Saturday March 2, 2013

Support for MacPhee, Hamond

Editor of the Reformer:

On March 5, the voters of the Town of Rockingham are faced with four choices for two one-year seats on the Rockingham Selectboard. I would like to encourage you to vote for these two.

Tom MacPhee has served as the chair of the board for over seven years and we need to keep his experience and historical knowledge of the town.

Susan Hamond has been a life long resident of Rockingham. She filmed the now famous video of the Bartonsville Bridge disappearing into the Williams River during T.S. Irene. She is also the founder and director of War Legacies which operates out of her home in Lower Bartonsville. Sue is currently in Vietnam meeting with the family of a Vietnam Veteran who died of lymphoma caused by Agent Orange.

It’s exciting that we have choices in our elections and I applaud all who run.

Please vote on March 5.

Ann C. DiBernardo,

Rockingham, Feb. 28

Support for Druke

Editor of the Reformer:

As both a selectwoman and Town Clerk in Newfane, it’s been my privilege to work closely with Christine Druke this past year. Christine came "on board" less than a year after Tropical Storm Irene. She has taken on more than her share of board responsibilities. I applaud her tenaciousness. When she sees a need, she steps forward to serve the town. For the past three or so months her focus and energies have been in the area of tracking FEMA finances and projects. Her business background and assertiveness has been a blessing for those of us who live in Newfane.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with Michael Fitzpatrick on several projects involving the Emergency Watershed Protection program for streambank stabilization. Mike is third generation of a family owned and run excavation company. His company has won many bids for work in Newfane because of his reasonable prices, and his work has been highly praised by satisfied customers. Mike is fully cognizant of the fact that as a selectboard member he would have to recuse himself from any bid selection that involves his company. He would not be the first to have to do that.

Mike served as a Selectboard member and on the Planning Commission in Wardsboro before moving to Newfane nine years ago. Mike is a native to this area and spent a lot of time in Newfane growing up. Now as a Newfane resident, he feels that it is time to step up to serve Newfane. He will bring to the board the willingness to fulfill duties such as serving on tax appeal and tax abatement boards, part of being a selectperson. He brings to the board his business acumen and knowledge of roads and bridge construction. He speaks with kindness and has compassion for Newfane residents, especially those who are in economic straits.

It’s essential to re-elect Christine Druke, and Newfane will have a strong board with Mike Fitzpatrick "on board."

Gloria Cristelli,

Newfane, March 1

On Dummerston’s budget choices

Editor of the Reformer:

The Dummerston Selectboard recently decided to slash funding for farmland protection by 50 percent. For years, the town has invested $5,000 annually into its farm-land protection fund. The number of houses in Dummerston -- and in Windham county -- has more than doubled in recent decades. Most of these new houses were built in remote areas, on farmland and forestland. Many local seniors remember when Putney Road in Brattleboro was surrounded by farmland; today, it’s a strip mall.

If we don’t act to save open space, our beloved corner of Vermont will start to look like so many suburban areas of our nation, where precious lands have been lost to sprawl. Many Vermont towns (and Chesterfield, N.H.) have invested far more in their open space protection funds than Dummerston. Dummerston residents should speak up at Town Meeting on March 5, and/or contact the Selectboard by phone (802-257-1496) or e-mail (selectboard@dummerston.org), and ask the board to continue investing at least $5,000 a year to save our town’s farmland.

Eesha Williams,

Dummerston, Feb. 25

Support for O’Connor

Editor of the Reformer:

I am very excited that Kate O’Connor has decided to step forward and run for a three-year seat on the Brattleboro Selectboard.

I’ve known Kate for many years and have nothing but the highest respect and admiration for her experience, her willingness to collaborate and her dedication to Brattleboro. Kate’s roots in Brattleboro are deep and her commitment to Brattleboro is even deeper. She’s the right candidate with the right experience for the Selectboard for many reasons but for me it’s about who is best suited to deal with the economic and fiscal challenges that Brattleboro faces in a fair, pragmatic and constructive way. Kate will be a willing listener and strong partner for Brattleboro’s citizens and our town staff to work out our fiscal challenges while also being a strong advocate for affordability and attracting jobs and economic opportunity to Brattleboro. She wants to expand the Grand List, work with others to ensure the Brooks House project revives downtown and keep our neighborhoods safe.

On Tuesday, March 5, I hope Brattleboro voters will join me in supporting Kate O’Connor for Selectboard and hope everyone gets out and votes.

Scott McCarty,

Brattleboro, Feb. 28

Who’s making
the decisions?

Editor of the Reformer:

I attended a Westminster Selectboard meeting not too long ago. I made a suggestion that they should consider the Town Meeting predicament. This predicament is that 150 people make the decisions for 2,000 people. I suggested that all monetary budget items be continued to be discussed at Town Meeting but voted on by Australian Ballot at the polls. This, I stated, brings in approximately 2,000 votes as opposed to approximately 150 at Town Meeting. I thought the idea of more residents voting on how their tax dollars are spent would be a good thing. It would show a much broader base opinion on the issues. The response I received was that some items might get voted down and that could delay the process.

