Letter Box


Friday September 16, 2011

Wind power
at what cost?

Editor of the Reformer:

Tristan Roberts was correct in describing the dilemma faced in supporting wind-generated electricity ("Wind energy bad for bears," Sept. 6). Wind generation is certainly by far the better option than coal generation, and overall somewhat preferable to solar, hydro, or nuclear generation. On the other hand, it is in no way better than cutting back on our increasingly insatiable demand for electricity.

Roberts stresses disruption of still pristine habitat resulting from the need to build access roads and turbine sites, dwelling especially on the impact of such disruption on black bears.

However, what he overlooks is the huge numbers of migrating birds that are killed by the rotating blades of wind turbines now in operation, and the less appreciated but even far higher numbers of bats being similarly killed -- indeed, nationally already many tens of thousands per year. The precipitous declines in our insectivorous bat numbers are thus not only the result of the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, but on top of that of the even higher numbers of turbine deaths. Included, of course, is the Indiana Bat, now listed as being "Endangered" both by Vermont and the federal government.

Those bat losses resulting from the wind generation of electricity are a tragedy unto themselves. Additionally, it seems not to be widely recognized that bats are probably the most overlooked economically important non-domesticated animals in our country. Thus their increasingly staggering losses are a detriment to agriculture owing to their importance in consuming pest insects. In fact, one recent estimate has turbine-caused bat mortality already costing our nation’s farmers many millions of dollars annually.

Arthur H. Westing,

Putney, Sept. 6

On the reliability of Vt. Yankee

Editor of the Reformer:

I consider myself lucky. The biggest affect that Hurricane Irene had on me was the loss of power for an hour, which is nothing compared to the people just down the street, who lost so much with the flooding in the Flat Street area.

We seldom think about what we have until it’s gone. Just like no one thinks about the reliability of our state’s electricity producers -- until they stop producing.

During the recent flooding, most of Vermont’s hydropower dams had to shut down due to concerns about debris or high water pressure. This resulted in an "unplanned outage" that forced Vermont utilities to buy fossil fuel power off of the New England grid. Meanwhile Vermont Yankee was operating away, making 620 megawatts of electricity, amid storm, flood, and, a week earlier, earthquake. Built on bedrock and well-maintained and operated, Vermont’s largest source of domestically produced electricity shrugged off the worst that Mother Nature had to offer.

Vermont Yankee routinely runs "breaker to breaker" between its scheduled refueling outages. This means they produce low cost power every day, without interruption, for the people of Vermont. Reliability is just one more reason, in a long list of reasons, that we should be thankful for having Yankee: low cost electricity, no emissions, state and local taxes and the 650 paychecks that will help us all recover from this disaster.

Open-minded Vermonters should count themselves lucky to have Vermont Yankee operating on their behalf.

Al Blakley,

Brattleboro, Sept. 6

Why Americans can’t find jobs

Editor of the Reformer:

In response to your article on Sept. 5 -- "Mexican farm workers in Vermont fear federal program" -- shame on the Vermont Farm Bureau for advocating the hiring of illegal aliens. These people break our laws by coming here in the first place. After they arrive, they take our jobs and abuse our system.

Many of these folks get free medical, food stamps, welfare and Social Security while paying little or nothing in taxes. They send money back to their families which causes a drain on the American dollar. Also, our penal system is crowded with criminals that came here illegally.

We have over 14 million people on unemployment and millions more that are no longer counted. These are law abiding, tax paying citizens. If we sent the 10 or 20 million illegal aliens back home, maybe some of these folks could find work.

Gerry Fortier,

Guilford, Sept. 6

Remembering Michael Martin

Article Continues After These Ads

Editor of the Reformer:

On Aug. 9, when I received the phone call telling me that there had been a shooting at the Co-op, I remember sitting there on my bed, numb -- not knowing how to feel. Michael Martin and I had had our differences. We had had our share of arguments, but somehow I always knew it wasn’t personal -- it was business.

Gaining acceptance into the Co-op isn’t necessarily easy. Having a position of ultimate authority over employees who have worked there for 15, 20 years is not easy. Being the store manager, Michael was well aware that he wasn’t well-liked by some of the staff, and he was OK with that, because it wasn’t personal -- it was business.

When my time at the Co-op was drawing to a close, Michael and I had our difficult moments. But we had already had three years of a pretty solid, productive working relationship. I was aware then, as I am even more aware now, that I was never a victim of Michael. I did what I did, and Michael did what he had to; it wasn’t personal -- it was business.

Later, I recalled the moments when I really loved working alongside Michael. His drive, his energy, his enthusiasm, his sometimes over the top ideas -- all these qualities that really kept me inspired to do the best job I could do.

In all of the fall out from this tragic event, there has been much speculation, but, more disturbing are comments I have heard, implying that Michael somehow deserved this Š and that makes me so very sad.

At his memorial service, I was struck by the sheer number of people: family members -- kids, grandkids, step kids, aunts, uncles, sisters, wife; close friends, as well as those of us from the Co-op. I thought about all the holes left in these people’s lives and how the Co-op will struggle to recover from this. Will the Co-op go on? Certainly. If there ever was a community that knows how to heal it is this one.

Anyone sitting by his desk could see that this was a family man -- from the favored birthday cards displayed on his cabinets, to the photo gallery of his kids and wife on his screen saver, to the photos of him hunting with his buddies. His job was not his entire identity.

I’m sorry for those who didn’t know him, because he was a good person. I’m sorry for those who never got the opportunity to work with him, because he was one of the best at what he did. I’m sorry for those who feel that this was some sort of poetic justice for someone who never really cared about anybody, because I would feel sorry for anyone that cold and unforgiving.

I’m just sorry this happened. Michael wasn’t perfect, but he certainly didn’t deserve this. Tragically, for Richard Gagnon, this was all too personal.

Sheila Sackett,

Brattleboro, Aug. 27

Try a new church

Editor of the Reformer:

Sounds like Theresa Toney needs to find a new catholic church to attend (in regards to her letter to the editor of Sept. 13). There is a new pastor at St. Charles in Bellows Falls that is well liked and quiet from what I’m told. Father Rich, you are wonderful.

Margaret Nowers,

Dunedin, Fla.,

formerly of Westminster, Sept. 13

Editor’s note: Ms. Nowers is a long-time resident of Windham County and Bellows Falls High School graduate.

Letter outrage

Editor of the Reformer:

I, too, found the letter to the editor ("Concerns with St. Michael’s church," Sept. 14) regarding the pastor of St. Michaels Roman Catholic Church very offensive.

I will not accept that my news vehicle of over 50 years has stooped to publishing such a defaming letter. Yes, you owe Father Rich an apology for your complicity in smearing such a good and beloved priest.

I thought the Reformer "screened" submitted letters and/or those who submit. Evidentally not.

After the apology, I look forward to a change in policy.

Diane Sullivan Spark,

Brattleboro, Sept. 15


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