Charlottesville Breaking News

Verdant Parkway: County's part likely to open in January

With no opposition– only advice– from Charlottesville City Council and with the Albemarle Supervisors having resolved to open the Melbourne-to-Rio Road portion, the county's stretch of the two-mile Meadowcreek Parkway is poised to welcome drivers in January. While the exact date is undetermined, the Virginia Department of Transportation appears unlikely to reject City Council's December 5 request for tweaks such as turn lane-striping and lower speed limits near schools.

The Hook's person of the year, already famous for another road– the U.S. 29 Western Bypass– has urged the state to speed the opening of the County's 1.3-mile stretch of Meadowcreek (which had a year-ago multi-week test-drive). On December 7, Ken Boyd and the other Supervisors put their request in the form of a unanimous resolution.

"VDOT will evaluate concerns recently identified by the city and coordinate with the city staff on appropriate action," VDOT says in a same-day release

"The update to the schedule as of this week," says VDOT spokesperson Lou Hatter on December 20, "is an estimated opening at the end of the first week of January, weather permitting."

–story updated Tuesday, December 20 swapping out press release VDOT statement for Lou Hatter VDOT statement.

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Person of the year: The runners up

 Images in slideshow

When the remains of her daughter Morgan were discovered on a southern Albemarle County farm nearly two years ago, Gil Harrington could have let searing anguish push her into a quiet corner.

But through her exquisite pain and rage, she has put a powerful voice behind every parent's deepest fear. Straight talk about the killer and poetic talk about her daughter have combined with a recent lawsuit to make Gil– short for Gilbert (a French name with a soft "g")– a powerful national advocate for the families of missing people. Along with her equally fervent husband, Dan, she has been lobbying lawmakers for...

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Second glance: Free Bridge a design delight

If you live or travel east of Charlottesville, you've probably driven over it hundreds, if not thousands of times without giving it a passing glance. Yet the seven-lane Free Bridge that crosses the Rivanna River on 250 East is an award-winning design project which merits a second glance as officials ponder design ideas for downtown's Belmont Bridge.

"I’ve always thought that Free Bridge is an elegant, simply designed, bridge," blogs local photographer Ed Deasy, who captured a beautiful night shot of the structure. "You do not appreciate this in the least while driving over it. All you see is the railing zipping by. Only from the river can the arched sides be seen."

As Deasy points out, the only way to see those arched sides is to get out of the car and head down to the river. (A reporter can attest that trying to photograph the bridge from the nearby river banks is a challenge, as the trees and thorny brush are thick, and the footing is steep and muddy.)

"We tried to design the bridge to serve as a unique gateway into Charlottesville, not just a standard-issue widened stretch of highway happening to cross a waterway," says Georgia Tech architecture professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, who, with her partner, fellow Tech architect ...

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VQR rising? Lit mag hires new publisher, deputy editor

On Monday, December 12, about fourteen months after the award-winning Virginia Quarterly Review might have appeared on the verge of extinction after an 86-year publishing streak, the University of Virginia announced that a new publisher and deputy editor are joining the staff.

In August 2010, the VQR was rocked by tragedy, the suicide of its 52-year old managing editor, Kevin Morrissey, who shot himself near the Coal Tower property on the last official day in office of then University President John Casteen.

Grief-stricken VQR staffers and Morrissey family members alleged that VQR editor Ted Genoways had treated Morrissey cruelly in the weeks before his death, something Genoways denied even as the case spiraled into a national discussion about workplace bullying.

Later, it was revealed that Morrissey had reached out to UVA officials as many as 18 times to address the workplace problems in the weeks before his suicide. One VQR staffer called Genoways' treatment of Morrissey "egregious," while others accused him of squandering VQR funds, being an absentee boss, and courting a wealthy, 24-year-old donor by creating a job for her without an official search.

What's more, a UVA investigation revealed evidence of financial recklessness and mismanagement, and recommended that "corrective action" be taken against Genoways.

Still, University officials elected to stand by Genoways. While the magazine had been associated with the p...

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Saturday sadness: Staff and diners prepare for Tavern closing

We sent photographer Tom Daly to the Tavern, the Emmet Street breakfast place where "students, tourists, and townpeople meet," to try to capture some flavor as the venerable diner prepares to close down. Business owner Shelly Gordon and property owner Clara Belle Wheeler haven't come to terms on extending the lease, so Gordon has set the restaurant's departure date as Saturday, December 24. Daly shot his photographs on Saturday, December 10.

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Editor's Note