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Forum, June 21: Good experiences with Lebanon police

Published: 6/20/2020 10:00:12 PM
Modified: 6/20/2020 10:00:10 PM
Good experiences with Lebanon police

What a joyful occasion, following the Lebanon Police Department in a parade honoring the graduating seniors of Lebanon High School. It was a wonderful community event and a symbol of police leadership in our community. The police department worked collaboratively and cooperatively with Lebanon High and Project Graduation to bring our community together to celebrate our graduates while keeping them safe.

Over decades living in Lebanon, I have come to expect this excellent service from our police department. Every encounter I have had has been incredibly positive. I am still grateful to the officer who came to my home to assist my mother when she locked herself out while house-sitting late one night. An officer again came to my home when my small, curious child dialed 911. The officer stayed and chatted politely long enough to assure himself that everyone in the household was indeed fine. Another time, an officer came over to assist getting a stray dog safely back home. I love that they care so much.

And I was profoundly relieved to see the police arrive at the scene of my car accident to direct traffic, look after my well-being and arrange to have my car towed to a safe location. In every encounter, I was treated kindly and respectfully. And yes, I have also been pulled over unexpectedly for going too fast, not using my turn signal and having a broken headlight. These were not welcome interactions, but the officers involved still treated me respectfully and put the emphasis on education, presuming I would want to be a safer driver.

As a white, middle-aged woman living in an affluent, small rural city, I feel safe and connected to a loving community due to the presence of our police force. I sincerely hope that my experience is shared by all the members of our community. I dream that this type of policing can be a model for effective, community-building policing across our nation.

MAUREEN McNULTY

Lebanon

The advantage of white privilege

Like Christine Demment, I have had many satisfying encounters with the police in my lifetime (“A recent interaction with the police,” June 14). There have been times I have been pulled over for driving above the speed limit or for another minor traffic violation and have received a gentle warning. Another time, the police were called to our home when a high school party was a little too loud. Again, a gentle reminder to keep the music down. I didn’t realize it at the time, and am now just beginning to fully understand, how much my white privilege has played a part in these and so many events throughout my lifetime. Simply because of the color of my skin, I received a gentle nod, a wink, a reminder to play by the rules.

I have never had to warn my children not to wear their hoods, never to keep their hands in their pockets if approached by a cop, and certainly never to run. I have taken for granted the privilege of knowing that the police would likely protect me if need be and not throw me to the ground, lean on my neck or shoot me for a minor transgression.

It is high time that we all started to wake up to the harsh realities of the systematic racism that has gripped this country for hundreds of years.

PAM SKILLMAN

Grantham

Travesty at Windsor School

This is a travesty. The Mount Ascutney School Board and some residents here should be ashamed of themselves (“Board to oust Windsor principal,” June 13). This entire thing started out with a post on a personal Facebook page and the small-minded, self-righteous people jumped on this situation without checking themselves first. Principal Tiffany Riley said what so many of us feel: You can protest all you want on any matter, but you should do it in a positive way that brings change.

All I see is more and more negativity about race issues. I lived in the South for 26 years before I came back here and never encountered anything like this while I was there. I used to be an independent voter, but people like Mount Ascutney School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Burrows, a Democrat, made me turn to the Republicans. America can’t be great if we don’t work together in peace to make the necessary changes.

PATTY GALE WILLIAMS

Windsor

A stunning, positive, vital decision

These past few months have been a terrible time for most Americans due to the COVID-19 outbreak, increasing unemployment, economic setbacks, critical school time lost by our children and a national reckoning on racism in the aftermath of killings by police.

During times like these it is good to have some positive events occur that can lift our spirits and give us hope for the future.

The recent, stunning Supreme Court decision, by a 6-3 vote, was one of these desperately needed events. This decision makes it clear that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which made it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on “sex,” applies to one’s sexual orientation and affirmed gender identity.

This landmark decision comes only a few days after the Trump administration implemented disturbing new regulations to roll back Obama-era policies that had helped transgender individuals obtain appropriate health care without fear of discrimination.

