Highlighting Henrico’s Lesser-Known History

Note from the Editor: In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to highlight a way our employees have created to raise awareness and educate others about the lesser-known history of Henrico County, including our rich Black History. We encourage everyone to learn and recognize the enormous cultural contributions and civil rights achievements of African Americans. You can visit your local library to peruse a Black History Month-themed display in February and find related reading and research material year-round at HCPL in print and online. You may also join in with Recreation & Parks’ Black History Month programming across the county, and it’s all free!

Henrico County is well-known for its history. Whether it’s the founding of the County in 1611 or its numerous battlefields from the American Civil War, Henrico’s history is all around us. Unfortunately, the history of Henrico County’s previously underrepresented communities may not be as well-known. The Recreation & Parks Division of History, Heritage & Natural Resources is working to change that daily. During the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, the History team sought a new way to connect with audiences who needed an outlet from the daily news of positive COVID cases. The solution was to create a Henrico History Progress newsletter along with a history Facebook page to safely engage the public from the comforts of their own homes.

The Facebook page began by posting information about Henrico County’s history. Dates, anniversaries, and commemorative events were highlighted when those dates arose each year. But as simple a format as Facebook can be, it spurned into some complex research and deep diving into amazing topics. For example, a post about the R.F.& P. Park in Glen Allen and how it came to be, became a newsletter article and a YouTube video about the history of the R.F.& P. railroad, which grew into more information about the Pullman Porters who worked the trains! Our history team also understands that history can be a weighty topic at times, so the newsletters also contain a bit of levity for readers of all ages. 

The Down on the Farm entry tells stories from the point of view of the animals from Meadow Farm. There have been entries from the cows, pigs, turkeys, and, of course, the sheep! They are as much spectators of history as we are.

Over the past three years, the history team has released seven newsletter editions. Still, one thing remains the same through them: the team remains committed to sharing the facts (and sometimes gossip) of lesser-known Henrico History. The team has recently been working very closely with the community of Bungalow City to record oral histories and scan photos and documents. Where is Bungalow City, you ask? Bungalow City is a tight-knit community of Eastern Henrico off Nine Mile Road. It was created as an alternative to the racially exclusive Highland Springs, and stories of great strength and resilience come out of this small community. 

Famed Civil Rights photographer Louis H. Draper grew up in this small community. His work features celebrities like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and Jackie Kennedy. Still, his passion was showing everyday people in everyday moments. The team’s work with Bungalow City will be featured in an upcoming newsletter and translated into historical markers and access to archival content about the neighborhood.  

The newsletter and the Facebook page have been great resources to inform and engage the public in the History team’s programming. Whether it is lectures, children’s programs, scavenger hunts, tours, or history-focused presentations, our history team has something for everyone. Also, the team is always looking for more subject matter to cover. At times, topics arise naturally, but often they are brought to the forefront by a need from the community or their respective board members.

In addition to our programs and historic signage program, henrico.us/history/landmarks/, the County owns and operates six National Register Properties and four landmarks of early 20th-century history. Some are easily accessed or have regular visiting hours, while others are open by appointment. To inquire about a tour, please email [email protected].

 With support from leadership, coworkers, and peers, the work of the History Division is possible. We invite everyone to participate in our programs, tour our properties, and engage with us in the virtual world by following us on Facebook and signing up for our digital newsletter. Access past editions at henrico.us/rec/history/.


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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Leading the Organization Capability

The constantly accelerating changes in the workplace have demanded we find innovative ways to get work done. Henrico County has answered the call by developing the Capability Model to help our employees meet this challenge. You can learn more about the capabilities on our resource page or by viewing our Henrico Capability Model videos.

To provide more explanation about the capabilities, the County Connection features a series of articles, each focusing on a specific capability. This article is about Leading the Organization.

Effective organizational leadership is critical to ensuring the County meets our increasingly diverse community’s current and future needs. It can be accomplished at every level by examining current practices and considering how the methods can be improved to accommodate increased and changing service demands. 

The capability model describes Leading the Organization in four ways:

Organizational Awareness: Understands the components and culture of the organization and predicts how events and situations will affect individuals or groups within it.

Innovation: Implements creative ideas and processes to add value to the organization.

Agility: Quickly adapts to changes impacting the County in ways that benefit organizational goals and objectives.

Cultural Awareness: Recognizes, understands, and appreciates similarities and differences among various cultural groups.

Here are some examples of ways to effectively lead the organization:

  • Reviewing the “State of the County” address to learn more about the organization’s goals and priorities
  • Discussing the organization’s mission and leadership philosophy as a team and identifying specific goals you want to achieve on your work team, division, or department; Communicating the plans you come up with to everyone affected.
  • Placing the welfare of others and the organization over your interests
  • Making decisions based on the organization’s goals and priorities- When making decisions regarding work issues, ask yourself, “What’s best for the organization?”
  • Asking for and being open to ideas from colleagues and customers regarding changes to services and working with your team to implement those changes
  • Finding ways to streamline current processes to get work done more efficiently
  • Staying open, alert, and up to date on events that could impact the organization and/or your work team (such as the COVID pandemic) and working with your colleagues to develop innovative ways to provide services and get work done.
  • Participating in strategic planning meetings with your team to clarify future goals and priorities and develop an action plan to meet those goals
  • Communicating upcoming changes as much and as often as possible to help your team through the change
  • Proactively educating yourself on diverse cultures through:
  • Attending classes on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Interacting with fellow employees and/or County residents to learn more about their cultures
  • Watching DEI videos on the OLTD YouTube channeland reviewing cultural resources on the DEI Resource page 
  • Getting involved in events that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion

Skilled organizational leadership inspires people to use their talents to fulfill the organization’s mission and goals through encouraging ideas, problem-solving, and innovation; promoting inclusion; overcoming setbacks; and creating an environment where everyone can grow. 

