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altWith a new round of Aqua Virginia rate hikes on the horizon, the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) is moving fast to minimize the impact on area residents.

Within 24 hours of learning about Aqua’s proposed 7.4 percent rate increase, the LMOA Board of Directors voted to form an ad hoc committee to organize the community’s response. Board President Rich Barringer will serve as liaison to the committee. Former Board member Mike Harrison will serve as committee chair. 

About 15 members of the community met with Harrison at Fairway Clubhouse Thursday night (Sept. 14) to learn more about the plan of attack and decide if they wanted to join the committee.

“The chances of us eliminating the rate increase is exactly zero, but we can probably reduce it,” Harrison said.

Aqua’s rate case brings back the water and wastewater infrastructure service charge (WWISC), which was denied by the State Corporation Committee (SCC) in 2015. The additional charge, which could be as high as 10 percent of the average customer bill, would be used to fund capital improvements. Harrison said he believes the community can fight the implementation of WWISC.

Harrison outlined the series of steps the committee will have to take between now and May 2018.

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Alden BigelowOne day local author Alden Bigelow wrote a short story that dealt with animal cruelty and animal rights. Eventually it developed into his current novel, The Great American Mammal Jamboree.

“It just evolved into a novel as my characters and their thoughts grew larger and larger in my mind,” he said. The book is written from the perspective of animals, both wild and domesticated. Most of the book is told through the point of view of a springer spaniel named Jessie. Jessie is chosen partly because of his affinity and ability to bond with humans on a different level than most wild animals.

“My favorite character was Jessie, because he is a great narrator and a good dog and a close personal friend of mine,” said Bigelow.
The animals come together for a jamboree and, though some express their disenchantment with humans and their cruelty and misunderstanding of animals, Jessie cautions them that they need to be open to promoting peaceful, friendly compromise.

“This is about animals learning to work together in order to teach and persuade” humans, Bigelow said.

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Carolyn Liberto approached the medical staff at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW) complaining of chest pains on July 21. The 70 year old had a history of hypertension and congestive heart failure, but the medical staff allegedly told her that her vitals were normal and to return to her cell. During the night, she began to have trouble breathing. She died hours later.

Four days later, 38-year-old Deanna Niece complained of chest pain and shortness of breath so severe she fell to the ground. As with Liberto, she was not referred for evaluation. That night, she went into convulsions and began to vomit blood. An inmate said she “died on the floor” just three weeks shy of release. The coroner ruled cause of death as pulmonary embolism.

Details of the July deaths were among multiple allegations of medical mismanagement included in a 48-page contempt motion filed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville on Wednesday (Sept. 6).

Lawyers for a group of prisoners say the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) has failed to meet the requirements laid out in a 2016 settlement agreement to improve care at FCCW. That settlement came after years of complaints and a class-action suit arguing that the prison’s medical services were so substandard that they potentially violated prisoners’ Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

FCCW “was built with an eye towards having the best medical care, and if this is the best medical care, I’d hate to see what it’s like in all the other prisons,” said Brenda Casteñada, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville.

Instead, the medical facility has become mired in what the contempt filing calls “an institutional culture of indifference,” with inadequate staffing and a lack of leadership at the top translating into substandard care for the prison’s 1,200 inmates. Add a comment

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Linda StaigerLinda Staiger’s name won’t be on the ballot for Columbia District School Board, the state electoral board decided Friday (Sept. 8).
Staiger said she will be running as a write-in candidate.

Her opponent, Andrew Pullen, began looking into specifics of Staiger’s candidacy immediately, he said.

Pullen filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Registrar Joyce Pace asking “for all of the candidate paperwork like any candidate should to see who signed petitions and for opposition research,” he wrote in an email Sept. 6 responding to whether he or someone in his campaign filed the FOIA.

Pullen wrote that he and others in his campaign heard rumors Staiger didn’t live in the Columbia District.

She does.

Staiger lives at 2949 Ridge Road and said she has since 2004. Add a comment

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Michael WestmorelandMichael Westmoreland first discovered ventriloquism at 10 years old when he received an Emmett Kelly puppet and ventriloquism instructions for Christmas. Jay Johnson from Soap, a television show, inspired Westmoreland to become a ventriloquist. Like many ventriloquists, his goal is to entertain and make people laugh.

Ventriloquism evokes images of Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Paul Winchell with Knuckle Head, Jerry and buxom blond Tessie.

“Don Knotts and Johnny Carson had been ventriloquists,” Westmoreland said. “Actually Edgar Bergen was not that good and was often moving his lips when Charlie was talking. But then he was on the radio so no one really knew.”

Westmoreland admired Paul Winchell, who revolutionized ventriloquism. He and his contemporaries agree that learning ventriloquism is a fraction of the skill – learning to be funny and entertaining is key.

Considered a late 18th century and early 19th century stagecraft, ventriloquism gained popularity in Vaudeville. Ventriloquism is the act of “throwing one’s voice,” and is less of a trick and more of an actor’s art. Changing voice, switching character and acting along with the figure are seen nowadays as more of an art form than a quirky novelty.

Decades later, ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator are keeping ventriloquism energized and novel. Many, including Westmoreland, have added singing. His figure, Scotty, loves to sing and does it quite well. But the magic comes in staging a performance. Add a comment

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