Op-Ed: Ship of state is on the right
By Jeb Spaulding, Vermont Secretary of Administration
Recently, Paul Cillo, the founder of Vermont's Public Assets
Institute, penned an Op-Ed claiming that the Shumlin Administration
isn't spending enough to serve Vermonters and calling for taxes to
be raised to match the increased level of services Cillo believes
are warranted. Shortly afterwards, Tom Pelham, co-founder of the
decidedly more conservative Campaign for Vermont, published an
Op-Ed describing Vermont's spending as a "pending fiscal ship
wreck," and calling for significant reductions in current state
In the face of critics from opposite poles of the same budgetary
debate, what is an Administration to do?
Exactly what we have been doing: maintaining our focus on creating
jobs and meeting the critical needs of Vermonters, while carefully
protecting the public purse.
The Shumlin Administration has made tough and responsible budget
choices, even while it has met considerable challenges, such as the
damage from Tropical Storm Irene, a slow economic recovery, the end
of federal stimulus dollars from the Great Recession, and continued
dysfunction in Washington, DC. Administration leaders are being
asked by Governor Shumlin to work across agencies to make state
government work better by increasing efficiency and reducing waste.
All the while, Shumlin has fought off legislative efforts to raise
taxes for General Fund spending.
Though the Shumlin Administration is meeting the challenges of
today while planning for the future, some of our critics seem stuck
in the past. As someone who has worked with both Paul Cillo and Tom
Pelham over many years and across many roles, I respect their right
to advocate for their own views of our state's budget. But as a
state official who must actually deal with the practical art of
governing, I am not as free as a clever advocate to paint the
state's budget situation in stark monochrome.
Pelham's prescription for our claimed woes boils down to the
familiar remedies he has promoted for years: cutting government
services, shifting responsibilities to others, and coming up with
gimmicks that sound promising but usually don't work. He claims our
financial practices have put Vermont's bond rating at risk by
citing a report from Standard & Poor's that actually improved
the outlook on the state's rating.
Tellingly, in recent days, Moody's Investors Services reaffirmed
Vermont's best in New England Triple A rating, explaining, "Moody's
highest rating level reflects Vermont's strong history of financial
management, which includes conservative fiscal policies and the
maintenance of healthy reserve balances that continue to provide a
cushion against any unexpended revenue declines; and manageable
debt profile that reflects the State's focused efforts to reduce
its debt ratios and maintain well-funded pension systems."
Nowhere is Vermont's solid progress clearer than in our path out of
the Great Recession, where Vermont's economy "has recovered more
quickly than the rest of New England, and much faster than many
other parts of the country," according to Federal Reserve Bank of
Boston CEO Eric Rosengren when he spoke in Burlington earlier this
month. And our recovery shows in the numbers: Vermont remains one
of the lowest unemployment rate states in the country, currently
tied for fifth.
Pelham performs historical sleights of hand in his review of
government spending in Vermont. He begins his analysis with 2008,
when the economy began the most significant decline since the Great
Depression. Only he could be surprised that spending by government,
much of it in the form of federal stimulus money, would - and
should - increase as unemployment rose, incomes stagnated, and home
Pelham correctly expresses concern about the long-standing
challenges of funding Vermont's pension systems, a problem
stretching back over many administrations, but then fails to
mention the name of the person who routinely made the trip from a
former Administration's offices in the Pavilion building to the
Statehouse to convince lawmakers that we should not fully fund the
actuarial recommendation for the pension funds: Tom Pelham.
When he left his position as Commissioner of Finance, Vermont was
not the Triple A rated state it is now, and it couldn't possibly
have become one with that kind of budgetary practice. The truth is
that Vermont was ahead of the curve in enacting changes, like
increasing the normal retirement age, increasing employee
contributions, and linking retiree health coverage to length of
employment, to make our public pension plans sustainable. Further,
we now routinely fully fund the annual pension actuarial
Meanwhile, in stark contrast to Tom Pelham, Paul Cillo reaches back
more than 20 years and cherry picks one quote to fault the Shumlin
Administration for not emulating Governor Richard Snelling,
characterized by Cillo as a leader who felt comfortable raising
taxes in order to support increases in state services and programs.
It is important to note that Governor Snelling inherited a budget
gap several times larger than the funding gap currently anticipated
for the next fiscal year. I doubt very much Governor Snelling would
endorse Cillo's whitewash portrait of the extremely difficult
choices his Administration made during that crisis. A more accurate
view of Snelling's budgetary philosophy, one shared by Governor
Shumlin, is reflected in his January 1991 budget speech to the
Legislature, when he said "our citizens expect their government to
balance the need for services and the burden of taxes. They will
not tolerate excessive taxes any more than they will accept neglect
of social interests." The former Governor continued, "Consequently,
Vermont does not and never has had the option of simply deciding
which government programs or services it wants and then levying
taxes at whatever levels might be required."
Cillo believes that the Shumlin Administration has failed to focus
support on Vermont's most needy, ignoring the facts in the process:
increased state spending for low income housing and homelessness;
the first base-budgeted contribution to low income heating
assistance in state history; becoming the first state in the
country to extend free school lunch to all low income public school
children; an increase in the coverage limits for Medicaid; and
increased subsidies for childcare. No one could take a clear-eyed
look at the facts and claim that Governor Shumlin does not value
and support the state's anti-poverty programs.
Finally, claims from both Cillo and Pelham that we are spending
state dollars on public assistance programs without concern for
results ring false.
Following the Governor's lead on a statewide strategic plan,
Secretary Doug Racine and his team at the Agency of Human Services
have aggressively rebuilt its capacity to measure and report
results, something that was done for years but abandoned during the
last decade. The Agency has identified 21 outcomes for the
wellbeing of Vermonters. Contracts with our community partners now
require these measures of performance, so that we can see whether
we are getting desired results for the money we are spending.
Soon, an e-scorecard will allow Vermonters to see how the Agency is
doing on its performance measures. In addition, Governor Shumlin
has launched both an e-dashboard
(http://governor.vermont.gov/govdash) to track a host of social,
economic, and environmental indicators and a financial transparency
website (http://spotlight.vermont.gov/) which allows citizens to
see "Where the Money Comes From" that is used to operate state
government and "Where the Money Goes" when it is spent. Greater
accountability, more effective programs and better results for
Vermonters will result.
While our critics continue to replay the last 20 years of tired
legislative fights, the Shumlin Administration will stay focused on
the future by aiming to create good paying jobs and prudent
management of the state's finances. This budget year and those
beyond will undoubtedly bring new challenges. Vermonters expect
state government to act responsibly and to meet critical needs
within the means we have, and they deserve nothing less.
Franco farewell as true community success
On Sunday, Oct. 27 the Killington community came together to say
"farewell" to our friend Chris Franco.
On behalf of Franco's family, and everyone who helped to organize
the celebration of his life, we just wanted to take a moment to say
"thank you" to everyone for being part of a wonderful day.
It was an afternoon filled with delicious food, beautiful music,
friends and family... All things that Franco loved most. A fitting
tribute to a man that left us much too soon.
Due to the generosity of our community, the talents of the many
chefs and musicians that participated, and everyone who attended,
we were able to raise enough money to take care of all of Franco's
final arrangements and remove that burden from his family.
We would also like to thank Polly Lynn, Jason Mikula and the entire
staff of The Mountain Times for their help in getting the word out
about the event and their support through a difficult time for many
in our community.
A very sincere and grateful "thank you" to you all,
The Family and Friends of Chris Franco
Restricted fund allocation in question
I am dismayed at the cursory reporting done in the Killington
Selectboard Briefs of Oct. 10-16. Specifically, on the
Citizen's Input. It was simply reported that I and
Jim Haff "disputed advice received from Jim
Barlow, recommending the Town hold a vote (essentially a
revote of the budget item voted on in this year's election) to
formally establish a restricted fund for the $217,500
appropriated in the 2013 budget for Golf Debt Balloon Payment".
What is not being reported here is that the same Jim
Barlow recommended to the board before last March's
election that there was no need to have a vote to
formally establish a restricted fund for this purpose, that
the budget vote was adequate authority to establish a
Here is the rationale Jim Barlow wrote to Seth Webb in changing
his recommendation, "If such a vote is not taken, the passage
of time will only make the voters' intent in 2012 less
clear." Huh? As Jim Haff pointed out, if one reads the 2012
Town Report, which I imagine most people get their town
budget information from, on page 3, in the Town Manager's
Report, it clearly states: "Setting aside an additional
$217,500 of undesignated funds to be used against a future
Golf debt liability of $1.1 million, which is due for payment
in 2022." If that is not enough on page 18 there is a budget
line item "Golf Debt Balloon Payment, $217,500. I think it
would be really hard, however far into the future, to
misconstrue the intent of the voters in this case. You have to
remember what Jim Barlow's perspective is. He is an advocate
for the municipal governments not the taxpayers.
