In brief: Tree huggers, get out of dodge (challenger), and more

Paul Summers pulls a Frazier Fur tree, which he sells for $75 each, from a shed near the Knights Gambit tasting room on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Summers sources the pre-cut trees from a farm near Mount Rogers. He gives all the proceeds to the Charlottesville Area Community Fund in honor of his late daughter Alex who passed away in 2007. PC: Zack Wajsgras Paul Summers pulls a Frazier Fur tree, which he sells for $75 each, from a shed near the Knights Gambit tasting room on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Summers sources the pre-cut trees from a farm near Mount Rogers. He gives all the proceeds to the Charlottesville Area Community Fund in honor of his late daughter Alex who passed away in 2007. PC: Zack Wajsgras

Tree huggers

On an unseasonably warm December Sunday, Yoseph Asmellash, owner of Little River Christmas Trees, had dozens of Fraser and Douglas fir trees for sale in the parking lot of the Fashion Square Mall—one of many local spots for buying Christmas trees that pop up around the holidays. Asmellash, a native of Ethiopia who’s been selling trees for over 20 years, got into the business after working at a garden center during high school and college.

Business has been brisk, he says, and he orders new trees weekly–ever since the time, about 10 years ago, when he ended up with several hundred extra trees on his hands. He had to offer a buy-one-get-one-free sale (sometimes adding a third tree to the deal). 

When he’s not selling trees, Asmellash, who lives in Arlington, runs several other seasonal businesses across Virginia, including pumpkin patches. In the off months, he operates a tax service.  

Fir facts:

  • Asmellash orders about 800 trees per year for his spot at the Fashion Square Mall
  • His trees come from Whitetop, Virginia, and Sparta, North Carolina 
  • According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the price of Christmas trees has gone up about 10 percent nationwide, due to limited supplies of Christmas trees—caused by hotter weather, too much rain, and the ripple effects of the 2008 recession that cut demand for trees (and led to less trees being planted)

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Quote of the week

“We should declare ourselves as a sanctuary city, as some other communities have done…We should declare ourselves a sanctuary city against monuments, statues, and memorials that glorify slaveholders, that lift up racists and rapists and traitors.” Rev. Don Gathers, addressing City Council at its final meeting of the year.

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In brief

No go

Five months after James Fields used a gray Dodge Challenger to mow down dozens of people at the Unite the Right rally, killing Heather Heyer, the Charlottesville Police Department added a gray Dodge Challenger, which also featured “thin blue line” decals, to its official fleet. Though the car was purchased in January 2018, the department told C-VILLE last August that it had been “designed and purchased” well before the attack. Asked to explain this discrepancy, spokesman Tyler Hawn called it “a misunderstanding.” Last week, the city announced that the car has been removed from service in response to community feedback. 

CPD purchased a Dodge Challenger in January 2018. PC: Staff Photo

Borer war

Charlottesville’s ash trees are dying, thanks to an infestation of the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that arrived from Asia in 2002. The Charlottesville Tree Commission has mapped 107 ash trees in the city, and anticipates that 99 percent of them will succumb to the borer. Last week, representatives from the Tree Commission asked the Planning Commission for money to fight the bugs, but it remains to be seen if there will be enough space in the budget.

Tragic loss

The Charlottesville community mourns the death of St. Anne’s graduate Tessa Majors, who was fatally stabbed in a botched mugging in Manhattan’s Morningside Park on December 11. Majors, 18, was a freshman at Barnard College. A musician, Majors had just released a new album and had a series of local shows scheduled. A 13-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with her death.

Put it in “D”

It’s not just your imagination–Virginia really is home to some of the country’s worst drivers. According to a nationwide study by insurance company QuoteWizard, Virginia drivers earned a “D” grade, losing points for distracted driving and frequency of accidents. The worst city in our driving hellscape of a state, per the study, is Manassas. 

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