Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
March 9, 2023; Multiple arrests made in recent gun violence incidents; Rykal files to run for Supervisor in Albemarle's White Hall District
March 9, 2023; Multiple arrests made in recent gun violence incidents; Rykal files to run for Supervisor in Albemarle's White Hall District
Plus: The Karsh Institute of Democracy is taking on functions of the Weldon Cooper center

How many times have we marched already this year? This is the ninth day of the third month, and there are only a handful of days before there will be another artificial changing of the time for purposes that may not necessarily make sense. At the risk of putting a germane fact in this introduction, legislation to study the practice failed in this year’s General Assembly. I’m Sean Tubbs, marching on for another day of Charlottesville Community Engagement, no matter what time the sun sets. 

On today’s program:

  • Albemarle and Charlottesville announce several arrests in recent gun violence 

  • A second person files paperwork to run for Supervisor in Albemarle County’s White Hall District 

  • Weldon Cooper Center will soon become part of the Karsh Institute of Democracy

  • Albemarle County will hand out $100,000 in grants to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • More from the Charlottesville City Budget

  • Information from Fluvanna, Louisa, and Nelson counties from the recent Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

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First shout-out: Hatton Ferry Community Day

In today’s first subscriber-supported shout-out, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society operates the Hatton Ferry, a historic way to cross the James River at Scottsville. They’re looking for volunteers, operators, and interpreters to help run the ferry between April and October. If you would like to learn how to operate the ferry and/or share its history with the community and visitors, and can commit to shifts this season, please join the ACHS at their community day on March 14. RSVP on Facebook or consider a donation. Learn more about the Hatton Ferry on cvillepedia

Arrests made in gun violence incidents

Both Albemarle County and Charlottesville police have announced the arrest of individuals alleged to be involved in recent gun violence. 

This morning, Charlottesville Police announced the arrest yesterday of 19-year-old Raymaqu'a Antonio Nicholas of Charlottesville in the February 22 murder of 20-year-old Gordonsville resident Nicklous Pendleton. The suspect was taken into custody yesterday after an investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigations, The United States Attorney’s Office, and The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. 

Yesterday, officers with the Albemarle County Police Department arrested a 13-year-old at a private school on Earlysville Road after a tip that the person had a firearm. 

“Upon seeing ACPD officers, the armed juvenile suspect fled the area on foot,” reads the release. “Shortly after running from police, the 13-year-old was located hiding in a dumpster and taken into custody without incident.”

The release states that police believe the person is linked to recent gun violence. 

This morning, Albemarle Police announced the arrest of 21-year-old Taquarius Olando Catoe-Anderson on charges filed in the City of Charlottesville. They are two counts of malicious wounding and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. 

Podcaster files paperwork to run in White Hall District

A second candidate for Supervisor has emerged in the White Hall District, creating the possibility of a contested race for a second election cycle in a row. Brad Rykal of Crozet has filed a statement of organization with the Virginia Department of Elections to run as an independent. 

According to an August 5, 2022 article in the Crozet Gazette by Theresa Curry, Rykal is a Crozet resident who produces a podcast on local affairs.

If he qualifies for the ballot, Rykal would face Democrat Ann Mallek in the November 7 election. Mallek is seeking her fifth term and fended off Republican Steve Harvey in the 2019 race. 

Rykal confirmed his candidacy with me this afternoon and said he will release more information soon about why he is running. His podcast is available on Apple Podcasts. A question is out to the candidate for confirmation and a quote. 

Meanwhile, another internet talk show host who has previously declared a candidacy in the Scottsville District has not yet filed paperwork and has not responded to several questions. So, they shall not be identified.

Brad Rykal with his family, submitted by the candidate

Karsh Institute to take on public service functions from Weldon Cooper

Change is coming for one of the University of Virginia’s most public-facing institutions. The various entities that have been under the umbrella of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service will now be moving to the Karth Institute of Democracy, as reported by UVA Today

This includes the Virginia Institute of Government, the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership, the Center for Survey Research, the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, and the Demographic Research Group. The latter provides the official population estimates and forecasts for the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

The announcement dates back to last July and the change takes place on July 1. The name Weldon Cooper will continue to be used in some capacity. 

“The Weldon Cooper Center has a long history of supporting good governance across the Commonwealth, and we intend to keep the Center intact,” writes Alexandra Rebhorn, communications and engagement director for the center. “The Cooper Center has incorporated many different entities over the years, so we will continue to look at ways to flexibly enhance its service model in years to come.” 

