Opinions

Thanks for helping Happy Face
The annual Happy Face Christmas program, sponsored by Fluvanna Christian Service Society, is a tremendous example of a community coming together to support its families who are struggling. It happened again on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Central Elementary School and well over 100 families were served. Churches collected new toys for children and their members bought vouchers so people could purchase necessities at local vendors. Exemplary Fork Union Military Academy cadets lined up to carry and place toys on Friday night and escort families on Saturday through the maze of colorful toys, books, treats and stuffed animals. Our local businesses came through with monetary gifts in encouraging ways, one even doubling its already generous support! Our wider community grocers in Charlottesville, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, and Giant also generously provided support so volunteers could bag up hefty meals to feed families over the holidays. Pastor June Clifford and members from Beautiful Gate led a beautiful program that told the Christmas story, complete with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, shared music, led raffles and engaged the crowd in games as they waited their turn to enter the toy area. Santa even took time from his hectic schedule to have his picture taken with the children. Thank you, all who gave of yourselves to shed light on our fellow families in need this Christmas. You are a collective inspiration.

    Pastor Ken Albright
    Happy Face co-coordinator

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Goodbye to Fluvanna County
I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I left my position as the plant manager at the Tenaska Virginia Generating Station Oct. 23, 2017. I have started a new position as the plant manager for the Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station in Westmoreland County, Penn.

I have enjoyed my tenure here, and I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with you. Thank you for the support, guidance, and encouragement you have provided me during my time at Tenaska Virginia since 2003.
Even though I will miss my colleagues and Tenaska Virginia, I am looking forward to this new challenge in building a new team for this  power plant in Pennsylvania and to starting a new phase of my career.

I am now at the end of my journey here at Tenaska Virginia, but not at the end of our journey together. Thanks for the opportunity to work together and for the memories I will be taking with me. I will mention only a few organizations that I had the pleasure of helping:

  • Peaceful Passings;
  • Green Dogs Unleashed;
  • Sheriff’s department;
  • Fluvanna County Schools CTE and STEM programs;
  • Fluvanna County Rotary Club;
  • Fluvanna County Social Services;
  • Hundreds of visitors to the plant; and
  • Habit for Humanity.

I would say good luck, but I do not believe it is appropriate here since luck does not play a role in Tenaska Virginia. Good people plus good vision plus good execution will decide your bright future ahead.
Therefore, before I ride out, I leave you all with this quote: “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason…by bringing something, we must learn. We are led to those who help us grow and, in return, we help them grow.”

This has never been truer for me.

Please keep in touch: I can be reached at my email address This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . My daughter and her family live at the Lake.
Thanks again for everything. I wish you all the best.

Robert Mayfield
Scottsville

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Thanks for spotlighting centennial farms
I am writing in my capacity as president of the Fluvanna Historical Society to thank the Fluvanna Review for its recent article on the centennial farm program and to provide some additional information on the society’s work in this area.

The Historical Society has had a centennial farm program since 1998. This effort is a local one but uses the same criteria as the state program. The results have been remarkable. So far the society has honored a total of 17 Fluvanna farms which have been farmed by the same family for 100 years or more. The Sept. 21 Fluvanna Review cover has a photo of the slate plaque given to the owners of each centennial farm. Again this year we honored another Fluvanna centennial farm at our annual meeting Oct. 8. This marks an ongoing effort to find these farms and to recognize the importance of family farming over many generations.

Marvin Moss
Fluvanna Historical Society president

Tenaska Generation Station comes to the rescue
Imagine preparing to package 79 hot and cold meals in the dark for delivery to hungry homebound seniors and disabled neighbors in Fluvanna County. Well, we couldn’t either. On Monday, Oct. 9, when there was a power outage at Effort Baptist and the surrounding areas, Dogwood Restaurant was delivering large quantities of hot and cold food to be packaged and delivered to the clients of Fluvanna Meals on Wheels. Our kitchen volunteers were ready to divide up and package the food, but there were no lights in the windowless kitchen. One quick call to Tenaska Generation Station and an employee delivered four powerful flashlights to enable the kitchen volunteers to accomplish their task. Crisis averted, and all clients received their hot meal for the day. On behalf of the Fluvanna Meals on Wheels Board, staff, volunteers and clients, we express our thanks to Tenaska Generation Station for their response to our call.

