Letters to the Editor
Railroad Reality Check
Ken Picard’s WTF column last week contained a major error [“Whisky Tango Foxtrot: What’s up with that abandoned railroad car in Grand Isle County?” October 10]. I guess that’s what happens when you base your research on a UVM grad student’s work rather than local and state history sources.
In fact, it is quite likely that the rail car in question did “rumble through Grand Isle.” The Rutland RR operated a regular passenger train through the islands throughout the early-to-mid-20th century — roughly 1902 to 1962. It was known as the Island Flyer, and many older islanders, many of whom are now deceased, used to reminisce about lying awake late at night listening to its distant whistle.
Up until the 1950s, most of high-school-aged islanders used to ride the train to school in Burlington on Sunday evening and then return home on Friday afternoon. The South Hero train station was a stone’s throw from where the Bushway car now sits (Iodine Springs St.). The Grand Isle station was about three miles north, and other RRR stations served North Hero and Alburgh.
You can still follow the old Rutland RR right of way through most of the islands — and, of course, on the marble causeway from Colchester Point to South Hero, as well as those connecting the rest of Grand Isle County.
The causeways, and the entire islands line, were constructed around the turn of the 20th century by the Rutland RR using marble from quarries in the greater West Rutland area. It was abandoned in the early ’60s, when governor F. Ray Keyser Jr. and the Republican legislature refused RRR a state subsidy that might have kept it running. Hundreds of jobs were lost, and the issue was used against Keyser in the election of 1962, which Phil Hoff won, becoming the first Democratic governor in Vermont since before the Civil War.
In reference to Ted Rall’s so-called comic in the October 3 edition of Seven Days, which characterizes our veterans as “stupid” for defending our right to vote: I would remind Mr. Rall that they also sacrificed to ensure his, and Seven Days’, right to print ignorant opinions.
“Care” About Planned Parenthood
[Re “An Anti-Abortion Attorney Challenges Burlington’s No-Protest Zone,” September 26]: Care Net states on its website that its purpose is to help women process their situation and access all of their options. Staff is available at their office to provide the tools and the information necessary to make a decision about pregnancy. While the website talks about the dangers of unprotected sex in other ways, they do not offer STD screenings, contraceptives, cancer screenings and seemingly legitimate pregnancy tests. They offer advice, at best.
Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, offers a wide range of medical and physical assistance. They provide counseling, yes, but also contraceptives of all kinds, STD and cancer screenings, sex education, pap smears, abortions and men’s health exams. Whether we like it or not, we do need this kind of health care in our lives.
The reason why I support the protection of Planned Parenthood through this new ordinance goes way back: When I used to volunteer with Planned Parenthood as a teen in the Bible Belt, harassment was an everyday occurrence. People would scream at me. They would take down license-plate numbers and donors’ names and share them with the community.
This outwardly violent and aggressive approach pushes the boundaries on personal freedoms. It’s a personal violation to be yelled at no matter what clinic you are in.
I stand with Planned Parenthood. Do you?
Wait for Willie
Re “Whisky Tango Foxtrot: What’s up with the baseball players on Spear Street?” September 12]: I would very much like to know if the cutouts of Willie Mays are available for viewing throughout the fall. I would absolutely love to drive up from Connecticut to view them. It would be a dream come true for a lifelong Willie Mays fan.
New Britain, Conn.
Editor’s note: Sorry, but the cutouts are only on display in September — and just on nice days. As they say in baseball, “There’s always next year.”
Which Side Are You On?
There are two sides of this story [“Labor Pains: The VSEA’s New Boss Is Shaking Things Up,” October 10] … The veterans’ home folks are extremely happy with director Mark Mitchell, as are many other VSEA members. Lucinda Kirk is a disgruntled employee, and it’s a good thing for VSEA members that she has decided to move on. Mitchell was hired to take the VSEA in a new direction, and unfortunately there are those who will resist the changes. Kirk seems to be set on causing problems for VSEA rather than helping to make it stronger. She is spending a lot of energy tearing down an organization she supposedly cared about. Get the other side of the story now.
Marine Mom’s View
If the F-35s were based in Burlington, property values would not be negatively affected. So claims the full-page real-estate ad in Seven Days on October 3. And “...while F-35 flight operations may represent six minutes of minimal inconvenience four days a week...” it is not as important as the economic investments in the VTANG and the 1100 associated jobs — at least that was my take on it.
Housing sales and developments are profitable, so the real-estate support was a given. Were the effects of a high-decibel, super-powered F-35 versus a lower-level F-16 on a neighborhood actually tested in their research? These two variables are necessary to reach a conclusion.
Ironically, as I was reading the article, two F-16s came screeching overhead and circled for a repeat. The present F-16s fly at all hours, several times a day and after 8 p.m., so I question whether the F-35s can promise “six minutes of minimal inconvenience.”
Both my father and son are proud Marines, and I respect the commitments of service personnel. What I resent is the actions of military decision makers, our representatives, and the people who will hugely profit from the F-35s and not consider the people whose health and homes are impacted. The whole economic future of Vermont is not based solely on the Guard, nor this airplane and the 1100 jobs it will generate, as some would like you to believe. The proposed F-35s are loud, high-precision machines that perform their low-flying, close maneuvers over densely populated areas. If we are to welcome them, develop an alternative flight route.
Debra P. Chadwick