News & Features » Miscellany

City Hall Employees Were Steaming

Street Talk

comment
City Hall Employees Were SteamingWCVE Still Public, Even With Car AdsFellowship of Christian Athletes Better Be Just ThatBoat Club Helps High School Get Its Feet WetAfter a Hard Day's Work, Enjoy a Bottle of ... Work?Missing Godwin Graduate Returns HomeBright Lights, Better Triangle, WOBCA HopesCity Hall Employees Were Steaming

City Manager Calvin Jamison was hot under the collar. So was every employee at City Hall. In fact, so was just about anyone who walked through the doors there last week.

City Hall's main air conditioning system broke June 28, making an 18-story oven out of the landmark municipal building at 900 E. Broad St.

The city quickly took emergency measures, parking temporary generators on flatbed trucks along Ninth Street to force cool air into the building's ventilation system through snaking flexible pipelines that look like a mix between something from a circus and "The X-Files."

It was a decent short-term solution, except for one thing: One of the temporary generators also broke for a day. "It was pretty oppressive in here" when that happened, says city spokeswoman Michelle Quander-Collins.

Jamison told department managers to use their own discretion and some allowed employees to leave early for the day, though service levels were not affected, Quander-Collins says.

The temporary generator was fixed and air conditioning was restored to more comfortable levels the next day, says the spokesperson.

That's not the end of the cooling crisis, though. Visitors to City Hall last week noticed that folks in the building were still mopping sweat from their brows. What's more, parts are no longer made for the city's main air conditioning system and a chiller motor must be rebuilt. That will take at least another seven days, Quander-Collins says.

So, remember, if you want to wield influence at City Hall this month, come bearing ice.

— Richard Foster

WCVE Still Public, Even With Car Ads

It's late. You're bored.

You decide to tune in to public television and you see ... car ads?

Do not adjust your set, says Sarah Bartenstein, spokesperson for WCVE Channel 23.

"That's a Media One thing," Bartenstein explains. She says that public television generally signs off around midnight, and local cable company Media One takes over the air on both 23 and Channel 57 after that.

"We don't even consider that our air," Bartenstein says. But she allows that there has been some confusion. "[People] think we're non-commercial, so why are [they] seeing commercials?" Bartenstein says.

And it's not always a seamless transition from the enlightened realm of Masterpiece Theatre to the commercial world of great deals on used Hyundais. Public television doesn't always sign off at the same time, and the car ads have cut into the ends of programs.

"Then people get very upset," Bartenstein says. But don't get upset at WCVE, Bartenstein says: "We are not advertising cars."

— Mark Stroh

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Better Be Just That

When Chesterfield County attorney Joe Owen, who is a member of the national ministry the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, heard radio spots for a June 12 Mayo Island event, he was surprised to hear a familiar name on the bill: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Come again?

Could this be a band of Christian musicians? Hardly. Owen discovered it was a rock band composed of former members of Chrome Daddy Disco and the Useless Playboys.

And while the band may not be lewd, these FCA impostors admittedly get a kick out of the occasional tasteless remark or obscene gesture.

That's something the real FCA doesn't find amusing. "We're an important outreach ministry with a positive influence on young people," says Owen. "We don't want to give anyone a hard time. We just want to preserve the spirit and intellectual integrity of the name."

The day of the show an FCA representative left phone messages warning the band to change its name, says Sean McClain, lead singer of the band. Then, just 15 minutes before appearing on stage, a Mayo Island promoter urged the band to dump the name.

After a moment of obstinacy, McClain and his fellow band members agreed. "They have a strong group and don't want to be affiliated with drugs and alcohol," says McClain "and we didn't want to get sued. I suggested changing the name to the Federation of Christian Athletes." McClain says the FCA didn't want the band to use any name remotely like theirs — including the initials.

At the June 12 show the band was introduced as the Fish Cats Acrobats.

But after McClain received a letter from Owen on behalf of the real Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the band has taken the name game more seriously.

"We thought: We're a shtick type band of Reservoir Dogs-looking dudes making damn sure nobody takes down the name of the Bible," says McClain. "But it's a good point that you can't go around walking on people's copyrights."

Lesson learned, what does the band go by now? McClain and his group take a chance that no one yet has claimed its new name: The Deluxe Bible Protectors.

— Brandon Walters

Boat Club Helps High School Get Its Feet Wet

While many Richmonders recently have been focusing on the James River's canal downtown, members of the Virginia Boat Club and Chesterfield County's James River High School are looking up river. This summer, the boat club, which has been around off and on since 1881, is helping the school to create a club crew team, the first in the Richmond area.

On July 4, the club opened a new dock in Robious Landing Park, a quarter of a mile from the school, where the club plans to launch shells.

The club, which also helped the University of Richmond crew team to start up again, is financing the program and will teach clinics throughout the summer to interested students, according to Hank Holswade, president of the Virginia Boat Club.