Why the sudden turnabout? Why is this current opinion
better than what was acted upon in March? Why is all this this
time being spent by board members and the town manager on
an issue which was pretty much settled in March. While a
couple of members of the Select Board tried to mollify me, and
I suppose the public, by stating that this was just an
exercise in dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's so that the
restricted fund is ironclad legally. What about the law of
unintended consequences? What if the vote is against
establishing the restricted fund? That will bring the
eventuality of raiding the fund to a reality.
While I have to publicly give the Chris Bianci, Patty
McGrath and Seth Webb the benefit of doubt in this case,
I wonder if this isn't just parliamentary maneuvering to
reverse the intent of last March's vote.
Vito Rasenas, Killington
Too loud, too late
A very vocal minority in our country seems to believe that our
problems are mostly government and social programs. They
scream for "cutting taxes," "shrinking government" and "cutting
spending." It seems to me that they are far too loud and much
too late in their concern.
These people see the number of Americans who receive benefits from
one or more social programs and ask, "How can we continue to
support these millions of people?" Shouldn't the first
question be "why is our economy in such shambles that millions of
Americans need help to survive?"
When I try to answer the latter question, I always end up staring
at globalization and the real effects of giving corporations and
Wall Street special treatment. Why does Apple rake in
billions in profit from sales to Americans, but employ so few
Americans? Same for Nike and all the major footwear
giants. How often do you call a major corporation's Customer
Service line and speak to someone in America?
Why do GE, Exxon-Mobil, and many other corporations often pay
zero-ZERO- in income taxes despite billions in profits? Why do
investment managers get to treat most of their income as capital
gains and pay a lower rate than policemen or firefighters?
With ever fewer jobs, lower wages for any new jobs, and tax
dodging by those who benefit from "offshoring," exactly what does
this vocal minority think the people injured by these phenomena are
supposed to do?
I hear no loud complaints about these things. Nor did I hear
them back when financial institutions issued trillions of dollars
in "credit default swaps" (CDS) before the great 2008 meltdown.
After all, in 2007 the 25 largest US Banks held $14 trillion in
CDS-the nation's GDP was only $13.84 trillion.
But it's safer to criticize ordinary people scrambling to get by
in our corporatized global world. And easier to memorize (and
shout) a few slogans.
Lee Russ, Bennington, Vt.
It's time for an intervention
By Lee H. Hamilton
The American public has lost patience with Washington. The
question is, now what?
Congress is unable to do its job. It displays neither competence
nor responsibility, lurching from crisis to crisis. Too many of its
members reject the notion that accommodation and time-honored
procedures allow them to fulfill their responsibilities to the
American people. They use their legislative skill to engage in
brinksmanship rather than address the country's fundamental
problems. Economic growth? Creating jobs? Putting the federal
budget on a sustainable path? Don't look to Congress.
We do not
have to continue down this road, but we do have to tackle a core
problem: the political center in Congress has weakened to the point
of ineffectiveness, if not near-irrelevance.
Part of the answer lies with the electorate: more people have to
turn out to vote. The more people who vote, the better the chances
to strengthen the political center - that is, moderates and
pragmatists. A healthier Congress rests on expanding efforts to
convince people to vote, and beating back the barriers to
The second solution lies with Congress. Contemplating a
government shutdown, one congressman recently explained his stance
by saying, "All that really matters is what my district wants."
This is not an uncommon view, but it's distressingly limited. Our
system depends on members who believe it's also their
responsibility to lead and inform voters, who are willing to weigh
the national interest as well as parochial concerns and who have
confidence in our system to resolve political differences. In other
words, we need members of Congress devoted to making the system
work, legislators who realize that those who line up on the other
side of them feel just as passionately about their positions,
respect those differences, and are committed to finding common
We change laws and solve our most difficult issues in this country
not by bringing government to a halt, but by fighting out the
issues before the voters in an election. At the end of the day, we
have to move the country forward - and we need to elect members of
Congress who are willing and able to do that.
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana
University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives
for 34 years.
Editorial: Solving the health care puzzle
By Angelo S. Lynn
As Vermonters begin to decipher the new world of health care
through Vermont Health Connect and the health care exchange, and
Republicans in Congress try to dismantle the nation's health care
law by shutting down government, it's worth stepping back to view
the big picture: that is, how this nation's health care compares to
the rest of the world.
One place to start is with cost. In the U.S., we spent $8,233 per
person in 2010 (the latest available statistics). That's
two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world
(or roughly $3,300), including European countries like France,
Sweden and the United Kingdom. The next highest spenders were
Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland, but they still spent
$3,000 less per year.
In the U.S., health care spending amounts to a whopping 17.6
percent of GDP, or to put it another way, we spend 17 cents of
every U.S. dollar we generate on health care. The Netherlands is
the next highest at 12 percent of GDP, while the average among the
34 developed countries that belong to the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) is almost half the U.S. at 9.5
percent. Canada spends $4,445 per person or 11.4 percent of
In a report produced by the OECD that studied the comparative
health care of member nations, the report also found:
• In 2010, the U.S. had 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000
people, which is well below the average of 3.1 in other OECD
• The number of hospital beds in the U.S. was 2.6 per 1,000
population, again lower than the OECD avg. of 3.4.
• The life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years in
the U.S. between 1960 and 2010, but that's below the average
increase of 15 years in Japan and over 11 years on average in the
OECD. The average American, the report found, lives to be 78.7
years, compared to 79.8 in OECD countries.
The positive side is that the U.S. leads the world in health care
research and cancer treatment, as well as in other specific types
of care. That's not only better for those patients, but the
research and development creates a lot of jobs. The U.S. also has
shorter waiting times for patients to see doctors. Yet, the U.S.
has fallen behind on public policy issues such as reducing obesity
and the harmful effects of smoking or alcohol abuse. For example,
in the U.S., 35.9 percent of children aged 5-17 are overweight or
obese, compared to an OECD average of 21.4 percent.
Then there is this comment from Canadian multi-millionaire
businessman, David Beatty, 70, who ran food-processing giant Weston
Foods of Toronto, and has been described as a "tough-minded,
suffer-no-fools wealth-creator that conservatives typically cheer."
In an interview with a Washington Post reporter, Beatty lauded the
Canadian system for its outcomes and simplicity and specifically
wondered why U.S. companies "want to be in the business of
providing health care anyway… that's a government function."
Or consider this comparison of the U.S. and Canadian systems by
Roger Martin, another Toronto native who spent years as a senior
partner at the consulting firm Monitor before becoming dean of the
Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Martin
advises U.S. corporate icons like Proctor & Gamble and
Steelcase and lived in the United States for years, according to
the same Washington Post report. In comparing systems, the Post
wrote of Martin's analysis, "Canada's lower spending, better
outcomes and universal coverage make it superior by definition.
Plus, it's 'incredibly hassle-free.' In the United States every
time he took his kids in for an earache his wife spent hours
fighting with the health plan or filling out reams of paperwork. In
Canada, he says, 'the entire administrative cost is pulling your
card out of your pocket, giving it to them and putting it
Which brings us to political circus going on in Washington, D.C.
and this question: As many columnists have speculated recently, is
the real fear for Republicans not that Obamacare will ruin this
country, but that it will be successful - as Medicare, Medicaid and
Social Security have been, and as single-payer systems have been in
the rest of the world?
Water works professionals applaud firefighters during
Fire Prevention Week, call attention to value of
During Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 6-12), I join local water
utilities throughout Vermont in reminding residents about the
critical but often overlooked role that local water supplies - and
the systems that deliver them - play in fighting fires and
protecting public safety.
A properly functioning, well-maintained water system delivers
reliable supplies at a high pressure and volume that can mean the
difference between a small, manageable fire and a destructive,
But water infrastructure - the pipes, distribution mains, wells,
pumping equipment, and other components invisible to the public eye
- is aging and rapidly disintegrating.
This condition is especially prevalent in New England where a
number of public water systems are more than 100 years old.
To safeguard communities from the ever-present threat of fire,
local communities must invest in rehabilitating, improving, and
replacing their water infrastructure so that life-saving water can
flow uninterrupted from a source of supply, through a network of
underground pipes, to the corner hydrant.
I also encourage local communities to support the National Fire
Protection Association's campaign to prevent fires in the kitchen,
the leading area of origin for home fires, by urging their
residents to be more cautious and vigilant, especially when using
the stove (visit www.nfpa.org for more information).
During Fire Prevention Week, water works professionals throughout
New England applaud our region's firefighters for their courageous,
dedicated, and selfless public service.
For more info, visit www.thevalueofwater.org.
Raymond J. Raposa, Executive Director, New England Water Works
Remembering Mike Gallagher
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my long time
friend Mike Gallagher. I first met Mike about 1970 while working at
the former Southworth's Ski Shop in Killington. Mike helped us put
together a Cross Country Ski department; taught us to ski; and even
helped us build a small trail system behind the shop.
