Helen Eyre, Ed Amidon and Ruah Swennerfelt

The Charlotte News, Charlotte Vermont

Protesting gun violence
I believe CCS should march and protest gun violence in school on March 14.

On February 14, a deadly mass shooting took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The lives of 17 innocent people were taken that day, by the alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz. No one did anything to stop it, but can we fix the problem now?

On March 14, schools will be marching and protesting gun violence in schools. I believe that Charlotte Central School should march and protest. The length of the march according to The New York Times will last 17 minutes, one minute for every life that was lost.

Even though Florida is roughly 22 hours and 40 minutes away from Vermont, a mass shooting can take place anywhere. Just recently, a Poultney teen was arrested and accused of plotting a killing spree at Fair Haven Union High School. Charlotte is only 1 hour and 7 minutes from Fair Haven.

So, if a deadly mass shooting could take place in a small town high school in Vermont, then it could happen in a small town middle school in Vermont. So why don’t we rise above these terrible actions and try to make a change? Violence is never the answer. That is what we have been taught, and we should keep our children away from violence and death.

Protesting and marching for 17 minutes may not stop the next mass school shooting, but you are making a difference. This is why I believe CCS should march and protest gun violence in school on March 14.

Helen Eyre
7th grade, Charlotte Central School

Carbon tax a lose-lose for Vermonters
The “carbon tax” sponsored by Rep. Mike Yantachka is not a “win-win” for the people who live in Vermont. (News, Feb. 21). It is more of a “lose-lose.”

The goal of reducing global carbon emissions is laudable, but what about the effect on ordinary Vermonters? Here is what Vermonters lose:

  1. By 2025, we will pay out of pocket 32 cents a gallon on gasoline and diesel, 40 cents a gallon on fuel oil, and 24 cents a gallon on propane and natural gas.
  2. Much of the proceeds will go to subsidize renewable energy installations, which in fact will raise the cost of electricity in Vermont since renewable is more expensive than Hydro-Quebec and natural gas-generated power from the grid.
  3. The tourist and ski industries will suffer from the increase in gas costs for travelers to Vermont (unless they fill up before crossing the state line), and, of course, gas stations and fuel oil businesses near the state line can forget about selling gas and oil.
  4. Businesses that use gas or oil will be less competitive with out-of-state companies and thus hire fewer employees (unless they can afford electric trucks and conversion to electric heat, which also assumes electric rates will go down significantly).
  5. Substantial investment in new equipment (electric car, solar, heat pump, etc.) will need to be made in order to reduce the pain of the tax, and low-income and rural people entitled to a refund may not have the resources to front the cost.
  6. The tax is very complicated (think Act 60).  Administration of the tax will be even more opaque and less transparent (and very expensive). It will be impossible to figure out how the money is being allocated and spent (except the refunds).

If the tax is enacted, reserve your fire wood supply as soon as possible!

Ed Amidon

Protect the portability of VSAC assistance
I recently learned about legislation that will change “portability” of grants and scholarships received through VSAC, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. The outcome of this legislation, if passed by the Legislature, would mean that students receiving VSAC grants and scholarships could use them only in Vermont colleges and universities.

My granddaughter was lucky to receive VSAC assistance. During her four years at Guilford College in North Carolina she received $25,175 in VSAC grants and scholarships. Guilford College, a small Quaker college, provided her with the nourishing environment she needed at the time. If she had not been able to use the VSAC assistance in her out-of-state college, she may not have succeeded elsewhere.

Vermont attracts more students every year than we lose. Approximately 25,000 out-of-state students come to Vermont every year to go to college, while fewer than 4,000 grant recipients leave to study elsewhere. In fact, Vermont is second in the nation in the net importation of college students.

Vermont institutions do not offer all the programs that low-income students need. The New England Board of Higher Education has identified at least 330 programs not offered in Vermont but that are offered in other states. Some examples: Vermont does not have programs in veterinary medicine or associate degrees in heating, ventilation and air conditioning or cyber-security and health care IT.

Let’s protect the portability of VSAC assistance.

Ruah Swennerfelt