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Bradford , Vermont
July 2, 2014     Journal Opinion
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July 2, 2014

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Page 6-- JOURNAL OPINION--July 2, 2014 Viewpoints Yours and ours Editorial Letters A Fourth from yesteryear Rummaging through old United Opinions searching for material for our weekly "Through the Pages" feature, we stumbled upon the following item that was published in July 1894. It was a recollection of a Bradford native, Daniel Kimball Pearsons, of a Fourth of July celebration held in the town in 1832. Pearsons was 12 at the time. The remembrance was orginally published in the Chicago Tribune. Daniel K. Pearsons and 1812 Heroes One Fourth of July that I remember was in the town of Bradford, VT, sixty-two years ago. It was a celebration given by the veterans of the War of 1812. They all assembled in an old- fashioned meeting house, with big square pews and a high pulpit with sounding board over the minister's head. The principal oration of the day was given by a Scotch divine. It was eloquent and patriotic, and I remember as distinctly as though it was yesterday the closing peroration. It was as follows: The light of religion and liberty are kindred fires kindled at the same celestial altar and nourished by the same ethereal element. Together they were born and together they must expire. The sacraligious band that would extinguish one must quench the more than promethean heat of the others. Our fathers caught these blended lights from the skies. Long did they watch their rising and their widening," long may it be our happy lot to walk in the beams of their edulgence until the night of time shall settle upon the world and the light of religion and liberty shall be buried in the blaze of eternity. Atthe conclusion of the address we all adjourned to the tables in the vicinity which were amply supplied with good things to eat from the surrounding farmhouses. This was the first time that I saw roasted pigs with lemons in their mouths. Afterwards we listened to speeches from several of the veterans. One spoke of the hardships and privations experienced by Vermont troops in their winter quarters at Swanton. He was followed by a campaign song. Another speaker who had been present at the final battle under Commodore Perry gave a thrilling account of the heroic actions of the troops when they took the British fleet, which was the last naval battle of the war. The next speaker told of the duplicity of England in sending their spies and emissaries among the savages of the Western country, inciting them to rapine and murder. Another graphic description of the battle of New Orleans, where Gen. Jackson with his brave men met the British officer Pakenham. He then sang the following verses apropos to the occasion: Sir Pakeham made his brags That he wo 'd fight was lucky," " He would have the girls in cotton bags, ' In spite of old Kentucky But Jackson he was wide awake, He was not afraid of trifles, For well he knew what aim to take With his Kentucky rifles. He led me down to Cypress swamp, The ground was low and mucky, Here stood John Bull in martial pomp, But here stood old Kentucky. We didn't have any firecrackers in those days and fireworks were unknown. The veterans paraded, headed by a fife and drum, the martial music thrilling the hearts of all who heard them. There was a great crowd present, as people had come from far and near to attend the celebration. There was an arsenal in nearly every county, and at daybreak and throughout the day their booming could be heard in every direction. LETTER POLICY The Journal Opinion welcomes and encourages letters to the editor as a forum for the exchange of ideas, news and opinions. Letters should be brief(a maximum of 400 words) and must include the writer's name, address and telephone number. The publisher reserves the right to verify the accuracy of letters, edit letters for clarity, space and content, and limit the number of letters from any writer to two a month. Anonymous letters or letters judged to be libelous, profane or in poor taste will not be published. Letters from political candidates will be accepted on public issues. Letters in support of or disagreement with candidates will not be published less than seven days before an election. The deadline for letters is Monday at noon. They may be mailed to the Journal Opinion, PO Box 378, Bradford, VT 05033, emailed to editor@jonews.com or faxed to (802)222-5438. All Gave Some, Some Gave All When we celebrate Independence Day, Let us remember those who took the call. Across this nations of ours, for, All gave some, some gave all. They are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons, Who went offto their country's call. Brave women and men, of every branch and, All gave some, some gave all. The Air Force in flack-filled skies, Or the Marines storming stone walls. The Army, Navy too fought for this land, and, All gave some, some gave all. Many were captured, some came back, But some weren't recovered at all. These are our brave women and men, and All gave some, some gave all. Oh, Lord, I pray for each and every one, That stood up and took that call. My heart cries Lord, for their families, as, All gave some, some gave it all. Rebecca Farley Woodsville, NH All we ask is for simple change To the Editor: The article in your June 25 edition