Charlottesville Breaking News

Corridor cleaning: Strings attached to 29 Bypass money

When Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton told the Metropolitan Planning Organization July 27 which Charlottesville and Albemarle projects he'd recommend funding in addition to the Western U.S. 29 bypass, many may have overlooked his letter's last two paragraphs, in which he laid out what Albemarle is expected to do in return: come up with a plan to limit access on the rest of U.S. 29.

What that means exactly is less certain, but it could include measures that some bypass supporters objected to when bottleneck-avoiding solutions like the grade-separated interchanges were proposed during the so-called "Places 29" planning process.

Both Chamber of Commerce president Tim Hulbert and MPO director Steve Williams see no quid pro quo in Connaughton's letter and say that "access management," as it's called in transportation circles, is neither surprising nor unreasonable.

But Connaughton himself utters the "q" words and says that Albemarle will be a "test bed" for access management as a Corridor of Statewide Significance (of which U.S. 29 is one of 11 VDOT has identified).

"This is all new," Connaughton says in a phone interview. "We've never done this before. How do we put teeth into the designation?"

He lists some ways: limiting curb cuts and traffic lights, better light synchroniza...

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Smile! Mugshot mag flying off shelves

Getting arrested has never been something to boast about, and thanks to a new weekly publication, it may have gotten even more embarrassing.

Launched June 1, Crime Times offers page after page of mugshots of offenders booked on crimes ranging from disorderly conduct to first-degree murder. At a time when most local publications are free, this tabloid– distributed across Charlottesville and surrounding counties– sells for $1, and yet it's flying off the shelves.

"We asked for 10 the first week," says Mike Brown, owner of Brown's convenience store on Avon Street (formerly Stoney's Grocery). Now, Brown says, he sells 100 copies within days of delivery and calls it "our best-selling publication."

Over on Market Street, it's the same story at the Lucky 7. "We get a big stack of them, and they're gone by the end of the week," says employee Tony Lechmanski.

Sure enough, says Crime Times publisher Wade McMurray, demand for the publication runs high– from an initial print run of 5,000 to 16,000 today. He expects that number to go even higher as he considers moving into the Fredericksburg and Fairfax markets.

"It's been going up by about 1,000 copies a week," says McMurray.

The publication is a family affair. First, 64-year-old McMurray, a truck driver now on disability, helped his brother launch a similar mugshot publication from Lynchburg to Roanoke. When that publication took off, McMurr...

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More Tim and Dave...

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds played to a packed Pavilion last night, with people also lined up on the Belmont Bridge, perched on balconies, and standing on the Mall beyond the gates. Indeed, the concert was clear as a bell from all the way up at The Nook. Matthews and Reynolds performed 24 songs together, playing for nearly 3 hours. Warren Haynes, whose sold out show at the Jefferson started later that night, joined Matthews and Reynolds to the joy of the crowd. Proceeds from the show were donated to various charities selected by ticket buyers through a website called, where a code from the ticket can be entered and the ticket cost can be directed to a charity you choose on the site.

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Indigence plea: Halsey Minor's assets don't include cash

Halsey Minor has filed an "affidavit of indigence" in a Georgia court, another sign of the embattled millionaire's dwindling fortune. But has he really gone the way of squatters camping in his unfinished Landmark hotel? He claims otherwise.

"It's liquid securities, not a net worth test," Minor says in an email. "Many, many assets don't count including private stock, real estate, etc."

Indeed, Minor still holds positions in several high-tech companies, as well as valuable real estate, including a pair of California mansions, a historic Williamsburg estate, and a sprawling farm right here in western Albemarle. Yet he found himself unable to post an eight-figure bond to keep alive his appeal of a recent ruling that would strip him of his unfinished hotel on the Downtown Mall.

"Who in the world now right now has $10 million cash?" asks Minor. "The United States of America almost didn't have $10 million in cash." 

Hook legal analyst David Heilberg says that Minor's indigence plea is an effort to persuade the court to waive its bond requirement. The document appears, says Heilberg, to have been drafted by a lawyer but personally submitte...

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Mall madness: Roof-top views, new deli, fancy Asian, pastries, and kabobs

On a recent stroll around the Downtown Mall we were struck by all the new restaurant activity: four new places have either opened or are in the works.

On Second Street, in the tiny space where Marco & Luca's dumplings got started, owner Sun Da has opened Nicola's Chicken Kabobs, which was known for a short time as Nicola's Veggies. Tender chicken on skewers is served with hot pepper, curry, and sesame seeds on a bed of lettuce for a quick hot bite to eat. That makes the fourth eatery that Da and his wife, Dragana Katalina-Sun, have opened, including the Mall location in York Place, a place on Elliewood Avenue on the Corner, in the Seminole Square Shopping Center, and now a return to Second Street.

Farther up the Mall, renovation progresses on the Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, which has involved an extensive makeover of the old A&N building, where landlord Gabe Silverman had trouble finding a longtime tenant.  

Back in February, Alex George, former owner of Just Curry and form...

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