December 16, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Regarding regional dispatch

I would like to pass along a few facts regarding Regional Dispatch.

Current model: you live in a non-hydrant area of Williston and your house is on fire. The Fire Department will respond and activate a water supply plan, bringing in water tankers and fire engines from multiple communities. Under the current model:

You dial 911. A call taker answers at one of the six Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in Vermont. They gather information regarding your emergency.

The call taker transfers the call to the Shelburne Police Department.

Shelburne Police dispatches Williston Fire, then does the following mutual aid requests:

Contacts South Burlington PD, who dispatches South Burlington Fire to respond with an Engine.

Contacts Burlington PD, who dispatches Burlington Fire to respond with a Ladder Truck.

Contacts Vermont National Guard Fire to respond with a Tanker.

Contacts Essex PD, who dispatches Essex Fire to respond with a Tanker, and Essex Junction Fire to respond with an Engine.

Contacts a Vermont State Police Dispatcher, who dispatches Underhill/Jericho Fire to respond with a Tanker.

Seven dispatch centers will be contacted to respond to Williston. Throughout the process, we trust that nothing gets ‘lost in the translation’ and we must call/radio Shelburne Police to confirm mutual aid response. In the meantime, your home is burning while we wait for the required resources to be dispatched.

Regional dispatch model: you dial 911. A dispatcher answers at the Regional Dispatch Center and gathers information regarding your emergency.

The dispatcher dispatches Williston Fire.

Once requested, steps four through eight above will be queued simultaneously with one dispatch.

The five dispatch agencies in Chittenden County are staffed by talented and capable dispatchers. Many, if not all, of these dispatchers will be offered to join the Regional Dispatch staff. Regional Dispatch is ultimately about time and efficiency regarding public safety. A regional system is more efficient, timely and could save a structure or life.

By supporting Article 9, you’re simply allowing the Town to enter into an agreement to join a Regional Dispatch system at a later date – IF the system meets the Town’s needs and IF it’s affordable. I appreciate you considering these facts.

Kenneth N. Morton, Jr.

Fire Chief

Article further traumatized family

I am writing to express my condemnation of the way you handled a recent tragedy, inflicting further pain onto an already traumatized family.

Last week, you wrote an article titled, “For CVU, a week of anger, sadness.”  In it, you explored the feelings that members of the CVU community are experiencing in the wake of the recent terrible shooting deaths of several young people at a high school in Florida.  You tied in a piece about the threat at Fair Haven Union, and the governor’s reaction.  You interviewed a local gun shop owner, and wrote about people rallying around gun legislation.

You also threw in a few paragraphs about the untimely death of my friends’ beloved child, illustrating the article with a picture of his locker. You used him in your story to explain why the school community decided to hold of on a protest just now – that this hometown tragedy eclipsed the national grief.

My friends just lost their child.  They chose to mourn privately before sharing their grief with their larger community. Imagine the anguish they felt when, upon venturing out in public for the first time since their son’s death a week ago, a well-meaning member of our community shared her sadness with them.  She let them know she read the article in The Observer and was so sorry to hear that he had shot himself.

He did not shoot himself. Since his death was reported in an article about gun violence, that community member drew those conclusions.

You behaved distastefully by mentioning him by name and quoting the principal’s email to the school community.

You never contacted the family prior to running your story and mentioning him, a minor who committed no crime, by name. You did not let them know that you had taken it upon yourself to let the wider community know of his passing. You did not allow the family time to decide when and how they wanted to inform people. You did not allow them to honor their child’s memory in their own time.

They thought they couldn’t feel more pain than they were already in, but you inflicted trauma upon trauma. The once comforting picture of their child’s locker with notes from classmates no longer eases their pain. Writing an obituary for you no longer feels like a way to honor their child. They have communicated all this to you, but you have yet to address this appropriately.

You haven’t managed the paper long. I suggest you think about what it takes to write for a community institution in our town.  We value respect, compassion and integrity.

Jessica LaClair


Vezina thank you

The family of Ralph Vezina Jr. would like to thank the Williston Fire & Rescue Dept. for the friendly and professional help they gave us. Also the Police Dept. You never know how great these departments are until you need them. They put their lives on the line every day for us. Please remember them and their families.

The children of Ralph Vezina Jr., and his sisters Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gokey and family, and Mr. and Mrs. Ken Bessette and family

Support for renewable energy resolution

I will be attending the Town Meeting on Monday night, March 5 at 7 pm at the Williston Central School Gymnasium, and voting YES on Article 4, the Renewable Energy Advisory Resolution. Here’s why: in response to Climate Change, the state developed a Comprehensive Energy Plan to move us off fossil fuels and to 90 percent renewable energy by 2050. Right now there are no laws in place to accomplish this. This resolution asks the state to develop a way to accomplish this goal.

97 percent of scientists, the Defense Department and the rest of the world agree that climate change is the greatest threat to the world. We can remember Irene and the havoc that hurricane brought to Vermont. We need to do our part as a person, a family, a town and a state to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing this threat. This resolution provides the means to talk to our representatives as a town to ask them to put some teeth behind the CEP so we can accomplish the goal of 90 percent by 2050 and do our part to preserve this planet for our children and grandchildren.

I urge my fellow Willistonians to come to the Town Meeting and vote YES on Article 4.

