Fluvanna Review

The saying “be careful what you ask for” seemed at play at the School Board Budget seminar Friday (Jan. 19).

Often in response to Board member inquiries, Superintendent Chuck Winkler supplied so much information the seminar went over the allotted time by three hours.

All five members of the Board wanted to focus on salaries. Andrew Pullen (Columbia) also asked for specifics on the cost of athletics, career and technical education; Brenda Pace (Palmyra) on special education issues; and Chair Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) on evaluations, staffing ratios and alternative education.

Current budget
Winkler reported there is a low projected surplus of a half million dollars in the 2017-18 budget. When the last Board built the current budget, the governor talked about providing a 1.5 percent raise to school employees.
That did not happen, but the Board decided to include it anyway and find a way to give the money to employees, Winkler said. 

Operations costs have been low in a couple of the past months which also played into the surplus, he said.

Winkler proposed giving a 1 percent raise to all employees, with no employee receiving less than $300. That adds up to $280,000.

At the end of the school year, if there is still a surplus, Winkler proposed giving employees another bonus. He asked the Board for direction so he could bring back a solid proposal in the Feb. 14 meeting.

Pullen suggested using the money to work toward a long-term goal of giving raises and getting all staff on one pay scale. Right now they are on two. Johnson said she also preferred a raise over a bonus.

Winkler said if they did that, it would double next year’s budget because it would be a recurring cost. He reminded them those costs include retirement and FICA they’d be committed to providing.
“This money is here now; I can’t guarantee it’ll be there next year,” he said.
After discussing and deciding against capping the bonus for employees at the high end of the pay scale, the Board suggested a flat-rate bonus rather than one based on income.
Winkler said he’d work out the numbers and have them ready for the next meeting.
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Jennings with banjoNearly 20 handmade instruments, including some beautiful banjos, will be on display at the Art Center of Orange beginning Feb. 1 with a meet and greet by the artist and maybe a song or two. The public is invited to see the craft, to hear the music and to learn the history of these amazing and attractive instruments.

The craft of banjos lies in their beauty and design. These handmade works of art by Orange physician Dena Jennings will be displayed at the center’s Morin Gallery which will be open to the public for viewing. Some of these organic instruments look like the banjos with which we are familiar. Some have long, graceful necks. Colors vary: greens and browns and yellows glow in full spectrum.

When one thinks of banjos, though, one generally thinks of music, and these handmade instruments truly sound amazing.

Banjos are “as much a percussive instrument as a stringed instrument,” because of the instrument’s drone string – a string shorter than the others on the instrument, explained Jennings. It offers a percussion tone, a “bumdiddy, bumdiddy, bumdiddy, bum” not offered by a traditional stringed instrument. Used in folk music, the instrument gives the song a “lot more expression,” she said.

But the true beauty of these instruments lies in their history. The craft of making gourd banjos dates back to before the 17th century, and they came to America with enslaved Africans. The akonting, which according to banjohistory.com is still played by the Jola tribe in Gambia, is a banjo made with three strings – two long and a drone – and that type of banjo is still played extensively in Appalachian music. The akonting is a precursor to the banjo, Jennings explained.

Jennings’ mother, Virginia, was born on Christmas Day in 1941 in a hollow in Kentucky. Jennings’ family –and their music – moved from those mountains in Kentucky to Akron, Ohio, before she was born. They were a part of the Great Migration north to find jobs in the rubber and car factories there.

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The Fourth of July this year was dreary and overcast with frequent periods of drizzle and some short bursts of heavy rain. Athletes at Lake Monticello were undeterred.

The annual Spirit 5K run came off on schedule at 7 a.m. Although it drizzled before the start, the runners were mostly dry during the event. The threatening weather did reduce the number of participants this year, but a substantial 164 athletes participated.


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Swim meetThe Region 3C swim and dive championship meet was held Feb. 10-11 at the Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) pool here in Fluvanna County. The Fluco girls’ team finished third, while the boys were in eighth place.

Coach Feda Morton said that a significant number of Fluco swimmers performed well enough to qualify for the upcoming State meet. Two of the girls’ relay teams and one of the boys’ teams will move on to the State meet. The girls’ medley relay team of Emma DiFazio, Caylyn McNaul, Abby Fuller and Zoe Moore, and the 200-meter freestyle relay team of Moore, Haley Smith, McNaul and Fuller will both advance. The boys’ 200-meter freestyle relay team of Owen Strickland, Jack Kershner, Hunter Strickland and Josh Rocklein will also be going to the State meet.

Individuals who will be going to the State meet are numerous. Hunter Strickland will be swimming in the 200-meter individual medley and the 100-meter freestyle at the State meet as a result of his fourth place finish in both events. Abby Fuller, who was the Regional champion in the 200-meter individual medley event will naturally be competing in that event at States. She also will be swimming in the 100-meter butterfly at the State event based on her second place finish in the Region meet. In the 400-meter freestyle both Moore and McNaul qualified  for the State meet. Moore will also be swimming in the 50-meter freestyle sprint at that meet.

The FUMA pool is a meter pool, and all prior meets this year were conducted in pools measured in yards. Accordingly, some research is required to establish which of the team’s performances may be school records, but she is confident that a number of school records were established.    

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A debate which has dogged the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors since early spring was finally put to rest at its meeting Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 7) when a majority of supervisors voted to retain land use in its current form.

The 3-2 vote (Supervisors Tony O’Brien and Mozell Booker dissenting) came after heated discussion in which O’Brien, the only supervisor without land in the program, pointed to what he saw as conflicts of interest among other supervisors and suggested some of them recuse themselves from the vote.
Land use, a program conceived in the 1970s, gives substantial tax breaks to landowners who keep their property rural through agricultural, forestal, or open space uses. But it comes at a price. During the most recent budget season, county staff said that the land use program had cost Fluvanna $2.7 million in uncollected revenue the preceding year.

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