[Re Off Message: "Marijuana 'Kingpin' Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison," March 19]: I just want to clarify: Montgomery is in Franklin County, not the Northeast Kingdom. The NEK is composed of Orleans, Caledonia and Essex counties.
My best friend sent me a link to [Stuck in Vermont: "U.S. Winter Swimming Championship," February 25], as her son and grandchildren were in it. I expected to see a short video that I enjoyed strictly because they were in it, but I was pleasantly surprised. What a fabulous job Eva Sollberger did! The shots were amazing, with cuts back and forth as people expressed their opinions and informed us of their love for the sport. I was captivated from beginning to end.
[Re "Threats, Lawsuits and Dead Animals," March 18]: As a Northeast Kingdom ex-patriot living in central Vermont, I found the account of Victory's epic feuding wildly entertaining. You just can't make this stuff up. If I learned anything from a lot of years in the Kingdom it's that, like people, Vermont towns, and particularly NEK towns, have very distinctive personalities — some more endearing than others.
But I do have one minor bone to pick with Mark Davis' otherwise solid grasp of a cast of characters to rival Dostoyevsky: Referring to Walt Neborsky as a "former road agent" might just be the sort of literary slip that gets Mark branded as the opposition. It sounds like Walt took care of the town's roads, making him a former "road commissioner" or perhaps "road foreman," but road agent?
Unless Walt was waylaying unsuspecting tourists and relieving them of their valuables against their will, I'd say he didn't deserve the appellation. That's how rumors get started ... or maybe feuds.
Voice of Victory
Mark Davis did a marvelous job with his take on the town of Victory ["Threats, Lawsuits and Dead Animals," March 18.] Because of the ongoing feud, no one has taken a good look at themselves. But the Mitchell mafia said quite a lot. Telling the world that Gallup Mills is a shantytown, depicting herself as better folk than the people who live there. Now the world will see exactly what Patti Mitchell is really all about and how she really runs the humane society — with untruths. Victory has a lot of very nice people, but they have lived this terrible life for over 30 years. World, please stop and look at the real truth.
I appreciate and echo Ruby Perry's question in her letter to the editor [Feedback: "Housing for Whom?" February 25] inspired by a recent article ["Way to Grow," February 11]. What exactly is the nature of the housing crisis? Last week's article "Build It Where? Burlington's Mayor Wants More Downtown Student Housing" only got me wondering about all this even more. Has there been a study of how many housing units are actually needed? And how many of each kind — affordable, market rate, student?
A December 2014 Downtown Housing Strategy Report by HR&A Advisors said that 359 units were built between 2011 and 2013 — that's roughly 119 per year for three years. From what I have read, something like 1,900 units are proposed for 2015. Of course, not all that is proposed will be built, but it still sounds to me like a sizable increase to prior years. And what about the student housing? If the mayor succeeds in housing 1,500 students in coming years, what will that do to free up housing for working folks in the future?
What's missing for me is a transparent, public and multi-viewed discussion of the housing issue with real numbers, and an encompassing plan that looks at the issue from many angles and offers projections for the future. I fear the constant call for more housing is clouding other issues such as the irreplaceable value of our open land and the economic benefits of our current housing-free enterprise district.
Artsier Than Thou
Due to the tenor of ["In National Report, Three Vermont Communities Make Top 20 List for 'Arts Vibrancy,'" March 4], one would not realize that the report by the National Center for Arts Research represents a major set of positive achievements. The author did not speak with anyone at the center, and as a result, the article was not terribly informative.It's difficult to assemble data at this level, and there may be some oversights. For example, there were a number of organizations and festivals from central Vermont that were not included in the narrative — I presume for space limitations.
I will be passing along comments to the researchers. These show my biases: 1. Future white papers would be strengthened if they included an inventory of public artwork. (Barre would fly to the top of the list based on its magnificent public sculptures, an unusual quality for a small city.) 2. The next assessments should include evaluations of the higher education resources devoted to the arts. (Montpelier would emerge as a leader, given that it is home to the growing campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a remarkable institution for its creative programs.)
I'm pleased that Barre, Montpelier and their surrounds were honored as the No. 10 arts and cultural community and that two other communities earned "top 20" distinctions. We should work hard to maintain at least these positions.That said, let's expand our financial investments in cultural assets in our communities and continue to perform at a high level. This is who we are.
Higby is executive director of Studio Place Arts in Barre.
Junior's Rustico — Sì e No
[Re Taste Test: Junior's Rustico, March 18]: My husband and I went to dinner and found it was very loud and dark and reminded us of an upscale sports bar. We heard it was a place to enjoy pizza and pasta and that they were adding burgers. I was very disappointed. The prices were very high for the portion sizes and poor quality of food. We are not planning on going back.
Quite frankly I was appalled by Hannah Palmer Egan's review [Taste Taste: Junior's Rustico, March 18]. Does she have any experience reviewing a restaurant? It was unnecessarily harsh! I thought she really missed the boat on the majority of her evaluations. In my opinion, Junior's has some of the very best pizza I've ever had; everything I've tried there has been enjoyable. And as a very fussy, gourmet cook myself, I am very hard to please.
I also felt that Hannah was way too critical given how recently the restaurant opened. Her comment about some of the dishes being out of line with the "type" of food she expected really got me. Has she ever gone to a restaurant with a group of people — be it family or friends? There are always people who want familiar foods, and it's the wise place that offers a few of these "popular dishes."
I found the atmosphere to be very warm and welcoming. Some of the prices are a little high for the portion sizes, but it's nice to be able to have a really nice meal without spending $50 per person — or leaving half the food. I say bravo to the chef. Well done, Junior's; keep up the good work. Maybe a little tutorial for your waitstaff might address some of the other online comments I read.