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February, 2013

  1. Norfolk trial begins for Somalis who fired on Navy ship

    February 27, 2013 by Christy

    Armed with AK-47s, a group of Somali men in a small skiff opened fire in 2010 on a 609-foot Navy ship off the coast of Africa.

    Prosecutors argue the men were pirates who mistook the amphibious dock landing ship for a commercial vessel.

    Defense attorneys, however, claim they were merely lost at sea and trying to get the ship’s attention.

    A jury trial for five of the

    men started Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

    In opening statements Wednesday, prosecutors said the men set out to hijack a ship in the Gulf of Aden and hold its crew for ransom. Under cover of night, they snuck up behind the Ashland thinking it was a commercial vessel, said attorney Benjamin Lucas Hatch.

    Before dawn, one of the men pulled out a gun and started firing. “They didn’t mean to attack the U.S. Navy, but that is exactly what they did,” Hatch said.

    Defense attorneys acknowledged one of the men on the boat fired a gun but argued they were only trying to get the sailors’ attention. Robert Rigney, one of the Somalis’ court-appointed attorneys, said the men were on their way back from smuggling a group of 80 refugees to Yemen when their ship became disabled.

    “It’s not unusual to fire a weapon to signal someone,” Rigney said. It would make no sense for pirates to attack a Navy ship. “These guys in a little skiff are going to take over the USS Ashland?” asked Rigney. “I’m not sure the National Enquirer magazine would buy this script.”

    If convicted of the piracy charges, the men face mandatory life sentences.

    Read the full article here.

  2. Talks heat up on downtown Norfolk conference center

    February 4, 2013 by Christy

    A Waterside Live deal that has seemed all but complete for months may now happen in tandem with a hotel-conference center project developed by Bruce Thompson of

    that have been demolished. Currently, this is the site of an urban park called The Plot.

    City officials see a symbiotic relationship between Waterside Live and the hotel-conference center. Several on the council said they expected both deals to be wrapped up by the spring.

    “Waterside will not survive without the conference center, and the conference center will not survive without Waterside,” Councilman Andy Protogyrou said. “It”s a relationship that allows them to feed off each other.”

    The letter of intent for Waterside created a framework for a 50-year lease agreement with Cordish, which says it can turn Waterside into a regional entertainment destination and create 1,000 jobs for Norfolk.

    Under the proposed agreement, Cordish would recoup up to 80 percent of its $28 million investment over 15 years by sharing tax revenue with the city.

    Jones said in November that the final agreement could be signed by the end of the year. This week, Jones said through a spokeswoman that “there is not a deadline to complete the Cordish agreement. We will announce once the agreement is finalized on both sides.”

    Read the full article here.

  3. Spending money on Norfolk’s future

    by Christy

    It makes sense for Norfolk to buy blighted properties to tear them down, especially in Denby Park and Ocean View.

    One decrepit shopping center at Wards Corner, just blocks from Denby Park, has been razed to make way for a more upscale shopping plaza, with a private investment of $18 million. Across the street, $1.2 million in renovations at the Midtown Shopping Center have given it a much-needed face lift.

    By acquiring dated and ramshackle apartments that front blocks on East Little Creek Road and Fort Worth Avenue, Norfolk improves its chances for continuing the changes at Wards Corner and boosting growth along the corridor between Granby Street and the thriving Wal-Mart shopping center at Tidewater Drive.

    With the acquisition of 37 apartments on seven properties, Norfolk has boosted the number it has acquired for demolition in Denby Park to 105.

    Councilman Andy Protogyrou said changes in the neighborhood will take time. But he promised the city would not buy properties merely to sit on them.

    “We’re looking to be able clean out the property from ills we’ve had in the past, from poor planning, from buildings that unfortunately fostered a sense of insecurity for residents,” he said. “We’re following what the plan is. It is a strong, viable community. But it’s also going to be a strong, viable commercial corridor.”

    It will be again, finally, with the city’s commitment.

    It’s an example of city purchases that benefit residents in several ways: removing blight, lowering crime, and improving the development viability of adjacent areas.

    The purchases are smart investments in the future of two of Norfolk’s most vital neighborhoods.

    Read the full article here.

  4. Traffic Court DUI Trials

    February 1, 2013 by Christy

    This past week Andrew preliminary breath test nor intoxilizer reading, the Court found there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt and dismissed the case.

    All case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. These prior case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.