Competitive salaries needed
The Fluvanna School Board recently held a public hearing on their proposed 2019 budget.  Six school staff members spoke at the hearing and as president of the Fluvanna Education Association, I spoke on behalf of our 100+ members.  Five teachers and an instructional aide requested that the Board continue to focus on competitive salaries for Fluvanna, particularly in light of current teacher shortages and some significant pay increases planned by other local school divisions.

I’m writing to express my appreciation for the welcome I felt as I addressed the Board.  I encourage anyone with comments or concerns to take advantage of opportunities for public input and contact or come and speak to the Fluvanna School Board.  Board members looked at me as I talked, they took notes, they thanked me for my input. I felt acknowledged and appreciated. 

The School Board listens to public comments near the beginning and end of each regular meeting.  I hope other staff members will share their thoughts with these policy makers in the future.

Nancy King
Fork Union

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Khan is a true patriot
Thank you for your article, “Gold Star father Khizr Khan praises press as ‘voice of democracy’” (Feb. 1 edition). He is indeed a true patriot. We are fortunate he is part of our country and is willing to spread his truly patriotic attitude in spite of the deepest adversity.

Sarah Litchfield
Lake Monticello

And the truth shall make you free
Unless, that is, you rely on Facebook, Twitter and the blogs in finding it. In a time when trust is essential, we are inundated by fake news, alternate facts, and opinion disguised as fact. We, unfortunately, have become more than a little lazy and less discriminating in exploring fact in forming our opinions and less than energized in taking action.

We have evolved a new credo, “my” country, “my” values, “my” money, which has become the essence of modern patriotism.

Polemicists are having a field day. From a nation of blind followers, and lemmings parading over the cliff, we have become kelp, swaying in whichever way the current draws us.

Political influence has become an equation of votes versus dollars – which does your politician value most…and in which order.

Moving from a democratic republic to a theocracy, dominated by the church of mulligan morals and situational ethics, we are deluding ourselves into a state of self-righteous comfort.

A government of, for and by the people dominated by a “simple” majority made up of tinfoil-hatted politicians who ignore real adversaries in favor of attacking less threatening monsters under the bed, advocating free rides for (some) taxpayers based upon borrowed money, and choosing instead to bide their time on a budget, child health care and community health care, cheaper and better health care for all, essential infrastructure remediation with its accompanying jobs and economic benefit.

Legislative “oversight” which virtually ignores fact finding, choosing instead to prosecute whomever or whatever political enemy that takes their fancy, substituting allegation and accusation for balanced exploratory investigation.

Many of our political leaders are taking advantage of our laziness and leading us down a dark, trust-barren path.

It’s time to “tea party” the tea baggers and faux freedom advocates and get back to informed, common sense regular order.

We’re living in exciting times…and I hope we can keep up!

John Neighbours
Lake Monticello

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No such thing as clean coal
With this year’s annual partisan charade otherwise known as the State of the Union speech, Trump followed his usual stance of patriotic hyperbole. And the Republican Congress followed suit by interrupting his speech with applause 117 times in 80 minutes. One example of Trump’s usual avoidance of the truth stood out when he said, “We have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.” In reality it is market forces, the country’s glut of cheap natural gas, increased energy efficiency and renewable energy that have all contributed to the decline of coal.

And there’s no such thing as clean coal. Coal is a major contributor to air pollution and climate change. The Associated Press fact-checked Trump’s statement, and wrote: “According to the Energy Department, more than 83 percent of all major air pollutants – sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and dangerous soot particles – from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43 percent of the power generation.” Even carbon capture and storage, which collects and stores carbon emissions from coal-powered plants, fails the test. The process is more expensive than installing natural gas, wind or solar systems. Even Energy Secretary Rick Perry has slashed the clean coal budget from more than $200 million to only $35 million.

However, U.S. crude oil production is expected to surpass 10 million barrels per day this month, approaching an all-time record months ahead of previous forecasts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. No wonder the worldwide levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continue to rise as well as global temperatures. Earth’s globally averaged temperature for 2017 made it the third warmest year in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 138-year climate record, behind 2016 (warmest) and 2015 (second warmest). Some locations experienced their warmest year on record, such as eastern China, the southwest U.S., and eastern Australia.

Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope. The last time I checked there was no renewable energy shortage. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and the tides were still rolling.

Julius Neelley
Lake Monticello

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Why VSBA is important to Fluvanna

I was concerned to read about the reservations expressed at the recent School Board meeting regarding the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA), which I believe is a great asset to our county. For a minimal cost, far less than paying for analogous individual services, it provides the following:

1.    It ensures that the School Board’s policies are kept in sync with the state’s statutes and regulations that govern the operation of local school divisions and are continually evolving. If this is not done properly, the School Board would be at risk of being in violation of the law.
2.    It provides guidance in the form of conferences and individualized training sessions, which are especially useful for new School Board members who are new to the process of governing as a Board.
3.    It provides opportunities to network with other Boards through its annual meeting, and through regional meetings with Board members from neighboring counties with whom we share many of the same concerns.
4.    It provides a daily news briefing consolidating all of the education-related news from around the state so that we can keep apprised of issues that may potentially affect us as they arise.
5.    With its main office in Charlottesville, it is very knowledgeable of Fluvanna County and provides us with easy access to its services, including its legal support.
6.    It serves as a unified voice on behalf of School Boards to make our needs known to legislators who pass the laws that directly affect the majority of the funding our schools receive.

During my time on the School Board, I always felt that the VSBA was focused on us, not vice versa. In particular, VSBA looked for our input, our participation in events they had created for our benefit, and our involvement in initiatives that served not only our children but those across the state. I would encourage all of the School Board members to view VSBA as a resource, and through them to be as vocal as you can about the needs of Fluvanna County’s schools and students, as VSBA can be a valuable aid toward getting those needs met.

Carol Tracy Carr
Former School Board Chair

Aqua letterPerfect Aqua solution proposed
I have a perfect solution for the Aqua problem.

Each time before you flush, drop a dollar bill in the bowl. This way they can get their money and we have the satisfaction of knowing that they have to dig for it.

Problem solved!

Wayne Bryant
Lake Monticello

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BigotryIs ignorant bigotry the new American norm?

Well, he’s done it once again! The question is, will his unquestioning disciples follow him again…into that s---hole of un-American ignorant bigotry. 

I’ve included a photo from a 1903 Christmas card – a picture of my Norwegian grandfather who only months later immigrated to America, the land of the free, from South Africa. Under the circumstances, it’s doubtful that he would make the same decision today. In which case, I would never have had the opportunity of experiencing such enlightened communities as Charlotte, Montgomery, Birmingham and Atlanta of the freedom-loving Jim Crow South – or of the 26 months I spent in the central highlands of Vietnam.

Well, I guess I’m just too inflexible, misguided and opinionated to understand and appreciate the “new American norm.” So be it.

John R. Neighbours
Lake Monticello

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