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Old Farm Day – a favorite Fluvanna tradition for 20 years – will hit the county in a brand new way this year.
For the first time, Old Farm Day will take place in the spring, on Saturday (May 7) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pleasant Grove.
After severe weather forced the cancellation of Old Farm Day last October, the event organizers decided to embrace the subsequent rescheduling challenge and put a new spin on a classic festival by holding it in May.
“It’s a whole different feel. People seem to be really excited about it,” said Tricia Johnson, director of the Fluvanna Historical Society.
“We are going to be focusing on the season of planting rather than the season of harvest, so that has given us opportunities to work in different activities for the kids,” Johnson said.
For example, Johnson said, “The kids can help plant an herb garden around the summer kitchen at the Pleasant Grove House – herbs that would have been used during the time when the house was in use.”
Folks seem excited about the change, Johnson said – so much so that Old Farm Day will see its biggest surge yet with 145 vendors and exhibitors signed up.
There will be heritage crafters, with wool spinning, weaving, sewing with an old-fashioned treadle machine, chair caning, blacksmithing, beekeeping, and pottery. Antique farm equipment will be on display, joined by a new exhibit on the 18 canneries that used to thrive in Fluvanna County and another on Fluvanna’s old schools.
Sprinkled throughout the festival will be pockets of live music. A local bluegrass band, Grass & Eclectic, and a local folk singer, Erin Shenandoah, will perform, and the Piedmont Fiddle & Banjo Association will have a tent and “be jamming all day long,” said Johnson. Different churches will have acoustic music in their tents as well. “Everywhere you walk there’s going to be music in the air,” Johnson said.
Joining the 4H animals will be a petting zoo, Clydesdale horses, and a Virginia Wildlife Center exhibit with live owls. The Fluvanna County High School marching band will kick off the event with a parade.
And not only will there be standard festival food – barbecue, fried fish, burgers, and funnel cake – but this year the Little Manila food truck will make an appearance to serve Filipino food.
Admission to Old Farm Day is $5 for adults. Children aged 12 and under are free. Half the proceeds from the event go directly to the Farm Heritage Museum, which is planned for construction at Pleasant Grove. “We’re raising money for the museum and doing really well,” Johnson said. “A successful Old Farm Day would really help fill the coffers and get this museum built.”
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The Fluvanna County School Board voted Wednesday (April 27) to give all Fluvanna school employees at least a one percent pay raise.
Many school employees – those covered under the state’s standards of quality definition – will receive at least a two percent raise as mandated by the General Assembly. Those standards of quality positions – including teachers, school administration, and school support positions – will have their increases funded by the state at a cost of roughly $142,000.
The School Board, however, decided that all of their employees deserved at least some increase – and settled on one percent. The school division will also cover increases in health insurance payments for its employees. All of these increases together were referred to as a two percent average raise.
“I wanted to make sure that our staff received a raise and the two percent average was one that was feasible for us given our local funding appropriation,” explained Chairperson Camilla Washington. “The two percent average allowed us to hold staff harmless from health insurance premium increases as well as set aside funds for professional development,” Washington added. “We will also be able to provide funding to other service areas that are needed for our students to be successful.”
“As with most school divisions,” said Finance Director Ed Breslauer, “we have many more positions than are included in the standards of quality.” As for raises for those employees, Breslauer said, “The localities have to pick that up.”
“The School Board said, ‘You can’t solve everything; but make certain everybody gets at least a one percent salary increase,’ and that is what we did,” said Breslauer.
Brenda Pace, Palmyra District school board member, said a two percent raise for all school employees would be “wonderful and well-deserved.”
“The reality is,” Pace added, “that the Board must continue to operate on funding shortfalls and still meet the challenges of bringing the best we possibly can to our students, our staff, and our educational system as a whole.”
“Aside from raises directly tied to instruction,” said Breslauer, “we looked at the nursing staff, and gave substantial salary increases with amounts in the thousands of dollars.” Breslauer called the increase a “good investment,” which made Fluvanna competitive with nearby school systems. He stressed the importance of nursing staff who get to know the individual students and school environment by choosing to stay in the school system. Another area that received extra funds was in technology; specifically, the field technicians’ salaries had lagged far behind those in neighboring counties and saw a substantial increase in order to retain those employees.
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Photo courtesy of Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinatorA Fluvanna County ambulance was smashed during a call, leaving the Fluvanna fleet down one ambulance.
On April 18 the University of Virginia’s Medic V crew, which the county hired to cover Fluvanna Rescue’s portion of the county, responded to a call in the Lake Monticello area in ambulance 45, said Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator.
But before the rescue workers were able to load the patient into the ambulance, it slipped into gear, rolled down an embankment, and smashed into some trees. The cab of the truck buckled, possibly totaling the ambulance, Elliott said.
The crash was no one’s fault, said Elliott. The ambulance had been experiencing transmission issues and slipped into gear on its own. No one was in the ambulance at the time and no one was injured.
