I am passing through Vermont as the field adviser of a gap-year program. For nine months, I have traveled the world with 16 post-high school young adults and tried to mentor them to be the kindest and most responsible people possible.
With a rare day off, I sat in a Montpelier coffee shop and perused Seven Days, only to find myself immersed in the article about Timothy Szad and Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux Jr. ["A Second Chance," April 27]. Two things struck me deeply: the violent reaction of Vermont residents toward a man who hurt a child through his actions; and the compassionate response of Sheriff Marcoux to seek forgiveness. One thing I have learned in years of working with children, adults and those caught in between is that we are all more similar than different. Our collective demons and the madness we perceive within society are manifestations of us as individuals — the personal light and the shadow playing out en masse.
I was sexually assaulted as a child and work with students who have experienced similar trauma. Each of us lives out a life of circumstances and conditionality that, ultimately, we have less control of than we think. Fear, pain, joy, love — each of us fights these urges daily in a bid to live the best and most powerful life possible. My heart goes out to Szad for seeking a way forward and to Marcoux for loving another human being who desperately seems to need it.
[Re "Rescue Chief: Don Turner Leads Unruly Opposition," April 13]: I find it difficult to understand the thought process that led Rep. Don Turner to deliver "a stern message about a 13-cent increase in the cigarette tax that his fellow lawmakers had just approved." To suggest that this is just another tax is ludicrous. The purpose of this type of tax is to create an incentive for youth and others to not start smoking.
Nicotine is the most powerfully addictive drug available over the counter. It is easily available to youth via their older friends, and once they start, it is difficult to turn back. Statistics have shown that increasing the cost of tobacco has helped to slow down the starting gate for young people. As the fire and rescue chief for Milton, Turner should be aware of the health problems tobacco creates. The tax increase can go toward increased education and prevention activities and maybe save a kid's life down the road. Many cheers and appreciations for what you do for our town, Don. Please consider ramifications beyond the "tax" issue.
I remember being pleased when the farm-to-table movement started in Vermont ["Plates in the Air," April 20]. It would give the burgeoning small farmers buyers for their products and ensure that we diners would be getting fresher food, generally pesticide-free. I do love to eat out, so this was quite attractive to me. It is a given that the small Vermont farmer is more hands-on with animals and crops, which drives up the prices. Then the restaurant owner-chef has to charge more to the diner because of it. Makes sense! But this does not invite regular dining out — I can only afford so much!
Today, I must confess that I do not seek out a restaurant because it's farm-to-table. In fact, I'm finding it almost overdone. Also, to tell the truth, so many of the entrées are not really filling. I generally end up with a small piece of meat on a puddle of sauce with a carrot curl on top. It looks very interesting but doesn't fill the belly! Many Vermonters don't give a hoot where their food comes from. Olive Garden, Friendly's and Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub are always filled with people because the food is affordable and plentiful.
My suggestion to struggling restaurant owners would be to offer both or to stay open for only five days a week. Food and labor costs aren't supposed to be more than 33 percent, tops.
P.S. Just wanted to thank Seven Days for putting on Vermont Restaurant Week yet again! I love it, look forward to it and generally end up eating out at two or three restaurants — whichever's menu takes my fancy — often driving up to Burlington to do so!
Carolyn Van Vleck
I read with interest and curiosity the story of how Burlington city councilor and real estate agent Joan Shannon converted a run-down lakefront duplex into a large single-family home in Burlington's Lakeside neighborhood ["Will South End Revival Alter a Historic Lakeside Neighborhood?" April 27]. I've always wanted to ask her why her precious lakefront community was spared the selective and arbitrary property tax reassessment that the Bob Kiss administration leveled against most all of Burlington's lakefront properties except hers.
Shannon was on the Burlington City Council at the time, and Mayor Kiss was scrambling to find sources of income to cover his missteps such as the Burlington Telecom fiasco. Shannon and her neighbors saw no reassessment or property tax increase whatsoever, despite enjoying both lake views and lakefront access as majestic as most of the properties saddled with substantial tax increases. When the City of Burlington drastically increased property taxes for lakefront homes — up to 30 percent! — there was little public sympathy for those homeowners who allegedly had "deep pockets."
Exempting the Lakeside lakefront neighborhood from similar reassessment still smacks of politics. I guess that being a city councilor has fringe benefits! Her neighbors should say "Thank you, Joan" as they watch the sun set over Lake Champlain from their porches!
Thank you for the two recent articles on sharing the road ["Road Wars: Will New Rules Help Cyclists and Motorists Coexist?" April 6; WTF: "What Do Cyclists' Hand Signals Mean?" March 30]. As our roads become busier and our lives become more rushed, these articles were timely. As a bike commuter, I appreciated the information about the hand signals and rules of the road. I would like to add that use of handheld devices while driving is illegal. When you look down at your phone and take your eyes off of the road for even a second, you are endangering the lives of those around you. If whatever is happening on your phone is important enough to attract your attention, it is important enough for you to pull over. Driving a two-ton piece of metal demands and deserves your full attention. Please put down your device so that we can all reach our destinations safely.