 646-5733.

Contact: Tammy D. Hawley, (804) 646-3110



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sole Source Review Panel Added to City's Procurement Process

Internal panel designed to help ensure compliance

The City of Richmond announced today its intent to step up efforts to ensure departmental compliance with procurement rules for city contracts. The enhancements are partly a result of an administrative review recently conducted by Mayor Dwight Jones' Administration following an Inspector General's report on the city's Procurement Services Department.

The Inspector General's report was issued as a result of a 2007 complaint alleging that the Procurement Services Department incorrectly awarded a sole source contract for the purchase of police vehicles. "Our internal review of this matter indicates that the Procurement Services Department did not properly follow procurement rules in the awarding of the contract in question. The Department took corrective actions within 60 days of the questionable procurement. However, our findings indicate that there still aren't sufficient safeguards to ensure full compliance. We are putting measures in place to fill any gaps that can give the appearance of an unfair or inequitable procurement process,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall.

The procurement in question took place in November of 2007. After receiving a protest, the Procurement Services Department canceled two years of the contract and announced intentions to re-compete the requirements in January of 2008. The matter was brought to the Jones administration's attention by an Inspector General report issued in July of 2009.

"Regarding the administrative review, corrective personnel actions already have been taken by the City and our review is ongoing at this time. Once we receive the Commonwealth Attorney’s findings, we will determine if any additional corrective or disciplinary personnel actions may be necessary," said Marshall. “Clearly, no one should ever knowingly circumvent City Code requirements. The enhancements we are putting in place will help ensure that no one knowingly or inadvertently circumvents those requirements.”

The City Code provides that a director may award a "sole" or "only practical" source procurement when competition is not possible. Going forward, any sole source procurements will undergo scrutiny of an internal review panel. The panel will involve a cross section of departmental personnel that will weigh the efficacy of any sole source awards made by any city department. The panel will be in place by the end of the 1st quarter of the fiscal year, and will be headed by the city’s new Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration, Marcus Jones.

Contact: Tammy D. Hawley, (804) 646-3110




Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Services Financial Management Undergoing Major Review

Client Services Will Not Be Impacted

Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ administration announced today efforts to reorganize the Richmond Department of Social Services and to correct what has been determined to be major financial management failures. This week the administration became aware of billing errors that have been generated by the department to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“We’ve identified financial management failures that have resulted in an estimated $3.8 million in over billing to the Commonwealth of Virginia. We’ve already begun the process of correcting the billing with the proper State representatives and we're working closely with the City's Auditor,” said City Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. “This management failure has highlighted for us an area of City government that must be retooled. We have no evidence that any of this is based in fraud or corruption, but rather poor management and record keeping which indicates a need to make significant procedural changes and improve the department’s operations.”

Personnel changes have already begun and both a management review and an internal audit are underway. Also, the City in recent weeks has been reviewing a number of strong candidates for the vacant position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services.

“I want the CAO to continue to move expeditiously to fill this key position. This situation underscores the importance of the leadership that must be put in place for this critical City function,” said Mayor Jones. “I’m confident that we have begun to put the right changes in place to correct this management failure. I've made it clear from the beginning of this administration that operational efficiency is one of my highest priorities and we will continue to address any inefficiency that becomes apparent."

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 636-3110


Monday, August 10, 2009

City Cooling Shelters Now Open

The City has opened three cooling shelters to assist residents during the anticipated heat this week. The cooling shelters are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., today, Monday, August 10 through Wednesday, August 12. City cooling shelters are opened when the temperature/heat index reaches or exceeds the 95 degree mark.

Cooling shelters are located at:
-Southside Community Center, 4100 Hull Street
-Department of Social Services, 900 East Marshall Street
-East District Center, 701 North 25th Street

Bottled water will be available, but food will not be provided. Pets, with the exception of service animals, will not be allowed.

All residents should take measures to stay hydrated and avoid prolonged exposure to the heat during the day.

