Richmond Free Press Jan.18-20, 2024 edition

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Richmond Free Press © 2024 Paradigm Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

VOL. 33 NO. 3


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Meet this week’s Personality B1

JANUARY 18-20, 2024

Court orders RPS to release Sands Anderson report; findings show negligence

Judgment day By Darlene M. Johnson

The external report by the Sands Anderson law firm regarding the June 6, 2023 shooting after the Huguenot High School graduation at the Altria Theater was ordered to be released to the public by 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17. The decision was made by Judge W. Reilly Marchant on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Lawyers, on behalf of Richmond Public Schools, argued that the report should not have been released to the public because of attorney-client privilege. However, in his opinion letter, Judge Marchant stated that “a non-privileged document does not somehow become privileged simply because it includes information the owner would prefer not to disclose.” Judge Marchant further added that “not every communication between attorney and client is protected by attorney-client privilege.” According to the report, Sands Anderson was

tasked to investigate the operations of graduation day “from set up, to break down” and the process and procedures for guests and students entering the Altria Theater. The investigation also was to include a breakdown of the homebound process and procedures and written statements from RPS and Huguenot High School staff involved in the graduations that were set to take place on June 6. The Altria Theater contracted RMC Events to provide security personnel as the first point of contact if issues arose inside the venue or with a parent. RMC also had primary control over security equipment. Neither the Altria Theater nor RMC participated in the investigation by Sands Anderson. RPS provided additional security with 19 of their own Care and Safety Associates (CSAs). The CSAs were unarmed and only equipped with radios with no power to arrest or other authority outside of Please turn to A4

Regina H. Boone/Richmond Free Press

Police Chief Rick Edwards leads the way with other city officials, including Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney, and former City Council President Michael Jones, to brief members of the media following a June 6, 2023 shooting after Hugeunot High School commencement inside Altria Theater that left two people dead, including a graduate and a relative outside the building.

She’s a winner!

Tranelle Pollard is the 2024 RPS Teacher of the Year Free Press staff report

Courtesy Richmond Public Schools

Tranelle Pollard, middle, is congratulated by school officials for being named Richmond Public Schools’ 2024 Teacher of the Year. Standing with her are, from left, RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras, RPS School Board Chair Stephanie Rizzi, RPS Board member Jonathan Young, and Dogwood Middle School Principal Christopher Jacobs.

Tranelle Pollard, lead school counselor at Dogwood Middle School, has been selected as the Richmond Public Schools 2024 Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Jason Kamras, RPS School Board Chair Stephanie Rizzi, RPS Board member Jonathan Young, and Principal Christopher Jacobs shared the news with Ms. Pollard at a surprise school assembly on Wednesday. “Educators are the lifeblood of our schools and are here to teach with love and make a difference in the lives of students,” said RPS School Board Chair Stephanie Rizzi. “Counselors, nurses, instructional coaches, and social workers all play a vital role in shaping our students and helping to prepare them for the future.” Born and raised in Highland Park on the city’s Northside, Please turn to A4

Virginia Senate Democrats postpone work on constitutional amendments and kill GOP voting bills By Sarah Rankin The Associated Press

A Democrat-led Virginia Senate panel on Tuesday defeated a handful of Republican-sponsored voting bills and moved to put on hold consideration of several proposed constitutional amendments until after this year’s session. Without discussion, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted to carry over the proposed amendments, which had been unveiled with great fanfare after the November elections, when Democrats held their Senate majority and flipped control of the House of Delegates.

The measures included proposals to repeal a now-defunct ban in the state constitution on same-sex marriage, expand protections for abortion access and reform the state’s system of civil rights restoration for felons who have completed their sentences. Senate Democratic Leader Scott Surovell said in a text message that the proposed amendments were being carried over until Sen. Surovell the 2025 session, something he characterized as a standard practice, given that amendments are typically introduced in odd-numbered years.

City Hall offers some reforms on tax collections By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Amid the uproar over meals-tax collections, City Hall is rolling out a multiple-step plan in a bid to ease complaints. Responding to City Council members who have gotten an earful from businesses, J.E. Lincoln Saunders, the city’s chief administrative officer, offered up a series of reforms. His plan calls for reducing the first penalties on businesses and individuals who are late in paying taxes and providing a convenient no-fee online option for paying taxes going forward. That plan might not go far enough. First District Council member Andreas

Mr. Addison said he is advocating for a new amnesty program that would eliminate the penalties, interest and fees that were assessed in 2020 and 2021, when routine notices of late payments were halted. Mr. Saunders Mr. Veney Mayor Stoney The city stopping issuD. Addison said Tuesday that the plan ing such notices after the pandemic began needs to have a “retroactive component” in March 2020 and did not resume them to address the complaints that businesses until June 2022, leaving many businesses have raised about huge tax bills resulting in the dark about penalties and interest from late payments or other problems for which they say were never notified. Please turn to A4

The move won’t slow down the timeline by which voters could potentially consider the measures. Proposed constitutional amendments must first pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two years, with an intervening election for the House of Delegates in between. Those elections happen every two years in odd-numbered years, meaning the soonest they could be Mr. Holsworth up for a vote is 2026. “I think what they wanted to do is put all these folks on record right before the (2025) election,” said Bob Holsworth, a veteran political analyst. A spokesperson for the House Democratic caucus did not respond to inquiries about whether leadership planned to do the same with corresponding measures pending in that chamber. The committee’s move also continued until 2025 a proposal from Lynchburg Republican Sen. Mark Peake to preclude anyone elected as lieutenant governor or attorney general in 2029 and onward from serving more than two terms. It did not apply to a proposed constitutional amendment from Democratic Sen. Jeremy McPike that deals with an expansion of Please turn to A4

Richmond Jazz and Music Festival reference in Free Press’ meals-tax story is misleading There is a gratuitous and incorrect paragraph in a frontpage story (January 4-6 edition) about the local meals tax collection issue. In the story, Free Press reporter Jeremy Lazarus reaches back to 2018 and alleges by innuendo that Ken Johnson received preferential treatment by the city of Richmond. In 2018 the issue related to admission taxes that Mr. Johnson’s company allegedly owed the city for a jazz festival that Johnson Inc. organized and promoted. It was found that no taxes were owed because the type of event and the venue were not subject to tax. The story asserts that admissions tax — not meals tax — for an event organized and promoted by Mr. Johnson’s business, Johnson Inc., was “wiped out” by a city administrator

who no longer works for the city. The reporting implies in the story that Mr. Johnson’s political relationship with Mayor Stoney played a significant role in that decision. As I understand it, the admissions tax that Mr. Lazarus references was never applicable to the jazz festival even. It was assessed in error in 2018, and was rescinded because it was an error. To reference the jazz festival situation in this reporting was a reach too far and should never have been a part of this meals tax controversy story. It implies cronyism and wrongdoing. That was not the case. The Free Press regrets the error. Jean Patterson Boone Publisher

Julianne Tripp

Thankful Michelle Wilkerson, VUU’s 2023-2024 Miss 1865, bows her head in prayer during 46th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders Celebration hosted by Virginia Union University at the Downtown Richmond Marriott on Friday, Jan 12. VUU was founded in 1865. More photos are on A5.

Richmond Free Press

A2 January 18-20, 2024

Local News

Early voting for president Free Press staff report

Early voting in Virginia’s March 5 presidential primaries is to begin on Friday, Jan. 19, and continue through Saturday, March 2, it has been announced. On the Democratic primary ballot, incumbent President Joseph R. “Joe” Biden Jr. is facing off against two challengers, author Marianne Williamson and Congressman Dean Benson Phillips. On the Republican primary ballot, former President Donald J. Trump is facing off against six candidates, most of whom have suspended their campaigns. The list includes the two active challengers, Ron De Santis and Nikki R. Haley. President Biden The ballot also lists Chris Christie, Ryan L. Binkley and Vivek Ramaswamy. In Richmond, the main early voting location will be at the voting headquarters, 2134 W. Laburnum Ave., according to the Keith Balmer, the city’s voter registrar. Satellite voting operations are to open Tuesday, Feb. 20, at City Hall and at the Hickory Hill Community Center, Mr. Balmer stated. Further details: (804) 646-5950 or

New urgent care centers coming to fruition Free Press staff report

Church Hill is moving closer to the opening of its first urgent care center. Construction has been completed and the only hold-up involves the hiring of staff, according to Bon Secours officials. The new office will be located at 2603 Nine Mile Road on the first floor of Bon Secours’ East End Medical Office Building, next door to the hospital. Bon Secours officials had hoped to open before Jan. 1, but the staffing issue has delayed the start of this operation as well as two others — one at Regency Square in Henrico and the other in the Swift Creek area. “Richmond is a tight and competitive health-care marker when it comes to recruitment,” Bon Secours spokesperson Jenna Green told the Free Press. She said the hospital system wants to make sure the new centers are fully staffed before opening “so we can uphold our commitment to serve the community every day.” She added that Bon Secours’ goal is to open all three by mid-March or sooner.

Free community testing for COVID-19 continues The Richmond and Henrico County health districts are offering testing at the following locations: • Friday, Jan. 12, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Southside Women, Infants and Children Office, 509 E. Southside Plaza. • Wednesday, Jan. 17, 8 to 10 a.m. - Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave.; 2 to 4:30 p.m. - St. Luke’s Apartments, 117 Engleside Drive. RHHD’s Resource Centers are providing free at-home tests for pick-up at select locations: • Creighton Court at 2150 Creighton Road, call 804-3710433 for more info • Fairfield Court at 2311 N. 25th St., call 804-786-4099 for more info • Gilpin Court at 436 Calhoun St., call 804-786-1960 for more info • Hillside Cour t at 1615 Glenfield Ave., call 804-230-7740 for more info

• Mosby Cour t at 1536 Coalter St., call 804-786-0204 for more info • Southwood Court at 1754 Clarkson Road. Unit #B, call 804-230-2077 for more info • Whitcomb Court at 2106 Deforrest St., call 804-786-0555 for more info

Call the Richmond and Henrico Call Center at (804) 205-3501 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for more information on testing sites, or go online at The Virginia Department of Health also has a list of COVID19 testing locations around the state at coronavirus/covid-19-testing/covid-19-testing-sites. Want a COVID-19 vaccine? Those interested can schedule an appointment with RHHD by calling (804) 205-3501. also allows people to find nearby pharmacies and clinics that offer the COVID-19 vaccine, and those interested can also text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that children between the ages of 6 months to 4 years old may need multiple doses of the updated vaccines depending on their COVID-19 vaccine status and whether they had previously received Pfizer or Moderna. Waiting periods for additional vaccines can range from three to eight weeks or four to eight weeks, depending on the vaccine dose previously received. Children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old who are unvaccinated or received a vaccine before Sept. 12, 2023, should get one updated Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Those age 12 years and older who are unvaccinated should get either one updated Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two doses of the updated Novavax vaccine. People in that age range who received a vaccine before Sept. 12, 2023, should get one updated Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of updated COVID-19 vaccine, and are encouraged to talk with their health care providers about how and when to receive them. Compiled by George Copeland Jr.

Sandra Sellars/Richmond Free Press

Cityscape Slices of life and scenes in Richmond

All was calm at Abner Clay Park in Jackson Ward on Monday, Jan. 15 as snow flurries fell and stuck in several parts of Richmond and surrounding counties. Temperatures stayed in the low 30s, crept to the 40s by Tuesday, but fell back to the 30s by Wednesday. Want more snow? Hang around until Friday and you may get your wish. That’s when it’s predicted that the white speckles will make an encore.

City moves access revenue that results in $12.6M surplus By Jeremy M. Lazarus

The city of Richmond’s financial team moved $30 million in excess revenue from the 2022-23 fiscal year to the city’s savings account to refund expenses and then officially announced a $12.6 million surplus from the fiscal year that ended June 30. Of the $30 million, $18 million repaid the 5-cent rebate the city provided to property owners earlier this year, according to a report that the deputy chief administrative officer for finance and administration, Sabrina Joy-Hogg, provided to the Free Press. Mayor Levar Stoney announced the $18 million rebate in November 2022, an amount equal to about half of the publicly announced $35 million surplus for the 2021-22 fiscal year. His rebate plan won support from City Council and the Finance Department issued the payments in early 2023. The rebate enabled the council to vote keep the current real estate tax rate unchanged as Ms. Joy-Hogg and the city’s chief administrator,

J.E. Lincoln Saunders, urged. The remaining $12 million that also was transferred to the Unassigned Fund Balance made up for a $12 million error that Free Press reported on in 2021. The correction reduced the Unassigned Fund Balance, but this fresh payment made up for the error. These changes are the key reasons the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report or ACFR showed the Unassigned Fund balance grew from $107.9 million at the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year to $139.9 million for the 2022-23 — a 29 percent increase. The Rainy Day fund also includes a separate account called the Budget and Revenue Stabilization Fund, which increased from $25.3 million in 2021-22 to $29.6 million in 2022-23, increasing the total amount in the Rainy Day Fund to a record $169.5 million. That amount is equal to $731 for each of the city’s estimated 230,000 residents and to 18.3 percent of the general fund, which also reached a record $922 million,

according to the ACFR. Ms. Joy-Hogg confirmed that the figures the Free Press previously reported from the city’s audit were accurate. Her only objection was that on Jan. 4 the Free Press reported the money as a “surplus” rather than using the term “reserves.” In a separate interview last week, Mr. Saunders said the city’s money moves that boosted the Rainy Day Fund represent a key element of the city’s quest to secure a Triple A bond rating. He said he will be advocating for the council to set a policy goal of having the Rainy Day Fund equal 20 percent of the general fund revenue, up from the current 16.67 percent. “Growing our reserves is a need and a priority,” Mr. Saunders said, based on advice from the city’s financial advisor and Wall Street ratings agency, even if that might reduce the money available for other priorities. Once that goal is met, he said, the city would have more flexibility in dealing with other needs.

