Charlottesville Breaking News

Naked Beta: Paintless grafitti bridge gleams (for now)

Struck by an errant University Transit Service bus last October, a nine-foot section of wall on the famed graffiti-laden Beta Bridge was reconstructed last week. Crews not only poured concrete for the replacement swath of the missing barrier, but they peeled back approximately three and half inches of layered paint on an adjacent stretch to help match new to old. All that remains to be installed is an urn-like finial atop the obelisk at the end. The bridge is a popular site for painted messages commemorating everything from pledge parties and birthdays to tragedy at Virginia Tech. The last time the bridge received a peel-back was the fall of 2007.

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JPA bridge fallout: Is Shamrock Road dangerous now?

When Charlottesville resident Lora Kelly and her husband, Eric, purchased a house on Shamrock Road in 2009, its two lanes and mish-mash of missing stretches of sidewalk already created a fear factor. But a momentous April included the City's closure of  nearby Jefferson Park Avenue and the arrival of the couple's first child.

Kelly recounts a recent incident in which she was crossing the street in front of their house with a stroller. While one car stopped for her, the one behind it raced around and almost struck her.

"I would say the road is very dangerous now," says Kelly, who notes there are lots of pedestrians and children on the street but not much in the way of traffic signs or speed humps.

A new $5.8 million bridge slated to replace the nearly 80-year-old structure won't be completed until September 2012. While City traffic engineers prepared for the bridge closure by speeding up a schedule to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Shamrock Road and JPA and upgrading the traffic signal at Shamrock and Cherry Avenue to include mast arms, pedestrian actuation/signals, and ADA-compliant curb ramps, Kelly says the street simply wasn't designed for the traffic it's now carrying.

"There is no break in traffic now, and people don't necessarily stop anymore," sa...

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Farewell, Tuttle House

In the ongoing project to replace 11 residence halls built to accommodate UVA's rapid expansion in the mid-1960s, another has fallen. This time it's Tuttle House, which was completed in 1964 and stood until June 17 at the corner of Alderman Road and Tree House Drive across from the Aquatic & Fitness Center. Like Watson, Balz, and Dobie (each destroyed two years ago), Tuttle housed 144 first-year students in four stories of suites. The replacement buildings– the first of which began rising in 2008 as a smaller prototype called Kellogg House– will typically stand six stories and hold 420 students. In addition to putting more students in the Scott Stadium area, the new residence halls offer air-conditioning instead of the long balconies offered by their predecessors.

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New digs: CFA Inst. taking over old Martha Jeff

The old campus of Martha Jefferson Hospital is getting a new owner that plans to turn the hospital into a job-producing machine– and in the process make the place the first local example of another machine, one that skewers sewer bills and processes waste nearly naturally.

An international financial organization already headquartered in the greater Charlottesville area, the lead tenant is the CFA Institute, a non-profit company that oversees America's financial professionals. And that has state and city governments joyously handing out incentives. If it all works, everyone gets richer (except perhaps Albemarle County, which is the current home to the company).

City officials, especially, are relieved the soon-to-be-vacant hospital– Martha Jeff moves this August– won't become another empty and derelict structure like DeJarnette Sanitorium in Staunton. There's talk of high-paying jobs.

Indeed, as the 2009 tax return (the most recent available) shows, the CFA Institute had 15 positions paying above $300,000, with the top job paying a cool $1.3 million.

The company, which has roots in Charlottesville dating back to the early 1960s, has 105,000 financial professional members worldwide. It's paying $24.5...

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Salatin shines again in 'Farmageddon'

Back in 2009, we had an opportunity to see Joel Salatin, the Shenandoah Valley's most famous farmer, in action. When we arrived at sunrise, the outspoken agriculturist was already high up in a pasture in front of a pen of chickens with a documentary film crew, being, well, outspoken.

As the mist lifted and the morning sun saturated the landscape with a golden glow, Salatin waxed eloquent about his happy chickens and turkeys, and the obstacles that small farmers face in a food system dominated by large corporations and the federal government.

Now that documentary film has arrived. Farmageddon: The Unseen War on America's Small Family Farms debuts this weekend in Washington, DC, and shows at the West End Theater through June 23. Then it's on to California and New York.

When the Hook experienced Salatin's Swoope-based Polyface Farms two years ago, the visit was capped by a breakfast of Salatin's eggs and sausage, raw milk from a nearby dairy farm, and some locally produced apple juice, a meal so satisfying that we didn't feel hungry all day.

Filmmaker Kristin Canty remembers it fondly.

"It was a great bonus getting a Polyface Farm fresh breakfast," she says. "I visited Joel's farm because I wanted to interview him about farming regulations that keep him from dis...

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