For more information regarding cooling services, citizens can contact the Department of Social Services Fuel Assistance Office, 646-7046. Elderly citizens with heat related issues can contact the Adult Protective Service Unit, 646-7367. In the event of a heat related emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Richmond Adult Drug Court to Hold July Graduation

The Circuit Court of Richmond’s Adult Drug Court will hold a graduation ceremony for five Adult Drug Court graduates on Friday, July 31, at 1 p.m., at the Richmond Police Academy, 1202 Graham Road. David Hicks, City Senior Policy Advisor to the Mayor will be the guest speaker.

The ceremony and reception to follow, which is open to the public, marks the completion of an intensive 18-month outpatient program of drug treatment, probation supervision, judicial monitoring, and community service for participants in the Adult Drug Court.

One of 1,500 drug courts operating in the United States and one of 26 drug courts in Virginia, the Richmond Adult Drug Court monitors non-violent drug-addicted offenders with pending cases in Richmond’s Circuit Court. Offenders volunteer for the program, and participate only after approval of the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney. Participants must meet all program requirements to graduate, including maintaining gainful employment, abstinence from drugs, alcohol and crime, attendance at Narcotics Anonymous meetings and counseling sessions, and performing community service for the City of Richmond.

Unlike the majority of drug court programs in Virginia and the nation, Richmond’s Adult Drug Court program is designed for individuals who have long-term drug addictions to cocaine or heroin, and those with lengthy non-violent criminal histories. More than 98% of the program’s participants are probation violators, and do not receive a reduced or dismissed charge upon graduation – a standard practice among most drug courts. The Richmond program has been effective in reducing drug use and crime, and is more cost-effective than incarceration due to low recidivism. Drug court participants also pay taxes and child support, and save taxpayers the costs of re-entry into the criminal justice system.

Contact: Tanisha Moseley, (804) 646-3655


Friday, July 24, 2009

Mayor to Hold Initial Town Hall Meeting at Southside Plaza

“Bringing City Hall to the Community”

WHO: Mayor Dwight C. Jones
City Officials

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting

WHEN: 6 – 8 p.m. - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WHERE: Southside Community Service Center
4100 Hull Street
Richmond, VA 23234

BACKGROUND:

Mayor Dwight Jones invites residents to the initial Town Hall Meeting at Southside Plaza with the emphasis of the event being “Bringing City Hall to the Community.” During this meeting, the Mayor will specifically discuss crime, federal economic stimulus funding, and the 2010 census. Officials from the City departments of Community Development, Economic Development, Finance, Fire and Emergency Services, General Services, Hispanic Liaison Office, Human Resources, Justice Services, Libraries, Minority Business Development, Parks and Community Facilities, Police, Public Works, Public Utilities, Richmond City Health District, Richmond Public Schools, Sheriff’s Office, Social Services, and Voter Registrar will be on hand to answer resident questions. This meeting is free and residents are invited and encouraged to attend. Refreshments will also be provided.

Mayor Jones will host several town hall meetings throughout the City in the upcoming months.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772

City and Venture Richmond Announce Riverfront Progress

Canal Walk Serves as Catalyst for Ten Years of Economic Success

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Venture Richmond Executive Director Jack Berry issued an economic progress report regarding the 32 acres of Downtown riverfront property. The Canal Walk has served as the economic engine spurring growth along the Riverfront with more than $390 million in private sector investment in the Riverfront development area.

In the 1990’s, the business community and the City worked together to create a master plan for Downtown riverfront development. "I can remember the early planning stages for the Canal Walk and it is so exciting to be able to report on the tremendous success and growth that the project has generated for the Riverfront area so far," said Mayor Jones. "It is clear why the total assessed value of our Riverfront development area has tripled, increasing from $242 million in 1998 to $757 million in 2009. Imagine what those numbers will look like when the Reynolds site is redeveloped and future phases of Foundry Park."

The private sector development projects along the Canal Walk/ Riverfront include: The Turning Basin Building, Dominion’s Energy Clearinghouse, Lady Bird Hat Factory, Riverside on the James, Vistas on the James, and Foundry Park - Phase 1 (MWV Headquarters, Afton Chemical Expansion). These projects represent $390 million of investment and have created over 986,000 square feet (or nearly one million) of new commercial space (office, restaurant, and retail), 1,880 parking spaces and 290 condos.

