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The effect of closing schools

    As a parent whose children attend Body Camp Elementary School and as a resident of Bedford County, I feel the need to make the residents of Bedford County aware of the effects of closing small schools in rural areas. I am originally from Logan County, W.Va., and I have seen first-hand the devastation that this can leave behind. If you think that because your children do not attend Body Camp or Thaxton Elementary, which are slated to for closure, that this will not affect you – think again!

    Within an approximate 15-year span, West Virginia dissolved 300 schools. The children were being bused up to two hours one way in certain areas. So, what do you think happened? The families left the area to be closer to the schools that their children now had to attend.

    Many left the county to move to other family friendly localities. This resulted in a decrease in police presence and an increase in drugs and crimes in these localities.     Therefore, the property values, population, and revenue generated by the property taxes in the effected area began to decrease. So now, you are facing budget shortfalls, overcrowded schools, and decreased property values. For example, I was able to purchase a home for $19,800, because it was in a neighborhood where the school had been closed. Eight years earlier while the school was in operation,, the same house sold for $64,000. Also, there were three stores and a gas station in the area that closed within the 10 years of the school’s closing. Yet, this is the knee jerk solution to our current budget shortfall that our elected officials have chosen to force on us.

    Closing schools and building new ones to accommodate more children or overcrowding existing schools, is not the answer. We must exhaust all other options before we think about a decision as devastating to the community as closing a school. One option is to trim the fat from all the schools in the county. Another is to raise taxes. I know this is not a popular idea, but the alternative is worse. As a county, we need to stand together and demand better for our children and communities.

    When the Superintendent of Bedford County Schools was asked if he had seen the devastation left behind when schools in small rural areas closed, his reply was, “Yes.” Then, he explained that this is why he proposed Body Camp and Thaxton remain open as pre-k facilities. When asked how that would benefit our children, he admitted that he knew it would not be the same as having a community based elementary school. This leads us to believe that he does not understand the true devastation that closing the schools will create.

    We are all aware that desperate times call for desperate measures, but what happens when federal funding runs out for pre-k? Our  schools will be left empty! Now, I am asking you to help by contacting your local Delegates, Senators, and even the Governor to help protect our children from their school closing. We all need to join the fight to give our children education they deserve, and keep our communities intact. Do not let them close our schools!

Candace M. Atkins


Don’t close my school

    My name is Austin Stump and I am a fourth grade student at Body Camp Elementary School. 

    I’m sad to hear Bedford County is thinking about closing my school because of budget cuts.  My brothers and I have attended Body Camp for many, many years.  Our school is very close, almost like a family.  Body Camp is very important to the community. 

    For some kids the programs at the school are the only ones they get to participate in.  Closing our school would not only affect us, the kids, but it would really affect our staff.  I think Bedford County should reconsider closing the school, and should look for other ways to cut the budget that does not involve education. 

    These are the reasons I think Bedford County should rethink closing Body Camp Elementary School.

Austin Stump


Body Camp Elementary

A child’s


    “I shall not pass this way again.”

    Child development is made of emotional, physical and mental growth. We cannot put a dollar value on each child’s development nor can we suspend a child’s development till we can afford it.

    We require children to exhibit attitudes, efforts and behavior that facilitate their development. Teachers are on the front line. Academics are essential but sports and music develop well-rounded individuals; school unity enables social development.

    School experience should have rewards. For the motivated they could aspire to earn advancement at CVCC. (This has been canceled.) This should allow time to help those who need more encouragement and attention.

    Find other places to alter the budget without children paying the price. Closing neighborhood schools are serious mistakes, counterproductive. Do your children know you value education? Are you active in motivating your child to value education? Don’t leave it up to the teacher alone. The Federal debt means that there will be fewer jobs, higher debts, interest and higher taxes. Children will need superior education for the avalanche of problems they will face; this is no time to shortchange our children.

    Public education has been dumbed down and textbooks are highly criticized. Colleges have to provide remedial classes for studies missed in spite of high school diplomas. More money won’t fix a broken system. Home schooling has been highly successful. Why? Is this the answer?

Joyce Pedigo


Saddened by proposal

    As a former student of Thaxton Elementary, with family members still there, I am saddened to hear of the change from an elementary school to a preschool. I don’t feel that it would save much money. If I lived on the West County line, I would be concerned about a preschool child being bused so far from home.

    As a retired employee of Bedford County Public Schools, I feel that our schools are superior and that is the reason that many people have relocated to the county. I have personally observed the “No Child Left Behind,” work of our dedicated employees. The daily care that all children, especially the Special Needs children, receive is exceptional. I do not feel that cutting to preschool is the way to cut the budget.

