As the owners of the Bookmobile in downtown Rutland, we were quite surprised to find out — via Steve Costello's statements — that there are no stores selling new books here [Live Culture: "Phoenix Books to Open New Store in Rutland," January 19]. Although primarily a used bookstore, we sell new books, too. By our count, there are at least five other stores downtown selling new books. Additionally, Costello mentioned that we don't even have a chair in our store. That is also untrue. Thanks for letting us set the record straight.
Donald Babcock & Ruthellen Weston
[Re "Seventeen Spoonfuls of Sugar: Will Vermont Tax Sweetened Drinks?" January 21]: As a mother and a two-time cancer survivor, I would do anything to prevent my children, or anyone for that matter, from getting a cancer diagnosis. Along with avoiding tobacco and limiting sun exposure, there is another major factor that many Vermonters may not even know causes a number of cancers: obesity. Did you know that 60 percent of Vermonters are overweight or obese? One of the leading causes of the current obesity epidemic is easy and affordable access to the sugar-sweetened beverages that have become a staple of many families' diets.
Our culture acknowledges that tobacco use leads to disease and death, and therefore we accept that if we want to purchase these harmful products we must pay additional taxes. To me it's a no-brainer to support the proposed 2 percent tax per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages. Taxes on harmful products, such as tobacco, do not take away an individual's right to purchase or consume them. Small businesses, even on the New Hampshire border, have not been put out of business by tobacco taxes, and, the last time I checked, the tobacco industry is still thriving.
Let's not wait for obesity to claim the same number of lives that tobacco has before we start to take this threat seriously. I urge all Vermonters to embrace the 2 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and to be wary of propaganda filtering into our state from the beverage industry.
Pot or Not?
Your reporting ["Legal Pot in Vermont? Not Yet, Say Some Top Policy Makers," January 21] is remiss in not mentioning the number of people currently imprisoned in Vermont on marijuana possession, cultivation and trafficking charges — and the cost to taxpayers to incarcerate them. Certainly a first step in the legalization process would be to free most if not all of these people, and expunge their criminal records so their futures are not handicapped unnecessarily.
On the other hand, if legalization becomes a reality, I hope it includes very strict penalties for driving "under the influence" and for possession and use by minors. Like many, I am ambivalent on the issue. Criminalization of marijuana use is a tragedy for the individual and an unnecessary cost to taxpayers. On the other hand, Vermont does not need more "stupid" — an undeniable element of the pot-induced mental state.
Fix It First
Recently, Seven Days ran an article on the UVM Medical Center ["Single Provider?" January 21]. The name change cost the hospital $5.7 million. Wow! Our local billion-dollar medical monolith now wants to spend a measly $187 million on a seven-story addition that would provide single rooms for patients. They also want to purchase more land and buildings in South Burlington for future development. Hmm!
If UVMMC was truly interested in serving the community, it would begin by providing comprehensive emergency room service. I've heard numerous complaints over the years. Around Christmas, an 84-year-old friend of mine was in the ER and couldn't stop throwing up. She had to wait four hours to receive any care, while others were seen who weren't in need of immediate care.
Another friend was basically escorted out of the ER into 95-degree heat when she complained that she had been waiting for three hours. They said her name had been called and since there was no response, she had been moved to the bottom of the list. Obviously, she did not hear the call. How come? What's the process? She was delirious when I went to pick her up.
In America's Bitter Pill, Stephen Brill explains why "health care is killing us," and hospitals are a big part of the problem. Hospitals, including UVMMC, offer services at prices that bear little relationship to costs. Heart bypass surgery costs $9,319 in Argentina and an average of $67,583 in the U.S. Perhaps that's why medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S.
By the way, UVMMC, which calls itself a nonprofit, made on average 5 percent more than other comparable hospitals in the country. That's a lot of gelt.
