The Great Bull Run brings thousands of daredevils and spectators to Dinwiddie FROM STAFF REPORTS
“I see no fear in their eyes,” the announcer said. DINWIDDIE — It was one of the When the runners were all in, it strangest and perhaps most thrilling was time to close the gate and spread event to come to Dinwiddie County in out along the course with a large path decades. There are plenty of thrills at in the middle for the bulls to run. After Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie hearing the rules banning intoxication County, but this was different. during the run and touching the bulls, This was an event that just about anythe dare devils recited their creed; “The one could participate in – if you were Bull Honorific.” daring enough. On Aug. 24, the gauntIn honor of the creed, an announcer let was thrown between the bulls and solemnly asked the runners to take off the humans during The Great Bull Run. their red bandanas, hold them high and About 12,000 crowded into Virginia repeat after him. Motorsports Park to try their luck with “Here we are the courageous few, the bulls or to sanely watch from the to test ourselves and honor the bulls. stands. The inaugural run began at 11 From those who run and those who fall. a.m. with six more rounds of stampedWe honor the bull and salute you all,” ing fury to follow. the 500 recited. Taunting the bulls may have been He gave the runners one last chance the goal of some participants in get-ups to bail. that ranged from Uncle Sam to half-na“There’s no shame in being sane,” ked men as bulls. Even the occasional he said. speedo was spotted. Then eight bulls out of an arsenal Runners in groups of 500 were fun- of 24 ripped down the track as a gate neled into a pin of rodeo fencing along at the far end opened. The bulls tore the straight away with no exit but climb- through the crowd at a speed of 35 ing over the fence or shimmying under. mph. Walt Joyner of Clinton, N.C., came to The Great Bull Run attracted great the run with his stepfather, Hal Price. anticipation as soon as the event was They lined up for the morning wave to announced earlier this year. By the be the first ever in the U.S. to run with day of the run, media from around the the bulls. nation had descended on Dinwiddie “I’m pretty excited, apprehensive County. The event was carried by the and nervous and waiting for the beer major television networks and scores of afterward,” Joyner said. other media. Runners were given a wristband for All day, the bulls ran in a tight a free beer as reward for their bravery. herd as they parted through bodies As he tried to be steel himself, Joyner and sent runners in every direction but couldn’t help thinking that the bulls backward. Some ran with them for the might have a vendetta. split second that any human can keep “I’ve eaten a lot of steak in my life, up with a bull. Others choose to play it so they might be mad,” he said. safe closer to the fence. The announcer hyped the crowd as As if eight speeding bulls were not Joyner and Price took one step closer to enough, 12 of the beasts were released doom with hundreds of others. in the following wave. Thus, it contin-
ued for next five runs of the day until the grand finale - a 24 bull run with about 800 people. For some, the run was just another in a series of bold dares. Donovan Darland of Stafford is a thrill seeker at heart who loves to sky dive but he met his match in The Great Bull Run. “When the bulls come around the first corner, you realize the gravity when you see something right in front of your face that can kill you,” Darland said. But instead of jumping over the fence in sheer terror, Darland stuck it out. “There’s nothing like it,” he said. “You have to the live in the moment.” But a few said that run was too tame compared to its Pamplona cousin, the annual Spanish Running of the Bulls that the event honored. Amanda Ilgenfritz traveled from York, Pa., to celebrate her 30th birthday by running with the bulls. She was not happy with a change made to the flow of the event. Originally, the organizers planned on three rounds with eight bulls charging after 1,00 people. They added a fourth round while planning the event due to its growing popularity. Ilgenfritz ran in the first wave. “They split us into 500 and there were less bulls. It changed and they didn’t explain it well, so people were really disappointed,” she said. “But I guess the changes had to be made for safety. But even though the bulls were slower than she expected, she still had an adrenaline rush. “We looked behind us waiting to see bulls and when we saw them it was an ocean moment,” she said. “It was, you better run because they’re coming.”
