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Photo by Tricia JohnsonThe Rivanna and its tributaries which flow through Fluvanna are in poor shape but slowly improving, according to a report from StreamWatch, a non-profit organization which monitors the water quality of the river and streams in its watershed.
Almost half of the sampling sites in Fluvanna County both on the river and along the streams that feed it failed to meet the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) standards for aquatic life.
StreamWatch released its report, “The Biological Health of Streams and Rivers of the Rivanna River Watershed,” in June of 2014.
“Water quality and stream health are vital community interests,” reads the report. “The Rivanna River itself is a heavily used waterway, providing drinking water to many thousands of Central Virginia residents while also receiving stormwater runoff and treated wastewater.”
Data collected from 2011-2013 is compared with information going back to 2003 to illustrate both the current state of the watershed and historical trends.
Sites rated as “fair” or worse fail state standards; of 11 sampling sites in Fluvanna, five rated “fair”, five “good”, and one “very good.” Two of the sampling sites have improved since the last sampling period. While the statistics in Fluvanna County are better than those for the entire watershed, there is concern about the sites that received a “fair” assessment. “Many of the streams rated in ‘fair’ condition are located in rural or sparsely developed areas. Previous studies by StreamWatch and others suggest that some ‘fair’ streams can recover good health with modest changes in management practices,” the report stated.
StreamWatch relies heavily on volunteers – “citizen scientists” – to help assess the sites along the Rivanna River watershed. Groups of volunteers use a fine-mesh net to seine aquatic insects, and then identify and count these insects as indicators of the quality of the site.
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Newlyweds Clay Hysell and Brent Jacques. Photos by Tricia JohnsonClay Hysell and Brent Jacques have lived together on a small farm just outside Palmyra for the past 14 years. Last week, the two men made Fluvanna history when they became the first gay couple to be married in the county, taking advantage of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in Virginia.
Judge Claude V. Worrell married Hysell and Jacques on Oct. 8 in a civil ceremony in the courthouse in Palmyra. Besides the couple and the judge, two witnesses – a clerk and a deputy – attended the bare-bones, brief ceremony.
Hysell and Jacques stood with Worrell before the bench under the great seal of Virginia, in a court room where the laws of the Commonwealth are interpreted and made real by their application to human lives. It seemed fitting that the county’s first gay marriage ceremony – the application of the state’s newest marriage law - happened there.
The judge had the two men clasp right hands, and then read a simple service.
“Clay and Brent, I ask that you both remember to treat yourself and each other with dignity and respect; to remind yourself often of what brought you together today. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness, and kindness that your marriage deserves. When frustration and difficulty assail your marriage – as these do to every relationship at one time or another – focus on what still seems right between you, not only the part that seems wrong. This way, when clouds of trouble hide the sun in your lives and you lose sight of it for a moment, you can remember that the sun is still there. And if each of you will take responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”
The men took their vows, exchanged rings, and kissed. In this simple ceremony, rich in both sentiment and significance, history was made in Fluvanna County.
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VDOT will remove political and other signs placed in its right-of-way, according to VDOT acting communications manager Stacy Londrey.
The Virginia Department of Transportation recently went to remove several signs from Rt. 53 by Turkeysag Trail after receiving a citizen complaint.
Londrey reminded residents that placing signs in the right-of-way is against the law.
“We can’t have anything in the right-of-way that blocks people from being able to see and affects safety,” said Londrey. “The right-of-way has to be a clear zone, and crews will remove signs when they see them.”
“These signs are distracting,” said Lake Monticello resident Julius Neelley, who reported to VDOT the presence of a large sign on stakes surrounded by smaller signs on Rt. 53 by Turkeysag Trail. “It’s a shame that people just stick these signs in the ground. It’s a beautiful county with all these landscapes – why pollute it with these signs? They’re kind of like trash.”
Any kind of sign, be it political, business, or event-related, must be located on private property. Violators may be fined $100 per sign, Londrey said. “Everybody loves enterprising businesses promoting their business in this county,” Neelley said, “but if they were fined $100 like they should be for every one of these little signs, they’d be losing money.”

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Ivan Petrovitch went home Oct. 25. Photo by TerriIsenhourPhotographyIvan Petrovitch is finally home. The Palmyra man, who suffered third degree burns in a camper fire that shut down the eastbound lanes of I-64 on Aug. 25, has recovered remarkably quickly, and made his goal of being home by his birthday on Oct. 25.
The road to complete recovery, however, is not a simple or smooth one; he learned as he was discharged that the plastic surgeon now believes he needs repeat skin grafts on areas of his legs, and will need grafts on his left arm after all.
“We are going to try to find out more about the pros and cons on Monday,” said Petrovitch’s fiancée, Jennifer Adkins. “I think we are going to learn that although this seems like a setback, in the long run having the surgeries will likely speed up the healing process.”
In the meantime, Petrovitch is happy to be home with his fiancée and his dogs. “Oh my God,” he exclaimed, “I am super happy. I missed these two animals so bad - you have no idea. We are really attached here, the four of us - them two and me and Jennifer. When I was there in Health South, I was telling her that there were days that I had to look at their pictures in my phone because I missed them so much and was so homesick.”
Petrovitch credits “good genetics and stubbornness” for his quick recovery, and his fiancée concurs. “I think on some level he heard all of the things the nurses were warning me about, even when he was unconscious and we thought he couldn’t hear,” said Adkins. She said the nurses warned her that burn victims don’t want to eat, and don’t want to move and get up and walk. All of those things are integral parts of a good recovery. “I think on some level he heard everything they were telling me, because he was demanding to walk when it came time for him to do so. Even though it sometimes made him sick, he still ate every bite of food that they brought….he was very determined to get better.”
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Come in, come in. Of course, my dears, you all come in and hurry – shut the door against the wind. Shake that rain from your coats and come here to the fire. There: a place for everyone. Now toast your toes and warm your hands, and listen. You notice a chill up your spine, a prickling? No, it’s not a draft. Just listen; and wait – there’ll be more.
Spirits of the dead come close to us now. It’s All Hallows’ Eve, the night of the ancient Britons’ new year and hilltop fire festivals; it’s a good time to placate those forces around that may not wish us well. Hush! Did you hear that? But no; sit – and listen. We’ll have an old tale.
I know you’ve heard it before, the mysterious, never-solved enigma of the haunting of poor John Schuyler Moon’s home for two terrible years after that awful war. 1866 to 1868 it was, and Church Hill was the place, out north of Scottsville, near Glendower Church. The house has since burned, but is remembered as two stories tall with a deep porch and – as Lawyer John’s niece Frances Moon Butts recalls, “many queer closets.” What? Ah – no, it’s nothing, just a log falling in the grate. Be still.
There were eight or nine rooms in the house – isn’t it odd we can’t remember the exact number; and a wing to one side. Above the front porch was a window to the upper hall. One of those odd closets gave off the roof of the wing, and this became known as the “Ghost Closet”; this is where the ghost got in the house.
Virginia Moore is one who’s told the tale. As she says, the times were troubled – the Civil War lost, Reconstruction an “agony,” and everything chaotic. Onto the scene, in the summer of 1866, ride two strangers, rough-looking white men, who knock at Church Hill’s front door and demand to see John Schuyler Moon. All the good adults were at church, so the disappointed men curse, turn, and spur their mounts to ride off – in the direction of a nearby grave yard.
Upon his return home, Moon attempted to find the unknown men, whose horses were distinctive. Though the neighborhood was searched as far as North Garden, no trace of them was ever found, and the incident might have been forgotten except that soon afterward the mystery began.
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