This decision is a huge step forward helping gay and transgender American citizens get the basic protections that they have deserved since our Constitution was written. I also suspect that this decision will ultimately foil the Trump administration’s further efforts to discriminate against American citizens based on their sexual orientation or affirmed gender identity. The significance of this decision is further strengthened by the fact that the majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a staunch conservative and “textualist” who was appointed by President Donald Trump. I would also suggest that there is some irony surrounding this decision. I suspect that in 50 years, when historians evaluate the Trump presidency, this Supreme Court decision may very well be recognized as the most positive and enduring legacy that occurred during Trump’s tenure.

Personally, I will sleep well after this decision knowing that, as a quote popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Also, at least in this case, the cherished and vital concept of separation of powers envisioned by our Founding Fathers appears to have survived.

There is hope.

JACK TURCO

Grantham

Equal rights under law affirmed

With the recent Supreme Court decision stating that members of the LGBTQ community have equal rights under the law, we are getting the expected blowback from conservative Christians. They claim that their right to free exercise of religion is being violated. Obviously, they have never taken a civics course. Our constitutional rights are constrained by the fact that everyone else has the same constitutional rights. You do not have the constitutional right to deny other people their constitutional rights.

If you believe the free exercise of religion is unfettered, then you must accept Muslim and Mormon polygamy, slavery, Mithraic bull sacrifice, even human sacrifice.

Christians in this country should be asking themselves whether they support the Constitution and the ideals on which the United States was built (including the Establishment Clause), or if they wish to establish a theocracy, a la Iran.

MARK R. ALLEN

Thetford

Important election in Hanover

Thank you for publishing my recent letter regarding accessibility of voting in the town of Hanover (“Voting too difficult in Hanover,” June 17), which I submitted on June 10. I am happy to be able to follow up with some good news.

In response to strong community criticism of the voting process, Hanover has added the option of picking up ballot request forms at Town Hall, and has also confirmed that in-person voting will be allowed at a rescheduled “drive-in” Town Meeting, to be held at Dewey Field on July 7. Town administrators have promised to publicize this new date and location widely.

This is an important election for Hanover, which faces significant economic challenges, exacerbated by the loss of Dartmouth College student spending. High property taxes and a controversial assessment process have impacted both property owners and renters, and multiple downtown businesses have closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community hides serious economic disparities, with 13.3% of community members living below the federal poverty level, despite a relatively high median per capita income of $45,383 in 2018. With the onset of the pandemic, it is hard to understand why the proposed town budget increases funding for police by roughly 4%, while decreasing funding for ambulance and fire services, or how a tax increase could possibly be justified.

Now that voting is accessible in Hanover, I hope that all who are able to attend the upcoming Town Meeting will do so and exercise their right to vote for a town government that represents the interests of all members of the community.

DAISY GOODMAN

Hanover

The grim toll of COVID-19

Well, we’ve just passed another grim milestone. As of June 16, COVID-19 has killed 10 more Americans than all those who died in World War I. That war took the lives of 116,516 American service members. COVID-19 has now taken the lives of 116,526 Americans.

And in such a short time. Compare: COVID-19 first appeared in America sometime in January. That’s less than six months ago. America fought in World War I for one year, seven months and six days. So this virus is a much more efficient killer than the carnage of that war. And the virus hasn’t surrendered.

BILL DONAHUE

Hartland

Show cheer behind the mask

Slowly we are realizing that this new coronavirus that seemed to come out of nowhere with the new year is not going away with the spring breeze as we had hoped, and that, unfortunately, the danger of infection and death is real.

We also have to get used to the idea that this virus, that’s not called “new” for nothing and is so different from all we have known before, presents us with many unexpected challenges For instance, it can jump from someone who still seems quite healthy to an unsuspecting victim, and that not only the most endangered people, like those over 60, can die of it, but it can have all sorts of unexpected complications for younger, stronger ones, and even for small children. Another novelty is that it can last for a long, long time.

Now we have to learn all sorts of new habits, like keeping at a safe distance from each other, no hugging, no shaking hands, and that wearing those uncomfortable, stifling masks — not to protect ourselves, but to avoid infecting others — is a service and duty to the community.

With the masks come other problems: Seeing all these sinister masked figures in the supermarket and elsewhere, you can’t tell whether they are smiling or frowning, so you are unsure about how to approach them, as friend or foe. The usual silly smile I always seem to have stuck on my face is no use now. It’s invisible. We are losing a very important way of communication among people.

