Dan's a decent man
It's a little strange to read an article [July 14 cover story: "Gas by the glass: North Garden's contaminated water"] when you know the person. I was able to judge the accuracy of the report instead of accepting the written word at face value.
I don't know Ann Messina. What happened to her well is terrible. It appears the culprits are the management of Charlottesville Oil who tried to weasel out of their responsibility for the gas leak, officials in various government agencies who weaseled out of their responsibility to protect people like Ann Messina, and finally the gas station owner.
Ann Messina is angry. I would be too. But Ann can't get back at the oil company (she can't even get them to pay her water treatment bills on time!), and she can't get back at the government. So she manipulates the County to strike out at the one person who doesn't have a thing to do with any of this: Dan McLaughlin.
Dan is one heck of a stand-up guy. While no one is perfect, it isn't hyperbole to say Dan is a man of integrity who is kind and generous to a fault.
Why didn't Ann speak to Dan before she went to the County? Why did the County pass a regulation specifically aimed at stopping Dan from building his rental units without notifying him? How did Ann get the County to act in secret? Would the County have done that to a developer of something like Forest Lakes?
Those are questions I wouldn't have minded reading the answers to.
But the biggest and most disturbing manipulation in the article was forcing Dan to deny an outrageous slander. Maybe your reporter could have had Ann vehemently deny she needs anger management counseling.
Though the article highlighted a serious environmental tragedy in Red Hill, you could have done a better job reporting the issues.