[Re "The Only Name in Town," November 21]: I read Chelsea Edgar's story on South Woodstock intently, looking for any strategies, any ideas that could be applied to my town, Wheelock.
Like South Woodstock, it has a small population and a need for more volunteer firemen. We have second homes, too, but they are deer camps. Our post office closed in the '50s. In 1962, the village church was torn down due to disrepair. In 1969, the village school burned down; in 2000, our historic tavern was dismantled brick by brick and beautifully restored in Peacham. For the moment, we have a village store, but it is behind on its taxes.
The average family home on the Wheelock Grand List is under $200,000. We are a town of hardworking people and trees, lots of trees.
Although we don't get together anymore for chicken pie suppers, Friday night bingo, the annual field day or the weekly quilting circle, we still have a turnout for Town Meeting. We disagree and dicker, grump and growl, debate and decide on the town budget and when to buy a new plow truck. For the past 14 years, we have voted down proposal after proposal to address our two greatest needs: a new town garage and a safe, accessible town hall.
I began reading Edgar's article with hope. By the end, all I felt was discouraged. Then a question jumped into my head: "Is South Woodstock even in Vermont?" Wheelock is a Vermont town. I may not know how we are going to do it, but we are going to survive, build the damn garage with our own hands if we have to and come together for Town Meeting. This year's discussions will be about the "half-a-beer budget" proposal for a small addition to the town hall.
If there is a millionaire out there who would like to adopt our town, you would be welcomed with open arms.
Editor's note: This week's entire issue is about the challenges facing small-town rural Vermont.
Kudos to Seven Days and Dan Bolles, the writer of "Who Shot Mr. Cheeseface?" [November 28]! I was playing music in the Northeast Kingdom during the time of Jimmy De Pierro's Mr. Cheeseface in a band called the Ten Mile Shuffle Band, named after the road he lived on because we shuffled from house to house for various reasons, mostly with children in tow. My two post-teenage grandchildren still live in West Charleston.
I know most all of the people cited in the article, and all are the most spiritual and honest people I know.
My daughter, who lives in Holland, Vt., once was accused of shooting a cat from the passenger side her boyfriend's pickup truck, thinking it was a raccoon. We still tease her about it to this day.
I do not want to make light of Jimmy's beloved Mr. Cheeseface and other pets and owners who have endured the culture of the NEK in this way. But it truly is like the Old West in culture and lots of freedom, and you will think you have gone back in time and are in some sort of fantasy if you spend any significant time living there.
Again, great writing by Bolles in capturing the spirit of that time in the 1970s in a "Kingdom" far, far away...
Who Approved That Cover Image?
I find the cover of this week's issue, featuring the National Lampoon image of a dog with a gun to its head, to be absolutely, incredibly over the line ["Who Shot Mr. Cheeseface?" November 28]. I'm astounded that this was published. I thought we had come further as a society than that — to not have such a triggering image on the cover itself, at the very least!
Time to Pay, Trump
[Re Last Seven: Emoji That, "Flame War," November 28]: I was wondering if Eric Trump might be willing to make good on his father's bill with the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and the City of Burlington for the event he held here in January 2016? I was just thinking that if Eric Trump is willing to send as many replacement flags as necessary, the Trump 2020 campaign probably has enough in the coffers to pay that outstanding bill?
Don't Close City Hall Park
[Re "Uprooted: Burlington Farmers Market Seeks a New Home," October 31]: Closing Burlington's City Hall Park for long-term renovation would be a disaster. Ninety-three vendors, their employees and central city small-business owners will experience economic harm because someone decided the grass is getting thin and the sidewalks are too narrow. Tourism will suffer.
TripAdvisor places the Burlington Farmers Market as the second most popular tourist activity out of 43 "things to do" listings in town. The Saturday market is a cultural icon. People come here for it and offer rave reviews. None complained about the condition of the park. Proposed landscaping means a possible loss of one-third of the current number of vendors and smaller space for display and sales. Are public officials so out of touch that they believe this project will not hurt the local economy and deprive small entrepreneurs of their livelihoods?
There are questions. What are the cost details of this $3 million project? Is this huge outlay justified? Was the development of the plan transparent and open to community discussion? Do we need a kiosk in a park that has dozens of market food vendors? Are there more important uses of these funds? Why will it take up to two years to carry out this project? What was the basis for choosing the contractor?
Are there alternatives? Perhaps community members could come together to design and quickly create a public space that reflects local values and commitment? Donations of labor, materials and vegetation might save millions of dollars and allow our markets to continue without disruption.