Thursday, July 23, 2015

Statement on Port of Richmond

Mayor Dwight Jones and Port of Virginia CEO John Reinhart today announced that the Port of Virginia has requested to renew its lease on the Port of Richmond for a second five year term. In addition, the Port of Virginia intends to bid on a long-term lease proposal that will allow it to make greater capital investment in the Port of Richmond terminal. The Mayor will introduce the related papers on Monday, July 27 for consideration by City Council on September 8.

The announcement comes one day after Governor McAuliffe announced the Port of Virginia is forecasted to post its first yearly operating profit since 2008 and has set a new record for cargo volume.

“The City’s partnership with the Port of Virginia has turned the Port of Richmond around, and it holds promise for unlocking the value of one of the greatest economic drivers for the Richmond region,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “We are excited by the possibility of a long-term partnership with The Port of Virginia, and the prospect for integrating Richmond and Central Virginia into networks of global trade. We are eager to review the long-term lease proposal.”

Under The Port of Virginia’s management, cargo volumes at the Port of Richmond have grown year over year. In fiscal year 2013, the barge service transported over 6,400 containers. In fiscal year 2014, the barge volumes increased 49% with over 9,500 containers transported. Barge volumes increased another 49% and finished fiscal year 2015 with over 14,000 containers transported. Due to the consistent increase in volumes, the barge service increased from two trips a week to three trips a week in January of 2015 and is currently averaging approximately 200 moves per week. This steady increase in volumes is due in large part to direct marketing efforts of The Port of Virginia which have resulted in five international ocean carriers offering bills of lading directly to the Port of Richmond. The Port of Virginia has also made significant on terminal investment to include improvements to the rail infrastructure and the purchase of a new mobile harbor crane scheduled for delivery in early 2017.

“The Port of Richmond has become a critical part of The Port of Virginia network,” said CEO John Reinhart. Cargo moving up and down the James River provides a direct connection with shippers in Central Virginia and means less truck traffic on our roadways. We want to solidify the future of Port of Richmond so we can continue to make on-terminal investments that will attract additional shippers and strengthen our network. Our port is growing and facilities like the Port of Richmond are crucial to provide the necessary access to deliver the goods coming through the port to manufacturers and consumers throughout our market.”

The Port of Richmond is not only a valuable asset to the City of Richmond, but also an economic driver for the entire region. Strategically positioned to capitalize on intermodal freight activity by virtue of its location on the James River, it also possesses close proximity to the major transportation corridors of I-95, I-64, I-85, and direct access to rail with CSX.

“The Port is a great asset for the entire region,” said Chesterfield Country Administrator Jay Stegmaier. “We’re confident the Port of Richmond will play an increasingly important role in attracting jobs and new investment to Central Virginia.”

Chesterfield County Bermuda District representative Dorothy Jaeckle noted, “Improvements at the port will also add significantly to the revitalization of the Route 1 corridor in both Richmond and Chesterfield."

The lease and management of the Port of Richmond was assumed in July 2011 by The Port of Virginia from the City of Richmond, with the option to renew the lease for three successive five-year terms.  During this partnership, The Port of Virginia began operating a barge service carrying containerized cargo between the marine terminals in Hampton Roads and the Port of Richmond. Growth of the barge service is critical as it removes container traffic from the local roadways, significantly reduces undesirable emissions, and provides for the consistent and effective movement of freight to bolster economic development in the City of Richmond and beyond.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mayor Jones' Statement Concerning a Freestanding Children’s Hospital, Minor League Baseball, and Regional Cooperation

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement concerning a freestanding children’s hospital, minor league baseball, and regional cooperation:

“The conversation around a freestanding children’s hospital has driven a renewed commitment to regional cooperation among the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County.

“Advocates for the hospital asked each locality for potential locations, and we each presented options. They have indicated the Boulevard is their preferred site.

“In recent days, I have met with Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas and Chesterfield County Administrator Jay Stegmaier to advance this important regional priority. This includes agreeing to a process to identify alternative locations in the region to ensure that the Richmond Flying Squirrels have a permanent home.

“Today, we met with representatives of the Squirrels and the President of the Eastern League. We agreed that the Squirrels should meet with all localities in the Richmond area to explore potential locations that have easy access and visibility for Squirrels fans.

