Home Columns Letters LETTERS 12.18.14

LETTERS 12.18.14


Honoring Caregivers — Our Silent Army


Every day, a remarkable group of Vermonters performs a great labor of love: caring for aging parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends so they can remain in their homes. They are on duty 24/7, and often cannot take a break. Yet they wouldn’t have it any other way. These caregivers are truly unsung heroes.

To honor family caregivers, AARP launched a new initiative to focus attention on their stories called “I Heart Caregivers.” Every caregiver has a story and gathering these stories strengthens the caregiver community for everyone’s benefit. If you know someone with a story to share, encourage them to go to www.aarp.org/iheartcaregivers.

In addition to offering caregivers the opportunity to share stories with each other, the initiative also provides us with a powerful way to bring those voices to lawmakers and policymakers in Montpelier. Together with other organizations, AARP Vermont is gearing up to work for common-sense solutions in the next legislative session to support family caregivers and their loved ones. For example, we need to develop improved transitional care plans for patients returning home from the hospital, secure better workplace flexibility for caregivers, and ensure we are investing in the programs and services that caregivers and their loved ones need in their own communities.

We know that there is a silent army of some 120,000 Vermonters who are caregivers each year. Let’s recognize these remarkable individuals who are working to help seniors live independently and who make it possible for them to stay in their homes where we know they want to be.

Greg Marchildon

State director, AARP Vermont


To Bike or Not to Bike? That is the Question

Dear Editors,

I would like to clarify a couple of points in my previous letter regarding mountain biking in Hubbard Park. As Dan Voisin mentions, I made an error attributing Tim Flynn’s letter, “A Thank You and A Plea,” to Tim Shea. I apologize to all parties for the mistake.

Also, as Mike Donofrio and others so rightly pointed out, I need to explain my earlier statement that read, “… Onion River Sports wants to sell more bikes to those who can afford them.”

I apologize for letting my emotions get the better of me and for not phrasing that sentence better. Mr. Donofrio suggested that I back away from that statement unless I can defend it, and I will gladly back up a little … but not all the way. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the owner and the employees at Onion River Sports. They are great people and amazing advocates for active, healthy, outdoor lifestyles. I love that store! Perhaps that is why I was so angry.

• The last I knew, a primary employee of my favorite outdoor/bike store is on the commission that will determine mountain bike access in a park located a short ride from its doors.

• The initiative has been described as a way to get kids and new/returning mountain bikers into the sport (see Mr. Flynn’s eloquent letter in support of this).

• It is reasonable to assume that the only bike store in town would benefit directly from one of its employees influencing a municipal decision regarding new mountain bike access that would most likely lead to new mountain bike riders and more bike sales.

No matter how pure the employee’s intentions are or the store’s role, to me his participation crosses the line from passion and advocacy to a conflict of interest for the store. I hope the ORS employee continues to speak out in support of mountain biking, just not as a voting commission member. If the ORS employee recuses himself from the commission on this issue, I will happily back all the way away from my earlier statement.

I will, however, continue to assert that Hubbard Park is a special, vulnerable piece of land. Is it a pristine natural area? Of course not, and a lone, small mountain bike trail may not cause significant physical damage, but to many people Hubbard is more than just trees, rock, and soil. It is a quiet place, and there are far too few parcels like it left in our cities.

We are stewards of Hubbard Park and have a responsibility to sustain it for future generations. After more than 100 years of light foot traffic, Hubbard Park is still in relatively good shape, and I fear its demise through a thousand small cuts. Going forward, the people of Montpelier need to decide the appropriate use for Hubbard Park in a manner that is consistent with the park founder’s intent. If after a fair, transparent, democratic process, we conclude that Hubbard should be developed for mountain biking or other recreational uses, then I’ll be sad, but I’ll accept the decision.

Brent Ehrlich