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Checking the statistics

For the past year or more, I have read the numerous letters written by a select group of individuals who continue to criticize the Board of Supervisors, the School Board, the Sheriff?s Office and most recently Sheriff Mike Brown.

As I read these letters, I ask myself why a person would step forward and give of their time and effort to make our county a better place, only to have people continuously take ?pot shots? at them.

Normally, I don?t write letters to the editor, however, the recent articles questioning the professionalism of the Bedford County Sheriff?s Deputies and the article entitled ?Ashamed of Sheriff Brown? made me realize that I needed to respond and address this issue. The insinuation that the statistics that Sheriff Brown provided to the public were incorrect and the manner in which these statistics were twisted or misinterpreted to make the Sheriff?s Office look incompetent both angered me as well as disappointed me.

I called the Sheriff?s Office and made an appointment to examine these figures for myself. The Sheriff?s Department personnel greeted me and provided me a copy of the computer-generated statistics, which confirmed the information Sheriff Brown provided.

I relied on statistics of this type for many years and understand their importance. I also understand how someone with limited or no understanding of law enforcement could misinterpret these statistics and place a negative spin on them.

During my visit to the Sheriff?s Office, I discovered that these statistics were generated by the E-911 center, which is an entity completely separate from the Sheriff?s Office. The E-911 center is responsible for receiving and dispatching calls for the Sheriff?s Office, City Police, and Fire and Rescue companies for the entire county. The center has its own director and its own protocol for the collection of these statistics. In other words, the Sheriff has no control over how the information is collected. He only provides that which is provided to him. I would challenge anyone who questions the accuracy of this information to do as I did and go to the Sheriff?s Office and obtain a copy of this information, which is available to the public. Someone there will be more than happy to explain these statistics to you.

I must say I am concerned at the direction politics have taken in Bedford County. It has become much like the politics at the national level. Instead of discussing the issues and merely stating why you think your candidate would be the best person for the position, some have taken the approach of who can degrade the other candidate the most. It?s the right of every citizen in Bedford County to support the candidate of your choice, for whatever position. To insinuate that Sheriff Brown is being less than truthful is very disturbing and without merit.

These elected officials stepped forward, and we the citizens of Bedford County, elected them to make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of the county. If someone doesn?t like the decisions that are being made, then perhaps it time for them to step up and get their name on the ballot and get elected so people can take ?pot shots? at them.

Personally, I think the Sheriff?s Office, Sheriff Brown, the School Board and the Board of Supervisors are doing a great job. It?s time we get behind them and support their efforts. It?s time the negative attacks stop and support for candidates is shown in a more positive manner.

R.R. Foutz, Police Chief (Ret.)

Blue Ridge

Updike has experience

One who lives in a glass house shouldn't throw stones...at least Officer Updike has police experience, 22-plus years. Mr. Green has none, zip.

I am sure he was a good supply sergeant in the Army, but he will not be issuing out blankets and such, he'll be directing a 100-man and woman law enforcement agency. That takes at least a modicum of knowledge.

Also, Officer Updike has an experienced staff ready to assist him in the form of a retired deputy and an insurance investigator who has prior experience as a city police officer. Mr. Green has a carpenter and a correction officer on his staff...all of which are probably good people and capable of handling problems within their own area of expertise.

I know my letter won't carry as much weight as my "comrade in arms." I was only a Lance Corporal.

Elmer Vincent (USMC '58-'61)


An important choice

As Election Day approaches, citizens are faced with several choices for several political offices in the county. One of the most important is the office of Sheriff. I am sure there are many voters who have already decided for whom they will be voting and not necessarily for the right reason, such as political party affiliation, friendships, etc.

