The bite club

Q: Ace, tourists come here from all over the globe, and the 48 states, Hawaii and Alaska. Do you suppose there is enough intelligence for those that control/run the Downtown Mall to set the clock to the exact time? It’s been two years!—Father Time

A:Yeesh, that’s pretty harsh there, pops—no need to go insulting anyone’s intelligence. Ace assumes that you’re referring to the chronically wrong clock atop the kiosk in front of the Boxer Learning building on the Mall. Indeed, the clock was running 25 minutes fast when Ace checked on a recent afternoon. But there’s no need to get upset, especially since the woman who spends her entire day working with the tinkered timepiece, Dana Durham, isn’t.

Durham has rented the eight-sided structure—colloquially known as the Bargain Hut, but technically Dana’s Kiosk, she says—from the City’s Office of Economic Development since September. From it she dispenses brochures for City and County tourist attractions (part of the deal for renting it) as well as assorted knickknacks and snacks. She says she’s been trying to get the clock fixed almost as long as she’s rented the place.

“People ask all the time” if the clock is right, she says. “That’s why I keep my wristwatch handy, so I can tell them the right time.”

Durham explains that the clock is supposed to automatically reset every morning when she opens up the kiosk. It hasn’t quite worked out. She says she’s put in several calls to Aubrey Watts, director of the Economic Development Department, but the clock remains unfixed. That said, she gives Watts credit for helping her on several occasions, from getting rotted panels replaced to fixing a busted lock.

“Everything I’ve asked him to do he’s done,” she says. “I’m sure he’ll get right on this as soon as possible.”

When Ace called Watts, he echoed Durham’s sentiments—he’s on it right away. He explained that part of the hold up has been miscommunication over what City department is technically responsible for the kiosk’s upkeep. He says that the Department of Parks and Recreation has been alerted to the clock’s wonky nature and, with any luck, you’ll be able to set your watch to it soon.

As for it being two years since the clock’s been broken, Watts wasn’t sure it had been that long. But he did come up with one perq from the whole thing. “I bet a whole lot of people got extra-long lunch breaks out of it” being wrong, he says. Now that’s putting your time to good use.

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The bite club

Q: Ace, I heard a rumor that an animal with rabies was caught in City limits last week, supposedly the first one in a really long time. But we hear about rabies pretty frequently. What’s the deal—was there a rabies case, and if so, is it really all that rare?—Diz Ease

A:Charlottesville animal control officer Bob Durrer confirmed for Ace a recent case of rabies in the City. On Wednesday, March 17, Durrer says, he received a call from a woman living near the intersection of Sunset and Wesley in the JPA neighborhood who said she’d been chased by a gray fox. After patrolling the area for about 30 minutes he says he came up with nothing, and stopped to ask a man walking his dog on Piedmont Avenue if he’d seen anything. The man said no, Durrer says, and he got back in his patrol car. While looking in his rearview mirror he saw the man flagging him down. Improbably, at that moment the fox had jumped out of the bushes and attacked the dog-walking citizen’s pooch. After a not-so-merry chase Durrer says he finally caught the fox, which, after being tested by the health department, was diagnosed with rabies, sent to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and destroyed.

Durrer tells Ace he’s been working the job for 23 years, and this is only the second time he’s caught a rabies-infected animal in the City. He says he often sees wildlife with distemper, which leaves them extremely weak. But rabies are a rarity, he says—at least in the City proper.

Cross over into County lines and it’s a little more common. Ace looked at the State Health Department webpage (vdh.state.va.us), which breaks down rabies cases by locality. In 2003 Albemarle had seven found rabies cases, mostly raccoons but also a bat, fox and a skunk. In 2002 there were nine cases.

Donald Hackler, environmental health manager with the Thomas Jefferson Health District, says the disease is still fairly rare. But the health department checks up on all animal bites to make sure rabies—a virus that fatally attacks the nervous system and is transmitted by bites or through contact with infected saliva or brain tissue—is not a concern. He says the best way to protect humans is to vaccinate your pets. (Durrer says that the dog involved in the fox fight had gotten the proper shots, which means fido should be fine after a booster shot.)

Beyond that, Hackler suggests avoiding contact with wild animals. Keep an eye out for critters showing strange behavior, including extreme aggression or loping about in the daytime. That should keep your mouth-frothing encounters to a minimum.

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1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
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3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

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