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Fluvanna Republicans endorse Belew for sheriff

The Fluvanna Republicans hosted a question and answer session for sheriff candidates Mark Belew and Sheriff Eric Hess on Tuesday evening (Sept. 23) at the Fluvanna County Public Library.

Though Hess had to cancel his appearance due to a sore throat, Belew still responded to the questions submitted by the assembled group of about 45.

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Photo taken at the third annual wine festival held last year. Photo by Theresa WhiteSavoring a glass of good wine with friends is a pleasant way to spend a crisp fall day – and Fluvanna’s Chamber of Commerce is hoping that many folks in Fluvanna choose to do just that this Saturday (Sept. 27) at the fourth annual wine festival.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. the grassy area near the newly-renovated Pleasant Grove House will be filled with wine selections offered by at least eight different local wineries. “We’re going to be up around the house this year,” said Chamber President Scott Valentine. “The house is supposed to be open, so people will have the opportunity to go through and take a tour of the house. It’ll be a nice little quiet, woodsy setting.”
For those who don’t like wine there will be four different kinds of beer available, Valentine said, and food vendors with selections ranging from barbecue to Australian meat pies to gyros. Add to that over 30 non-food vendors selling crafts and wares, and live music from three different bands, and there’s enough to keep everyone happy for a good long while.
Even the kids have something to do. Sir Bounce Alot from Louisa, who made an appearance last June at BBQ Bands & Brews, will be back with a somewhat smaller but still entertaining set-up. For a fee kids can play the day away while their parents sit back and sip some wine.
Wineries will offer free tastings, Valentine said, to folks who purchase a full ticket for $20 at the gate or $15 in advance. Non-drinkers and children 12 and older are $5 and children 12 and under are free.
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Photo by Christina Dimeo GusemanBrand new restroom facilities sit just behind the Pleasant Grove House – but at the county fair hundreds of folks filed right past them in search of porta-potties.
That’s because the “comfort station,” as it’s called, is closed. The $150,000 facility arrived all in one piece, has six toilets and two urinals, and requires very little exterior maintenance. “Everything is heavy-duty, take-a-beating kind of materials,” said Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch, “which is the reason for the price tag.”
There’s just one problem: There’s no water.
And so it doesn’t matter how sturdy the restrooms are, Ullenbruch said. “They’re no good if you don’t have any water.”
Restrooms at Pleasant Grove have been in the capital improvements plan for at least six years, Ullenbruch said. These particular restrooms were approved as a part of the renovations to the Pleasant Grove House “several Boards ago,” said Ullenbruch – and no one seems to remember exactly who gave the OK without checking to see if ample water flow capacity existed. The county’s engineer, Wayne Stephens, wasn’t around at that point. “I would have to think that the engineer or architect who was doing the design made an assumption that wasn’t 100 percent valid,” said Stephens, “but I honestly just don’t know.”
So what exactly is the issue?
The Pleasant Grove House has two bathrooms with residential-style toilets and sinks, said Stephens, and those function fine off of the Pleasant Grove well. But the comfort station is another story. “Flushing valve-style toilets, which is the kind you find in most commercial-style facilities such as the comfort station, require about 25 gallons a minute of instantaneous demand when they flush,” Stephens said. “Urinals require 15 gallons a minute.”
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All Fluvanna County Public Schools are now fully accredited. The Virginia Department of Education said in a Sept. 16 press release that only 22 school divisions out of 132 in the Commonwealth have achieved that benchmark.
According to the press release, 68% of Virginia’s schools are accredited for the 2014-2015 school year, which is a decrease from 77% in the previous year. The state indicated that they believe more rigorous testing caused the decline in the number of accredited schools.
Brenda Gilliam, director of testing and instruction for Fluvanna County Schools said, “Fluvanna County Public School teachers focused on the increased rigor in the mathematics program. Teachers worked together to develop more challenging assessments that helped to better prepare students for the state test. Teachers planned together and disaggregated student data, and this hard work paid off.”

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Fluvanna County supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday night (Sept. 17) to take on another $5.7 million in debt, putting the county further at odds with its own debt policy.
The bulk of that debt – about $5.13 million – goes to the middle school to pay for locker room renovations and HVAC for both gyms. In order to finance that debt, the county is selling general obligation school bonds to the Virginia Public School Authority. Though interest rates vary until they are locked in, estimates based upon the past six weeks put the rate at around 2.81 percent. The yearly payments on the debt, therefore, would be around $420,000.
The remainder of the debt will supply the county with funds to purchase a $575,000 fire truck. By paying for the truck in advance this November, the county will secure a $25,000 discount; it will receive the truck next May. The county is financing this debt through the Virginia Resources Authority at an estimated interest rate of around 2.05 percent and an estimated yearly payment of $65,300.
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