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Richmond Flying Squirrels nominated for top MiLB award

The John H. Johnson President’s Award honors Minor League Baseball’s top “complete franchise.”

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The Richmond Flying Squirrels have been selected as the Eastern League’s nominee for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, Minor League Baseball’s top honor, as announced by the league on Thursday morning.

The John H. Johnson President’s Award is presented annually “to honor the complete baseball franchise – based on franchise stability, contributions to the league, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry.” The winner of the award will be announced at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego in December.

“We are honored to be the Eastern League nominee for this prestigious award and we love representing the Richmond region in everything that we do, 12 months a year,” Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd “Parney” Parnell said. “It has been a wonderful love affair with RVA for ten years and we look forward to the future.”

The Flying Squirrels celebrated the team’s landmark 10th Season in 2019. Over the last decade, the franchise has cemented itself in the hearts of the Richmond community through three founding pillars: Be impactful, be different and have “funn.” The Flying Squirrels have become a model franchise in Minor League Baseball through its innovative promotions, a unique approach to family entertainment and community-oriented projects.

The team’s mascots, Nutzy and Nutasha, make more than 500 appearances annually, including numerous parades, festivals and school programs. Flying Squirrels players and front office staff spend hours throughout the year volunteering with several community-based and non-profit organizations.

The organization launched Flying Squirrels Charities in 2014, a 501(C)(3) dedicated to improving lives in the Richmond community, which conducts initiatives including “Renovating Richmond’s Recreation,” a community project aimed at renovating youth baseball facilities. Alongside partners throughout Richmond, Flying Squirrels Charities raises funds through numerous events, including the Charity Hot Stove Banquet, the Turn Left Golf Classic and Nutzy’s Rotary Funn Run.

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PHOTOS: Bloomberg finds support, opposition at campaign stop in Richmond

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg stumped in Virginia over the weekend, which he calls a key part of his presidential election bid. Virginia’s top leadership welcomed the candidate, whose visit also brought out gun rights advocates and anti-Bloomberg protesters, including one who taped a message to the podium during his speech. 

Capital News Service

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By Conor Lobb

Roughly two weeks before Super Tuesday, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was in Richmond looking for support from voters and from many of the lawmakers whose campaigns he helped fund.

The day after Valentine’s Day, the Democratic presidential candidate campaigned around the city, stopping first for an afternoon speech at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. The event attracted about 900 people, according to his campaign staff. In the evening, Bloomberg attended the Blue Commonwealth Gala at Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. The gala is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Democratic Party of Virginia.

“This is the event that keeps the lights on,” said Andrew Whitley, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

During the Hardywood and Blue Commonwealth Gala events, Bloomberg apologized for the controversial stop-and-frisk policy in place when he was New York’s mayor. He said the policy disproportionately affected young men of color. Stop and frisk is a procedure where a police officer stops a person on the street if they believe they’re armed and pats them down to search for weapons. In 2011, during Bloomberg’s ninth year as mayor, the New York City Police Department stopped over 685,000 people under the stop-and-frisk policy, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. A majority of those searches were performed on Black or Latinx people (87%). The NYCLU said that 88% of people stopped were innocent.

“I defended it for too long, I think, because I didn’t understand the unintended pain it caused to young black and brown kids and to their families,” Bloomberg said. “And for that, I have apologized.”

Bloomberg pledged that if elected, he’d prioritize dismantling systems of bias and oppression. He did not elaborate on what those systems were or how he would change them.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights advocacy group, protested at both of Bloomberg’s Richmond events. VCDL protesters, who are opposed to Bloomberg’s gun control policy, entered Hardywood brewery and called Bloomberg a fascist while he was speaking. They were removed from the brewery by Bloomberg supporters and staff and resumed their post outside. They did not enter Main Street Station but lined the street outside, where other anti-Bloomberg protesters were gathered.

The anti-Bloomberg sentiment was also visible inside the gala. Jasmine Leeward, a board member of Richmond For All, approached the podium while Bloomberg was speaking and attached a sign that read: “He protects racist systems, will you?” It was quickly taken down and Leeward was escorted away from the stage. Richmond For All is a coalition that fights for housing, education, environmental rights and racial justice.

Leeward explained the sign, saying that Bloomberg protects racist systems by only offering an apology and “not actually repaying for the harms that were caused by his stop-and-frisk policies.”

“I saw a lot of politicians, both at the city and state level, kind of forgiving or not being truthful and honest about how dangerous he would be as a president,” Leeward said. “And so I did what I felt like I needed to do, which was to talk to the people who have the power to get him elected and ask them if they support racist systems and protect them, as I feel Mike Bloomberg does.”

After the sign was removed, Bloomberg said, “It’s always nice to be welcomed.”

