It’s about the children

Editor of the Reformer:

At a recent Wilmington Selectboard meeting, statements were made implying that our organization was "forcing morality or imposing on rights of businesses" (by requesting a permit be denied during a substance-free event, paid for with prevention funding). We are writing this letter to communicate the mission of the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership and why we felt it necessary to oppose this specific permit.

If we can prevent youth from using substances before the age of 21, we know that they will likely not have to deal with any personal addiction issues in their lives-that is our goal. Keeping kids drug/alcohol free is not a morality issue -- it is a public health issue. Shouldn’t the goal of our community be to promote public health, safety and well-being?

We want to be clear that DVCP has no problem with adults of legal age drinking in a responsible manner. We have no opposition to any alcohol permit for an adult event. In addition, we in no way infer that minors are being served by local businesses.

When the DVCP started 20 years ago, we were a community where the use of drugs and alcohol by our youth was very high, above state levels, and increasing every year. Community members came together to form a coalition to address this issue. The focus of this group was to identify the risk factors in our community-what things were happening in our community that contributed to such high youth use of substances? Youth are influenced by a complex set of factors, such as community norm, media messages and availability/easy access to substances. Most importantly, their perception of harm and perception of use are risk factors. If youth think a substance is harmless and "everyone is using it" they are more likely to try it. Living in a resort area, our youth tend to be exposed to an environment where alcohol is everywhere, even at family-targeted events. Alcohol is included in most events and activities unless it is a school-based activity. Our teens are also exposed to tobacco and marijuana during recreational activities and where they work. This is what is normal in their community- it is what they know. Our goal is to change this "community norm" and advocate for a community environment where this type of exposure is limited.

Some examples of our comprehensive program to reach this goal include: Working to make parks smoke free; implementing alcohol free family events; encouraging less tobacco and alcohol advertising; working with schools on policies and prevention education for their students; conducting retailer trainings; and educating the public on safe disposal of unused prescription medications. All of these strategies address the factors in our community/environment that contribute to youth using tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

We would encourage the Selectboard to balance successful business and economic development with the goal of a healthy community, when making decisions. We would hope this would be a goal shared by local organizations, community members and local businesses as well.

Cindy Hayford, Shelley Park, Andy Hauty, Karen Molina, Arlene Palmiter, Dawn Borys, Dr. Peter Park, Rebecca Sweeney, Bob Edwards, Kristin Trudeau, Stephanie Powers, Judith Fellows, Michelle Doucette, Carrie Blake, Susan Rogers, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Kim Hicks, Dennis Heberlein, Jennifer Nilsen, Emily Beeman, Dario Lussardi and Lynn Redd

Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, July 7

Protect us!

Editor of the Reformer:

I recently sent the following letter to our Vermont Department of Public Service. If you feel the same way about the need for an emergency planning zone, I encourage you to also send a letter. If you are unclear on your position on this, I highly encourage you to research it, solidify your opinion and take action. I have read an interesting quote recently, which went something like this: "I always hoped someone would do something about that. Then I realized I am a someone." If you do not agree with my position, thank you for taking the time to read this.

Dear Public Service Department representative: Thank you for being a public servant and for being at the service of Vermonters like myself, my 15-year-old child, my husband, my neighbors, my colleagues at work, my merchants and service providers and everyone else residing in my community of Brattleboro. I write to beg you to keep the EPZ active and in effect until all high-level radioactive waste has been moved to dry cask storage, which is exponentially safer than spent nuclear fuel pools. This is not about money. It is about the health and welfare of everyone in the zone. Do you live in the zone? Does anyone you care about live in the zone? You have made some great decisions on the behalf of us Vermonters and I thank you. Please do not let us down this time. Our very lives could depend on it.

Lorie A. Cartwright,

Brattleboro, July 9

Maybe we should wait a little longer

Editor of the Reformer:

An open letter to Governor Shumlin and the Windham County legislators.

I would like to voice my support in joining the other states who are waiting until others come on board before enacting GMO labeling legislation. The Reformer recently reported that our tax dollars will be spent to hire a global law firm to combat challengers to our legislation. Attorney General Sorrell estimates the cost of fighting the legislation at between $1 and $8 million and is quoted as saying "I wouldn’t be surprised to see that million-dollar estimate of defending to be doubled."

Vermont has a reputation of being at the vanguard of these issues but by standing alone we are exposed and vulnerable and singling ourselves out as being the first does not justify the expense and drain on this small state’s resources.

Please consider ... the number of children living in poverty in Vermont has doubled in the last five years and we rank fifth in the nation per capita for recipients of welfare and second in the nation for aid to hot lunch programs. Realistically, are our pockets really deep enough to take on this battle alone?

Further, we can expect far less push back from the food producing industry if labeling requirements from state-to-state are consistent, not a bureaucratic patchwork; all the more reason to work in unison with others.

By waiting for a unified front with other states the cause gains critical mass and, ultimately, will have a greater chance of success. My hope would be that the millions flowing into this legislation be channeled to programs that have broader value to the general taxpayer. The time has come for GMO labeling but it’s enactment should come from an aggregate of states.

Let Vermont be known as leaders in this initiative, not in the harshness of the courts, but as positive proactive consensus builders and organizers of a consortium of states jointly backing the legislation. As the Buddhists say, "Don’t push the river, it flows by itself."

Linda Dierks,

Guilford, July 9