Drink up, Richmond. The water's fine … 

Street Talk

Drink Up, Richmond: Clean Water ReportedLocal Teens Putt For Show, DoughStudy: Local Latinos Better Off Than MostThis Woman's an IronmanHenrico Supervisor Wins National Magazine AwardDrink Up, Richmond: Clean Water Reported

While bacteria outbreaks and contamination scares have some North Americans boiling mad, local water officials say Richmond-area aqua is as clean and healthy as it looks.

Richmond and Henrico County public water met all federal and state requirements in 1999, according to recently completed, but as yet unreleased water quality reports. The annual reports state the levels of water contaminants were within acceptable levels.

Hanover County water also meets the regulatory mark, but one contaminant in the water from its Garthright well in the southeastern end of the county exceeded acceptable levels in 1999. The well was closed July 1 and the county is evaluating a fix.

Richmond gets water from the James River. Henrico buys water from Richmond but will begin treating its own in January 2003, says Frank Miller, acting director of public utilities for the county. Water will be piped six miles from the James to a treatment plant being built at Three Chopt and Gaskins roads.

Hanover and Chesterfield counties also buy some of their water from Richmond. A Chesterfield spokesman says its water quality report should be done later this month.

Area water customers should receive their respective reports later this year; Richmond's Department of Public Utilities will mail its in July, says spokesman Anne Paschke. In the meantime, you can check your locality's Web site for advance information: Henrico County's report already is online, at www.co.henrico.va.us/utility/wquality.htm.
Rob Morano

Local Teens Putt For Show, Dough

A lot of people don't know that this level of it exists," says Midlothian High School rising junior Philip Wagoner. "If you tell them you're a professional putter, they look at you like you're crazy."

Crazy like a fox, maybe.

Wagoner, 16, and fellow Richmond teens Steven Jones, Paul Lowery, David Sharp, Amy Summey and Mandy Taylor out-putted a Ypsilanti, Mich., team for $4,000 in college scholarships at the Junior Putters of America Championship broadcast last week on ESPN.

The tournament itself was held Sept. 22 in Orlando. ESPN taped it for a series of Putt-Putt Golf-sponsored shows airing on the cable sports network this summer.

The 1999 win was the Richmond team's second national title in three years. Wagoner and Jones also were on the team that beat Ypsilanti in the 1997 tournament held at the Putt-Putt course on Midlothian Turnpike.

Putt-Putt manager Kevin Garrett, coordinator of the Junior Putters league here and captain of the Richmond team, says the league season starts this month and is open to 9-to-15-year-olds. He encourages both boys and girls to come out: "The girls can be as good as the guys."

But bring your best stroke, says Putt-Putt Golf spokesman Sherry Abizaid. "We're not hit-the-ball-through-the-clown's-mouth [miniature golf]," she says. "We really are a sport of skill akin to pool."
— R.M.

Study: Local Latinos Better Off Than Most

Two local sociology professors say Hispanics in Richmond and other mid-sized cities are better off than those in larger Latino communities.

Now the professors want to find out why.

University of Richmond Associate Professor Keo Cavalcanti and Mary Washington College Assistant Professor Debra Schleef say studying the success of Latinos in places such as Richmond could offer clues to improving Hispanic education and income levels elsewhere. "What's working here that could work there?" Schleef asks.

Demographers project that Hispanics will be the nation's largest minority group by 2005. And as the growth in Richmond's Hispanic community continues to outpace the national average, such clues also could continue their success here.

The professors studied 100 metro areas with populations from 500,000 to 2 million. (The Richmond metro area population the professors studied was about 900,000.) They found that Hispanics in such communities have higher levels of education and income than those in the nation as a whole, and much higher than those in bigger cities.

Cavalcanti and Schleef also found that while Hispanics made up only 1.1 percent of the Richmond-area population in 1990, compared to 9 percent nationally, in 1997 Hispanics made up 1.5 percent of the population here and 11 percent nationally. That means while the numbers of Hispanics in Richmond are still small percentage-wise, their rate of growth here (36 percent from 1990 to 1997) was higher than in the nation as a whole (23 percent).

The professors say their study will be published in a sociology journal later this year. But what's bringing Hispanics to Richmond, and why are they doing better here than in cities with larger Latino communities, such as Miami and New York?

That's what Cavalcanti and Schleef want to focus on next. For now, they can only guess, because they're having trouble getting the $30,000 to $50,000 in grant funds needed to conduct individual interviews with Richmond-area Hispanics. Cavalcanti says some UR and Mary Washington students have volunteered to interview local Hispanics for free, but the study would go much faster with a big grant.
— R.M.

This Woman's an Ironman

tart by swimming the James River from the Nickel Bridge to Belle Island, then hop on your bike and take a trip to Charlottesville and back. And hey, why not top it all off with a run from the Fan to Goochland county and back? That's approximately how 26-year old Courtney Page spent May 20 at the Ironman California race in Camp Pendelton.

Arguably one of the most intense triathlons, the Ironman competition requires that participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a full-length marathon (26.2 miles), in succession.

A year and a half ago, Page saw a friend and 1,499 other athletes compete in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, and as she watched, she realized, "This is just ordinary people doing something extraordinary." So she got inspired to try it herself.

Page, who works at the creative marketing agency Play, has been running track since she was 12. As she considered her decision to register for Ironman, she felt comfortable with her biking ability and was intrigued by the challenge of learning how to swim competitively. She trained for a little under five months.

As she began the race, Page knew that she was trained to endure the distance, but she was nervous about the outdoor elements — things she couldn't control. The elements took their toll right off the bat, as Page developed hypothermia swimming in 50-something-degree water. Staff and trainers rubbed her down until her body reached a temperature at which she could continue the rest of the grueling event. Surprisingly, completing the race didn't give Page the feeling of athletic accomplishment one might expect. Page says it was actually a bike ride from Richmond to the top of Wintergreen which gave her the biggest sense of accomplishment. And, she adds, the support she received from family and friends, including a welcome-back mural made for her by neighborhood children, "was more awesome than crossing the finish line."
— J.B. Shelleby

Henrico Supervisor Wins National Magazine Award

Pat O'Bannon has gotten a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

The Henrico County supervisor is among 10 women in government to be honored by the magazine for their efforts to improve the lives of others, says Editor-in-Chief Ellen Levine.

O'Bannon's domestic violence initiative earned her one of the third-annual "Awards for Women in Government." She and nine other winners from local, state and federal agencies will be profiled in the July issue of Good Housekeeping, due out next week, and will be honored at a luncheon June 21 in Washington.

O'Bannon says she's thrilled and thanks members of the county's Domestic Violence Team she initiated, which includes representatives from public, private and nonprofit agencies involved in the issue. O'Bannon adds the Henrico County Police have been critical in fighting domestic violence.

There were 1,149 domestic assault arrests in the county last year, up from 812 in 1997. Henrico Police Maj. Jim Fox says the increase is the result of better community policing, statistical reporting and victim cooperation, and not necessarily indicative of more violence in the county.

O'Bannon says she will donate her $2,500 prize and $2,500 of her own money to the program. In addition to increasing awareness and enforcement, she says, the effort has included providing safehouses for battered spouses.

The county's first safehouse, sponsored by Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital, opened earlier this year, and the second, sponsored by Henrico Doctors' Hospital and the YWCA, will open next month, O'Bannon says.
— R.M.


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