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Fluvanna County’s Teacher of the Year Theresa Scruggs surrounded by her students. Photo by Tricia JohnsonTheresa Scruggs has been named Fluvanna County’s Teacher of the Year.
Scruggs, who teaches 6th grade language arts at Fluvanna Middle School, is a graduate of Longwood College and the University of Virginia, and has worked for the school system for 20 years, including 11 years as a teacher.
One of the reasons that Scruggs was chosen for this honor is her commitment to continuing education. “She always wants to improve her craft,” said Fluvanna Middle School Principal Brad Stang. “She is very involved with the entire language arts department and professional development, and what she learns, she shares,” he added.
Scruggs serves as a member of the leadership team and the Positive Behavior Supports Committee at Fluvanna Middle School. She also has taken on the role of collaborative team member, the only 6th grade language arts general education teacher to work with all collaborative classes along with her special education teaching partner.
Scruggs, who calls the award “very humbling,” is focused on what she can do for her students. “I always want to find better ways to do it,” Scruggs said of her passion for continuing education. “It is not hard to teach the kids who have everything they need, but it is so hard to figure out how to help the kids who need the help the most,” she explained. “I want to do it better for them.”
Teaching reading can be hard, according to Scruggs. “I’m not teaching them knowledge, I am teaching them how to do something that is so nebulous. Readers are thinkers,” she asserted, “and that is what I want for them. I want them to come away from this class with something that can never be taken away from them.”
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Photo courtesy of Steven M. Nichols, county administrator, Fluvanna CountyFour dilapidated properties on St James Street in Columbia may be purchased and razed soon. Funds from a $150,000 FEMA grant, awarded to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), will be added to $40,000 from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $10,000 from Fluvanna County for this purpose.
“These funds will protect vulnerable homes by reducing or even eliminating the effects of repeated flooding,” wrote State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern in a press release from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “We partner with each locality to protect lives and property through these grants.”
All work must be completed by September 15, 2017, according to a notice on the TJPDC website.
Of the four buildings involved, only one is taxed as a structure, indicating that the other three have been assigned no value by tax assessors, according to Fluvanna County Administrator Steve Nichols.
Public records indicate the Richard Harry family currently owns all of the impacted properties.
All four buildings are in a federally designated flood plain. As such, any substantial renovations or new structures added to the properties would have to meet federal flood plain requirements. The cost of meeting those requirements can be prohibitive.
“I’m not positive that the landowner is going to sell, and I am not positive they are going to sell for the price that we can offer - which is fair market value,” said Nichols. “The landowner cannot rebuild those properties without meeting federal flood plain standards which is catastrophically expensive,” he added.
Nichols described the properties as “eyesores, health hazards, and firetraps,” and added that the vacant buildings could prove particularly attractive to children, who might be unaware of the dangers posed by compromised structures, and might be tempted to explore them.
Fluvanna County Sheriff Eric Hess agreed. “They are an attractive nuisance for kids,” said Hess, referring to the four derelict properties. “If I were a property owner, I wouldn’t want the liability,” he said. “It is no different than owning a swimming pool – you can’t just leave a house abandoned where any child can have access to it.”
When asked if he believed that tearing down the four uninhabited buildings and creating green space would have an effect on crime in Columbia, Hess hesitated. “Until some other issues are dealt with in Columbia – it will help but it is not going to fix the problems,” Hess replied. “The problems lie in some of the people who live there - but mostly in the people who come to visit the people who live there. It is the intersection of three counties,” he explained, “and you get a lot of people who don’t want to drive all the way to Charlottesville or they don’t want to drive all the way to Short Pump; there aren’t many places to go for some people, so they go to Columbia to hang out.”
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State Sen. Tom Garrett. Photo courtesy of Tom GarrettState Sen. Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham), 44, newly-chosen Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, shared his vision for the 5th district with the Fluvanna Review.
If elected on Nov. 8, Garrett will work to “increase opportunity and preserve freedom” for residents of the 5th district, which includes Fluvanna County.
