Friday June 7, 2013

Exploring Bellows Falls’s
problems and solutions

Editor of the Reformer:

Editor of the Reformer:

In response to the Saturday, April 13, article. As a lifetime resident of 49 years it made me reflect. You plant potatoes, you get potatoes. The drug problems in our village of 1.3 miles and all around the state of Vermont and New Hampshire is not just a police issue. Chief Ron Lake and the State Police as well as the Sheriff’s Department have done a great job. You don’t have to attend the police academy to solve the problem.

Blame your state and federal politicians and your federal drug enforcement agency for sleeping on the job for 40 years. Get in the game, you’re 30 years late. Politicians and the banking industry have created a social and economic and health disaster in Southern Vermont.

Animals have better shelter than many residents in this village and surrounding towns in Vermont and New Hampshire. How can the banking industry be allowed to sell their properties that cause harm to the health of families -- lead paint, asbestos, old wiring -- it’s some of the oldest housing stock in Vermont. We ask the banks to take responsibility. They are the mortgage holders. Auto manufacturers are held liable for safety and recalls. Try putting people to work in Windham County. Let’s create financial opportunity. Hope of rising out of poverty by going to work, invest $50 million in Southern Vermont. We spend enough on education just to see many graduates head off to prison and others to college and move out of state to find financial opportunity. The prison was built in Southern Vermont for a reason. The state knew this was a problem 15 years ago. Big banks have made a living off of the poor and the state. Let’s try building new quality rental units and family developments. Stop blowing insulation into homes that should have been torn down 50 years ago. Try full time jobs, even teachers have to work part time positions. This state and country will fall economically from within. The $157 million prison budget speaks for itself. We must offer full-time jobs -- not part-time. Reward companies that truly invest in the United States and its people. It’s time Washington and Montpelier to get their act together. Drug problems won’t go away until you fix the real issues. You can’t arrest your way out of the issue.

Paul F. Reis,

Bellows Falls, May 24

Mr. Kurty will be missed

Editor of the Reformer:

On Friday afternoon, May 3, Mr. Jim Kurty led the Brattleboro elementary bands in a spirited performance at the WSESU Diversity Celebration in the Harmony Lot. It was -- as usual -- a well prepared concert that included a large group of children from all three of Brattleboro’s town schools. The young musicians offered an arrangement of "Fanga Alafia" from West Africa and "Day-O" from the Caribbean. Little did I know that afternoon that this was to be one of Mr. Kurty’s last performances as director of our elementary band program.

Mr. Kurty is retiring after forty years of teaching elementary music in Brattleboro. His career has touched the lives of countless young musicians and their families. He has tirelessly put on concerts in three schools. He has organized untold numbers of parade performances, school assemblies, field trips, graduations and visits to nursing homes with his students. For decades he has played clarinet, trumpet and sax at nearly every All School Sing at Academy, Oak Grove and Green Street Schools. In short, he has been an educator committed to building meaningful real life experiences for his students.

Speaking as a parent I want to say that Jim was always incredibly generous in working with our own two children. He was always willing to find a way to work with everyone: the gifted, the forgetful, and those with special needs. Both my son and daughter continue to play instrumental music to this day. His program welcomed the entire range of students in our community I have always admired that Jim Kurty’s bands would include students from all family backgrounds, regardless of family resources. How many of our school programs knit our town together as a single entity?

It takes an endlessly resourceful teacher who can keep a program going strong with ever changing schedules, as well as the changing priorities of public education and modern life. He has been graceful and amazingly flexible as the schools have changed their focus and culture in response to the pressures of high stakes testing. Jim never forgot that education is also about participation in the larger creative community.

I have always appreciated Jim Kurty as a teaching colleague, fellow musician and friend. His patience, humor and commitment to his students will be missed. I suggest the most fitting way to honor his 40 years of contributing to the musical life of this town would be to not only sustain our elementary band program but to strengthen it so that generations of future young musicians will enjoy the same enthusiastic welcome into the world of music that Mr. Kurty has provided to so many children for so many years. Thank you, Mr. Kurty!

Andy Davis,

Brattleboro, May 24

The problem is epidemic

Editor of the Reformer:

I read with interest your article from last week on the kidnapping ("Drug debt cited in local kidnapping case," May 25-26). Not only was I caught in traffic on Western Avenue and High Street and saw some of it unfold ... but also because I realized that my 17-year-old daughter has told me she had been asked to sell marijuana by drug dealers.

In the article Eugene Wrinn was quoted as saying that drugs are a real problem in this town. Oh yes, they are. The actions of tough thugs like this are affecting our town in so many ways. What most concerns me is the impact that it is having on our youth. Folks like those involved in this kidnapping prey upon our youth to get them to distribute pot and drugs among kids of high school age. If we want to keep our kids safe we need to put a real effort into going after these hard-core thugs.

I would like to challenge the Reformer to continue the community conversation on this topic by publishing a series of articles about drug trafficking in this town. I know it won’t solve the problem but it perhaps will take the first step to raise awareness about how bad it is in our fair Brattleboro. The problem is epidemic.

Belle Coles,

Brattleboro, May 29

To clarify ...

Editor of the Reformer:

An editor’s note was missing from a recent Associated Press story recalling an heroic native Vermonter ("2 of last surviving vets of Edson’s Raiders recall unit’s WWII heroics in the Pacific," Reformer, May 27).

Born in Rutland, Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Merritt "Red Mike" Edson, commander of Edson’s Raiders and Medal of Honor recipient for valor on Guadalcanal, grew up in Chester.

After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, he was founding commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety including the Vermont State Police.

Howard Fairman,

Vernon, May 29