Charlottesville Breaking News

FunStuff: Charlottesville events March 22 and beyond

Book fete
The Virginia Festival of the Book gets underway March 21, but there's still time to catch some bookish talks and readings, especially those off the beaten path. For instance, how has social media affected the literary world? Catch that discussion at Central Library on March 23 at 2pm. Or what about that guilty pleasure you have: reading romance novels. Head over to Barnes & Noble on March 24 at 12pm and 2pm to meet some of the best authors in the biz, including Virginia's own Deanna Raybourn (pictured here). Ever wonder how to pen a thriller? Find out how to keep readers hooked at the Albemarle County Office Building on March 23 at 8pm.
March 21-25, full schedule at





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Rental option: When buyers and sellers change course

A recent article on lists several reasons why renting may be a more attractive option than owning in today’s market. Renters don’t have to come up with a 20% down payment, and they don’t have to worry about additional expenses such homeowner’s association fees or property taxes. And, of course, there's the freedom factor: whereas most mortgages last fifteen, twenty, or thirty years, leases typically run in one-year increments.

With listing prices down and such attractive options available to prospective renters, does it make sense for homeowners to considering renting rather than selling? According to several Charlottesville area agents, the answer depends on the homeowner’s needs and circumstances.

Jonathan Kauffman, principal broker at Nest Realty, fielded enough requests from owners interested in offering their primary residences for rent that he added property manager Sarah Ballard to the Nest team. To help her clients make an informed decision, Ballard prepares a comparative market analysis that provides reasonable expectations of both sales price and rental income so the owner can see how the numbers stack up. If the homeowner chooses to go the rental route, Ballard is available to act as a property manager, saving her clients from having to attend to all the detail...

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Short sale boosts buyer's value



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)



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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Editor's Note
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