Fluvanna to hold hiring event

By Heather Michon

Fluvanna will hold a local hiring event on Nov. 20 to help alleviate unemployment within the county. Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Rothamel asked the Board of Supervisors at its Wednesday (Nov. 4) meeting for $2,000 in CARES Act funding to publicize the event.

Rothamel noted that the unemployment rate for Fluvanna residents has risen from 1.8 percent just before the pandemic to 4.8 percent in September, but there are local businesses looking for workers. One of those potential new employers, Silk City Printing, has offered the use of their parking lot near Fork Union for the event.

Supervisors voted 5-0 to allocate $1,700 for online and print advertising and $300 for items like signage and the new FluvannaJobFair.com website.


CARES Act funding was a major part of the meeting, as the clock ticks down to the Dec. 30 deadline set by Congress for dispersal of the funds. Fluvanna County received around $4 million in federal money to use to cover expenses incurred as a result of the pandemic.

In one 10-minute stretch, supervisors voted 5-0 to approve five different allocations totaling $152,000:

  • $52,022 for power-assisted stretcher loaders for ambulances 45 and 49/
  • $68,891 for full-face respirators for fire & rescue;
  • $14,540 for full-face respirators for auxiliary deputies at the sheriff’s office;
  • $16,047 for an X-ray scanner for the courthouse;
  • $2,612 towards the TJPDC Regional Affordable Housing Search website.

But the supervisors did defer action on a request from Fluvanna County Public Schools for a supplemental appropriation of $150,000 for replacement Chromebooks for students after a discussion that illustrated the complications caused by different pools of funding and deadlines.

FCPS has access to CARES Act funds from the county, but also has its own allocation from a separate educational fund under the same legislation. While the county needs to expend their funds and have any items ordered or structural changes completed no later than Dec. 30, FCPS has until mid-2022 to use some of their money.

There was initially some confusion over what FCPS was asking in the funding request, touching off a lengthy discussion of what funds the schools had received from where, and how quickly it had to be spent. Finally, Superintendent Chuck Winkler and Director Brenda Gilliam clarified that they were asking for $150,000 in reimbursement for computers they had already paid for out of general funds, not ones they needed in the future. “This will alleviate some of the stress we could have in the spring,” Gilliam explained.

The board decided to delay the allocation until their December meeting, when they have a better idea of how much CARES funding they have left to spend.

They did approve a carryover request of $400,000 in unexpended local funds. Half will go to critically-needed improvements to the S.C. Abrams Building, and half will go to the purchase of two slightly used school buses.


Supervisors approved a carryover of $153,446 in unexpended funds to cover unanticipated expenditures. Most went to the registrar’s office, which had higher-than-anticipated needs from the Commonwealth’s new 45-day walk-in voting law which necessitated both a move and expanded costs for staffing and contracts.

Also approved was a $70,150 contract for the cleaning of HVAC ductwork in all county buildings.

Wireless Expansion

The Dec. 30 deadline for expenditures also came into play late in the meeting as the supervisors learned about an unsolicited proposal from Blue Cube Technologies that could expand wireless access by using the county’s seven E-911 towers and a half-dozen vertical assets like the public schools.

Jay Clark of Blue Cube explained that wireless radio arrays installed on these structures would allow customers within line-of-site internet access through wireless receivers on their homes. He said it was comparable to satellite internet, but offered faster speeds.

Clark said to get the most amount of service to the most underserved parts of the county, they would like to focus on the Fork Union area with the goal of deploying signals to 730 homes within 18-24 months, with 20-30 homes online by the end this year.

The cost to the county would be $153,000 for installation of the radio arrays. Customers would pay $59 a month for 25/10 Mbps, $89 a month for 50/20 Mbps, or $179 a month for 100/50 Mpbs.

The project would fulfil a major goal of the county to get internet to more rural areas, but Dahl said there was no way to meet the CARES Act deadline. The School Board wouldn’t be able to approve use of their buildings until Dec. 9 and the supervisors couldn’t finalize the contract until Dec. 18. Blue Cube would not be able to get the system up and running before the Dec.  30 deadline.

Chair Mike Sheridan (Columbia) said he wouldn’t mind looking into the proposal for possible funding by the county, but County Attorney Fred Payne said that opened up a different set of issues, including the use of county funds to pay a private company to install equipment on county assets that the company would then use for profit.

“I don’t think we should subsidize $152,000 on that,” said Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham). “If they want to do it, let them put up the $152,000 and move forward with it.”

However, supervisors did agree that the county could issue a Request for Proposals that allows Blue Cube and other companies to place bids for a wireless system.

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