December 25, 2002 News & Features » Cover Story


Pushed and Pulled 

How we scored in 2002

January +5

The year starts off white, with 8 inches of snow.

For two law-enforcement notables, there are new starts, as well — outside of the city. Police Chief Jerry Oliver says he is leaving for Detroit. Federal prosecutor Jim Comey leaves Richmond for Manhattan.

There is shuffling elsewhere. Gov. Mark Warner takes over from Gov. Jim Gilmore. The Richmond and Goochland school superintendents, and the president of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College announce that they are stepping down.

Money moves. The Richmond International Airport lands $2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for security improvements. The University of Richmond gets a $5 million donation. And some people question Sheriff Michelle Mitchell's expenditures with profits from the jail store.

In music news, Richmond band Carbon Leaf wins a national contest and gets to play on the American Music Awards.

February -2

With her Bow-Thai Chicken, Mille Meehan wins $10,000 in the Pillsbury Quick & Easy Bake-off Cooking Contest. Not to be outdone, Binford Middle School Assistant Principal Robert Johnson wins $1 million in the lottery.

We brace ourselves after hearing cloudy financial news. Richmond property owners learn that the city's tax assessments are going to increase sharply. Gov. Mark Warner starts easing us into the budget cuts that are coming.

So what better time to break ground for the Stony Point Fashion Park? Or for City Council to tack $1 onto ticket prices at Richmond Coliseum events?

At the Chuck Wagon Bar & Grill in Oregon Hill, some customers stand up against a masked, armed robber. One of the customers gets shot in the groin. The robber finds out you don't mess with the Chuck Wagon Bar & Grill, but he gets away.

In a season of Valentines, it is announced that our city has more residents with gonorrhea than any other city in the U.S. Richmond is also named one of the top cities for singles. We endure many clever jokes linking the two rankings.

March -2

What's this? Dirty politics? Edmund A. Matricardi III, the GOP's executive director, comes under investigation. Police try to learn whether he broke the law by listening in on a conference call among Democrats. Thus, an eavesdropping scandal. Time to follow the PIN codes.

A judge sets aside the conviction of Beverly Monroe. Local philanthropists Bill and Alice Goodwin donate $25 million to the Massey Cancer Center.

There is basketball action, too. The University of Richmond makes it to the NIT quarterfinals, but loses to Syracuse. On the other side of town, Virginia Commonwealth University's basketball coach quits. The university turns to Jeff Capel III, who at 27 becomes the school's youngest basketball coach.

It's springtime, and Barry Manilow visits.

April -1

It is not Confederate History Month, because Gov. Warner decided against declaring it so. But the Sons of Confederate Veterans learn from a judge that they can now display the Rebel flag on special license plates.

Meanwhile, the Times-Dispatch comes under fire from many readers for the headline, "Blacks Win Top Oscars." The newspaper expresses regret.

The city's public-school system loses out when Gov. Warner and his wife, Lisa Collis, decide to send their two daughters to the private St. Catherine's School.

After losing their season opener for six years straight, the Richmond Braves win against the Durham Bulls.

May +4

Getting down to business with the city's plans to revitalize downtown, developers and economic officials propose an authority to sell nearly $80 million worth of bonds. This will help pay for projects and improvements around the new convention center.

Richmond gets props from a state environmental agency for reducing the raw sewage that works its way into the James during rainstorms. This news is balanced by a Sierra Club finding that in 2000, Chesterfield County released more toxic chemicals into the air and water than any other locality in the state.

The Pocahontas Parkway is opened — at least half of it. The $324 million toll road with the dizzying, sweeping overpasses links I-295 with the Chippenham Parkway.

Those Gold City Showgirls are at it again. The strip club plans to go to court over a new Henrico County ordinance that bans lap dances.

June +2

Virginia's speaker of the House, S. Vance Wilkins, resigns after it is learned that he privately settled a sexual harassment complaint against him at his company. The GOP deals with the fallout.

The race between the two big-time malls heats up. Short Pump Town Center says it can open on Sept. 4, 2003, beating Stony Point by two weeks.

The last of the Richmond employees of Arthur Anderson, besieged by corporate scandal, close the company's local office.

In Henrico County, a fox bites a 78-year-old woman five times. The woman, who was working in her garden, must undergo rabies shots.

July 0

It's a big month for city government.

City Manager Calvin Jamison welcomes Lt. Col. Andre Parker as the city's new police chief. But some City Council members wonder whether the city first needs to create a safety director, who would then be free to hire a new chief. So the welcome doesn't go over as well as Jamison had hoped.

Deborah Jewell-Sherman, an inside candidate, is named the new Richmond Schools superintendent. She signs a three-year contract.

Never far from hot topics, former Gov. Doug Wilder revives a push for the city to have a popularly elected mayor.

If the drought weren't enough, there's West Nile virus to deal with. The city starts hunting for dead birds after tests find several positive with the virus.

A deal to redevelop Brown's Island falls through after City Council decides against $5.9 million in incentives to the developer. The vote would have been different had one City Councilman not been on vacation.

August +1

Richmond gets a dose of the Catholic priest scandal hitting communities elsewhere. Two priests in the Richmond diocese are forced to step aside while the church investigates allegations of sexual misconduct.

A local man recovers after coming down with West Nile.

Regal Ridge Cinemas decides to close after 32 years.

Leroy Rountree Hassell becomes the first black chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. He is elected by his fellow justices.

The region starts to realize how serious the drought is. Wells run dry across Richmond. But there is rain before the month is over — a small relief.

September 0

Tight economy? For the state, maybe. But not for the Richmond SPCA, which manages to successfully complete a $14.2 million fund-raising campaign. The organization gets national coverage for opening the state-of-the-art, $7.2 million humane center for dogs and cats.

City Council saves the Brown's Island development deal, deciding to offer the developers $4.6 million in incentives and $12 million in tax breaks. The island is slated to include space for commercial, residential and entertainment use.

Not surprisingly — but at least officially — Motorola announces, after a seven-year delay, that it is not building a $3 billion semiconductor plant here after all.

We mark the one-year anniversary of 9-11.

October +5

VCU research professor John B. Fenn, 85, is celebrated for winning a share of the Nobel Prize in chemistry. His pioneering efforts secure his legacy.

Fear from the sniper shootings in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., trickle down to Richmond. Schools close. Events are canceled. Guardian Angels arrive to pump gas. The sniper calls a priest in Ashland. Then police arrest two men at Parham and Broad, who are later cleared. Finally, there is relief after police find and arrest two men who are found with a gun that is tied to the shootings.

November +1

Virginia learns it will be the first state to try the two sniper suspects.

City Councilwoman Reva Trammell loses her seat in the elections. She is the only incumbent who will not return to office. The new council shows its support for City Manager Calvin Jamison, giving him a raise and increasing his benefits.

Hurting from layoffs, the DMV tries to get a handle on long lines, closed offices and reduced service hours. Just like the old days.

Led by Jim Ukrop, a group of Richmonders helps launch a campaign to raise $105 million to create the Virginia Performing Arts Complex downtown.

Finally, after more favorable weather, the state eases water restrictions.

December +6

John W. Snow, chairman of CSX Corp., becomes President Bush's choice to take over as Treasury secretary.

Gov. Warner meets with business leaders from across the state to present his economic-development plan. He has a tight 2003 ahead.

TheatreVirginia puts on its last show, after announcing that the 47-year-old theater is too financially strapped to stay open.

There is a first fall of snow. And at the end of a tough year, Richmond embraces the holiday season.


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