City receives excellent credit ratings from Standard & Poor’s Free Press staff report

S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Fitch Ratings have affirmed the City of Richmond’s ratings at AA+, Aa1, and AA+, respectively, according to City officials. The rating agencies commended Richmond for its very strong economic growth, attention to increasing reserves, and sound and conservative financial management and policies. In addition to its rating affirmation of AA+, S&P Global Ratings upgraded Richmond’s rating outlook to positive from stable and assigned its ‘AA+’ rating to the city’s approximately $64 million series 2024 GO bonds, City officials announced Jan. 11.

With the positive outlook, the city is on the precipice of achieving its goal of a AAA rating, city officials said. “The positive outlook reflects Richmond’s very strong economic growth, with assessed values rising 43% since fiscal 2020, and strong financial management, with available fund balance increasing by 58% over the same time period to 30.2% of expenditures, which S&P Global Ratings considers very strong.” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said getting Richmond’s fiscal health in order long has been a priority of his tenure. “The upgrade of Richmond’s outlook is a clear indication that the city continues to make progress and is headed in the right direction,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “I

am grateful for all the hard work from city staff and our public and private partnerships that helped make this possible. With much work ahead, we remain encouraged that Richmond is on an upward trajectory.” Having a favorable credit rating is crucial for Richmond to borrow money at the lowest interest rates possible. This, in turn, results in spending less on borrowing costs, saving taxpayer dollars. Credit ratings for both corporations and government agencies are similar to a credit score. The three primary rating agencies are S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Fitch Ratings. These agencies offer impartial evaluations of a bond issuer’s financial strength and their ability to repay a bond’s principal and interest.

School Board election shakeup By Jeremy M. Lazarus

After six years on the School Board, Kenya Gibson is seeking to move up to City Council. On Tuesday, the 3rd District School Board member announced she will challenge first-term incumbent Ann-Frances Lambert for the North Side district’s council seat. Ms. Gibson is one of at least three members who will not be seeking re-election to the nine-member governing board for Richmond Public Schools in the upcoming November election. Ms. Gibson has represented the 3rd District since 2017 when she won a special election to replace Jeffrey M. Bourne after he won a seat in the House of Delegates. Her departure is likely to trigger a competitive race in the North Side district for the seat. The departure of two-term 1st District representative Elizabeth “Liz” Doerr also is expected to result in a competitive race for

her seat. Ms. Doerr, who currently is vice chair, has already notified colleagues that she will not seek re-election to the West End seat. A competitive election also is anticipated for the 9th District seat in South Side that Nicole Jones resigned. She left after being appointed to fill the 9th District council seat that was left empty with the Ms. Gibson departure of Dr. Michael J. Jones to the House of Delegates. A fourth School Board seat could become vacant if Dawn C. Page decides to leave the 8th District post in South Side. According to several sources, Ms. Page has hinted to colleagues that she would leave the seat, and there have been rumors she might try to challenge incumbent Reva M. Trammell for the district’s council seat.

However, Ms. Page told the Free Press this week that she is still considering her options. There are expectations that there could be two open seats on the council as well. So far there is only one open seat, the 9th District seat, where Ms. Jones is expected to face one or more challengers to her bid for her first full four-year term. There could be another open seat if 1st District Councilman Andreas D. Addison runs for mayor. While he has yet to announce, Mr. Addison also has been privately saying that he plans to give up his seat to run for the city’s elected chief executive post. Uncertainty still surrounds two other council incumbents, Ellen F. Robertson. 6th District, and Cynthia I. Newbille, 7th District, who have yet to announce their plans. The other five members, including Ms. Lambert, have indicated they will seek re-election.

Richmond Free Press

Have you heard?

Rate reform is working. Last year, Virginia policymakers delivered meaningful rate relief and energy reforms. • Lower Monthly Bills – $352 million in rate relief, saving the typical residential customer more than $80 a year. • Fuel Cost Down – An additional $7 a month reduction by managing rising global fuel costs. • More Oversight – Increased regulatory authority by the State Corporation Commission. • Largest Offshore Wind Project – Moved forward with the largest offshore wind development in the U.S., which will deliver clean energy to 660,000 KRPHV ZKHQ êQLVKHG And Dominion Energy has undergrounded 2,000 miles of power lines to improve reliability, installed smart meters to help customers manage energy use, and expanded EnergyShare to help more neighbors in need.

January 18-20, 2024 A3

Richmond Free Press

A4 January 18-20, 2024


Highland Grove development to restart By Jeremy M. Lazarus

City Council has cleared the way for the restart of a shut-down subdivision that is to bring 122 affordable homes to North Side. The decision was made during the Jan. 8 meeting in which the council also approved support for cooperative regional efforts to help deal with opioid addiction. The council approved an agreement between City Hall and the Better Housing Coalition that will enable nearly $7.3 million in city funds to flow into the Highland Grove development in the 500 block of Dove Street in Highland Park. The funding will pay for installation of new

utility lines, streets and alleys and other infrastructure for the first phase of the development that will fill a large portion of the 40-acre site where Virginia National Guard was once housed. Better Housing Coalition had contractors begin work in the spring, but was forced to shut down in August when the city halted funding to ensure an agreement was in place. The development and sale of the singlefamily homes would help complete the Highland Grove development that got its start 16 years ago during Mayor L. Douglas Wilder’s tenure and began with the removal of the former Dove Court public housing community and ramshackle apartments across the street.

Development of new income-restricted apartments was completed in 2013 but plans for the new homes remained on hold until BHC was tapped eight years later to handle that phase. BHC is partnering with other nonprofits, project:Homes, the Maggie Walker Community Land Bank and Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, on the development. Greta J. Harris, BHC president and CEO, said she expects infrastructure work to resume by March. The first phase is to include 97 homes, with an additional 25 in the second phase, she said. BHC has developed hundreds of rental units and previously renovated homes that it sold or leased. Highland Grove will be the group’s first

new home subdivision. In other votes, the council approved the development of a new West End office building and endorsed the administration’s plan to participate with Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties on two programs involving opioid addiction. One program involves funding an analysis of the gaps in programs and support for addicts who are pregnant or parent children. The second would expand an initiative that places peer recovery specialists with first responders to offer assistance to people who overdose. The new funding would allow more peer recovery specialists to be hired.

Court orders RPS to release Sands Anderson report; findings show negligence Continued from A1

“keeping the peace.” CSAs were trained to conduct searches and use metal detectors, but they were not asked or permitted to aid in these procedures at the venue. RPS also hired five offduty officers and three workers from Fire and EMS. Only one RMC employee was staffed at the venue entrance right before the graduation began. If RMC could not control a situation inside the venue or an incident involving a parent, RPS security was designated as second in command followed by the Richmond Police Department. There was no discussion about situations involving students or situations outside of the venue. Shawn Jackson, 18, and his stepfather, Renzo Smith, 36, were killed following the graduation ceremony. Mr. Jackson was a homebound student who was not permitted to be on school property or at school-sponsored events because of safety and mental health concerns. The safety concerns are said to be due to “an incident one of [Mr. Jackson’s] friends” was involved in that resulted in the shooting death of another person, according

Tranelle Pollard is the 2024 RPS Teacher of the Year Continued from A1

Ms. Pollard is a product of Richmond Public Schools. She attended Overby-Sheppard Elementary School, Binford Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson High School; it was at OverbySheppard that Ms. Pollard met several influential teachers who instilled in her a love of teaching and learning. In 1999, Ms. Pollard graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School with an Advanced Studies Diploma. She received a full academic scholarship to St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, VA, and in May of 2004, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She began her teaching career at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School as a sixth grade science teacher. During that first year, Ms. Pollard knew instantly that her love and life’s mission was to pour into her students and to be the voice for students across the division. Students thrived under her lead as a teacher, with her eighth grade science class receiving a 95% pass rate on the SOL. As a classroom teacher, students always felt comfortable talking to Ms. Pollard about their problems, but it was the tragic loss of a beloved student that encouraged her to explore school counseling. Her students needed a trusted educator to support their needs beyond the classroom. Ms. Pollard experienced the loss of three students during her time as a middle school teacher, and it was those loses that would forever change her life. She wanted to devote her time listening to and advocating for students without interruptions. In December 2010, Ms. Pollard master’s degree in education and counselor education with honors from Virginia State University. In August 2012, she became a middle school counselor at Dogwood Middle School (formerly Binford Middle School). Colleagues describe Ms. Pollard as someone who creates a loving, supportive environment that is felt throughout Dogwood Middle School. “Her greatest contribution is the authentic connections she has developed with her students and the impact she has had in their development,” reads an announcement about her latest achievement. “Middle school is a particular period in life that is difficult,” said Dogwood’s Principal Christopher Jacobs. “Ms. Pollard helps our scholars work through adversity, providing them with life experiences and stories to navigate these formative years.” Each year, RPS selects a division-wide Teacher of the Year from a pool of nominees representing every RPS school. Ms. Pollard will now go on to represent RPS in the Region 1 Regional Teacher of the Year contest facilitated by the Virginia Department of Education.

to the report and its exhibits. Despite this, there were multiple instances of Mr. Jackson being on school grounds. Safety and security issues cited in the Sands Anderson Report included an email from Mr. Jackson’s mother to his counselor stating the family was “still homeless from [their] home being shot up, by students in Huguenot,” and another instance when Mr. Jackson took a test on school property “in the class with people who literally tried to kill him.” School counselor Monique Harris, who is a mandated reporter of “threatening behavior, statements or actions,” according to the RPS threat assessment policy, was aware of the incident that occurred on school grounds. She did not report the information to an administrator to begin a threat assessment. Mr. Jackson did not attend the graduation rehearsal, but he was “squeezed in” at the graduation ceremony, even though his counselor, Ms. Harris, noted how it might have been “too dangerous” in an email to Mr. Jackson’s mother, Tameeka Smith. For a homebound student to be allowed on school grounds and school-sponsored events, the principal or the principal’s designee must give permission. Neither Huguenot High School’s then-principal, Robert Gilstrap, nor his designee granted this permission. Leading up to the graduation ceremony and thereafter, Mr. Gilstrap did not provide support to the Jackson family and he lacked leadership at the school. Mr. Gilstrap was “checked out” of his role and was looking for another job, according to Solomon Jefferson, chief academic officer. Some things remain unclear. There were conflicting reports on whether the metal detec-

tors at the venue worked and where they were located. School Board member Jonathan Young reported seeing stationary metal detectors at the graduates’ entrance of the venue. RPS School Board members Dr. Shonda Harris-Muhammed and Stephanie Rizzi did not recall if metal detectors were at the event. Kevin Monroe, Huguenot assistant principal, said there were metal detectors, but they were faulty because the detectors did not go off when he walked through with a belt, phone and watch. The investigation could not make a conclusive determination on the metal detectors without camera footage and Sands Anderson was unable to obtain footage because of the Altria Theater’s lack of cooperation, the report said. There has been a pattern of negligence with safety procedures that have led to “emergencies in escalating magnitude,” RPS School Board member Kenya Gibson said in a statement. “We had security issues when there was a school shooting months before the graduation. After those events, I called for the board to hire a safety auditor to monitor compliance with protocols,” Ms. Gibson said. “I hope my colleagues can now agree that position is necessary, and I hope they will support funding it.” Josh Stanfield, who represented himself in the lawsuit against RPS for FOIA records, said he believes that it should not have been this hard for the public to access public records. “Richmond has a major transparency problem, and I urge all citizens and journalists to hold the government accountable in a court of law,” Mr. Stanfield said in a statement. “As we now see from the report, there was indeed something for the School Board to hide.”

