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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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Emory Davis for the FlucosThe Flying Flucos girls’ and boys’ basketball teams hosted the annual Holiday Bash Tournament Dec. 28-29. Both teams scored back-to-back victories. The girls’ team crushed Buckingham County 53-31 and then crushed the Bruton Panthers from Williamsburg by a similar score of 53-26.

The Fluco boys’ team won by much closer scores. In the tournament’s first round, they topped William Monroe High 52-49 and in the second round they also narrowly defeated Bruton 48-46.

The Fluco boys’ team took to the floor against Bruton at about 7 p.m. Friday. Coach Jason Davis said that the first five minutes of play was the team’s “best five minutes of the season.” The Flucos ran to a 20-5 lead before the Panthers could respond with a nine-point run to end the quarter at 20-14.

Bruton started the scoring with a three-point basket. Then it was all Flucos for five minutes. Senior A.J. Gregory hit a three-point shot and junior Andrew Pace followed with two strong lay-ups, the second on a nice pass from Gregory. Add a comment

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Beth SherkDrama has been in Beth Sherk’s blood since the first time she hung a curtain in the basement and put on shows when she was a child. She was a community theater actress long before she was a director, and taught drama for 22 years at Fork Union Military Academy. She has always been a writer.

“It is sort of an incurable condition. Theater is somewhat of an addiction for me,” she laughed. She is currently finishing a novel that she started when her son went off to West Point and ended up in Iraq. She has written other novels, including River’s Bend, which is available on Amazon.

Sherk tried to put into words the feelings she has for her love of theater.

“It is a unique, communal experience. Every actor, every crew person is necessary to the final product and even the audience has their part to play, for a play never becomes itself until someone is there to watch,” she said. “Theater has the potential to make people laugh at themselves and to think for themselves. Even if the play is less than profound, laughing and crying together is a bonding experience, a shot of good energy. I think it is a basic human need. Children play act all the time.”

The current president and the main director for most of the shows, Sherk has been with Persimmon Tree Players (PTP) for over 11 years but said she doesn’t feel it has been that long.

She talked about the early days of PTP, including her directorial debut of The Golden Goose. She recalled when they had a cast of children and adults and performed it three times on the hottest day of the summer at Fluvanna County Day in the picnic pavilion at Carysbrook.

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