One of the great things about local government is that members of local governing bodies usually listen to the people. This happened last month when the supervisors held a public hearing on whether to sell the Bedford County Nursing Home. To a certain extent it was a moot point. American Health Care, which had submitted the preferred bid, had withdrawn its bid hours before the hearing.

However, there were still three bids still outstanding.

The hearing packed the supervisors meeting chamber. The chamber was filled to capacity. Others stood in the hallway out front where they could hear speakers. Still others were accommodated in the ground floor training room where they watched a live stream. There were approximately 100 people there.

A lot of people signed up to speak and all of them opposed the sale.

The supervisors made no decision that night but at their next meeting, on April 25, they made a decision. They voted unanimously not to sell the nursing home. Selling the nursing home is off the table, at least for the foreseeable future. At this point, there would have to be a nearly complete turn-over of the board before that idea ever raises its ugly head again. It won’t happen in this decade and probably not in the next, either.

There are some things private business does well. There are other things, government does well. We don’t have a private Army, Navy or Air Force. The Virginia Department of Transportation builds and maintains our highways. Our police department and Sheriff’s Office are not private businesses.

The Bedford County Nursing Home is something Bedford County does well. Most other county’s don’t have a government run nursing home, but Bedford county does and it is a really nice nursing home. Walk in and one of the first things you notice is that it does not have that “nursing home smell.” There are no bad odors and the place is bright and cheerful. It’s a place where you would want Mom or Dad to be if they need nursing home care and people who have loved ones living there are happy with how they are treated and cared for.

Bedford County has operated a nursing home there for nearly 70 years, and has done it well. Early in this century, when faced with closing the old nursing home, or building a new one, the supervisors, after hearing loud and clear from the citizens, opted to build a new, state-of-the-art facility. Now, after hearing loud and clear from the public, they opted to keep in a county-run operation.

You have to beware of the government. Government can ride rough-shod over you, although we have remedies to that and exercised a remedy at the ballot box last fall. But local government does work better for the citizens than other levels of government.

The main reason for this is that they live in the community. They have businesses in the community. As District 3 Supervisor Charla Bansley remarked after the April 25 meeting, they see their constituents at the grocery store. Like the people they serve, they are part of the community. If we, the people make it clear what we want, they will act accordingly.

Another area where they listened was the suggestion that they set up an advisory committee to assist them with running the nursing home. Some speakers noted that there was a good deal of expertise assembled at the hearing and that the supervisors could tap into that with an advisory committee. At the April 25 meeting, District 2 Supervisor Edgar Tuck suggested that the appoint such a committee and his fellow supervisors agreed. There will be action on this idea in the near future.

So, good job board of supervisors. You did exactly what you are supposed to do. You listened to the voice of the people. And good job citizens of Bedford County. You did exactly what you are supposed to do. You politely made your voices heard. Perhaps the supervisors could have made their job and the decision easier if they had held the public hearing at the beginning of the process instead at the mid-point. Hopefully this will be a lesson learned that will improve the transparency of the actions of our local elected officials in the future.

As we saw demonstrated at the elections last year, American democracy works.