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Councilperson Kristen Larson and Forest Hill Neighborhood Association Statements on the South of the James Market Move

The hope is that the South of the James Farmers Market will remain South of the James and the move is temporary.

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Earlier this week the folks at Grow RVA announced that the South of the James Farmers Market would be moving to Bryan Park. The result was much wailing, accusations flying, and many muppet arms flailing. Some of those accusations were directed at Councilperson Larson and the Forest Hill Neighborhood Association and implied that she and FHNA wanted the market gone for good.

Councilperson Kristen Larson and FHNA both statements yesterday.

Councilperson Kristen Larson

I am a huge supporter of South of The James (SOTJ) Farmers Market and have been since the market started 13 years ago. Residents who know me have likely seen me there on a Saturday getting my local fruits and veggies or standing in line for Yoder’s Donuts.

The current move to Bryan Park is temporary and was spearheaded City of Richmond Parks & Recreation.

Last Saturday, GrowRVA began allowing walk-up orders in Forest Hill Park. This presented COVID-19 social distancing problems as people waited to enter the market. I received numerous complaints from our neighbors about the crowded situation and the increasing number of vehicles lining up outside the market. On the same day there were 800+ vehicles that accessed the market through the surrounding neighborhood. This presented public safety concerns for residents who need to be able to enter and leave their homes safely.

In my role on city council, I raised concerns with the City’s Parks & Recreation department and the mayor’s office about folks gathering in and around the farmers market amid the restrictions the Governor has in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have, and will continue, to work with Parks & Recreation Department and GrowRVA to keep the SOTJ market at Forest Hill Park. I will also continue to advocate for the safety of 4th District residents.

While my preference is to keep the market in the 4th district, it is my understanding that Bryan Park has more room for the SOTJ drive-thru and additional room to spread out while we figure out how to ensure safety at our Forest Hill location.

I am hopeful these details, along with the changing guidance from the Governor, can be worked out so that we can hold this weekly event back at Forest Hill Park in a safe way. In the meantime, I would encourage residents to continue to support the farmers market in their temporary location.

I look forward to seeing the farmers market return to its home location in Forest Hill Park with regulations in place to ensure the safety of our residents and the vendors who serve our community. I have been and will continue to be one of their biggest supporters of this market and look forward to working together to find safe solutions.

Forest Hill Neighborhood Association President Whit Clements.

The decision to temporarily relocate the South of the James Market was made by the City of Richmond.

The Forest Hill Neighborhood Association has been working for over a decade with the great people of GrowRVA and the Department of Parks Recreation and Community Facilities as they host the world-class South of the James Farmer’s Market in our wonderful urban community. It has become so much more than vendors selling locally-grown food in Forest Hill Park – it’s now an event attended by thousands and of which our community and city can be proud. Credit goes to Karen and Doug of GrowRVA for organizing this complex event week after week while keeping the lines of communication open with the community.

Covid-19 has been a disruptive factor for the lives of all and for the market, the FHNA looks forward to getting back to normal and hopes for the quick return of the South of the James Farmers Market back to operating in Forest Hill Park as soon as possible. We urge South of the James patrons to go out Saturday to support the vendors at their temporary location in Bryan Park.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Downtown

VDH acknowledges first case of new COVID-19 variant identified in Virginia

SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Northern Virginia with no reported recent travel history. The variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19.

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The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Northern Virginia with no reported recent travel history. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19.

DCLS confirmed the case using next-generation sequencing that provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. DCLS has informed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the case.

“Viruses change all the time, and we expect to see new strains as disease spreads,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “We know this variant strain spreads more quickly between people than other strains currently circulating in our communities, but we still have more to learn about whether it causes more severe illness. As our state public health officials closely monitor the emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant in our Commonwealth, it is important that all Virginians continue following mitigation measures.”

In the United States, nearly 200 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been detected in 23 states as of January 22, 2021. While scientists are working to better understand its impact on vaccine efficacy, early data suggests currently authorized vaccines are effective against the new variant. VDH continues to work with communities across Virginia to slow the spread of all strains of COVID-19 through widespread adherence to preventive measures, supporting testing and vaccination efforts, and conducting investigations of cases and outbreaks.

As a virus spreads from one person to another, it makes copies of itself and sometimes makes small genetic changes called mutations. Because of these mutations, new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. According to the CDC, multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and around the world. The B.1.1.7 variant contains an unusually large number of mutations.

DCLS began sequencing positive COVID-19 samples in March 2020, becoming one of the first public health labs in the nation to use this technology to examine the genetic makeup of the virus and track how it is changing and being transmitted in the Commonwealth. To date, DCLS has sequenced more than 10 percent of positive samples tested by the state lab, and is working with other labs in Virginia to solicit additional positive samples to sequence so public health officials can get a representation of variants circulating throughout Virginia.

“Sequencing is one of many tools we have available at the state’s public health laboratory to enable medical and public health officials to quickly identify and respond to threats such as emerging COVID-19 variants,” said Dr. Denise Toney, Director of DCLS. “We share this information not only within the Commonwealth, but with our federal and international partners to gain a better understanding of emerging genetic changes to SARS-CoV-2.”

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Crime

RPD seeking public’s assistance in identifying man found dead near Bandy Field and U of R

At approximately 7:06 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, an unknown deceased male with no form of identification was found in the 6700 block of Three Chopt Road. No foul play is suspected.

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From Richmond Police:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying a male who was found early Sunday morning.

At approximately 7:06 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, an unknown deceased male with no form of identification was found in the 6700 block of Three Chopt Road. No foul play is suspected.

The male is described as a white male in his late teens or early twenties with hazel eyes, dark hair, and a slim build. He was wearing a tan long sleeve shirt with a distinctive design on the front of the shirt, grey sweatpants, grey shoes with green on them and had a tan backpack. Photos of the clothing are attached.

Anyone with information to assist in this investigation is asked to call Major Crimes Detective N. Reese at (804) 510-4183 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

Photos of the deceased man’s clothing and apparel are below.

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Education

PHOTOS: University of Richmond opens new integrated “Well-Being Center” on campus

This month, UR opened its Well-Being Center, which is designed to be a collaborative, high-impact environment to support student learning and well-being. It houses the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as health promotion and nutrition services.

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Providing college students with the skills and experiences they need to succeed is only one part of an education. The University of Richmond also is committed to enabling students to develop a holistic approach to well-being that will not only serve them while they are on campus, but throughout life.

This month, UR opened its Well-Being Center, which is designed to be a collaborative, high-impact environment to support student learning and well-being. It houses the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as health promotion and nutrition services. Locating these critical student services in a single location enhances the university’s ability to provide integrated care and support for students.

“We’ve eliminated the barriers for students seeking help,” said Tom Roberts, associate vice president of health and well-being.

Research shows that students often neglect three areas: nutrition, mindfulness, and sleep. The Well-Being Center offers solutions to all three.

The new building includes features to encourage students to visit the facility not only when they need care, but also when they want to be proactive about their health. The Center offers a meditation garden, labyrinth, salt spa, and rest stop with massage chairs and sleep pods. The Organic Krush Café offers health food options and a demonstration kitchen will help students understand how to prepare nutritious dishes. Well-being classes also will be offered.

“Some of these things sound like such luxuries, but they are really necessities,” said Roberts. “I hope students come in here and find something they need and that can help them.”

The Center will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Plans for the $20 million building kicked off in April 2018 with the announcement of a lead gift from the Walrath Family Foundation, a philanthropic foundation established by alumni Michael and Michelle Walrath.

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