The center’s origins date back to 1931 according to materials on the center’s website. 

“UVA and the Virginia Municipal League establish the Bureau of Public Administration to help Virginia localities deal with the effects of the Great Depression,” reads a presentation on the current set-up. 

In 1969 that Bureau was renamed the Institute of Government. In 1987, the Institute merged with the Tayloe Murphy Institute. The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service became the new name in 1994. 

Weldon Cooper was a secretary to the Board of Visitors who advised many UVA Presidents before his retirement in 1973. 

The Karsh Institute is named after Martha and Bruce Karsh who donated $50 million to the $100 million effort to bring all of UVA’s centers on government and policy under one umbrella. The new building will be located in the Emmet-Ivy Corridor. 

Last December, the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Visitors debated its architecture with some members decrying the lack of brick.  Nearby off of Old Ivy Road is the Center for Politics. Last week, the same panel approved the basic concept for an expansion of the Center that includes extension of a road to Leonard Sandridge Drive. (read the story)

Rebhorn said the Center is still in the process of identifying how each unit will refer to itself under the new arrangement. 

Albemarle offering $100K in grants for Climate Action

Do you work for a group that may have a project that you think could demonstrate ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Albemarle County has announced a grant program to encourage innovation as a way to meet the goals to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to zero by 2050. 

“Projects can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation, buildings, waste, agriculture, and natural areas,” reads the website. “Projects can also contribute to increasing carbon sequestration in agriculture or natural systems.” 

Eligible organizations or groups must be physically located in Albemarle County. Grants will be between $5,000 and $25,000. The idea comes from other communities where examples include bike racks, energy efficient windows, or enhanced recycling. The application deadline is April 30. Visit the Albemarle County website for more information

Second shout-out: WTJU’s Puzzle Hunt Preview Party is coming up soon!

In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: WTJU wants you to know the 2nd annual Cville Puzzle Hunt is coming! Save the date for Sat, August 26 for this citywide cerebral puzzle for you and your friends to solve.

Before then, whet your puzzle solving appetite at WTJU’s Puzzle Hunt Preview Party! Thursday, March 16, 7 – 9 p.m. at The Looking Glass @ IX Art Park, 522 2nd St SE.

Featuring music, drinks, and a mini-puzzle to get you warmed up for the main event in August.

Everyone is invited to this free preview party. But please register at to attend.

More details from the recommended Charlottesville City Budget

For a reporter who has covered more than a dozen budget cycles, it’s a bit jarring to have to look at material in a new way. But, the world changes and so has the way the Charlottesville budget is available for review as the city’s budget process really gets underway.

The budget is now available online as part of an interactive website. There’s a lot more detail available, and all of it can change as the Council goes through their review beginning with tonight’s work session. 

Time unfortunately doesn’t allow me to go through all of the budget, but here is at least some of what’s in the new document. 

All of the familiar elements of a budget document are here in this form. That includes the budget message from interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. 

“The adopted General Fund revenue and expenditure estimates both total $226,239,155, which represents a 6.27% increase from the FY 2023 Budget and is balanced,” Rogers writes. (link to his message)

The basic 101 about how budgeting works is also in the new interactive document. There are those who would tell you this stuff is boring and not worth paying attention to, but more people should know some of these items. If you don’t know any of the terms, ask me. 

“All budgets are presented on the modified accrual basis of accounting, under which revenues and related assets are recorded when measurable and available to finance operations during the year, and expenditures, other than compensated absences and interest on debt, are recorded as the related fund liabilities are incurred,” reads the ‘Basis of Budgeting’ section.  “Revenues considered prone to accrual consist primarily of property taxes, certain grants, and sales and utility taxes.  Any property taxes that are not due as of June 30th are recorded as deferred revenues.”

While this may be dense, the information is all there waiting for anyone to learn. 

This section also explains the fund structure for Charlottesville, which consists of the general fund for operating expenditures, enterprise funds for specific functions such as city utilities, the capital improvement program fund, and other miscellaneous funds. 

The city’s budget staff build the document based on a set of guidelines. All of this is in the Basis of Budgeting section of the online budget

One thing about the new budget explorer is that you can see how much each particular division will receive and has received historically. For instance, there are now 46 full-time-equivalents in the City Manager’s office. 

