Charlottesville Breaking News

Hot air? Tea Party opposes sustainability agenda

Carole Thorpe wants the Charlottesville community to know the difference between sustainability and Sustainability. The former, argues the Jefferson Area Tea Party chairwoman, is the common goal of achieving reasonable environmental standards, while the latter, she says, is the deceptive name for a radical agenda intending to strengthen the central government under “the guise of well-intentioned environmentalism.” At a June 2 press conference, Thorpe assured the audience that it was Sustainability, with the sly capital S, that the JATP hopes to eradicate from local policy.

Eleven people– interested civilians, members of the press, and one official from the Board of Supervisors— showed up at the Albemarle County Office Building to hear Thorpe and several other panelists speak against the county’s environmental agenda.

Thorpe denounced Albemarle’s sustainability measures, including its membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, as well as its participation in a ”Cool Counties” initiative, and the federally-funded “Livable Communities." She argued that these policies wrongly justify federal and international encroachment in local matters.

“Our local problems and objectives should be identified, planned, and implemented by local elected officials and local personnel with the input of local citizens, and funded with local taxpayer money,�...

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'Not appropriate' Dance crackdown continues at Jefferson Memorial

You can dance if you want to, but you might want to leave your friends behind– unless you plan on spending a night in jail.

That's what happened in 2008 when a group of D.C. natives staged a silent flash mob at the Jefferson Memorial to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's birthday. What resulted were arrests based on National Park Service regulations.

Last month, the dancing ban was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals in a decision that asserted that dancing can detract from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration that should be found at the monument. 

The decision to uphold the ban prompted another group of activists to take to their feet, this time protesting what they saw as an infringement on their First Amendment rights. A YouTube video of the May 28th event shows police throwing one activist to the ground, images that raise questions of police discretion– if not outright brutality.

"Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave," says Charlottesville civil libertarian John Whitehead.

Whitehead, who heads the non-profit Rutherford Institute, worries about the precedent that the ruling sets, considering that it offers no specific guidelines for prospective merry-makers.

"The ruling gives too much leeway," says Wh...

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Toomy triumphant: Ragged Mountain fire case fizzles

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...

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Target located: Missing Fluvanna man's car found in store lot

The vehicle missing Fluvanna County man Robert Lee Hourihan was last seen driving when he disappeared on April 8 has been located in a Target parking lot in La Plata, Maryland. The missing man's whereabouts, however, remain unknown, leaving his family as confused and fearful as they were when he first vanished.

Thirty miles southeast of Washington, D.C. and nearly 140 miles from Charlottesville, La Plata, a town of less than 9,000 residents in southern Maryland, is not exactly a hub, and Hourihan's parent's express confusion over the discovery.

"How did it get way up there?" asks his mother, Melinda Hourihan, informed by a reporter of the white 1994 Chevy Cavalier's location.

Lt. David Wells of the Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office, leading the investigation, declines to offer details of the car's recovery or any other developments in the investigation.

As previously reported in the Hook, Hourihan kissed his wife of 14 years goodbye on Friday morning, April 8, then left for his job as an electrician in Richmond. Multiple witnesses reported seeing the car, which bears the license plate TARA MAE, sometime around 7:40am on Shannon Hill Road and again around 5pm exiting I-64 onto Fifth Street in Charlottesville around 5pm, although it is not known whether he was driving at that time.

While Hourihan'...

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Surgeons of sauce: Docs spice up BBQ

If you live in Charlottesville and you've broken any bones, there's a good chance orthopaedic surgeon Dr. David Heilbronner put you back together. The Charlottesville native has been in private practice here since 1991; he served on the faculty of UVA's orthopaedic department for most of the 1980s. But a second career was born five years ago when his daughter's soccer team needed to raise money for a tournament trip to Italy.

While fixing people was a career, fixing dinner had always been a passion, inspired by Heilbronner's father, who used to cook all the "fancy" meals for the family.

"We would go on culinary adventures when I was growing up and even years later would talk about memorable dishes – the sweetbreads in a tarragon sauce in San Francisco, the fritures in Narbonne, France and everything in between," says Heilbronner. " His encouragement led me to running a small catering business when I was in high school and then to a summer of 1969 job as a baker at Grossinger’s Hotel in the Catskills."

That summer Heilbroner says he lucked out be off the weekend there was a certain famous music festival held at a farm in New York.

"But that's a whole other story," he says. 

Heilbronner says he's always done the cooking in his family, as its always been his favorite way to relax.

"My philosophy has always been so many r...

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