    On a personal level is my concern for Faith Weaver Friends, which is held each Wednesday at 3 p.m. (unless school is closed or dismissed early) at Epworth United Methodist Church. Approximately 31 children from different area churches enjoy this time of after school fellowship, which is similar to Vacation Bible School with snacks, games, crafts, music, story time, free time and journaling activities. Students bring a permission slip from home and their parents pick them up at 5:30 p.m. I’m afraid that this and other recreation after school programs might suffer.

    We are all aware that desperate times call for desperate measures, but when it comes to schools, it needs to be, “Children First.”

Marie Holdren Wagner


Keeping schools open


    Bedford County faces a major budget reduction in providing public services including the public school system. While cost cutting is inevitable the reductions will hit public schools the hardest. It has been proposed that two of the counties public schools be closed.

    Times are tough economically – locally, statewide and nationally. The state of Virginia faces billions of dollars in lost tax revenue and our elected leaders that “we the people” send to Richmond are now dealing with that matter. Over the past decade there was poor planning and inadequate money set aside for this “rainy day” time.

    While I do not have a child of school age, it is never-the-less appropriate that the two public schools remain open. It is only proper to care and provide for our children the best we can. Having lived in Bedford County for 35 years, my only child attended the public school system in grades K thru 12.

    The school system over the years has had its fair share of problems. It would be good if personal financial management skills were a part of the curriculum as well a school guidance personnel should limit the focus of the need for all children to go on to college. There are state funded technical and vocational programs available for example at Central VA Community College. There are personal financial management courses available such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University through local non-profits and churches  - see online www.daveramsey.com.

    That said, in 2004 the Bedford County Board of Supervisors reduced the real estate tax rate by one (1) cent per $100 of assessed value. At that time it was the right thing to do, I was an outspoken retired private citizen advocating for the reduction. In fact at that time, the rate should have been cut by two (2) cents.

    Since the beginning of 2004 the overall real estate tax rate has dropped from $.66 to $.50 per $100 of value. The County Board of Supervisors has as a group preformed remarkably over the past six years in stewardship and over sight of County resources.

    However, it is time to take action to protect the future. Therefore, county supervisors should increase the real estate tax rate by one (1) cent or better yet two (2) cents. While that increase won’t fill the budget shortfall it could be enough to help keep those two schools open. My own taxes will increase by $40 per year if that happened. Forty dollars is about the cost of Sunday buffet for two (2) at the Peaks of Otter Lodge overlooking the lake below ole Sharp Top.

    Serving the people of Bedford County, now it’s time for the Board of Supervisors to address the unfortunate and unpleasant but timely need to increase the real estate tax.

    That’s my two (2) cents worth.


Phil Theisen


Dr. Woodroof retires

    Make the most of yourself, that is all there is of you. I would say Dr. Woodroof did this. He was always eager to help during his practice and long hours of hard work.

    He had the patience of Job listening to one’s problems and concerns, never turning anyone away.

    He’s a man of integrity and trustworthy. We all will miss him and wish him a wonderful retirement that he deserves.

Doris K. Duncan


Bernanke did a good job?

    Congress recently grilled Ben Bernanke for his handling of the Federal Reserve. What is the problem? As far as I can tell, Bernanke did his job. He is the Chairman of a private bank that just reaped record profits; he does not work for Congress or for you or me.

    It does sting a little that the Federal Reserve made their largest profit ever, $52 billion, in 2009. Two years ago, Exxon – Mobil, America’s largest corporation, posted a record profit of $46 billion. In 2009, Ford Motor Co. made $2.9 billion; Wal Mart and Microsoft each posted $14 billion profits. How did the Fed make $52 billion, during this recession?

    Recently in the news was Bernie Madoff, he bilked his clients out of $50 billion, he broke the law. The Fed broke no laws but Madoff and the Fed are both guilty of perpetuating scams. The Fed returns a portion of its profits to the US Treasury and purportedly a large portion. So be it, it is an unauditable entity. The Fed’s real thievery comes in the form of inflation by issuing fiat money and utilizing and exploiting the concept of fractional reserve banking.

    What does history have to say about nations that have allowed the destruction of their currency by issuing fiat money, much less a government that has no control over the money supply? Hum. Not good. The solution rests with Congress (and therefore with you and me) not the Fed; the Federal Reserve is doing what all Central Banks do, the expansion and contraction of the money supply, a manipulation for their own benefit. In modern times, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman, among others, have sounded the alarm, mostly on deaf ears. Many of our Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned against Central Banks. Andrew Jackson dealt with the Central Bank.

    The ongoing banter, about Republican and Democrat, Liberal versus Conservative and about the control and direction of our country (and these are important discussions) is missing a central point, it will be for naught, it will not matter. All of your property and capital will have been confiscated and you will be left with paper in your wallet. The game is being played right before your eyes except you are not in the stands, you are in the game, you are a pawn, but fortunately in this country the pawns can vote.

