Good timing on the launch of the Summer Preview edition [May 17]. It was snowing on my way to work this morning.
'A Job Well Done'
[Re "Media Note: Ledbetter Steps Down as Host of 'Vermont This Week,'" May 17, online]: I had the pleasure of working with Stewart Ledbetter nearly 40 years ago in radio at WJOY and the old WQCR/Q99. Stewart left the station for a long career at WPTZ, and I became a longtime staffer for U.S. senator Patrick Leahy.
As Stewart steps down as host of "Vermont This Week," I would like to congratulate him on a job well done. His solid efforts on that show contributed much to political discourse in Vermont.
Back in the day, working with Stewart was so much fun. He always had solid journalistic instincts and was dedicated to getting it right. And he never lost his great sense of humor.
Throughout his career, dozens upon dozens of young reporters benefited from having Stewart as a mentor, and that may be his most important contribution to journalism in Vermont, New York's North Country and across the country.
I'm not at all surprised by his magnanimous gesture in giving someone else a shot at hosting such an important program to Vermonters. That's just Stewart, and we're fortunate that we will continue to see his great work on MyNBC5.
[Re "Cyclist Killed in Crash With Truck While Riding in Rasputitsa Race," April 30, online]: Unfortunately, accidents involving trucks are fairly common. I believe that this was simply a tragic event. It's awful that it happened, but the truck driver isn't entirely responsible for the death of Richard Wanstall.
There's a point at which both parties have to take responsibility. According to the police, Alex Goss, the driver, was not speeding or under the influence. He simply was unaware of the cyclist's presence. While Goss is at fault for hitting the cyclist, Wanstall should have followed the rules and restrictions for bikers on the road. I believe that we as people need to work on paying more attention to cyclists.
We should be able to have both bikes and cars on the road without another incident like this. Drivers can try to be more aware of their surroundings, and bikers can educate themselves on basic riding etiquette. We should focus on and better the safety of everyone.
[Re "Woman Wonder: The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Recognizes Stowe Adventurer Jan Reynolds," March 15]: Janet started out at Middlebury Union High School under coach and chemistry teacher Dayton Wakefield of East Middlebury. The women won the championships during that time. The women respected and honored us at a special dinner at the Waybury Inn last year. Needless to say, it was an occasion we look back on with great pleasure and gratitude.
Recipe for Retention
Great story ["Beloved Grill Cook Jimmy McHugh Retires After 45 Years at Al's French Frys," May 2, online]. Makes me wonder what the magic sauce is in the management of Al's. I am stunned by a tenure of even 13 years, mentioned in the story.
An old classic biz book, Service America!, may have theories...
Susan E. Romans
I agree fully with William Rice [Feedback: "Whither VTC?" May 3]. I am a 1973 graduate of the electrical program at Vermont Technical College. Since I was in high school, and even today, people have been telling me what a good school it is. And I agree 100 percent. With that in mind, I think Vermont Technical College should be kept. I do question why a small state like Vermont needs three four-year colleges.
An Embarrassment of Luthiers
Related Seven Vermont Luthiers Who Push the Boundaries of Instrument Making
I enjoyed both the choice of subject — spotlighting the quiet industry of making stringed instruments in Vermont — and how in-depth you treated the various luthiers. But your "String Theories" story [May 10] left me saying, "What the heck?! Where's the coverage of Warren Ellison?"
Our friend Warren makes violins and viola da gambas that you can't believe were made by one person at the end of a dirt road, in the 21st century. His shop is in Jericho, and he's been making violins for over 30 years. His work is so gorgeous and perfect that it blows my mind.
I was stunned when I saw in your otherwise laudatory and valuable May 10 cover article on Vermont luthiers ["String Theories"] that, despite interviewing him, you did not include Nowa Crosby, a renowned luthier of northern New England for 45 years.
He practiced his craft in Burlington for 26 years; his Randolin Music Instruments shop and showroom is now in Shelburne. He repairs, rebuilds, creates and sells all sizes and types of new and vintage instruments, including hammered dulcimers and orchestral harps. For me, Mr. Crosby has made a six-string banjo, a widened custom fretboard for my Taylor dreadnought guitar and many minor adjustments over the years; he also quickly repaired and refinished my son's electric bass.
He truly deserves his own write-up.
Thank you for including me among the group of instrument builders and repair technicians featured in your May 10 cover story ["String Theories"]. I felt lucky to see myself pictured with such talented company.
I know any such list will never be complete, but there are a few missing names that feel especially deserving of mention here. Joe Cleary of Burlington builds world-renowned mandolin and violin-family instruments under the name Campanella Stringed Instruments. His instruments are traditional but very clearly his own. He's also a fantastic player.
Paul Languedoc of Westford, known for making the electric guitars played — for decades — by Vermont's best-known guitarist, Phish's Trey Anastasio, is in a class of his own in terms of design and flawless execution.
Jake Wildwood of the Wildwood Flower in Rochester is such a rare combination of good/fast/cheap that, I'm afraid, the secret is out about him. He'll never tell you himself, but he routinely repairs and furnishes guitars for household-name players. All three of those fellows are worthy of as much attention and praise as anybody else.
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