Anyone reading the advertisements in the papers knows what the candidates are promising and what they are claiming but it is important for each voter to determine how much of these ads can be trusted and how much is actually important to the office. The thing that many people need to think about in relation to the position of Sheriff is what service we expect our Sheriff to actually provide. Anyone believing that the position of Sheriff in this century is anything remotely similar to the position even a decade ago isn't paying attention. In fact there are several government positions that are probably being filled by persons with the wrong skills, including School Superintendent and Sheriff. We have to remember that in the area of government spending our Sheriff's Department is second only to the School Board in the disposal of our hard earned taxes. I believe current times dictate that our Sheriff should have training in business administration rather than assuming someone who has experience in law enforcement is the only viable candidate.

A private corporation with "income" as large as our Sheriff's Department would never insist that the CEO should know how to run the machinery required in the manufacturing of the product. The person running a large business has no time to micro-manage the business. He must spend his effort making sure the organization runs smoothly and efficiently while keeping the budget under control. Past history has demonstrated that our current Sheriff has few of these management skills. Bedford doesn't need a Sheriff who shows up in public every four years to campaign and then disappears for the remainder of his term. Our current sheriff seems to spend more time traveling around pursuing personal agendas that don't usually meet the general needs of the county.

I am hopeful there are individuals in Bedford County who believe our Sheriff's Department needs to address its real goals and charter rather than spending so much effort on pet projects that would and should be handled better by other agencies. I also disagree strongly with individuals who defend the out-dated premise that a Sheriff must be primarily trained in law enforcement. If voters would actually think about what today's Sheriff is required to do, they would see that actual law enforcement should be carried out by one of the many high-level deputies working as subordinates to the Sheriff.

I believe it is time for Bedford County officials and especially those of us who choose to vote to realize that our two largest budgeted agencies should be administrated by individuals trained to oversee large businesses rather than the skills of the subordinates. It is time to elect someone who can actually manage the Sheriff "business" rather than spending vast amounts of time and money on projects born from the desire to gain national attention. I also believe Bedford County could manage quite well without all the celebrity deputies who have done nothing but aid in the furthering of national attention for select individuals in the department.

In closing, I believe Mr. Green's skills and background could get the Sheriff's Department back to doing what it is supposed to be doing through effective management of staff and budget, rather than continuing to invest in favored "pet" operations that provide with as yet unproven benefits.

Dennis Strong


Sheriff has faced challenges of growth

As residents and landowners in Bedford County for over 60 years, we have observed many county elections with the subsequent ebb and flow of local political leadership.

Our once quiet, agricultural based county was sparsely populated and a tightly woven community of people sharing small roads and less complicated lifestyles. Then, Bedford County was "discovered!" Rampant growth in population and development has brought a multitude of changes to this area along with many challenges for law enforcement.

Sheriff Mike Brown has faced those challenges with strong leadership and innovative programs. The Blue Ridge Thunder initiative has national acclaim and helps provide increased safety for our youth. Sheriff Brown's knowledge and experience are more necessary now than ever. We fully support and urge others to join in supporting the re-election of Sheriff Mike Brown in Bedford County. Thank you to Sheriff Mike Brown, to the Bedford County Deputies and to the other staff members at the Sheriff's Department for jobs well done.

Doris and Whitney Grove


It really is time for a change

On Thursday, June 28, 2007, Ed discovered that our 2000 Dodge van, which was parked on the west side of our antiques shop parking lot, had a flat tire. Also our new lawn mower, which was parked in a shed behind our antiques shop, had a flat tire. We could see where someone had cut a long gash in the lawn mower tire.

I called the sheriff's office and asked that a deputy come down and look at the damage and see what can be done. In a while (a) deputy ... came and looked at the Dodge tire. Ed had not taken it off yet to see what had happened to it, but he told (the) deputy that when he takes it off he will call him and tell him what is wrong with it, and he did. Someone had split the valve stem so that the tire went flat.

The deputy looked around, but did not take any pictures, did not check for fingerprints, or anything. We did take pictures. There were clear tracks across the field where at four-wheeler had come across the field from the house on the west side of us and had stopped beside the van and then went back the same way.

