Guns facilitate violence

On Aug. 11 I attended the Senior Statesmen of Virginia’s Candidate Forum in Charlottesville featuring the two primary candidates for the 5th District congressional seat, Tom Garrett (R) and Jane Dittmar (D). The podcast of this event can be found at the Senior Statesmen website, http://www.seniorstatesmen.org.

Below are excerpts from the candidates’ responses to a question concerning gun violence and the Second Amendment:

Tom Garrett: “When…you learn that long guns, for example, what some people would brand ‘assault weapons,’ I think you’re four times more likely to be killed with a knife. You’re twice as likely to be killed by hands or feet. Time and a half more likely to be bludgeoned than to be killed by these weapons so, ultimately the problem I don’t think is guns. The problem is violence… So, until we can crack down on knife murder and bludgeoning murder and hands and feet murder, I don’t think vilifying an object, an inanimate object, is necessarily the solution...”

Jane Dittmar: “To protect the Second Amendment, we’ve got to do something and we need to do it in this next Congress. We need to have universal background checks. We need to make sure that people who shouldn’t own guns are not allowed to buy them. Now, there are a lot of guns out there. There is a gun for every person in America. So it’s not as if we are going to be going out and getting those guns, but, in the future, we do not want to sell to people who have certain types of mental illness, a proclivity towards violence, particularly under protective orders, and anybody who we’ve identified as a terrorist.”

On June 12 Omar Mateen carried an assault-style rifle Sig Sauer MCX into the packed Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and started shooting, killing 49 people and wounding at least 53 others.

Mr. Garrett obviously does not understand that the weapon is part of the violence. Such a brutal massacre would not have occurred if Mateen’s weapons had been limited to a knife, hands and/or feet.

Jeannine “JJ” Towler

Dittmar works for constituents

Kudos to the folks that got us more transparency between Aqua and its customers, including Lake Monticello’s Ida Swenson, who worked tirelessly, and state Sen. Tom Garrett, who carried the bill through the Senate.  The law requires Aqua Virginia to let all of their customers know that they are requesting a rate increase from the State Corporation Commission. Previously, Aqua could simply publish notices in the newspaper.  However, the law did nothing to lower our water bills.

Furthermore, it didn’t cost Mr. Garrett anything to carry the bill, except that it points out his hypocrisy in relation to other utilities.  Mr. Garrett voted in favor of SB 1349 last year.

SB 1349 stopped utility reviews through 2023. That means Dominion and Appalachian won’t have to refund excess profits for the next eight years.  In return, the utilities agreed to freeze their “base” rates, which make up only a little more than half of a customer’s bill.  The other portions of your bill have not been frozen, and Dominion raised its rates last September.  Mr. Garrett will not defend us against utilities.

His opponent for the 5th District congressional seat, Jane Dittmar, has refused to take money from Dominion.  She has always worked hard for her constituents.  Just last winter, as chairwoman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, she voted against a real estate tax increase.

Ms. Dittmar has also spoken about the need to reform our tax code so that fewer loopholes exist and everyone pays their fair share, rather than taxes falling disproportionately on the middle class.  Ms. Dittmar will also fight to protect Social Security.  By removing the artificial cap on individuals earning over $118,500 we can sustain a solvent system through 2078.

Ms. Dittmar was instrumental in the approval of a strategy ensuring competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and other county employees. She also championed the creation of the economic development office in Albemarle.

Ms. Dittmar will fight for economic prosperity for the 5th District.  She deserves your vote.  She cares enough about Fluvanna to open a campaign office across from Food Lion in the Jefferson Shopping Center.  Stop by to learn more about Jane.

