Charlottesville Breaking News

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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Not immune: VNB corporate profit falls 42 percent

Virginia National Bank, long seen as one of the bulwarks of the local financial services industry, saw its net income fall 42 percent last year, according to an earnings report released Friday.

The new report, released January 27, shows that in addition to suffering a drop in profit, VNB found itself making greater allowances for loan losses– due in no small part to one customer which cost the bank $426,000 last year. As previously reported, VNB lent over $300,000 to the father of accused murderer George W. Huguely V for an ill-fated land speculation on Morgantown Road in Ivy, but that appears not to be last year's jumbo loss.

However, President Glenn Rust says he feels good about the overall results particularly because the bank itself achieved a gain– with its profit rising from $1.94 million to $2.0 million– and saw what Rust calls a "healthy" increase in average deposits of seven percent.

The total profit downturn, from $4.03 million to $2.34 million, Rust says, stemmed primarily from lower "performance fees" at VNBTrust, t...

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FunStuff: Charlottesville events February 1 and beyond

McGuffey Friday
It's the beginning of the month again, and that means one thing for art lovers: First Fridays. From the McGuffey Art Center, always a hub of creative energy that recently welcomed 19 new artists, to the patchwork of galleries that cover the downtown area, First Fridays is a chance to see some great art and meet fellow art lovers. McGuffey's opening reception will feature the work of Kristi Glick, who has created an installation of enameled jewelry, wall panels, and prints. Her jewelry can be worn individually or in groups, inviting the wearer to join in the creative process by choosing where and how to place each pin. There will also be enamel and watercolor works by Salena Hitzeman, a collection of UVA student art work, and an exhibit called "Behind Bars," artwork by inmates from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.  
February 3, McGuffey Art Center, 5:30-7:30pm, free




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Green monster: UVA's ped-stopping fence claims a victim

It took 12 years, but an overnight impalement indicates that the so-called "Green Monster" has claimed its first injury victim. Fire Chief Charles Werner reports that rescue workers arrived at 258 Crispell Drive at 2:58am Saturday, January 28 to rescue an individual dangling upside-down on the fence erected by UVA to keep pedestrians away from train tracks.

The patient was transported to the UVA Medical Center Emergency Room, Werner said.

In the year 2000, under an agreement with Norfolk Southern Corporation, the University of Virginia erected the $125,000, 1,200-foot long metal fence between the train tracks and the back side of the Medical Center.

With few officially-permitted pedestrian crossings in that area and with train speeds typically much slower than in rural areas, the nearly quarter-mile-long in-town structure has long provoked concern that UVA was overzealously elevating insurance concerns– in the name of safety– over connectivity.

UVA Police spokesperson Melissa Fielding tells a reporter that she can recall no prior injuries on the fence.

Charlottesville Police occasionally embark on stings to ticket people who cross train tracks, with one such sting and its $106 tickets provoking ire in 2008. One of the ironies inherent in any discussion of shortcutting or trespassing over railroad tracks is that pedestrians have the...

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