Airport blasting, a new principal, and the return of the C’ville GOP: News briefs

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Republicans Buddy Weber (left) and Mike Farruggio at their campaign announcement event April 25. Photo: Charlottesville Tomorrow Republicans Buddy Weber (left) and Mike Farruggio at their campaign announcement event April 25. Photo: Charlottesville Tomorrow

Check c-ville.com daily and pick up a copy of the paper Tuesday to for the latest Charlottesville and Albemarle news briefs and stories. Here’s a quick look at some of what we’ve had an eye on for the past week.

Local GOP candidates announce City Council run

Charlottesville’s Republican Committee is fielding candidates for City Council for the first time since 2006.

Michael Farruggio, a 25-year veteran of the Charlottesville Police Department who is retiring as a sergeant, and Republican Party Chair Charles “Buddy” Weber, announced last week that they’ll run a joint campaign to vie for the two open Council seats.

Republicans haven’t held office in the city since 2006, when conservative talk show host Rob Schilling lost reelection, and the local party hasn’t run multiple candidates since 2000. But party leaders indicated earlier in April that they’re ready for a resurgence: The Committee’s once-annual Reagan Dinner returned for the first time in 10 years, and welcomed such high-profile guests as Karl Rove and former Reagan cabinet member James H. Burnley IV.

At their campaign announcement event, Farruggio and Weber blasted the all-Democrat Council for “dithering” on issues that matter to residents. They criticized the recent adoption of a new stormwater utility fee, and said the local housing authority suffers from “chronic mismanagement.”

Five Democrats are vying for the chance to run for the pair of open seats. Incumbent Kristin Szakos, Wes Bellamy, Melvin Grady, Adam Lees, and Bob Fenwick will face off in a June 11 primary.

New CHS principal to start in July

Charlottesville High School will have a new principal next school year.

Aaron Bissonnette will join the school administration July 1. According to a city schools press release, Bissonnette has almost a decade of teaching and administrative experience in North Carolina, serving as an assistant principal at Union Pines High School in Cameron, Crain’s Creek Middle School in Carthage, and North Moore High School in Ritter.

Former principal Thomas Taylor left CHS last December to become a schools superintendent in Middlesex County, and the position has since been filled by William Clendaniel, an administrator from Northern Virginia.

The city’s release also announced that division spokeswoman Jane Lee’s last day with the city schools is May 7. Former spokeswoman Cass Cannon will return to fill the position on an interim basis.

Airport blasting to continue, despite city’s stop request

The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport won’t stop its rock blasting operations, despite a call from the City Council to halt the explosions that some local residents say are damaging their homes.

The airport has been operating a blast quarry on its property since last fall, generating rock and rubble to create fill for a long-planned runway extension. But homeowners in nearby Walnut Hill have since reported cracks in drywall, molding, and foundations, in addition to other issues they believe stem from the repeated blasts, and they want the activity to stop.

City Councilors weighed in earlier this month with a letter to Airport Authority Chair Bill Kehoe, a UVA economics professor, requesting the airport stop the explosions, saying the body “believes more can be done to better understand whether the blasting is or is not having an effect on the homes.” The other two members of the independent Authority are Albemarle County Executive Tom Foley and Charlottesville’s Director of Economic Development Aubrey Watts.

According to a report in The Hook, Executive Director Melinda Crawford said the airport planned to continue the project as planned unless told otherwise by the Authority, but is also working to satisfy residents’ concerns and “be good neighbors.”

County considers new home for Northside Library

Albemarle County is eying a former commercial space on Rio Road as a potential new home for the Northside branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library System.

Northside is currently housed in a storefront in the Albemarle Square Shopping Center, but according to a story by Charlottesville Tomorrow, members of the Planning Commission agreed last week that the space is too small and dark to be the home of the system’s busiest branch. While the county’s capital improvement program doesn’t designate funding for a new library, the Commission gave its support to a plan to buy a 3-acre Rio plot that includes the 36,000-square-foot former Phillips Building Supply structure, which would cost an estimated $3 million to purchase and $8 million to redevelop. The final decision on whether to go ahead with the project rests with the Board of Supervisors.

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