The wreck initially caused a flurry of activity to try to find another ambulance available to transport the patient, but ultimately the patient declined transport to the hospital, said Elliott.
The insurance company has decided not to total the ambulance, said Elliott, so the county now needs to decide whether to repair the ambulance or sell it.
The fiscal year 2017 capital improvements plan recently approved by the Board of Supervisors contains $250,000 for a new ambulance for Fluvanna Rescue. But though it was the oldest in the fleet, ambulance 45 wasn’t the vehicle scheduled to be replaced, said Elliott.
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Good deeds often go unrecognized. But it doesn’t have to be that way, said County Administrator Steve Nichols. Sometimes an unsung hero deserves a little song.
To that end, the county created two recognition programs – one for community members and one for county staff – that will give kudos to people who go above and beyond in service to Fluvanna.
Community service awards program
“I want to have the County of Fluvanna formally recognize things that we value in our community – things that make us a better community,” said Nichols. “This system does this at almost no cost, but can be a very strong formal recognition of someone’s efforts and energies.”
The Board of Supervisors approved the community service awards program on April 6. Its stated purpose is “to formally recognize individuals or groups who, by their personal actions, volunteer efforts, and civic or community activities, have made a noteworthy and positive impact in Fluvanna County.”
Anyone can nominate a person or a group for the award based upon criteria such as heroic or lifesaving acts, civic responsibility, community leadership, or volunteering.
A review committee, comprised of Nichols and the five constitutional officers – Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip, Sheriff Eric Hess, Treasurer Linda Lenherr, Commissioner of the Revenue Mel Sheridan, and Clerk of the Circuit Court Tristana Treadway – will discuss the nominations and make recommendations to supervisors as to who should receive the award.
The Board of Supervisors will give a letter of recognition to each nominee. Those selected for the award will also receive a community service resolution and public recognition at a Board meeting and online.
P.R.I.D.E. in public service award
A facet of the county’s new employee appreciation and recognition program, the P.R.I.D.E. in public service award will showcase a county employee or group of employees at the annual county picnic. P.R.I.D.E. stands for people first, respect, integrity, deliver, and excel.
“We had no formal mechanisms for recognizing our county employees for the many good deeds and out-of-the-ordinary things they do all the time,” said Nichols, who emphasized that the award will be reserved for folks who go above and beyond their normal job duties.
Any community member, not just government employees, can nominate county workers for the award, which will focus on employees who make substantial contributions, improve relations with the public or within government, or act in other exceptional ways. The award selection committee, which is comprised of 13 county government workers, will review the nominees and decide upon the annual winner.
Winners will be announced at the annual county picnic and will receive recognition on a plaque in the county administration building, a certificate of commendation from the Board of Supervisors, public recognition at a Board meeting, and a bonus of $500, which will be divided if a group wins the prize.
The process of establishing the employee appreciation and recognition program, which was approved last July, was not without bumps in the road. Former Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch took issue with the idea that people “these days” need recognition for what he considered to be regular work functions, and said that county employees should just “do [their] damn job.”
“While some Board members had a little angst about this, it certainly is the right thing to do to recognize behaviors you value and want repeated,” said Nichols. “Now we have a formal way to do that.”
According to the program description, “recognizing the accomplishments of employees contributes to a supportive work environment and enhances the attraction and retention of committed and engaged employees.”
The county is currently accepting nominations for both awards and encourages the participation of Fluvanna residents. Nominations may be made through the Fluvanna County website (www.fluvannacounty.org) or by email or letter. Details can be found at the Fluvanna County website

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Wayne Cain of bremo bluff holds his protest sign aloft. Photo by Tricia JohnsonDominion Virginia’s Bremo Bluff Power Plant began the release of treated coal-ash water into the James River on Wednesday, April 27. The day before that planned release, Tuesday, April 26, Dominion invited the media to Bremo to see the water treatment process for themselves. Cathy Taylor, Dominion’s director of Electric Environmental Services, and Jason Williams, an environmental manager for Dominion, spoke about the treatment process and Dominion’s commitment to protecting the James River.
On that Wednesday, more than a dozen protesters from the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition and the Knitting Nanas of Virginia assembled near the power station and held a mock funeral procession down Bremo’s main street towards the plant, carrying a fabric representation of the river and singing “Wade in the Water...Wade in the Water, Children...Wade in the Water...Dominion’s Gonna Trouble the Water.” They then returned to their gathering point, where the Knitting Nanas held a knit-in.
The power plant, built in 1931, burned coal to generate electricity until the plant was converted to a natural gas fired generation plant in 2014. Decades of ash, the by-product of coal combustion, had been in wet storage in ash ponds located at the plant.
The EPA implemented new requirements for the management of coal ash in 2015. One of the requirements was that power plants that have converted to burning natural gas come up with permanent solutions for the safe storage or use of coal ash residue.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality drafted an initial permit application for Dominion that was approved by the state Water Board in January. Opposition to the terms of the permit by the James River Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, convinced Dominion, after negotiations, to commit to stricter limits on the discharge of heavy metals and other chemicals.
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