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One More Video Store

While reading “Movies You Missed & More” by Margot Harrison [May 8], I noticed a tiny message at the bottom of the page: “Though we no longer have a local source of indie and art flicks (i.e., a video store)…” Excuse me? How about Downstairs Video on State Street in our fair capital city, Montpelier? Thanks in great part to our original owners, Rick Winston and Andrea Serota, we have an extensive collection of foreign and art flicks. Check us out! One day you can tell your children you “rented” movies in a “video store.”

Sequana Skye

Cabot

Writer’s note: I mistakenly used the royal “we” in my note attached to “Movies You Missed & More.” Downstairs Video is wonderful, but this writer is too far away to use it as a movie source. More power to those who can. 

Worth Saving?

Although Judith Levine makes some valid points in “America’s Heritage: Going, Going, Gone” [Poli Psy, April 24], she stretches the truth a little bit to do so. Her first paragraph states, “New York City is selling its public libraries and schools — unique, historic, beloved neighborhood institutions — to private developers. They will tear them down, construct steel-and-glass luxury condos and office towers in their places, and tuck the books and kids back in on the first floors.”  

Having just moved to Vermont from NYC, I can confirm from personal observation that most of the buildings in question are not particularly noteworthy examples of architecture. There has been some controversy around their planned sale, but not much. Granted, P.S. 199 is arguably of some worth as an example of modernist architecture, but the other schools — P.S. 191 and the School of Cooperative Technical Education on East 96th Street —are downright ugly. They came out of the same hideous architectural movement that replaced Penn Station, not the glorious architecture that preceded it. The mid-Manhattan library branch that is slated for sale is not the iconic Beaux Arts building that backs up to Bryant Park but a satellite location that was established in 1970 across the street, in a fairly nondescript Midtown structure.  The Brooklyn Heights branch also slated for sale was built in 1962 and needs millions of dollars in repairs.

Contrary to Ms. Levine’s assertion, these are not the library buildings “financed by private donors such as the Carnegies and the Astors.” Their sale and ultimate destruction will finance much-needed and generally well-received plans to renovate and repair the ones that do match that description.

That said, the planned sale and destruction of the Pacific branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, a 1904 Beaux Arts structure whose construction was indeed financed by Andrew Carnegie, does seem a mistake.

John McKay

Calais

Flatlander Syrup

In [“Do Flatlander Cows Count as Vermont-Raised Meat?” May 1], butcher Cole Ward argues, “If some farmer was going to New York with a tanker and bringing back maple sap, it wouldn’t be Vermont maple syrup.”

Well, I hunt in Pennsylvania in Bradford County on land where a farmer sells sap that gets shipped on tankers to St. Johnsbury, Vt., to be made into 100 percent pure Vermont maple syrup. It’s a common practice, actually.

Kevin Lawrence

Newbury

Love the Local Music

[Re Soundbites, “Brotherly Love,” April 24]: I was at the final Rocket Shop event with Tim Brick and the DuPont Brothers, and it was intimate and great. The musicians are wonderful. Before I arrived, I caught the interview live online and really enjoyed the three people involved and the information gleaned. Thanks for the article. Keep up the great local work!

Ted Sharpe

Burlington

Better Than Barrels

In [“Vermont’s Rain-Barrel Project: Lake Saver or Drop in the Bucket?” March 27] farmer Jim Kleptz commented on the negative contribution of row crops, such as corn, to the water-quality issue. To a degree this might have been true in the past; however, farmers today are making strides to improve soil health and water filtration capacity. Not only does this improve crop yields, but it also improves water quality in the state’s waterways.

Examples of this attention to soil health include increased cover cropping in the fall, improved tillage practices including no-till, zone and strip tilling, and the immediate incorporation of manure upon spreading. More research and on-farm trials are going on in the state to find even better ways that are directly adapted to our climate and our soils.

Farmers are increasingly aware of their role in the health of the state’s rivers, streams and lakes. Healthy soils not only assist in improving water quality but also bring improved yields that reduce costs for farmers, in particular grain purchases.

Organizations like the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, in conjunction with research and advice from UVM Extension, are showing farmers that there are new ways to “skin the cat” of raising quality feed and crops and improving water quality. There is a long way to go, but steady improvement is happening.

John Roberts

West Cornwall

Roberts is president of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition.

