Fluvanna Review

Wallace Boots Wills. File photoFluvanna County has lost one of its most dedicated volunteers and mentors in the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Department. Wallace William “Boots” Wills, 58, died at home on Monday, July 6, after a four year battle with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Wills had served as Chief of the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Department for over 30 years.
Wills leaves behind his wife, Donna Wills, two sons and their families, and siblings – but his family was bigger than that – his family was also the fire department, and the greater community.
“He had more than two sons; he had many daughters,” said Wills’ niece Nicole Kober. “There is also the fire department family,” she explained. “He was an inspiration for all of us; we all grew up around him, and seeing his commitment to the fire department made me want to do it – made a lot of us want to do it, “ she said. “It is in our blood, now.”
The size of Wills’ extended family was obvious on both the visitation night at Palmyra Fire House and at his graveside funeral service. The line to enter the firehouse to visit with Wills’ family went from the front door across the parking lot to the road; over 500 people signed the guest book. The late morning graveside service was equally well attended, despite near 100 degree temperatures.
“I think it was evident at the family night and the funeral the number of friends that he had,” said Fluvanna fire chief and Will’s good friend Mike Brent. “A lot of those friends were from the fire department or work or just people he knew. He could make friends with anybody,” Brent added. “He was so friendly and he would lend a hand to help anybody, and I think that was evident in the family night and the funeral. He is going to be missed.“

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Confederate Park in Palmyra. Photo by Tricia JohnsonCounty asks residents for name suggestions

A tiny park in Palmyra, home to a memorial honoring the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War, is suddenly rather nameless now that its unofficial title, Confederate Park, has been called into question.
After a white gunman shot and killed nine black people in a historic church in South Carolina on June 17, the fallout swept over the South as some began to call for the removal of Confederate flags and symbols.
Fluvanna County is no exception, as the first meeting of the Board of Supervisors since the massacre, held on Wednesday afternoon (July 1), had on its agenda a close look at the county’s so-called Confederate Park.
Over a year ago new signage went up in many of the county’s spots of interest. At that time, said County Administrator Steve Nichols, staff considered what name to put on the park’s sign. They couldn’t find any records of a formal naming process, Nichols said, but had heard the park colloquially referred to as Confederate Park. When they asked the Fluvanna Historical Society what name to put on the sign, Nichols said, it recommended Confederate Park.
Chairperson Mozell Booker, who put the issue onto the Board’s agenda, began the discussion, which remained polite and respectful throughout, by clarifying that supervisors were not looking to change the park itself. “At no time are we thinking about doing anything to the park,” she said. “We’re not thinking about moving anything… The monument that we have there, the Confederate monument, is a part of our history. It’s Fluvanna’s history, it’s my history, and that’s something that we’re not looking to change.”
“Now what I in particular, speaking for myself, want [is] to repurpose the park,” she continued. “When we were doing the signage in the county about a year or so [ago] the park was named the Confederate Park. That’s the only thing in the park, so it’s pretty natural that the signage would say Confederate Park. Since then I’ve been thinking about repurposing it so that we could have other monuments in the park. We could have a monument for our veterans of foreign war, [etc.]… It would be a park that would be inviting to everyone.”
For example, Booker said, the Emancipation Proclamation is now more than 150 years old. She has had conversations, she said, about having a monument at the park in honor of the Emancipation Proclamation. “It would be very appropriate in my own opinion if we could repurpose the park…[if] we could put some other monuments there,” she said.
“Is this the right time?” she asked rhetorically, considering the dialogue sweeping the South. “It’s always the right time to talk about Fluvanna County. I know it’s a lot about the Confederate flag and all that, and we understand – we’re mature adults. This is just as good a time as any other… I think it’s a good time for us to put the discussion out there and then we can have the citizens give us their input.”
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Ben Hudson, 54, announced Friday (July 3) that he is “ending all campaign activities for the office of Fluvanna County treasurer.”
Though his name will still appear on the ballot, Hudson hopes Fluvanna residents won’t vote for him. “I’m not running an active campaign,” he said.
Hudson no longer wants to be treasurer because he has “accepted an offer to do something else,” he said. He will work in the technology education department at Fluvanna County High School, teaching students in grades 8-12 classes related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), such as engineering process, design, and modeling.
“Hudson would like to express profound gratitude to his campaign staff and the many volunteers and supporters for their commitment and loyalty to his campaign,” a press release stated.
Linda Lenherr, long-time Fluvanna treasurer, is the only other candidate in the race. The election is Nov. 3.

