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Letters to the Editor 

Published July 3, 2012 at 8:52 p.m.

What Kind of Clover?

Can someone please follow up this article [“Whoa, Nellie! Essex Equine Got Burned by Unlucky Clover, Not Battery Acid,” June 27] with information about the specific species of clover and what horse owners should look for in their fields? Many horses live in Vermont, and I’m sure their owners, including myself, would like to prevent this from happening to their horses!

Ashley Gonyaw


Editor’s note: Staff reporter Ken Picard followed up with a blog post [Blurt, June 27] titled “More on Toxic Clover That Burned an Essex Horse’s Face.”


Applauding Agri-Mark

I was a dairy-farmer member of Agri-Mark and also worked with them while I managed a business that marketed pure Vermont fluid milk. As a result, I am somewhat familiar with the company.

I think Agri-Mark has done a great job building the Cabot brand since they purchased it several years ago. And their success is due to the choices they have made. The fact that they chose to remove the Vermont name from the Cabot packaging is simply the logical consequence of those choices [Blurt, “Say Cheese! The Cabot Labeling Saga Continues,” June 26; Last 7, June 27].

Is Agri-Mark/Cabot a Vermont company? Nope. It was their choice to incorporate in Delaware.

Is Agri-Mark/Cabot owned by its members? Nope. Their member farmers do not have an ownership stake in Agri-Mark. It is a membership — not an owners’ — co-op.

Does Agri-Mark make all of the Cabot-branded products in Vermont? Nope. They choose to make their butter in Massachusetts.

Does all of Agri-Mark’s milk come from Vermont dairy farms? Nope. Back in the late 1980s, I was told that Agri-Mark determined that the future of dairy farming in most of New England was bleak. If the co-op was to remain viable, they would have to shift their production base to New York state, specifically western New York. That was obviously a smart business choice.

I want to applaud Agri-Mark for all they have done for Cabot since they bought the bankrupt Vermont company. Obviously the company has a very talented team of managers and directors. But, by Agri-Mark’s choice, Cabot is very, very different from the little Vermont dairy co-op that it was before they bought it. I want to thank them for being honest about it.

Steven A. Judge



Boaters Pay Plenty

[Re Feedback: “Price is the Problem,” June 13]: Wrong, wrong, wrong; Burlington’s prices are totally fair. I had a slip at the Boathouse for many years and, trust me, some years the slip fee was more than “pocket change” for me. Yes, boating is a choice, but should those who choose a different form of recreation decide boaters should have it socked to them? Not all boaters are as rich as you might think.

Should bicyclists pay fees for the city to maintain their bike paths? How about launch fees each time you use a ramp to put your kayak in? How about hiking the Long Trail? Wanna pay the Appalachian Mountain Club to maintain it for you? I don’t think so. In Vermont we have a lot to choose from. Let’s celebrate that, and let’s not start attacking one person’s choice because it’s different from yours.

Peter Goldsmith

South Burlington


The Cost of Cats

Peggy Larson is a true hero [“A Cut Above,” June 27]! She was right about veterinary costs. Recently a friend wanted to adopt a shelter cat but was worried about possible future vet bills. Of the four cats we adopted, three of them were sheltered over a year: One was there three years, seven months. Three are on prescription diets at $31 a bag. Most of my paycheck goes for mortgage, the rest for cats. Only one veterinarian has offered a discount.

We have a cat-oriented home with a fenced-in yard, ideal for senior cats, but we are afraid to adopt more because of vet bills. Vaccinating alone puts a huge strain on us. It isn’t the veterinarian’s problem that we adopt shelter cats and strays, but it is shameful that the only thing preventing cats from having great homes is the expense. The last cat we adopted had a broken spirit from sitting in one room for almost four years. She was nasty and aloof, and the shelter wanted us to take her for free just to get her into a home. She spent the first six months with us sitting in a basket. Today she is a beautiful, friendly cat who loves chasing leaves as they fall from the trees. When I see how changed she is, I want to adopt another cat; there are a couple that have been there for more than two years. It pains me to think of them sitting there, stressed and broken-spirited, when they could be here rolling on the grass, chasing leaves.

Kerry Edmunds



You Mean, Cut-Rate?

I read with a great deal of interest the article entitled “A Cut Above” in your [June 27] animal issue. I have never been to Peggy Larson’s spay/neuter clinic, and only she can speak to the medical procedures and precautions taken at her facility. However, I was startled to see in the photo what appear to be three male cats lying one after the other on newspapers, being neutered by a surgeon not wearing sterile surgical gloves — or any gloves at all.

A spay or neuter is not an “easy” or quick surgery; it is often the most invasive medical procedure an animal will have in its life. Without pain control, an incision into the abdominal wall or scrotum is painful. Questions to be asked prior to a veterinary surgery include:

  • Is preanesthetic blood work performed?
  • Is an intravenous catheter placed?
  • Is an endotracheal tube and anesthetic gas used?
  • Is a trained veterinary nurse or veterinarian monitoring the anesthesia?
  • What monitors are used, i.e., ECG, blood pressure, body temperature?
  • Are warmed intravenous fluids administered during the surgery?
  • Is the incision site sterilely prepared?
  • Does the surgeon scrub and wear sterile gloves, cap and gown?
  • Who monitors recovery from anesthesia?
  • Are pain meds administered?