Lisa Himes
Fluvanna Meals on Wheels executive director Add a comment

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We can’t go backwards
Several years ago, the schools were blindsided by a last-minute decision by the Board of Supervisors, led by Chairman Shaun Kenney, to cut $2.3 million from the school budget. As a result, we saw two primary schools close. Threats were made to not open the new high school. We saw class sizes increase. Classes were eliminated. Staff healthcare costs increased. Teachers were forced to work for free via furlough days. People pulled their children from our schools. Some people physically moved out of the county as Fluvanna became known as a community that didn’t value public education.

Here we are, five years later, with two School Board candidates echoing some of the same catchphrases used by the previous chairman of the Board of Supervisors. In fact, according to vpap.org, Mr. Kenney has generously donated money to these two candidates.

The amazing school staff has done a phenomenal job of recovering from the budget fiasco of 2012. We must make sure that we don’t return to that place where political ambition is put above the well-being of our community. Rivanna residents need to elect Shirley Stewart to the School Board. Columbia residents need to fill in the write in bubble and write in “Linda Staiger” to the School Board. Stewart and Staiger are the best candidates to ensure we don’t take a giant leap backwards.

Kerry Murphy-Hammond
Columbia

Rob Bell protected children from predators
I am writing as an Independent, a parent and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who supports Delegate Rob Bell. I was abused as a child by a sports coach and came forward three decades later to try and protect our children from the predator who abused me. My court battle took more than seven years to win due to a loophole in the law. Thankfully, I was successful in protecting our children from this one pedophile. Not only should it not have taken so long, but there were more predators like mine in our Commonwealth.

Many people told me to contact Rob Bell. When I did, he invited me to his office. Delegate Bell knew the ins and outs of what needed to be done from a legislative perspective to turn my concept into a reality. My goal of protecting Virginia’s children from predators became his goal.

Sometimes new legislation doesn’t pass the first year and mine didn’t. I was pretty down and wanted to quit. At my lowest point, I received an email from Delegate Bell. He told me to keep my chin up and to keep fighting because he would be right there fighting with me.

The following year Delegate Bell was my pillar of strength as I testified in Richmond again. I watched him fight for my legislation and for our children all through subcommittee, full committee and the three needed votes to pass the bill out of the House. I watched him fight for the Senate’s version of the legislation, too.

The law Delegate Bell helped me pass (HB 1353 2015) exposed 5,604 convicted pedophiles whose convictions slipped through the cracks. Without this legislation, your neighbor could be a convicted pedophile and not show up on the sex offender registry. Delegate Bell fixed that. The 58th District has an amazing opportunity to re-elect Rob Bell who will continue to fight to protect our children and help people like me know that, when we come forward, people will believe us.

Rob Buswell Add a comment

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Support for O’Brien and moving Fluvanna forward
As former superintendent for Fluvanna County Public Schools from August 2010 to January 2017, we faced significant challenges when a last-minute decision by the Board of Supervisors to approve the advertised tax rate of 68 cents was reduced down to 59 cents. This forced $2 million-plus of cuts in our school system and put us in a financial tailspin for several years. We cut salaries, closed two schools, opened a new high school with a compromised budget, cut resources​ for our teachers and implemented a reduction in force resulting in deep cuts to our staff and consequently to our programs for our students.

​The following year Tony O’Brien was elected running on restoring funding to schools and bringing water to Zion Crossroads. In the subsequent four budget cycles, Tony was unwavering in his support for the schools and fought for additional funding for capital improvement projects including fiber to the schools, additional technology for students and teachers and a new roof for the middle school. But even with his support, several key needs were still left unmet and passed into future years.

