The week in review
Biggest sticker shock: Albemarle real estate jumps an average 27 percent in the county's latest biennial property assessment.
Biggest budget: Albemarle schools Superintendent Kevin Castner proposes a $127 million budget, $10.7 million over last year's. The increase boosts starting salaries for teachers from $34,000 to nearly $37,000.
Second biggest school budget: Charlottesville Superintendent Scottie Griffin presents a $58 million budget– an increase of more than $2 million– that cuts elementary PE teachers and guidance counselors while adding "coordinators."
Most paralyzed: Two one-inch doses of snow close Albemarle County schools for three days (and counting) at press time.
Best school assignment: UVA's Curry School of Education signs on to help struggling Clark Elementary pass its English SOLs over the next three years. Last year, Clark didn't meet federal No Child Left Behind standards, and 32 students opted to transfer to other city elementaries.
Most damaging fire: Billionaire Edgar Bronfman's Buffalo Hill slaugherhouse/meat processing plant in Madison County burns early January 20.
Most self-destructive fire: Thomas Lee Johnson Jr. is suspected of setting fire to his wife's Covesville house January 22 and then shooting himself in the chest. Johnson is hospitalized and under arrest for three prior felony charges stemming from a January 7 domestic violence incident in which he allegedly assaulted his estranged wife with a clothes iron.
Saddest search: The body of former UVA student and University Transit Service driver Chyler Ebersold is found January 24 off Stadium Drive. Ebersold, a diabetic, had been missing since January 21 and left a note that said, "Tell everyone I'm sorry. Goodbye."
Best memorial: Charlottesville Transit Service offers free rides January 28 in memory of Helen Poore, founding CTS manager. When Poore died a year ago, bus service stopped to allow transit employees to attend her funeral, leaving many CTS-dependent riders stranded.
Hottest seat: UVA basketball coach Pete Gillen, with a 1-5 ACC record. His boss, athletic director Craig Littlepage, on the eve of a $35 million fundraising push to finish the John Paul Jones Arena, says the team "isn't to the point we want to be."
Worst threat to top teen pastimes: The Virginia Senate passes a bill that prohibits those under 18 from dialing while driving.
Less drunk: A 2004 Student Health Survey shows a decrease in alcohol abuse among UVA students.
Most superfluous charge: Staunton couple Gary and Mary Pryor, who face first-degree murder charges in the death of Lisa Hostetter Johnson, allegedly over a drug deal, also are charged with a misdemeanor count for allegedly dumping the victim's body, WVIR reports.
Best spin on greenhouse gases: A research team led by UVA prof William Ruddiman suggests that without global warming, Earth would be well on its way to the next ice age, according to the Quaternary Science Reviews.
Best plug for a purple building: The February issue of Southern Living extols gourmet delights found in the Main Street Market, including at Albemarle Bakery, Feast, Ciboulette, and Gearhart's Fine Chocolates.
Best vegetarian B&B: The White Pig in Schuyler, according to readers of VegNews, and to PETA, which awarded the inn its Proggy award for its "animal friendly achievement." When it first opened in 2002, 4Better voted it "worst name for a vegan bed and breakfast," and is almost abashed to learn from the inn's press release that it's named for rescued miniature pot-bellied pigs.
Best DC draw: George W. Bush's January 20 inauguration attracts thousands of supporters– and protestors– to Washington.