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Minority report
Local African-American business owners face the challenges of an open market

A white Charlottesville resident is about two-and-a-half times more likely to be a business owner than is a black resident, according to U.S. Census figures. But though this statistic is hardly something to cheer about, it’s less skewed than the national white-to-black business owner ratio, as well as the numbers for other similar-sized cities [see chart].

In another telling statistic, while African-Americans account for more than 22 percent of Charlottesville’s population, the 591 firms they own account for only 11 percent of the town’s total businesses. But this share is higher than the percentage of African-American-owned businesses in Virginia or in the nation, which stand at 7 and 4 percent, respectively.

William Harvey, the City of Charlottesville’s primary liaison to the minority business community since 1987, attributes much of the progress of local black business owners to stable economic footing gained through catering to a wide range of City residents. Harvey contrasts this nimble business standard with the days when black-owned businesses and residents were clustered in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood. (Much of Vinegar Hill was razed in the name of urban renewal in the 1960s.)

“This was a segregated type of economy where blacks serviced blacks,” Harvey says of the Vinegar Hill era. Harvey says Charlottesville is now an “open market” where most successful businesses must “address the needs of everybody.”

But though many black businesses have thrived by reaching out to UVA students, tourists and white residents, some business owners cite the difficulties that result from not being able to rely on a closely-knit neighborhood such as Vinegar Hill.

“That’s the biggest challenge. You have to serve everybody,” says Dr. Benegal S. Paige, an African-American dentist who has owned his own practice in Charlottesville for 24 years. “Basically people in [the Vinegar Hill] era catered to their own group.”

Both Paige and William Lewis, the owner of Duplex Copy Center and a former chair of the Central Virginia Minority Business Association, agree that Charlottesville’s black business community lacks the strength of those in larger cities such as Richmond or Atlanta. They say black businesses in those cities can rely on banks that are geared toward making loans to minority-owned businesses, and can also rely on business from other African-Americans. For example, Lewis says if Charlottesville had major black-owned law firms, as does Atlanta, “I guarantee you I’d get more business.”

Charlottesville Mayor Maurice Cox, himself an African-American business owner, says the community is not large enough to support a minority-driven market. “They really have to have a broad-based appeal,” Cox says of local black-owned businesses. He says minority business owners have risen to this challenge, and adds that strong marketing efforts will be an important facet of keeping the community moving in the right direction.

As evidence of the growing diversity and health of Charlottesville’s minority business community, Harvey displays a map that pinpoints minority-owned businesses in 1986 and in 2003. The dots for 2003 are far more broadly dispersed around the City than those from 1986, which are clumped to the west of the Downtown Mall.

Paige echoes Harvey’s optimism, and says he’s seen progress in the minority business community in recent years. He says the City has worked hard to help minorities secure loans and develop business plans. And of Vinegar Hill’s displacement, Paige says: “I think that old wound has pretty much healed.”

But despite the efforts of Harvey and other local black leaders, it’s clear that black business owners still face an uphill battle in Charlottesville.

“We’ll never make it equal and balanced,” Lewis says of the local business playing field for African-Americans. “But you try.”

The black community itself needs to work harder to support its business owners, says Scottie B., the African-American owner of the Garden of Sheba restaurant and organizer of the roving Club Massive dance party. “Why aren’t they coming out to support what we’re doing?” is a question Scottie B. says he’s asked his black neighbors. He says he “has no problems” with serving a wide blend of customers, but claims his restaurant, which opened in August, gets most of its support from the white community. As a result, Scottie B. says he worries that black Charlottesville may be “forgetting about our own people.”—Paul Fain

Meating the need
Hunters for the Hungry takes aim at filling food banks

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is Steve Morgan’s busy season. When most folks are spending hours at the mall hunting for packages, Morgan is spending hours in his shop packaging for hunters. It’s both deer season and a season for giving, and as part of a unique program, Morgan brings the two together.

Morgan is Albemarle County’s official meat processor (the polite term for butcher) for Hunters for the Hungry, a 12-year-old national organization that provides thousands of pounds of venison a year to food banks and other nonprofit organizations for distribution to the needy. Founded in 1991 by David Horne, then-general manager of a program to salvage and distribute produce, Hunters for the Hungry was modeled on a Texas organization that salvaged and distributed meat. Horne succumbed to cancer early last year, but the program had grown under his leadership—it provided 33,948 pounds of venison the first year and 266,456 pounds in 2002.

Deer are a plentiful, nutritious source of meat in Virginia, and hunters can easily bag more than they can eat during the October-January hunting season. Processors like Morgan—there are 64 in the state—are collection points for hunters to drop off extra game. The processors remove all of the meat from the deer, package it and store it for the program to pick up.

Morgan, a soft-spoken, amiable 32-year-old, lives with his wife and two small children near Schuyler in a spread that has been in his family since the Civil War. Much of his work comes from providing taxidermy services to hunters, but during deer season he takes on two part-time employees to help him manage the processing workload. It takes about a half hour for a professional to skin, cut and package an adult deer, and in the busy season Morgan and his crew may go through 15 a day, about 20 percent of which are donated to the program. This is Morgan’s second year participating in Hunters for the Hungry, and he estimates last year he processed 70 deer for the organization, providing approximately 2,500 pounds of meat.

A hunter himself since he was 10 years old, Morgan is unaffected by critics of his trade. Deer are plentiful in Virginia, they grow up wild and are killed in a much more humane manner than animals raised for slaughter, and all parts of the carcass are used—the shoulder and neck for burger meat, the hindquarters and tenderloin for steaks and the remaining scraps sold to rendering companies. According to the Hunters for the Hungry website (www.h4hungry.org), venison is a “quality high-protein, low-fat item not normally available” to the needy.

Although the deer are donated by hunters, and the food banks distribute the meat, it still takes funds to run the organization and pay the processors, who charge the charity a reduced rate for their services. Fortunately for the program, the government recently passed the David Horne Hunger Relief Bill, which will provide an opportunity for hunters to donate $2 to Hunters for the Hungry when they apply for their licenses. For those looking to get more bang for their buck—‘tis the season.—Chris Smith

To go with the flow
Meadow Creek will be “daylighted” as The Dell gets a stream

Before Emmet Street existed, Meadow Creek was the dominant physical presence in the natural valley the road now follows. After emerging from a spring on Observatory Hill, the creek heads northwesterly toward Emmet Street and then runs with the road all the way from the Central Grounds Parking Garage up to Barracks Road. Charlottesville residents can be forgiven for overlooking this portion of Meadow Creek, however, as the segment is contained in underground pipes.

But for the first time since 1950, some of this not-so-scenic stretch will be unearthed. In recent weeks, as part of the construction project for the new basketball arena, UVA began working to “daylight” a portion of Meadow Creek located in “The Dell” on the UVA campus.

“We’re actually taking what’s in a pipe and bringing it above ground,” says Richard Laurance, the director of the University Arena Project. “It took 100 years to get everything below ground. Now we’re taking it up.”

The stream was banished to a pipe so the University could level out and use the land, says Jeff Sitler, an environmental compliance manager for the University. The project will resurrect about 400 feet of the stream and return it to some form of nature. The new Dell will feature an emerged stream, retaining pond, biofiltration system, meadows, a walkway, and plantings of ash and poplar trees and other vegetation.

Currently, Meadow Creek’s last glimpse of daylight before the underground stretch is about 100 yards west of Emmet Street in The Dell. Here, the stream trickles into a concrete pipe about 3′ in diameter, and immediately passes under a few picnic tables as it begins the long pipe run past the Barracks Road Shopping Center.

But just a few feet before Meadow Creek goes subterranean is a newly constructed right-fork that leads to the beginning of an artificial streambed. The still-dry waterway is lined with neatly stacked stones, and winds its way between tennis and basketball courts before joining a new retaining pond adjacent to Emmet Street. Bulldozers, two portable toilets and stacks of mud and rocks sit on the muddy construction site, where there will eventually be one of the planned meadows. On a recent Wednesday morning, a work crew could be seen and heard laboring with a power saw.

The benefits of the $1.2 million Meadow Creek daylighting project, according to UVA Landscape Architect Mary Hughes, are practical, ecological and economic. She says the emerged section of Meadow Creek and the retaining pond will reduce the storm water strain on the pipe system, which will remain in service, and will help to prevent flooding problems around the new arena and elsewhere downstream. While they’re at it, UVA is installing new sanitary sewer and water lines as part of the project, Laurance says.

UVA’s earthmovers hardly conjure up warm feelings for local conservationists, but this massive landscaping project actually has an environmental benefit. The daylighted stream will help clean the water in Meadow Creek, both in UVA territory and further downstream. The exposure to sunlight, vegetation and other stream life all serve “to make the water quality better than it is in a sealed pipe,” Hughes says. Finally, she says a babbling brook in the newly sylvan Dell will be a “landscape amenity” for UVA students.

According to Sitler, the reestablishment of vegetation along the stream will take longer than building a new streambed. And though construction at the Meadow Creek project is moving along, with the University anticipating a June completion date, Sitler says it “will probably be harder to put [Meadow Creek] back” in a streambed than it was to put it in a pipe. —Paul Fain

 

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Ease on down the road
City Attorney braces for a fight as Councilors squabble over MCP easement

Craig Brown seemed a little nervous. He shuffled a stack of papers, wearing the apprehensive expression of someone unaccustomed to dropping bombs.

“There’s no shortage of opinions in this community about the Meadowcreek Parkway,” Brown said, bracing for the uproar he was about to set off as City Council began its meeting on Monday, December 15.

In the most recent chapter of the Meadowcreek Parkway saga, Brown, who is the City Attorney, has found himself the reluctant center of a fierce game of legal brinkmanship that could pit Councilors against each other in court and cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I’ve been directed to ask the State Attorney General for an advisory opinion on easement by a simple majority,” Brown announced to Council at the start of the meeting.

“Directed by whom? This is the first time I’ve heard about this,” replied Councilor Kevin Lynch, seeming indignant. “Jerry Kilgore is the expert now? This is the same Attorney General who opposes providing contraception for college students.”

Councilor Meredith Richards apparently had spearheaded this particular escalation of the McIntire Park easement question, which these days is at the heart of the never-ending Meadowcreek Parkway problem. A nine-acre strip of City-owned parkland is the last obstacle blocking the Meadowcreek Parkway, which first came onto Council’s agenda in 1967. Albemarle County and the Virginia Department of Transportation want the City to grant right-of-way through McIntire Park so VDOT can build the Parkway, which would run through City and County lands. But a State law designed to protect public space requires a four-fifths supermajority for Council to sell parkland.

Only three Councilors––Richards, Rob Schilling and Blake Caravati––favor the Parkway, however. So in November they asked Brown whether the three of them could legally ease the land to VDOT for free, instead of selling it. Brown says an easement is legally feasible, while State constitution expert A.E. Dick Howard has opined that such a move blatantly violates the spirit––and probably the letter—of Virginia law. After Mayor Maurice Cox and Councilor Kevin Lynch went public with their vehement disapproval of an easement, Vice-Mayor Richards and her allies directed Brown to seek Kilgore’s advice. It was a transparent attempt to bolster their easement arguments, but not transparent enough. Lynch and Cox learned about the Kilgore idea for the first time on December 15, which apparently infuriated the Mayor.

“I had lunch with you today,” he stormed at Richards. “We talked on the phone this weekend. The idea that you were seeking the Attorney General’s opinion never crossed your mind? I’m appalled.”

Richards suggested that she was merely following the people’s will, as she had received many requests to contact Kilgore.

“No one’s asked me that,” Cox snapped. “Please forward them, so we can share in this sentiment you seem to have found among Charlottesville residents.”

After campaigning against the Parkway in 2000 and receiving more votes than any other current Councilor, Cox remains intent on blocking the Parkway; he continues to speak of the road in the subjunctive. Lynch, who also campaigned as an anti-Parkway “Democrat for Change,” has lately adopted a more compromising tone, by contrast, saying he would support selling the McIntire Park land if the City could secure usable replacement land from Albemarle. His other conditions include State appropriations for a Meadowcreek Parkway interchange at Route 250 and McIntire Road, and for proposed eastern and southern connector roads.

“I think we’re really close to a compromise and commitments that would put the Parkway in a context where it is an asset to the City,” said Lynch in an interview prior to the Council meeting.

But the newly combative Richards says she doesn’t buy Lynch’s diplomacy: “These claims are intended to kill the road, not improve the road.”

On December 15, Richards said she would be “happy” to see a court battle over the proposed easement. After the meeting, Schilling, who ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism, said he would have no problem with a lawsuit, either: “If that’s the way it has to go, then so be it.” Caravati wasn’t at the Council meeting, and was unavailable for comment.

The December 15 meeting ended with Cox telling Richards she should be “ashamed,” Richards accusing Cox of “bullying tactics” and Schilling threatening to walk out. Afterward, Brown sat alone among his stack of papers in the empty Council chambers.

“That’s not the way anyone would like to see a Council meeting end,” he said later. “I was spending a few minutes trying to reflect on what happened, and my role.”

Brown says this is the most intense conflict he has witnessed in his 18 years in City Hall. If Richards, Schilling and Caravati order an easement, Brown says, a lawsuit will probably ensue, and he stands ready to defend the majority’s decision.

“It’s not the easiest position to be in, but that doesn’t affect my analysis of the issue,” Brown says. “I approach it as unbiased as I can. My job is to present options available to Council, and the risk. Obviously, the risk here is being sued.”

Danielson returns

It’s been a while since Lee Danielson showed up at a meeting of the Board of Architectural Review. Given his history with that body, he had every reason to expect a lukewarm homecoming.

But on Tuesday, December 16, when Danielson’s architect, Mark Hornberger, described the California developer’s plans for a nine-storey, 100-room hotel at 200 E. Main St., the former site of Boxer Learning, the Board seemed enthusiastic.

“I’d like to see the Mall get this building,” said Board member Katie Swenson, echoing the general sentiment.

The plans presented were tentative, comprising various aerial views of a tall building measuring 53 feet across and nearly 300 feet long, from the Downtown Mall to Water Street. Hornberger showed several potential shapes for the hotel structure, but no design details. “We’d like to ask your opinion on massing,” said Hornberger to the BAR.

Some Board members wanted Danielson to preserve the building’s current façade, while others didn’t care if he tore it down. Although no formal vote was taken, the BAR gave Danielson the green light to proceed with design. Hornberger asked how the notoriously conservative BAR felt about modern architecture, then cited his own views: “We are in the 21st century, and as architects we have an obligation to mirror the 21st century.”

Board Chair Joan Fenton encouraged Danielson and his architects to consult with Board members—not because the BAR wanted to enforce a “traditional” design, but because the BAR could be willing to give Danielson more leeway than he might expect, given his past battles with the Board over the Charlottesville Ice Park and Regal Cinema buildings, which he developed in the ’90s with former business partner Colin Rolph.

“This board has been much more open to modern architecture, as evidenced by the new arts building,” said Fenton, referring to the modern City Center for Contemporary Arts, which is sited one block behind Danielson’s building. “There’s an openness to new materials,” Fenton continued. “Sometimes people shy away from a design because you think the Board won’t do it, but I encourage you to come talk to us.”

That didn’t sound like the stodgy BAR that infuriated Danielson during his prime as a Mall magnate. But the brash developer seemed himself a little different, too. Known for his bold declarations, Danielson kept mum at the meeting and offered only mild comments afterward.

“I’m a little gun-shy,” he said, declining to speculate on when construction might commence. “But I must say I’m glad about the reception [the hotel] is getting. Even people who are against everything seem to think it’s a good idea.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Under the knife
After lessons with a real-life chef, I know how the carved bird steams

Norman Rockwell was a crackhead. That’s the only way I can explain the utopian scene in his painting “Freedom From Want”—a perfectly coifed, multi-generational family gathered around the exquisitely placed Thanksgiving table, the aging matriarch delivering a turkey Arnold Schwarzenegger could drive, the gathered brood a portrait of Radcliffe futures and Howard Dean smiles.

Coming from a large family myself, I know this is not how it goes. Sure, it may start out this way—perfectly aligned silverware, well-bleached linens, the only spots to be found are on Grandma—but this is an aspiration, a beginning that has no possible future but to spin out of control into total holiday entropy. As soon as the knife pierces the skin of that turkey, the feeling that something’s got to give becomes the realization that something just did, and within minutes we are transformed from dinner at the White House to dinner with the Muppets’ Swedish Chef, a cacophony of drips, spills and airborne potatoes, a controlled food fight at best—“Vergoofin der flicke stoobin, bork bork bork.”

But all is not lost. The centerpiece of the feast is that massive winged SUV in the middle of the table, and if father can carve it like a surgeon instead of a lumberjack, he just might be able to save Christmas. After copious research and a demonstration by executive sous chef Dan Paymar at Boar’s Head Inn, I have ordained myself skilled (or at least capable) in the art of turkey carving. If necessary, I can stand in for father this year, and with these tips, so can you:

There are essentially four edible parts of the bird: breast, wing, thigh and leg. The breast is the white meat—the most tender—and the other parts are dark meat. While one could just haphazardly slice dark meat off the leg and white meat out of the breast, consensus seems to be that the carver should first separate the leg and thigh from the rest of the bird. To do this, insert the knife between the leg and the breast, slicing the skin and feeling your way down to the joint at the thighbone. Pry the thigh off at the hip joint while gently twisting the leg—this should remove the leg and thigh en masse. By further separating the thigh and the leg (again, find the joint between the two and slice) you will have a nice thigh and drumstick, which you can serve whole if you are related to Hagar, or cut into slabs of dark meat by slicing parallel to the bone.

The wing can then be removed by gently pulling it outward from the breast and using the knife to find the shoulder joint, slicing through where it gives way the best. Wings are too bony to yield good slabs of meat, but those Radcliffe-bound youngsters like chewing on them, so serve them as-is to the shorties at the kids’ table.

Last there is the breast, which is generally the most popular part of the bird. You can serve the breast two ways: cutting slabs right off the whole bird with long, slanty slices parallel to the rib cage, or pulling the breast out of the turkey and cutting the slices in the opposite direction, against the grain of the meat, which Chef Paymar insists results in juicier pieces. Either way, the turkey will cool quickly, so wait until the family is ready to be served before seeking perfection in your dissection.

For the neat-freaks who want to do all the carving ahead of time, there is another option. Section the bird as described above, then boil the remaining meat off the bones and use it along with the giblets to make a delicious gravy. When you’re ready to serve, just reheat the meat slices, douse them with gravy, and bon appetite! And if you ever find a Norman Rockwell painting of kids eating turkey sandwiches in January, let me know. At least that would be believable.—Chris Smith

 

The shape of things
Frank Stella’s former printmaker sculpts his own path in Charlottesville

Few of us ever meet a true art legend. Fewer still work side-by-side with one. Local artist James Welty is one of the luckiest few to do both. After taking printmaking at the Rochester Institute of Technology, he served as Frank Stella’s master printer for 12 years. Stella, famous for his 1960s “black paintings,” is also known for creating energetic assemblages of colorful, often circular spiral forms.

But that’s in his past—now Welty directs his own art career. In 1987, Welty left Stella’s New York workshop to focus on his own sculpture. He spent 10 successful years in New York City exhibiting at many spaces, including the John Davis Gallery. In 1999, his wife, Karen Van Lengen, was offered a position as dean of UVA’s architecture school, and they moved south to Charlottesville. Welty entered the local art scene in 2000 when he exhibited his welded copper sculpture “A Short History of Decay” in “Hindsight/Fore-site,” the collaborative exhibition between UVA and Les Yeux du Monde. Next year he will have his own show at the UVA Art Museum.

Welty brings a whole host of experiences to his art, from his time with Stella to his work in modern dance. He collaborated in New York with the Dan Wagoner Dance Company and The Kitchen, designing costumes and sets, and, in the case of avant-garde performance space The Kitchen, conceptualizing projects.

He also incorporates an encyclopedic range of knowledge from literature to anthropology to pop culture. He reads voraciously and cites sources such as Francois Rabelais, Henri Michaux and Franz Kafka. In the next breath he mentions Dr. Seuss and Daffy Duck. Welty finds kindred spirits that inspire and influence him.

Throughout his career, the juxtaposition of ideas (organic and mechanic, decay and rebirth, interior and exterior) has inspired Welty. Not unexpectedly, the way he envisions these dualities has evolved. In the last few years, his works have grown increasingly organic. His brazed copper structures often consist of hollow areas that suggest interiors, albeit interiors like the knotty cave formed by the tangled roots of a tree. As Welty says, “I am always returning to spaces that have tension and ambiguity.”

Early reviews of Welty’s work noted an inherent fearfulness in his structures. As his works have fleshed out, a sense of unease still exists—Welty acknowledges that some of his works might intimidate. However, this unease is more disorienting than ominous as Welty manipulates familiar objects into imagined forms. In “The Isle of Wild Sausages,” for example, a cylindrical form resembles a car part.

Underneath the gnarled, almost sci-fi veneer, Welty’s works want to invite us in. He reminisces about the cardboard structures his dad built for him as a child. He tries to recreate that sensation by building a “space to hide in,” he says, wanting his works to challenge but ultimately provide refuge.

Among the new works Welty is preparing for his June show at UVA Art Museum is a 50-foot scroll inspired by the “macabre, yet poignant” Japanese Hell Scrolls. Although a shrewd observer will undoubtedly notice the Stella construction in the museum’s adjoining room, she’ll surely conclude that Welty’s sculptures have lives of their own.—Emily Smith

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Feels like the last time
After a bad season of foul weather and Foreigner, CDF could be ready to bow out of Fridays

Charlottesville needs less than two inches of precipitation in the remaining weeks of 2003 to break a 66-year-old record for annual rainfall. That’s quite a reversal of fortune from last year’s drought, a change that climatology experts, quoted in The Daily Progress, attribute to shifts in the jet stream.

But some of the credit––or blame—for the rain must fall on the coifed heads of Foreigner, the ’70s arena rockers whose Fridays After 5 concert was rained out three times last summer. Apparently offended by Foreigner, the gods of rock thrice sent a series of storms, including Hurricane Isabel, to rain out the hot-blooded band. The Charlottesville Downtown Foundation, which runs Fridays After 5, finally held the Foreigner show at the Downtown Amphitheater on Sunday, September 28.

The anti-Foreigner showers also ended up playing head games with Fridays After 5—it now seems the bad weather may have shut down Fridays for good.

“It’s not clear to me at this time that they [the CDF] would be prepared to take on that event next year,” said Aubrey Watts, the City’s director of economic development, in a report to City Council on Monday, December 1.