Ed had to replace the valve stem in the van tire. We had to buy a new tire for the lawn mower. The deputy said he will do some research on this and we will hear from him, but we have not heard from him.

We went to the Sheriff's office and got a copy of the incident report to see if anything had been done. Nothing had been done. We did see on the report that the deputy had said that Ed had told him the damage on the Dodge van tire was $100. Ed did not tell him that. The cost of the lawn mower tire was $38.23 plus tax.

We still have not heard anything from the Sheriff's office. We do not blame the deputy for the way things were done. We blame Sheriff Mike Brown. It really is time for a change.

Edward Newman and Gracie G. Newman


Appreciates Sheriff's Department

I just wanted to thank the Sheriff's Department for being so nice to me and my sister-in-law.

We were in Bedford and we went grocery shopping and put our groceries in the trunk of our car and I locked all my keys up in the trunk. I called the police and they were there in minutes.

They could not open the trunk, one real nice Sheriff brought me to Huddleston to get my other keys and carried me back to Bedford. How nice can that be?

Let's give them more credit than what we do, they are here to help us. I thank them so much.

Lois Morgan


Questions wearing of uniform

On Oct. 16, 2007, I had the occasion to be in the Stop In Food Store located on Longwood Ave. in Bedford.

I was sitting at a booth drinking a cup of coffee at approximately 4:40 p.m. when Charles Green, wearing his Army uniform approached me. He asked if he knew me as I looked familiar to him. I advised he may have seen me at the BBQ on the 10th of October.

He stated he had only 21 days to election and asked if I was aware of his platform. I told him I was not aware of his political agenda. He stated that he had just left some of his political brochures on the counter. I walked over and picked one up and it stressed his military training as being extensive. It turns out Mr. Green is JROTC instructor at a local Bedford school.

Army Regulation 670-1 and Army Regulation 145-2 are the regulations governing wear of uniform. Specifically Army Regulation 145-2, Chapter 10-2, a. Wearing of uniforms. b. Authorized rank during instruction or pay grade for which instructors are reimbursed. c. Authority Army JROTC instructors will wear currently approved uniform with authorized insignia and rank while performing JROTC duties and training etc.... d. Prohibited wear of uniform. Wearing Army uniforms is prohibited in the following situations: (1) <*I><*B>In connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interest.<*P>

I personally find it difficult to understand why Mr. Green, who was in the military in excess of 20 years and retired as a Army Sergeant Major (E-9), would wear his uniform while attempting to further his political ambitions as a candidate for Sheriff of Bedford County. This would lead me to believe that if he was not aware of the proper wear of his military uniform after 20 years in the military, then how would he be able to learn State Code of Virginia, the laws and ordinances of Bedford County, and apply those in management fashion to all the Law Enforcement Officers employed by the county.

Thomas William Morgan, CMSGT (E-9) retired


Supports Green

Twelve years ago the citizens of Bedford elected the current sheriff.

Since that time his annual operating budget has gone from $1.5 million to $5 million today. He currently has 13 more deputies than required by law, but local break-ins are very rarely solved. I had a rifle stolen four years ago which I have back due to luck, but this case is still open due to lack of protection of the average citizen by our sheriff's department.

While Sheriff Brown is pursuing Internet predators and harassing truckers, the citizens are not being protected from thieves who steal for drug money. Before you go to the polls to vote on Nov. 6, you need to check with your neighbor or local merchant as to how they were treated after a break-in during Brown's tenure as sheriff. Also talk to the local volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel as to the lack of cooperation they receive from the sheriff's department when working traffic accidents.

After talking with challenger Charles Green, I think he would bring the local law enforcement back to the citizens of Bedford where it should've been all along. Before you vote think about how little protection you and your neighbors are getting for $5 million.

Richard H. Ruff


Delegate Putney sheds light on 'Abuser Fees'

Delegate Putney recently ran a large advertisement on how he wound up voting for 'the 2007 Transportation Bill' usually referred to as "Abuser Fees."

