Rear Adm. Michael J. Steffen; Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command and Deputy Commander, Navy Reserve Force; will deliver the keynote address on Memorial Day at the National D-Day Memorial. The Honorable Winsome Earle-Sears, Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will join Rear Adm. Steffen in laying a wreath. She will have the distinct honor of leading the crowd in honoring the colors at the ceremony’s conclusion.
Steffen, a native of Bedford, Virginia, was commissioned through the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets in conjunction with the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program and designated a naval aviator in 1994. He holds a Master of Science in Global Business Leadership from the University of San Diego. His command tours include the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 60 (HSL-60) “Jaguars” in Jacksonville, Florida, the Maritime Support Wing, based in Coronado, California, and the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Texas.
Earle-Sears, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, immigrated to the United States at the age of six and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. She has served as the Vice President of the Virginia State Board of Education; and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Census Bureau, as co-chair of the African American Committee; and the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. She is the first female Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the first Black female elected to statewide office.
The Memorial will break ground on the Medal of Honor Garden, paying tribute to the four Medal of Honor recipients from D-Day, and dedicate recently installed veteran bricks in the Annie J. Bronson Veterans Memorial Walk and Gold Star Garden. Guests may view the Fallen Soldier Battle Cross exhibit on the Memorial’s west lawn.
Gates open at 10 a.m, with free admission from 10 a.m, to 12 p.m. Please bring a chair. The Memorial will collect fresh flowers at the gate to place on the graves of “Bedford Boys” and others later that day. The ceremony will be livestreamed at 11 a.m, at dday.org under the watch badge and calendar of events.
Following an extensive and competitive search process, County Administrator Robert Hiss is pleased to announce Kent Robey as Bedford County’s new Emergency Management Director.
Kent has 35 years of responsible law enforcement and emergency management experience at the local, state, and federal levels. Eighteen of those years were in law enforcement in both Bedford and Campbell counties as well as the US Army Military Police. The second half of his career was spent with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and then in a supervisory role with the US Air Marshal Service in both Reston, VA, and Charlotte, NC, field offices.
Kent was raised in Bedford County and graduated from Liberty High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice/public administration, both from Liberty University. He is presently pursuing a doctorate in strategic planning. He will begin work with the County on June 1.
Upon accepting this new role in Bedford County, Mr. Robey stated, “I am honored and humbled to be named the Director of Emergency Management for Bedford County and am grateful that the County has identified the great need for this position, particularly considering all that is occurring in our country right now. This is an important step to ensure that both the County of Bedford and the Town of Bedford are adequately prepared for any natural or man-made disaster. I look forward to working with all Fire & Rescue agencies, local, state, and Federal law enforcement, businesses, and residents to achieve a higher level of emergency preparedness to protect our citizens.”
Robert Hiss further stated, “Kent brings wisdom and a wide variety of experiences, along with a high level of effective communication to this position. I’ve been impressed with the accomplishments throughout his career and his motivation to make connections to accomplish goals. I look forward to him joining our leadership team and facilitating important initiatives to make Bedford County a safer and more resilient community.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced that Bedford County will receive $1.37 million from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to fund a broadband project with Shentel in the northern part of the County.
The new project area includes 565 addresses near Bedford County’s Cifax, Sedalia, and Charlemont communities. In this area, aside from satellite providers, there are no existing providers offering speeds that meet the new definition of broadband, which is 100MBps/ 20MBps.
“On behalf of the Board of Supervisors and the Broadband Authority, I want to thank Gov. Youngkin and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) leadership and staff for their continued support of rural and underserved Virginians. Bringing high-speed, affordable broadband connectivity to the citizens of Bedford County has been a top priority of this Board and will continue to be until universal coverage is achieved,” said Edgar Tuck, Chairman of the Bedford County Board of Supervisors. “These additional funds will allow the County not only to build upon our existing partnership with Shentel, but we are confident it also will provide additional momentum to get the residents in these project areas connected sooner.”
Shentel estimates that the total cost of the project will be approximately $4.6 million. Customers in this area would be connected to broadband within the next 18 months.
Chris Kyle, VP of Industry Affairs and Regulatory at Shentel, stated: “We are thrilled to continue our extensive growth in Bedford County through this FY23 VATI grant. We have worked long and hard with our partners in Bedford County whose leadership has cultivated a thriving broadband environment here in the County, and we are excited to be a key longstanding partner. This grant will continue the momentum built on our previous awards and will also help provide a comprehensive solution to bridging the digital divide.” DHCD administers the VATI program, which provides targeted funding to extend service to areas that are presently underserved by any broadband provider. According to the Governor’s news release, 2023 VATI grant projects were selected through a competitive process that evaluated each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost/leverage of the proposed project.
“This broadband investment will have a tremendous impact on the County by helping to bridge the digital divide, boosting economic development and improving the lives of residents,” said Bryan Horn, Director of DHCD. “VATI aims to accelerate our efforts to expand broadband throughout the Commonwealth for businesses and families.”
Bedford County has been heavily focused on achieving universal broadband for several years. In the 2022 VATI grant application cycle, Bedford County received three VATI grants totaling more than $26 million. For more information, residents can view and search an online map of Bedford County’s four VATI project areas to see if they are marked for a connection by visiting the county’s website at www.bedfordcountyva.gov and clicking on this story on the bulletin board.
The Bedford County Department of Community Development has received a withdrawal letter from Sobrius Curae, LLC, the company that applied for a special use permit for a drug treatment center or “halfway house” in Goode.
According to Community Development Director Jordan Mitchell, this special use permit is no longer an active project under consideration. Mitchell also says, based on conversations with the applicant, it does not appear this project will be resubmitted in the future.
Sobrius wanted to establish a halfway house on Lowry Road in Goode that would offer a 30-day treatment program for individuals who are trying to overcome addictions. Their application said 16 residents could stay at the facility at one time.
At the Planning Commission meeting on May 2, approximately 110 citizens attended a public hearing about the special use permit. Most spoke out against the plans, citing concerns about safety and the facility’s close proximity to Otter River Elementary School.
In a 4-2 vote, the Planning Commission recommended a denial of the special use permit. If the applicant had not withdrawn, the Board of Supervisors would have ultimately made the final decision about the project in June.