History in Focus

Note from the Editor:

This article references the “History in Focus” program hosted by the Department of Recreation and Parks in conjunction with two Human Resources Division: DEI and Organizational Learning and Talent Development (OLTD). The course catalog listed the following description: Each year, Henrico honors two very important dates in our nation’s history – Juneteenth and July 4th. Both represent America’s foundational values of freedom and equality. Do we celebrate our achievements or commemorate the beginning of an ongoing journey? Or can we do both? Knowing our history and the impact of events from the past is essential to understanding where we are today. As individuals with unique backgrounds, the more we acknowledge and embrace the diversity in our community, the more we progress as a society. Come join us for candid, interactive storytelling and discussion of this complex, trailblazing, and still relatively young country we all call home.


We were fortunate to host our first “History in Focus” program in March. It was quite the learning experience, and we, as facilitators, learned just as much from the attendees as we could provide them. The virtual program was very well attended and, from our perspective, a success! We were so pleased that the participants were eager for this information, and they brought up crucial points that we will incorporate into historical displays and programming moving forward. For some time now, our staff has wanted to share with co-workers and colleagues the rich insights that are found in our history, whether it is local, state, or national.

Since COVID, the extended work-from-home experience, and the period of social protest nationwide, the Division of Recreation and Parks history staff has searched for ways to use programming and dialog to help give our audiences perspective. When you can see from letters, photographs, and journals of 1918 just how deeply the Influenza Epidemic impacted Virginians, we as a community can take solace in the fact that “this too shall pass.” These words from a 13th-century Persian poet were used in a speech by President Abraham Lincoln at the close of the Civil War. History teaches us that the American journey has been and continues to be challenging and complex.

There are not always simple answers to issues we face as a society. For every story of our past that is recorded in history textbooks, there are multiple narratives that go largely unexplored and even less available to be taught in schools.

Our team believes that social and civic progress can be made through conversations about our total history, whether triumphant or tragic. Henrico County is full of stories about individuals, places, and events that have shaped our community’s growth and development and contributed to the history of the state and nation. Sharing the lesser-known stories about our collective heritage as Americans can teach us how others who don’t look like us have succeeded and endured. Our experiences shape us, and learning about the experience of others creates understanding and empathy. 

As public servants, we work daily to provide for the needs of our constituents whose life history and ancestry have shaped their worldviews. Regardless of the county division/department we represent, we must provide assistance without judgment. For those who look for historical equivalents in contemporary situations, we can see and take pride in our progress as a society. We can also see areas where we can do better. As students of history, we can also recognize essential elements of human nature that contribute to our survival. Adapting to the unexpected and the compassion to help those in need have been pervasive throughout history.

We look forward to the opportunity to participate in more classes to share the lessons of the past as we face the challenges of the future.

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Eat Seasonally

Eating seasonally grown foods promotes health, supports local economies, and contributes to environmental sustainability. In addition, the advantage of aligning our diets with natural production cycles. Seasonal eating provides the freshest and most nutritious foods. Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally and are harvested at the right time are richer in flavor, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are crucial for maintaining a balanced diet and overall well-being.

Summer brings a seasonal abundance of delicious new foods and is the perfect time to introduce new fresh fruits and vegetables to the entire family. Try these four summer produce superstars:

  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries provide vitamin C and antioxidants that support immune systems and overall health. They’re also a good source of fiber – with raspberries leading the way at 8 grams of fiber per 1-cup serving.
  • Try buttery avocados by adding them to tacos, as a spread on grilled cheese sandwiches, or with eggs in the morning. They contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins E and C, and potassium.
  • Technically a fruit, tomatoes provide fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium, and other important minerals. Available in various colors and sizes, their naturally high-water content makes tomatoes a hydrating choice. Slice tomatoes and serve with a bit of olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper. Add them to sandwiches or chop them up and toss them into salads and pasta dishes. Another fun idea – make your own fresh salsa.
  • Nothing says summer like a fresh slice of watermelon. This summer favorite is easy to eat and tastes great. With one of the highest water contents of any food, it’s great for keeping hydrated on scorching days. It is also packed with vitamin C and lycopene – a plant nutrient and antioxidant property. Lycopene is the pigment that gives red and pink fruits their color and is linked to health benefits ranging from heart health to protection against sunburns and certain types of cancers. Serve watermelon wedges for dessert, cut them into cubes and mix them into a fruit salad, or put watermelon chucks in the blender with ice, lime juice, and honey for a refreshing slushy drink.

As different fruits and vegetables come into season, you can explore new flavors by selecting seasonally grown produce as the main ingredient to diversify your meals. By making mindful choices about the foods you consume, you can enhance your well-being while positively impacting the local community. 

