Letter Box


The many positives
of commuting by bus

Editor of the Reformer:

Editor of the Reformer:

As part of the Way to Go Challenge (May 12 through 16), I’d like to share my thoughts on bus commuting.

I live in Putney. I work in Brattleboro. I like commuting on the Current’s Bellows Falls to Brattleboro commuter bus. It gives me a true break, a time when I don’t have to do anything. Some people say their car commute is downtime or a break. But one is still trying to safely navigate a multi-ton vehicle at high speeds. A lot of one’s brain is engaged, even if not consciously. On the bus I can listen to a podcast; I can read a book; I can listen to music; I can read my email; I can zone out ... many of which are not safe to do while driving.

It is very convenient. Sometimes I pick it up within a quick walk of my house. Or sometimes I drive into Putney and get on the bus up in town, which allows me to get a cup of coffee in the morning or do errands on my return in the afternoon.

It gives me the opportunity to walk from the Brattleboro Transportation Center to my office. Walking more is a good thing. And in the warmer weather and longer days of spring, summer and fall, I also bike home from Brattleboro. I can put my bike on the bus’s bike rack for the trip in, and arrive fresh and not sweaty. Then I can bike home. If the weather turns bad or I am not up for it, I can always put the bike on the bus for the trip home.

The people and the drivers are friendly, and it’s a community I rarely cross paths with otherwise.

It’s cheaper than driving. The 2014 IRS reimbursement rate is 56 cents a mile. That rate attempts to capture the costs of driving, including depreciation, insurance, maintenance and gas. Let’s say my daily commute with my car would conservatively cost me 50 cents a mile. My commute (24 miles round trip), at 50 cents a mile, would cost me $12 per day. The bus is $1 each way. I keep $10 in my wallet each day I take the bus. I try to take the bus three to four days a week so that’s $30 to $40 a week and over $1,500 a year in savings.

It’s slower, but I appreciate the opportunity to truly slow down. Timing can be tricky, but once the bus is a habit, the timing is just part of the day. When I set meetings and organize my errands, I look at my week and try to set a majority of the days as bus commute days. Sometimes I leave my car in Brattleboro for a few days. That way I can take the bus to and from work but have a vehicle in town to get me to my errands and meetings.

I recommend the bus to everyone along the I-91 corridor and those out Wilmington and Dover, as there is regular bus service in these places. Together we can save money and reduce carbon.

Bruce Whitney,

Putney, April 30

Arbor Day success

Editor of the Reformer:

The Fourth Grade Foresters USA contacted me through my role in the Whitingham-Halifax Lions Club. Their business was created to provide a simple and inexpensive way for 4th graders to receive a tree on Arbor Day. They explained that each tree is packaged with care by workers who have disabilities. Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to help reduce global warming and to help clean the air we breathe. Planting trees, they explained, is a great and easy way to address the problem. They’d take care of the trees and the packaging, but needed sponsors to cover the shipping costs. Their goal is to provide a tree to every 4th grader in the United States on Arbor Day.

Once I got my fellow Lions on board, I was eager to take this project a step further and asked as many schools as possible in one afternoon, with a fast-approaching deadline. Surprisingly, out of the 14 schools I contacted, all eagerly said yes! Our project quickly grew from 35 trees to 260 in a matter of one hour. I knew the cost of shipping would be too much to ask of just our club, so now I was on a mission for extra sponsors. I asked the Readsboro Lions and the Deerfield Valley Rotary if they’d each cover a couple of schools in our surrounding areas and they jumped right on board. After a quick chat with Noreen at Southview Farms in Guilford, she happily sponsored Guilford. I spoke with Meagen Kerris, the business development manager at Summit Chrysler in Brattleboro and she personally sponsored Dummerston. About 30 minutes later, I got a call back from Meagen and she said Summit Chrysler loves the project and its mission and wants to cover any remaining schools. It was such a nice feeling seeing folks so willingly and excitedly sponsor our local schools.

Arbor Day was be celebrated on May 2 this year and more than 260 4th graders in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Wilmington, Whitingham, Halifax, Dover, Wardsboro, Readsboro and Stamford will roll up their sleeves and plant a tree. The kids will become members of Fourth Grade Foresters. The project’s mission is to help revitalize a remarkable idea -- observation of Arbor Day in America’s schools. Fourth graders at Dummerston, Guildford, Academy, Oak Grove, Green Street, Twin Valley, Halifax, Dover, Wardsboro, Readsboro, Stamford, Neighborhood Schoolhouse, St. Michael’s Academy and Hilltop Montessori School will all receive a 12 to 18 inch evergreen tree to take home and plant.

This project is made possible because community businesses like, Summit Chrysler, Southview Farm, the Whitingham-Halifax Lions Club, the Readsboro Lions Club, the Deerfield Valley Rotary Club and even a caring business development manager, Meagen Kerris from Summit Chrysler, all covered the cost of the individually packaged evergreen trees, so that there is no cost to the students, the teachers, the school, or the taxpayer, said Debra Ersch, Cofounder of the Fourth Grade Foresters Project. "It’s a wonderful way to show support for the community, education and the environment."

Jennifer Betit-Engel,

Whitingham-Halifax Lions Club,
April 29

Sweet memories

Editor of the Reformer:

Your recent story "Sweet relief" (April 1) brought to my mind my first experience in Vermont, relating to maple sugaring.

Some 60 years ago, when my family had been in Vermont a short time, I had taken an insurance policy on our property with Fred Butler, an agent for a large insurance company based in Montpelier. Fred also had a maple sugar lot. We lived in Jamaica and Fred lived in East Jamaica.

Times were hard for me to make a living and Fred suggested I help him in his sugar lot as payment for my insurance. I was happy to agree.

Fred taught me how to drill maples and hang buckets for the sap. Not long after, we strung a plastic pipeline from tree to tree which carried the sap directly to the sugar house holding tank.

We had no trouble with porcupines, but sometimes deer would run through the maples and tear down the sap line.

Fred was a very good friend and very patient with teaching me how to collect maple sap and boil it into maple syrup which, I believe, sold for about $7 a gallon.

Fred also did me a big favor. I had been smoking cigarettes for too many years so as Fred and I walked up a steep hill to his sugar lot, he gained on me every single step while I panted for breath. Very soon after, quit the habit. An experience related to sugaring one doesn’t forget.

Warren S. Patrick,

Townshend, April 4

The sense of life

Editor of the Reformer:

Our times have often become blind of the higher spiritual values on which the sense of life depends. It is a "spiritual" lostness. The modern culture lives mostly by the lower "sensible" values that refer to human life. They are the economic values -- like the value of money, the technical values (God is the computor) and the vital values of overdoing sports. Thus, our being is often blind of the prime of the soul and the spirit. The soul of all culture is the culture of the soul.

Hanne Steinmeyer,

Vernon, May 4


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