Ice Cream Nightmare

[Re “New Ben & Jerry’s Distributor Freezes Out Small Retailers,” April 24]: I lived in Colchester and Burlington for 15 and a half years. I now live in Saco, Maine, where the new distributor of Ben & Jerry’s is located: Thibodeau’s Ice Cream, also known as Sure Winner Foods. I am not overly impressed with this company. Nor am I shocked this is happening. As soon as I heard the news of Unilever buying B&J’s, I thought, Well, there goes another great company. It is unfortunate that no higher-ups at B&J’s can say that this is hurting those who helped make the product successful. But in today’s economy, they are probably too fearful of losing their jobs. I say it’s sad, but kudos to those stores that are letting go of the product, as the greed has let go of these stores!

Dan Grant

Saco, Maine

Donated Dollars

One must applaud the efforts of the individuals highlighted in your recent article “Money for Something” [April 3]. The featured nonprofits have been able to secure funds that benefit youth, the arts and educational organizations — all important parts of our community.

Seven Days correctly stated there are more than 6000 nonprofits in Vermont. But not all of them are high-profile, big-name causes. Approximately 112 are food shelves, and most function with little or no paid staff. A few of the bigger ones are eligible for large grants, but most are not. Instead, they must rely on community funding from individuals, businesses, and religious and civic organizations.

Most food shelves do receive regular donations of canned and packaged items, which is an enormous help. However, in order to keep their shelves stocked, they must purchase 75 percent of their food. Shopping around for the best price on needed items takes time and effort but is the only way to stretch donated dollars.

There are as many as 86,000 Vermonters in need of emergency food assistance. Your local food shelf is directly providing help to your neighbors in need. Please keep them in mind when you consider making a monetary donation to a worthy, vital cause.

Deb Krempecke

East Johnson

Krempecke is manager of Morrisville’s Lamoille Community Food Share.

Save It

Thanks for your article “Dollars and Sense” [April 3] featuring Lisa Helme, the state’s director of financial literacy. Lisa is right in saying that people are feeling “angst” about money. More than ever, responsibility is being placed on individuals to manage their own financial well-being at a time when the rules are rapidly changing, living costs are increasing, income is less, and income sources are restricted and tenuous. Financial education has become critical for all Vermonters, and that education has to continue throughout life, because each new phase presents a new set of issues and lessons.

I wanted to mention a few specific resources that will allow readers to connect with local, reliable sources of financial education. One is the “Clearinghouse” section of moneyed.vermont.gov, the website for Lisa’s program. Another is United Way’s Vermont 2-1-1. Simply dial 211 and request information about financial and credit education services. Another very useful resource is the institution where readers do their banking. All Vermont banking institutions offer financial literacy training and support to their customers.

And, since I’m here, I’ll mention CVOEO’s Growing Money Program, which provides financial and credit training and individual coaching to low-to-moderate-income residents of Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties (cvoeo.org). Residents of other counties can find similar services by contacting their region’s Community Action Agency.

Jim White

Shelburne

White is director of the Financial Futures Program run by the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.

No Sympathy for IP

[Re “For a North Country Paper Mill, Natural Gas Could Be a Lifesaver,” March 20; “What the Frack? Middlebury College at Odds Over Addison County Pipeline Project,” May 15]: Before anyone feels too sorry for International Paper and how tough things are for them, they should read their annual report for 2012 that was presented to their shareholders. In 2012 International Paper realized a net profit of nearly $800 million. In addition to that, they enjoyed net decreases in debt of $356 million. Since 2010 they have acquired Temple-Inland, Andhra Pradesh and SCA Packaging as well as entering into other joint ventures. Their cash expenditures for acquisitions totaled $3.7 billion.

Another statement in their report was: “The company’s facilities are in good operating condition and are suited for the purposes for which they are presently being used.” In 2012 they had $3 billion in cash flow as compared to $2.7 billion in 2011 and $1.6 billion in 2010.

I can see no reason why any landowner in Vermont would have any interest whatsoever in hosting a potentially dangerous, high-pressure natural-gas transmission line, the sole purpose of which is to make this company more profitable! Despite the fact that they will be making a contribution toward bringing transmission closer to Rutland, I can’t see why it could be considered to be for the public good of the residents of Vermont in general, especially since it is against the will of the communities through which the gas line will pass.

James Duclos

Cornwall

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