Home, Sweet Modular
Molly Walsh's article about Vermod homes ["The Cost of 'Affordable,'" December 11] compels me to put in a word in favor of the company, especially owner Steve Davis. Five years ago, I bought a Vermod home, where I live today. It is a joy, despite a few issues along the way.
In each problematic event, my questions were answered promptly and thoroughly, including the heat pump issue that woke me at 3 a.m. to a 43-degree temperature in the house. It was addressed and good to go before 8 a.m. And it was not the fault of Vermod.
The article was not strictly investigative; I see it as carrying its own agenda to suggest that Vermod homes are not really affordable because they are defective. It took several examples and inferred that they represented a lack of quality in the overall offerings and a lack of responsibility by the company. Was this simply an effort to differ from the huge majority of positive reviews? Or should it have been an editorial?
Most of the complaints in Walsh's article mentioned cracking drywall and sagging floors. Vermont winters are harder than most, resulting in more dramatic thaws and flooding in spring. Houses built here, by whatever methods, are subject to both, due to extreme fluctuation in the ground every year. It's part of a home's life here, as any local contractor knows.
Reading the complaints of others about their homes pointed out to me how important perspective is. I've been so happy with my home! It really is wonderful, if not perfect.
The Hooked series is one of the best things I've ever read, and the best I've ever read on the topic of opioid addiction. I hope Seven Days has the good sense to keep Kate O'Neill on the payroll in some other writing capacity. Thank you for publishing these pieces. I've always loved reading Seven Days, but this series only increased my good opinion of the newspaper.
Box Elder, S.D.
Good People in Corrections
[Re "Guarded Secrets," December 4]: I work at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, eight hours a day, five days a week, and I am a woman. I interact with inmates daily. There is a deep shame felt from the suspected unprofessionalism of a colleague. There are no justifications for abuses of power, which are the most shameful of all. But for every "criminal with a badge," there are far more who are not, who have their integrity and humanity pushed to every possible limit daily, and who keep them.
Working with those who do not often care to care for themselves, who have been convicted of crimes, who often never become active participants in making better choices for their own well-being, when given support and opportunity, is very hard.
Generational trauma, criminality and abuse are healed or changed on timescales that span lifetimes.
Working with inmate populations is emotionally and mentally exhausting. Rehabilitative outcomes are low and not often realized.
The larger a system of government and community, the harder it is to find solutions and procedures that are balanced, providing proper care but also ensuring safety for staff and order in running a facility that helps to protect the greater community.
Many who work for the Department of Corrections show up day in and day out and do their work, with imperfect resources and professionalism. They are still the majority, and that needs to be remembered.
[Re "Quick Lit," November 20]: Chelsea Edgar's review of Here, Sydney Lea's most recent collection of poems, faults Lea for writing "nature poetry" as if we were not on the brink of ecological collapse. Edgar labels Lea as one who "marvel[s] at nature from the safety of a warm home ... [where he can] luxuriate in the privilege of a mostly intact world." Edgar seems to assume that when Lea talks of the "otherness" of nature, he ignores the vulnerability of nature and is out of touch.
Edgar couldn't be more wrong. Lea does appreciate the precariousness of our natural world and has long decried the disappearance — as a direct consequence of development or from climate change — of once-flourishing species and landscapes. He has mourned the debilitation of habitat, and he has acted. Lea has worked as a leader and principal fundraiser for a nonprofit conservation organization that raised $58,000,000 to conserve more than 385,000 acres. Almost all this conserved land is in Maine's poorest county; it provides protection for some of the lowest socioeconomic groups and for the tribal people located within that county. It includes almost 12,000 acres of ecological reserve, more than half of them wetlands.
He has strongly supported countless environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Conservation Law Foundation — organizations that do more than just bewail the perils of climate change.
I know this because Lea is my husband. Few writers are less guilty of being "out of touch" or unconcerned with the environment around them. Lea cares deeply — his life and his writing have always reflected that concern.
[Re "Carbon Quandary," October 9]: Since joining Audubon Vermont a little over a year ago, I have learned that those of us burning wood to heat our homes can do so in a manner that not only displaces fossil fuels but also helps birds. While cutting down trees to help birds may not seem like an obvious recommendation from an environmental organization, harvesting those trees from local forests in a careful and sustainable manner — and burning the wood from those trees in advanced wood-heating stoves and furnaces — can be good for forests, birds and the environment.
Vermont's forests provide many benefits, in addition to providing a habitat for birds and other wildlife. Our forests provide clean water, clean air and flood resilience, and they also capture and store carbon. In order to realize these benefits, we need to keep our forests as forests. In Vermont, a large majority of our forestland is privately owned. To keep that land forested, we need to find ways to help forest landowners get an economic return from their land.
Buying wood to heat our homes and businesses, whether in woodstoves or wood pellet boilers, is one way to help provide that financial benefit for those landowners who need the income and who prioritize careful long-term and sustainable management over short-term profit. We can all benefit when our forests are managed for birds, and those benefits can include harvesting some trees out of our forests to heat our homes.
David K. Mears
Mears is executive director of Audubon Vermont.
Take It From an LNA
There is more than meets the eye in "Worse for Care" [November 27]. I was a licensed nursing assistant for more than 10 years and moved from one bad place to another, looking for something better. I did home care, worked in a nursing home and finally settled on private care. Working on my own was far more rewarding.
First, there was a lot of turnover in staff, from director to head nurse to nutritionist. Also, a steady stream of LNAs in and out the door. The average LNA was female, young and already a single mother with a GED and a lot of debt from credit cards to make ends meet. The LNA course was easy and usually paid for by the facility that hired you. But the pay was poor, and the work hard and endless. The facility would overstaff during the week and understaff on the weekends, with even less staff on the holidays. Rules were always changing and not well understood. Also, speed was required, with six minutes to get someone up, washed, dressed and ready for the food line. This necessitated shortcuts and careless speed from us, demanding the impossible from old people who were incapable of rushing. Taking your time put you behind and got you a reprimand or a write-up.
Really, much depended on state inspections, which were few and far between. When I first started, the ratio of residents to LNAs was about 10 to one; at the end, it became 20 to one, an impossible task. If people cared and demanded better, it would all change for the better. But it's all about the money. Low-end care facilities are poor, while high-end, $100,000-a-year places are better. It's time for a change.
Leave Farmworkers Alone
On April 5, 2017, Paul Heintz of Seven Days wrote an article about the collaboration between the Department of Motor Vehicles and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ["Vermont DMV, State Police Play Nice With ICE"]. In spite of laws ensuring that every police agency in Vermont adopt fair and impartial policing policies, Mexican farmworker Luis Ulloa was required to provide an ID by the Chittenden County Sheriff's Department and held by the side of the road until Border Patrol arrived and detained him [Off Message: "Migrant Justice Plans Protest After Farmworker Is Detained," December 2].
Why does this continue to happen even when the sheriff's department has a policy that states, "Members of the Chittenden County Sheriff's Department shall not initiate or prolong stops for the purpose of enforcing civil immigration matters, such as suspicion of undocumented status, nor shall they prolong stops for the purpose of allowing federal immigration authorities to conduct such investigation"?
Farmworkers in the dairy industry are between a rock and a hard place. Our broken immigration laws do not provide immigrant dairy workers a pathway to obtain legal status and residency. To continue to be a needed labor force for Vermont farmers, they are here at continued risk of deportation. When collaboration between state agencies and Border Patrol leads to continued profiling of brown-skinned people, there is no justice for any of us, least of all for this vulnerable population.