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Avoid These Retirement Planning Miscues

Ask any retiree if they wish they had done anything different to be financially ready for life after work, and you’ll probably hear some regrets. Planning for a future we can’t predict but know is coming can be tricky. However, you can take steps now to steer clear of those feelings of regret later in life. Here are some suggestions for things to avoid:

  • Not saving enough – Many financial advisors recommend saving enough to cover 70% to 90% of your pre-retirement annual income to maintain your standard of living. Social Security benefits and pension income may not be enough to reach that mark, so be sure to work toward closing any gap by saving at the level you need to live the retirement you want.
  • Not saving soon enough – It’s obvious but true: The earlier you start saving, the more likely you’ll reach your retirement income goals. Over time, the power of compound growth — where any earnings from your investments get reinvested to generate potentially even more growth — can work to your advantage.
  • Missing opportunities to save more – Don’t be discouraged if you’re getting a late start on saving for retirement. If you’ll be 50 or older this year, catch-up contributions may help you reach your savings goals as you near the end of your career. In 2023, you can contribute an additional $7,500 to your plan.
  • Not investing appropriately – Does your mix of investment types (also known as asset classes) match your risk tolerance and planned retirement timeline? Investing either too conservatively or too aggressively can put your retirement income goals in jeopardy. It’s critical to find the right balance of investment risk and return potential in your asset-allocation strategy.1
  • Trying to time the market – When you see your retirement account balance drop, you may be tempted to shift money out of stock funds into less risky investments with lower risk — and reinvest when the market recovers. This is known as “timing the market.” Before you do this, remember that no one knows when the market may rebound and missing out on the market’s best days. If you aren’t invested in stocks when the market recovers, you may have “locked in” your losses by missing out on potential gains.

Talk to Chip Richardson, our Henrico County plan representative about how you can avoid retirement planning regrets and achieve the bright financial future you want.

John “Chip” Richardson
Phone: (804) 501-5233
Mobile:  (804) 221-1474
Email:  chip.richardson@empower.com

1 Asset allocation, diversification, and/or rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss.

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Total Compensation Statement

Earlier this year, the County approved a historic pay raise for its employees that will go into effect for the new fiscal year. Given the excitement, many employees are looking closely at their pay statements.

To help employees understand the full value of their compensation, Henrico General Government and HCPS recently created a Total Compensation Statement for each employee that shows:

  • Benefits that include an employer contribution
  • Supplemental benefits that do not include an employer contribution
  • Optional retirement plan contributions
  • Annual leave accruals
  • Other indirect compensation

As of May 1, employees can find their 2023 Total Compensation Statement by logging into Oracle:

  • Select the “Employee Direct Access” tab
  • Click “Salary Related”
  • Select “Total Compensation”

If you have questions about the new Total Compensation Statements, please refer to the “Frequently Asked Questions,” which can be found at the top of the Total Compensation page. Should you have additional questions, please contact Human Resources at 804-501-4628 Option 0. If you have questions about your benefits, please view the Employee Website or contact the Benefits Department by phone: (804) 501-7371 or email: HR-Benefits@henrico.us

Thank you for all your hard work and for providing our residents and community with outstanding customer service every day.

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Join Us for Henrico’s Life-long Wellness Fair

Henrico’s Life-long Wellness Fair: Taking Action To Live Well Now And To Prepare For The Unexpected.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 11 AM – 1 PM

Henrico Western Government Center, Administration Courtyard Fountain – rain back up first level of the parking garage

May is National Employee Health and Fitness Month and Older Americans Month. Both observances aim to improve the health of the workforce through all stages of employment and past retirement. Through initiatives and helpful programs and services, these campaigns encourage employees to make ‘healthy the norm” by cultivating sustainable life-long wellness action beyond May.

The Life-long Wellness Fair: Taking action to live well now and to prepare for the unexpected employee event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 17, 2023, 11 AM – 1 PM at the Henrico Western Government Center, Administration Courtyard Fountain (rain site: first level of the parking garage). 

The fair offers a variety of free health, fitness, and preparedness educational vendors such as

  • Blood pressure Screening
  • Free and Discounted gym memberships
  • Employee and community fitness and recreation programming
  • Virginia Extension Office, Keep Henrico Beautiful, HEART
  • Financial preparedness resources
  • Henrico’s Fire Marshall’s office and CARE
  • Bystander CPR, Safety, and AED
  • EngAge Advocate for the Aging & Eldercare resources
  • Wills/Power of Attorney/Probate

There will also be giveaways and much more!

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10 Things You Need to Know about County Leave

Summer and the end of the fiscal year are right around the corner. You may be planning some time off to enjoy the beautiful weather and time with family or friends. As you plan these things, be sure to utilize your different kinds of leaves and be mindful of the accrual process and deadlines for use.