Virginia Senate Democrats postpone work on constitutional amendments and kill GOP voting bills Continued from A1

a tax exemption for the surviving spouses of soldiers who died in the line of duty, McPike confirmed. That proposal passed last year and could go to voters this fall if approved again this session. The Senate committee later moved on to taking up and dispensing with several Republican-sponsored bills dealing with voting access, including a proposal to end sameday registration on Election Day and curtail the state’s lengthy early voting period. “We vehemently oppose and will re-

lentlessly combat all legislative attempts to undermine or restrict voting access in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the Senate Democratic caucus said in a joint statement after the hearing. Peake, who sponsored the bill to limit same-day registration, argued that it was creating a burden for registrars. He cited reports of big crowds in Blacksburg and Williamsburg — localities that are both home to universities — in the last election cycle. The committee voted down another bill from Peake that would have limited

absentee voting from the current 45 days to 21 days. Peake argued that the lengthy absentee period was out of line with even liberal states elsewhere in the country and created a burden not only for registrars but for campaigns that may want to monitor or staff the polls. The Virginia NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Virginia were among the groups that spoke against the measure. The committee also defeated a bill that would have required a voter show a photo ID to cast a ballot. Virginia Democrats repealed a previous photo ID requirement in 2020.

City Hall offers some reforms on tax collections Continued from A1

assessed for late payments. The fresh focus on the Finance Department and its collection procedures began with a social media post from Samuel Veney, co-owner of the Philly Vegan takeout sandwich shop in South Side. Mr. Veney drew wide attention with the post that blasted the city for hitting him with a $37,000 bill for uncollected meal taxes. Mr. Veney claimed that a Finance Department employee instructed him not to collect the meals tax when the shop was licensed to operate in June 2021. He said the shop followed that instruction until March 2022 when a department tax auditor told him the direction he got was wrong. He is not alone. Richbrau Brewery also claimed he received a bill for more than

$50,000 after initially being instructed by the Finance Department not to collect the tax on draft beer. Public criticism of the city’s processes only increased with an open letter on social media from Kevin Grubbs, owner of the Latitude Seafood Co. at Stoney Point. That letter noted that an $800 late fee on meals taxes had grown to a bill of more than $68,000 over two years. He claims the department never notified him about the initial late fee. The Virginia Restaurant Association later noted that at least 25 members have reported other horror stories, attracting the attention of the General Assembly, with legislation being introduced to overhaul local collection practices. The meals-tax issue presents a problem for Mayor Levar M. Stoney and his administration because it involves the

alleged mistreatment of small businesses that he has declared the backbone of growth and jobs. In his Jan. 11 letter to the City Council, Mr. Saunders said the main solution will come from implementing new taxpayer payment and account software called RVAPay, which will make it easier for taxpayers look up their accounts, balances and payments. While the implementation of RVAPay for most taxes is still months away, Mr. Saunders wrote that he has authorized other steps. One of the biggest, if the Council approves it, would be to change the practice of applying new fees to delinquent bills first. He promised to submit an ordinance to the Council that would require payments to be applied to a current bill first and then to delinquent amounts.

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January 18-20, 2024 A5

Local News

Celebrating the legacy of L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first elected African-American governor By Debora Timms

Two events this week are about recognizing and honoring the leadership and service of Richmonder L. Douglas Wilder, a lawyer and politician who became the nation’s first elected African-American governor when he won Virginia’s gubernatorial race in 1989. Prior to that, the former governor served in the Virginia senate and as lieutenant governor, and later went on to become the first directly elected mayor of Richmond, holding office from 2005 to 2009. The celebrations are being presented by the former governor’s alma maters, Virginia Union University and Howard University, along with the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The first event took place at VUU on Wednesday, Jan. 17. The evening featured a reception

and the premiere of a documentary Luther King Jr., and that he had film on Gov. Wilder’s life on what spent the days before observing the was his 93rd birthday. The second, a MLK holidays attending events and black-tie event, takes place Saturday ceremonies. at the Washington Hilton in D.C. “Participating in these kinds of In a phone call earlier this week, events reminds me of the unfinished Gov. Wilder said that one of the proudagenda,” he said. “I think that’s what est accomplishments of his political the gala in Washington is about.” life was his role in having Virginia In addition to the gala celebrating be the first in the nation to declare a the legacy of Gov. Wilder, it will be Former Gov. holiday in honor of Dr. King. about continuing it with the establish“It took me eight years to get it L. Douglas Wilder ment of a scholarship fund that will done,” he said of the battle to get the holiday benefit students at Howard, VUU and VCU who established. “One house or the other would kill aspire to a career in public service. it and when I finally did get it passed by both Gov. Wilder says the scholarship is important houses, there were two gubernatorial vetoes. because it shows the value and importance of Ultimately, we got it passed and we got it passed education to young people, providing encoureven before the national government.” agement to them. This is even more important He noted that his own birthday falls two at HBCUs. years and two days after that of Dr. Martin “I wanted to do that in Virginia because

Virginia House Speaker Don Scott

VUU President Hakim Lucas

Virginia, as well as other Southern states, would not allow Black students to go to college,” he explained, noting that when they did allow entrance, it was to separate colleges that were left underfunded. “Education is the cornerstone in the advancement of any democracy and of any people,” Gov. Wilder added. He hopes that when future generations look at his example they are encouraged to work for the people and believe that anything is possible. “They can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do,” Gov. Wilder said. “But do it and don’t be selfish. Look to the problems that need to be settled. “Our leaders need to be part of that and I think that word describes itself — it means to lead,” he concluded. “That leadership should be of, for and, as President Lincoln said, by the people.”

Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney

Community leaders, elected officials and public celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy The lilting sounds of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” performed by the Virginia Union University Choir helped set the stage for the 46th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders Celebration on Friday, Jan. 10. Virginia Union University, Dominion Energy, Living The Dream Inc. and CBS 6 sponsor the annual breakfast which drew approximately 2,000 people. Dozens of elected officials, politicians, business, civic and corporate leaders work up early to enter the Richmond Marriott’s Grand Ballroom to commemorate the legacy of Dr. King, who had he not died at the hands of an assassin in 1968. Dr. King’s birthday is Jan. 15. Recognizing how the late civil rights icon, with his message of equality, hope, freedom and love, laid down his life for everyone in the room was Speaker of the House Delegate Don L. Scott. Speaker Scott, who is the first Black person to serve in his newly sworn-in role, received the A. Donald McEachin Award, which honors the late U.S. Congressman who died in November 2022. Also in attendance was Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who said the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King was seen on the floor of the Virginia General Assembly with African Americans in leadership roles as Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, and L. Louise Lucas, President pro tempore, Virginia Senate. A surprise recognition was given to VUU faculty member

Phortos by Julianne Tripp

Robin C. Byrd, top left, M.Ed., PGC, who organized the 46th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders Celebration and reinstated the community breakfast after the pandemic hiatus. She received flowers and a standing ovation. On stage, from left to right: Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Chair of VUU Board of Trustees; Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, VUU President & CEO; he Honorable Glenn Youngkin, VA Governor; Colette McEachin, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Richmond and widow of the late U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin, The Honorable Delegate Don Scott, VA’s 88th District; Dr. Bernice Travers, Board Chair and Vice President of Living The Dream; and Mr. Darius Johnson, Dominion Energy Vice President & Treasurer and VUU Board of Trustees.

Business grants announced for East End By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Eleven businesses in Richmond’s East End are the latest recipients of supportive grants from a nonprofit development program, it has been announced.

A total of $140,000 was distributed to the local businesses through the Supporting East End Entrepreneurship Development or SEED program, boosting the total distributed since SEED’s launch in 2011 to more than $1 million

Eight recipients received grants for the first time: Dear Neighbor art and gift shop, Fat Rabbit bakery, the Kitchen on Wellington, Sweet Temptations dessert shop, Ms. Girlee’s Kitchen, Ocean World Seafood Market and Bono’s Caribbean

Richmond church burns By Jeremy M. Lazarus

A devastating fire Jan. 9 appears to have dashed the hopes of the congregation of Seventh Street Memorial Baptist Church of returning to their long vacant “home location” in the Highland Park neighborhood in North Side. City firefighters responded around 7 a.m. to the blaze in the sanctuary at 3014 Meadowbridge Road. The fire gutted the building before it could be extinguished. The building was located near the Six Points intersection and occupied most of the block between Newbury and Highland View avenues. The congregation, which has been in temporary locations for the past decade, had just paid to install a new roof on the building. The building was Seventh Street’s most valuable asset. Though not subject to tax, the city had assessed the land and building as worth $650,000.

On Sunday, the pastor, Dr. Micah Jackson, led a community program in the parking lot of the building. “We’re trusting for good to come out of this, we’re looking for the miracle that’s born out of this misery, we’re looking for the triumph to come out of this tragedy,” Dr. Jackson prayed. Launched in the 1930s on 7th Street in Navy Hill, the church was displaced as the interstate and government buildings took over the Downtown neighborhood and ended up buying the Highland Park building in 1977 as relocation space. However, after taking over leadership 18 years ago, Dr. Jackson and his wife, the Rev. C.C. Jackson, became concerned about the building’s deterioration and ended up relocating the congregation in 2013 while seeking to raise the money to renovate. The church for a time used leased office space in Glen Allen, but now holds Sunday worship at First Baptist Church-Washington Park.

Cuisine. The other three businesses, Wheel Simple Bicycle Repair, Second Bottle Wine and Snack Shop and Spotty Dog Ice Cream, had received grants in previous years. Bon Secours teamed with

the Virginia office of the Local Initiative Support Corp. to start the program 13 years ago to support economic development and job creation in Church Hill and Fulton. InUnison, previously known as the Retail Merchants As-

sociation, has since 2019 administered the program that also provides grants to small businesses along Hull Street and Commerce Road in the Manchester area of South Side. Mike Lutes, market president, Bon Secours Richmond, stated in joining the two partners in announcing the awards. “The SEED program has been a catalyst for positive change in the East End,” said Mike Lutes, market president of Bon Secours Richmond, “and we are thrilled to celebrate, with our partners, InUnison and LISC Virginia, that the total investment in has now surpassed $1 million.” The winners were selected by a panel that included Scott Aronson, co-owner of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods; Lester Johnson, president of Mama J’s restaurant in Jackson Ward; Duncan Thomas, president of Carsource Inc.; Lisa McSherry, owner of a dress shop and apothecary in Carytown; and Shekinah Mitchell, Bon Secours’ director of neighborhood engagement. After making the awards, Bon Secours stated the SEED program will temporarily halt new awards to conduct of surveys and interviews to ensure that program is fulfilling its mission.

Richmond Free Press Pining for snow in Henrico County Editorial Page


January 18-20, 2024

Mining Richmond’s Black community for 32 years The first tenet of a free and democratic society is the establishment of an honest and forthright press. And for 32 years, the Richmond Free Press has done just that in our community. The Free Press has followed in the footsteps of other powerful newspapers such as Freedom’s Journal, founded in New York in 1827 by the Rev. John Wilk and other free Black men in the city, and the North Star, founded in 1847 by Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany. In doing so, the Richmond Free Press has mined our community for the most important and impactful news as it relates to the Black citizens of this city. And what a job it has done. Founding publisher, the late Raymond H. Boone, and his wife, Jean Patterson Boone, have won many awards for the paper’s penetrating coverage of Richmond’s Black community and the news events that impact it. Raymond Boone indeed was built for the job. He began his newspaper career as a reporter at the Suffolk News-Herald in the late 1950s. He later ran the now-defunct Richmond AfroAmerican and Planet before moving to Baltimore to serve as vice president of the Afro-American Newspaper Group. He also taught journalism at Howard University and served as a Pulitzer Prize juror. His widow, Jean Patterson Boone, picked up where he left off. Under her leadership, the paper won the 2020 George Mason Award for outstanding contributions to the field. In announcing the award in 2020, the Virginia Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists cited the Boones for their leadership of the weekly newspaper that they launched on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 1992. The chapter pointed out that the publication has won numerous awards from the Virginia Press Association, the National Newspaper Publishers Association and other organizations. In recent years, newspapers in this country have been under constant attack from the far right. The chant of “fake news” has been used far too often. The legacy of the Free Press is that it champions fair and honest reporting on any of number issues. And that should be celebrated. So congratulations, Richmond Free Press on your 32nd anniversary. There’s nothing fake about your impact on Richmond.

