Fluvanna Review

Lake Monticello’s water story. ©istockphoto.com/arenacreativePart one of a two part series

It’s no secret that many Lake Monticello residents harbor a certain animosity toward their water and sewer company, Aqua Virginia, for charging more than those residents think is fair to provide water and pump away their sewage.
It’s also not a secret that Aqua Virginia files regular rate increase requests with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in attempts to recoup many millions of dollars of investments in the Lake Monticello system and other systems it operates.
What’s harder to figure out is which side is right – if there is a “right” side – or whether there is any middle ground between Aqua Virginia and its largest customer – the Lake Monticello community.
Profits
Obviously Aqua isn’t a charitable organization. The company deserves the right to be paid, and to turn a profit, for its services.
“I don’t think we object to a reasonable rate of return,” said Mike Harrison, treasurer of the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) Board of Directors. “I mean, the company’s got to make money.”
The sticking point is that Aqua Virginia and its parent company, Aqua America, aren’t just faring passably well. Actually, Aqua America is doing quite well indeed, with recent return on equity rates pushing new highs for the company.
According to YCharts, Inc., Aqua America’s return on equity (ROE) has ranged between 9.34 percent and 13.88 percent from June 2002 to September 2012. Starting in December 2012 and continuing through the present, the company has enjoyed a surge, returning between 14.37 percent and 16.34 percent to its investors. Many of the revenues to pay for those returns on equity come from ratepayers like those at Lake Monticello.
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Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church new Parish Life Center. Photo by Christina Dimeo GusemanSts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church is deep into the construction of a new Parish Life Center at its facility on Rt. 53.
When complete, the Parish Life Center will provide 12,500 square feet of space for many different activities. It will have a full commercial kitchen, a large dining facility with the capability of serving 250 people in a single setting, a small stage for presentations, and nine meetings rooms or classrooms.
“The main purpose of the Parish Life Center is to accommodate the many activities that go on in our parish, that are limited by the capacity of our existing building,” said project manager Dick van Nierop. “We currently have meetings in the hallways, in the office, in the pastor’s office, in the lobby – every square inch of our existing building is used for different things all at the same time. Our activities have just outgrown that building.”
The new commercial kitchen will “probably be the nicest and best-equipped in the county,” said van Nierop, and the banquet facility ought to be “very, very nice” as well, so the church hopes to be hosting weddings and events, as well as making the space available to outside organizations. “That’s one of the ways we’re going to help to pay for the building,” he said.
The Parish Life Center will cost about $1.6 million to construct. In addition to the building, the church is putting in a cemetery for about $400,000. Van Nierop expects the contractor to be finished with the building at the end of January, and hopes to open the cemetery in the spring.
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Coach Cos DiFazio meets with his swimmers.The Jefferson Swim League held its 47th championship swim meet at the Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) pool on Friday and Saturday July 27 and 28. Cos DiFazio, coach of the Fluvanna Aquatic Sports Team (FAST), noted before the meet that this was the biggest swim meet ever held in Fluvanna County. Over 2,000 youth swimmers, representing 16 teams competed in the event. In addition, almost 600 volunteers were needed to bring an event of this size together and make it a success.

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Jaime Sajecki is the Black Bear Project leader for Virginia. Black bears, the only species of bear in Virginia, are not one would expect of a bear. Ask Jaime Sajecki, the Project Leader of the Black Bear Project for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). She points out that many have a vision of bears similar to those we see on TV or in the movies. Many envision a terrifying 750 pounds worth of carnivorous mammal, rising up on its hind legs in an attack stance, claws poised, roaring at its potential prey. This is a closer description of the Brown or Grizzly bear. Virginia’s bears are more mischievous, a little shy and resemble Gentle Ben or the frolicsome Winnie the Pooh.

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Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) has announced plans to significantly alter its middle school starting in fall 2015.
The biggest change will be the elimination of the sixth grade. Seventh and eighth grade students will no longer live in a middle school barracks but will join the high school students in the school’s new $18 million barracks, Jacobson Hall. The middle school headmaster, Col. Rob Feathers, will take a new position as director of guidance.
Seventh and eighth grade students may stop taking classes in a traditional schedule and may adopt the high school’s “one subject plan,” in which students study one subject only for seven weeks before moving on to the next subject.
Not all implementation decisions have been made yet, said Rear Admiral J. Scott Burhoe, president of FUMA. Seventh and eighth graders may study two blocks at a time, pairing science with math and English with history. Or perhaps only eighth graders will change their format of study.
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