Charlottesville Breaking News

Oh, Snap! Halfaday gym ownership claim refuted

Back in the spring, after James Halfaday announced a run for City Council, he met with a reporter at Snap Fitness and acted like he owned the place, and, actually, claimed he did. Halfaday's alleged co-ownership of the 24-hour gym on Zan Road went unchallenged from April until September.

Photos of the gym appear on his election website, and local media, including the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and the Hook, reported it; and he's listed in Cvillepedia as the co-owner of the fitness center. It was only after a story in the September 8 issue of the Hook "Quake casualty? Council candidate claims knock-out blow"– that an email from attorney Brad Young showed up in a Hook reporter's inbox on behalf of Mike and Nancy Hamdani, owners of The Long Run Inc.

"Mr. and Mrs. Hamdani are the sole owners of Long Run, which in turn is the sole owner of the Snap Fitnes...

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Buffetted: Weschler to invest for Warren's shareholders

An owner of the Hook is Omaha-bound. And this isn't a baseball story.

Ted Weschler, 50, until now a quiet giant in the hedge fund world, has been hired as part of a new generation of talent to run key investments for Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the publicly-traded company best known as the brainchild of legendarily-savvy investor Warren Buffett.

Earlier this year, when discussing the first little-known member of the two- or three-member investment team that will eventually replace him, octogenarian Buffett noted that the goal was finding "a 2-year-old Secretariat, not a 10-year-old Seabiscuit."

This reporter has long known that Weschler is a Buffett fan but had no idea about the hiring– or about the $5 million worth of meetings that led to it. The series of curious events are detailed in a story in Fortune.

"It's an incredible accomplishment," says Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel. "I would liken it to a good college quarterback all of a sudden being picked by the Superbowl team."

In Charlottesville, where Weschler will continue to live part time, according to Fortune, Weschler has created a highly successful fund called Peninsula Capital by taking large positions in a select few firms and occasionally getting involved in corporate affai...

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Street cred: West Main relaxes

West Main– from the infamous cop-hits-wheelchair man intersection to the one just before the once-controversial dusty Amtrak parking lot– was the site of the second annual Midtown Street Fair Saturday, September 10. There were thumb-wrestling contests sponsored by the ladies of CLAW (Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers), face painting, fake mustaches, a strong-man swing-the-hammer-ring-the-bell challenge, karaoke, live music, funny bicycles, a BBQ cook-off (Orzo won), and kids and families and local hipsters everywhere.

According to organizers, the 35 vendors on hand welcomed close to 4,000 people during the day long event, raising awareness of 'Midtown' as a restaurant and retail destination, and money for such charities as the FOCUS Flea Market, the Music Resource Center, and the Jefferson School rehabilitation project.

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W'boro spectacle: After sparks, Cline memorial sparkles

The installation of a dramatic memorial to 9/11 caused a spectacle of its own Friday afternoon after a support cable touched a live power line, sending up sparks and plunging several businesses in downtown Waynesboro into darkness.

"We're all a little bit shaken up," said Mark Cline, the Natural Bridge-based showman who planned the memorial. "We're just lucky that no one was touching the cable."

According to witnesses, the incident occurred around 1:45pm as a team was hoisting four soft plastic panels to cover one face of a former cold storage building. The idea was to create a representation of the twin towers of the World Trade Center with patriotic images of a flag and eagle in the background.

While power was restored in about an hour to the nearby Kroger grocery and other businesses along Arch Avenue, the fate of the memorial was uncertain at the original time of this posting. Cline, aka "Professor Cline," has been working on the project for a recently-assembled group called 9/11 Tribute.

The incident created a harrowing moment for Scott Balsley. A childhood friend of Cline's, he took a day off work– his birthday– to help raise the tribute. He and Cline were harnessed and hauling up panels at the roof's edge when wind caught a panel "like a parasail," says Balsley.

He says he saw the flash of electricity churning through one of the...

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Ravens Roost: Rock-climbing death deemed accidental

What may be Virginia's most beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway overlook was also the scene of one of its most tragic accidents, the June 15 rock-climbing death of Alabama resident Jonathan "Sully" Sullivan. The 20-year-old's fatal fall, under investigation for nearly three months, has finally been ruled accidental, according to the Park Ranger leading the investigation.

"We do not believe there was any intentional cause of death," says Chief Ranger Steve Stinnett, who oversees the Parkway for the National Park Service. "A mistake was made in the way the equipment was configured."

Perhaps that's not too surprising that foul play was a prime consideration, given the recent spate of homicides along the Parkway.

Barely a mile up the road on a glorious spring evening last year, Christina Floyd and Tim Davis were enjoying the sunset at Rock Point Overlook when Ralph Leon Jackson blasted them with a shotgun, sending Davis over the edge. The 27-year-old WNRN DJ died in the hospital a few days later.

A mile from there, In that same south-of-Humpback Rocks area, ...

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