Charlottesville Breaking News

The week in review

Best street theater: The 17 Occupy Charlottesville protesters arrested December 1 for trespassing in Lee Park are found guilty in court January 27. Veronica Fitzhugh, who was charged with indecent exposure when she took off her clothes, shows up at General District Court wearing an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs, and black-face makeup to protest the high number of African Americans in prison. She's found not guilty of indecent exposure. 

Best sign housing prices haven't recovered: Charlottesville reports a 3.08 percent decline in residential assessments and an 0.84 percent drop in existing commercial values.

Biggest blow to zoning: The Virginia Supreme Court rules January 13 that planning commissions don't have the authority to grant waivers in a case brought by Albemarle resident Kent Sinclair, who sued Cingular and the county over a waiver granted for a 103-foot cell tower adjacent to his property, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports.

Biggest investment: gets a $3.1 million capital influx from Battery Ventures, an investment firm out of Massacusetts. Bryan McKenzie has the story in the Progress.

Biggest UVA critic: The Price is Right host Bob Barker writes UVA president Teresa Sullivan asking the university to stop using cats to train med students to insert breathing tubes in infants, Ted S...

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Bus-ted: Transit policy blocks Harrington ad

As Charlotte Ding drove behind a public bus in Rochester, New York, an advertisement on the back of the vehicle pleading for help with an unsolved murder grabbed the former Charlottesville resident's attention– and sparked a brainstorm.

"I thought it would be a great way to draw attention to the Morgan Harrington case in Charlottesville," says Ding, who relocated to New York last year but still volunteers for the Harrington family's nonprofit ad campaign Help Save the Next Girl. Excited at the prospect of raising awareness about the mystery around the second anniversary of the discovery of Morgan's remains on January 26, Ding contacted Charlottesville Area Transit in late January ready to make a bus-side ad purchase. She didn't get far.

"I was told the ad wouldn't be accepted," says Ding, noting that the charity had been prepared to pay full price– about $250 per ad per month. "I couldn't believe it," says Ding. "Why wouldn't they want the money?"

"We only accept ads from commercial businesses," explains Transit marketing director Kristen Gleason, who says the no-nonprofit ad policy has been in place for years, prior to her 2008 assumption of that position....

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Vigil held for St. Maarten Café

In what may be the first evening vigil for a Charlottesville restaurant, a small group gathered outside St. Maarten Café on the Corner to pay their respects January 31. As the Dish reported a day earlier, the restaurant has closed after 26 years, leaving many long-time patrons nostalgic. Marianne Votaw, who helped organize the vigil, even painted a picture for the event. Others left flowers, cards, and letters near the doorway. Hey, the Newsplex even showed up. Film at eleven!

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Bloody Sunday? Repeal of hunting ban thrills-- and chills

When Karen Wood was shot to death in her own backyard in 1988 while wearing white mittens, some suggested the Maine woman's death was her own fault. After all, those mittens might resemble a deer's tail, and she had stepped outside during hunting season without wearing blaze orange.

As later dramatized in Carolyn Chute's novel The Merry Men, hunting symbolizes the clash of culture between traditional ways and land swarmed by wealthier newcomers who prefer cameras, binoculars, and mountain-bikes over scopes, powerful rifles, and deer stands.

That clash has been muted in the new debate about Sunday hunting, with state government officially acknowledging one key factor: money.

Hunting on Sunday has long been banned in Virginia, a relic of so-called blue laws, which kept the Sabbath day safe for the worship of deities, not bucks and gobblers. And while hunters have long wanted that forbidden fruit, bills to repeal the ban would always die like a bullet-riddled animal.

This year, however, the wind is blowing the hunters' way. With the hunting and fishing license sales that sustain it dropping, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries endo...

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After 26 years, St. Maarten Café closes

News about the sudden closing of St. Maarten Café on the Corner, the place with the Buffett vibe (Jimmy, not Warren) long before Cheeseburger in Paradise, spread like wildfire on social media websites.

"I was totally overloaded," says Lisa Roland, wife of owner Jim Roland, after a reporter called January 30 to verify the news. "My computer is going crazy, my phone is ringing. But, yes, St. Maarten Café is closed."

A Friends of St. Maarten Café Facebook group immediately grabbed 200 members– over 350 by 6pm on the day this news was reported at– and some of those commenting describe bursting into tears at hearing the news. Long-time patron Marianne Votaw, who says she first started visiting the restaurant in 1985, the year it opened, says she plans to organize a vigil outside the building on Tuesday night.

"Are you kidding me?" Roland laughs. "We knew this was going to be big news, but it's been bigger than we thought it would be."

Roland says her husband prefers not to talk about the reasons for the sudden closure. After 26 years, she says, "it's just too tough right now." However, he did post a comment on the restaurant's Facebook page: "A big thank you for your...

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