Charlottesville Breaking News

The week in review

Latest George Huguely ruling: A judge says November 18 that defense attorneys may see slain student Yeardley Love's medical records.

Biggest issue for UVA students I: The magnolias slated to be cut down over the winter holidays as part of the Rotunda roof repair have sparked students to petition to save them, despite the abundance of magnolias and the rarity of Rotundas. The Cavalier Daily has the story.

Biggest issue for UVA students II: The Sierra Student Coalition wants to shut down the university's coal-fired heating plant as part of the group's "Beyond Coal" initiative, according to Charlottesville Tomorrow. The plant was renovated in 2008 for $78 million, cleans 99.9 percent of particulate emissions, and does not use mountain-top removed coal, says UVA chief facilities officer Donald Sundgren.

Worst fire in a historic structure: The West Range Cafe at UVA ignites from an electrical cable– not a quake-damaged fireplace, use of which were recently banned– November 20, causing significant damage to the cafe.

More electrical cable news: Campers with Occupy Charlottesville have tapped into a city electrical post at Lee Park and have run the power bill up to $36.24, ...

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Biscuit burden: Cuccinelli demands cash from Craig

In his response to a speculator's controversial lawsuit seeking nearly $20 million from taxpayers in the form of conservation tax credits, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has fired back by accusing Biscuit Run investor Hunter Craig of unmitigated gall and demanding that Craig's investors put up as much as $165,000 to cover allegedly underpaid recordation taxes.

"You guys have chutzpah," is the way Hook legal analyst David Heilberg restates the AG's response. "You want all this money in tax credits, but you wouldn't even pay the recordation tax on what you claim it was worth."

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The road: Death count mounts in Albemarle

"Let me grab my phone– I'm expecting a victim's family to call."

That's Sergeant Sean Hackney on November 17, the morning after the fifth person has died in less than a week on an Albemarle County road. He's operating on an hour-and-a-half of sleep, and all the officers in Albemarle police's traffic unit are working a fatality.

At the Albemarle police station on 5th Street, the bland cubicles stand in sharp contrast to the grisly scenes officers encounter out on the street. A map of the county is dotted with pushpins– 19 of them, representing all the locations where people have had fatal encounters with vehicles this year.

There are motorcycle accidents– three of them. There's the tragedy of backing up and realizing too late that a child is behind the car. There are the seemingly inexplicable single-car accidents. Sergeant Hackney has seen them all.

Scottsville Road has had two deaths. Earlier this year, Black Cat Road had two in a row.

"We do see geographical trends," says a clearly frustrated Hackney. "Right now, it's all over the county south of 64."

But why the recent spate of deaths, pushing Albemarle to 19 so far this year, the highest death toll since 2003's record 24 fatalities?

'What we see over and over again are speed, seatbelts, and alcohol," says Hackney. "We see at least one of those in most accidents."

The vast majority have all three factors, and Hackney points out that impaired dri...

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Occupy talk: Council wants campers moved, not ousted

With its seats filled and with huddled masses of humanity lining the aisles and anterooms, City Council Chambers had never in recent memory appeared so crowded. But in the end, the literally dozens of pro-Occupy Charlottesville speakers didn't get exactly what they wanted, which was unlimited permission to remain ensconced in Lee Park after their current permit expires on Thanksgiving Day.

Occupy campers and their supporters– one as young as twelve years old– thronged Charlottesville's governing body for four hours during Council's November 21 meeting. When it was over, the mayor said he had no plans to oust the protestors– who have peacefully inveighed against American economic disparity. But Mayor Dave Norris also said he wanted them to relocate, as some North Downtowners have grown tired of the round-the-clock spectacle of porta-potties and about 50 tents in the one-acre park.

However, at least one City Councilor, Kristin Szakos, expressed firm solidarity, even offering an impassioned First Amendment defense of the effort which began in October with a few placards and which now includes scores of people and a nightly campfire.

"For me," said Szakos, "the occupation is speech. Free speech doesn't end af 11 o'clock, and it doesn't end after Thanksgiving."

That's the kind of support that kept the faithful– most wearing some bit of red fabric as a sign of solidarity– under Council's fluorescent lights when they might...

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1959's triumph: 'Charlottesville 12' get pair of plaques

The "Charlottesville 12," the African-American boys and girls– now men and women– who boldly strolled into Venable Elementary School and Lane High School 52 years ago to break down the walls of segregation, finally got to see their struggle commemorated with  a pair of permanent historic markers. The signs were dedicated Friday, November 18 on the grounds of the two schools, one of which is now the Albemarle County Office Building.

"That's the most amazing thing," said John Martin, in a post-ceremony interview as he gestured toward the steel marker on the grounds of what had been Lane High School. "I would have never dreamed it."

Martin, who now lives in Richmond, told the story of what it was like to be a 14-year-old on the front lines of integration in a 2004 Hook cover story.

The commemorations include another chance to meet the Charlottesville 12, an 11am Saturday, November 19 event in the Venable auditorium.

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