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More comfortable, accessible GRTC bus stops coming, transit authority says

At least half of all GRTC bus stops in the City of Richmond, Chesterfield County, and Henrico County will soon have a more comfortable, accessible, and dignified place to wait for a ride.

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At least half of all GRTC bus stops in the City of Richmond, Chesterfield County, and Henrico County will soon have a more comfortable, accessible, and dignified place to wait for a ride.

Only five percent of GRTC’s 1,609 active local stops have a shelter, and 21 percent have seating. Less than half of those stops predate the Americans with Disabilities Act and are not compliant. And most stops lacking adequate infrastructure are in low-income areas throughout Central Virginia.

Under a plan approved by the transit system’s board of directors, GRTC will install 160 shelters and 225 benches over five years. Work is expected to begin in the summer of 2023. GRTC also will coordinate with jurisdictions to improve ADA compliance at stops to further the agency’s push to be more inclusive.

“This is one of several GRTC strategic initiatives planned that aim to address the various impediments to transit access and ultimately inequities,” said Director of Planning and Scheduling Sam Sink. “GRTC champions social and economic mobility by prioritizing connecting people to essential human services and needs. With proper operational and capital investment, transit is a factor that can improve overall quality of life.”

The Essential Transit Infrastructure (ETI) plan will cost between $11 million and $28.6 million, and be funded through a combination of local, state, and federal grants.

GRTC will use a scoring system that considers usage and equity to determine which stops qualify for improvements. Anyone may request a bench or shelter via email at [email protected], through the GRTC website, or by calling 804-358-4782.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.

History

StoryCorps encourages Richmonders from different backgrounds to take “One Small Step”

In these challenging times, StoryCorps’ One Small Step program is working to help mend the fraying fabric of our nation–one conversation at a time.

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Today, in our divisive political landscape, some nine out of ten Americans say they’re exhausted by our political divisions and looking for a way out. In these challenging times, StoryCorps’ One Small Step program is working to help mend the fraying fabric of our nation–one conversation at a time.

The One Small Step program is working intensively in three “Anchor Communities,” including Richmond, to bring strangers with different political beliefs together–not to debate politics–but to have a conversation about their lives. In the process, the hope is that they both discover their shared humanity.

To date, over 3,000 people across more than 40 U.S. states have participated. Anyone anywhere can be matched for a conversation. Click here to learn more.

In one recent conversation, Richmonders Jerome and Warren learned they had more in common than they thought, even though they’re on different sides of the political aisle.

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Outdoors

Sports Backers kicks off ‘Building a Vibrant Community’ fundraising campaign

The $3 million, five-year campaign has raised more than $1.5 million to date.

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Sports Backers, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to live actively, kicked off their ‘Building a Vibrant Community’ campaign with the announcement that the campaign has already raised more than $1.5 million towards its $3 million, five-year goal.

“The Building a Vibrant Community campaign will raise funds to make a lasting impact on the Richmond region,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “This campaign will help us grow and create major events, expand the number of group fitness and youth activity programs we offer, build world-class bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and empower volunteer leaders and our region’s best and brightest scholar-athletes. As a result, our region will be a healthier and more vibrant place to live, work, and play.”

The initial success of the Building a Vibrant Community campaign is thanks to contribution pledges from corporations, foundations, community leaders, and regional governments. The campaign is led by Chairman Daniel Gecker, Chair and Partner for Urban Development Associates. Members of the Campaign Committee include the following community leaders:

  • Carrie Roth, Chair of Sports Backers Board of Directors, Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission
  • Neil Agnihotri, Surgeon, Agnihotri Cosmetic Facial Surgery
  • Lashrecse Aird, Richard Bland College of William & Mary
  • Neil Amin, CEO, Shamin Hotels
  • Bob Blue, CEO, Dominion Energy
  • Suzanne Gardner, Banking Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Roy Grier, Community Volunteer
  • Burke King, Community Volunteer
  • Kim MacLeod, Finance Partner, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
  • Sam Mintz, Financial Advisor, Truist
  • Clark Mercer, Community Volunteer
  • Ken Shepard, Managing Director and Head of Wealth Portfolio Strategy, Bank of America
  • Bobby Ukrop, CEO & President, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods
  • Tom Vozenilek, Executive Vice President, Colliers International

An investment in this $3 million campaign benefits the Richmond region by:

  • Energizing the Richmond community by reinvesting in significant events, expanding the goal-setting impacts of all events, and creating new events
  • Advocating for active living infrastructure, including the Fall Line trail, and creating an active living hub for the region
  • Hosting group fitness programs, including weekly fitness classes, youth fitness clubs, and training teams, as well as a scholar-athlete leadership program

“My confidence in the impact Sports Backers will continue to have on the health and vibrancy of our community has never been stronger,” said campaign chairman Daniel Gecker. “Sports Backers’ ingenuity and dedication to their mission has helped keep our entire community moving during one of the most challenging periods of our lives. This campaign will build on that and provide even more opportunities to get us moving, which is something we all have a renewed appreciation for.”

