Sen. Warner visits Fluvanna for meeting with county

By Heather Michon

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) visited Fluvanna County on Friday afternoon (Feb. 23) for a question-and-answer session with county supervisors and officials from Fluvanna, Buckingham, and Cumberland counties.

During the hour-long session at Fork Union Military Academy’s Wicker Chapel, the three-term senator talked about a wide range of issues, ranging from Ukraine and China to rural broadband and renewable energy.

It also provided an opportunity for representatives of Lake Monticello to ask Warner for his input on the Aqua Virginia rate case that could see local water costs jump by around 30 percent.

Lake Monticello Communication Director Marieke Henry told Warner “we are in a very bad situation.”

Henry talked about the impact such a steep increase would have on homeowners’ wallets, and potentially their property values.

She went on to describe some of Aqua’s failures, including the persistent issues with raw sewage flowing into the lake itself.

Parts of the lake were closed for weeks over the summer due to contamination and e. Coli levels high enough to pose a risk to the health and wellbeing of swimmers.

“We have 3,000 children living at the Lake,” she said. “If we lose a child, that would be tragic.”

Warner was sympathetic, but admitted didn’t have any quick answers.

“The first I heard of Aqua Virginia was two hours ago,” he told Henry and Lake Monticello Director Larry Henson.

He said he and his staff would look into the situation to see if there were any federal resources that could be brought to bear on the issue. Since Aqua is a private company, and water issues are usually a state matter, he said options might be limited.

Looking back to his 2002-2006 term as governor, he provided some potential state-level resources, including the Drinking Water State Revolving Water Fund. 

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip asked Warner if there was more the government could do to stem the flow of fentanyl and get more resources to communities hit hard by the impact of addiction.

Warner said since so much fentanyl comes in through ports of entry, it was critical to step up screening efforts at these entry points. And since precursor chemicals for domestic fentanyl production mostly come from China, “we need to be much, much harder on them.”

He added that a fentanyl bill that would flow more resources to localities had passed in the Senate, but was currently languishing in the House of Representatives.

On rural broadband expansion, Warner said Virginia was “doing better than almost any other state,” and if we failed to get to the goal of near-universal high-speed broadband, “it wouldn’t be a failure of money, it will be a failure of execution.”

Palmyra Supervisor Tim Hodge questioned Warner on expanding the charging network for electric vehicles – Fluvanna County currently has no publicly-accessible charging stations – and funding for emergency vehicles in the face of new standards.

Warner acknowledged that there was often money for implementing upgrades and improvements “but local jurisdictions often get the short end of the stick” when it comes to obtaining federal grant funding, because the grantmaking process is often too onerous and time intensive for small localities.

Fork Union Supervisor Mike Goad questioned the senator about Social Security solvency, with Americans in their 30s and 40s feeling that there won’t be much money left by the time they reach retirement age.

“Social Security is easy – it’s just math,” said Warner.

Among the potential solutions would be to raise the payroll tax cap from the current ceiling of around $168,000 to $400,000 and slowly raise the retirement age to reflect today’s longer lifespans. 

“I also think we need legal immigration,” he said. Inviting in young workers who could pay into the system for the next 40 years would offset America’s decreasing birth rates. 

Throughout the conversation, Warner was clear-eyed about the challenges facing the nation, and how the current polarized political environment was impacting legislation needed to move the county forward.

“Neither political party has the monopoly on truth or honesty or patriotism,” he said.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138