The projects have attracted three restaurants; Morton’s Steakhouse, Southern Railroad Deli and Black Finn Restaurant. In addition, two tourist attractions, The National Park Service’s Civil War Visitors Center and The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar have opened along the western end of the Canal Walk; representing a combined investment of $16.5 million and attracting more than 600,000 visitors since opening.

Two adjacent buildings, Canal Crossing ($15 million) and the Watkins Cottrell Building ($11 million) have also been renovated, representing an additional $26 million of private sector investment. These buildings are home to a number of companies as well as major retailer La Difference and national restaurant chains Stool Pigeons and Buffalo Wild Wings.

The original economic impact of the Canal Walk area was projected at $450 million over a 10-15 year period. "We’ve already hit the $446 million mark in the first 10 years, and the redevelopment of the 6.6 acre Reynolds site will greatly magnify those numbers,” said Venture Richmond Executive Director Jack Berry. "These numbers don’t include the economic impact of the residents, restaurants, workers, companies, nor the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to Downtown’s historic Riverfront for festivals, outdoor activities, canal boat rides, history and even bird watching."

"Our canal boat tours are setting new records, which reflects the growing attractiveness of downtown Richmond to tourists, visitors, and area residents,” says Berry. "All five canal boats have been fully restored, with new engines and gear, to meet the growing demand for charters and historic tours. I hope more people in the region will take advantage of the opportunity to experience the history of Richmond from the water."

Venture Richmond leases the canal walk and Brown’s Island from the city and is responsible for managing the property, including cleaning, landscaping, canal boat operations, and event coordination on Brown’s Island. Venture Richmond is the organization created from the merger of Richmond Renaissance, citycelebrations, River District Alliance and Riverfront Development Corporation. The private organization markets the downtown area and produces festivals and events, including the Richmond Folk Festival, the 2nd Street Festival, and Friday Cheers.

Contact: Michael Wallace, (804) 646-2772
Lucy Meade, (804) 788-6458





Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Police "Take-Home" Car Policy Tightened

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued an update highlighting changes in the Richmond Police Department's (RPD) Take-Home Car Policy. Acknowledging the benefits of a take-home car policy within City limits, the Mayor noted his desire to begin the process of completely phasing out assigning marked take-home vehicles to officers who live outside the City.

"Within the City limits, a take-home marked vehicle program offers the benefit of an increased police presence and heightened visibility in our neighborhoods. This works to deter crime. Allowing selected individuals (special operations, sector lieutenants and command staff) who live within 15 miles of the City limits to take vehicles home allows for a quicker response to critical incidents and enhances the solvability of crimes. What we don't want is a lax policy that allows for vehicles to be taken out of the City to distant localities. I believe the proposed changes that Chief Norwood has brought forth will strengthen our controls and set more appropriate parameters," said Mayor Jones.

The changes in the RPD policy were presented to City Council today in response to a July 15 date that was established during the budget process. The Government Operations Committee is set to meet on July 23 to review the revised policy with Chief Bryan Norwood. Key components of the changes include:

• Establishment of a geographic parameter to include a 15 mile boundary from the City of Richmond for any take-home vehicles assigned to persons living outside of the City limits. This parameter is tied to a goal of having these responders on scenes within 45 minutes of being alerted. No such parameter previously existed.

• Enhanced eligibility criteria for marked take-home vehicles within the City limits to include officers who are residents of the City and have completed the probationary employment period. Officers in good standing who are residents of the City will now enjoy immediate eligibility to apply for the take-home car program.

• Establishment of an authorization policy for other take-home vehicles. The new authorization process provides for additional eligibility criteria including the need to respond to after-hour call back investigations, the impact on incident management response time, as well as certain management and infrastructure needs. Previously officers were awarded the privilege of a take-home vehicle based solely on conduct and upon availability.

"We've worked to be sure that the changes take into account operational needs as well as public safety concerns. Based on the new policy, I've identified 28 vehicles that can be immediately removed from the take-home program and we have begun the process of removing those vehicles," said Chief Norwood. Estimated savings for those vehicles amount to approximately $98,000 in the current fiscal year. Prior to this change in policy, the Chief had already taken actions to remove 23 other vehicles from service, or to shift the funding of the vehicles from City funds (general funds) to other sources of funding.

