Letters to the Editor (12/3/09)

Dec. 3, 2009

 

More government means less freedom

 

The U.S. Senate is considering legislation that its proponents claim will provide a government option for medical insurance coverage characterized by low cost, universal coverage, penalties for employers who don’t provide coverage and no significant tax increase.

In fact, this legislation is less about medical insurance than about government control over important and personal aspects of our lives. The proponents cannot dispute that this plan will cut Medicare, increase taxes for millions of people, increase the burden on states to subsidize Medicare and Medicaid and destroy competition among providers of coverage. Physicians, nurses and hospitals will lose their independence. Government bureaucrats will more and more decide which medical services will be available and who will receive them. The federal government will control a significant portion of the economy.

This legislation rejects less intrusive measures to fix current problems such as assigned risk pools to provide coverage to the uninsured, portability of health care plans, health plan savings accounts, incentives for wellness behavior and openness in billing and payment of medical and hospital bills.

Every time the government “gives” the people something, it takes away a piece of our liberty — and we can never get it back. Although Vermont’s Congressional delegation seems ignorant of history and impervious to the harm being created, everyone who cares about the liberty and freedom that these proposals threaten should contact Leahy, Sanders and Welch and inform them.

 

Bret P. Powell, Williston

 

 

School budget 101

 

Your Williston School Board, along with community “budget buddies,” has begun to work on the budget for next year. We began the process with a baseline budget. Currently, we are looking at an increase of 1.05 percent to keep all programs at the same level as the current year.

We have reviewed Operations and Maintenance, Technology and Special Education. The boilers at Williston Central School need to be replaced within the next few years. We need to keep up with our replacement schedule for computers. Special Education is projecting an increase based on needs of the students served in our schools. We receive reimbursement from the state for a portion of these services.

On Dec. 3 we will look at instructional staffing and supervisory union assessments. The next step in the budget process involves reviewing decision packets. Decision packets are created by administration and staff and they provide a rationale for what they are asking for along with the cost of the request. Equipment for Technology, additional services for English Language Learners, and the boilers are some examples of possible decision packets. The board decides which ones will move forward and votes on a final budget to present to the community in January.

Reconfiguration will require moving materials and staff. There is a cost for the removal of the modular classrooms and restoring the front of Allen Brook School. These will be one-time costs and they support our goal of keeping all students of the same grade in one building and providing two- or four-year house options for grades five through eight.

The board has a challenging task given the current economic climate. We welcome input through budget meetings, e-mail or speaking to us directly.

We also encourage community members to attend a budget forum on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. at WCS.

 

Darlene Worth, Holly Rouelle, Laura Gigliotti, Keith Roy and Deb Baker-Moody, Williston School Board

 

 

Concerned about lead

 

The situation posed by lead-contaminated runoff on a neighboring property to the North Country Sportsmen’s Club is deeply concerning. Although test results so far have not shown that nearby drinking water supplies are contaminated, once people’s wells test positive, it will be too late. More testing is needed of both surface and well water.

All of us who live in the Ag-Rural zone of Williston rely on wells for our drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency has strict rules about dumping lead waste into the environment. For almost 10 years, the EPA also has published very clear “Best Management Practices” for spent lead shot at outdoor shooting ranges. The EPA guidelines were developed with the support of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and other wildlife-management and environmental groups. These “Best Management Practices” include containment, reclamation of spent shot and annual testing and treatment of the soil.

It appears that, while hundreds of tons of lead may have been deposited over the last 37 years by NCSC, no action to control potential lead contamination to the environment was taken until just a few months ago, and this only after an outcry of concern by their neighbors.

I would like NCSC to be a responsible steward of the environment, our watershed and our drinking water supply, but this has not happened. It’s clear we need independent third party monitoring of nearby well-water and surface runoff, and to demand strict adherence by NCSC to EPA “Best Management Practices” for lead shot. Responsible stewardship of the environment is everybody’s responsibility. It appears that surface runoff on nearby properties already has dangerously high levels of lead. We should not wait until our drinking wells are contaminated.

 

David Yandell, Williston