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Annis McCabe was one of Bedford County’s many blessings. Annis passed away on August 16. A memorial service celebrating her life was held on August 19 in the beautiful garden of the Sedalia Center, the cultural arts facility north of Bedford City which she and her husband, the late Dr. William McCabe, helped establish.
At the service, speakers emphasized how good a friend she was to so many, how she promoted the arts and encouraged other artists, and how, when she was talking with someone, she focused on that person and what was going on in his or her life. I can vouch for that.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to Annis and the Sedalia Center. In 1999, the center sponsored a contest for a historical drama about Bedford. That was my inspiration to write my first drama and begin researching Bedford’s experience in World War II.
When my entry won, I was invited to Sedalia to discuss production of the drama, which I had titled At the Peak, an attempt to refer to the Peaks of Otter and Bedford’s supreme effort in WWII. This was when I first met Annis. She was enthusiastic about the drama but, with her eye for art, said, “That title will not do. You need a new title.” I went home and came up with Bedford Goes to War, which met with Annis’s approval and became the much better title of the drama and my subsequent book. Always supportive, Annis personally painted the six large backdrop panels used during the drama’s performances in the Sedalia outdoor pavilion. On opening night, Annis and Bill McCabe, of course, were in the audience, in a supporting role.
Annis will be greatly missed.
James W. Morrison
An Angel In Your Midst
Recently my wife and I spent some time at Peaks of Otter celebrating our 54th Anniversary. On a side trip to see the D-Day Memorial we encountered a detour and for the next one and one half hours we were hopelessly lost. To make a long story short, on a return encounter with a flagman we were told to turn around and follow the car in front of us because the lady driver was going to the same place we were. This sounded like a winner. However, although this lady lived in the area west of Bedford she apparently was not familiar with all of the side streets/roads.
When she discovered (as we had earlier) that the flagman’s directions were not very helpful she pulled to the side of the road and shared her frustration with the confusion we were experiencing. She outlined a plan of attack which we were more than happy to cooperate with for we had bounced around Bedford for well over half an hour trying to follow the directions received from four local citizens who had made an honest effort to be helpful. Only later did we learn that their efforts were rendered useless due to a broken water main that not everyone was aware of and which added to the confusion of the original detour.
So we were off again only to discover that again we were driving in circles. This necessitated another conference at which time our lady friend flagged down a passing car seeking information that might get us on the right “track”. It was about this time that we began to realize that our friend wasn’t lost. She knew where she was and how to get to her home but her problem was how to get us to where we needed to be.
Finally she decided that the best course of action was to literally take us home with her since we were both going in the same direction. We followed her to within a mile of her home where she dropped us off at a church parking lot where we waited while she went home and used her computer to make a list of directions to get us the rest of the way home. She refused to accept any money to cover her gas expenses and sent us on our way with a “God Bless You”.
Although we failed to get her name or address we believe she lives about 5 miles SE of the Peaks of Otter on Rt. 43. She may be just an ordinary Christian (if there is such a person) but to us she is an angel!
Don and Nancy Link
Mt. Sidney, VA
Keep roads safe
Over the past year and a half I have had the privilege to serve as Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety. During this time, I have witnessed first-hand the tremendously dangerous and challenging work of those providing law enforcement and highway safety services throughout our Commonwealth. I have also witnessed the tragedy associated with the line of duty deaths and serious injuries that accompany this dangerous work.
Since Jan. 1, 2010, seven dedicated law enforcement professionals have made the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties to keep Virginians safe. Every day troopers, deputies, and officers across the Commonwealth put themselves in harm’s way to keep our cities, counties and towns safe. Statistically, one of the most dangerous responsibilities is enforcing traffic laws and identifying and removing dangerous drivers from our roadways. In 2010 alone, five Virginia State Troopers were struck while conducting traffic stops.
Virginia enacted the “Move Over” law to protect emergency personnel while they make our highways safer and aid citizens in distress. This law, as amended in 2010, mandates that motorists change lanes, if it is safe to do so, when approaching emergency vehicles that are displaying red or blue lights; or tow trucks, motorist assistance vehicles and highway maintenance vehicles displaying amber-colored flashing lights. This action provides room for law enforcement and emergency personnel to do their job safely. Additionally, if unable to change lanes, drivers are directed to proceed with caution.
Virginia’s law enforcement community has been working very hard to make our interstates, highways and streets safe for all motorists. These efforts have made a difference and Virginia is safer because of them.
In fact, for two consecutive years we have had historically low numbers in highway traffic fatalities in Virginia. Statistics show the lowest number of deaths in the past 50 years. In 2008, there were 821 deaths on Virginia highways. In 2009, that number dropped to 756. In 2010, the number reached a record low of 740 fatalities.
This reduction in fatalities is even more significant when it is viewed in context. Virginia has seen an increase in miles driven, registered vehicles, and licensed drivers on our highways. In 2010, there were 5,569,524 licensed drivers. This represents a 1.2 percent increase from 2009. Additionally, in 2010 Virginia had 7,565,848 registered vehicles, which was a 1 percent increase from 2009. In 2010, drivers traveled an estimated 82.4 billion miles on our highways, placing an unprecedented demand on our law enforcement, emergency services and Virginia Department of Transportation resources.
While the reduction in fatalities is certainly positive and very worthy of praise, it still means that 740 families mourned the death of loved ones last year—a toll that is unacceptable under any standard. The saddest part of this is that most of these deaths can be prevented if drivers simply take responsibility and practice safe driving habits.
Virginia’s law enforcement community will continue to actively enforce the laws which make our roads safer. We will continue and expand federal, state and local partnerships, as well as effective enforcement programs and initiatives. Virginia’s enforcement programs combine the resources of many agencies to create public awareness and strictly enforce traffic laws while reducing or eliminating many of the driving behaviors that threaten the safety of everyone on the road.
However, law enforcement is only part of the equation. To truly save lives — including their own — drivers must be proactive and do some simple things --
• Buckle up
• Drive drug-free and alcohol-free
• Avoid distractions, such as hands-on cell phone use and texting
• Share the road and stay in your lane
• Move over for emergency vehicles
• Obey speed limits
As the summer comes to an end and we celebrate Labor Day, I encourage all who use Virginia’s roadways to assist our law enforcement professionals to ensure that everyone gets home safely every time they get in a vehicle. Help us protect the dedicated law enforcement and highway safety professionals who risk their lives on a daily basis by “moving over” and giving them room to work. Additionally, I urge all drivers to follow the simple safety tips we all know by heart. Finally, please join me in thanking law enforcement for the difficult job they do each day to keep us all safe.
Marla Graff Decker
Secretary of Public Safety