I am thankful that the full-service veterinary hospitals and specialty practices in the Burlington area practice to the highest standards of modern veterinary medicine. I am not looking for quick, but for safe and comfortable.

Elizabeth B. Miquel, VMD


Miquel co-owns the Essex Veterinary Center.

Grow Up, Vermont

[Re Fair Game, “Plane Spoken,” June 20]: Seriously? I wonder if all the wannabe hippies realize that the only reason they are free to speak out as they do is expressly because those freedoms are guaranteed and protected by the very people they don’t want “in their backyard.” I’m sure Plattsburgh or Watertown would welcome these planes with open arms, and, yes, freedom isn’t free; we pay for it every day, every hour, every minute of our (mostly) taxpaying lives, so before you go whining about the military-industrial complex sucking up your pseudo-tax dollars, maybe ask yourself why you’re allowed to bitch and moan about everything from train whistles to airplanes.

This is complete and utter hypocrisy in a state that presents itself as the queen of green but where landowners cry and complain about windmills “in their backyard,” Vermont. And Chittenden County in particular needs a serious makeover to clear up a bad case of two-facedness that seems to have gone way beyond the point of constructive protest.

Steven Jones

Plattsburgh, N.Y.

In Defense of Burlington High School

Richard Handelsman’s letter about diversity in the Burlington schools [Feedback, “How Does SBHS Do It?” June 20] is misleading and sheds more fog than light about integrating immigrant children with challenging needs. By citing the successes of a young Asian and implying that SBHS has some special formula for success that Burlington ought to follow, Handelsman forgets that Kevin Wang comes from a highly educated (his dad is a UVM economics professor) family who have lived in the USA for more than 30 years.

Mr. Wang deserves his accolades, but his profile is very different from the profiles of new immigrant students at BHS, especially the new refugee immigrants from Africa.

In an atmosphere of tension about our public schools’ capacity to integrate immigrants with challenging needs, Kevin Wang should not be the poster boy for the successful integration of these immigrants. It would have been more appropriate had Handelsman cited one of the scores of BHS graduates from Asia, Africa, the Balkans or Eastern Europe who came from more humble backgrounds, distinguished themselves while at BHS, and who went on to college and successful lives thereafter.

So to answer Mr. Handelsman’s question, “How does SBHS do it?”: probably not any differently than any other Chittenden County high school with talented and family-supported immigrant students. The better question is how well do all our Chittenden County high schools serve immigrant students with challenging needs, and why does BHS have more of these students than any other high school in the county?

John J. Cane


Diner Pays Off

How nice to see a positive success story of a local business — the Pearl Street Diner [“A Pearl in the Rough,” June 12]. Having seen the before-and-after pictures, it truly is an American dream come true. Hard work does indeed reap rewards. The diner is an asset to your town.

Jane Kaufmann

Redington Shores, Fla.

Good luck, Gekas

[Re Fair Game, “Ready, Aim, Fired,” June 27]: While I applaud Cassandra Gekas for her public-spirited announcement as a candidate for lieutenant governor, I note that she knew about the employment rule she was about to break. Paul Burns was right to protect the political neutrality of his organization and, while it might seem harsh to let Gekas go, he did the right thing.

I wish Cassandra Gekas very good luck in her quest for public office. She is taking on a very popular incumbent, so she’ll need all the help — and luck — she can get. I also hope she’ll be able to find another job with health benefits very soon.

Doesn’t this point out the madness of tying health insurance to one’s employment? It just makes no sense! Where else but in the United States could this even happen? Where else would a person lose his or her health insurance because he or she lost a job for any reason? All other “civilized” countries have health benefits assured for their citizens through publicly funded, i.e., “socialized,” medicine — a much better idea — especially when the private insurers are not part of the equation.

Gerry Slaney


A Little Health-Care Reform History, Please

[Re “Some Vermonters Are Trying to Stop Health Care Reform — One Metaphor at a Time,” June 13]: For 18 years the Ethan Allen Institute pointed out how unwise government intervention has made a costly mess of health care, critiqued single-payer foolishness and posed the hard questions that single-payer advocates, driven onward through the fog by their mystical socialist theology, simply refuse to face.    

Interested parties can find all of the commentaries, reports and fact sheets (see especially “Ten Hard Questions”) at www.ethanallen.org, along with my 1992 Senate speech against former governor Howard Dean’s health care megabill (Act 160 of 1992), every provision of which was abandoned, repealed, failed or had grievous consequences.

For historical trivia buffs: On the day in 1993 the Vermont Health Care Authority’s plan was released, the Burlington Free Press carried a front-page story headlined “Governor to unveil health plan: Single payer out of favor.” In it, Dean was quoted as saying “I’m not interested in debating with the Progressives. [They] have to get over this obsession with a Canadian-style single-payer system.” Where is that guy now that Vermont needs him?

John McClaughry


McClaughry is the founder and former president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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