HookCast for May 31, 2007

Bikes in Charlottesville, Panic over real estate, Say hello to the Tough Customer

ON THIS WEEK’S COVER:
I want to ride my bicycle
They may be in the minority, but local bike commuters seem to be more dedicated than many fans of other exercise. Neither snow, nor rain, nor dangerous traffic deters them from their morning rides. But our lack of non-car routes might. What's it going to take for two-wheelers and four-wheelers to coexist? Randy Salzman has the story.

ALSO IN THIS WEEK'S ISSUE
Waiting time: Housing inventory up; sales down
"Under Assessment!" "Bargain in the city!" "Best deal out there!" Welcome to the new reality of moving real estate in Charlottesville; ads like these are proof it's a new world out there. In one recent instance, desperate sellers, trying to unload a Belmont property they purchased two years ago, are asking only slightly more than they paid– and sweetening the pot with the offer of a week-long Hawaiian vacation. Is it panic time for sellers, or are fears of a housing collapse misplaced?

Those ATVs: Farmers' friends or deadly menace?
They're solid, they're mature, and they grow our food. Yet farmers who zip about on ATVs are rolling the vehicles pretty regularly, and sometimes those flips become fatalities. All-terrain vehicles periodically come under fire as unsafe, with many people calling for government regulation. Should the off-road vehicles be banned from the farm?

The debut of the Tough Customer
Fans of consumer dust-ups can now rejoice. Although Barbara "The Fearless Consumer" Nordin has left the building, Alan Zimmerman has just arrived. For five years, the Hook has had the privilege of being Virginia's only newspaper with a column devoted to consumer controversies. And now the torch has been passed. While Nordin pursues other writing projects, including her recently completed two-part series on the 1996 murders of women that rocked Central Virginia, Alan Zimmerman steps in as The Tough Customer. This week, a fight over a new floor that ended amicably and taught a valuable lesson.

Plus:
* Acoustic Groove Trio gets some Facetime
* How to build a backyard firepit for summertime grilling
AND
* The full rundown on all the art exhibits at First Fridays

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