Charlottesville is planning to start building a federally funded transit center near City Hall in 2004. The construction will include improvements to the amphitheater, home to the Fridays concerts, and Watts predicts the work will interrupt shows during the summer of either 2004 or 2005. Watts told Council the City is negotiating with CDF to hold the concerts somewhere else––perhaps the parking lot at the old Save-A-Lot grocery store near the Omni Hotel––during construction.

But in his report to Council, Watts hinted that the CDF might not be able to put on the shows next year.

“This year with the rain and everything, they had to end up canceling some shows,” Watts said to C-VILLE later. “They are having some issues they’re trying to work through.”

Asked if the City would consider picking up the tab for Fridays After 5, Watts said “I have not seen any desire on the part of the City to do that, but that could change.”

Last year the CDF began charging admission fees to Fridays After 5 to boost the group’s flagging finances, but the organization still seems shaky. President Patricia Goodloe says the CDF would certainly look for a new location for the concerts if necessary, but she wouldn’t comment on whether financial difficulties will mean the end of the concerts. She said she is negotiating with the City on the future of Fridays.

“I don’t want to mess up those negotiations by making any formal statements,” says Goodloe.

Regardless of the CDF’s financial outlook, free or cheap concerts Downtown could come to an end, anyway. On December 1 the Council considered leasing the Downtown Amphitheater to the Charlottesville Industrial Development Authority, which would sublease the site to a private concert promoter. The leading candidate is Dave Matthews Band manager and über-developer Coran Capshaw.

Under the current plan, the City would loan the CIDA $2.5 million, and that agency in turn would loan the money to Capshaw at “a below-commercial bank rate,” according to City documents. The developer would use the money to improve the amphitheater and its sound system, and pay back the City over several decades.

Council will vote on the proposal at its next meeting on December 15. According to City documents, the City wants Capshaw to provide for a minimum of 20 public events, such as Municipal Band concerts and First Night Virginia, and provide a Fridays After 5-type event during the summer “so long as it is economically feasible.”

Councilor Kevin Lynch took issue with that clause, saying he wanted some assurance that Capshaw would hold “free or reasonably priced” concerts. Mayor Maurice Cox countered that such a commitment would be unrealistic.

“It’s unreasonable to for us to say events will be free, even if it’s not economically feasible,” says Cox. “[This deal] is going to bring a level of experience in managing entertainment that we have no precedent for here in Charlottesville.”

Watts, who negotiated a similar lease arrangement with SNL Financial when that company moved from its Mall building to the former National Ground Intelligence Center, is negotiating the exact terms of the lease with Capshaw. His management of the amphitheater will likely mean more expensive shows, as his will be a profit-making venture. But if Capshaw’s Starr Hill Music Hall is any indication, those shows will be culled from a 21st-century roster of artists. Maybe that will keep the rock gods happy.––John Borgmeyer
 

Man of few words
Crozetians want to hear about the new Supe’s pro-growth agenda, but Wyant’s not talking

Now that David Wyant has won the White Hall seat on Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors, his new constituents would like to know more about him. So far, that hasn’t proven easy.

Speaking at candidate forums held in Crozet during the race, Wyant disparaged the major planning project affecting his district, the Crozet Master Plan. Wyant’s campaign literature, for example, said the much-publicized plan (which drew an average of 125 citizens to each of 10 community meetings) was the unrealistic product of “a very small group of people with the backing of special interests.”

Laura Juel, for one, would like to get past Wyant’s public remarks to better understand how he plans to manage Crozet’s impending dramatic growth. A town of 3,000, Crozet, under current zoning, could quadruple by 2020. Like many people in Wyant’s district, Juel awaits the new arrivals as she would a hurricane––hoping for light rains while boarding up the windows.

“I know the growth is coming,” she says. “What are we going to do about it?” That’s the big question in Wyant’s district, but it’s hard to get him to address it.

“I know his family has lived here for more than 200 years. He’s said that several times,” Juel says. “But I don’t know anything about his vision.”

Of 4,017 votes cast in Crozet, Free Union, Earlysville, Brownsville and Yellow Mountain, the Republican Wyant took 54 percent by employing the tried-and-true strategy of bashing an opponent while making as few public commitments as possible. The closest race within the district was in Crozet, where Wyant topped his opponent, Democrat Eric Strucko, by a slender 41 votes.

On the issue of growth, candidate Wyant would only say, “I am not in favor of taking away peoples’ property rights,” which some might recognize as a sly wink to developers.

While Wyant said little about growth, Strucko perhaps said too much. Strucko sat on the County’s Development Initiative Steering Committee (DISC), where he spent time working on the Crozet Master Plan. Starting in January 2002, the County sent architects and planners to meet with Crozetians in a series of community work sessions that were advertised in media outlets, stores, libraries and gas stations. Details of the plan were hung in the Crozet post office.

The resulting Crozet Master Plan aims to coordinate the development of subdivisions, roads, shopping centers and schools in a pedestrian-friendly scale, with the hope that Route 250W won’t follow the example set in the County’s other growth areas along Route 29N and Pantops.

“Growth management doesn’t lend itself to sound bites, where the message is conveyed in 10 seconds,” Strucko says. “It has a lot of moving parts and requires contemplation. I think I laid out too much of a plan.”

Strucko credits the Wyant campaign for playing on people’s fear of growth by spinning the Crozet Master Plan as “my opponent’s plan to urbanize Crozet.” That’s the way Wyant described it in a statement conveyed via his campaign manager to C-VILLE in October.

“The whole thing is really screwed up,” says Brian Cohen, who publishes the Crozet-centric newspaper The Whistle. In his November “Soapbox” column, Cohen claimed “Wyant lied and misled the citizenry” by portraying Strucko as a tool of special interests who wanted to bring growth, raise taxes and curtail property rights.

“[Wyant] is accurate in that Strucko’s approach takes a lot of regulation,” says Vito Cetta, whose company, Weather Hill Homes, is building about 80 houses in Crozet. “That’s because we live in a beautiful place, and we want to keep it beautiful. Buildings are so visible, and this stuff will be around indefinitely.

“Albemarle is getting 800 new homes a year whether we like it or not,” says Cetta. “We have to have sensible planning, or this place will look like a big subdivision. Anybody, in general, who would object to planning I think they got blinders on.”

Cetta says he thinks White Hall’s Supervisor-elect “means well” and hopes Wyant will change his mind once he learns more about the plan. Wyant himself has acknowledged in forums that he didn’t attend any of the Crozet Master Plan development sessions, and Wyant hasn’t spoken to any of the plan’s major players––County planner Susan Thomas, Planning Committee Chair Will Reiley and architects Warren Byrd and Kenneth Schwartz, for instance––for details about Crozet’s future.

“I’d be interested to hear his alternatives,” says Cetta.

So would many others, but Wyant isn’t talking. He didn’t return numerous calls over several weeks from C-VILLE, and Cohen says he was only able to interview Wyant for a voter’s guide through his campaign manager, Peter Maillet. Juel, who is president of the 350-member Crozet Community Association, says she couldn’t get calls returned to have Wyant speak at candidate forums.

“When I’ve spoken with him at candidate forums, he didn’t really answer the questions. He just changed the subject,” says Juel, who describes Wyant as “real flippant.”

“I asked him how I could get in touch with him,” says Juel. “He said he’d have somebody get back with me. I said, ‘No, if I elect you, I want to talk to you.’ He said he had a lot of things going on.”

The County’s Planning Commission is currently reviewing the Crozet Master Plan. The Board of Supervisors––including Wyant––will vote on the plan in late January.––John Borgmeyer

 

Unchained melody
The Washington, D.C., DJ duo Blowoff, a.k.a. Richard Morel and Bob Mould, inaugurated new local dance club R2 on November 14. With enthusiasm for Charlottesville and what they saw of its club scene, Blowoff will return to R2 on December 12 and January 16. Blowoff is one of several projects for each of the musicians. Mould, who has fronted rock bands like Hüsker Dü and Sugar and worked as a solo artist during the past 20 years, also had a stint as a scriptwriter for professional wrestling. More recently, he has branched out to record electronic-style music under his own name as well as the pseudonym LoudBomb. Morel fronts an electronica-guitar rock band called Morel, which last year released the sublime CD Queen of the Highway. As Pink Noise, he is also a much-sought-after remix master, who has worked with Mariah Carey, Beth Orton and Charlottesville’s own Clare Quilty. Both profess a deep appreciation of pop music: Morel likes the Pink/William Orbit single from the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle soundtrack and new music by Mark Ronson; Mould likes the new Sarah McLachlan record, calling the single “heartbreaking.” He also characterized the latest TV commercial for Little Debbie Snack Cakes as “trippy” and “really well done.” Cathy Harding talked to Blowoff about working the crowd at R2 and wearing so many musical hats.

Cathy Harding: What were your impressions of R2?

Richard Morel: For both of us it was really exciting to go to Charlottesville. We thought the crowd was so cool and so hip to what we were doing. We had no expectations going in. We left on a total high because the night was so great.

Bob Mould: We have a weekly gig at the Backbar at 9:30 Club in Washington and it’s a much more intimate space. I was pretty blown away by the amount of immediate feedback at R2. Not only people dancing but people looking up to the booth and giving the big thumbs up to certain songs, which was great.

Your set lists have a really wide mix of club music, pop music and everything in between. With your motto, “Let the music set you free,” are you speaking as much to yourselves as you are to the crowd?

RM: Absolutely. One of the things that is central to both of us is we play music that we truly love and dig. We play records that we get off on. As far as the style, it’s less important than the vibe we get off them.

BM: I’ve been making music and listening to music and obsessed with music my whole life. It’s an interesting time in the sense that when I started in music professionally 25 years ago, there were only five or six stylistic differentiations in music. As information has traded quicker and technology has made it much more affordable for everyone to make music, it has become so much more splintered that it would be pointless to be so micro-genre-specific. As Rich said, a good song is a good song. The challenge is how to string them all together across the course of an evening as legendary DJs used to do to try to tell a story through the night.

Is there a learning curve to going from guitar, bass and drums to the DJ gear?

BM: For me, the past five or six years has been learning by trial and error, learning by looking at the manuals, and learning by listening to music I like and emulating it, which is pretty much how I learned to play guitar many years ago.

On the first night at R2, I kept thinking about the DJ as a director of a ’60s-style Happening: It’s great, when it’s working, to set the direction for an ephemeral event, and really difficult, I bet, when it’s not.

RM: When I got back into the dance and rave scene seven or eight years ago, I immediately thought it was like a Grateful Dead concert. That was the closest reference I had to club culture and what was going on at that point. Besides the obvious drug reference, there was a large group of people responding to music. It had a real hippie vibe.

What’s the status of the Blowoff record?

BM: We’re about 10 songs in. I would feel good if we got four to six more songs recorded in the next couple of months. It’s a pretty wide variety of styles.

RM: It’s kind of a good mixing of where Bob is coming from and where I’m coming from. At one point, Bob was talking about how it has a ’60s pop sensibility with two male vocals a lot of times singing together. The production is not like that, but in terms of the classic two male vocals

…Are we talking Everly Brothers here?

RM: In a way. Or Righteous Brothers or The Association. Of course, the lyrics are a little different, but the themes are the same.

Relationships, looking down the road, wondering about your identity?

BM: Pretty much. It tends to be on the darker side. The music is pretty uplifting. Personally that’s a combination that has always intrigued me—the darker lyric with the brighter music. There’s a lot of guitar on it, there’s a lot of beats on it, there’s a lot of vocals on it, there’s a lot of trading off lyrical ideas on it.

What about the individual projects, like Bob’s Body of Song?

BM: I’ve been talking to a number of labels about releasing that. In the next couple of weeks I’ll know when that record will be up and available. For my older fans, it’s more in the Workbook vein.

RM: We’re just completing the new Morel record, which will come out, hopefully on Yoshitoshi, the end of next year. On the Pink Noise front, I’ve done a remix of Luke Wan, which is coming out in the next month, called “The Wish.”

Is it challenging to have so many different music identities?

BM: My personal frustration is my birth name and the work that I do under that has been so prominent for so long that people who write about music are hesitant to go with me on the other things.

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Feels like the last time
After a bad season of foul weather and Foreigner, CDF could be ready to bow out of Fridays

Charlottesville needs less than two inches of precipitation in the remaining weeks of 2003 to break a 66-year-old record for annual rainfall. That’s quite a reversal of fortune from last year’s drought, a change that climatology experts, quoted in The Daily Progress, attribute to shifts in the jet stream.

But some of the credit––or blame—for the rain must fall on the coifed heads of Foreigner, the ’70s arena rockers whose Fridays After 5 concert was rained out three times last summer. Apparently offended by Foreigner, the gods of rock thrice sent a series of storms, including Hurricane Isabel, to rain out the hot-blooded band. The Charlottesville Downtown Foundation, which runs Fridays After 5, finally held the Foreigner show at the Downtown Amphitheater on Sunday, September 28.

The anti-Foreigner showers also ended up playing head games with Fridays After 5—it now seems the bad weather may have shut down Fridays for good.

“It’s not clear to me at this time that they [the CDF] would be prepared to take on that event next year,” said Aubrey Watts, the City’s director of economic development, in a report to City Council on Monday, December 1.

Charlottesville is planning to start building a federally funded transit center near City Hall in 2004. The construction will include improvements to the amphitheater, home to the Fridays concerts, and Watts predicts the work will interrupt shows during the summer of either 2004 or 2005. Watts told Council the City is negotiating with CDF to hold the concerts somewhere else––perhaps the parking lot at the old Save-A-Lot grocery store near the Omni Hotel––during construction.

But in his report to Council, Watts hinted that the CDF might not be able to put on the shows next year.

“This year with the rain and everything, they had to end up canceling some shows,” Watts said to C-VILLE later. “They are having some issues they’re trying to work through.”

Asked if the City would consider picking up the tab for Fridays After 5, Watts said “I have not seen any desire on the part of the City to do that, but that could change.”

Last year the CDF began charging admission fees to Fridays After 5 to boost the group’s flagging finances, but the organization still seems shaky. President Patricia Goodloe says the CDF would certainly look for a new location for the concerts if necessary, but she wouldn’t comment on whether financial difficulties will mean the end of the concerts. She said she is negotiating with the City on the future of Fridays.

“I don’t want to mess up those negotiations by making any formal statements,” says Goodloe.

Regardless of the CDF’s financial outlook, free or cheap concerts Downtown could come to an end, anyway. On December 1 the Council considered leasing the Downtown Amphitheater to the Charlottesville Industrial Development Authority, which would sublease the site to a private concert promoter. The leading candidate is Dave Matthews Band manager and über-developer Coran Capshaw.

Under the current plan, the City would loan the CIDA $2.5 million, and that agency in turn would loan the money to Capshaw at “a below-commercial bank rate,” according to City documents. The developer would use the money to improve the amphitheater and its sound system, and pay back the City over several decades.

Council will vote on the proposal at its next meeting on December 15. According to City documents, the City wants Capshaw to provide for a minimum of 20 public events, such as Municipal Band concerts and First Night Virginia, and provide a Fridays After 5-type event during the summer “so long as it is economically feasible.”

Councilor Kevin Lynch took issue with that clause, saying he wanted some assurance that Capshaw would hold “free or reasonably priced” concerts. Mayor Maurice Cox countered that such a commitment would be unrealistic.

“It’s unreasonable to for us to say events will be free, even if it’s not economically feasible,” says Cox. “[This deal] is going to bring a level of experience in managing entertainment that we have no precedent for here in Charlottesville.”

Watts, who negotiated a similar lease arrangement with SNL Financial when that company moved from its Mall building to the former National Ground Intelligence Center, is negotiating the exact terms of the lease with Capshaw. His management of the amphitheater will likely mean more expensive shows, as his will be a profit-making venture. But if Capshaw’s Starr Hill Music Hall is any indication, those shows will be culled from a 21st-century roster of artists. Maybe that will keep the rock gods happy.––John Borgmeyer
 

Man of few words
Crozetians want to hear about the new Supe’s pro-growth agenda, but Wyant’s not talking

Now that David Wyant has won the White Hall seat on Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors, his new constituents would like to know more about him. So far, that hasn’t proven easy.

Speaking at candidate forums held in Crozet during the race, Wyant disparaged the major planning project affecting his district, the Crozet Master Plan. Wyant’s campaign literature, for example, said the much-publicized plan (which drew an average of 125 citizens to each of 10 community meetings) was the unrealistic product of “a very small group of people with the backing of special interests.”

Laura Juel, for one, would like to get past Wyant’s public remarks to better understand how he plans to manage Crozet’s impending dramatic growth. A town of 3,000, Crozet, under current zoning, could quadruple by 2020. Like many people in Wyant’s district, Juel awaits the new arrivals as she would a hurricane––hoping for light rains while boarding up the windows.

“I know the growth is coming,” she says. “What are we going to do about it?” That’s the big question in Wyant’s district, but it’s hard to get him to address it.

“I know his family has lived here for more than 200 years. He’s said that several times,” Juel says. “But I don’t know anything about his vision.”

Of 4,017 votes cast in Crozet, Free Union, Earlysville, Brownsville and Yellow Mountain, the Republican Wyant took 54 percent by employing the tried-and-true strategy of bashing an opponent while making as few public commitments as possible. The closest race within the district was in Crozet, where Wyant topped his opponent, Democrat Eric Strucko, by a slender 41 votes.

On the issue of growth, candidate Wyant would only say, “I am not in favor of taking away peoples’ property rights,” which some might recognize as a sly wink to developers.

While Wyant said little about growth, Strucko perhaps said too much. Strucko sat on the County’s Development Initiative Steering Committee (DISC), where he spent time working on the Crozet Master Plan. Starting in January 2002, the County sent architects and planners to meet with Crozetians in a series of community work sessions that were advertised in media outlets, stores, libraries and gas stations. Details of the plan were hung in the Crozet post office.

The resulting Crozet Master Plan aims to coordinate the development of subdivisions, roads, shopping centers and schools in a pedestrian-friendly scale, with the hope that Route 250W won’t follow the example set in the County’s other growth areas along Route 29N and Pantops.

“Growth management doesn’t lend itself to sound bites, where the message is conveyed in 10 seconds,” Strucko says. “It has a lot of moving parts and requires contemplation. I think I laid out too much of a plan.”

Strucko credits the Wyant campaign for playing on people’s fear of growth by spinning the Crozet Master Plan as “my opponent’s plan to urbanize Crozet.” That’s the way Wyant described it in a statement conveyed via his campaign manager to C-VILLE in October.

“The whole thing is really screwed up,” says Brian Cohen, who publishes the Crozet-centric newspaper The Whistle. In his November “Soapbox” column, Cohen claimed “Wyant lied and misled the citizenry” by portraying Strucko as a tool of special interests who wanted to bring growth, raise taxes and curtail property rights.

“[Wyant] is accurate in that Strucko’s approach takes a lot of regulation,” says Vito Cetta, whose company, Weather Hill Homes, is building about 80 houses in Crozet. “That’s because we live in a beautiful place, and we want to keep it beautiful. Buildings are so visible, and this stuff will be around indefinitely.

“Albemarle is getting 800 new homes a year whether we like it or not,” says Cetta. “We have to have sensible planning, or this place will look like a big subdivision. Anybody, in general, who would object to planning I think they got blinders on.”

Cetta says he thinks White Hall’s Supervisor-elect “means well” and hopes Wyant will change his mind once he learns more about the plan. Wyant himself has acknowledged in forums that he didn’t attend any of the Crozet Master Plan development sessions, and Wyant hasn’t spoken to any of the plan’s major players––County planner Susan Thomas, Planning Committee Chair Will Reiley and architects Warren Byrd and Kenneth Schwartz, for instance––for details about Crozet’s future.

“I’d be interested to hear his alternatives,” says Cetta.

So would many others, but Wyant isn’t talking. He didn’t return numerous calls over several weeks from C-VILLE, and Cohen says he was only able to interview Wyant for a voter’s guide through his campaign manager, Peter Maillet. Juel, who is president of the 350-member Crozet Community Association, says she couldn’t get calls returned to have Wyant speak at candidate forums.

“When I’ve spoken with him at candidate forums, he didn’t really answer the questions. He just changed the subject,” says Juel, who describes Wyant as “real flippant.”

“I asked him how I could get in touch with him,” says Juel. “He said he’d have somebody get back with me. I said, ‘No, if I elect you, I want to talk to you.’ He said he had a lot of things going on.”

The County’s Planning Commission is currently reviewing the Crozet Master Plan. The Board of Supervisors––including Wyant––will vote on the plan in late January.––John Borgmeyer

 

Unchained melody
The Washington, D.C., DJ duo Blowoff, a.k.a. Richard Morel and Bob Mould, inaugurated new local dance club R2 on November 14. With enthusiasm for Charlottesville and what they saw of its club scene, Blowoff will return to R2 on December 12 and January 16. Blowoff is one of several projects for each of the musicians. Mould, who has fronted rock bands like Hüsker Dü and Sugar and worked as a solo artist during the past 20 years, also had a stint as a scriptwriter for professional wrestling. More recently, he has branched out to record electronic-style music under his own name as well as the pseudonym LoudBomb. Morel fronts an electronica-guitar rock band called Morel, which last year released the sublime CD Queen of the Highway. As Pink Noise, he is also a much-sought-after remix master, who has worked with Mariah Carey, Beth Orton and Charlottesville’s own Clare Quilty. Both profess a deep appreciation of pop music: Morel likes the Pink/William Orbit single from the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle soundtrack and new music by Mark Ronson; Mould likes the new Sarah McLachlan record, calling the single “heartbreaking.” He also characterized the latest TV commercial for Little Debbie Snack Cakes as “trippy” and “really well done.” Cathy Harding talked to Blowoff about working the crowd at R2 and wearing so many musical hats.

Cathy Harding: What were your impressions of R2?

Richard Morel: For both of us it was really exciting to go to Charlottesville. We thought the crowd was so cool and so hip to what we were doing. We had no expectations going in. We left on a total high because the night was so great.

Bob Mould: We have a weekly gig at the Backbar at 9:30 Club in Washington and it’s a much more intimate space. I was pretty blown away by the amount of immediate feedback at R2. Not only people dancing but people looking up to the booth and giving the big thumbs up to certain songs, which was great.

Your set lists have a really wide mix of club music, pop music and everything in between. With your motto, “Let the music set you free,” are you speaking as much to yourselves as you are to the crowd?

RM: Absolutely. One of the things that is central to both of us is we play music that we truly love and dig. We play records that we get off on. As far as the style, it’s less important than the vibe we get off them.

BM: I’ve been making music and listening to music and obsessed with music my whole life. It’s an interesting time in the sense that when I started in music professionally 25 years ago, there were only five or six stylistic differentiations in music. As information has traded quicker and technology has made it much more affordable for everyone to make music, it has become so much more splintered that it would be pointless to be so micro-genre-specific. As Rich said, a good song is a good song. The challenge is how to string them all together across the course of an evening as legendary DJs used to do to try to tell a story through the night.

