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Fluvanna Seniors Feeling Effects of JAUNT & JABA Cuts - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Fluvanna Seniors Feeling Effects of JAUNT & JABA Cuts

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Fluvanna County seniors deny defeat after county supervisors cut funding to JAUNT bus service and Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) programs.  They're feeling the effects of the cuts that started July 1,  but they're also getting around the changes and gearing up for a fight to get their funding back.

Wednesday night, JAUNT's directors are presenting a report to county supervisors.  Ridership in Fluvanna dropped 16 percent in the past year.  Seniors who rely on JAUNT and JABA say the county cuts really are making a drastic difference.

Funding cuts from Fluvanna County supervisors are setting in for seniors like Thelma Soto.  "They feel like we don't exist, and it's not fair," she said.  "It's just not the same.  The atmosphere has changed, drastically.  It has really changed."

Soto relies on the JAUNT bus service to take her to and from the JABA Senior Center at Fork Union, but fewer county funds forced the nonprofit to consolidate routes and stop Tuesday service to the center July 1.

"We're trying to muddle through all the changes that's going on now," said Soto.

JAUNT says the July 1 changes are restricting people's access to shopping, medical care, and jobs.  "It has impacted our seniors a great deal," JABA Community Centers manager Emily Daidone said.

JAUNT's cuts impacted JABA.  The agency now only opens the Fluvanna center one day a week - on Wednesdays. 

"We're still absorbing and dealing with that cutback," said Daidone.  "I think that we're in a transformation stage right now where we're trying to make the best of it that we can."

Seniors who can drive or find a ride come to the center Tuesdays and run the place themselves.  "No transportation on Tuesday," said Florence Pugh, who attends the JABA Senior Center.  "Nothing on Tuesday.  We're just on our own."

They're calling Tuesdays a "volunteer day" at the center, but that means no prepared meals, nurse's care, or programs.  JABA can't afford it without full funding from county supervisors.

Daidone said, "The community deserves to have their backing and support to continue with this program and to continue to help those who need it the most."

Soto and her senior friends plan to rally support to get back their money in next year's county budget.  "I hope they do come up with a budget for next year that we can get back on track," Pugh said. 

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch said Wednesday that he doesn't foresee any future funding increases for any budget line item, from schools all the way down to nonprofits.  He says the county's first reassessment in six years is showing property values down 28 to 35 percent, and that doesn't bode well for the next budget year.

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