Jackson Ward Homes Can't Ward Off Bulldozer 

Street Talk

Jackson Ward Homes Can't Ward Off BulldozerDocumentary Crew Films Ashland's Wal-Mart BattleChannel 6 Anchor Leaves After Strange BroadcastFloodwall Architects Will Build Clinton LibraryBandito's Wins Sign Battle — For NowAlumni Mag Photo Causes More Than DoubletakeSoak! Splashes Big With InStyleJackson Ward Homes Can't Ward Off Bulldozer

There's no escaping it.

Like Poe's House of Usher without the tarn, two previously protected historic Jackson Ward homes are falling.

Despite community protests and a $400,000 federal preservation grant, the 1876 French Empire house at 319 E. Clay St. and its Italianate neighbor soon will have a date with a wrecking ball.

"We looked at many different scenarios," says Max Williams of the Historic Jackson Ward Association, the civic group that fought to save the houses by having them relocated to an area outside the scope of future convention center plans.

"The properties would have to be rehabbed and $400,000 is grossly inadequate," says Williams. And nearly $300,000 of the federal "Save America's Treasures" grant money is being used to restore Jackson Ward's Mitchell House — leaving little for the French and Italianate buildings.

Williams says that, as a civic association, his group is financially powerless to contend with the plans of the Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority.

"Our community feels we've been shortchanged," says Williams. "We've lost 30 buildings plus and absolutely see it as a loss, but we just don't have the collective moneys."

Williams says demolition of the two houses by city contractors will be completed by Sept. 7. And, says Williams, efforts are being made to save the bricks for reuse and store the rare ironwork in a city warehouse. But Williams acknowledges there has been some plundering. "Historic components are being salvaged or stolen," Williams says, referring to mantelpieces that civic association members reported as stolen last week. Still, Williams confesses, "We'd rather them be saved than go under a bulldozer."

— Brandon Walters

Documentary Crew Films Ashland's Wal-Mart Battle

If you put up enough pink flamingos, you're bound to attract attention.

A California film crew has been visiting Ashland in recent months for a PBS documentary about how small towns battle Wal-Mart.

They've been filming events such as the town's Fourth of July parade, in which local children carried giant pink flamingos (the symbol of the protest against the proposed Wal-Mart to be built at the corner of U.S. Route 1 and Route 54) while wearing pink T-shirts and singing Joni Mitchell's "Paved Paradise."

The filmmakers heard about Ashland while shooting footage of Wal-Mart protests in Kilmarnock.

They've also been filming interviews with local government leaders in Ashland and following key players, such as one of the leaders in the anti-sprawl and anti-Wal-Mart movement, Mary Leffler, a co-owner of Ashland Coffee and Tea. They're returning for a big protest rally planned for the evening of Sept. 12 at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center.

The documentary should air in fall 2000, Leffler says, but the filmmakers only plan to feature one community in the hour-long show.

"My gut feeling is he's going to pick Ashland because we're so early in the battle," Leffler says, adding, "and the pink flamingo thing doesn't hurt either."

— Richard Foster

Channel 6 Anchor Leaves After Strange Broadcast

WTVR Channel 6 News Anchor Crystal Jackson has left the station after a strange broadcast last week peppered with flubbed lines and miscues.

General Manager Mark Pimentel would say only, "I can tell you she's no longer with the station. ... I can't discuss personnel matters." Jackson had only been employed at the station since June and was Pimentel's first new on-air hire since he took over this year.

On Channel 6's morning broadcast Monday, Aug. 23, Jackson went on the air at 5 a.m. and appeared to have great difficulty reading copy. In a story about the demolition of a building in Carytown, Jackson was supposed to say, "An eyesore where crime once thrived in Carytown is no more. Yesterday, work crews demolished the dilapidated old building as neighbors cheered them on. The rumble of heavy machinery ..."

Instead, Jackson said, "An eyesore where crime once thrived in Caryton, uhh Carytown, is no more. Yesterday, more than crews demolished a decapitated old building as old, the old building, ahh .. queer, queried in its demise. The rubble of a heavy machinery ..."

Later, Jackson mistakenly introduced meteorologist Tracey Lewis as meteorologist Marty Snyder, who was on vacation. Lewis was standing about 10 feet from her at the time and corrected her, saying, "Actually, it's me. It's Tracey."

Jackson also botched a time check, had long pauses while reading copy, and sometimes looked to the wrong camera or looked down for long periods while reading.

At one point, as the camera switched to Lewis for the weather forecast, Jackson continued talking off-camera, saying she was going to donate blood in response to a story about a blood drive for Type O donors. Lewis laughed nervously and glanced off-camera. As the camera switched back to Jackson, the anchor sang out, "I'm in demand!" almost unintelligibly, while moving her body side to side with her hands outstretched.