As most politicians do today he is pointing the finger of blame at Gov. Kaine for deleting certain wording from the original bill as presented. Which proves my point, to all that know me, that state politicians today never admit to their mistakes but will always blame others. I will remind Mr. Putney that his electorate expects him to be on guard for such 'tricks' by reading final legislation before you vote on it. What is more disturbing is that Delegate Putney is an attorney and should already know you do not sign off on anything you do not thoroughly read.

Now that Delegate Putney realizes how unpopular this bill is, he is asking for a "do over" by presenting a bill this Jan. 9, 2008, to correct this bad bill. In the mean time Virginia citizens pay the price of our elected officials falling asleep at the controls. That's why I'm looking to make a change this November by voting for Lew Medlin for the 19th House of Delegates seat.

R.C. Browne

Bedford County

About the investigation

First and foremost, as a family member, I would like to thank everyone who helped in the search for Samantha Bittler and provided support during our time of bereavement. ...

However, my main reason for this letter is to ask Bedford County citizens to wake up and realize how our Sheriff's Department operations under the direction of Mike Brown. A deputy was dispatched to a report of vandalism on Oct. 1, 2007. He must have taken the report and made no attempt to investigate.

Mike Brown said on news report that the deputy had determined that someone ran over a decorative plow and then backed up and left the scene of what was reported to the Sheriff's Office as vandalism. If either the deputy or Mike Brown had walked over to the tree that had been hit by a car driven by Samantha Bittler, they would have seen parts of the car visible from the tree. They would have also realized that one set of tracks leading to a tree does not equal someone turning around or backing away from a scene of vandalism.

I will agree that the Sheriff's department did not know Samantha was missing at the time they answered the call of vandalism. However, that does not excuse the fact that no investigation occurred or that no one followed up when the department was made aware of a missing person. There is no way any investigation occurred and if there was, I can only say that the level of incompetence was incomprehensive. The outcome of Samantha's death would have been the same. Nonetheless, if an investigation had been done family, friends, and strangers would not have had to search for eight days for Samantha. My understanding from other citizens, is that this is the general practice not the exception to the rule.

This was not an Internet crime so it did not deserve investigative time. I hope you, as Bedford County Citizens will wake up to the kind of leadership Mike Brown provides and vote for either of the other candidates on Nov. 2.

Pamela Bowden


Wrong message

What an oxymoron? The Domestic Violence Services serving beer and wine at their upcoming Charity Gala. It's like serving marijuana to raise funds for Heroin-Rehabs.

Do the Domestic Violence Services not see the connection between alcohol and substance abuse with any and all kinds of violence.

Growing up in Bedford during a time where pretty much every area of the city and county had what we then called Wine-O's, most of us had an eye witness and ring side seat to the devastating effects it had not only on the abusers, but their family and neighbors as well.

Many of us here already have a predisposition that we do not necessarily want to pass down to the next generation. We are not so excited about all the new wine-tasting functions being held by these wineries.

Bedford is a beautiful place and it can stay that way if we continue to hold fast to standards of sobriety and even abstinence. This is a large area that gets very dark at night. How many drunk drivers are going undetected? How many of our young people are drinking, drugging and smoking? These habits are all buddies that tend to hang out together.

We know everyone has their own choices to make and they will. However, let's not make it so easily justifiable to make the wrong choices so early in life. In spite of popular opinion, children do learn from adults just as much as they do from their own peers.

There are much better and more family-friendly ways to raise funds other than being counter productive. Domestic Violence Services please take a long look at how you are going about achieving your goals. Maybe some of us who have suffered from domestic violence, spousal and child abuse would be more than glad to support your efforts. All you have to do is include us too.

Laura Carry


Are restrictions necessary

What's the truth? Are the City of Bedford's water restrictions really necessary?

