Winter: The best season in Vermont

Editor of the Reformer:

Nature’s gift of two champagne-powder snowstorms before Christmas, and another one after the New Year, has once again turned our part of Vermont into a winter wonderland. It’s worth reflecting on our good fortune to live where there is such a strong tradition of Nordic sports, and other winter recreational activity. The recent letter encouraging locals to take advantage of our proximity to the southern sections of the Catamount Trail made this point well. In Brattleboro, we have a history of getting out to enjoy the snow that goes back to the 1930s, when Fred Harris helped build the ski jump that now bears his name. Harris was also one of the founders of the Brattleboro Outing Club, www.brattleborooutingclub.org, which continues to sponsor the Harris Hill Jump each year, as well as promoting cross-country skiing, tennis, canoeing and rowing.

BOC has provided programs for young skiers for decades, boasting Bill Koch as one of the many successful athletes emerging from its instructional and competitive leagues. Another of BOC’s signature achievements, in terms of its impact on the wider community, is now on display at the first-class cross-country ski layout in operation on the Brattleboro Country Club and surrounding woods and pastures. We discovered this community treasure when we came here in the 1970s, and BOC has been where we’ve looked for our winter recreational activities ever since. Whether you are a proficient skateskier, a die-hard classic cross-country enthusiast who loves a groomed track (perhaps still on wooden skis), or a novice encouraged by all this beautiful powder to get out to try the Nordic experience, you will find great terrain for your ambitions -- and right now the snow conditions are simply exquisite!

BOC maintains this fabulous touring center as a volunteer organization with modest membership dues, so great skiing requires little cost and almost no travel. As an alternative, for those looking for a "back country" adventure a little closer to home, the Retreat Trails behind the Harris Hill Jump have been tracked out by skiers and snowshoers (google Retreat Trails for a map). As long as the snow stays fresh -- it’s a bit more treacherous after a thaw and refreeze -- this wintery fairyland of pines and hardwoods is very accessible to those of reasonable fitness and intermediate skills on skis or snowshoes. With the abundance of opportunities literally in our back yard, no one should succumb to dismay in the cold months. Go find out why so many still claim that winter is the best season in Vermont.

Jack Wesley and Julie Peterson,

Brattleboro, Jan. 6

Legalizing pot will help state’s financial issues

Editor of the Reformer:

The state of Vermont is currently facing a $70 million shortfall. The town of Brattleboro is watching its tax rate grow and grow and grow. Everyone is looking for ways to get more money. The answer is there and it’s a no-brainer: Colorado recently legalized recreational sale and use of Marijuana. Estimates are that they will realize $67 million in tax revenues alone. If they were to grow their own, those moneys would soar.

Personally, I am surprised and disappointed that Vermont, arguably the most progressive state in the nation, is dragging its feet in this matter. Despite all the fears concocted in the 1930s and 1940s, much of it coming from William Randolph Hearst, who feared that hemp would replace wood pulp in making newsprint. Considering the tens of thousands of acres of forest he owned, he wielded his influence to demonize hemp and its products. Lest you think one individual could wield so much power, I suggest you remember the Maine and how Hearst dragged us into the Spanish-American War.

As is becoming more and more apparent, pot is nowhere near as addictive as alcohol or tobacco. It is also virtually harmless in adults, and in fact has many positive medical uses. To sit idly by when a drug appears that has all the benefits with virtually none of the downsides of many meds, and to sit idly by while millions of tax revenues are literally going up in smoke, to my way of thinking is irresponsible.

It’s about time our legislature and administration grow a pair and do what’s best for Vermont and its people.

Bob Fagelson,

Brattleboro, Jan. 6

Vermonters know what to expect from Entergy

Editor of the Reformer:

Walk down a street, step in a pothole. Next time walk down a street, remember to avoid the pothole. When you wise up, choose a different street to walk down. Then there is no need to heed the pothole. Now our governor thinks it is all right to negotiate with Entergy (maybe Entergy won’t be mean and invalidate legal agreements this time).

Cowering scared in the corner are the stakeholders -- neighbors who have seen Entergy mismanage this atomic reactor for a decade. From lost radioactive fuel, to numerous sanctions by the state regulatory board, to the cracks in the steam dryer, to the spectacular cooling tower collapse of 2007 and the subsequent repeated repairs to really fix the cooling towers (Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight without visibility) a year later. Entergy’s ‘mis-speaking’ under oath at the Public Service Board, the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel, the Department of Public Service, and to the public. (Had our attorney general found them to be what they are -- liars -- then the state could have saved millions in the years of Entergy lawsuits against the state. Vermont deserves a new attorney general). Leaking tritium from underground or buried pipes Entergy said did not exist. Numerous radiation leaks at the reactor, neglecting to honor agreements made at the PSB such as monitoring the temperature of the dry casks. Entergy’s signed statement as part of the MOU in docket 6545 in which Entergy bought Yankee when Entergy stated it would not sue the state using federal field pre-emption ... and now Entergy has done so repeatedly. Strontium 90 being found in fish upstream of Yankee. VY is identical to two of the three Fukushima reactors that imploded, exploded or conflagrated in March of 2011. Enough said.

When I look at the recent Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Public Service and Entergy, this is what I see: Entergy making agreements with the state that may or may not be honored. If history is any indication, Vermonters know what to expect from Entergy; Entergy refusing to make the connection between Entergy Vermont Yankee LLC and the parent corporation; Entergy getting off the hook for maintaining the dry casks after the waste is transferred to casks -- potentially opening the state up to millions of dollars of high level radioactive waste monitoring and/or transferring wastes to new casks 30 years from now; Entergy, in words, saying it will decommission after the waste is moved to dry casks but I do not see it in writing that the casks will be filled by x date, nor that the reactor will be decommissioned by a certain date; and our state being proactive to give Entergy yet one more chance to not act as they have repeatedly.

Maybe this time Entergy will be different. Let’s hope so, for all of our sakes.

Gary Sachs,

Brattleboro, Dec. 30