The week in review
Worst rumor: That something will happen at Albemarle High on the Mayan Doomsday December 21– one week after the horrific massacre of first graders in Newtown, Connecticut. Albemarle police investigate and say they have found no basis for the allegations.
Worst home-invasion idea: To go to a house where the occupants know you, as was the case December 17 in Nelson. Two mask-wearing men entered an Arrington house, and when the resident pulled off one of the masks, he recognized David Lin Pankey, who is wanted on 13 felony counts, WINA reports.
Worst fire: Four people, including a nine-year-old boy, die December 21 in a mobile home fire near Churchville in Augusta County, the News Virginian reports. Charles E. Stokes Jr., 40, Sharon E. Stokes, 47, their son, Matthew J. Stokes, 9, and grandmother Wilda J. Stokes are killed in the blaze.
Latest missing teen: Eddie Leon Smith Jr., 17, ran away from home November 22, and has been spotted in Charlottesville and Staunton since then. (He is not related to Deshad "Sage" Smith, who also remains missing at presstime.)
Biggest spike: Gun sales in Virginia the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre jump 42 percent from the same date a year ago, with 4,166 requests for background checks, the highest single-day tally since the program began in 1989, the AP reports.
Biggest decline: Attendance at Virginia's more than 100 historic homes, including Monticello, which fell from 671,000 in bicentennial 1976 to 440,000 in 2011. The Washington Post notes that the nonprofit that owned Robert E. Lee's boyhood home in Alexandria couldn't afford to maintain it and sold it 12 years ago to former UVA vice rector Mark Kington, and also mentions the decline of Carter's Grove under Internet entrepreneur Halsey Minor.
Least supportive: Two local legislators– Republican Delegate Steve Landes and Dem House Minority Leader David Toscano– say they will not vote to confirm the appointment of Rector Helen Dragas at a UVA legislative forum December 19. Ted Strong has the story in the Progress.
Less adamant: Delegate Rob Bell says he doesn't want to make any "snap judgments" about the Dragas-driven episode, and State Senator Bryce Reeves says he doesn't yet know all the facts and circumstances about the summertime debacle.
Biggest lobbyist: Despite a petition opposing her reappointment, Dragas meets with five top lawmakers on the Privileges and Elections committee in the General Assembly, the Virginian-Pilot reports.
Most improved: UVA moves to the number two spot on Kiplinger's 100 best values in public colleges, up from number three. University of North Carolina remains number one on the list, a position it has held since the analysis started in 1998.
Most elusive: Remington Scott McConnell, 20, is sentenced to six months in jail for fleeing police in July 2010, the DP reports. According to cops, he was clocked going 67mph in a 45mph, engaged in an over-100mph chase on Avon Street Extended, crashed his BMW, ran, and was arrested at his home.
Most crashes: During the snow, ice, and rain December 26, the Virginia State Police tallied 686 crashes between 12:01am and 2pm, according to a release.
Worst trip: Joshua John McGahan, 32, is sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for having almost 24 grams of liquid LSD in his car, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. New Hampshirian McGahan was on his way to Florida in April when he was pulled for driving 77mph in a 55mph zone on I-95 in Chesterfield County.
Newest gubernatorial candidate: White House gate-crasher Tareeq Salahi makes the rounds of local television and radio stations December 19 explaining why he should get the Republican nomination for governor over AG Ken Cuccinelli.
Earliest? Stung by a warm December, Wintergreen parlays a two-day jump on its planned December 26 opening as a Christmas Eve surprise with skiers hitting the slopes on the 24th, NBC29 reports.
Most ungodly: The Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason puts up four billboards in Roanoke that read, "Don't believe in God? Join the club," one of which is almost immediately vandalized and the word "don't" blacked out.