Saturday June 29, 2013

A danger to firefighters

Editor of the Reformer:

As chief of one of the many small, all-volunteer fire and rescue departments that serve our rural towns, I write today to help make your readers aware of a fairly new challenge for our personnel as well as other first-responders. The challenge comes from hybrid gas-electric cars and other vehicles. These vehicles typically have electrical components charged as high as 600 volts, posing a real danger of injury through electrocution for fire and EMS responders, especially in extricating victims from wrecked or disabled vehicles. In addition, because hybrid vehicles’ electric motors are virtually noiseless, vehicles can move without warning for responders at a scene, posing a further danger. It is vital that, as far as possible, motorists who have been in a collision or whose vehicles are on fire take care that their vehicles are turned off, and advise emergency responders if their vehicles are hybrids.

At present, fire and rescue services are only beginning to receive training in safely handling emergencies involving these vehicles. As training is being designed, one serious lack has become evident: There are no standardized, universal markings to alert first responders to the need for special handling of hybrid vehicles. Currently, each manufacturer has its own way of identifying its hybrids, ways that change frequently and may be of no use in an emergency setting.


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We have asked our state and federal congressional delegations for help in establishing some system of mandatory tags or other indicators, implemented through vehicle licensure and registration, to identify hybrid vehicles for the safety of first responders. Until such a system is in place, it will be crucial for any readers who drive gas-electric hybrids to be aware of the threat they may pose in an accident to emergency workers of all kinds.

Todd Lawley,

Chief, NewBrook Fire & Rescue Department, June 25

Is this justice?

Editor of the Reformer:

The John Grega case that is going on in Brattleboro is not only beyond belief, but it is also an apparent conflict of interest for some of the lawyers. The old case was discharged and now a new case has been brought against Grega for the same crime he was convicted of 20 years ago. How can the same state’s attorney’s office that prosecuted Grega 20 years ago and got a conviction based on circumstantial evidence be prosecuting him a second time? I ask you is this a conflict? Why isn’t an unbiased attorney reviewing this case? In light of the new DNA evidence found by Grega’s lawyers that has created a reasonable doubt that he killed his wife an independent court and perhaps attorney general lawyer from another state should be involved.

At this point in time and after he spent 20 years in jail for a crime he may not have committed, Grega has a right to an unbiased investigation of the entire matter. It just appears that somebody is covering their butt on this case and that’s all they’re doing. It’s a waste of tax payers dollars when the money could be spent building homes for folks or creating jobs for Vermonters. If the court dismisses the new charges after spending tons of money it’ll be a disgrace. If they don’t that too will be a disgrace.

Tom King,

Shaftsbury, June 25

Transfixed by history

Editor of the Reformer:

May I pass along something in town which I came across last Saturday afternoon? I was strolling past the First Baptist Church, and in the Masonic Center next door I saw the one word "History." I sauntered through the door and was overwhelmed with what I encountered. This room was a time capsule of artifacts about Brattleboro back in "The Good Ole Days."

I was transfixed for 45 minutes as I spoke to ladies who are part of the Historical Society. I’ve always been interested about anything pertaining to "The Good Ole Days." In this case, pictures and items from the late 1800s into the early 20th Century. I honestly thought I was in something of a time warp. If there was portal to step into for a couple of hours I’d sign up. The Brattleboro History Center at 196 Main St. is a real treat. Hours are Thursday and Friday 2 to 4 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gallery Walks 5 to 8 p.m. You can dial up 802-258-4957, histsoc@sover.net, www.brattleborohistoricalsociety.org for more information.

Vince Carlin

Brattleboro, June 24

A profound effect

Editor of the Reformer:

I ran into Jim Kurty during a recent Gallery Walk and learned that he was retiring after 40 years of service to the Brattleboro School System. Jim had a profound effect on both of my children and instilled in them a love of music that continues into their adulthood.

In the case of my son Ben I want to offer Jim my deepest gratitude. My son Ben was born with a condition that made it challenging for him to function in the structure of a school setting. Ben also has a natural gift for music. Jim was the first person in the school system to develop this gift during the six years Ben was a student at Academy School. He always made Ben feel welcome in his band class and gave him the opportunity to play the drums during school assemblies and band night performances. These events make up some of the most precious memories shared by my entire family.

I also had the opportunity to witness Jim in the act of teaching. I attended his summer Band Camp with Ben for several years and was able to get a first hand glimpse of how one teacher can make a difference in the life of a child. Jim never gave up on Ben no matter how challenging Ben could be from time to time. He treated Ben with kindness and respect. Jim had the principled integrity to recognize that special needs students deserve the same opportunities for enrichment in a public school as the mainstream population. I have taught high school for over twenty years and have never met anyone who embodies this principle to the degree that Jim does.

As I write this note I can hear Ben playing his keyboard and singing in perfect pitch on the other side of the house. ("Don’t You Want Me Baby" by the Human League never sounded so good.) Ben loves music as much today as he did when he was a child. Thank you Jim for making music education a positive experience for my family and for so many others in the Brattleboro area. You’ll always be teacher of the year in my book.

Jerry Appell,

Dummerston, June 24

I’m not paying

Editor of the Reformer:

On the Vermont State Income Tax form there is a point at which your income is noted (maybe adjusted) and you then look at a chart and have to add sales tax for out-or-state purchases. Whether you made them or not. According to my calculations, in 2011 and 2012 they charged me far more than whatever I may have spent out of Vermont. This year, 2013, I think I beat them. I made several fairly expensive purchases -- all in New Hampshire. As long as this absurd sales tax add-on is on the Vermont Income Tax form, I will not purchase anything of high cost in Vermont. I am not opposed to paying sales tax; I am opposed to paying it twice, or on things I didn’t buy to begin with.

Ken McCaffrey,

Brattleboro, June 26