titled"School Choice issue returns in Piermont," written by a reporter who wasn't even there, was unfortunately little more than a regurgitation of previous discussions, almost all of which were not relevant to the issue. Furthermore, the entire discussion about "manifest educational hardship" and '!best interests of the child" laws was completely unnecessary as that also had nothing to do with the matter we presented. First, no one is contesting the current district tuition policy or the formula by which the maximum tuition payable is set. But the written policy does not cover the entire matter as chairperson Abigail Metcalf-Underhill erroneously claimed, being far from complete. The actual issue that we want resolved is that the Piermont School Board, or PSB, has an unwritten policy in which they apparently give themselves the "right" to not reimburse parents who pay to send thetr children to schools other than the resident schools if the tuition at that school exceeds the current maximum of$16,894. To be clear, noone is asking that the PSB pay the full tuition for students to attend non-resident schools. That has apparently been offered as an inflammatory distractor by people who think that we are "attacking" the institution ofthe Piermont Village School itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been given three "reasons" for the PSB' s unwritten policy: 1 )it's illegal; 2)it's discriminatory; and 3)the Board needs to control tuition costs because they are eating into the budget. Partial payments by the district to such schools clearly are illegal but that was never asked for and it is not the same issue voted on in the 2010 annual town meeting. What we are proposing is a reimbursement plan, which is not illegal because it is tse fil lutYg?e s2eOpr.nadnd thtr euliegrh e r .t 1 gTw eattlr owlm einede; some supposedly complex parts of the law and special education services to scare evryone away from considering it, but those have absolutely nothing to do with our proposal. The bottom line is, under the new law, the PSB can reimburse the parents if it chooses to. Second, the charge that parents who could pay to send their children to a more expensive school were discriminating against others who could not do so is an incredibly irrational statement on the part ofthe PSB. They apparently disregard the factthat those parents might not be any more well off than anyone else, and may be facing severe financial hardships by doing so. Actually, an argument can be made that the board's unwrittenpolicy itself is discriminatory against the parents who choose to do so as it may place additional hardships on them for no other reason than the Board thinks they are "wealthy" and apparently see that as a personal affront to themselves, as one Board member implausibly declared at the meeting. Third, the claim that tuition costs are eating into the budget is not bome out by the PSB' s own Annual Reports. Those reveal that total actual expenses for tuition have been far less than budgeted for the School Fiscal years of 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. No actual expenses were reported for FY 2011. While the under expenditures for 2009 and 2010 were $49,138 and $84,372, respectively, FY's 2012 and 2013 showed a marked increase to $104,175 and $109,017. Since tuition costs do not actually appear to be eating into the school budget, we all should ask, "Just what is happening to those hundreds of thousands of dollars of unexpended tuition funds if they are not being spent on secondary education?" The claim of the Board that the taxpayers have consistently supported the current tuition policy as a reason for doing nothing is irrelevant as the policy does not address the matter of reimbursement. Also, the Board does not need taxpayer approval, as claimed, to pay out tuition funds already appropriated. They certainly didn't ask for approval to withhold those funds. Since changes are not actually required, we see no reason why the PSB has decided to wait until next March to make a decision on this matter. S o our initial question remains: "Why will the School Board not reimburse parents who choose or need to send their children to a non-resident high school that is above the dictatedmaximum amount?" It's no skin offtheir noses one way or another. Or is it? The answer may lie in a statement made by Abigail Metcalf-Underhill, chair of the school board, at the April 8 school board meeting: "We [the Board] won't let students go to Hanover or Thetford. We need to control the high school costs rather than take money away from ournice little school here." But if the tuition costs are already budgeted and apparently not being eaten into; if the "excess" tuition is borne by the parent(s); and assuming the money would be spent anyway if the student went to one of the resident schools, then where is the harm to the PVS budget? Piermont taxpayers should know that the cost of educating one child in the PVS, grades PreK-8 only, not counting the money spent on tuition, transportation and food services, was $18,929 for FY 2012-2013. That's almost exactly twice the cost to send a student to most private schools in the state. So why will our board not work with parents who desire this for their children as the Warren School Board has said they will on the same exact matter? Despite our continuing to ask for answers to these questions, the board curtailed further