4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Latest disaster waiting in the wings: Local officials paint a dire picture of an upcoming flu pandemic at a December 12 press briefing, urging citizens to lay in two weeks' worth of water and extra flashlight batteries, among other emergency supplies.

Best pot-farming defense: Gary W. Peck, 51, a Scottsville resident who was arrested in July in Albemarle's largest (and most crowded) bust– 4,000 marijuana plants in a 10 x 10-foot space– intends to use a medical marijuana defense for his sick wife, says lawyer Lloyd Snook, according to a WINA report.

Hardest-hit scenic trails: Parts of Skyline Drive remain closed after a November 22 ice storm wreaks havoc on the road with trees and limbs, the DP reports. The Appalachian Trail also remains impassable because of downed trees.

Worst UVA loss: Former chief operating officer and financial visionary Ray C. Hunt, 75, dies December 12. 

Worst week for professors emeritus: Besides Hunt at UVA, VCU loses history prof Alden G. Bigelow, who also dies December 12.

Latest personal data breach: In the past month, a class spreadsheet with 62 UVA students' names and Social Security numbers is emailed to the entire class, and three laptops are stolen, one of which is believed to have personal student information from last year, Aaron Kessler reports in the Daily Progress.

Most wired: UVA makes PC Magazine's "Top 20 Wired Colleges," coming in at number 20.   

Worst vandalism: Walker Upper Elementary is spray-painted, the school reports December 11, and two classrooms are ransacked.

Worst teacher butt slap: Chesterfield art teacher Stephen Murmer is suspended five days with pay for his out-of-class butt-prints, which he creates by pressing his paint-covered buttocks and genitals on canvas, according to the AP. Murmer has contacted the ACLU.

Latest Albemarle K-9 collar: "Magic" takes down Antwan Lamar Carter, 25, who leads police in a four-jurisdiction chase early December 13 that begins and ends at Friendship Court. Carter is slowed by a "tire deflating device" spread across I-64 that also deflates the tires of a couple of Fluvanna Sheriff's vehicles. Carter is taken to UVA Medical Center to be treated for dog bites.

Most effective complainers: After beaucoup ballyhoo over the potential closure of their local VDOT maintenance facility, Free Union residents get their wish when state officials tell reporters they'll keep it open, Jeremy Borden reports in the DP. It's one of only three facilities the state had removed from the original list of 90 closures.

Biggest change in state geographical nomenclature: On December 14, state and local officials from southwestern Virginia announce their region is no longer "Southside," but rather "Southern Virginia." The change will be reflected in the 2007 Virginia Travel Guide.

 Costliest branding strategy: The Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau spends 22 months and $65,000 to hatch the slogan "Pursue Charlottesville" and a new Rotunda/Monticello-esque logo, unveiled to the media on December 14.

Costliest police oversight: After Charlottesville police captain Chip Harding raises the issue in October, the state police confirm to Rob Seal of the Progress that samples from 60,000 convicted Virginia felons are missing from the state DNA databank.

Biggest loss for fans of Everybody Loves Raymond: Peter Boyle, the longtime character actor best known for portraying the monster in Young Frankenstein and curmudgeonly Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, dies December 12.