May 26, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Maple Leaf Farm concerns

The Maple Leaf Farm (MLF) controversy is not about Williston residents lacking compassion. It is about whether a drug/alcohol treatment facility should be allowed to operate in an area zoned solely for residential and agricultural use.

According to MLF’s website, MLF plans to serve over 1,800 patients annually at Pine Ridge School. (Pine Ridge served 78 students). It plans to open with 56 inpatient beds, increase to 96, and then expand to 137 beds. In addition, MLF will conduct outpatient and day treatment programs.

I know of no stipulation to prevent MLF from adding additional beds, or expanding its services, in the future.

According to MLF’s executive director, half the patients at MLF are admitted for opiate drug addictions, including OxyContin and heroin, some patients are there by court order, and MLF patients “often” have additional medical and/or mental health issues. Despite this patient population, MLF does not employ any security officers, relying instead on local/state police and rescue crews when needed. MLF currently employs one nurse, and no physicians, on site overnight to care for 48 patients.

To obtain a zoning variance, MLF must provide a “substantial public benefit” to Williston.  MLF claims the benefits are new jobs, use of a ball field and conservation of open space. The claim of new jobs was reduced from an estimated 85 to 20. The ball field is located at the bottom of high-speed French Hill, and is frequently flooded. The open space is for all practical purposes already conserved due to its inaccessibility and characteristics.

Yes, MLF patients need compassionate treatment. However, our zoning regulations cannot be chipped away at just because an organization is a good cause. I do not agree Pine Ridge is an appropriate location, nor that MLF meets the “substantial public benefit” requirement.

Kate Martin



Do you know how fast your child’s bus driver is driving?

On Nov. 15 at 12:47 p.m. I was on Interstate 89 coming from Kennedy Drive to Shelburne Road. There was a lot of traffic. As I got closer to the ramp at Exit 13, I noticed a school bus coming at a really fast speed. Next thing, I was sideswiped on the passenger side. My mirror was broken and there was a long scrape from the passenger front door. The bus never stopped. It was on the way to the Shelburne Museum to pick up a class of students going back to Williston Central School from a class trip. The bus read “Williston Town School Dist – W-6.”

I was not hurt enough to go to the hospital, but I did have a headache and upset stomach from the accident. If the bus hit a little harder, I would have hit the guardrails on my left.

I did receive a check for repair within four days. It was under $2,500. No one ever called me to see how I was doing.

I feel like the bus company wanted to sweep this hit and run under the carpet.

There were no children on the bus at the time, but the driver was going way too fast. I followed the bus, but lost sight of it. I drove right back to Williston Central School.

I spoke to the principal, and he already knew about the accident, since another motorist called the state police about a hit and run, and they called the school. After talking to the principal, I drove to the state police barracks and spoke to a trooper, he also looked at my car. The school bus driver claims she did not know she hit anything.

I have a good driving record and I am careful around school buses and other traffic.

Rita Shand



Are we being held hostage?

Just as there is an ongoing debate about the sale and safety of certain firearms, there is also a debate on whether shooters should use lead bullets. Both issues are defended by gun groups. There are two federal bills in the Senate and the House that, if passed, will limit the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the use of lead ammunition. The sale of guns and toxic lead in bullets is a hot issue today, even before the Newtown tragedy.

We know that, over time, lead can be dangerous to our health and is considered a “heavy metal” that can also lead to behavioral problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and the American Association of Pediatrics report that the number of children at risk has increased fivefold after the CDC lowered its threshold for diagnosis. There is no safe level of exposure to lead.

A spokesman for the University of Minnesota School of Public Health says that indoor and outdoor ranges leave misty particles of lead in the air that can be carried home to families on their clothes. A change of clothes is recommended before leaving the range. Shooters can inhale the lead dust when shooting, when loading and cleaning a gun.

Lead has been removed from paint and fuel, but still hunters can shoot game where bullets can explode and leave lead inside an animal that will be eaten.

Years ago we did not know the affect tobacco had on our bodies. What does the future hold when it comes to lead and our bodies? Hopefully we will come to a decision soon to outlaw lead bullets and require shooters to use steel bullets.

Ginger Isham



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