Is there a learning curve to going from guitar, bass and drums to the DJ gear?

BM: For me, the past five or six years has been learning by trial and error, learning by looking at the manuals, and learning by listening to music I like and emulating it, which is pretty much how I learned to play guitar many years ago.

On the first night at R2, I kept thinking about the DJ as a director of a ’60s-style Happening: It’s great, when it’s working, to set the direction for an ephemeral event, and really difficult, I bet, when it’s not.

RM: When I got back into the dance and rave scene seven or eight years ago, I immediately thought it was like a Grateful Dead concert. That was the closest reference I had to club culture and what was going on at that point. Besides the obvious drug reference, there was a large group of people responding to music. It had a real hippie vibe.

What’s the status of the Blowoff record?

BM: We’re about 10 songs in. I would feel good if we got four to six more songs recorded in the next couple of months. It’s a pretty wide variety of styles.

RM: It’s kind of a good mixing of where Bob is coming from and where I’m coming from. At one point, Bob was talking about how it has a ’60s pop sensibility with two male vocals a lot of times singing together. The production is not like that, but in terms of the classic two male vocals

…Are we talking Everly Brothers here?

RM: In a way. Or Righteous Brothers or The Association. Of course, the lyrics are a little different, but the themes are the same.

Relationships, looking down the road, wondering about your identity?

BM: Pretty much. It tends to be on the darker side. The music is pretty uplifting. Personally that’s a combination that has always intrigued me—the darker lyric with the brighter music. There’s a lot of guitar on it, there’s a lot of beats on it, there’s a lot of vocals on it, there’s a lot of trading off lyrical ideas on it.

What about the individual projects, like Bob’s Body of Song?

BM: I’ve been talking to a number of labels about releasing that. In the next couple of weeks I’ll know when that record will be up and available. For my older fans, it’s more in the Workbook vein.

RM: We’re just completing the new Morel record, which will come out, hopefully on Yoshitoshi, the end of next year. On the Pink Noise front, I’ve done a remix of Luke Wan, which is coming out in the next month, called “The Wish.”

Is it challenging to have so many different music identities?

BM: My personal frustration is my birth name and the work that I do under that has been so prominent for so long that people who write about music are hesitant to go with me on the other things.

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1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

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Black market birth control

As the General Assembly targets contraception, Planned Parenthood looks to Charlottesville

During last year’s General Assembly session, Delegate Richard Black (R-Louden) sent all 40 State senators a letter promising that Virginia “will lead the way in restoring the sanctity of human life.”

It’s a laudable goal for the Commonwealth, which executes more prisoners per year than any state besides Texas. Black supports the death penalty, yet he paired his letter to his Senate colleagues with a pink plastic fetus and graphic descriptions of abortion procedures. “Would you kill this child?” Black wrote.

Last year, a crop of conservative delegates introduced a litany of bills designed to limit women’s access to abortion. As the 2004 session approaches, pro-choice advocates expect Black and his cohorts will extend the hostility beyond abortion, trying to curtail access to contraception, too.

“Last year there were more anti-choice bills passed by the General Assembly than ever before,” says Ben Greenberg, who lobbies the General Assembly on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge. “The same players are back this year. Given their successes last year, we expect them to be even more aggressive.”

In 2003, the General Assembly passed a “partial birth infanticide” bill banning late-term abortions, similar to what President Bush signed into law in November. Both the Federal law and the Virginia law are currently being challenged in court, largely because neither law provides an exemption when the life or safety of the mother is endangered.

“We’d be shocked if the courts did not find this legislation unconstitutional,” Greenberg says.

Earlier this year Gov. Mark Warner vetoed another 2003 law permitting “Choose Life” vanity license plates.

Right-wing delegates last year also passed a series of bills known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) legislation that would gratuitously require all medical clinics providing abortions to conform to hospital-style building and design standards. The TRAP bills passed the House of Delegates but died in the Senate Education and Health Committee by one vote. The close call prompted Planned Parenthood to begin building a new clinic in Charlottesville that will conform to the TRAP requirements, should they eventually get signed into law [see below].

Looking ahead to the upcoming legislative session, which begins January 14, local Delegate Mitch Van Yahres (D-Charlottesville) says he expects “a lot of sex and silliness.

“It’s a smokescreen over more serious issues, like the budget.”

He expects Republicans to introduce a bill that would ban universities from distributing emergency contraception pills, which prevent pregnancy by stopping eggs from attaching to the uterine wall. Last year, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) sent letters to James Madison University and UVA, suggesting that in prescribing the pills the schools would be violating the law by providing “early abortion to unwitting co-eds.” Marshall’s science may be wrong, but he’s a successful intimidator: JMU dropped emergency contraception. To date, UVA Student Health still offers emergency contraception.

Abortion-rights advocates also anticipate bills restricting access to contraception and establishing legal recognition of the belief that life begins at the point when an egg is fertilized. For example, Greenberg expects a bill that would create a new criminal penalty for killing a pregnant woman, even though Virginia already has three special laws penalizing actions that result in the collateral termination of a pregnancy.

“The far right is ignoring these laws, because their agenda is to establish the personhood of the fetus,” says Greenberg.

He also expects Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) to re-introduce a 2003 bill that would give pharmacists a “conscience clause,” so they could refuse to provide contraception if they believe it constitutes abortion.

“We’re talking about birth control pills, IUDs, Depo-Provera, emergency contraception,” says Greenberg.

“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “We have a lot to worry about.”

A new clinic in Charlottesville  

Planned Parenthood can’t count on support from Richmond anytime soon, so the agency has turned to well-heeled Charlottesvillians. This year, the agency raised $1.3 million from individual donors between April and July. Also in April, the group purchased land in Charlottesville for a clinic that will provide sex education, pre-natal care and a range of health services for women, including abortions.

The clinic will be designed to hospital standards in response to last year’s TRAP legislation [see above], says Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge Director David Nova.

Nova predicts the TRAP bills will become law if a conservative succeeds Governor Mark Warner, who is pro-choice. If that happens, the new Charlottesville clinic would be one of only two in the Commonwealth to meet hospital standards.

“TRAP could become law in 2006,” says Nova. “Our concern is that the great majority of clinics in Virginia will close. We can’t wait until then to act on this. This new building would provide some security for the whole state.”

Nova says Planned Parenthood’s presence has grown in Charlottesville, where the agency enjoys a sympathetic and affluent donor base. The new clinic will open this spring near Planned Parenthood’s current location on Arlington Boulevard.

The clinic will be named the Herbert C. Jones Reproductive Health and Education Center, to honor the local physician and abortion provider who, when he retired this year due to illness, left a vacancy yet to be filled in Charlottesville.

“No one could give enough money to offset what Herbert Jones has done in this community for over half a century,” says Nova.––John Borgmeyer

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Against the grain

BAR chair and Downtown business owner Joan Fenton
attempts to regulate her competitors

When Joan Fenton appeared before City Council last week wearing a black pullover sweater and black pants, with her glasses and shock of dark hair, she looked more like an elementary school teacher rushing in after a yoga class than Charlottesville’s official arbiter of taste.

That is her role, however, as chair of the City’s Board of Architectural Review. Fenton also owns two Mall businesses, April’s Corner and Quilts Unlimited. On Monday, November 17, she appeared before Council arguing that the City should regulate some of her direct competitors, the Mall vendors and the merchants at York Place.

“The Mall is starting to look like a flea market,” Fenton complained to Council. “If the vendors look better, we all do better.”

Fenton was there to urge Council to adopt a list of guidelines, crafted mostly by BAR members, which would impose new regulations on Mall vendors. Many of the rules are picayune––black skirts (not dark green) around tables, umbrellas no higher than 8′ with a maximum of one dark color. The proposals that really bothered vendors, several of whom turned out for the Council meeting, however, were the prohibition of racks for hanging clothes, the $400 license fee (up from $125) and a rental fee of $2 for each square foot of red bricks they occupy.

The City says the fees would generate about $20,000 annually to cover the cost of administrating and enforcing the new rules.

James Muhammad, a 10-year vending veteran known as Cupcake, said that except for the fee hikes and the prohibition of clothes racks, the new rules aren’t that different from the current ordinance, which the City admits isn’t effectively enforced. Council will revisit the vendor question at an upcoming meeting.

“I don’t think all the other vendors should pay the penalty for that,” Muhammad said. “It would be a hardship for a lot of vendors to pay that kind of money.

“I don’t understand the problem with clothes racks,” Muhammad continued. “I don’t see how you can sell clothes without one.” He reminded Council that in the early 1990s he and other vendors pioneered Downtown at a time when the desolate Mall looked like a failed experiment.

Now the Mall mostly rocks, although as some businesses flourish others, like Sandy Ruseau’s gallery of watercolors in York Place, are, in Ruseau’s words, “just fighting to survive.”

In September, York Place owner Chuck Lewis wanted to put new signs on his building. According to Neighborhood Planner Mary Joy Scala, City development director Jim Tolbert said the signs, which protruded from the York Place façade, were probably O.K., and so the signs went up. Additionally, Scala referred the York Place signs to the nine-member BAR, which on September 16 unanimously deemed them inappropriate. According to the minutes of that meeting, Fenton said the signs were “loud and noisy with too much coloran obstacleand a precedent she did not want to start.” Fenton’s own Quilts Unlimited sign, next door to York Place, is a blue rectangle with red graphics and white letters; at April’s Corner, the sign comprises bronze-colored wooden letters. Both signs lie flat against their building fronts.

After the BAR ruling, the York Place signs came down, and on October 21 the BAR approved a plan that included signs that would sit flat against the façade. The flat signs went up, but the tenants and Lewis appealed to City Council.

On November 17, Lewis and his tenants swayed Council by presenting evidence that their business had spiked with the protruding signs in place, and showed photos of existing protruding signs on the Mall. Council seemed especially influenced by Lewis, who said, “If I had to do York Place again, I wouldn’t do it. It’s hard to get people in the building.”

After Council voted unanimously to overturn the BAR, Lewis declared, “This is so cool. We were outvoted, but we rallied.”

The current economic climate, say the shopkeepers, makes for increased competition. With businesses fighting harder to survive, Downtown business owner Fenton seems faced with a conflict of interest.

When pressed on the question by a reporter, Fenton first exclaimed, “I think Jim Tolbert had a bigger conflict of interest than me. He lives in York Place.”

Later, Fenton said she “could see how someone might think that. I’ve tried very hard to be fair. I have probably bent over backwards not to do anything that benefits me.”

Then, Fenton admitted, she plans to take advantage of Council’s ruling by installing protruding signs, just like those she opposed on York Place, on her Quilts Unlimited store. Within days of the Council meeting, a new freestanding sign appeared outside the store—a blue wooden square lettered in white and resting on an ornate black tripod.

 

Mayor Cox – one more term?

Democratic Party chair Lloyd Snook says Mayor Maurice Cox won’t seek a third City Council term next spring. “Eight years is enough. His family would like to see him again,” Snook confidently declares.

But Snook “may have spoken much too soon,” says the Mayor. Cox says he won’t resign from Council until he finds a protégé who “is passionate about the same things I’m passionate about.”

Cox says he has met with a half-dozen potential candidates, five of whom are women, both black and white. He says he wants to find a candidate who would bring not only gender and ethnic diversity to Council, but who would also carry on Cox’s vision for Charlottesville.

“I’m talking about the urban development of Charlottesville,” says Cox, “This notion of pedestrian-oriented infill development anchored by a state-of-the-art transit system.”

Karen Waters, director of the City’s Quality Community Council, says she’s “kicking around” the idea of a Council bid. “I’ve met with a lot of people,” says Waters, but she would not say whether that includes the Mayor. Waters is currently enrolled in UVA’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, which has turned out many a local politician, including Republican upstart Councilor Rob Schilling.

Cox says his search for a successor has so far proven “inconclusive.” He says he is weighing his obligations to his family and career, and that he expects to announce a decision after the New Year.

Meanwhile, other candidates are all but throwing their hats in the ring.

“I’m certainly very seriously considering running for Council,” says David Brown, a chiropractor and former City Democratic Chair. But he adds, “To get into this too soon is a distraction for Council.”

Snook says Dems will meet on December 7 to discuss candidates’ plans, and there will be a nominating convention on February 21. “We won’t run an all-white ticket,” he promises. The City election is scheduled for May 4.

On the Republican side, party chair Bob Hodus says he “has no news to announce,” but maybe he should get on the phone to Spectacle Shop owner Jon Bright, who says he’s “thinking about it daily, trying to make a decision.”

Bright, who ran in 2000, says that if his busy schedule prevents him from running this time around, he will run in two years. Another Republican, neighborhood activist Kenneth Jackson, says he will run “if the local party will endorse me as their candidate.” Republicans will likely meet in February to select candidates for the election, held in early May.

Councilor and Vice-Mayor Meredith Richards said two weeks ago she would seek a third term and is doubtlessly eager to assume the Mayorship. Councilor Kevin Lynch, meanwhile, remains uncommitted. “I’m not ready to announce yet. I’ll make a decision as soon as possible,” he says.

 

Money, principles and the Meadowcreek Parkway

The impending election is bringing a controversy over the Meadowcreek Parkway to the forefront.

Although the Virginia Department of Transportation doesn’t plan to build the Parkway until 2008, three pro-Parkway Councilors want to turn over about nine acres of McIntire Park to VDOT before the May elections that could threaten their majority. The efforts of Parkway supporters Meredith Richards, Blake Caravati and Rob Schilling will force Parkway opponents Kevin Lynch and Mayor Maurice Cox to make a tough choice.

According to State law, Council needs a four-fifths majority to sell public parkland. However, on the instruction of the pro-Parkway majority, City Attorney Craig Brown discovered that Council could grant VDOT an easement for the land with a simple three-fifths majority.

“At this point, those who are opposed to the road need to realize this is going to happen,” says Caravati (who ran as being against the Meadowcreek Parkway in 1998 and later changed his vote).

This puts Lynch and Cox in a bind. The pro-Parkway majority seems poised to ease the land to VDOT, tantamount to giving away some of the City’s most valuable real estate. VDOT has set aside more than $1 million to purchase the right-of-way, and Cox believes the City could get three times that––but only if he or Lynch agrees to sacrifice their principles and support the sale.

“It’s an open question,” says Lynch. Before he makes a decision, he says, he wants to see an appraisal for the McIntire land. He also wants to know whether VDOT would pay for replacement parkland if it gets an easement.

Cox says he’ll “think about” selling the nine acres in McIntire if VDOT offers around $3 million, a sum Cox says will allow the City to purchase replacement parkland, possibly from the nearby Wetsel farm on Rio Road.

If not, will Cox really let the City give away its last patch of countryside? When asked, Cox shifts the burden back to the pro-Parkway majority.

“Let it be their legacy,” says Cox. “That’s my attitude. I don’t want that legacy.”

 

Cox on “60 Minutes”

Mayor Maurice Cox will be interviewed on the November 30 episode of “60 Minutes.” The venerable television news program examines the Bayview Community on the Eastern Shore. Cox’s architecture firm, RBGC, helped design a “rural village” for Bayview. The mostly poor, black residents of Bayview defeated a State plan to build a prison near their town, then formed a nonprofit group that raised money to rebuild their town.––John Borgmeyer

 

Swimming with sharks

Little big shot racks up with local billiards association

Derrick “Buster” Fox moves around the table so quickly that one might think he’s being judged on his speed. Every shot seems to be determined ahead of time, before the cue ball has even come to a stop. It’s a balmy Tuesday night at Miller’s on the Downtown Mall, and Buster is running the table.

Tuesday is league night for the Charlottesville Billiards Association, a weekly ritual for the 60-some pool sharks who gather—most armed with their own cues—to compete in the City’s only local league, which holds three 15-week tournaments every year.

At 14, Fox is by far the youngest player in the league, shooting for his seven-person team “The Shot Callers” in a warm-up game against Yvette, a 22-year-old real estate broker shooting for “XLR8.” But Fox doesn’t let his age stand in his way—he is regarded by his competitors as remarkably skilled for his years, and easily defeats Yvette in only two turns before they both move on to play their designated opponents for the evening.

“I’ve been playing since I could see over the table,” Fox explains to justify his prowess. The remarkably well-mannered Monticello High School freshman grew up playing at Mutts, the restaurant/bar owned by his mother, “Mutt” Fox, who sponsors his team.

Similar dramas are being played out around town at Mutts, Rapture, Firehouse Bar & Grill and Chi-Chi’s, all of which, along with Miller’s, sponsor the league’s nine teams and provide free table space for the weekly showdowns. “I can’t say enough about these places,” says Mark Foran, who founded the local league three years ago and plays on “Ballbusters.” “We wouldn’t be able to do this without their help.”

League play isn’t just a game—a first-place team wins more than $2,000 for its $90-per-person entry fee. Because of laws that prevent awarding prize money to juveniles, Foran has only allowed two minors to play in the league so far (if his team wins, Fox will have to settle for something akin to a weekend amusement-park getaway). Since this is Fox’s first tournament with this league, he is also eligible for rookie of the year, league MVP, and a spot on one of the all-star teams that play a mid-season mini-tournament.

But Fox’s talent is a liability as much as an asset. To keep any one team from dominating the league, players are handicapped according to their level of skill and all teams must include a range of abilities. The better you are, the more games you have to win against your opponent—Yvette’s challenger will need to win six games tonight to be declared the victor, while Yvette only needs to win two.

Yvette started playing pool six months before she joined the league, and is still somewhat of a novice. Tonight she hits the occasional pretty shot, but she’s no match for her more experienced opponent, and goes down 0-6. Fox doesn’t fare much better, losing his games 1-6 despite his precise aim. But it is early in the season, and both players will have many more chances—fortunately, Tuesday comes every week.—Chris Smith

 

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Steal this article

The Cavalier Daily retracts eight plagiarism cases

Kirk Honeycutt isn’t mad at former Cavalier Daily arts and entertainment reporter Tonya Dawson––just perplexed.

“I’ve never heard of someone plagiarizing movie reviews,” says Honeycutt, a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter. “I just find it so bizarre.”

On September 2, The Cavalier Daily announced that “significant portions” of seven film and record reviews published in the student-run newspaper between October 2002 and August 29, 2003, were “taken without permission from multiple sources,” including Honeycutt’s review of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.

Then, on October 29, the Cavalier Daily ran another retraction claiming that an October 27 column about low-rider jeans titled “Fashion’s Practical Joke: Mooning and the Low-Rise Obsession” by Demetra Karamanos was plagiarized from slate.com. The original article, “Hello, Moon: Has America’s Low-Rise Obsession Gone too Far?” by Amanda Fortini, circulated widely on the Internet and appeared on numerous websites.

Dawson and Karamanos––both undergraduates––copied ideas, phrases, sentences and even whole paragraphs from other writers. Dawson was fired in September, Karamanos was fired last month. Karamanos declined to comment, and Dawson could not be reached.

On November 5, The Cavalier Daily published a 650-word mea culpa acknowledging the impossibility of checking every article for plagiarism. Still, the editorial claimed, the paper’s staff met to reaffirm that plagiarism is bad. Further, the paper will change its bylaws to include a more extensive section on plagiarism.

Cavalier Daily editor-in-chief Justin Bernick won’t say who uncovered the deception.

“There’s no evidence this is a widespread problem at The Cavalier Daily by any means,” he says. He declined further comment, referring to the November 5 editorial as the paper’s last word on the subject.

The incidents come as two notorious fakers, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass, reap fame and fortune for their journalistic sins. The new film Shattered Glass dramatizes Glass’ rise and fall as a hotshot staff writer for The New Republic. In September, the 27-year-old Blair landed a contract––reportedly in the mid-six figures––for his memoir Burning Down My Master’s House: My Life at the New York Times, due out this spring.

Instead of kudos, however, Dawson and Karamanos could face expulsion from UVA. The University’s honor code prohibits any student from lying, cheating or stealing while inside the boundaries of Charlottesville or Albemarle County, and the code also applies to people representing themselves as UVA students, no matter where they might be.

Carey Mignerey, chair of UVA’s honor committee, wouldn’t say whether either writer had been referred to that body. He says academic plagiarism is “certainly a common honor case,” but says he can’t recall anyone facing honor charges for plagiarism at The Cavalier Daily.

Hollywood Reporter’s Honeycutt says he’ll let UVA decide how to punish the copycats, and he’s not calling for blood. He says he just can’t figure out why journalists would ruin their reputations for pieces on low-rider jeans or bad action flicks.

“A movie review seems like a pathetic place for plagiarism, unless one is afraid of one’s own opinion,” Honeycutt says. “In the case of Charlie’s Angels, I can see how someone wouldn’t want to subject themselves to this movie. But all you have to do is sit through the movie, then go get a thesaurus and look up every invective you can find. It’s not brain surgery.”

Kit Bowen, a Hollywood.com writer whose review of the film The Hunted was plagiarized by Dawson, says the Internet’s boundless horizons give would-be imposters the feeling they can steal without getting caught.

“There’s just so much stuff out there. How could you monitor it?” Bowen says. “I’ve never had this happen to me before,” she says. “It’s bad journalism, obviously, but actually I’m sort of flattered.”––John Borgmeyer

 

Checks and balances

Budget surplus could force spend-or-save decision

A projected $3 million surplus in Albemarle County’s 2003-04 budget has officials asking, If Albemarle had a few extra million dollars, what would it do with the money? The County Board of Supervisors is thinking about giving some of the money back to taxpayers by cutting the County’s real estate tax rate. Not surprisingly, several representatives from local social service organizations and schools have their own ideas about what to do with the unexpected cash.

“I don’t think it’s prudent to cut taxes, particularly when we have a continuing unmet need in this community—that’s been documented,” says Gordon Walker, a member of the Albemarle County Public Schools’ Board and CEO of the Jefferson Area Board for Aging.

County Supervisor Dennis Rooker disagrees, saying it would be “fair and wise to look at the potential of cutting the [real estate] tax rate by two cents.” The Board of Supervisors took a step in this direction by passing on November 5 a motion from Rooker that required the first draft of the 2004-05 budget be developed with a 74-cent real estate tax rate in mind. That’s a two-cent reduction from the current rate of 76 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value.

When the current fiscal year wraps up on June 30, the County’s bean counters should be sitting on a surplus of about $1.4 million from these real estate taxes, according to Melvin Breeden, the director of Albemarle’s Office of Management and Budget. The boost is mostly due to a binge in construction. Breeden says personal property and other taxes round out the rest of the $3 million surplus.