    I submit that we must dissolve our relationship with the Federal Reserve, return our currency to a sound standard like gold and eliminate the legality of fractional reserve banking. Such a path will be painful but history says that our current path of debt, deficits and fiat money is unsustainable and will eventually be fatal.

Chuck Allison


Business as usual

    The people in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts have spoken -- loudly, and the Democrat leadership are ignoring them. 

    President Obama, in his State of the Union Message, in his recent town hall meeting and in a talk-show interview, has made it very clear that it is doing to be “business as usual” as far as health care is concerned. That is, they continue to be deaf to the voice of the American people.

    The people are saying that they do not like and do not want the health care system Obama and company are proposing.  Yet, the Democrat leadership, instead of hearing what the people are saying and changing course are only saying that they have to ratchet up their efforts to ram health care changes down the throats of the people “for their benefit.” Worse, in some cases, they are even twisting people’s words and actions to mean that they are angry that the change hasn’t come fast enough -- therefore the Democrats have to fight even harder to ram it through, so as not to let the people down.  Obama has said that it is like being on the five yard line in a football game, with the goal line in reach, and that they can’t stop now that they are so close.

    Pelosi has said that the gate on health care is closing, but that, if the gate closes, they will climb the fence.  If the fence is too high to climb, they will pole-vault over.  If that fails, she says, then they will go over in a hot-air ballon.  This is not listening to the people. It is a dogged determination to push through a socialist-driven agenda that our people have said, repeatedly, in elections and polls, that they do not want.

    ... Once again, this is government down the throats of the people.  It is tyranny over the people.  It is imposition on the people.  It is not governing.  It is ruling and dictating.  It is not governing by principle.  It is ruling by craft, deviousness, scheming, chicanery and skullduggery.  It is anything but the transparency that Obama promised us.  It is clandestine collusion behind closed doors.  This is anything but government of the people, by the people and for the people.  It is government of the rabble, by the rabble and for the rabble.

Alan Denekas, MD


Perriello wrong on the Constitution

    Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello recently revealed a stunning attitude toward the U.S. Constitution. 

    Perriello was asked by a constituent to co-sponsor The Enumerated Powers Act, which simply requires that each bill introduced in Congress include “a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority” it relies on.  It took over seven months for Perriello to respond, which is bad enough.  But what’s worse is that he apparently sees no Constitutional limits on congressional power.  He wrote, “…the Constitution demands that the Supreme Court, not Congress, determines the constitutionality of law.”

    What Perriello doesn’t seem to get is that in January 2009 he took an oath of office swearing to uphold and defend the Constitution.  That includes making sure laws are constitutional.  But a year later he tells a constituent that Congress doesn’t have to follow the Constitution.  He says essentially that Congress can do whatever it wants unless the Supreme Court tells it not to.  That should frighten every freedom-loving person.

    Perriello doesn’t understand the Constitution limits government power, and that Congress is bound by it.  But the people of the Fifth District do. And we will hold Perriello accountable on Election Day for his wrong understanding.

Edward W. Clark, Jr.

Blue Ridge

The faith of unbelief

    As Christian philosopher C. S. Lewis said, “Good philosophy exists if for no other reason than to answer bad philosophy.”  Few examples better typify the latter like David McLoughlin’s last letter, “No belief in a god” (02/24).  It teemed with sophomoric desperation and demonstrated that McLoughlin can plainly understand the nature of neither faith nor the debate.

    McLoughlin owned Richard Dawkin’s comment, “Faith is evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.”  This invokes three concepts: Faith, morality and rationality.  These are interrelated.

    First, Christians happily confess that faith in the absolute-personal God of the Bible provides the necessary grounding for our experience and interpretation of morality and rationality.  McLoughlin must also answer the grounding question from his atheistic perspective.

    McLoughlin’s quote speaks of “evil.”  Within an atheistic worldview, what in the world is evil?  Apart from the Christian God, what ultimate reference point is there that can serve as a universal, absolute standard for making judgments about human behavior?  All atheistic answers to this question are reducible to crass relativism.  Relativism says that “morals” are the emotive expressions of sheer personal tastes.  Accordingly, McLoughlin—in logical keeping with his atheism—is only imposing his personal tastes on everyone else, when he says that your and my commitment to Christ is “evil.”  Driven to consistency, there isn’t a principled difference between what McLoughlin has attempted with this remark and saying that the group of people who favor chocolate over vanilla ice-cream are committing “evil” in their choice. In short, what philosophical right does any atheist have to call anything objectively “evil”?  We’ve yet to hear a reasonable answer to this question.

