“A Truly Fantastic Space”: The New Fairfield Library from the Employee Perspective

“It’s just so beautiful.” Those were the words shared by numerous visitors who toured Henrico’s new Fairfield Area Library when doors opened to the public for the first time on Sunday, October 6. The library welcomed 2,500 people at the Grand Opening and, by day’s end, patrons had checked out over 1000 books. Each Henrico library focuses on a specific theme, with Fairfield’s theme centering around the convergence of black political thought, dually led by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. With intentionality embedded in the aesthetic and visual representation of the library, County Manager John Vithoulkas described it as a “facility that goes so far beyond a library at the minimum level.”]

For quite some time, Henrico’s community has waited in anticipation for the library’s new building to open its doors, and not just because it’s something new. As Patty Conway, Henrico Library’s Community Relations Coordinator, shared: “Before the building opened, there were years of planning, during which time the community could give input and feedback into the building’s features and design. This added to the feeling of possibility and anticipation for all of us, I think—that the building is such a reflection of the community, a monument to the community’s need and values.” However, it’s not just the citizens who have been monumentally excited for this new addition to Henrico’s East End. We asked a couple of our own Fairfield Library employees about their experience with opening the new library.

“I’m sure it’s everything you would think it could be,” said Fairfield Library Manager Mike Hatchett. “Of course, it’s very exciting for everybody involved and it’s exhausting, packing, moving, unpacking, looking for things you know you’ve packed, but can’t find.  Then you look up from all the work and find yourself in a truly fantastic space.” The new Fairfield Area Library is a noteworthy upgrade, with over double the square footage of the previous building, a modern design of rooms for study or meetings, and designated areas for children, teens, and adults. The library also has a digital media lab, a recording room, a beautiful fireplace, and even an outdoor space for activities. When asked about his favorite thing about the library so far, Hatchett explained, “My favorite thing is seeing long-time Fairfield patrons come up to the staff and just hug them with joy.  ‘We did it,’ they say, ‘we finally did it.’”

Conway says the Trailblazer’s Wall—a monument to significant people who influenced the culture of the county, state and nation—is her favorite thing about the library so far. “The stories it shares are inspiring… At the library’s grand opening, many Trailblazers and descendants of Trailblazers attended the opening ceremony, which was incredibly special. I hope the wall offers recognition to the local and regional heroes it depicts, and that their stories go on to inspire others to do great things.” With features such as these throughout the library, employees discover an interactive environment as they check out a book, study, use the computers, or just sit to read and enjoy the view. As this new facility caters to its patrons through these innovative mediums, Henrico employees focus on what they do best—going above and beyond to deliver the best customer experience for those that they serve.

“For most librarians, it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Hatchett.  Fairfield opened its previous library in 1976. Now over 40 years later, Fairfield frequenters are witnessing the start of a legacy that will reflect “the many interests and needs of the community it serves,” said Conway, “and it has the spaces to support those interests and needs as they change and evolve.… It’s a great feeling to be a part of something like that, and we are lucky as librarians in Henrico that we have these kind of facilities that support our work.”

Ribbon cutting on opening day at Fairfield Library

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A New Intranet is Coming!

An intranet is a private website focused at an organization’s staff, versus the public. At Henrico, this has commonly been served by http://virtual.henrico.  “Virtual” has been in place for a very long time.

Based on survey results, usage analytics and research into modern Intranets, Information Technology is nearing the completion of the new intranet and is ready to have you try it out!

Note: The new intranet is still under active development – we are still adding content, features, and images. While we look forward to your feedback, please only review the site and provide feedback, and use Virtual for an actual source of information.

Some of the new features you can look forward to with the new intranet:

  • Access from anywhere as it lives in Office 365 (including home and mobile use)
  • New areas focusing on services, forms, and policies related to County employees
  • Quick access to your email, calendar, and SharePoint sites
  • Increased engagement through news, calendars, and other features
  • Easily search across the Intranet, SharePoint, and Office 365 in one place
  • Direct access to request your own SharePoint site for your Team, Division, or Department
  • Modern technology platform that makes it easier for future growth

The new site is planned to go live in mid-November.  You can visit the new site by going to https://henricova.sharepoint.com.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we have already gotten related to the new site:

Q. The site asks me to login, why?

A. We are leveraging SharePoint as a part of Office 365 for a significantly more modern intranet. This is tied to the same login account you use for your email to log into your computer. This does mean due to Microsoft licensing, Schools and Libraries employees must request direct access.