Sandra Sellars/Richmond Free Press

Clean-energy tech must become a reality in U.S. manufacturing What if the answer to undoing the harm wrought by the demise of America’s manufacturing sector was right in front of us? Perhaps it’s an economic boom waiting to happen, to rebuild communities and revitalize our beaten-down working class. And, this time, without the rampant industrial pollution that fuels climate change and sickens our people. It is not too good to be true. But we must seize the moment if we do not want it to pass us by. Last week, I visited the Qcells solar panel plant in Georgia. It is the largest facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. And as the world transitions away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy sources, it represents the opportunity we have in front of us. Solar manufacturing jobs in the U.S. are already on pace to more than triple from about 35,000 in 2023 to 120,000 by 2033. We can do even better – by expanding the energy market and domesticating the solar supply chain. The BidenHarris administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) gives us

the tools to turn this dream into reality. But the private sector needs to do its part, with investments that are both patriotic and profitable – not to mention planet-saving. My visit came one day after Qcells announced a massive deal to supply Microsoft with 12 gigawatts of solar modules and Engineering, Procurement and Construction services over eight years. That’s enough energy to power more than 1.8 million homes annually. And

Ben Jealous it will help Microsoft meet its goal of being carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030. More than that, it’s an investment in America. According to the energy research firm Wood Mackenzie, China will control more than 80 percent of the world’s solar manufacturing capacity through 2026. This is the future of energy. And the United States needs to catch up. The goal should be to scale up investments like Microsoft’s as rapidly as possible, and bring the entire manufacturing lifecycle for solar technology to the U.S. And to do it in a way that pushes the energy utilities that power the factories towards

clean fuel sources. How we power the supply chain is as important as where it lives. Manufacturing cleanenergy tech domestically can create a virtuous cycle in which grids are increasingly powered by clean sources. That means lower energy bills and cleaner air to breathe. The IRA ensures it is not just corporations and utilities that are in the game. Billions of dollars are available for local community organizations, cities, schools and homeowners to spur growth in our domestic clean-energy industry. Despite the “drill, baby, drill” political rhetoric from the oil and gas industry and the politicians in its pockets, elected representatives of both parties understand damn well what these jobs mean for their states and districts. Trust that most lawmakers from Georgia and the other states now being referred to as the “Battery Belt” are eager to reap the IRA’s economic benefits when it comes to clean-energy manufacturing. New Year’s Day marked the 30th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which contributed to the obliteration of America’s manufacturing sector throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. What ensued in the wake of those lost jobs, and the

King’s dream lives, but we need more soldiers in the fight For those who rejoiced when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, they must be disappointed to know that we still celebrate the work Dr. King did to make this a better world. Some thought that killing The Dreamer would kill his dream of a better world for all of us. I’ll be the first to admit that we still have a long way to go to realize Dr. King’s dream, but for those who loved and admired him, we’re still on the battlefield to make this a better world. Every year on Jan. 15, people brave the ice, wind and snow to hear somebody talk about this man. It’s funny that Dr. King was a paper boy when he was a child, and at that time, he wanted to be a firefighter. In his young life, he knew that Black people and white people did not have the same rights. That didn’t cause him to hate white. He worked for change. Thankfully, there were and still are people other than Black people who continue to work for justice and equal rights and opportunities for all.

We also honor them when we honor Dr. King. We still have a lot of work to do. Many of our people who live better today than they did while Dr. King was with us, don’t understand that that Dr. King and other civil and human rights workers helped make their lives better. It’s a tragedy that so many see Jan. 15, the day of Dr. King’s birth, as a day off work and nothing more.

Dr. E. Faye Williams While we honor Dr. King, let us take the time to honor other soldiers who worked along with him. Let us remember Dr. C.T. Vivian, Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. Ralph Abernathy, Coretta ScottKing, Dick Gregory, Bayard Rustin, Wyatt T. Walker, Amelia Boynton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar and Charles Evers, Viola Liuzzo, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Myrlie Evers and more. Like Dr. King, these people risked their lives for us. Advancements were made in civil and human rights because of their struggles and commitment. They worked to end white supremacy and various forms of discrimination. So did younger civil rights activ-

ists such as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Johnny Ford, Jesse Jackson, A.J. Cooper, Julian Bond, Deacons for Defense and countless others. Where are soldiers like them today who will work to honor Dr. King and others who gave their all for our benefit? Once in a while, we see someone who understands that Dr. King’s work is not finished. Few people are still giving their all to make things better for all of us, but where are the great numbers of our people that we desperately need? Wherever you are, you need to come home, stop fighting each other, and start fighting for each other. You need to work for Unity in our Community as the Rev. Oliver Buie reminds us. You need to join the work of people such as Bishop William Barber, Dr. Franklyn Malone, William McMurray (owner of the The American RAC, a gun-storage device) and longtime Tuskegee mayor, Johnny Ford. It’s time to step up to convince our people that, if they do nothing else, they must vote in 2024! The writer is president of The Dick Gregory Society and president emerita of the National Congress of Black Women

The Free Press welcomes letters The Richmond Free Press respects the opinions of its readers. We want to hear from you. We invite you to write the editor. All letters will be considered for publication. Concise, typewritten letters related to public matters are preferred. Also include your telephone number(s). Letters should be addressed to: Letters to the Editor, Richmond Free Press, P.O. Box 27709, 422 East Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23261, or faxed to: (804) 643-7519 or e-mail:

devastation of the communities that relied on them, was much of the social, economic, and political strife plaguing our country today. In this post-NAFTA moment, America can reassert its global leadership in manufacturing the technologies on which the world runs. It will mean an explosion of new American jobs and a windfall for American consumers – who will save money and get other benefits from domesticating supply chains. It also will accelerate the end of fossil fuels. And the protections and incentives in the IRA that focus on equity will help ensure that marginalized communities do not get left behind. The writer is executive director of the Sierra Club and a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Richmond Free Press

January 18-20, 2024 A7


To save lives, lawmakers must seek common ground on gun legislation Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly, now in charge in both chambers in the session that opened last week, hope to pass several gun-control bills. The wish list includes legislation to ban the sale of new assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, The Washington Post reported. They also want to place Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, “on the record” regarding firearms ­— ostensibly to mark him for any future political campaign after his four-year term ends. (Governors in Virginia are limited to one non-consecutive term.) The latter effort is a waste of time, though, since Gov. Youngkin has generally skirted the issue but also given no indication he’d sign something anathema to his party’s base. That’s par for the course for

most GOP officeholders. Gov. Youngkin wouldn’t even mention the word “guns” while addressing hundreds of people at a vigil following a mass shooting by a Chesapeake Walmart employee. I witnessed the governor’s gutlessness that night in November 2022. The governor also previously has pledged to roll back

Roger Chesley gun control. So no one should be surprised if Gov. Youngkin mimics the party line: No new gun restrictions. A spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin told me he’ll review any legislation that passes both chambers. The spokesperson didn’t respond to other questions I asked, including enunciating Gov. Youngkin’s policy toward firearms. His administration also hasn’t begun spending the $5 million from the federal government awarded last February. The money will pay for mental health and substance abuse

programs within the criminal justice system, Jackson Miller, director of the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, told me by email. Bureaucratic approvals for spending the grant money should be finished soon, Mr. Miller said. The emphasis, though, is clearly on promoting red flag laws –— measures designed to prevent gun violence by people with a history of threatening or erratic behavior — as the feds noted when announcing the grants. It’s hard to believe a program Gov. Youngkin was gung-ho about would take this long to implement. This doesn’t mean Democrats should punt on firearms legislation. However, they should expend more energy on bills that could gain bipartisan support. “The best evidence supporting gun-violence-reducing effects is for legislation that places limits on who can access firearms, or that restricts the conditions of access to them,” Graham Ousey, sociology professor at the College

of William & Mary, told me by email. “Restricting purchases and requiring relinquishment for individuals convicted of violent infractions or domestic abuse, requiring waiting periods for purchases, and requiring safe storage practices and technologies are good policies and generally are better-supported by research” than bans on assault weapons, said Dr. Ousey. Most firearms legislation didn’t reach the governor’s desk in his first two years in office because the Democratic-controlled Senate and then-GOP-controlled House of Delegates canceled each other out. What passed tended to be non-controversial, like HB2387 in 2023, a firearm safety device tax credit. If Gov. Youngkin vetoes firearms legislation this year, Democrats — who have slight majorities in both chambers — would need help from Republicans to override him. That’s not likely. So why insist on pushing tough gun-control measures?

Lori Haas, an advocate whose daughter was wounded in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, told me the exercise is still worth it. “There’s value for constituents and voters to know where their representatives stand on the issues,” said Ms. Haas, advocacy manager at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health. “For instance, we know that limiting high-capacity magazines, above 10, can reduce the death toll in mass shootings,” she said. “Additionally, assault weapons put our law-enforcement officers at increased risk of harm.” She pointed me to a 2021 article, in which criminology professor Christopher Koper at George Mason University found assault weapons were used in 10% to 30% of fatal mass shootings. He also said they accounted for 13% of killings of law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Besides the legislation on assault weapons, lawmakers have

filed bills including HB270, creating uniform standards for a Virginia Firearm Buy-Back Program; and SB55, establishing a three-day waiting period for gun-buying. A version of the latter bill died in 2023. The sponsor, Del. Cliff Hayes, D-Chesapeake, told me previously he offered the legislation because the killer in the Walmart mass shooting had legally bought the handgun the same day as the attack. We’ll never know if a possible “cooling-off period” may have changed Andre Bing’s mind. But we do know researchers found such waiting periods reduce gun homicides by 17%. Mr. Bing might have skipped the purchase if he couldn’t get it right away. Democrats could try to gain political points by showing up Gov. Youngkin. Instead, they should take the deliberative, bipartisan route to pass bills making it tougher to kill people. The writer is a columnist for the Virginia Mercury.

As diversity, equity and inclusion comes under legal attack, companies quietly alter their programs By Alexandria Olson, Haleluya Hadero and Anne D’Innocenzio The Associated Press

NEW YORK Sophia Danner-Okotie’s has ambitious plans for her Nigerian-inspired clothing line but a sense of dread has punctured her optimism as she watches a legal battle being waged against a small venture capital firm that has provided funding instrumental to her boutique brand’s growth. The case against the Fearless Fund alleges that one of its grant programs discriminates against non-Black women and asks the courts to imagine a similar program designed only for white applicants. It is among a growing list of lawsuits against corporate diversity and inclusion programs that are making their way through the courts this year. Most have been filed by conservative activists encouraged by the Supreme Court’s June ruling ending affirmative action in college admissions and are now seeking to set a

similar precedent in the working world. The battle has been a roller coaster of setbacks and victories for both sides, but some companies are already retooling their diversity programs in the face of legal challenges, and the growing expectation that the conservative-dominated Supreme Court will eventually take up the issue. Plagiarism charges downed Harvard’s president. A conservative attack helped to fan the outrage One conservative activist, Christopher Rufo, claimed another victory this month with the resignation of Harvard’s first Black woman president, Claudine Gay, after allegations of plagiarism and a furor over her congressional testimony about antisemitism. Mr. Rufo, who has cast Gay’s appointment to the job as the culmination of diversity and inclusion efforts that have sidelined conservative voices in higher education, vowed on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, not to “stop until we have abolished

The Associated Press

Sophia Danner-Okotie first saw the potential for scaling her clothing brand when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the boutiques and fairs that carried her designs.

DEI ideology from every institution in America.” Dozens of prominent companies have already been targeted, as well as a wide array of diversity initiatives, including fellowships, hiring goals, anti-bias training and contract programs for minority or women-owned businesses. Some challenges have focused on policies adopted after the 2020 protests over George Floyd’s killing by police as

companies pledged more efforts to redress racial inequalities in the workplace. But others have targeted decades-old diversity programs that anti-affirmative action advocates have long tried to dismantle. Diversity and inclusion experts say the legal backlash is already having a chilling effect over corporate efforts to address workplace inequality at a time when investment and interest in such initiatives have slowed following the post-Floyd surge. Job openings for diversity officers and similar positions have declined in recent months. The combined share of venture capital funding for businesses owned by Black and Latina women has dipped back to less than 1% after briefly surpassing that threshold — at 1.05% — in 2021 following a jump in 2020, according to the nonprofit advocacy group digitalundivided. The case against the Fearless Fund, which provides early-

stage funding to businesses led by women of color, exemplifies the unpredictable legal landscape. In late September, a federal judge in Atlanta refused to block a Fearless Fund grant contest for Black women business owners, saying they are donations protected by the First Amendment and the lawsuit was likely to fail. But days later, a three-judge federal appeals panel suspended the contest, calling it “racially exclusionary” and saying the suit was likely to succeed. “Am I going to be able to apply to grants like these? Are they even going to exist?” said Ms. Danner-Okotie, who received $10,000 from a separate Fearless Fund grant. “With this last ruling, it seems like no.” Ms. Danner-Okotie first saw the potential for scaling her clothing brand when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the boutiques and fairs that carried her designs. Searching for ways to increase her online sales, she landed a contract with subscriber-based retailer Stitch Fix and used a government pandemic relief loan to fulfill the order. But when she tried to build on that success, she ran into roadblocks as banks declined her loan applications, deeming her business model risky since her clothes are handmade by Nigerian tailors. The Fearless Fund, Ms. Danner-Okotie said, grasped her mission of designing clothes for American women looking to celebrate their African heritage. The grant was a game changer, allowing her to contract a factory in India to make uniquely

designed fabrics for her team of tailors in Nigeria. But now, future funding from the program is in jeopardy. The lawsuit against the Fearless Fund is being brought by the American Alliance for Equal Rights, a nonprofit founded by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, the man behind the college admissions cases the Supreme Court ruled on in June. The outcome of the case could be a bellwether for similar diversity programs. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Jan. 31.