I knew Mike was a great skier, but was most impressed while
visiting the home of my friend, Peter Berger in Oslo, Norway in
1973. Peter's Father, Benno, had made supper for us, after which he
began communicating with me about myself and my home in Vermont.
Soon, he said to me "You have a school teacher in your State who
came here to ski in competition, and he beat us. No, Americans had
ever beat us like this in our home sport." I immediately said,
"Yes, you must be talking about Mike Gallagher"... and he said
"Yes, yes... Mr. Gallagher, you must be proud of him."
We certainly are proud of Mike for his many athletic achievements
... and equally appreciative for the kind, encouraging, and
wonderful man that he was.
Royal Barnard, Rutland
Op-Ed submission: It's time to celebrate Vermont's
By Lisa Gosselin, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Economic
When we think of what is "Made in Vermont" we often think of sharp
cheddar, craft IPAs, and fancy-grade maple syrup. What may not come
to mind as quickly? A new wave of Vermont-manufactured products
that use technology so innovative it is changing the world.
That transdermal patch your doctor prescribed? There's a good
chance it was made in St. Albans by global health care company
Mylan Technologies, which recently announced a major facility
expansion. The Ever-Led light tube you just installed to save
energy? Built by LED Dynamics in Randolph. That smart phone you are
carrying? Most likely powered by micro electronics created in Essex
Junction by IBM.
While people around the globe are familiar with Burton's
snowboards, Green Mountain Coffee's K-Cups and Concept2's rowing
machines, many Vermonters are unaware of the thousands of other
innovative products created in our state.
In Bennington, Kaman Composites makes the outer case for a
'cooler' of sorts that can transport a human heart or other
organs destined for a transplant. In Arlington, Mack Molding makes
everything from solar-powered street lights to automated milk shake
machines. White River Junction's Sound Innovation helps
military air crews preserve their hearing with noise-reduction
earplugs. In Brattleboro, ROV Technology engineers the underwater
robots that service nuclear reactors.
Governor Shumlin has proclaimed this Friday, October 4, "National
Manufacturing Day" in Vermont, noting our state is "home to many
great manufacturing businesses, many of which are world leaders in
That's not surprising considering that the modern machine shop
came to life here in the 1820s, in the town of Windsor. "Precision
Valley," as the Springfield/Windsor section of the Connecticut
River valley became known, pioneered what the British called the
"American system of manufacturing," using division of labor,
mechanized production and a new business system of networks that
paired engineers and entrepreneurs, craftsmen and mechanics.
Today, Vermont's manufacturing landscape is totally different but
equally innovative. Small, technologically sophisticated companies
rely on skilled workers, extensive supply chains and global
markets. Facilities are state of the art and environments are
clean, modern and often eco-friendly. Vermont now has more than
1,000 manufacturing firms with 60 percent employing fewer than
10. About 31,000 Vermonters work in manufacturing, or about
10 percent of the total workforce - earning wages 36 percent above
the statewide average. Manufacturing alone contributes 11.1 percent
of Vermont's Gross Domestic Product.
As more and more people discover the value (and values) associated
with a product that is "made in Vermont," that number will grow.
Already, we are seeing some shifts that buck the national trend
toward moving manufacturing offshore. Consider Cabot Hosiery, which
has made a name by kitting Darn Tough socks so durable they come
with a lifetime guarantee. Or Vermont Castings, which announced
last Friday it would be consolidating its grill manufacturing (some
of which is done outside of the U.S.) back here in Randolph.
"We believe in Vermont," said Vermont Casting's new CFO Jacob
Reuben, a former New York financial advisor who helped transition
the company to employee ownership this past summer. "There's a
brand here that you just can't duplicate. 'Made in Vermont,' that
means something. It means quality."
50 Innovations Made In Vermont
To highlight some of the great
things made in our state, the Vermont Department of Economic
Development has created a list of 50 Innovations Made in Vermont,
available at ThinkVermont.com. It is a list of just a few of the
innovative products, designs and technology we produce. It's a list
we hope to add to each year and we invite you to share your
thoughts and nominations on our Vermont Economic Development
Meet the Manufacturers
You can also celebrate this Friday, as many
Vermont manufacturers ranging from Burlington's Burton to the North
Hartland Tool Company to Middlebury's Danforth Pewter will open
their doors to the public. For more information on these and other
events, visit www.mfgday.com or contact the Vermont Manufacturing
Extension Center, vmec.org). In the Bennington area, teachers
in math, science and other STEM programs have already made it part
of their curriculum to visit the area's industries. Take some time
to show yourself or your children what "Made in Vermont" can mean.
Show them the possibilities. Show them the future.
Congress and Syria
By Lee H. Hamilton
As Washington swirls with proposals, counter-proposals, and
political brinksmanship in response to diplomatic efforts on Syria,
the situation has a lot of people scratching their heads. Couldn't
President Obama and Congress have handled this differently?
I prefer to take a step back and ask a different question. Given
that we are stronger as a country and our foreign policy more
effective when the President and Congress forge a unified response
to an international crisis, how can the two branches of government
work together less chaotically to confront a dilemma like this
Let's put a possible congressional vote on Syria in context.
Washington has long been divided over the power to use American
military force, thanks to ambiguity in the Constitution itself: it
gives Congress the power to declare war, but makes the President
commander-in-chief. The last time Congress formally used its war
powers was during World War II. It has ceded authority to the
President ever since.
So I'm encouraged to see the possibility of real congressional
debate on Syria, on what to do when another country uses chemical
weapons, and on the projection of U.S. power. Presidents should not
get a free pass on foreign affairs, but neither should Congress get
to avoid declaring itself. On such difficult issues in the past,
Congress has preferred to sidestep its constitutional
responsibility, defer to the President, and then snipe from the
sidelines when things go wrong.
This time, for better or worse, is different. What I hope we don't
see is a chaotic process that leaves the U.S. appearing divided and
indecisive, with the President forced to wonder how to "consult"
with a disorganized Congress in which power is diffused. There is a
better way, but it requires a regular mechanism for
A few years ago, a bipartisan National War Powers Commission, of
which I was a member, came up with a pragmatic framework that would
create a routine process for the President and Congress to
Had this structure been in place already, a high-stakes vote on
Syria wouldn't seem so unusual and the consultative process would
have been far less messy. My hope, once this is over, is that the
idea will gain greater currency. When international crises arrive,
a routine process that has allowed our political leaders to build
credibility with each other would save them a lot of
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana
University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives
for 34 years.
Thank you Killington community for a successful
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Sherburne
Memorial Library, I would like to thank the Killington community
for making our weekend Centennial Celebration such a success. The
celebration brought the community together at Saturday's Open house
and Sunday's Gala. All had a good time.
We extend our special thanks to the many the businesses that
contributed to our Tea Cup Raffle and Silent Auction, as well as
individual and organization whose financial generosity made the
event possible. This "thank you" would not be complete without
mentioning the efforts of two individuals: Peter Gould who donated
his artistic talent and created the stunning Centennial Logo, and
Ned Dyer for his special help with our Gala.
We are truly grateful to the entire community for their
support, which was intrinsic to our accomplishments the past
100 years. We forward to writing the next chapter of our history
Diane Rosenblum, Chairman, Board of Trustees Sherburne Memorial
Songs that bring back memories
I enjoyed reading the article by Cindy Phillips in The Mountain
Times last month (Aug. 22-28) on "Memory," and the association of
certain songs and a particular vivid memory. I am not a Baby
Boomer, I am one of the so-called "Greatest Generation," but the
song that takes me back to a certain time is "Gonna Take a
Sentimental Journey." It takes me back to World War II Marberg
Germany as the war was winding down. We had just captured the city
of Marburg. Things quieted down for a bit and we got mail.
My wife sent me the recording of "Gonna Take a Sentimental
Journey." I had to find a record player to hear it, which I did. It
was a very touching song having been over seas over two years at
this point. It must have been very touching for my wife to send me
the record, too. That was the first time I heard it.
The Baby Boomer turned out to be my daughter who I saw for the
first time when I got home, September 1945. Hearing that song today
takes me back 68 years as though it were yesterday.
Jack Derevensky, Quechee, Vt.
Rutland to attempt world's longest contra dance
A group of people in the Rutland area are planning a large event
for June 7, 2014. We have applied for and been granted permission
by the Guinness Book of World Records to attempt the World's
Longest Contra Dance Line; the current record is 2208 set in Riga,
We have secured nationally recognized caller Will Mentor and two
equally known contra dance bands: Perpetual E-Motion and Giant
Robot Dance to perform. Venues are currently being ironed out at
his time. More information and updates will be available soon.
Follow our Facebook page: "Attempting the World's Longest Contra
We are very excited about this opportunity for our community and
hope everyone will be eager to participate as the date gets closer.