The Town Meeting process here may have worked well in the past but it does not seem to be working well now. Most residents do not attend the meeting but they do go to the polls. The information they need to know is available for them to review as they please. I think we should continue having Town Meetings for a chance to voice opinions but change the voting process to something that represents the town’s opinion and I am pretty sure there are other towns with the same predicament.

Phil Savoy,

Westminster, Feb. 28

Support for Spoon

Editor of the Reformer:

I hope you’ll join me in voting for Ben Spoon Agave for the Selectboard on Tuesday, March 5.

Spoon has been active for years with the Finance Committee, Development Review Board, Charter Reform Commission, Planning Commission, Board of Civil Authority, Traffic and Safety Committee, and as a Town Meeting Representative. He has a good grasp of the issues, has a "Can-Do" attitude, and has a positive vision for Brattleboro’s future. I particularly appreciate his ideas about investing in Brattleboro’s prolific human capital. He wants to create an internet information stream that would make town government news and views available to all. And I know that Spoon will work hard to help us all restore hope in these difficult financial times.

Bill Pearson,

Brattleboro, Feb. 27

Guilford voters should approve move to BAMS

Editor of the Reformer:

The voters in the town of Guilford have an important opportunity on Town Meeting Day. Article 7 on the warning for the Guilford Town School District meeting asks the voters if we want to send our seventh- and eighth-graders to BAMS starting next year. This is the right thing to do for our students and I hope voters come to Town Meeting to vote in favor of this proposal. This will, unfortunately, be a voice vote from the floor during the meeting rather than a private, paper vote by Australian ballot during polling hours. Therefore people who are not at the meeting cannot have their votes counted.

I believe that our students would receive a better, more well-rounded educational experience at BAMS. Developmentally, seventh- and eighth-graders are ready for a broader array of opportunities. BAMS offers an excellent middle school experience -- socially, academically and in extra-curricular activities. Principal Ingrid Chrisco has worked tirelessly to develop a first class program for all of her students. Ingrid knows every student and the families by name -- she both encourages and supports her students and simultaneously enforces the highest standards of behavior and academic excellence. The staff is caring and professional.

Financially, Guilford taxpayers will save money by sending our students to BAMS. If we keep our students in Guilford rather than sending them to BAMS, the increase above the amount currently budgeted will be significant (approximately $95,000-plus) and this amount doesn’t include any improvements to our middle school program. Guilford could never afford to offer the programs BAMS has available simply because of our small size.

But the financial advantages are only one small part of the reason why I support moving our students to BAMS. Academically, BAMS can offer a richer experience. Regular instruction in several foreign languages, algebra, a fully equipped science lab, computer labs -- all these are routinely offered at BAMS and unaffordable at Guilford. The support offered to struggling students ranges from daily in-school and after-school help to summer school programs. Couple that with the challenges offered to accelerated students in the form of exploratories, clubs and honors and you have a complete and exciting program that our students deserve. The extra-curricular activities offered at BAMS are too numerous to list but give middle school students a great opportunity to explore their interests. Socially, it is healthy and developmentally appropriate for our students to be with a larger group of peers in an atmosphere of increased responsibility (e.g., changing classes -- learning to manage their activities and obligations). I believe that the transition to BUHS will also be smoother if our students are coming from BAMS.

Guilford’s dedicated and hard-working middle school staff is making every effort to provide our children with a strong educational program. However, financially, we cannot afford to offer the broad range of experiences that are available at BAMS. I hope you join me in supporting our School Board’s proposal to send our seventh and eighth graders to BAMS. Please consider attending Town Meeting and voting YES on Article 7.

Anne Rider,

Brattleboro, March 1

Support for O’Connor

Editor of the Reformer:

There is a silver lining in every cloud and now we have an opportunity to elect a person to the Selectboard that will be just that. We were disappointed when Kate O’Connor lost her bid to the state house, but now we are thrilled to have her represent the residents as a member of the Brattleboro Selectboard. Kate is one of the most positive persons we have ever met. She certainly has the background to be successful. She will look out for everyone and make the tough decisions after finding out all of the facts. She will make decisions that will be in the best interest of everyone not just a select group. Without a doubt Kate is the best candidate for the position. Please get out and vote and join us in voting for Kate O’Conner. You will not be disappointed.

David J. and Shirley T. Emery,

Brattleboro, March 1

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Editor’s Note: With Town Meeting fast-approaching (March 6), we are aware that many letters in support of a candidate or from candidates have been sent to us. We have run as many as space allows before the election. Please note that support letters will not run after this issue.