“The 5th district is very concerned with jobs and economic opportunity,” said Garrett. “Some of the district is taking it on the chin – they lost textile, furniture, and tobacco industry – those were really the job creators. If we can roll back some of the oppressive regulatory burden coming out of Washington we can re-establish jobs in the area. And that has to be on the radar of anyone running in the 5th district.”
Garrett said he sees “harsh” regulations as largely responsible for stifling industry in the area. “We now have an Environmental Protection Agency that’s trying to regulate navigable waterways that are as small as an intermittent stream or a puddle,” he said. “That’s got small property owners unable to develop their land. We’ve got an endangered species act that puts the wellbeing of insects and mice ahead of the wellbeing of working families. We have an emissions regulatory scheme that’s destroyed the coal industry and has forced us to be dependent on hostile powers abroad, when we could be producing energy right here in the U.S.”
One of Garrett’s ideas for creating jobs is to construct a bypass for Rt. 29 in Charlottesville. “Right now every time you buy up or down Rt. 29 it costs more money because trucks have to sit at a dozen-plus stoplights to stop by Target and Walmart,” he said.
A bypass would pass savings on to the consumers, Garrett said. “Not only is it time, it’s fuel,” he said. “Stoplights cost money, and that money comes from the consumer. There’s a bypass for Danville, for Lynchburg – why is Charlottesville different? The answer is it’s not, and it needs to be done. There’s been federal interference with that ever since President Obama’s been in the White House, and if I’m elected that’s something I’d work toward.”
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Jane Dittmar. Photo courtesy of Jane DittmarJane Dittmar, 60, Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives, sat down with the Fluvanna Review to discuss her goals for the 5th district.
If elected on Nov. 8, Dittmar hopes to bring job creation, workforce training, and internet access to the people in her district, which includes Fluvanna County.
“We need to make sure that our workforce training programs are centered around certifications and credentials that employers need now,” Dittmar said. “We have 70,000 jobs in Virginia that are unmet right now because we don’t have people trained for them.”
But training isn’t sufficient without infrastructure, said Dittmar. “And the missing infrastructure is the internet,” she said. “We need to get internet to small businesses and homes. Without that we can’t expect our small businesses to grow – and there’s no way we can go hunting and attracting more employers.”
Dittmar’s experience on the governor’s Broadband Advisory Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has given her good insight into this issue, she said. “There are several federal agencies that supply very good grants to communities,” she said. “We need to get those grants.”
But above all, Dittmar wants to work in tandem with local government to make sure that communities receive the kind of support they need. “If they want wireless, then that’s cell towers. If we need to lay fiber, then that means land use decisions,” she said. “We need to team up.”
Internet access has become mandatory, Dittmar said. “The information highway is critical infrastructure,” she said. “It is as critical now as electricity was to deploy in the early 1900s.”
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Lake Monticello golf course new ninth hole and new cart barn.  Photo by Duncan NixonOn the weekend of May 21 and 22 top amateur golfers from the Central Virginia area will return to the Lake Monticello golf course for the 40th Faulconer Invitational Golf Tournament. Mark Marshall, the PGA golf professional at the Lake Monticello course, said that he anticipates approximately 80 golfers will participate this year. Included in the competitors will be last year’s open division champion Phil Mahone, who plays out of the Farmington Country Club.
The Faulconer tournament in recent years has featured an open men’s division, a senior men’s division and a super senior men’s division. Players must be 50 or over to play in the seniors’ division and 65 or over to play in the super senior division. Players over 50 may elect to play in the open division and compete for the prestigious open division title. The Faulconer tournament is again a component of the Battle trophy competition which is a year-long competition for top amateurs in the Central Virginia area. This trophy competition is sponsored by the Daily Progress and it includes a series of tournaments held throughout the year at the top golf venues in the area. Marshall advises that the Faulconer is also included this year in the Virginia State Golf Association player rankings.
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