Fluvanna Review

Coach Michele Caron (left) and her assistants brief the Sharks.The Lake Monticello Swim Team defeated the Key West Swim Club by a score of 378-306 on Wednesday (July 18). The meet was held at the Key West neighborhood pool. First year head coach, Michelle Caron said that her team of over 100 youth swimmers has not lost a meet this year, and this was the team’s sixth and final swim meet of the regular season.

Caron, who is a rising junior and varsity swimmer at Bridgewater University, is well known for her swimming prowess. She won the Lake Monticello Fourth of July lake swim repeatedly while she was swimming for the Flucos.

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Bobby PopowiczBobby Popowicz is resigning after four years as Fluvanna’s economic development director.
“I took a position in the town of Dayton, Virginia, as the town manager,” Popowicz said. His last day in Fluvanna will be April 22.
As the town manager of Dayton, a town of about 1,500 people in Rockingham County, Popowicz will oversee all of Dayton’s departments, including police, public works, the treasurer’s office, and parks and recreation, he said. In addition, he said he will work with town councilors on several different committees.
County Administrator Steve Nichols said that Popowicz “has really gotten Fluvanna on the map in the business community outside of the county. We have lots of people who know who and where Fluvanna County is now because of Bobby’s outreach efforts throughout Virginia, even with foreign companies.”
In addition to bringing smaller businesses to the county, such as Budget Electric and Mechanical and the Lafayette School, Popowicz said that he forged connections with larger businesses. “There are a lot of big companies and developers who know who we are – they’re just sitting on the sidelines till we get that water and sewer,” he said.
Popowicz considers his work on Fluvanna water and sewer, especially the plan with the Department of Corrections to bring water and sewer coverage to Zion Crossroads, to be one of his successes as economic development director.
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“It’s an honor for our school system; it’s an honor for the community”

Fluvanna Superintendent of Schools Gena Keller was named Region V Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) Fluvanna is one of twenty school divisions in Region V, which includes counties like Albemarle and Louisa, and the cities of Charlottesville, Staunton, and Waynesboro.
“I was extremely surprised by the announcement,” said Keller. “I didn’t have any idea – it is not something you apply for at this level,” she explained. “It is determined by your regional superintendents group through nominations and discussion.”
“It truly is a very nice honor - and not just for me personally,” said Keller. “It certainly is nice to be honored in such a way, but it really speaks volumes to what we have done in this community - our school board, our teachers, our staff, our community – all of the people who have just rolled up their sleeves when the funding or resources haven’t been there, and have just made things work contribute to the success of our students.”
VASS cited the successful accreditation of Fluvanna Middle School, after that school spent a year as accredited with warning in math, as one of the reasons for their decision to honor Keller.
The teachers, she said had to determine what they were doing well, but also why some students were not meeting the mark. Did they need tutors? Did they need to be taught a different way? “The foundational piece for each teacher,” said Keller, “is that they care about these kids. “
Keller credited math teacher Ken Yowell from Fluvanna High School for his role in restructuring math instruction at the middle school, calling him an “integral part of the process.”
“That sounds like simple work,” said Keller, “and maybe logical or something that might be easy – that is not easy. That is a lot of very focused hard work,” she said, “and we were out of accreditation with warning in one year.”

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Jason Smith. Photo by Page GiffordJason Smith, Fluvanna’s current director of parks and recreation, will take over as director of community and economic development as current director Bobby Popowicz moves on to a new position in Dayton, Virginia.
“It’s a great fit,” said Smith, who will take over after Popowicz leaves on April 22 and has already begun training. “My position with parks and rec has offered me the opportunity to get out into the community and see how things operate, improve processes, and bring folks together. It all ties back into building relationships.”
Smith’s first goal for his new position is to go into the community and meet local business owners to assess what’s going well in the Fluvanna business climate and what changes are needed. “I’d like to meet the needs of our current clients and then develop a plan on how to get there,” he said. “It’ll be a lot of boots on the ground, getting out, walking around, talking to folks, building relationships.”
The county is holding a business forum in May to gather feedback from local businesses about how to make the county more business-friendly. “In thinking about how to retain businesses, we’ll ask what we’re doing well and what we can improve on,” Smith said.
Lack of infrastructure is the biggest challenge facing Fluvanna’s economic development, said Smith. But Smith pointed hopefully to the “strong base” of businesses in the county, which he said is a “huge attraction” to bringing in small or large corporations.
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Two Palmyra entrepreneurs are taking their businesses to the Tom Tom Founders Festival in Charlottesville next Wednesday night (April 13) to see if they can win over a crowd, grab a prize, and launch their business into an exciting new opportunity.
Becky Blanton and David Durovy are among 10 finalists selected from about 50 applicants to compete in the festival’s crowdfunding night held from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Paramount Theater.
Each of the 10 finalists has three minutes to pitch their business to an audience of hundreds in the hopes of inspiring the crowd to vote for them. Crowd members can buy up to 10 votes at $10 apiece to cast for their favorite candidate, said Shannon Beach, program coordinator for the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC), a group that facilitates networking, education, and microloans to the small business community.
One lucky winner will take home either the cash prize generated by the voting or a coveted spot in the I.Lab at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, which includes a $5,000 expense budget and access to professors, guidance, expertise, computers, and resources. Blanton described the I.Lab as “an entrepreneurial incubator, designed to help entrepreneurs get their business up and running pretty fast.”
One runner-up will receive a free spot in the CIC’s next Entrepreneur Workshop, a 16-week intensive class that trains its students in how to run a successful business. Blanton and Durovy are both graduates of CIC.
Blanton will pitch to the crowd her business, a magazine called the Virginia Entrepreneur, which features local and Virginia small businesses. “I want to focus on the kind of people who will start a business but are too small to be extensively covered in local media,” she said. “I highlight them and talk about their story, successes, and failures. It’s a real deal about what it’s like to start their particular kind of business and how they’ve learned from failure.”
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