Charlottesville Breaking News

Short sale boosts buyer's value

1/19/12

Albemarle

Commodore Real Estate LLC to Mid-Atlantic Pizza Restaurants LLC, 1718 Seminole Trail, $558,660

Christopher B. Hawkins & Melissa A. Deane to Rodney E. Dean, Jr., Trustee of the Rodney E. Deane Jr. Trust, 5426 Hill Top Street, $212,000

Craig Enterprises Inc. to Thomas & Carol Sutton, 5345 Raven Stone Road, $475,000

Harry M. & Margaret H. Ward to David H. & Stacey B. Bruns, 123 Montvue Drive, $335,000

Belvedere Station Land Trust to SH & B LLC, 864 Belvedere Boulevard, $282,000

Wilberger Properties Inc. to Harry M. & Margaret H. Ward, 1574 Pantops Mountain Place, $370,000

Phillip S. & Randy Giaramita to James B. Cloonan & Theresa M. McNamara, 3120 Sandown Park Road, $762,000

Gladys I. Baxter to Bank of New York Mellon, 4470 Mt Alto Road, $139,950 (foreclosure)

1/20/12

Albemarle

Archie & Elaine Miller to Adam T. Gapinski, 2101 Lonicera Way, $319,900

Lenny Hugh & Wendy Sue Bernstein to Christopher R. & Kelly J. Greene, 1974 Heather Glen Road, $285,000...

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Free man: Michael Hash out on bond

Less than a month after a federal judge tossed the capital murder conviction of Michael Wayne Hash, who served a dozen years in prison for a crime it now seems he didn't commit, a judge in Culpeper Circuit Court took less than five minutes to decide Hash should go home.

On March 14, Judge Jay T. Swett ordered Hash released on a $10,000 unsecured bond, paving the way for the now 30-year-old man to spend his first night at home with family since he was a teenager.

Hash was 15 years old when his 74-year-old neighbor Thelma Scroggins was shot four times in the head. It was four years before Hash was arrested, and during that time, Hash's attorneys assert, prosecutors and investigators behaved improperly, and possibly illegally.

Among the alleged actions Roanoke-based federal judge James Turk called "outrageous misconduct" in his February 28 ruling: coaching witnesses, hiding exculpatory materials, and what Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding uncovered: that officials secretly arranged to place Hash in a Charlottesville cell block for one night with a "professional snitch"— then lied about it under oath. Culpeper Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Close resigned March 12 as the allegations against him became public.

Following Thursday's brief hearing, Hash...

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Irish flashback: Sowing the seeds of the Afghan massacre

When I heard the news of the American soldier charged with the slaughter of 16 people in Afghanistan, I instantly flashed back to a ferry trip in the early 1970s from Liverpool to Belfast.

What could the tragedy in Afghanistan have in common with that trip so long ago in a different part of the world? Plenty.

On that ferry was a company of British soldiers headed for duty in Northern Ireland during the three-decade period of violence now called "The Troubles." I have never seen such a depressed group of people, before or since.

Those young soldiers were dreading our arrival in Belfast because they perceived everyone in Northern Ireland to be “hostiles.” It didn’t matter whether the civilians were Nationalists or Loyalists (what the American media portray as “Catholics” vs. “Protestants”). As far as these troops thought, they were all “the enemy.” And indeed, at that time, the soldiers were under guerrilla-style attack from both sides, subject to sniper attacks, and worse. While on the ground in Ireland, they were confined to gated and fortified compounds, except when they were on patrol—and on patrol they were in units of at least 10 or 15 soldiers, dressed in uniform with body armor, and all intensely observing every house, building, vehicle, and person in the area.

On an earlier visit to Belfast, I had learned proper deportment in the presence of British troops. When a...

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Controversial bills: How your legislators voted

The General Assembly adjourned March 10— without a budget, which some might consider the most important reason communities send legislators to Richmond.

Nonetheless, legislators got a lot of bills passed and signed into law, thanks to an overwhelmingly Republican majority in the House of Delegates and the evenly matched state Senate with Republican Lieutenant Bill Bolling as 20-20 tie breaker.

And several of them grabbed national attention. Here's a rundown of some of the more controversial bills, and how local legislators voted.

APPROVED BILLS

Abortion: Informed consent with a transvaginal probe ultrasound (HB462, SB484)
This is one of the two bills that subjected Virginia to national derision on Saturday Night Live— and elsewhere. The original bill required women seeking abortions to pay for an expensive, invasive procedure called a transvaginal ultrasound, wait 24 hours, and have it go on their permanent record. The bill was revised to require an abdominal ultrasound, and signed into law March 7 by Governor Bob McDonnell.

Yeas: Delegates Rob Bell, Matt Fariss, Steve Landes, Senator Bryce Reeves
Nay: Delegate David Toscano, Senator Creigh Deeds

It's okay to discriminate against gays wanting to adopt (HB189, SB3...

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Art of writing: Harbach knocks it out of the park

Literary phenom Chad Harbach credits the Hook for his runaway success with The Art of Fielding, the book that was on everyone's top 10 list for 2011.

Okay, that's not remotely true. What is true is that Harbach was a runner-up in the Hook's 2003 fiction contest with a story called "Kayley's Constellations."

"It was the first thing I ever had published," says Harbach, a UVA creative writing MFA. "One of the judges loved it. One thought it should be disqualified because it was so profane. Second place was a compromise. I got $50."

Since then, Harbach went on to co-found n+1, a well-regarded New York-based literary magazine that's now on a sound enough footing to have three employees, he says. But his major claim to fame these days is as a literary rarity: a first-time author who inspires a major bidding war.

All for a book ostensibly about baseball. The story of the making of The Art of Fielding was documented in Vanity Fair last fall by Harbach's friend and n+1 co-founder, Keith Gessen. It details the nine years it took for Harbach to write the book, the state of publishing, the rejections, and the ultimate race for the rights of a first-time novelist that didn't end until the price hit an u...

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