YEAR IN REVIEW: May

School Board adopts budget, cuts 325 jobs

After months of discussion, the School Board approved a fiscal 2011 budget that included about $56.4 million in cuts and eliminated about 325 jobs.

“It’s been … a long, and I think we’ll all admit, a difficult budget process,” said T. David Myers, assistant superintendent for business and finance. The budget dropped roughly $30 million, from $599,996,500 to $569,528,300.

The reductions included most of the “tier two” cuts that were presented in February, except the additional 2 percent pay cut for employees and reduced employee leave payouts. The budget approved in February called for teachers and employees at grade 43 and below to take a 2 percent pay cut, employees at grade 44 and higher to take a 3 percent cut. Superintendent Marcus Newsome took a 7 percent pay cut in fiscal 2011.

The original budget eliminated 190 jobs, and the revisions cut another 135 positions, according to information from the school system.

Scouts, community step up to help after fire

The ladies of Brownie Troop 447 of Chester – including Janiyah Moore (third from left) – used a portion of the proceeds of their cookie sales to buy food for the Colonial Heights Food Pantry. The group also banded together to help Moore, whose family lost everything in a fire the month before.

Vic Williams steps down, Kevin Tucker takes over team

The face of Thomas Dale football for a generation, coach Vic Williams, announced his retirement, ending a career that landed three running backs in the NFL and culminated last year with a Division 6 State Championship.

Later in May, Thomas Dale High School announced the hiring of Kevin Tucker as the school’s next football coach. Tucker was a third-generation Knight who went on to star at Hampden-Sydney after his graduation in 1998.

“We will play tough, hard-nosed football. I expect my players to be students of the game and to do things the right way,” Tucker said.

Pocket park facelift a community effort

The Chester Garden Club completed Landscaping on the pocket park at West Hundred and Harrowgate roads as the Chester Community Association finished its installation of a park bench there. Pictured from left, standing, are David Krisnitksi, Chester Community Association President Mike Sawyer and Lynn Waymack, project chair for the Chester Garden Club. Seated is Melissa Ray, president of the Garden Club.

Retirees bid farewell to Matoaca Elementary

In May, three members of the Matoaca Elementary School family were preparing to retire. 

  • David Early, a fifth grade teacher, retired with 30 years of service. He planned to head to Alaska shortly after the last day of the 2009-2010 school year. The thing he would miss most was the children.

“The kids are a blast,” he said.  “I won’t miss the job, but I will miss the kids, their enthusiasm and excitement they offer.” 

  • Phyllis Glovier, a general education instructional assistant, had been at Matotaca Elementary since 1979. Glovier did a little bit of everything over the years, working as a library aide, a Title I aide and in the copy room.

“This has been such a rewarding job for me in many ways,” she said. “I take into my retirement so many cherished memories of friendships and person growth.”

  • Major Goode, lead custodian, said he had worked in many schools as a custodian and the staff at Matoaca Elementary has been the best.  He is retiring after 21 years in the school system. 

“I have never worked with a staff like at Matoaca.  It is a really good staff to work for,” he said.  The thing he will miss the most is the people.

Revitalizing Jeff Davis

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s message to the crowd at the historic Half Way House Restaurant on Route 1 in May was simple.

 “Virginia has a lot to offer, but it’s not all along Interstate 95, [Interstate] 81 or [Interstate] 64,” he said. “You don’t have to just buzz through.”

At a press conference, Bolling, along with representatives of the Jefferson Davis Association, members of the Board of Supervisors and other officials, introduced a streetscape project along Jefferson Davis Highway and a new website promoting Route 1 throughout the country, www.HistoricRouteOne.com.

The Jefferson Davis Association, a nonprofit organization, was created in 1992 by civic and business leaders to address revitalization challenges facing the historic Route 1 corridor in Chesterfield County.

JDA Vice President Sterry McGee said the streetscape project is actually three separate projects. One of the three was the installation of four fixed “Welcome to Chesterfield County” signs. Two monument signs would be placed at the county line at NAPA Auto Parts and the DuPont Spruance Plant, and two entry signs will be placed on Route 1 northbound at Route 288 and southbound at Chippenham Parkway.

Probably two-thirds of the fabric signs, another of the three projects, had been put up on utility poles along the highway. Another of the three projects involved landscaping and sidewalk installation in the 7400 block of Jefferson Davis Highway.

Storm swamps HOG, but hosts persevere

Folks attending the Chester Rotary Club’s annual HOG (Happening on the Green) in May were pounded with an abrupt storm. But, not too long after it struck with a vengeance, blowing down tents and scattering the 100 or so folks arriving before the storm did, a restored calm fell upon the event.

Richards rises to top of national rankings

Matoaca Middle School seventh grader Neal Richards, who had been wrestling in the Matoaca youth program since he was 4 years old, was ranked No. 1 nationally in his weight class.

Neal had been traveling around the country to competitions, winning the Eastern Nationals in West Virginia, the Tulsa National in Oklahoma and the Reno World in Nevada, and earning his No. 1 ranking.

Tipping the scales at about 110 pounds, Neal projected that he would begin his high school career at 119.

Neal, who loves math and plays the trumpet in the school band, had predominately wrestled, but he had also played soccer and received some gymnastics training. 

“I’m very thankful for the sacrifices my parents have made to allow me to compete at a national level,” he said.  “I really love wrestling.  It allows you to prove yourself on the mat. … Wrestling has allowed me to make many friends and to travel to so many different places.”

CMS use complies with comprehensive plan, commissioners find

Though the Planning Commission found that using Chester Middle School as a ninth grade academy for Thomas Dale High School complied with the comprehensive plan, the commissioners made no secret of their frustration with the School Board.

“I believe the School Board started a war and they couldn’t win it, so they put the Planning Commission right in the middle of that,” Clover Hill District Commissioner Russell J. Gulley said at the commission’s May 18 meeting.

Commission Chairman William Brown said: “There’s an election coming up in 2011. In my opinion, all five of them [School Board members] should be replaced.”

After the commission meeting, School Board Chairman David Wyman said he’d like to focus people’s attention on the “issue itself;” the problem the board was attempting to solve was the “tremendous overcrowding” at Thomas Dale.

“I’m really not going to comment on the outburst from the Planning Commission,” he said.

Village Bank earns Business of the Year honor

The 2010 First Choice Business of the Year honor was awarded to Village Bank. Village Bank was celebrating its 10th year serving Chesterfield County and the metropolitan Richmond area, a county press release says.

In this past year of economic turmoil, Village Bank has not only overcome adversity, but actually shown marked growth, adding investment services and a mortgage subsidiary to their portfolio of services, the release says.

Curtis Girls on the Run raise $1,000

On a sunny afternoon at Curtis Elementary School in May, the school’s Girls on the Run group presented a check for $1,010 to a representative of Children’s Hospital of Richmond.

The Curtis group, made up of 18 girls in fourth and fifth grades, held a school-wide fund raiser to bring in money for the hospital. For each dollar the girls raised, they would run a lap, teacher and coach Jennifer Swartz said. The laps they planned to run equated to about 118 miles, she said.

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