discussion, citing that they had a mandate from the citizens of the town to control costs. Of course they do; that's their fiscal and fiduciary responsibility, but they do not have a mandate to deny parents the taxpayer funded and appropriated tuition for the secondary education of their children. If there are huge amots ofunexpended tuition funds, are they somehow being kept to pay for other things for our nice little school here' Is the schoolboard looking atthose assumed unexpended tuition funds as "free money" to be used as they wish instead of spending it on the students secondary education? These are questions we allneedto have answered. Better yet, shouldn't we all expect that the unexpended tuition funds would be returned to the taxpayers or not even appropriated in the first place? There might be a few places where we all could use those few extra dollars for "our nice little homes here." A. George Mertz Piermont, NH American Life in Poetry by Ted Kooser U.S. Poet Laureate I'm especially fond of sparklers because they were among the very few fireworks we could obtain in Iowa when I was a boy. And also because in 2004 we set off the fire alarm system at the Willard Hotel !n Washington by lighting a few to celebrate my inauguration as poet laureate. Here s Barbara Crooker, of Pennsylvania, also looking back. Sparklers We're writing our names with sizzles of light to celebrate the fourth. I use the loops of cursive, make a big B like the sloping hills on the west side of the lake. The rest, little a, r, one small b, spit and fizz as they scratch the night. On the side of the shack where we bought them, a handmade sign: Trailer Full of Sparkles Ahead, and I imagine crazy chrysanthemums, wheels of fire, glitter bouncing offmetal walls. Here, we keep tracing in tiny pyrotechnics the letters we were given at birth, branding them on the air. And though my mother's name has been erased now, I write it, too: a big swooping I, a hissing s, an a that sighs like her last breath, and then I ring belle, belle, belle in the sulphuric smoky dark. ### Poem copyright 2013 by Barbara Crooker from her most recent book of poems, Gold, Cascade Books, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Barbara Crooker and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. American Life in Poetry by Ted Kooser U.S. Poet Laureate Thepoems of Leo Dangel, who lives in South Dakota, are known for their clarity and artful understatement. Here he humbly honors the memory of one moment of deep intimacy between a mother and her son. In Memoriam In the early afternoon my mother was doing the dishes. I climbed onto the kitchen table, I suppose to play, and fell asleep there. I was drowsy and awake, though, as she lifted me up, carried me on her arms into the living room, and placed me on the davenport, but I pretended to be asleep the whole time, enjoying the luxury-- I was too big for such a privilege and just old enough to form my only memory of her carrying me. She' s still moving me to a softer place. ### Poem copyright 2013 by Leo Dangel from his most recent book of poems, Saving Singletrees, WSC Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Leo Dangel and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. News You Can,t Use by Charles Glazer Boy, talk about embarrassed. Firefighters in Lancaster, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, responded to a call, then returned to the station to fred IT on fire. The fire was caused by potatoes they had left cooking. Firefighters from other stations responded and quickly put out the blaze. The Reuters news story ended with the following: "Fire officials also wanted to remind the public to make sure not to leave food cooking before stepping out." I guess even the experts need reminding now and then. When you take a look at the official Canada elections Web site, and click on "Frequentl Asked Questions," the first question they answer is, "what is the process under the Canada Elections Act to validate the vote?" The second question they answer is "Is someone allowed to eat a ballot?" This comes before questions like "Why should I vote?" and"Am I registered?" This warning became necessary as a result of the work of the Edible Ballot Society (http://edibleballot.tao.ca). The Society says, "Voting is not only useless, it actually undermines genuine democracy by legitimizing an inherently undemocratic process. During this election we are encouraging people to eat their ballots by having our chefs develop delicious recipes. Check out great dishes such as The Ballot Burger, with a side order of Campaign Literature. Or perhaps you enjoy cheese and would like to try a Ballot Fondue." This is serious business. Three Albertans were arrested for eating their ballots during the 2000 federal election. According to Canada's election officials, "Eating a ballot, not returning it or otherwise destroying or defacing it constitutes a serious breach of the Canada Elections Act. These rules are part of a system of unobtrusive checks and balances that are intended to protect the integrity of the voting process and Canadians' trust in the integrity of the electoral system." So don't eat your ballot, Canadians. The government isn't amused. And wait 'til they start Internet voting. Let' s see 'em eat their computers. In Houston, the City Fathers have opted to prohibit a"novelty shop" from selling edible underwear because the store