The County offers eligible employees 12 paid holidays, one paid floating holiday, paid annual leave, paid sick leave, paid wellness leave, and paid volunteer leave, among other types. Here are ten things you should know about your Henrico County Employee paid leave:


  1. You can see all the pay periods, paydays, and paid holidays on the Employee Payroll Calendar.
  2. This fiscal year ends on Friday, June 16, 2023. B01, or the first pay period of the next fiscal year, starts on Saturday, June 17, 2023.
  3. Sick and annual leave accrues on a pay period basis. In order to accrue sick or annual leave, an eligible employee must be in a paid status for at least seven-eighths (7/8) of their standard hours in a pay period. 
    1. For example, an 80‐hour employee must be in a paid status for 70 or more hours, and a 112‐hour employee must be in a paid status for 98 or more hours in order to accrue sick or annual leave.
  4. All annual leave balances are reduced to the maximum for all eligible full-time County employees at the end of the last pay period in the fiscal year (June 16, 2023).

NOTE: This table shows the maximum for full-time eligible employees that work 40 hours per week. For eligible full-time fire suppression employees that work 56 hours per week, please view the table in Section 8.6 of the Policies and Procedures.

Years of Service

Annual Leave Accrual Rate Per Pay period (hours)

Maximum Allowance Annual Leave Accrual Balance (Annual accrual X 2)

Less than 5 years


208 hours/ (26 days)

5 but less than 10 years


260 hours/ (32 ½ days)

10 but less than 15 years


312 hours/ (39 days)

15 but less than 20


364 hours/ (45 ½ days)

20 but less than 25


416 hours/ (52 days)

25 or more years


468 hours/ (58 ½ days)


  1. All full-time employees in authorized positions are credited with one floating holiday, 16 hours of wellness leave, and 8 hours of paid volunteer leave at the beginning of each fiscal year (pay period B01). 
  2. Floating holiday, wellness, and volunteer leave must be used in the fiscal year that they are earned. 
  3. If you want to use volunteer leave but are not sure what is permitted, please read the leave policy on the employee website and then contact your direct supervisor with questions. Our County Volunteer program provides multiple options across many interests through the non-profit organizations we have partnered with. Currently, there are five outside organization partners but we are looking for more. 
  4. Wellness leave can be used to take care of personal needs. Note: New employees hired (or re-employed) after April 30 of the fiscal year do not earn wellness leave at the time of their employment but must wait until the beginning of the following fiscal year to be credited.
  5. At the end of the fiscal year, HR completes a carryover process that calculates every employee’s amount of leave carried over to the new physical year. At the end of the fiscal year, if you try to view or create a B01 timecard or leave of absence before this process is completed, you will see a “0” accrual balance. This process is usually on the first Wednesday of the new fiscal year.
  6.  If you have questions about your timecards or leave, please read Section 8 of the Policies and Procedures or contact your department’s timekeeper.


There are many benefits to having paid time off, such as reduced stress levels, reduced risk of chronic illness, more productivity, and higher morale. Knowing when and how to use your leave can help you achieve work-life balance. Remember to take advantage of your available leave before it’s too late!

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Winning HCPL

Henrico County Public Library was honored with the Innovation in Government Award for the first-of-their-kind Computer Work and Play Stations at Fairfield Library as part of the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government’s 16th Annual Excellence in Virginia Government Awards. These awards recognize “Virginians who have made noteworthy contributions to the practice of government and the welfare of our communities and citizens,” according to the Wilder School.

During the community design meetings for the new Fairfield Area Library, which opened in 2019, residents emphasized a desire for the building to support children and families learning. At the same time, Library Director Barbara Weedman had conceptualized Computer Work and Play stations based on her experiences working as a public librarian and being a single mom. Working with the architect’s designer, Shannon Wray of Quinn Evans, Weedman shared her idea for creating a computer desk for adults featuring an adjacent enclosure for little ones to rest and play while the caregiver could do computer work beside them. The designer worked with TMC Furniture to create a custom furniture solution to bring Weedman’s idea to life and help meet the expressed community need for family learning support. 

Computer Work and Play Stations debuted on opening day at Fairfield Library. In January 2022, Ali Faruk of Families Forward Virginia tweeted a photo of the workstations, which went viral on social media and garnered national and international news media attention. The design resonated with parents, especially those who struggled to balance childcare demands with work during the pandemic. The workstations are not a substitute for childcare but make it so that caregivers do not need to arrange childcare in order to use computers at the library. HCPL’s Computer Work and Play Stations have been covered in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, Buzzfeed, Curbed, Good Morning America, Insider, The Irish Times, Italian Vogue, and most recently, The Drew Barrymore Show.

