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Linda Bethke paintingThis year, the annual People’s Choice Award Show, sponsored by the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA), was full of surprises. It featured a variety of artists and an eclectic mix of mediums. Unlike the annual show judged by a professional, the public chooses the three best in each category.

Also, School Board member Carol Carr stopped by the show and reception to accept a check for $500. Of that total $250 will go to the Fluvanna County High School art department and $250 will support the Fluvanna Middle School art department. The proceeds came from the recent art tag sale held in July. Carr also had a look around and talked with artists.

As art itself evolves, so do the methods and tools contemporary artists use. No longer is art in its purest form the norm. The subjects were wide and varied, from abstracts to landscapes, collage, still life photography, illustrations, wood carvings and unfinished work. It was a difficult choice for many. Add a comment

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Cheryl ElliottEleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” My hot water was an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis last year.

Tepid waters
I finally went to see my lady doctor for all those annual exams that I had conveniently avoided for a couple of years. The blood work showed high cholesterol, which I attributed to stress, and I promptly resolved to live a healthier lifestyle and exchange my chocolate meals for broccoli. The mammogram, however, wasn’t so easily dismissed. Because I had had false indications before – just dense tissue and shadows – I wasn’t concerned about going back for additional tests. However, the 1.5-centimeter mass was easy to spot on the monitor. The radiologist coming in to chat was my second clue that all was not well.

Two biopsies were promptly scheduled to check the mass and another area with calcifications. Because I freaked out about being strapped tightly in the mammogram machine, they used ultrasound to biopsy the mass. They would wait to test the calcifications. After the procedure, I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, numb, disoriented. What was I facing? Was it just another false alarm? Would it be cancer this time?

After the traumatization of the biopsy, I just wanted to go home. To do so, I needed to drive an hour across Afton Mountain back to Fluvanna. Should I go home or to my sister’s house north of Harrisonburg? I decided that I didn’t want to be alone. I believe that decision was God’s way of protecting me. If I had turned south on I-81, I probably would not have survived the trip. The biopsy procedure turned out not to be routine.

Simmering waters

About an hour after the procedure, I started feeling a lump in the back of my throat, like something was stuck that I couldn’t wash down. Stress, I told myself, and had another drink of water. I felt very tired, but again thought it was due to the morning’s stress. My face started swelling, making it feel as though my mouth was filled with marbles. I started having difficulty breathing. While my sister searched for missing car keys to take me to the hospital, I managed to reach the car. Suddenly overheated, I attempted to get out of the car when my vision and hearing started tunneling. I collapsed onto the gravel driveway, crying, “Please help me, I can’t breathe.” No, something definitely wasn’t right. Add a comment

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Eric Hess and his fatherHundreds of Fluvanna seniors and their caregivers gathered Wednesday (Sept. 20) at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church to learn how to prepare for and manage aging.

This third annual senior day was put on by TRIAD, an alliance between law enforcement, seniors and organizations that serve seniors, said Sheriff Eric Hess.

The goal is to reduce the fear of crime and victimization among seniors and increase awareness of scams and frauds targeting them. TRIAD also strives to teach that vulnerable population about services available in the community.

“I know [in the U.S.] 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day. A lot of them, like me, are taking care of their parents,” Hess said, nodding to where his 93-year-old father, Billy Hess, sat.

Hess said he’s had several conversations with his dad about what to say if someone calls the house when he is away.

“So many of them grew up in a time when someone called to say you owed something, you believed them,” he said. “Because they don’t want a bad mark on their name or credit, they’re more likely than younger people to get their wallet out and write a check. There are a lot of scam artists out there.”

The most recent statistics cited in the Virginia Employment Commission’s community profile of Fluvanna show that 17 percent of Fluvannians are 65 or over.

Looking at the crowd and noting the variety of services represented and things to do at Senior Day, Hess seemed proud. “This is just what our community is all about,” he said. Add a comment

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Elementary schoolsFormer Columbia school may become canine training facility

The former Cunningham Elementary School, vacant for four years, will again see students under its roof if an approved sale to The Light Academy, a Fluvanna-based private school, goes through.

The fate of the former Columbia Elementary School is less certain after the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision Wednesday night (Sept. 20) regarding whether to sell to a law enforcement canine training facility or to a couple seeking to develop affordable apartments.

Cunningham school

Supervisors unanimously approved the sale of the former Cunningham Elementary School near Kidds Store to The Light Academy, a private Christian school, for $118,750.

Currently The Light Academy is located in Centre Court, a shopping center outside Lake Monticello.

“Right now we play in a parking lot,” said Joyce Parr, director of The Light Academy, to supervisors. “While we have ample space, it would be ideal to have [additional] classrooms… It would be nice to expand to have some green space or grass to play in.”

Currently The Light Academy educates 50 students in kindergarten through 10th grade. Parr said she hopes the school will be able to expand through the 12th grade and add a preschool, since “everything seems to be over by the Lake” and she is unaware of any preschool options in the Cunningham section of Fluvanna County. Add a comment

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AntiquesSteve Sylvia traces his interest in the Civil War to his childhood, sparked by his brother’s help reading Shelby Foote’s Shiloh.


But it was a belt buckle that belonged to a long-forgotten Union soldier that may have been the catalyst for a life-long involvement in the history of this nation’s defining conflict, a career writing about Civil War relics, and even appearances on segments of the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.


Following graduation from the University of Maryland’s journalism program and a couple years performing and traveling with a rock and roll band, Sylvia found himself in search of opportunity.


“I had a gal singing for me in 1972. The band broke up. I’m running out of money and she says, ‘My boyfriend is looking for someone in public relations,’” Sylvia said.


“I walked into the interview with her boyfriend and I was wearing a U.S. buckle I had dug. His eyes were riveted on my buckle.”


Their common interest in the Civil War made them good friends and ultimately led to the opportunity for Sylvia to turn that interest into a life-long career.


“‘Did you dig that?’” the man inquired of the buckle.

“Yes, I did,” replied Sylvia. “I dug it at Chancellorsville.”
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