Charlottesville Breaking News

Bypass spins: Low bid cheers some, not others

To the delight of highway supporters, the bids for the controversial Charlottesville Western Bypass have come in below budget– with the apparent low bid of $136 million. However, that was just the first spin on the project from its top backer, Neil Williamson, head of a business group called the Free Enterprise Forum.

If the low bid stands well below the $197 million budgeted last July by Commonwealth Transportation Board, there's a good reason. It doesn't include much of the design and land-acquisition cost.

In fact, the low bid of $136 million is $18 million over what the state budgeted for the actual construction: $118 million. That means, the project– if officials decide to go forward on it– is over-budget before the first shovel hits the ground, at least to opponents of the Bypass like Supervisor Dennis Rooker, Southern Environmental Law, and Piedmont Environmental Council.

"Clearly the bid is substantially over the Commonwealth Transportation Board allocation," says Rooker, who puts the overage at least at $20 million. And he notes that the bid does not include landscaping, nor does it have soundwalls to protect schools and neighborhoods. Nor has VDOT acquired all the rights-of way.

Rooker has an even bigger problem with the "design-build" project, in which the construction companies design the road based on VDOT specs. The highest bid came in at $214 million– $80 million more than the lowest bid. "That seems to me...

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Birth defects: When a 37 percent jump doesn't matter

Children conceived by means of some assisted reproductive technologies run a higher risk of being born with birth defects than do children conceived spontaneously, according to a new study in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

This has provoked some hand-wringing by University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan, who observes that the study showed a "large increase" in the risk of having a child with a birth defect compared to the risk of defects in children made "the old-fashioned way"– a 37 percent increase.

"That is a huge number," Caplan asserts. "The large risk factor now on the table needs to be a key part of how everyone thinks about making babies in medical settings."

The researchers looked at the rate of birth defects reported in 46 studies of children born using regular in vitro fertilization (IVF), i.e. producing embryos by exposing eggs in a lab dish to sperm and then transferring them to a womb, as...

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Hog heaven: Brookville's pork party pleases

On Friday, May 4 Brookville Restaurant became a BBQ joint, complete with pig roast, and we have the pictures and video to prove it.

"We had a lot of great people come up the stairs, and I put my heart and soul into the preparation of the food," says Brookville chef/owner Harrison Keevil of the hog-centric event. "I think that I'll definitely have more pig-related events because I need to practice for a big event."

That would be Cochon 555, the first annual BBQ competition to be held in Memphis over Labor Day weekend, where Keevil will join such renowned chefs as John Currence and Sean Brock. The event will host about 1,000 hungry people on the streets of Memphis.  

"I m honored to have been chosen to cook in this event," says Keevil, "because there are going to be some big-name national chefs competing."

Keevil says he plans to bring a team of local chefs, and to bring back a little BBQ glory.

"I hope to go down to Memphis and cook my heart out and bring some recognition to our great city," he says. "But right now I need to practice cooking pig."

Check out this video of the event from ...

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River law update: Charlottesville angler gets a day in court

Back in January, the Hook profiled local angler Dargan Coggeshall, a Charlottesville business owner and long-time fly-fisherman, who was being sued for fishing in the Jackson River in Alleghany County. Now he's had a day in court.

In 2010, nearby property owners took issue with Coggeshall and his brother-in-law for wading in the river in front of their homes, claiming the riverbed along the The River's Edge development was private property, granted via a long chain of documents including one issued by the King of England in 1743. The property owners had the two waders arrested for trespassing. While an Alleghany District Court judge dismissed the criminal case, the owners and their developer moved forward with a civil lawsuit seeking $10,000 in damages.

Coggeshall, however, would fight back, spending $50,000 of his own money for legal aid and creating the Virginia Rivers Defense Fund, a non-profit to defend himself and other river users against what he views as over-reach by the folks at The River's Edge.

The website...

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Should UVA coaches be sued over Yeardley Love's death?

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