Samantha Baars

Samantha Baars


A former Western Albemarle High School associate principal is accused of molesting a student in Louisiana in the 1980s. Staff photo

Former Western Albemarle admin accused of molestation

A former Western Albemarle High School associate principal, teacher and coach denies he molested a 12-year-old student in Louisiana in the early 1980s. The New Orleans Advocate reports his accuser told a New Orleans detective in early 2016 that, while attending Isidore Newman School, she had a crush on teacher Greg Domecq, who allegedly kissed […]

An early morning fire on Linden Avenue. Courtesy of the Charlottesville Fire Department

Awakened to explosions and flames

Four Jaunt buses and a townhome were up in flames when the Charlottesville Fire Department received a call for service around 2:40am July 13. Alice Facknitz, who lives in the Carlton Bridge apartment complex behind the Jaunt station and the Linden Town Lofts townhomes, says she woke to what she later learned was the sound […]

Sandy Hausman is the sole Virginia Public Radio reporter in its Charlottesville office and a recent winner of two national awards. Eze Amos

‘The big switch:’ WVTF news coverage goes radio silent

Monday morning listeners expecting to hear the news on Virginia Public Radio’s WVTF got music instead July 10. This is a product of “the big switch,” a format change for the network, in which 89.7 FM will only play tunes in Charlottesville. RadioIQ, the public radio group’s all-talk station, will now become its sole news […]

Governor Terry McAuliffe speaks at VDOT's ceremony to mark the opening of eight Route 29 Solutions projects. Staff photo

McAuliffe anoints Berkmar Drive, talks Morva

Virginia traffic officials began discussing ways to make U.S. 29—a highway that carries 50,000 vehicles a day—flow more successfully about three decades ago, Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne says. When Governor Terry McAuliffe took office three-and-a-half years ago, he made it a top priority. Today, the governor and his colleague visited Albemarle County for a […]

SolUnesco’s solar farm in Albemarle will be similar to Dominion’s in Louisa, which produces enough energy to power 5,000 homes a year. Courtesy Dominion

Environmentalists say new farm is bad for the birds

Clean energy is on the rise, and Reston-based group SolUnesco is planning to build a 70-acre solar farm in Albemarle County, which would be the first of its kind in the area. One local nature enthusiast, however, says these “so-called green energy sources” aren’t as harmless to the environment as many people think. “Although green […]

Lattice structures for proposed power lines are a rusted gold color. This one faces east on Skyline Drive. Courtesy Dominion

The bright side of darker power lines

Last August, locals protested Dominion Virginia Power’s plans to rebuild area transmission lines with a much brighter material than their darker predecessors. Now a state commission has ruled that the power company must chemically darken its structures, and the group of people that worried new lines would stick out like a sore thumb is rejoicing. […]

Vault Virginia's second floor will have glass offices. Courtesy Vault Virginia

Office space

First he brought you Studio IX, and now he’s set his sights on another collaborative workspace, one for whom he dubs the town’s creative entrepreneurs. In the Downtown Mall’s historic Bradbury building—the former Bank of America space—James Barton prepares to open Vault Virginia, where he says commercial atmosphere will meet a residential one in a […]

Frayser White IV. Photo courtesy of the Albemarle County Police Department

Another plea agreement: Felony drug charges likely dismissed

The man involved in the county’s first fatal traffic crash of 2016 pleaded guilty to possession of heroin, cocaine, a generic form of Xanax and to reckless driving in Albemarle County Circuit Court June 21 as part of a plea agreement. On March 15, 2016, Frayser “Kip” White IV allegedly crossed double-solid yellow lines in […]

Gene Washington pleads guilty to the murders of Robin and Mani Aldridge in their Rugby Avenue home. Photo by Hawes Spencer/ Inset photo courtesy Charlottesville Police.

Gene Washington pleads guilty

The man charged with beating a 58-year-old special education teacher and her 17-year-old daughter to death before setting their Rugby Avenue home ablaze in December 2014 pleaded guilty to one count of capital murder and one count of second degree murder in Charlottesville Circuit Court on June 21. Gasps filtered through the courtroom and a […]

Scottsville Supply Company co-owner Heather Stertzer inspects a honey bee colony. Photo courtesy of Heather Stertzer

The buzz in Scottsville, the state’s first Bee City

One in every three bites of food we take has been touched by a pollinator. And Scottsville—recently the first town in Virginia to become a Bee City—is sharing the buzz on the role pollinators play in the community. On June 24, during National Pollinator Week, Scottsville will host its first pollinator celebration in which, among […]

Seventeen of the 26 homes available at Emerson Commons have already been reserved. Here are some of the neighborhood’s future faces. Contributed by Peter Lazar

Trying again: Cohousing ready to break ground

Every kitchen sink will face a window that looks out into the front yard in a new 26-home development in Crozet. Lounging comfortably around the living room of their clubhouse, Emerson Commons residents call this design “classic cohousing,” because it encourages interaction with neighbors. Periphery parking lots that allow for a traffic-free and kid-friendly community, […]

UVA’s Dewey Cornell says schools are one of the safest places for children. Courtesy photo

Threat assessment: UVA prof says schools are safe

There are an average of 32,000 firearm deaths in the country every year—and there have been 224 school shootings since 2013. “Schools are one of the safest places for kids to be,” says Dewey Cornell, a professor at UVA’s Curry School of Education and director of the university’s Virginia Youth Violence Project. At his June […]

