In brief: statue antics, spelling mishaps, PVCC graduation, and more

Students Sarah Fadhil (left) speaks during a graduation ceremony for students getting their GED's through the Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education program at PVCC on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Photo by Zack Wajsgras Students Sarah Fadhil (left) speaks during a graduation ceremony for students getting their GED’s through the Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education program at PVCC on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Photo by Zack Wajsgras

On their own terms

If you have a dream, and you focus on it, and you work hard, your dream will come true one day,” Bushiri Salumu told a small crowd assembled at Piedmont Virginia Community College on Thursday, November 7. He spoke from experience: Salumu lost family members to the civil war in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and lived in a refugee camp in Zambia for four years before arriving in Charlottesville in 2012. While working at a car wash and as a housekeeper, Salumu managed to learn English, become a U.S. citizen, and complete his GED. Now, he works at UVA hospital and hopes to become a nurse practitioner.

Salumu was the keynote student speaker at a graduation ceremony for adult learners from the PVCC Thomas Jefferson Adult Career Education program, which offers English language classes, career skills instruction, and GED and NEDP high school credential programs. 

“The United States is a country where dreams can come true,” said Salumu. “It doesn’t matter where you come from or how you look.”

Each of the seven graduates took the podium to tell their story and thank their families and teachers for helping them along the way. 

“I will continue to excel in my own time frame with no regrets,” said Crystal Morris, who earned her GED while juggling “two jobs, two leases, and a crying toddler.”

“To my fellow graduates—our lives may once have held bitterness and sadness,” said Sarah Fadhil, who arrived in the United States in 2017 and joined TJACE to learn English. “But now, all we need to do is look forward, with your head held high, and smile. Congratulations to all of us to succeed in our way.”


Quote of the week

Two words have never been spoken in the 400-year history of the Virginia House of Burgesses and the House of Delegates: ‘Madam Speaker.’” —Senator Adam P. Ebbin on Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s election as the first woman speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates

In brief


A judge has dismissed a felony explosives possession charge against a Zion Crossroads man who was pulled over for having expired license plates and arrested when Charlottesville police mistook a tire pressure gauge in his car for a pipe bomb. Police searched the car after smelling marijuana and the department’s newly-hired bomb-sniffing dog identified the device, which police detonated. On Twitter, city councilor-elect Michael Payne called the case “an example of why we need a strong, independent Civilian Police Review Board.” 

Spelling counts

Delegate Nick Freitas failed to get his name on the ballot this fall due to incomplete paperwork, leading the Republican incumbent to rely on a large-scale write-in campaign. But that left voters with the challenge of spelling his name. Culpeper administrators, who had to sift through more than 5,000 write-in votes, accepted Nick Feitas, Nick Freitos, Nick F, and the mononym Friets as legitimate votes, but nixed voters’ choices for Friems, Freton, Freit Rick, Nick Fruit, and NICKTKLE.  

To catch a vandal 

Downtown’s controversial statue of Stonewall Jackson has been vandalized more than once, and Jackson defenders may be taking matters into their own hands: A small camouflaged trail camera and a bell attached to a wire were recently found near the monument. Charlottesville police removed the items soon after pictures were circulated online, and said the camera did not belong to the department. 

Pricey pied-a-terre

Some of the most expensive—and longest unoccupied—residential real estate downtown is finally seeing movement. Architect Bill Atwood’s Waterhouse project, which houses WorldStrides, put deluxe condos on the market in 2015. Most were still empty in 2017, when Atwood said he was “land banking” them, before losing them to creditors in 2018. In September, John and Renee Grisham picked up one of the units for $1.079 million.

Bill Atwood in his Waterhouse project.

Wright stuff

Harold Wright, the founder and general manager of NBC29, will call it quits after 46 years heading Charlottesville’s first TV station, according to the Progress. David Hughes, news director for WDBJ Roanoke, will succeed Wright.

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