Still later, after delivering a story about Internet addiction, Jackson mumbled under her breath, barely audibly, "something I guess to take under consideration," and laughed loudly, prompting her co-anchor, Jim Hale, to quickly cut his eyes both ways.

By about 6:10 a.m., Jackson appeared to regain her composure and had no more difficulty reading stories. She could not be reached for comment.

— R.F.

Floodwall Architects Will Build Clinton Library

Fresh on the heels of all the national accolades accompanying the city's crackdown on illegal guns, Richmond has another claim to fame. The same architectural firm that designed the city's floodwall has been chosen for President Clinton's $125 million presidential library and museum in Little Rock.

New York-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the floodwall designers, will work with the Polshek Partnership, also of New York, to design the Clinton library. The two firms teamed up before to build the new Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

No design for the new presidential library has been presented or chosen yet.

Actually, Richmond's canal district has two links to the new presidential library, though, points out James McCarthy Jr., Richmond Riverfront Redevelopment Group's executive director. International Waterfront Group of San Antonio, the same firm that operates our canal boats, is also working on a waterfront redevelopment project in connection with the new Clinton library in Little Rock.

— R.F.

Bandito's Wins Sign Battle — For Now

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray, it might come true — Richmond might never have to hear the word mural again.

With the Lee mural mess barely put to bed, we had to contend with the news that the city was cracking down on murals painted on the sides of local businesses, most done by local artist Ed Trask. At least one business, Hole in the Wall, was forced to alter the murals so they were no longer legally considered a sign. Bandito's Burrito Lounge on the 700 block of West Cary Street, was told by city zoning officials that its mural of a sexy Mexican revolutionary was considered to be a sign and violated size requirements.

The problem with the Bandito's mural was discovered when the restaurant applied for permits to make renovations to its building.

However, Bandito's co-owner Rick Lyons says the city approved his permit last week without any further mention of the mural.

"That means one of two things," he says. "They said, 'Oh, just forget it,' ... or, Did someone not look at the computer screen as well as they should have and just pass it on through?

"I don't care either way."

— R.F.

Alumni Mag Photo Causes More Than Doubletake

In case you missed your summer copy of the St. Christopher's alumni magazine, don't expect to get the real deal from the school's office.

The available copies have a curious omission on page 41. The top half of the page is carefully cut out. What gives?

In the Class Notes section, which features alumni updates and wedding photos, a group photo of a bride and groom, his St. Christopher's chums, and one not-so-sheepish saint appears, or doesn't, depending on the copy.

The tactless prankster, identified as Thomas Leachman of the class of '91, decided to do more than smile for the camera. In a below-the-belt move, the former saint chose to let it all hang out. Literally. Not exactly the kind of stunt expected from the cream-of-the-crop of Richmond's all-boys prep school — where maturity is stressed and chapel is required three times a week. And with the current $11,070 a year tuition, it's not the kind of return on investment most parents have in mind.

In defense of the unknowing alumni magazine editor — anyone could blink and miss it.

Still, the appearance by this uninvited member of the wedding party has aroused attention from those on St. Christopher's mailing list who received the uncut version.

Just what was he thinking? That's the question circulating over office e-mails and phone trees from many who saw the picture.

"I wish to express my sincere apology to individuals whom I have offended. I never intended for my actions to be printed in any publication," he tells Style via e-mail. And mum's the word from St. Christopher's.

Let's hope from now on more than lips will remain buttoned.

— Brandon Walters

Soak! Splashes Big With InStyle

Beauty is only skin deep.

Maybe that's why when some stars come to town, they go to Soak! in Carytown. Veronica Brockwell, the bath and beauty shop's owner, knew her store was onto something when celebs like Jay Mohr — of "Jerry Maguire" and "Go" fame — and Brittany Murphy — who stars as Janis Joplin in the soon-to-be released "A Piece of My Heart" — popped in for the latest body bubbles. Brockwell decided she'd use the notoriety to woo big-league fashion magazines to take notice — and her gift baskets were just the ticket.

Now Soak! is sponging up the spotlight. The store's trademark bath bombs hailed a mention from Southern Living's summertime issue. And last month, Eleni Gage, assistant beauty editor for the hip InStyle magazine, interviewed Brockwell for the magazine's Beauty Black Book section. Soak! will be featured in the December issue which hits newsstands mid-November. "I'm so excited I can hardly stand it," says Brockwell, who claims she no longer gets star struck. But maybe that depends on the star. According to Brockwell, who says she gets referrals from contacts at New Millennium Studios, she still gets goosebumps when certain studs shop for suds. Especially one "True Romance" star now in Richmond for the filming of "The Contender." "I'm waiting right now for Christian Slater," she says excitedly. "They promised me they'd send him over."

— B.W.

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