Charlottesville Breaking News

The week in review

Best news for preservationists: The keeper of the National Register of Historic Places determines that the Jesse Scott Sammons family house and cemetery is eligible for inclusion in the registry, Sean Tubbs reports in Charlottesville Tomorrow. Sammons was a prominent African-American educator in the Hydraulic Mills area in the post-Civil War era; the property lies in the path of the Western U.S. 29 bypass.

Best get for Charlottesville schools: The Boyd C. Tinsley Fund donates $75,000 to help needy students play musical instruments and tennis, and for individual tutoring. The DMB violinist is a 1982 grad of CHS' orchestra program.

Hastiest retreat: Albemarle school division's ill-advised plan to "rebrand" Walton Middle School  has been dropped, although two companies submitted bids for marketing strategies. J. Reynolds Hutchins has the story in the Progress.

Worst people to try to mug: Johnny Calderon, 19, and Gerald William Allen, 18, appear beaten to a pulp after allegedly attempting to rob two men on Fontaine Avenue August 27. They're detained by the would-be victims until police arrive.

Worst deja-vu: Michael Lee Saylor, 58, is arrested for aggravated sexual battery of a child under 13, NBC29...

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The 67-cent felony: A veteran winemaker runs afoul of the ABC

Long before vineyards became agriculture du jour in Virginia, Mike Bowles planted grapevines in 1977,  and he claims he's Albemarle's first farm winery operator. Thirty years later, he wanted to be a pioneer again and hop on the craft-distillery trend to make the Italian spirit grappa from his chardonnay grape leftovers. Instead, he's earned a more dubious distinction as possibly the first person to get busted while applying for a federal distillery license. Under Virginia's Alcoholic Beverage Control regs, that could cost him his license to make wine at all.

Bowles insists he was trying to comply with the hefty volume of federal and state regulations that date from the end of Prohibition, and says he had no idea the eight-ounce sample bottle sitting on his desk when ABC agents came in would lead to a felony charge that could jeopardize his mom-and-pop business.

Moonshiners, he points out, already know how to distill liquor, but the veteran winemaker did not. Bowles wanted to make sure he could do it before investing in a trend noted even in the spring issue of the ABC's Licensee newsletter, which featured "Craft distilleries on the rise." And the federal application required that he provide a step-by-step process.

His son, who was going to be in charge of making grappa for the winery, ordered a still off the Internet, and the sample he made and gave Bowles put the ex-Marine officer in trouble with the law for the first time in h...

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Last day: Mike Farruggio turns in his cuffs

If a guy has been a cop for 25 years in Charlottesville, yeah, there are going to be some stories.

"We had some prior information that UVA students were going to be streaking," reveals Captain Gary Pleasants. "I told everyone not to go to UVA. The next day I see on the cover of the Cavalier Daily Mike Farruggio and another officer, standing there with a naked guy in the picture."

It's Farruggio's last day with the Charlottesville Police Department, and Pleasants relates the story while eating a piece of raspberry drip cake as colleagues file in to say farewell.

Sergeant Bobby Haney, who succeeds Farruggio in staff development and accreditation, recalls SWAT training. "We hadn't rappelled in a couple of years," he says, standing in Farruggio's old/Haney's new office. "Mike says he'll go first. He gets out on a 40-foot fire tower, sits back in his gear, flips back, and he's hanging upside down."

Brooklyn-born Farruggio remembers the culture shock moving down to Charlottesville after working two years for NYPD, including a stint in New York's notorious 77th precinct, where a colleague left the windows open in his squad car, and returned to find the car on fire.

On the mean streets of Charlottesville, Farruggio started as a beat cop on August 29, 1988, and worked night shift for six years. He spent six years in narcotics. He made detective. He met the woman who's now been his wife of 16 years, Jan, who's still a dispatcher. And he...

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UVA expat: How Nobel winner Coase got pushed from Charlottesville

Credited with launching the field of Law and Economics, Ronald H. Coase was one of the world's most acclaimed living economists. That is until Monday, September 2, when he died at the age of 102.

"If there's such a thing as the founding fathers of Law and Economics, he is up there," says University of Virginia law professor George Cohen. "He got the whole enterprise started."

For the past five decades, Coase's ideas have brought accolades to the University of Chicago, acclaim that, ironically, could have gone to UVA, where Coase was teaching when he published his most famous treatise— except that UVA let him leave due to what appears to have been a misunderstanding.

His seminal paper, "The Problem of Social Cost," was published in 1960 when the British-born Coase was living in Charlottesville and teaching economics at what UVA then called its Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy.

"He introduced this whole notion," says Cohen, "that people through private negotiation can reach an efficient solution."

What Coase and his colleagues were challenging, Cohen says, was the widespread belief that the only way to protect scarce resources— such as air, water, or habitat— was via taxation. Unfortunately, as Coase and Center co-founder James M. Buchanan would learn, using markets to achi...

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Thank heaven: No injuries after SUV plows into 7-Eleven

An early morning stop to buy a sweet treat for her three-year-old turned into a terrifying experience for county resident Ande Schneider, who was standing by the Slurpee machine at the 7-Eleven on U.S. 29 North near Proffit Road when an SUV plowed into the store just after 9am on Tuesday, September 3.

"I thought it was an explosion," says Schneider. "He knocked over three or four aisles, demolished them. There were two-liter sodas flying everywhere."

According to Albemarle County Police spokesperson Carter Johnson, the driver, 63-year-old Kerry Nixon, has been charged with reckless driving following the incident, which is still under investigation. No one was injured.

The 7-Eleven is closed, says Johnson, and a man answering the phone at the store hung up on a reporter.

Interviewed an hour after the incident, Schneider says she is still shaking, especially when she recalls she'd given her son a choice of sweet treats: Slurpee or candy.

"If we had been in the candy aisle, Soren would have been dead," she says. "Thank God we didn't go down that aisle."

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