“The Squirrels agreed to work with each locality to identify a site by the end of this year. To demonstrate the region’s commitment to the Squirrels, I propose to extend their current lease on the Diamond through the end of 2017.

“We agreed on an exploration process that will consider site selection options, financing opportunities including private investment, potential construction schedules, and that recognizes the financial constraints our localities are facing. We committed, together with our regional partners, to work with the Squirrels. Ultimately, the Squirrels will identify a site that best fits their needs.

“The Squirrels are a great asset for our region, and they are woven into the fabric of our community. When they came to town six years ago, they changed how our region experiences minor league baseball. They showed us that it’s about having fun, enjoying family time, and celebrating our community. We all know the community wants them to stay here forever.

“I believe this renews our commitment to an open and comprehensive approach to advancing regional priorities, starting with the children’s hospital.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Richmond Times-Dispatch Person of the Year

I’m writing to nominate Craig Dodson as Person of the Year, because he embodies what I believe about community. To me, community means that we care about one another. We care about education even if we don’t have kids in the school system. We want small businesses to succeed even if we’re not the ones making a profit. We want a clean and sustainable James River even if we’re not the ones out on the rapids. In good times, we celebrate together as a community and in tough times, we fight back together as a community. 

Every day, I meet with Richmonders who embody that spirit. So many in our community give their time and talents to a cause much greater than themselves. We are a city full of vibrant businesses, remarkable entrepreneurs, enthusiastic students, and engaged residents. But it is no secret that Richmond is a tale of two cities. When you cross the Martin Luther King Bridge, you enter into a different Richmond. One that has been ignored, over-looked, and shunned. One that’s been forgotten and written-off. Decades of educational inequality, allowing violence and alienation to subvert once thriving neighborhoods, and the deliberate choices made in segregating our housing have created a generation that doesn’t believe that they have a chance to succeed. There is a generation that doesn’t believe that they can be better off than the circumstances they have been born into. It is generation without hope. 

We can work to provide opportunities to all of our young people, but we must also give them the hope and confidence that they have what it takes to seize upon those chances. This commitment guides Craig’s work. This past year, I have had the great fortune to work with Richmond Cycling Corps. Craig and his team use the lure of the bicycle as a tool to engage young residents from public housing to develop their character. Craig not only puts our young people through a rigorous regimen on the bicycle, but he also does some of his best work with them off the bicycle. He helps the program’s youth with needs chronic to those in public housing: providing legal aid, assisting with dental and medical needs, academic support, financial literacy, and sometimes, most importantly, emotional support. 

In 2014, Craig launched the nation’s first and only inner-city high school cycling team at Armstrong High School. He then expanded the program again earlier this year and brought a cycling team to MLK Middle School. He wasn’t done there. He organized and worked with community partners to transform a once vacant 15-acre parcel of land in Fairfield Court into a one-mile mountain bike course. It features 27 obstacles, a community garden, a 600 sq-ft barn, 41 newly planted trees, and metal sculptures. The Armstrong Bike Park is truly a “placemaking” one of a kind. By the way, the Armstrong Cycling team garnered a third place finish in the 2015 Virginia High School Mountain Bike Series championship race in just its first year.

However, we know the real results aren’t measured by trophies or in what place you finish the race. They’re measured in the pride and confidence these kids have when they tell me about how much they are growing because of Craig’s program. We all owe it to them to keep working on those opportunities. I am so proud of people in our community like Craig, who work on the hope. That is why I am submitting Craig Dodson, Director of the Richmond Cycling Corps, for Richmond Times Dispatch’s Person of the Year.    

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Call for Volunteers to Serve as 2015 Richmond Training Camp Ambassadors

The Washington Redskins Training Camp is ready to kick off its third year, from July 30 through August 16, at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, 2401 W. Leigh Street. The City of Richmond’s Neighbor-To-Neighbor initiative and the Washington Redskins are seeking 250 volunteers to serve as Richmond Training Camp Ambassadors during this year’s camp.

There will be two shifts for both types of ambassadors, Fan Experience Ambassadors and Security Ambassadors. For Fan Experience Ambassadors, the morning shift will be from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the afternoon shift will be from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For Security Ambassadors, the morning shift will be from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the afternoon shift will be from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There will be a few dates with only a single practice which may result in only one shift.

