Fluvanna Review

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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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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Middle school kidsRemember middle school?

Most of us would rather not.

What with the fluctuating hormones, the peer pressure, the growth spurts and the clumsiness, it’s hard to figure out who you are and where you’re going.

Social media thrown into the mix complicates things even further.

Fluvanna Middle School Principal Brad Stang and his administrative and guidance staff wanted to do something to help students navigate the often rocky road of adolescence. School Counselor Lynn Jenkins said it became obvious students needed help learning things other generations took for granted.

“We notice on a daily basis the changes that seem to be occurring in their ability to interact with kindness and compassion,” Jenkins said. “It appears that social media is attempting to replace the hard social work of dealing face-to-face with their peers, a skill that they will now need to practice in order to be successful in real life. It seems to be easier to be mean or cruel because they can do it either anonymously, or without provocation, and with no need to feel any empathy.”

Teacher Hillary Pleasant had her own concerns. Pleasant noticed students didn’t know how to greet each other or adults. She shared her observations with Jenkins.

As Jenkins, Pleasant and two other teachers and administrative staff spent hours over the summer researching packaged curriculums, Jenkins said they realized none fit. Either they didn’t cover the topics the FMS team felt were important or they were too expensive.

“I also didn’t want this to be a burden on teachers,” Jenkins said. “They already have so much to do. I knew we needed their buy-in. And we didn’t want just a video they’d put in and have students watch.”

Finally, Jenkins told Stang, “Let me take a stab at it.”

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Nine hole honoreesEach year, the Lake Monticello Golf Course senior men’s Gray Foxes organization holds a year-end banquet. This year the event was held for the first time at the new pub facility in the Bunker clubhouse. The senior golfers were offered a choice between beef and chicken, and both choices were well received by those in attendance. In addition, the beer was included.

The Gray Foxes have an 18-hole men’s group that plays Thursday mornings and a nine-hole group that plays Friday mornings. Participants may play with both groups, but most players choose one group or the other.

The coordinator for the 18-hole group for the 2017 season was Dan Atkinson. He runs multiple competitions during the season, which stretches from April to October. The year-round competition that keeps the attention of all the players is known as ringers. There is a ringers competition once a month. The idea of this competition is to keep track of each player’s best gross and net scores on each hole for the entire year.

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Langden MasonLangden Mason, who writes the popular column Don’t Get Me Started, brilliantly weaves into his writing the influences and experiences of growing up on a farm in rural Fluvanna.

Born in 1963, he recalled being content growing up in an age when one used a phone booth instead of a cell phone, drank from a garden hose instead of bottled water, and sat down as a family for dinner instead of microwaving meals individually. He does not dismiss the technological and medical advances over the last 50 years, but believes we’ve somehow lost a lot of the core beliefs that made us a great nation such as patriotism, trust, and the art of conversation without polarization.

He went on to say his parents instilled in him a belief that one could achieve happiness by working hard, doing the right thing, and being a good citizen without bullying and hurting others’ feelings. He believes they were right. He sees the diversity in his friendships as a path to better understanding and cites his upbringing as something that made him a good writer and a better person.

Smiling and sharing memories and witticisms, Mason is always engaged with those around him. His column and plays capture the lament of what we’ve left behind in our past.

Writing began with his parents informing him that great adventures were only a book away.

“I read a lot and my mother taught me to color within the lines, but left room to think outside the box,” he said. After tackling great literature and poetry, his favorite English teacher had his class diagram sentences to learn the structure of writing.

“I learned the importance of word placement and the need for proper grammar,” he said. “A picture is worth a thousand words, but a single sentence, when structured properly, can provide a pretty amazing picture.” Add a comment

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