I am a senior city resident who is automatically charged each month for a minimum of 3,000 gallons of water that I rarely use. I am forced to feel guilty if I want to water my flower garden or hose the dust off my car. On a fixed income, I am expected to go pay extra for a commercial carwash instead. In contrast, I hear parents talking about their teenagers spending 40 minutes in a shower and not hanging up towels to dry. Considering normal daily bathing, that could mean one or two wash loads of towels a day.

All of this talk of shortages confounds me. At recent City Planning Commission and Council meetings, homeowners near the hospital were assured that the City had plenty of water to sell to a proposed Planned Residential Development behind the hospital. Now, I understand that the City will also be responsible to supply its water to more developments that straddle the City/County line.

Perhaps, this newspaper should investigate the sources of this excess water that the City has to sell. Does the water already exist or is it part of an expensive expansion project of the City's public works? Do these county residents who will buy or who already buy water from the City have to comply with the mandatory restrictions? Who enforces these? Do our police officers not have enough to do?

It seems that the taxpayers are getting messed over again. We are paying now and we will pay later. As I stated at the beginning of this letter: What's the truth?

Thelma Spraker


Simpson treated unfairly

We live in a country where you are innocent until found guilty. Too bad even when some people are not found guilty they are still treated like criminals. The way the public treats O.J. Simpson is completely outrageous.

He was tried for murder and was exonerated, but every time he has some kind of controversy, the popular opinion that he is a murderer is brought up. People need just to get over it, because no matter how deeply people feel he is guilty they technically don't know he did it, and when people are reminded of the murder case it can influence their decisions for his recent controversy of committing armed robbery.

Some people feel deeply that O.J. is a murderer, but they don't know if he is or not. Most of their feelings are based on the sympathy for the family of the victims that they want someone to be found guilty.

On the news, the hosts were talking about the armed robbery controversy. The subject of the two people he allegedly murdered was brought up. This charge is irrelevant to his most recent controversy, nevertheless, the media is using this to remind people of what happened hopefully to convince the public into thinking he is a criminal.

All the people that feel O.J. Simpson is guilty of murder need to get over it. It is completely unfair constantly to bring up a case from the past knowing it will influence the decision for this case.

Corey Maben


You may qualify

Are you 70 years old or older?

If so, you probably already know that the IRS requires you to take taxable distributions from your IRA each year, even if you don?t need the income.

You might not know, however, that for the remainder of 2007 you are allowed to donate your mandatory withdrawal amount (up to $100,000) to a charitable organization of your choice, such as the Bedford Community Health Foundation, on a totally tax-free basis. Your bank or the investment firm which manages your IRA should be able to provide you with the necessary forms and assist you with the transfer of funds.

If you?re 59 or older and choose to withdraw funds from your IRA for gift purposes, the amount disbursed would be taxed as income, but it would not be subject to a penalty for early withdrawal. Also, the offsetting charitable deduction could mean that income or estate taxes would never be due on these funds.

For all tax payers, young or old, it?s never too early or too late to start thinking about retirement and estate planning. Contact your bank or a financial adviser to discuss options that might save you money while helping out local charitable organizations.

Please visit www.HealthyBedford.org or call 540-586-5292 for more information about the Bedford Community Health Foundation.

Donna M. Proctor

Bedford Community Health Foundation

Who is really the spoiler

In response to Mr. Webb's letter on Oct. 18 that appeared in the Bedford Bulletin: The letter was titled "Actions Speak Louder than Words."

Webb was quick to attack Mr. Updike. Most of us are aware of what Mr. Updike has done and is doing for the community. We don't know of anything of what Green has ever done for the community. OK, he's a teacher, that's great! We need more good teachers. Being a good teacher does not qualify you to lead the Sheriff's Department. So I ask, of the two which one's actions, truly speak louder than words. Certainly not Green's!

The fact that Green has a former deputy supporting him means what? There are several deputies, both former and current supporting Updike and several support Brown.

On Webb's inappropriate statement about splitting the vote to aid Brown in his re-election efforts, who is really acting the spoiler here, the man with the experience and a life long connection to the county or the guy with no background who just months ago decided to jump in the race?