One hundred students initially expressed an interest in the James River High School club team, which the school hopes to eventually make varsity, says faculty sponsor Terry Sue Gault. The boat club will hold clinics in July and August to teach the students the basics of rowing.

Although rowing is hard work, Gault says, "it's exciting to them, it's very different, and they like the fact that they're on the water. ... It's something new that they're feeling out."

The Virginia Boat Club thought the pairing with James River High School, located just a few yards from the river was a "natural connection," explains Principal John Titus.

Crew has future advantages for students because of its "unique and restrictive nature," Titus says. Colleges in the East have teams, and many, including those in the Ivy League and at U.Va., are top-ranked. But because many high schools do not have crew teams, there is a small talent pool from which to draw students. "If you are remotely interested or have some experience with it, a college program is probably going to be interested in you and there may be some scholarship assistance," Titus says. "The opportunities are boundless."

— Lee Williams

After a Hard Day's Work, Enjoy a Bottle of ... Work?

The front windows of the Main Street Beer Co. display large, frosted glass logos for a bunch of local beers. There's a window for Amelia Ale, Studley Ale and Work Beer.

Huh? If you thought Work was a local advertising agency, you're right.

But now it's a beer, too.

"Cabell Harris, [president of Work] is doing our advertising, and he wanted to have a Work Beer, and we kind of got into an agreement where we're going to have a beer for him," says Main Street owner Bob Cabaniss. The brewery, on the 1900 block of West Main Street, is slated to open this week.

Harris says the brew is part of his effort to put the "Work" brand on all kinds of products. When you're talking about work, beer makes sense. "It's a salute to anybody that does a job," Harris explains. "You earn beer. Whatever job you do, you figure out how many ounces of beer you earn a day."

The beer's packaging is all about work. The tap handle is a hammer, and a considerable array of bottle caps celebrate the laborer. Many bear the slogans "You've earned it," and "For a job well done." Others picture nurses, phone operators, hard-hats and other trades and tools. Two more feature Harris and his father, a Caterpillar Tractor salesman.

And the beer itself? Cabaniss says it's a lager on the light side, with an amber color.

But Work President Harris has a more colorful description. "This is an honest beer," Harris says. "I'm not a huge beer drinker, but man, I can throw these things down."

— M.S.

Missing Godwin Graduate Returns Home

Erin Binford, the 17-year-old Godwin High School senior who disappeared five days before graduation and was missing for more than two weeks, has returned home.

Erin's mother, Toni Zaremski, received a phone call June 27 from a New York family who had taken Erin in and discovered she was a runaway. "I was so excited," her mother says.

In recent weeks, Erin's mother and father put up fliers around the West End and sought help from Henrico police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Erin was last seen chatting with a young man in a photograph taken by a bank security camera as she withdrew money June 11 from an automatic teller machine.

As it turns out, he was a 15-year-old local boy and Erin ran away with him to New York City, where his mother lives.

In an interview with Style Weekly two days after she returned home, Erin said she ran away because she was worried she wasn't going to graduate and didn't want to face the embarrassment. (She did pass and her mother picked up her diploma the day after graduation.)

Erin escaped her runaway experience relatively unscathed, except for her car being vandalized. She stayed with friends and family members of the boy she ran away with, living in roach-infested apartments and eating rice and frozen pizza.

Erin says she's amazed at the outpouring of concern. Her ex-boyfriend organized an expedition to New York to look for her. Even the Food Lion where she works as a cashier is letting her come back to work.

"I know I didn't make the right decision. It was a hard life to live," Erin says of her 16-day disappearance, her voice so low it is barely audible. "I'll never do it again."

— R.F.

Bright Lights, Better Triangle, WOBCA Hopes

Police and residents have called it the Devil's Triangle for years.

But after the installation of 43 12-foot-high ornamental poles and street lights last month, the West of the Boulevard Civic Association (WOBCA) is hoping that crime goes down and business picks up in the now gloriously illuminated neighborhood bounded by Park, Patterson, Belmont and North Boulevard. The area now seems to be lit brighter than The Diamond during a nighttime Braves game.

"It was an area that the West of the Boulevard Civic Association was concerned about," says Councilman John Conrad, whose 1st District includes the neighborhood. Conrad secured the $300,000 necessary last summer to fund the light project.

Barbara Mosby, former WOBCA board member, says the lights are one step in the right direction. She says that the Triangle has the highest crime rates of any West of the Boulevard neighborhood, and describes police officers keeping all-night vigils near the 7-Eleven on the corner of Shepherd Street and Park Ave.

"We've been working for about two years trying to get the area back in shape," Mosby says.

Mosby hopes the lights are just the beginning. She envisions the Triangle becoming "a Strawberry Street area or a Carytown-like area where we can serve the neighborhood and be a destination," Mosby says.

The next step is raising money to buy trees to plant in the area. Mosby hopes to have the tree funds lined up this fall, when WOBCA will hold a formal dedication for the new lights.

"I think the increased lighting has helped," Mosby says. "It's looking up, and I hope we can make it better."

— M.S.

Add a comment