Fluvanna Review

Austins getaway. Photo by Tricia JohnsonIn a sense it could be any children’s baseball game. It is a sunny Saturday morning, and the sound of children laughing and adults talking mingles with the ring of metal bats. One child stands on the pitcher’s mound, ball in hand. Another plants both feet at the plate and angles the bat back over his shoulder and a third is staring at the infield dirt, studying the footprints his shoes have left.
Just another kids’ baseball game.
Except it isn’t. There are no teams (there are not enough participants), and while one child is three– another is 15. The parents are on the field with their children, and the coach wanders from child to child, a perpetual smile on his face. This is a different baseball; maybe, in some ways, a better baseball. A baseball where the joy of hitting the ball isn’t immediately lost in the urgency of a headlong race to first base. Where everyone celebrates a good throw. Where one mother, each time her son makes it to another base, picks him up and spins him in circles. This is Buddy Ball.
Four of the players have special needs.
Two of them – brothers – don’t. They volunteer to help the players run bases, bat, or throw.
The special needs players, and the typical kids, are buddies.
Landon is at bat. The little blond-haired boy shuffles his feet in the box and lays the bat on his right shoulder. He looks around to make sure everyone is watching, then wiggles his behind, and joins in the outburst of laughter from the adults, shouting his joy to the perfect blue sky with abandon. Minutes later, a swing connects and his mouth opens wide in an amazed smile and he drops the bat and jumps up and down with excitement. No one seems to mind that he forgets to run to first base. It doesn’t matter. Not at all.
Austin is dark haired and quiet; a tall, thin, ten-year-old boy with an otherworldly air. He and his father play an endless game of tag on the infield; Austin gets his hands on a ball and wants to keep it; he and his father play the game until his father catches him, laughing, and gets the ball back. They both seem to enjoy the back and forth. For a while he finds a spare ball, and stands on the pitcher’s mound with it, looking towards home plate. He is thinking deep thoughts, I can tell, but I cannot ask Austin what he thinks or feels: he is autistic, and non-verbal. His dark eyes are beautiful – especially when he smiles; a shy, sidelong grin. He likes to bunt the ball.
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Ian Jackson, of I and J Home Builders talked to the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association Board at Thursday (June 28) night’s board meeting about more than 30 acres he hopes to buy on the Lake side of Route 618. Jackson said he plans to build homes that would cost between $190,000 and $200,000.

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The newly opened Panda Chinese restaurant has a lot going for it, food-wise that is. If you’re one of the ones looking for décor and ambiance, Chinese red walls and gold Oriental fans, that is not what Panda is all about. The restaurant offers take-out, a few tables set up for eating in, and catering for small or large parties. It is a place for the true Chinese food lover.

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Chris VanSlooten, FUMA aquatics director.More than 2,000 swimmers and their families are coming to Fork Union for two days of racing this weekend.

Fork Union Military Academy is opening its doors to the Jefferson Swim League for its annual swim championship July 27 and 28, said Chris VanSlooten, FUMA aquatics director. Add a comment

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Photo by Lisa HurdleWith all the talk around Lake Monticello of spending significant chunks of the community’s emergency reserve account (ERA) on the controversial renovation and replacement (R&R) project, the potential of the Lake’s two dams to cause an emergency is coming into the spotlight.
If Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) members approve the $7.2 million R&R project at their meeting June 27, $5.8 million from the roughly $7 million ERA would be used mainly to fund renovation of the clubhouse and reconstruction of the Eagle’s Nest pro shop building. Over the course of 15 years $2 million would be repaid to the ERA.
But would decreasing the ERA’s balance to about $1.2 million – and when the money is eventually repaid, $3.2 million – leave LMOA with enough funds to cover an emergency?
A possible source of disaster at Lake Monticello sits in the form of two earthen dams – at the main lake and at Tufton Pond. If the dams were to fail, a tremendous amount of damage could ensue. And that possibility leaves some people very uneasy with the idea of spending down the ERA.
“If we have $1.2 million in our reserve account then we will not have enough money to cover an emergency with the dam,” said Valerie Palamountain, former LMOA Board of Directors president. “We’re basically taking all of our money out of our savings account to pay for a new building, and I just don’t think that’s a wise move.”
Of course, neither $1.2 million nor the original $7 million would do much against the catastrophic damage of a flood. “That money would never cover replacement of our dams,” said current Board President Marlene Weaver, “because replacement of both dams would be about $27 million.”

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