Brian Forrest


Vote ‘Yes’ on Article 4

I will be voting YES on Article 4, the Renewable Energy Resolution, on March 5 at 7 p.m. at Williston Central School. This resolution provides an exciting opportunity for Williston to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. This is a positive and inevitable step towards achieving the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Goal, but we need to act quickly in order to meet the statewide goals. Williston is a community with a lot to be proud of, and I would love to see us as a leader in the transition to renewable resources in Vermont.

Renewable energy is not simply an environmental issue. Our energy resources impact economic and human health as well. I want to see Williston using energy sources that provide clean air and water for the entire community. Its common sense to make decisions that will benefit the wellbeing of a community, and this resolution is a great way to start the conversation and make progress. We have access to more information about the impacts of climate change than any generation before us, and with that knowledge comes the responsibility to take action quickly. The necessity of transitioning away from fossil fuels can no longer be ignored.

I am grateful for and inspired by my fellow community members who have led the charge to get this resolution included in the Annual Town Meeting Day, and I hope we can express our gratitude for their hard work and dedication by showing up and voting YES on March 5.

Colleen Whitcomb


Vote NO on Article 7

This Town Meeting Day there will be a question on the ballot (Article 7) asking residents to authorize withdrawal of the Town from its membership in the Winooski Valley Park District. The members of the Williston Conservation Commission urge you to vote NO to this Article.

The Winooski Valley Park District (WVPD, is a cooperative partnership of seven member communities who share a common interest in protecting natural resources in the Winooski River Valley, and serves Burlington, Colchester, Essex, Jericho, South Burlington, Williston and Winooski. Its 18 parks are free to the public, regardless of your town of residence. The Town of Williston currently pays approximately $32,000 per year to the Winooski Valley Park District, or $3.35 per resident per year. This annual fee to the WVPD is less than 0.3 percent of the $11.1 million town budget. The Williston Selectboard recently voted, by a 3-2 margin, to include this Article on your 2018 ballot to end our 20+year membership in the WVPD.

Williston has the opportunity to turn a donated 30-acre parcel of land along the Winooski River off Route 2A over to the WVPD to develop into a public park. If we pull out, we lose this opportunity, and the Town lacks adequate resources to develop and maintain this park on its own. Continued membership with the WVPD will achieve our goal of having a WVPD-built and maintained park in Williston to ensure we are getting a good return for our membership dues. Williston membership allows the WVPD to maintain their parks, which many Williston residents enjoy, and also for WVPD’s other programs at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington and across Chittenden County.

Williston Conservation Commission members Kim Coleman, Gary Hawley, Jude Hersey, Eric Howe, Anthony Jordick, Jean Kissner, Carl Runge

The Second
Amendment argument

Today’s opponents to gun control feel their Second Amendment rights have been, and continue to be, eroded. Is citing the Bill of Rights from 223 years ago a rational and viable argument to resist gun restrictions in modern times? The language of the Second Amendment, adopted in 1795, had to do with the right for militia to gather and the right for citizens to freely bear arms to thwart any potentially autocratic government.

Firearms then and now: The basic firearms available to colonial America, as listed in the must-haves for militia duty, were “a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack.” Weapons for defense and putting food on the table were one and the same.

Modern firearms for recreational hunting versus those used in warfare are drastically different. The killing capability is immense. An “uninfringed” access to a pile of primed muskets in 1795 would be no match against one gunman with an AR-15. It would be over in seconds.

Militia then and now: The Militia Act of 1795 was amended several times, the last in 1903 establishing the United States National Guard as the chief body of organized military reserves. The last threat to our border occurred in 1917 (the “Border Conflict”), waged by the U.S. Army (not militia) along the boundary with Mexico.

Independent groups are scattered across our nation today with their own ideology, conspiracy theories and assault weapons. Some have had conflicts with ATF, the FBI and local authority.

In light of the historical perspective above and today’s unsolved domestic terrorism, citing the Second Amendment to resist gun control is clearly an emotional, irrational response.

Patricia Griffin

A change in behavior

Kelly Hedglin Bowen’s Guest Column in Feb. 22 Williston Observer expressed the sadness, anger and fear we feel from school shootings, especially the recent one at Douglas High School. But her suggestion that more gun control laws are the answer is flawed and inconsistent with experience.

In the 1950s and 60s, there were fewer gun control laws than today, but school shootings were unheard of. Since then, gun control laws were enacted, notably the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Brady Act of 1993. These, and other laws, established a wide range of restrictions, including licensing requirements for anyone in the business of selling firearms, forbidding sales to many categories of persons including felons and persons admitted to mental institutions, prohibiting sales of rifles to anyone under 18 years of age and hand guns to anyone under 21 years, and creating a national database for background checks. What happened over those decades that yielded violence in schools and other previously safe places despite more gun laws?

The answer is complex, but undoubtedly involves changes in our national ethic and behavior. We have seen a breakdown of families and neighborhoods that would instill responsible and accountable behavior in children and young adults, de-institutionalizjng persons with severe mental illness, advocacy by some politicians to convince segments of our population that they are victims of someone or something, unrelenting depiction of violence on TV, movies and electronic media, insufficient resources devoted to identifying and stopping perpetrators before they act, increased sales and use of illegal drugs, and a great deal more. Until these degradations of our country are changed, violence, including school shootings will continue. Passing more gun laws might give some people a false sense of accomplishment but, as we’ve seen in the past, would not make our schools safer.

Bret Powell


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