Mayor Jones indicated that the immediate changes in the revised policy are part of the short term solution and that longer term objectives include providing additional incentives for RPD personnel to reside in the City of Richmond. "I would like to see more partnerships with local lenders for special loan packages and hope to identify more opportunities to work with developers and builders who can provide special housing packages and other incentives for workers to live in the City," said Mayor Jones.

Aside from the police take-home car policy review, the Administration is undertaking a comprehensive broad based review of all departments that have take-home vehicles. Mayor Jones noted that the City's new Chief Administrative Officer, Byron Marshall, will be overseeing the broad based review and streamlining the City's policies where overall vehicle usage is concerned. By far, the RPD has the largest number of take-home vehicles, but there are other departments that have more limited vehicle use needs. Those department's policies will be carefully reviewed and revised as necessary.

Council President Kathy Graziano commented, "We really appreciate Mayor Jones coming forward with this report. We will review it carefully. I continue to be satisfied with the Mayor and his administration's approach to open information sharing."

Contact: Tammy Hawley, (804) 646-3110
Ron Brown, (804) 646-0607


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mayor’s Statement on Auditor’s Procurement Report

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement regarding the City Auditor’s report on the Procurement Services Department:

“These are very serious allegations. I’ve had discussions with my leadership team about this matter. As a result, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Byron Marshall, has initiated an administrative review that will be conducted by the Deputy CAO for Operations, Chris Beschler and will be completed within a week to ten days. While this review is underway, Garland Williams will serve as acting director of Procurement Services. Williams is presently acting as assistant director of the City’s Department of Budget and Strategic Planning and has previously served as acting director of the City’s Department of Economic Development.

“This administration has respect for the rules of law and will not condone any misuse of public office. In follow up to the City Auditor’s submission of his report to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, I contacted the Commonwealth’s Attorney to indicate the City’s desire to cooperate and offer any assistance that may be necessary if the matter should require action on their part. We want to ensure a procurement process that is fair, competitive, transparent, cost-efficient, impartial and above all, ethical.”

Contact: Michael Wallace, (646) 2772

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

City CAO Byron Marshall Confirmed

Mayor Dwight Jones' choice for Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Richmond was confirmed tonight by a unanimous vote during a special session of the Richmond City Council. Marshall will immediately assume the role of CAO on a part time basis for the duration of July and assume the role in a full-time capacity as of August 1, 2009. He was sworn in tonight by the City Clerk, Lou Brown Ali.

During the special session, Mayor Jones said, "we all want viable neighborhoods, effective youth programs, great schools and a responsive City administration. I'm offering you one of the best and the brightest to fill out our administration's organization."

Following a national search for the City's CAO which began when Jones took office in January, Marshall became the candidate of choice in mid-June. He addressed the City Council during its regularly scheduled session on June 22, 2009, at which time he answered many questions that had arisen in the media. Council then scheduled the special session which took place tonight and provided an opportunity for public input and observation.

"I'm pleased that the Council saw fit to approve Byron Marshall tonight," said Mayor Jones. "This helps us build our capacity and will move us in the direction of being better able to deliver on the services that are needed for the citizens of Richmond."

"I've spent a little more than 30 years working in local government," said Marshall. "I've had serious involvement with budget and finance, utilities, police and corrections, recreation and parks, and personnel. I'm ready to bring all of these experiences to assist the City of Richmond in future endeavors."

Marshall most recently served as president and chief executive officer of the Austin Revitalization Authority in Austin, Texas; where he also served the City of Austin as first assistance city manager. His career includes service in the District of Columbia in the Department of Human Services as deputy controller, deputy director and acting director. In Houston, Texas he served with the Department of Finance and Administration as deputy director and acting director. In Atlanta, Georgia, he served as executive director of the Atlanta Downtown Development Authority and as chief operating officer of Atlanta. Marshall has a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and has also completed more than half of the requirements for a master's in public administration with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse.

Contact: Tammy Hawley (804) 646-3110