Monthly Archive for March, 2012

County Renewing Illegal Sign Crackdown

Albemarle County is renewing their efforts to wipe out signs illegally posted in the highway right-of-way, they announced in a press release today. County law prohibits businesses from sticking signs up in the median of highways and along roadways—not only is it ugly litter, but they’re distracting to drivers, they block drivers’ line of sight at intersections, and each sign is an obstacle for VDOT crews when mowing along the roads. And, of course, they’re all trash—somebody has to pick them up and throw them away eventually, and that’s coming out of your and my tax dollars. The county first cracked down on them in 2007, then turned up the heat in 2009 after striking a deal with VDOT (who generally owns the land on which the signs are dumped) that would allow them to fine the sign spammers $100/apiece. Albemarle says that their 2009 effort paid off…for a while. Then the same companies went right back to sticking their signs up in the public right-of-way. The county is stepping up enforcement, effective immediately.

In my experience, the Mountain Kim Martial Arts (a chain that sells a sort of karate lite, for kids) is the worst offender in town—for years now they’ve put their signs up along school bus routes and near elementary schools, presumably to advertise directly to children. I’d love for media outlets to call some of the worst offenders and ask them why they feel that the law doesn’t apply to them. NBC-29 did that during the 2009 sweep, and some of the businesses actually complained that it wasn’t fair that they should have to pay to advertise legally.

City Communications Director Has Stepped Down

City communications director Ric Barrick is stepping down from his position, Graham Moomaw writes in the Daily Progress. Barrick will continue indefinitely as a city employee, working on projects including the city’s 250th anniversary celebration. Recently cleared in an ethics investigation pertaining to an improperly handled bid, Barrick cited the circumstances of that investigation as one of the things that has left him wanting a job that’s less stressful. He’s held the position of communications director for six years. A pair of city employees will temporarily take on Barrick’s media relations duties.

Two Locals Named Carnegie Heroes

Two local folks have received Carnegie Medals for heroism, the Daily Progress reports. In 1904, Andrew Carnegie established the Hero Fund, which rewards any civilian who voluntarily risks his lives while attempting to save the life of another. In the 108 years since, they have given out 9,000 medals and $32M in grants, 20% posthumously. Twenty-one such awards were announced today, including one for Abigail R. Zuehlke, of Earlysville, and one for Charles V. Worden, of North Garden.

Of Zuehlke, Carnegie explains:

Abigail R. Zuehlke helped to save Brandon and Daniel Santiago from drowning, Hunting Island, South Carolina, July 8, 2011. Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off a state park beach, Brandon, 18, and his brother, Daniel, 20, were caught in a rip current that prevented their returning to shore. In another party, Zuehlke, 30, homemaker, had just arrived at the beach and was alerted to the swimmers’ plight by those on shore. She entered the water and waded and swam to Brandon, who was about 300 feet out. Finding him nearly exhausted, Zuehlke hooked him by the arm and started back toward shore, having to swim against the current while towing him. When she was about halfway back, she met up with a man who had entered the surf and turned Brandon over to him. As the man took Brandon to safety, Zuehlke turned and swam out to Daniel, guided by those on the beach. Reaching him at a point also about 300 feet from shore, Zuehlke grasped him and started back toward the beach. A responding park ranger who had entered the surf took Daniel from her, and all three returned to the beach. Brandon and Daniel were treated at the scene, with Brandon then requiring overnight hospitalization. He recovered.

And of Warden:

Charles V. Worden saved Adrian G. Rowe from drowning, Waynesboro, Virginia, April 16, 2011. Adrian, 9, and two others were attempting to walk across a low water crossing that was inundated to a depth of about 2.5 feet by surging floodwaters of a creek. The rushing water forced them against a rail that extended along the edge of the crossing. A passing motorist, Worden, 44, maintenance engineer, saw them and stopped at the scene. Shouting for them to return, Worden waded through the flooded area and onto the near end of the crossing. Reaching Adrian, he grasped the boy and put him under an arm as he then tried to secure the others. They were washed from his grasp and carried downstream. Worden waded from the floodwater with Adrian to safety and then ran after the others, but they submerged and drowned, their bodies recovered later.

Money does not accompany the medal but, instead, recipients become eligible for grants, scholarships, and general continuing aid, all directly from the Carnegie Hero Fund. I recommend reading through profiles of some of the awardees—they’re just amazing stories of heroism.

Landmark Hotel Set to be Auctioned

The incomplete Landmark Hotel is going up for auction, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29. A federal bankruptcy court will sell it off, to satisfy $2.8M in construction costs unpaid by Halsey Minor, who ran out of money shortly after the steel framework of the building went up a few years ago. Minor’s one-time partner, former Charlottesville developer Lee Danielson, claims a billionaire backer is going to help him win the structure at auction, presumably to finish building the boutique hotel. The auction, if it happens, would likely be held in three months.

Apartments for the Homeless Opening this Month

The area’s first housing complex for the chronically homeless will accept its first tenants in a couple of weeks, Graham Moonmaw writes in the Daily Progress. The Crossings, at the corner of Preston and Fourth, has sixty units, half of which are meant to house people who are medically vulnerable and have been homeless on a long-term basis, and the other half are for people with annual incomes below $27,250. They’re studio apartments, just 360 square feet apiece, and are equipped with basic furnishings, a simple kitchen, and a bathroom. The city bought the real estate two years ago, for $1.55M, and has sold it to Virginia Supportive Housing for the same amount, with no payment due for thirty years. (The Richmond-based organization runs similar facilities in Richmond and Hampton Roads.) The city will provide $170k/year to subsidize it—$130k from federal funds, $40k from the Charlottesville Housing Fund—and Albemarle will contribute, as well. The building will have six staffers on site most days, and has all of the security amenities of a modern apartment complex.



You are currently browsing the weblog archives for the month March, 2012.