Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Student Dies While Exploring Rooftop

A UVA student’s accidental death appears to be linked to an urban spelunking group at the school, The Daily Progress reports. There’s a long-standing UVA tradition of exploring the steam tunnels below and the rooftops above, a tradition carried on by a group called The Bold and the Ruthless. (The organization has taken down their website, but a copy is still available at an alternate URL.) They specifically promote the roof of the physics building as a great place to climb up to (“[it] has an amazing view, including a nice direct line-of-sight up to Monticello…”). It was from the roof of the physics building where local first-year student Tom Gilliam IV slipped down the shingled roof early Monday morning and fell forty feet to the ground. There is no reason to believe that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and no reason to suspect that he was committing suicide—hence the strong suspicion that he was just up there for the view. UVA police are investigating his death.

Dorrier Won’t Seek Reelection

Scottsville Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier has announced that he will not be seeking a sixth term on the Board of Supervisors, Brandon Shulleeta reports for the Progress. The conservative Democrat has served since 1999 and, before that, was elected in 1975 and again in 1979. His initial time on the board ended when he was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney, a position that he held from 1981–1990. (See Cvillepedia for details on Dorrier.) The 68-year-old says he just wants to do something different. There’s no word on who we can expect to see running for his seat, but I think it’s reasonable to expect some robust competition.

Parkway Shooter Sentenced

Ralph Leon Jackson has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Timothy Davis and attempted murder of Christina Floyd on the Blue Ridge Parkway one year ago, Chase Purdy reports for the Waynesboro News Virginian.

The 57-year-old mechanic drove up to an overlook on the parkway, where he sat for fifteen minutes before firing at the two out of his window with a 20-gauge shotgun. He fired again and threw the 19-year-old Floyd over the cliff. A massive manhunt led to Jackson’s arrest the next day. Jackson briefly attempted a Twinkie defense, claiming that he’d taken penis-enlargement drugs, and they made him do it, but that didn’t last long.

In the end, nobody has the faintest idea of why Jackson did it. He wasn’t found to be mentally ill, was apparently unable to explain his motivation, and apparently couldn’t mount any sort of a defense. The formal sentencing will be held in June.

Gallaway Declares for County School Board

Former teacher Ned Gallaway is running for the at-large seat on the Albemarle County School Board, NBC-29 reports. The seat is currently held by Harley Miles, who was appointed to the seat in September after Brian Wheeler resigned. Gallaway, a Democrat, has children in the school system, and is on the parent council.

As I recall, Miles said that he would not seek election to the seat—just serve out the rest of Wheeler’s term. That makes Gallaway the only candidate for this seat. The election will be held in November.

Two Vacant Manufacturing Plants Get Tenants

There were a pair of stories from Bryan McKenzie in the Daily Progress last week that, hopefully, add up to a larger economic narrative. The area lost a lot of its admittedly small manufacturing base a decade ago, a result of NAFTA and manufacturing’s move to China. (Ix, Comdial, Technicolor, and Nimbus all come to mind readily.) Many hundreds of people were left unemployed, often with very specific sets of skills for which there were no reasonable replacements—a lot of these folks wound up, at best, underemployed. One of those was Comdial, which laid off its final 200 people in 2001. The company that bought the building wanted to turn it into a shopping mall, but that obviously never went anywhere.

Now comes the news that screen printer is moving into the Comdial building, having been looking around for a facility to expand into. is a custom, small-batch screen printer—you can submit a design online, and they’ll print and ship the shirts. They already have 32 employees in Albemarle, and intend to hire enough to get them up to about 100.

The other bit of good news is that the Coca-Cola bottling plant on Preston has a tenant: Indoor Biotechnologies, a local biotech company that specializes in allergens. They’re located on Harris Street now, so it’s a short move to their newly purchased building. Unlike the Comdial building, which sat idle for a decade, the Coke plant has only been out of commission since last year. Folks who have been in the building recently tell me that it’s an unusual building, since it was constructed explicitly for the purpose of bottling soda, receiving shipments of syrup, and sending out shipments of the finished product, meaning that it’s a bit too oddly laid out for most potential tenants. Apparently it’s right for Indoor Biotechnologies.

03/22 Update: The Comdial building is not entirely empty, it turns out—it was divided up. Googling for its address reveals a bunch of tenants: VAMAC, MSV, Roberts Home Medical, TransDigital, and Worrell Water Technologies all show up there. Although I imagine that will be the largest single employer there, they’ll hardly be alone.



You are currently browsing the weblog archives for the month March, 2011.