Therefore we have to find new ways to let strangers know that we bear them no ill will. One way is by polite body language, and another by being aware of the tone of our voice. So even if it seems difficult to be cheerful, especially in the morning, it is well worth trying. We can all use some extra cheer at this time.

BRIGITTE LENT

Randolph Center

Telehealth volunteers help VA

A national nonprofit organization, Telehealth Access for Seniors, began in March because of the novel coronavirus, and volunteers from towns all over Vermont have been collecting electronic donations and are working to supply veterans at the White River Junction VA Medical Center with electronic devices. The purpose of the organization is to provide camera-enabled devices and electronic instructions to elders and individuals in low-income communities so that they can participate in medical appointments via telehealth.

As people become older they become more vulnerable to illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition and 60% have at least two conditions. The CDC also says that those with serious medical conditions may be at higher risk for COVID-19. Therefore, it’s important to provide additional support to this age group. Individuals in low-income communities also may not be able to purchase expensive devices to connect with doctors; without electronics, their health and well-being may suffer. Telehealth can help prevent an increase in hospitalizations, which could overwhelm health care centers.

Telehealth, or telemedicine, has been shown to reduce patient costs, decrease hospitalizations and provide more personalized care. Devices have also shown to decrease the loneliness epidemic, increase activeness and reduce wellness costs.

Telehealth can also help with mental health. Social distancing has left many feeling stressed and anxious. Having devices that enable people to connect with others can alleviate this stress.

So far, Telehealth Access for Seniors has donated 750 devices, raised $18,000, partnered with 55 clinics, has 155 volunteers and has positively impacted 26 states.

The organization is seeking donations at gofundme.com/f/telehealth-access-for-seniors. I am collecting camera-enabled smart devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and charging cords and can answer questions or concerns about donations or how to receive them. Email me at mabeyeliza@gmail.com.

ELIZA MABEY

South Royalton

Biking, walking lifts spirits

During this time, our Hanover Bike Walk committee is grateful for the amazing places to walk and bike right in our neighborhoods and town. Walking outside, waving hello and seeing life lifts the spirit and helps us feel connected.

With the pandemic and slowdown still looming, we think it’s important to kick off our Project Thank You now. Our inaugural recipients, Murphy’s, Lou’s and Boloco, enliven Main Street with al fresco dining. Our fourth recipient, Hanover High School, hosted our free Bike Fix-It Pop Up, where we helped dozens of community members ready their rides, and continues to provide the public with a Bike Fix-It station.

We hope that as we award celebratory window badges and virtually map amenities — from covered bike racks to beautified walking paths — they become less an amenity and more the norm on every street from Hanover Center to Wilson’s Landing to Mink Brook.

As we reopen businesses and reinvest in our town, it’s critical that everyone has access to move around freely and safely. Foot and bike traffic not only drives business, it strengthens communities and connects us all. So a huge thank-you to those who improve the walking and biking experience in Hanover, making it a better place to live and visit. Nominate a recipient today at http://bit.ly/2KDIoIs.

LARA ACKER, GRETCHEN STOKES
and JENNIE CHAMBERLAIN

Hanover

Commitment to environment

We’d like to celebrate two Hanover High School students who have set an example for how to “think globally and act locally.” Graduating seniors Isabel Bray of Etna and Lillian Hall of Norwich have been honored with the 2020 Hanover Conservancy Environmental Studies Award.

The conservancy’s award, established in 2014, is made in memory of Jim Hornig, former conservancy president and emeritus board member who established the Environmental Studies program at Dartmouth College. Each student will receive a $250 scholarship.

These students have been outstanding in Hanover High’s Earth Systems and Ecological Design course and have chosen to pursue environmentally related undergraduate programs next year. Both have demonstrated a strong interest in and commitment to understanding the complexity of ecosystems, and even with remote learning, these students continued to exemplify high achievement. Isabel Bray will be attending the New School in New York City and Lilli Hall will attend Mount Holyoke College and hopes to major in a blend of environmental and architectural studies.

Adair Mulligan

Hanover

The writer is the executive director of the Hanover Conservancy.




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