Board considers having security at meetings

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By Tom Wilmoth

With recent acts of violence toward public officials making national news, Bedford County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch asked members of the school board Thursday if they would like to start having security present at their meetings.

    “A lot of boards are doing this, just as a precautionary presence,” Dr. Schuch told the board. “I feel safe here and always have.”
    The Bedford County Board of Supervisors has a deputy attend its meetings and Bedford Police Chief Jim Day regularly attends meetings of Bedford City Council. Dr. Schuch said taking the step of having security at its meetings at the Bedford Science & Technology Center in Bedford would result in a slight cost to the school system.
    Board Chairwoman Debbie Hoback said that while at times board discussions can get heated, “these are my neighbors, these are the people I live with and go to church with.”
    She said the public needs to feel they can appear before the board and speak to them. If a problem did occur, Hoback added that she believes deputies would be at the building to respond “in seconds.”
    District 1 board member Joy Wright said over the years she had been at a couple of board meetings in which she didn’t feel safe. She said she was in favor of having security at the meetings. “I prefer to be proactive rather than reactive,” she said.
    District 6 board member Shirley McCabe said there had been only one time in 17 years that she hadn’t felt safe at a board meeting.
    “If I didn’t feel safe in Bedford, I’d have to move somewhere else,” stated City board member Mickey VanDerwerker.
    Dr. Schuch will report back to the board on what the actual cost would be of having security at the meetings.