Monthly Archive for August, 2009

Morris Freed in 1988 Murder Case

Alvin Lee “Butch” Morris is free of the charges that he killed Roger Shifflett back in 1988, Tasha Kates writes in today’s Daily Progress. You’ll recall that Morris was arrested for the murder last year, with the bizarre twist that he went on to marry his alleged victim’s wife. The new evidence that came last year was DNA testing of cigarette butts found at the scene of the crime, which matched Morris’s DNA. But a jury deadlocked, and there was a mistrial. Commonwealth’s attorney Denise Lunsford hasn’t dropped the charges—she’s hopeful that more evidence will come to light—but she isn’t going to push for a second trial now, since there’s no reason to think that the outcome would be any different than the first one.

Study: Growth Not Good for the Environment

A Shippensburg University study has found that the ecological carrying capacity of the county will have a hard time with continued growth, Brandon Shulleeta writes in today’s Progress. Commissioned by Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population—and funded in part by the city and the county—the study (4.9MB PDF) is limited to environmental matters, and considers how well our water, air, and other natural resources on which we depend will fare under an ever-increasing population density. It turns out that the trouble starts when the population climbs from our existing 140,000 to 217,000, when we’d wind up with air pollution problems, nitrogenous waste in water, and storm water filling our lakes and streams. The forecast was done in part with the CITYgreen program, a sort of a grownup SimCity.

The good news is that the requisite 55% population growth is a long way off, but the bad news is that it’s well within my likely lifetime. These results are sort of obvious—more people are bad for the environment, duh—but the ability to quantify the county’s ecological carrying capacity is important as one of a great many factors to use to determine if we want to grow, how much we want to grow, and how fast that we want to do it.

Disclaimer: I’m on the board of ASAP, I’ve helped oversee this study in that (limited) capacity, and I helped write the press release announcing this study. Really, I’m about as biased as I could be on this, save that I’ve got no financial interest in the matter.

DP and Charlottesville Tomorrow Team Up

The Daily Progress will begin carrying Charlottesville Tomorrow’s stories, the two publications announced late Saturday night. No money is changing hands in the agreement. As the newspaper has lost reporters, it’s impacted their ability to have reporters present at meetings of regional government entities. Filling that void has been the privately-funded nonprofit Charlottesville Tomorrow, dedicated to providing neutral coverage of issues pertaining to development and growth in Albemarle County. The newspaper will publish their stories, providing Progress readers original coverage of important news and providing Charlottesville Tomorrow with an instant ten-fold increase in their readership.

Though I haven’t seen much of it for a while, when Charlottesville Tomorrow first started there was some significant push back against the organization from developers and folks aligned with them, who argued that the group was anti-development by virtue of so closely covering the topic. With Charlottesville Tomorrow’s just-the-facts approach to their coverage (DP editor McGregor McCance calls it “accurate, fair and balanced”), it’s tough to see any room for slant. I suspect we’re about to see quite a bit more complaints along those lines, despite that the conservative Progress has seldom had many unkind words for development or growth.

To the extent to which the Progress is relying on the continued generosity of Charlottesville Tomorrow’s donors, this might put the paper in an awkward position. On the other hand, by virtue of being a daily newspaper subject to the whims of a huge media conglomerate in a terrible economy, they’re already in an awkward position—at least this way they’ll be in an awkward position with a dozen more column inches of news every day.

The Late, Great Zeke Hoffmeyer

In 1994, Joel and Ben Jones created a mockumentary honoring “Zeke Hoffmeyer” for Live Arts’ “Off the Mall” show that summer. At the time, the story of the slacker Gen X musician and downtown denizen was hilarious, timely, and intertwined perfectly with the real downtown Charlottesville. Joel made Zeke Hoffmeyer available online this weekend, and I just watched it for the first time in fifteen years. It’s aged beautifully. If you spent any significant time living, working, or relaxing downtown during the mid-90s, you’re bound to enjoy this look back into that time. And even if you didn’t, heck, it’s just plain funny; carve out twenty three minutes and give it a watch.

New Talk of Moving Farmer’s Market

Chrissy Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

City Council is again talking about moving the Farmer’s Market to a permanent location, Rachana Dixit writes in today’s Progress. It’s been setting up in the metered lot on Water St. for a little more than fifteen years now; before that it was in the Jefferson School parking lot, as I recall. On Monday night Council talked about making another push at finding some better digs for the weekly market, although that’s something that comes up every few years and never goes anywhere. Court Square is the perennial suggestion, both for historical accuracy and because it lends itself to a decent shopping experience today, but it’s not clear how vendors would be able to set up there with the ease that they do at the current location. At this point, it’s all just talk—here’s no movement that indicates that anything’s more likely to happen now than before.



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