The week in review
Lamest legislature: The Virginia General Assembly extends its session without resolving the $2.4 billion budget gap between the Senate and the House of Delegates– and then the House decides to take a break March 21.
Worst arson: The apartment of single-mother Carmen Iris Hillegan is destroyed March 18. Benjamin Lopez Rivera is charged with arson and breaking and entering.
Best interview with a fugitive: Arson suspect Rivera chats by cell phone with award-winning Daily Progress reporter Reed Williams March 22, and vows to elude authorities until he can prove his innocence.
Longest sentence: Vernon Lydell Buggs, a deaf man who stabbed a deaf acquaintance, gets 18 years in prison March 18. Judge Edward Hogshire adds two years to the maximum recommended time because of the brutality of the attack, reports award-winning Liesel Nowak in the Progress.
Worst hangover from the September 27 Wake Forest game: Greene County planning director Nick Hahn is sentenced to 60 days in jail for running over a police officer and leaving the scene after drinking a pint of whiskey at the game. The officer, Michael A. Howard, is suing Hahn for $850,000, according to a Nowak article.
Worst warnings: Three Charlottesville schools– Johnson, Jackson-Via, and Clark- land on a federal watch list under the No Child Left Behind Act, enabling parents to transfer their children to other city schools this fall even though Johnson and Jackson-Via are accredited by the state. Julie Stavitski has the story in the Progress.
Worst hospitality: During an attack on Luis Avila, a guest at a September 20, 2003, party at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, member Joshua Weatherbee allegedly said, "You should go back to Mexico," and "You should be washing my dishes," according to a $300,000 lawsuit filed by Avila, a fourth year commerce student. Weatherbee pleaded guilty to assault and battery in December, the Cavalier Daily reports.
Best place to look up: Developer Keith Woodard proposes a 7-10 story building on the site of four storefronts beside the Wachovia Tower on the Downtown Mall.
Biggest sigh of relief for Buckeyes: Ohio sniper suspect Charles A. McCoy Jr., wanted in two dozen shootings, is captured in Las Vegas March 17.
Worst antidepressant side effect: Suicide. The Food and Drug Administration calls for warning labels March 22 on 10 drugs, including the popular Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil.
Biggest media transaction: Blake DeMaso of Summit Publishing buys Blue Ridge Outdoors from Portico Publications, and plans to distribute the outdoors sports mag in the Atlanta area.
Biggest spud drop: 40,000 pounds of potatoes are delivered to Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church March 19 and bagged for local hunger relief agencies.
Best news for low-income, wannabe first-time homebuyers: Piedmont Housing Authority is offering help with mortgages to families of four earning less than $38,220 or singles making less than $26,760.
Best recusal: Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney James Camblos steps down as special prosecutor in the 1982 murder of Rebecca Lynn Williams, for which Earl Washington Jr. was nearly executed. Eighteen years ago, Camblos represented Kenneth Tinsley, whose DNA was found at the scene.
Most historic: The Virginia Department of Historic Resources designates the Town of Stanardsville a historic district.
Worst resume addition: UVA students Conner Hyland Ginley and Heather Lynn Horn are arrested on the grounds of Monticello early March 21 and charged with felony breaking and entering.
Best firewalkers: Vice Mayor Meredith Richards ponies up $81 to walk on fire, and the Daily Progress' award-winning David Maurer also strolls on coals, he reports March 13.