Charlottesville Breaking News

Worrell's world: ex-DP boss re-envisions newsbiz

snap-newspaperboxes-1"Small, local papers have a chance," says former Daily Progress owner Tom Worrell, "but you have to be credible, you have to develop a reputation with the community over time, and constantly deliver on that."
FILE PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR

Given the dismal state of the newspaper business, former Daily Progress owner Thomas A. Worrell Jr., who in 1995 sold the DP and 28 other publications to Media General Inc. for $230 million, appears to have been somewhat prescient. Although Worrell might have made more if he'd held on for another 10 years, if he'd held on for another 15, he might have been left with nothing to sell.

Today, Media General Inc., which owns 24 dailies, including the Tampa Tribune and Richmond Times-Dispatch, as well as 19 network-affiliated TV stations–- not to mention printing plants, real estate, and internet subsidiaries–- is now valued at just $70 million, less than a...

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Wasted revenue? Authority realized in 2005 station didn't track origins

news-alliedstationUntold millions in revenue may have been lost here, at Allied Waste's transfer station at Zion Crossroads, between 1998 and 2005. PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

As reported in a recent cover story ["What a Waste: Is the trash Authority going obsolete?"], there's a waste war raging with distrust, lawsuits, and even spying.

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority is suing Peter Van der Linde, who recently opened a major recycling facility in Zion Crossroads (right next to the RSWA-sponsored facility), to retrieve millions in fees the outspoken hauler allegedly avoided paying by lying about the origins of his trash. However, Authority documents recently obtained by the Hook show that the Authority may have been fleeced by its own partner in trash.

In 2005, seven years after the RSWA inked a...

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Train pain: Bus boss says Amtrak could doom Starlight

Kuttner and David New created the Starlight Express. FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

One of the founders of the Starlight Express linking Charlottesville to New York says his popular bus service might be doomed by a planned daily Amtrak train that the governor would like to subsidize.

"If the Amtrak really gets successful, we'll almost certainly close our doors," says Oliver Kuttner. "We're marginally profitable now," Kuttner adds, "so if we lose 20 percent of our customers, it probably won't make sense to continue."

Launched in October 2004 with a single refurbished Trailways motorcoach as a weekend-only round-trip, the Starlight Express has grown to a fleet of five vehicles with a daily schedule (even showing how many seats are available) as well as additional stops in Lynchburg and Warrenton.

...

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Unlettered capitalism: Circuit City has yanked its signs

Eager shoppers swarmed the store in the final days. FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

The Circuit City location in the Albemarle Square shopping center has closed, and, according to a witness, the giant letters were removed by crane-carried workers on Tuesday, December 30.

Part of a company-wide shedding of stores announced November 3, the closing of the Charlottesville store and 154 others didn't stop the electronics retailer from declaring bankruptcy a week later. Its stock was trading at 13 cents a share at post time.

Back in the late 1980s, when the Richmond-based company embarked on a national expansion, its branding strategy included making the store entrance look like a giant red electrical plug. However, by the ti...

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Madoff arrest: Finally makes Dowdell's ponzi 'small potatoes'

this is a jailhouse photo of formerly high-living financier Terry DowdellThe once dapperly pin-striped Dowdell now wears a striped suit of a different sort. FILE PHOTO BY ALBEMARLE-CHARLOTTESVILLE REGIONAL JAIL

Five years ago, when pleading for lenient sentencing, the lawyer for convicted Charlottesville-based ponzi schemer Terry Dowdell downplayed Dowdell's tens of millions in thefts as "small potatoes." Now, the arrest of New York financier Bernie Madoff appears to have finally taken a step toward moving that spud-based contention toward reality.

Back when Dowdell was forced to give up his million-dollar residence in the tony Ivy-area Rosemont subdivision, his ponzi was considered one of the largest in history. But what Madoff is ...

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