Finally on the inane comment about Green being a threat, be real! From my perspective, I have spoken with very few who want to re-elect Sheriff Brown. Just like in Mr. Updike's ad there are only two candidates who can provide change. Do you want someone like Mr. Updike who has the experience and background to make effective changes or will you settle for just anyone?

Jim and Betty Stafford


Wrong target

After reading your editorial "Unfunded Mandate" in the October 10, , 2007 Bedford Bulletin, I find that I must respond. There would have been no need for veterinarians to have to report rabies vaccinations if so many people failed to purchase dog licenses.

I am sure that many dogs without licenses are picked up every year by the Bedford County Animal Control. There is no way to ascertain to whom these dogs belong, much less if they have been vaccinated against rabies. Animals can't be returned to their owners if they do not have any identification on them.

What is so difficult about purchasing a dog license? My 85 year old mother sends in her check and her proof of vaccination, and her dog's license is mailed to her. I run into the County Administration Building and pay for my dog's license, and it takes all of about 10 minutes.

As for the additional cost of a license for an unspayed or non-neutered pet, I have no sympathy for the owners. Let them go to the local county animal shelter and see all of the abandoned animals, especially on the day that they are "humanely euthanized." Our county is over-run with abandoned puppies, dogs, cats, and kittens.

Don't you think that this runs up our taxes? We have to pay for the shelter, care for the animals, and for the County Animal Control staff. If people were more responsible pet owners, it would reduce the cost to all of us. This does not even take into account the suffering of these helpless creatures. There is low cost spaying and neutering available on a sliding scale basis for those who can't afford to take their pets to the vet. The have simply to call the Bedford Humane Society for information.

Therefore, your editorial is directed towards the wrong people. Direct it towards the irresponsible pet owners who do not follow a simple law and who also do not spay and neuter their pets.

Virginia G. Arthur


Disputes article

In the article in the "Recent Case Highlights Need for Awareness" of 17 Oct 07 in the third paragraph from the bottom is stated: "Domestic violence is most often perpetrated by men". This statement is either a lie or a gross misstatement and in itself a perpetration and incite to violence. This is a tired mentality and seems to come from that part of the women's movement that is misandrist.

If the author, John Barnhart, had checked his figures at the DHHS of the federal government he would have been better educated. Women, by far, are the greater perpetrators of child abuse. This could in part be due to the fact that in the United States even with so called democracy, in custody considerations 85 percent of half the nation's children reside in female headed single parent households. And so hence mothers have a much greater opportunity to abuse and murder children.

Where DV between adult men and women in considered, again, the Fed shows us that abuse runs about equal. In other words women do domestic violence as often as do men. Women are injured more frequently as men are physically stronger.

All this tired talk with attached gender attributions, is a form of violence in itself, especially when it is not true and thus potentially aggravates those who have fallen victim to false charges and false restraining orders. It would be very interesting to see statistics how many men have committed suicide or who have abused after being pelted with government imposition for absolutely no good reason! It would be interesting to see how many women are indeed abusers even though they had enjoyed success with the restraining orders and charges falsely made. It would be interesting to see how many use restraining orders, falsely placed, to alienate the other parent from the lives of their children.

Robert Gartner

Houston, Texas

Brave enough to stand

This letter is to the kids at the high school who were brave enough to stand up and speak out. Because of your action MRSA is in the national spotlight as it should have been long before this.

My daughter was diagnosed in September and I soon found out there was an outbreak at her school last spring and again the week school started. But the school officials chose to ignore it and not inform parents.

I contacted our local paper in September in the hopes they would shine the light on MRSA so parents can be aware and do preventive measures. They ignored myself and another mother whose daughter also was diagnosed. I think this is happening across this country.

Because you stood up and spoke out, the national spotlight was put on MRSA. Officials can no longer pretend it is not there and people will become more aware. Education is the key to prevention. We cannot prevent that which we do not know about.

The school principle should also be commended for