Rob Dickens, co-owner of The Great Bull Run LLC, said that even though the event was dangerous, it wasn’t meant to be deadly. “It’s the very first event so we didn’t want to play it dangerously,” he said. “On the whole people will want to see gorings or even deaths but we don’t want that,” He said in the future organizers may choose to use Spanish bulls which are more aggressive than the rodeo bulls used in the event. But their horns will not be sharpened in the Spanish bullfighting tradition. Dickens said that organizers made the decision to reduce the runs from 500 to 1,000 people because of rain on the dirt over the track. Organizers laid dirt down over the track because it would hurt the bulls to run over concrete. “We didn’t want the people or bulls to slip and fall,” he said. But the day was anything but tame. As the hours went by the bulls seemed to get faster and more agitated. Keith Hutchinson of Woodbridge went in the second to last wave. He was petrified. “It was the whole eat or get eaten type of thing,” he said. “Your heart is thumping so much.” Hutchinson said he fell near the middle of the track and was helped up by a fellow runner as a bull came “too close for comfort.” During the last wave of 24 bulls, a runner had to be removed from the
track on a stretcher. No further details on his injuries are available. The event was not all light-hearted or fun for others as well. At the street entrance of the park, 30 protesters from Richmond Friends of Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals gathered to speak out against the event. Will Lowrey, Richmond Friends of Animals, said that the he got some friendly honks and waves from those driving by but received heckling and cursing from those entering the park. He said that while didn’t expect anyone “to just tear up their ticket,” but he wanted participants to consider the his viewpoint. “As far as deterring people, we knew we were protesting in a spot where people already bought tickets,” he said. “We wanted to be visible for those people so that they were aware that there were people out there who didn’t agree. A small percentage of people who saw us will think differ-
ently.” But not all of the event was animalcentered. The Tomato Royale pit human against human as the fruit whizzed 12 feet into the air with an angry red fury. Thousands dived into the red mass of tomatoes to chuck them at others. The fight was the American version of the Spanish La Tomatina. Keisha Whitfeld of Norfolk was covered with yellow seeds and red gunk. “They hurt so bad when I got hit in the face. It’s intense in there,” she said. Dinwiddie was only the beginning of The Great Bull Run. It’s slated for the following cities from 2013 to 2014. • Houston, Texas, Dec. 7, 2013 • Orlando, Fla., Feb. 1, 2014 • San Diego, Calif., March 8, 2014 • Dallas, Texas, April 5, 2014 • Minneapolis, Minn., May 10, 2014 • San Francisco, Calif., June 21, 2014 • Chicago, Ill., July 12, 20114
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Dinwiddie Generals rolling over football foes FROM STAFF REPORTS
DINWIDDIE — D Dinwiddie dd ffootball b ll coach Billy Mills wanted his team to take ownership and accountability for this season. He ingrained into his four captains — quarterback Ronald Kearney, running back Rashaad Goodwyn, running back Sadarius Williams and outside linebacker Aaron Vaughan — that the season would be determined based on the tone they set from January. “These guys have been real solid for us all year including our duty counsel and I think that has been the key, they have all meshed very well and have been able to pull things together,” Mills said. “They know that I have been calling both the offense and defense this season so along with our assistant coaches, they have been great with talking with the other players on the sidelines and talking to the other coaches for the right adjustments.” For the past 10 months, that ownership, that accountability and that dedication has shown through these four seniors along with the entire Generals football team. “I told them since January that
this is your team, this is your year and that I will have another team next year and the year after that but that it would be up to them to make this year the best that they
Dinwiddie Generals head gootball coach Billy Mills has earned his 100th career victory this season.
