Charlottesville Breaking News

Ragged indeed: Neighbors say dormant burn pile sparked massive blaze

Could it be that somebody in Ivy didn't get the memo that Saturday, February 19, was a "red flag day," a time of high winds and dry conditions that were prime time for fanning a fire?

According to the chatter overhead in the Ragged Mountain Farm neighborhood, somebody decided to burn some brush that day. Whatever started it, the result was a destroyed barn, dozens of ruined hay bales, and vast swaths of blackened fields and forests.

Not to mention fear and loathing, as flames crept close to occupied dwellings. And when this story was first posted, the fire had jumped the ridge and begun moving southward toward the Blandemar Farms subdivision.

"Fire burns slower downhill," said Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston, who said units from Charlottesville, Augusta, and Nelson counties joined the fight.

There were over 100 wildfires across Virginia that day, including one that caused the evacuation of about 100 Louisa County residents and the creation of a temporary shelter there, according to a release from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

There were no burned houses and no reports of property damage at Ragged Mountain Farm, but atop the adjacent Rosemont subdivision a burned barn was declared a total loss, Eggleston said.

County spokesperson Lee Catlin said in a release that the ultimate measure of the burned terrain will be "several hundred acres." Catlin indicat...

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Ghost stories: Local metalheads now stronger but more paranoid

Where do you go after you've already blasted into outer space? After local prog-rockers Corsair released their debut record approximately one year ago, they immediately began pushing their boundaries. In between perfecting their solos and harmonies, Corsair also managed to cobble a new recording, an EP called Ghost of Proxima Centauri.

"It is an extension," explains guitarist and frontwoman Marie Landragin. "You travel through space, and now here come the adventures."

Each of the six tracks is a self-contained "short story," according to guitarist and vocalist Paul Sebring, with common themes of restlessness, war, and tension.

In "Burnish the Blade," violence looms ominously on the horizon. With "Warrior Woman," you aren't quite sure who's hunting whom. "Centurion" is a commentary on war, while "Eyes of the Gods" meditates on "people who try to control your life, closed circuit cameras in London, whatever," according to Sebring.

The group has also pushed itself to a new level of technical comfort and proficiency, honing their live show and self-producing the record with the help of local engineer Lance Brenner, best known for his work with the Falsies.

"It's a good reflection of how much we've grown as a band in the last year and a half," says Landragin of Ghost. "None of us are of the same genre. We all end up tweaking each other in places we wouldn't have i...

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Close call: Federal Realty boots Padow's

Two months after a Padow's Hams & Deli franchise opened in the Barracks Road Shopping Center in 1996, co-owner Desiree Dawson and her husband welcomed the birth of a baby boy. Fourteen years later, when she recently delivered the news to her son, now 13, that the eatery would be closing, the boy was stunned. "I grew up in that place," he told her.

Indeed, many of Dawson's customers also grew up, and grew old, coming to eat at the popular lunch spot. In addition to seeing young customers go through grade school and off to college, Dawson says she's also attended customers' funerals. At one recent funeral, she says, the family talked about how much eating lunch at Padow's had meant to the deceased. 

"Our customers mean a lot to us," says Dawson. "They're not just dollars in the cash register; they're family, and they deserve better than this." 

Today, there's a funereal air around the shop because it will be closing its doors next Tuesday, February 22. But not voluntarily. Dawson says that she and her partners– her mother, Gloria Sanders, and her brother, Michael Sanders– were blind-sided by the news.

After getting behind on the rent they pay to Federal Realty, the Maryland-based real estate development corporation that owns the shopping center, Dawson...

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Pull out your dress and veil-- Hook Weddings Winter 2011 has arrived!

Can you feel the love? The Hook's quarterly wedding issue hit stands today, sending ripples of romance your way. With 14 local love stories, a sneak peek at three new area venues, a tour of four local wedding blogs, or part two of our guide to area wedding photographers, this issue has something for everyone– even if you're not getting married! Pick it up in any of the Hook's red news boxes or just click here to view it online!

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Happy hour: Why your pals at Blue Ridge Numerics should buy the drinks tonight

Ever heard of Blue Ridge Numerics? Neither had we. The firm, located in Peter Jefferson Place, doesn't push itself around town. But somehow it got found by the folks who count: Autodesk Inc.

The California-based and publicly-held Autodesk has just agreed to purchase Blue Ridge Numerics for $39 million. Cash. And thus the chance that the bosses might be soon buying friends a few rounds of beverages.

"It's not closed yet," says company co-founder Ed Williams on announcement day, February 17. "So I'm not buying tonight, but I could certainly use one."

Back in 1992, while the rest of us were enjoying the glamor of teaching, nursing, insurance sales, and dental hygienics, Williams and fellow co-founder Rita Schnipke were setting up this firm to create software for engineers to study fluid dynamics, something that's not as arcane as it might sound.

"From aerospace to ice cream," says Williams. "It could be the comfort of a building. Or smoke removal from a parking garage. Or filling Little Debbie cakes with whipped cream."

Indeed, thanks to the software simulations provided by Blue Ridge Numerics, firms can get a sense...

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