Letters to the Editor

Heroin, from Richmond to the Senate

Last November, on a cold weekday night, I was truly moved by the more than 100 Richmond residents who attended an informational meeting on the growing heroin problem in their town. They were both troubled and angry at the increase in crime in Richmond and in Chittenden County, while at the same time they were compassionate about the need for greater treatment and prevention.

It prompted me, with Senator Ashe, to introduce an omnibus bill to combat opiate addiction. I can thankfully report that the comprehensive measure overwhelmingly passed the Senate last week, and now awaits action by the House.

The bill, S.243, does many things, and puts significant resources into the fight against opiate addiction. All of these new resources will be paid for by additional new fees we placed on the pharmaceutical industry, which includes manufacturers of much abused opioids such as oxycontin.

Among the approaches in the bill: 1.) beefed up reporting to, and use of, the Prescription Monitoring System which is intended to identify and prevent doctor- and pharmacy-shopping by patients, as well as over-prescribing by individual providers; 2.) improved treatment coordination, and greater access to buprenorphine, a prescription designed to block opioid cravings to better allow addicts to function normally while they seek further treatment; 3.) greater access to addiction medicine specialists through telemedicine; 4.) a greater role for pharmacies to optimize drug therapy management; 5.) enhanced medical education for medical students and doctors on pain management and prescribing; 6.) studies and pilots on non-pharmacological treatments for pain, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, etc; 7.) community grant programs to support local opioid prevention strategies (assisting local efforts in Richmond and other Chittenden County towns); as well as limitations for prescriptions and improved disposal awareness efforts.

The passed bill, along with the Administration’s focus on this issue (e.g., the new addiction treatment hub in St. Albans could reduce the waitlist at the South Burlington methadone clinic), we can begin to turn the corner on this epidemic hitting Richmond, Chittenden County and our entire state.

Senator Michael Sirotkin
Chittenden County

Speaking out
for circus animals

I am writing on behalf of Green Mountain Animal Defenders to express our disappointment that the Champlain Valley Exposition has once again made a decision to bring a traveling animal act to Essex Junction.

Sadly, camels, zebras, elephants, big cats, bears, primates and other wild animals who are used in many circuses must often endure inhumane and abusive training, and cramped living conditions.

In this case, the Garden Brothers Circus, aka Piccadilly Circus, which does not possess its own animal exhibitor license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will be at the Expo. Exhibitors of leased animals at this circus have failed to meet minimum federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act.

The USDA has cited these exhibitors for forcefully striking an elephant with a bullhook and for failing to provide adequate veterinary care, failing to provide adequate and safe enclosures, failing to handle animals in a way that does not cause unnecessary stress or trauma, failing to provide wholesome and uncontaminated food and failing to provide proper shelter.

With so many better choices for entertainment, we urge the Expo to make more humane decisions and to allow only events that do not involve the use, and likely abuse, of wild animals.

Kathee Ludwig,
VP, Green Mountain Animal Defenders
Essex Junction

Say ‘No!’ to Garden Brothers Circus!

The Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction is again bringing a live animal show to the fairgrounds soon. This time it’s the Garden Brothers Circus featuring captive “trained” wild animals for our “entertainment.” This notorious circus promises racing camels and pony, camel and elephant rides. Their advertising boasts, “Last time to see elephants live!”

I encourage businesses, schools and daycares to discard the circus’ tickets and flyers that were provided to them, since the use of performing wild animals may desensitize individuals, especially impressionable children, to animal suffering.

The humans who perform in these circuses do so willingly, but the animals have no choice. They deserve better than to spend their lives in cages and chains, being hauled across the country in trucks and trailers. It’s time to say, “NO MORE!”

The Expo must not have been convinced by the protest staged at the fairgrounds in February when they brought the Commerford Zoo to town. When will they “get” that those of us who care about the welfare of animals will not tolerate such “entertainment” in Vermont?

Please BOYCOTT this circus and be a force for positive change in the world. Together we can drive shows like this one out of existence forever!

Beth F. Volker

CV Expo’s approach
to events

The Champlain Valley Exposition hosts over 100 events throughout the year including the annual Champlain Valley Fair. We are also the proud home to the area’s two premier soccer clubs, Far Post and Nordic.

Our mission states that we serve the people of Vermont by promoting agriculture, education, commerce, arts, culture and entertainment. To achieve this mission, we host a variety of events in an effort to reach the entire community. Examples include this weekend’s Home and Garden Show, the Made in Vermont Marketplace and the very popular NSRA Street Rod show. Each show has a certain draw that appeals to a different portion of our community.

Due to the variety of these events, we do not expect every event will appeal to every member of the community. We strive to provide an opportunity for a full spectrum of entertainment to come to the area.

Next week we will host the Garden Brothers Circus on April 19. Any time we host a circus, we can anticipate hearing from people who are not fans of the circus. One common concern we receive is that elephants should not be permitted. And while we appreciate the concern, it should be pointed out that elephants have been banned from Vermont for years. As with many, this circus will include animals. Because of this, we rely on the show promoter and state officials to use their expertise to ensure the animals have the appropriate care and paperwork from their veterinarians.

I suspect we will receive comments stating that the Expo should not host, nor allow events “like this” to rent space from us. We try to avoid using opinion to pick and choose among promoters and events who rent the facility from us. Instead, we take the approach of letting the general public determine what shows they choose to attend and what ones they choose not to.

Tim Shea, Exec.Director, Champlain Valley Exposition
Williston resident

Running for Williston on Vermont Electric Cooperative board

I would like to let readers know that I’m running for a seat on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, representing members of the Vermont Electric Cooperative who reside in Williston.

I’m excited about the possibility of joining the team at the VEC. For the last 30 years, I’ve worked with power companies large and small across the United States and Canada, helping them design and promote Demand Side Management programs. Recently there have been many changes in the electric industry and how power companies like the VEC have to do business. The push toward energy efficiency and renewable generation has presented a great challenge.

I’ve wanted to run for a seat on the Board of Directors of the VEC for a number of years, but my work travel commitments didn’t allow me to dedicate the time necessary to do the job. I recently retired and now have the time and would like to use the expertise that I’ve gained over the years to help the VEC transition into the new era.

In the last five years, I’ve worked with several large power companies on a very successful project to help efficiently integrate renewable generation onto their electric grid. My background will enable me to be a strong contributor to the Board of Directors at the VEC and so I’m asking for your vote.

I can help the VEC move forward and to be efficient in the challenging times ahead. I’d appreciate your support. You’ll soon be receiving a package from the VEC that contains a ballot. Please fill it out and mail it in, or vote online. Thank you!

Dan Gaffney