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alert
Strong storms will howl through Va. on Halloween night; earlier trick-or-treating plans look better

Be prepared for dramatic weather changes across Virginia on Halloween night.

A line of storms containing damaging winds and heavy rain will sweep from west to east on Thursday evening.

It won’t just be the spooky decorations blowing around: Some storms could be strong enough to down trees and power lines around central Virginia.

Storms are most likely to arrive in metro Richmond between 9 p.m. and midnight, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

With the exception of hit-or-miss showers, dry weather should hold out for the early evening (6 to 8 p.m.). Then, be ready for a rapid change around midevening.

It will be a good idea to check the weather before heading out in case that timeline speeds up, and stay aware of any warnings that may be issued.

Although the rain chances are high for Thursday, it will not be an all-day washout in the Richmond area.

Morning and afternoon showers will be scattered, and the steadiest rain will hold off until later in the evening.

In the western half of the state, storms will arrive early enough to ruin trick-or-treating. For Charlottesville, Louisa County and Farmville, the storms are expected to arrive between 7 and 10 p.m.

Farther east in Tidewater, the worst weather will hold off until around midnight or the early morning hours of Friday.

Hazards

Damaging wind will be the most widespread concern, but an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out somewhere in the region. Lightning could also be a hazard for anyone outside.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center predicted an “enhanced” risk of severe storms across Virginia’s Piedmont region, or a 3 on the weather service’s 0-5 scale.

That’s a relatively high storm potential for this time of year.

Poorly drained and low-lying areas could also see minor flooding from the downpours.

Conditions will already be breezy ahead of the storms and will stay blustery after they depart.

During the evening, expect a warm wind from the south gusting to 30 mph. Winds will shift to the west once the cold front passes, with gusts to 25 or 30 mph through the early hours of Friday.

The storms will also bring a sharp drop in temperatures, from lower to mid-70s in the early evening to 50s by midnight.

Showers will taper by daybreak.


Z-no-digital
Henrico Board of Supervisors candidates (print)

After attaining their first majority on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors in at least two decades, Democrats lost it the following summer.

Democrat Courtney Lynch won a special election in the Brookland District in November 2017 but stepped down in June 2018, setting up Republican Dan Schmitt to take back the seat last November.

All five incumbents are now running for re-election after the balance of power shifted back to the Republicans, who hold a 3-2 majority on the board.

In the Three Chopt District, Supervisor Tommy Branin faced a challenge in the Republican primary earlier this year, but will run uncontested.

BROOKLAND

Dan J. Schmitt Republican

Founder, RMC Events; former coach, board member, and president — Glen Allen Youth Athletics (2006-2018)

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: I’m running for the people of Brookland. For the same reason I ran in last year’s special election, Sharon and I are equally energized to do the same this year. The great people of Brookland deserve nothing less than an accessible and accountable advocate to represent them. My entire family believes firmly in serving others and we’ve all done just that for decades, beginning with my dad serving as a firefighter, my sister as a teacher for more than two decades, and my wife and kids volunteering their time to our local nonprofit youth athletic association year after year. Henrico County is a great place to live, work and play and I’m running for re-election as supervisor for Brookland so that I can keep working for my neighbors and community. I love this county, this district, and the people I represent and I can think of no better way to display that than to work for them on a daily basis AND remain accessible and accountable to them by offering my direct cellphone number (804-723-1093)!

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: First, I heard my constituents loud and clear when I promised to fight for quality, well-funded schools for our children. Secondly, our residents told me that strong public safety divisions and safety in their neighborhoods, their places of work and worship, and in their community are important to them. Next, our residents want to keep their tax rate low and their services high. And I couldn’t agree more with them on that! Finally, in Brookland, our residents were VERY clear with me that they wanted first-class amenities in every corner of Brookland so that is exactly what I did during my first year.