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Richmond Free Press

A8 January 18-20, 2024

Sports Stories by Fred Jeter

Tiyanna Jones

Ny Langley

Tremere Brown

Tahj Harding

Double your pleasure at VSU-VUU Classic Let Freedom ring. Doors open at 2 p.m. Saturday for the annual Freedom Classic Festival that combines basketball with numerous community and cultural activities. With two for the price of one, the Virginia Union Coach Domond and Virginia State men’s and women’s basketball teams will meet at VSU’s sure-to-be-rocking Multi-Purpose Center in Ettrick. The games will be in conjunction with the annual Classic (since 1996) that celebrates the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. The women will tipoff at 3 p.m. followed by the men around 6 p.m. What to look for … Coach Nadine Domond’s VSU women are the talk of the CIAA with No. 10 ranking in the Division II National Coach’s Poll and No. 22 ranking

in the NCAA Poll. The Lady Trojans will carry a 15-1 overall record and 6-1 CIAA mark into Saturday. With 10 straight double-digit scoring outings, 5-foot-5 junior whirlwind Tiyanna James leads VSU in scoring average Coach Terry (14 points), steals (39) and three-pointers (32). Do-it-all Ny Langley handles most of the heavy lifting for the VUU Lady Panthers, who were 11-6 overall and 4-3 overall entering the week under coach Tierra Terry. Langley, the All-CIAA 5-foot-10 senior from Greenville, N.C., averages 15 points and seven rebounds while adding 28 steals and 32 assists. The VSU men started the week 8-9 overall and 3-4 in the CIAA under veteran coach Lonnie Blow. The Trojans’ big man in the middle is 6-foot-9 Tremere Brown, averaging 12 points and six boards.

VUU coach Jay Butler has suffered through hard times this season after being virtually wiped out by graduations and defections. With only two players back from last year’s NCAA qualifier, VUU started the week 6-12 overall and 1-5 in Coach Blow CIAA. The Panthers shifted into a higher gear last week, however, with a 62-48 win at Fayetteville State. Tahj Harding, one of the two returnees, averages 19 points and is in contention for the CIAA scoring title. Now get this: VUU has won the last seven meetings against VSU since 2019, including 8769 and 77-69 victories last season. The shuttering of the Richmond Coliseum in 2019 caused a major change in the Freedom Classic. The games were traditionally played on the Sunday night at the Coliseum prior to the King holiday on Monday.

Attendance for the basketball games has suffered since the Coliseum’s closing. In the early years of the Classic, when Virginia Union was a national power, the Classic drew crowds of close to 10,000 at the Coliseum. Coach Butler Not so now … last year’s VSU vs. VUU game at the Multi-Purpose Center had listed attendance at 894. For decades, VUU played its home game against VSU at either the Richmond Arena, Ashe Center or Coliseum (for Freedom Classic). Since then, the VUU home games against the Trojans have been played jam-packed Barco-Stevens. The VSU and VUU men’s and women’s teams will close their regular seasons Feb. 24 at Barco. All CIAA men’s and women’s teams will compete Feb. 26 - March 3 in the CIAA tournaments in Baltimore.

JM speeds on after speed bump

Don’t worry, John Marshall High fans. The basketball still has plenty of air in it on the North Side. Despite losing two of the state’s top players to graduation and facing a brutal road schedule, John Marshall High stills eyes a championship season. “Nothing has changed. We still have the same goals we started the season with,” said JM Coach Ty White, in search of a third straight State Class 2 crown. JM went 28-0 last season and was ranked first nationally by This season with alumni Dennis Parker Jr. playing at North Carolina State and Jason Rivera-Torres at Vanderbilt, JM started 9-3 with the most recent loss Jan. 5 at St. Christopher’s, 53-50. It was the Justices’ first setback to an area team since Feb. 2019 against L.C. Bird. “It was a great atmosphere,” White said of the overflowing partisan crowd. As a coach and player, you live for moments like that. “It was almost like we were playing at Duke. It was humbling for our guys, but it’s made us focus on what

we must do.” The taste of defeat was short lived. On Jan. 12, at Bowie State, Md., JM topped powerful Mt. Zion Academy, Md., 67-61 to improve to 10-3. Mt. Zion was 20-2 Aiden entering the contest. Argabright JM improved to 11-3 Jan .13 with a 72-61 win over previously 10-2 Alexandria City. Damon “Redd” Thompson led the Justices with a career high 39 points. White has three returning starters this season, senior guards Thompson and Dominique Bailey, and 6-foot-8 sophomore center Latrell Allmond. New to the opening quintet are 6-foot junior Aiden Argabright and 6-foot-9 junior forward Marcus Jackson. In family moves, Argabright transferring from St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes in Alexandria and Jackson from Edmondson High in Baltimore. Both are making an impact. Argabright is second on the team

in scoring (behind Thompson) at 15.5 per game and leads JM with 44 percent shooting behind the arc and 89 percent at the foul line. “ A i d e n ’s c a t quick,” said White, Marcus “and he’s a light’s-out Jackson shooter … when he’s hot he can hit four or five in a row.” Argabright made a recent recruiting visit to the University of Virginia along with Allmond. Jackson ranks second (behind almond) in rebounding with 7.1 per and leads in blocked shots with 2.2 an outing. He’s fourth in scoring at 7.7. “Marcus is extremely athletic with a ceiling (of potential) through the roof,” said White. “He’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever coached.” JM has a long bench, too. 6-foot-6 junior Desmon Rose and 6-foot-4 senior Ashaun Moore would likely be starters anywhere else.

Moore’s leadership might have saved Michigan Will he stay or will he go? That’s the question the football world is asking about Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh following his national championship. His Wolverines climaxed a 15-0 season with a convincing 34-13 win over Washington Jan. 8. While Harbaugh took the bows in Houston, it might not have been without his offensive coordinator/former interim head Coach Sherrone Moore. On an interim basis, while Harbaugh was suspended and not on the sidelines, Moore guided Michigan to critical wins over Penn State (24-15), Maryland (31-24) and Ohio State (30-24). Harbaugh was not allowed to participate due to hard evidence his staff had used video equipment to spy on upcoming opponents and steal signals. A slip-up in any of those key Big 10 contests would have greatly reduced the Wolverines’ chances of their first national crown since 1997. Moore’s successful “pinch hitting for his boss” in troubled times led Harbaugh to call him a “Michigan legend.”

After the game at Penn State, Moore became teary eyed in a post-game interview with ESPN. “We did it for you (meaning Harbaugh),” he told the reporter. “We did it for the team, Sherrone for the president, for Moore the athletic director … this is the best place in the country.” The victory over Ohio State, in Ann Arbor, clinched the Big 10 East and set the stage for the postseason (win over Iowa for overall Big 10) and then wins over Alabama and Washington in the playoffs, with Harbaugh back on the sidelines. Moore, a former offensive lineman for the Oklahoma Sooners, has been on the Michigan staff since 2018. He was reluctant to take credit for the team’s success in Harbaugh’s absence “It wasn’t about my leading,” he said. “It was about the team, this team, this team and that’s it. “I don’t want any tags that it was about

me because it wasn’t.” For the grand finale, Moore’s offense was spectacular against the No. 2 Washington Huskies, piling up 443 totals yards, including a playoff-record 303 on the ground. Now that the cheers have faded there are serious discussions about Harbaugh leaving for the NFL. Washington, the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders have vacancies and have shown interest. Before coming to Michigan, his alma mater, Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers to a 44-19-1 record from 2011 to 2014. That included an appearance in the 2012 Super Bowl where he lost to Baltimore, coached by his brother, John. Harbaugh’s current salary at Michigan is listed at $7.34 million and school officials are sure to sweeten the pot if he stays. But if he goes, one of college football’s most prestigious jobs will open and Moore would seem to be next in line. Of the 14 Big 10 schools, only three have Black coaches. They are Ryan Walters at Purdue, James Franklin at Penn State and Maryland’s Mike Locksley.

Coach Mayo

Pats add Mayo to pigskin recipe Hampton native Jared Mayo is the New England Patriots’ new head coach, succeeding the iconic Bill Belichick. Mayo is also the Pats’ first Black coach and the youngest NFL coach, at 37, one month younger than the Rams’ Sean McVay. Mayo starred as a linebacker and running back at Hampton’s Kecoughtan High and went on to earn All-Southeast Conference linebacking honors at Tennessee. He played with the Pats eight seasons, leading the NFL in tackles in 2010 with 113. He’s been on Belichick’s staff as a defensive coach since 2018. The winner of eight Super Bowls, Belichick and the Pats “parted ways” following a 4-13 record this past season. Despite the poor season, Mayo’s defense ranked seventh out of 32 with an average yardage yield of 301. Mayo joins an NFL fraternity of Black coaches with Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles, Houston’s DeMeco Ryans, Mike McDaniel in Miami and Antonio Pierce with Las Vegas.

ECSU taps Richardson as interim basketball coach

Andre Gray has been fired as head basketball coach at Elizabeth City State. He has been replaced on an interim basis by alumnus John Richardson III. Gray coached only one full season at the CIAA school. His Vikings were 13-16 a year ago and started this season 4-11. He was let go following the Jan. 6 loss to Coach Richardson Livingstone. ECSU won its first game under Richardson, 71-65 against Shaw Jan. 9, snapping a fourgame losing skid. Richardson is a former asSundays. sistant coach at Old Dominion Ticket prices will be $15 for adults University and Virginia Tech and $7 for children. Fountains 15 percent and won two State championof all profits will go to Richmond Public ships at Woodside High in Elementary Schools. Newport News. This is Richmond’s second crack at Assistant Coaches Trey having an ABA affiliate. The Richmond Sumner and Kevin AnzenElite played several seasons at the Big berger have remained with the Ben Wallace Gym before ceasing op- program. erations during the pandemic. Former The Vikings will come to Elite players are welcomed by the Ram Richmond to play Virginia Chargers, “as long as they’ve got fresh Union Jan. 31 and to Ettrick to legs,” said Fountain. face Virginia State Feb. 3. Fountain is a long-time fan of the ECSU joined the CIAA in NBA Los Angeles Lakers and hopes 1957 and won CIAA tournahis Ram Chargers will play a similar ment crowns in 1981 under “fast-breaking, high-flying style.” coach Robert Vaughan and in “We want this to be star studded 2007 under Shawn Walker. - Showtime,” he said, referencing the The program’s all-time star 1979 to ’91 Lakers. player might be Mike Gale who Contact: richmondramchargers3@ went on to play in the NBA; call 804-687-6802. from 1972 and ’82.

New pro basketball team is looking for ballers So, you’re out of school, getting a bit older, but still want to play some serious basketball? Here’s your chance. There is a new pro basketball team forming in town — the Richmond Ram Chargers — and it’s looking for ballers. The Ram Chargers, under owner Hassan Fountain and Coach Ray Neblett, will compete starting in November in the American Basketball Association East Region. Tryouts will be Feb. 24-25 at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club on R Street in Church Hill. The cost for trying out is $30. To be eligible, a player must be at least 18 years old and out of high school. The roster will include 12 full-time players and two alternates. Once the season commences, players will get “$100 per game, plus incentives,”

said Fountain. Both Fountain and Neblett are active in the area. Fountain, a Coca-Cola employee, has run for Richmond City Council and the School Board and operates the Fountain of Youth Foundation that opens children’s libraries. Neblett, a residential aid at Serenity Counseling Service, is a former hoops standout at Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe High under Coach Bob Booker and at Virginia Union under Dave Robbins. For the last 16 years he has coordinated the Ray Neblett Inner-City Foundation that has provided counseling and basketball training for area youngsters. “I’m excited about this,” Neblett said. “This is another chance to give back. It’s my opportunity to stay involved with the game I love so much.”

A few facts about the Ram Chargers: The name has nothing to do with VCU Rams or the NFL teams. It’s named after the Dodge Ramcharger truck. The ABA plays with a red, white and blue ball, same as the one used by the old Virginia Squires of the original ABA. The Ram Chargers will wear red, white and blue uniforms. The team is looking for former high school and college athletes, but no résumé is required to tryout. The schedule will include at least 20 games and at most 50 from November ’24 to March ’25, with playoffs to follow. Huguenot High School will serve as the home court for the first season. All games will be on Saturdays and

January 18-20, 2024 B1

Richmond Free Press




When Todd B. Waldo moved to Virginia in 2002, he wanted to establish a life and home to work with students at Hampton University while continuing his career as a touring musician. Ten years later, another calling arrived when he discovered the work of the Richmond Better Housing Coalition. The 35-year-old organization, now known as the Better Housing Coalition, is the Richmond region’s largest nonprofit community development corporation. Its hallmark is creating “high-quality affordable homes for residents of modest means and empowering them with programs and tools to help them reach their fullest potential, at all stages of life.” Impressed and inspired by the coalition’s work, Mr. Waldo connected with the organization through his neighbor, friend and former board member, David Conmy. He joined its Young Professionals board in 2013. Today, Mr. Waldo is the first African-American to serve as chairman of the coalition’s Board of Directors. “I am deeply committed to the mission of the Better Housing Coalition and was honored when invited to serve as chair,” Mr. Waldo said. “I want to bring my experience, talent and expertise to this role and help ensure the staff and partners have what they need for deeper and wider impact in an environment that continues to be challenging.” During his two-year term, Mr. Waldo wants to establish strategic objectives and tactics for the board. He also plans to increase collaboration among board leadership and provide more support to staff and volunteers. Those steps will help improve the coalition’s service to communities where homeownership can be elusive. It also supports the organization’s foundation. The Better Housing Coalition was founded in 1988 by Mary Tyler Cheek McClenahan and Carter McDowell.

