4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review
First photo-red numbers: Albemarle's newly installed cameras at the U.S. 29 and Rio Road intersection capture 998 violations when enforcement begins December 12 through January 7. Of those, 586 photos are tossed out, and 412 drivers will get tickets in the mail for alleged redlight running. No word on the number of those ticketed who actually pay up.
Oldest hit-and-run case: Brandon Lee Fields is indicted by a grand jury January 10 for the 1994 death of 34-year-old John M. Banks. According to the Daily Progress, Virginia State Police reopened the Louisa case in July, and Fields, now 35, turned himself in in September.
Worst babysitter: Shelton Jernail Winston, 21, is arrested after a high-speed chase in Waynesboro January 9 after which police discover three children in the back seat, ages 2, 4, and 6, one of whom is not belted in. The News Virginian reports that Winston originally was pulled because he had red and blue emergency lights on his dashboard. He's charged with felony eluding and child abuse.
Saddest discovery: 27-year-old Courtney T. Chambers dies of unknown causes in her vehicle in the parking lot of Oxford Hill Apartments near Preston Avenue on Monday, January 3.
Biggest free speech case: Western Albemarle alum Aaron Tobey, who stripped off his shirt at the Richmond Airport December 31 to reveal the Fourth Amendment written on his chest, has his disorderly conduct charge dismissed January 10 in Richmond.
Best news for anarchists: The Richmond Police Department abandons its quest to force anarchist Mo Karn to return 600 pages of redacted police files she'd obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and posted on the website www.wingnutrva.org, according to an ACLU release.
Biggest black eye for Richmond on First Amendment issues: See above.
Biggest reprieve: The foreclosure auction of Patricia Kluge and Bill Moses's Vineyard Estates scheduled for January 11 is canceled, but may be rescheduled, according to a trustee's notice.
Best news for homeowners, we guess: Housing prices remain stable, and the bloated housing inventory is down slightly in 2010–- by 5 percent–- but there are fewer home sales than in 2009, according to a Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors report.
Best smoke detector testimonial: A free detector from the Charlottesville Fire Department saves the Wayne Avenue home of 87-year-old Carol Gooch when oil ignites on her stove as she's frying chicken January 9, the Newsplex reports. Fire officials say the detector was sounding an alarm when they arrived at the residence, and there was minimal damage.
Worst rash of stove fires: Smoke is spotted rolling out of a basement apartment on Vine Street January 8 from food left on the stove, and the smoke detector is not working properly. Another January 9 fire on Prospect Avenue also ignites from the stove.
Most impaired streams: Four local waterways–- Meadow Creek, Schenks Branch, Moores Creek, and Lodge Creek are targeted by the Department of Environmental Quality for clean up, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports.
Grimmest infestation: Vultures mass in Staunton neighborhoods, prompting the U.S. Department of Agriculture and city public works to attempt to disperse the carrion eaters with explosives and effigies, the News Virginian reports.
Least flattering portrayal of the Hook's person of the year: A dashcam video of X Prize-winner Oliver Kuttner's arrest for obstruction of justice last fall in Lynchburg shows him refusing to heed an officer's repeated requests to return to his car and captures him remarking, "I am so tired of the dumb people in this town." Appearing in court last week, Kuttner, who called upon the city manager to investigate, apologizes to police officers and admits he was out of line, the News & Advance reports.