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The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors has approved the purchase of a new computer-assisted dispatch (CAD) system to replace the county’s aging 911 service.

The current system, DaPro, is now about 14 years old and is reaching the end of its useful life, said Michael Grandstaff, director of communications at the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office.

It still gets the job done, but DaPro no longer provides software updates and was bought out by another company in 2015. Even if it was still supported, “old software just doesn’t work with new stuff,” he explained.

With Fluvanna County emergency services about to shift to a new radio system, the moment was right for a upgrade.

The county put out a request for proposals in November 2016. After several months of interviews and negotiations, they decided on Spillman Technologies of Salt Lake City.  A subsidiary of Motorola, Spillman provides public safety software for more than 1,700 customers across 44 states.

The $459,981 system will be funded out of the county’s Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) budget and includes new equipment, software, support, and 40 hours of training for each of the staff of 15 dispatchers. After the first year, the annual operating budget for the system will be about $45,000 a year.

Grandstaff said the new system will remove one of DaPro’s more time-consuming aspects: dispatchers currently must manually look up and assign the appropriate police or fire unit when they receive an emergency call. The Spillman system will do that automatically and “that will save us a lot in processing time.” 

The department received a total of 6,127 emergency 911 calls in the fiscal year that ended in July 2017. With the volume of calls increasing each year, the need for “reliable, faster dispatch” will only grow, he notes.

Other upgrades include mobile capability and integration with other statewide public safety centers. The robust data storage system will allow officials to streamline information-gathering and automatically run reports, which should in turn help departments optimize their daily operations.   

If all goes according to schedule, the dispatch center should be up and running in July of 2018.

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Watching the eclipseMy friend burst into peals of laughter when she saw the DVD screen hanging in my car, suspended from multiple bungie cords.

My son had hung it in anticipation of the many hours we’d spend on the road during our solar eclipse vacation. Frankly, I was impressed he had gotten it to stay put.

“That’s how we roll,” I told her.

That DVD player came in handy as we sat in stop-and-go traffic after the eclipse. The doleful predictions of traffic disaster proved all too true. After three hours had elapsed I checked the odometer. We’d gone 85 miles.

“On the bright side,” I said to my mother in the passenger seat, “We don’t need to get gas.”

By the end of the night my mom was plying me with questions about every controversial subject she could think of, from statues in Charlottesville to transgender military policy, in a much-appreciated attempt to keep me from falling asleep behind the wheel. Four non-stop days of eclipse fun had worn us out. In the backseat the DVD player had fallen silent and the kids were sleeping. The littlest one whimpered, uncomfortable in her booster seat.

When I finally closed my eyes in my own bed, I saw an endless stream of brake lights on a dark ribbon of road.

The trip was worth the pain it took to get back. I knew I’d have to have something up my sleeve in addition to the eclipse in case the sky clouded over. So we visited a water park, an amusement park, and, best of all, spent a morning ziplining through the Smoky Mountains. Add a comment

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Football
Flucos win opener

The Flying Fluco football team opened its 2017 season tonight (Aug. 25)  with a tense 14-12 win over the visiting Bluestone High Barons. 

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AquaAqua Virginia, the company that provides water and sewer service to much of Fluvanna, filed a request Aug. 1 for a rate increase with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) that could raise customer bills by 7.4 percent.

The average household in the Lake Monticello system uses 3,200 gallons of water and sewage service per month, said Aqua Virginia President John Aulbach.

That puts the average customer bill at $118.61 per month. Once the rate changes go into effect, that bill will increase to $127.38 per month.

Aqua is permitted to charge its new rates before the SCC rules on the case. If the SCC ultimately approves a rate increase lower than Aqua’s new charges, Aqua must refund the difference plus interest to its customers.

The rate case requests that the SCC allow Aqua to begin charging its new rates “no later than 180 days after the company’s application is deemed complete.” Gretchen Toner, Aqua America spokesperson, said that the company will wait to hear from the SCC before implementing the new rates.

Aqua provides water and sewer service to nearly 5,000 homes, offices and other buildings in the Lake Monticello system. Lake Monticello, Sycamore Square, Nahor Village and Piedmont Village comprise the Lake Monticello system, which is Aqua’s largest system in the state.

Aqua also provides water to 40 locations in Columbia, 31 locations in Palmyra, and 28 locations in the Stage Coach neighborhood. Add a comment

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Herman TolliverThe operators of the county’s food pantry have extended a challenge to Fluvanna residents.

If everyone in the county gives $1, the food pantry can move into its new digs and launch operations that will better serve Fluvanna’s hungry.

Fluvanna Christian Service Society (FCSS), which operates the food pantry, hopes that local churches will take up “love offerings,” or special collections, as part of the challenge.

FCSS needs $35,000 for its new setup. Counted toward that goal is $11,520 that Fluvanna County will pay to acquire one of its buildings.

That leaves $23,480. FCSS hopes that each of the 26,000 residents of Fluvanna will throw in a buck to help out their neighbors.

The food pantry needs to move. Currently FCSS owns two small buildings in the Carysbrook complex and uses space inside a county public works building to house some of its operations. But the arrangement has become inadequate for both FCSS and public works.

FCSS is selling a stick-built building to the county and moving a second shed-like building about 200 feet, from behind the social services building to behind the Carysbook gym. The organization also hopes to purchase two new shed-like buildings.

The cost of the move, including the new buildings, wiring, insulation and other needs, totals $35,000.

Included in that figure is the cost of a new industrial-size refrigerator and industrial-size freezer. “We have eight or 10 refrigerators that have been donated. They go on the fritz,” said FCSS member Susan Hughes.

Because FCSS pays its own electric bill, the cost can be enormous. FCSS hopes to save money and boost reliability with the two new appliances.

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