Wednesday November 28, 2012

Therapy dog out of a job

Editor of the Reformer:

Rocky, our Labrador retriever, is a mental health "professional." He has practiced at several facilities in Windham County, including Brattleboro Retreat. Since 2009, Rocky has been one in a cadre of credentialed canine "therapists" that have brought comfort to patients - and staff - at the Retreat. The Therapy Dogs "listen" without judgement. The dogs provide an opportunity for patients to again realize that they still have the internal resources to feel happiness. Reports by patients and clinicians at the Retreat reinforce the value of the dog therapy program. One patient wrote the following about Rocky and Fonzi, another Therapy Dog: "They provided me with a sense of exquisite joy I didn't think was possible at the time. They made my spirit soar and injected my dulled soul with life and levity. Nothing up to then gave me warmth and a chance to simply enjoy the moment."

Sadly, with the loss of the Therapeutic Services program, the Retreat will no longer offer dog therapy for the patients. Art, recreation, exercise, and dog therapy are just as vital to successful treatment and recovery as psychiatrists, social workers, and prescription medicine. In Rocky's four years as a "therapist" at the Retreat, patients often told him about how the art therapy and other activities provided by Therapeutic Services helped them to get through some very difficult days during their intensive treatment.


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We do hope that the Brattleboro Retreat will reassess the decision to eliminate their productive Therapeutic Services program. Continuing this successful program is in the best interests of the patients, the clinicians with whom they work, and the communities to which the patients will return after discharge.

Linda Lyon

and Everett Wilson,

Halifax, Nov. 25

Moran thanks voters

Editor of the Reformer:

Thank you to all who supported me in my reelection, and I look forward to representing everyone in House District Windham-Bennington.

As we approach the new biennium in January we face three major challenges: Irene long-term recovery. Following our initial handling of the crisis, that gave us good reason to be proud as Vermonters, we need to continue working with FEMA for the funding that we in good faith have planned upon.

Economic development with livable-wage jobs. We need to expand the economy through increased structural and electronic infrastructure, decreased property tax dependency with accountable education spending, entrepreneurial support, workforce training and housing, and a small business-friendly state bank.

Reinforced essential programs. Through the creation of a people's budget and fair taxation, we need to strengthen programs that serve all Vermonters, including the low income, young, elderly and disabled.

Please contact me at 58 Hi-Hopes Road, Wardsboro, Vermont 05355, 896-9408, jmoran@leg.state.vt.us.

State Representative John Moran,

Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham, Nov. 22

Is our governor really green?

Editor of the Reformer:

Governor Shumlin is, and has been, an outspoken advocate for curbing greenhouse gases (GHG). On July 7 the governor and leaders in the Northeast and Canada pledged to work to cut greenhouse gas pollution. Our governor has taken a leadership role in support of not only curbing GHG, but also energy security, jobs and with them, a healthier future for Vermonters.

Despite these efforts a Massachusetts developer is planning to build a biomass power plant in Springfield. The Springfield plan is contrary to the governor's objectives. The Springfield project calls for a giant 35 Mw wood-burning biomass plant. This proposal is now under review by the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources and by the permit-granting agency, the Public Service Board. The PSB is being asked to issue a "Certificate of Public Good." While the governor's own Department of Public Service has testified that the North Springfield project will be "neutral" on GHG emissions, available emissions data show the opposite, that the plant will produce 1,176 tons of GHG each day, 429,000 tons of GHG each year, and an incredible 21,470,000 tons of GHG over its lifetime. One thousand, one hundred and 76 tons of greenhouse gas emitted into Vermont's air each day.

Just as troubling is the fact that the plant will operate at a mere 26 percent efficiency. And data also show that the Northeast now has an excess electrical capacity totaling 3,000 Mw (a number that comes from the most recent NE Forward Capacity Market auction). At what point do we stop and ask: Does Vermont really need yet another inefficient, GHG-emitting power plant?

If the carbon emission numbers are not alarming enough, people who actually live in Vermont should also fear the particulate emissions, the main culprits in respiratory diseases and Emergency Room visits. The proposed plant will be located in the midst of the residential-agricultural and mixed-use areas of North Springfield where 700 people reside and hundreds more work. Wood will arrive from an estimated 100 to 200 tractor-trailers each day. In addition to carbon emissions trucks will spread road dust and they will leave behind waste ash.

The governor's position on clean energy offers Vermonters great hope. But the threat of GHG and pollution from biomass in Vermont dims the hopes of many Vermonters. The developer's Springfield plan defies the governor's objectives and instead pushes Vermont to the lead in inefficient biomass energy, not clean energy. Wood biomass burning and clean energy are mutually exclusive.

Vermonters should applaud Governor Shumlin's energy plan. But it is difficult to imagine how the governor's clean-energy policy can coexist with wood-burning biomass and its prodigious greenhouse gas emissions. If Vermont is to lead in the drive toward a clean-energy future we need to curb, not promote, the needless and inefficient production of greenhouse gases and particulates that issue from notoriously inefficient biomass burning.

Randall Susman,

North Springfield, Nov. 6

AIDS Quilt kudos

Editor of the Reformer:

I would like to extend the following thanks to everyone who participated in making the 2012 World AIDS Day Community Friendship Quilt: - The Norton House for discounting quilt materials, and for helping to distribute and collect the quilt squares.

- Susan Manton Haughwout and the Town Office for helping to distribute the quilt square materials and for offering the space to display the quilt.

- The local American Legion Post #15 for financing this project.

- The quilters, Gail Anderson, Joan Henry, Judy Lafiura, Marcy McElroy, Trudy Mueller, Liz Sistare and Marilyn Ward for helping me put the quilt together.

- The 2012 "Material Girls" who made quilt squares: Gail Anderson, Tracey Brown, Bette Crawford, Carolyn Dileo, Jennifer Fizgerald, Alanna Fontanella, Patricia Fountain, Carol Grant, Joan Henry, Ann Herman, Cindy Hutcheson, Judy Lafiura, Kathy Larsen, Marcy McElroy, Laraine Morrow, Trudy Mueller, Karen Pratt, Patricia Savage, Liz Sistare, Elaine Timmons, Twyla Wallace, and Marilyn Ward.

- Karen Pratt for the special heart square in the middle of the quilt.

The quilt will be on display in the Wilmington Town Office window on 2 East Main St. from Nov. 26 to Dec. 3

Laraine Morrow,

coordinator, Wilmington, Nov. 26