Real estate in the County skyrocketed by more than 18 percent in assessed value between 2001 and 2003, and Breeden forecasts another 15 percent increase in the 2004 assessment. But what’s good for the County’s economy isn’t necessarily good for taxpayers, particularly those who live on fixed incomes. For some residents, the real estate tax on their property has increased by as much as 30 percent in just two years. For example, a property that increased in assessed value to $150,000 from $115,000 (slightly over 30 percent) would have a tax rate jump to $1,140 from $874, an increase of $266.

Still, a two-cent cut won’t go too far in helping people cope with real estate taxes. The owner of that $150,000 property would see only a $30 savings on her tax bill at the proposed 74-cent rate. By contrast, if the tax cut were to be passed next year, it would have a big impact on the budget surplus, knocking about $1 million off of the $3 million projected for this fiscal year.

John Baldino, a former teacher and school administrator who serves as a local representative to the Virginia Education Association, thinks that cool million would be better spent on teachers’ salaries and books, buses and buildings for County schools.

“Albemarle needs a lot of things,” Baldino says. “We’re talking about a basic need to improve education.”

Rooker insists that the tax issue will be revisited if significant County programs lack cash when the new budget is drawn up. Also, the Supes have yet to vote on the actual tax cut. If passed, the earliest a cut could go into effect would be next June.

Albemarle School Board Chair Diantha McKeel would like to see more discussion before the decision is made. The schools usually get about 60 percent of County funds, and McKeel wants assurance that unexpected needs (such as those arising from higher gas prices for buses, for instance) are factored into budget discussions. McKeel adds that the schools already have existing areas that could benefit from new dollars, such as improvements in class size and in teacher salaries. “Oh absolutely, we could use that million,” McKeel says.

The Monticello Area Community Action Agency, which administers health and youth programs such as Head Start, could also find a good home for some of Albemarle’s surplus, says Executive Director Noah Schwartz. However, Schwartz says that Albemarle’s funding for his organization is “consistent with” funding from Charlottesville, and he understands why Albemarle might look to cut the real estate tax. “I think it’s great that the Board of Supervisors is being so fiscally responsible,” Schwartz says.

Several other officials from social service agencies and from County schools say it’s too early to talk about spending a surplus that has yet to be reaped, or to discuss the wisdom of a tax cut that won’t be voted on for months. But most acknowledge that tough choices between unmet needs and tax relief are inevitable.

“I think that Albemarle County has an increasing gap between high-income and lower-income residents,” says Saphira Baker, director of the Charlottesville/ Albemarle Commission on Children and Families, which advices local governments in the funding of social service organizations. “It does pose a challenge in terms of determining tax rates.”

The fickle nature of economic indicators doesn’t make the job any easier. Though Albemarle is currently making budget projections 20 months into the future, they are only estimates. When asked if solid revenue trends will continue, County budget guru Breeden says: “Your guess is as good as mine.”—Paul Fain

 

Flooded with money

Scottsville’s close ties with transportation leaders pay off

For most of its 258-year history, the town of Scottsville has endured an uneasy marriage to the James River. The waterway made Scottsville a vital commercial crossroads in the pre-railroad era, but every few decades the placid James would send muddy floods raging through downtown.

A towering brick and slate monument in Scottsville’s newest park, Canal Basin Square, marks water levels from significant floods––the normally 4′ high James River hit 34′ during Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Most recently, the James topped 26′ in 1987. The most dramatic flood happened in 1771, when water levels crested at an estimated 40-45′, about 10′ above the monument.

After Hurricane Agnes, some downtown businesses relocated to higher ground just northward, the Village Square Shopping Center. In 1989, the Army Corps of Engineers built Scottsville’s A. Raymond Thacker Levee, named after the former mayor who secured Federal money for the levee to protect downtown Scottsville from floods once and for all.

Dedicated in September, Canal Basin Square is a monument to a different kind of flood––the torrent of State transportation dollars the Scottsville Town Council is using to remake downtown.

“The levee made this a safe place to live and do business,” says Town Councilor Jim Hogan. “That was Mayor Thacker’s deal. This is a new deal. This will make Scottsville a nicer place to live.”

Since December 2000, Scottsville has received more than $1.8 million in Federal TEA-21 grants, which are distributed through the State’s Commonwealth Transportation Board. The money is being used for two parks, a parking lot, a trail along the levee and a streetscape project that will build crosswalks and old-time streetlights, as well as bury power lines along Valley Street, Scottsville’s main drag. Hogan says the aim is to put the “historic” stamp on Scottsville.

“This is what everybody wants, the small-town way of life,” Hogan says. “As you develop the town, the shopping experience becomes richer. We’re not going highbrow, we just want to protect our historic feel.”

The most recent grant, a $224,000 allocation the CTB approved for Scottsville earlier this month, is the largest single award for 2003, and it represents nearly 25 percent of the total funds distributed in the CTB’s Culpeper district, which includes Culpeper, Warrenton and Charlottesville, as well as Albemarle and Louisa counties. The TEA grants require a 20 percent match, which Scottsville has easily raised, thanks to a massive private fundraising effort—the city secured $500,000 in private funds for the projects during the past three years.

In these times of tight State budgets, how did a leafy hamlet that is home to 550 people end up with such a fat wad of cash? It turns out this small town has some big friends.

Hogan cozied up to Carter Meyers, former CTB representative for the Culpeper district. Meyers, who owns Colonial Auto Center in Charlottesville, is tight with State Republicans and most famous locally as a vocal champion of the now-defunct Western Bypass project.

“Scottsville suffered so many years with the floods,” says Meyers. “This was an opportunity to help a town that never really had a chance to fix itself up. You could tell the people were behind it, and I think it will be another tourist attraction for Charlottesville.” In 2002, Governor Mark Warner appointed Butch Davies to succeed Meyers as Culpeper representative, yet Meyers has remained instrumental in keeping Scottsville’s funding stream flowing.

Scottsville has still not conquered the water, however. Engineers overseeing the streetscape project say the town sits right atop the water table. This could make the cost of burying power lines––which already runs between $300,000 and $500,000 per mile––even more expensive.

“We can’t just go flopping around in the water,” says Jack Hodge, vice president of Volkert and Associates, the Mobile, Alabama, firm directing the streetscape project. “You have to pump the water out. That could run the cost up considerably, or it may not affect it that much.” Hodge says engineers will conduct tests in the coming weeks to figure out how much undergrounding Scottsville can afford.––John Borgmeyer

Holier than thou

Ear plugs are turning heads in Charlottesville

When Ben, a 28-year-old body piercer for Capital Tattoo on Ivy Road, arrived in Charlottesville two years ago, he says his earrings were a big attention-grabber.

“People looked at me like I stepped off the mothership,” Ben says.

The reaction from Ben’s new neighbors may not have been borne of provinciality, as Ben’s earrings are rather big. In fact, he has stretched earlobes containing plugs that are 1 1/2" in diameter.

But though Ben and other piercing aficionados around town say the large ear plugs (also called flesh tunnels if they include a hollow center) have a tribal history that stretches back thousands of years, apparently Charlottesville has been a little slow to catch on.

The piercing pro at Big Dawg Tattoo on Preston Avenue, who goes by the name Pirate Dee, moved to Charlottesville from Las Vegas a few months ago and says of the ear plugs, “every other kid has ‘em out there.”

Pirate Dee, who wears half-inch plugs he says are made of dinosaur bone, observes the ear plug itch has yet to hit Charlottesville in full force. But he says his shop does stretch the earlobes of two or three customers a month. “It’s definitely starting to take off,” Dee says of the trend.

So what’s the attraction with plugs and stretched lobes?

Matteus Frankovich, the owner of the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, says large ear adornments have an origin in the Massai culture of Africa and are a response “to an insuppressible tribal urge.” Frankovich, who wears small discs made of ox bones, says he increases the gauge, or size of his ear plugs, every time he enters a new phase of life, such as becoming a homeowner. “American youth have an urge to display some sort of physical symbol for metaphysical changes going on inside,” he says.

A different motivation inspired Dave Munn, the lead singer of the hip-hop rock band Frontbutt, to stretch his earlobes: boredom.

“I’m not trying to get all mystical,” Munn says. “I guess it goes along with the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. It’s my bling-bling.”

Ear plugs come with a price, however, both physical and fiscal. Though Dee says that earlobe stretching is “a good pain,” none of the popular methods are pain-free. According to Tribalectic Magazine, the self-proclaimed “definitive source for everything pierced,” the popular methods for extending the chasm in an earlobe include inserting wet sponges or frozen wood in a lobe, and hanging weights from an earring.

Dee had his lobes altered with a scalpel, but says his preferred method for stretching is the periodic insertion of a metal stake called a taper bar, a service for which Dee charges $40. Dee displays a taper bar that resembles a rifle bullet, and says that lobes can be stretched every four to six weeks.

The plugs for sale on Tribalectic’s website, including some made of amber (with insects inside) and those with inlaid bullets, run in the $25-50 range per pair.

When asked why he gravitated to ear plugs, Pirate Dee smiles and changes the subject. Asked again, he reluctantly admits, “the smaller earrings looked kind of pussy to me.” (A reporter in his shop was wearing a small earring.)

Dee also cites benefits of wearing ear plugs that extend beyond the aesthetic. Unlike a regular earring, which can be torn from a lobe, an ear plug will pop out easily when under duress in an environment such as a mosh pit, he says.—Paul Fain, with additional reporting by Ben Sellers

 

Stat man

Virginia’s Michael Colley is a walking football almanac

The statistics swim in Michael Colley’s head. There are numbers and names and dates, several lifetimes of UVA football lore. Colley keeps it all up there, fishing out facts as he needs them. And he even gets paid for it.

Colley, an assistant director of media relations for UVA Athletics, compiles the team’s gridiron figures each week. At home contests, Colley is the game’s official statistician, responsible for determining who ran, how many yards he gained and what the new line of scrimmage is. When the TV announcers proclaim that kicker Connor Hughes just became the first Cavalier to kick two 50-yard field goals in a season, it’s because Colley, sitting nearby in the press box, just told them so.

Football is a game of inches, and Colley’s is a world of minutia. The job is enviable, if Wahoo trivia is your thing, and perhaps pitiable when the Cavaliers lose.

“What some people use as diversion,” Colley says, “I now use as a career.”

Data dredging is only part of his weekly routine, however. When Colley is not nosing through a record book, he must do the grunt work of big-time college sports—publicity. On Mondays, for instance, Colley helps arrange head coach Al Groh’s press conference, and media interviews with the players. On Tuesdays, Colley meets with television announcers, to prep them for Saturday’s game.

Colley handles calls from professional football teams seeking information about quarterback Matt Schaub and helped produce postcards touting Schaub’s achievements. He also tries to update the virginiasports.com website faster than fans call in to complain about dated information.

“People have no idea the demanding hours his position requires and the tightrope he has to walk between the coaches and the media,” says Mac McDonald, WINA-AM radio announcer and “the voice of the Cavaliers,” one of several local reporters who speak highly of Colley.

“Love him or hate him, you always know where he’s coming from,” says Jed Williams, the station’s sports director. “With everyone digging for the scoop or the banner headline, his honesty ensures that everyone enjoys equal opportunity to get their job done.”

Colley, 41, grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from Albemarle High School. He attended UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1985. After college, Colley sold computers for a firm in Virginia Beach, but he soon soured on the corporate world.

In 1989, just as Virginia football was winning its way to respectability, Colley moved home and started volunteering for the athletic department’s media relations office, writing press releases, compiling stats—whatever was needed. He got a full-time job there in 1991. Suddenly, the ferocious fan had access to all of Cavdom.

He has since learned to temper his emotions during games. Losses once kept him up all night “pissing and moaning,” he says. Now he has attained a rare state of sports-fan Zen.

“Not that anybody likes to lose, but you’ll go insane if you let the losses get to you too much,” Colley says. “Now I can go to a game that I have no interest in, or a game that I am dying to know who’s going to win, and they’re almost the same as far as I’m concerned.”

Football isn’t Colley’s only forte. He also keeps numbers up to date for men’s lacrosse and serves as the official statistician for home men’s and women’s basketball games. In each game, his goals are accuracy and objectivity.

“It’s not a statistician’s job to say what would have happened,” Colley says, “just to interpret what did happen.”

Still, Colley’s love for the Hoos burns as bright as the orange socks he often wears on game days. Jerry Ratcliffe, the Daily Progress sports editor, says Colley “is as passionate about the Cavaliers as anyone I’ve ever run across.”

As he will be on the job at Saturday’s Georgia Tech game, though, Colley must root vicariously.

“Since I can’t,” he tells this reporter, “cheer loudly for me.”— Eric Hoover

 

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Dude, where’s my bike?

Yellow bike program returns—with a fee

Last year’s ill-fated “yellow bike” program has been resurrected in the form of a community bike library that’s trying to share refurbished two-wheelers without getting robbed.

Last year, the City of Charlottesville and Dave Matthews Band funded a project to fix up old bikes, paint them yellow and distribute them around town. Within days all the bikes disappeared. This time, the new bike library, which opened October 1 at 860 W. Main St., isn’t just giving away rides.

“Anyone who wants a bike is asked to put their name on a volunteer registration form,” says coordinator Alexis Zeigler. “They are then asked to help repair the bikes for at least an hour, and to put down a deposit of $10 to $20, depending on the quality of the bike.”

The deposit will be returned when patrons return the bike. “If you don’t know how to repair bikes, that’s fine,” says Zeigler. “The volunteers at the shop will help you learn.”

For now the shop, tucked behind the Hampton Inn in a warehouse owned by DMB manager and über-philanthropist Coran Capshaw, is open on Saturdays from 2pm to 5pm. Zeigler says there’s “a couple hundred” bikes on hand, and “a few” have been checked out so far. The hours of operation will expand, says Zeigler, as the volunteer base grows.

Preston Plaza, Part 2

Last winter, Preston Avenue business owners got all worked up when the City announced plans to redevelop the intersection of Preston and Grady avenues, near the Monticello Dairy building. The project, known as Preston Plaza, went on the shelf a few months later, however, because nobody wanted to build it.

Now City Council is reviving Preston Plaza, citing new interest from developers. This time the Mayor is cranking up the City’s public relations machine, trying to head off another round of controversy.

On October 30, Mayor Maurice Cox called a meeting at the New Covenant Pentecostal Church on the corner of 10th Street and Grady to tell owners of such businesses as Integral Yoga, the Firehouse Bar and Grill, Central Battery and Crystalphonic Recording that Preston Plaza was back on deck.

“We’ve set aside the development plans from a year ago, and we’re starting fresh,” said Cox.

The original plan called for a mixed-use project––50,000 square feet of housing, 2,800 square feet of office space and a partially underground parking deck for 70 cars. Cox says developers were initially skittish about the amount of housing, and expensive ideas like underground parking. The outcry from business owners also turned off some developers, Cox says.

The Mayor wouldn’t name names, only revealing that “a critical mass” of developers showed renewed interest when the City agreed to rethink project specifications. When the City first announced the proposed development, local businesses said they were blindsided by the news. At the meeting, the business owners didn’t seem any less opposed to the plan, even with all the advance word on it.

Cox, however, claimed the City and the local Chamber of Commerce would do all it could to ensure that businesses were not hurt by construction, which Cox said could start in two years. Referencing the new shopping centers going up in Albemarle County’s urban ring, Cox said City Council has to push for infill development to help Charlottesville compete.

“We have to leverage every single square inch of this city,” said Cox. “We have to inspire developers to a higher and better use of this property.”

 

Rising Starr

In a sign of evolution––or, some would say, gentrification––the Starr Hill neighborhood has been removed from the City’s list of funding sites eligible for Federal low-income assistance. Starr Hill is no longer a candidate for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which pay for improvements to poor areas.

The Starr Hill neighborhood, which lies north of W. Main Street, bounded by Ridge/McIntire, Preston Avenue and the railroad tracks, has been on the City’s list of CDBG sites since Charlottesville started receiving the grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1974.

Charlottesville gets about $700,000 a year in CDBG grants, and it has wide flexibility in how that money is used, says Claudette Grant, a City neighborhood planner. Some grants can go directly to low-income individuals for things like home improvements, or they can be spent on projects like sidewalks or parks for the City’s target neighborhoods––Belmont, Fifeville, 10th and Page, Ridge Street and Rose Hill.

Households can qualify for CDBG funds if total household income for a family of four is below $50,880, which is equal to 80 percent of the City’s median income of $63,600, a figure determined by HUD.

Starr Hill was removed after 2000 Census data revealed that 47.3 percent of that neighborhood’s population is considered “low or moderate income.” According to HUD regulations, a neighborhood must be more than 51 percent low or moderate income to qualify.

In the mid- to late-1990s, Starr Hill was targeted by the Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA), which built subsidized houses to sell to low-income residents. Ironically, this effort to help low-income residents is putting Starr Hill housing out of reach for the poor.

“The big project that changed Starr Hill was the PHA,” says Missy Creasy, a City neighborhood planner. “The houses sold at low levels to the original owners, but they’ve turned over since then and sold for significantly more.”

In 1998, for example, the City and PHA repaired a dilapidated house at 210 Sixth St. NW and sold it to a first-time homebuyer for $82,500. Four years later, the same house sold for $225,000.––John Borgmeyer

Industrial strength

New concert promoters have a ga-Gillian ideas for bringing new acts to town

Even before they met in high school in Williamsburg, where they played in rock bands and penned such originals as “(What in the) Sam Hill?” Hank Wells and Michael Allenby had identified music as “a big pursuit.” It was just a question of finding the best outlet for their passion. A dozen years later, the bass guitar and drums have taken a back seat to booking the music for everything from weddings and fraternity bashes to festivals and corporate affairs through Sam Hill Entertainment, the agency they started eight years ago. November 19 marks their first venture as concert promoters, when Sam Hill Presents brings Gillian Welch to the Charlottesville Performing Arts Center (CPAC) for a sold-out show.

In focusing on all aspects of the Charlottesville market, Allenby and Wells see themselves augmenting the work of talent buyers who book one room, such as Starr Hill Music Hall, and local promoters who concentrate on one type of music, such as acoustic or reggae.

Writer Phoebe Frosch caught up with the dynamic entrepreneurs in their Water Street offices recently to discuss their vision for bringing diverse musical acts to Charlottesville.

C-VILLE: Which Charlottesville stages would you especially like to book?

Hank Wells: In addition to CPAC, the Jefferson Theater—a great room sitting there waiting for shows to happen—the Paramount when it’s finished, and Old Cabell Hall.

Michael Allenby: Outerspace is a cool space in a fantastic location [attached to Plan 9 on the UVA Corner], that’s about the size of Trax. It probably holds 600-800 people. It’s mostly an unused room—they’ve had some in-store parties and WNRN’s Station Break release party there but not much else.

Name some artists you’d like to bring to town.

Allenby: They range from someone who’s up and coming, like Ben Kweller, to Wilco or Ben Folds, all the way to legendary acts like Willie Nelson.

Wells: Emmylou Harris would be great at the Paramount. Charlottesville has these beautiful theaters that could entice big names to come here.

Ideally, where would you put Willie Nelson?

Allenby: Ideally, the Jefferson Theater, but the tickets might have to be $500! But if Willie Nelson decides to do a small theater tour, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t play Charlottesville. A promoter just has to be poised to do it, and have a reputation in the industry as someone who can pull it off.

If you could add one new room for music to this town, what would it be?

Wells: An authentic, no-frills rock club.

Allenby: Absolutely. A place where people want to hang out, even before they know who’s playing there that night.

As promoters, do you see any gaping holes in the local music scene?

Wells: World music doesn’t get represented enough here. Jazz is under-serviced, too. You can hear first-rate jazz up the street on Thursday nights, but Miller’s holds 50 people. Branford Marsalis or Chick Corea could play here, artists you ordinarily have to go to D.C. to hear.

Allenby: When we see musicians who should be coming to town but aren’t, in our little world, that’s a tragedy. Even though Charlottesville is small compared to Richmond or D.C., it’s home to a lot of forward-thinking people, which makes it fertile ground for music. The fan base exists to bring in a high-caliber and level of talent. If people buy tickets, we can build something.

 

Head of the class

After a botched job last time, the City School Board starts a new super search

At the end of this school year, departing seniors won’t be the only ones graduating from the Charlottesville City Schools. Superintendent Ron Hutchinson, after 30 years of work in the Charlottesville system, including two years as superintendent, will retire at the end of June.

“Life looks good,” Hutchinson says of his post-superintendent plans. But the future is far murkier for the Charlottesville School Board as it begins the search for a new superintendent.

Prior to the retirement of previous super William Symons, Jr. in July 2002, the board had lined up three candidates for the job. In fairly rapid succession, all three nixed the gig.

The rejections (the three top candidates took superintendent jobs in Martha’s Vineyard, Charlotte and Stafford, Virginia) were particularly embarrassing because the school board had conducted an open search and vetting of candidates. Though Linda Bowen, chairperson of the school board, says she was pleased with the public input during the last search, she says that the school board will make changes to avoid another visible jilting. Most notably, Bowen says the board will ask candidates the question: “If you are offered this job, will you come to Charlottesville?”

The salary range for the position, though not finalized, will be $90,000 to $130,000, which Bowen says should be competitive with the national average.

Bekah Saxon, a teacher at Buford Middle School and president of the Charlottesville Education Association, expects the board will be more cautious during this search. “The board learned some real lessons about what to say and what not to say,” she says.

However, Saxon isn’t worried that the board kibosh will be too severe. “We’ve all been assured that teachers and parents will be involved from the get go,” she says.

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the hunt for Hutchinson’s successor has been kicked off with a search for a search firm. A subcommittee comprising two school board members and two City government officials will settle on the headhunter, and Bowen wants to have the firm on the job on or near December 1. The board had 31 applicants for the job last time, and Bowen hopes the search firm will bring in more applicants this time around—the best of whom will have experience with diverse school populations.

This year alone, the Charlottesville superintendent oversees 4,422 students in nine schools and a budget of more than $51 million, making Bowen liken the job to that of City Manager.

“The problem anymore is that it’s hard to find superintendents. It’s a thankless job if you stop to think about it,” Bowen says. “You’re under so much criticism.”

One notable critic of the school board itself is Republican City Councilor Rob Schilling, who says that an elected rather than an appointed board would be more accountable for its actions, including its failed search for a boss last year. Albemarle County, which does have an elected school board, voted in three new members on November 4.

“I think that certainly, we could have had some different results last time around,” Schilling says, adding, however, that he trusts the board is doing a good job in the early phases of its new hunt for a super.

After the search firm narrows its sights on a few top candidates, Bowen says, the board will likely want to step in and begin interviews. In addition to finding a person who will accept Charlottesville’s offer to the big dance, Bowen says, the board is looking for someone who can handle the highly politicized job, without alienating members of the City government or the general public. Bowen’s target date for locking in the new superintendent is March 1, 2004.