could. So I gave them that ownership and said that they would have to focus on this process and to take one day, one practice and one game at a time.” Dinwiddie is 7-0 and is showing no signs of wavering. The Dinwiddie football team had much to celebrate as it walked off the field following its seventh game this season against Matoaca.. Sadarius Williams rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns as Dinwiddie remained undefeated
with a 45-21 win over Matoaca. The victory also gave coach Mills his 100th career victory. Williams also caught two of Ronald Kearney’s three touchdown passes, including a 32-yard bomb in the opening quarter. “(Williams) was running like he was possessed. He’s the best running back I’ve ever coached,” Mills said. “He just plays with so much heart.” And as for No. 100? “I don’t know. I really don’t know what to say,” Mills said. “I tried not to think about it.” The Generals (7-0) certainly played like they were thinking about the milestone. Dinwiddie scored on each of its six first-half possessions — and led 14-0 before Matoaca (3-4) ran a single offensive play. Kearney finished with 184 passing yards and also rushed for a TD. His 53-yard TD pass to Ja’Quan Poarch capped a three-play, 55-yard drive to open the game. Williams’ third TD of the second quarter — a 9-yard reception — sent the Generals into halftime with a 42-7 lead.
“We held our guys responsible in practice all week,” Mills said, “and they responded.” During the offseason Mills had brought on the Dinwiddie boys soccer coach where he was able to bring in three kickers in Cody Bell, Zachary Slaton and Tyler Willis. “Being able to have this part of our kicking game is just another weapon for us to have,” Mills said. “It’s always good to have as many more weapons when you go into battle and our special teams is one of them.” Along with special teams, Mills has also seen the value in the depth that the Generals have in other areas. “It’s exciting to see how much depth that we have in our skilled positions and that we are two to three deep at every spot. We are able to keep people fresh and I think that has helped us do more on the defensive end too,” Mills said. So as Mills had said to his captains and his squad 10 months ago that the goals will stay same, so far they have gotten through five steps and they more still to go.
Upcoming Events Voices from the Shadows:
A Walk through Hallowed Ground October 25 & 26, 2013 Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier 6125 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, VA 23803
Does the sound of Civil War cannon fire still echo in the night? Be the first to experience Pamplin Historical Park after dark as costumed guides lead you on a spine-chilling tour of the Park’s historical sites. Come and hear ghostly stories from the 19th century as you embark upon a hair-raising lantern tour across haunting battlefield trails, an old plantation home, an eerie cemetery and more!
Drag Strip Racing
Virginia Motorsports Park 8018 Boydton Plank Rd • Petersburg, VA 23803 Phone: 804-862-3174 • http://www.vmpdrag.com/ Oct 25, Fri, Street Wars Oct 26, Sat, Restoration Reunion Legends at the Park Oct 26, Sat, The Northeast Outlaw Pro Mods Nov 1, Fri, Final Street Wars Nov 2, Sat, Eastern Footbrake Bonanza 5K / T&T
Dinwiddie County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade
A PP O
TOX REG AT
Dinwiddie County celebrates the holiday season with the Grand Illumination at the Historic Dinwiddie Courthouse, located at:14101 Boydton Plank RoadDinwiddie, VA 23841 This event is complete with caroling and light refreshments. Start your holiday tradition with the Grand Illumination and for more information call us at 804-469-5346.
Appomattox Regional Library System
Dinwiddie County Parks, Recreation, and Tourism would like to invite you and your family out to Winter Wonderland at the Dinwiddie Sports Complex. Come out and experience the beautiful lights, carols, arts and crafts, and much more! Do not forget to watch The Polar Express on an 18-foot screen and tell Santa Claus what you want for Christmas. Admission is $10 per carload Time: 6 - 10 p.m. December 6 and 7 • December 13 and 14 • December 20 and 21 Dinwiddie Sports Complex • 5850 R.B. Pamplin Drive Sutherland, VA
Saturday, Dec. 14 Fun for all! Join us at the Annual Christmas Parade, the second Saturday of December every year! Whether you register your group for a float, show your favorite car, pile your kids on a decorated trailer, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the parade, the Dinwiddie County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade is for everyone!
