Op/Eds

As always I want to thank those serving on the Addison Central School District board for the time and energy they put into the work. It is no small task and it is appreciated. The following quote is from “A Matter of Public Record, A Guide to Vermont’s Public Records Laws” by James Condos, Secretary of State. “Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment.” As someone who attends most board meetings and quite a few...
When President Biden announced the end to the Forever War in Afghanistan was near, I was elated. Over the past 20 years, we have seen countless troops serve in that conflict, and now troops who were not even born when the war began are fighting in it. Thank you, President Biden, for bringing the troops home. I know military veterans, like the ones with the group Common Defense, have advocated for an end to this conflict for years. Today, we all celebrate this drawdown with them. Tomorrow, we will have to turn our eye to the 40 other countries around the world where U.S. troops are deployed,...
Recently this newspaper featured a special seasonal section devoted to automobiles  (April 15 - Spring Auto Feature). I applaud the choice to devote the entirety of that section to electric vehicles (EVs). However, while moving from gasoline powered vehicles to EVs is a necessary step in addressing our climate emergency, a simple switch from gas powered to electric vehicles will leave a host of other critical problems unaddressed. Simply replacing gas-powered vehicles with EVs will do nothing to curb local traffic congestion. Route 7 in Middlebury will continue to slow to a crawl at the start...
In any normal year, the task facing the Legislature and the governor’s administration is how to accomplish too many objectives without enough money. The legislative and administrative process is to analyze the known needs, prioritize them and allocate funding according to how much tax revenue can be justified. But this is no normal year. With President Biden’s successful passage of his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, one big task facing the Legislature and governor’s office is to determine how to spend Vermont’s $2.7 billion portion of the ARPA wisely, or more accurately,...
Yesterday I had my second Pfizer vaccine. Visions of traveling again bubble up, and I think back to my last adventure… I meet up with my old friend Jane in Manhattan on my way home from a trip to Oxfordshire, England. After breakfast at a bakery cafe, she suggests a walk around Central Park Reservoir. It’s a crisp spring morning and I love the thought, yet I hesitate. The park’s violence and neglect were well-publicized when I lived here in the early 1980s. Since then, Jane assures me, the park has experienced a renaissance. A lifelong New Yorker, she knows this city, so I defer to her and we...

THIS U.S. GEOLOGICAL Service map created around 1920 shows how the ancient clayplain forest and the Middlebury Swamp reached through a section of southern Middlebury that is being considered for a solar farm by Middlebury College.
Jeff Howarth is Associate Professor of Geography at Middlebury College. I am a geographer who enjoys looking at maps and air photos to see how places have changed in the past as a way of thinking about how they could change in the future. One of the maps I have been looking at lately shows the southwestern corner of Middlebury circa 1920. Drawn by the U.S. Geological Survey, the map includes the site just off of South Street Extension that Middlebury College and Encore Energy in 2019 selected to develop a new solar energy facility that is now in the final stages of permitting. On the old map...
At the end of March, President Biden outlined the elements of his “American Jobs Plan,” a package of more than $2 trillion in federal spending over eight years on infrastructure, broadly defined. The program is intended to rebuild the economy, create millions of new, well-paying jobs, and better position the United States for international economic competition, particularly with China, but also with other European and Asian economic powers. Much of the American Jobs Plan would be paid for by increasing corporate taxes over a 15-year period. This proposal will take much longer to go through...
22nd in a series “Everything is what it is, and not another thing,” or, to put it briefly, “a thing is itself and not another.” This is a statement attributed to the British philosopher Joseph Butler (1692–1752), who was also an Anglican bishop. But it is uncertain when he said it and in what connection. About its truthfulness, however, there seems little doubt; it is common sense, although there are reasons arising from contemporary physical theory that may give cause to doubt it, but they are beyond my competence to judge, let alone understand. In any case, it seems to common sense, at...
For a few weeks this winter, I would end my day by checking the Vermont Legislature’s page to see if H. 172 had made it out of committee. On the evening of ‘crossover’ it seemed like this piece of proposed legislation must have been too extreme for the committee to have taken up as part of their 2021 agenda and was pigeonholed. Like most Vermont outdoors people, I am not a bear houndsman or a trapper and do not aspire to either. I do respect the history of trapping in Vermont and can see the merits of bear hunting. Both of them fit into our management plan quite well as is. More importantly,...
The Addison Central School District’s announcement that it will return students in grades 7-12 to full capacity, in-person instruction with 3-foot physical distancing instead of the current 6-foot rule, flies in the face of CDC guidance on school safety and endangers our community. The CDC’s published guidance for middle and high schools is clear: in communities with a “High Transmission” risk rating, students should maintain 6-foot distancing at all times. In communities with lower risk ratings, 3-foot distancing is acceptable. This risk rating is determined based on the rate of cases in a...

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Addison County Independent