Fluvanna Review

In February Lake Monticello resident Roxanne Carter-Johnston became Fluvanna County’s first-ever community volunteer coordinator. The Fluvanna Review caught up with Carter-Johnston, who is herself a volunteer, to learn more about her new role in the county.
What is your role as the community volunteer coordinator?
I’m responsible for cultivating volunteers from our diverse pool of community members. I’m also charged with identifying needs around the county to create volunteer opportunities. Understanding the challenge that comes with encouraging volunteerism, it’s important for me to take advantage of every moment available to convince individuals and businesses that they can help make a difference.
Why did you decide to go for the job?
I noticed this position last spring or summer and I’d been debating since then whether to step up to the plate. I like volunteering and helping others, and I feel that if there’s a need and I have the ability to fulfill that need then I will do what I can, especially if it’s for a good cause. I used to work in the non-profit world – I loved my role and seeing the impact the organization made on the Charlottesville-area community. When I left I promised myself that I’d continue to give to the community in some way; I saw this position as an additional way to do just that.
What are some goals you have for your tenure in this job?
I’d like to:
• Encourage volunteerism: I’d love for Fluvanna businesses and individuals to understand the importance of volunteering and the positive impact their efforts can make on our community.
• Build/grow our community volunteer database: If my efforts of encouraging volunteerism are successful I feel we will be equally successful in growing our database of volunteers and opportunities.
• Effectively connect volunteers to opportunities: I’d like to “seal the deal” – I want to make sure that the opportunities we have are fulfilled by volunteers. My role is to coordinate and execute, and I feel I’ve done my job effectively when the needed position is filled.

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Randi AllredThe third annual Fluvanna’s Got Talent took place on Saturday, March 7, at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center with an array of talented musicians. A total of 15 people came to audition the previous week and 10 made the cut.
Returning was Cadillac Wil Lee, with his earthy ballad, strumming on his guitar and Bree Key, singing Way Down a capella style. New participants emerged like Erin Small, also a singer and guitarist with a strong voice and soft style.
The brother-sister team of Alex Hill and Ella Hill showed vast potential with their skills at the piano. Alex, only eight-years-old, revealed no nerves as he flawlessly played a medley of American folk songs; his sister, more advanced and a few years older played a medley as well.
Kayla Corredera-Wells, a songwriter and pianist with a multi-instrumental background said she was self- taught. On the flip side, 11-year-old Mia LaRochelle studies voice under Marie Jones, a soprano who competed in the last Fluvanna’s Got Talent. Many thought she also showed promise as a singer.
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© istockphoto.com/sankaiThroughout Fluvanna County are subdivision roads that are supposed to be part of the state system but instead sit deteriorating.
This matters because the residents of those subdivisions – aside from putting up with inconveniences like no buses allowed on their streets or no plowing when it snows – may find themselves stuck with a hefty bill when the roads degenerate to the point of demanding repair.
Jason Stewart, planning and zoning administrator, showed supervisors on Wednesday afternoon (March 4) a list of 26 subdivisions in the county containing a total of 57 unapproved roads.
Stewart explained that the zoning and subdivision ordinance requires major subdivisions, or those with more than five lots, to have roads improved to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) standards and accepted into VDOT’s system.
Bankruptcy and developer turnover, largely due to the recession, “cloud the ownership” of the roads, said Stewart. Some roads have bonds to cover some or all of the costs of bringing the roads into the state system, but some do not.
“Frankly, this is because the county was more forbearing than it should have been,” said County Attorney Fred Payne. “In the era of hot real estate development it really wasn’t an issue. It’s only really come up with the bubble that burst in 2008… I say that there is some fault on the part of the county, and there is, but it’s not entirely the county’s fault, because in some cases what probably happened was that the developer went through bankruptcy…and he was no longer available.”

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Town of Columbia’s main street. Photo by Tricia JohnsonIt has been almost 227 years since a canny Scotsman named David Ross petitioned Virginia’s General Assembly for permission to establish the town of Columbia where the Rivanna River meets the James. On March 17, residents of Virginia’s smallest town will vote to determine whether or not Columbia remains a town or becomes part of Fluvanna County.
The theme running through the life story of the town of Columbia is location, location, location. Transportation of goods in Ross’ day was largely accomplished by way of water. The James River and the Rivanna River were virtual thoroughfares for the movement of products from the port towns of Virginia’s coast, or from manufacturers in Richmond, west and north to consumers; and for raw materials – essentially tobacco – to travel from those places south and east. Ross knew that a town located where those two rivers joined would soon become a bustling hub of commerce – and he was right. During its days of affluence, Columbia boasted multiple general stores, a cobbler, a watchmaker, a lumberyard – its own fire department.
In the mid-nineteenth century, travel and transportation by rail supplanted that by river. And since the rail lines tended to follow the rivers, Columbia continued to thrive, with trains running from Columbia to Richmond and back again several times a day, carrying commuting workers and shoppers back and forth from one river town to the other.

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Plaguing some subdivisions around Fluvanna County is a pesky little problem that sometimes pops up when it snows then lays dormant for the rest of the year – but if left unchecked could blow up into a nightmare for the homeowners who live there.
The problem is this: No one will claim responsibility for the roads.
So when it snows, no one plows – as in the case of Needham Village, a nine-house subdivision off of Rt. 618 (Lake Monticello Road). Residents drive over the snow or remain inside their houses, waiting for it to melt. The slick road is seen by some residents as a nuisance – maybe even a tremendous nuisance – but, after all, one that only pops up two or three times a year.
Or parents drive their children all the way to where their subdivision hits the main road, as in the case of Taylor Ridge off Rt. 53, because school buses usually can’t drive on private roads. It’s an inconvenience – maybe even a terrible inconvenience – but it becomes routine.
But what happens when the roads start falling apart? When the potholes proliferate and the cracks in the asphalt branch like lightning bolts till chunks of the road break under the weight of the cars driving over it? Who pays for the road then?
It could be the homeowners.
How did this happen?
During the boom in the early 2000s developers flocked to create subdivisions – many right here in Fluvanna – and the thought of what could happen if they were left unfinished typically didn’t arise, said Steve Tugwell, senior planner for Fluvanna County, “because people were finishing them.”

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