Saturday February 23, 2013

Re-inventing the Vermont farm economy

In these economic times it is all about jobs and a liveable wage for our families, friends, and neighbors. And one of the avenues to create this is the re-invention of the farm economy in this rural state. That's what the Fresh Market is all about.

So we want to take a moment to thank all who come to our frequent ‘Meet the Maker' events to taste, purchase, and talk about food with our farmers and food producers. Your presence gives them the confidence to continue to grow their businesses and your purchases give them the means to do so.

All of us are off to a better future because of you. And we all appreciate your support.

STEVE BURSON

Owner, Garden Arts Fresh Market

Manchester Reach Up caps
are not the answer

I am a single mother in St. Johnsbury. I am a member of Put People First because I believe we all have a right to lives with dignity. I testified at the statewide hearings on the 2014 budget because I think that people should have more of a voice in this budget process. These decisions should be everyone's decisions because they impact all of us.

This budget impacts me in a few different ways. I am a Reach Up participant so I would be impacted by the cap on Reach Up. Someone asked me the other day--why I don't have a job instead of being on Reach Up? Let me tell you what I told them: I did get a job and got off of Reach Up a few months ago.


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I was working at McDonald's in Woodsville, N.H., which is about 40 minutes away from where I live. I was making just $7.25 an hour. I was only getting 20-25 hours each week, and many of the shifts were nights and weekends so I had to find additional childcare. Do you think I would be doing that if I really just wanted to stay on Reach Up? I ended up losing that job because I had to stay home with my daughter when she was sick with tonsillitis and a fever. I couldn't send her to school, so I had no choice.

I want to make sure that you understand that these cuts are not the answer to moving people off of assistance -- in fact what we need to do is the exact opposite. Like the law that I fought for last year says, we need to recognize every persons need for health, housing, dignified work, education, food, social security, and a healthy environment. That's why I am calling for our elected officials to not move backwards but cutting services, but to create a budget based on equity and human rights.

AMBER LABRECQUE

St. Johnsbury

Keep the bottle bill,
and expand it, too

As a redemption center owner in Bennington, I constantly see the positive effects of having a bottle bill. As our states most effective recycling program, the bottle bill achieves an 85 percent recycle rate, twice the rate of any other recycling program out there. I have recently learned that our state is thinking about doing away with the program, which would leave our environment a mess, and hundreds of Vermonters unemployed.

The bottle bill keeps millions of containers off our roads and highways every year, and it helps to keep our parks clean. It makes Vermont a desirable place to take a beautiful country vacation. Our state's unique cleanliness makes outdoor activities so much more enjoyable.

The bottle bill doesn't only make our environment a beautiful place to be, it benefits our local community and economy. Every day I see individuals and groups come in to exchange bottles to fund non-profit organizations, and for a little extra cash. Most people who return bottles spend the cash within a day, supporting other local businesses, therefore supporting our local economy. As I see the daily benefits of this great program, I think it should be expanded to include even more items, such as water bottles. By doing this, our state would recycle nearly 100 million more containers annually and create around 100 new local jobs.

By repealing the state's most effective recycling program, hundreds of jobs would be gone, and our roads would become a littered mess. I hope our state will make the right decision when it comes to the bottle bill. So much is at stake.

EDWIN MARONEY

Bennington