Charlottesville Breaking News

River law: Local angler fights for river access

Several years ago, when a local angler waded into a waterway in Alleghany County, he also waded into a legal battle over property rights and public access to Virginia's rivers that has cost him $50,000 in legal fees, and counting.

Along a 14-mile stretch of the Jackson River just beneath the Gathright Dam, the cold, pure waters from the depths of Lake Moomaw, created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam in the late 1960s, create one of the most ideal trout habitats in the state. Indeed, a few years ago, the Jackson's reputation as an angler's paradise prompted one savvy developer to market a high-end residential golfing community along its banks, "providing privileged access to over 4-miles of private river frontage and year-round fly-fishing."

Dargan Coggeshall, a Charlottesville business owner and long-time fly-fisherman, says he discovered a spot in front of the proposed development more than two years ago. Before selling a single lot, Coggeshall says the developer had scattered No Trespassing signs along the river bank, and had even come down to the river's edge to tell Coggeshall he wasn't allowed to fish in that part of the river because it was privately owned.

Coggeshall scoffed at the idea, as a centuries-old Virginia statute deems the beds of all rivers and streams as public property for the "purposes of fishing, fowling, hunting, and taking and catching oysters and other shellfish.”

One time, Coggeshall...

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Condo aversion: Craig's Barracks West a cautionary tale

A search of the local multiple listing service (MLS) shows 202 condo sales in the greater Charlottesville area in 2011, a 40 percent increase over the previous year that was noted in November in the market snapshot report released by Nest Realty. While these numbers can't match the soaring figures we saw in 2006, the upward trend seems encouraging, although the backers of the condominium conversion at Barracks West might disagree.

As Hook readers may recall, a spate of condo conversions in 2005 helped contribute to record sales figures the following year. Purchases of converted condos at both Hessian Hills and Carriage Hill were brisk, to say the least, and developer Hunter Craig attempted to replicate the success he enjoyed at Hessian Hills near Barracks Road by undertaking another conversion at the nearby Old Salem apartment complex, which he purchased for $31 million via a firm called Cheetah Investment Company.

Since then, Cheetah has sold only 99 of the 364 units. According to county records, many of those sales were made to other investors, a fact borne out by MLS data, which show a total of five active listings in the Barracks West complex, all investor-owned. ...

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Scanner error: NC State checks turn up in Charlottesville

Anson Parker made a New Year's resolution: To let North Carolina State University know that the scanner he bought on eBay contained copies of thousands of checks written to the school in Raleigh.

"It was millions of dollars in checks," says Parker, with bank account numbers and signatures, and some with Social Security and drivers license numbers.

Parker, who works at the Claude Moore Health Sciences library, had purchased the Canon scanner for $500 on eBay to use in his archival work, and he estimates it would have cost around $5,000 new. "It's a neat little scanner," he says.

How hard was it to discover the cache of check copies?

"It was real hard," deadpans Parker. "I had to plug it in, and it said, would you like to look at archived files?"

And when he found checks– one for $500,000– the implications of what he was sitting on alarmed him.

"Holy smokes," says Parker, who contacted the University and the North Carolina Department of Justice and didn't feel like his information was taken very seriously until January 6, when he got a phone call from his mother, who was contacted by investigators.

"I was ballistic," says Parker. "I'm 34 years old, and they call my mother? That was completely insensitive."

"This was taken very seriously," says NC State spokesman Brad Bohlander. "We received an email January...

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FunStuff: Charlottesville events January 19 and beyond

Belt it out
If you think karaoke means following a bouncing ball over computer-screen lyrics as canned musical accompaniment blares, think again. Thanks to the rocking (and very patient) back-up band Retrospective Collective, every Thursday, aspiring professional singers– and those who just enjoy belting it out in the car or the shower– bring their rock-star fantasies to life.
January 19, Fellini's, 10pm, free


Belmont talent
You can't throw a stone in Belmont without hitting an artist (and we certainly don't recommend you try...) but if you want a sense of just how talent-dense the neighborhood really is, check out this group show at the gallery located at 100 Second St. NW off the Downtown Mall (aka the Hook building), featuring an...

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Life behind bars: Eric Abshire defiant at sentencing

After declaring his love for his late wife and his innocence in her death, a defiant Eric Abshire, convicted in October of killing Justine Swartz Abshire, spoke aloud in court. It was the first time the 37-year-old made a statement since entering his not guilty plea last March.

"Justice for Justine will never happen," said Abshire. Minutes later, Orange County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Bouton confirmed the jury-recommended life sentence for the first-degree murder.

"You demanded trial by jury," said Bouton. "We provided you with the jury."

Although their service ended with the October 25 conviction, at least two jurors attended the January 12 sentencing hearing.

"I was here to make sure the sentence we recommended was upheld," explained juror Michelle Hooper, who says she's had no second thoughts. "We all felt very strongly about it."

Before the sentencing began, Abshire's attorney, Charles "Buddy" Weber, unsuccessfully moved to have the verdict tossed, claiming that the medical evidence hadn't explained how Justine died on November 2-3, 2006, the night Abshire claimed to have found her as the ostensible victim of a hit-and-run on Taylorsville Road near Barboursville.

At trial, prosecution witnesses offered evidence suggesting...

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