2022 year in review

By Heather Michon

2023 is shaping up to be a busy year for Fluvanna, with multiple local and statewide offices up for grabs, the finalization of the hotly-debated Comprehensive Plan, and the continued discussion over how to hang on to the area’s rural character while still allowing for growth and expansion.  

But before we plunge ahead into the unknown, here’s a look back at some of the biggest stories making headlines over the past 12 months:  


Fluvanna seems to have avoided some of the worst impacts from the massive storm that spread across the northern and central parts of the county just before Christmas… but we weren’t so lucky at the start of 2022.

A crippling snowstorm struck the region on the morning of Monday, Jan. 3. Around a foot of wet, heavy snow fell in just a few hours, toppling countless trees, leaving motorists stranded on county roads for hours, and causing catastrophic damage to the region’s power grid.

As temperatures fell from an unseasonable high of 62 degrees on Sunday to a near-record low of 13 on Monday, the county opened warming shelters and essential businesses worked to get storm supplies to residents and services back on-line. It was more than a week before all the lights were back on, and crews were removing trees and storm debris as late as June. 

Dam catastrophe averted

Fluvanna made headlines across the state in mid-March when a private dam in the southern part of the county threatened to breach and send an estimated 60 million gallons of water spilling out into the surrounding area. 

County officials were notified about the potential failure of the structure on March 21, when engineers hired by the property owners found the lake swollen to capacity by heavy spring rains and a critical section of the earthen dam on the verge of collapse. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation sent in high-power pumps and began dewatering the lake at a rate of 1,000 gallons per minute, reducing the pressure and ending the emergency.

No homes or structures were at risk had the dam failed. The primary threat was to motorists on Bremo Road, which could have been under 3.5 feet of fast-moving flood waters if it had collapsed without warning. The county temporarily closed parts of the road until the danger had passed.  

Deputies rescue woman from burning building

Fluvanna County deputies Frank Harris Jr., William White, and Jordan Seay-Allen saved the life of an elderly woman from an early-morning house fire on Aug. 2.  

They were first on the scene on Old Fork Road near Cunningham after the call came in at around 5:30 a.m. The officers repeatedly entered the burning structure searching for victims when they found and extricated the 83-year-old homeowner, who had been immobilized by a recently broken hip. The woman was later taken to the hospital for treatment and the three officers were evaluated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. 

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Aaron Hurd said the deputies’ heroic actions “stood as a proud moment” for the department and the community. 

Demolition of Bremo Bluff power plant

After nearly a century perched on a bluff above the James River, the Bremo Power Plant faced demolition on Sept. 23. The familiar smokestacks took less than 10 seconds to fall in the controlled demolition at around 10 a.m.

The demolition of the old turbine building was the next step in Dominion Energy’s long-term plan to clean up the site, which permanently closed in 2018. 

In 2021, the county signed off a plan for a 224.5-acre landfill to permanently store the 6.2 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash that has been held in covered ponds for decades. Dominion anticipates that building the landfill and moving the coal ash will take up to a decade and cost about $500 million. 

By comparison, the removal of the power plant, administration building, and outbuildings were expected to be complete by the end of the year.  

Gequetta Murray-Key dies

Gequetta “G” Murray-Key died unexpectedly Oct. 11 after a brief battle with leukemia.

Murray-Key, 46, was an administrator at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and was widely recognized as a community leader in Fluvanna County. She was vice-chair of the Planning Commission, and in 2021 won a tight election for the Rivanna seat on the School Board.

Her family – including husband Andre Key and daughter  Andre-A’Bryanna “Bree” Key – vowed after her death to carry her legacy.

On Oct. 17, the School Board voted unanimously to appoint Andre Key to serve as interim representative for Rivanna. He has already signaled he will run in the special election to permanently fill the vacancy in 2023.

Finally, on Nov. 16, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint Bree Key to the Rivanna seat on the Planning Commission. Her term will end in June 2026. 

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