Thanks for the mention of both our Warren home ["Passive House: Does the Ultra-Efficient Home Point the Way to Carbon Neutrality in Vermont?" January 7] and the New York Times article about us titled "Exhausted by a House That Saves Energy." Reality? Yes, our house is big — to accommodate our three married kids and six grandkids, who visit often. Yes, sustainability is our goal. Exhausted? No way! This place keeps us engaged and constantly learning. Eric, retired from a long career in the construction industry, built our home himself with Dotty, his willing helper. We're creative problem solvers and enjoy new challenges.
We'd do a number of things differently if we had it to do over, but now we have a home that is close to net-zero in energy consumption and production. Nik Ponzio and Li Ling Young ["Retrofitting: Saving Energy Costs and the Environment — in a 1950s House in Burlington," January 7] were responsible for several of our choices: Nik, for our grid-tied photovoltaic panels; Li Ling encouraged us to visit the Vermod operation in Wilder where we learned about cold-climate heat pumps ["Vermod: Redesigning the Mobile Home for the 21st Century," January 7].
Eric installed three of them: a wall-hung mini-split, a cassette concealed above our kitchen ceiling, and a ducted unit for our living room and dining room — all run by a 30,000BTU hyper-heat compressor. We simply set the thermostat and have enjoyed comfortable indoor temps, even when it's been 15 below zero outside. R40 walls and R80 in the attic keeps the heat inside. An HRV keeps the indoor air fresh. We love this place!
Dotty Kyle & Eric Brattstrom
Put That in Your Pipe
[Re "New 'Don' for Vermont Gas: Can Rendall Win the Pipeline Battle?" January 28]: Vermont Gas is now trying to buy off the town of Cornwall so that they can lay a pipe across Lake Champlain to a business — International Paper — in another state! I am against this planned phase. Why? Should the pipe leak, either during construction or once in the lake, the destruction of the lake's ecosystem will be catastrophic. Lake Champlain is a gem that we need to take care of, not take chances with. Cornwallians are also horrified that we're being offered money to smooth the path. We simply do not want this pipe laid anywhere!
Carolyn Van Vleck
Cracking the Codes
I do have some answers regarding ["WTF: Why is Burlington Often Abbreviated as BTV?" January 28]: A person by the name of Edward F. Knapp served as commissioner of aviation back in the middle of last century. Serving in that role, he did much to save the locally run airports by consolidating them under state ownership and control. He went on to lead the National Association of State Aviation Officials.
When it came time to designate the Newport Airport, someone took the opportunity to drop Knapp's initials into place. This, of course, was before the decision to designate what had been the Barre-Montpelier Airport as the Edward F. Knapp Airport, which did happen later. But Newport already had those initials, and the Montpelier airport already had MPV. We who ran the 10 state airports often got confused.
Everyone desired unique identifiers, to offer shorthand ticket processing as well as destination clarity. So while the current International Air Transport Association is technically only an international arrangement to assure unique identifiers for passenger airline airports throughout the world, there is preexisting history to IATA that included abbreviations for train stations. You will find these designations still used by Amtrak — although technically Amtrak does deviate from IATA in some instances.
MPR is the train station at Montpelier Junction. That left the Barre-Montpelier airport with MPV — which was a bit of a dis on Barre, come to think of it. The train station did come first, after all, so it got something a bit more logical by way of three-letter code.
Along those lines, the Amtrak station serving Burlington is really in Essex Junction and thus is ESX. But there is a train station in Burlington, too, which at one time served passengers. I am hazarding a guess that it had something better than BTV.
Rutland has a similar distinction between its rail station and airport: RUD and RUT.
The airports that did not have scheduled passenger service did not get three-letter codes, instead receiving a mixture of numbers and letters. Middlebury, which never had passenger service, is known as 6B0. Several airports that used to have scheduled service, such as Montpelier and Newport, but no longer do, retained their three-letter codes.
I hope this clarifies.
Maguire was director of rail, air and public transportation for the Vermont Agency of Transportation from 1997 to 1999.