The week in review

Better state budget news: The General Assembly only runs one day over before both houses agree on a two-year $78 billion budget February 27, which increases spending for public education and health care for the first time since the economic downturn began, according to the Washington Post.

Most surprising outcome from the legislature: Republicans finally pass a bill that requires abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals.

Least surprising: Spice, a so-called synthetic marijuana, becomes outlawed, and another bill makes it easier for people dating to get restraining orders against abusive partners.

Best news for government workers: State employees get a five percent raise–- although they also have to contribute five percent to their retirement plan. Albemarle employees could get a one percent increase, their first in three years, if the Board of Supervisors says okay.

Priciest undergrad degree: UVA's Board of Visitors decides to hike tuition $3,000 for students in the McIntire School of Commerce because it's so costly to hire top guns from the business world to teach.

Cheaper undergrad degree (and by implication, future earnings?): Religious studies, according to the UVA release on the McIntire increase.

Windiest: Strong winds February 25 leave nearly 15,000 Central Virginians in the dark.

Worst commute: A southbound vehicle on U.S. 29 near Forest Lakes rear ends another one, sends a driver to the hospital, and backs up the morning commute heading south, WCAV reports. To the west that same morning, a multi-vehicle accident on I-64 on Afton Mountain near the VDOT workers memorial kills at least one, grinds eastbound traffic to a halt, and detours it on U.S. 250. 

Longest arson sentence: A jury sentences convicted Keswick Hall employee-housing torcher Goran Andelic, who was found guilty of igniting the company house in which he lived after Keswick Hall fired him in September 2009, to seven years March 1, the Newsplex reports. 

Biggest opening: The $74 million Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center is dedicated February 26, and the late state senator's sister, Katie Couric, comes to commemorate the event.

Biggest retail opening: Kohl's opens its doors March 9 at Hollymead Town Center, and brings 150 local jobs, according to a release.

Biggest sale: Martha Jefferson puts 26 properties surrounding the soon-to-be-moved Locust Avenue hospital on the block. The main hospital has already sold, and the remaining real estate is bundled into five packages consisting of multiple properties, and six individual properties.

Most ironic: One day after Albemarle police's February 22 truck safety checkpoint on U.S. 29 at Fashion Square Mall, a truck breakdown on 29 south at G.E. Fanuc stalls morning commute traffic in both directions.

Latest insult to injured HoJo's on Afton Mountain: Charlottesvillian Gregory D. Parker, 42, of Old Brooke Road is charged with stealing stainless steel appliances from the old Howard Johnson's and selling them for scrap metal in Stuarts Draft, according to the News Leader. Parker is charged with three counts of breaking and entering, three counts of grand larceny, and two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

Latest Hall of Famer: Former UVA basketball star Ralph Sampson is among eight greats selected for induction in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame for his role in making the Cavs national champions between 1979 and 1981, Jerry Ratcliffe reports in the DP.

Scariest neighbor: Katrina Turner's pitbull-owning neighbor off Fifth Street Extended was ordered to build a six-foot fence six months ago after the dogs jumped the fence twice and attacked Turner's dog, she tells the Newsplex. The fence is still not up, and Turner worries the dogs will attack her son, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair.

Most likely to strike fear in the hearts of Albemarle school kids: The School Board considers starting school two weeks earlier.