The week in review

Costliest hurricane– ever: Category 5 Katrina leaves a 500-mile swath of devastation in her wake across the Gulf Coast August 29. At press time, the death toll was rising, as were floodwaters in the Big Easy.

Worst first week of school: Five reported racial incidents– epithets shouted and slurs scrawled– mar UVA students' return to classes.

Worst first day of school: Ten-year-old Emily Nicole Woodward is run over and killed trying to catch her school bus August 24 in Culpeper. And a car strikes police Officer Roscoe Barnes at her August 28 funeral, leaving him in critical condition.

Best free ride: AccessUVA, UVA's financial aid program, makes it possible for 199 first years and 33 community college transfer students to graduate from Virginia's flagship university loan-free. Grants cover the in-state $16,500 annual tab and nudge the school toward more socio-economic diversity.

Most women: Thirty-five years after UVA went coed, females make up 56 percent of the Class of 2009.

Biggest block party: Hundreds of students swarm the streets at 14th and Wertland August 20. Police charge six UVA students with obstruction of justice when they refuse to clear the roadway so a rescue squad vehicle responding to an emergency call can get through, the Cavalier Daily reports.

Sloppiest packing of heat: A gun falls out of Richard Anthony Little's pants early August 26 after he tries to crash a Phi Society party, and the fraternity calls the police, according to the Cav Daily.

Most surprising plea bargain: Three days into Darrell Rice's trial for kidnapping Carmelita Shomo, Rice pleads guilty to one count of unlawful wounding and receives a 14-month sentence, for which he won't serve additional time. The man prosecutors suspect is the "Route 29 stalker" is currently serving 11 years for the attempted abduction of a woman in Shenandoah National Park, and is scheduled to be released in 2007.

Strangest bedfellows: The conservative Rutherford Institute and the liberal-leaning ACLU agree that General Assembly candidate Rich Collins' free speech rights were trampled when he was arrested for trespassing May 7 while handing out leaflets in front of Whole Foods, and are representing him in his lawsuit filed August 24 against Shopper's World and its manager, Chuck Lebo.

Worst news for the carless: Funding has been cut for the Job Access and Reverse Commute program, which provided rides for parents trying to get off welfare, John Yellig reports in the DP.

Biggest dilemma: Virginia Beach must condemn 1,800 houses if it wants to keep the Oceana Naval Air Station and its 12,000 jobs.

Better than married to him: Peggy Darlene Ellis, whom a Greene County jury sentences August 26 to 20 years for the second-degree murder of her husband, George Robert "Bobby" Ellis, tells the court she feels better incarcerated at Central Virginia Regional Jail than she did during her abusive marriage, Kate Andrews reports in the Progress.

Biggest flag burning: Boy Scouts torch the controversial American flag that supposedly flew over the Pentagon September 11. Loudoun developer and School Board Chairman John Andrews bought the Stars and Stripes on eBay for $25,000 from David Nicholson, the former Orange auction house owner who earlier tried to sell it for $371,000, but the deal fell through when Facchina Construction Company denied that the flag flew on its crane.

Best recognition for a country star ignored by her hometown while she was alive: A historic marker honoring Patsy Cline will be unveiled September 3 in Winchester.