The Central Virginian

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It’s your right to know–it’s our business to tell you

Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 10:49 am

For more than one hundred years, The Central Virginian has been sharing Louisa County news, both good and bad.

Last week, for example, we joined in the celebration of National Agriculture, highlighting local farms and projects, and taking a closer look at sharing the roads with tractors.

We shared a meditation from Rev. Wesley Henson on the foundation of prayer.

On the front page, we reported on a terrible fire at Shenandoah Crossing Resort and later, on the editorial page, shared a few tips about how you can help prevent fires.

While we have a great many happy stories – the father-son reunion story from the March 14 edition seemed especially touching to many of you – life in Louisa County is not all wine and roses.

Even if it were, as America’s poet Brett Michaels once penned, “Every rose has its thorn.”

Take, for example, the county’s crime news.

Though many of you have expressed your appreciation at being informed each week about the news – both good and bad – every few months someone will slip us a note, asking why we feel compelled to report on “all that bad news” that is “no one’s business.”

Let’s take a look, so that we can all understand why both those assumptions are wrong.

That someone on March 18 was convicted of planting a bomb in the Walmart parking lot is a good outcome to what could have been a terrible situation. Yes, a Louisa man was convicted. Yes, The Central Virginian reported on this. We cover felony convictions, particularly those of a violent or potentially violent nature.

Here’s why: As a Louisa County resident, you need to know if your next door neighbor is a convicted child molester. You need to know if the treasurer at your church is on trial for embezzlement. You need to know if the man living across the street from your mother was arrested on Saturday night for beating his wife and setting fire to her car.

These are things that happen in Louisa County.

You need to know about the Easter eggstravaganzas and the Red Dot sale at Peebles and the new plan for make-up days at the schools. And you need to know about the criminal convictions in the county.

You need to know that our law enforcement agencies and our courts are taking criminals off the street. You need to know that the sheriff’s department has issued a bulletin warning residents of a potential violent scam in their area.

When someone fails to register as a sex offender, you need to know. When the grand jury issues an indictment for someone breaking and entering into a house in your neighborhood, you need to know. And when Louisa County Crime Solvers needs your help with an investigation, you need to know.

Some might worry that reporting on these investigations, arrests and convictions makes Louisa County appear covered in crime like, as one person put it, “New York City.”

The opposite seems more likely. When you see that the sheriff’s office has arrested someone or that the circuit court has convicted someone, know that Louisa County is that much safer. Louisa County is not in any danger of turning into New York City. Our story on sharing the road with farm tractors is a good example of that.

So, no. This isn’t “all bad news.” A conviction means someone is serving a sentence for a crime committed. It means that the system works. It means that Louisa County is a little safer today. Is there “bad news” attached? Of course. Someone was hurt in the crime. Money is gone. A family is grieving.

And it is your business to know about this. It’s important to know why the sheriff’s department sent five cars to the end of your road last night. This is your county. These are your tax dollars. And it is most certainly everyone’s business to know that the man at the end of your road has been arrested for selling heroin behind the gas station.

As an informed Louisa County resident, as a member of this community, you need to know what is going on in your neighborhood. And we need to tell you.

And if you want to come to court to watch the system at work, that is your right, too. And if you want to read the public records pertaining to the case, that is your right. That is your right as a Louisa County resident. That is your right as an American.

You have the right to know what’s going on in your community. And helping keep you informed, that’s our business. It’s been our business for more than a century.

–Steve Weddle, publisher