Charlottesville Breaking News

A remembrance: Alicia Bowler Lugo

My daughter was 11 when she told me, “I want to meet Alicia.”

I had talked about my boss, but I guess I never realized how much, until my young Margaret wanted to meet her based on my larger-than-life descriptions.

Then in her early 30s, Alicia Lugo was executive director of Charlottesville’s Opportunities Industrialization Council (OIC), an organization started by an African American activist in Philadelphia, the Rev. Leon Sullivan, as a means to prepare the poor for jobs by providing basic education and GED programs, along with on-the-job apprenticeship training.

Operating out of the old Lane High School before it became the Albemarle Office building, Charlottesville OIC was a full-fledged training center.

My family had moved to Madison County in 1975. A year earlier, Alicia had established “OIC Outreach,” a program to serve rural places like Madison, along with Orange, Culpeper and Greene. At first, there were just three of us, Outreach director Julie, job developer Gordon, and the counselor, yours truly.  But Alicia provided the vision behind our enterprise of helping the rural poor.

In Central Virginia in the mid-1970s, Alicia was unique among Charlottesville leaders– an African American woman serving as agency director. Other helping agencies in Charlottesville were run by men: MACAA, Mental Health Services, Charlottesville Social Services, the Housing Authority, a...

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FunStuff: Charlottesville events January 5 and beyond

First Fridays may be known for art on the walls of galleries, but beginning this month there's also some art on the floor, as Alexandra Dance Studio launches its first monthly Bellydance Night. All kinds of dancers have been invited including folkloric, cabaret, tribal, and tribal fusion– along with other movements like Nia, Zumba, and hoopers. There'll even be an open dance at this second-floor space at 109 2nd Street SE. After a long week, what a  way to unwind.
January 6, Alexandra Dance Studio, 7:30-9:30pm, free





Benefit for Bennie
Great local music, great cause. Head over to the Fry's Spring Beach Club and help the Charlottesville music community raise money for musician Bennie Dodd, who's facing some hefty medical bills and possible foreclosure on his home. Organizers...

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Guv's decree: Charlottesville Amtrak service gets another two years

The three-year pilot program to run a daily train between Lynchburg and Boston– greatly bolstering Charlottesville's railroad access to New York and other zesty cities in the Northeast– has won an additional two years of operating funding.

It's never been entirely clear to this reporter why a train that supposedly generates an operating profit requires an ongoing subsidy. (The answer may lie in capital commitments the state has made to the freight railroads that allow the Amtrak trains to ride their rails.)

In any event, the news released Friday, December 30, is that a new state budget proposal specifically allows the Commonwealth Transportation Board to allocate any needed money from the six-year-old Rail Enhancement Fund into a new fund called the Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund.

While the person who actually presented the budget is Governor Bob McDonnell, the person making the announcement about the impact on this Amtrak "Northeast Regional" service was Democratic minority leader and Charlottesville-based Delegate David Toscano, who hailed the salvation of the service "a great victory in these trying economic times."

Rail booster Meredith Richards explains that the the governor's move diverts money from Virginia's rail infrastructure fund to pay for another two years of operating the regional trains...

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Charlottesville escapes first wave of Sears/Kmart closings

The company that runs over 3,500 Sears and Kmart stores has released a list of nearly 80 locations that will close; and while Virginia did not escape intact, Charlottesville did.

The first list– released on Thursday, December 29– shows Florida as the hardest hit state with 11 stores on the list of 79 closures. Stores in Norfolk, Richmond, and Midlothian will be shuttered to save money for the struggling big-box company.

The company, Sears Holdings Corporation, the nation's 4th largest retailer, has announced that it may close as many as 120 stores to trim corporate losses.

A download of the preliminary list of closures:

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Feeling tipsy: Excavator topples while razing building

A vacant restaurant building that has vexed the University of Virginia Foundation for the past five years brought additional headaches Thursday, December 29 when a piece of heavy machinery toppled while razing the structure at 1250 Seminole Trail. On-site interviews suggest that the man operating the excavator emerged unscathed in the morning incident, but the site's financial hemorrhage may be significant.


The University of Virginia paid $2.5 million for the vacant structure on 1.4 acres in 2006, a million dollars more than Jim Morris, an occasional business associate of music mogul Coran Capshaw, paid in 2002, the last year the place held an operating business, a restaurant called Asian Buffet.

County real estate records indicate that the structure– which had previously served as a Western Sizzlin' and as a Wood Grill Buffet– was built in 1976. As recently as last fall, there was a ...

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