Personality: Todd B. Waldo

Spotlight on Better Housing Coalition board chairman Mrs. Tyler Cheek McClenahan, who was an influential civic leader in Richmond, read a newspaper article about the demise of a young boy who lived in deplorable conditions only a few miles from her neighborhood. She quickly recruited Mr. McDowell, who has a master’s degree in urban planning, to help explore the housing issue. Their research confirmed a dire and unmet need for affordable housing in the region. They formed the Richmond Better Housing Coalition (RBHC) to raise awareness for this need among civic organizations, social services agencies, city government and various partners. In 1990, BHC decided that area residents could be served more quickly if the organization were able to build affordable housing, rather than simply advocate for it. With a lending commitment from a patchwork of banks, BHC purchased a block in a crime-ridden neighborhood at the intersection of Cary and Meadow streets. In place of the dilapidated housing, BHC renovated and built an attractive community of 86 brick townhomes for rent, and incorporated property management services.. BHC’s portfolio includes 15 multi-family rental communities (eight for seniors of modest income), 1,500 rental units and 200 new or renovated single-family homes sold to first-time homebuyers. Through an array of free and voluntary life-enhancing resident support services, BHC serves 1,100 residents of its rental communities each year. “The need for affordable housing is great and neither the current nor projected supply matches that need,” Mr. Waldo said.

Despite such challenges, Mr. Waldo said the coalition’s ability to create innovative solutions will enable it to meet residents where they are and support their daily needs. “We are a strong 35-year-old organization going into 2024,” Mr. Waldo said. “I’m looking forward to the investments that we will be making in our people who do the hard work every day to support our residents and produce housing.” Meet a new leader helping provide housing to those in need and this week’s Personality, Todd B. Waldo: Volunteer position: Chairman, BHC Board of Directors Occupation: Founder and principal consultant, Hugh Helen LLC. Date and place of birth: July 16 in East Orange, N.J. Where I live now: Church Hill, Richmond. Education: B.S. degree, elec-

trical engineering, North Carolina State University. Family: Dad to daughter, Samaya Helen Waldo,16. Better Housing Coalition: The Better Housing Coalition is the Richmond region’s largest nonprofit community-development corporation. BHC creates high-quality affordable homes for residents of modest means and empowers them with programs and tools to help them reach their fullest potential, at all stages of life. Mission: The Better Housing Coalition changes lives and transforms communities through high-quality, affordable housing. Location: 23 West Broad Street, Suite 100, Richmond. How I became involved with Better Housing Coalition: My support for BHC started in 2013 with the first iteration of what is now the Young Professionals Board. What drew me to BHC was the work done in Church Hill. I learned how projects, such as Jefferson Mews and the many single-family homes built, helped transform the neighborhood into what I was enjoying every day. When elected board president: December 2023. Why I accepted the position: I want to bring my experience, talent and expertise to this role and help ensure the staff and partners have what they need for deeper and wider impact in an environment that continues to be challenging. Target demographic: Among housing agencies in Richmond, BHC serves the working poor and their families. We provide affordable housing for those

living below the poverty level. Daily, we see proof of how housing stability is a powerful intervention proven to alleviate poverty, improve health outcomes and positively impact entire communities by improving overall equity. Racial equity and Better Housing Coalition: While racially discriminatory policies and practices can be found in almost every aspect of American life, few areas exceed those found in the housing industry. From financial institution redlining to highway locations to urban renewal to predatory lending to NIMBY-ism to gentrification, accessing quality housing choices has been a struggle for people of color. The impacts of these policies are monumental and limiting. When entire segments of our society cannot realize their fullest potential, we all suffer the consequences. Social justice, broadly defined, focuses on equitable wealth distribution and equal access to community resources. Housing is foundational to social justice and racial equity. The way that I witness improvement in housing availability in Richmond: What I really appreciate about the Better Housing Coalition is that, along with our expertise as a housing developer, we focused deeply on the people living in those homes and their daily needs. There has to be a balance between development and supporting people for affordability to be sustainable long-term and I think we do that really well. Upcoming events: Stay Home RVA Non-Event Gala - April 12. In this seventh annual event, instead of attending another gala in RVA, “guests” can directly donate an amount they would have spent attend-

ing the event to support BHC’s life-enhancing resident support services. The website: https:// BHCyp’s Church Hill Bike Tour May 15. It’s a fun and educational four-mile, mostly flat biking tour of BHC investments in the Church Hill neighborhood. How I start the day: I turn off my alarm clock and meditate on my gratitude and intentions for the day. The three words that best describe me: Energetic, resourceful, passionate If I had 10 extra minutes in the day: I would sleep 10 more minutes. Best late-night snack: Keebler Fudge Stripe shortbread cookies The music I listen to most is: There’s so much music in my record and digital collections from the 1970s and 1980s. A quote that I am most inspired by: “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble” — John Lewis At the top of my “to-do” list: I prioritize taking good care of myself. I get help from my loved ones, therapist and trainer. The book that influenced me the most and how: The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson. This was required reading my freshman year at North Carolina State and started my journey of self-discovery and learning history from a completely different perspective. What I’m reading now and my takeaway: Living on the Edge of Time by Josh Epperson. It’s helping me think differently about the present moment, its opportunities and how to live more intentionally given those opportunities. Next goal: Developing my next creative project where I am brainstorming the intersection of my writing, speaking, music, podcasting and live-event production.

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Richmond Free Press

B2 January 18-20, 2024

Happenings ‘Succession’ dominates drama Emmys, ‘The Bear’ claims comedy and Quinta Brunson makes history LOS ANGELES “Succession” secured its legacy with its third best drama series award, “The Bear” feasted as the night’s top comedy, and the two shows about squabbling families dominated the acting awards at Monday night’s Emmys. Quinta Brunson of “Abbott Elementary” and Steven Yeun and Ali Wong of “Beef” also had historic wins at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony that was finally held four months late after a turbulent year of strikes in Hollywood. “Succession,” the HBO saga of the dysfunctional generations of a maladjusted media empire, won the top prize for its fourth and final season. It also won best actress in a drama for Sarah Snook and best actor in a drama for Kieran Culkin. “The Bear,” the FX dramedy about a contentious family and a struggling restaurant at the center of the life of a talented chef, won best comedy series for its first season. It also made a meal of the comedy acting categories, with Jeremy Allen White winning best actor, Ayo Edebiri winning best supporting actress, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach taking best supporting actor. All three were first-time nominees. “This is a show about family, and found family and real family,” Ms. Edebiri said from the stage as she accepted the first trophy of the night at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles. Instead of the usual producer speeches, Matty Matheson, a real-life elite chef who plays a kitchen newbie and repairman on “The Bear,” spoke for the show while surrounded by the cast near the end of the Fox telecast.

“I just love restaurants so much, the good and the bad, we’re broken inside,” Mr. Matheson said before getting a long kiss on the mouth from Moss-Bachrach. Ms. Brunson won best actress in a comedy for the show she created, ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” becoming the first Black woman to win the award

Quinta Brunson

in more than 40 years. “I am so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy,” Ms. Brunson said during her acceptance, fighting back tears. The writer-actor was among the stars with standout looks on the Emmys’ silver carpet. “Succession” won six Emmys overall including best supporting actor in a drama for Matthew Macfadyen and best writing in a drama for show creator Jesse Armstrong. The only drama acting category it didn’t win was supporting actress, taken for the second time by Jennifer Coolidge of “The White Lotus.”

“The Bear” won in every category it was nominated for Monday night, and along with the four it had won previously at the Creative Arts Emmys, took 10 overall, the most of any show. “Beef” from Netflix won best limited series, while Mr. Yeun and Ms. Wong became the first Asian Americans to win in their categories – Mr.Yeun for best actor in a limited series and Ms. Wong for best actress. Creator Lee Sung won Emmys for writing and directing. It had eight Emmys overall after three wins at the Creative Arts Emmys. Ms. Brunson previously won a writing Emmy for “Abbott Elementary,” her mockumentary about a predominantly Black and chronically underfunded grade school in Philadelphia, but this was her first for acting. Isabel Sanford of “The Jeffersons” was the only other Black woman to win the category in 1981. The show held on the King holiday saw three Black women win major awards: Ms. Brunson, Ms. Edebiri and Niecy Nash-Betts, who won best supporting actress in a limited series for “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” On the Netflix show, Nash-Betts played a neighbor of the serial killer whose complaints to authorities about his behavior go unheeded. “I accept this award on behalf of every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard and overpoliced,” she said. “Everybody having fun at the chocolate Emmys tonight?” host Anthony Anderson said during the show. “We are killing it tonight! ... This is like MLK Day and Juneteenth all rolled up in one!”

Anthony Anderson

Virginia Opera presents Damien Geter’s “Cotton” Free Press staff report

Virginia Opera describes its presentation of Damien Geter’s song cycle, “Cotton,” as a “powerful fusion of music and poetry inspired by the captivating photography of acclaimed Philadelphia artist John Dowell.” The production showcases Mr. Dowell’s decade-long exploration of African-American life and ancestral journey through the lens of the cotton industry. Starting Jan. 30, “Cotton” will be performed by baritone Adam Richardson, a Virginia native, and mezzo-soprano Tesia Kwarteng, a former Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist. Composer Damien Geter will attend select performances, providing audiences with a unique opportunity to connect with the creative minds

behind this exceptional production. Mr. Dowell’s evocative imagery inspired eight nationally-renowned African-American poets, including Charlotte Blake Alston, Nikki Giovanni, Afaa Michael Weaver, Trapeta Mayson, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Lauren Alleyne, Alora Young, and Glenis Redmond, to respond with original poems. Composer Geter then transformed these poems into a moving musical journey, creating a harmonious collaboration of artistic expressions. Originally commissioned by LyricFest in Philadelphia as part of its 20th-anniversary season, Virginia Opera’s performances of Cotton have been generously underwritten by Dr. Arnold Stolberg. This groundbreaking presentation is a highlight of Virginia Opera’s Pride in Black Voices Civic Engagement Program, reflecting

the company’s commitment to diverse and meaningful storytelling. All performances of “Cotton” are free and open to the public, emphasizing Virginia Opera’s dedication to accessibility in the arts. However, reservations are required to secure a seat for this unforgettable experience. The collaboration is scheduled for the following venues: St. Mary’s Basilica in Norfolk on Jan. 30. Norfolk State University on Jan. 31. Concert Hall at Virginia Commonwealth University on Feb. 1. Old Town Hall in Fairfax on Feb. 6. Richmond Public Library’s main branch on Feb. 7. For additional information, please visit https:// or contact the Virginia Opera Box Office at (866) 673-7282.

Pharrell Williams’ sophomore collection at Louis Vuitton showcases Americana and Native American spirit The Associated Press

PARIS It was Wild West meets melting pot America at the Louis Vuitton Fall-Winter 2024 men’s show Tuesday, where musicianturned-designer Pharrell Williams unveiled his highly-anticipated

The Associated Press

A model wears a creation for Louis Vuitton as part of the Menswear ready-to-wear FallWinter 2024-2025 collection presented in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.

sophomore collection. The show, set against the dramatic silhouette of the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, masterfully channeled Americana, with Native American designs mixing with modern luxury and showcasing Williams’ unique vision for the powerhouse. Celebrity guests including Bradley Cooper, Omar Sy and Carey Mulligan who gathered to witness a boulder-laden landscape that evoked the rugged terrains of an idealized America. The collection itself was a vibrant celebration of theAmerican spirit, dripping in the famed confidence of Williams — a lauded music star who is a newcomer to fashion design at this level. The designs emphasized loose proportions, reflecting a modern take on classic American silhouettes. Models — male and female — strutted down the runway in leather cowboy hats, cowhide valises, and checkered denim jackets adorned with bull badges,

their cowboy boots boasting shiny metal points. Rodeo jackets shimmered with intricate embroideries, showcasing the luxurious craftsmanship synonymous with the LVMH-owned brand. The show highlighted the dazzling Vegas-style suiting — jackets with glimmering stripes paired with flared pants, exuding an energy reminiscent of the city’s iconic Strip. The collection also featured oversized jackets, including a statement-making gangster-style fur coat, in bold reinterpretations of traditional Western wear. Yet, the soul of the collection is its collaboration with Dakota and Lakota nation artists, a partnership that could be seen in intricate designs on scarves, bags, and blankets with floral and geometric patterns telling stories of heritage and identity. “Pharrell wanted to bring out the Native American spirit, (...) he wanted to showcase we’re still here, we’re still resilient,” Rebecca Brady, 54, a Native American from New Town, N.D. told The Associated Press. The event later turned into a cultural spectacle. VIP guests enjoyed Louis Vuitton-branded hamburgers in a Champagnefueled barbecue, symbolizing a quirky blend of high fashion and classic Americana.

