Letters to the editor

Become radon aware

This is a message from the Town of Essex health officers Jerry Firkey and Sharon Kelley to inform the public that January is National Radon Awareness Month. Radon has been reported to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, second only to smoking. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon accounts for approximately 20,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

You as an Essex resident can test your home free of charge by obtaining a radon test kit from the Vermont Department of Health by e-mailing radon@state.vt.us or by calling 1-800-439-8550.

Once the test period has expired, the Health Department, upon receipt of the test detector, will perform (free of charge) the lab work necessary to determine the levels of radon in the home. If the levels are higher than normal acceptance, remediation measures can be deployed with cost estimated to be in the range of $800 to $2,000.

The test can be performed on any level of a home and in a townhouse/condo. For more information about radon, radon testing and mitigation, visit the Health Department website at healthvermont.gov

Jerry Firkey
Essex health officer


Church history

Regarding the Jan. 15 article, “Refurbished church the logical choice for web company”: I grew up in the house at 1 Grove Street (now the lawyer’s office across the street from the church) and well remember that building. In fact, when I was a youngster, I was hired one winter to help keep access open — quite a job with the steeply pitched slate roof which funneled most of the snow down onto the area leading to the side door!. It was the Masonic temple then.

Back in the early days (well before my time), that building was a Methodist church and had a steeple on it. There are several pictures of it in early village photos. Then, the Methodist congregation built and moved into a new church (now the Calvary Baptist Church on Main Street), and the steeple was removed. You can still see the base of the steeple above the front door.

I believe that change in ownership brings us up to the point historically where your article takes over.

Dave Keenan


A tax for teeth

As a dental hygienist for the past 24 years, my passion lies in helping my patients, young and old, achieve and maintain good oral health for a lifetime. That is why I fully support a 2-cent-per-ounce excise tax on sugary drinks.

Almost on a daily basis, I see first hand the destruction and rampant decay caused by sugary drinks – sodas and sugar added juices and sports drinks. The sugar and phosphoric acid contained in many of these beverages literally bathes the teeth when consumed, resulting in the bacteria producing an acid that attacks tooth enamel and causes extensive decay.

Most heartbreaking are the children who are drinking these harmful drinks daily at home, because it is readily available to them, sometimes as the only form of liquid refreshment. Most of these children are not purchasing the beverages, but are suffering the rampant decay caused by drinking them because they are so accessible, and, they’re what their parents are drinking. Baby teeth are more vulnerable to decay, as the enamel is not as able to resist the attack caused by the sugar and the acid.

When a child presents for an initial visit and is diagnosed with rampant decay and faces extensive treatment plan, it is traumatic, and instills a dental phobia that lasts a lifetime, which sets them up for a lifetime of poor dental health.

Lower socio-economic groups seem to be especially affected by the detrimental effects of sugary drink intake due to the high volume of these beverages they consume. Despite our best efforts at educating our patients about the harmful effects of sugar-added to their dental and overall health, there seems to be no decrease in consumption.

I support the sugary drink tax to help my patients, whom I care so much about, decrease their consumption of sugar-added drinks, especially the kids who deserve a chance to grow up free of dental decay.

Tracy Towers


A letter to Saxon Hill School

I would like to commend you on the support that you have received from the parents of your children – It shows that you have succeeded in your mission to educate the young people put in your charge.  Your advocacy for the education of our youth is commendable. Therefore I am sure that you can appreciate the advocacy that we have for our mission to protect a National Historic Site that belongs to everyone in the United States and is visited by tourists from many countries.  We spent many months gathering information pertinent to our septic systems options on this property, the time lines they involved, and the expenses  incurred. We have chosen to take the most proactive course available which entails reducing the use of our present noncomplying leach field. Our decision is firm. This decision results in the non-renewal of The Saxon Hill School Lease.  We notified you of our decision as soon as possible which has given you nine months to find a new location for your curriculum and an extension of one month on your lease that allows you to complete your school year.  We feel that with a variety of options available to you in the community and the dedicated parents you have supporting you  that you will have great success working through the process of relocating your school and successfully continue on with your mission.

Ann Squires, President
Jericho Historical Society