End of the road for Rooker, happenings at UVA, and disgruntled homeowners: News briefs

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Notes from the news desk. File photo. Notes from the news desk. File photo.

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.

Rooker announces retirement from Board of Supervisors  

During last week’s Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting, independent  member Dennis Rooker announced that he will not be running for a fourth term on the Board, and endorsed Albemarle County School Board member Diantha McKeel as his replacement. Rooker was first elected to the Board in 2001, and served as chairman from 2005-2008.

According to numerous reports, the 62-year-old Jack Jouett District representative said he would not have been comfortable giving up his seat if he didn’t have such confidence in McKeel’s ability to represent the district. McKeel, who has also served on the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center’s board of directors, and president of the Canterbury Hills Neighborhood Association, will run as an independent.

Reports says UVA faculty pay drops in relation to peers

UVA has fallen further in the rankings when it comes to faculty compensation, according to a new report released by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), setting the University back in its pursuit of a recently adopted goal to rank within the top 20 American schools for faculty pay.

The Daily Progress reported that UVA’s Board of Visitors approved a faculty salary plan last month designed to move the school into the top third of the 60 schools in the Association of American Universities for average faculty salary. That goal was based on an understanding that UVA ranked 26th, but the latest data shows it’s fallen to 34th, outranked by several California schools, the University of Illinois, and the University of Michigan.

According to The Daily Progress, board and administrators say they still “steadfastly support” the effort to move UVA up in the rankings, an effort University President Teresa Sullivan has said would cost about $65 million.

Frats told to cut initiation process short as University investigates hazing

Last week, the University of Virginia told its fraternities to wrap up their new members’ pledge process this past weekend or risk losing their official University recognition, telling the Inter-Fraternity Council at least one frat is under investigation for “inappropriate behavior”—apparently hazing, according to a press release and letter sent out on Thursday.

While the press release says the order to initiate its new members early is “designed to ensure student safety and is in accordance with best practices governing the length of time for new member orientation,” and “is not in response to allegations of criminal misconduct,” it references the University’s no-tolerance hazing policy, and says one fraternity is under investigation.

NBC29 acquired a letter sent to pledges by Dean of Students Allen Groves that referenced “several independent reports of hazing activities and dangerous practices involving alcohol at multiple IFC fraternities,” and told the fraternities’ newest members to look out for their fellow classmates.

The deadline was originally set for 6pm Saturday, but was extended by 24 hours late last week to give some houses extra time to complete initiations.

Airport neighbors say blasting is damaging homes 

Residents who live near the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport say rock blasting employed by the airport to supply rubble and dirt for the final phase of its runway extension is causing property damage.

Homeowners in the Walnut Hills subdivision told The Daily Progress that the blasting is drying up wells, cracking interior and exterior walls, breaking windows, and damaging septic systems. They’ve asked the airport to stop the blasting, which is providing 2.2 million cubic yards of material for the $45 million project, so they can assess the damage. They say airport authorities have refused.

The last phase of the project is about 80 percent complete, the Progress reported, and airport officials “will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that our neighbor’s concerns are heard and addressed.”

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