Charlottesville Breaking News

Muzzle time: VA prisons receive life sentence in censorship

Of all the celebrations around town that commemorate the April 13 birthday of third president and Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, perhaps the best– and worst– birthday gift comes from his namesake Center for the Protection of Free Expression, which annually bestows its Muzzle awards for the most egregious violations of free speech.

Sadly, there are always contenders, and Jefferson's hometown is not exempt. Both the Cavalier Daily and Albemarle High have been cited for muzzling free speech in the past.

This year's 21st Muzzle awards bring a blot of shame to Jefferson's home state with a lifetime achievement Muzzle. "The Virginia Department of Corrections is a repeat offender," says Thomas Jefferson Center executive director Josh Wheeler. "Three strikes and you're out."

The DOC also is only the third recipient of a lifetime achievement Muzzle, joining...

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Trunk show: Market Street resident protests spruce felling

There's something about Market Street, something that seems to prompt otherwise law-abiding citizens to embark upon civil disobedience despite the prospect of getting hauled off in handcuffs. Several times over the past five years, it's been resident Louis Schultz, who fought for– and eventually won– the right to let "weeds" grow tall as a riparian buffer. On Tuesday, April 10, Market Street resident Robin Hanes was arrested after refusing to move from the base of a towering spruce that was facing imminent destruction.

"It just hit me; I couldn't handle it," says Hanes of the moment she realized that the tree at the corner of Market Street and 18th– two blocks from her home– would be coming down to make way for the planned construction of two new houses.

"They could build the house 10 feet down the hill," she says, "and leave the tree."

Hanes isn't a garden variety tree-hugger; she sits on the Charlottesville Tree Commission, a City Council-appointed board created in 2010 to advise the city on its urban forest.

While she acknowledges that she has no legal right to make demands of someone else's property, Hanes (who is the significant other of the Hook's "Black&White" photographer Bill Emory, who also sits on the Commissi...

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Belmont vortex: Vision vs. reality in Belmont Bridge debate

 

There's a grass roots community movement calling for the re-design of the east end of the downtown area, creating a "gateway" ("Gait-Way," actually, to emphasize pedestrianism) from Belmont that would dovetail into the Downtown Mall in a less car-centric, more pedestrian-friendly way. There's just one problem: there's a big bridge in the way.

In 2003, the City determined that the circa-1961 Belmont Bridge was “rapidly deteriorating,” due to corrosion of the reinforcing steel in the bridge deck that has been weakening the concrete piers. Since then, countless hours of planning have gone into preparations for the eventual replacement of the bridge, as well as $210,000 in temporary repairs and anoth...

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Ending homelessness: Residents cheer The Crossings

Does Charlottesville have its own "Million Dollar Murray?" A Malcolm Gladwell-penned piece for New Yorker magazine details the seemingly paradoxical ways in which communities save money by providing the chronically homeless with an essentially free place to live, and the grand opening of The Crossings, a 60-unit residential dwelling, marks an effort to do that locally.

"All of us like to have a place to call home," said Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Huja, who was among several officials to address the crowd at the April 10 dedication ceremony after which several residents welcomed reporters into their new homes.

"I'm still getting used to it," says Karen Martin, 50, who became homeless six years ago after losing her job at McDonald's and, subsequently, her home. A triple bypass surgery-spurring heart condition in 2010 may have pushed Martin to the top of the list of incoming homeless residents, who now number 20, with 10 more more slated to arrive. Thirty market-rate efficiencies will also be rented.

"Instead of thinking of mys...

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Charles Martin: Former Albemarle supervisor dies Tuesday

Charles S. Martin, who served three terms on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and was its first African-American chairman, died at home early April 10 from prostate cancer.

Martin, 57, was on the Board of Supervisors from 1992 to 2003, representing the Rivanna District, and was chair from 1999 to 2000. Before that, he sat on the Albemarle School Board. In 2001, he lost a race for the House of Delegates 58th District, a seat still held by Rob Bell.

Martin attended the University of Virginia on a DuPont scholarship, according to his friend, Dave Bruton, and graduated with degrees in sociology and government. He worked as a juvenile probation officer and was an active member of the Democratic Party.

He was a founder of SARA– the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. "He pushed through many things for women," recalls Bruton.

Martin later headed an organization called Urban Vision, which was geared toward getting people off welfare and into the workforce, says Bruton.

He was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer four years ago, says Bruton, who remembers Martin saying, "Dave, prostate cancer is one of the most curable cancers, and I'm dying from it." In a recent Martha Jefferson publication, Martin urged men to get annual physicals including the prostate screening test.

Martin grew up in Patrick County, and will be buried in Martinsv...

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