( 1 Vote )

Toys Happy FaceIn a world seemingly divided in every way, hundreds came together to spread good will Saturday (Dec. 2).

Fluvanna’s faith community continued its more than 40-year legacy of giving to the less fortunate with the Happy Face event at Central Elementary. The Fluvanna Christian Service Society coordinates toy, food, cash and coat donations from the community to provide holiday cheer to Fluvanna’s neediest residents.

More than 200 children from 100 families crowded into the auditorium to sing Christmas carols, hear the Christmas story, answer holiday trivia and wait to see if they won a new bike or video game.

Zonita Bell sat with her three children, LaTrell, Lyric and Lamark. Bell said she relocated to Fluvanna a few months ago because she inherited a house.

A single mom, Bell works part-time and said it’s hard to make ends meet. The Happy Face event helps out a lot. “It means a great deal to me. With three kids and doing it all yourself – having bills to pay and not being supported. This is a big help,” she said.

“It’s their Christmas,” she added, nodding toward her children.

Bell said she and Lyric even had their picture taken sitting on Santa’s lap.

Chrissy Blackwell is a photographer with her own business, Shuttered Dreams. She said four years ago she got a panicked call from her pastor asking if she could take pictures of children with Santa.  At the last minute, the person who had been taking them couldn’t do it.

“I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Blackwell, standing next to her 16-year-old daughter, Hannah. “We just love it. This starts our Christmas season.”
Families walk away with a printed copy of the photo.
Add a comment

Read more...

( 1 Vote )

Diana PickralDiana Pickral earned her degree in history from Roanoke College, though she was interested in English, but none of that mattered when her boss got one of the first PCs and together they figured out how it worked. Pickral volunteered to take on the task.

“I learned the computer from scratch and then I learned about graphics, databases and marketing. I got excited about computers,” she said. “It kept my mind alive and to keep those skills strong I applied them to my volunteer work.”

For Pickral, the ‘60s were still a struggle for women getting an education and pursuing a career other than teaching or nursing. Her father, a professor, was a shining example to Pickral of what education could do in life, and she admired that.

Pickral’s duties took her in a direction she never expected, yet enjoyed. She learned about computers and finance at a time when women didn’t have much involvement in those areas. Like her mother, Pickral was a maverick. She recalled her mother’s contributions as a volunteer.

Her mother raised funds for Rockbridge Mental Health and was conservation chair for the Garden Club of Virginia, but Pickral remembered her mother being an environmentalist before it was trendy. Her mother fought alongside others and with the Perry Foundation to stop the taking down of trees in Goshen Pass.

“For years many of us would go there to our favorite swimming hole,” she said. Her mother and the others were successful in defeating those who were bent on destroying a natural area special to those in nearby communities. To this day, Pickral still visits that area from time to time, remembering her mother sticking to her convictions and taking the time to make a difference and change lives. Add a comment

Read more...

( 1 Vote )

Disaster relief2017 has been an incredible year of seven disasters, simultaneously affecting both the United States and its neighbors in Mexico and Canada.

An area resident who has been on the scene for several disasters this year is Red Cross volunteer Kay Karstaedt. At 73 she confessed that helping out with disaster relief is exhausting but has its rewards and she is not ready to stay home when her skills are called upon. Karstaedt’s message is that everyone should be willing to be a volunteer in whatever way they are able.

Karstaedt retired as a Long and Foster Realtor at Lake Anna, and before that from the USDA Forest Service. She became involved with disaster relief 12 years ago when she watched televised reports of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation. “What can I do?” she wondered. “I just felt so bad and wondered what I could do to help those people.”

A friend told her that her daughter was going to New Orleans to help with relief efforts with the Red Cross. Karstaedt went to the Red Cross office in Fredericksburg to see what was needed. They suggested that she help by counting cash donations. She did that, then said to the director, “Now what?”

The director asked her to train volunteers, who were going to be sent into the disaster areas. Karstaedt’s response was, “Give me the materials.” She studied the manual, then trained more than 500 volunteers, many from local companies. Not long thereafter, she was deployed to Lafayette, La., where she served as logistics manager for a mega shelter that housed more than 7,000 people. Add a comment

Read more...

( 0 Votes )

Aqua Virginia customers received in their most recent bills notification of the company’s intent to raise water and sewer rates.

Aqua filed a rate case with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) last August to up water rates by 11 percent and sewer rates by 5.4 percent, for a combined increase of 9 percent.

If the SCC approves Aqua’s rate increase, the average Lake Monticello system household bill will rise to $127.39 per month – an increase of 7.4 percent.

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. Census data leads Aqua to believe that the Lake Monticello system serves over half of Fluvanna’s population.

Aqua estimates that the average Lake Monticello system household uses 3,200 gallons of water per month – up from its 3,150-gallon estimate from the 2014 rate case.

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

Fluvanna residents who recently bought homes served by Aqua likely had fair warning about the high water and sewer bills. But those who moved in prior to 2005 – the year of Aqua’s first rate increase –have been in for a real surprise. Before 2005, the average household bill was $38.62 per month.

Aqua Virginia poured millions of dollars into fixing the Lake Monticello water and sewer system, which was in such a desperate state that it took 10 years for the company to earn the all-clear from the Department of Environmental Quality.

altBelow is a record of two decades of rate increases. The first, from 1996, provides a reference point. The second, from 2005, is the first of Aqua Virginia’s rate increases.

Add a comment
( 3 Votes )

Gabe Andersen and familyLake Monticello’s Gabe Andersen gets fired up by finding simple ways to make others’ lives better.

“Making seemingly insignificant changes to how we do things on a daily basis can cause county, country and worldwide ripples if done as a group,” Andersen said.

That’s why earlier in the year he founded Community Ripple.

“My neighbor and I had both unknowingly hired tree companies to do some work on our properties one day apart from each other,” Andersen wrote in an email. “I was sitting there watching from my deck this scene play out and realized how it was costing us more money as well as [creating] unnecessary traffic, pollution and potential road fatalities simply because we didn’t know each other’s plans.”

Joining Community Ripple is free. Not too long ago, Andersen celebrated the 1,000th member. He’s looking forward to adding a zero to that number because the more people who join, the more impact it will have.
Community Ripple’s greatest need is more members.

“Watching potential clients’ mouths drop when I walk them through the simplicity of it all is really exciting,” Andersen said. “You can join in 10 seconds by going to communityripple.com and start saving and connecting today.”

It’s all about making the best use of time and resources within the community. Add a comment

Read more...