Archive

Letters to the Editor

Open letter from Vt. House on immigration

Madam Speaker,

I ruminate today… not to bash, trash, or disparage our newly elected President Trump, but rather to seize this, an educible moment.

In 1966, I worked for Luther Belden on his home farm of several generations. Mr. Beldon was a beautiful person —hard working, highly principled. After I had partied, perhaps too hard and long the nights previous, Mr. Belden would assign me to the haymow for a four-hour stint in the middle of the day, or perhaps a full day of hand-weeding pigweed in an endless field of potatoes. I learned a lot that summer, but his take-home for me (I did not know how profound at the time,) was, “Jim, the only hope for the world is the United Nations.”

Twenty years later, perhaps 1986, I officiated the marriage of the blissful Emily Wesson and Peter Millar; two recent UVM graduates who rented a bungalow on our family farm of many generations. Peter and Emily continued their educations, becoming doctors. They subsequently served on the ship Doctors Without Borders.

In 2003, as a freshman legislator I serve that first biennium with the late Representative of the House from Barre, the Hon. Henry Gray. The gold Henry gave me was this: “I am the Representative from Barre but I work for the State.” The quiet, very Vermont Rep. Gray recognized the provincialism of towns often interfered with quality statewide legislation. I intuit he understood a “State without Borders.”

Today, I stand before you adding my small flag of the United Nations on my desk to the numerous Old Glories displayed on other member’s desks…imploring our members, “Seek Unbounded Awareness,” imploring our President, our Congress; imploring our planet’s various governments, and most importantly imploring… We the people of the planet… “Disabuse boarders; join together in the Absolute. Understand we are one… one with each other, one with the planet. Vision a Planet bereft of fear, hate and prejudice…abundant of love… A Planet without Borders.”

Rep. Jim McCullough;

Williston

[Editor’s note: This is shortened text of a speech Rep. McCullough read, addressed to Speaker Mitzi Johnson, in Representatives Hall at the state capitol on Jan. 31].

Digital divide
in rural America

Access to the Internet. The Internet is now considered a basic human right; it is how people find employment, handle their finances, receive an education, work and receive medical care.

However, not everyone is able to use the Internet to its full potential, due primarily to slow speeds. Rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing broadband.

Expanding infrastructure into rural areas will improve health outcomes for residents by allowing access to specialists, increasing cost efficiency, and raising quality of care.

In rural schools, broadband access can offer students learning tools equal to those provided in urban settings. Students can have access to higher level curriculum, to a larger selection of foreign languages and connect with students around the world.

Increasing broadband access will be a boon to small town economies by keeping local businesses competitive and attracting new residents. In a recent study by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, it was found that areas with one to three broadband providers experience a 6.4 percent higher employment growth rate and a 2.4 percent increase to the population growth rate compared to areas without broadband, both vital factors in maintaining a healthy community.

We must do more to help rural communities gain access to broadband. We urge policymakers to consider new and innovative ways of developing infrastructure and promoting competition among providers. By expanding broadband access into rural areas, we are improving the health, education and economic well-being of small towns everywhere.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

Jordan Feyerherm, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Neb.