Reformer editorial vilified, inflamed

Editor of the Reformer:

I would like to thank Ken and Eve Klothen for their measured and accurate response to The Reformer’s "Blood on our hands" editorial of Aug. 2-3. They essentially wrote the letter that I was formulating this weekend. In addition to the misrepresented quotes and distorted facts that the Klothens pointed out, I’d like to add that the Reformer took Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked’s remarks out of context -- she was actually discussing another journalist’s comments -- and the journalist who attributed the remarks to Shaked later retracted his accusations.

Regarding Israelis having picnics and cheering missile strikes, one can easily find scores of videos on Youtube of Palestinians doing exactly the same thing. These people are at the fringes of both societies, as are those who comment online about killing children or wiping out whole civilizations. They no more represent the Israelis and the Palestinians than those fringe groups tracked by The Southern Poverty Law Center represent the United States.

The solution that will end the bloodshed lies with the reasonable people on both sides. As the Klothens noted, there have been numerous peace talks that have come close to solutions, only to be broken by extremists on both sides who prefer assassinations, suicide bombings and other violence.


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Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are displaced people fighting for a homeland. The huge significance of that area to multiple religions heightens animosities. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides. Even if Israel eventually agrees to return to borders originally set by U.N. resolutions, a solution that has historically held the most promise, it will once again result in displaced populations.

This is a complex problem with no easy solutions, and one-sided opinions based on distorted facts that vilify whole populations do nothing but inflame emotions and delay solutions.

Louis Erlanger,

Brattleboro, Aug. 5

Enjoy your riverfront

Editor of the Reformer:

The Bellows Falls Historical Society would like to announce another stage of the Riverfront Park that has been completed. As part of the previous grant acquisition they have recently constructed a deck and bird watching overview at Cold Pond and the area is still under construction. The overview will be dedicated to Alice Hawkes, one of the founders of the BFHS. The dedication will be happening in the future as soon as all the research has been completed and her family has been notified; we will be officially "cutting the ribbon" and opening the bike and walking paths at that time also.

The deck is open to the public, school groups, bird watchers, nature lovers, biologists, etc. There still remains a planting of willows and sedges to be done on one side of the pond. The less disturbance to the pond the better for it is an integral part of the bird’s and all surrounding flora and fauna’s eco system. It provides a habitat to turtles, frogs, and maybe some mysterious creatures that could dwell in Cold Pond, which seems inappropriately named since it never freezes even in the coldest of winters. Evidence of our geothermal potential?

We welcome people to come and enjoy the wonders of Cold Pond and its surrounding ecology. The birds abound of course. Though there will be a ribbon cutting and a larger celebration in the fall, until then we wanted the deck and overview to be known about and enjoyed by citizens. It is on the right as you travel toward the Bellows Falls wastewater plant. It can be reached from the walking/biking trail just before it enters the woodland area or from the road. If you haven’t been to the park at all, please come down and take a look over Old Home Days or any other time. It’s always open.

If you would like to also visit the Adams’ Grist Mill, the Historical Society’s Museum, it is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. through October. The collection is varied and interesting and the Grist Mill building is a standing piece of history on its own. Entrance to the mill is free, donations are welcome. Just below the mill is the beginning of the new walking/biking trail for your enjoyment. If you’re going to use the trail there is a paved parking lot to the rear and below the mill.

The access way for kayaks and canoes is being finished this week before Old Home Days. Also part of this most recent grant it is being constructed to allow people easy and safe access to the river. The first such access that the Village of Bellows Falls has had in 150 years since the railroad closed offers direct and safe access to the river.

We here at the Historical Society hope you will find some part of the Riverfront Park’s bike and walking trails, canoe and kayak river access, deck and overview of Cold Pond and the Adam’s Grist Mill to enjoy and take advantage of in the near future. It is your facility.

Cathy Bergmann,

Executive Board, Bellows Falls Historical Society, Aug. 1

Good news, but more needs
to be done

Editor of the Reformer:

Thank you for highlighting the most recent Kids Count Data ("Making sure our kids count," July 23), which places Vermont as the second best state in which to be a child in 2013. This is heartening news and we need to make sure it does not overshadow the fact that we need to continue improving the circumstances of our youngest citizens. I greatly appreciate that you note "We cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to the well-being of our children." The fact that 15 percent of children in Vermont are living in poverty is unacceptable even though it is good compared to the national average of 23 percent. We must continue the positive momentum of investing in early childhood in this state. In the forward to the Kids Count Data Report, Patrick T. McCarthy writes that "In this year’s Data Book we highlight indicators on the well-being of our youngest children to help further the conversation about opportunities for and the benefits of early intervention, noting that 7 to 10 percent return on investment from James Heckman’s research." He goes on to explain why the early years matter and acknowledges that parents, as a child’s first and primary caregiver and teacher, need support and education to be the strong foundation children need to succeed. Working in early childhood means you have to be good at working with adults, too.

I am grateful that my children are growing up in Vermont, and I am reminded every day of the many children in our community who are living in poverty, are exposed to violence, and who do not have access to high quality early childhood services, including education. The fact that Vermont is such a great place to be a child would be news to them.

Chloe Learey,

Executive Director, The Winston Prouty Center, Aug. 1

Cats are an invasive species

Editor of the Reformer:

In "Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?" (Aug. 2), Patti Smith shares an important message about cats. I love cats. It is a tragic fact that they are so vulnerable to predators, cars and other hazards that the average lifespan of the indoor/outdoor cat is scarcely more than a year (although we all tend to remember the exceptions, cats that have lived to 16 or so).

But in ecological terms, they are an invasive species. They are the purple loosestrife of the animal world -- beautiful to look at, but destructive to the indigenous species around them. The toll they take on birds and small mammals is horrific.

Cats can be happy as indoor pets. Yes, it is difficult to transition a cat accustomed to the outdoors to staying in the house. But please, the next time you adopt a cat or kitten, let the windows of your house be no more than a TV screen for viewing wildlife. And keep that adorable little killer in the house.

Susan M. Kelly, DVM

Halifax, Aug. 5