Eric Smith, Rutland
Fair followup on Floraculture
Every year, I am asked how does one enter the flower competition
at the Vermont State Fair. The procedure is very simple. A
person just has to pick up a Fair booklet at the Fair main office,
or go online at: VTStateFair.net and follow the instructions.
The flowers are brought to the Bergstrom Building on the first
Friday of the Fair, between noon and 7 p.m. Entries are placed in
several specific categories, and there is even the
opportunity for children under 12 to display their flowers.
Flowers can also be entered daily, in specific categories, which
in addition to awards, provide fresh flowers each day to enjoy.
Daily entries provides the opportunity for everyone to use their
creativity, and lets their neighbors and friends see, not only
their flowers and herbs from their home gardens, but also the
artistic talents of the competitors.
Thursday of Fair week, is Agriculture Eduction day. Many
elementary and middle school kids participate, and are given a seed
packet when they come to the Bergstrom Building. The hope is
that they will plant the seeds either at their home, or somewhere
on their school grounds.
Extension Master Gardeners from all over Rutland County, are on
hand to answer any questions or to make suggestions. Master
Gardener, Jan Sherman and her loyal crew have been working all
summer long, in order to beautify all the gardens seen around the
Fair grounds. These gardens are on display throughout the Fair
grounds, and especially just outside the Bergstrom Building, which
includes the hillside garden, the raised beds, and especially the
lovely waterfall garden built by Master Gardener, Gary
Next door is the compost area. Ron Hebert, Master Composter,
explains how the compost begins with the soil, and how it develops
into beautiful, rich compost, fit for any type of garden. He
is very proud of this excellent display.
Ron and other Master Composters are on hand to explain how one can
begin and develop their own compost, and how it is not only
terrific for any garden, but that it is also helping the carbon
footprint for Planet Earth.
So, besides the exciting rides, animals, and food, there are many
excellent activities which help to make up the Vermont State
The Master Gardeners and Composters are looking forward to
seeing you at the Vermont State Fair next year.
Elaine Nordmeyer, Floraculture Superintendent
By Brett Yates
As the U.S. prepares to launch a military strike against Syria,
it's worth thinking about why we might be doing what we're doing.
For example, one reason why it might make sense for us to attack
Syria is that the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, is killing
lots of innocent people, and therefore something must be done to
Bashar al-Assad had already killed lots of innocent people,
however, before he crossed the famous "red line" by using chemical
weapons to murder nearly 1,500 Syrians in suburban Damascus.
100,000 had died by then; from a moral perspective, Assad is
perhaps no worse for having used chemical weapons than he would be
if he hadn't.
Of course, Barack Obama did say - perhaps unwisely, but I'm sure
at the time it seemed important that he say something - that if
Syria should employ chemical warfare, there would be consequences,
and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has emphasized that "the word
of the United States must mean something." Obama himself has more
recently backed off from the position that his own no-chemicals
mandate is what matters here; the idea now is that he was merely
echoing a universal sentiment, and it's because Assad overstepped
the world's "red line," not Obama's, that action must be
Indeed, chemical weapons are banned by international law.
Yet it would perhaps be disingenuous of Obama to suggest that he's
only adhering to international law by going after Syria, for it is
in fact the responsibility not of the United States - which
actually supported Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons in the
Iraq-Iran War - but of the UN Security Council to administer
justice when somebody breaks a treaty.
Furthermore, it is not Obama's stated objective to "stop Assad."
What we're aiming for is something between a warning shot and a
war: a limited strike by bomb and/or missile that will neither kill
Assad nor cripple him to such an extent that he'd no longer have
the capacity to slaughter civilians by the thousand, but will show
him that we're not happy about what he's doing and are ready to
"give him hell" if he continues doing it.
There may be a vague contradiction here, since Obama assures us
that this will not become for the United States a protracted, messy
conflict like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if he's telling
us the truth, then the threat promised by our circumscribed assault
upon Syria is basically an empty one - yet he's counting on Assad
not to regard it that way.
There's perhaps an essential illogic in the actions of a nation
that, despite not wanting to go to war, attacks another nation, and
that may be why limited, punitive military campaigns apparently
don't work at all, as a recent Los Angeles Times article pointed
out. In 1986, when we bombed Tripoli but left Gaddafi standing, the
Libyans retaliated by blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 and its 270
passengers over Lockerbie, Scotland; Bill Clinton fired 75 missiles
at Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan in 1998, and we all know
how they responded three years later. In Syria, we want Assad out,
and Assad knows we want him out, but we don't want to pay the
horrible cost of another "real war"; still, we must do "something."
Meanwhile, Syria's ally Iran has already ordered an attack upon the
U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which, according to the plan recently
intercepted by U.S. intelligence, would be carried out by Iraqi
militants in the event of a U.S. strike upon Syria.
Still, what else can we do? If we lent our support to the Syrian
rebels, Assad would presumably only gas more of them, along with
the women and children who happen to live nearby. What we're going
to do, apparently, is blaze a medium-sized path of destruction
(we'll likely kill a few innocents of our own) that will, however,
leave our enemy mostly intact, and then we're just going to wait
and see what happens.
These days, I get the impression that many Americans sort of
accept that the U.S. military is basically incapable of helping
matters at all anywhere in the Middle East - that whatever we do
just makes things worse, that we inevitably end up killing more
people than we save. This may or may not be true, but in any case
we're all so very tired of the fighting, and a sense of futility
has crept in. Obama is in a tough position here: the hegemonic
dream of Bush and Cheney - the notion that America the Superpower
can and should impose its will upon the rest of the world - has
perished, yet America remains a superpower, and what kind of
superpower are we if we sit back and do nothing while another
hundred thousand Syrians die?
To be fair, sitting back and doing nothing sometimes seems to be
our standard policy when state-sponsored massacres occur anywhere
except in the Middle East. Moreover, I read that six out of ten
Americans oppose the strike in Syria. That we're going to strike
them anyway may be a reflection more of America's identity problem
than of any genuine need to drop a few bombs near Assad. Obama has
scaled back the visible presence of American imperialism - he tries
to avoid putting "boots on the ground" - without disowning
After all, we still have a certain reputation to uphold. It's not
just that "the word of the United States must mean something" when
it actually doesn't. The question is: what does a superpower even
look like if it's not doing anything big on the international
Can the world's greatest nation just be the place that makes the
best blockbuster movies and pop songs and wins the most Olympic
gold medals? Can it just be a place whose citizens are happy and
protected, while their leaders encourage other nations to do right
without attempting by military intervention to force them to? Do
you want to live in a place like that?
Food shelf suffers shortages in West
When I opened the West Rutland Food Shelf in 2008, I committed to
feeding anyone who came down our stairs regardless of where they
lived. Over the last year, however, we have seen an increasing
number of families from outside of West Rutland who are coming to
us struggling with hunger and have exhausted their benefit at their
local Rutland Food Shelf.
For five years we have been able to keep up with the demand but
our food shelf is now in danger of not being able to meet the needs
of residents of West Rutland. We are a small but generous town but
our donor base just cannot keep up with outside demand at his time.
Consequently, we have informed our customers that, until further
notice, we will only be able to serve residents of West
I don't make that decision lightly, and if our conditions change
we may be able to serve our friends in surrounding communities once
Because of the demand we have experience over the Summer months,
in particular, we are operating from a very small and fragile cash
position. If you would like to help us restore our finances to a
more healthy balance, please send contributions of any amount to
the West Rutland Food Shelf, 472 Dewey Avenue West Rutland, Vt.
05777. Donations of food can be made at the Price Chopper in West
Rutland where there is a donation bin or at the Town Hall.
With generous donations of money and food, you have the power to
make it possible for us to feed all of our neighbors that come
through our doors.
On behalf of all those who are struggling with hunger and are
counting on us, thank you.
Tony Morgan, Founder/Director, West Rutland Food Shelf
In Washington, ideology need not reign
By Lee H. Hamilton
As I speak to people about the Congress, one question arises more
than any other: Why is Congress gridlocked? People are perplexed
and disappointed with its performance, and are searching hard for
The roots of Congress's dysfunction are complex. But the
fundamental reason is that real differences in beliefs about
government exist among the voters.
Conservatives place a heavy emphasis on liberty, individual
freedom, and self-reliance. They have little confidence in the
government's ability to play a role in improving society or the
economy, and many of them look upon government as destructive, a
force that undermines our basic freedoms
Moreover, a belief has taken hold among conservatives in recent
years that compromise and accommodation are betrayals of their
cause. This has put great pressure on GOP leaders not to budge in
their negotiations with the White House and Senate
Meanwhile, on the "progressive" side there is much
greater emphasis on using government to narrow economic disparities
and help those at the bottom of the income scale. They emphasize
equality of opportunity for all and individuals' responsibility to
the community around them. While they do not favor a radical
centralization of power in the federal government, as some
conservatives charge, they are more willing to accept government
action - and the legislative compromises that make it
The gap between these views appears unbridgeable. It is not.
