Charlottesville Breaking News
A typical April in Central Virginia: Tulips are abloom. So are redbuds, cherries, and dogwoods. Grass is a vivid green after the winter's brown, and trees are a paler, spring green as they start to get their leaves. The thing is, that's been happening the past week, and it's still March.
"It's pretty extraordinary," says Peter Hatch, Monticello's director of gardens and grounds. "It's three weeks ahead of schedule, which is unprecedented on my watch. Things are blooming like Scotch broom, tree peonies... things that normally bloom in April."
This area is big on April celebrations of spring. By the time the Dogwood Festival holds its parade April 28, those dogwood blossoms will be long gone. Historic Garden Week runs April 21-28, but the flora that normally blooms in April aren't waiting.
"[W]ith this crazy weather, we’re wondering whether there will be any flowers left by the end of April!," says Holly Maillet, who's working on Albemarle's April 21-22 Keswick-centered Garden Week tour.
With the recent announcement that Charlottesville and Albemarle County are expecting double-digit increases in meals tax revenue for 2013, it looks like our flair for gastronomy is an indicator of economic recovery.
"The tax has been doing much better as the economy has improved," says Charlottesville Commissioner of Revenue Lee Richards, "and we have picked up some new accounts that have really helped." (He just picked up a biggie on March 19 when Cook-Out opened.)
What a difference a few years can make. Back in July 2009, Richard said it was the "worst I've seen it in 35 years," with meal tax revenue falling and restaurant owners struggling to pay their bills.
Richards says the recovery began in 2011 when revenue hit a five-year high of $6.8 million. For 2012, Richards estimates that revenue will be a whopping $7.3 million. For 2013, revenue is expected to be $7.7 million, however, $229,000 of that would be due to a proposed tax due date change from the last day of the month to the 20th of each month.
Richards's tax information came just a few days after Southern Living magazine released the resu...
"They can wait," barks the man directing traffic in the parking lot of Charlottesville's newest fastfoodery as he directs this reporter to pull up and thereby block a vehicle trying to exit. "I've got cars," he explains, "out on the road."
Indeed, in the days since North Carolina-based Cook-Out opened at the former site of Long John Silver's, it's been the rare mealtime when cars didn't block, or at least slow, the traffic on Emmet Street, Charlottesville's central vehicular artery.
Arteries carrying blood may find that they too could get blocked if the staples of Cook-Out– mostly various forms of grilled meats– remain too popular for too long. Still, the quiet launch on Monday, March 19 was a pretty snazzy debut for a site whose over 60 marked parking spaces and room for a snake-line of about a dozen or more cars in the drive-thru lane no longer suffice for the food cooked within.
"Everyone's happy for the Cook-Out," says City planner Read Brodhead, who approved the signage and the red roof. "Cheap burgers and milkshakes."
Indeed, when a reporter made his second visit shortly before 2pm that first Saturday, the act of scooping up four trays worth of burgers, including eight mostly meat-based side-items and a trio of Ch...