Charlottesville Breaking News

Drowning in debt? Water litigator warns of future shocks

Citizens who have seen their water bills triple over the past decade are facing another wave of price hikes and a suddenly-doubled debt load that could cause financial trouble. And they have just lost one of their three reservoirs in the lead-up to what could become a dry summer. These are just a few of the "absurd" things that made lawyer Stanton Braverman mad enough to sue.

In a Monday morning press conference at his home office in the Belmont neighborhood, the 70-year-old Braverman– who goes by "Stan"– blames the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority for wasting a pile of public money and running the risk of losing a century's worth of water assets.

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Mud fun: 2,400 humans, one bull turn out for Mud Warrior

Participants came prepared to leap over flames, scale walls, and wade through mud, but several runners in the first-ever Mud Warrior mud race faced an unexpected obstacle: a charging bull.

"Those people got a great experience no other mud run will offer," laughs the event organizer, Joshua Bare, who notes that the bull– used in rodeos held at the Gordonsville farm that hosted the race– had been corraled far from the course before somehow slipping free on Saturday morning.

Fortunately, Bare says, runners-turned-unwitting-matadors were fleet of foot, and the bull was immediately rounded up by event volunteers and re-secured.

"They came across the finish line laughing so hard," he recalls of the runners. "They said, 'We're fine, but this is the greatest thing of our life.'"

As reported in the Hook's April 5 cover story, Bare had spent the past year– and $80,000– organizing the race when the owner of the site on which he'd planned to hold it backed out in late January. With only two months before the April 14 event, Bare says, Gordonsville-area farm owners David and Sally Lamb offered their 250-acre property, also home to miles of horseback riding trails once used by Christopher Reeve, saving Bare the nightmare of cancelling the race.

"I'd never have been able to pull it off without their help," says Bare, noting that othe...

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Gone global: Hunter and his World Peace game soar

If there were a competition for the most modest man in Charlottesville, teacher and World Peace Game creator John Hunter and local filmmaker Chris Farina would be neck-and-neck for the prize.

"I'm just along for the ride," says Farina, who produced and directed the 2010 film World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements, a documentary about the complex game Hunter developed over his three decades teaching and which has taken the two men on a wild ride around the globe where the film has screened for world leaders and thousands of educators.

"This is all about John," Farina insists. 

"This has nothing to do with me," insists Hunter, who believes the game he created, which puts children in positions of world leaders facing complex problems including famine and war, taps into a common desire most humans share: to find ways to get along even with those who are very different.

"It's something that's in all of us," he says.

Sorry, guys, but someone's going to have to take credit for what's happened over the past two years, since the film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2010 after previewing the previous month in Charlottesville at the Paramount Theater.

In addition to traveling to a half dozen countries since those first screenings, the film– and Hunter as a speaker– have found audiences in some lofty places. H...

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Overcharged? Capitol protesters weigh community service deal

A Richmond prosecutor has dropped the unlawful assembly charge against 30 protesters arrested last month on the steps of the state Capitol and offered a community service deal that would ultimately expunge a trespassing charge for those who were hauled off after objecting to ultrasound legislation.

"It was going to be difficult to prove certain elements in the unlawful assembly charge," says Richmond Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin.

Indeed, Virginia Code defines unlawful assembly as three or more people gathering with the intent to commit "unlawful acts" and "violence" and who provoke "well-grounded fear of serious and immediate breaches of public safety."

"We weren't...

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Growing trend: Zynodoa puts the farm on the table

There's a growing trend, literally, among chefs and restaurant owners to source food from their own gardens and small farms, but few seem to be embracing that idea quite like Zynodoa in Staunton.

Dish had a chance recently to chat with owner Jeff Goode, who founded the restaurant with his wife Susan about five years ago, and to meet and eat the food of their relatively new chef James Harris.

The Goodes own a 50-acre farm in nearby Swoope, where they have two large gardens and raise ducks and hens, which supplies Harris with fresh eggs, potatoes, squash, peppers, tomatoes, and an assortment of herbs and other produce that he uses to create unique farm-to-table cuisine.

"I've lived all over the country," says Harris, who grew up in San Diego and formerly served as kitchen manager at the word-class Inn at Little Washington, "and I'll put Virginia growers before anyone in the country."

The Goodes' farm and gardens represent about 10 percent of the 80 percent of locally-sourced food on the menu, so Harris knows his way around the local farm scene. And he's constantly impressed.

"You can tell they work themselves ragged," Harris says of Virginia growers, "but you can tell they are happy. There's really a special thing going on here."

Ironically, one of the area's most successful farm-to-table rest...

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