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My dad Stephen E. Racz passed away last evening at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington. Dad was a veteran of the US Navy. He was assigned to a mine sweeper tasked with the clearing of any mines in advance of the invasion of Normandy.

I am very proud of my dad’s military service. This is a letter to publicly thank the men and women at the Vermont Veterans Home. From his admissions to his death my dad was treated to the care and respect fitting a hero.

Also, my wife and I would like to thank the professionals at Bayada Hospice of Rutland for their care of my father at the end.

We are truly blessed for your service to our father.

Michael Racz and Gay Jensen


I am writing in support of H.175, the proposed modernization to the plastic bottle bill that passed the state Senate. Too often, discussions of environmental issues begin and end with individual action: encouraging people to use less electricity, buy refillable containers instead of single-use disposables, use metal or paper straws, and so on. But without policy to incentivize better consumer behavior and/or solve environmental issues at the systemic level, calls for individual solutions cannot affect change at the necessary scale. The bottle bill expansion is one of those policy solutions.

By incentivizing the recycling of sports drinks, hard cider, wine, and water bottles, the bill would keep these plastics from polluting local flora and waterways, while significantly improving the quality of plastic bottle recycling. Vermont’s conventional “single-stream” recycling system is convenient and effective, but it does result in several different kinds of plastic getting mixed together, which all have to be sorted by hand and recycled separately, as not all plastic is equally recyclable. Plastics in foam cups or polythene bags, for instance, are nearly impossible to recycle into anything useful, whereas the clear PET plastic in most bottles can be recycled with relative ease.

Separating beverage bottles from the start will make it easier for them to be recycled consistently, keeping more plastic out of landfills and incinerators. Of course, this will not solve everything. Plastic food and drink containers pose possible health risks and are made from fossil fuels. This is hopefully just one step in an eventual complete transition away from single-use plastics.

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I hope the state House will make the bill a priority next year, and I encourage those reading to contact their local representatives to express their support.

Umang Malik


When she was a child, Judy Heuman was denied admission to kindergarten in New York City because she was considered a fire hazard. She was a polio survivor and used a wheelchair for her mobility. Since those dark days, Judy has been a key player in the formation and implementation of legislation that ranges from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to the Americans with Disabilities Act, to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She is also one of the main subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Crip Camp.”

Times have changed since Judy was considered a fire hazard, but only because of the determined and on-going efforts of Judy and many other activists like her.

Unfortunately, times have not changed enough. Take the recent testimony to the Green Mountain Care Board by Sarah Launderville, Executive Director at the Vermont Center for Independent Living. Sarah described at length how our healthcare system is biased against people with disabilities, offering many specific examples of how this has harmed people. In addition to physical inaccessibility in offices, policies have been implemented that cause or perpetuate discrimination and inequity. Lack of access to services exacerbates illness produces additional costs.

People like Judy and Sarah need help—the help of people like you, dear reader—to advocate for equal access and inclusion. Without it, people with disabilities will be increasingly marginalized and ignored.

Charlie Murphy



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