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Friday, Oct. 27, 2023

It’s official: Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is now a stack of bronze bars awaiting an artist who will use them to create new pieces of art.

There are a lot of good stories circulating about the statue’s melting. Washington Post subscribers can read its coverage, and see a video of the melting, here. The Daily Progress published a story full of pictures, as did NPR.

But for a more intimate look at this project, and what it means to the folks involved, I recommend reading this interview with Jefferson School African American Heritage Center Executive Director Andrea Douglas in Vinegar Hill Magazine. The Heritage Center owns the statue and was responsible for melting it.

“We’re the only people who have done something like this,” Douglas said. “Removing these objects from public space is not the end goal. It’s a way to clear space for us to start thinking differently about American history and our place in it.”

A grassy area in a park surrounded by trees is illuminated by the sun breaking over distant brick buildings.
Dawn breaks over the area of Market Street Park where the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee once stood. Kori Price/Charlottesville Tomorrow Credit: Kori Price/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Now that it’s down, the Heritage Center will begin the process of selecting an artist to repurpose the bronze into something new. The group plans to form a “jury” of local people who will ultimately select an artist, according to the Daily Progress. The Center hopes that the jury will make its decision by 2024.

Credit: Screenshot from the City Council Special Meeting notice for Oct. 25, 2023

The next draft of Charlottesville’s zoning ordinance includes a new type of residential district

In totally unrelated news, Charlottesville’s new zoning ordinance is inching its way to completion. The city’s Planning Commission has recommended that the Council approve the new code. And Council held its first work session to discuss the proposed new law this week.

The city has not yet set a date for a public hearing, which it must hold before it can vote.

We’ll let you know when the public hearing is set!

Credit: Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Albemarle’s School Board stands by superintendent to extend his contract after receiving petition signed by 1,600 people to end it

Meanwhile, in Albemarle County, the School Board extended Superintendent Matt Haas’ contract until 2027. It’s a fairly normal move for a school board to extend its leader’s contract. Though, this particular decision drew some criticism from community members because, not long ago, a petition circulated asking the School Board to let Haas go.

More than 1,600 people signed the petition, which alleged that Haas was to blame for multiple issues in the district. School Board members dismissed the petition and defended and praised Haas’ leadership.

It looks like we’re about to experience a rather lovely fall weekend, everyone. I hope you’re able to enjoy it!

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.