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Forum, June 29: Thankful for so much help from so many

Published: 6/28/2020 10:00:12 PM
Modified: 6/28/2020 10:00:10 PM
Thankful for so much help from so many

We recently had a missing person issue at our home in Lebanon and needed the assistance of the Lebanon Police Department. Officer Nicholas Alden and his canine partner, Nitro, were first on the scene.

There followed officers and officials from several surrounding towns, including more canine units, fire department personnel, a special communications truck, New Hampshire State Police, again with a canine component, New Hampshire Fish and Game, search and rescue volunteers, and even some folks at Hypertherm, who first took him in when found, along with countless neighbors, friends and strangers summoned by a social media posting — all to help us find one lost person.

He was, so very fortunately, returned to us many hours later, safe and sound. May I use the Forum to express my gratitude to all involved?

I have never felt such protection, assistance, kindness and neighborliness from such caring people in my life.

Thank you so very much.



Region’s budgets for police show warped values

If you can judge a town’s values by how it spends its money, then the Upper Valley’s values are all out of whack.

Hartford is one of the more forward-thinking towns in the region when it comes to policing. Earlier this year, Hartford voters were the first to pass an ordinance that protects undocumented workers from police overreach. You would think their town budget would reflect this attitude toward prioritizing public well-being.

But in 2019, Hartford spent $3.26 million of public money on its police department, while spending just over $100,000 on community health, mental health services, low-income services, youth and adult services, and housing and community development combined. That’s 31 times more resources on enforcing laws against residents than services for people having financial or mental troubles.

In fact, nearly every town in the Upper Valley exhibits a similar tendency to fund police at the exclusion of social services.

Lebanon, for example, budgets $6.3 million for police and less than half a million on human services combined.

Hanover, in similar fashion, budgets over $3 million for police and well under half a million for health and social services.

There’s only one tool in the municipal toolbox that gets funded without question: the police, even though useful case studies, such as last summer’s New York Police Department “slowdown,” show that fewer police actually results in less crime.

Police are notoriously bad at responding to violent crime, especially sexual assault and domestic violence.

Every interaction with the police increases the chance that somebody will be hurt.

Police killings in Vermont doubled from the 2000s to the 2010s.

Despite what current budgets suggest, we know that the Upper Valley does care about public safety and supporting its most vulnerable residents. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent recession have shown that any of us could end up needing assistance to get through a hard time.

So if the Upper Valley wants its town budgets to reflect its values, it’s time to start re-funding social services and start de-funding the police.



The writer is co-chair of the Upper Valley chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.

Beer promotion discontinued

With the consent of the Mascoma Community Health Center, Bruce Bergeron, owner of Jake’s Markets in Canaan and Enfield, and the owners of many of the other convenience stores in the Enfield vicinity, including George’s AG Super Value and Pleasant Valley Store, have discontinued the Bud Light/Mascoma Community Health Center co-promotion reported in the Valley News and posted on local Listserves (“Beer fundraiser draws jeers, not cheers,” June 10). They removed related signs. I thank these businesses for doing so, and again urge other Mascoma Valley stores to do the same.

I do not consider the responsible use of alcohol to be a vice and partake myself. I do not object to such sales by local businesses. However, all involved now understand the public health position that it is not the role of health care facilities to be involved in the promotion of alcoholic beverages.

In support of Mascoma Community Health Center, I have agreed to match each convenience store’s donation, up to my estimate of the net for the health center resulting from the sale of 100 cases of the promoted beverages. In effect, this doubles the financial support provided to the health center.



The writer is a semi-retired family practitioner who previously worked at the health center and served on its board.

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