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It was an up and down year in sports at the high school level in Fluvanna County in 2017.

The girls’ sports teams led the way for the Flucos.

The winter sports season is already underway when the new year begins. Basketball is the winter sport that draws the most fans. Coach Chad White’s girls’ basketball team was successful in 2017 as the squad reached the Conference semi-finals behind senior Chaniya Brown and freshman Navaeh Ivory, who was a first team All-Conference selection.

The boys’ team had less success as they went through a building year under new Coach Jason Davis. Junior AJ Gregory was the team’s top player and he was an All-Conference honorable mention selection.
The winter sport with the most athletes participating is indoor track and field. The girls’ squad under Coach Rose Brogan finished second in the Conference meet and sent five individual athletes and a relay team to the State meet. The boys’ team was not quite as successful, but it had standouts in the shot put and in the jumping events.

In the spring the sports calendar at Fluvanna County High School is chock-a-block full; there is activity everywhere. The school fields teams in boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ track and field, and of course baseball and softball. The most prominent spectator sports are baseball for the boys and softball for the girls, which are the sports that draw county residents who are not relatives of the participants.

The softball team under Coach Tre Smith went to the Regional tournament and won its first game there. Katie Morris and Gracie Walton were named to the All-Conference second team. The baseball team under Coach Mike Sheridan was young but it had what Sheridan described as a “solid season.” Brant Wood and DeShon Carter were second team All-Conference.

Spring and summer also bring activity on the golf course. The annual Faulconer golf tournament comes to the Lake Monticello Golf Course in May. This is a prestigious event that attracts many of the top amateur golfers from around central Virginia. In 2017 Brian Bassett won the tournament with an impressive two-day score of 142. He had finished second in the event in 2015 and 2016.

In June the Lake Monticello Golf Course holds its Men’s member guest tournament. The 2017 winners of this event were the team of Claude Williamson and Richard Condray. Add a comment

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Marianne HillA renewed interest in the needle arts, particularly knitting and crocheting, has taken a younger generation by storm. Less in vogue but still practiced by many is the art of cross stitch. Ladies learned cross stitch to strengthen sewing skills, create tapestries and young women used it as a learning tool. Some have a tapestry their grandmother or great-grandmother made, often one of an alphabet with symbolism. These were less elaborate than the detailed crewel work or needlework.

Cross stitch has come a long way over the centuries and women today are experimenting with different ways to express themselves through this art form. Marianne Hill is one of them and has a passion for cross stitch. At the age of 18 she started doing crewel work, then discovered cross stitch and liked its uniformity and layout with its charts.

“The repetitious motion of pulling the thread through the canvas is soothing. I can’t draw, I can’t paint, so thread and canvas are my art,” she said. Her sister has joined her in her enthusiasm for the art. But now she has connected her passion with her Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) position as regent of the Point of Fork chapter.

“Virginia State Regent Judy Surber had to come up with a project so all the chapters are finding ways to support the building of the Claude Moore Hall at Montpelier, James Madison’s home,” Hill said. She described the project and how it fits in with their mission of promoting patriotism, preserving American history and its future through education.

The Claude Moore Hall is to become part of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Montpelier. The $4.7 million project will include classrooms, conference rooms, offices for center staff, a media center, and will be equipped for interactive learning. This will allow the center to expand its audience of adult learners, program alumni and constitutional leaders, creating an online community and sharing expertise and information around the globe. Add a comment

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AmbulanceThe majority of drivers are aware of emergency vehicles winding their way through traffic because the sound and lights signal a matter of life and death. But some drivers are oblivious to the rules of the road when it comes to emergency vehicles.

Dr. Saami Shaibani, a teacher at Fluvanna’s Abrams Academy, physics professor and an expert in traffic safety in England and the U.S., has written numerous papers on trauma and injury and wants to raise awareness around emergency vehicle traffic safety. On his way to work or traveling around the county, he observed drivers not yielding when emergency vehicles were trying to get through traffic.

He gave an example of cars stopped at an intersection with a stoplight and an ambulance with flashing lights trying to maneuver through traffic. Surprisingly, not enough drivers were aware enough to yield right of way.

“The ambulance is behind another vehicle that is waiting at the light and does not move off to the side, and the ambulance has to go into the wrong lane to get through,” he said. “The ambulance will stop at the light to make sure everything is clear but I’ve seen drivers run through the intersection oblivious to the ambulance.”

