Charlottesville Breaking News

Save McIntire? YMCA suit dismissed, but fight continues

As the song goes, it's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A. But apparently it's no picnic building one.

After six years of planning, the Piedmont Family YMCA's plan for a new $15 million, 72,000-square-foot facility in McIntire Park took an important step toward clearing a final hurdle: the dismissal of a pair of lawsuits by a consortium of privately owned fitness clubs against the City and County.

During an April 20 press conference in front of the Downtown Mall's free speech wall, supporters of the joint City/County YMCA project had harsh words for the private club owners.

"Stop the greed," said Lisa Cannell, a parent and YMCA supporter. "We're appealing to the private fitness centers to do what's right for the community and allow this project to move forward." 

YMCA supporters have suggested that the club owners are simply trying to protect their business interests. The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association (ACAC, Gold's Gym, and Total Performance) have, however, argued that the adopted plan would destroy "priceless green space" and claim they were illegally locked out of the bidding process.

Earlier that morning, the lawsuit filed against the City was dismissed by Charlottesville Circuit Court judge Cheryl V. Higgins. The Association's other lawsuit against the County was dismissed last N...

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Dogg/Williams: Two stars in one night thrill downtown

It may have seemed like just a typical spring night in Charlottesville, but Monday, April 25 held the distinction of showcasing the talents of two nationally renowned– yet somehow different– musical performers: Snoop Dog and Lucinda Williams. Although Williams appeared at the Paramount, it turns out that each came to town via Starr Hill Presents, the music promotion firm run by Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw. Tom Daly caught the action with his camera.

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Git 'er blocked: City picks fencing, not fixing, Belmont Bridge

Fire engines, school buses, and even 18-wheel trucks routinely rumble over the east side of the Belmont Bridge. But not pedestrians.

Since November, east side walkers have been temporarily banned, forced by a chain-link fence to traverse four- to five-lane Avon Street if they wish to cross the bridge, the main southern gateway to downtown. And with an April 4 vote, a City Council majority has decided to spend nearly $15,000 building a permanent barrier to block pedestrians. A Hook investigation, however, finds that Council wasn't given information that might have altered the discussion.

Several times, beginning last fall, City planning director Jim Tolbert has appeared before the City Council to say that fixing the closed sidewalk would cost over $300,000. But what about fixing what's already there?

Bob Fenwick, a professional contractor and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran who's making a second run for a seat on Council, contends that patching the sidewalk makes far better sense.

"We don't have money to throw around," says Fenwick. "If that bridge is strong enough for the vibration and load of heavy trucks, then it should be strong enough for a person. Or several people."

A reporter found that City officials have abandoned the idea of patching. Neither of the two proposals the City recently obtained shows any sign of considering repair, only replacement.

For instance, an...

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Sudden death: Beer boss loved football, fishing, philanthropy

According to the Albemarle County Police, at approximately 9:30 on Monday morning, April 18, emergency personnel responded to a report of a shooting on the 1200 block of Hammocks Gap Road. While police decline to name the victim, multiple sources confirm it was Terence Y. "Terry" Sieg, the 69-year-old businessman, philanthropist, and former UVA football star.

While the family is remaining tight-lipped about a cause of death, which they say occurred a day before the discovery, and an autopsy report is pending, Police spokesperson Darrell Byers says foul play is not suspected, lending weight to the idea that Sieg's death was self-inflicted. The silver-haired Sieg was buried on the afternoon of Friday, April 22 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Greenwood.

Born in California and raised mostly in San Diego, Sieg went on to become an all-state football star in New Jersey before accepting a scholarship to play at UVA in 1960.

"I was awestruck," recalls Sieg's first-year roommate, Joe Brown. "Here I get paired with this handsome, urbane, athletic guy who spoke Spanish and had the surfer lingo down from living in California."

Upon graduation in 1964 with a degree in English literature, Sieg was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, but a knee injury reportedly ended his professional football career before he could play a  game. That didn't curtail his passion for sports, says his son, Los Angeles-based filmmaker Derek Sieg, who says his father becam...

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Sober blow? Controversy erupts after student gets breathalyzed

An allegation of drinking some spiked lemonade at Western Albemarle High School led to a 10th grade girl getting pulled out of class and forced to take an on-campus, police-administered breathalyzer test. With the test allegedly finding no trace of alcohol, a Charlottesville-based civil rights organization contends that the school trampled the student's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches.

"That's not a good idea if you want to protect freedom," says John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. "It's a good idea if you want a police state."

According to the Institute, the controversy began on March 10 when two unidentified students told a teacher that the sophomore was drinking alcohol. The teacher allegedly informed Associate Principal Greg Domecq, who observed the girl during lunch but allegedly told her father that she "seemed fine" with no indications of impairment.

What's not in dispute is that Domecq had the teen removed from class and taken to a room where an Albemarle police officer was waiting to administer the breathalyzer.

The Fourth Amendment requires a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. For underage drinking at school, that might include stumbling or slurred words, Whitehead suggests. Without probable cause, all students become suspects, says Whitehead whose organization has recently uncovered a spate of what it sees as zero-tolerance abuses, including...

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