Photos by Sandra Sellars/Richmond Free Press

Celebrating a King

The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia hosted its 11th MLK Community Day: A Teen Inspired Event on Monday, Jan. 15. This year’s sold-out event included guest speakers and student performers from Armstrong High School, Richmond Community High Schools, Henrico High School, Varina High School, Virginia State University. Above right, members of the Henrico High School Drumline gained the crowd’s approval for their rousing performance. Faithe Norrell, below left, education and programming coordinator for the BHMCC, guides students during a scavenger hunt. Below right, Elijah Cole Brown gave students some words of inspiration.

Richmond Free Press

January 18-20, 2024 B3

Faith News/Directory Anita G. Lester, Retired Armstrong High School teacher former lawyer with Hill, Conrad L. Dandridge, 87, remembered Tucker & Marsh, dies at 64 The Corvette enthusiast is being remembered for the role he played in students’ lives following his death at age 87 on Dec. 25, 2023. Family and friends paid final tributes at Mr. Dandridge 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, at Scott’s Funeral Home, 116 E. Brookland Park Boulevard. Dr. Wilson E.B. Shannon remembered Mr. Dandridge as the influential teacher who opened up the high school’s shop on weekends so Dr. Shannon could continue

By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Conrad Lewis “Mr. D” Dandridge spent more than 35 years teaching and mentoring countless students at Armstrong High School from which he graduated. Mr. Dandridge was best known for teaching wood- and metal-working and other industrial arts before Richmond Public Schools scrapped the vocational programs at its secondary schools in favor of sending students to the Technical Center. “He had a passion for teaching,” his family said, “and loved sharing his knowledge with students.”

working on projects rather than being out on the street. “He changed my life,” the pastor of First Baptist Church-Centralia told mourners in his eulogy. Born in Richmond during the Great Depression, Mr. Dandridge began teaching at Armstrong in the late 1950s after graduating from Virginia State University. He retired in the 1990s after RPS closed shop programs. Along with teaching, his family said he had a “deep appreciation for automobiles, technology and fashion.” Survivors include his brother, Elmer E. Dandridge of Martinez, Calif.

Victoria S. Oakley, former RPS educator, dies at age 63 By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Victoria Stender “Vickie” Oakley, a former principal and instructional leader for Richmond Public Schools, has died. Ms. Oakley, 63, succumbed to the breast cancer she had fought for 16 years on Monday, Jan. 8, her family said. During her nearly 24-year career with Richmond, she led such schools as Robert E. Lee Elementary and Ginter Park Elementary. She went on to become director of instruction and later served as chief academic officer. Most recently, she was best known for her service as board chair of Dancing Classrooms Richmond, a program that promotes student development through ballroom dance, and as a senior adviser and program manager for University Instructors, a tutoring operation that includes RPS among its clients. A Baltimore native who grew up in Alexandria, Ms. Oakley said her passion for education was fueled by the learning challenges she faced. Ms. Oakley had dyslexia, and she told an interviewer that the work she put in to overcome her learning disorder “really pushed me to be a teacher and to work in an urban environment. “I wanted to help children who didn’t

Ms. Oakley

have the same opportunities that I had to compensate for my learning disability,” she said. A graduate of the University of Richmond, Ms. Oakley began her career in 1982 as a sixth-grade

teacher in Emporia. She became a remedial Title I teacher and then moved on to Richmond where she secured her master’s degree in education from Virginia Commonwealth University and joined the RPS faculty. In 1991, she began her climb into the administrative ranks, first as assistant principal at Swansboro Elementary School and then as principal at Robert E. Lee and Ginter Park elementary schools. Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman tapped her to be director of instruction in 2004, the next superintendent, Dr. Yvonne Brandon, promoted her to chief academic officer in 2009. Five years later, Ms. Oakley joined the Office of School Improvement at the state Department of Education where she coached principals and monitored turn-around efforts in struggling school districts.

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Ms. Oakley also served nearly nine years as a lead school accreditation evaluator for AdvancED, now Cognia. Along with working with University Instructors, Ms. Oakley embraced the work that Dancing Classrooms undertakes to teach life skills to students in fifth and eighth grades — along with the tango, waltz, polka, swing and other ballroom dances to students in the 5th to 8th grades. “It instills a sense of joy and accomplishment, but also respect, teamwork and confidence,” Ms. Oakley said in a 2020 Personality feature in the Richmond Free Press. The program she oversaw as a board member currently serves 23 Richmond-area schools, including 17 in the city. She also was a past president and active member of the Virginia State Literacy Association. Along with her husband, Bob Oakley, Ms. Oakley is survived by a sister, Margaret Stender of Chicago. The family requests that memorial donations be made to Dancing Classrooms Richmond, the VCU Department of Education or any organization that encourages and supports reading. Plans are still being made for a memorial service, the family said.

By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Anita Gene Lester,65, is being remembered as a caring lawyer who spent part of her career defending those accused of crimes and part of her career prosecuting them. Family and friends celebrated Ms. Lester’s life Saturday, Jan. 6, at Antioch Baptist Church in Varina. Ms. Lester The service took place nearly two months after her death on Nov. 14, 2023. Ms. Lester grew up in Henrico County and began her legal career after graduating from Hampton University. She later earned her law degree from North Carolina Central University’s School of Law. She practiced law in Richmond with Henry L. Marsh III at the Hill, Tucker & Marsh law firm and with David P. Baugh. Ms. Lester also served as public defender at the Oliver Hill Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in the city. Other career roles included working as a deputy assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Suffolk and as a legislative assistant to Mayor Dwight C. Jones during his tenure as the city’s chief executive. Her family said that outside the legal realm, she had a flair for decorating, event planting and a passion for her three dogs. Ms. Lester also served as the caretaker for her mother, Irene Lester, her only survivor.

Bible Study online and in person Wednesday 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

“MAKE IT HAPPEN” Pastor Kevin Cook

call 804-644-0496

Richmond Free Press The People's Newspaper

Sharon Baptist Church 500 E. Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, VA 23222 (804) 643-3825 Rev. Dr. Paul A. Coles, Pastor

Sundays Morning Worship 10:00 A.M.

7M\XL &ETXMWX 'LYVGL 8LIQI 1SFMPM^MRK *SV 1MRMWXV] 6IJVIWLMRK 8LI 3PH ERH )QIVKMRK 8LI 2I[ A 21st Century Church With Ministry For Everyone

We Embrace Diversity — Love For All! Come worship with us! Back Inside Sundays Join us for 10:00 AM Worship Service

Conference Calls are still available at: ( 503) 300-6860 PIN: 273149 Facebook@:triumphantbaptist

Good Shepherd Baptist Church The Rev. Sylvester T. Smith, Ph.D., Pastor “There’s A Place for You” Join us at 11:00 a.m. each Sunday for in-person worship service or Live-stream on YouTube (Good Shepherd Baptist Church RVA).

St. Peter Baptist Church

Dr. Kirkland R. Walton, Pastor

Worship Opportunities Sunday Worship Opportunities: 10 A.M. [In-person and Livestream] Sunday Church School Opportunities: Adults [In-person] at 8:30 A.M. Children [Virtual] online via our website. Bible Study Opportunities: Noon [In-person] 7 P.M. [Virtual]; Please contact the church office for directives. 2040 Mountain Road • Glen Allen, Virginia 23060 Office 804-262-0230 • Fax 804-262-4651 •

Live on Facebook @ 4ixth #aptist $IVSDI 37" Live on Youtube @4#$ 37" Or by visiting our website

Rev. Dr. Yvonne Jones Bibbs, Pastor Rev. Dr. Yvonne Jones Bibbs, Pastor

(near Byrd Park)

(804) 359-1691 or 359-3498 Facebook Fax (804) 359-3798 `VeaUON]aV`aPUb_PU_cN

The People’s Church

Sunday Church School • 9am (Zoom)

Sunday Morning Worship • 11am (in-person and livestream on YouTube)

Wednesday Bible Study • 7pm


e with Reverence elevanc R g in Rev. Dr. Joshua Mitchell, Senior Pastor bin ❖ om

The doors of the church are open for worship! No registration required. Join us in person or online on Facebook or YouTube

216 W. Leigh St., Richmond, Va. 23220 Tel: 804-643-3366 Fax: 804-643-3367 (PDLO ṘFH#HEHQH]HUUYD RUJ ZHE HEHQH]HUUYD RUJ


Thirty-first Street Baptist Church

400 South Addison Street Richmond, Va. 23220


Back Inside

1127 North 28th Street, Richmond, VA 23223-6624 • Office: (804) 644-1402

Baptist Church

OPEN FOR IN PERSON WORSHIP Morning Worship - 11 am

“Your Home In God’s Kingdom”

“The Church With A Welcome”

Triumphant 2003 Lamb Avenue Richmond, VA 23222 Dr. Arthur M. Jones, Sr., Pastor (804) 321-7622

Dr. Alonza L. Lawrence, Pastor

Worship Service Gospel Concert Vacation Bible School Homecoming Revival

5106 Walmsley Blvd., Richmond, VA 23224 804-276-2740 • 804-276-6535 (fax)

Every Sunday @ 11:00 am.

1408 W. Leigh Street · Richmond, Va. 23220 (804) 358—6403

To advertise your church:

Broad Rock Baptist Church

Live Streaming Every Sunday At: or YouTube(Broad Rock Baptist Church)

Baptist Church

Spread theWord

“Please come and join us”

Live Streaming Every Sunday At: also on FACEBOOK and YouTube or YouTube (Broad Rock Baptist Church) 2604 Idlewood Avenue, “MAKE Richmond, Va. IT 23220 HAPPEN” (804) 353-6135 • Rev. Dr. John E. Johnson, Jr., Interim Minister

Moore Street Missionary

10:30 a.m. Sundays

Please visit our website Ebenezer Baptist Church Richmond, VA for updates http://www.

Dr. Wallace J. Cook, Pastor Emeritus

823 North 31st Street Richmond, VA 23223 (804) 226-0150 Office

Richmond Free Press

B4 January 18-20, 2024

Sports Plus

USATF National Cross Country Championships return to Richmond Region Hanover County’s Pole Green Park play host to nation’s top runners

Free Press, staff report

The excitement is building for the 2024 USA Track & Field National Cross Country Championships to take place in Hanover County’s Pole Green Park Jan. 20. Organized by USA Track & Field Virginia and the Collegiate Running Association, each championship race will feature athletes who will be competing for national titles, World Championships qualifications and $45,000 in prize money. The Richmond Cross Country Festival will feature six USA Track & Field national championship events plus a 6K Citizen’s Run and a short Kid’s Run. The U.S. Championship events will include: the U20 Women’s 6K Championship Race (under 20 years of age), U20 Men’s 8K Championship Race (under 20 years of age), Senior Women’s 10K Championship Race (open runners 20-39 years of age), Senior Men’s 10K Championship Race (open runners 20-39 years of age), Master’s Women’s 6K Championship Race (runners 40+ years of age) and Master’s Men’s 8K Championship Race (runners 40+ years of age). The top six U20 and senior men and women finishers will automatically qualify

for team USA. Participants entered into the RVA XC Festival Citizen’s Run before Tuesday, January 16 will receive a free 3-day admission pass and free parking pass to Kings Dominion Park. Additionally, Citizen’s Run participants will receive a $10 coupon good for race day to any onsite food or coffee vender. Runners in 2024 will be competing for a spot on the U.S. team for the World Athletics Cross Country Championships to take place in Belgrade, Serbia on March 30. The top six men and women in their respective races (Senior or U20) will earn a spot on team USA. The events will also include the U.S. Armed Forces National Championships, as well as the Citizen’s 6K Run and a Kids Run (10 and under). “The Virginia Association of USATF is very proud to have been awarded the U.S. Cross Country Championships for 2023 and 2024,” said Ray Funkhouser, USA Track & Field Virginia Association President. “This will bring the very best cross-country runners in the United States to Virginia, as they look to earn a spot on the Team that will represent the United States in the World Championships. This is a wonderful opportunity for Virginians and especially young runners to

come out and see the very best in the country compete on a course that is very spectator friendly. This event will be an excellent time for many businesses to become involved with this national event and join with us and our partners.” Richmond Region Tourism, the USATF Virginia Association, Collegiate Running Association and Hanover County are responsible for bringing the event to the region. “We couldn’t be more excited to see a concept to bring the U.S. Cross Country Championships to the Richmond region and the state of Virginia for the first time in history, turn into reality,” said Steve Taylor, director of Championships and President/Co-Founder of the Collegiate Running Association. “The commonwealth is a hub for top high school cross country and track and field and we’re thrilled our nation’s best and brightest distance running stars and Olympians will be coming to the Richmond region for the 2023 and 2024 U.S. Championships.” Athletes also will be competing for $45,000 in prize money at the events. Added Taylor: “We welcome our business community to partner with us as we welcome these championships to the state. The Pole Green Park cross country course is one of the best in

the eastern U.S.; it’s a remarkable facility and a great location. There’s simply no better place for these championships to be held. This shows the Richmond region has become a destination for endurance events.” “We’re honored and thrilled to welcome the USA Track & Field Cross Country National Championships to the region,” said Jerrine Lee, vice president of sales at Richmond Region Tourism. “This will be a dynamic and historic event for our community as the country’s best cross country athletes race throughout the 232acre Pole Green Park.” “We are tremendously excited to be the host site of the USA Track & Field Cross Country National Championships in 2023 and 2024,” John A. Budesky, Hanover County Administrator. “Pole Green Park has proven to be an ideal location for these events and all of our guests will find that Hanover County is a wonderfully accommodating location with our many dining, entertainment and historic attractions. We will look forward to welcoming them.” For more information about the USA Track & Field Cross Country National Championships, visit and https://www.

