Charlottesville Breaking News

Mall kiosk surfaces, British Corner invasion, and is the Mall okay?

The journey of the Downtown Mall's iconic kiosk continues. Three years ago, the City had it removed from the Mall with plans to demolish it. But after the Hook wrote about its demise, some folks showed an interest in saving the old structure. So the City put it up for auction. In the end, three bids were submitted, and Keswick resident Richard Hewitt, who said he had always admired the Mall artifact, walked away with it for $2,011.

"I'm happy it found a good home," he told the Hook. Three years later, however, the kiosk needs to move again. As some citizens may have recently noticed, Hewitt has it listed for sale on for $4,000.

"I bought it to rescue it from destruction," says Hewitt, "but we're moving, and there's no room for it."

Built in the early 1990s as a newsstand by SNL Financial founder Reid Nagle, the solid wood-and-copper structure, designed and constructed by Gaston & Wyatt, features electrical hook-ups, heat, and a working clock. It reportedly cost nearly $20,000 to build, but Nagle ended up donating it to the city. The kiosk has also seen service as a gift shop, a brochure spot, and a flower shop, and was proposed as a site for a bar and eatery before it was removed from the Mall.

Asked about the price...

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Quake casualty? Council candidate claims knock-out blow

James Halfaday was unlucky in his run for City Council, and his bad luck seems to have continued, apparently making him the only person injured in Charlottesville in the August 23 earthquake.

According to a post on Facebook, Halfaday allegedly suffered a concussion after his sunroom ceiling fell on him, knocking him unconscious. Halfaday writes that after regaining conciousness and staggering out from under the ceiling debris, he found his chihuahuas hiding in a corner. He posted a photograph of his damaged sunroom ceiling– and of himself wearing a neck brace.

Halfaday did not immediately respond to a request to tell his harrowing story to the Hook.

Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner says he is unaware of anyone being injured in the 5.8 earthquake in the city, nor was he aware of any emergency calls for citizens trapped in collapsed or damaged buildings.

Meanwhile, since the August 20 City Council primary, where Halfaday finished seventh out of seven candidates, Halfaday alleges fear for his life on another matter, according to an NBC29 report.

An openly gay candidate, Halfaday claims a volun...

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Peer review: Serial peeper goes to grand jury

The young woman was lying in her bed talking on her cellphone when she noticed a head outside her basement window. The head seemed to be sideways on the ground, looking in through a small opening at the bottom of the blinds. When she ran outside, no one was there.

On another occasion, the fourth-year UVA biology major testified during a September 1 preliminary hearing in Charlotteville General District Court, she saw a figure down on all fours outside the window of her John Street bedroom.

Her testimony and the fingerprints lifted from an air conditioning compressor outside her window on July 7 were enough to send James Gilbert Stearn, 49, the man whose frequent voyeuristic activities resulted in a law that made third-time peeping a felony, to the grand jury.

Stearn's peeping arrests date back to the 1990s, and UVA coeds have been a favorite target. He's racked up at least a dozen peeping charges, as well as indecent exposure and trespassing arrests.

In 2002, at the request of a local prosecutor and police officer who had been unable to deter Stearn with Class 1 misdemeanor convictions, Delegate Rob Bell carried a bill that made a third peeping charge a felony and requires registration as a sexual offender.

Stearn had already served 2 1/2 years in prison when he was arrested July 27, and he's been held without bond. If convicted again of the...

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'You're sued!' Bank of America files against The Donald

The colorful efforts of Donald Trump to buy Patricia Kluge's former home have pushed Bank of America so hard that the bank has apparently gotten fed up and filed suit against the New York-based powerbroker. The case revolves around Albemarle House– a storied mansion of over 23,000 square feet that Kluge once offered for sale for $100 million but ultimately lost earlier this year at a foreclosure auction.

Trump, who has snapped up the surrounding properties and peppered them with no-trespassing signs in a brazen effort to scare off competing bidders, has lambasted the bank's effort to sell the house to anyone but Trump himself.

"Maybe someone is stupid enough to buy the house," Trump recently told the Wall Street Journal. "I wish them luck."

Bank of America, which had lent Kluge nearly $23 million against Albemarle House, transferred the property to a subsidiary called Quality Properties, and the 98-acre estate is jointly listed by the Richmond office of CB Richard Ellis and Charlottesville-based estate broker Jim Bonner for $16 million.

The sticking point is that Trump owns Albemarle House's front yard, and he maintains that even if the bank finds a buyer, he retains the option of matching the price and buying the mansion, which...

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Not political? Boyd names bypass terminus committee

Sometimes it seems there's nothing local governments love better than to set up citizen task forces. That's why it was so out of the ordinary to hear a rash of criticism when Rivanna District Supe Ken Boyd called a press conference to announce an advisory group for the soon-out-for-bid-yet-undesigned Western 29 bypass northern terminus.

"Today’s announcement by Ken Boyd is another bypass on public input," says Cynthia Neff, who is challenging Boyd for the Rivanna seat. "It is just the latest bad decision for the residents of Albemarle County since the late-night vote to approve the bypass on June 8."

Board Chairwoman Ann Mallek questioned the use of the county's spokeswoman to set up the news conference.

And fellow Supervisor Dennis Rooker challenged Boyd's standing to set up a committee on a project like the bypass, and says that should be done by the entire board. Two weeks later, Rooker named his own committee to represent the Jack Jouett District in planning the road.

Boyd says the committee came out of a town hall meeting with constituents in Forest Lakes, who are concerned because when the original bypass was designed 20 years ago, Forest Lakes South wasn't there.

The dozen members of the task force include former Rivanna supervisor Charles Martin, former School Board member Sue Friedman, and residents of Forest Lakes and Hollymead.


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