The week in review
Biggest bomb scare: A US Airways Express jet makes an emergency landing at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport December 16 after a man who missed the Knoxville flight in Washington allegedly is overheard making a bomb threat. The man's luggage was on board the flight. After a shutting down the airport and surrounding roads for a couple of hours and bringing in the bomb-sniffing dogs, authorities determine no explosives are on board.
Swankiest soiree: Local celebs turn out for the long-awaited opening of the Paramount Theater December 15. Walking the red carpet to see Tony Bennett are Sissy Spacek, John Grisham, Howie Long, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Biggest birthday bash: Governor Mark Warner raises $2 million for his favorite candidates at his 50th celebration.
Biggest payout: State Republicans dig deep to settle the Democrats $750,000 eavesdropping lawsuit. The Republican National Committee ponies up $200K, the campaigns of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and U.S. Senator John Warner throw in $125,000 each, and Senator George Allen contributes $100,000.
Best rebirth: The Oxford American, that quirky journal of Southern culture once published from Mississippi and rescued by John Grisham until last year, emerges from financial ruin as a quarterly based in Conway, Arkansas.
Best detail from that deal: It won't be called the Conway American.
Best burn: The Albemarle Fire Department torches a Christmas tree at its Live Burn Training Facility December 16 to demonstrate Christmas fire hazards.
Greenest roof: The Albemarle County Office Building is getting the latest in sod roofs to reduce storm water runoff and improve interior heating and cooling, thanks to a $23,450 matching grant from the state and feds. The roof will be planted in September 2005.
Fourth-hottest year: 2004, according to the World Meteorological Association
Best boost for UVA's charter plan: The higher ed Council of Presidents backs more autonomy for all public colleges in Virginia, and the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce throws in its support of charter status for UVA.
Worst UVA-area trend: Mugging. A man grabs a woman's purse in the Amtrak parking lot around 8:20pm December 15. And another purse snatching is attempted December 13 at 13th and Wertland Avenue, again with a male suspect.
Latest addition to the college application procedure: Criminal background checks are now required for applicants to the 16 University of North Carolina campuses, following the murders of two female students at UNC-Wilmington earlier this year.
Worst fishing spots: The James River from Lynchburg down to Richmond, the Staunton River, and Smith Mountain Lake are included in a state warning of PCB contamination in fish. Gizzard shad, carp, American eel, flathead catfish and quillback carpsuckers should not be consumed more than twice a month, advises the Virginia Department of Health.
Best mutt: Toby, a stray border-collie mix born without eyes and adopted through the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, wins top-dog status in the Great American Mutt Contest December 16.
Best publicity: Toby gets a mention in the New York Social Diary, as does the local SPCA's "Toby Fund," which aims to raise $300K.
Best Santa for local police: The DMV distributes $22,000 to Albemarle and $15,000 to Charlottesville in federal transportation safety funds.
Best lights: Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II, who's donated big bucks to UVA's new arena that's named for his dad, treats holiday revelers to a light and music show of "epic proportions at his Newportesque mansion" on the Greenwich, Connecticut, waterfront, reports the Advocate. The display costs several hundred thousand dollars, and features 36,000 lights.
Best coronation: Lucky Supremo is crowned the new Miss Club 216 December 17.