Susan Wolff
Lake Monticello

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Bike lanes needed

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to one that appeared in the Aug. 18 edition questioning the need for bike lanes on Rt. 53.
Pam [Gregory], surely you jest.
Except for limited access highways, bicycles already have equal rights as cars, buses, and trucks on highways like Rt. 53. Power vehicle operators have an obligation to give bicyclists space. I don’t see how providing designated bike lanes makes travel less safe than now. Rather, it should make everything much safer for everyone. I believe the Board of Supervisors should also request bike lanes on the notoriously dangerous Boston Rd. as well.
By the way, the most dangerous part of Rt. 53, near Monticello in Albemarle County, is actually part of U.S. Bike Route 76 - and does not have a bike lane.
We should be rebuilding all our roads to make them safer for bicyclists. We should be encouraging bicycling as well as other forms of non-motorized travel.

Roger B. Carr
Lake Monticello

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Slow down

I’d like to comment and add to the “Slow Down” entry in a previous issue. Also, my comments are pointed mostly around Riverside gate. I do agree, why are the most expensive and most complicated solutions always on the table first?

But, here are some additional solutions and simple facts.

The distance between the turning vehicle yellow warning sign in both directions is different. Coming up hill going towards (Rt. 600 S) Riverside going 45 mph brings you to the gate entrance in about four seconds. Coming out of the 90-degree curve at Broken Island towards Riverside (Rt. 600 N) at the same speed will bring you to the gate in nine seconds. Think about the results if some cars go 50/55 mph. A lot of yellow warning signs have a speed limit sign below. Not these! Why? A 30 mph speed sign would be appropriate. Fact two; coming out of Riverside the view to the right is blocked 75 percent by two utility poles and blocked to the left by long tree branches hanging. Please get both these removed and make the view safe and easy. Too easy. Finally VDOT could make sleeper lines in the pavement to get driver’s attention or use other warnings maybe painted on the pavement.

These are all simple and cost effective ideas but everybody has to participate. In the meantime, slow down.

U. Schlein, Lake Monticello

Apply to FLDP

My wife and I are relatively new to Fluvanna County. We moved here to retire three years ago, having been attracted by the peaceful and beautiful countryside, the lower cost of living (relative to our former home in New Jersey), and the proximity of all that Charlottesville offers. We’re convinced that we made a great choice.

I was looking for a way to quickly become an informed, participating citizen in our new community. I wanted to know who our key local leaders are, what issues face us, what opportunities are available to us, how the county operates, and how I might make a positive contribution here. I looked into the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program and found that it addressed all of these topics plus a grounding in Fluvanna history. Completing the program was well worth the modest fee and my investment of time.

I’ve encountered many other Fluvanna residents who tell similar stories, but few of them have completed FLDP. Class 14 begins in September; applications are being accepted now. Take a moment to visit the FLDP website at https://fluvannaleadership.com to learn more about this opportunity and consider completing an application.

Charlie White, Palmyra

Thanks Post 2003

I the undersigned wish to express my appreciation to the Fluvanna County American Legion Post 2003 for their continued participation in Lake Monticello events such as the 2016 Fourth of July celebration parade. For those of you who did not watch the parade, the Legion led off the parade carrying the colors of our country, and led the marchers for the entire marcher’s route. Many of our Legionnaires, who were not able to march, also participated by riding in the special vehicles made available for them. Post 2003 has led off the Lake Monticello Fourth of July parades for several years. This Post has also participated in the Lake Monticello Flag Day flag retirement ceremony for several years as well. Fluvanna County American Legion Post 2003 - I salute you.

Vito Addotta, Lake Monticello


Volunteers help 600 taxpayers

On behalf of the 14 local volunteers on the Fluvanna AARP tax-aide team, I want to express our appreciation to Fluvanna County and the taxpayers who used our tax preparation services in 2015. AARP initiated this program nationally over 10 years ago to serve low and moderate income ($80,000) taxpayers of all ages.  Since then it has grown in size and popularity.  Last year we helped over 2.6 million taxpayers nationally receive over $1.3 billion in refunds and are the nation’s largest, free, volunteer-run tax preparation service.

Fluvanna County has generously allowed us to use the library’s conference room for the last seven years.  It is a convenient place for taxpayers to have their returns prepared.  In addition, the county has enabled us to promptly submit those returns to the IRS and Virginia Department of Taxation using the library’s internet service.  We want to thank in particular county Librarian Cyndi Hoffman and her staff, who were so accommodating.