Catch a flathead catfish in the James River, and you’d better throw it back. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife service

Don’t eat the fish: Push to study toxins in local waters

Quillback carpsucker. Flathead catfish. Gizzard shad. American eel. Carp. If you catch one of these in the James River, you’re better off throwing it back in. Danny Hodge, a visiting fisherman recently stationed on the James, did just that when he says he reeled in a 20-pound catfish last month. “I wouldn’t eat none of […]

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement Accord, Mayor Mike Signer announced today that he has joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identify their sources. Staff photo

Still resisting, mayor makes climate calls

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement Accord, Mayor Mike Signer announced today that he has joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identify their sources. This is an effort, he says, to continue resisting. “Resistance has come to mean many things to […]

Bree Luck, who was recently named Live Arts’ producing artistic director, on the set of Death of a Salesman, which runs through Sunday, June 4. Photo by Martyn Kyle

Bree Luck’s storied Live Arts’ journey

Since 2003, Bree Luck has risen through the ranks at Live Arts—first as a volunteer, performing and directing, and then serving as education director. Most recently, Luck was the theater’s interim managing artistic director. This month, the Henry, Virginia, native—also a former Georgian, New Yorker and Californian—takes the helm as the theater’s producing artistic director, […]

Andrea Wieder, who uses the bus as her primary source of transportation, says it should be more of a priority for city officials. Eze Amos

Bus logistics among top concerns in city

Andrea Wieder relies on the bus. Bus No. 4, which stops at the bottom of Highland Avenue, is the one the Fry’s Spring resident takes to Food Lion and CVS. For Harris Teeter’s Senior Discount Day every Thursday, she takes the same route, transfers to the No. 7 bus and checks out the offerings at […]

Max Barbour, Susan Dawson, Stuart Leitch and Nick Taucher show off their wheels. Staff photo

It’s electric! Silverchair employees make power moves

In his Downtown Mall office, Stuart Leitch unfolds two pedals on either side of his electric unicycle, steps onto each and begins to balance from side to side with the 14-inch wheel between his shins. “I’ve had it for a year and a half and I’ve used it pretty much every single day,” says Leitch, […]

Christa Bennett and her daughter, Emma, enjoy recess at Jackson-Via Elementary School. Courtesy Christa Bennett

Heavy topics: Parents call for reform in city schools

By age 6, children—and girls, especially—begin to express concerns about their weight, according to a widely referenced 2011 study by psychologist Linda Smolak. For this reason, one local mother says the practice of publicly weighing students during gym class should be banned. At press time, Christa Bennett’s petition to stop weigh-ins in Charlottesville City Schools […]

Summer VILLAGE: Is your kid getting enough water?

Summer VILLAGE: Is your kid getting enough water?

Summer’s here and it’s hot, so don’t let the risk of dehydration ruin your little one’s fun in the sun. Local pediatrician Paige Perriello offers a few tips to tell whether your child could use a gulp of water and how to keep it flowing all season long. “The first thing that kids will usually […]

Senator Creigh Deeds celebrates a newly expanded space at The Women’s Initiative, which provides mental health services through a sliding scale walk-in clinic. Staff photo

‘Mental health is health care’

  Senator Creigh Deeds celebrates a newly expanded space at The Women’s Initiative, which provides mental health services through a sliding scale walk-in clinic. The new space on East High Street includes a large room for physical activities that promote trauma healing and additional therapy offices designed for tech-assisted and live supervision for clinical training. […]

Albemarle County officials want to move their courts out of Court Square. Staff photo

Court conundrum: A failed referendum and a wish to avoid one

  The Board of Supervisors’ interest in relocating Albemarle County’s houses of justice from their current location on Court Square and into their own jurisdiction has been overshadowed with opposition, but county attorney Greg Kamptner thinks he may have found a way to circumvent the need for public approval. He told supervisors at their May […]

Jason Kessler dodges the media stationed outside the courthouse. Staff photo

WANTED: An attorney for Kessler

  Jason Kessler appeared in Charlottesville General District Court today for a disorderly conduct charge related to his presence in Lee Park last Sunday, when he allegedly disobeyed officers’ commands to leave the park and incited the crowd with a bullhorn. The right-wing blogger told the judge he’s having trouble finding an attorney to represent […]

Frayser White IV. Photo courtesy of the Albemarle County Police Department

Frayser White hearing continued—again

The man involved in the first fatal traffic crash of 2016 in Albemarle County was scheduled to appear in court May 12 for a pre-trial motions hearing. He and his attorneys were not there and, for the third time since a January 30 hearing, the motions were continued. The prosecution maintains that on March 15, […]

Carolyn McGee, president of StayVA and owner of The Inn at 400 West High in the city, says all homestays should be held to the same standards. Photo by Eze Amos

Ready to regulate: Albemarle eyes homestays

In Albemarle County, about a third of the homestays are flying under the radar. At a May 3 Board of Supervisors work session on the topic, county staff said something must be done to regulate them. The county has received 60 applications since 2004, and of those, 27 have been approved, according to Rebecca Ragsdale, […]

Before the St. Thomas Aquinas statue was moved. Photo by Stephen Barling

Bumper Buddha’s big move

Drive past St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Alderman Road and you’ll notice something different—a Charlottesville icon has disappeared. The UVA student-dubbed “Bumper Buddha,” a statue of the church’s namesake welded out of chrome car bumpers, was moved to IX Art Park on May 2. “Without question, the sculpture became a landmark not only for our […]