Two nights only: October 25 & 26, 2013; 7:00 - 8:30 PM Members: FREE • Adults: $10.00 • Children 6-12: $5.00 This is a family friendly event! Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 804-861-2408
Communities Thrive @ Your Library®
Nov 3, Sun, Eastern Footbrak Footbrake Bonanza 5K N 9, 9 Sat, S Logan L J h Me M Nov Johnson Memorial X275 / Ultra Street / Outlaw Index / T&T Challeng ge - Big Bucks Race Nov 16, Sat, Fall ET Challenge Challeng g - Big Bucks Race Nov 17, Sun, Fall ET Challenge N Nov 23, Sat, Junior Jamm / NHRA Jr. Dragster Challenge / T&T TT& Nov 24, Sun, Junior Jamm / T&T N 30, 30 Sat, Sat S CLOSED Nov Dec 1, Sun, CLOSED Dec 7, Sat, T&T Dec 14, Sat, T&T
A RY S Y S T E
HOPEWELL • DINWIDDIE PRINCE GEORGE MCKENNEY
A community supported program of the Appomattox Regional Library System Major funders: The Cameron Foundation and the John Randolph Foundation
Get involved at:
www.arls.org • 804-458-6329
www.ConnectSouthside.org or call, 804-458-6329, x2017
• Nonprofit & Civic Leadership Training • Funding Resources • Community Volunteer Match
Dinwiddie Parks, Recreation and Tourism As many of you prepare ffor a great Trick or Treating season and the many joys that fall and HalBrian Mancini loween bring us, The Dinwiddie Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department would like to invite the Tri-City area out to our 2nd annual Winter Wonderland event this December. The event will be held at the Dinwiddie Sports Complex located off of US Route 460 in Sutherland. The event promises to grow, and will be bigger than in year one. Your little one will be able to visit with or even write a letter and mail it to Santa Claus while at the
event. Families can take in a live h l or musicall performance f theatrical inside of a climate controlled tent. Families can also see a movie on a large movie screen in HD. The movies this year include The Polar Express, The Grinch that Stole Christmas and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. There will be fire pits for roasting marshmallows, ice sculpting, wreath making and thousands of Christmas lights outlining the entire complex. If that’s still not enough, how about letting the little one’s take a stroll through candy cane lane or the tacky light maze? This holiday activity is geared for your family to make memories that will hopefully become a yearly tradition here in Dinwiddie. So,
while the event starts to grow in l h Dinwiddie dd County popularity, the Parks, Recreation and Tourism department would like to invite not only our Dinwiddie citizens out to the event, but also the entire Tri-City region. Come see us at the Dinwiddie
County Sports Complex this Deb 5850 RB Pamplin l Drive, cember. Sutherland VA, 23885. For more information on the event, including attractions and cost, please go to www.discoverdinwiddie.com and check the special events tab or call 804-732-1100 for details.