On April 11, 2023, HCPL Director Barbara Weedman and Community Relations Coordinator Patty Conway accepted the award from VCU on behalf of HCPL. Governor L. Douglas Wilder hosted the event alongside VCU President Michael Rao and Dean of the Wilder School, Dr. Susan Gooden. Governor Glenn Youngkin addressed the crowd and praised the awardees for “serving with love.” The library was well supported by the attendance of Henrico County leaders. HCPL would like to express its gratitude to our county leadership, as we understand that their strong support, and the support of our community, created an environment ripe for this innovation. This award honors all county residents and employees who contribute to our strong public services in Henrico.

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Monument Avenue 10K Recap

Over 100 Henrico County Employees showed up to The Annual Monument Avenue 10K on Saturday, April 22. This was the largest showing of Team Henrico in recent years.  Check out these photos of employees who participated in the race and the cheer team that supported them!


Be on the lookout for more information for our next run: The Anthe Corporate 5K on June 8.

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Henrico has H.E.A.R.T. this Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event celebrated since 1970 to promote environmental protection. Henrico County has a long history of environmental stewardship and has recently strengthened that commitment by creating Henrico’s Environmental Action Resource Team (H.E.A.R.T.). H.E.A.R.T. is a robust committee of county employees representing many different departments. The committee is focused on identifying sustainability initiatives and goals to improve county operations in the areas of green space and recreation, energy resources and conservation, water, mobility and active transportation, and education and outreach. Cari Tretina and Steve Yob are leading the H.E.A.R.T. effort, which will soon expand to involve representatives of the Henrico community, including a youth council.  

Henrico County will celebrate Earth Day this year with a public festival at Deep Run Park on Saturday, April 22nd, from 10 AM – 1 PM, hosted by Recreation & Parks and Keep Henrico Beautiful. The event will feature live music, food trucks, and activities such as face painting, seed planting, a sensory-friendly activity tent, and a vendor fair. County departments, local environmental groups, and business vendors will share information on energy efficiency, recycling, residential solar, air quality, native plants, and more. In addition, Tech For Troops will be collecting retired technology and refurbishing it to help veterans in need. A list of equipment they accept can be found at https://techfortroops.org/support/equipment-donations/. Go green by recycling your old technology to help a veteran.

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Living Longer- the Blue Zone Mentality

According to world Blue Zone research, the longest-living people on earth eat a fiber-rich diet and rely on locally grown fruits and vegetables. What began as a National Geographic expedition to uncover the secrets of longevity evolved into discovering the five places around the world where people consistently live over 100 years old, dubbed the Blue Zones. Subsequent studies indicate only about 20% of how long the average person lives is dictated by our genes, whereas our lifestyle dictates the other 80%. National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging researchers found the five demographically confirmed, geographically defined areas with the highest percentage of centenarians – Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan. Besides having a large percentage of people that live to 100, the aging population also remains active well into their 80s and 90s and typically does not suffer the degenerative diseases common in most of the industrialized world.

The top lessons from the world’s Blue Zones on living a long, healthy life are to move naturally, have a purpose, be in the right tribe, and eat wisely. Moving naturally throughout the day – walking, gardening, doing housework – is a core part of the Blue Zones. Knowing why you wake up in the morning makes you healthier and happier and adds up to seven years of extra life expectancy. The Okinawans call it ikigai (pronounced e-key-guy) and the Nicoyans can it plan de vida. In the United States, the common term is purpose – to have intention. Finding your tribe supports human nature to search for belonging by looking for people who share commonalities or possess the traits we aspire to adopt. The world’s longest-lived people have close friends and strong social networks. The last lesson, eat wisely, combines attitudes toward food and consumption behaviors. People living in the Blue Zones areas stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full and eat their smallest meal in the early evening. They select vegetables, fruits, and whole grains or beans as the cornerstone ingredients of most meals while meats are eaten in small amounts. Finally, the enjoyment of moderate consumption of wine with friends and/or with food is widely practiced.

Creating a Blue Zones lifestyle is possible with focused intention. Moving more throughout the day can be as simple as walking daily. Finding meaningful work and intentionally aligning values to everyday actions are steps to living with purpose. When creating your tribe, looking for people ‘instantly recognizable” or who feel “deeply familiar” is a very Western idea. The downside is pushing to the side the person you don’t feel an instant affinity with. Consider including in your tribe those you resonate with and those who challenge you to see the world in a new way. Most Americans find adding fruits to their meals easy, but we struggle with adding vegetables. Add a salad. Salads are a great way to add a good amount of nutrient-rich vegetables to your diet. Let’s start with three different salad recipes from EatingWell that will fill you up and delight your taste buds.


Italian Chopped Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato and White Bean Salad

Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta

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