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Neighborhoods In Bloom May Doom OHHIC

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Neighborhoods In Bloom May Doom OHHIC
Don't Ask For Irish Coffee At World Cup
ACLU Secures Grant To Explore Virginia's Death Penalty
CSX Awards Community Grant to Emergency Shelter
Jim Jacobs Ousted from WRVA Neighborhoods In Bloom May Doom OHHIC Mike Culver, a board member of the Oregon Hill Home Improvement Council (OHHIC), is no big fan of the city's Neighborhoods In Bloom (NIB) project. While some have praised NIB, which concentrates all of the city's community development money in six neighborhoods, Culver is concerned because Oregon Hill isn't one of them. "What they've done is yank the rug out from under community development corporations like us, and left us without funding," Culver says. "That's why we call it Neighborhoods In Doom." OHHIC relies on community development block grants to purchase rundown houses in Oregon Hill and restore them, making them livable for low-income families. Last month, OHHIC began building six new houses on vacant lots, the first new construction in Oregon Hill in more than 100 years. "We probably won't survive into next year unless we find another source of funding," Culver says. That's crucial to the neighborhood. Recently, Culver says, the Saint Andrew's Association offered OHHIC the seven Grace Arents houses south of the Downtown Expressway, if OHHIC had lots for the houses and could pay for their relocation. But OHHIC doesn't have the funds. Culver calls the relocation "a virtually impossible financial task," but is concerned about the fate of the houses if OHHIC can't relocate them. Randolph Totten, the president of the Saint Andrew's Association, confirmed the offer but stresses that no decision about the fate of the houses has been made. "We're going to have to go after private funding," says Culver, a sixth-generation Oregon Hill resident. "I think it will be tough, because the competition for that money will be tough." — MARK STROH Don't Ask For Irish Coffee At World Cup Fan Rule No. 1: The Fan District Association Always Wins. Jay Rupkey, co-owner of the World Cup coffee shop on North Robinson, says he knows that from experience, but it doesn't mean he's happy about it. World Cup is opening a new location early this fall in a red garage off Morris Avenue just behind the Papa John's restaurant on Main Street. In zoning hearings, the Fan District Association and local neighbors pushed for a zoning restriction against the new World Cup ever serving alcohol. Alcohol? World Cup serves coffee and desserts and light fare. It's never served anything remotely alcoholic. So why the concern? Because if the property is rezoned to include restaurant use, and World Cup ever sold the property, the new zoning would allow any future restaurant on the property to serve alcohol. "We didn't think Jay was going to serve alcohol. He wasn't our concern. We have to think long term," says Marlene Moses-Ciula, chairman of the FDA's zoning committee and a FDA board member. "Jay has been a very responsible owner of a business in the Fan. It's the next person we don't know about." Rupkey's new coffee shop was approved only after Rupkey voluntarily agreed to an anti-alcohol zoning restriction on the property, though he worries that the restriction will make the property difficult to sell down the road. Rupkey believes the FDA caused him to go through needless bureaucracy and hassle. He's frustrated because he's been a longtime supporter of the FDA and has already tried to make goodwill gestures to neighbors, such as volunteering his employees to clean and maintain an adjoining park space in the neighborhood. "That's the Fan District Association. They get what they want a lot of the time," Rupkey says. "It's irritating when you try to bring a good business into the area and they try to fight you tooth and nail." — R.F. ACLU Secures Grant To Explore Virginia's Death Penalty Kent Willis, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, didn't hesitate when it came time to pick one particular issue to study. Capital punishment. And he just received a grant of $7,500 to look into it. Willis says the Anthony Steward Dunn Foundation, based in Northern Virginia, approached him and asked him what issue he would look into if he had some extra money, and he didn't hesitate in responding. "Of all the problems in Virginia, the adjudication of the death penalty ranks among the most egregious," Willis says. Willis applied for the grant from the foundation in March, and received the money last week. Virginia has executed 61 people since the United States Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Only Texas has executed more — 164. Virginia has the highest rate of executions per capita of all the states with a population of more than one million. "What we propose to do is a complete study of inequities in the death penalty in Virginia, what has caused Virginia to come to this place where it is the killingest state in the nation," Willis says. Willis cites pay disparities between prosecutors and defense attorneys, racial inequities and the infamous 21-day rule, which prohibits the introduction of new evidence into a case after three weeks after a trial's conclusion, as some of the faults in Virginia's court system. The study is scheduled to begin in May, and Willis hopes to begin distribution of the results in November. "We've become the bloodiest state in the nation," Willis says. "And it hasn't happened accidentally." — M.S. CSX Awards Community Grant to Emergency Shelter Families leaving Emergency Shelter Inc.'s 90-day shelter will get some help adjusting to life in the community, thanks to a grant from CSX. Last week, CSX announced ESI's Community Reintegration Services program as the winner of its annual Community Resources Award. ESI will receive $100,000 over three years for the pilot program, which will be operated out of ESI's family shelter at 2 E. Main St. The program will provide follow-up services for families leaving ESI's 90-day shelters for their first six months in the community. Two part-time staff members will help families with budgeting, moving, enrolling children in school, paying deposits for utilities and furnishing an apartment. The staff members will also visit the families on a regular basis and provide counseling and crisis intervention, says Janice Fatzinger, executive director of ESI. The idea came out of a similar service ESI provides to families in its long-term shelter. "Many people leave the shelter and have jobs but they don't have the other things. We want to make sure they don't have to spend all their resources," Fatzinger says. This is the third year CSX has sponsored a competition open to nonprofit organizations working to improve public health, social services or primary or secondary education in the Greater Richmond area. Each group entering the competition had to submit a grant proposal for a program addressing a weakness in the community and demonstrating a plan to be self-sufficient for three years, according to Vance Richardson, a consultant for CSX Corp. "This is a unique program in Richmond and gets a lot of interest from the non-profit community," Richardson says of ESI's program. CSX also presented grants to five runners-up: the Fan Free Clinic, Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, Strategies to Elevate People and Meals on Wheels of Greater Richmond. —ALLISON ELDER Jim Jacobs Ousted from WRVA Jim Jacobs, the host of WRVA's afternoon Big Show, showed up for work as usual Monday, April 5. But at 2 p.m., an hour before Jacobs was supposed to go on the air, Carl McNeill, WRVA's general manager, fired Jacobs. "This happens in this business," says a philosophical Jacobs of the sudden dismissal. "You're not going to give someone two weeks notice and then put them on the air." Jacobs, 50, came to WRVA on a part-time basis in 1986, and went full time in 1991. Jacobs says that he was told simply that the station needed to make changes, and those changes didn't include him. Both McNeill and operations manager Tim Farley, who took over Jacob's 3-6 p.m. afternoon spot with Pam Overstreet last week, were unavailable for comment on the dismissal. But Ken Wayland, general sales manager, says that "It was a necessary change, due to audience erosion. Like any business that would make a decision to improve their product, that's what we had to do." "It's not a good thing to have to do, and they were terrific about it," Jacobs says. He stresses that while the station handled it well, he's sad it happened and wishes that the station's changes did not involve letting him go. Jacobs isn't sure what's next for him, but he says he would like to stay in Richmond. "The staff and management at WRVA represent some of the finest people I've ever worked with," Jacobs says. "The experience was one of the great life and professional experiences for me, and I can't tell you how glad I am that they gave me that opportunity." —

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