How much should someone achieve in life to merit having a Bedford County bridge or road named in their honor?
Possible answers to that question sparked a lively discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of Bedford County Commission’s Rules & Legislative Committee. Requests for bridge namings have been filed by the families of three men.
Two of the men — former County Executive (as the current position of mayor was known then) Jimmy Woodson and Raymond H. “Buddy” Wilhelm – died less than a year ago. Those honored must have been deceased for at least a year, the county’s rules state.
But former commissioner Jimmy Patterson died in November 2020 and is eligible. Patterson’s family has asked that a bridge near his former home on Unionville-Deason Road bear his name.
Committee chair Commissioner P.T. “Biff” Farrar mused over whether only extremely accomplished or honorable people should have bridges and roads named for them.
Three naming requests from families of veterans have been denied recently, Farrar said. Farrar said that simply having served in the military or as a member of a civic club isn’t enough; the honoree, he feels, must have accomplished something significant and earned particularly high honors.
Farrar led the committee that determined naming criteria years ago and said that the plan at that time was late commissioners or county office holders must have served at least 20 to 30 years to deserve a road or bridge in their name.
Patterson’s successor on the commission and committee, Jason Sanders, sits in his former position next to Farrar during committee meetings. Sanders had been asked by Patterson’s family to bring the matter before the committee Sanders held up a list of criteria he said had been given to commissioners which was somewhat different than Farrar’s.
Farrar said he was using an original list from several years ago. Several other commissioners also said their lists differed. Farrar said he greatly respected Patterson as a person and commissioner, but rules have to be followed and it must be made certain Patterson qualifies for the honor.
He said Patterson had only served 13 years on the commission and was concerned that having been just a member of the Community Lions Club might not be enough, as opposed to serving in a leadership role such as president.
Patterson was a military veteran, but Farrar asked if he had earned medals and/or achieved something beyond the norm. The committee voted 3-1 to defer the matter until December’s meeting.
Sanders didn’t speak but indicated with an arm motion disapproval of the delay. He was told to work with Patterson’s family to obtain more detailed background information such as years of civic club service, and to have a petition with at least 25 signatures.
In other committee discussion:
Acoustics continue to cause problems in the first floor of Bedford County Courthouse Annex, Trustee Tonya Davis and County Clerk Donna Thomas said.
“We definitely have a noise issue,” Davis told the Courthouse and Property Committee on Tuesday. “We can’t hear our customers but are hearing conversations from other offices.”
Davis and Thomas said an echo is causing much of the problem.
Problems hearing telephone customers have also developed, Davis said, and turning up the volume isn’t helping.
Conditions worsened following the installation of glass at the offices’ customer service counters when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Davis said.
“We really need some guidance on how to fix this,” Davis said.
Partitions separating the front offices housing the trustee’s office and the clerk’s offices in the rear portion of the building were considered for both acoustics and “crowd control,” Davis said, but not implemented.
Ropes currently separate lines for each office. Commissioner Jeff Sweeney suggested a study group be formed, which was backed unanimously by the committee.
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