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Leake and Mary Winston.  Photo by Tricia JohnsonIt was 1940, and the Fluvanna Lake Dance Hall on Raccoon Creek was hopping. Country music drifted through the open door; dancers circled the floor to ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky,’ perhaps, or Hank William’s ‘Lovesick Blues.’ World War I was a distant memory now, and the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, which provoked America’s involvement in World War II, was more than a year away. The Great Depression had loosened its grip on the community; the end of an era of privation and fear had made even casual celebrations like the weekly dance more festive, somehow.
Seventeen-year-old Leake Winston had arrived from his home in Goochland County in fine style, driving six of his friends – three couples – to the dance in his 1934 Chevrolet. Mary Brookman, 16, was at the dance with her father. It didn’t take Leake long to spot Mary in the crowd. “She was a pretty girl,” he admitted, with an affectionate grin.
The dance hall was busy every Saturday night, with bands playing country favorites for guests to dance to – ‘square dancing or round dancing’ reads one old flyer. Alcohol was strictly forbidden, but that didn’t stop some people from hiding liquor in their cars, and slipping out now and then for a drink.
Leake Winston danced several dances with Mary, and then asked if he could give her a ride home from the dance. “She wouldn’t tell me yes, I could take her home,” he remembered; “I had to go ask her dad.”
Mary’s father was her only living parent; her mother had died when she was just three years old. As a young man, her father had been a musician. “He used to could play instruments,” Mary remembered, “and he said sometimes he would play all night when he was younger...guitar, or fiddle – that was before he ever married.”  His love for music apparently never faded. “Best dancer in the room, he was,” Mary said with pride, nodding.
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James Arnold Moses III. Photo courtesy of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s OfficeThe man accused of abducting his 3-year-old daughter turned himself in to the Waynesboro Police Department Monday night (Feb. 8), according to the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office.
James Arnold Moses III, 25, of Lyndhurst in Augusta County, had been on the run since the abduction of Haven Melina Moses.
James Moses took his biological daughter from a caretaker’s home at 5128 West River Road near Scottsville in Fluvanna County on Friday evening (Feb. 5) in violation of a protective order, according to the sheriff’s office.
Haven was returned safely to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday evening (Feb. 7) after being missing for about two days, according to authorities.
The incident prompted the Virginia State Police to issue an AMBER alert declaring her to be in “extreme danger.”
“We talked to some of Moses’ family members and explained the best thing we could do was get Haven to a safe place,” said Lt. David Wells of the Fluvanna sheriff’s office. “Later Sunday evening a family member brought Haven to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office.” The girl was safe and unharmed, and is now with her mother, Albemarle resident Nichole Melia, Wells said.
The Fluvanna sheriff’s office has obtained warrants for James Moses for violation of a protective order and parental abduction.
The abduction wasn’t reported until Saturday evening (Feb. 6), when an investigation launched. “We were concerned for her health, safety, and wellbeing with him,” said Wells.

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In one year the Fluvanna County Department of Social Services lost 60 percent of its staff, Director Kim Mabe told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday night (Feb. 3).
From August 2014 to August 2015, 15 employees out of a total of 25 left Fluvanna’s social services office. Of those, 12 reported that they left for better money or benefits elsewhere, Mabe said.
“We have become a training ground for bigger surrounding agencies,” Mabe told supervisors.
Because of this, the social services board requested that the Virginia Department of Social Services conduct an alignment study. The study found that most employees make “significantly below” recommended salaries, with some employees up to 49 percent below, Mabe said.
Mabe said that she wants to pay her workers more. But when Supervisor Tony O’Brien began asking about the alignment study, County Administrator Steve Nichols said that social services has typically had money left over in its budget – money that could have been spent on employees. For whatever reason, he said, it has chosen not to do so.
Social services board member Tom Payne took issue with Nichols’ assessment, saying that the social services board has felt tremendous county pressure to not spend additional money on salaries. The clearly emotional issue was not resolved at the meeting.
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supervisor don weaver with his five children. Photo by Christina DimeoAfter 35 years of service to Fluvanna, Supervisor Don Weaver was honored by having a county building dedicated to him Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 3).
The new Donald W. Weaver building is adjacent to the historic courthouse in Palmyra. It currently serves as the Children’s Services Act (CSA) office.
“In view of his tireless dedication and continuing years of service, the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors wishes to recognize these efforts,” County Administrator Steve Nichols read from the resolution he presented to Weaver.
Weaver served as the Cunningham district School Board representative from 1980 to 1987, and has been the Cunningham district supervisor since 1990. He has also served on numerous county and area boards, commissions, and committees over the past 35 years, Nichols said.
Past and present members of the Board of Supervisors gathered to honor Weaver at the presentation, as did several members of Weaver’s family.
Former Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch said that a couple years ago he began pushing for the county to celebrate living members of the community rather than waiting till they were “six feet underground. So,” he continued, “I said we better hurry up and get Don’s plaque up.”
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Dominion’s Director of Environmental Services, Cathy Taylor. Photo by Tricia JohnsonDominion Virginia Power is moving ahead with plans to remove water from coal ash ponds at its Bremo Power Station. The power company has presented a proposal for treatment of that water to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for its review, and with DEQ’s expected approval, hopes to begin discharge of treated wastewater from Bremo into the James River in the next few months.
“This process is really the last stage of the plans that we have implemented to stop burning coal at the station,” said Cathy Taylor, Dominion’s chief environmental officer. The Bremo Power Plant converted from burning coal to using natural gas to generate electricity in 2014. “We will pursue this project in such a way that it is protective of the environment. We are excited to get it started, and get it completed.”
Already Dominion is in the process of removing water from one of the ash ponds, to make way for a future water treatment facility. The water from that pond is being moved to one of two other ash ponds on the property.
The plans to dewater ash ponds at two Dominion Virginia power stations – plants at Bremo and at Possum Point in Prince William County - have come under sharp criticism from environmental groups, who claim that the permit limits set by the DEQ and approved by the Virginia Water Board in its meeting on Jan. 14 do not meet EPA Clean Water Act standards.
“We are disappointed that the board voted to approve a permit that falls short of protecting the health of the James River,” said Bill Street, CEO of the James River Association, in an email. “We are considering all options for possible next steps, including an appeal of the permit.”
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