Bird Flu Devastating Egg Industry
The United States egg industry is reeling from a colossal outbreak of avian flu, mostly among egg-laying chickens. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 48 million birds, accounting for 11 percent of the nation’s egg-laying hens, have been slaughtered for fear of infection during the past few months.
The effects are far-reaching, from how to dispose of millions of potentially infected bird carcasses to job losses and rapidly rising egg prices. More than 40 countries have restricted U.S. poultry imports.
Although the precise cause of the outbreak remains uncertain, the horrendous conditions in today’s factory farms make egg and chicken production extremely vulnerable to disease outbreaks, and therefore, not sustainable.
A number of innovative companies have stepped in to offer plant-based alternatives that mimic closely the taste, texture and cooking properties of eggs and chicken. They are available in the frozen food section of every supermarket.
Many of us favor replacing polluting fossil energy sources with clean renewable ones. That takes concerted national action. But every one of us has the power to affect that same transition for our food sources every time we shop for food.
Maxwell Branset, Montpelier
Keep an Eye on Council Meetings
I concur with a recent letter regarding Montpelier’s City Council. I watched the July 8 meeting and witnessed the entire council voting YES to agenda item six, which included multiple items to consider. One of them, the contract between the senior activity center, Just Basics and Good Taste Catering, the latter being owned and operated by the councilman from District 3. Even though one of these items was regarding the renewal of the contract between the city and himself, this councilman did not recuse himself from this vote. Thus a “conflict of interest” televised. The agenda stated the senior center director would be present for questions but there was no discussion of the individual items. Was this contract even put out to bid? What government or business would legally operate in this manner?
This dysfunctional council is a comedy of errors to view. The mayor lacks familiarity with meeting procedures. When he is challenged either by the public or a council member, he ends the conflict with a phrase such as, “we are on a tight schedule so we need to wrap this up.”
Who are the watchdogs over city government going awry at the highest level? A dangerous precedent is being set by this council.
Residents and businesses should be watching the meetings. Doesn’t matter whether young or old; renting or owning; high or low income, you all have a stake in why the property and water/sewer taxes keep going up which they just did again. There will be a negative effect on YOU. This council spends our money on sponsoring ideas and entities that have virtually no impact on reducing the highest property and water/sewer taxes in the state.
Do you care? You should. You can view previous meetings on the city website. Taxpayer, beware!
Rosalyn Morrell, Montpelier
Solar and Wind Not Needed: We Already Produce Enough Low-Carbon Power
I attended the first meeting of the state’s solar siting board on July 28 in Montpelier. Almost every member seemed convinced already that Vermont must build, build, build solar power plants. Only the “how” seemed open for discussion.
And that’s the problem: Montpelier has already plugged its ears. Communities like my own can’t refuse to be unwilling hosts of sprawling power factories for the big cities. Instead we small, spread-out, cash-poor towns are at the mercy of Montpelier’s “you can’t say no” laws, paid legislators, full-time energy administrators and extremely well-paid and too-influential lobbyists. A town’s desire to value agriculture, subdivision or mere open land over shiny power factories is of no enforceable consequence. Our tax base, job creation potential and quality of life are secondary to the interests of one industry. And since the build-up to 90 percent has only begun, we can expect the carpetbagging to continue.
I proposed that communities not making their fair share of solar power per capita — most likely cities and large towns — would pay a Generation Imbalance Tax. Under-generating communities would pay proportionately to the school districts of over-generating communities.
I am not surprised that 40 Vermont towns have banded together to demand more say in solar siting. For one thing, there is no real need. New England and Quebec already make enough low-carbon power. We just need to support our region’s existing power makers (hydro, nuclear) and import more cheap, clean hydro power.
George Clain, Barre
The author is a member of the Town of Barre Planning Board
Thank You for Helping My Family
Recently I experienced a heart attack in the office of Dr. Joseph Brock in Berlin. He and his nurse Shirley immediately helped me. His other nurses, Amie and Erin, assisted. Within minutes I was in an ambulance, then, after a stop at Central Vermont Medical Center, in another ambulance going to University of Vermont’s cardiac facility. There, Dr. Therrien and a team got a stent into me nearly as quick as you can change a lightbulb. The attending nurses were professional and attentive. These people literally saved my life.
My situation was complicated by my wife, Laurie, and I having an autistic son, Ned. While he returns the love we give him, he has limited awareness that his actions can be injurious. I’ve been able to handle him, but Laurie’s authority has diminished as he has grown. She needs assistance.
Ned attends the New School in Montpelier, a wonderful school for special needs students. Diane Baker, who runs the school and Stephanie Kirkham, a teacher there, arranged for Ned to be cared for. Stephanie and Claudia Pringles, our friends, whom we met through the Vermont Autism Task Force, provided transport. Ned’s personal care assistant, Barry George, his wife Shari and their daughter Cady, cared for Ned for days. They are fantastic people. Jayson Capobianca and Rachel Johnson of the Bridge Program and Washington County Mental Health arranged for extra care. I’d particularly like to thank Brian Dubie and his wife Penny for their support and concern.
The bounce gotten by getting that elephant off my chest has faded and I had another stay at Central Vermont Medical Center, but I’m adjusting and getting new pharmaceutical friends. There’s Plavix, which sounds like the name of the Queen of the Mole People. It’s also known as Clopidogrel, which I originally read as “Cloppy-doggerel” and suggests a bad poem written about, or upon, a horse.
Bless all those who helped me and my family,