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Thomas MatthewsHistory repeated itself when the Fork Union fire department elected Christopher White as chief in December.

The problem? Few knew it. Even White was unaware that he was not the first African American fire chief.

But Kents Store’s Teresa Matthews Baskfield and Linda Brown, who are black, knew their father, Thomas Matthews, headed up the local fire department for years.

As secretary for Kents Store fire department, their mother Eva Matthews kept meeting minutes in her graceful script.

Current Kents Store Chief Andrew Pullen uncovered books of meeting minutes from April 1967 when the department first started. He’s working with the director of the Fluvanna Historical Society to preserve the records.

The information was news to Mozell Booker, Fluvanna County supervisor representing Fork Union.

All met recently at the fire department to talk about the history and Thomas Matthews’ role in it.

“The important and delightful thing is this [the report of White becoming Fork Union’s fire chief] uncovered past history,” Booker said. “The present often helps us uncover the past.”

White, who couldn’t make the get-together because of work commitments, said shortly after the Jan. 11 Fluvanna Review article came out about him, he heard he wasn’t the first black fire chief in Fluvanna.

“Please pass on that I’m sorry if I took anything away from their family,” White wrote in a text message.

Meeting minutes from March 30, 1973, show members voted Thomas Matthews captain.

Pullen said the captain and modern-day chief role are essentially the same.

Baskfield has vivid memories of her father responding to calls to duty.

“I remember the red fire phone being on the wall in the house by the back door,” she said. “It would go off and we’d all go help him get ready so he could get out as quickly as possible. It was like he was in the army.”

Matthews served as an Army firefighter during World War II and saw action in Japan, Baskfield said.
She doesn’t remember how long her dad served as chief in the Kents Store department, but she knows it was for years. “It was until he couldn’t get up in the truck,” she said. Add a comment

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Fluvanna County residents have some of the highest annual Social Security payments in Virginia, according to the financial planning website SmartAsset.com.

According to their calculations, annual Social Security payments average $20,602 in Fluvanna.

Goochland County residents topped the list at $21,868. For Virginia as a whole, average annual payments for Social Security recipients were $17,674.

The Social Security Administration said around 5,850 Fluvanna residents received benefits in 2016, the most recent year for which county-level data was available. That works out to about 22 percent of the county’s population.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator indicates that the required annual income for Fluvanna residents is about $20,946 after taxes.

All this means – at least in theory – that Fluvanna County is a cost-effective place to live for those on fixed incomes.

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Fluvanna Sports PhotographyThe Fluco boys’ basketball team was playing its third game in four nights when it hosted the Orange County Hornets Feb. 2. Although the 44-63 final score of the Flucos’ contest with Orange County makes it look like a blow-out, it was not. The Flucos were in contention throughout and the Hornets only pulled ahead in the final minutes.
The Flucos, who had been making their free throws, suddenly went cold from the line, making only three of 10 in the final quarter, while the Hornets converted their free throws. Playing from behind, the Flucos repeatedly sent the Hornets to the line and the gap widened to the final margin of 19.

The game started with Orange scoring the first five points. The Flucos responded with five of their own. Senior forward A.J. Gregory made a short jump shot and senior guard DaShon Carter followed with a three-point play. In the rest of the quarter the Flucos only managed four points on two jump shots by Gregory. Meanwhile, the Hornets put up 14 points to establish a 10-point lead at the end of the quarter.

The Flucos came alive in the second quarter. It started with two quick baskets by the Flucos. Sophomore guard Cameron Shields and Carter both scored on quick drives to the hoop to make the score 13-19. After an Orange basket, sophomore guard Keyshawn Fisher sunk two free throws. Carter then made a steal and took the ball coast to coast. He was fouled on his lay-up attempt, and he also made two free throws. The Hornets’ lead was down to four. But the team responded with a steal that led to a thunderous dunk.

Shields then made two free throws to bring the margin back to four. Orange took the lead back up to eight, but Fluco freshman John Boy Rittenhouse made the first of his two three pointers for the night and sophomore center Elijah Johnson scored on a put-back as the quarter ended. The Flucos trailed 25-28.

Orange started the scoring in the second half with a basket on a nice in-bounds play. The Flucos responded with five quick points to tie the score at 30-30. The five points came as Gregory hit a three point shot and junior forward Drew Pace scored on a lay-in on an assist by Gregory. Unfortunately, Orange outscored the Flucos 15-9 in the rest of the quarter to build a six-point lead going to the final stanza. Add a comment

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Langden MasonLangden Mason, who writes the popular column Don’t Get Me Started, brilliantly weaves into his writing the influences and experiences of growing up on a farm in rural Fluvanna.

Born in 1963, he recalled being content growing up in an age when one used a phone booth instead of a cell phone, drank from a garden hose instead of bottled water, and sat down as a family for dinner instead of microwaving meals individually. He does not dismiss the technological and medical advances over the last 50 years, but believes we’ve somehow lost a lot of the core beliefs that made us a great nation such as patriotism, trust, and the art of conversation without polarization.

He went on to say his parents instilled in him a belief that one could achieve happiness by working hard, doing the right thing, and being a good citizen without bullying and hurting others’ feelings. He believes they were right. He sees the diversity in his friendships as a path to better understanding and cites his upbringing as something that made him a good writer and a better person.

Smiling and sharing memories and witticisms, Mason is always engaged with those around him. His column and plays capture the lament of what we’ve left behind in our past.

Writing began with his parents informing him that great adventures were only a book away.

“I read a lot and my mother taught me to color within the lines, but left room to think outside the box,” he said. After tackling great literature and poetry, his favorite English teacher had his class diagram sentences to learn the structure of writing.

“I learned the importance of word placement and the need for proper grammar,” he said. “A picture is worth a thousand words, but a single sentence, when structured properly, can provide a pretty amazing picture.” Add a comment

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Gold StarKhizr Khan, the father of fallen Army Captain Humayun Khan who repudiated then-candidate Donald Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, told a crowd of Fluvanna residents that journalism keeps America free.

Khan, a Muslim American, spoke before a crowd of 150 people gathered at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church Monday night (Jan. 29). His rousing 40-minute speech was bracketed by standing ovations.

“The press is the voice of democracy,” he said to a journalist. “This nation will be forever grateful. Believe me, once these clouds are gone, you will see that the press has maintained its service to democracy, to our Constitution, to our nation, and it will be remembered. It will be written in history in golden letters, so thank you. Thank you for your service.”

The Gold Star father who offered the humbling words of thanks lost his son in 2004 when he was killed while on active duty in Iraq.

Khan told the crowd he has twice lived in countries that did not recognize what he called “human dignities.”

“Dictators don’t like free press and the rule of law,” Khan said. Speaking from the perspective of a dictator, he said, “These judges are no good; throw them out. I will decide what is good for the country.”

He paused. “You draw the conclusions of what we are facing today – without naming names,” he said.

The audience laughed darkly. Add a comment

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