Kendra Bowen, Frank Tenney

Schools shouldn’t ask kids about Thanksgiving dinner

To Whom it May Concern and May it Concern You:

I am appalled that Governor Phil Scott would even consider directing schools to ask children if they joined other households for Thanksgiving. Governor Scott is not asking parents, he is asking children to incriminate their families. He is placing the burden of the parents’ decision on the children. This is precisely how Hitler gained inside household information through the Hitler Youth program and it should be clearly unacceptable in a free society, pandemic or not. While I believe the desire of the Governor is to keep the illness at bay, posting children as informers is not an option.

Imagine the embarrassment of the child who slips and says that they ate with Grandma and Grandpa. This child is now pulled from line at school to sit out for 2 weeks—yet these same grandparents have been providing child care all along, but are not “part of the household.” Imagine the fear of the kids whose parents chose to have a get-together but their ability to go to work hinges on the child lying. Do children of divorced families who have 2 households have to lie because they changed households on Thanksgiving? This is unfair to the children, creates a culture of lies, and it too closely resembles other totalitarian regime’s efforts of using children to enforce the government’s desires. If you want to know if parents took their children to other households for Thanksgiving, then ask the parents directly.

The logic behind this cancelled Thanksgiving assumes that Vermonters cannot assess the warnings and risks for themselves, so the government must tell us how to behave to keep us “safe.” We are told to not gather so that next year we can celebrate twice as much.  However, according to the Vermont Vital Statistics Report, 6,027 Vermonters died in 2018, and 6,010 in 2017, from various causes. If we wait until next Thanksgiving, there will be another estimated 6,000 people who will not share our turkey dinner, not because of COVID but because time marches on. And now Governor Scott has decided for us that the 6,000 people who will die from non-COVID causes and will not be with us next year are less important than the 64 we have lost to COVID. My son had COVID in March and I lost a dear step-grandfather, in a nursing home, this week to COVID. I understand the risks and loss and I am so thankful that we spent last Thanksgiving with him. Each life does matter, but Governor Scott is choosing which lives we will get to celebrate. I am a thinking woman and can decide that for myself and my children, thank you.

Lastly, let us keep perspective that, as of Nov. 17, 2020, there had been 60 COVID deaths and 60 automobile related deaths this year. This is alarming because the automobile deaths have increased significantly in a pandemic year when there should be far fewer people driving compared to last year. According to the Vermont State Police Website, “As of November 17th, there have been 60 fatalities on Vermont’s roads in 2020. There were 38 at this point in 2019, and the 10-year average for this date is 54.” While our road death rates are up 22% from last year, and one might argue the epidemic proportions of this increase, no one is asking us to stop driving or asking our children if someone drove them safely to school—or to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving!

Today, I am thankful for my family and for all the work our public servants have done through this crazy year. Whether I agree with their methods or not, I appreciate their time and do believe they are trying to do what is best. However, I am also thankful that I live in a country where my voice can be heard.  I have the right and the responsibility to speak out and to let my elected officials know when I disagree. Today, I am finally speaking out that I have had enough, and our children are not your pawns. I hope Governor Scott will continue to guide and share good information but will let Vermonters make their own decisions and will not bring our children into this mandate.

Kendra Bowen, mother of three,
concerned citizen, MSPH

Zoning Board of Adjustment letter to the editor

To the editor:

As volunteer members of the Town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), we want to thank everyone involved in recent dialogue around challenges with the Town’s zoning process.

The challenges were detailed in the October 29th issue of The Charlotte News regarding a recent application. But it’s not an isolated case; as a board we have seen frustration on all sides — residents, Town officials, ZBA members — in recent months in a number of proposed zoning proposals and appeals. The frustration has to do with the Town’s process and clarity for residents in direction on following the process.

We’re pleased the Selectboard has agreed to review our current zoning process and how it is administered in the town.

Charlotte’s zoning regulations have been carried over from a major zoning initiative undertaken by the Town over a generation ago. These regulations are known as our Land Use Regulations (LURs), a 144-page document adopted by residents in March 2016 to encourage the orderly and planned development of the Town.

The ZBA’s main goal is to ensure those zoning regulations are followed. However, as a board we apply those regulations with enough flexibility for requested projects that sometimes don’t fit the regulations completely. That’s the purpose of the ZBA: balancing those requests against the LURs.

We are fortunate to live in a town where our residents take these issues seriously, and as a board we are grateful — as residents, neighbors, volunteer board members — for the opportunity to help support you in your individual projects and ensure they align with the Town’s goals.

We hope all town residents pay attention to zoning issues and feel free to make your voice and opinions heard to the Selectboard as they continually review Charlotte’s LURs and endeavor to streamline the zoning administration process. That’s our best path to keep our zoning regulations dynamic to reflect the Town’s collective point of view.

In particular, we ask new residents to participate. The Town of Charlotte welcomes your input and our goal for the Town’s regulations is that they represent all residents’ interests.

Frank Tenney
ZBA Chair