Growing concern over headlights

Editor of the Reformer:

I have noticed a large increase in the HID gas plasma headlamps in recent months, and especially on Route 9 (Western Avenue). The color of these headlamps is bluish although recent imports have a warmer light. Some may be illegal aftermarket lamps self-installed, but many may be the higher-priced European style lamps, that may have a lower standard than the U.S. regular halogen lamps. The luxury headlamps cost up to $1,000 extra for a U.S. buyer, but cheap versions can be had from Ebay and others for as little as $35. The result of having a vehicle coming towards you that uses the HID lamps is to blind you so that objects normally visible on the road edges are totally hidden due to glare. If it were a pedestrian trying to cross the road, he or she would be essentially invisible even if wearing light colored clothing.

Humans glare resistance is good at 16 years of age, but goes downhill past the age of 30. Even without cataracts the glare can create dangerous unawareness of pedestrians at the road edge for most drivers.

Tests show that the HID lamps throw a longer, higher and wider beam than the traditional halogen lamps in common use in the U.S. However, proponents say they are safer for the user. They certainly are, but at the expense of other drivers, who must continue in the face of the hideous and very unsafe glare.

Our best reading lamps for homes have a quality white light, that is a balance of all colors. Florescent lamps have a narrower mix of colors with blues and greens predominating. A plasma HID headlamp has a very narrow balance of colors, with disproportionate blue cast, making clear vision more difficult.

Police officers will stop a car if their headlights are overly bright and aimed too high, but the new HID headlamps are legal normally. Thanks to the federal agency that allowed these rare HID headlamps to gradually appear in the U.S. over the past 50 years, by the time complaints started coming in it was too late to do anything about it.

About the only thing some of us do is flash our brights at the blue monsters when we can.

Demetrius (Jim) Latchis,

Brattleboro, Jan. 3

Estey’s legacy

Editor of the Reformer:

The Estey Organ Company was once one of the largest employers in Brattleboro, manufacturing thousands of organs over a 100-year span that still grace homes, churches and civic buildings around the world. The Estey Organ Museum was founded over 10 years ago to preserve the history of this company, which closed in 1960. The museum collects, displays and performs Estey organs; and preserves, conducts research, and disseminates historical information about the company, its products and manufacturing practices.

The museum has recently reorganized its structure and is pleased to announce that Philip Stimmel of Brattleboro has agreed to serve as managing director. In a short amount of time, Mr. Stimmel has created a six-page newsletter that has recently been mailed to museum friends; has created an e-newsletter; has begun adding the museum’s inventory to a database; and is streamlining a number of administrative procedures. He has a degree in Political Science and Economics from Drew University, and the Master of Sacred Music degree from Union Theological Seminary. In addition, he is a Colleague of the American Guild of Organists, and for 20 years has been providing accounting services through Windham Business Services, LLC.

The museum also welcomes as a new board member Dr. Kim Benzel, Associate Curator in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Dr. Benzel, who lives in the Birge Street complex near the museum, holds a PhD in Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University. She is widely published in the jewelry arts of the ancient Near East and an expert in goldsmithing techniques and methods used in antiquity. Another relatively new board member is Chase DeForest of Washington, D.C., an Estey descendant. With an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Ms. DeForest has spent two decades working in the visual arts, including for the globally-renowned glass artist Dale Chilhuly. She also worked for seven years bringing to fruition the critically acclaimed opening of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

As part of the dynamic restructuring of the Estey Organ Museum, a Community Outreach Committee is being formed. The museum invites those interested to serve on this committee, which has several objectives: to increase community awareness and involvement via concerts, recitals, mini festivals, scheduled tours, and linking with other music organizations; to partner with other organizations and businesses to use/share our space and collections; and to continue worldwide Estey networking through email and electronic media. If you are interested in serving in some capacity on this committee, please contact the museum at

We invite everyone to visit the museum’s website,, and "like" us on Facebook,

Valerie Abrahamsen,

secretary, Board of Trustees,

Estey Organ Museum, Jan. 3

Hidden cost

Editor of the Reformer:

I’m here in Townshend watching the snow come down, wondering if this storm will impact my electric bill next year. In case you haven’t heard, four days before it went into effect, Green Mountain Power announced a $1.50-a-month surcharge on all of its customers to pay for last year’s storm damage. You already pay about $14 a month for this.

Green Mountain Power couldn’t do this alone, I hope. So what state official or public service oversight, attorney general or governor authorize this corporate money maker?

The sneeky underhanded last-minute way this was foisted upon us needs to be brought to the light and be questioned. After that, maybe they could be ousted from office next election time.

Bob Holden,

Townshend, Jan. 6