Charlottesville Breaking News

Bypass be gone: It's not too late to undo bad idea

66 Seconds
By Jack Trammell

Rigged polls. Midnight votes. Politicians calling each other names and contradicting themselves in public. Use of the state legislative process to punish opponents. Bureaucratic circumvention of the required or recommended public discourse. Contractors getting rich on no bid or overrun-laden design bid projects. Silence in the major media outlets. If this sounds like a troubled third world country, worthy of another Sacha Baron Cohen movie, think again— it is the current central Virginia battle over the Western Bypass in Charlottesville. Sixty-six seconds (the estimated time savings) has never been so controversial or expensive.

In Virginia, history does matter, and very few people inside or outside the region realize or care to acknowledge that the current bypass war actually dates to 1957.  Fifty-six years ago, a hired consultant recommended a northern route for Virginia’s section of Interstate 64, and a regional war between Lynchburg and Charlottesville politicians and businessmen broke out that was never satisfactorily resolved. Although the state recommended the southern route through the Danville/Lynchburg corridor, federal highway authorities ultimately overrode state politics and mandated that the highway run through/beside Charlottesville. Ever since that time, politicians, businessmen, and even faculty and students in the Danville/Lynchburg areas, the “Lynchburg Lobby,” blame the...

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Farewell, Hook

My photo home prepares to turn out the lights.

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Commentator Bill Emory puts up a new photo nearly every day at
 billemory.com/blog.

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Angels among us: How Charlottesville is becoming a hot spot for start-ups

By Peter Galuszka

Her three-month-old infant Benjamin strapped to her chest, Crystal Icenhour moves from room to room in a cream-colored building on a side street of downtown Charlottesville. “And that,” she says pointing to several trays of plastic-filled bags near a laboratory, “is our product.”

The small bags are sent via Federal Express to various medical laboratories, many at hospitals, from her firm named PHTHISIS Diagnostics, which is Greek for “tuberculosis.” After being mixed with water, their contents are used to measure molecular standards and provide quality control for highly sensitive diagnostic devices.

The seven-person firm offers a line of 15 such products since it began operations in 2006. The firm got started with $4.5 million in grants, many of them from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the state. Angel investors in the local area and North Carolina kicked in about $1 million.

After a lengthy incubation, PHTHISIS is finally showing results. So is Charlottesville as a haven for budding high technology centers. For years, the city has been a much-lauded, up-and-coming tech sector where bright minds come up with new ideas and win funding from angel investors or venture capitalists.

Charlottesville is suddenly starting to get national attention.

It has been ranked as No. 8 nationally, just behind Austin, Texas and ahead of Champaign-Urbana,...

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Catch Bubba: Something's 'fishy' about this wine

The Mountfair Vineyards Winery in Crozet  is known for the unusual names of its Bordeaux-style red wines which include "Intertwined," "Inaugural," and the linguistically daunting "Wooloomooloo." To get a taste of one of their newest wines, however, you’ll have to supply the fish.

Or rather, you’ll have to catch theirs.

The new wine, "Bubba," a mixture of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot grapes, is named after the hefty Largemouth Bass who has lived in the Vineyard’s pond for five years. This month, if you manage to catch him, three bottles of "Bubba" could be yours.

Mount Vineyard and the pond has been the property of co-founder Chris Yordy for the past 20 years. Yordy opened the winery five years ago after transforming the land from a horse farm. Bubba, however, seems to think he owns the place.

“He’s always been that elusive fish,” says Lizzy Kellinger, Mountfair general manager. “I try to catch him all the time.”

“No one is quite sure how big Bubba is,” she says.

Bubba’s namesake is the latest in a series of humorously named blends on the Vineyard’s wine list, which also includes such names as “Commitment,” “Jilted,” and “Blended Family.”

“The special release wines tend to have a unique name,” Kellinger explains. “We come up with them around the blending table. We were set to release 'Engagement' for the 2011 year, but we did not...

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Canine Adventures: A dog's best friend

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