New law can help opiate crisis
I personally knew Maddie Linsenmeir when she was a young, cheerful, energetic girl taking ski lessons with my children at Cochran’s Ski Area in Vermont. How could I know back then that this rosy-cheeked little girl would end up become a symbolic figure in the battle to end the opioid crisis now facing our state and our country.

As an assistant judge in family court in Chittenden County, I am witness to what opioids are doing to our community’s families. I see addiction so powerful that young parents end up choosing drugs over their children’s welfare.

Earlier this month, I attended a presentation in Washington, D.C. arranged by the Office of White House Intergovernmental Affairs. Several topics pertinent to our state were covered by White House cabinet members and staff.

One of the speakers, Jim Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, touched home when he read aloud the moving obituary of Maddie.

Mr. Carroll made it very clear that his department considers opioid addiction a disease, and curing it is his highest priority.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. A very important bipartisan bill was signed into law last week to help our country deal with the massive opiate crisis that is costing tens of thousands of lives every year in our country.

The AMA-approved bill, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, along with several other provisions, focuses on improving access to treatment services, including medication-based treatment and removing patient restrictions on Medicaid and Medicare, even if the patient is in jail.

The new law also allows the fining of drug companies and distributors for allowing over prescribing of opioids and allows government authorities to research non-addictive drugs for patient pain management.  To help eliminate the drug flow into the US, the law also creates methods to check for foreign shipments of illegal drugs to the U.S.

They say that hope springs eternal. For me, I am hopeful that this new law will bring the opiate crisis to its knees. Locally, we need to eliminate the market for opioids by giving those addicted in our community the help they need, once the market dries up the illegal drug providers will leave us alone. Some might say this is wishful thinking, but for that little girl I remember on the ski slope, I am willing to give everything I can to turn wishful thinking positive action.

Connie Cain Ramsey


Domestic violence prevention orgs need your support
I was 8 years old the first time I saw a woman getting beat up by her boyfriend, through the window in the apartment building next to our house. For a few years I listened nearly every week as the beatings took place at another neighbor’s apartment. Later, one of my best friends in college practically disappeared as her boyfriend increasingly isolated her further and further away. I thought she had abandoned me in favor of him, but I later learned that I missed an opportunity to really help.

Those are only a few of the times I have borne witness to the violence that lives in our community between people who are trying to love. I volunteered at Women Helping Battered Women (now known as Steps to End Domestic Violence) when I moved to Vermont in order to plant roots in my new community, and what I got in return was a hundred times more valuable. They taught me how to understand the imbalance of power and the desire for control that bleeds into so many relationships. They taught me about feminist organizational theory, which I still use today as I run my own business. They taught me what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like, which gave me an idea of how I needed to improve my own self. They helped me understand my strength, and how to use it in service to others. I’d still be swimming in the shallow end of the pool of life if it weren’t for them.

After working on the hotline for two years, my co-worker was murdered by her husband. It turns out that knowing how to help doesn’t stop the violence.

As a numbers person involved in nonprofits, believe me when I say that domestic violence organizations need your support. Plenty of other people doing good work need your support, too, to be sure, and I know many of us already dig pretty deep to support so much great work in our community. We are lucky in Burlington to have a better safety net than many others. However, federal funding has evaporated over the last decade, despite plenty of women, some men and lots of children living in fear for their lives. Please consider donating now to Steps to End Domestic Violence, or to your local domestic violence program. I promise you, this money is not wasted on fat salaries, gala events or cushy benefits.

You may not know what to do next time you hear your neighbor beating up their partner. Even after 20 years of trying to know, I still find myself struggling in those moments. But making sure there are people at the other end of the hotline, who can help her navigate the legal system, and a safe place for her to go if she decides to leave, is an important way to help.

Donate now here. Learn more about DV. If you’d like to know more about how to volunteer, call 658-1996.

Heather Belcher
Owner, Sweet Clover Market


Shooting debate shouldn’t include emotions
I watched a documentary on Walter Williams the other day, and I was struck by the commentary of one of those interviewed. He said, “The mandate in a free society is not to give freedom to people who agree with you, but rather, the essence of liberty is to allow freedom for people who disagree with you.”

For people to take it upon themselves and “do the right thing,” there has to be negotiation and mediation to define what that means for both parties, equally. We all have many different interests and opinions. Neighbors have challenges now and then. Any effort you put in to get along with your neighbors is one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

The recent selectboard change in consensus which intends to severely limit hunting on public parcels shows me, in my opinion, they are leaning towards governing by emotion and not fact. They are purposely singling out an activity safer than badminton for special regulations not based on any logical premise backed by data. I understand logical to describe something that comes from clear reasoning based on facts. Encouraging the wearing of bright colors to be seen is logical. An almost total ban on an activity with a 100 percent safety record is not. There is no logical reason to restrict hunting in any form on these public parcels where the activity has been co-existing for decades with absolutely zero incidents.

I’m afraid this shows, in my opinion, the selectboard may also forgo logic in the future and do the same type of emotional governing on other issues. I would urge every resident on every side of any issue important to you to attend these meetings and be heard. The selectboard should be encouraged to return to logical governing based on facts, not emotion.

Kendall Chamberlin
Essex Jct.