Letter Box

Tuesday June 11, 2013

Vernon voters playing guessing game on land cost

Editor of the Reformer:

Authorizing the Vernon Selectboard to buy development rights to a politically prominent gentlewoman farmer’s land from an unknown new owner at an unknown price, Vernon voters at the Aug. 5 Special Town Meeting (while voters are focusing on summer fun) will guess an offering price that is either too low or too high.

Development rights usually are bought from the current owner after an independent, professional appraisal to compensate the owner for selling the land at a lower price without development rights. Buying development rights from the new owner, Vernon taxpayers instead will subsidize the purchase.

According to the Vermont Land Trust: "The legal tool that is used to conserve a farm is called a conservation easement. The easement permanently protects the land from development and contains other restrictions. Uses of the land important to farming are encouraged and those that adversely affect the use of the land for agriculture, like subdivisions and mining, are prohibited.

"Regardless of the type of farm, the most important question is, ‘How likely is this farmland to stay in production into the future?’ The answer to this question of long-term viability depends on, in priority order: 1) substantial acreage in prime or statewide-significant agricultural soils along with topography and field access; 2) if the farm is under significant threat of conversion to non-farm use, and if that conversion would be detrimental to other farms in the area, it is given special consideration; 3) buildings and equipment are in good condition and are suitable to the existing or proposed farm operation; 4) sound resource management practices appropriate to the farm should be in place.

"Once the acreage and conditions of the easement are agreed upon, the value of the conservation easement must be determined with an independent, professional appraisal. The landowner contributes to the cost of the appraisal. The appraisal value primarily relies on comparable sales of similar farms to establish two figures: the value of the farm with no easement on it (the fair market value), and the farm’s value with the conservation easement (restricted value). The difference between these two values is the value of the conservation easement."

Instead, the Vernon Farmland Protection Committee’s $100,000 proposal was presented to the Vernon Selectboard by organic dairy farmer Arthur Miller, who is secretary, treasurer and registered agent of his family’s Miller Farm Inc.

Required to pasture their cows in season, organic dairy farmers must add organic pastureland, such as this land, to expand their herds.

If Miller Farm Inc. (or anyone else) has an option to purchase this land and sell development rights at prearranged prices, Mr. Miller, the Vernon Farmland Protection Committee and the Vernon Selectboard have conflicts of interest that they should disclose immediately.

Howard Fairman,

Vernon, June 6

Time for a ‘time out’

Editor of the Reformer:

On June 12, 2013, National Time Out Day will be practiced in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers around the country. Taking a "time out" to confirm correct patient, correct procedure, correct surgical site and other important information before every operative and other invasive procedure is a requirement of The Joint Commission Universal Protocol. Despite the requirement, 40 to 60 wrong site surgeries likely occur in the U.S. each week.

Time Out Day was created by the Association of Peri-Operative Registered Nurses in 2004 as a way to raise awareness about the importance of requiring the entire surgical team to pause before all invasive procedures to communicate as a group and confirm key information about the patient and procedure to help prevent errors from occurring.

Wrong patient, wrong site, wrong procedures are sentinel events -- described by The Joint Commission as "an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof." To peri-operative nurses, they are tragedies. That is why as peri-operative nurses and AORN members, we commemorate National Time Out Day with this public commitment to our patients, their loved ones and the entire surgical community that we will always take time out for every patient, every time.

Debbie Partrick,

director of Womens’ & Surgical Services,

Nurse Mentoring program coordinator,

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, June 10

An unwanted guest
at the Stroll?

Editor of the Reformer:

The Strolling of the Heifers was a wonderful experience this year.

The local farms, schools, tractors, and cows were lovely to watch coming down Main Street.

My one qualm? The Walmart tent on the Common.

The whole point of the Stroll is to promote and celebrate our local economy. Walmart’s presence at this stroll was ill thought out and embarrassing.

Regardless, thank you to those who created a wonderful day.

Kara Garvey,

Dummerston, June 8

On library meeting ...

Editor of the Reformer:

On June 3, I attended a Friends of the Rockingham Library meeting. I found it interesting that several former library trustees were there, some dating back several years. I’m sure that all of them at one time or another were present as trustee members disagreed among themselves on issues. That is what makes a good board.

On June 4, I attended my first Library Board of Trustees meeting. I was appalled by the complete disrespect shown to the director by a few trustees. In all the years I have been involved with the Rockingham Library, I have never, ever witnessed such disrespect toward a director by trustees. Trustees are to give guidance to the director, not micromanage or argue with everything she says.

As a former library trustee of nine years, founder and officer with Norma LaSonde of the Friends, and part-time staff of many years, I cannot sit back any longer and watch our director being treated like this. She does not deserve such treatment. She has 100 percent backing by our staff.

Come on taxpayers, library patrons, former trustees and anyone else interested in our library, I urge you to attend the Library Board of Trustees meetings. Encourage the few level headed trustees that we have and help us to put pressure on the others.

Alma Beals,

Westminster, June 6


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