“For the past two years the Richmond Training Camp Ambassadors have displayed a tremendous amount of civic pride and have provided a positive visitor experience at the training camp. We have received an incredible positive response to how Ambassadors have provided assistance in and around the facility,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The upgraded incentives Ambassadors can achieve this year underscores this incredible opportunity to serve as the ‘face’ of Richmond at training camp.”

Richmond Training Camp Ambassadors who volunteer for a certain benchmark number of shifts will receive awards, including the opportunity to attend an exclusive autograph session with Redskins players and coaches, tickets to a regular season Redskins home game, and a top award of an autographed Robert Griffin III jersey.

Preference will be given to individuals who can commit to volunteer to higher number of shifts. Click here for a complete list of details about this fantastic volunteer opportunity.

Click here to register to become a Richmond Training Camp Ambassador. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mayor Jones Announces New Deputy CAO for Finance and Administration

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the appointment of Lenora Reid as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration. Reid has worked as Director of Finance for the City of Suffolk since 2012, during which time the City earned a “AAA” bond rating.

“Ms. Reid is an accomplished leader in public finance,” said Mayor Jones. “I look forward to her aggressive efforts to strengthen capabilities in our finance team and deliver results.”

Reid previously worked in several positions for the City of Richmond from 2003 to 2007, to include serving as Acting City Controller. She worked as City Controller for the City of Portsmouth from 2008 to 2012.

She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds the professional designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant. She earned an MBA from Strayer University and dual bachelor’s degree with honors in accounting and management from the University of the District of Columbia.

As Suffolk’s Finance Director, Reid has been responsible for all aspects of accounting and reporting, budget and strategic planning, purchasing, and preparation of the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR.

“I’ve worked with Leonora Reid for some time,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “I know her work, her ability to get things done, and I trust her to build and lead teams. She will be a great addition to our City leadership team.”

“The City advances when professionals return here after building skills in other localities,” said Kathy Graziano, who chairs the City Council’s Finance Committee. “I look forward to working with Ms. Reid to strengthen the City’s finances and reporting.”

Reid will begin City service on July 1. She succeeds Norman Butts, who resigned to spend more time with his family.

“We’re grateful to Norm Butts for his contributions to the City, and we wish him all the best,” said Cuffee-Glenn.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

City Announces Free James River Fireworks - July 3

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that, for the fifth year in a row, there will be a free fireworks display downtown on Friday, July 3 as part of the City’s 4th of July celebration.

RVA Fireworks on the James, an event produced by the City of Richmond and Venture Richmond and funded by Dominion and MWV, will be held on Brown’s Island on July 3.

Food trucks and vendors will be in and around Brown’s Island, and the public is invited to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to enjoy the summer evening and see the fireworks that will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. Patriotic music that accompanies the fireworks will be simulcast on Richmond independent radio WRIR, 97.3 FM.

“For the past five years, Dominion and MWV have proven to be leaders in our business community and true community partners,” said Mayor Jones. “Our thanks go out to these companies for bringing this world-class fireworks show to Richmond’s historic riverfront.”

“The James River is the perfect backdrop for fireworks,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “This event is just one in a series of community opportunities that make Richmond a tremendous place to live, work and locate a business.”

"We are proud to be sponsoring the fireworks again this year, and excited to see all of Richmond down on the riverfront for another phenomenal patriotic display over the James," said John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of MWV.

Fireworks will be provided by Fireworks by Grucci. Holders of two Guinness World Records, the Gruccis are known as the "Top Name in Fireworks in the World.”  A family-owned and operated company headquartered on Long Island, New York, Fireworks by Grucci also have production and distribution facilities in Virginia.

The rain date for RVA Fireworks on the James is Sunday, July 5, so as not to conflict with other fireworks events sponsored by the City at Dogwood Dell and at the Diamond.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Statement from Mayor Jones on Passing of Former Delegate Franklin P. Hall

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issues the following statement today on the passing of former Delegate Franklin P. Hall:

"Frank Hall was a good friend and a good man. Over the years, we worked together closely in the House of Delegates and on numerous projects to move the city forward. He's been involved in everything over the years, from public schools, to health care and mental health, to housing, to higher education, and much more. Frank was a tireless advocate for Richmond, and our community is better off for his lifetime of service. I'll miss him."