As an active member of the Manchester/Dorset area community and a person deeply involved with a number of not for profit entities, I have had the privilege over the years of working with some of the state's older, more committed and certainly generous citizens.
Many of these individuals have had a great impact on their communities in a variety of different ways, and, unfortunately, we may quickly be losing this vital section of Vermont's population. Not only are we losing their good-natured presence and contributions to our local economy, we are also losing the time and effort they provide -- voluntarily -- to make Vermont a better place.
So why are we losing these folks?
While I think this problem is influenced by multiple variables, there is no question that Vermont's deteriorating economic outlook, cost of living and unreasonable tax landscape are three major drivers of this rapid exodus of older-age residents. I'd also assume that these factors are not encouraging young and middle-age Vermonters to remain in the state as well.
Sure, many retirees head to warmer climates to avoid Vermont's harsh winters and return for spring, summer and fall. However, I am talking about the relocation of their legal primary residence that is stripping our communities of some of our most knowledgeable, wise and committed residents.
Walter Freed, a former Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives is a long-time Dorset resident who is moving his primary residence to Florida. Freed and his wife, who recently resigned as a Dorset selectperson, have cited the multiplicity of Vermont taxes as the primary reason.
I fear that we are witnessing a demographic and locational shift of many of Vermont's best -- both old and young -- away from the Green Mountain State for greener pastures.
Campaign for Vermont has recently offered up a variety of sensible solutions to many of Vermont's greatest challenges. This a great start, but we need more. We need action on these proposals from those in decision-making positions.
It is time that our elected and appointed officials in Montpelier put away the smoke and mirrors, face some of our most pressing realities and implement public policy and government programs that attract and retain retirees, limit taxes, lower cost of living numbers, promote business, incite job growth, encourage sound economic development and strong communities and persuade our best and brightest to stay in Vermont.
Is there an unsung hero in your community? We need your help so that we can tell their story. At its first-ever Heroes Breakfast, the Vermont & New Hampshire Upper Valley American Red Cross will honor community members who have demonstrated heroism through extraordinary acts of courage or kindness. Whether it's helping someone escape a burning building or changing a life through acts of generosity and caring, heroism happens in our community every day.
Honorees will be recognized at a celebration on April 29, 2014. Help us learn about the heroes in our community by nominating someone in one of the following categories: Armed Forces/Military Hero, Animal Hero, Youth Good Samaritan, Adult Good Samaritan, First Responder, Community Impact, Blood Services/Gift of Life, and Spirit of the Red Cross. The heroic act or activities must have occurred in the past 16 months, occurring September 2012 or later. Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 24. To nominate a hero, visit www.redcross.org/vermontheroes or call -802-660-9130 ext., 111.
American Red Cross regional executive,Vt. & the N.H. Upper Valley Region