News Briefs (1/24)

News Briefs

Local and VCU

Federal money for Hippodrome overhaul would require housing

The city of Richmond has tightened a proposal to use $600,000 in public funds to revitalize two landmarks in Jackson Ward.

Under the new agreement, the city would provide a mix of city and federal funds – not just city funds – to help a developer convert the Hippodrome Theater and adjoining Taylor Mansion into a live-music and entertainment venue, with a restaurant, retail space and 31 apartments. The buildings on North Second Street – once the center of African-American nightlife and entertainment in segregated Richmond – would reopen in 2011 as The Hipp.

The theater would be operated by the Bensusan Corp., which established the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, according to Richmond City Council.

After initially proposing $600,000 in city funds, Mayor Dwight C. Jones is now offering $281,000 in an economic-development grant from the city, plus $319,000 from its share of federal HOME funds, which are used to create housing for low-income residents. The $12 million development would require 11 oneand two-bedroom units to be affordable for lowand moderate-income families for 20 years.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Series of ‘community conversations’ to be held in Richmond

A series of “community conversations” will be held to discuss ways Richmond should integrate its history into its future. Three programs, part of The Future of Richmond’s Past sessions, have been scheduled, and others are planned to reach all areas of the metropolitan area.

The first will be held Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at New Bridge Baptist Church, 5807 Nine Mile Road.

Others are planned Feb. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education in the Lake Chapel building, 3401 Brook Road, and Feb. 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. at The East End Family Resource Center, 2504 Jefferson Ave.

Also, guided walks of Richmond’s Slave Trail will be offered on Saturdays in February. The walks, led by James River Park Manager Ralph White, will be scheduled for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., based on demand.

The walks cost $5 and are sponsored by the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Register in advance by calling (804) 646-8911.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

McDonnell set to outline cuts

Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected early next week to suggest cuts to offset millions of dollars in new spending for job creation and economic-development incentives that he outlined in his first address to the legislature.

McDonnell’s team also could begin as early as next week to share with the Senate and House money committees his more comprehensive strategies for erasing the state’s $4.2 billion budget shortfall, according to administration sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they don’t want to upstage the governor.

The administration is expected to present detailed information across state government. From there, McDonnell’s staff will work with budget negotiators from both chambers to find areas of agreement.

Brief by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

National and International

Coast Guard: Oil spill in Texas waterway contained

The Coast Guard said a crude oil spill in a southeast Texas port had been contained to a two-mile area and was not believed to have hurt any local wildlife.

It was unclear exactly how much oil spilled into the water when an 800-foot tanker collided with a towing vessel pushing two barges near Port Arthur on Saturday, but the Coast Guard said it could be as much as 450,000 gallons. The Coast Guard said the crash left a 15-by-8-foot hole in the tanker and damaged one of its oil tanks, resulting in the spill.

No one was injured, but the Port of Port Arthur was closed and some nearby residents were evacuated for about seven hours. The cause of collision was still under investigation.

Brief by The Associated Press

Biden: US to appeal dismissal of Blackwater case

The United States will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday.

Biden’s announcement after a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani shows just how diplomatically sensitive the incident remains nearly three years later. A lawyer for one guard, noting that word of the intended appeal came in Iraq, accused the Obama administration of political expediency and said the United States was pursuing an innocent man, rather than justice.

Blackwater security contractors were guarding U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

Brief by The Associated Press

Bin Laden claims airline bomb attempt on Christmas

Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas in a new audio message released Sunday threatening more attacks on the United States.

However, a senior U.S. intelligence official in Washington said there is “no evidence whatsoever” that the al-Qaida leader had any involvement in the plot or even knew about it in advance. So the message indicates bin Laden may want to appear in direct command of the terror group’s affiliates around the world at a time when some analysts have suggested he is mostly a figurehead.

The Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab told federal agents shortly afterward that he had been trained and given the explosives by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an al-Qaida-inspired offshoot in bin Laden’s ancestral homeland of Yemen.

Brief by The Associated Press

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