J. Steven Burkarth Democrat

Former Virginia state government employee, former community relations specialist for the disAbility Law Center of Virginia

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: I have lived in Henrico nearly my entire life and I’m running to help make a lasting contribution to the county I love. Brookland is my home and the heart of New Henrico, a beautiful multicultural community that is welcoming to all. As a proud progressive, I am the best candidate to represent the values, interests, hopes and struggles of the people in our diverse district. As Brookland’s customer service supervisor, I will build on our progress and be a tireless advocate for the overlooked, left out and underserved.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: Local government is closest to the people and it has the largest impact on our day-to-day quality of life. My family moved to Brookland in 1980. We know just how wonderful a place Henrico County is to live, learn, work and play. Our residents are proud to call Henrico home, and they want our county to maintain its first-rate public services and amenities. For that reason, voters most often talk to me about issues like education, the environment, public safety, economic opportunity and inclusion.

FAIRFIELD

Frank J. Thornton Democrat

Former French professor, Virginia Union University; Henrico County Board of Supervisors since 1996.

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: Management, fiscal financial responsibility, schools, economic development and future countywide planning in my opinion are very important to corporations and citizens who decide to live and to work in Henrico County. As one of the longest-serving members on the Henrico Board of Supervisors, I have the experience and the vision to continue moving the county forward. I was the lone Democrat on the board for 16 years working as a team member to “Make Henrico Better for the Future” from 1996 to 2011 by educating, listening and being accessible to citizens. It is my opinion that a careful scrutiny of my record will attest to many positive changes in the Fairfield District such as the Police Athletic League (PAL) program, the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, renovation of the new Eastgate Town Center, senior citizens only housing facilities, a new Eastern Health Center, GRTC bus services from eastern Henrico to western Henrico to Short Pump, Recreation and Parks sports complexes, renovation of the Virginia Randolph Museum, a new Fairfield Area Library, and a new public drown-proof facility, the Aquatic Center, coming in 2020 are just some of the highlights of the Fairfield District. The REAP program gives senior citizens some tax incentives depending on the family income. I plan to continue to listen, to be accessible and to be the voice of our citizens as we together move Henrico forward. Having been one of the longest-serving members of the board, it is prudent for the voters to scrutinize my record for those years of service.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: The first priority is the revitalization of homes and communities. Fairfield, one of the oldest communities in Henrico, has a mixed population of a graying community and young adults with children. I believe that affordable housing, jobs, academic and vocational education and continued improvements in public transportation are very essential.

Delta R. Bowers Independent

Professor, entrepreneur, continuity of operations expert, community activist and advocate

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: I am running for the Board of Supervisors to create a better living experience for all of the residents in the Fairfield District. Far too long, the Fairfield District has been overlooked and marginalized. We have a thriving community with access to major highways and the city. It is one of the best locations in the Richmond metro area. However, these attributes have not been exploited for the betterment of all Fairfield residents. In the first 100 days of the job, my goal is to assess the current resources available to the Fairfield District, work with the county manager and the other supervisors to increase wages for first responders, improve the infrastructure, allocate additional funds for resources for the Fairfield District schools that are underperforming, and host industry leaders, community leaders, along with my colleagues to discuss an economic path forward for the Fairfield District and the residents that are either unemployed or underemployed to address the 15.1% poverty level. My goal is to establish a Fairfield District that is on par with the other districts that are thriving. As the president of Northern Henrico Civic Association, Chickahominy Bluffs Homeowners Association and advocate for the community for over a decade, I have been advocating for the Fairfield District regarding the safety and security of residents, speed limit reductions, parity relative to property values, infrastructure improvements, new housing developments, community maintenance, beautification initiatives, blighted properties, and economic development to ensure that the Fairfield District is on par with other districts in Henrico County. I developed relationships with my opponent, the county manager, Henrico County Police Department, other Henrico County officials and VDOT to ensure that the Fairfield District is safe, secure and maintained at a high level.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: Safety and security of the community; economic development; education parity; infrastructure parity; property value assessment parity; poverty level; schools accredited with conditions; and low wages for first responders.

