In the Jan. 3, edition of the Banner there was an article titled ‘Minimum wage hike? Local officials mixed.’ In this article, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is quoted as saying, "If people work 40 hours a week, they deserve not to live in dire poverty," as he advocates for a livable wage in the U.S.

This also quotes some of our local leaders opposing a livable wage. The article states "Joann Erenhouse, executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, argued that, ‘Most people who are getting minimum wage are fringe workers, or part-time.’" She went on to say that most who are getting minimum wage are not supporting a family on that income. She said it was much more common for one spouse to be working a full-time, above minimum wage job, and the other to take on a minimum wage job to make a little extra money for the family."

The article adds, "Michael Harrington, Bennington’s economic and community development director, said ‘I think the intent is good, but the part that really needs to be considered is the impact on employers.’"

I understand the concern of the small businesses. They are, after all, under attack from Big Box store competition, and this is why: The majority of people who are making minimum wage in Bennington are young and they are middle aged. They are single mothers and single fathers. They are grandfathers and grandmothers.


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They are families struggling just to put the cheapest food on the table -- probably food less healthy than they would like or need. They are shopping at Aldi and Wal-Mart. Dollar stores are popping up all over town because that is all Bennington can afford.

When the mail comes, they get a sinking feeling afraid there’s another bill they can’t afford to pay. When temperatures drop below freezing, they worry they won’t be able to keep their children warm. They hold back their tears of shame when their children come home and excitedly announce they wish to join a team or band, because they know they can’t afford to enroll their kids in extracurricular activities. When birthdays and anniversaries come, their heart breaks because those they love will not be getting lavish jewelry, designer bags or luxury vacations. They cannot give their loved ones things that they actually need -- even as a gift -- because they are making a wage that cannot afford them to live in this town, this state or even this country.

Wake up Chamber and Better Bennington Corp.! Wake up Bennington Town and Select Board! The locals can’t ‘Buy Local’ on $8.73/hr. If you want us to shop in your stores, you need to start treating us like neighbors and paying a livable wage so we can continue to live here and shop here. It’s that simple.

RACHAEL FIELDS

Bennington Appreciate support following son’s injury

Editor’s note: This letter was originally submitted to Tim Brown, director of athletics/activities for Mount Anthony Union High School, and is reprinted here with the writer’s permission.

My son Bobby Kinne is the Monument Mountain player who was injured during overtime of (Wednesday) night’s basketball game. Bobby, my wife Cathleen and I want to pass along our sincere thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers that came our way from your Mount Anthony community. We really appreciate the support.

In addition, I wanted to pass along special thanks to you, your trainer and the EMTs who assisted Bobby as soon as he lost consciousness on the court. You assembled an outstanding group whose compassion, professionalism and care really made a huge difference. Please pass along our gratitude to all of them.

Bobby was released from the Bennington hospital (Thursday) morning. The CT scan ruled out any fractures and he is moving all of his limbs. There does not appear to be any nerve damage. Bobby still has a lot of pain in his head, neck and back so they will be doing more tests to determine the full extent of his injuries. Right now he is medicated and resting. 

Finally, you should be proud of your team and your coaching staff. It was a clean, hard-fought and exciting game. MAU’s players were talented and played with class. We wish you the very best and hope that MAU brings home a state championship this year. Thanks, again.

KEVIN KINNE

Great Barrington, Mass.