4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Best news for minimum wagers: UVA raises its wage to $9.75 an hour in December, and Albemarle County plans to boot its pay from the current $8.84 for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, based on the same scale UVA uses. Charlottesville's pay is $9.72 an hour.

Worst news for minimum wagers: The median home price for the area as of September 30 was $249,450, according to Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. 

Most blighted: The Charlottesville Planning Commission declares a vacant house at 610 Ridge Street "blighted," paving the way for the city to forcibly buy the property and then sell it, John Yellig reports in the DP.

Most contaminated: The Virginia Department of Health issues an advisory that fish from the Maury and James Rivers have levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that exceed the VDH's "level of concern" and recommends no more than two fish fries a month– except for flathead catfish greater than 32 inches caught in the lower James, which should not be eaten at all.  

Worst flashback to 9/11: A single engine plane flown by Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle and a flight instructor slams into the 30th-31st floors of an upper East Side apartment building October 11.

Most vexing question: Why would 25-year-old Mark J. Robinson, who's been charged with six felony counts in the bomb threats that closed every school in Culpeper October 5, allegedly pull a stunt usually done by exam-unprepared school kids? 

Most substandard: About half of the medium-sized, non-mountainous streams in the Rivanna River Basin fail to meet the state's aquatic life standard, according to a StreamWatch study.

Least surprising: The higher the population density, the more a stream is degraded.

Most satisfied: Albemarle County residents, according to a county survey, who are happy with county services– except for growth management, public transportation, and recycling.

Best marketing plan: Alltel sponsors a contest for UVA students to have a football game named after them by submitting a 50-word or less essay on "Why I Deserve My Own Game" by October 21. 

Second-best marketing strategy: The Virginia Interfaith Center has released a study guide for John Grisham's new nonfiction book, The Innocent Man, to spark discussion among book clubs about capital punishment. 

Biggest award: Burnley-Moran Elementary Principal Daphne Keiser is one of two Virginia educators to receive a $25,000 Milken Family Foundation award that she can spend however she likes.

Best sign some folks have too much time on their hands: Die-hard Cav fans are gathering signatures from property owners on Seminole Trail in hopes of changing the road's name from that of the Florida State mascot to something more Cavalier Wayish.

Best sign the NCAA has too much time on its hands: William & Mary will drop the green and gold feathers in its Tribe logo after receiving a warning from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to lose the feathers or lose opportunities for post-season play, WINA reports. 

Best news for Dems: UVA pundit/prof Larry Sabato predicts Democrats could gain control of the House of Representatives by winning 221 to 225 seats, with 218 needed for a majority.

Worst time to find parking: October 19, when UVA plays UNC at Scott Stadium– and Disney on Ice plays the John Paul Jones Arena.

Best "who knew?" The November/December issue of Tennis magazine names Charlottesville to its top-six list of Best Places to Retire and Play.

Best press release: "UVA Researchers Seek to Unlock Broccoli's Cancer Fighting Secret" ends with researcher Janet Cross admitting, "The real irony is that I can't stand broccoli."