Conrad Won't Run For Council Again 

Street Talk

Conrad Won't Run For Council AgainKaine Kids Will Attend Granddad's SchoolGranite on Grove Does Disappearing ActRiver Researchers Out and About During DroughtConrad Won't Run For Council Again

After City Councilman John Conrad decided not to seek a fourth term on City Council, he did something a little unusual: He handed out refunds to his campaign contributors.

Conrad received more contributions than he needed in his 1998 campaign against local animal-rights activist Jean Bridgforth, and since he wasn't running again, he sent refund checks totaling $9,975 to more than 100 of his contributors.

"I did the unlikely thing in politics of giving them their money back," Conrad says. "Most of them had never gotten money back from a politician before. A lot of them were astonished."

As for his choice not to run in the May 2000 election, Conrad says, "I never intended to serve more than a six-year term. ... I feel like I've done what my friends and I could do to help and now it's time for someone else to do it. ... We need new blood."

Conrad, a former vice-mayor first elected in 1994, represents the First District, which includes neighborhoods west of the Boulevard and the high-dollar homes and mansions in Windsor Farms and along Cary Street Road.

Conrad's post-Council life could include a run for higher office, he says. "Running for statewide office is something I intend to explore," he says. "I haven't made any decision with regard to any particular office at this point. [But] I want to be clear. The fact that I intend to explore a statewide office has nothing to do with my decision not to run for Council."

Some local politicos have been saying they think Conrad might seek the Republican nomination for state attorney general in 2001. Lt. Gov. John Hager, widely considered to be the leading Republican candidate for governor in the next election, says he's heard the same rumor, but adds "I haven't had any serious conversations with John."

Apparently some candidates are already lining up to run for Conrad's Council seat. Those said to be interested include local prosecutor Manoli Loupassi, former School Board candidate Charles Price, and retired city employee Charles Peters.

Price refused comment, and Peters could not be reached, but Loupassi, special counsel to the Richmond Metropolitan Multijurisdictional Grand Jury, confirms he's mulling it over.

"I am considering it but I haven't made a decision," says Loupassi. "John has done a wonderful job representing the First District, and obviously whoever the citizens decide upon would have huge shoes to fill." For the record, Conrad wears a 10«.

— Richard Foster

Kaine Kids Will Attend Granddad's School

When North Side's new Linwood Holton Elementary School opens Sept. 7, at least three students will know who the school's namesake is. After all, he's their grandfather.

Mayor Tim Kaine's three children, Nat, 9, Woody, 7, and Annella, 4, will all be attending the school named after Kaine's father-in-law, former Gov. Linwood Holton.

Nat and Woody, who is named after his grandfather, have transferred from William Fox Model Elementary to attend the new school. "The combination of having a brand-new school named after their grandfather two blocks from our house makes it real attractive," says Kaine, who adds that leaving Fox is "bittersweet" for his kids because they enjoyed the school so much.

Nat and Woody are entering the fourth and second grades respectively, and Annella is starting the Pre-K program. Kaine is married to Anne Holton, a judge in the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Gov. Holton, who lives in Kilmarnock, will visit the new school for an opening ceremony, probably in October. "That will be a real goosebump occasion for our family," Kaine says. Introducing his father-in-law at the new school opening, he says, will be "a real emotional high point" in his term as mayor.

— R.F.

Granite on Grove Does Disappearing Act

Talk about lickety-split. That's how quickly Chef Brian Enroughty and his partners Anne Devoe and David Williamson moved into the former Granite on Grove restaurant at Grove and Granite avenues.

The eclectic and upscale restaurant on "The Avenues" closed its doors unexpectedly Aug. 14 and vanished almost without a trace.

Enroughty, who crosses the river from Chesterfield's Bottega at Bellgrade, says he heard through the grapevine that Granite On Grove's owners, Toby Brown and David Harmon, were open to offers. "We approached them and the transition took less than a month," says Enroughty.

A new name has been slated for the restaurant — Nuvo Bistro — but for now all else is top secret.

Don't expect the same menu or the posh interior when it opens for dinner in October. "We want it to be a surprise to the public," says Enroughty. "Now it looks like a chic sushi bar from California, and we want it to be warmer and more colorful."

And don't expect a steep bill. Unlike the pricey Granite on Grove, where dinner for two often exceeded $60, Enroughty plans to keep dinner for two in the $25-$30 price range.

"It's going to be totally different," says Enroughty. "We hope that when people come into the restaurant they won't even remember Granite on Grove."

— Brandon Walters

River Researchers Out and About During Drought

Temperatures and tempers rise. Lawns wither and die. And homeowners say you can take their hoses and sprinklers when you pry them out of their cold, dead hands.

But believe it or not, some people love the drought.

And who are these obviously addled souls?

As the James River and other state rivers dip to their lowest levels in recent memory, river archaeologists and researchers have been taking advantage of the dry weather to get a close look at features not normally visible.

"For people interested in what humans have done out on the rivers, it's a great time," says Bill Trout, past president of the Virginia Canals and Navigation Society and the American Canal Society. "For us, it would be great if the drought continues, but I wouldn't put that on anyone else."

Trout has been part of a team studying historic sites on the 400-mile Roanoke River system during the drought. He found steamboat channels in Brookneal, dams and sluices for bateaux near Halifax, and half of a sunken bateau in Campbell County.

Here in Richmond, archaeologist Lyle Browning has been mapping historic features visible in the James. Much of what can be seen are holes drilled in the rocks for fishing nets and other fishing contraptions, many made during Colonial times. Some hooks for the nets are still present in the rock, too.

Other items he has found include the first power dams for factories on Brown's Island built in the early 1900s, and a pre-1780s-era bateau sluice created by blasting the river rocks with gunpowder.

— R.F.

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