Dinwiddie Chamber of Commerce
The Dinwiddie Chamber began in 2006 with the Dinwiddie businesses in mind. The goal was to provide a forum for businesses Tonya Hale in the county to come together to share ideas and network. As of May 2013, I have stepped back from the chamber to allow the elected Chamber Board to begin the task of working with membership to create the Dinwiddie Chamber according to the membership wishes. I remain the founder and a source of information for the current Board of Directors. Together, the current board of directors have stepped up to continue the good work in Dinwiddie County. As Chamber includes the membership to create a growing network of functioning business leaders, as well as providing leadership to youth and new business. The current Chamber Board
is moving the Dinwiddie Chamber in that direction. As membership grows, opportunities to participate and provide more growth opportunities expands, enabling more and more people to become involved. The projects are varying and many are still to be instituted. I enough Dinwiddie County and those who have business, or wish to have business in Dinwiddie County to participate, become members and become actively involved in a thriving and developing Dinwiddie County. Together we improve our community! November marks seven years of existence of the Dinwiddie Chamber of Commerce and the Annual Celebration Event to be held at the Petersburg Country Club. Tickets and Sponsorships are available from the chamber by contacting them at (804) 861-8874 or emailing them at email@example.com December marks our Seventh Annual Dinwiddie Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade. This yearâ€™s parade
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committee has chosen the theme of Nostalgic Christmas. The Dinwiddie Chamber Christmas Parade is always the second Saturday of December. This year, participants will have the opportunity to participate in the parade and then slide right on over to the Dinwiddie County Winter Wonderland Event at the New Sports Complex on Route 460 to fill their day with Christmas Family Fun! As 2014 approaches, the Dinwiddie Chamber Board and its members are working to plan many events and offerings to the business community in Dinwiddie County. Membership is encouraged to participate, step forward and become active in the leadership and volunteer opportunities that are available. When I began the chamber, I envisioned businesses being active in the community in both the area of marketing and networking together, but also molding our future workforce through their participation and volunteering with the County Public School System. This is becoming a
reality and together Dinwiddie County is reaping the rewards of our enhances workforce. Amazon.com as well as other large companies are making Dinwiddie County home. This holiday season as you shop and think about the holidays, I would encourage you to look to the small, local businesses to do your shopping and reward yourself with increased tax revenues in your community, as well as the opportunity to create lasting bonds with your local businesses and business leaders. Make 2014 a Dinwiddie County Shop Local kind of year! Merry Christmas and may your holidays and your 2014 be extremely blessed! Tanya S. Hale
Founder, Dinwiddie County Chamber of Commerce
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Sometimes the biggest decisions in life are the easiest to make.
Just ask Bobby Perkins. obby Perkins is your typical proud family man. There is simply nothing more important than his son, Taylor, and daughter, Sydney. While Sydney was growing up, she spent her time cultivating a love for horses, while Taylor was practically born with a baseball in his hand. America’s pastime was Taylor’s passion from a young age, and when he started playing Dixie Youth Baseball and quickly emerged as a standout player. There was just one problem. As a farmer, the demands of Bobby’s farm often prevented him from being there to see his son play the game he loved.
At the Crossroads
A family man at heart, nothing is more important to Bobby than his wife, Jennie, and his kids, Taylor and Sydney. One of his favorite things to do is ride his black mule, Becky Sue, along the many surrounding trails with Sydney. Those fatherdaughter moments are some of his most treasured times in life.
“Home is the center of a family, and being able to impact such an important aspect of people’s lives inspires me each and every day.” – Bobby Perkins
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When you genuinely care about what you do, it shows. Bobby Perkins is living proof. As a leading Dinwiddie County real estate expert, Bobby’s care and devotion have ranked him among the area’s most productive professionals since 2003. But sales numbers aren’t how Bobby truly measures his success. To him, it’s about making sure his clients are completely satisﬁed with his service and that they plan to return to him again in the future. Because with something as important as your home, you can’t settle for anything less than the best. Call Bobby today to make the most of your next move. Because You Matter Most.
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Bobby’s decision to entirely change the course of his professional life was, without a doubt, monumental. But it wasn’t as difﬁcult of a decision as you might think. “I was conﬁdent that the skills required to successfully run the farm all those years would serve me well in any business,” Bobby says. “And when it gave me an opportunity to be more involved with my family, it was a no brainer.” Professionally, Bobby combined his strong work ethic, his business sense built over decades of running the farm and his lifetime of local knowledge to establish himself as one of Dinwiddie County’s leading real estate professionals. The lessons about hard work and determination that Bobby learned from his grandfather still echo in his head today, resulting in an uncommon devotion to helping his clients achieve their real estate goals.