To find more examples of the Leading the Organization capability, view these videos on our OLTD YouTube channel:

How To Be an Agile Leader

Dealing with Change and Transitions

Managing Workplace Change

How to Lead Your Team Through Change

Vision to Performance: The Work of Leadership

Who We Are: Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 video series

Voices of the Heart video series


For more information on the Capabilities, view our Henrico Capability Model videos on our OLTD YouTube page or visit our resource page

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County Shelter Procedures: What to Do If You Are on The Road in an Emergency

Knowing what to do and where to go during an emergency is one of the basics of emergency preparedness. This is usually straightforward in an office setting, and knowing your evacuation routes, assembly areas, and sheltering locations is a great start. But what if your job involves fieldwork and you spend some or most of your day driving from one place to the next?  

Fires, other man-made disasters, natural disasters, and severe weather are all very real possibilities in Henrico County. Severe weather of some type is almost guaranteed during certain times of the year. However, planning for such emergencies can be difficult, especially for employees who work in the field. 

In this case, communication is vital. 

Always speak with your supervisor to ensure you know and understand emergency notification procedures. For groups using vehicles or handheld radios, that is usually the best and fastest way to communicate emergency information to an entire group. Also, for employees who don’t carry a radio but use a work mobile phone, group messaging can notify larger groups of employees at one time. Either way, make sure you know the procedures in your group.

Once the emergency information is sent out, what’s next? In some situations, the emergency may be restricted to a particular part of the county. For example, a tornado watch may be in effect for the entire county, but often a tornado warning (when a tornado is either physically seen or shows up on radar) might be only for a portion of the county. Employees working in Varina don’t usually need to shelter for a tornado warning in Short Pump. In these situations, listening to local news broadcasts can sometimes give specific information on the affected area. Summer thunderstorms often affect more extensive parts of the county. For mobile employees with outdoor duties, it’s usually best to seek shelter in your vehicle until you get an idea of the storm’s extent and direction. For supervisors, it’s sometimes best to bring these groups back to the shop or their central location for a while.  

What about a significant event – like a tornado – that often gives little to no warning and can bring devastating damage? The first priority would be finding a nearby sturdy building where you can shelter in a basement or on the ground floor, away from doors and windows. Unfortunately, finding an appropriate location during an emergency can be difficult or near impossible. 

Below are recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

  • If you are outdoors, find safe shelter right away.
  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safe in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

If no building is available, there is no single recommendation for how to protect yourself best. However, new research shows that larger, more stable vehicles can often be an acceptable “last resort” during weather emergencies. If you must shelter in your vehicle, always keep your seatbelt fastened, avoid bridges and overpasses, and protect your head and neck. 

If no vehicle is available, find a low-lying area like a ditch (as long as there is no flooding expected), lay down on your stomach, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. If one is available, protect yourself with a heavy jacket, blanket, or other similar items.

Because there are numerous county facilities, you may be near one and not even know it. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the location of fire stations, libraries, and county offices. While there is no formal procedure for seeking shelter in a county facility, in an actual emergency, you may need to. Regardless of the location, make sure not to block emergency vehicles or disrupt essential services.  

As with any safety issue, communication is vital. Before going out for the day, ensure you’re familiar with your group’s communication methods. Keep your eyes open for potential shelter locations where you frequently work. And if you are forced to shelter, let a supervisor know as soon as it is safe to do so.   

If you’re looking for additional information on severe weather and sheltering, check out FEMA.gov, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, or the National Weather Service websites.

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BE THE BEAT & ROCK YOUR RED to support American Heart Month 2023

February is American Heart Month, and there are many ways for you to Go Red and help raise awareness for heart health. Friday, February 3 is National Wear Red Day, and you can BE THE BEAT by wearing red, sharing at least one healthy habit you’re prioritizing – it could be sleep, stress management, physical activity, nutrition, or whatever works best for you – and encourage others to do the same. Together we can help others we know to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by building healthy habits.

Get your work squad together, rally your team, and GO RED together:

  • Wear Red! Encourage your office team to wear their favorite red outfits on Friday, February 3 – National Wear Red Day.
  • Make an office playlist. Share a song that gets you moving or helps to manage stress.
  • Get up and move throughout the day. A simple stretch break or a workout class at the office will help reduce stress and is a great way to bond as a team.
  • Hold a healthy eating challenge. Challenge your office to commit to healthy eating during American Heart Month.
  • Share how you are supporting your cardiovascular health this month. Listen to what others are doing. Please encourage them to keep going and celebrate the wins!
  • Learn more about cardiac arrest, stroke, and CPR.

Let us know how what healthy habit you are prioritizing. If you aren’t sure where to begin on your better health journey, reach out to the Division of Fitness and Wellness and consider health coaching or fitness classes.

Employee Health Services (EHS) also offers blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, and counseling for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol management. Call 804-501-1600 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

Show us your red! Please email any photos of you and your teams wearing your red to Christy Nealey for a chance to be featured on social media or in the next County Connection!

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