Tony O’Brien’s opponent suggests that he can show the same level of commitment while cutting taxes. This will be nearly impossible to accomplish. I have participated in the budget process and understand that quality services in our community require an investment in the future. Cuts and unfunded mandates by the state, increases in health insurance, modest 1 percent to 2 percent salary increases, and important maintenance projects, such as the $1.6 million roof replacement of Carysbrook Elementary create ongoing pressures to the budget. These needs will not be met with a flat budget and certainly will not be addressed through a budget with cuts. Tony understands this and his push for economic development is key to creating a sustainable tax rate for Fluvanna. Our community needs bold leadership that seeks to provide quality services through responsible decision making.

My husband and I support Tony O’Brien – for the future of our community.

Gena C. Keller, former Fluvanna superintendent
Lawrence E. Keller

Stewart understands our schools
Any new member of a governing board has a steep learning curve, but Shirley Stewart is already well on her way up that curve. Since announcing her candidacy in May, Stewart has used every opportunity available to understand the issues that the teachers, students, and administration face to make and keep Fluvanna one of the best school systems in the state. She has attended every Board meeting and seminar, met with school and county administrators, and toured every school. Along the way, she’s asked well-thought-out and pertinent questions that show a solid grasp of the issues facing our schools today.

Stewart has already spent several years becoming acquainted with Fluvanna schools through her work as a University of Virginia Curry School of Education student teacher supervisor. In a recent tour of the career and technical education (CTE) classes at the high school, her questions showed a critical understanding of curriculum, awareness of budget limitations, and a long-term perspective of how our CTE programs can expand. Stewart clearly values collaboration between the schools and the community, as shown by the “Farm-to-School” program she created as a principal in Vermont. Creative initiatives such as this will serve our students and our county well as we take steps to expand our local economy, and a Board member who understands the worth of our CTE classes will be invaluable.

Stewart brings to the School Board a solid background of 30 years in education as teacher, assistant principal and principal as well as awareness of the most recent developments in curriculum and teaching skills being taught to the newest teachers. It is a natural next step for Stewart to take on the Board’s work of creating the policies that govern the school system and of developing a budget that will address the needs of students, teachers, and staff. Stewart understands what makes education effective, from the bottom to the top, and hopes to use her expertise as the Rivanna District School Board representative. Please give her your vote on Nov. 7.

Carol Tracy Carr
Rivanna District School Board representative

A big thank you to Rob Bell
A big thank you to Rob Bell, our delegate, for helping us with our waste water problem. After many phone calls to Aqua Virginia I was getting nowhere. I have an in-ground pool in our yard. Due to hot weather we had to fill our pool many times and as you know, when you use their water, there is a sewer charge. Over several weeks 13,000 gallons of water was needed. I told them that the pool water does not go into their sewers; it evaporates. The pool is not hooked up to our sewer system. After Mr. Bell got involved Aqua Virginia changed their attitude. Two days later we received a phone call from a vice president of the company. He told us there would be no charge for the sewer waste water for those two months. They did the right thing thanks to Mr. Bell stepping in.

Andrew Rutkowski
Lake Monticello

What plan?
As a senior director of professional services and a project planner for an IT company that serves some of our largest government institutions, I like plans. Perhaps that is why I am so deeply disturbed by Mr. Darrell Byers’ campaign and empty rhetoric. As near as I can tell his platform is best described as, I can do everything Tony O’Brien does, but you need not worry about paying for it. Why, you might ask? Well, he will tell you his plan after he wins.

When I work on the steps necessary for a successful implementation, I look for talent, experience and proven results. Would I hire a guy with no experience, who has no qualifications, expertise or apparent interest in the work and expect to succeed? Of course not! Simply put, if you don’t consult with the people closest to the problem, how can you possibly know the answer? This is called discovery.

