Fluvanna Review

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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Victim & Witness Coordinator Sherry Stader. Photo by Tricia Johnson

Each file folder on Sherry Stader’s desk holds documents that tell the story of a member of this community whose life has been changed forever. Each folder represents the victim of a crime who is currently navigating the criminal justice system in Fluvanna with her assistance.
In 2014 alone, Stader, the director of Fluvanna’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program helped 174 victims find their voice, find the courage to appear in court, and find their way through the sometimes labyrinthine halls of justice.
“The goal of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program,” said Stader, “is both to ensure participation in the criminal justice system, and to be certain that the victims and witnesses are treated with dignity and fairness and respect throughout the process. Without the victims and witnesses coming to court,” she pointed out, “the prosecutors can’t do their jobs.”
“In my job,” said Stader, “I provide information on rights of victims…I accompany them to court, assist with Victim Impact Statements, assist with obtaining protective orders, and provide referrals to community resources and counseling, when necessary,” Stader said. “I assist with Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund applications and keep victims advised of the status of their case; explain court procedures; obtain restitution information and monitor those payments. If the victims need social services, mental health counseling, or other resources that are available at non-profit organizations or government agencies, I give them referrals. Basically, whatever they need,” she said, “I try to help them.”
“No one wants to be a victim,” she said, “no one asks for that; but, it happens – and then, fortunately, there are people who can help them,” Stader added, “the advocates.” Advocates like Stader herself, and also the ones at the non-profit organizations and agencies that Stader often refers victims to for assistance.
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Catherine NeelleyJust two months into her new job as general manager of Lake Monticello, Catherine Neelley sits confidently in her office, jotting off e-mails. It’s two in the afternoon. She hasn’t eaten lunch yet. She’s been too busy. Add a comment

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Taylor Ridge Road two days after the Feb. 15 snowfall. Photo courtesy of Kate SkoviraRecent attention on the state of certain subdivision roads in Fluvanna County shines a spotlight on what some frustrated residents have known for a long time – their roads are in deep trouble and so are they.
This unsettling knowledge leads many residents of subdivisions with unapproved roads to anger at what they see as the failure of others to carry out the responsibility of making sure their roads are turned over to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
Currently there are about 57 unapproved roads located within about 26 subdivisions in Fluvanna County.
In 2004 Kate Skovira and her husband bought a lot in Taylor Ridge Estates, a subdivision off Rt. 53 with unapproved roads, and the following year built a house. “When we purchased our lot our real estate company told us that the subdivision was supposed to be turned over to VDOT at 80 percent build-out,” she said. “We trusted them. We never would have bought into it if it weren’t going to be turned over.”
A few years later VDOT came out and developed a “punch list” of fixes required before it would accept the development’s 1.5 miles of roads into the state system, but the fixes were never completed. So the roads sat aging until 2012 when VDOT came out again and developed a new punch list. This time it was much longer – and more expensive.
Since school buses usually aren’t allowed on private roads, children who live in Taylor Ridge must wait for the bus at the entrance to the subdivision on Rt. 53. “We are concerned because the kids are standing on Rt. 53 for the buses where the speed limit is 55 miles-per-hour,” Skovira said. “It’s not necessary. If the roads could be turned over [to VDOT] they could be more safely managed.”

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Fluvanna Art Assoication members (front) Page Gifford, Maria Carter,Deborah Nixon, Gayle Bielanski (back) Loli Stams, Izzy Hickey, Mickey Meyer and Carolyn Brown.It was a long time in coming, but a small group of members from the Fluvanna Art Association finally spread their wings and traveled over to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Member Gayle Bielanski, arranged for a private tour of a couple of exhibits the members were interested in, including the late 19th century and 20th century American art. The members looked in awe at the opulence reflected in the period of the late 19th century. Pam, their guide for the tour, explained this was commonplace for wealthy individuals to display their wealth openly. Pam skillfully combined elements of these periods, to complete an interesting art history as the members toured the American wing.

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