April 20, 2018

Letters to the Editor

November 21st, 2013

Thanks to Williston rescue crews

On Nov. 10, my horse, Tom, had become stuck in an old pond that had filled in with mud and swamp silt that sits behind my house. We found Tom stuck up to his chest in cold thick mud. In a panic, we called the Williston Fire Department. They arrived shortly thereafter and assessed the situation, made phone calls, and organized a rescue response. Within 40 minutes, we had a local excavator Gary Gryzna there, Colchester Technical Rescue, Williston Fire Department, Hinesburg Fire Department, my veterinarian from Williamstown and many neighbors and family members.

After three hours my Belgian draft horse was pulled to dry ground without a scratch on him. The rescue involved digging out the deep mud that surrounded Tom and allowing the stream that was feeding the mud to be re-directed. That work was done by Mr. Gryzna, who, with his experience, was able to do this without hurting Tom. Colchester Rescue was able to place straps around Tom and use “flat boards” to slowly try and pull him out, while Williston Fire supplied water to flow through hoses where Tom’s legs were to loosen the mud and break the suction to prevent Tom from breaking any limbs.

I have had calls and emails from across the country in regards to this amazing rescue.

The Town of Williston should sleep well at night knowing that we have such amazing people on our rescue crews. I will be forever grateful for the talent, professionalism and knowledge that these folks have. The compassion and discipline all the rescue personnel showed that day is beyond compare. I am proud to be a member of this great town. Everyone who came to Tom’s rescue that day is a hero in our eyes and his.

Thank you to all who were there!

Millie Whitcomb

Chemical toxicity a federal problem

In a Nov. 14, 2013 Guest Column (“The time for toxic chemical reform is now”), Taylor Johnson of VPIRG called on Vermont citizens and legislators to enact bold new legislation to control the toxic effects to humans and the environment of the more than 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S. The great majority of these have not been exhaustively tested. He encourages passage of a Vermont law that might prompt our leaders in Washington to act on comprehensive toxic chemical reform. I agree that improved federal control and monitoring of chemicals that affect our daily lives (medications, household or agriculture products, food additives, etc.) is desirable. However, it would be very difficult for the state to write a law that has sufficient breadth and depth to address the daunting task of evaluating, let alone testing, even part of the huge number of chemicals used in a myriad of applications and exposure levels.

Risk assessment is key to evaluation of chemical toxicity issues. Few things have zero risk, as we understand and accept when we start our morning commute. With a chemical, we ask: can it cause harm to humans or to the environment? Under what circumstances? What are the odds? Are there safer alternatives?

Proper risk assessment is experimentally time consuming and expensive, the conclusions often being arguable among scientists or in the courts. Thus we rely on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the safe use of chemicals. Admittedly underfunded, the EPA has set a high priority on developing new methods to speed safety evaluations and decrease reliance on animal testing. Certainly, a city or state has the right to try to regulate a specific chemical or family of chemicals. However, I would caution against trying to write broad local or state laws, which might prove to be un-enforceable, or even counterproductive, in the long run.

Bill Geiger


Remembering a Vermont hurricane

Every November, I remember the hurricane that came through Addison County when I was 10 years old. I was living in East Monkton in a small, two-story house next to the Lane family’s second dairy farm.

On the afternoon of the predicted storm, my mother told my father they should go to Bristol and do the “trading” and not wait until evening. “Trading” meant buying groceries.

My sister and I went to bed upstairs. Sometime later we heard the howling wind and my parents came upstairs to get us. My dad had nailed the front door closed so it would not blow open. My grandfather was staying with us. He was thin and frail. My parents’ bedroom was at the back of the house. My dad opened the bedroom window and we formed a line, hanging on to each other’s hands. Our neighbor was waiting to drive us to the big farmhouse. We got to his house and quickly walked onto the large porch. The wind was blowing so hard it took my grandfather across the porch and someone grabbed him. We spent the night with these neighbors. The women mopped up water that came in and men took care of the doors and windows.

Early the next morning, my dad and the neighbor man went out to the big barn to check on the cows in the barn. The barn roof had collapsed and they had to shoot some of the cows that were still alive. We soon learned that two other large dairy barns nearby also had heavy damage and were either blown down or lost roofs.

We stayed with our neighbors for a short time as the storm had blown the roof of our house completely off.

Ginger Isham


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