Fluvanna Review

Fire and rescue personnel and all their trucks lined the streets around the courthouse. Photo by Cheryl ElliottIn what Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch called “the most important motion we’ve ever made,” the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday night (June 17) to approve a $6.6 million contract with Motorola to equip the county with a new E911 radio system.
Applause broke out after the vote from fire and rescue volunteers who packed the courtroom in support of the radio system.
Before the vote, chief of Lake Monticello Volunteer Rescue Squad Joe Orsolini urged the Board to approve the contract. Calling the current radio system “dangerous,” Orsolini delivered an impassioned speech in which he told supervisors it is merely a matter of time before a firefighter, EMT, or deputy is killed in an emergency situation because the radio system prevents the first responder from being able to call for backup. “We need a new radio system,” he said. “It’s not a negotiable item. It’s a necessity.”
Only 35 percent of Fluvanna County is covered by the current radio system, said Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator, which means that in 65 percent of the county, emergency responders have spotty or even nonexistent ability to communicate with each other or to ask for backup, especially inside buildings.
“This [radio system] is the lifeblood of our responders in the community,” said Elliott, “of being able to communicate with one another and also back to dispatch. The lack of radio coverage puts our responders in danger on a daily basis.”
In what Elliott called “momentous progress,” supervisors approved a contract that will outfit Fluvanna with a radio system providing 95 percent coverage throughout the county as measured inside residential buildings, as well as three miles outside the county.
The system, which will have seven towers initially but can handle up to 14, will be what’s known as a “trunking” system. In a conventional system, such as what Fluvanna has currently, only one person can talk at a time on any given channel. And since the sheriff’s office functions on one channel and fire and rescue function primarily on another channel, there are often periods of time in which the channels are in use and other personnel must wait for a free moment.
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Lake Monticello Police Chief Thomas BoisvertLake Monticello Owners Association meetings have taken on a different flair under Valerie Palamountain’s leadership.

Palamountain now has each department head reporting to the Board at the monthly meeting and that includes crime statistics from Lake Police Chief Thomas Boisvert.
“I introduced it – asking police, maintenance, and finance to make the reports,” Palamountain said. “(General Manager) CatherIne  Neelley will give reports on the big things. It makes for a more open board.”

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Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator. File photoThe new $6.6 million E911 radio communications system coming to Fluvanna by the end of next year will dramatically improve safety by fixing glaring gaps in the county’s current radio coverage.
Using seven towers rather than the current four, the new radio system will provide 95 percent coverage throughout the county and three miles outside Fluvanna’s borders measured at hip level inside residential buildings. Currently Fluvanna is covered only at about 35 percent, which means that first responders often cannot communicate with each other – a serious situation that puts their lives and the lives of residents in jeopardy.
“Part of the problem,” said Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator, “is that we have only one transmit and receive site right now.” Just one of the four towers on the system has the ability to send out calls. The other three towers simply receive. By contrast, the new system will have three transmit and receive sites – enough to cover the county well.
The seven towers will be located in Scottsville, Cohasset, Bremo, Columbia, Kents Store, Palmyra, and Carter Mountain.
Some towers currently exist, some will be built by companies, and one – the one located at the sheriff’s office – will belong to the county.
The new radio system has been in the works for a long time. Conversations began in 1998 about the need for a significant upgrade to the system, Elliott said, which sparked a number of studies. The county’s consulting firm, RCC Consultants, has been involved “since the very beginning with studying our system,” Elliott said.
“They did a study in 2000 that analyzed the implementation of three different kinds of systems.”
The result of the study was to adopt the kind of radio system that Albemarle County has. In 2009 an opportunity arose to partner with Albemarle in that system, but the opportunity passed when Fluvanna didn’t act.
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Without much warning, Two J’s Smokehouse closed Sept. 1.

But barbeque lovers don’t despair, Two J’s is reopening around the corner in the same building, said co-owner Megan Ball.

 

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A Lake Monticello man was killed in a car wreck on Father’s Day (June 21).
Jason Randal Stevens, 43, and two of his family members were traveling northbound in the 4100 block of Monacan Trail Road, or Route 29, in the North Garden area when their 2003 Honda Pilot ran off the left side of the road and struck a tree at 3:49 p.m.
Stevens died at the scene, according to a press release from the Albemarle County Police Department (ACPD). A 2-year-old and 12-year-old suffered non-life threatening injuries and were taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center – the 2-year-old by air and the 12-year-old by ambulance.
Stevens and the 12-year-old were wearing seatbelts and the 2-year-old was properly restrained, said Carter Johnson, public information officer for the ACPD.
Stevens worked as the director of the Saunders Monticello Trail at Monticello and attended Grace and Glory Lutheran Church in Palmyra.
Police are still working to determine the cause of the crash, which does not appear to have been caused by speed or alcohol, said Johnson. “The accident reconstruction team, which is part of the traffic unit, does a really thorough job of recreating what happened, trying to put together the circumstances, and trying to find out what may have caused the crash,” Johnson said.

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