That is because most Americans find themselves somewhere between
the extremes, able to see merit in both conservative and
progressive ideas. When I was in office, I often found myself
thinking that many of my constituents were conservative, moderate,
and liberal all at the same time. That hasn't changed. They may be
wary of excessive government, but again and again they turn to
government at some level to help solve the problems they complain
about, and they want it to work effectively and efficiently. More
than anything else, Americans want to see moderation and
cooperation from their political leaders.
In the end, Congress
usually ends up about where most Americans want it to be. So I'm
not surprised how, when dire problems confront them, both
conservatives and progressives in Washington find their inner
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana
University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives
for 34 years.
Paid sick days are crucial to community well-being
While working in the school system, I witnessed sick kids coming
to school, staff (including food service workers) often becoming
sick, and kids that needed to stay at school laying on cots because
their parents had to make arrangements for their children to be
cared for. After talking to some parents, I realized how much they
agonize over the choice of losing a valuable days pay or staying
home with their sick child. Parents always want to stay home to
take care of sick kids, but losing even one day's pay is a
sacrifice that will mean being behind on the bills. This is
especially true for single parents, relying on one paycheck.
This scene played out over and over again for the 12 years I
worked in a school. Fellow staff members were at risk for any and
all ailments that came through the front door, and then bringing it
home, where other family members took it somewhere else. Thus a
never ending cycle - which could have been prevented by paid sick
days. Paid sick days could be some of the best preventative
medicine we could have in Vermont.
If paid sick days were in place, it would take care of many
problems. Parents wouldn't have to worry, and all workers would
have the right to a healthy workplace. Healthcare is more than just
going to the doctor, it means taking a proactive approach to a
problem that we can solve together.
The Vermont Paid Sick Days Campaign will be officially launched
Thursday, Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, Vt.
Coming to this event is a great way to find out more and get
involved in this issue that's crucial to all Vermonters, and eat
some great bread!
Stauch Blaise, Randolph, Vt.
On Labor Day, too many workers labor in the shadows
By Ben Johnson and Richard Trumka
For many Americans, Labor Day barbecues and picnics mark a
nostalgic end to summer. It's also a time to celebrate work and the
people who do the work (and of course, the people who want to work
but can't find jobs). This year, we remember especially that too
many people labor in the shadows of our economy without access to
the rights and protections that everyone deserves.
Over 11 million aspiring Americans attend school, work on our
farms and in our neighborhoods, raise families, own homes and dream
of a better life. But their dreams will never be realized with the
threat of deportation hanging over their heads and a path to
citizenship so far out of reach.
While these immigrant workers struggle to become part of a country
that benefits from their labor but doesn't protect their rights,
unscrupulous employers abuse the system by exploiting workers with
little to no protections-and pay them less. This vicious cycle, in
turn, lowers wages and working conditions for all American workers
and makes it harder for businesses that play by the rules.
No one can deny that our current immigration system is broken, or
that it depresses living standards for all workers. Across the
country this Labor Day, people are calling for immigration reform
that truly protects the rights of all workers.
At the beginning of August, 41 national leaders representing a
broad coalition of advocates who support worker protections that
include a road map to citizenship were arrested in a civil
disobedience action just outside the offices of members of the
House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
In California, hundreds of cars caravanned to Bakersfield for a
rally in the heart of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's
Right here in Vermont migrant workers and their supporters are
rallying against the ongoing deportations.
The message is loud and clear: if Members of Congress continue to
obstruct a vote on immigration reform, they will have to answer to
a growing majority of Americans who support a path to citizenship
as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
We saw this majority reflected in the diversity of faces that
spoke up to ensure that a vote on comprehensive immigration reform
was successful in the Senate: faith leaders, conservatives and
business owners took action together with immigrant rights groups,
community organizations, working families and labor and civil
The immigration legislation that passed with a solid, bipartisan
majority in the Senate-while far from perfect-lays out a reasonable
roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans, lifts up workplace
standards and rights for all Americans, and strengthens border
protections. This would boost the U.S. economy.
According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO),
modernizing our immigration system so that it is safer, more
orderly, and more humane would grow our economy and reduce the
deficit by almost a trillion dollars over two decades.
The CBO also reports that a set of reforms that include an earned
path to citizenship would create 732 new jobs in Vermont and
increase our economic output by $51 million in just one year.
Passing comprehensive immigration reform with strong worker
protections, including a path to citizenship, is the economically
and morally right thing to do.
Unfortunately, some Republicans, like Iowa Congressman Steve King,
have been very vocal about why they don't want a vote on
comprehensive immigration reform. According to Rep. King, the
millions of young women and men who call the U.S. their home and
are American in every way except on paper are actually drug mules
with "calves the size of cantaloupes." Will the Republican majority
in Congress really allow bigots who alienate the significant Latino
electorate to speak for their party on the pivotal issue of
Rep. Peter Welch was elected to do what's best for our state and
our country. That includes taking a stance in favor of fixing our
broken immigration system and ensuring that we no longer have
millions of people working in the shadows-and that Labor Day
celebrates all people who work. We are confident that Peter will
fight hard for the right thing.
Our country is watching and the millions who have mobilized will
continue to ramp up action until a path to citizenship is fully
Ben Johnson is the President of the Vermont State Labor Council,
AFL-CIO. Richard Trumka is the President of the National
News from the ledge: Shoreland conservation Bill makes
By Rep. Anne Gallivan
One of the things I enjoy most in summer is an opportunity to be
on or by the water. Lakes, rivers, and oceans lure visitors, and
the healthier the water, the more appealing the experience.
Sensible building and natural shoreline habitats help promote
healthy water while delaying potential eutrophication from
Last winter, the legislature passed Shoreland Bill H526 in the
House of Representatives. Now the creators of the legislation are
holding public meetings around the state to hear important
When the bill passes in the Senate, and meets concurrence by
committee, it will move to rule making to establish the details of
the permitting standards.
Under new regulation, building projects involving 500 square feet
or more of impervious surface must go through a permitting process
to assure a mitigation of new storm-water run-off that could carry
nitrogen and phosphorus into the lakes. The process might include
suggested building design features, water bar diversions for paths
and driveways or additional shore plantings to improve water
The current bill affects all new development, rebuilding, and
remodeling expansions (of a certain size) on lakefront properties.
Homes along the shore that do not undergo change can expect to
continue under current property maintenance. Small lot homes
wanting future expansion may need to plan to add on the inland side
of the home.
Though many older homes are closer than 100 feet from the shore,
the new permits would require a 100 foot setback, preservation of
certain amount of vegetation at the shore and interest in land
management for a full 250 feet from the shoreline. Specifics
of these regulations will be established in the rule making
process. Local size and scope conditions will likely be recognized
in variables to these rules.
Vermont is years behind its neighbors in New York, New Hampshire,
and Maine. Fewer than 20% of Vermont's towns with shoreline have
zoning ordinances that protect shorelines, and since the
encouragement of voluntary standards has failed to do more, a
statewide statute is, in my mind, the best response. Judging from
the data in other states, protective measures will boost property
values that thrive on good water quality and more natural
A meeting Aug. 22 at the Kehoe Conservation Center at Lake
Bomoseen drew several hundred attendees. Many expressed concern for
a perceived loss of owner's rights, while the Shoreland Commission
expressed a sense of urgency in updating Vermont's policy to
preserve at-risk bodies of water. Now is the time to chime in with
concerns as the legislation is tweaked. Contact your county
senators, ANR or me at 483-2854.
OP:ED What you need to know about congress right now
By Lee H. Hamilton
Deeply unpopular and flagrantly unproductive, Congress is on its
August recess right now. It won't return until Sept. 9, after a
five-week recess, leaving itself just a few days to settle issues
like raising the debt ceiling and passing a federal budget.
Here are some things you should know about where it stands at this
stage of the game:
- Few, if any, Congresses can match this one for futility. It
managed to help out some communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy
and to reach a deal on presidential nominations, but mostly it
can't get things done - whatever your politics. The repeal of
Obamacare, action on climate change, a "grand bargain" on our
fiscal problems, education and tax reform, creating jobs,
strengthening gun laws... the list of dropped balls is long,
although there is still hope for immigration reform, if just
barely. A few weeks ago Speaker John Boehner told Americans not to
judge Congress by how many laws it passes, but by how many it
repeals. It hasn't succeeded on either count.
- The budget process
is a mess. It's been years since Congress put together a budget
according to its regular order, but even by its recent low
standards this year has been chaotic. None of the appropriations
bills needed for the government to continue running after Sept. 30
has been enacted. "It is common for Congress to leave big budget
fights until the last minute," the Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook
wrote as Congress left town, "but the budgeting process now seems
so adrift that even congressional veterans find it hard to see a
resolution." Passing a budget is the most basic function of
government, and Congress can't manage it.