TUCKAHOE

Patricia S. “Pat” O’Bannon Republican

Former Henrico County Public Schools English teacher at Douglas Freeman High School; Richmond Suburban Newspapers, columnist, community news editor; development associate, Central Virginia Public Broadcasting

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: Experience counts. As a member of the Henrico board for 24 years, I have led the way in economic growth, continuously improving services citizens say they want. I helped lead the board to decrease the real estate tax rate five times, keeping homes affordable and keeping business costs stable. I listen; I keep my promises. From implementing low-cost, door-to-door within-the-hour taxi service for seniors who qualify for CARE service or are over age 80; from implementing the Mental Health First Aid program for residents; to completing Tuckahoe Creek Park; to making certain libraries are open on Sundays; to helping Henrico develop an app — I work hard to find creative solutions for problems, because I love Henrico.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: Sidewalks, schools and public safety. As the county urbanized, residents began to recognize the value of walking to shopping centers, schools and parks. From the 1940s to the 1990s, people didn’t want sidewalks. Times changed. However, retrofitting sidewalks requires engineering for reasons including drainage problems they cause. I have added miles of sidewalks and have programmed miles more for the future.

When Henrico was contemplating renovating a 60-year-old school, I worked with the county manager to structure financing to build a NEW Tucker High School instead. Meals tax money was used effectively, not only to build one school, but two.

The Henrico board is responsible for the public safety of our residents. Our Division of Fire has worked to make certain Henrico has an Insurance Services Office Inc. rating of No. 1 — a rating held by only 2% of all counties in the U.S. Our Police Division is accredited both nationally and internationally. With police and fire, I will work to maintain those high standards.

Marques D. Jones Democrat

Small-business owner, ComForCare Home Care

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: My journey started 11 years ago when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After my diagnosis, I dedicated my life to being an advocate. I became chair of the Government Relations Advisory Committee for the MS Society here in Virginia and spent hours testifying in front of Senate subcommittees in Washington and here in Richmond at the General Assembly. I spent 12 years as a process and software engineer at one of the top five banks here in Virginia. But I was recently able to switch courses and fulfill a lifelong dream of opening my own business, about two years ago. I run a company that provides personal care to the elderly, chronically ill and disabled; people who can’t take care of themselves. I extended my spirit of advocacy into providing quality service to my clients. Now I’m running for supervisor to advocate for my friends and neighbors here in Tuckahoe.

I want to be an advocate for the teacher who loves their job, right up until they check their bank account and wonder how all of their bills are going to get paid. I want to be an advocate for the mom who would love to be able to walk or ride bikes with their kids but can’t do it safely because there are no bike lines or sidewalks around their neighborhood. And I want to be an advocate for the grandparents, longtime Tuckahoe residents, who loved going to the stores to buy gifts for their grandkids but don’t anymore because they’re just not comfortable with all the traffic and congestion.

The Tuckahoe residents I talk to want a supervisor who will be an advocate for them. A listening post for their ideas. A champion for their values. And a responsible steward of their resources. Leveraging my background as a small-business owner and disability community advocate, I will be that supervisor.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: Education funding, specifically increasing teacher pay, is a huge issue. I have pledged to raise teacher pay by 20% before the end of my first term. Working in corporate settings, I have dealt with my share of budgets and know finding waste that can be redirected to address this issue is doable.

Districting and zoning policies also have an immediate impact on what schooling options are available — right now pre-K is not offered at every school, so some kids are starting from square one with a disadvantage. We need universal pre-K — this shouldn’t be a function of which neighborhood a kid’s parents live in.

And safe neighborhoods are very important. This encompasses continuing to fully funding our first responders while making sure that we have sidewalks and bike lanes to improve both quality of life and safety.

VARINA

Tyrone E. Nelson Democrat

Pastor, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: I am running for office to continue the progress we have made in Varina. During my eight years on the Board of Supervisors, we have invested $150 million in new and renovated schools, including a new high school in Highland Springs, scheduled to open in 2021. We are making significant improvements to amenities including Dorey Park and funding for a future 100-acre park in Sandston and the East End Aquatics Center. We have new bus service to Short Pump and other extended and more frequent routes in eastern Henrico. Economic development has increased, including a $1 billion investment by Facebook at the White Oak Technology Park.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: My constituents want strong public schools and good job opportunities. They want services and amenities in Varina that are top notch. They want local government that is responsive and accessible.

Angela L. Rowe Independent

Banking executive

Question: Why are you running for office?

