March 17, 2011
Much anticipation for Bill’s tales
What a pleasure it is to read about the adventures of “Cambridge Billy,” aka Bill Skiff. Being a native Vermonter, I can appreciate and relate to his experiences. Now you have to understand that Cambridge Billy was born and brought up in Lamoille County, not exactly a hot bed of learning. I mean, where else would you take piglets and paint them black and sell them for pet Portuguese pot-bellied pigs?
Cambridge Billy was born and raised on a farm in Cambridge. As we read about his adventures, one wonders when he got any farm work done. Our sympathies go out to his brother and sister, who got stuck with all the work, while Cambridge Billy was checking out the rats in the local dump.
As time evolved, we have had several iterations of Cambridge Billy’s talents. His portrayal of the circuit rider preacher can scare the heck out of a sinner and still get the collection plate loaded with coin. There was his portrayal of the Vermont farmer cleaning out the gutter and still talking and passing out words of wisdom (his not mine). Who can forget the part about the Old Vermont skier with his Johnson pants and wool mittens and the long underwear with the trap door in the back?
Ah, yes. We wait in anticipation for the next flow of words of wisdom, Lamoille verbiage and musings from Cambridge Billy. It makes one wonder what is in the water in the Lamoille River.Mike Coates, Williston
Schools not using a good example of funding
I live in Williston. My children attend Williston Schools. In the latest school paper, school officials thanked Shaw’s for donating to the school up to $750 from purchases of Frito-Lay and Pepsi products. This represents 1 percent of these product sales through May 19. That’s a lot of junk food.
It is my concern that our schools are accepting this money, and sending “thanks” via the school paper for this “gift.” It is sneaky advertising aimed at school districts who are crunched for money, and at families and children looking to schools for credibility.
Obesity rates are at an all-time high. In 1970, the obesity rate for children was 4 percent. In 2008, the rate was 20 percent (www.intermountainhealthcare.org). Soda consumption has doubled among females and tripled among males (www.everyday_wisdom.com/soft-drink-consumption). Soft drink consumption is a contributing factor to childhood obesity.
Frito-Lay products contain MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG, along with aspartame, a non-caloric sweetener, is known to cause brain tumors and neurological problems, including memory and attention issues (www.Mercola.com). These products clearly do not support a child’s learning. It is incongruent to be taught that junk foods are unhealthy, and then to have the school accept funding from the sources that make these foods.
If you’d like to support the schools financially, drop off a few dollars with one of the secretaries, earmarked for the CY Mentoring Program (which this money is to support), rather than buying the aforementioned junk foods. And if Shaw’s or other stores want to support schools in the future, I would urge them to give a percentage of fruits and vegetables sold, and the school to send out that notice in the school paper.Esther Palmer, Williston
Government funding needs to change
The President, Congress and the news media say that everything is “on the table” that could be looked at for financial cuts. This is not true. The hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid are spent with American hard-earned tax dollars to buy the friendship of foreign governments and militaries, even when these recipients are not democracies, but outright dictatorships. Why are these billions not “on the table?”
These foreign governments have never helped the United States in any crisis. This includes our latest one, when large financial institutions and Wall Street held this country hostage.
In addition, our Congressmen and even Federal prosecutors are offered positions in these same financial institutions. They then become board members for thousands of dollars in pay when they leave Congressional office. Rather than prosecuting these thieves, our Congress has chosen to bail them out.
Why does our Congress take these funds, which should instead be used to help the elderly, the homeless, our veterans, and the mentally ill? These are America’s helpless citizens who have to choose between paying for their life-sustaining medications or food.
Our Congress has an obligation to put financial institutions and Wall Street “on the table.” The problem is our Congressmen are all too frequently on the payroll of these very institutions. How can we describe these men and women as patriotic or moral? We, the citizens of the United States, must demand term limits of no more than eight years for our Congressmen.
Was it simple near-sightedness that caused the passage of a law limiting the Presidency to two terms while neglecting the equal arm of our government’s potential to become career “generals.” The taxpayers then provide Congressmen with million dollar retirements and free top-notch medical care for the remainder of their lives. Wake up voters, and stop being ignorant.Gorman Hebert, Williston
Detailing the shutdowns at Japanese nuclear power plants
The 3 of the 6 online boiling water reactors at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant in Japan were automatically shut down after the 8.9 Sendai earthquake on March 11.
About an hour later, their back up power systems were damaged by a tsunami and failed. Cooling is needed for this type of reactor to remove decay heat. Without cooling, the core of the reactors will get hot and boil away the coolant from around the nuclear fuel. This causes runaway heating.
The Unit 1 at Fukushima is a 439MW light water reactor that was built in 1967 and went online in 1970. It is scheduled to be retired this month.
The venting of coolant and the core meltdown at Unit 1 is a messy problem but is probably controllable. The latest word on the problems at Fukushima is that Unit 3 may be superheating as well. This reactor is a 784MW BWR that is fueled with something called mixed oxide fuel. Mixed oxide fuels are generally made from used nuclear materials or surplus weapons grade plutonium. Mixed oxide is a combination of uranium and plutonium oxide pellets. Mixed oxide material fuels Fukushima reactor Unit 3.
Uranium oxide melts at 2,865 degrees Celsius, making it a pretty safe fuel. The melting point of plutonium oxide isn’t important because plutonium oxide spontaneously combusts on contact with air.
I hope they can keep the coolant that covers the core of Unit 3 at Fukushima, or we might see something rather unique. It isn’t possible to generate a nuclear explosion from a reactor, but unlike nuclear weapons that contain less than a hundred pounds of fissionable material, nuclear reactors contain many tons of these highly reactive materials.Shelley Palmer, Williston
Support the chuck wagon
We’re writing to introduce an idea we had to support the Williston Community Food Shelf. We’re calling it the Williston Chuck Wagon – a mobile food drive.
On the weekends, we’ll be canvassing a Williston Village neighborhood (we’ll rotate neighborhoods) to collect donations for the food shelf. We’ll be on foot and bike (collecting the food in a bike trailer – that’s the chuck wagon part) and we’ll wear red pinnies so people will start to recognize us. We’ll call the Williston Police Department to let them know what neighborhood we’ll be canvassing that weekend, and if your neighborhood has an association, we’ll do our best to contact the association in advance so they can let you know we’ll be in the area.
In addition to current non-perishable food items, we will also be happy to collect personal hygiene items and pet food.
Thank you in advance for your support.Chris Castano and Joe Castano, Williston