Shaibani added that what often happens on these narrow winding roads is that the ambulance will get stuck behind a vehicle that cannot pull over. If the driver of that vehicle had waited, rather than getting ahead of the ambulance at the intersection, the ambulance would arrive at its destination faster.

The concern for the ambulance driver is that if a vehicle driver ignores the signals the ambulance driver is giving to get through the intersection safely and quickly, and if a crash does occur due to the vehicle driver not giving right of way, this delays the ambulance and ties up traffic, perhaps delaying other emergency vehicles from getting through as well. If that ambulance has to get to a cardiac victim, for example, time is essential and wasting it could be fatal.

Though most of the statistical data involving crashes and fatalities with emergency vehicles in Virginia and in most states throughout the U.S. is low, there is always one too many. Such crashes can be avoided. Shaibani’s goal is to educate the public, reducing any chance of it ever happening in Fluvanna and elsewhere.In Virginia, like most states, the law is explicit when it comes to emergency vehicles and right of way for yielding in traffic. While most drivers may pay attention and yield, Shaibani said he has seen too many instances in which they do not. Add a comment

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Full moonThe Tennessee Wraith Chasers (TWC) were in Gordonsville once again in December, inviting more than 50 of the followers of their cable television series Haunted Towns to join them at the Exchange Hotel Civil War Medical Museum for a paranormal investigation.

Despite a cold, snowy night, fans from all corners of Virginia converged on the former hotel and Civil War receiving hospital to join the four men as they spent nearly six hours in that building, its grounds and the former Virginia Central Railroad freight depot nearby, listening, watching and waiting for hints of what might still stir within those walls.

It wasn’t the first time the four men, three from Tennessee and one from New Jersey, have been in Gordonsville to drink in its history and sometimes tumultuous and tragic past.

And it won’t be the last.

If there was ever a town with a fertile environment for some bumps in the night, Gordonsville may rank near the top of the list, with the hotel and freight station area its epicenter.

For the duration of the Civil War the hotel served as a hospital for sick and wounded soldiers. The wounded and dying from nearby battlefields such as Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, Trevilian Station, Mine Run, Brandy Station, and the Wilderness were brought by the trainloads. Although it was primarily a Confederate facility, the hospital treated the wounded from both sides. Twenty-six Union soldiers died there.

By the end of the war, some 70,000 soldiers were treated there, and hundreds died there. It is a place that witnessed unimaginable pain, suffering and death, not just from battle wounds, but also from disease that was rampant in the ranks.

It is just the place for the four chasers of spirits, Chris Smith, Brannon Smith, Doogie MacDougal and Mike Goncalves, to bring their listening devices and their experience in paranormal activity to bear. Add a comment

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Between substantial upgrades to emergency systems, a few noteworthy crimes, and the changing of the guard in some of Fluvanna’s top positions, the county had a busy 2017. Here’s a look at the big news story for each month in the year.


January

January

Final suspect arrested in burglary, shooting that shut down county

The Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office announced in January that they arrested the fourth and last person wanted in the Nov. 18, 2016, shooting and burglary at a private garage on Lake Monticello Road that shut down Fluvanna County.

The accused are Gary N. Blowe, Jr., 31, of Virginia Beach; Dante Givens, 35, of Charlottesville; John Morton Abbitt, 36, of Virginia Beach; and Thomas A. Jackson, 36, of Charlottesville.

The unnamed property owner was transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
All four suspects have been held at Central Virginia Regional Jail since their arrests over a year ago. They have not yet had their day in court.
The armed standoff resulted in the schools implementing a modified lockdown. Children remained at school for their parents to retrieve or rode home in buses that arrived well after dark.

Each of the four suspects was indicted by grand juries last summer on multiple felonies, ranging from malicious wounding to conspiracy to commit robbery.


FebruaryFebruary

Linda Lenherr, Fluvanna treasurer, released on bond

A judge released Linda Lenherr, Fluvanna County treasurer, on a $500 personal recognizance bond in February in connection with a charge of using confidential information for economic gain.

A jury found Lenherr not guilty at her August trial.

According to court records that stated the prosecution’s case against her, Lenherr cost the county $33,240 by waiving taxes, penalties and interest in an April 2015 sale of two properties to MCL Construction, Inc., a company owned by her son Michael Lenherr.

Lenherr testified that she had given her son the same service she would give to any Fluvanna taxpayer.

If Lenherr had been convicted of the first class misdemeanor, she would have faced up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.


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