Byers claims he has spoken with a municipal financial expert. Interesting choice of words. Why would he not say, “I have spoken with county staff, school administration, constitutional officers, and department heads and they all agree we can achieve my plan?” Yes, he claims he can pay for a new radio and water system, can increase salaries, repair and replace aging infrastructure like buses, firetrucks, roofs, and HVAC systems, address unfunded state mandates and cuts, adjust the budget for inflation and cut your taxes? Why? Because he has a plan, and he does not need experts to advise him, experience, training, nor understanding of the job. Yes, he will explain it all to you after he gets elected.

If I hired that guy to lead a project, I would not expect to keep my job, and Fluvanna certainly can’t expect to succeed.
 
William Campbell
Lake Monticello

O’Brien follows through on promises
Darrell Byers apparently has no understanding of the budget whatsoever. Fluvanna has the lowest rate of government spending per capita of all surrounding counties. The Fluvanna County budget has always been bare bones and does not even keep up with inflation let alone normal increases due to growth and expansion.

Fluvanna County has a reputation of doing the bare minimum, just enough to meet the essential requirements. The Board has skimped and cut back on schools and other county services. There has long been a history of lack of vision and a preponderance of narrow-minded thinking.

We finally have a few forward-thinking supervisors – thanks to Mozell Booker, Tony O’Brien and Mike Sheridan – who are dragging our county into the 21st century, improving our schools, bringing public water for homes and businesses and focusing on economic development to bring jobs to our area.

Has Byers even bothered to visit schools? To speak to the teachers about their challenges? To speak with anyone involved with finance at the school or the county? If he bothered to do even minimal research he would realize what he is proposing will not work in Fluvanna County. He is playing by Washington’s tired old handbook. Fluvanna needs real solutions, not buzz words and stupid catchphrases.

I want to see our Board of Supervisors make a commitment to long-term solutions and create a vision for the future to make Fluvanna reach the excellent potential it certainly has. I am so excited about the changes we have made, the potential we have and the growth and development coming to Zion Crossroads.

Tony O’Brien is a proven leader who follows through on his promises. We can’t afford to go backwards!
 
Barbara O’Brien
Palmyra
Barbara O’Brien and Tony O’Brien are not related.

Staiger gives 100 percent

I would like to take a moment to give you my impressions and thoughts regarding Dr. Linda Staiger and her candidacy for a seat on the Fluvanna County School Board.

I have known Linda for almost five decades. She is a rock-solid person of great character, erudition, compassion and concern for all of those in her midst, including persons, animals and a true patron of the “living world” that surrounds her (as reflected in her concerns as a volunteer doctor for the community at large and in her flowing artworks).

Linda was at her core a simple country girl, born to a farmer and a loving mother, who built her life, step by step, brick by brick, into a formidable and highly-respected orthopedic surgeon. I have known her throughout her travels in life, having been a fellow student with her at the University of Virginia, served as her legal counsel for many years, and have shared a friendship that has endured overtime. Linda continues to rediscover and re-identify herself as she charges forward through life in her latest community service quest. I am proud and honored to know her. She is a wonderful person and a true role model for those who unnecessarily face self-doubt based upon their humble beginnings. It’s not only about how far you went in life, but also from where you began.  Linda began in the Virginia public school system.

Linda’s unique thoughts and perspectives allow for her to keenly and quickly sense the essence of a problem or issue, while her engaging personality and willingness to work with others brings about elegant solutions and a resolve to create a dynamic for cooperation and agreement. Linda would be beneficial and of service to the School Board or to any other organization or public service entity to which she engages her time and services. One more thing about Linda: Once she commits, she gives 100 percent all the time and every time. The citizens of Fluvanna County will be well served by Dr. Linda Staiger should she prove successful in her bid for election to the School Board.
 
Edward S. Garcia, Jr., Esquire
Virginia Beach Add a comment

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