Poplar Ridge, which would be located off of Rt. 644 near Palmyra, would have 317 single-family housing units and a maximum of 74,000 square feet of commercial space.  When the Planning Commission discussed the matter on June 25, it unanimously recommended denial based partially on the concern that not enough groundwater exists to support the development.

The day of the supervisors’ meeting the Board received word that Fluvanna County staff now believes that there may be enough groundwater for the 317 homes.  But without ample time for supervisors, the developer, or the public to assimilate the information, supervisors felt that deferral was the fairest course of action.

“You need to know everything that we know when we make decisions so that you can make comments in relationship to everything we have,” Booker told the approximately 60 citizens gathered for the public hearing.

“This is too important an issue – whether it’s turned down or whether it’s approved – to not do right,” Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch agreed.  “We want to make sure things are done correctly.  Unfortunately, it can’t be done in a matter of a couple of hours.”

So with apologies to the public for the inconvenience, supervisors deferred the issue to their Aug. 6 meeting.

Next on the docket was a presentation from Sheriff Eric Hess, who requested an additional school resource officer for the middle and elementary schools to share.  Currently the county only has one school resource officer at the high school.

“The school resource officer is more than an officer in the school waiting for an incident to occur,” Hess told supervisors.  Rather, he said, school resource officers function proactively by providing education for students on things like smoking prevention, driving safety, gangs, crime prevention, and character education.

What’s more, said Hess, a school resource officer is there to form a positive first impression of law enforcement in the minds of impressionable children by acting as a role model and building relationships with students.

Superintendent Gena Keller supported Hess’s request.  “The reality is that many of our children see law enforcement coming into their home taking people away,” she told the Board.  “Do I see (a resource officer) as a need?  Absolutely.”

School resource officers are being trained in crisis intervention techniques, Hess told the Board.  They also complete active shooter training and learn how to assess area school vulnerabilities and safety.  “They’re in the school all the time,” he said.  “They pick up on things we might miss just coming in a few times and trying to do an assessment.”  School resource officers are also trained to recognize signs of gang activity.

Ullenbruch spoke up in support of Hess’s request, saying the county should fund the position’s $45,000 annual salary plus benefits without relying on grant money.  “Unfortunately in today’s world it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.  Supervisors seemed to agree, directing staff to work up a formal proposal for vote.

In other matters:

County Administrator Steve Nichols informed the Board that a new senior services program kicked off on July 14 in Scottsville with 21 attendees.  The seniors gave staff feedback on the next steps to take to establish a thriving program.

The school system was able to absorb a predicted budget shortfall of between $200,000 and $250,000, according to April estimates.  The shortfall occurred due to variations in how the state calculates average daily membership.  “They just conserved really well,” said Nichols, “and the shortfall was getting smaller anyway.  As they did that they could [take care of it] within budget.”

The Board welcomed Mary Anna Twisdale, the county’s new management analyst in the finance department.  Twisdale is a Fluvanna resident who previously worked as the finance office administrator in Charlottesville.

Jason Smith of parks and recreation gave the Board an update on the first Fluvanna County fair since the 1960s, which will be held Aug. 21-23 at Pleasant Grove.  He encouraged supervisors to consider signing up for a turn in the dunk tank.  The meeting derailed temporarily as supervisors speculated about which Board member would draw the most folks, but none volunteered.

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