Both articles pertaining to Saint Michael's College in the September 20 issue ["Keeping the Faith" and "With Lights Flashing, St. Michael's Students Embrace Grown-Up Fire and Rescue Roles"] were very well done. I am a 2015 alumnus, and I cherish my time spent at the school. I received my bachelor's in psychology and sociology. However, some might say I majored in rescue. I managed to balance time between my studies and running calls on the ambulance. I feel the program ensures that students are accountable for their academics. Many alumni are now nurses and doctors!
I can't help but wonder why the school does not look into creating degree programs in fire science and paramedicine. The appeal of fire and rescue had a great influence on my decision to go to St. Mike's, and I know many of my peers shared this feeling. The addition of these academic focuses would improve enrollment and give a much better alternative for a fire science or paramedicine degree that is only offered by the lackluster and expensive Vermont Technical College programs.
There is a great need for paramedics and firefighters around the state and country. It would be amazing if such a great school could offer these two degrees that would bolster the college and community in so many ways.
I am so proud of my degree from St. Mike's, but I am even more proud of the lives I helped while on the ambulance.
Thank you for publishing the story on the Unified Parking "Pirates" in Burlington [Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: "How Can Private Lots Issue Parking Tickets?" September 13]. Like Nancy Rabinowitz, I too fell victim to UPP's offer of public parking and was presented with a parking ticket for overstaying by just a few minutes my two hours of paid parking ($8) with a $30 "invoice." In addition to the $30 I had to pay to clear the "invoice," UPP charged me an additional $3 for the privilege of paying online. My total bill for parking in an empty lot that evening came to $41. I wrote to the mayor's office to complain and was told I could have used the underground lot at Burlington Town Center and walked to the restaurant, which was several blocks away — a bit too far for my aging knees.
My solution to this piracy is to no longer frequent the businesses in downtown Burlington in the evenings.
It Takes a Watershed Group...
The Friends of the Winooski River was pleased with your recent article on improving flood resiliency ["One Way to Avoid Storm Damage: Knock Down the Houses That Flood," September 13]. However, we were disappointed that it did not address the key role that watershed groups such as ours play in these projects.
The Friends was a critical partner in the Northfield project highlighted in the article. We were the first to recognize the opportunity to restore floodplain function and improve flood protection beyond buying and razing houses. The Friends secured and managed more than $300,000 in grants to analyze flood protection alternatives, design approaches and fund the restoration. The Friends' foresight and persistence in partnership with the town has created some measure of good out of the tragedy of Tropical Storm Irene.
Our executive director met with reporter Mark Davis in Barre and encouraged him to write about other flood resilience projects. She provided Davis with background and contacts for the Northfield project, described our role, and forwarded materials on river and floodplain function. We regret that he did not recognize our important role in the Northfield floodplain restoration.
Vermont watershed groups play a valuable and often unsung role in protecting water quality, habitat and improving flood resiliency. The Friends, with two part-time employees and minimal funding and recognition, undertakes a variety of projects from Cabot to Burlington. Our fellow Vermont watershed groups are equally scrappy in pursuit of their missions. We hope in the future that Seven Days, when writing articles about Vermont's water resources, will engage them and highlight their key contributions.
Keller is on the board of Friends of the Winooski River.
Ehlers and Ethics
Seven Days' Fair Game columns on James Ehlers [August 16 and 30] began an unfortunate slippery slope for Vermont journalists and media. Seven Days requires contact information for any materials submitted to the paper. Why, then, would you elevate materials from unknown sources, including Facebook's unverifiable entries, as the basis of responsible journalism or political discussion?
On September 1, Vermont PBS' "Vermont This Week" veered altogether too close for my comfort to giving credibility to questionable materials about Ehlers linked to Fair Game columns. Knowing Ehlers and his values, I can imagine he may have confronted others with angry messages about the election of Donald Trump; any nasty images are not part of his values.
Whether or not we agree with Ehlers, we owe him an honest discussion of his experience and platform: his long-term leadership of Lake Champlain International; his persistent public advocacy for water quality, redevelopment of public water infrastructures and funding structures to pay for them; his support for grassroots organizations seeking a voice in government councils for needed reforms; his sense that our political and economic systems benefit those who are economically privileged while cutting loose those who struggle for life; and his position that we all depend on water resources and neglect them at our peril and the peril of future generations.
Please resist the slippery slope that degrades both our dignity and our public discourse, and take courage for open, respectful discussion of the issues.
Your headline "Two GOP Legislators Renew Push to Ban Teachers' Strikes" is both biased and misleading [Off Message, September 18]. An alternative, such as "Two GOP Legislators Renew Push to Ban School Boards From Imposing Work Conditions," would have been likewise. Perhaps "Two GOP Legislators Renew Push to Change the Teacher Negotiations Process" would have been both fair and factual.