Starting Feb. 1, taxpayers from Fluvanna and neighboring counties brought in their information and allowed us to prepare their federal and state returns.  By the end of tax season we helped over 600 taxpayers file returns and claim over $650,000 in refunds.  These local taxpayers also likely avoided paying over $100,000 in return preparation fees.

We know that the demand for our help exceeded our ability to serve everyone, but we were limited by the number of local volunteers.  In addition to our scheduler, our team consisted of three greeters and 10 certified tax counselors that volunteered up to 15 hours each week between Feb. 1 and April 18.  To expand our service, we need more volunteers.   To become certified as a tax counselor, volunteers must attend classes in the Fall and pass IRS tax preparation exams using IRS software.

It’s simple, the more volunteers we have, the more taxpayers we can serve in our community.  Please let me know if you are interested in being a greeter or counselor for next year.  You will be making a difference in people’s lives.

Richard Payne, Fluvanna tax-aide coordinator

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I can surely sympathize with the majority of the Board of Supervisors regarding Supervisor Tony O’Brien’s often quixotic obsession with land use taxation.

Some facts:  per the county’s comprehensive plan, at last count, Fluvanna has more than 31,000 acres in either forest-agricultural districts or under permanent conservation easement.  That is nearly 50 square miles of land and encompasses the vast majority of the “large estates” that Mr. O’Brien claims are somehow “subsidized” by the local taxpayer. Add a comment


Dredging thoughts

Based on information received, Lake Monticello was about 10 years behind when the dredging program began and substantial progress has been made rectifying that situation but there is still work to do. It has been estimated to take three years for a complete circuit around the lake, clearing out the shorelines. Looking into the future, as other actions are taken, such as the underwater best management process projects being planned at the head of the coves and those slowing the flow of debris further upstream, the amount of silt coming into the lake will diminish, thus providing some relief from the inflow of debris, even though never completely eliminating the need for dredging.

That brings me to wondering why it has been deemed as necessary to make a function that will have a diminishing need more productive. It will always take three years to make the circuit around the shores of the lake as long as we have one barge. The amount of time savings being argued in favor of another offload adjacent to Beach 2 will not put a dent in that fact, and even if it did, for what purpose? What would be the stated purpose of cutting the circuit time for going completely around the lake from 36 months to let's say 30 months as long as we are staying ahead of the silt inflows and consistently making progress to lake restoration? It is a job that never ends and with the other management processes being implemented it seems we can easily stay ahead of the need for dredging and may even get to the point that it is no longer an ongoing full-time job.

Trying to increase the productivity of the dredging operation is like trying to get those people that maintain the Golden Gate Bridge to paint faster. That bridge has constantly been painted and repainted since the day it was constructed and that process will continue forevermore. The only difference between the Golden Gate Bridge and our dredging operation is they may be able to benefit from a cost savings of less people, but we only have one person doing the dredging work. As long as progress is being made who really cares if it takes three years to go around the entire shoreline or a few months less? It makes no sense in that it is just a race against no stated objectives because there is no strategic purpose that is not already being accomplished.

–Robert Harris, Palmyra

Reject bulkhead idea

The Lake Monticello Board President recently offered a parsed response to growing community concerns about plans to install a cement dredging bulkhead next to Beach 2.  I thought his answers were gratuitously dismissive.

I don't live at the cove leading to that beach nor do I personally know anyone who does.  But they're my neighbors nonetheless.  I care about their safety concerns.  And I particularly care too that a pristine, tree-lined area immediately adjacent to Beach 2, in full view of beachgoers, boaters and nearby waterfront residents, will forever be lost and become a needless eyesore.  The Board president didn't address that issue.

Dredging is important, and the system here is manpower intensive.  But it would help if the dredging operator worked a full 40-hour week throughout the year, weather permitting.  He does not.  Then so be it that dredging processes take longer.  I believe that if our community was queried as we were prior to the very successful R & R Project that will benefit all of us, that the majority of residents would reject the Beach 2 bulkhead idea.

