Tuesday April 2, 2013

Recent crime coverage seemed sensational

Editor of the Reformer:

I am writing regarding the article titled "New Hire at Putney Inn charged with assault," written by Mike Faher on March 26. I do not understand why this was written up as an article -- it belongs in the police report section only. The arrest was made on charges that may or may not be true. Why write about something so inconclusive?

The article also painted a sensationalized criminal picture of Shannon Ridgeway who has no past criminal activity or record. It was based only on what the police and employees at the Putney Inn said, and was basically a character assassination of Shannon. Why didn’t the Reformer contact Shannon for his story if they felt such a pressing need to write about it?

I have a very different picture of Shannon than was portrayed. He was the caregiver for my 97-year-old mother who had dementia. He fed her, bathed her, helped her move around, entertained her, got up in the middle of the night to tend to her and took responsibility for the upkeep of her house. His wife was working during the daytime and his son was in school. He was a very caring and patient caregiver.

Unfortunately she died this past Fall leaving Shannon without work. He has been mostly unemployed all winter. That is not easy for anyone, but especially someone who is a family kind of guy and who takes his responsibilities as a dad very seriously.

The job at the Putney Inn kitchen seems not to have been an ideal work situation. Who knows what the work dynamic really was in the kitchen? There are many questions as yet unaddressed.

I think the Reformer should have been much more careful before writing such an article. It portrayed a limited view of this incident.

Timothy Merton,

Westminster West, March 28

Editor’s note: In almost of these types of cases, lawyers will encourgage their clients to not speak to the press so as to not negatively impact their case. That is why we typically write these stories from court documents. We are very happy to continue following these cases as they make their way through the legal system, so that if, for example, charges are dropped it can be reported in the newspaper.

Remembering Chet

Editor of the Reformer:

Chester Godfrey passed away last week. There was no obituary, no wake, no funeral. A quiet and unassuming man, Chet was overwhelmed by an aggressive cancer. He went quickly, but not entirely peacefully. He passed in the comforting care of the staff at Grace Cottage Hospital surrounded by his loving sons. When it was his time to go he died listening to his favorite song, "Turn the Page" by Bob Segar. His sons tell that as he took his last breath a flock of birds arrived outside his window, as if to guide him to his next destination.

Chet was a man of limited means. He tried as hard as he could to provide for his family, as best he could. I first met Chet when he signed his son Garret into the Big Brothers program through Youth Services. Chet recognized his physical limits and he turned to Youth Services for some help. I am grateful for his decision to do so.

For the past three years I have been a mentor to Garret. And because of Chet’s decision, I have a best bud for life. Garret gives me as much pleasure if not more than I try to give him. It is rare for a father to sign up a son to be matched with a mentor, to have a stranger come into their life, but I am thankful that he did.

My reasons for writing this is two-fold. One, is to recognize what a wonderful program Big Brother/Big Sisters is and to recommend to any reader who has a little spare time to look into becoming a mentor to a girl or boy in our community who could use some support. There are waiting lists for children needing to be matched with mentors. The other reason is to not let Chet’s contribution and his passing go unnoticed. Chet raised decent, polite, hardworking and thankful young men in a world without the best clothes, computers or cell phones. Perhaps now Chet is able to sleep in a comfortable bed, to maybe finally scratch a winning lottery ticket or is driving a shiny Dodge pickup with a lift kit down the road listening to some Doo Wop or some more Bob Segar. Goodspeed on your new journey, Chet. You will be missed.

Mark A. Gouger,

Brattleboro, March 27

Efforts to close VY
are a ‘distraction’

Editor of the Reformer:

The Vermont Supreme Court has sent a clear message to those trying to shut down Vermont Yankee with legal action: There is already a process under way to determine whether the plant will continue to operate via the state Public Service Board and the court will not interfere in that process.

This is yet another independent judicial decision that Vermont Yankee meets the rigorous criteria to continue to operate. In addition, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, following an exhaustive process, determined Yankee is safe and reliable and gave the plant the green light to keep running for another 20 years.

The continuing efforts to close the plant are an expensive distraction for the state of Vermont at a time when we face pressing challenges demanding our finite human and financial resources, in energy and other areas. It’s time to move on.

Guy Page,

communications director,

Vermont Energy Partnership, March 28

Learning to appreciate other cultures

Editor of the Reformer:

With the endless news stream of conflict and violence among people of different faiths around the world, I was delighted when the Windham World Affairs Council and two interfaith groups recently organized a panel discussion so that our community could learn more about the Muslim religion. The four panelists from Pakistan, Oman, and Senegal were not only passionate about their faith but also open, candid and respectful in their dialogues with each other and the audience. I learned a lot and came away feeling hopeful for the future.

Getting to know individuals from other cultures and religions is crucial for overcoming stereotypes and misunderstanding, and our community will have more opportunities to interact with young Muslims in the months ahead. Three students from Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines will be attending BUHS through the Kennedy-Lugar YES scholarship program, and we are currently seeking host families for these exceptional young people. If you would consider opening your home and your heart for some part of for the coming school year, please contact me at 802-257-4710 or exchangevt@gmail.com.

Thank you, Javed Chaudhri and Rupa Cousins, for giving us this opportunity to increase our understanding, and for continuing this dialog through future events in our community.

Ann Newsmith,

Brattleboro, March 25

Let’s raise revenue without raising taxes

Editor of the Reformer:

Why is it that our governments are made up of the dumbest people on the planet and not the smartest?

Take Vermont and the people that are supposed to manage our state: What do they come up with but more taxation on the overtaxed populace. They don’t know how to cut spending and don’t have the brains to ask for advice. And they definitely don’t know how to raise revenue other than to tax.

I’m talking primarily about the new taxes that the state of Vermont is leaving on we poor slobs that have no recourse but to pay them. Now, I have ideas on how to do both but nobody will ask me -- and believe me, I have tried with no success, as I’m sure other good citizens have tried but gotten nowhere.

Please call me and I will offer you free advice with guaranteed solutions to our problems.

Christian Blake,

Westminster, March 24