Wednesday April 10, 2013

On March 5, Shaftsbury residents defeated a bond vote requesting up to $1.5 million to build a new town garage facility. Following that vote, the select board invited interested town residents to join Facility Committee members in assessing the reasons for the negative vote. A very talented, diverse group of citizens has stepped forward to help. Most residents seem to acknowledge that a new town garage is needed. Was it primarily cost, size, design, location, materials and/or ineffective communication to the public that led to the bond defeat?

The select board believes that input from the community is vital if the town is to present an alternative plan that meets with the approval of the townspeople. To that end, the Town Highway Garage Committee will be meeting on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. All town residents are enthusiastically invited to join committee members at 6:30 p.m. in Cole Hall on this Wednesday, April 10, as we seek not only the best design/materials and most economical plan, but also the best way to inform our community of the evolving strategies. We look forward to your participation and help.

KAREN MELLINGER

Shaftsbury

Shaftsbury Selectboard and Town Highway Garage Committee member Putting progress ahead of partisanship

I’ve followed the ups-and-downs of our state government for many years.


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Like most Vermonters, I believe in the core beliefs of the democratic process, but worry that our political system has gotten off the rail with too much extreme partisanship and special interests on both ends of the spectrum.

The influence of lobbyists and special interests in directing our government seems excessive at times and unchecked. These organizations are supposed to represent the best interests of our citizens, should be transparent and always be fully disclosing their purpose, those they serve, their funding and mission.

Each side of the political spectrum has good ideas to offer, but unfortunately many of those ideas are being lost in a battle of political ideology. Often, instead of focusing on the issues and how to reach consensus, the focus is on attacking and dwelling on things that are not helping reach a solution that serves the greatermajority.

One organization that seems to be trying very hard to keep the focus on solutions instead of the "we vs. you" battle is Campaign for Vermont. Here we have an individual, Bruce Lisman, who has put his time and money into generating real thought about issues. Both he and CFV have generated thoughtful position papers on important issues for Vermont, solicited our input and brought different viewpoints together to try and reach a consensus. Whether or not you agree completely with all the statements or positions of CFV, it’s clear that a great deal of deliberation has gone into this effort and that all sides are welcome to engage in the process.

I, for one, am concerned that our brightest and most creative people are not being drawn into the discussion for fear of engaging in a highly politicized environment. CFV offers all folks, regardless of their views, the opportunity to add to the conversation and help us reach a consensus that meets the needs of the large center between the extremes.

It is good news that an organization such as CFV is building a broad-based coalition, with nearly 500 partners (including me) not to mention over 1,500 Facebook friends and 5,000 email subscribers. The numbers are growing and are very representative of what a democratic grassroots citizen initiative should look like.

I am enthusiastic that CFV offers a forum for Vermonters to work together and put progress ahead of the partisanship. Real discussions about issues will bring more talented individuals into the conversation and generate thoughtful solutions that will help Vermonters stay in Vermont and prosper.

Take time to visit the website www.CampaignForVermont.org, offer your thoughts and consider joining CFV.

PETER WELLMAN

Bennington