–Charles Domroe, Palmyra

Clown project

If you live in Lake Monticello and you've heard of the Beach 2 fiasco, and you want to know what is going on, drive over to Beach 4. Look over to the left. That is the silt transfer station with the concrete bulkhead, barge and dump truck. Look across the wide cove. It seems like most of the houses prefer the heavy tree screening to the view across the cove.

Then turn around and drive to Tufton Lake. This is the route of the dump truck that transports the silt and debris to the spoils site. It's a short drive, only 1.4 miles. Pretty simple and it only takes 4 - 5 minutes.

Now swing around and take a right on Jefferson Drive. You are now driving the dump truck route to Beach 2. The proposed and absolutely unnecessary second silt transfer site. Imagine you are driving a very large dump truck loaded with sloppy silt and debris all the way (4.4 miles) along the steep winding hills. Imagine at the Barret St. stop sign, the watery silt leaking out the back. Drive past the tricky intersections with Turkeysag Tr. and Slice Gate Rd. In the golf course area, look out for golf carts crossing the road.

Take a left on Colonial Rd. and follow the signs to Beach 2. That was a pretty long 13 minute drive.

Once you get there, enjoy the beautiful serenity of the place. Look across the small cove to the houses that enjoy the view. There is no tree screening there. The beach is considered by most to be the most beautiful of all the lake beaches. Look to your right at the tranquil end of the cove. That shallow peaceful area was considered prime breeding area for Bluegill and other fish and aquatic life. Not now, it has been ruined because they have dropped the depth from 6-12 inches to 5-6 feet. in order to facilitate the maneuvering of the loaded barge.

Visualize the concrete bulkhead, the barge and the dump truck, which will be just to the right of the beach. It should be dangerous to beach goers when the truck is backing in or out.

There is no benefit from this project, but it is going to cost us $85,000.

I can imagine perhaps, as you sit there, what you would be thinking, saying to yourself, maybe out loud – this is a clown project bro. Whose cockamamie idea is this? It’s the board’s idea bro.

–Tom Ellis, Lake Monticello

Rotary endowment starts ninth year

The Rose Deborah Altschull Endowment For Youth is launching its ninth annual "Bright Start For Kids" program and its fourth annual "Shoes For Success" program and wants your help.   Both programs are designed to help less fortunate elementary age school children in the Fluvanna area to have confidence and get the most they can out of their upcoming school year.

The bright start program provides 60 children with all the back-to-school necessities stuffed into brand new backpacks that are packed by Rotarians and delivered to Central Elementary School just before the school opening in early August.

The shoes program allows 80 deserving elementary age school children to come with their parents or guardians to the Walmart at Zion Crossroads and pick out their very own new pair of shoes.  This year the kids will be invited to the store on Aug. 2 for their shopping event.

The endowment was started on April 2, 2008 and has shown a steady growth pattern from day one.  We now have over 436 different donors and many of those have contributed multiple times.  This year we have already provided $1,000 for a special reading program at the elementary school that allowed over 60 children to go through a five-week session in June and July to improve their reading skills in preparation for this year’s school start.   We also provided funding to send six children to the 4H sleep away camp at Camp Holiday in Brunswick County in the month of June.

If you are moved to help us in our mission to help sponsor a child heading back to school we would really appreciate your contributions in any amount. To pay for a "stuffed backpack" a donation of $50 will cover the entire cost.  To pay for a new pair of shoes a donation of $20 will send a child dancing back to school in style.   The endowment is a part of and managed by the Rotary Foundation Of Fluvanna County.  All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.   Therefore contributions should be written to "The Rotary Foundation Of Fluvanna County Virginia" with a note in the memo section of the check to direct the donation to "The Rose Deborah Altschull Endowment For Youth."   The mailing address is:  Rotary Club Of Fluvanna County, 265 Turkeysag Tr., Suite 102, Box 114, Palmyra, Virginia 22963.

–Cliff Altschull, Palmyra




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