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Price's Market Heads to Main Street ...

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Price's Market Heads to Main Street
Main Street Group Plugs New Name
A Tough Track Gets Even Tougher
Students Warned to Make Back Ups
VCU: Fire Not Related To Contractor Problems
Actors, Agencies Ready for Strike
Price's Market Heads to Main Street

Price's Market, the Strawberry Street grocery that sparked debate over the changing culture of the Fan when it lost its lease to an upscale competitor, will move to Main Street this summer.

Price's Market manager Robert Kocher Jr., son of the owner, says the store expects to re-open in the 1600 block of West Main Street in July or August after it vacates its current location by the end of the month.

"Everybody's been wanting to know what's going to happen," Kocher says. "Hopefully things will work out better for us on Main."

Price's will move into the former Uptown Thrift space at 1630 W. Main St., he says. The future store's front door last week bore a posted notice of Price's Market's application for an ABC beer-and-wine license.

While die-hard customers of the Strawberry Street location may miss its narrow aisles and neighborhood setting, Kocher hopes they also will appreciate the newer and larger facility on Main Street, which offers something the current market can't — plenty of parking along the street and in back.
— Rob Morano

Main Street Group Plugs New Name

When you think Main Street, chances are New York and London's trendy SoHo districts don't spring to mind.

But that's exactly the cachet gallery owners hope to lasso with the first issue of the SoFlo Times, a publication that aims to get Richmonders up to speed with hip businesses, shops and galleries dotting Main Street south of Floyd from Harrison to the Boulevard.

"It is sort of a heads up to the area in New York. We have art galleries here and places to eat and shop and other activities along Main Street and we kind of wanted to imply that we have that same flow of energy," says Jenni Plavnieks, design and layout artist for the eight-page quarterly that will be distributed to coincide with four upcoming Main Street Art Walks.

"At our meeting in January we decided we were sick of the same old same old. We wanted something to show we were different galleries and that Main Street is like a coral reef with all these tiny individual fish," says John Crutchfield of Artemis Gallery, who directs the publication of the SoFlo Times. Crutchfield says that so far, the concept of a directory-style newsletter has led to an explosion of support. "We were offered all kinds of advertising, but it's not at all about grabbing money. It's been an effort of philanthropy up 'til now," says Crutchfield adding, "I'm in the hole $750 — $1,500 if you count my time and labor."

Seemingly, already Crutchfield's investment has paid off. Out of the blue, the group sent a copy of SoFlo Times to a California cable TV channel. As a result, a crew from HGTV is set to shoot two segments here for the cable home-and-garden network. According to Crutchfield, shooting starts May 2 at Artemis Gallery on West Main Street — home to Metallic Art Graphics — and Billy Bread bread sculpture on South Allen Avenue. "To be found like this is candy from the sky," says Crutchfield. "We had no idea they'd take our magazine seriously. We're going to get copies and tell everyone about it. It's the first time national media has come to Main Street."
— Brandon Walters

A Tough Track Gets Even Tougher

The Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie could soon be the fastest dragstrip in the nation thanks to 267 feet of concrete. For six years, the park has always lagged behind the Texas Motorplex in Dallas — technically, only by one-six thousandth of a second. But this added concrete has replaced a very vital stretch of asphalt mid-way down the strip, located at the end of what's called "the launch."

"It'll allow us to be more aggressive at the start of the race," says defending Top Fuel champion Cory McClenathan, who was at the Dinwiddie track this past weekend for the Nationals.

An understood factor in drag racing is the more concrete the better. Concrete takes its beating from burning rubber and keeps asking for more. Its better traction is ideal for jumping out of the start and picking up speed. So you'd think all dragstrips, from start to finish, would be made of concrete. But there's a downside that's made all-concrete tracks a thing of the past: "When you've got an entire stretch that's all concrete, the track turns to glass. "It's definitely more dangerous," says NHRA Media Relations Manager David Lamm.

But Dallas' Texas Motorplex still boasts an all-concrete track (it's grandfathered in), and it's no surprise that track holds the current national records for the fastest mph.

All that may change soon, though. The extended concrete launch at the Virginia Motorsports Park makes it a very tasty track to race on, and more importantly, another place where speed records can be beat.