Q. What will happen to Virtual?

A. Starting at the launch, http://virtual.henrico will link to the new site. A legacy URL will be provided. We plan on decommissioning the legacy intranet site in early 2020.

Q. Something is missing that is very important to me, what do I do?

A. You can submit all feedback using this form or by clicking ‘Feedback’ available at the top of the new site.

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Live your Healthiest Life with a 7-Day Sleep Makeover to Take You from Exhausted to Energized

Follow these simple steps to put yourself on the path to a fully energized, fully awake YOU! Start by running a “7 for 7” sleep experiment. Seven hours of sleep for seven nights in a row. No excuses. Even if you think you can function well on five or six hours. This is non-negotiable. Which means you will also need to…

Pick a bedtime. Choosing a set time that you day will end is THE KEY to getting those seven hours. If you know when you must wake up back it up by 7 hours and viola, that is your bedtime! This becomes the hard stop for your day. To close your eyes at the time you’ve picked, you’ll need to…

Establish a wind down routine. A regular wind down routine is vital to falling asleep more easily at night and staying asleep until morning. You will want to begin this routine about an hour before bedtime, giving your body and mind time to decompress from your day.

  • Cut out caffeine after noon. Caffeine can temporarily block sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increase adrenaline production.
  • Clean up the clutter. Visual clutter stresses us out, so tidying up each evening helps you feel ready for bed. This is why spas are so Zen! Just take a few minutes to put things away.
  • Dim the lights. Go through the house and dim the lights (or turn some off if you don’t have dimmer switches). This sends a subtle signal to your brain that it should start to wind down.
  • Soften sound in the house. Like the lighting, changing the soundtrack in the house in the hour before bedtime can be powerful. Choose music or TV programming carefully so the sounds in the house are aligned with your goal of getting to sleep.
  • Stow your devices. I know, I know…but do it. Take the phone and the tablet and ALL the electronics that emit blue light and put them away. A digital detox for the last waking hour is HUGE to sleep wellness. It will keep you from scrolling mindlessly for hours. Instead, read or journal, or have a conversation with someone you love. PS – if your phone is your alarm, put it in the next room and turn up the volume or buy an analog alarm clock.
  • Clear your head. If your thoughts prevent you form falling asleep, keep a journal or notebook on your nightstand. If you are worried you might forget an errand or deadline the next day – jot it down. If you are stressing about something, write about it. This simple act of clearing your head is the last step toward a restful night of sleep.

For more information on healthy sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation at www.sleep.org

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Town Hall Meeting hosted by County Manager John Vithoulkas

We are very excited to offer an opportunity for employees to spend time with the County Manager and the Deputy County Managers. County Manager John Vithoulkas will be hosting his next Town Hall Meeting on October 17th. This Town Hall will not only give you the opportunity to hear from the County Manager about several exciting new projects currently in the works and have the opportunity to ask questions of him and the deputies, it will also give you the chance to experience the spacious and beautiful new Fairfield Library!

The County Manager Town Hall format is informal and you are encouraged to ask these leaders the questions that have been on your mind. This is your chance to get answers directly from our top executives themselves, and also to get to know them personally. This is an opportunity to hear about the important issues and ideas on the minds of our top leaders as well as their vision for how these ideas can blossom and how issues can be addressed. You can also share your ideas for ways you can play an active role in addressing issues and advancing County values.

Date: Thursday, October 17, 2019
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (Sign in begins at 8:00 a.m.)
Location: Fairfield Library, 1401 North Laburnum Avenue, Henrico, VA 23223
Target Audience: Any County Employee

Register early! Space is limited and registrations will be honored on a first-registered, first-served basis.

To register, log in to Oracle, go to Employee Direct Access > Learning, Learner Home > Browse Catalog, Learning Opportunities > Human Resources > Organizational Learning and Talent Development (OLTD) > Specialized Training for General Government > Specialized Training – OLTD (FY19/20) > Select the class Town Hall Mtg with the County Manager & His Team of Deputy County Mgrs (FY19/20)

Contact RED01 or 501-7201 with registration questions, and SLO or 501-7205 with questions about the session.

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Grand Opening Celebration for New Fairfield Area Library

Everyone is invited to the grand opening celebration of the newest jewel in Henrico’s library system, the new Fairfield Area Library!
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 at the library, 1401 N. Laburnum Ave.