    Closely related is the “is-to-ought” problem that atheists must face.  Unmistakably, McLoughlin contrasts us “common people who gladly hear Jesus” (Mark 12:37) with the “most educated,” “elite” atheistic scientists.  Scientists, however, are restricted to empirical or physical observations for their conclusions.  Therefore, as David Hume concluded, there is no rational justification, per atheistic science, for moving from the observable “what is the case,” describing human behavior, to “what ought to be the case,” prescribing human behavior and conduct.  Granting McLoughlin’s outlook, then, we’re left with the atheists’ strong-armed “Might makes right” brand of ethics—what’s commonly called tyranny.

    Secondly, regarding rationality.  From the foregoing, it’s obvious that McLouglin has no standard, as do Christians, which could morally obligate all people everywhere to regiment their thinking in a rational and coherent manner.  Additionally, his atheism “brooks no argument” for the why and the how of human reasoning, as many of my past letters have demonstrated.  However, the problems don’t stop here.  McLoughlin is far from faith-neutral; he has his faith commitments as well, despite how much he deplores the fact.  His outlook additionally suffers from what’s called the problem of criterion.

    McLoughlin speaks authoritatively about “reality,” presuming to pronounce what is and isn’t possible.  How, though, does he know that God is not a reality?  Because, “scientists fail to see” God.  That notwithstanding, what criterion of rationality have these scientists adopted for their investigation of reality but purely empirical methods.  We may now ask, How do they know that an empirical-only method is the proper criterion for evaluating and investigating reality?  There is only one answer to this question in terms of McLoughlin’s position.

    An empirical-only criterion would be rational if, and only if, atheistic scientists begin with the presupposition that reality is material-only.  That is, McLoughlin and his gods (i.e., ultimate authorities) begin with the deep faith commitment that reality is such that nothing immaterial can exist, and that well before they select their method or criterion for exploring reality.  They begin with faith, plain and simple, that reality is Godless, and upon that faith they adopt a criterion that would preclude any detection of such a Being (since “God is spirit,” John 4:24).  Then, in perfect accord with their controlling faith commitment to the non-existence of God, they interpret, or rather sift, the evidence round about them in perfect harmony with their controlling presupposition of a Godless reality.

    Of course, McLoughlin and his sort find the idea of faith repugnant.  But there’s no way around it.  We all must begin somewhere and with some final authority, which has Crown-rights over all our thinking—that is faith.  For Christians, this trust is placed in the Self-attesting, Creator-Redeemer Christ speaking in the Scriptures; for atheists, like McLoughlin, it’s something in creation (Romans 1:18—32).  And this is the good news, that Jesus Christ died in such a way that the ungodly like you, me, and McLoughlin could be redeemed from our cosmic treason and rebellion; our de-Godding of God; or, our “bad philosophy,” as C. S. Lewis put it.

Kevin Stevenson

Big Island

Atheist rant

    This is in reply to our local atheist rant about there being no God.

     I wonder, what is the point of all the hate of believing in God?  I at one time claimed to be an atheist myself, so I am sympathetic with him and his delusion.  It has been my experience that all atheists have some hidden reason why they refuse to believe in God.  If indeed they did acknowledge God they then would have to face their own hearts and conscience. 

    The questions of right and wrong or good and evil must be answered.  What makes an action right or wrong, good or evil?   Who, apart from the culture, makes a choice of what is a normal thing to do or not to do?  Is there such a thing as immorality?  If I feel it is right then does that make a thing right? 

    I have lived in “advanced” countries around the world and have seen the lifestyle first hand for 25 years. I wonder if Mr. McLoughlin has a better way for us.  Should everyone do what is right in their own eyes?

    According to the no God belief, who sets the standard?  Do remember, all of these countries had a Christian past . Even the Communist countries had a Christian past. It is still a part of their culture and language.  For example, when entering the country of Hungary it says, “God welcomes you.”  When you leave someone’s home, the Hungarians say, “God be with you.”   All the years of atheist rule could not erase these truths.  Albania is the only country that  made atheism official and if you know anything about that country, it was complete chaos.  Now it is open again and many are turning to God.

    Mr. McLoughlin also has a religion, it is of course Humanism.  It is no less a religion than any other false religion.  With his belief he can kill all the unfit, young or old. He claims a sort of moral code, but it is in fact an immoral code.  China made an attempt to purge religion out of the land and killed 60,000,000 of their own people, but that is okay because there is no God. Their vain attempt failed and now they tell us the fastest growing Church in the world is in China. 

    They tried the no God system.  Mr. McLoughlin has the blessing of not believing in a country that for the most part still holds to the God of the Bible.  Is he aware that in some lands an atheist would be killed?  Our land allows him to be safe and voice his foolish talk as often as the paper will print it.

    I hope he is not as foolish as he sounds.

Pastor Don Rice

New Hope Baptist