Some highlights from that office:

  • The budget for the Human Rights Commission will increase 72.61 percent to $487,553 to cover two additional full-time positions. 

  • The budget for the Police Civilian Review Board will increase 31.92 percent to $478,450 in part to cover a management analyst position. 

  • The Office of Equity and Inclusion will increase 28.14 percent to $1.191 million. This is in part to cover the costs of the new positions of homeless coordinator and a REDI coordinator.  

  • A new office of Emergency Management is now within the city Manager’s office. There are two new people there.

  • The new budget explorer is quite detailed. For instance, the budget in the office of the City Manager for advertising increased $10,000 to $20,000. 

There aren’t always answers in the budget, and I will listen out for as I go through the various work sessions. For now, I do have these questions on transit I will ask publicly in the hopes someone else will notice:

The budget for Charlottesville Area Transit operations increases from just over $11 million to nearly $14.3 million, a 29.58 percent increase. This includes $2.29 million for a “JAUNT pass-thru.”  What’s the explanation for the increase? Why is $250,000 under “UVA Misc Revenue” not included for FY24? 

More on the budget as we go through. 

TJPDC round-up: Budget assessments up all over, Nelson County commuting patterns

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is made up of five counties and the City of Charlottesville. Like similar bodies across Virginia, the TJPDC’s mission is to help those localities with both planning and implementation. 

For instance, the TJPDC is currently leading a 13-county effort to use federal funding to leverage private dollars to expand broadband internet across southern and central Virginia. Locally, the body now collects county-issued cigarette taxes. 

The Board of Commissioners meets monthly and provides an opportunity to check-in with what’s happening around the region. All across Virginia, it is budget time and that includes Louisa County, where Rachel Jones represents the Green Springs District on the Board of Supervisors.

“Our [real estate property] assessments went through the roof and I think many of yours did, too,” Jones said. “It’s not just Louisa County. It hits hard for our residents. Last year we did make adjustments to our personal property tax and I think we will be probably be figuring out if there’s anything we can do to help with our assessments.” 

Fluvanna County also has higher real estate property assessments according to Supervisor Tony O’Brien. 

“We’re up I think about 17 percent which is pretty significant,” O’Brien said. “Our equalized rate would be 77 cents or something like that.”

The equalized rate is something Virginia code requires localities to publish that represents what the real property tax rate would need to be to keep revenues neutral. O’Brien said a big item in the budget is a long-term plan for the county to run its own Emergency Medical Services department. 

Next, Nelson County Supervisor Jesse Rutherford said his locality is also thinking new ideas about linking real property taxes with the provision of housing to residents versus tourists. 

“Board members had some thoughts on real estate tax mitigation for people who choose to have long-term rentals especially in homes that were dilapidated and were remodeled,” Rutherford said. “What does that look like?” 

Rutherford also said that Nelson County is past the middle of its Comprehensive Plan update, which he said is getting into the nitty-gritty of data, such as commuting patterns. For instance, 1,660 people live and work in Nelson and 4,837 commute to jobs elsewhere. 

“The number… of people who have to come into Nelson County to work Nelson County jobs, and that number is above 2,000,” Rutherford said. “We had a long lengthy discussion in the Comprehensive Plan about what that data means to us. Does that mean we want that 4,800 to live and work in Nelson County? Does that mean we want those 2,000 to be able to infiltrate our economy and live, that 2,000?”

Rutherford said the average home sales is over $400,000, which is way outside the range for many of those people commuting for those jobs.  He said that Amherst County is also playing a role in Nelson’s workforce.

“We’ve come to the realization that Amherst County is having to field a lot of our talent-specific roles and a lot of our kind of low-end infiltration to certain career paths,” Rutherford said. “So Amherst County is fielding our jobs just as Nelson County is fielding the jobs of Albemarle and Charlottesville which is a perplexing thing to be in a rural county context.” 

One day when Charlottesville Community Engagement expands, there will be many more stories about all of these things. For now, we leave it there and hope to be back soon with more. 

Reading material:

Notes for #508:

At the outset: Thanks for today to Fiori Floral Studio for all of your floral needs. That’s for help with the podcast. 

Another busy weird day with a trip to Lynchburg happening as soon as I hit “send” and then back here in the morning. I do not like to take time off because with my subject matter there is always something to write. One more week of weirdness and then? Perhaps more weirdness. Yet, there will always be something just about to happen.

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