To understand the enormity of the decision Bobby was about to make, you must ﬁrst understand that farming was the only thing he’d ever known. He grew up right here in Dinwiddie County and worked side-by-side with his grandfather on the family farm from the time he was a very young boy. Rising before dawn and working well into nightfall was the norm for Bobby. But when Taylor earned a spot on that traveling team, Bobby knew he had to make a drastic change in order to be more involved in Taylor’s life. It was then that Bobby decided to give up farming. Everyone who knew him was shocked by his decision, but when Bobby found himself sitting in the bleachers at Taylor’s next game, he knew he’d made the right choice. He ended up traveling with the team frequently and was able to watch Taylor play in 11 different states, all before he went on to play college ball at VCU.
What Matters Most
On the farm, whenever challenges arose, Bobby always found a way to “make it work.” He does much the same in real estate. He’s a man who will keep your transaction moving forward despite the inevitable minor bumps in the road along the way. When he has a goal in mind, Bobby simply won’t quit giving everything he’s got until he accomplishes it. It’s a nice feeling to have on your side when your most important investment is at stake. If you’re considering the sale or purchase of a home or land in Dinwiddie County or the surrounding areas, make sure you work with a real estate professional who will put your needs ahead of his own and who will never give up in pursuit of helping make the most of your transaction. That’s exactly Bobby Perkins’ approach, Because You Matter Most. Call him today to schedule a private consultation.
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“Home is the center of a family, and being able to impact such an important aspect of people’s lives inspires me each and every day.” – Bobby Perkins
Dinwiddie cheerleader brings 'deeper' purpose to team FROM STAFF REPORTS
DINWIDDIE — The Dinwiddie junior varsity cheerleading team has only minutes before they are due on the football field for one of their first games. Parents and fans have already begun filing into the Dinwiddie High School stadium. Cheerleaders straighten the sparkling red bows clipped to their ponytails as they bounce toward the field to warm up. In a car in the nearby parking lot, Celestine Jackson loops her arms under the shoulders of her daughter, Kayla Allen, and lifts her from the passenger seat. Allen supports herself on the backside of the car as her mother pops open the trunk and uses her body weight to get a scooter from the trunk onto the ground. “We have a routine,” Jackson said, denying help. The mother motions for her daughter to get into the scooter. With both hands out to balance herself, Allen tiptoes three careful steps to the scooter and sits down. She then tightens the sparkling red bow poised at the top of her ponytail. Finally, Jackson pops open a tube of fire-engine red lipstick and applies it to her daughter’s lips. Now Allen is ready to join the rest of her cheerleading team. She lets her mother push her scooter into the stadium and across the walkway to the wheelchair ramp, but not any further. Allen mans the scooter the rest of the way to her waiting teammates. The roughly 20 cheerleaders on the junior varsity squad have not gone through the gate that Allen could not pass through. Instead, they have walked across the stadium and waited for their fellow cheerleader at
the more accommodating gate. “We are a team. We all come in together,” Kae Partin, JV cheerleading coach, said. Allen was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a muscular disease that progressively obstructs movement, when she was in the third grade. The day that her mother found out, she cried for the entire weekend. “Then I realized she could still have a life. And I snapped out of it,” Jackson said. And since Allen saw her friends cheer in elementary school, her life plans have always included cheerleading. “I love the spirit and I love to smile. They are always happy,” Allen said, referring to the cheerleaders. Before her illness took away her ability to walk, Allen cheered on squads. But once the scooter became a necessity, her number was not always posted on new team rosters. “Another team didn’t take her, and she was heartbroken. They knew about the disability because when she walked, she walked on her tippy-