What if the board fails to fill the position by that deadline? “It could be a problem,” Bowen acknowledges.—Paul Fain

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Hipsters unite

It’s a small, cool world after all on Friendster.com

Last week graduate student Peach Friedman was waiting to buy a cup of coffee when musician Lauren Hoffman appeared in line behind her. “Hey, I saw you on Friendster,” Hoffman said.

“Friendster” has recently entered the local lexicon to define a member of the online network Friendster.com, where buddies are collected and swapped like baseball cards. The site’s “friend of a friend” concept is similar to John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, which itself spawned the Kevin Bacon game and which posits that everyone is connected by six or fewer intermediary relationships.

Friedman, for example, joined Friendster in the spring––just weeks after the site’s March debut––on the invitation of her brother, who lives in Boston. After joining, typing a personality profile and uploading a photo, she “linked” to the other Friendsters in her brother’s network. Friedman has invited others into her Internet circle, and through her 31 Friendsters she is currently connected to 264,311 other people, including other Charlottesvillians like Hoffman.

“All my Boston friends were on Friendster,” says Friedman. “They were all writing ridiculous testimonials about each other, and I wanted to join the fun. I love to talk about myselfI mean, who doesn’t?”

Friendster’s format of pictures, profiles and prominent declarations of status (single, in a relationship, married, etc.) has prompted comparisons to the dating website Match.com, which has about 200 male and 200 female users in the Charlottesville area. Friendster’s home page claims the site helps people find love, as well as new friends and activity partners. The site is currently in a free trial period.

According to Friendster’s “search” function, there are 692 Friendsters living within 10 miles of Charlottesville. Of the 351 women, 81 want to meet people for “dating” or a “serious relationship.” And of the men, 132 of 341 are looking for love. In contrast to Match.com’s sincere solicitations, however, many Friendsters seem less interested in meeting new people than simply declaring their existence to the wide world, and making it laugh.

Indeed, many local Friendsters do not take their profiles too seriously. Local web designer Darren Hoyt, for example, claims his occupation is herding incontinent, flying sheep. Other profiles are completely fabricated––the City of Charlottesville, the Belmont neighborhood, Axl Rose and Rubick’s Cube are all on Friendster. The site’s apparently humorless founder and CEO, Jonathan Abrams, however, has denounced “fakesters” as ruining Friendster, and has begun deleting phony accounts.

The site’s levity, however, is appealing to many local Friendsters. Robin Stevens says she’s not interested in using Friendster for anything other than fleeting entertainment.

“I’m not on it in hopes someone is going to read my profile and say ‘I gotta meet this woman,’” says Stevens. “They will more than likely say, ‘What a weirdo.’ I think it’s just another platform to say ‘Here I am! I’m neat and cool! Look at me! I’m different!’ It was fun setting up the profile and reading everyone else’s ramblings about themselves, but after that I was over it.”

Browsing the site reveals a Friendster archetype that holds true among Charlottesville’s members––mostly white, cool-looking, 20-something urban hipsters effusing irony, a declared love for hip-hop, indie pop and “The Simpsons.”

The symmetry doesn’t surprise UVA anthropologist Richard Handler, who explains Friendster’s appeal by referencing 19th century scholar Alexis de Tocqueville:

“Tocqueville pointed out that a fundamental problem of mass, individualistic societies is that the very independence and equality that gives every person his or her dignity also means that every person is no different than anyone else––what I call the ‘drop in the bucket’ feeling,” says Handler. “He showed how American individualism led to American conformity. That’s exactly what you are finding on Friendster.com, where everyone expresses his or her individuality, but in exactly the same way.”

Some find Friendster’s conformity a turn-off. “I’ve managed to avoid the Friendster pull so far,” says 23-year-old C-VILLE intern Nell Boeschenstein. “It seems like just another one of those things that defines you by a list of your consumptions.”

It’s all in fun for Friedman, though, a habitual people-watcher who enjoys Friendster’s personality parade––especially when she meets her Internet acquaintances face-to-face.

“It’s just another medium to play with, a place to see and be seen,” she says, “like the person who comes up and says ‘I saw you on Friendster.’”––John Borgmeyer

A church divided

The consecration of an openly gay bishop spurs local debate

After a summer when “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” ruled the ratings and the Supreme Court ruled anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, it’s easy to forget that homosexuality still inspires debate. But reminders don’t come much clearer than the international controversy surrounding the Episcopal Church’s confirmation of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The story broke in June when Robinson, 56—a former married man with two daughters—was elected to lead the Diocese of New Hampshire. Debate flared up again when the election was ratified at the American Anglican Council’s national convention on August 5. On Sunday, November 2, Robinson was consecrated as a bishop at the University of New Hampshire in front of nearly 4,000 people, most of them supporters. Only three objected during the public comment period—one of whom read an explicit list of gay sex acts—although other dissenting members left the church afterward to join a protesting prayer service nearby.

But his official overall acceptance by the 2.3 million-member American Anglican Church has caused a deep divide among Episcopalians worldwide, with rumors of a split between the liberal and conservative sides of the membership. Local congregants also have strong opinions on the matter, and C-VILLE asked a few churchgoers whether a person’s sexual preference makes a difference within the religious community.

Jessica Nash, on her way out of a morning service at Christ Church on High Street, candidly said, “I’m very against the decision…part of being a Christian is the belief that Christ can transform you.” Her companions nodded in agreement, supporting the written statement from the conservative congregation’s vicar, the Rev. Jeffrey Fishwick: “I, and I suspect most of the parishioners of Christ Church, are deeply grieved over the decision.”

By telephone, Dave Johnson, rector at Church of Our Savior on E. Rio Road, offered a less emotional reaction. On September 24, Church of Our Savior hosted a two-hour forum on the topic where parishioners and priests expressed vastly differing opinions. He seemed less concerned with controversy than on focusing on the purpose of practicing religion. “I don’t agree with the decisions that were made,” he admits, adding, however, that the issue is “an unfortunate distraction from the message of the gospel.”

Robert Williams, a local Episcopalian, said that “Being a Christian means belonging to a community that goes back thousands of years. When someone challenges a moral-based history, there’s going to be a split. Moral conviction should stay timeless.” His sister, Anne Williams, agreed. “Where in the Bible does it say you can have a homosexual as a priest?”

“Acceptance of a leader who happens to be gay is a better reflection of true Christianity,” argued Eleanor Takseraas, outside of St. Paul’s Episcopal Campus Ministry on University Avenue, “in the sense that you’re not turning your back on someone who’s not like you.”

The Rev. Jonathan Voorhees describes St. Paul’s as “a progressive church” and doesn’t consider this issue political—“it’s a human issue,” he said. Voorhees regards the existence of homosexuals, within the church or otherwise, as neither evil nor uncommon.

Other Episcopalians are ambivalent, like Cary Wood, who regularly attends evening service. He just wants the situation resolved. “I have no reason to be against [homosexuals],” he said. “It’s a shame such a big deal is being made out of it.”—Athena Schindelheim  

 

Everyday people

Scottsville’s ordinary folks live on through recorded memories

A plain-faced woman in a billowing black gown is reunited, in a sense, with her husband, a bearded Scottsville Gray in full military regalia. Steps away in the 157-year-old Scottsville Museum building, their life-sized images co-mingle with photos of a silver-haired Yankee educator and a curious 4-year-old girl in black boots and a white ruffled dress. They are there only in pictures, yet through the efforts of “Capturing our Heritage,” Scottsville Museum’s oral history project, their stories live on through the voices of their friends and family.

Funded in part by a $2,500 grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (the people who bring you the annual Virginia Festival of the Book), the program directly feeds the museum’s “Whispers from the Past” exhibit, which currently tells the story of nine Scottsville citizens from the pre-Civil War era to the Depression. The exhibit, located at 290 Main St., continues into a second year with a new series of profiles to be mounted in April.

“Scottsville is a unique town. It seems to have a kind of continuous history,” says Charles Fry, director of the oral history initiative, which actually got underway about four years ago and now has the memories of nearly 50 people to its credit. “I think that we need to tap into that and get a handle on memories of people who are, I’m sorry, dying.” For Fry, a former psychologist, the main motivation for spearheading the project was to explore the extraordinary in the average Scottsville resident. “A number of people had tried to interview a variety of well known older people such as the mayor,” Fry says. “But one of the things that seemed to be important to try was to get some historical understanding of the everyday person, not just the ‘celebrities.’”

Outfitted with a microphone and a digital audio recorder, project volunteers gather those histories. Yet it’s the photos, especially those by William Burgess, which give the museum exhibit its inimitable texture.

From 1890 to 1935 Burgess was to Scottsville what Rufus Holsinger was to Charlottesville, a photo historian. Through a “gentleman’s agreement,” their paths never crossed as they worked their separate parts of Albemarle County. The museum project has accumulated about 3,700 of Burgess’ archival quality images, although he took thousands more.

Along with the photos and other artifacts, the oral histories are arranged around six audio pods, giving visitors a mixed-media glimpse into the little town’s rich yet sometimes troubled past. Listening to the “voices from the beyond” on the decidedly low-tech audio tapes, viewing the still-vivid photos, standing on the sturdy floorboards of the Museum (a former Disciples of Christ Church founded in 1846), and smelling the musty aroma of artifacts like a 1920s diary and a yellowed quilt effectively transports a viewer briefly back in time.

Here the anguished histories of Civil War soldier David Patteson and his wife, Mollie—both born in the 1830s—are told through the voices of two of their living grandchildren, who read the letters and poetry the couple exchanged while David, a Confederate, was away at war until his death in March 1865. Then there’s Ruth Roberts, born in 1904, who was a former World War II War Department employee, and later a retiree who traveled the world but always returned home to Scottsville. Or William Day Smith, who was principal of Scottsville School for 30 years until 1937 and whose story is told through the voice of his niece, Katherine Ellis.

“This is an oral history of you and me, the run of the mill,” Fry says. “I think this is a side of history that you don’t tend to get. You usually get Thomas Jefferson’s history or other well-known people. But this is just an oral history of people.”—Jennifer Pullinger

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No scrubs
A nursing shortage prompts Martha Jeff to pass the hat

In a direct-mail fundraising letter dated April 2003, Martha Jefferson Hospital asked the good people of Charlottesville and Albemarle to make a donation to its Nursing Care Fund, one among dozens of charitable funds at the Downtown hospital. Following the request it stated, “There is a nationwide shortage of nurses. Please give as generously as you can and help Martha Jefferson Hospital continue to offer outstanding nurses services and excellent, patient-centered medical care.”
    Missing from the letter was a clear explanation of why Martha Jeff, grossing $210 million in revenues annually, wants the community to foot the bill.
    “We like to think of it more as inviting the public to support this particular fund,” Ray Mishler, vice president of Martha Jefferson’s Hospital Foundation, told C-VILLE. “People wouldn’t respond so well to us just asking for, say, a new boiler.”
    Indeed, the fund (not the boiler), just one in a long menu of pressing priorities at the local non-profit hospital, wasn’t randomly chosen to move local philanthropists to action. The Nursing Care Fund, established in 1999, is a necessary proactive measure to develop the profession before time runs out, say hospital administrators. It seems likely too that nurses, whom these days have more contact with patients than doctors do, would be a relatively sympathetic cause.
    But the nursing profession is in trouble nationwide and Charlottesville is no exception. Recent studies have estimated that by the year 2010, there will be a half-million vacant nursing positions across the country. Thanks to the physical and emotional demands of the job, along with stressful hours (many nurses work XX-hour shifts), the average nurse leaves the profession at 50. Factor in the aging Baby Boomer population, and nothing short of a crisis is soon to follow. By helping nurses to develop additional expertise and opening the door for some nurses to less hands-on work, the hospital rather optimistically hopes to stem that trend of attrition.
    “You have to remember, we are also bleeding our own nurses away,” says Susan Winslow, Martha Jefferson’s director of nursing education and community services. “They are highly adaptive to stress and therefore quite adaptive to other professions.”
    The Nursing Care Fund, which has already amassed $1.5 million in donations, will support projects such as consolidating nursing educators into a comprehensive education department within the hospital and creating the region’s first skills/simulation lab. In the lab, nurses-in-training could work extensively with mannequins and equipment before they get involved in direct patient care. Some of the fund will also be used to recruit retired nurses back into the field.
    “Nursing is back-breaking work, sometimes literally,” says Winslow. “We can bring inactive nurses back for less direct patient care with part-time positions in admissions, discharge and teaching.”
    Given that at Martha Jefferson, a hospital that boasts of its continuous-learning culture and reimburses its nurses for continuing ed classes, only 15 percent of 350 practicing RNs and LPNs currently are enrolled in some form of continuing professional education, it’s unclear if more money and equipment will drive nurses into the classroom. The campaign’s goal is to raise $3.5 million and hoist to 40 percent the share of Martha Jeff nurses undertaking additional training. —Kathryn E. Goodson

New ACC structure means ’Hoos could suck even worse

Recently, Boston College, University of Miami and Syracuse University accepted the NCAA’s invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), of which UVA is also a member. The NCAA had considered extending an invitation to Virginia Tech, but decided against it.
The three new schools boast strong sports programs, and the TV networks that already fawn over the ACC will undoubtedly give the conference even more coverage. For publicity-hungry UVA, this news could be really good—or really bad. So this week we examine UVA’s conference record in various men’s sports during 2002-03 to see how the Cavaliers might stand up to the new competition.

Baseball
UVA: 28 wins, 23 losses (6th of 9 teams in ACC)
Boston: 33-21
Miami: 37-13
Syracuse: no team
Verdict: Maybe UVA and Syracuse can enjoy a fun game of Wiffle ball.

Football
UVA: 9-5 (2nd in ACC)
Boston: 9-4
Miami: 12-1 (2nd in the nation)
Syracuse: 4-8
Verdict: If Miami doesn’t kill UVA, the competition will make the Cavs’ strong team even stronger. It’s too bad the Athletic Department canned the Pep Band, since Miami’s thugs and Syracuse’s ineptitude would make for some great jokes.

Basketball
UVA: 16-16 (6th in ACC)
Boston: 19-12
Miami: 11-16
Syracuse: 30-5 (national champions)
Verdict: Despite its record, Miami has a better team than UVA. Looks like the Cavs’ butt will get three new bruises.

Soccer
UVA: 15-7 (4th in ACC)
Boston: 18-5
Miami: no team
Syracuse: 8-8-2
Verdict: The Cavs could give The University an ego boost by beating up on them d’urn Yankees.

Conclusion: Perhaps it’s a good thing Virginia Tech won’t be in the ACC. As UVA pours ever more dollars into sports instead of academics, the Cavaliers seem poised to stand alone as the school with a great football team, mediocre sports program and the butt of redneck jokes.

Research by the C-VILLE staff


Chemical reactions
Council gets gaseous in water discussion

Perhaps inspired by the evening’s main topics––gas and water––City Council turned their regular meeting on Monday, May 19, into a lesson on scientific principles.
    First, Council proved the law that says a gas (or a meeting) will always expand to the shape of its container. There were only four items on Monday’s agenda and the Councilors seemed to expect the meeting would move quickly. Yet Council managed to draw the evening out to its usual length, comparable to a leisurely Major League Baseball game.
    Most of the expansive dialogue covered the subject of the City’s utility rates. The agenda included a public hearing on rate hikes for gas, water and wastewater, proposed by City Finance Director Rita Scott.
    Gas prices, she says, increased sharply throughout the nation last winter, and the higher gas rates in the City reflected that trend. The City purchases gas from private suppliers.
    Charlottesville and Albemarle buy clean water from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA), which also handles wastewater treatment. As Council discussed whether to approve the proposed rate hikes, it illustrated a second scientific principle––objects (or politicians) at rest tend to stay at rest, until acted on by some kind of force.
    In this case, Councilors Kevin Lynch, Meredith Richards and Rob Schilling displayed a severe resistance to new fees. Each questioned how the rates were structured or exactly how the RWSA planned to spend the new money. Schilling, in particular, read a list of queries that ran on so long Mayor Maurice Cox had to bust out Council’s official guidelines and read “Please note, Councilors can make up to three points in discussion. Otherwise, have questions answered before the meeting.” (For those keeping score at home, that would be the mayoral version of “Shut up now.”)
RWSA Director Larry Tropea said that during last summer’s drought he heard from numerous citizens––especially those with business and real-estate interests––demanding the Authority increase the regional water supply. During the 1980s the Authority tried to build a new reservoir at Buck Mountain Creek, but Federal regulations and the endangered James River spineymussel consipired to thwart those efforts.
    So the RWSA now plans several other projects to increase supply. These include expanding the South Fork Rivanna reservoir by raising the dam and dredging sediment off the bottom. The Authority also will rebuild an old station on the Mechums River to pump water in case of emergency. The Authority also needs to repair dilapidated infrastructure, some of which is 100 years old, Tropea says.
    To pay for the projects, the RWSA is borrowing more than $24 million from the State, and on May 19 Scott said that more than half of the RWSA’s 2004 budget would be devoted to paying down that debt. The RWSA’s only source of revenue is the City and County, so this isn’t likely to be the last proposed rate hike, said Scott.
    But when Councilor Blake Caravati made a motion to approve the rate hikes, no one offered a second. Cox said he would not second the motion because he wanted to see if fellow Councilors really had the willpower to vote down the ordinance. Scott told Council that money would automatically come out of the City’s general fund to pay its water bill.
    Cox nearly pressured Richards to support the fees if the City agreed to study her question, but Schilling moved to revisit the matter on June 2 (which is destined to be another marathon meeting). Council agreed.
    “People were playing games, and now we’re in a pickle,” Caravati said. “Rivanna could turn off the taps if we don’t pay our bill.” ––John Borgmeyer

Return of the red glare
Local businesses return the spark to July 4

One week after finding out that Charlottesville’s July 4 fireworks were in jeopardy—again—the show is definitely back on. On Wednesday, May 21, nearly 30 people attended the inaugural meeting of the new Save the Fireworks committee, formed to ensure that the area still has stuff exploding in the sky come Independence Day.
    The move was needed after the Charlottesville Downtown Foundation, party poopers du jour, backed out of handling the festivities, which it had done during the previous two years. But Save the Fireworks member organizers assured meeting attendees that “no one’s mad” at CDF, as it already has “enough events set up to lose money.” In fact, he thanked the group and specifically Director Gail Weakley, who offered CDF’s contacts and expertise (but not, it should be noted, financial acumen) to the cause.
    Save the Fireworks will need the help. While the group has made impressive strides on the fundraising front—from local businesses (including C-VILLE Weekly) they’ve already netted enough to devote $15,000 solely to fireworks, and that was before a May 23 WINA radio pledge drive—their biggest task will be to organize a self-sustaining event that had been passed from group to group for years.
    But they’re determined to make this “the biggest show Charlottesville’s ever had, by a lot,” Caddell said. Contracts have been signed with Zambelli Fireworks International, one of the biggest pyrotechnics companies in the world and the people responsible for last year’s show. Those disappointed by the 2002 display needn’t worry, though. Caddell said Zambelli was displeased with its own performance (apparently, the fireworks were launched at the wrong time) and have pledged an extra 10 percent worth of product for this year.
“So that’s an additional $1,500 worth of firecrackers right there,” said Caddell.
    Save the Fireworks is also working with City Manager Gary O’Connell and others to hash out the various permit, parking and clean-up issues. CDF cited the high costs of shuttle buses and security as one of the reasons it dropped the event. But Save the Fireworks is considering corporate sponsorships to provide transportation alternatives to the McIntire Park/Charlottesville High School car crunch.
    As to whether Save the Fireworks had considered making money for the event by taking a cue from CDF’s new Fridays After 5 admission charge, Caddell answered with an emphatic no.
“My position is that mom and dad and kids shouldn’t have to pay to see this. It should be a taxpayer-funded event,” as it is in many municipalities, he said. “The County and City should participate equally and the surrounding localities ought to have some little thing they throw in, too.”
    For those looking to add their help to Save the Fireworks, another meeting will be held Wednesday, May 28, and there are still plenty of big jobs for any comers, said Caddell: “We’ll find a committee for them to be on. We still need people to handle the Port-a-Potties.” —Eric Rezsnyak

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The war at home
Peaceniks and housing advocates visit Council

The high drama of foreign affairs made a rare appearance in the theater of local government last week. An army of war protesters from the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice invaded City Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, January 21, demanding that Charlottesville join more than 80 cities in passing a resolution opposing an American war on Iraq. During the public hearing segment that begins each Council meeting, the activists held forth on President Bush’s imperialist folly and cheered when Mayor Maurice Cox said Council would consider an anti-war resolution at its next meeting on February 3.
    The formal agenda on January 21, however, reflected Council’s concern about the violence brewing in Richmond, not the Middle East. Faced with a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, State legislators say their only option is to slash funds to a broad range of services; they’re leaving it to local governments to make up cuts to social services, road and school construction, and public safety. Council is in the early stages of crafting Charlottesville’s 2004 budget, and they say the City needs to raise fees to make up for State budget cuts.
    For example, the City is contemplating raising the meals tax to four cents from three cents, which budget officials say would create an additional $1.3 million annually for school capital projects. Also, the City has proposed increasing the vehicle decal fee to $25 from $20  to make up for State cuts to local police. Finally, the City wants to raise trash sticker fees again. Sticker fees increased some 25 percent last year, but City officials say that stickers still only cover half the cost of the City’s trash and recycling program.
    The Council meeting began with a public hearing on budget concerns; Council also received e-mail comments, phone messages and postings to an electronic budget forum on the City’s website, www.charlottesville.org. Of those who have expressed their opinions so far, most people seem to support the meals tax.
    The sticker and decal fees have generated more controversy.
    The most common criticism is that instead of raising fees, the City should cut expenses––popular targets for the thrift-minded include the recycling program, which loses money every year, and roadside sculptures known as Art in Place.
    Despite this year’s belt-tightening, Council is still crafting ambitious long-term plans, and on January 21 Mayor Cox outlined his vision for the City’s economic development and housing.
    The next few years will see $15 million in new Downtown commercial development alone––including renovations at Court Square, a new home for SNL Financial (the old NGIC building on Jefferson and 7th Street) and the planned transit center at the east end of the Mall, Cox said.
    “Charlottesville is blessed with an incredibly stable economy,” said the Mayor. “We had $35 million in business investment in 2002.”
    The City’s rising economic tide is good for some, but Council also must cope with the fact that Charlottesville’s popularity is squeezing many people out of affordable housing. Cox said the City’s housing strategy has been to increase the available supply of middle-income housing to stem the exodus of the middle class to Albemarle County; in the next few years more than 1,000 new middle-income units will be built in south Charlottesville, and another 200 in the north, said Cox.
    Now that market forces are pinching the City’s prized middle class, Council has opted to create a housing task force to address affordable housing issues. On January 21, Council decided the task force should comprise 20 developers, bankers, property owners and housing experts, as well as a low-income housing advocate. While the task force will be charged with protecting “vulnerable populations,” according to the proposal, it will also be instructed to “be inclusive of all income levels,” leading critics to wonder if the task force will look primarily at the needs of middle-class homebuyers and ignore the City’s poor.
    “Those residents are not well represented,” said Julie Jones, a member of the advocacy group Friends of Equitable and Affordable Housing. “The task force needs to keep in mind the crisis of safe, affordable rental housing.” ––John Borgmeyer


