Fluvanna Review

The Virginia Senate bill that would crack down on public utilities such as Aqua Virginia now has a companion bill in the House of Delegates.
Introduced by Del. Rob Bell, House Bill 611 contains some of the same provisions as Senate Bill 85, proposed by Sen. Tom Garrett.
The bill would make water and sewer companies subject to the same rules as other utilities, such as telephone and electric, in how they communicate with the State Corporation Commission (SCC).
When setting rates, rather than using more lucrative systems to subsidize lower-yielding systems, as some Lake Monticello residents say Aqua has done, the bill requires the SCC to consider only the cost of providing service to specific customer groups.
Rather than advertising rate increase requests in a newspaper, the bill requires public utilities to notify individual customers through mail or email.
“During the fall I had meetings with people who were concerned about the ways that Aqua Virginia appeared to be making decisions and the way the process with the SCC was being handled,” said Bell, when asked to explain why he proposed the bill.
Ida Swenson said that the Lake Monticello Aqua Virginia ad hoc committee, of which she was chair, “absolutely” had a role in bringing about the bill. She and Ken Schmalzbach went through legislation that forced changes in other states, then made a “wish list” referenced to existing regulations. “I took that list to Tom Garrett and Rob Bell,” Swenson said.
“Garrett took the whole thing and made it a bill,” Swenson said, “but Bell’s bill only does a few of the things on our list. It’s not as good a deal for us as the Senate bill. But it’s absolutely a step in the right direction if we can get it through.”
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The Virginia State Water Control Board voted 6-1 on January 14 to approve a revised permit that allows Dominion Power to release treated water into the James River from coal ash ponds located at its Bremo Power Plant.
This process, called “de-watering,” removes excess liquid from the ponds, where decades of coal ash from the plant’s time as a coal-fired facility are stored, and prepares the toxic residue to be either capped and sealed on site or removed. Once the surface water has been removed from the ponds, wells will be drilled to remove residual water from the ash. That water will likely be contaminated with toxic chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, and lead – by-products of coal combustion – so the permit establishes limits to the amounts of these pollutants that may be released into the river.
The James River Association, as well as the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the James River Outdoor Coalition, and the Falls of the James Commission were vocal opponents of the permit.
“I speak with a strident voice,” said Brad McLane, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, representing the James River Association, “because I believe we are right on the law and I believe this permit does not comply with the law.”
McLane pointed out that the Department of Environmental Quality has a responsibility to prevent damage to vulnerable populations of aquatic life – particularly those that are threatened or endangered. “In the ‘mixing zone,’ at low water conditions,” he emphasized, “there will be a toxic plume that will extend 2,000 feet downriver.” McLane went on to call the permit arbitrary and capricious.

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2015 Fluvanna Penguin Plunge. File PhotoFluvanna County’s annual winter event, the Fluvanna Penguin Plunge, is back and will be held at the Lake Monticello Main Beach on Saturday, Feb. 20. Check-in begins at noon, and the plunge is at 1 p.m.
This year’s plunge will also include a silent auction to be held in the Faulconer Room of the Lake Monticello Clubhouse. Those who want to support the event but stay warm can bid on baskets and watch the plunge from inside.
For those who want to fundraise for the event but stay dry, register and raise money as a “chicken on the beach” and cheer on the brave souls who plunge.
All donations to the Fluvanna Penguin Plunge are split evenly among Fluvanna Habitat for Humanity, Fluvanna Meals on Wheels, Fluvanna SPCA, Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and FAST (Fluvanna Aquatic Sports Team).
The 2015 Penguin Plunge raised over $12,000 for the Fluvanna non-profits. The goal for this year’s plunge is $20,000.
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Some wonder what the future of public libraries is. It is no longer a warehouse for dusty tomes, antiquated microfilm machines – petrifying in storage, never seeing the light of day again – or research materials costing thousands and touched by few. According to experts, the 21st century library will be expanding their roles in communities as trends in culture and education evolve.
Many libraries have already reinvented themselves, becoming the central nucleus in a digital age, disseminating vast amounts of digital information while offering communities vibrant and appealing places to learn and educate themselves by offering current research materials, entertainment, and programs.
Cyndi Hoffman, director of the Fluvanna County Library, is always looking at what’s current and what’s coming, whether it’s a new movie on DVD, audio books, e-books, anything that keeps the community coming and using library resources. Exploration of the trends shaping society is an important factor in determining what happens at local libraries and directors like Hoffman know this.
Hoffman recently addressed the Friends of the Library (FOL), reporting on the latest additions to the library. Already, the library has drawn young families with children to programs, particularly their summer reading program, which is always popular. There are even adult reading programs for adults who ravenously read. Overall, Hoffman has increased programs to 50 events for last year, including pop-up programs at the schools.
“Every second Tuesday of every month we visit the middle school with a program, the latest one was Gadgets and Gizmos,” she said.
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In the fast-paced development game, Fluvanna is getting shut out.
In a world where companies move from scoping out sites to making location commitments in a mere matter of months, having a site ready to go is key in snagging a business’s attention.
But Fluvanna doesn’t have any sites that are ready to go.
In fact, according to a tier system developed by Timmons Group in which a tier five site shows prime readiness for development, all Fluvanna has to offer is tier one.
The Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development commissioned Timmons Group, a design firm with an office in Charlottesville, to study one site per county in the region, analyzing site strengths and shortfalls, and advising counties on how to whip them into shape.
Fluvanna’s studied spot was the Cosner site, a 108-acre parcel of land near Rt. 250 just behind the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, owned by Dillard Cosner. But the site, picked by Fluvanna because of its size and prospects for development, ended up ranked the lowest tier possible.
According to the Timmons Group system, tier one means there’s a willing seller but no county control: Fluvanna doesn’t own the Cosner site, which is zoned agricultural. And there’s not much there, just raw land.
Tier two means the county has control over the site, whether through ownership or some sort of partnership. Business zoning is in place and minimal “due diligence,” such as surveys and environmental reports, have been done.
A tier three site has significant due diligence in place, as well as a master plan that explores what sort of buildings and roads the land can hold and what kind of storm water management will be needed.
Tier four means the site is ready to go with property issues cleared and a building pad in place. Water and sewer connections are on site and grading has been completed.
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