Parking will be available at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center and the Henrico Health Department East Clinic. Shuttle service will be provided to the event.

Additional information is available from Henrico County Public Library at https://henricolibrary.org/

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Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment will begin Saturday, October 5 and end Friday, November 1 at 4:30 pm.

Review plan comparisons, rates, benefit details and enrollment instructions on the HR Employee Portal at the start of Open Enrollment October 5th. Consider attending an Open Enrollment Information Session (dates below) to learn more about our plans and speak with benefits staff and some of our vendors.

  • October 10 & 17: Eastern Government Center (3820 Nine Mile Rd.) Multipurpose Room from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • October 21 & 29: Henrico Training Center (7701 East Parham Rd.) from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

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Henrico County’s fall Energy Fair

October is Energy Awareness month!  Henrico County’s fall Energy Fair will be held Friday October 4th from 11AM – 1PM at the Administration Building courtyard. Come learn about current Henrico energy and solar projects, home energy improvements, recycling, electric vehicles, and more.  Find out how to go green, save energy, and save money. 

Soles4Souls will be collecting new or used shoes for donation to those in need.  You can bring shoes for donation to the fair, or to one of the collection sites in the Administration building prior to the fair.  Collection boxes are located near the vending machines on the first and second floors (first floor near Finance and second floor near the entrance to the parking garage). 

The Energy Fair is free and open to the public and will be held rain or shine.  If you have any questions, contact Carrie Webster at 501-5763 or web050@henrico.us. 

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New Year, New Opportunities

Open Enrollment for 2020 Benefits

Open Enrollment will be Saturday, October 5 through Friday, November 1, 2019. This is your chance to enroll or drop benefit coverage, change plans, or add/drop dependents. Changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective on January 1, 2020. Outside of Open Enrollment, changes can only be made within 60 days of a qualifying event.

Review plan comparisons, rates, benefit details and enrollment instructions on the HR Employee Portal at the start of Open Enrollment October 5th. Consider attending an Open Enrollment Information Session (dates below) to learn more about our plans and speak with benefits staff and some of our vendors.

  • October 10 & 17: Eastern Government Center (3820 Nine Mile Rd.) Multipurpose Room from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • October 21 & 29: Henrico Training Center (7701 East Parham Rd.) from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Pierce Insurance, who manages our voluntary benefit offerings, will have benefits counselors onsite during open enrollment to help you enroll in voluntary benefits. And, if you did not meet with a counselor during the initial enrollment period, please do so during open enrollment. A donation of $10 will be made to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for each person who meets with a voluntary benefits counselor to learn more about the Lifetime Benefit Term with Long Term Care plan. Let’s beat our previous donation of $13,300!

What do you need to know?

  1. Anthem will continue to administer our health care benefits. Anthem will be moving to a new claims platform and plan participants will receive new medical insurance cards for 2020. Please make sure you use the new card for services starting January 1, 2020.
  2. There are no changes to the High Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA) plan. The rates have been the same since the plan was introduced in 2015! Attend a session to explore why this may be the right plan for you.
  3. Delta Dental will continue to offer the same plan options for 2020 with a slight change in rates.
  4. MetLife will continue to provide disability coverage with a slight change in rates.
  5. Navia will also continue to provide Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). This year there will be a $50.00 increase to the Health Care FSA, the new limit will be $2,700. The Dependent (Day) Care FSA limit will remain at $5,000.

What do you have to do as an employee?

  1. Re-enroll for Flexible Spending Accounts if you wish to participate in 2020.
  2. Review your current plan and dependents to see if changes need to be made.
  3. Note: Health care, dental and short-term income protection enrollments will rollover for 2020, unless you change them during Open Enrollment.

Now that you have the overview, attend one of the scheduled Open Enrollment sessions to learn more or contact HR Benefits at 501.7371 or HR-Benefits@henrico.us .

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October is National Energy Awareness Month

October is National Energy Awareness month.

Are you energy aware? Take our quiz to find out!

