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Riverside  Gate at Rt. 618 and River Ridge Road. Photo by Lisa HurdleMost people in Fluvanna have to navigate Rt. 53 occasionally – and some drivers have to do it twice or more a day. But tucked into a four-mile stretch just over the Albemarle County line are three of the trickiest intersections in Fluvanna County.
First comes the intersection between Rt. 53 and Rt. 618, Lake Monticello Road, where drivers turning left onto Rt. 618 can back up a whole line of traffic, causing frustration at best and potential rear-end collisions at worst. And forget about turning onto Rt. 53 from Rt. 618 – finding a hole in the continuous line of cars at rush hour is next to impossible.
According to statistics from the Virginia Department of Transportation there have been 16 crashes within 250 feet of that intersection in just five years: from 2009 through 2013, the last year for which statistics are available. And fully half of them took place within one year: 2011.
So that year VDOT began the lengthy process of improving the intersection. Since 2011 the schedule has been pushed back, and now VDOT expects to advertise the project this December. But hopefully by the fall of 2015, and at a cost of $1.08 million, the intersection will be completely revamped.
First, VDOT plans to add a left-turn lane on Rt. 53 eastbound, so that cars trying to turn left onto Rt. 618 don’t have to hold up the entire line of traffic. Next, VDOT will offset the right-turn lane on Rt. 53 westbound, also onto Rt. 618. And finally, it will move the stopbar at the end of Rt. 618 to the south to increase what is currently a limited line of sight.
Tufton Gate
Less than half a mile down the road from that intersection is another dangerous intersection at Lake Monticello’s Tufton Gate. That gate sits on Monish Road – a tiny downhill stretch of pavement with limited lines of sight in either direction on Rt. 53. And, just as with the intersection with Rt. 618, the absence of a left-turn lane means that any drivers wishing to turn into the gate must hold up the entire line of traffic.

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Between 30 and 50 of Fluvanna County Sheriff Eric Hess’s campaign signs were stolen off of Rt. 53 around midnight Monday (Sept. 15).
One of Hess’s campaign workers was putting out signs late so as to avoid holding up traffic, Hess said. But as he turned around to go home, he noticed that the signs he had put up were already gone. “He had virtually just put them out,” Hess said.
The campaign worker had noticed a white Ford F150 parked by a street where some of the signs were stolen but hadn’t paid any attention to it at the time, Hess said, so the sheriff’s office doesn’t have a license plate or physical description to use.
Hess’s challenger for the sheriff’s position, Mark Belew, has also had about 15 signs go missing from homeowner property in the Fork Union and Kents Store area, which Belew said makes the theft a crime against the homeowner. He has urged those affected to contact the sheriff’s office.
“It’s petty and it’s criminal,” Belew said of the sign theft. “I would never condone that. I encourage people to support a candidate at the polls and not through any criminal activities.”
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Missing emails from the account of former Fluvanna County Administrator Cabell Lawton have been found, according to an email sent from the county’s attorneys to lawyers representing Davenport.
Davenport’s attorneys requested access to these emails three years ago as part of a discovery motion in the county’s lawsuit, which alleges that Davenport gave bad financial advice to the county about the purchase of bonds to fund the construction of the new high school. The county asserts that this advice cost the county money.
An attorney for the county admitted in a hearing on Aug. 14 that the emails were lost. Judge Albert Swersky then gave the county a two week deadline to produce the emails, which the county missed.
Although the emails have been located, they have not yet been submitted to Davenport’s attorneys. The county first must go through the emails to make certain that no privileged communications are released.
According to the county’s attorneys, a change in how old emails were stored, which took place before the current information technology director was employed by Fluvanna, meant that anyone wanting to access those records had to go in through a separate portal in order to do so. When Fluvanna’s IT director contacted the vendor’s support team, they were able to locate the missing emails.
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Robert Mayfield, Jason Smith and Jerry Crouse. Photo courtesy of Tenaska

To celebrate its 10th anniversary in Fluvanna County, Tenaska Virginia invited state and local leaders, Tenaska Energy corporate figures, and all 29 of its employees to a dinner at Pleasant Grove Tuesday night (Sept. 9).
In honor of the anniversary, Plant Manager Dr. Robert Mayfield presented a check for $2,500 to Jason Smith, director of Fluvanna’s parks and recreation department, for the “continuing development of the Pleasant Grove area.”
Thanking Tenaska for being a “dedicated community partner,” Smith announced the money will be used to construct a 760-square foot permanent stage at Pleasant Grove. “Whether the amphitheater is used for a wedding, sunrise yoga classes, awards ceremony for the Boy Scouts or any of our special events where music entertainment takes place, this contribution is going to help make many positive memories,” Smith said.
As she spoke to the gathering, Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Mozell Booker recalled the controversy that surrounded Tenaska when it first located within the county. But despite the dispute, “It did not take long to realize what a jewel we had in Tenaska,” Booker said. “Tenaska was our community supporter.”

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In order to promote all of the positives about life in Fluvanna, some members of the community have joined with county officials in launching an I Love Fluvanna marketing campaign. As part of this effort, several members of the Fluvanna community agreed to answer two questions about their county: What is your favorite thing about Fluvanna? And what is the main improvement you want for the county?

Mark Belew, candidate for sheriff
Favorite
What I love most about Fluvanna is the beauty of the landscape, the laid back rural lifestyle and our uniquely old-fashioned appeal. Most importantly, what sets Fluvanna apart is our people. Whether around your home, at the grocery store or out for a stroll, you’re always amongst close friends. There are many places people can call home, but only one place you can call yourself a Fluco.
Improvement
The key to Fluvanna’s future is a vibrant and resilient economy to bolster opportunity, safe and healthy neighborhoods, and top-notched educational systems. There is a dire need for tax base diversity and the infrastructure to sustain responsible growth without sacrificing our country charm.
Mozell Booker, Fork Union supervisor and Board chair
Favorite
I love everything about Fluvanna: its rich history, rural environment, diverse population, and its intelligent, caring people.
Improvement
We need more revenue to take the tax burden off of our citizens. Economic development is the answer. We are going to make this happen.
Sheriff Eric Hess, candidate for sheriff
Favorite
My favorite thing about Fluvanna is our strong sense of community. The people make it special. Their generosity, concern for the less fortunate, and willingness to share of themselves – be it through churches, schools or non-profits like Meals on Wheels – all contribute to what makes Fluvanna culturally diverse and great. My favorite place in the county is Pleasant Grove Park.
Improvement
I would love to see water and sewer infrastructure built so that new businesses and jobs can develop and grow in our community. With more job opportunities, our young people can stay here and work locally.
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