Thank you for covering the current situation facing Vermont dairy farmers ["Selling the Herd," April 11]. My parents, brothers, and several aunts, uncles and cousins are in that number. It is regrettable, however, that your cover story perpetuates a widespread myth about antibiotics and milk.
You printed that Michael Colby "takes particular issue with large-scale farms that rely on genetically modified feed and antibiotics to enhance milk production in sedentary cows" without clarifying that, unlike some animals raised for meat, dairy cows only receive antibiotics when they are actually sick, and that it is a violation of federal food safety rules to ship milk from cows treated with antibiotics. For this reason, farmers discard the milk from treated cows, and a sample of every bulk tank of milk shipped is collected at the farm for testing in case contamination is found.
Shades of Gray
Thank you for the great article on a very important topic ["Gray Areas," April 4]. I wanted to add that there are several other options available for those seniors who want to stay in their own homes and safely "age in place." At least six private-pay non-medical home care companies in Vermont offer companion and homemaker services, including Home Instead Senior Care, TLC Home Care, Armistead Senior Care, Home Care Assistance and Synergy HomeCare. Employees of these companies are very carefully vetted and trained. The services are available seven days a week, from just a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. The hourly charge is in the ballpark of $25 per hour. As Monica Hutt, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, says: She is concerned about the group in the middle — between affluent seniors and those who qualify for government assistance — and these companies offer services to this group.
Thabault is a former owner of Home Instead Senior Care.
In Praise of Dreissigackers
I am writing in response to Mark Davis' recent article, "Family Foundations in Vermont Quietly Manage Vast Holdings" [April 4]. He includes mention of the Three Thirty Three Foundation run by the Dreissigacker family, which founded the successful company Concept2. For some reason, Davis feels the need to end the blurb with a question that raises unfair and incorrect aspersions and frankly, sounds disrespectful: "So where did the Dreissigacker's money go from there?" I hope this is not standard journalistic protocol when a reporter cannot get the information they are seeking.
I can say with deep appreciation that some of the Dreissigacker family generosity has helped underwrite the direct service work of Spectrum Youth & Family Services — since 2004. Back then, 98 percent of our revenues came from state or federal funding. Those government sources have been drying up steadily, and this year hover at 48 percent. The only thing that has allowed us to keep our doors open, and even expand services to homeless and at-risk youth, are private donors — the Dreissigackers primary among them. But they give of their plentitude quietly and humbly, not seeking public acclaim, which in this day and age is quite extraordinary.
I can say with confidence that numerous other nonprofit organizations — across Vermont and beyond — could pen the exact words of gratitude I have written here.
Redmond is the executive director of Spectrum Youth & Family Services.
Help Hungry, Homeless Kids
I would like to continue Baylen Slote's train of thought [Feedback: "Spend Money on Kids," March 21]. How many hungry, homeless children could be helped with all the money spent on guns and ammunition each year?
Re [Daily 7, "Bill McKibben Seeks Someone to Sell Him Milk and Eggs," April 3]: The retirement of the owners of the Ripton Country Store opens up an opportunity for City Market, Onion River Co-op; the good-food movement and the preservation — and transformation — of a small, local general store into a small, local co-op with the support of a prosperous parent. City Market would bring experience, purchasing power and administrative resources. And a pool of young, idealistic employees to staff the Ripton store or train the locals to do so. Perhaps the present owners, relieved of the financial burden and the anxieties of business, would be willing to remain in an advisory capacity during a transition period.
VTANG Won't Close
Re [Off Message: "Weinberger Could Veto City Council Resolution on F-35s," March 28]: Burlington Mayor Weinberger is perpetuating time-honored falsehoods in his public statements about the reduction or closing of the Vermont Air National Guard base. VTANG won't close no matter what — for many reasons:
First among them is the National Security Act of 1947, which authorized and mandated both air and Army National Guard units in every U.S. state and four territories.
Second, history shows none has ever closed for lack of a mission, though some units have shifted around within a state.
Third, it costs much less for the Air Force to support Air National Guard units than to maintain full-time, active-duty airmen in their place.
Fourth, the U.S. military continues to grow in money spent and new equipment made and old equipment discarded — so it would be senseless to close any guard base.
Fifth, it would take some conjuring to ever believe that one of the U.S. Senate's most powerful senators, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who sits on the Armed Forces sub-committee of the Appropriations committee along with the nation's most popular Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would ever allow our base to close or suffer harm.
Finally, Plattsburgh closed because it was a full-time, regular Air Force base of 5,000 people — not a National Guard unit. VTANG has only 1,100 employees, about 800 of which are part-timers who make $3,000 a year.