- Members of Congress do
not like to compromise. The parties are more divided ideologically
than they've been for many decades, with one side fiercely hostile
to government and the other convinced that government can
accomplish good things. Neither side can get things done on its
own. That's pretty much the definition of when responsible
lawmakers step forward to build a consensus. Yet in this Congress,
either they don't know how or they're not interested.
A glimmer of hope does exist, as more members respond to polls
showing Americans believe it's more important for the parties to
compromise than to stick to their positions. They may not be able
to come to agreement, but some of them are talking about how
willing they are to reach across the aisle.
- Even so, it's worth noticing that one of the congressional
parties is extraordinarily difficult to lead at the moment. The
Republicans are fractured and squabbling over their future
direction. This makes me sympathize with the formidable task the
Republican leadership confronts.
- Hardly anyone out there thinks Congress is doing a good job -
it's consistently below 20 percent approval ratings - and most
people think it's too partisan. Yet members aren't very concerned.
They've become quite skilled at running against Washington, even
though they are Washington. And they count on the fact that few
voters hold their own member of Congress responsible for its
shortcomings, however unpopular Congress as a whole has
- As lobbyists descend in swarms on Capitol Hill, they hold more
power than ever. They rain cash, twist arms, and even draft bills -
all the things that powerful congressional leaders used to
The NRA's defeat of legislation strengthening background checks
for gun purchases, in the face of overwhelming public sentiment
after Newtown, was nothing less than an impressive display of
political clout and an example of how influential lobbyists and
special interests have become. Perhaps this is why a good number of
my former colleagues have made a tidy living for themselves by
- Finally, all of this contributes to the emerging themes for the
2014 congressional campaign. Candidates will clearly run against
the mess in Washington, and a good number of them, though not all,
will talk regularly about the need to be bipartisan. The big
question for 2015 will be whether the successful ones can translate
their talk into legislation to help move the country forward.
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at
Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of
Representatives for 34 years.
OP:ED Remembering Irene, preparing for future floods
By Deb Markowitz
Like many Vermonters this summer, by July I was sick of the
constant rain. My garden beds flooded. The house smelled
vaguely of mildew. I was worried about the swollen rivers and
flooded lakes. And, I watched the damage mount - storm after
storm - to homes, to roads, to farms, and to weather-dependent
There is little doubt that Vermont is in for wetter springs as
climate change unfolds. Indeed, this year, May and June were
the wettest consecutive 30-day periods on record for Vermont!
The floods we experienced this past summer, like Irene, remind us
that rivers flowing through Vermont communities have tremendous
power to wreak havoc. They also remind us that we must prepare for
our changing climate, and there are many things we can do.
We learned some important lessons from Irene. Healthy forests that
absorb rainfall, and floodplains that give rivers room to spill out
and dissipate energy, will temper the immense power of floodwaters
before they inflict costly damage to our town centers. Vermont's
prized land use pattern - beautiful walkable villages surrounded by
working farms, wetlands, and forests - is the single most
cost-effective strategy we can pursue to buffer communities from
the impacts of fast-moving water. And, we can inadvertently
increase the risks of erosion and flood damage when we remove
debris and fix damage after heavy rains.
As a result of these lessons, the Agency of Natural Resources
(ANR) has been busy. We are developing rules in response to
new legislation, to guide emergency stream projects after storms
that will assure public safety and the quick repair of critical
infrastructure without inadvertently making rivers more prone to
flooding. We formed a new partnership between Vermont's land
conservation organizations and ANR that will target conservation
efforts to protect critical natural places that make us resilient
to flooding. Finally, state agencies are working together to
ensure that new or repaired infrastructure is built to withstand
future floods, and we are exploring policies to promote compact
growth in historic town centers while preserving undeveloped
floodplain areas such as working farms, wetlands, and river valley
We can also learn from the many communities battered by Irene that
have taken positive steps to reduce their vulnerability to future
flood damage. These communities have invested in conserving
undeveloped floodplains, have rebuilt infrastructure to withstand
future floods, have adopted local zoning bylaws to limit growth in
vulnerable areas, and have used new techniques to better manage
Here are some things that we can do in every community:
1. Ensure that flood water has somewhere
to go. Our farms, wetlands and fields provide a place where
flooding rivers can spill out and slow down. Healthy forests also
protect us by absorbing as much as 70% of the rain that falls on
them before it flows overland to streams. Protecting these areas
means less flood damage in our valley villages and homes.
2. Grow wisely in our river valley towns. When we invest in
development in our historic town centers, we create places where
Vermonters want to live, and we also keep the fields and forests
nearby intact so they can dampen serious floods. But living near
rivers calls for smart, flood-savvy investments.
3. Recover stronger: Build bridges and culverts to withstand
flooding. Many of our culverts are too small and our bridges too
low for the storm flows of today. And many roads are too
close to our most unpredictable river channels. We need to better
understand where our infrastructure faces serious risks so that we
can plan to rebuild with resilience.
4. Slow stormwater before it rushes into streams. Our steep
mountain hillsides send water rushing downhill not only during
storms like Irene, but also during the smaller storms we've seen
this summer. We must slow this runoff down if we want to prevent
flooding disasters in the valley bottoms. By managing storm water
so it absorbs into the ground we prevent damaging floods. This also
provides water quality benefits (keeping nutrient high sediment and
contaminants out of our water bodies) and helps to recharge our
Irene was one of the costliest disasters in the state's history,
both in terms of the human costs as well as costs to our
communities, families and businesses. Using the lessons we
learned from Irene we can ensure that Vermont is stronger and
better prepared for the future.
Reflecting on the second anniversary of Irene
Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a PHD candidate from U of
Massachusetts Amherst for insight into how Pittsfield responded to
the flood in the immediate aftermath and now currently.
I tried to give her my best overview and gave her copies of
correspondence to and from government officials, from my desk, a
copy of the book: The Wrath of Irene, and the DVD Flood
One question brought back some very warm memories/feelings dealing
with neighbors overcoming longstanding differences and barriers.
Being a minister, this area really has great meaning for me.
Pittsfield came together as a tight knit community putting all
differences and quarrels aside which, in and of itself, served our
recovery as much as any other factor.
Then she asked how enduring is this sense of closeness.
Honestly, in too many instances it waned from that initial high to
more of a lukewarm climate. As we approach the second anniversary
of "Irene's Wrath" with a Community Gathering and Celebration, my
prayer is that we might somehow recapture that spirit that served
us so well in the recovery.
Time has this way of slipping through our fingers. Two years since
the storm that seems like just yesterday. Edna and I are now in our
sixth year here in Pittsfield. We have made so many good friends,
some very close and special. As the years slip by, I am finding
that REAL friends are more important than anything else beyond the
church and our calling.
I am thankful for this town and ALL who are a part of it.
Howard Gunter, Pastor Pittsfield Federated Church
Castleton concerts enjoyed great success
After completing the 18th year of presenting concerts, the annual
Castleton Summer Concert series has once again enjoyed a most
successful season. Partnering with Castleton State College the past
two years, and with the move into the beautiful, brand new, state
of the art, pavilion, this indoor/outdoor venue has been "the"
place to go in Castleton, on Tuesday evenings.
There were 11 wonderful and exciting performances with great
crowds that enjoyed the musical talents of all the bands that
played in Castleton this summer.
Many of the musicians who have played Castleton, have said that
the program is the premier concert series in the State of
A "thank you" for the success for this excellent program is owed
to many people including: the sponsors, the college and it's
support staff, boy scout troop #13 for all of their contributions
and help, the local media, and certainly the many hundreds of
concertgoers who, each week, support live music with their
attendance at the Castleton College Summer Concert series.
The Castleton College Summer Concert series is a joint community
effort, and a great feeling of pride should be shared by all the
community of Castleton, it's Rutland County neighbors, and New York
With the 18th season complete, the 19th season must be just around
the corner! Until next year,
Dick Nordmeyer, director, and Lori Phillips, conference and
events, Castleton State College
Yankee fan corrects the record
In the last edition of The Mountain Times (Aug. 15) columnist
Brett Yates in his article on Performance Enhancing Drugs,
mis-identifies Alex Rodriguez as the New York Yankees shortstop.
Every baseball fan knows that, since late in the 1995 season, the
Yankees have had (essentially) one short stop - Derek Jeter.
Alex Rodriguez plays 3rd base!
Also, The 12 others suspended with A-Rod, included several All
Stars and one post-season MVP; and they were all Hispanic, possibly
a reason they were not maligned by other sports writers.
Hank Rogers, Killington, Vt.
On Sunday, October 2, 2011 a group of friends and
neighbors from all around Vermont, and many points beyond, came
together to help those who needed help and to lend a hand to those
who needed a hand.
It was a day of music, laughter, great food and community spirit
and despite the rain, over 500 people came to participate and enjoy
the Concert for Killington Area.
