Letters to the Editor: Feb. 8

Most Charlotters know town relies on volunteer rescue workers

To the Editor:
During COVID, I, like many others in our community, found myself wondering what I could do to help. After passing by Charlotte’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station many times, I attended their 2023 spring open house and found that they needed volunteers.

From living in a rural town growing up, I was aware of volunteer fire departments, but I didn’t know much about what Charlotte had to offer. I was surprised to learn that in addition to volunteer fire services, Charlotte employs a full-time medical duty crew who reside at the station 24/7 ready to respond to both fire and medical emergencies at a moment’s notice.

Last year, Charlotte Rescue responded to hundreds of our neighbors, perhaps even you, in need — falls and broken bodies, breathing problems, motor vehicle crashes, chest pain, cardiac events, mental health and many other medical emergencies. Communities without such resources experience delayed response times for critical issues. Ultimately, that could lead to more injuries and more deaths, leaving people vulnerable.

Our volunteer firefighters do the work that paid, professional — “career” — firefighters do. They are essential to our town, responding to numerous motor vehicle crashes, fires, alarms, citizen assists and marine emergencies. Yet, Charlotte, like many of these volunteer departments, especially across rural and suburban areas, faces a struggle.

Crucially, we face a shortage of people willing to do the job. Many of us are simply not aware of the need or how we can help. Some may feel that they can’t commit to being on-call or at the firehouse as they juggle careers and family. As such, the emergency services that we in Charlotte take for granted are in an increasingly dangerous situation.

Of the more than a million firefighters in the US, 65 percent of them are volunteers, according to the National Volunteer Fire Council. Of the more than 29,000 fire departments across the country, almost 19,000 of them are run completely by volunteers.

Despite the uphill battle, I think that people in Charlotte recognize the overall health and vitality of our community ultimately rests on our collective shoulders, as the potential consequences of the loss of our volunteer fire department becomes increasingly clear.

I’ve always thought that everybody wanted to be a firefighter. We took it for granted.

I am optimistic, as are others in our volunteer fire service. There will always be emergencies, and a certain set of volunteers will always respond to the call to serve our community. Care to learn more? Contact me.

Robert Caldwell

Selectboard set low standard at town manager hearing

To the Editor:
Despite my low expectations for the performance of the selectboard, last Tuesday evening’s meeting was a new low. A reasonable expectation for town selectboard members is that they read and be familiar with the basic state statutes and regulations that govern the management of selectboard meetings.

Title I, Chapter 005, Section 313 states:

h) At an open meeting, the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to express its opinion on matters considered by the public body during the meeting, as long as order is maintained. Public comment shall be subject to reasonable rules established by the chairperson.

This was a pubic informational meeting at which questions are raised and answers provided. Not permitting participants to comment resulted in a bizarre situation in which participants were limited in their ability to freely express their concerns.

In addition, there were a number of questions that the selectboard members could not answer, despite the fact that many of those questions were included and answered by consultant Lee Krohn in a report to the selectboard. It appears that the members either had not read the report or did not remember its contents.

And finally, the statement that all towns in Vermont can individually decide what the duties of their town manager are is false. The town manager’s duties are specifically described in Chapter 156, Section 516 of Vermont Statutes.

In summary:
1). Participants at a public informational meeting conducted by the selectboard were curtailed in their ability to make statements and ask questions.
2) The selectboard was unable to answer basic questions about the town manager administrative duties, despite the fact that a consultant’s report had covered these questions.
3) False statements were made about the duties of the town manager as described in the Vermont statutes.

Nancy Richardson

Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue remembers Kip Mesirow

To the Editor:
It is with great sadness that Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue notes the passing of our friend and fellow volunteer, Kip Mesirow.

A gifted craftsman, Kip showed his commitment to our community through his many years as a fire department volunteer. His warm nature and calm demeanor were a welcome addition in our station and on the fire ground. As a volunteer Kip regularly ran the pumps on the engines and was always ready to provide traffic control, often from the back of his pickup where he carried his own set of signs and traffic cones.

We remember with great fondness his presence in our station and sorely miss his ready smile and, of course, that spectacular moustache!

John Snow
(Snow is the president of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service board.)