Charlottesville Breaking News

4BETTER or worse: The week in review

Worst week for baby deaths: The family of year-old Camora Latay Wicks raises money May 30 to pay for a $4,000 funeral to bury the baby, whose cause of death is undisclosed. Ramon Turley, 18, is charged with second-degree murder. And on May 21, an unresponsive one-year-old is airlifted from a foster home in the 5000-block of Jefferson Mill Road in Scottsville and pronounced dead at UVA Medical Center. Police are investigating that death, the Daily Progress reports.

Worst bus crash: Four people are dead and more injured on I-95 about 30 miles north of Richmond when a commercial tour bus overturns and lands on its roof early May 31.

Worst law enforcement rampage: Franklin County deputy Jonathan Agee, 32, is accused of fatally shooting his wife at a Roanoke Sheetz May 30 and wounding a state trooper who gave chase.  Additional troopers surround and fire upon Agee, whose wounds are life threatening, WSLS reports.

Worst time to go shopping at Kohl's: The department store is closed for nearly three hours May 24 after an envelope containing a white powder is discovered in the parking lot. Haz-mat specialists determine the mysterious substance is not harmful.

Biggest gho...

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No felony: Victim wants tougher penalty for crotch invasion

Caitlln Mahoney was walking out of a Charlottesville nightclub last fall when she made an unpleasant discovery: a man's hand up under her skirt. In court May 31, a judge convicted the perpetrator of sexual battery, but the victim says she's speaking out in hopes that courts will consider getting tougher on such crimes.

Mahoney, a 2009 UVA grad who was in town for homecoming on October 17, testified that she was leaving the after-hours Club 216 on Market Street when she heard a man trying to get her attention. She ignored him and continued walking toward the street.

"Someone reached up under my skirt and grabbed my genitalia," Mahoney told Judge Edward Hogshire, describing how she felt a palm-up hand and then felt another squeeze, this time to her buttocks.

"You don't do that to people," the 24-year-old Mahoney said she yelled at the man as she shoved him away. A police officer working private security for the Club intervened and handcuffed Antoine Rashard Anderson and charged the 29-year-old Gordonsville resident with sexual battery– as well as public intoxication, a charge he's encountered five other times, according to city court records.

Mahoney, however, made a case to the prosecutor that the contact was way too intimate for a mere misdemeanor and got the groping charge upgraded to a Class 4 felony: ...

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Extreme makeover: rich edition-- State program benefits those who need it least

Ask most preservationists what they think of Virginia's Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, and you'll hear them proudly say it's one of the most generous, if not the most generous, programs in the country, leading to the rehabilitation of thousands of historic properties. Indeed, since the program's inception in 1997, the state has awarded nearly $700 million in tax credits to homeowners and developers.

"This is free money," writes Charlottesville architect Brian Broadus, who has specialized in historic building projects for over 20 years. "Why don’t more homeowners come and grab it?"

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'Insufficient evidence': State mum as Biscuit Run appraisers go unpunished

Four months after leaked documents showed that a Charlottesville-based group of investors convinced top-level Virginia officials to bail out their flopped housing development with millions in state money, anger still runs high. The government, however, has done nothing to punish the potential wrongdoing that led to what may eventually become Biscuit Run State Park.

"Biscuit Run is an absolute abomination and fraud," says outraged Albemarle taxpayer Clara Belle Wheeler.

While some politicians have expressed similar outrage, the drive to punish the players or reform the system appears to have dissipated, often in a bipartisan spirit.

For instance, the conservation tax credit law that enabled most of the Biscuit Run bailout went virtually unchanged this year in the General Assembly– even though the creator of the program, Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds had vowed to make changes.

His supposed reform bill, SB 1232, merely codifies a right the state already seemed to possess: to review potentially inflated property assessments.

"It's not as far-reaching as what a lot of people would have liked," concedes Deeds, "but it's what we could get done."

On the other side of the aisle, Republican Governor Bob McDonnel...

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Country money: Profitable Arena to host free music series

When the venue formerly known as the Charlottesville Ice Park got a new owner last summer, he promised that melting the ice each summer for other activities would help the perennially money-losing facility turn a profit. True to his word, he says the renamed Main Street Arena has already begun operating profitably thanks to a variety of non-ice events including an antique show, roller derbies, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights.

Now, Fridays downtown are about to get a little bit country as the Arena is partnering with Coors Brewing Company to present Finally Fridays, a new country music concert series that's free.

With its shows running from 5-9pm and its golden refreshments flowing, the series is set to compete with Charlottesville mainstay Fridays After Five, although Arena owner Mark Brown says he hopes the Finally Fridays' indoor venue (including air conditioning!) and country-only line-up– including Sweetwater on July 1 and Iron Horse on July 8– will bring in new foot traffic, particularly those whose boots are made for walking.

Finally Fridays willl run through August 26, but it kicks off June 24 with Sunny Sweeney, a rising star who's already garnered national acclaim. Her hit “From a Table Away” rose to the Top Ten of Billboard’s “Hot Country” chart, and the artist herself...

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Editor's Note
4Better Or Worse