Attorney tourney
The County Commonwealth’s Attorney takes on a challenger

Talk about stealing someone else’s thunder. On January 21, merely 30 minutes before County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos announced his run at a fourth term in office, fellow Republican Ron Huber announced from the stairs of the County Courthouse his own plans to run for Camblos’ job. With more of a psychological assessment than a real platform to offer (“Albemarle County has lost confidence in the Commonwealth’s Attorney,” Huber said), Huber, who is the Charlottesville Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, caught Camblos and other County Republicans off guard.
    Not that Camblos is too worried about Huber’s nascent campaign.
    “My platform is my great record,” Camblos says. “We handle thousands of cases fairly and aggressively and we do it for the good of the County.”
    Indeed, if Huber has a specific counterpoint to make, he’s keeping it well obscured. Repeated calls to Huber were not returned in the days following his announcement. At one point, C-VILLE reached his wife, Wendy, who, while reluctant to characterize his views, did assure a reporter that she and Huber have discussed them thoroughly around the dinner table.
    At least one prominent Republican is putting a happy face on the situation, however. “Competition only invigorates the base,” says Keith Drake, who chairs the Albemarle County Republican party, “but only one out of three or four times does an incumbent actually get challenged.”
    Although Drake was busy attending Camblos’ announcement and is as unfamiliar as anyone (except perhaps Wendy Huber) with the challenger’s platform, he says Camblos has done a good job during his 12 years in office.
    Nor does Drake seem to share Huber’s pet concern regarding Camblos’ performance on the job, namely, that the attorney’s office is closed between 12:30pm and 1pm (for the record, the City Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office remains open all day).
    “If he had checked,” says Camblos, “he’d have known that we’re bound by the Fair Labor Standards Act, just like everyone else.
    “We are absolutely open for business,” Camblos says.
    Camblos is supported by a roster of local Republican all-stars: U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode; State Attorney General Jerry Kilgore; former Lieutenant Governor John Hager; State Senator Emmett Hangar; Albemarle Sheriff Ed Robb; and former Albemarle Delegate Peter Way, among others.
    “These are all elected political figures and each and every one of them has enough confidence in me to support my re-election for Commonwealth’s Attorney,” says Camblos.
    Those hoping for a season of good old-fashioned mudslinging followed by a suspenseful primary will be disappointed, Drake predicts. “I’m not forecasting a primary here,” the party chairman says.
    If the party were to opt for a primary, in accordance with the State Board of Elections it would entail opening polls for a 13-hour day, which would close down schools, as well as pass the cost onto tax payers. “A regular primary would be too expensive,” says Drake. “Republicans ought to bear the cost, not the tax payers.”
    Instead, the party will hold either a firehouse primary (that is, a party-only, single-site primary) or engage in a mass meeting or full-out convention. The party will not decide its selection means until May, however. The election is scheduled for November. To date, no Democratic candidates have yet announced.
    As might be expected from a long-term incumbent, Camblos takes criticism with reserve.
    “There are people who think we’ve been too lenient, too harsh,” he says. “There are those who think we should have prosecuted when we didn’t, or not prosecuted when we did.
    “But you cannot do this job without making some people angry.” —Kathryn E. Goodson


Capital expenditures
Albemarle invests in a death penalty case

When Jamie Javon Poindexter was in seventh grade at  Jack Jouett Middle School in Albemarle County, he failed all his academic subjects. He read at a third-grade level, and scored in the lowest percentile on various standardized tests, according to court documents.
    Despite Poindexter’s obvious academic shortcomings, he was promoted to eighth grade, then ninth, before he dropped out of school. In May 2001, 18-year-old Poindexter was charged in Albemarle General District Court with capital murder in the stabbing death and robbery of UVA graduate student Allison Meloy on April 21 of that year.
    Now, Albemarle County is spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer to help County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos send Poindexter to Virginia’s notoriously efficient death row. The County’s willingness to spend money on Poindexter’s prosecution strike some as a misapplication of resources.
    “We’ve said for years that we can either educate children in school or pay for their incarceration,” says John Baldino, the local representative to the Virginia Education Association. “Whether education would have made a difference here, we don’t know. That’s just speculation. But it sounds like the system failed him.”
    In February 2002, Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors approved Camblos’ request for $12,672 to hire a part-time attorney, Frank Terwilliger. Initially, Terwilliger was supposed to fill in temporarily for Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Darby Lowe, who, at that time, was pregnant and planning to take a three-month maternity leave. Although Lowe returned to work in the fall, Terwilliger is still on the County payroll and assisting Camblos in prosecuting Poindexter.
    Camblos says that Lowe returned just as the workload for Poindexter’s case began to grow unwieldy, and he requested more funding to keep Terwilliger as an assistant. This is the third capital case Camblos has prosecuted in his 12-year career with Albemarle County; it is the first time the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has hired part-time help.
    “This is one of the most horrific set of facts I’ve seen in 26 years,” says Camblos, citing court records documenting Meloy’s 48 stab wounds. “Clearly, the elements of capital murder are in this case.
    “Capital murder cases are very labor intensive,” Camblos continues. “In order for this office to properly deal with it, I needed some additional help. We really need another attorney, but we don’t have a place to put one.”
    In the past 12 years, Albemarle’s population has grown, the police department has expanded, and so has the number of County judges. But his office has hired only one new attorney, says Camblos. “It’s a bottleneck,” he says.
    Baldino has little sympathy for Camblos’ work load. “If the Commonwealth’s Attorney can’t make his case himself,” he says, “he should live with the result.”
    Youth like Poindexter will always “fall through the cracks” no matter how many programs are available, says Baldino. But he says it’s “irresponsible” for the County to put money toward executing Poindexter after apparently neglecting his educational needs years ago.
    “The fact that we’re willing to spend money, to hire more attorneys, just to ensure his execution—I think that’s despicable,” Baldino says. ––John Borgmeyer

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"All politics is local."

It’s a famous declaration from longtime Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil. Had he been speaking about Charlottesville and Albemarle County, he might have added a corollary: "and local politics is boring."

That seems to be the consensus anyway, since only about a quarter of all registered voters in the City and County bother to cast ballots for local elections. And it’s not just the citizens who seem disinterested–the November 4 ballot contains nine uncontested races. Apparently no one could find a reason to challenge the leadership of Creigh Deeds, Steve Landes, Mitch Van Yahres, Rob Bell, Jim Camblos, Lindsay Dorrier, Nick Evans, Steven Meeks or Paul Garrett.

So everything must be hunky dory, right? Not hardly. Do you want Albemarle County to look like one big strip mall? Do you want your Sheriff’s Department fighting terrorism? Should we try to build a new reservoir or learn to be more careful with the water we have? Is the school system responsible for closing the achievement gap between black and white students?

We interviewed each candidate and offer the fol lowing guide to what makes them tick. While many of the candidates lack political experience, they at least seem to exercise some civic interest–according to available local voting records, every candidate from the City and County voted in the last election, except Sheriff’s candidate Barry McLane (oops!).

National politics may make for interesting television, but the local election is where your voice gets heard. Read on to see where the candidates stand on local issues, and maybe you’ll find you’ve got something to say.-John Borgmeyer

 

Senate of Virginia,

24th District

Emmett Hanger, Jr.

Incumbent

Age: 55

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, five children

Education: B.A., James Madison University; M.A., JMU

Previous political experience: House of Delegates, 1983-1991; State Senate, 1996-current

Occupation: Commercial real estate broker

Turn-ons: Farmland–Hanger has sponsored bills making it easier for Virginia to protect farmland and place land in conservation easements. Other turn-ons include major campaign contributors such as Exxon-Mobile, Philip Morris, Sprint and The Realtors PAC.

Turn-offs: The tax code–Hanger is chairman of the State Commission on Tax Reform and Restructure.

The pitch: "I want to correct the inequities in the tax code that put a disproportionate share of the State’s tax burden on the shoulders of low-income residents."

 

Steven Sisson

Age: 46

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, four children

Education: U.S. Navy Photography School; U.S. Navy Photojournalism School; Florida Junior College; attended Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at UVA

Previous political experience: City of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Reform Party Chairman; 6th District Chairman; Rockingham County Democratic Chairman; Rockingham County District V Planning Commissioner

Occupation: Waste reduction and recycling manager at the Coors Shenandoah Brewery, Elkton

Turn-ons: Taking incumbents to task–Sisson has criticized his opponent, Hanger, for supporting former Governor Jim Gilmore’s car tax repeal, Hanger’s failure to vote for a 2001 bill expressing official regret for the State’s eugenics movement, and for Hanger’s alleged inaction as State Song Committee chairman.

Turn-offs: Taxes–It’s not often you see Virginia Democrats biting the Republicans’ "no new taxes" line, but Sisson has made such a pledge the cornerstone of his campaign.

The pitch: "I believe we need a Senator who understands that public office is about service, and someone who encourages the public to hold them accountable for their actions. I have a strong record, and I believe that if the people of the 24th District put their faith in me, I can be that kind of Senator."

 

Senate of Virginia,

25th District

Creigh Deeds

Incumbent

Age: 45

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, four children

Education: B.A., Concord College; Wake Forest Law School

Previous political experience: Elected Bath County Commonwealth Attorney in 1988; House of Delegates, 1991-2001; Elected to State Senate in 2001

Occupation: Attorney

Turn-ons: Speeches–Deeds has the "Aw, shucks" western Virginia thing down, and it plays well in Richmond.

Turn-offs: Environmental degradation– Deeds received the Leadership in Public Policy Award from The Nature Conservancy, and the Preservation Alliance of Virginia named him Delegate of the Year.

The pitch: "Government isn’t about sitting on a hilltop saying how everything should be. It’s about creating situations where everyone can win a little bit. You can be very specific about what you want to do, but we’re elected to work together."

 

House of Delegates,

25th District

Steve Landes

Incumbent

Age: 43

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, one child

Education: B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University

Previous political experience: Delegate since 1996

Occupation: Executive director of Newbiz Virginia

Turn-ons: God and business–Landes proposes handing health care for the elderly over to corporations. He’s also supported teacher-led voluntary prayer and 10 Commandment displays in schools.

Turn-offs: Inheritance taxes, restricting campaign contributions, same-sex marriage and expanding State services for the poor.

The pitch: "I try to listen to people’s concerns, and make sure the State is providing good customer service."

 

House of Delegates,

57th District

Mitch Van Yahres

Incumbent

Age: He turns 77 on Election Day

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, five children

Education: B.S., Cornell University

Previous political experience: Charlottesville City Council 1968-1976; Charlottesville Mayor 1970-1972; elected to House of Delegates in 1981

Occupation: Retired arborist

Turn-ons: The little guy–"I have always tried to be a voice for those who are neglected or ignored by the system."

Turn-offs: Low cigarette taxes–Van Yahres has repeatedly tried to introduce legislation raising the current tax of 2.5 cents per pack to 60 cents per pack, to no avail.

The pitch: "Sometimes I feel my function is to remind my colleagues that there is more to governing than winning elections and cutting taxes. We are responsible for helping our fellow citizens who can’t help themselves."

 

House of Delegates,

58th District

Rob Bell

Incumbent

Age: 36

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, one child

Education: B.A., UVA; J.B., UVA

Previous political experience: Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Orange County from 1996-2001

Occupation: Attorney

Turn-ons: Teachers

Turn-offs: Drunk drivers

The pitch: "We need to be sure tax reform will not be used as a way to disguise a tax hike."

 

House of Delegates,

59th District

Watkins M. Abbitt

Incumbent

Age: 58

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, two children, five grandchildren

Education: B.S. in economics, VCU

Previous political experience: Elected to House of Delegates in 1985; sat on the State Water Control Board, 1981-1985

Occupation: Owns insurance and real estate companies

Turn-ons: His top campaign contributors are auto dealers, Realtors, commercial builders, lumber companies.

Turn-offs: Cutting the State law enforcement budget last year.

The pitch: "I’ve been a voice for rural Virginia, and I’ve worked hard to see that we got our fair share of funding in this district. Last year, in a budget decline, there were no cuts to education, and we were able to keep law enforcement almost whole."

 

Allen Hale

Age: 60

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, two children, three stepchildren

Education: B.A., UVA

Previous political experience: Treasurer and chair of Nelson County Democratic party; member of the 5th District Democratic Committee; serves on the Industrial Development Authority for Nelson County

Occupation: Land surveyor and bookseller

Turn-ons: Small businesses

Turn-offs: Virginia’s position as last in the country in spending on natural resources.

The pitch: "Tax reform is my priority."

 

Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney

Jim Camblos

Incumbent

Age: 57

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, two children

Education: B.A., UVA; J.D., Western New England College School of Law

Previous political experience: Elected Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney in 1991

Occupation: Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney

Turn-ons: His Republican buddies–Camblos has donated thousands of his leftover campaign money to fellow Republican candidates.

Turn-offs: The understaffed conditions which Camblos says plague his office.

The pitch: "It is my hope that the citizens of Albemarle County share my view that I, as well as my assistants, do a good job."

 

Albemarle County Sheriff

Ed Robb

Incumbent

Age: 65

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, three children

Education: B.A., Thiel College

Previous political experience: Virginia State Senator,

1992-1996

Occupation: Albemarle County Sheriff

Turn-ons: Rubbing elbows–Robb received campaign contributions from such notables as writer Rita Mae Brown ($1,000) and former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger ($200).

Turn-offs: Newspaper stories about Steve Shifflett, whom Robb hired despite Shifflett’s record of violence as a Louisa County Deputy. Shifflett left the Albemarle force this summer after police discovered he lied about getting shot by a black man, but not before Robb declared the "incident" a "hate crime."

The pitch: "I am eminently better qualified and more experienced."

 

Larry Claytor

Age: 49

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, three children

Education: Two years at Virginia Tech; associate’s degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College

Previous political experience: None

Occupation: Albemarle County master police officer, forensic specialist

Turn-ons: Being a forensic specialist

Turn-offs: The incumbent Sheriff’s focus on anti-terrorism campaigns, instead of the department’s actual duties of guarding local courtrooms and delivering court papers.

The pitch: "My focus is to be the best Sheriff I can be, to put the focus on the department’s duties."

 

Barry McLane

Age: 48

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, three children

Education: Attended Ferrum and Lynchburg colleges

Previous political experience: None

Occupation: WorldStrides executive

Turn-ons: His own managerial expertise

Turn-offs: The high turnover of Sheriff’s deputies since Ed Robb took office four years ago. McLane puts the turnover rate at 60 percent.

The pitch: "I will work as hard for the community as I do for my stockholders."

 

Board of Supervisors, Rivanna District

Peter Hallock

Age: 61

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, three children

Education: B.S., University of Maryland

Previous political experience: Sits on Albemarle County Housing Committee; president of the Little Keswick Foundation for Special Education; sits on Albemarle County Fiscal Impact Committee; Child Youth and Family Service Board; Piedmont Environmental Council Board

Occupation: Co-owns the Garden Spot, with wife, Andrea

Turn-ons: Smart growth, ala Downtown Charlottesville

Turn-offs: Sprawl

The pitch: "I think I have a better handle on the growth issue than my opponent does."

 

Ken Boyd

Age: 55

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, four children

Education: American College

Previous political experience: 2000-2003 School Board; PTO president of Monticello High School (1997-98); Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) board; Computers for Kids board; government affairs committee for Regional Chamber of Commerce

Occupation: Owner, Boyd Financial Services

Turn-ons: The Buck Mountain Reservoir, a proposed reservoir deemed unbuildable in the early ’90s by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

Turn-offs: Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP), a group that advocates more cautious growth to help solve traffic and water problems.

The pitch: "I would like to stop companies from leaving this area by contacting large employers to see what they need us to do to stay here. Large employers are good neighbors not just in terms of taxes they pay, but also in philanthropic terms. I’m worried about them."

 

Board of Supervisors, Scottsville District

Lindsay Dorrier, Jr.

Incumbent

Age: 60

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, two children

Education: B.A., Trinity College; J.D., L.L.M., UVA Law School; M.B.A., James Madison University

Previous political experience: Board of Supervisors from 1976-1980, 2000-present; Commonwealth’s Attorney from 1980-1990; director of Virginia Department of Criminal Justice services from 1990-1994

Occupation: Attorney

Turn-ons: Running unopposed

Turn-offs: The State, which Dorrier says has neglected to fund its share of the County school budget.

The pitch: "I’ve got experience. I’ve been on the board. One of the things I’d like to work on is making sure Albemarle’s zoning laws channel growth to the growth areas and provide for affordable housing, and make sure they don’t contain excess red tape that drives up the cost of development."

 

Board of Supervisors, White Hall District

Eric Strucko

Age: 38

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Wife, two children

Education: B.A., Vanderbilt University; M.A., George Washington University; M.A., Georgetown University

Previous political experience: Development Initiative Steering Committee; County Housing Committee; Governor-appointed to the Miller School of Albemarle Board of Trustees; member of the Meriwether-Lewis PTO

Occupation: Vice-president of finance for AIMR Association

Turn-ons: Growth management and planning

Turn-offs: The construction of a multi-million dollar fire facility in north Albemarle that Strucko says isn’t needed–the money could be better spent on a library and sidewalks for Crozet, teacher compensation, public service salaries and the Acquisition of Conservation Easement program, he says.

The pitch: "I believe I have the best qualifications, a clearer vision and a better plan for Albemarle. I don’t think my opponent has enough experience to handle the complex issues in the County."

 

David Wyant

Age: 56

Political affiliation: Republican

Family: Wife, three children

Education: B.S., M.S., UVA

Previous political experience: Transportation Research Board, a committee of the National Academy of Science

Occupation: Consulting engineer, NFL referee

Turn-ons: Private property rights, a new 29 Bypass

Turn-offs: Urbanizing Crozet

The pitch: "I believe the role as Supervisor is to listen to the people of my district and represent their desires, not my own. From our recent debate and campaign materials from my opponent, I get the impression that he believes he ‘has all the answers’ and knows what’s best for the people of White Hall."

 

Soil and Water Director, Thomas Jefferson District

Nick Evans

Incumbent

Age: 52

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, two children

Education: B.A., UVA; Ph.D., Virginia Tech

Previous political experience: Elected Soil and Water Director in 1999; graduate of Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, 2000; County Groundwater Committee

Occupation: Hydrogeologist, driller, president of Virginia Groundwater, LLC

Turn-ons: Evans favors laws requiring developers to reimburse counties for any wetlands they destroy during construction.

Turn-offs: The Nature Conservancy, which currently gets wetland reimbursement payment from developers. Evans says it’s questionable how that money is used, because the Conservancy "has very focused interests of their own."

The pitch: "I am an activist. I have a progressive view toward making the soil and water district an entity that will have real impact on water quality issues."

 

Steven Meeks

Incumbent

Age: 44

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: One child

Education: Attended UVA

Past political experience: Most senior director, first elected in 1989

Occupation: Rental property manager, custom renovation

Turn-ons: The Buck Mountain Reservoir

Turn-offs: The State’s lack of funding for soil and water conservation on Virginia farms.

The pitch: "I’ve always enjoyed public service and working with the general public. I see this as a means to contribute to the county and the state. It’s an all-volunteer position."

 

Albemarle School Board, At Large

Linda McRaven

Age: 57

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Husband, five children

Education: B.A., George Washington University

Previous political experience: Served on Chamber of Commerce government affairs committee since 1994

Occupation: Construction company administrator

Turn-ons: Teachers, early childhood education

Turn-offs: Fiscal irresponsibility

The pitch: "I believe a child has to learn that going to school is their job, that they are there to learn. Teachers need to be paid appropriately, and they are not right now. I have 22 years experience working with the school system. I have raised five children who have been involved in all kinds of things."

 

Brian Wheeler

Age: 37

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, two children

Education: B.A., UVA

Previous political experience: None

Occupation: Chief information officer, SNL Financial

Turn-ons: Small class size

Turn-offs: Inefficiency

The pitch: "There’s a real gap in experience. I think that’s what separates our campaigns. I’ve been PTO president, and a member of the parent council for three years. I have an extensive public record as a parent activist."

 

Albemarle School Board, Rivanna District

Sue Bell Friedman

Age: 50

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Husband, one child

Education: B.A., Purdue; M.A., Indiana State

Previous political experience: None

Occupation: Regional Business Assistance Director for the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development

Turn-ons: Volunteering for the United Way, Southerland Middle School and Albemarle High School

Turn-offs: Apparently, none. "We have a good school system that has the opportunity to be a great school system."

The pitch: "Quality education is the most important thing the public sector does, and I have been in and around education for a long time. I think I can help every student achieve a vision of success."

 

Franklin P. Micciche

Age: 50

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, two children

Education: Associate’s degree, Concordia College

Previous political experience: President and vice-president of college student council

Occupation: Home improvement contractor

Turn-ons: Programs for non-college bound students

Turn-offs: Lack of funding for extra-curriculars in middle school

The pitch: "I am the candidate best equipped to get a grasp on the day-to-day operations and construction needs of our school system."

 

Albemarle School Board, Scottsville District

Steve Koleszar

Incumbent

Age: 57

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, two children

Education: B.A., Washington and Lee

Previous political experience: Elected to Albemarle County School Board in 1995

Occupation: Accountant

Turn ons: Foreign language–Koleszar wants to expand the County’s pilot program of including foreign language in elementary school curriculum to all County schools.

Turn offs: The County’s failure regarding non-college bound students–Koleszar advocates more County partnerships with PVCC and UVA, as well as expanding a health sciences academy that is forming at CATEC.

The pitch: "My opponent doesn’t have any experience. I’ve got a proven track record of success over the past eight years. If I’m not re-elected, there will be only one school board member with more than two years of experience."

 

D.L. "Denny" King

Age: 59

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Wife, three children

Education: B.A., California State University; stint in U.S. Navy as a medic; continuing education classes at Georgetown University and University of Maryland

Previous political experience: Worked on Governor’s Commission for Motion Picture Development through Department of Tourism; board of directors for WHTJ-TV; board of directors for Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center; advisory board for Virginia Youth on the Move

Occupation: President and CEO of Location Lodging Worldwide, Inc.