Answer: The greater Varina District will continue to change and grow. In the process, we need strong leadership to strategically manage and oversee the challenges ahead and create new opportunities for our communities and each other. I have a history as a strong leader and collaborator in the local community and broader region. I am deeply rooted in the community with a long history of service and giving back. It will be my honor to serve as the next Varina District supervisor. I will advocate for a more transparent approach to doing county business, so that it works better — for our residents, businesses and visitors. I will be an accessible supervisor. I will bring “effective challenge” to the Board of Supervisors. I am uniquely qualified to represent the Varina District and have the background, compassion and courage to make our shared vision for the future happen.

Question: What issues appear to be the most important to constituents in your district?

Answer: More effectively managing growth, infrastructure, human services and finances. I will support Smart Growth strategies that preserve Varina’s beauty, green space and options for rural living and farming. I will prioritize more aggressive infrastructure funding, including to significantly enhance the quality and safety of our roads and public transportation services. I will advocate for more funding for curbs and gutters in the more rural areas, sidewalks in busy areas, seated and covered bus transportation kiosks, and extended service hours and locations across the greater Varina District and county. I will collaborate on local, regional and statewide partnerships for innovative education and training initiatives that address barriers to citizens’ ability to earn industry certifications, apprenticeships and other skills credentials needed to compete for new jobs. I will leverage my financial management expertise and compassion to make sure that critical services are adequately funded, including to support mental and behavioral wellness. Finally, I will prioritize fully addressing the salary compression issue and resource constraints in the sheriff’s office that impact public safety.


Plus
Man accused of raping, killing woman in Stratford Hills home acquitted of sex offender charges

The man who Richmond police believe raped and killed a Virginia Commonwealth University administrator in her Stratford Hills home has been acquitted of the three charges for which authorities had held him for several months while they built their homicide case.

Thomas Edward Clark, 59, was arrested May 16 in Henrico County and charged with three counts of failing to comply with the state’s registry as a violent sex offender — in 1988, Clark had been sentenced to serve 15 years for forcibly raping a woman in Alexandria.

Prosecutor Po Chau said Clark failed in February to re-register, which is required every 90 days; failed in March to provide a new photo, which is required every two years; and failed to register new employment, which is required within three days of starting a job.

But Henrico Circuit Judge L.A. Harris Jr. sided with Clark’s defense attorney, Sam Simpson, who said Clark believed he had registered in January when he was released from a Henrico-run jail on unrelated charges. A photo also was taken upon his release. Testimony from a Virginia State Police trooper revealed a box went unchecked on a form, making it invalid for Clark’s 90-day re-registration.

Clark, who is illiterate, according to Simpson, testified that he alerted a state police compliance officer when he failed to get re-registration paperwork in April, 90 days after his release.

Clark’s May arrest came just a week after Richmond police found 53-year-old Suzanne Fairman dead in the bathtub in her home in the 7400 block of Tanglewood Road in Richmond.

He had been working for C&C and Son Landscaping and Pressure Wash, which the company’s owner confirmed in court Wednesday. On his sex offender registry forms, Clark had said he was self-employed, and Simpson argued he was an occasional worker for the company rather than a payroll employee and did other odd jobs. Judge Harris said Clark should have disclosed this to avoid confusion.

While working for the landscaper, Clark had worked on the deck at Fairman’s home, and she later complained about work on her deck, according to court documents. Authorities believe Clark returned to Fairman’s home on May 9 offering to finish the work, and instead tied her up and strangled her, a search warrant affidavit said.

Prosecutors in Richmond called their counterparts in Henrico, where Clark had been living, about keeping him locked up while police continued to investigate the homicide. It wasn’t until October that Clark was indicted in Richmond on charges of murder, rape and abduction with intent to defile in Fairman’s death.

It is unclear how the acquittal in Henrico will affect the Richmond case, if at all. Chau, the Henrico prosecutor, said Clark would not be released and will be transferred to Richmond to face his charges there.


Plus
Lohmann: Couple turn their Henrico home into a haunted Halloween playground, but with a charitable twist

The well-dressed skeleton in the open coffin in the middle of the front yard is a dead giveaway that something’s up.