Fact or Fiction: Energy Edition

  1. Turning lights off and back on takes more energy than just keeping them on when leaving a room.
    Answer: Most lights do not use a significant amount of energy to turn on. LED lights are not affected at all by being turned on and off. Fluorescent lights that do require a small surge at start up use less than 15 minutes of electricity while turning on.
  2. Plugged in electronics do not use power as long as they are turned off.
    Answer: Up to 75% of the energy electronics and appliances use can be drawn while they are off but still plugged in.
  3. Setting your thermostat back when you are not home uses less energy than keeping it at a constant temperature.
    Answer: It takes less energy to reheat/cool a room than to maintain a constant temperature. Smart thermostats can help with scheduling setbacks when you plan to be away.
  4. Replacing old inefficient windows with energy efficient windows is the best way to save money.
    Answer: Fiction (usually). It may not always be worth it to replace windows because of their high cost. Window film, outside awnings, sealing leaks, and thermal curtains are good first strategies to improve efficiency for a lower cost, before replacing the windows.
  5. Ceiling fans can make a room feel up to four degrees cooler.
    Answer: Ceiling fans use much less electricity than air conditioning and can help keep you cooler while saving energy. However, note that fans do not actually cool the air down so they are only useful if a room is occupied.
  6. LED light bulbs are not worth the higher price compared to incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs.
    Answer: LED light bulbs last up to 25 times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs and use much less energy (they are 80% efficient while incandescent bulbs are only 10% efficient). The slightly higher cost of LED bulbs will quickly be paid back in savings.
  7. Using the microwave to cook uses less energy than the stove or oven.
    Answer: Microwaves not only use less energy but they also do not heat up the home like ovens and stoves do. Use your microwave or outdoor grill in the summer to keep the house cooler.

You can learn more about energy conservation and efficiency at the 17th annual Henrico County Energy Fair to be held Friday October 4th from 11 AM – 1 PM in the Administration Building Courtyard. Find more details at https://henrico.us/calendar/fall-energy-fair-2019/.

Have any more questions? Contact your county Energy Manager Carrie Webster at 501-5763 or web050@henrico.us.


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Collaboration using Cisco Webex

Cisco Webex is a wonderful technology tool available to our Henrico County users. To promote usage, the Department of Information Technology (IT) held a Cisco Webex Demo Day in September. There was a great turnout which allowed IT to talk to employees across the County about how they can use Webex.

Some of the use cases discussed with attendees included:

  • Henrico County Police: share videos with dispatch or their supervisor;
  • Building Inspections: share video and exchange content from mobile devices with a supervisor or coworker;
  • Information Technology: communicate via video and audio with employees who are having trouble with IT solutions or need help troubleshooting a problem;
  • Human Resources: using Webex to host secure, high quality video and audio interviews for a more personal touch when an applicant cannot be there in person;
  • Training: host Webex training with coworkers, utilizing screen share so attendees can see the training; answer questions real-time by a panelist and record the entire event; share it with others who may have missed the training;
  • Multi-office locations: host weekly meetings between the Western Government Center, Eastern Government Center, Woodman Road, or any other location where workers may be located.


That’s not all! Webex also includes a Personal Room feature. A Personal Room is YOUR own virtual conference space that’s always available. It has its own Personal Room link and video address that you can share with anyone, at any time, for quick, impromptu meetings that are safe and secure.

To create your first Webex meeting, go to https://henrico.webex.com:

  1. Click the blue ‘Sign In’ button located in the upper right of the screen.
  2. Enter your henrico.us log-in credentials and select the blue ‘Sign In’ button again.
  3. Now, click the green ‘Start a Meeting’ button located in the center of your screen.

Your screen will quickly flash signifying that Webex is starting.

  1. The Audio and Video Connection dialog box is how you will connect audio and video (if you have video capabilities) to the Webex meeting. Select options from the dropdown menus and click the green ‘Connect Audio and Video’

Congratulations, you just created a Webex meeting! Next, you will need to invite others to join the meeting with you.

  1. Go to the ‘Participant’ tab and navigate to ‘Copy Meeting Link.’

  2. Open a new email and paste the link into the body of the email to share with everyone you would like to invite. Send it out to your recipients list and wait for them to join. You will see participant names on the left as they join.

Now that you have participants, you can explore some of the other settings across the bottom screen and the dropdown menu across the top. There are many different options to utilize such as sharing content, record meetings, chat, and more.

To end a Webex meeting, click the red circle located at the bottom of the session and you are done. It is that simple.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Webex allows us to bring offices together, educate the employees and public, share information, and improve customer service. The County has even started purchasing Cisco Spark Rooms and other intelligent devices for conference rooms. For Webex possibilities, this is only the beginning.

If you want to learn more ways that Webex can help you, please contact Kenny Mitchell at mit@henrico.us to setup a meeting or check out the Information Technology Training and Adoption site for more information.

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