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Radar gunA familiar scenario: You’re driving along the highways and byways of Fluvanna County – perhaps in a hurry, perhaps just not paying attention – and you suddenly see those flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror.

According to statistics provided by the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), deputies made 2,995 traffic stops between Aug. 1, 2016, and Aug. 1, 2017, and issued 903 traffic summonses. Of those, 476 were for speeding, 66 were for reckless driving, and 12 were reckless driving at 20 miles per hour (mph) or more over the posted limit. Deputies also made 74 arrests for driving while intoxicated.

Capt. David Wells of the FCSO said the overall goal of traffic enforcement is safety. “We try to focus on needs-based enforcement,” he said. “We target locations that either generated traffic-related complaints [or] an area that may be prone to motor vehicle crashes.”

Deputies responded to 473 crashes since August 2016, and three people were killed in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer on Route 15 in late January, but the emphasis on the most trouble-prone areas has helped improve overall safety. Earlier this year the county was recognized by the Department of Motor Vehicles for having zero traffic fatalities in 2016.  Add a comment

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Reserve deputiesHundreds of residents joined first responders at Pleasant Grove on Tuesday (Aug. 1) for Fluvanna County’s Second Annual National Night Out. Featuring a “bike rodeo” course, a cornhole toss, a bounce-house, a “family fun run,” sno-cones and music, it was a great way to pass a summer evening – but it was also a way to build community between citizens and law enforcement.

Building bridges is more important now than ever as public confidence in law enforcement has dropped to near-record lows in recent years. From national controversies like the police shooting that sparked riots in Ferguson, Mo., to the local debate over the teargassing of protesters in Charlottesville after the Ku Klux Klan rally last month, the perception that the police are working against the people has eroded trust in law enforcement.

Even in the best of times, people tend to only come in contact with the police in moments of stress. First held in 1984, National Night Out was designed to give the public and law enforcement a space where they could relax and connect without stress.
“This shows that we are actually human beings,” Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Von Hill told Charlottesville Newsplex. “We’re doing jobs that ordinary people are doing.” Add a comment

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waterFor the fifth time in 13 years, Aqua Virginia has started the process of raising water and sewer rates for its customers in Fluvanna.

Aqua’s biggest customer in Virginia is the Lake Monticello system, which serves Lake Monticello and Sycamore Square. Aqua also provides water service to Columbia, Palmyra, and Stagecoach Hills. All told, the company provides service to 4,648 locations in Fluvanna. Lake Monticello and Sycamore Square account for 4,550.

Aqua plans to file its rate case with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) on or around Aug. 1, said Gretchen Toner, spokesperson for Aqua America.

Aqua has not released any specifics on how high it wants to raise water and sewer rates, and the rate case filing was not available at press time. John Aulbach, president of Aqua Virginia, will discuss details of the rate case with the Fluvanna Review after the paperwork is filed, Toner said.

Because one rate increase was phased in over two years, Aqua customers have actually seen their water and sewer rates increase six times since the company purchased the system in 2003.

The average water and sewer bill at Lake Monticello is $118 – an amount that has more than tripled since the average customer paid $38 a month in the years before and immediately after Aqua bought the system. Add a comment

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Maddie Jamison jumps in the poolJuly is the hottest month of the year for Central Virginia, and that’s rarely been more true than this July.

In the first 21 days of the month, Fluvanna County weather stations recorded daytime highs in the 90s on 19 days, and you have to go all the way back to July 9 to find a day that was merely in the upper 80s.

The average temperature for this time of year is around 86 degrees.

Combined with high humidity threatening to push the heat index as high as 109 degrees, it’s no surprise that Cheryl Elliott, Fluvanna County emergency management coordinator, issued a press release on Friday warning residents to beware of the potentially dangerous temperatures and recommending that people in need of cooling head to the Fluvanna County Library or, for Lake Monticello residents, the Fairway Clubhouse. Add a comment

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Sluicing in streamThere’s a saying among the members of the Central Virginia Gold Prospectors: “If you want gold, buy it; if you want to have fun, prospect.” That philosophy is evident if you happen to attend one of the club’s monthly digs in Buckingham County. Hanging out with these guys is like reverting back to your childhood; that of playing in streams, digging, and hopefully, finding treasures.

On every third Saturday of the month since 1998, the club members have descended upon Buckingham County. They come from all over – Roanoke, Suffolk, Fredericksburg, Amherst, Powhatan, Midlothian, and as far away as Pennsylvania. One member, Jim Windle, decided to purchase a home in Buckingham after coming to the county for over 30 years. “My wife teaches at Longwood University,” said Windle. “She got tired of the weekend drives, so we moved here.”

Buckingham has a history of being an area that has some of the purest gold in the country. And that gold can be found, if you know where to look and how to prospect. 

In order to establish claims with Buckingham landowners, the club had to research historical archives and use word of mouth. “Buckingham was the largest producer of gold in the country before the Civil War,” said John Schlaback, club president, who hails from Waynesboro. “There were a large number of gold mines in the county.” Names such as Morrow Mine, Seay Mine, Booker Mine, and Bondurant Mine are part of Buckingham’s goldmining history.

The California Gold Rush enticed many prospectors to leave the Buckingham mines and head west. The Civil War also pulled the miners away, causing the mines to be abandoned. Many of the mines were also burned during the war. It has only been in the past 30 years that these mines have been rediscovered and explored.

“We have land rights to come to Buckingham and prospect,” said Lynne Shaw, club treasurer.  “We pay a lease to use private property. It’s sort of like hunting rights. Hunters take away game; we take away gold.” 

The club’s website has a large amount of information on the history of gold in Virginia. The site notes that Thomas Jefferson made one of the first references to gold in 1782, when he described finding a gold-bearing rock, weighing four pounds, north of the Rappahannock River. Buckingham County’s Booker Mine was opened in 1835 and the Bondurant in 1836, during a time that was known at the golden age, or the first gold rush.

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