Samantha Baars



Aerial view of the Chesapeake Bay. Photo: Robert Llewellyn

For the love of the South

As he prepares to step down, the founder of the Southern Environmental Law Center looks back on three decades of defending the region’s natural treasures   Ambitious and naive. That’s how Rick Middleton describes himself 33 years ago, when he founded the Southern Environmental Law Center, a small nonprofit that would protect the air, the […]

Tyler Watkins Davis. Courtesy Charlottesville Police Department

Last man in August 12 parking garage beating pleads guilty

Tyler Watkins Davis entered an Alford plea February 8, and though it’s technically a guilty plea, it means the man from Middleburg, Florida, is not admitting guilt, but acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him of malicious wounding in the brutal parking garage assault of DeAndre Harris. Defense attorney Matthew Engle said his […]

Local Goodwill stores have seen a nearly 20 percent increase in donations compared to this time last year, says District Manager Lisa Sexton, and she’s attributing it to the new Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” Photo by Sanjay Suchak

The Kondo effect: Donations surge as people purge

Local Goodwill stores collected 13,800 donations in the month of January —an 18.5 percent increase from those gathered this time last year. And they’re attributing it to a Netflix special about a now world-famous Japanese decluttering expert named Marie Kondo. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. Before starring in “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” she made […]

Great Eastern Management Company is looking to build about 500 apartments with 40,000 square feet of commercial space at Seminole Square. And the only existing building they’d have to demolish is the former Giant grocery store. Courtesy Great Eastern Management

New look: Seminole Square eyes apartments to replace empty retail

A new proposal could turn empty retail space at the Seminole Square shopping center into much-needed housing. Great Eastern Management Company went before the city’s Planning Commission last week for recommendations before submitting an official application for what construction and development manager David Mitchell says could be as many as 500 one-, two-, and three-bedroom […]

Dana Naylor, who drove the Times Disposal garbage truck hit by an Amtrak train a year ago, says he wasn’t impaired at the time of the crash. Photo by Jack Looney

Trash truck driver fights DUI charge

First he was hit by a train. Now his attorney is attempting to prove that he was also hit with a bogus DUI charge. Dana Naylor, the driver of the garbage truck that was hit by an Amtrak train in Crozet last year, was in court January 22 to dispute evidence being used against him. […]

Bea LaPisto Kirtley is running for the Rivanna District seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Norm Carter

Bea LaPisto Kirtley joins Board of Supervisors race

Standing on a stepstool behind a podium marked by her campaign sign, a former Bradbury, California, city councilor of 20 years was the second person to announce her run for the Rivanna District seat on the Board of Supervisors. Bea LaPisto Kirtley said addressing the “critical lack of broadband coverage” in Albemarle will be a […]

Emergency Communications Center supervisor Taylor Ashley worked 922 hours of overtime
last year. Photo by Sanjay Suchak

Short-staffed: Emergency Communications Center faces its own emergency

The center that handles all of the city, county, and university’s 911 calls is severely understaffed, and now it’s calling for help. “At this point, it’s basically an emergency,” says Taylor Ashley, a supervisor at the Emergency Communications Center. “It’s difficult because we have almost no time off work…If you’re not on call, then you’re […]

Jerrod Smith announced his run for the Rivanna District seat on the Board of Supervisors with a campaign theme called the "dream infrastructure."

Jerrod Smith announces Board of Supervisors run

“We all begin with a dream,” said Albemarle native Jerrod Smith at the start of his January 18 campaign announcement. He’s hoping to snag the Rivanna District seat on the Board of Supervisors with a campaign called the “dream infrastructure.” And it starts with finding new solutions to an age-old issue in Albemarle: lack of […]

Joe Platania, the city's commonwealth's attorney, announced he will no longer prosecute people for driving on a license that was suspended for the sole reason of unpaid court costs or fines.

Prosecutors pump the brakes on suspended license cases

A lawsuit to help prevent those unable to pay court fines from spiraling into further debt and prosecution got a significant boost last week. Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania announced January 4 that he will no longer prosecute people charged with driving on a license that was suspended solely for failure to pay court costs […]

Activists say Dominion’s plan to build a pipeline compressor station in the historically African American community of Union Hill is a stark example of environmental injustice and racism. Courtesy of Friends of Buckingham

On hold: Dominion faces pipeline permit problems

All is quiet along the proposed path of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, now that five federal permits have either been thrown out or put on hold. A vote on a permit that would allow a 54,000-horsepower pipeline compressor station to be built in Buckingham’s historic African American community of Union Hill, on a former […]

Dwindling enrollment at Molly Michie, the city’s oldest co-operative preschool and the first to integrate, casts a pall on its future.
Courtesy Molly Michie

