Charlottesville Breaking News

How did you commemorate 9/11?

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Caravati charged: Former mayor arrested for spouse assault

Details of the incident that resulted in a domestic violence charge against former Charlottesville Mayor J. Blake Caravati did not emerge Friday, September 16 when he appeared in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. His arrest, however, has already sent shockwaves through the community.

"It's a sad situation," says current Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, who though never serving in office alongside Caravati, knows him through Democratic political circles.

First elected to City Council in 1998 after launching his campaign from the grounds of the railroad station on West Main Street, Caravati told prospective voters he hoped to locate a transit center on the site. Two years later, he assumed the mantle of mayor.

During his mayorship, Caravati took an active role in infrastructure issues. Although he admited surprise when, during his term at the helm, Martha Jefferson Hospital suddenly announced that it was leaving downtown, Caravati was mayor when Council launched the redesign of the Downtown Mall with a $369,000 contract to a Philadelphia design firm. He would win acclaim from some citizens for eventually reversing his earlier stance in opposition to the controversial road that would link downtown and U.S. 29, the Meadowcreek Parkway.

Caravati won reelection to a second four-year Council term in 2002 even as his ticket-mate made history for becoming the first Democrat in a generation to suffer defeat to a Republican. Yet...

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Snap: Jefferson School collects big checks

The long-anticipated Jefferson School renovation officially kicked off September 14 with the ringing of a school bell by a former student and donations of $67,000 to the $18-million rehab project.

The largest donor was Union First Market Bank, which loaned the project $12 million and presented a check for $50,000. Kjellstrom and Lee is doing the construction, and that company kicked in a $15,000 donation. And an organization called The Links contributed $2,000 to the African American Heritage Center, which will be housed in part of the old school.

Work on the historic African-American school is expected to be completed in the fall of 2012, when its tenants will include the city's Carver Recreation, Piedmont Virginia Community College, and the Piedmont Family YMCA.

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Horsin' around: Galloping Grandfather keeps on riding

Harry de Leyer can fly. Photos of him soaring over seven-foot jumps atop champion steeds line the walls of his trophy-filled farmhouse in Dyke. A painting of him over the fireplace depicts that same pose: airborne.

When the Dutch-born horseman took an $80 workhorse he'd rescued on its way to the slaughterhouse to the prestigious National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden– and won– in 1958, his legendary status was assured.

That horse and de Leyer are the subject of Elizabeth Letts' just-released book, The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation, which debuted at number 10 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Of course for de Leyer, it's the third time he and his thoroughbred-butt-kicking workhorse have been the subjects of books.

Just as the story of Snowman is awe-inspiring, so, too, is de Leyer's tale of coming from war-ravaged Holland to the United States with a bride and $160 in his pocket to work at a tobacco farm in Greensboro, North Carolina. From there he parlayed his equine skills into the annals of horse history.

"My father had a brewery," says de Leyer, "and the beer was all delivered with horses. Horses were always around me."

By the time he was seven years old, de Leyer was competing in horse shows against adults. "There was...

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Retail migration: Could Stonefield threaten Barracks?

Last week, we looked at store vacancy data for the Downtown Mall, completed in July by the City's Office of Economic Development, but what about the City's other retail centers? And what effect might the coming shops at Stonefield (known for some time as Albemarle Place) have on our existing centers?

Long-successful Barracks Road enjoys a zero percent vacancy rate, with only the former Quiznos sub shop unoccupied, and not counted because it has been closed for only a few months. Vacancy rates on the Corner and Preston Plaza are also now at zero with the arrival of the Java Dragon coffee shop in Preston, which replaced the Blue Ridge Eco Shop (which moved to the Downtown Mall), and clothing store Jack Wills on the Corner, which replaced the Corner Market. 

Seminole Square continues to have the most vacancies of the studied districts. In January 2011, the rate was 13 percent, but it had fallen to 9.4 percent by the time the July study was completed. Currently, there are five empty stores in Seminole Square.

So how might Stonefield affect the shopping center next door with the historically high vacan...

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