Charlottesville Breaking News

Andale! Tasty Mex take-out in Belmont Market

Since last fall, there's been a hole-in-the-wall (literally!) Mexican take-out joint in the back of the Belmont Market that's been serving up spicy fish tacos, burritos, and veggie delights almost completely under the radar. That's by design, according to owner Saras Pruitt, who chose to keep a low profile while she smoothed out the kinks with her little eatery called Andale!

A Charlottesville native who spent her early years in the Yogaville community of Buckingham County, Pruitt says she wanted to do something like this for years, so she walked away from her job as an insurance broker to make and sell the food she has always liked making at home.

"So far, it's just been word of mouth," says Pruitt of her advertising efforts. "And it's going pretty well."

In about a month or so, she says she plans to take her one-woman show from Monticello Avenue to the Downtown Mall with a mobile cart, and while it's currently cash only inside her Belmont Market location, she'll soon accept credit cards. Right now, hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30am to 4pm.

In addition to beef, shrimp, and fish, Pruitt says she has vegetarian options as well, like BBQ tofu.

"I love this kind of food," she says.

After we had a tasting or two, we can say it shows.

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Excuses, excuses: Still fair to call farmers environmentalists?

By Michael Akey

“Farmers are the original environmentalists.”

That’s the phrase I heard several times during a recent state legislature committee hearing on a bill that would limit when farmers could apply manure and other fertilizers on croplands. Now, common sense would dictate that plants don’t take up nutrients when plants are not growing, and science tells us that during the winter these nutrients either seep into the water table or run off into the Chesapeake Bay.

Every possible excuse was heard as to why farmers just cannot be asked to limit the application of manure on their fields:

• “Other states pollute more; why should we be responsible?”
• “Fencing out livestock from streams is expensive.”
• “Poultry manure isn’t a waste product; it’s a benefit.”

It seems that farmers just do not want to take responsibility for the waste and manure produced on their farms. But are these excuses really valid?

As a farmer in Maryland, I understand the costs involved in starting a farm from scratch. I also understand the challenges involved in farming in a traditional way, where the animals can graze and the manure is utilized responsibly. While it was Maryland's Natural Resources Conservation Service office that helped get us on our feet, the lessons I’ve learned apply throughout the mid-Atlantic.

What about the cost for fencing animals out of our streams,...

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Texas tragedy: Missing toddler found dead near home

Update Saturday, March 31:

"It is with extremely heavy hearts that we have to report that little Devon Davis’ body was located Saturday in a lake near his home," reads the message from Texas Equusearch. "Please keep Devon’s families and friends in your prayers during their time of grief."

And so the tragic life of a little boy from Earlysville, Virginia, ends near his new home in Texas. According to a news source quoting the Sheriff’s spokesman for Liberty County, the death “appears accidental.”

News sources indicate that the grim discovery was made after a volunteer launched a camera-equipped, radio-controlled airplane that captured images of red– like the red of the shirt the missing boy was wearing– in the corner of a pond. The body was recovered around 1:50pm.

Update Friday, March 30, 2012:

April Davis, the mother of missing two-year-old Devon Davis, spoke to reporters and pleaded for her son's return on Friday morning, March 30 outside the Liberty County, Texas home where she, her husband Michael Davis, and their two children had been staying since relocating from Earlysville last week.


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Refenestration: Old Cola-Cola plant invites the light

For the first time in decades, natural light will flow into the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Preston Avenue, as the new owner has ordered a tear-out of the brick panels that have darkened the former industrial site.

"It's kind of a demonstration project," says the building's owner, Martin D. Chapman, explaining that workers will replace the six front windows to show the state's Department of Historic Resources that it's serious about reviving the 1939 art-deco structure.

Chapman– who paid $2.5 million for the nearly two-acre site a year ago after Coca-Cola moved its bottling operation to Richmond– reveals that he plans to renovate the historic building as the headquarters for his company, Indoor Biotechnologies Inc. Currently located on industry-heavy Harris Street, his firm provides an array of environmental allergen products and tests.

Moving to Preston means not only a higher profile for Chapman's company, but he also plans to build an incubator space for smaller bio-tech firms as well as creating a new event/office facility inspired by Open Space, a collaborative workspace that opened near the downtown Atlantic Coast Athletic Club in 2009.

"We're moving ahead," says Chapman, who hopes his CityCampus Biotechnology Center will have over 30,000 square feet of space under roof by June 2013, "if the stars align."

Chapman says the...

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Innocent kid? Davis clemency petition inches toward governor

While Michael Hash recently was freed after a judge's ruling of police and prosecutorial misconduct, another Central Virginian controversially convicted as a teen remains in prison, waiting for his clemency petition to reach the governor.

Nine months after a special prosecutor was appointed to look into his case, 27-year-old Robert Davis still languishes behind bars, passing a grim ninth anniversary for a brutal murder he says he didn't commit. Since last year's media attention, his claim of innocence has been bolstered by a legal clinic at Northwestern University Law School, which considers the Davis conviction a textbook case of false confession.

"We have seen the videotape and the transcript," says Laura Nirider, co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth. "To all of us, it stands out as one of the most intense police interrogations we've ever seen."...

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