Charlottesville Breaking News

Close call: Wrong-way on interstate prompts reckless charge

An evening out with a friend in Crozet ended with a close call for a Charlottesville traveler headed eastbound on I-64 on Saturday night, August 3, after encountering another driver going the wrong way on the interstate.

"I see these headlights coming toward me," says Belmont resident Jenny Mead, who didn't realize what was happening until the other vehicle had passed. 

"Fortunately, it was in the other lane— the passing lane," says Mead, who quickly exited the highway and called 911.

"They told me there had been many calls," she says. Shaken by the close call with a possible high-speed, head-on collision, she attempted for several days to find out the circumstances behind the wrong-way driver.

"I couldn't get any answers," she says.

According to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, the driver of the wrong-way white, 2004 Kia was 84-year-old Albemarle County resident Frances Shisler, who entered the interstate at the Shadwell exit and continued on against the flow of traffic for six miles until she was stopped by police at exit 118.

"I realized as soon as I did it," said Shisler, reached by phone. She said she'd been to the Moose Lodge east of Charlottesville and explained that she continued driving west even as 70-mph traffic rushed toward her because "there was no place to turn around."

"I've been driving since I was 10 years old, and this is my first ticket," said an irate Shisler, noting that no driv...

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Not a fan

Stonefield is a mistake ["On set at Stonefield: They built it, but will people come?" August 15]. Bigger is not better, as wise people have always known, and another shopping center in this community is overkill. It adds nothing to the quality of life. Those of us who protested the Stonefield development were concerned about this issue and others, such as traffic patterns and congestion, soil erosion, water runoff, and losing local merchants and businesses to yet more national chains.

Our first glimpse of the disaster-in-the-making was the clear-cutting of all vegetation and eliminating all trees, especially the large ones. One of the hallmarks of good new development in other parts of the country has been the realization by developers that trees can be saved and will add much to the ambience of new construction. It costs a little more, but it’s worth it. Saving big trees makes a statement. It says the developers care. Trees soften the harsh lines of new buildings and create a pleasant atmosphere where strolling and shopping is encouraged. They add to the cleanliness of the air and help eliminate toxic fumes. This doesn’t happen with concrete pots of little flowers.

Stonefield is ugly, and with the exception of Trader Joe's, is redundant. Most of the stores are vacant. The streets are narrow and hard to navigate. There is inadequate parking. Signage is non-existe...

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Bowing out: At CHS, it's the principal of the thing

Less than two months after he took the top job at Charlottesville High School, new principal Aaron Bissonnette's resignation less than a week before the first day of school has sparked concern and questions.

"I was surprised," says Lisa Drake, who hopes to serve as president of the CHS Parent Teacher Organization this year. She recalls the months-long search last spring that culminated in Bissonnette's hire and says she has no information about the "personal matters" cited by Bissonnette in his August 15 letter to parents— including this reporter— and staff announcing his decision to resign, effective immediately.

"I regret to leave so soon after my arrival, and I appreciate your collective understanding in a time of need for me," Bissonnette wrote. "I will be leaving the school at the close of business today. Perhaps after these matters are taken care of, I will be able to rejoin the Charlottesville City Schools in the future."

In response, the city schools issued only a brief official statement expressing disappointment and wishing Bissonnette "the best as he attends to personal matters." Bissonnette, the statement reads, would be "welcome" back to the division in the future. There would be no further information released about the matter, said new school spokesperson Beth Cheuk in an email accompanying the statement.

So what was behind Bissonnette's decision to leave?

According to Charlottesville School Board Chair Juandiego Wade,...

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Unique view: 'Butler' offers riveting history of race relations

By Richard Roeper

By the time Jane Fonda shows up as Nancy Reagan and we realize that's Alan Rickman beneath the makeup playing Ronald Reagan in Lee Daniels' The Butler, we've been conditioned to expect the unexpected.    

This movie has one of the most astonishing casts of any film I've ever seen – and I mean that mostly in a good way.    

More on all that later. Lee Daniels' The Butler— and we have to use that cumbersome title due to a legal dispute that prevented the studio from calling this The Butler— is a sweeping, often deeply moving look at race relations in 20th-century America as seen through the prism of a man who served in the White House from the Truman administration through the Reagan years.    

Forest Whitaker gives one of the signature performances of his brilliant career as the title character. Playing his wife, Oprah Winfrey deserves award consideration for the rich, nuanced work she does...

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Investing in the future: Albemarle weighs pre-k expansion

Kelly Shifflett tears up when she talks about turning needy families away from Bright Stars, Albemarle County’s preschool program for at-risk youth.

And in recent years, the number of those calls the Bright Stars Program Coordinator has had to make has only increased, rising from 79 children on the waitlist to 86 in the last three years.

“For the families, it’s hard for them to understand why they aren’t accepted,” Shifflett says. “It’s hard to tell these parents who get it that we don’t have room for the child.”

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