Samantha Baars



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, […]

Hogwaller Farm will include two multi-story residential buildings, with 12 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom apartments on Nassau Street, and several acres of farmland and a farm stand. Courtesy of Justin Shimp

Development discontent: A Hogwaller by any other name

A new development proposed in Hogwaller—that fabled southeast corner of the Belmont-Carlton neighborhood—would give residents the opportunity to live and grow their own food on a small urban pasture called Hogwaller Farm. However, some people have objected to its location. And its name. Developer Justin Shimp, an engineer, says his idea for the new community […]

Kristen Martin, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, says securing all firearms, unloaded and away from ammunition, is the most important safety tip. Photo by Eze Amos

Guns & PE: Firearm safety comes to high school health class

Charlottesville’s physical education teachers are already tasked with teaching a range of heavy topics in health class, from the dangers of opioid addiction to how to avoid unhealthy relationships. Now, gun safety will be added to the list. Fifteen of the city school division’s PE teachers traded a day in the gym last week for […]

A judge found the arrest of local mom Lara Harrison at an August school board meeting unconstitutional. Others arrested that day weren’t as lucky. Photo by Eze Amos

County warning: School board activists go to trial

Five anti-racist activists were in court October 30, following their arrests at an August 30 special meeting of the Albemarle County School Board. But many community members feel like only one was handed down the verdict she deserved. While Lara Harrison’s trespassing charge was dropped, four others were convicted of trespassing or obstruction of justice. […]

Donna Gasapo called John Miska a Nazi as he left the courthouse in September. Staff photo

Gasapo not guilty, veteran gets protective order

Veteran and activist John Miska, who was followed by a group of protesters and called a “Nazi” after a recent court hearing, filed a criminal charge for abusive language against a member of what he called a “mob.” On November 5, a judge found her not guilty. Anti-racist activist Donna Gasapo is known for hurling […]

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is only one approval away from reality. Construction has already started on its tail ends in West Virginia and North Carolina, and Dominion has applied for permission to start building in Virginia.

Edging closer: Atlantic Coast Pipeline gets state go-ahead

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued the final state approval needed to begin construction on the $6 billion, 600-mile, 42-inch diameter Atlantic Coast Pipeline planned to slice through Nelson County on its way from West Virginia to North Carolina, leaving only one more federal hurdle. Massive opposition to Dominion Energy’s pipeline […]

Before potentially renaming Cale Elementary School, Albemarle County School Board Chair Kate Acuff wants the superintendent to review the current policy on naming schools, and to examine the names of all schools in the division. Photo by Eze Amos

Another name change? Albemarle school board confronts racist past

“White parents would not permit their children to receive instruction from inferior Negro teachers—and they were inferior.” These recently resurfaced words, which originally appeared in a July 1, 1956, article titled “Virginia’s Creeping Desegregation: Force of the Inevitable” in Commentary Magazine, were said by Dr. Paul Cale, the longest-serving Albemarle County schools superintendent, and the […]

New data concludes that children growing up in Westhaven have the least chance of escaping poverty when they become adults, while equally poor children who grow up in northern communities such as Locust Grove, Wildwood, Willow Heights, and Village Square have the most. Courtesy the New York Times

Opportunity gap: How your city neighborhood defines your life

The neighborhoods where poor children grow up can have a huge impact on their future earnings, a new analysis of census data shows. Here in Charlottesville, children growing up in Westhaven, the public housing complex in the 10th and Page neighborhood, have the least chance of escaping poverty, while equally poor children who grow up […]