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13 advance excerpts from our 40th anniversary issue, Oct. 19, 2022

by Jason Roop

2. RICHMOND SPCA CLOSES $7.2 MILLION HUMANE CENTER: In a move that has stunned animal lovers across the city, the Richmond SPCA is closing the Robins-Starr Humane Center. Records show that during that the 20 years since the center has been open, only three dogs and one cat agreed to be adopted into a new home. "What, are we crazy? Would you leave?" says a schnauzer who asks to remain anonymous. "Look at this place -- it's off the chain! Plus, with the secret life-extending gamma-ray booth they installed in the basement, we can live forever! And talk!"

3. DROUGHT ENDS: Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources confirms that residents can consider the state's drought officially over. "It is a blessing," says David K. Paylor, Virginia's drought czar. Paylor, appointed 20 years ago by then-Gov. Mark Warner, says he will continue as drought czar, but will drop the "drought" from his title. "Just czar will do" he says.

4. HICKS AND TRAMMELL CELEBRATE IN STYLE: "If only we'd seen it sooner …" says a dreamy-eyed Reva Trammell. "… we'd have had that much more time together," finishes her husband, David Hicks. The couple, celebrating their 15-year wedding anniversary under fireworks at the Country Club of Virginia, was an unlikely pairing 20 years ago, when Trammell was a tough city councilwoman and Hicks was commonwealth's attorney. "We just misread our relationship," says Trammell, wearing Vera Wang and clutching her Prada bag. "It was love-hate, not hate." Former Gov. Tim Kaine, shrimp in one hand, leans over. "I knew," he says, smiling. They all laugh.

5. GRAFFITI TASK FORCE SHIFTS FOCUS: After years of failure, an anti-graffiti group spearheaded by Richmond's police chief is trying a new approach: not fighting it. Chief Becky Blanton says she has a high-tech idea. "I was inspired by the flood wall," she says. "Why not wrap the wall with an automatic, retrievable poly-fiber coating?" Graffiti artists will enter a code into a touch-screen kiosk, which will raise the wall fa‡ade from beneath the ground. When the artist completes his or her creation, the fa‡ade will remain for two to three hours, then recede into the ground. "These artists should be free to create," Blanton says. The fund-raising is on.

6. INDIAN MOVES: The Richmond Braves, relocating next week to the revitalized City Stadium, plan to sell their giant Indian sculpture to Philip Morris. The tobacco giant plans to use the Indian to peer over a billboard marketing its new cigarette brand, "Indian Smoke." "This is a much better use for the artwork," a Philip Morris executive explains. "Baseball fosters competition in kids, which can be unhealthy."

7. T-D PREPARES FOR MAKEOVER: Media General will roll out the revamped Richmond Times-Dispatch in early November. In all, the paper will break into 92 smaller publications, led by flagship dailies The Richmond Times and The City Dispatch. "This will allow us to hit our target audiences, everyone, in a much more targeted way," says Managing Editor Melissa Ruggieri. For example, she says, "Funny Punch," a weekly, is a "hilarious" way to "teach important societal lessons" to the 18-25 market. A few papers will be produced by randomly selected readers. And for the African-American community, there's "We're Down With It Today," Ruggieri says. "But the City Dispatch is keeping Michael Paul Williams!"

8. SANDBAGS NEEDED: The city is putting out a call for volunteers -- and sand. "We need everyone's help," says city engineer Ralph Gunkle. Workers have been overwhelmed since the recent undertaking of a three-year plan to keep Brown's Island from sinking. "I'm tired of water seeping into my breakfast nook," says an exasperated resident of Cordish-Jamison Towers, the upscale apartments built as part of the $220 million renovation of the Island. "I already have to travel to work by gondolier."

9. HISTORIANS MIRED IN STATUE CONTROVERSY: Officials wearing glasses say they're getting nowhere in a debate about which direction statues should face on Monument Avenue -- even after a fifth mediation session on the issue. "It's wrong, all wrong!" says historian Gilbert Brandt. "The horse pointing east means we lost the war. A tennis racquet pointed upwards means the horse died in battle. And don't get me started on that globe." Brandt's group is trying to raise money to rotate certain statues on the avenue to solve what he says is "mass confusion" about their symbolism.

10. DOWNTOWN FINE ARTS COMPLEX KICKS OFF SEASON: Get ready for deer season. "Doe, a deer," season, that is! The $100 million Ukrop's/GE Financial Assurance Grand Theatre -- the last remaining theater venue in Richmond -- opens its fall season with "The Sound of Music." Then, it's "Our Town," followed by "Annie" and "Annie Get Your Gun." The hills will definitely come alive, says Brad Armstrong, theater president. "All that experimental, challenging, artsy stuff -- we've been there," he says. "We paid $100 million for this thing. It's time to fill seats. And I love that cute little Gretl."

11. WOODWARD SIGNS BOOK: Former Richmond mayor and TV talk-show host John Woodward is in town next week to sign his new motivational book, "Comment Your Way to Success." The surprise best seller is a cross between a how-to and a memoir. "It's a win-win, not a lose-lose or a lose-win," Woodward explains. It features such Woodwardian quotes as:

"The Shockoe Bottom area, which heretofore has been where the burgeoning growth is, is beginning to get tapped out."

And, "All of a sudden if there isn't the transportation use, by virtue of its size, prominence and uniqueness it'll still serve as a catalyst for all kinds of ancillary uses."

And who could forget: "We endeavor to be as flexible and as pragmatic as we can where we have that latitude."


12. SHORT PUMP COMMUNITY MEETINGS SCHEDULED: The Short Pump Planning Commission will meet with residents during the next four Thursdays to discuss its recent effort to annex part of Richmond, a city to the east. "There's no more farmland to expand on," says commissioner Gwen Smolla. "We need Richmond." A beleaguered Richmond City Council is trying to come up with a plan to protect its land. Smolla scoffs. "It's not like anybody's using it," she says. "We need space for shopping, soccer and shopping."

13. STYLE GEARS UP FOR BIRTHDAY SERIES: To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Style Weekly will run a series about itself starting next week and running through the end of the year. "Most of our coverage will center on us, and all the things about us," says Publisher Amy Slocum. "Part three will feature a special advertising section." As for the rest, she says, "Who knows? We're throwing a