toes,” Jackson said. The day of the high school cheerleading auditions, Allen, a ninthgrader, showed up in her scooter. She watched as varsity cheerleaders with years of experience did backtucks and backhand springs. She didn’t flinch. “It didn’t phase her at all. She still wanted to try out. It was just noticing her courage and being so humbled by her courage and her smile and her spirit ... that was an automatic for me,” Partin said. When Allen saw Number 27 on the JV roster, she didn’t at first believe it. “I was so excited,” Allen said. She had to reassure her mother several times before Jackson would believe it. “I said, ‘Are you sure, are you sure?’” Jackson said. “We were so happy.” Jackson had informed both Partin and fellow coach Brandi Atkins of Allen’s illness during tryouts. They both responded by saying that their team doesn’t discriminate. “We were just so happy to hear that
part,” Jackson said, calling both coaches “We are so grateful h angels. l “W t f l to them.” Partin said she never saw the scooter, only another junior varsity cheerleader. Like her teammates, Allen is expected to show up at every practice and perform the cheers. “At first, she wouldn’t pull her scooter onto the cheer mat. And I told her, ‘Girl get on the mat.’ So at first, there were little bits and pieces of hesitation with her. But now, she is one of the team,” Partin said. As the team warms up for the football game, Allen and some fellow cheerleaders laugh over a picture from their phone. Others gather around her scooter and just chat. Partin said that when rain poured down during the first game, the team not only remembered to put a poncho over Allen, but her scooter as well. “She brings a deeper purpose to the team. It forces the team and the coaches to always recognize the needs of others around you,” Partin said. “Typically, this is an age group that is more focused on themselves. But it has opened up their eyes to focus on others as well.” As the football players take the field, Allen begins clapping and calling out the cheers with a smile that never leaves her face. When her teammates jump, she throws her hands up to the sky. From the bleachers, Jackson watches, just as she plans to do for every game. “She has an incredible spirit. Being part of a public school, it is far more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. There is pride behind saying I am a Dinwiddie General. And she has it,” Partin said.
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Amazon - an amazing ballet of logistics has county moving forward FROM STAFF REPORTS
DINWIDDIE — A little more than a year later that the Dinwiddie Amazon Fulfillment Center sent out its first product — a Crock-Pot — to a customer in Michigan, the giant distribution center officially opened on Oct. 8, 2013. State and local representatives got their first glimpse into Amazon.com’s giant fulfillment center in Dinwiddie County, where millions of products have been shipped from since its opening in September 2012. The Dinwiddie center was one of eight added to the retail giant’s more than 40 U.S. fulfillment centers last year. The center’s more than 500 full-time employees are a slice of Amazon’s more than 20,000-strong national workforce. Amazon.com’s presence in both Dinwiddie and Chester has been a spark plug for the region. A recent hiring spree by the company that is expected to add 7,000 new jobs in 13 states translated into hundreds of new permanent jobs in the Dinwiddie facility. The announcement came months before the facility’s annual hiring event for seasonal workers for its busy holiday season. The two facilities represented a $135 investment to the region, and a more than $50 million investment in Dinwiddie. In Dinwiddie, the full-time employee base is about 500 workers. The facility expects to hire hundreds more for its busy holiday season. David Lewis, who started working at the 1.1 million-square-foot facility just after it opened, has seen the full-time employee base balloon from 150 to more than 500. The facility expects to hire hundreds more for its busy holiday season. The growth of Amazon has coincided with the welcomed job and economic growth in Dinwiddie, Lewis said. The 27-year-old said he now shops at the store’s site for his hunting accessories. “I remember one traffic light being in
Dinwiddie. Now we have three just right here,” Lewis said. Lewis, who lives in the eastern part of the county, is one of around 80 employees on the center’s quality management team. The team’s job is to double-check the system by making sure what it says is available is physically stored. “We are probably checking about 2,000 bins per day,” Lewis said.
