Grinding to a halt
Last week, a final warning was issued to all skaters: If more than 25 people were seen gathered at the Charlottesville Skate Park—or other city parks and recreation areas—over the weekend, the city would consider shutting down all of its outdoor facilities until the declaration of emergency is lifted.
Officials stopped by the skate park throughout the weekend, and noticed an immediate improvement, compared to the gathering of more than 75 people witnessed at the park two weeks ago.
The threat of closing was enough to spark outrage among young skaters.
“There are some ways we could keep it open COVID safe,” said 12-year-old Skippy Norton during public comment at Monday’s City Council meeting. Norton, who claimed they’ve been encouraging fellow skaters to comply with safety rules, said, “If I’m having a hard day, I can go to the skate park and I’ll be happy…And I know it means a lot to a lot of kids.”
“Skating helps a lot with mental health…it can put you in a much better mindset,” added 12-year-old Alice Christian. “I’ve met many people at the park who have made my life a little bit more happy.”
“There certainly was a lot more compliance” with mask wearing and social distancing, said City Councilor Heather Hill during the meeting. “But it really is going to be the onus of the skate community to ensure that they’re following the rules…so [it] can continue to be open.”
Several parents joined the kids in speaking out against closing the park, urging council to consider less extreme measures.
“It’s a lifeline for my children,” said parent Kerri Heilman. “The lack of things they’re able to do, and being able to get to the skate park and be outdoors, it is really great for their mental health.”
“Skating rules!” her 8-year-old child chimed in.
Quote of the week
“I would not mind spending Christmas with my family.”
—UVA football player Joey Blount, on whether or not he wants to play in a bowl game over the holiday break
Unsurprisingly, Charlottesville’s delegate, Sally Hudson, has announced her campaign for re-election. In 2019, Hudson took down former city councilor Kathy Galvin in a primary before running unopposed in the general election. She says her priorities for next session include COVID relief, as well as continuing the work of the last session on education and the environment.
Charlottesville’s Christmas tree sellers are seeing record sales this year, reports NBC29. With everyone gloomy about the virus and eager to get out of the house, firs and pines are flying off the lots. If you’re hoping to get your holiday decorations set up early, don’t wait around.
Charlottesville has recently begun wastewater testing to detect coronavirus cases, reports The Daily Progress, in an effort organized in conjunction with the state health department and the CDC. It sounds nasty, but the testing has proven an effective way of detecting the presence of COVID early in the virus’ spread—UVA has been running a successful wastewater testing program at its residence halls since September.
It takes two to HueHuetenango
At Monday’s City Council meeting, counselors decided to begin the process of becoming sister cities with HueHuetenango, Guatemala. The 120,000-person city is located in the west of the country and is known for a distinctive set of Mayan ruins nearby. Familial bonds between municipalities aren’t formed overnight, though—for the first three years, the two cities will just be “friendship cities,” says the commission.