4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Most heinous crime on a beautiful day: Two sunset-watchers are shot on the Blue Ridge Parkway April 5, and police seek a white male with long gray hair.


Most heinous behavior: Hate mongerers from the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, demonstrate at Virginia Tech on the eve of the three-year anniversary of the 32 mass murders there, with the message that God sent the killer. Shirley Phelps-Roper, leader of the group, which habitually pickets funerals of soldiers or those they believe to be gay, also spews that Morgan Harrington was responsible for her own death, according to a WCAV report.

Most confusing enviro report card: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reports dangerously high concentrations of chlordane in Meadow Creek and Schenk's Branch from samples taken last spring, but this week reports that those pesticide levels are gone, and suggests there may have been an error in the earlier samples, Rachana Dixit reports in the Daily Progress.

Biggest derailment: A CSX coal-carrying train from Clifton Forge derails early April 1, and 26 cars overturn in Nelson County near Norwood. Some coal spills into a James River tributary, according to the Nelson County Times, which quotes a witness who says, "It's quite a mess down there."

Worst fire: A house bursts into flames at 121 West Park Avenue near Barracks Road March 31. No one is home, and the cause of the conflagration that severely damaged the house is under investigation.

Worst backing: The driver of an SUV plows into an apartment at Barracks Road West April 5 in broad daylight.

Latest Albemarle compensation dispute: Six bus drivers sue the Albemarle School Board, claiming they did not receive pay for all the hours worked, including overtime, Henry Graff reports for NBC29. In federal court, Judge Norman Moon allows other drivers to opt-in to the lawsuit, which could reach $1 million in back wages. The county also botched calculations for workers who recently retired and now tells them they won't get as much money as figured in the numbers that enticed workers to retire early.

Least separation of church and state: Charlottesville City Council okays $10,000 to People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry, an organization that provides seasonal shelter for the homeless and that employed Mayor Dave Norris until last year. Council also doles out $25,000 to Foothills Child Advocacy Center, another nonprofit which the city has never funded before this year, in its $140.7 million budget approved April 5. Rachana Dixit has the story in the DP.

Best news for city property owners: City Council keeps the real estate tax rate at $.95 per $100 assessed value.

Newest clerk: Paige Barfield is named to succeed clerk-to-City Council Jeanne Cox , who will retire April 30 after 27 years. Barfield, a 2003 UVA grad, previously worked for recently departed University of Virginia Investment Management Company CEO Chris Brightman.

Latest stolen vehicle to end up in an Albemarle body of water: A dive squad determines that no one is in a submerged vehicle April 4 in the 700-block of Frays Ridge Road that was stolen in Greene County, WINA reports. A few weeks ago, a truck taken from New Mexico is driven into Sugar Hollow Reservoir.

Biggest upcoming speed traps: City Council considers dropping the time-honored 25mph school zone speed limit to 15mph around Clark, Greenbrier, Jackson Via and Venable elementary schools.

Biggest theme disappearance: The 23rd Virginia Film Festival ditches the cute theme format– which gave us "Wet," "Cool," and "Caged"– perhaps sparing us from "Cured" or "Divided we fall" as possible motifs at the November 4-7 event.

Correction April 8: An editing error failed to note that the theme disappearance is from the film fest.