Co-op travails: Molly Michie seeks preschoolers—and their parents

Faced with a recent decline in enrollment, the city’s first co-operative preschool, which has operated for more than 50 years, is struggling to stay on its feet. Molly Michie Cooperative Preschool was founded in 1967 as the city’s first integrated preschool, with an emphasis on learning through play. Being a co-op means parents are deeply […]

Thousands of migrants are camping in Tijuana for a chance to present themselves to U.S. immigration officials at the border. Local advocates visited them to provide humanitarian aid and legal assistance. Courtesy Kristin Clarens

At the border: Local advocates travel to help asylum seekers

Early this month, a caravan of more than a dozen local lawyers, clergy, and other advocates set out to assist migrants seeking asylum at the Tijuana border, where the mayor has declared a humanitarian crisis, and where thousands of camping refugees wake up every morning hoping they’ll get their turn to present their cases to […]

Developer Justin Shimp wants to build a nine-acre urban farm and residential complex on a city floodplain, which worries some local residents. Photo by Stephen Barling

Hogwaller haggling: Urban farm developer struggles to move forward

When Hurricane Camille dumped 10 inches of rain on Charlottesville in August 1969, folks were spotted rowing their boats up and down Nassau Street. Now, developer Justin Shimp has proposed to build an urban farm and residential complex on the same floodplain. The project, called Hogwaller Farm, is in compliance with the city’s safety and […]

Day 11: Fields’ mental health evaluated

Day 11: Fields’ mental health evaluated

Many thought James Fields’ mental health would be used as a defense during his murder trial– but surprisingly, it never came up. Instead, jurors learned about his troubled state of mind during the December 10 sentencing hearing, after he’d been found guilty of murdering Heather Heyer and injuring many others at the Unite the Right […]

Day 9: Closing arguments in Fields’ trial

Day 9: Closing arguments in Fields’ trial

It’s in the jury’s hands now. The prosecution and defense have given their closing arguments on the ninth day of James Alex Fields Jr.’s first-degree murder trial. The man charged with killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others when he rammed his car into a crowd at an August 12, 2017, white supremacist rally also […]

Day 7: Witnesses describe Fields’ arrest

Day 7: Witnesses describe Fields’ arrest

The prosecution rested today in the trial of James Alex Fields Jr. and the defense began its case, both sides focusing on the defendant during and after his arrest August 12, 2017. In prosecution videos of Fields after he was taken into police custody, he repeatedly apologized, asked about any injuries, and hyperventilated for more […]

Day 5: More victim and police testimony in James Fields’ trial

Day 5: More victim and police testimony in James Fields’ trial

“That’s what someone’s eyes look like when they’re dead,” is the only thought that went through anti-racist activist Star Peterson’s mind as she saw Heather Heyer flying through the air. Peterson had just been run over by a white supremacist in a Dodge Challenger on Fourth Street on August 12, 2017. Peterson recounted her experience […]

The goal of foster care isn't to get a child adopted, but to reunite her with her parents.

YOU Issue: Foster care isn’t all about adoption

Here’s what readers asked for: I would love to see an article about the changing shift in philosophy regarding foster care, as well debunking common misperceptions. —Marnie Allen A common misperception about children in foster care is that the goal is to get them adopted. But Alicia Lenahan, the president of Piedmont CASA, says reunifying […]

We're approaching the 10th anniversary of when construction ceased on the Landmark Hotel in January 2009.  
Photo by Ashley Twiggs

YOU Issue: We wish we had a better Dewberry update

Here’s what readers asked for: Landmark Hotel…I would like to see someone address each City Council meeting with the question, “What have you done this week to move this project forward?”—Ida Simmons Ah, the Dewberry Hotel. Somehow we knew there’d be inquiring minds, and while there’s not much new to report, we can tell you […]

YOU Issue: Recess report

YOU Issue: Recess report

Here’s what readers asked for: What the hell happened to recess in our schools?—Rebecca Coleman Cooper After her daughter had recess time taken away twice for talking during class, local mom Christa Bennett started a petition to end this punitive practice in city schools. And she thought it had worked. The city’s school board approved […]

Elizabeth Wydra (center), president of D.C.’s Constitutional Accountability Center, says defendants can’t hide behind the First Amendment when alleging bogus conspiracy theories about her client, local man Brennan Gilmore (right), to a national audience. Staff photo

Center of conspiracy: Defamation suit targets Alex Jones

Infowars founder Alex Jones has made a career out of broadcasting anti-government and right-wing conspiracy theories on his website and various radio shows. Last year, he put local man Brennan Gilmore in his crosshairs, alleging that the Charlottesville musician is a deep state operative on George Soros’ personal payroll who helped orchestrate the August 12, […]