Turn-ons: The community, children and teachers, as in: "I want to give back to the community," and "I have a tremendous love for children," and "We have to have respect for teachers."

Turn-offs: Redistricting, growth in the classroom and school board members who don’t address parent concerns in 24 hours, as King promises he will.

The pitch: "It is through education that we will create all of our tomorrows. We have to recognize young people early on in their school life, because by the time a young person is in the sixth or seventh grade they have already established their habits so that by the time they are in the 11th or 12th grade they have lost their tomorrows. I am determined to do everything we can do to make those tomorrows happen."

 

Barbara Massie

Age: 53

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Single

Education: B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A., University of Maryland; J.D., George Mason University

Previous political experience: Statewide task force to study Virginia Standards of Learning, 1999-2000

Occupation: Attorney

Turn-ons: Small class size

Turn-offs: Bullies, low teacher morale

The pitch: "In addition to having been a teacher for a total of 16 years, I grew up in the Albemarle schools, graduated from AHS and came from a family of educators who served in the Albemarle schools for almost 30 years. My legal training has given me analytical skills that help me break problems down into their component parts and solve them."

 

Louise Ward

Age: 51

Political affiliation: Independent

Family: Husband, two children

Education: Attended Michigan State; nursing degree from Providence Hospital School of Nursing

Previous political experience: Albemarle County Schools Health Advisory Committee; Skyline Council of Girl Scouts board member; Commander of Monticello Squadron Civil Air Patrol

Occupation: Volunteer reading tutor at Crozet elementary and Western Albemarle

Turn-ons: Higher teacher salaries, stricter bus discipline

Turn-offs: The achievement gap

The pitch: "One thing we’re not doing to close the achievement gap is recruiting teachers from traditionally African-American colleges. We go to the Curry School, where the ratio of minorities is about 2 percent. I have past and ongoing experience with the schools, and I’ve been involved in my daughter’s education since kindergarten."

 

Clerk of Charlottesville Circuit Court

Paul Garrett

Incumbent

Age: 57

Political affiliation: Democrat

Family: Widowed, one child

Education: B.A., Brown University; J.D., UVA Law School

Previous political experience: Clerk of court since 1981

Occupation: Clerk of court

Turn-ons: Improving the technology of office operations

Turn-offs: State budget cuts that reduced his budget by 18 percent last year.

The pitch: "We need to continue with the progress we’ve made. It’s a very critical time right now, I would think I’d be able to provide that stability and continuity. Hopefully we’ve delivered efficient service, and hopefully I’ll be able to continue to do that."

 

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Pole vault

Teacher surmounts her Mormon upbringing to teach burlesque – and other dance moves

The pole juts seven feet straight into the air from atop a 4’x4′ wood-and-ceramic-tile platform. A lithe, limber Brooke Shields lookalike in 5" heels, stockings and tight gym shorts and matching bra, swings suggestively around the brass fixture. She crooks one leg around it as the arch in her back grows deeper and the sultry bass notes of Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet” roll through the atmosphere. Only one thought comes to mind: “What’s a nice Mormon girl doing in a position like this?”

For Nicole Huffman, who uses the stage name Nadia, the answer is “teaching.” The 26-year-old dancer and dance instructor, who relocated to Charlottesville four years ago, conducts hours of private and group lessons at Berkmar Ballroom each week. Pole dancing, or what she calls “efitdance” – as in exotic fitness dance – is simply her latest offering.

Okay, maybe “simply” is the wrong word. No matter how much she might protest that in years-ahead Europe and trend-loving California, pole dancing (as in Bada Bing! but with more clothes) is practically the new Pilates or step aerobics, Huffman still has to glide past the tittering. Past jokes about students getting a “night job,” or manly offers to lend an eager helping hand in the women-only class.

But she has a hard-won determination to practice and teach body awareness (what else is dance, anyway?), so she doesn’t get too gummed up in the heh-heh innuendo. Born as the only daughter in a family of four Idaho kids, Huffman knows well the inside of a Latter-Day Saints church and its mindset. Getting past a couple of “Man Show” jokes about stripping pales next to overcoming Mormonism.

“Dancing is my form of self-expression and release,” she says, describing herself as being less comfortable talking. “The girls in the class said the same thing – they’re shy and reserved. Let it out. If you keep so much inside, it’s not healthy.”

Burlesque is not actually in Huffman’s background (although she did perform with a Cirque du Soleil spin-off troupe), yet as a dancer for more than 20 years, she’s a natural at teaching pole routines. That’s because, as she puts it succinctly, there are only so many ways to move a set of hips. Anybody who has been teaching ballroom dance (as she has for four years locally), especially Latin-influenced dances, understands how to get the full orbital impact out of those joints.

To make her point, at the start of a recent class the by-day legal editor who moved here to earn a graduate degree in American studies shows students a four-minute routine (that’s where the throaty Myles comes in). Gliding from a corner of the 2,000-square-foot studio decorated with posters from such dance flicks as Tango Pasion and Shall We Dance? Huffman rolls her hips and bends her knees along the way. Eventually she gets on the pole, caressing it with her long legs confidently and with sass. Myles hits her last big note, and, demo over, Huffman gets on with business. It’s 11am, so to advance the five women in that day’s class, Huffman gets everyone to warm up. Stretches, heel-toe walks, hip rolls, hip rolls the other way, pivoting hip rolls – 30 minutes have elapsed before any student, most of whom are barefoot and outfitted in sweats, gets near a pole.

When at last they do, they discover it takes real strength to get up on it. Several of the students will clearly achieve victory when they can simply suspend themselves with two hands from the head of the pole for a dozen seconds. In the interest of improving, some will probably pay for private practice time in the studio as, for now, none have their own poles at home.

But even enrolling in the class, it turns out, takes a certain kind of strength. “My long-term goal is to swing around the pole, because it’s physically challenging,” says a 30-year-old student who, in fulfilling her first homework assignment from Huffman, chose the stage name Giselle. “But I didn’t tell my mother. She’s an old Catholic woman. I did say I’m taking a dance class, though.”

Natasha, another student with a theatrical alias, asserts more psychological goals: “To feel more comfortable with myself and my sexuality,” she says.

The way Berkmar Ballroom owner Steve Shergold sees it, any step toward “self-empowerment,” as he says, marks the right direction for his business. “Anyone who comes here for lessons, for pole dancing or social dancing, within three months, we’ll turn you into a different animal,” he promises.

“If it’s to do with dancing and self-expression and gets people connected,” he continues, “we want to be doing it.”

Not that anybody at the studio is dictating exactly how people might connect as a result of pole – or any other kind of – dancing.

“This class is not about stripping or nudity,” says Huffman. “It’s showing you moves to get more in touch with your body. What you do after that is up to you.” – Cathy Harding

Glad to be caught in the spokes
Blue Wheel Bicycle’s owners peddle success

Every morning, among the cadre of dedicated athletes who keep the dawn patrol, Scott Paisley and Roger Friend have a standing date with their bicycles. Each man rides alone. Paisley leaves the home he built for his wife and three children in Nelson County and pedals 30 miles to work. He has a long history of preferring this mode of transportation: 22 years ago Paisley and his wife, Marian, cycled through Europe on a tandem, stopping in London for the birth of their first child. Three months later they pushed off for Scandinavia, then Australia, Japan and New Zealand, baby Rachel installed in a backpack Paisley bolted to the rear handlebars. “It was a wonderful way to travel,” Paisley recalls. “People either looked at us like we were totally insane, or they invited us home for dinner.”

At 44, his commute remains a precious window of time in the open air. Neither rain nor darkness deters him. He lets his mind wander and, when he’s building up to a competition, he pushes himself. Paisley calls his approach to training “relatively unscientific.”

“The battery stopped working on my cycling computer six or seven years ago and I never replaced it,” he says.

Friend, 42, departs from the apartment he moved into 19 years ago when he started working at the bike shop downstairs, intently focused on the training program that he pays a professional to plot for him. For 32 weeks of the year, each ride is calculated to maximize his physical potential on the days he races. When bad weather intrudes, Friend spends up to four hours indoors on a stationary trainer, watching race videos as he cranks away.

His focus has paid off. This year Friend took first place in the Virginia State Master’s TimeTrial with the overall second-fastest time of the day and placed 10th among masters at the National Championships TimeTrial, garnering the title of 40+ Mid-Atlantic Road Race Champion.

These men ride different rides, they live different lives and their personalities could not be more distinct. Yet by 10am each day Paisley and Friend are rubbing elbows in the homey shop at the end of Elliewood Avenue, co-owners of Blue Wheel Bicycles. Between them, they’ve experienced the full gamut of what a bike can do, from cyclo-cross to criterium, to the benefit of their customers, it seems.

“You can’t know what real quality is until you’ve taken bicycles and cycling to the extreme,” says Ian Ayers, head of the UVA cycling team. “Blue Wheel’s work is inspired by a true appreciation of performance. To Scott and Roger it’s a matter of love and pride.”

After years of toiling in obscurity, offering the personal attention of an independent retailer while losing sales to the discount chains, Blue Wheel Bicycles has been named “One of Nine Best Bicycle Shops in the South” by Unlimited: Action, Adventure and Good Times magazine. Its banner year continues at White Hall Vineyards on Sunday, October 26, with a celebration of the shop’s 30-year milestone, complete with road and mountain bike rides and birthday cake.

Looking back, Friend may wince at his youthful conviction that “owning a bike store was more fun than going to law school,” but he will concede “there are worse things to be involved in, in terms of world karma. I’m not making bombs.” Paisley values the “wonderful surprises” that come through the door every day: “remarkable athletes, funny peopleit’s like little short stories going on all the time.” – Phoebe Frosch

 

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Smart guy
UVA’s Eric Turkheimer makes sense of race, class and IQ

Guess what? Children in poor families face more obstacles in their intellectual development than children from wealthy families. Sounds like common sense, you say? Maybe, but this apparent no-brainer is being hailed as big news in psychology’s ivory tower.

The November issue of the academic journal Psychological Science will feature a paper by Eric Turkheimer, a professor of psychology at UVA. He recently completed a study showing that a person’s intelligence depends not only on their genes, but on how and where they live.

Psychologists are buzzing because Turkheimer’s research challenges some long-held beliefs about brain power. A controversial 1994 book called The Bell Curve, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, drew from numerous studies showing that genes are the primary determinate of intelligence. This has led to theories that the so-called achievement gap between black and white students––a much-debated problem in local school systems––is evidence of racial superiority.

"There was a mystery sitting there for a long time," Turkheimer says. "People knew that genes affect IQ. The strange part was that after researchers accounted for genes, it was hard to find evidence that environment was involved at all."

Gene studies typically examine two kinds of twins—fraternal and identical. Identical twins share 100 percent of their genetic material. Fraternal twins, like typical siblings, share 50 percent of their genetic material. Twins share identical prenatal conditions and similar environments, so any differences between identical and fraternal twins must be related to genes.

The problem with those studies, says Turkheimer, is that they were studying only affluent subjects. "The people from the messed-up, chaotic families weren’t showing up at the volunteer twin studies," he says.

For his research, Turkheimer mined data from the National Collaborative Prenatal Project, a now-defunct study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the late 1960s. It recorded reams of data on 50,000 pregnant woman, and followed their children until age 7. The project included more than 300 pairs of twins, most black and poor, and Turkheimer analyzed their data for one of the first papers on the role of genes and environment in low-income families.

His research found that genetics, not environment, accounts for most of the difference in intelligence among affluent students. In other words, students from already stable homes with attentive parents and good food won’t get much smarter if mom and dad spin even more Mozart records cribside.

By contrast, children in low-income families, Turkheimer says, can greatly benefit from environmental enhancements that mitigate the effects of poverty. "What I’ve shown is that family environment has an effect, but you can’t see it unless you look at some really bad families," he says.

Turkheimer’s work was hailed as "groundbreaking" in a front-page article in the Washington Post on September 2, even though a 1977 study by Arthur Jensen at the University of Berkley reached similar conclusions. But Turkheimer’s work is newly significant because it comes in a political climate where ideas like those in The Bell Curve have influenced recent government policy.

"Popular research has pointed to genetics as the overwhelming determinate of intelligence," says Saphira Baker, director of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Commission on Children and Families. "Eric’s research shows it’s more complex. It lends support to programs that seek to move families out of economic crisis and focus on children’s development."

That leaves Meg Sewell, local director for the Head Start program, optimistic about the future of her organization. Head Start strives to improve academic performance by offering prenatal and early childhood care to low-income families. But recently, Sewell says, programs like Head Start have taken a back seat to government initiatives that improve teacher pay and set higher academic standards––the goals of such programs as Virginia’s Standards of Learning and the Federal "No Child Left Behind" plan. Congress is currently considering a 1.5 percent funding increase to the $6 billion Head Start program, which Sewell says is merely a cost of living bump.

"It could have an effect," Sewell says of Turkheimer’s research. "It confirmed what many of us working in the field have believed for a long time," she says.

"Psychology has that problem. These things are easy to believe, but hard to show," says Turkheimer.––John Borgmeyer

 

Road worrier
The trip up 29N raises the question, Where is Albemarle headed?

Until recently, drivers headed north on Route 29 noticed a scenic shift as they passed over the South Fork Rivanna River. Crossing the waterway, 29N changed from a wide thoroughfare rushing past asphalt fields, strip malls and big box stores in Albemarle County’s urban ring, to a four-lane highway lined with trees. Sure, subdivisions like Forest Lakes and Hollymead lie just beyond those trees, but they’re invisible from the road. Crossing the river on Route 29 was like leaving a city and entering the country.

All that’s changing now. The County Board of Supervisors has designated north Albemarle as a "growth area," and a series of new developments will radically alter the landscape there. In another growth area, Crozet, the County has hired architects to figure out what kind of experience people want in the town, and to design a plan that will allow it to grow without compromising its identity. No such design team is tackling Route 29—there, a handful of developers are deciding the sights and sounds of north Albemarle. Want to know where that place is headed? Just read the signs.

The first sign you encounter when crossing the Rivanna River’s South Fork designates the road as the 29th Infantry Memorial Highway, and just north of that a small green rectangle claims the road as Seminole Trail. The next sign says "Speed Limit 55," which must be a joke, as cars crest a hill and exceed 60 miles an hour past a sign warning drivers to watch for stopped cars at the southern entrance to Forest Lakes. Across the road, six cell phone towers rise from the trees like steel dandelions, shimmering in the sun.

At the Holly Memorial Gardens cemetery, a white statue of Jesus, with green mold growing on his outstretched arms, stands among fragrant marigolds. A stone tablet carved with calligraphy beseeches the Lord to "give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." A faded billboard commands: "Be Individual." A white plane heading for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport floats in the blue sky.

Across from the cemetery, backhoes, bulldozers and dump trucks squeak and huff through about 100 acres of dirt. By spring 2005, J.C. will gaze across the flowered graves into the parking lot of a Target store, one of the "anchor tenants" of the Hollymead Town Center. It won’t actually center any town, but it will be a must-stop shopping destination for much of Central Virginia. The developers––Wendell Wood, Charles Hurt and a consortium called the Kessler Group––will add one northward lane and two southward lanes to Route 29 in front of the development. According to studies by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Town Center will nearly double the traffic congestion along this stretch of Albemarle County.

Farther north, near the County line, a United Land Corporation sign proclaims "COMING SOON Office, Retail." Judging by the number of signs bearing the names United Land Corp. (owned by Wood) and Virginia Land Company (owned by Hurt), these two men––or whoever can afford to buy their land at a cost of $12 to $18 per square foot––will determine the future of north Albemarle.

Past Airport Road, new strip malls, fast food joints and gas stations mingle with the old Airport Plaza, home to a vacuum cleaner sales and service shop and a log-home builder. Finally, just before you cross into Greene County, the signage indicates "Psychic Readings" and the way to a winery. And three small trees grow from an oval of flowers, memorial to a fatal car crash.––John Borgmeyer

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How many lawyers, judges and City officials does it take to tear down, er, preserve a wall?

Marybess McCray Johnson is stuck between a wall and a hard place, you might say.

Johnson is under court order to tear down the northern wall of her building at 224 Court Square, which is also the southern wall of 230 Court Square, owned by Townsquare Associates, the development team of Gabe Silverman and Allan Cadgene.

In a civil suit filed in 1995, Silverman and Cadgene allege that an 1838 agreement between the two buildings’ former owners gives Townsquare the authority to make Johnson move her wall, which is technically on Silverman and Cadgene’s property. After years of legal back and forth, Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire ruled in February 2002 that Johnson should separate the buildings by removing the wall, which encroaches by about one inch into the front of 230 and by about nine inches into the rear.

Problem is that on August 19, the City’s Board of Architectural Review voted 5-2 to deny Johnson’s application to tear down the wall.

"The decision to deny was fairly clear," says Lynn Heetderks, vice-chair of the BAR, citing the historic and architectural integrity of 224 Court Square. After consulting with City Attorney Lisa Kelly, Heetderks says, the BAR ignored the court order and considered Johnson’s application "as we would any other request."

On Monday, October 6, Johnson asked City Council during its first session of the month to reverse the BAR’s decision. "I guess you could say I’m not happy about this," Johnson said to the councilors. "It’s going to create a lot of problems between those two buildings. But my court order is to [demolish the wall] and I aim to get it done."

Hogshire is currently considering an appeal from Johnson’s lawyers on demolition details. Council should wait for Hogshire’s ruling before deciding on the BAR appeal, Councilors Blake Caravati and Rob Schilling argued on Monday.

"I’d like to know why Mr. Silverman is pursuing this," Schilling wondered, "other than the fact that he can."

Neither Silverman nor Cadgene attended the meeting. Their lawyer, David Franzen, declined to comment on Townsquare’s motivation for the lawsuit.

Mayor Maurice Cox said he met with Silverman, who by press time hadn’t returned calls from C-VILLE. "I don’t want to paraphrase [Silverman]," Cox told Council, "but it had to do with clarifying property. He mentioned a hypothetical expansion." Cox argued that Council, like the BAR, should deny the appeal and stay out of courtroom affairs.

"There’s lots of awkward adjoined spaces like this on historic buildings," Cox said. "I’m concerned that people want to go about separating these things."

With Kevin Lynch out of town, the vote on this issue came to a 2-2 tie, meaning Council will debate the question again at its next meeting. Meanwhile Johnson and Townsquare will be back in court on October 15.

 

All dogs go to college
City Council is about to resolve the great dog debate––maybe.

Council is close to passing a resolution that will create an off-leash dog park on the campus of Piedmont Virginia Community College. The school has agreed to license 10 acres of its grounds along Avon Street Extended for a $40,000 park with trails where dogs can run free. Half the money will come from private donations, with the City and County splitting the rest of the cost. Charlottesville and Albemarle will not pay rent to PVCC. Instead, the two jurisdictions have each agreed to split the annual $2,500 cost to maintain the dog park. Fundraising will begin once the City and County figure how to share liability for the park, says Pat Ploceck, manager of the City’s parks and grounds division. The resolution will likely pass at Council’s next meeting November 3.

The PVCC park is a compromise arising from the great canine confrontation of recent years, when residents living in Woolen Mills complained that off-leash dogs were ruining that neighborhood’s Riverview Park. After months of heated debate––during which the City posted a police officer outside Council chambers to stop dog owners from bringing their pets to meetings––Council in December 2001 passed an ordinance requiring owners to leash their mutts on Fridays through Mondays at Riverview.

Maybe it says something about the quality of life in Charlottesville that the leash law hearings drew more participants to Council meetings than any recent issue (with the possible exception of the past spring’s resolution against war in Iraq). But it may not be over yet.

On Saturday, October 4, the Daily Progress published a letter from Patricia Wilkinson, a self-described "dog person" who says Riverview Park has been abandoned since the leash law took effect, and claims homeless people and "incidents" at the park have made people feel unsafe. She calls for dog lovers to unite and revisit the Riverview leash law.

Plocek suggests the letter’s complaints are merely pet propaganda.

"A lot of dog owners keep saying that, but I constantly see people every time I go there," Plocek says. He says his staff has never seen homeless people living there, and he is not aware of any incidents or police reports from the park. He says neighbors around the park still complain that off-leash dogs run through their property, however.

A visit to the park on Tuesday evening, October 7, confirmed Plocek’s testimony. "I’ve never seen homeless people here," said a man emerging from a mini-van with his daughter and two unleashed Shelties. He says the leash laws haven’t dampened his enthusiasm for Riverview Park.

"We bend the rules a little," their owner explained, pushing an all-terrain stroller down the jogging trail.––John Borgmeyer

 

Halliday’s new chapter
Local library head turns author by making Predicktions

As director of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, John Halliday spends much of his day surrounded by books. Now perhaps he can add another title to those teeming shelves—one he wrote himself. After decades of dreaming, Halliday has recently released his first children’s book, titled Predicktions. His compulsion to write children’s fiction dates back to high school in Long Island, New York, but until a few years ago, he never had time to put pen to paper.

After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in library administration, Halliday got married and had four children. But in 1997, before he moved to Charlottesville, he got rolling. "One Father’s Day about six years ago," Halliday says, "my wife, as a Father’s Day gift, gave me a Coleman cooler full of sandwiches and sodas and she said, ‘I want you to just go away to one of the local motels for the weekend and write.’"

So Halliday, who counts E.B. White, Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck among his favorite authors, holed up in a $32-a-night hotel on the outskirts of Bellingham, Washington, for three days in front of the warm glow of his bulky Mac Classic computer and started writing. A year later, Predicktions was finished.

Predicktions follows the adventures of Josh Jolly and his three friends, the colorfully named oddball Rainy Day, chubby brainiac Bill Dumper and bossy Kate Haskell as they become sixth graders. Born in the midst of a carnival in small-town Westlake, young Josh is given a mystic board by his fortune-telling aunt, who thinks Josh will make the town famous one day. Josh just wants the board to tell him what to expect from middle school, but it inadvertently helps him save the town from obscurity.

You might expect a lesson learned at the end of a children’s story, but not here. "It’s purely entertainment, so we aren’t moralizing at all," Halliday says.

Halliday, 51, may be the envy of aspiring authors who spend years trying to get the attention of publishers. He found instant success after he dropped his manuscript off in the mail to major New York City publishing house Harper Collins. "And lo and behold, I got a hand-written letter back from an editor saying, ‘Gee, just really love your book. We’d like to work with you on it,’" Halliday says. When that editor left Harper Collins, she took the manuscript with her to Simon and Schuster, where it was published.

Predicktions isn’t Halliday’s first published book. While that one languished in revision purgatory at Simon and Schuster, Halliday moved on and cranked out a second work—a darker book for young adults about abduction and murder called Shooting Monarchs, which came out in March 2003.