When we first started to plan the concert we had a very ambitious
goal of raising $20,000 to help those in need in the towns around
the Killington area. We are happy to announce that we have raised
almost $40,000, as of today, and the total keeps growing.
It would be impossible to thank all of the musicians, business
owners, artists and professionals who made this event possible and
we are humbled by the generosity of those who came to enjoy the
We are truly blessed to live in a place where people care so
deeply about each other and are always willing to help their
neighbors "weather the storm."
The Concert for the Killington Area will not reverse the
devastation that was caused on that dark Sunday in August by
Tropical Storm Irene but the monies raised will go toward helping
families and friends start to rebuild and get their lives on the
road to recovery. We have chosen two charities to help distribute
this money and get it to those who need it most.
It is with a full heart and wide smile that we all say "Thank
You!" to everyone involved with the Concert for the Killington
Area. We could not have done it without your love and
Wishing everyone health, happiness and good friends to get you
through the hard times.
Peace to you all,
Joey Leone & the Committee of the Concert for Killington
To the Editor:
My parents and I are extremely grateful to the Castleton State
College Men's Hockey Team and C.S.C President Mr. David Wolk
for making C.S.C students available to Rutland City residents
in our time of need.
On Friday September 9, 2011, as I leaned on my shovel and wiped
the mud and sweat from my face, I looked up to see a Castleton
State College van stop and approximately 15 to 20 members of
the Castleton Men's Hockey Team approach me and offer to help
remove mud and debris from my basement.
Like many of my fellow Meadow Street residents, I was forced out
of my home on August 28, 2011 by flooding brought on by Irene.
Many of us struggled individually to reclaim our homes from
the wrath of water, mud and damage brought on by storm. The storm
brought out the best in all the individuals I encountered as I
worked to clean my home of mud, water and debris.
The Hockey Team members descended into my basement and almost in
unison began to shovel up mud and then carry the heavy buckets
up the stairs to the side of the street, where they dumped the
buckets and then returned to the basement to repeat their task
over and over.
In addition to being tireless workers, the members of the Men's
Hockey Team are a great group of young men who clearly understand
the meaning of "giving to the community." I cannot express in
words my appreciation for their hard work. I would still be in my
basement, shoveling up mud, had I not received such
After the C.S.C students piled back into their white van and drove
to their next location, an individual asked me "who they were."
I responded, "they are the C.S.C. Men's Hockey Team but as far
as I am concerned they are superheroes."
From: Joseph Zingale Jr.
10 Meadow Street, Rutland, VT
Reflections On Irene
by E. J. Willis
-How many times can you reach for the light switch when there is
-How many times will you try to flush the toilet when there's no
water in the tank?
-Now I know why a caged animal paces - can't get out this way,
can't get out that way - back and forth.
-Patience only lasts so long.
-There IS a morning after. Doesn't mean things are going to be
-Send every soldier you know of a packet of salt and pepper. It
helps the MRE's go down. Maybe a spoonful of sugar would help,
-I wonder how many candles equal one lumen. Is it too late to
thank all those people who gifted candles to me over the years?
Thankfully, I kept them all in one box. They are gone now, but were
-How do you get candle wax off the table, dishes, upholstery, your
clothes, the floor and the cat?
-Not to sound unappreciative, but how many times can you say thank
you to the same people for the same action and mean it?
-The sound of softly flowing water is beautiful, but loud, fast
water sets my nerves on edge.
-No matter how hungry I am, lima beans are not meant to be eaten
by human beings.
-Rain pattering on our steel roof is soothing; rain pounding on
the roof is not.
-If road closed signs are ignored, would bridge gone signs stop
-I now realize how dependent I am on electricity and I do not like
-I found that 3 days without water maxes my tolerance for hauling
buckets of water from the brook.
-We seniors have discovered we can live without internet and
cable, but the younger generation was very disturbed over that
-Phones are a necessity in an emergency and EVERYONE should have
cell service no matter where they live. This is more important than
a health care system that few desire!!
-Never ever get rid of your battery dependent radio! It may be
your only contact with the outside world, your only source of news,
your only comfort during the dark hours.
-Closeness during an emergency is not always comforting -
especially by the 3rd day without H2O.
-More people will walk outside the day after a storm than you knew
lived in your neighborhood.
-Newspapers are the local archivists. Their articles tell our
-The rest of the world is unimportant when you're living in a
-I can now fathom the resolve of the people of Louisiana who
continually face damages from hurricanes. Hurray for them!
-"It won't happen here" doesn't apply anywhere.
-Vermont is Vermont. Only those who live in Vermont would
understand how special, independent, friendly and unique the state
and its people are.
Dear Editor and Friends,
First, I need to say how incredible all the small towns in the
Green Mountain State have pulled together as a team in the
devastating aftermath of Irene. I also need to thank all the people
in the Killington area and the Killington Town Garage for there
support and help with the Kokopelli Inn clean up.
As I work through this rebuilding journey there are a couple of
quotes from two long time proven Killington business owners that
have helped me through this process. Casey Crompton said "be
patient, there is always a Silver Lining" and Steve Durkee wrote me
a note "It will get better." At this point these are difficult to
believe but we are doing our best.
Secondly, our new Vermont slogan is "I am Vermont Strong." If you
would have asked us 3 weeks ago we would have said, "Of course we
are, 'Vermont Strong.'" We would have included our home and
business, the Kokopelli Inn, as Vermont Strong, too. All of this
proved to be weaker than Mother Nature. She challenged us in ways
that no one expected. We are among those who have lost everything
in a blink of Mother Nature's eye.
Our loss includes our business, our home, and our jobs. We are
also hearing the effects of the loss on the hundreds of our
extended family, the Kokopelli tribe members. Families that have
planned annual holidays to be in Killington at our Inn are worrying
about the loss of their reunion location; and wedding guests are
scrambling to make other arrangements. From our seasonal shares who
visit every weekend to all our other guests, and our signature Pot
Luck Dinner Friday crew, are who make up the Kokopelli Inn
It breaks our heart to see that the Kokopelli Inn's wounds from
Irene run so deep. We pride ourselves on providing an Inn that
brings families together. The Inn has the space to accommodate
large families and guests. On August 28th, Tropical Storm Irene
came to us with the force of a Hurricane and took so much
In a matter of hours our home and business was destroyed. The
landslide that came from the swollen river up the hill, the huge
metal culvert could not handle. The house across the street
collapsed into the river then blocked the culvert completely and
the river turned toward us. The river that was filled with
boulders, mud, trees and the remains of the house ended up piling
up around the Inn. Boulders rolled through the front widows and
crashed through the walls like they were made of paper. The
boulders were followed by a flood of river water that came through
the windows and filled our basement.
Irene did leave her mark on the Kokopelli; it includes a mountain
of debris 8-10 feet deep that has locked into place like cement.
Our storage basement filled with water and our basement home
completely destroyed. The entire infrastructure is damaged, tons of
debris in our yard, and septic system. Our electric and heating
system is destroyed, the well is not working, the debris has
settled, and our parking lot is a rocky river bed.
Over the past 8 years we have used all of our resources trying to
build a successful B & B business in Killington. We have
sacrificed our time, money and energy. We have developed a strong
partnership with the town of Killington. We have worked closely
with the Killington Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development
and Tourism Commission, and the Killington Ski Resort organization.
The results of our partnership with the region have helped our B
& B business flourish with a strong extended family of loyal
As many of the other Vermonters affected by this disaster
understand, we are getting NO support from the insurance companies.
FEMA has given us some immediate assistance, which we are grateful
for, but it's a small fraction of what we will need to bring the
Kokopelli back to life.
Our story is not unique. We could substitute many businesses and
homes into our story. We are used to being the shelter from the
storm, being able to offer rooms to families who need a place to
call home. This is an incredibly challenging time for many people
throughout Vermont. The water has receded, roads are beginning to
open, and lives are moving on at a more normal pace.
However, there are many of us whose road is long and filled with
debris. Vermont pride and strength will continue to move us
forward. In the meantime, please know that if you have ever
considered a rock wall as part of your backyard that now is the
time to build it. We have plenty of rock at the Kokopelli, please
feel free to come by and take as much as you want!
We need help to fix the damage from Irene. We have submitted
applications for all the assistance that has been made available.
The cost in damages far exceeds the available funding. Cleaning the
building to make it safe for us to enter has reduced what we have
received drastically and we do not have money available to pay to
rebuild the infrastructure. We are looking for donations in
return for future weekend stays at a drastically discounted rate.
We need tradesmen willing to offer their time in trade as well.
Please contact us at Castrolmartin@aol.com for more info.
Hurricane Irene has been the worst, most destructive guest we have
had at the Kokopelli Inn. We welcome all at the Kokopelli, however
I hope if another Irene comes through Killington she chooses a
different place to stay.
Chuck and Barbara.