bed. Lewis and his team work with many other teams of employees who store, pick and package thousands of items. Handheld devices tells employees where to pick an item for shipment, and a computer system helps the packaging team ready the item to be shipped. “It has been amazing to interact with all of the people in the area, and
One of the main reasons Lewis left his warehouse job in South Richmond for Amazon was for his family. Not only is his commute much shorter, but his 10hour shifts put him home long before his nearly 2-year-old daughter goes to
throughout the state, and sometimes even across state lines,” Lewis said. “My favorite part ... is being part of a company that really goes that extra mile for the customer.” Sean Loso, the center’s general man-
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ager, said that the vast majority of the facility’s workforce is local. During the official opening ceremony, he called the partnership with Dinwiddie a valuable one. “Technology is only half of it. You can have all the technology in the world, but you still need people,” Loso said. “We’ve hired hundreds throughout this year ... and we will start hiring people in big mass quantities in the next couple of weeks.” Company spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman said that median pay inside the fulfillment centers is 30 percent higher than that of people who work in traditional retail stores. The base pay is complimented by stock grants as well as full-time benefits, including healthcare and 401K matching. Through a program called Career Choice, Amazon also offers to pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, even if those skills are not relevant to a career at Amazon. “Dinwiddie County has been a great partner for us with the great workforce that they provided. Because of that workforce, we are able to ship more volume out and we added more space to provide our customers with more,” Loso said. In an effort to give back to the community, Loso said that the center has donated food to the local food bank, and donated Kindles to a local elementary school. “We are really proud of what we have accomplished here and
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thankful for the folk folks that have supported it,” Loso said. said But it is inside the Amazon A facility, where the accomplishments accom are made in a ballet of busy logistics. Inside the sprawling 1.1 million-squarefoot facility, the movement hardly ever stops. Looking over the synchronized systems of receiving, picking and packaging from the facility’s new second floor, the center is like a small city that never sleeps. More than 500 full-time employees dart in and out of aisles stretching endlessly down the entire center, which is roughly the size of 25 football fields. Some on small forklifts honk several times before making a turn at a small intersection, hauling larger items such as generators, dirt bikes, kayaks and Barbie dreamhouses. These are the types of larger items that the Dinwiddie facility is geared toward. Other employees weave carts through aisles containing smaller items, such as stuffed animals or cat food. “It is one of my favorite parts about
working here really, is just how great the selection is that we offer to our customers,” said Loso, the center’s manager. Like a vast library filled with every imaginable gadget, the center is organized into a system categorized by letters and numbers. Handheld devices that operate off of algorithms navigate each employee through the alphabet soup of sections and rows to the next item to be picked. If an employee happens to be near another item in the order queue, the device notifies them. Unlike Amazon.com’s website, the algorithms do not organize the thousands of products into neat categories. On a portion of the bottom floor, a green kayak sits next to a gas heater. An orange kayak sits not far away, but not immediately next to its green counterpart. That is to avoid logjams, Loso explains. “If we put the same things in the same place, and you think about us wanting to pick out five or six kayaks, we would all want to go there at the same
time. We want to spread out across the building,” Loso said. “We know where everything is, but you put it where you have space. That allows us to offer more selection.” Most of the facility is organized like a compartment on the center’s mezzanine floor, where a stuffed animal provides more space for a taller, slender object leaning against the compartment’s side. The facilitiy’s center section is reserved for the smaller items, while the tailends are made up of towering racks stacked with larger goods. The center’s largest items, according to Loso, are probably the generators, but the riding lawn mowers and mattresses are close seconds. Once in the picker’s cart, the items are handed off to the boxing section, which is tucked in the center-back of the facility near the shipping and receiving end. Loso said that a new packaging machine wraps the items into customized packages. That machine replaced another system that packaged each
item into a standard-sized box, which ended up using more paper. The new system also completely conceals the package, adding more privacy for customers. “We reduced our impact on the environment ... but we are also giving our customer’s a great experience by customizing their boxes,” Loso said. A series of conveyor belts zip the wrapped package toward the large bay doors where products are received and shipped. And then the process repeats. “It is ever-flowing,” Loso said. The employees navigate through the maze in 10-hour shifts for four days. The lights in the air-conditioned facility are only turned off for two hours each day, Loso said. Tammie Collins, division chief of Planning and Community Development for Dinwiddie County, said due to the investment in the county and the growing number of people working at the facility, the Amazon Fulfillment Center, is a Christmas gift that keeps on giving.
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