"We think we have the fastest raceway in the country," says the track's co-owner, Paul Coleman.

"All records will be surpassed," McClenathan is quick to add.

Coleman, McClenathan and Lamm, along with thousands of other racers and fans at the Virginia Motorsports Park this past weekend, have been looking forward to seeing that fresh stretch of concrete broken in for awhile. Barring any cancellations, the event marked the first time it's been raced on.
— Jeyon Falsini

Students Warned to Make Back Ups

It's exam time — do you know where your data is?

That's the question faculty members at the University of Richmond are asking their students.

And some think it's more than coincidence that data is disappearing at the end of the semester.

"The Help Desk has received a very high number of students reporting lost documents on diskettes," reads the e-mail sent out through the university's electronic mail digest system called spiderbyters. "We can only repair a small fraction of these data loss failures."

Doug West with UR's information technology office says the e-mail should be viewed more as a reminder than a warning, and that its message — while true in part — is overblown. "I think there were five within a two-week period," says West of the students who reported diskette problems to the college's Help Desk.

Whether acting as a Post-It note or red flare, the e-mail suggests that in order to safeguard work done on a computer, students should save work to more than one location, send it as an e-mail attachment, save it under different names and always print a hard copy. "It's exam time. We want to remind students it's an important time of year," says West. And as the e-mail points out: "Murphy's technology law number 6 — Data loss will occur at the worst possible time and when you do not have a backup."
— B.W.

VCU: Fire Not Related To Contractor Problems

The smoky but short-lived fire last month at a VCU academic building under construction was accidental — possibly the result of a worker's cigarette tossed onto roofing material — and was unrelated to contractor problems that also have threatened to delay opening of the $22 million facility, authorities say.

The Life Sciences Building will be ready for the fall 2001 semester despite the setbacks, says Brian Ohlinger, VCU's assistant vice president for facilities management.

The problems began Feb. 25, when the original general contractor on the Life Sciences Building notified Ohlinger that it would not be able to complete the project. A new contractor was quickly secured, however, and most of the subcontractors continued to work on the 140,000-square-foot project at Cary and Harrison streets, he says. "Most importantly, the job was never shut down."

Then an impressively smoky April 6 rooftop fire at the Life Sciences Building also threatened progress. But Richmond firefighters put out the mini-blaze within 20 minutes of being called, and city and state fire officials say they have no reason to suspect the fire was anything but accidental.

The fire caused $15,000 to $20,000 damage to stored materials that will be paid by the roofing contractor's insurer, Ohlinger says.
— R.M.

Actors, Agencies Ready for Strike

Fewer TV commercials would get a great reception among some, but for the local actors and advertising agencies they support, a strike slated to start this week threatens to put both careers and client accounts on the fritz.

Barring a last-minute agreement with the advertising industry, members of the national Screen Actors Guild went on strike Monday, hampering production of most TV commercials and leaving Richmond's vaunted advertising industry in the grips of a classic free-market fracas.

SAG members want the payment formula for work they do on broadcast television commercials — a royalty system in which they get paid whenever a commercial airs — to apply to cable TV ads as well. Advertisers want to repeal the royalty system and use the flat-fee cable formula for broadcast.

Local SAG member Mark Joy, who acts in ads, TV shows, films and corporate videos, says he opposes the strike. Joy fears that pressuring advertising producers to pay more to domestic actors will accelerate the trend of work being done abroad, particularly in Canada. "There's been a tremendous loss of production [domestically] ... and there are so many options now available to producers," he says. "Ten percent more of nothing is nothing."

But as a SAG member, Joy says, he would feel obligated to participate in the strike, and he and others estimate that the vast majority of commercial actors are SAG members.

It's a threat advertisers are taking seriously. Martin Agency spokesman Dean Jarrett says the Richmond-based ad-making giant has held meetings in recent weeks on dealing with the looming strike. "We plan to not let it affect us at all," he says. "We're just going to work through it."

Jarrett says Martin Agency producers accelerated the schedules of several client shoots to get as much work done as possible before the May 1 strike date: "If it had happened last week, it would have affected us greatly." Now all the agency can do is wait and see, he says, adding that if SAG actors do indeed strike in force, "all rules are off ... and we can hire whoever we want."

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