And what’s up is the home at 5914 Chamberlayne Road in Henrico County is not for the faint of heart, what with the graveyard in the front yard and the skeletons climbing the shutters.

Believe me, you haven’t seen the half of it.

Passing motorists honk and wave. Standing in his front yard, homeowner Lawrence Coleman basks in the attention, turns and smiles.

“Yeah, this is what we love,” he said.

Coleman and fiancée, Marian Loving, have created, well, a monster. They call it The Haunt in Chamberlayne Farms, formerly known as The Haunt in Central Gardens, where they used to live. This is their first year on Chamberlayne Road, having moved in last spring.

The eerie walk-through attraction they’ve imaginatively cobbled together will be open to the public on Halloween night — that’s the point — for a small admission charge: a canned good or nonperishable item that will be donated to a local food bank. In past years, Coleman and Loving have asked for nothing from guests, but as the numbers have increased each year into the hundreds, they hit upon the idea of having fun and doing good.

Or as Coleman put it: “We can scare people and feed people at the same time.”

Coleman and Loving said that parking is available a block to the north at Chamberlayne Heights United Methodist Church and that off-duty police officers have been hired to help with traffic control. And they’re hoping the rain holds off.

I showed up Monday in the late afternoon, but even in twilight I found myself looking over my shoulder from time to time. Not sure I want to be there in the dark.

The front yard graveyard is the most visible of the public display, but the majority of The Haunt is hidden from view as a “maze” of scenes that visitors wander through: a morgue, a haunted hotel, a boneyard, a rotten pumpkin patch, a “zombie research facility.” They’ve put all this together with tents and tarps, thrift-store purchases and community clean-up day castoffs — and a considerable amount of resourcefulness and ingenuity.

This is sort of the Halloween version of the Tacky Lights Tour at Christmas with “blood”-splattered curtains, headless corpses and spiders the size of small dogs. Be sure to watch out for the dangling snakes, the severed limbs and the creepy clowns.

But it’s not only about fright. Coleman and Loving also wanted to create a safe place for kids to trick-or-treat, so they hand out candy including gluten-free candy and candy for kids with peanut allergies. They’ve put out blue pumpkins to signal they welcome children with autism.

“We welcome anybody,” she said.

Coleman has always enjoyed Halloween — he has fond memories of dressing up as his favorite wrestler, Ultimate Warrior, with glow-in-the-dark arm bands — and he’s a big fan of horror movies and characters such as Michael Myers.

“If I could change my birthday, I would change it to Halloween,” he said.

The idea for The Haunt stems from a 2012 Halloween party hosted by Loving’s cousin in North Carolina. Coleman and Loving dressed up as a zombie bride-and-groom, received a lot of positive comments and generally had a blast.

“We just had so much fun,” she said. “We couldn’t wait until next year.”

But her cousin did not hold a party the following year, so Coleman and Loving hosted their own — and then things really got out of hand.

“The first party was a small walk-through just for the family,” Loving said. In 2014, they did a bigger haunted walk-through and opened it to neighbors. By last year, they drew 800 people. But now with a bigger yard and being on a main road, Coleman is expecting more than 1,000 on Halloween.

Coleman and Loving, who’ve been together since 2009 and have been engaged since last Halloween when Coleman proposed, go to a lot of trouble to do this up right. They started erecting the display in August, but they’re conjuring up what they’re going to do year-round.

“No matter where we go or what we do,” Loving said, “Halloween is always on the brain.”

Why?

“It’s kind of like a hobby,” said Loving, who works as a switchboard operator in the treasurer’s office at the Virginia United Methodist Conference. “It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s what we like to do.”

“You figure most people come home and play on the computer,” said Coleman, who operates 123 HVAC. “But if you come home and [work on the Halloween display] for three or four hours … ”

It’s not quite as simple as “and voila!” but you get the point.

Considering all the effort they’ve put into this with the run-up to Halloween, I wondered what they would be doing Friday: resting, sleeping, totally collapsing?

“Shopping,” Loving said.

Shopping?!

Yes, she said, at 50% off sales on Halloween items.

“It’s a tradition that we go out on November 1 and get items for the following year.”