The Real Wizard
I really enjoyed your Halloween issue — in particular, Ken Picard’s article about Tom Lavigne [“Mourning Star,”  October 31] was quite interesting and very well written.
But there was one small part of the story that was inaccurate. Tom’s older brother was not the founder of WIZN FM. Arty Lavigne was part of the original staff.
It was longtime area radio broadcaster Russ Kinsley who founded “The Wizard” and chose the call letters to go with the moniker. Richard Longfellow was the other founding partner and financial backer.
The entire building process was initiated in 1980 and the station went on the air in November of 1983.
Desmond and Kinsley co-own and operate the Champlain Valley’s “Album Station,” WZXP 97.9.
[Re “Rash of Robberies Suggests Burlington Isn’t as Safe as We Thought,”  November 7]: While the article suggests that the robberies are not confined to one neighborhood, a great number of them occur in the Old North End. Compared to the rest of Burlington, the streetlights tend to be quite dim, and the ONE is noticeably less cared for by the city. Along with the copious amounts of litter on the sidewalks, used syringes are a common sight. Many residents of the neighborhood, including myself, have reported them and are dissatisfied with the lack of action taken. I certainly believe that the broken-windows theory applies to the ONE. The sooner it is cleaned up, the sooner violent crime will subside.
R.I.P. Fresh Market
The food business is tough, and I know places come and go. But I was so disappointed to read Corin Hirsch’s news about Fresh Market closing [Side Dishes: “Fresh Start,”  November 14]. It is the home of the only destination-worthy chocolate-chip cookie I’ve encountered in Vermont, and its departure leaves a big hole to fill. I hope someone buys the recipe and continues the tradition of having them available — warm from the oven — throughout the day.
A Teacher’s View
I enjoyed reading Ken Picard’s article about Ben Chater [“A Man of Conviction,”  November 7]. I was Ben’s third- and fourth-grade teacher in Montpelier. He was raising the bar and impacting the community as much as a kid as he is doing as an adult. He and his family are responsible for the school system installing ramps and elevators for equal access for all as he moved through the school system. Those battles over facilities and money were not easy, but they were successful. His need to be included in everything made challenges for me that eventually changed the way I taught and made me a better teacher. He opened my eyes to every kid’s needs — not just his. I have a ton of stories about how Ben impacted our classroom, but one of the most profound was during a trip to Boston to meet with software developers who were working on a speech synthesizer that Ben could use with his writing. A team of suits was behind us, talking about the program, while Ben used his head stick to type out a story on the computer. The suits kept repeating, “What Ben needs is...” Finally, Ben turned around and this 9-year-old kid, in his labored speech, said, “Want to know what Ben needs? Ask Ben!” Ben’s an amazing person, and anyone who spends time with him soon realizes just how special he really is.
Raise the Flagg
Kathryn Flagg writes a nice piece [“Toll on Call,”  November 14]. Her research was solid, her focus true and her writing strong.
Dr. Toll is an amazing man and the best pediatrician around [“Toll on Call,” November 14]. I don’t know what my five children and I would do without him. We simply love him. Thank you for such a wonderful article honoring this dear man!
[Re Poli Psy , November 14]: Judith Levine’s paean to the speed, efficiency and, well, financial size of big government in its ability to respond to disaster is correct in every regard but terribly unbalanced. As Vermonters well know from our encounter with Irene last year, we could not have fully recovered without a massive influx of federal assistance — though the Meals Ready to Eat that I helped unload from National Guard helicopters were a poor substitute for the gourmet meals that the chef at Rochester’s Huntington Inn was preparing every evening for the entire community.
What her apologia ignores, however, is that such federal assistance can be either well organized or disastrous bureaucratic nightmares (as was the case with Katrina) and is an after-the-fact response to problems in which the federal government is largely complicit.
FEMA, under Obama, may be better able to help mitigate climate-change disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy and her 14-foot ocean surge, but his administration’s support for fracking and the Keystone Pipeline designed to carry Canadian tar-sands gunk is the proximal cause of rising seas and terrifying storms. According to the world’s leading climatologist, James Hansen of NASA, it means “game over for the planet.”
The right insists we don’t need government to protect us from ourselves. But if we need government to protect us from the effects of government policies, then it appears we’re stuck with a self-justifying, monster bureaucracy whose necessity is due to its own failure to protect the public welfare and the commonwealth.
In last week’s Fair Game  column, Rep. Paul Poirier’s name was misspelled.
Also in that issue: The article headlined “A Morrisville Company Turns Used Fryer Grease Into Heat and Power”  stated incorrectly, “Since January, all home heating oil sold in Vermont must be at least 3 percent biofuel.” In fact, the Vermont Energy Act of 2011, which created new standards for ultra-low-sulfur heating oil that take effect in 2014 and 2018, requires heating oil to be blended with biodiesel only after New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts adopt substantially similar standards.