"People say to me, ‘Gee, John, how do you churn these books out so quickly?’ Well, for me it wasn’t that quick. It was a long, long process," he says.—Jennifer Pullinger

 

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Grounds swell
Officials give UVA props for the North Grounds Connector Road

The 1.3 miles of eastbound lanes on the Route 29/250 Bypass between the exits for Route 250 and for Barracks Road are as mundane as roads get around here. Two blue rectangular highway signs indicate food (Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday’s and Arby’s) and fuel (Amoco and Exxon) ahead. A green airplane symbol points the indirect way to the airport. An occasional deer or jogger attempts to cross the highway (speed limit 55) in a southward direction from the back of the athletic fields at St. Anne’s-Belfield School. And, as is standard in a Commonwealth where merging is apparently a bonus question on the driver’s ed test, sporadically a car will come to a dead stop at the end of the bypass’ on-ramp while drivers whiz by in the slow lane.

Thanks to a green light from the State transportation’s governing board, within the next three years that so-what stretch of road will become a crucial link in UVA’s sports, arts and entertainment scheme. On September 17, the Commonwealth Transportation Board gave UVA permission to build its North Grounds Connector Road. The east-only, grade-level access road will create a new bypass exit in the stretch between the off-ramps for 250 and Barracks Road. It should be completed by 2006.

The proposed connector road, which will feed into Massie Road between Darden and the North Grounds Recreation Center, won’t be a top-drawer complement to the Grade A sports arena and performing arts complex to be constructed in that section of campus, however. To get the best possible traffic option—a full interchange that allows traffic to enter and exit in two directions—UVA would have to increase its budget for the arena project by about 8 percent. UVA has to shoulder the whole tab for the road, because the Virginia Department of Transportation has nothing left in its piggy bank. A full interchange costs about $15 million, according to University Landscape Architect. Mary Hughes. The North Grounds Connector Road will be a comparatively affordable $4 million slice of the arena’s $128 million budget, according to UVA.

The road’s purpose, says UVA spokesperson Carol Wood "is to serve the arena and performing arts centers and to keep traffic moving smoothly and efficiently, especially during event times…because it will pull traffic off congested Emmet Street."

Officials agree that UVA’s willingness to fund the road was an attractor, but the ultimate appeal lay in the fact that the connector road probably won’t make traffic any worse. "What I would like to think made the most difference is UVA’s analysis that if you kept [the connector road] to right-in and right-out that the traffic, though still significant, would also still be at an acceptable level of service," says Kevin Lynch, the City Councilor who last month was named chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a local authority that sets transportation priorities.

"You need to facilitate that [event-day traffic] to Ivy Road," says Butch Davies, the region’s representative to the CTB. "You need to disperse the traffic. With the present arena, it clogs Emmet Street. I don’t think it will be any different with the new arena, but UVA estimates that 10 percent of the traffic coming out would use [the connector road] route."

Indeed, by design the connector road will leave a portion of North Grounds-bound travelers looking for getaway routes through adjoining neighborhoods and business districts. Those wanting to head west after a game—or maybe after work, for that matter—will need to find access by way of Barracks Road, Route 250 or other roads.

The cloverleaf interchange at Emmet Street by Bodo’s is especially vulnerable to spillover traffic, says Davies. "I think you’ll see traffic backup as you come around the cloverleaf to 29," he says. "If you have people using right-out [from the connector road] to go north, you might see some traffic problem in the future ultimately because of Best Buy." The electronics retailer will soon open a new store on the west side of that busy interchange; it will have its own traffic light.

"We recognize that this is not the ideal configuration," says Hughes, "because it does limit the movement, but it was the best we could do in this interim condition before there is a decision by our metropolitan region about the fate of the 29 Western Bypass."

Uncertainty about the controversial western bypass proposal has been a major factor in the traffic plans for North Grounds, Hughes continues. "Say we triple our budget for the North Grounds Connector [to build a full interchange]—what would we build it to? If we built it to the 29 Bypass and the Western Bypass gets built, then all that investment will be wiped out.

"If, on the other hand we say, ‘Okay, the Western Bypass is going to happen, then we have to move Ivy Road—a $10 million proposition in itself—and then build the $10-15 million interchange. If, as seems to be the case, the community really does reject the bypass once and for all, then we have spent all that money to build to a condition that doesn’t pan out."

Despite the likelihood that some UVA event traffic will drain off the connector road to already-heavily-taxed interchanges, traffic officials are waxing positive about UVA’s role.

"This [road approval] would not have happened without University cooperation," says Davies. "I think the University understands its responsibility when it has such a dramatic impact on the transportation structure."

Lynch is equally supportive. "All things considered, it was a reasonable compromise from the perspective of moving traffic versus cost," he says.

And there’s more good news: With the first tip-off at the new arena some 36 months away, there should be plenty of time for bypass drivers to learn the fine art of merging.—Cathryn Harding

 

Isabel, we knew you well
Charlottsville’s biggest storm, by the numbers

Number of 40-ounce bottles of Hurricane beer distributed by J.W. Sieg and Company in a typical week: 3,600

Number of bottles Hurricane sold on Thursday, September 18, the day Isabel hit Charlottesville: 6,000

Number of calls for service received by Albemarle County Police on Thursday night/Friday morning, September 18: 578

Number of days after the storm had passed before Charlottesville’s City Council confirmed a declaration of local emergency: 12

Number of commercial turkeys killed by the effects of weather in Louisa: 8,000

Number of utility poles snapped in Virginia Dominion Power’s service area, including Charlottesville, much of Virginia and a portion of North Carolina: 2,300

Number of consecutive hours worked by two UVA Facilities employees to provide emergency power during and after the hurricane: 36 each

Estimated age of UVA’s oldest tree, a massive white oak near Brooks Hall, felled by Isabel on September 18: 256 years

Number of noteworthy trees on UVA grounds lost to the storm, according to the Grounds Department: between 12 and 20

Estimated number of hours some Central Virginians went without power after Isabel: 324

Estimated value of insured property lost during Isabel, statewide: $1,000,000,000

 

Subterranean homesick blues
Post-Isabel, some area residents might have preferred underground utility lines

On Friday, September 19, after Isabel stopped blowing, sections of Jefferson Park Avenue looked like disaster areas: massive trees toppled across cars, utility poles snapped in half, power lines lying across the road like dead snakes. Some residents of JPA were still sitting in the dark five days later on Wednesday, September 24.

In Ivy’s Lewis Hills subdivision, however, Mark Graham was enjoying hot showers and cold beverages by Saturday, just two days after the storm. Graham, Albemarle County’s director of engineering, says underground utility lines may have helped bring juice to his house more easily.

"Underground lines made it a whole lot better for a lot of these subdivisions, in my opinion," Graham says. "When all the lines are above ground, it takes the power company longer to get around to fix them all."

After Isabel knocked out power for nearly 2 million Virginians, places with underground power lines––County subdivisions, for instance, and most of UVA––generally had power restored faster than places with overhead lines, such as Charlottesville and Richmond.

Underground lines may be better at weathering intense storms, but don’t expect to see overhead lines disappear en masse.

About 90 percent of UVA’s utilities run below ground, and power lines to all new buildings on Grounds are buried as a matter of policy, says Cheryl Gomez, UVA’s director of utilities. The University lost electricity during Isabel because the two power lines feeding UVA’s sub-system failed. Once Dominion Virginia Power repaired those lines, all of UVA’s lights came back on.

"Our system experienced no problems with the storm. It was the lines coming into our system that caused the outage," says Gomez.

In Charlottesville, however, Dominion Virginia Power crews had to repair dozens of individual overhead lines before some neighborhoods could turn their lights back on, meaning some people sat in the dark for nearly a week.

Sure, underground power lines are safe from wind, says Dan Genest, a spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power. But buried lines have their own problems. Floods or careless backhoe operators can damage them, and when an underground line isn’t working, it’s much harder to locate and fix the problem, Genest says. Although it may seem counterintuitive, overhead lines have a longer life expectancy––50 years or more—than underground lines, which last only about 30 years.

The biggest problem with underground lines, though, is cost. Virginia Dominion Power can string a mile of overhead lines for about $120,000, while it costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to cover the same distance with underground lines. The underground equipment is more expensive, the design is more complex and installation is longer and more disruptive than overhead lines, Genest says.

While UVA enjoys a State-and-donor funding stream that makes it easy for the school to pay for luxuries like underground utilities, Charlottesville and Albemarle aren’t so lucky. Although the County undergrounds the lines to its own buildings, including schools, Graham says, individual developers carried the cost of undergrounding utilities in most of the County’s subdivisions to make them more aesthetically pleasing to potential buyers (presumably that cost is passed on to the homebuyer).

The City too lets aesthetics and tourism dictate its limited undergrounding projects. Charlottesville plans to bury power lines around Court Square as well as the Downtown Mall and its side streets, to make them look more "historic," says City Engineer Tony Edwards. "It has problems, but on the positive side you remove all those overhead poles and lines, and make the area more aesthetically pleasing," he says.

Other City undergrounding coincides with new development. When the Terraces project was underway, for example, the City undergounded the lines along First Street, and Second Street’s lines were buried as the new City Center for Contemporary Arts went up on Water Street. The next undergrounding will happen around the Paramount Theater, says Edwards.

Edwards estimates it costs the City between $800 and $1,000 per linear foot to bury Downtown’s power lines. "There’s a lot of stuff in the ground already, so a lot of effort goes into planning and design," he says.

On large road-improvement projects, such as the transformations the City wants to make on Fontaine Avenue, the Virginia Department of Transportation will pay half the undergrounding costs, but even then it will likely be too expensive for the City to pick up the rest of the tab to underground the lines on Fontaine.

"West Main is another desirable area for us to underground," says Edwards. "Cost will dictate whether it gets done or not. Right now, it’s not in the plan."––John Borgmeyer

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Wheels keep on turning
The City tackles traffic from signals to bikes to gnarly street crossings

Mixed signals

Whenever City and County officials talk about traffic, the message is always an ode to regional cooperation. The traffic problem is bigger than any one jurisdiction, they say, so Charlottesville and Albemarle have to work together for everyone’s benefit. Isn’t that sweet?

So why is it that when officials actually do something about traffic, minor decisions turn into melodramatic turf battles?

When the City started building a traffic light at the entrance to the new Best Buy store on 29N, Albemarle flipped its lid. Recent City-County studies indicate the highway needs fewer stoplights, not more, and the County claims City Council didn’t give it a heads-up that Best Buy was moving in and that the store would require a stoplight.

"They knew damn well about it," counters Jim Tolbert, the City’s planning director. "We communicated with County staff about the light. It wasn’t a secret."

Tolbert says Best Buy started asking for a light in January. About that time, the City’s traffic engineer resigned, so the City hired consultants Kimley Horn to do a study. In April, Kimley Horn apparently found that Best Buy indeed needed a light, and Tolbert says he talked to the County’s planning department about it back then.

On April 14, County planning director Wayne Cillemberg sent Tolbert a letter thanking him for the Best Buy site plan and asking the City not to build a median break and signal for the store, claiming it would have "detrimental impacts" on traffic.

"The City never responded to the letter," says County Supervisor Dennis Rooker.

Albemarle wasn’t alone in the dark, however. Kevin Lynch, City Council’s representative to the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional transportation planning body, says he didn’t know about the light either. Lynch says that as recently as August, City staff told him there wasn’t going to be a new signal at Best Buy.

According to Tolbert, the Best Buy light isn’t really a new signal. It’s simply a "modification" to the existing signal at the 250 ramp, and the Best Buy light will run in synch with the 250 signal and the one at 29N and Angus Road.

"Technically they’re correct, but that’s a bit of a semantic leap," says Lynch. "I was surprised it went through without my knowledge, and I can see why the County was, too."

After all this, Butch Davies, the local liaison to the Virginia Department of Transporation, sent Mayor Maurice Cox a letter chastising the City for building the light without local dialogue. The County got a copy of the letter, and they made sure to send a copy to the Daily Progress––the official version of "Nanynany booboo, you got in trouble."

This is your bureaucracy at work, people. If our leaders can’t build a simple signal without a Clintonian debate about what a "light" is, or rounds of playground finger-pointing, how can we expect them to solve the real traffic problems that will come when the County builds Albemarle Place, projected to spit out almost 40,000 cars per day into the Hydraulic Road intersection? Almost makes us yearn for the old days when VDOT would just stomp into town with plans for some monstrous interchange nobody wanted. Almost.

 

A yellow bike comeback?

Last year, the City unveiled its Dave Matthews Band-funded "yellow bike" program to great fanfare. The City built yellow bike racks around town and filled them with refurbished yellow cycles, which were promptly stolen and gone forever. Burned, local bike enthusiasts plan to reinvent the program as a "bike library."

Developer and DMB manager Coran Capshaw donated warehouse space at a former car dealership near West Main’s Hampton Inn to the new yellow bike program. The space is filled with donated bikes that still need to be repaired. "It looks like endless bikes in there," says program coordinator Stephen Bach.

Bach is trying to recruit volunteers to fix up the bikes for the bike library. Instead of painting the bikes yellow and placing them around town, people who need a bike will come to the warehouse and borrow a bike for a deposit of $20. "If they bring the bike back

in useable condition, they get the $20 back," Bach says.

Bach says he needs about 10 volunteers working a regular basis before he can open the library, which he insists will not merely be an opportunity for dishonest people to "buy" a bike for $20. "We’ll want the bikes back," he says.

 

Look both ways

When the Music Resource Center moves into the former Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Ridge Street, the children who use the MRC will have to brave one of Charlottesville’s gnarliest intersections.

Even for able-bodied adults, the intersection of Ridge/ McIntire, West Main, Water and South streets is like a game of Frogger, especially between 3pm and 5:30pm, when kids will likely be heading in and out of the MRC. The lack of bike lanes around the busy intersection make it even more hostile to youngsters.

MRC director and 25-year City resident Sibley Johns says she remembers when you could "shoot through" that intersection. "Now it’s quite a tangle," she says. "At that location, we think we’re going to attract a lot more kids, and most of our kids come on foot," says Johns. She says the MRC may establish a buddy system for kids walking home at night. "To be honest, we haven’t gotten that far, but it is something we’ll be sensitive to."

No matter how you cross the intersection, you always seem to end up scampering away from oncoming cars, and running that pedestrian gauntlet has become a joke for the employees of Category 4, an Internet company next door to Mt. Zion.

"We always say there needs to be a bridge. It’s a pain in the ass to cross," says Category 4’s Robin Stevens. "It’s especially hard for businesses on West Main, because there’s no link to Downtown. Also, I think there needs to be a tree at the corner of South Street and Ridge. That’s the hottest intersection in Charlottesville, because you’re standing there for freakin’ ever."

Edgard and Maj-Gun Mansoor, who run Mansoor’s Oriental art and gift shop at the corner of Ridge and West Main, however, say the intersection is no big deal. "Not for us, anyway," says Maj-Gun. Edgard says crossing Ridge before the intersection is easier than navigating the crosswalks near the Lewis and Clark statue. "I guess I’m breaking the law," he confesses.

The City plans to address the intersection as part of its plans to remake West Main Street and link it with Downtown. The work of Philadelphia architects WRT on that project is on hold, though, pending the recommendations of a "transit forum" the City plans to hold in October. So far, WRT has only recommended closing South Street to traffic, but the intersection will need a more extensive treatment if the City wants people—including young musicians—to walk between West Main and Downtown.––John Borgmeyer

 

Clothes to you
If threads make the man, this guy could be Dean Martin

The Downtown Mall is many things, including a catwalk of sorts. A casual stroll there affords you the spectrum of men’s fashions, from the stiff Burberry-wearing corporatista to the ratty skater punk in Fourstar cargo shorts. By the time you get to the east end of the pedestrian walkway, however, you’ll notice something distinctive and unexpected. Outside one of the City’s few remaining haberdasheries is likely to be relaxing a young man of slick hair and princely posture who wouldn’t look out of place with Frank, Dean, Joey and the rest of the Rat Pack. Wearing an impeccably tailored shirt and slacks, it’s clear this man is thoroughly comfortable in what he wears, even as his attire stands out like a Vivaldi rose in a cornfield. That comfort, Joseph Falvella will tell you, is the mark of a truly fashionable man.

"To each his own is the way I see it. I don’t fault anybody for what they wear," he says. A salesman at The Men & Boy’s Shop and a veritable poster board for a kind of custom-made fashion that seems to have faded away, the distinctive Falvella is hesitant to pinpoint his style. On a recent Monday afternoon, the reluctant fashionista wore his traditional garb of gray cotton shirt with a straight collar, tan suspenders, patterned tie—both of woven silk—brown worsted wool trousers, and two-tone leather spectators.

"When I was growing up, I always used to see my grandfather—he was a car salesman—always have on a nice shirt and a tie and pair of slacks. And it was always a nice clean-cut look," the New Jersey-born Falvella says. "Used to be, pretty much everybody wore a nice shirt and slacks. Nobody left the house without a hat."

That attention to detail in men’s clothing is something that Falvella, 28, feels is lost.

"I think people settle for going to your big box department stores, rooting around for stuff by themselves, not getting waited on. Thinking they know what size they wear. And most people just accept that that’s the way its supposed to be," he says.

Most men aren’t interested in shopping, so they don’t mind getting their fashions like their fast food—in a hurry. And while there are plenty of stores that cater to that "get it and throw it on" mentality, Falvella, a loyal employee who has worked at owner Michael Kidd’s store for 10 years, says, not surprisingly, that fellas can still find attentive service at The Men & Boy’s Shop.

"I’ve got guys who bought suits 10 years ago and they come back and they say ‘Hey, I need the waist taken in or the pants adjusted.’ No problem," Falvella says. "I think that’s where we’ve got most places beat."

But even a Dapper Dan like Falvella will allow himself a little fashion break on the weekend.

"I don’t own sweats. I don’t own tennis shoes. I’m comfortable in dress slacks and a shirt. Granted, I don’t walk around mowing the grass in a necktie. I’ll take that off, " he says.

Pressed to describe his style, Falvella says he likes to wear clothes with natural fibers that are "classic and traditional, but in a stylish, sporty sense." But he still resists offering any advice for the fashion-impaired.

"Whatever makes that person happy. It’s their hard-earned money that they’re spending on something for themselves. If they’re happy in it and they’re comfortable in it, that’s the bottom line."—Jennifer Pullinger

 

 

Charge of the light brigade
LED leaders Inova to brighten Water Street

At 11pm, the corner at Water and Second streets is dark. The only light emits from the buzzing fixtures on the side of the Water Street parking garage, the dull yellow of four lamps in the adjacent parking lot, and a smattering of streetlights. But this fall, the corner will look a little more like Times Square, bathed in moving light as the new City Center for Contemporary Arts—housing Live Arts, Second Street Gallery and LightHouse—will open, sporting 40-foot-plus signs not unlike those seen outside the studios of "Good Morning America." The urban décor comes courtesy of a big player on the computerized-signage market—one that just happens to live down the street. Introducing Inova, the biggest company in Charlottesville you’ve never heard of.

You might not know about Inova, but you’ve doubtless noticed its building. It’s the one visible from Belmont Bridge with the jumping dancer hanging off the side just above the office of Inova founder and CEO Tom Hubbard, who started the company with his wife, Wendy, in 1984. Back then, Inova was an enterprise for reselling LED (light-emitting diode) signs. In the years since the company has become a force in the technology market, creating its own hardware—shipping nearly 1,000 signs a year—and creating a software package that has been installed in nearly 3,000 locations worldwide.

The Inova lobby looks in to the "burn-in" room. There, dozens of signs stream information in a continuous loop: the weather, headline news, a quote of the day. As Seth Wood, Inova’s marketing guy, explains, if LED signs like these fail, it’s usually within the first few days of start-up. So to keep from sending its clients lemons, Inova runs the signs non-stop for several days to work out the bugs.

Wood says the company’s clients fall largely into two groups, telephone call-in centers (translated: telemarketers) and transportation systems. It has sold wallboards to airports and subway systems in Los Angeles; Chicago; Ft. Worth, Texas; and Washington, D.C., where Inova LEDs inform Metro passengers of delays, security alerts and more.

But this serious business is a diminishing part of Inova’s focus. "Our business is changing right now," Hubbard says. "We’re a technology company and we constantly have to innovate, adapt and anticipate the reality of what’s down the road. What’s happening is we’ve become more and more of a software company." The LightLink software that allows clients to tailor LED messages and which is Inova’s latest push, costs between $10,000 and $100,000 depending on the complexity of the system.

On the local front, Inova has kept mostly quiet—none of the signs or products is readily available to Charlottesvillians. That will change with the new C3A building, which will feature three signs from Inova—two 26′ signs along the Water Street front, which will overlap for a total of approximately 41′, and a 3′ sign on the Second Street side that should be visible from Central Place on the Downtown Mall.

Live Arts Artistic Director John Gibson brought Inova into the project after partnering with the company for a gala fundraiser five years ago. "When we started thinking about the new building and thinking about distinctive Central Virginia businesses that we would enjoy being associated with and that could make a meaningful contribution to the building, Inova was at the top of our list," he says.

Inova donated all the signage to the project, using excess materials and extra staff power. These mark the largest signs the company has ever made. Given that normal signs range from $2,500 to $20,000, that’s a substantial contribution.

No one is saying whether the signs will be ready for C3A’s late-October opening, and whether they’ll run 24/7. But once they’re up, Live Arts will determine the messages that run across the screens, a prospect that makes Gibson roar with delight. "I have lots of ideas," he says cryptically. "It will definitely be worth keeping an eye on that space."—Eric Rezsnyak

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Fishbowl

Reflecting the past
New African-American newspaper dusts off a 70-year mission

When Thomas J. Sellers founded the Reflector, a weekly newspaper for African-Americans published in Charlottesville between 1931 and 1935, he wrote that his aim was not to cover all the news but to "reflect the progress of our community and Race."

Seventy years later, a pair of local entrepreneurs have dusted off the Reflector nameplate, but with a slightly different mission statement. In March, Corey Carter and Waki Wynn jumped into the crowded Charlottesville publishing market with the first issue of the new African American Reflector.

"We thought the name would be a great tribute to Thomas Sellers," says Carter, the Reflector’s 31-year-old editor. By reviving the Reflector name, the bi-monthly paper intentionally highlights the contrast between Charlottesville’s black community in the Jim Crow ’30s and its black community today.

Back then, Charlottesville incubated one of the most progressive centers of black culture anywhere in the South. The most popular columns from old issues of the Reflector are society pages full of the comings and goings of black elites, focusing on names that are still familiar today: Coles, Bell, Tonsler, Inge and Jackson. Now, however, Carter laments the decline of the city’s black culture––sealed with the destruction of Vinegar Hill in the ’60s, Carter believes—and the current paucity of black-owned businesses and nightspots.