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Members of the high school’s Youth Empowerment Alliance. Photo by Tricia JohnsonThe Youth Empowerment Alliance, formed in the fall of 2014 at Fluvanna High School, has a five-point purpose: to support young high school males, to build self-esteem, to improve academic achievement, to promote social and cultural awareness, and to develop servant leaders.
Assistant Principal Jason Lee describes himself as a “facilitator” and a “logistics manager.” He works alongside these young men, following their lead as he has from the start. Lee headed a similar program in Prince Edward Academy, and was thinking that the time was right to begin a program like it in Fluvanna, when he was approached by his son, who had been discussing the same thing with some of his friends.
“I was sitting there thinking that this would be good for our kids - a lot of them are capable of doing great things; they just need to see it with their own eyes to realize it. When the kids said they were envisioning the same thing, I knew it was meant to be,” said Lee.
Lee is bemused by testing standards released by the Virginia Department of Education.
The Virginia Department of Education has lower expectations for African American students than it does for white ones. The 2014-2015 Expected Average Measurable Objectives in English is for 76 percent of white students to pass the SOL, with only 64 percent of African American students passing. For mathematics, the numbers are white students at 71 percent, with African American students at 62 percent.
The young men of the Youth Empowerment Alliance, are determined to change that statistic, and change society’s expectation of what African American students can achieve.
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For the first time in recent memory the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a budget and tax rate.
Wednesday night (April 15) supervisors voted 5-0 to adopt a fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget of $68.3 million with a corresponding real property tax rate of 89.9 cents per $100 valuation and a personal property tax rate of $4.35 per $100 valuation. These new rates constitute a 3.5-cent increase over the equalized real property tax rate of 86 cents and a 20-cent increase from the 2014 personal property tax rate of $4.15. The real estate taxes of the average Fluvanna homeowner will increase by $74 from $1,634 to $1,708.
“A 5-0 vote by a Board of our composition sends a powerful message that compromise was reached to address the needs and concerns of the county,” said Supervisor Tony O’Brien after the meeting. “This is a recognition that the county has some real needs, and it’s rare when you have all five supervisors saying, ‘This is the right thing for the county at this point in time.’ I think that speaks volumes as to the hard work and dedication of staff and of supervisors to find that compromise.”
Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch agreed. “I think this Board as a group of five worked very well together this year,” he said, “and I think we did the people’s work with a lot of compromise and a lot of thinking. I mean, a 5-0 vote doesn’t happen very often, and I think it’s a tribute to all five of us who took the time to work together.”
“What can I say?” said Chairperson Mozell Booker with a wide smile. “I have to give credit to the Board members for really trying to compromise. When we had our work sessions they made sure they brought people in to address their questions, and they didn’t take no for an answer. They looked for ways to make it work.”
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Mozell Booker and Bob Ullenbruch at a Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meeting. Photo by Tricia JohnsonMozell Booker, chair of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, confirmed to the Fluvanna Review this morning (April 20) that she will run for re-election in her Fork Union district this November.
Current Palmyra Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch confirmed that he is not running for re-election so the running field is wide open.
“My main reason is preparation for the future,” Booker said of her re-election plans.  “I got on the Board eight years ago to prepare for infrastructure, and I think we are at the point now where it is pretty evident we are going in that direction.
“In order to finance our core services for our community we must get some economic development up there at Zion Crossroads,” she continued.“And not only there – we need to have a plan for water in all of the growth areas.  Once we can see that we’re on our way with water from the James River, and when we decide on the Department of Corrections, whether we’re going to do water or just do sewer, then we need to start planning for how we’re going to get that water from Columbia up Rt. 6 to Dixie so that we can start moving the water into other areas.  We need to have a plan, and we are working on one.”
Ultimately Booker wants to lower taxes for Fluvanna homeowners.  “I can’t promise that because before we get there [with businesses shouldering more of the burden] we may have to go up a little bit.  But that is the long-term objective, to try to get a sustained tax rate for people so we aren’t jerking them around every time we turn around.”
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Rascal was reunited with Jacob Collier.  Photo by www.jaltieriphotography.comA group of local animal advocates are using the extended reach of social media to help reunite lost pets with their families.
According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association, 63 percent of Americans consider their pets to be family members. One Palmyra woman, Debbie Kavanaugh, who has volunteered with many animal rescues in Fluvanna, has set up the Facebook Page “Lost and Found Pets Fluvanna Virginia” to help families of lost pets recover their dogs and cats.
“I started the page a little under two years ago after scrolling around the Lost and Found Dogs Virginia page,” said Kavanaugh. “I felt if I refined it to just my own county the success rate for reunions would be higher.”
Kavanaugh is motivated by her compassion for people and animals. “My heart goes out to families that are sick with worry over their missing pets,” she explained.
“The page has surpassed any expectation…it now has over 850 avid and fierce animal lovers, who seem ready and willing to help,” said Kavanaugh. When asked if she had a favorite reunion story, her answer was swift, “No - any day a pet is reunited with its family is a memorable and great day!” she said. “The page has had dogs, cats, parakeets, horses and even a chicken lost or found,” Kavanaugh said.
Nicole Crandall of Palmyra and her sixth grade son Jacob Collier know all too well the fear and anxiety experienced when a beloved pet is missing. They adopted “Rascal,” a black Labrador retriever mix, from local animal rescue Green Dogs Unleashed. Crandall and Collier were dog sitting for friends; the visiting dog, along with Rascal, figured out how to open the sliding screen door and went off on an adventure. The visiting dog was recovered right away, but Rascal proved more elusive. Although she was, thankfully, safely recovered, Rascal was missing for five days.
Word that Rascal was missing spread through social media, including the Lost and Found Pets Fluvanna page as well as the Lake Monticello Facebook page, and the community mobilized to help.
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Senior Alexis Scott at third base. Photo by Deborah NixonThe powerful Flying Fluco softball team came into its game with the Warriors from Western Albemarle, on April 16, with an impressive 7-1 record. The Flucos made it clear from the start that an eighth win was in the cards.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Flucos put up four runs, and they followed with five runs in the bottom of the second. Senior Tiffani Shaheen led off the first with a solid single, sophomore Victoria Belew reached on an error. The two leadoff runners then executed a double steal. Senior Alexis Scott recorded her first RBI with a dribbler ground out. First baseman Sasha Morgan rifled a single to center to put the Flucos up 2-0. Junior pitcher Annaliese Kennedy singled, senior outfielder Kierstan Allen brought home Morgan and Kennedy with line drive down the left field line that went for a triple. The Flucos had a commanding 4-0 lead after one.
Sophomore Cassie Kingsley opened the bottom of the second with a perfect bunt hit. Shaheen followed with another nicely executed bunt that she beat out for a hit. Belew singled to bring in the Flucos’ fifth run. Scott then launched a ball to deep left that cleared the fence by just a little. Her three run home run made the score 8-0. First baseman Sasha Morgan followed Scott with an enormous blast to left that was gone from the minute it left the bat. With back to back home runs and a 9-0 lead it was clear that the game was likely not going to go the distance. Three more runs in the third and a final run in the fourth, led to the final 13-0 count.
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