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By Tom Wilmoth

Local couple live through quake

On May 12 a 7.9 magnitude earthquake rocked China, killing more than 34,000 people. Among those who were there was a couple teaching English with local ties to Bedford.

According to area resident Cindy Connor, Rebecca Stormer lived here in Bedford and taught at CVCC, as well as being a local artist. Her husband, Richard Hartley worked for Bedford County and Roanoke City schools until he retired. He is from Rocky Mount. They moved to China in August to teach English and were 30 miles form the epicenter of the quake.

Stormer was interviewed May 13, a day after the earthquake, by National Public Radio about the experience. They live in Mianyang, China, teaching at Tian Fu College of Southwest University of Economics and Finance.

The earthquake occurred around 2:30 p.m., just after classes had started. Stormer said the lights in the room started shaking and they ran out of the building, but could hardly get up the steps they had to traverse to get out.

"I ran for my life, and the students were running for their lives," she told NPR, adding that they stood in a field all day, holding hands and holding on to each other after the quake.

Stormer said the entire city was living in tents, outside in the streets or in fields. She classified the city as a "small city" of one million."

"We have slept out in the mosquito net that goes on top of our bed," Stormer told NPR. "We slept in that last night, and we've been in and out of that all day today. And we've been walking around, talking to students, trying to take care of ourselves, and stay out of the way of buildings."

She said there had been hundreds of tremors. About midway through the interview, the ground once again began to shake. "Oh, my God! We're rumbling!" she said during the interview, while running out of the building they were in, trying to get out of the rain.

She said when the tremors hit, "your heart beats really fast."

We're in the process of trying to connect with Stormer via email, but until then, I'd encourage you to listen to her interview with NPR. You can hear that at www.npr.org. The name of the interview is "English Teacher Feels Aftershocks in China."

<*B><*C>Strawberries anyone

<*P><*J>If you like strawberries, the 2008 Scott's Farm Strawberry Festival will be the place for you this weekend, May 24-26. The festival will be held May 24 from 10 a.m. to dusk; May 25, noon to dusk; and May 26, 10 a.m. to dusk.

Scott's Farm is located at 5234 Joppa Mill Rd. in Moneta.

Activities include crafts, live music, pony and carriage rides, bungee jump, carnival rides and an antique tractor and lawnmower pull. Food, door prizes and homemade ice cream will be available.

And, of course, there will be strawberries ripe for the pickin'.

Parking is $2.

<*B><*C>Child Passenger Safety Seat Check

<*P><*J>The Bedford Police Department will be conducting a free Child Passenger Safety Seat Check on Friday, May 23, from 3 until 7 p.m. at the Bedford Wal Mart.

The objective of this seat check event is to increase public awareness as to the importance of correctly installed child passenger safety seats and how to choose the seat that is best suited for your child.

According to William Crumpacker, Child Passenger Safety Coordinator with the Bedford City Police Department, ?As the summer travel season quickly approaches, we would like to encourage parents, grandparents and caregivers to take a few moments out of the day to have their child?s safety seat checked. Over 80 percent of child safety seats are installed incorrectly. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people from 3 years to 33 years of age.

"Approximately 80 percent of all child safety seats are installed incorrectly. When used properly, child safety seats have been found to reduce the risk of fatal injury to infants (under 1 year of age) to approximately 70 percent and toddlers (age 1 ? 4 years old) to approximately 55 percent. It also reduced the need for hospitalization by almost 70 percent.?

The safety seat law is a primary enforcement law. This means a law enforcement officer can stop your vehicle for failure to have a child in an approved child passenger safety seat.

For further questions contact the City of Bedford Police Department at 540-587-6011.

<*B><*C>Talking up the Lake

<*P><*J>Smith Mountain Lake was slated to get some more national exposure this week through Bonnie Horn who lives in the Westlake area.

Bonnie, who just recently started Coming Home Magazine, a real estate listing and guide for the area, was scheduled to appear on the 700 Club, which is watched by about one million people each day.

A regular contributor to the ministry for several years, Bonnie said she received a call recently from one of the co-hosts of the show, thanking her for her support. That conversation, in which she shared some of her personal story, led the show's producers to request an interview.

Bonnie was able to share her story of how she had been a top sales person and manager for a company, but lost that income and suddenly was faced with a financial crisis. That caused her to look to the Lord for help, she said. The help came, through Christian friends who called and helped put gas in her car and food on her table. She said she had to get to the point where she realized there wasn't anything she could do.

"I had to realize that I couldn't do it by myself," Bonnie said.

She ended up moving to the SML area and worked for a couple of magazines. Those magazines prospered. "The more I gave the Lord blessed," she said.

After eight years, she and several others have now struck out on their own with Coming Home Magazine, which is distributed throughout the I-81 corridor and into North Carolina.

During her interview with the 700 Club she was able to promote the area, noting that it is one of the most desirable places to live in the country.

What has she learned through her experiences?

"God's calculator doesn't work like ours," she said, noting He provides resources we don't know about. "You can give and it doesn't make sense...how the money stretches like it does."

Bonnie was interviewed for more than an hour by phone prior to the show's producers deciding to tape her for the show.

If her faith weakens, she looks back to the point where she had lost it all. "Without Him there is nothing," she states.

She says her magazine is a friend to realtors and is getting results. The content is made up of real estate listings as well as articles dealing with development and other items of interest to folks looking to move to this area.

The show began their taping at Bonnie's home and then moved on to her office. "I have a new respect for people who are on television," she said of the experience. "It's hard to be natural. It's hard to say what you feel like you want to say."

And what does she want people to know.

Simply, to trust God. "If you give him your finances and your life, He will answer your prayers."

If you'd like to learn more about the magazine, visit www.cominghomemagazine.com.