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Carolyn Liberto approached the medical staff at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW) complaining of chest pains on July 21. The 70 year old had a history of hypertension and congestive heart failure, but the medical staff allegedly told her that her vitals were normal and to return to her cell. During the night, she began to have trouble breathing. She died hours later.

Four days later, 38-year-old Deanna Niece complained of chest pain and shortness of breath so severe she fell to the ground. As with Liberto, she was not referred for evaluation. That night, she went into convulsions and began to vomit blood. An inmate said she “died on the floor” just three weeks shy of release. The coroner ruled cause of death as pulmonary embolism.

Details of the July deaths were among multiple allegations of medical mismanagement included in a 48-page contempt motion filed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville on Wednesday (Sept. 6).

Lawyers for a group of prisoners say the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) has failed to meet the requirements laid out in a 2016 settlement agreement to improve care at FCCW. That settlement came after years of complaints and a class-action suit arguing that the prison’s medical services were so substandard that they potentially violated prisoners’ Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

FCCW “was built with an eye towards having the best medical care, and if this is the best medical care, I’d hate to see what it’s like in all the other prisons,” said Brenda Casteñada, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville.

Instead, the medical facility has become mired in what the contempt filing calls “an institutional culture of indifference,” with inadequate staffing and a lack of leadership at the top translating into substandard care for the prison’s 1,200 inmates. Add a comment

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Linda StaigerLinda Staiger’s name won’t be on the ballot for Columbia District School Board, the state electoral board decided Friday (Sept. 8).
Staiger said she will be running as a write-in candidate.

Her opponent, Andrew Pullen, began looking into specifics of Staiger’s candidacy immediately, he said.

Pullen filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Registrar Joyce Pace asking “for all of the candidate paperwork like any candidate should to see who signed petitions and for opposition research,” he wrote in an email Sept. 6 responding to whether he or someone in his campaign filed the FOIA.

Pullen wrote that he and others in his campaign heard rumors Staiger didn’t live in the Columbia District.

She does.

Staiger lives at 2949 Ridge Road and said she has since 2004. Add a comment

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Michael WestmorelandMichael Westmoreland first discovered ventriloquism at 10 years old when he received an Emmett Kelly puppet and ventriloquism instructions for Christmas. Jay Johnson from Soap, a television show, inspired Westmoreland to become a ventriloquist. Like many ventriloquists, his goal is to entertain and make people laugh.

Ventriloquism evokes images of Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Paul Winchell with Knuckle Head, Jerry and buxom blond Tessie.

“Don Knotts and Johnny Carson had been ventriloquists,” Westmoreland said. “Actually Edgar Bergen was not that good and was often moving his lips when Charlie was talking. But then he was on the radio so no one really knew.”

Westmoreland admired Paul Winchell, who revolutionized ventriloquism. He and his contemporaries agree that learning ventriloquism is a fraction of the skill – learning to be funny and entertaining is key.

Considered a late 18th century and early 19th century stagecraft, ventriloquism gained popularity in Vaudeville. Ventriloquism is the act of “throwing one’s voice,” and is less of a trick and more of an actor’s art. Changing voice, switching character and acting along with the figure are seen nowadays as more of an art form than a quirky novelty.

Decades later, ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator are keeping ventriloquism energized and novel. Many, including Westmoreland, have added singing. His figure, Scotty, loves to sing and does it quite well. But the magic comes in staging a performance. Add a comment

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Bike pathLocal bicycle and walking enthusiasts are in luck: the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) is soliciting their input into what bike and pedestrian paths to develop.

The TJPDC has set up an interactive map online in which participants can earmark suggested bike and pedestrian plans and include comments. Though most of the current suggestions focus on Charlottesville and Albemarle, the TJPDC wants to hear specifically from Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson and Greene residents.

“The goal for this plan is to engage the public,” said Zach Herman, TJPDC regional planner and project lead.

TJPDC is in the process of updating the 2004 Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan. As a part of this project, it wants to hear from local bicycle and walking fans as to what sort of projects they would like to see developed in their counties.

The updated plan will be integrated into the region’s long range framework to “better prepare and equip the region and its member governments to select and fund bike and pedestrian improvements,” according to TJPDC.

“For each county we hope to have a list of bike and pedestrian projects,” said Herman. “Those lists will be prioritized based on safety, connectivity, feasibility and cost. We’ll have a list of prioritized projects for each county.”

Herman hopes that interested Fluvanna residents will hop on their computers and send in their feedback during the months of September and October. Add a comment

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Lake Monticello poolLake Monticello’s new community pool will be rebuilt in its current location beginning late in 2018, according to Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) Treasurer Marlene Weaver.

Weaver, one of two LMOA Board members on the pool design committee, outlined the evolving project last week.

Based on discussions with a pool contractor earlier this year, members of the Board initially believed it would be easier and potentially more cost-effective to build the new pool at a different location. Discussions with different engineers in recent weeks have convinced the design committee that “the more prudent decision is to replace the pool at the current site,” Weaver wrote.

Potential issues and costs involved in building on a new site include permitting, stormwater management, and relocation of utility lines.

In an email, Weaver said keeping the pool in its current location is “more expensive to build, but, since there would be other fees involved to move the pool, it was decided that the savings to move it was not worth the change.” She noted that using the current spot was always the most desired location, and given the problems that could arise in a new location, “we feel it would be the same cost either way after the engineers presented their information.” Add a comment

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