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Photos by Christina Dimeo GusemanThe little park in Palmyra that contains a monument to Fluvanna’s Confederate soldiers has apparently never received a formal name, and its colloquial name – Confederate Park – has raised some eyebrows recently.
At the last meeting of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, Chairperson Mozell Booker suggested officially adopting a different name, such as Memorial Park or Monument Park. Supervisors decided to seek input from Fluvanna residents before making any decisions.
The Fluvanna Review asked various community members what they thought about the issue.
Rhon Williams: I think they should leave it what it’s named, because you’d be changing history. And whether you find that history offensive or you don’t, it is still history, and when we change history, we hide the truth from people.
Nelson McDaniel: I think they should keep it the way it is. It’s all I’ve known since I was a kid. It’s not about racism or anything.
Ginia Wood: Keep it the way it is. It’s just a name.
Cynthia Tolbert: I like Memorial Park because it’s appealing. I have an idea of why they’re thinking of changing the name, so it’ll appeal to everybody, not offend anybody – that’s very sensitive these days. Memorials always make you think of what our country’s gone through and the people that have served and it makes you want to pay homage to them.
Richard Payne: I think I’d leave it like it is. The monument itself honors the Confederate soldiers, and so therefore the name Confederate Park seems appropriate.
Ellen Lull: I’m not sure that I want it to be politically correct. It’s a Confederate Park. I don’t like politically correct terms, period. I’d have to really think about this, whether I would want to agree that we could change the name.
Marion Johnson: I guess so – a change would be good. Everything else changes. It would be nice to put more memorials in the park. It would be better for the community, something that they can go out and see, something different instead of sticking to the same thing.
Kristin Fields: We can’t rewrite history. It’s one thing to fly a flag over a state capitol – it’s another thing to change the name of a park that’s been there for decades commemorating a part of our history. As a reminder of our history it can serve as a warning when you stumble upon it.
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In an effort to tackle the problem of unapproved roads – that is, roads not accepted into the state system – plaguing various subdivisions county-wide, the Fluvanna County planning department is working on assembling a complete list.
This list will enumerate the county’s unapproved roads and the subdivisions in which they are located. Jason Stewart, planning and zoning administrator, told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday afternoon (July 1) that his department is peering into another question, as well – whether bonds remain on the roads, and if so, how much.
Not all of the county’s unapproved roads have bonds, or money put up by the developer to pay for the work required to bring those roads into the state system. And even if they do, the money may not be enough to cover the needed repairs.
According to Fluvanna’s zoning and subdivision ordinance, major subdivisions – those with more than five lots – require roads to be improved to standards set by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and dedicated to public use.
Under Virginia code, the county has no obligation to pay for the completion of the roads, Stewart said, and can’t be compelled to do so.
When Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch asked whether that meant that the county could choose to pay for the roads, County Attorney Fred Payne said that two recent amendments made the law debatable. When pressed for a definitive answer, Payne said that he thought it “likely” that the county could spend the money if it so desired.
Through no fault of their own, said Ullenbruch, many Fluvanna citizens are “in a bad spot,” living on streets they were told would be state-maintained. Instead they drive daily on roads that no one will plow or maintain – and they run the risk of footing the bill themselves.
When Stewart said that ultimately the developer and homeowners bear the responsibility to bring the roads into the state system, Payne spoke up. Calling that a
“last ditch” statement, he said that while technically correct, if a developer exists the law clearly points to the developer as the responsible party. The only way a developer can get out of this obligation is by going bankrupt, he said. That, however, is exactly what happened in the case of some of these subdivisions in question.
In that case, the successor developer bears the responsibility of bringing the roads into the state system. But identifying the successor developer can be trickier than it seems. While a successor developer was defined at one point in the meeting as someone who buys lots in a subdivision with a desire to build on them, one such company denied to the Fluvanna Review that it was, in fact, a successor developer, claiming instead to be merely an owner of lots.
Two subdivisions with unapproved roads and no road bonds, both on Rt. 53, are Cunningham Meadows and Taylor Ridge, said Stewart. His office hopes to have the complete list ready to present to the Board at its Aug. 5 meeting.
In other business:
• The Board also turned its attention to the new E911 radio communications system project, approving a contract for just under $100,000 with RCC Consultants. As the county’s consultants, the company will work with vendor Motorola to make sure that the county receives everything that has been agreed to, said Joe Rodish, procurement officer, and to see that the project goes as smoothly as possible. The money comes from the existing radio project fund, which now has an uncommitted balance of about $287,000.
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