Enough already

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By Kandy Shackelford

    I am a lifelong resident of Bedford with the last 30 years being in the City of Bedford.
      I have seen businesses come and go.  I have seen our young people leave Bedford because there was nothing for them to do here.  The nearest place to have fun and socialize would be to drive to Roanoke or Lynchburg. 
    Downtown Bedford has plenty of sandwich shops and antique shops but nothing that stays open much past 8 p.m. until Clam Digger’s opened.  It started out as a simple seafood restaurant but became so popular that the owners, Hal and Tina Gurley, decided to expand and open a small Pub in the rear.  It, too, was very popular as it was the only place in town you could go get something to eat, have a beer, throw darts and socialize with friends in a casual atmosphere.  
    It became so popular and crowded that the owners decided to expand and take over the vacant D Reynolds when it closed.  They spent a lot of time and money to make it a place that everyone in Bedford would be proud of.  Finally we have a place to listen to a band, have a good meal, throw darts, play shuffleboard, shoot pool or just socialize with your friends without having to drive 30 miles away! 
    It has been very well run and no problems from what I’ve seen.  This is a place that caters to everyone.  But for some reason, the Bedford City Police have decided they do not like it and have been a real problem to the patrons and owners.  They sit in the parking lot and surrounding areas, they follow patrons as they leave and even do breathalyzers on some who leave and are walking to their home nearby.  It upsets me to see this restaurant/bar being targeted. 
    There are other establishments in the city that serve alcohol and I don’t see this being done there, nor have I heard of any problems with excessive police presence, which has taken a toll on Clam Digger’s.  This is not right. 
    I understand the police are here to protect and serve, but how are they doing that when they are parked outside of the Clam Digger’s?  If the concern is to keep people off the street who have been drinking, then by all means the city should consider implementing some type of public transportation, perhaps on the weekends.  This would be a win-win for citizens and downtown businesses alike.  And surely it would cost less than hiring more officers, which I’ve heard is going to happen.  Do we really need more?
    On a recent Saturday night while enjoying some live music at the Clam Digger’s, I took a look around me and noticed everyone having a great time listening to the music and hanging out with their friends.  There were people of all ages with one thing in common.   They were having a fun night out with their friends.  And even better, generating much needed tax revenue for the city. 
    We need more businesses like this. For some reason Bedford has never been able to progress.  We are full of empty building space and failed businesses.  The town dies at 8 p.m. or earlier.  Clam Digger’s has brought new life to this town.  If they continue to be targeted, they will leave and open their business elsewhere.  And I promise you Bedford will never have another place like this.  
    Now is the time to step up to the plate.  I am urging all residents to make themselves heard to your city council, city manager, mayor, and Chief of Police.  It’s time to be vocal! 
    I hear “everyone” talking about this and angered about how Clam Digger’s is being targeted and don’t want to see it shut down.  This is our city and we should have a say so.
      Too many important decisions seem to be coming from people who aren’t even from here.  Why is this happening?  I’ve heard people say they want to do something but are afraid of being targeted themselves.  Well, I really hope that by speaking up for what you believe in and what is right won’t make any of us the next target.  There will be an Open Forum Meeting for all to attend and share their grievances and compliments on Thursday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the City Municipal Building.  I urge all concerned citizens to attend.