The Last Stand At "Fort Command"
by Ned Dyer
422-FIRE..now there's a number that would get your
attention. If you dialed that number from the time Irene left
town up until Sunday September 11th, you would have been connected
to the Killington Command Center (aka Emergency Response Center)
which was set-up on the second floor of the Killington Volunteer
Fire House on the Killington Road, but for this little tale
we have exercised a little poetic license and are calling the
center "Fort Command."
For the first week after the "Big Water" and like most people in
Vermont, I was dealing with my own issues. After I saw
daylight I felt a need to try and help in some way. At
10:00 a.m. on Monday, or it could have been Sunday or maybe even
Tuesday, I climbed the fire house stairs, turned right into "Fort
Command" and stopped dead in my tracks. There were eight or
ten tables with 4 to 6 chairs around them with Killington
volunteers using their personal cell phones, their own laptops,
telephones, maps, lists, water bottles, containers of cold
coffee and half eaten sweet rolls.
In the midst of all this there was Barry L., the "maker of
badges." ( I know, I saw "Blazing Saddles" too, so don't even say
it! Badges are necessary in emergency situations like
this.) What seemed like an eternity, I stared open-mouthed
trying to get a handle on what was happening. At that point
Steve D. welcomed me and handed me an instruction sheet, which I
never did get to read because Jill D. showed me a list of
volunteers and asked if I wouldn't call them to get there
availability and contact information-game on!
I bounced from table to table using my cell and whatever phone was
free, all the while watching Jeanne K. and Pat L. uploading data
into the data base, Hannah A. and Hal and Cindy B. compiling
volunteer and contractors lists, Betsy B. and Steve D. in a huddle,
Denise C., Kate, Kathy J. oand Pat F. fielding medical
issues, Patti McG. opening up the walking path to access Rutland,
Judy F. and Dottie D (who are the fastest phone picker-uppers east
of the Pecos), Steve Finer was at his desk as the gate keeper, Seth
and Suzie D. were everywhere, and the veterans told me it was like
that 24-7 the week before.
At one point Fort Command got pretty chaotic what with official
business and concerned citizens dropping by hoping to get
some information or any one of a number of valid reasons, so Steve
D. asked if I wouldn't watch the door and maybe redirect some
of the foot traffic. In my zeal I actually asked
Kathleen Ramsey the Town Manager, the nature of her business.
It's been nearly a week and I still blush at the thought of
For me it's been a week of awe and admiration watching a platoon
of locals step up and help direct food and water deliveries
where they are most needed, to get prescriptions to patients in
need, home inspections, setting up comfort stations, advising on
transportation routes, setting up a clinic for pets and generally
giving aid and comfort to an ailing community. But yet, thru
all of this, we couldn't get the needed mayonnaise airlifted to the
Comfort Station for the tuna fish.
So now it's Sunday, our last stand at " Fort Command".
Judy Findeisen is off doing inspections, Denise
Corriell has delivered the last of the prescriptions that
were delivered on Friday from the Pharmacies in Rutland, Steve
Duchan is heading off to Quebec to guide a bicycle tour, a new hot
line has been set up at the Town Office, Judy Evans, Marilyn and
their team are still manning the Comfort Station at the Butternut
and so here we are, Dottie and Pete DaCota and myself, the Llast of
the "Fort Command" Volunteers staring at the silenced phones
experiencing the first symptoms of withdrawal from
telephonitis, and they tell us we can't have a
Hi Mountain Times,
I just got back from CT where I DJ'd a wedding that had to be
moved from Mountain Meadows. The people couldn't thank me enough
for coming down. Besides that everyone that knew I was from VT came
up to me offering their support.
This is such a great community that people here and afar love.
That is why I'm so proud to live here and help out. Instantly I was
helping to deliver water, gas and supplies to stranded friends in
Pittsfield. The Pittsfield community really banded together in that
time of need. That is a special town.
I was hiking to Journeys End as that is the only way I can get to
K-town. Tonight I'm volunteering at the trail from 7pm-12am to help
people at the trail. Mendon is doing a tremendous job in helping
people. From the police to the construction workers to the
volunteers, it's all amazing. People can go to Mendon Town Hall to
sign up. So many people want to volunteer but all don't know
Your last few editions were classy and amazing.
I wanted to let you know that The Mountain Times's coverage and
online updates in the wake of Irene have been outstanding.
Really excellent work keeping everyone locally and beyond
informed. I read the online Times each Thursday and never
miss the hard-copy when I'm in the area.
Best wishes to you and your team.
Hurricane Irene: Seven Days Later
by a proud Vermonter
In the past seven days I've haven't missed a meal or been without
clean water to drink, I have had a warm bed to sleep in. I've been
able to communicate with the people I care about most.
In the past seven days people I know have lost friends, family,
their homes, their valued and cherished possessions and the pets
they loved. These same people have stood up, helped their neighbors
where they could and started to move forward.
In the past seven days I've been disappointed by no one.
In the past seven days I have watched strangers become neighbors;
neighbors become friends and friends grow closer as they stood side
by side and faced adversity and destruction. I've been reassured by
the reaction of people I've grown to depend on and pleasantly
surprised by people who I've had little regard for in the
In the past seven days I've heard our communities called "Islands"
but felt closer to the surrounding towns and their residents than
In the past seven days I've done the best I could with what I had
but am still humbled by those who did so much more with so much
less. I've not worried about what I needed, or what I was missing,
but instead focused on what I had and using the tools I had to
In the past seven days I haven't argued about religion, politics
or the 1% local option tax.
In the past seven days the things I've heard people say the most
is "What can I do?" or "How can I help?"
In the past seven days the best thing I've heard someone say is
"Mother Nature didn't send Irene to Vermont to teach us a lesson;
she picked Vermont to teach everyone else a lesson…on how to bounce
Dear Mountain Times
Thanks for you most resent issue September 1st. I can't believe
you were able to pull this off considering everything.
I wish you well and again thank you for keeping us informed. It is
the unknown that is the worst.
For those of you finding it tough to get specific information
about your property: The Curtis Insurance Agency offers to drive
over to your Killington Property and report what they find
there. Send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Jon D. Curtis, P.E.
I am a Killington homeowner (second home) and have been a devoted
reader of your paper for years - I was moved by your piece on
the situation in town. My wife and I almost put our family in the
car in New Haven CT on Saturday morning and drove up thinking we
would be safer up there. We are still without power but nothing
like what you are exeriencing.
I can't imagine what you are all going thru now but I admire your
spirit and the role your article will play in keeping people's
hopes up. If you have any information on the condition of houses on
Tanglewood Drive off of West Hill Road I would be grateful - my
home is 117.
I spoke to my friend Boris Pullsmaker yesterday who owns
Hinterland Organic and he has been stranded in Woodstock and unable
to get back to Killington due to the washouts on US-4. Our friends
at Setab were similarly unable as they are at Rutland. Our thoughts
are with you all thru this and I look forward to all of your
Thank you for working to get your publication back up amidst the
devastation. I live in Killington and feel pretty far removed from
what is going on in our corner of the world.
Again, an amazing amount of gratitude to you and yours for posting
photos and news to your website. From my perspective, you offer the
most comprehensive coverage for our town.
Luckily I am safely at home caring for my 3 1/2 year old son while
my husband reports to work for Killington Resort, doing what ever
he can to help the resort and the community. Thus far my big
contribution is giving away the diapers we no longer need to a
resort guest in need. I hope their baby wears size 5.
Other than taking care of my family and donating some diapers, I
feel isolated and unsure of how I might help others. I am not a
reporter, a journalist or anything close (I am the Human Resources
Manager for Farm & Wilderness), but if there is anything I can
do to help in these efforts from the "Island of Killington" do
please let me know.
Dear Mountain Times
I am a second home owner in Vermont and share both your sentiments
in this morning's online post as well as your attachment to the
local area.I am heartbroken to see what has happened to the Central
and Southern VT region and to think of the long road to recovery
We love Killington. We have had a home in Sunrise Village
for the last 7 years and enjoyed the area for many years before
then. Sunrise, as you mention, remains cut off, and we have
no idea what the situation is up there on the mountain.
Looking at the destruction along Rte 4 it's easy to imagine a
similarly dire situation farther up the hill. We heard one of
our full time neighbors did walk to safety on Route 100 and is with
friends who do have power - very good news.
Being so far away and powerless to help is extraordinarily
frustrating, but your reports and photos are extremely
comforting. While we cannot be with you in person, we are
with you in spirit. Stay safe and thanks again for getting
Dear Mountain Times,
Just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you for the reporting
on Killington. As second home owners at Mountain Green we are
obviously very concerned about our property. The damage to the
roadways is incredible.
Each time we arrive in Killington one of my first priorities is to
pick up a copy of your paper. I enjoy reading it to find out
what is going on and relax with the great articles. So of
course I searched for you yesterday to find out what is going on
and your reporting and photographs have been very helpful.
Keep up the great work.
Irvington New York.