How about a
Editor of the Reformer:
Chip Stearns "apology," which he disavows having created and says does not represent his words, is no apology at all. If he truly wishes to serve all members of his community, he will categorically apologize for his offensive words that stated an intent to drive "Latinos" from his community through the use of a police K9 unit.
The failure of the Bellows Falls Board of Trustees to hold Stearns accountable in any meaningful way signals that it will accept a village in which Latino citizens and visitors are second class. Instead, the Trustees should demand a true apology in Stearns’ own words that clearly disavows his offensive statement.
Finally, the Trustees should not blindly accept Stearns’ statement that he misspoke and instead meant to refer to a street gang that "he believes" is active in the area. The Trustees should demand evidence that there is a street gang issue in order to ensure that Stearns’ defense is not simply made up after-the-fact to justify his offensive remarks.
The people of Bellows Falls deserve an inclusive community that does not condone discrimination and prejudice. This is especially true of offensive beliefs or actions that are cloaked in government policy.
Brattleboro, May 12
Editor of the Reformer:
It is our favorite time of the year and we are back. Now that our never-ending winter season has finally come to it’s conclusion, you will know who "we" are. Here is a hint: those walkers, runners, bikers, cyclists and all who enjoy the out-of- doors are once again frequenting our by-ways.
Last June my "tongue and cheek" letter appeared in this column about my "demise" having been struck and killed by a speeding motorist on Williams Street. Thanks to many of you who seem to have become more aware and as a result, are at least not cornering the intersection at Crosby and Williams on two wheels. As I take each walk, I, for one, am grateful.
Turning my interest to another busy roadway, I want to comment about increasing driver awareness at stop signs and cross walks throughout the town. This morning while walking along Canal Street, as I approached Brook Street, a car arrived at the same time as I was about to pass through. Now, instead of waiting, the driver with one hand on her coffee cup and one on the steering wheel, chose to ignore the "pedestrian has the right away" rule and went on her way. As I continued along thinking that this experience would likely yield a new letter of some sort, I said to myself, even though it was unlikely this person would read this column and learn from my concerns, perhaps it might spark a thought to others who would then be reminded to be alert and courteous to the pedestrian and others.
I want to say that our Department of Public Works needs a "shout out" round of compliments not only as they continue to repair the potholes throughout our town, their road crew are also finding the time and resources to re-stripe our badly faded crosswalks bringing them back to their brilliant white. Our past months of harsh weather with salt spread on our roadways visually diminishes these important safety measures not only for motorists but all the rest of us as well. Thank you Steve and Hannah.
On my walk this morning I noticed the usual collection of plastic bottles on the benches by the lower softball field at Living Memorial Park. I sent a note to Carol Lolatte, Recreation Department head, asking about the trash cans that were usually placed by the bleachers. She quickly replied by saying the town is trying a new trash collecting system at the park this season. So, for those of you who frequent Living Memorial Park, specifically as spectators and players at the softball field, "Listen Up." Rather than leaving your trash lying around on the ground for the maintenance crew to pick up, Carol is asking people to walk those candy wrappers, bottles, cans and assorted trash and deposit them into the appropriate recycling bins located near the lower field concession stand/pool.
Finally, Green Up Day (here in Brattleboro lead by Becky Anderson), was a huge success by my observations. Unfortunately though, as others have commented before me time and again, those Budweiser drinking, Dunkin’ Donut munching, Marlboro cigarette smoking litterbugs seem to find their way back too. Please, let us be mindful; Vermont is our beautiful state to love and enjoy; however, Mother Earth can take only so much!
Brattleboro, May 13
Vote for Smith
Editor of the Reformer:
We support Andrew Smith for Bellows Falls Village President. Andrew has proven as a trustee that he has the ability and leadership skills to be village president. He is analytical and understands issues with clarity and thoroughness. If he doesn’t know an answer, he strives to get one. He is fair and abides by the Vermont Open Meeting Law in performing his duties. Andrew has no personal agenda, except to represent the best interest of village residents. We respect Andrew’s decision to run an independent campaign. We see the "block voting" trend in our community as disturbing because it implies votes planned in advance. It is one thing to announce to the public what you stand for in an election, but quite another to run in groups of three, get elected and cast the deciding votes on issues all have agreed upon in advance. That practice lacks transparency.
We are skeptical of having a village president whose spouse held secret meetings to compile a merger proposal. We are not opposed to merger. However, we oppose the weak proposal that was created that does nothing to alleviate our current tax burden and instead increases it. he meetings, led by Jiggs McAuliffe, consisted of a committee not sanctioned by public officials and the public were not made privy to the rationale behind much of the proposal.
Also, we encourage voters to attend the village meeting. If the 2015 budget passes, there will be an increase in the tax rate by approximately 1 cent per $100 of the assessed property value. The budget is $1,851,602 in expenditures, with $1,803,252 to be raised by taxes. It will increase by another half-cent on the $100 assessed value if voters approve a separate article of $42,000 for a fire department diesel pick-up truck. This does not include the increase already approved for the town of Rockingham share of our village tax bill. If you are voters who rent, consider that your landlords may have to raise rents in order to pay property taxes. In recent years, budgets impacting us all have passed by a small representation of citizens. The best way to say thank you to all who have fought and died to insure your right to vote, is to exercise it.
Please attend the annual meeting on May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Bellows Falls Opera House and please vote for your trustees on May 20, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Masonic Temple.
Mary and Clark Barber,
Bellows Falls, May 14
Editor of the Reformer:
A recent letter writer ("Gun control - some context," May 2) contended gun laws are not broken. Is the letter writer aware that people are buying guns in Vermont and trading them for drugs in Massachusetts? I don’t know. But in a recent Boston Globe article ("Drugs-for-guns traffic troubles police in Mass., VT," April 28), Brian MacQuarrie clearly states that Vermont has lots of cheap guns and a lack of gun laws, which is resulting in people trading drugs for guns as the headline states. I was born and raised in Putney and I agree with the saying "If it doesn’t need fixing, don’t fix it," but I think the gun control laws do need fixing. I’m not saying I want guns to be illegal. All I’m saying is we need some laws, at least a background check, especially at gun shows.
Putney, May 15