Charlottesville Breaking News
A man living near the infamous February wildfire that scorched hundreds of acres in Western Albemarle testified that he saw a distinctive male figure on a John Deere tractor ignite a ruinous blaze on a day when burning was not just illegal, but– with abnormally high winds– practically insane.
"I saw a person at the brush pile leaning over it and then backing off," testified Ivy resident Mitchell Sams at the trial of developer Alexander Toomy. "When I first saw it, it was just one little puff, as if you had just lit a small piece of paper."
That was as close as the prosecution could get to putting Toomy– a Drew Carey lookalike– at the scene of the pile in the Ragged Mountain Farm subdivision. But with Sams about 1,500 feet away and his view admittedly skewed by branches, it wasn't close enough to convince the judge.
In the six-hour, May 31 trial in Albemarle General District Court, Toomy produced a diverse array of witnesses and telephone records backing his claim that he was juggling hay deals and sipping a beer inside a barn while watching a televised UVA basketball game. Judge William Barkley required little time to rule that there was insufficient evidence to convict Toomy on the pair of misdemeanor reckless burning charges.
"Why did they ever prosecute him?" asks Andy Hord, another neighbor who testified to...
Did they fear an autism link or were they adhering to the Waldorf school founder's opposition to vaccines? Whatever their reason, the parents of the measles-infected Charlottesville Waldorf School student chose not to vaccinate, and they've now experienced the repercussion of leaving their child susceptible to an illness that was virtually erased 40 years ago. It's been gone from this country so long, says one health official, that many people don't remember measles as a potentially fatal illness.
"It's not in their mind anymore, so they're more afraid of the vaccine than the diseases," says Dr. Lillian Peake, head of the Thomas Jefferson Health District, who confirms that three of the four local people who contracted measles last month– including two children– hadn't been vaccinated. (The vaccination history of the fourth, says Peake, is unknown.)
Measles arrived in Charlottesville in May via an adult female who contracted the illness on a trip to India, says Peake. It wasn't long before that woman– who was hospitalized with complications from the respiratory virus famous for its signature rash– had spread the disease to a group that may be more vulnerable to such preventable disease: students at the Waldorf School.
Founded in the early 20th century by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner, the Waldorf educational method is often praised for inspiring creativity and morality in its students and...