At the gala, six Democratic candidates for president were represented by surrogates, influential people who campaign for candidates at events, but Bloomberg was the only candidate who appeared. Virginia’s key leaders were in attendance, including Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Virginia Congresswomen Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton.

Bloomberg received support from Filler-Corn during her speech at the gala.

“I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for helping to turn Virginia blue,” Filler-Corn said.

Bloomberg said winning in Virginia is a key part of his electoral strategy.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group largely funded by Bloomberg, has spent $3.8 million since 2017 to help usher in Democratic legislators. After the 2019 elections, the Democrats gained a majority in Virginia’s executive and legislative branches for the first time since the early ’90s.

Bloomberg said that defeating President Donald Trump is one of the main reasons he entered the race.

Charles Bissett, an Army veteran who is leaning toward voting for Bloomberg, said that he thinks that Bloomberg will have the best chance of implementing Democratic policy. In particular, Bissett supports how Bloomberg handled education reform as mayor of New York.

Under Bloomberg’s administration, the graduation rate for high school students went from less than half to nearly two-thirds, according to a 2013 article by The Atlantic. Bloomberg also said he raised teacher salaries in New York by 43%.

Bloomberg ranks third in an average of national polls for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to polling data from RealClearPolitics that also has Sen. Elizabeth Warren closely trailing him.

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Business

Henrico clears the way for redevelopment of Azalea Mall, Virginia Center Commons sites

Two derelict properties in the Northside of town will soon have new life breathed into them as Henrico greenlit their redevelopment Tuesday.

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From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

As Henrico County officials are preparing for the redevelopment of Virginia Center Commons with a public arena, the operators of a senior living community are ready to expand on top of land where another county mall was demolished in 1999.

On Tuesday, the Henrico Board of Supervisors approved zoning and permit changes to let Westminster Canterbury of Richmond expand its continuing-care retirement community over part of the lot where Azalea Mall once stood. The board also voted to authorize the use of $50 million to build an indoor sports arena at Virginia Center Commons.

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Events

Have a barking good time at the Richmond SPCA’s 18th Annual Dog Jog and 5K Run

Last year, more than 3,000 participants and 600 dogs came together to raise a net sum of more than $166,000 in lifesaving support. These crucial funds, which are partly raised by teams and individuals engaging in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, benefit the approximately 4,000 homeless animals sheltered at the Richmond SPCA annually.

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Thousands of devoted animal lovers will descend upon the Richmond SPCA for their 18th Annual Dog Jog and 5K Run presented by Holiday Barn Pet Resorts on Saturday, March 21st.

Last year, more than 3,000 participants and 600 dogs came together to raise a net sum of more than $166,000 in lifesaving support. These crucial funds, which are partly raised by teams and individuals engaging in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, benefit the approximately 4,000 homeless animals sheltered at the Richmond SPCA annually as well as the lifesaving programs and services the nonprofit provides for pets and people, including low-cost veterinary care at the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital.

“Our Dog Jog and 5K Run is an annual celebration of our companions,” said Richmond SPCA Chief Executive Officer Tamsen Kingry. “Many participants are already fundraising and sharing stories of the pets who have inspired them to help the Richmond SPCA save other animals in need. On March 21, they’ll come together at the start of spring to enjoy a day of family-friendly fun all in order to help homeless pets.”

The day’s activities begin at the Richmond SPCA at 2519 Hermitage Road with a competitive, chip-timed 5K run/walk sponsored by Williams Mullen for humans only at 9:30 a.m., which is followed by a leisurely, one-mile Dog Jog that is stroller friendly and sponsored by Zoetis at 11 a.m. Throughout the morning, supporters will enjoy the pet-friendly vendor fair sponsored by Dominion Energy, featuring a Kids Fun Zone packed full of fun crafts, giant inflatables, face painting and more, as well as a Pets Fun Zone presented by the Petco Foundation. Prizes donated by generous local sponsors will be awarded for top individual and team fundraisers, as well as the fastest 5K Run finishers.

Following the event, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery will be hosting the official Dog Jog After Paw-ty from noon until 5 p.m. Participants and their friends can enjoy local craft beer while being entertained by bands like Paulo Franco & The Freightliners and the Robin Williams Band. Food trucks, pet-related vendors and a pet photo booth will also be on-site to add to the fun. All well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome outside the Ownby Lane tasting rooms. The brewery will donate 5% of beer sales to the Richmond SPCA.

Early bird registration, through which participants get $10 off each event signup fee, is open until March 1. Details are available on the race web page.

Dog Jog registration is per dog. Each registered canine is encouraged to bring along family and friends at no extra charge. The first 150 alumni of the Richmond SPCA to sign up will receive a free bandana proclaiming, “I was adopted from the Richmond SPCA.” For more information or to register, please visit www.richmondspca.org/dogjog.

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