Legal Notices/Employment Opportunities Continued from previous column

City of Richmond, Virginia CITY COUNCIL PUBLIC NOTICE

City of Richmond, Virginia CITY COUNCIL

Notice is hereby given that the Council of the City of Richmond has scheduled a public hearing, open to all interested citizens, on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the Second Floor of City Hall, located at 900 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, to consider the following ordinance:

PUBLIC NOTICE Notice is hereby given that the City of Richmond Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing, open to all interested citizens, on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the Second Floor of City Hall and the Council of the City of Richmond has scheduled a public hear ing on Monday, February 12, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the Second Floor of City Hall, located at 900 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, to consider the following ordinances:

Ordinance No. 2024-011 To amend Ord. No. 2023071, adopted May 8, 2023, which adopted the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 General Fund Budget and made appropriations pursuant thereto, by increasing anticipated revenues from (i) certain funds due to the City from the Greater Richmond Convention Center Author ity, in accordance with an Interlocal Agreement dated February 1, 2000, by $3,140,571.00 and (ii) additional interest generated from the use of City funds by $509,429.00 and appropriating the sum of $3,650,000.00 to the Department of Economic Development fo r t h e p u r p o s e o f providing funding for the acquisition of the parcel of real property located at 10 Belt Boulevard in the city of Richmond for community services related to homelessness and housing alternatives. (COMMITTEE: Finance and Economic Development,Thursday, January 18, 2024, 1:00 p.m.)

Ordinance No. 2024-012 To conditionally rezone the properties known as 4400 East Main Street and 4500 Old Main Street from the M-2 Heavy Industrial District to the TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal District, upon cer tain proffered conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-013 To rezone the property known as 809 Oliver Hill Way from the M-1 Light Industrial District to the TOD-1 Transit-Oriented Nodal District. Ordinance No. 2024-014 To authorize the special use of the property known as 2017 2nd Avenue for the purpose of a twofamily detached dwelling, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-015 To authorize the special use of the properties known as 1200, 1202, 1204, 1206, 1208, 1210, 1212, and 1220 North 26th Street for the purpose of ten single-family attached dwellings and ten garages as an accessory use, upon certain terms and conditions.

Interested citizens who wish to speak will be given an opportunity to do so by following the instructions referenced in the January 22, 2024 Richmond City Council Formal meeting agenda. Copies of the full text of all ordinances are available by visiting the City Clerk’s page on the City’s Website at https://, and in the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 900 East Broad Street, Suite 200, Richmond, VA 23219, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Ordinance No. 2024-016 To a u t h o r i z e t h e conditional use of the property known as 309 East Broad Street for the purpose of authorizing a nightclub, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-017 To authorize the special use of the property known as 1912 West Cary Street for the purpose of a

Candice D. Reid City Clerk

Continued from previous column

Divorce VIRGINIA: IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE COUNTY OF HANOVER BARBARA MULHI, Plaintiff v. ABULGHANI MULHI, Defendant. Case No.: CL23004218-00 ORDER OF PUBLICATION The object of this suit is to obtain a divorce from the bond of matrimony from the defendant on the ground of living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for a period exceeding twelve months. It is ORDERED that t h e d e fe n d a n t , w h o s e whereabouts are unknown, appear here on or before the 28th day of February, 2024 at 9:00 AM and protect his interests. A Copy, Teste: FRANK D. HARGROVE, JR., Clerk I ask for this: Law Office of Dorothy M. Eure, P.C. Dorothy M. Eure, Plaintiff’s Attorney VSB# 27724 8460 Mount Eagle Road Ashland, VA 23005 (804 798-9667

mixed-use development, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-018 To authorize the special use of the property known as 801 Craigie Avenue for the purpose of a singlefamily detached dwelling, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-019 To authorize the special use of the property known as 12 Granite Avenue for the purpose of a singlefamily detached dwelling, with driveway access to the street, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-020 To authorize the special use of the properties known as 1401 Hull Street and 1407 Hull Street for the purpose of a mixeduse building with off-street parking, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-021 To authorize the special use of the property known as 5114 Salem Street for the purpose of three single-family detached dwellings, upon certain terms and conditions. Ordinance No. 2024-022 To authorize the special use of the property known as 5101 Stratford Crescent for the purpose of a singlefamily detached dwelling with an accessory building, upon certain terms and conditions.

VIRGINIA: RICHMOND CIRCUIT COURT 400 North 9th St., Richmond, VA 23219 Commonwealth of Virginia, in re REGIN M. JOHNSON v. MIKAIL D. BANKS Case No.: CL23-5602 RBC ORDER OF PUBLICATION The object of this suit is to notify defendant of divorce. It is ORDERED that Mikail D. Banks appear at the above-named court and protect his/her interests on or before February 15, 2024. An Extract, Teste: EDWARD F. JEWETT, Clerk

Ordinance No. 2024-023 To authorize the special use of the property known as 3112 Woodcliff for the pur pose of two single-family detached dwellings, upon certain terms and conditions. Interested citizens who wish to speak will be given an opportunity to do so by following the instructions referenced in the February 12, 2024 Richmond City Council Formal meeting agenda. Copies of the full text of all ordinances are available by visiting the City Clerk’s page on the City’s Website at https://, and in the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 900 East Broad Street, Suite 200, Richmond, VA 23219, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

VIRGINIA: IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE COUNTY OF HANOVER MICHELLE NALUMU, Plaintiff v. ARNOLD SEGAWA, Defendant. Case No.: CL23004180-00 ORDER OF PUBLICATION The object of this suit is to obtain a divorce from the bond of matrimony from the defendant on the ground of living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for a period exceeding twelve

Candice D. Reid City Clerk

Continued on next column

Continued on next column

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months. It is ORDERED that the defendant, who is a nonresident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, appear here on or before the 21st day of February, 2024 at 9:00 a.m. and protect his interests. A Copy, Teste: FRANK D. HARGROVE, JR., Clerk I ask for this: Law Office of Dorothy M. Eure, P.C. Dorothy M. Eure, Plaintiff’s Attorney VSB# 27724 8460 Mount Eagle Road Ashland, VA 23005 (804 798-9667

been found nor have not been personally located and has not filed a response to this action, and that any heirs, devisees, assignees, successors in interest, successors in title and/or any creditors with a current or future interest in said property, have not been identified and/or served despite diligent efforts to do so and are defendants to this suit by the general description of “Parties Unknown.” IT IS ORDERED that The Janice Denise Johnson Irrevocable Trust of 2017, trustee, Paul G. Izzo, Naomi J. Taylor, Beverly Johnson, Elenora E. Johnson, Phyllis J. Smith, Ruth Johnson, Philip M. Johnson, III, Latisha N. Johnson and Parties Unknown, come forward to appear on or before MARCH 14, 2024 and do what is necessary to protect their interests in this matter. An Extract, Teste: Edward F. Jewett, Clerk Gregory A. Lukanuski, Esq. City of Richmond, Office of the City Attorney 900 E. Broad Street Richmond, VA 23219 804-646-7949

PROPERTY VIRGINIA: IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF RICHMOND JOHN MARSHALL COURTS BUILDING CITY OF RICHMOND, Plaintiff, v. The Janice Denise Johnson Irrevocable Trust of 2017, et al, Defendants. Case No.: CL23-819 ORDER OF PUBLICATION The object of this suit is to subject the property briefly described as 1117 East 16th Street, Richmond, Virginia, Parcel ID Number S0000639019, to sale in order to collect delinquent real estate taxes assessed thereon in the name of the owners of record, The Janice Denise Johnson Irrevocable Trust of 2017, trustee Paul G. Izzo, Naomi J. Taylor, Beverly A. Johnson, Elenora E. Johnson, Phyllis J. Smith, Ruth J. Johnson, Philip M. Johnson, III, and Latisha N. Johnson. An Affidavit having been filed that said owners, all who have either been served by posting and by mailing a copy of the complaint to their last known address, or have not Continued on next column

ABC License Foodsquare LLC Trading as: Chefs Kitchen 1200 E Cary St Richmond, VA The above establishment is applying to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage C ontrol (ABC) AUTHORITY for a Mixed beverages license to sell or manufacture alcoholic beverages. Radha Kamarajuadda NOTE: Objections to the issuance of this license must be submitted to ABC no later than 30 days from the publishing date of the first of two required newspaper legal notices. Objections should be registered at gov or 800 552-3200.

Libbie Avenue Road Diet Henrico County, Virginia Notice of Willingness to Hold a Public Hearing The County of Henrico is proposing to modify Libbie Avenue to provide a combination of a 10-foot-wide paved shared-use path and two-way protected bike lanes on the east side of Libbie Avenue between West Broad Street and Bethlehem Road. Construction is anticipated to begin in July 2025. Information related to this project including the plans, project schedule, and funding information can be reviewed at the County of Henrico, Department of Public Works, 4305 E. Parham Road, Administration Annex Building, 3 rd Floor, Henrico, Virginia 23228, Telephone: (804) 501-4616. ,I \RXU FRQFHUQV FDQQRW EH VDWLV¿HG WKH County is willing to hold a public hearing. You may request a public hearing by sending a written request to the Department of Public Works, Attn: Sarah Briggs, P. O. Box 90775, Henrico, VA 23273-0775, on or before February 2, 2024. If a request for a public hearing is received, a notice of the date, time, and place of the public hearing will be provided. The County ensures nondiscrimination and equal employment in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you need more information or special assistance for persons with disabilities or limited (QJOLVK SUR¿FLHQF\ FRQWDFW 6DUDK %ULJJV at the above address, phone number, or at VDOT UPC #: 115769

To advertise in the Richmond Free Press call 644-0496

Please take notice that the School Board of the City of Richmond will conduct a public hearing during its meeting to receive public comment on the Superintendent’s proposed FY25 budget on Monday, February 5, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Auditorium of Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, located at 1000 Mosby Street, Richmond, VA 23223. Additional details regarding this meeting will be available at the RPS BoardDocs website: https://go.boarddocs. com/vsba/richmond/Board.nsf/Public. Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this proceeding should contact the Clerk of the School Board no later than three (3) business days prior to the meeting at (804) 780-7716 or If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency by calling the Americans with Disabilities $FW 2I¿FH 77< 5HOD\ &HQWHU DW


GREATER RICHMOND TRANSIT COMPANY GRTC PULSE BRT STATIONS PLATFORMS INVITATION FOR BIDS GRTC Transit System is seeking bids for the construction of GRTC Pulse BRT Stations 3ODWIRUPV ,QWHUHVWHG ÀUPV PD\ GRZQORDG D FRS\ RI ,)% IURP *57&·V ZHEVLWH ZZZ ULGHJUWF FRP PHQX RSWLRQV About Us, then Procurement) or obtain D FRS\ E\ FDOOLQJ %UHQGD :LOVRQ DW 592-5394. A Pre-Bid Conference and Site 9LVLW DUH VFKHGXOHG IRU -DQXDU\ at the GRTC Headquarters. Proposals are GXH SULRU WR SP RQ )HEUXDU\ All inquiries pertaining to the request or any questions in reference to the solicitation GRFXPHQWV VKRXOG EH GLUHFWHG WR Brenda Wilson Procurement Specialist





Thank you for your interest in applying for opportunities with The City of Richmond. To see what opportunities are available, please refer to our website at EOE M/F/D/V

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