does not have a food service license. It started when a citizen complained about the existence of the place, and a city councilor sent in the vice squad. They were no help, though, because the operation does not fit the criteria ofa"sexually oriented business," so it was not subject to regulation As a result, they trumped up the food service beef, so to speak. The owner has decided to pay the $200 annual permit fee and allow inspections by the health department in order to continue selhng her appetizers. That'll be an interesting inspection. That's all I can legally say about that one. Speaking of being public-spirited, a Port Charlotte, Florida mortician offered a great deal over the last New Year's holiday. Free cremation for those who are killed while drinking and driving. That's a savings of $1,000-$2,000. (I'm still trying to work that one out. What's the difference between the $1,000 and the $2,000 cremation? Does it take more fuel to burn some people? Do fat guys cost more? Is there a"regular" and "deluxe" cremation? Does one include marshmallows?) Anyway, the guy said he was serious. The only requirement was that you had to sign up ahead 0ftime to register for the free fry. As of the time of the story, he had already signed up seven people. The mortician has made the offer for the last four years in an effort to make people think real hard about drinking and driving, and he has never had a winner, so to speak. That tends to make me a little suspicious. What kind of contest is it if nobody ever wins the prize? I think he should be required to give one cremation out each year. I know a few people I could nominate. Don't you? (News You Can't Use sneaks in during the dead of night and never leaves. Send stuff to glazer, charlie@gmaiL com.) OURNAL INION00 AN AWARD-WINNING INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER A weekly newspaper published in Bradford, Vermont. Subscription rates-- Vermont and New Hampshire--S28 per year, $18 for six months; out-of-state $35per year, $22 for six months; senior citizen's discount $3. @ @ @ Second class postage paid at Bradford, Vermont. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Journal Opinion, PO Box 378, Bradford, Vermont 05033 @ @ @ Editor/Publisher- Connie Sanville Managing Editor -Alex Nuti-de Biasi Web Site www.jonews.com BRADFORD FAX WOODSVILLE 802-222-5281 802-222-5438 603-747-2907 Ramt;l00n,9' The happiness imperative by Nessa Flax I don't know about you, but I have mixed feelings about all this happiness stuff being thrown at me. (Uh-oh, she's not happy?) Ever since the field of psychology besan taking the state of delight senously, the topic laas moved into the rapid flow of mainstream media. You can hardly pick up a magazine or cruise online without encountering articles advising you on the importance of happiness, how to achieve happiness, etcetera, ad infinitum. Encountering articles like "10 Rules for Guaranteed Happiness" does not make me happy. I have never been one for following rules, so my knee-j erk reaction is rebellion. (My inner teenager is alive and well.) And"The 8 Principles of Having Fun" simply gives me anxiety. What? There are principles? Am I not doing it right? By the way, in an ironic whiplash of happiness advice, one of the recurring exhortations is to "stop following rules." What especially bothers me about guidelines for achieving the blissful state is this recurring simplistic bit of wisdom: "free your mind from worries." Well, if that isn't easier said than done, I'm a circus clown. Some "worries" are pretty serious things. If you can't get the health care you need for yourself or a loved one, for example. If you can't lget maternity orpatemity leave that allows you to andle the stress of having a new baby in your life. If you're heartbroken that you cannot afford to send your kid to college, or you're burdened with massive student loans, it is rather difficult to go dancing in the streets. Denmark consistently ranks highest in the world on the happiness scale. Guess what? Governmental policy makes a big difference, as opposed to telhng folks "not to worry." Parents (dads too) can receive up to 52 weeks of paid leave. Oh, and after that, they have access to fi'ee or low-cost childcare. Education is free (yes, even colleges and technical schools). It's no big surprise that the functional illiteracy rate there is only 9.6 percent, compared to America's 20 percent. Health care is considered a civil right in Denmark. It is free and of high quality. In fact, international students there qualify for their health care programs. Tourists who acquire a ' European Health Insurance Card (at no charge) receive free emergency health care as well. Danes rank high in believing leadership of their country is free of corruption, which may explain why 87.7 percent voted in 2011 elections. A sense of responsibility to their democracy and to one another also results in more than 40 percent of Danes doing volunteer work. I freely acknowledge that there are things on the how-to-be-happy lists that enhance our lives. Free your heart from hatred. Live simply. Give more. Be in the moment. Pursue your dreams. Do what you love. But since America ranks 17  on international happiness surveys, clearly there's more to this than tweaking our individual attitudes. Some of our worries are big. Feeling powerless to do anything about them makes us very unhappy indeed. And rightfully so. |