The following foundations, individuals, companies, and jurisdictions have already made significant contributions to the Building a Vibrant Community campaign: 

  • Lashrecse Aird
  • Allianz Partners
  • Astrya
  • Bank of America
  • Bob & Liz Blue
  • Margaret & Al Broaddus
  • Cameron Foundation
  • Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond
  • Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer
  • Davis Elkins Charitable Foundation Trust
  • Susan & Lennart Freeman
  • Don & Betsy Garber
  • Suzanne Gardner
  • Matt & Kirsti Goodwin
  • Greater Richmond Partnership
  • Roy & Charlotte Grier
  • Hanover County
  • Henrico County
  • Heritage Wealth Advisors
  • Hunton Andrews Kurth
  • Dorothy Jaeckle
  • John Randolph Foundation
  • Chris & Nancy Jo Kantner
  • Burke & Gay King
  • KPMG
  • Maria (Keech) leGrand
  • David Lyons
  • Kim MacLeod
  • Clark Mercer
  • Sam Mintz
  • Randy & Mary Lloyd Parks
  • Frank & Caren Payne
  • P.D. Brooks
  • Maria Purcell
  • City of Richmond
  • Richmond Region Tourism
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • Road Runners Club of America
  • RMC Events
  • Sam & Nikki Young
  • S.B. Cox
  • Scott* and Karen Schricker
  • Shamin Hotels
  • Ken & Brooke Shepard
  • Bob & Melinda Sledd
  • Buck Stinson
  • Barbara J. Thalhimer & William B. Thalhimer, Jr. Family Fund
  • Jayne & Bobby Ukrop
  • Tom & Betty Baugh Vozenilek
  • Tamara Wagner
  • Lee & Margie Warfield
  • Craig & Anita Waters

(* Denotes deceased)

To learn more about Sports Backers and the Building a Vibrant Community campaign, visitwww.sportsbackers.org or contact Megan Capito, Director of Development, at 804-285-9495 or[email protected].

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Government

Early voting nears 1 million mark in Virginia

Thousands of Virginians used a warm November Saturday to cast ballots on the final day of early voting. Over 1 million absentee ballots were issued in the 45-day stretch of early voting that ended Nov. 5, and over 940,000 have been returned.

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Chloe Hawkins

Thousands of Virginians used a warm November Saturday to cast ballots on the final day of early voting.

Lawmakers passed a series of election reform measures in recent years that expand the voting period and allow for no-excuse absentee voting, or early voting.

Virginia voters will elect a member to the U.S. House of Representatives in all of the state’s 11 congressional districts, with varying districts also voting on local candidates and initiatives. Over 1 million absentee ballots were requested, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Over 940,000 ballots have been received as of Nov. 7. Over 680,000 ballots were returned in person, and over 226,000 ballots were mailed.

Polls were open on weekdays except for the two Saturdays preceding the election. A steady line of people waited five to 10 minutes outside the Henrico County Western Government Center to vote Saturday. Some people waited longer than they might on Election Day, but appreciated the convenience of checking voting off their to-do list.

Henrico County general registrar Mark Coakley has held the position for 18 years, he said. Coakley, who studied political science in college, said he chose to be a part of the political process because it’s been a passion of his since he was a young adult.

“I’m really excited for voters showing up,” Coakley said. “Today, and on Election Day.”

Voters are happy with this shift, he said.

“With early voting, the voters get to choose to wait in line at 8:30 on a Saturday morning,” Coakley said. “It’s their choice — they’re not forced to vote on a Tuesday after a long workday.”

Alan Wagner is a voter who lives in Henrico County, parts of which are in congressional District 1. Wagner is concerned about crime, and the economy—especially the rising costs of items due to inflation, he said.

“I’m afraid to go into downtown Richmond sometimes,” Wagner said. “And the gas and food prices are outrageous.”

This is the first year Wagner voted early, in four decades of voting, he said. He decided to vote early due to the uncertainty of his work schedule on Election Day.

“I’m really busy working 10-hour shifts,” Wagner said. “I don’t know what the lines will look like at the precinct after 5 o’clock on Tuesday.”

Virginia residents have more of a voice in elections such as midterms, Coakley said, when they choose representatives to speak on their behalf in Congress. But, turnout is always higher in a presidential election. Almost 2.7 million early votes were cast in 2020 in Virginia, according to the state’s Department of Elections. For the gubernatorial election last year, over 1.1 million people voted early, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, or VPAP.

Although voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election was historic, an expanded time frame for early voting did not exist, Coakley said, which makes turnout comparisons more difficult.

“These laws weren’t put in place in 2018,” Coakley said. “But they have caused an increase in early voting.”

For example, over 330,000 early votes were cast in 2018 in Virginia, and that number will likely be at least three times higher this year, according to data from the Virginia Department of Elections. But, 1.2 million more people voted in 2018 than the previous midterm election. It remains to be seen if turnout this year will reach similar participation.

There is a 70% return rate of absentee ballots overall in Virginia as of Nov. 7, with the lowest district return rate at 64% and the highest at 76%, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by that date and received by noon three days after the election to count. Voters can find their polling place on the Virginia Department of Elections website. Voters can also register to vote on Election Day, though they will be given a provisional ballot.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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