4better or worse: The week in review

Biggest sticker shock: Gas prices jump locally by 40 cents a gallon in the past month to an average of $3.41 at press time, according to AAA.

Biggest local employer to cut jobs: Northrop Grumman announces it will eliminate 500 positions, mostly at its Maryland facilities, but some will come from four other locations– including Charlottesville. The local plant employs 785 people and chopped 26 jobs in June in a separate reduction, Bryan McKenzie reports in the Daily Progress.

 Biggest alleged commercial real estate deal: High-tech medical equipment manufacturer MicroAire reportedly is poised to buy the 72,000-square-foot facility once used by the U.S. Postal Service, but neither entity will confirm the deal except to say a contract has been signed, according to the Progress. The building is assessed at $9 million.

Saddest local connection to terrorism in Germany: One of the two U.S. servicemen killed March 2 at Frankfurt International Airport is U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Zachary Ryan Cuddeback, 21,  from Stanardsville.

Grimmest anniversary: It's been 15 years since Alicia Showalter Reynolds, 25, disappeared on her way down U.S. 29 March 2, 1996, to go shopping in Charlottesville. Her body was discovered a couple of months later near Lignum in Culpeper County.

Worst auto accident: Thirty-two-year-old Woodland Anderson IV dies March 1 on I-64 when he's thrown from his Toyota Camry after crossing into the eastbound lane and hitting two cars. Morning commuter traffic is backed up and then diverted onto Route 250 for about three hours.

Worst parking: A woman accidentally hits the accelerator and plows into a seventy-something-year-old man sitting on a bench in front of Levy's at Barracks Road Shopping Center around 4pm March 7. The woman is charged with reckless driving, according to the Newsplex, and the man suffers non life-threatening injuries.

Latest high-speed chase: Ruckersville man Anthony C. McLaughlin, 38, is arrested March 7 on the U.S. 250 bypass at Ivy Road after being clocked at 100mph, according to NBC29. Police use a stinger to blow out McLaughlin's front tires, and he's charged with reckless driving, DUI, driving with a revoked license, and felony eluding.

Best reason to keep car in good working condition: A passenger in a car stopped for defective equipment in Greene County is busted with 14 ounces of crack cocaine March 7. Jermaine Lamont Jones is arrested by Major Randall Snead, a Greene sheriff candidate.

Biggest pothole: The left lane of northbound U.S. 29/250 bypass is closed March 7 between Fontaine Avenue and Ivy Road because of a large hole.

Least surprising shutdown: The Charlottesville Community Design Center, a nonprofit, grant-supported organization– which infamously earned $103K from taxpayers for running a contest– turns off the lights after seven years.

Best news for neighbors/worst news for winery: The Albemarle Planning Commission recommends police enforcement of amplified music that can be heard on adjoining properties over staff recommendations of a decibel standard enforced by county planning. The March 1 vote is prompted by Keswick Vineyards' irate neighbors, including Sissy Spacek, who complain they can hear wedding music blasting from the winery. Charlottesville Tomorrow has the story.

Skeeviest child molester: Kevin Garfield Ricks, 50, a former Manassas teacher convicted of six counts of producing and one count of possession of child pornography March 3 in federal court in Alexandria, began his career of sexually abusing minor boys 30 years ago in Charlottesville at Camp Holiday Trails, according to a release.

Most opposed to separation of church and state: Two hundred students in Giles County walk out of the high school March 7 to protest the removal of the Ten Commmandments there, the DP reports.

Lamest getaway plan: A Woodstock man takes off from UVA Medical Center early March 4 in a Greene County Rescue Squad ambulance that was parked outside the hospital. Jay Tilden Gatliff, 27, is nabbed shortly after on I-64 and charged with grand theft larceny.