11 December 2013

This blog is now defunct, please see www.chasepurdy.com...

posted by Chase at 12:41 AM | 0 comments
10 December 2013
It’s an Old World model embedded into a 21st-century criminal justice system, one that critics have complained threatens basic liberties.

The Roanoke Times

She leafed through the contents of a manila folder from the driver’s seat of her truck, which idled in the parking lot of a squat motel on a lonely autumn night. The whiff of bygone cigarettes clung to the interior air. A trail of exhaust drifted languidly against red taillights and off into the clear night.

Teresa St. Clair-Lavender paused to examine a photo. Donald P. Ward, a ruddy man with cropped hair, stared back at her. He was a fugitive wanted in Tennessee for a handful of minor crimes, but St. Clair-Lavender didn’t know this when her company agreed to bond him out of Roanoke City Jail for $1,000. Neither did city authorities. Word traveled fast, though, and so did she.

This is a typical day for St. Clair-Lavender. This is how she earns a living.

She and the 15 or so bail bondsmen across the Roanoke Valley keep tabs on hundreds of people who paid bond for release from jail. The majority will show up for their court dates, as promised. Some, though, will run and hide. Sometimes in broad daylight. Sometimes in attics. And sometimes, if they’re really desperate, between water bed mattresses or packed into layers of pink housing insulation. It is a game of cat and mouse that stretches back through centuries.

Read the rest of the story in The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 9:59 AM | 0 comments
09 December 2013
New federal regulations are forcing Virginia communities to manage storm water runoff in urban areas, a costly assignment and a creative challenge for municipalities.

The Roanoke Times

The rain will continue to fall from the clouds, but starting in July, depending on where it lands, those tiny drops will also start adding up in dollars.

Communities across Virginia are bracing for a change in federal regulations this summer that will ask local governments to manage the rainwater that lands on urban landscapes.

The latest set of standards is set to take effect in July, signaling to municipal engineering offices that it is time to physically expand their effort to control the quantity and quality of runoff entering regional waterways. The methods for achieving that goal can be as creative as they are expensive, and the path to compliance won’t be straightforward, experts and engineers say. 

Read the rest of the story in The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 9:59 AM | 0 comments
07 May 2013
The New York Times

SARAH ANN, W.Va. — Standing on the back of an Appalachian hillside, Reo Hatfield fixed his gaze over the land of his infamous forebears, a scowl etched across his face. 

Before him, the graves in the Hatfield Family Cemetery had surrendered to years of gravity and weather, slender headstones slumped and overgrown, the inscriptions of some erased by time.

The graveyard, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has become a focal point for Mr. Hatfield, 63, a Virginia businessman seeking to restore and preserve the cemetery in hopes of luring tourists eager to learn about the Hatfield-McCoy feud. It is a burial spot for members of both families — some of whom died in the 19th-century interfamily war over land and family honor. 

Read the rest of the story at The New York Times.

posted by Chase at 2:40 PM | 0 comments
16 February 2013
The Roanoke Times

The first sign of trouble was scrawled in black marker across the office microwave, a boxy old thing with the number of the beast inscribed on its door.


At a nearby reception desk, Natalie Yager spoke with an insurance agent by telephone Thursday.

"Yes. Uh-huh. Well, there are male body parts," she said into the receiver. "I believe it was a couple of youth kids."

She paused.

"Uh-huh. It was unnecessary, completely unnecessary. OK, thank you."

In a nearby office, Celebration Church of God Pastor Sam Belisle still was making sense of why his church had been the target of overnight vandalism. But there it all was, regardless. The hallways strewn with debris ripped from church classrooms' walls, picture frames shattered, angry (and often misspelled) messages covering the walls.

Read the rest of the story at The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 6:26 PM | 0 comments
06 February 2013
The Salem man was found unconscious Saturday and died Wednesday.

The Roanoke Times

Kevin Chambers lived beats, rhymes and rhythms. He taught them, shared them, passed them to his children.

He made a name for himself locally in the 1990s, that young man with an ear for well-versed raps and a solid reputation for making cool mixed tapes. And when he started a family, he incorporated that love into the everyday, friends said.

The music came to an abrupt pause this week, when friends and family soaked in the reality of his sudden passing.

Chambers was pronounced dead at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Wednesday afternoon, friends and a relative confirmed. He was 41.

Read the story at The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 8:52 AM | 0 comments
16 January 2013
Carol Gilbert and Moki train several times a week, sharpening the dog's senses and attention.

The Roanoke Times

Carol Gilbert hurled a canister of human teeth out into the grass.

She turned an expectant gaze to the creature at her feet and leaned forward. Thrusting both arms away from her chest, she yelled an order.

"Go find!"

The bouncy Labrador retriever took off, her nose glued to the ground. After a moment of distraction (even highly trained dogs have sporadic attention spans) Moki found the teeth, turned to Gilbert and sat patiently.

This was a warm-up, one of the first steps in a one-hour training session. Gilbert also has cans of fingernail clippings, human hair and dead skin, all kept in a plastic carry case — a tackle box, of sorts — for the training regimen of a cadaver dog.

Read the rest of the story at The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 8:59 AM | 0 comments
The Roanoke Times

The scraps of news came from deep inside the forest, abrupt updates crackling over a radio at the bottom of a long and dark hiking trail.

It didn't sound good up there.

D.J. Jones' adrenaline started pumping again, and his imagination ran loops.

"It just seemed to sound worse and worse every time they told us something," Jones said. "We didn't know official stuff. We were hearing 40-foot fall, 30-foot-fall. Maybe he had some broken bones. Maybe there was internal bleeding."

That was about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, close to 11 hours after Jones, 21, and four fellow Liberty University students struck out on a morning hike to Devil's Marbleyard in the James River Face Wilderness Area.

Read the rest of the story at The Roanoke Times. 
posted by Chase at 8:50 AM | 0 comments
03 January 2013

Johnny Dick and his dog rolled down a steep hill that ended on another truck and a lawn mower.

The Roanoke Times

It was the poorly hatched plan of an errant squirrel that caused the whole mess. Go figure.

The rodent had darted into the curvy 5900 block of 12 O'Clock Knob Road just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, a move that caught Johnny Dick by surprise. Dick, who said he was driving toward Bent Mountain Road from his home nearby, swerved to miss the creature.

The jerky move sent Dick, his passenger Rabbit (a dog), and his 1978 Ford F-100 careening off the side of the road and over an embankment. The truck tumbled dozens of feet down a steep hill, then crash-landed upside down on top of a lawn mower and a Toyota pickup.

Read the rest of the story at The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 8:53 AM | 0 comments
02 January 2013
At Hamill Christmas Tree Farm, few have held off as long as the Levines.

The Roanoke Times

Christmas tree shopping is not an exact science, especially not this deep into December, when many families have long found and decorated their own.

For some, finding one so late in December might be indicative of a crammed schedule, or perhaps an unforeseen conflict in timing. But for the Levine family, who pulled into the Hamill Christmas Tree Farm parking lot late Saturday morning, the exercise of finding a tree at the tail-end of the season has become a family tradition.

As it happened, they were the first customers of the day.

An exuberant 6-year-old girl, Channa, opened her car door and slid out of the back seat. She grinned and clapped her hands. Behind her, spread across a hill, more than a thousand trees stood waiting in the sunlight. There were Fraser and Canaan firs, white pine, Scotch pine, and sundry spruces. A nippy breeze rushed a quarter of a mile across the farm and into the gravel lot, splashing the senses with that familiar smell. Christmas.

Read the rest of the story at The Roanoke Times.
posted by Chase at 9:49 AM | 0 comments