Letters to the editor - October 15, 2015

Thanks for the quick response

On behalf of everyone at The Hotchkiss School, I would like to extend our deepest thanks to the area firefighters for their hard work and dedication to the safety of our community. 

On the morning of Sept. 30, a fire began on the third floor of Watson Dormitory. Thanks to the prompt response of the Lakeville Hose Company led by Chief Jason Wilson, the fire was safely contained to one room. 

Additionally, the quick response from Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance and the neighboring towns of Sharon, Norfolk, North Canaan, Cornwall, Sheffield, Mass., and Millerton, N.Y., to the call for mutual aid ensured that the proper equipment was available, contributing greatly to the speed of the containment. We would also like to recognize investigators Mike Morino and Ray Insalaco, and Fire Marshal Michael Fitting for their support and attention to the safety of The Hotchkiss School. 

The faculty and staff of Hotchkiss feel fortunate to educate students from around the nation and the world in this beautiful landscape every single day. Caring for the well-being of 600 students, who are away from their parents and the comforts of home, is an all-consuming responsibility for us. For this reason, we are all thankful that no one was injured and all the more appreciative of the prompt actions of our local responders. 

Hotchkiss is part of a wonderful community, one in which people act in service to each other on a daily basis. For this, we are grateful.

G. Peter O’Neill Jr.

Head of School

The Hotchkiss School



Behavioral health and prevention go hand in hand

There have been some necessary discussions in our communities around substance use in our area, namely heroin. These conversations are needed and I am thankful for the many people who have spoken up about this important issue. I am thankful that these conversations have included access to mental health/behavioral health care. Providing this care is a critical component of any effective community-wide prevention strategy.

Last October, the Foundation for Community Health published an important community needs assessment. The assessment indicated that access to behavioral/mental health care remains a critical and chronic need in our community.  

Delivering adequate mental health/behavioral health care in rural communities is a challenge.  The study cites transportation, cost, and limited numbers of service providers as a few of the barriers that impede access. The staff and board of the Housatonic Youth Service Bureau (HYSB) are focused on working around these barriers to ensure that families have a place to turn to for support.

Acknowledging the transportation barrier, HYSB offers fully mobile counseling services. Our counselors cover the six towns of the Region One School District — from North Canaan to Kent.  Our clinicians deliver the bulk of our counseling services to children and teens directly in the schools ­— thus eliminating the need for parents to transport their children to and from appointments. 

All of our services are free.  Over the previous academic year we received nearly 100 referrals from families in need and provided $60,000 of free mental health counseling to children, teens and parents living in the Region One community.  

A successful capital campaign has enabled HYSB to address provider shortage, and in the last five years we’ve dramatically increased our counseling capacity. Last academic year, we provided nearly 800 hours of direct counseling — a 35 percent increase over the previous academic year.  In order to meet this expanding need, we’ve just hired a second clinician.  

We’re working hard to make sure people have access to care and we want to make sure that everyone in our community knows about our services. So please, if your child is struggling with substance use or if you’re a parent struggling with how to keep your child safe from drugs, feel free to reach out to us. We are a community-supported agency and we are here for you.  

Nicholas Pohl



Falls Village


Siebold, LaFond for Sharon BOF

I am writing this letter in support of my Sharon Board of Finance colleagues, Eric Seibold and Kevin LaFond. Both gentlemen offer a tremendous amount of thoughtful analysis to the Board and would be missed if not elected in November.

Eric began as an alternate to the Board of Finance. When a full position opened, he ran for and was elected to a full term as a voting member. Most of us need a year and a budget season before we feel comfortable with the process. Not Eric. He was an immediate asset to the BOF, offering insightful commentary as an alternate and continuing to provide valuable advice throughout his term. He attends meetings faithfully and is always prepared for discussions, never one to shy away from debate! He is enormously valuable to the Board of Finance and I urge Sharon voters to reelect him in November.

Kevin LaFond has served as an alternate to the BOF the past two budget cycles. He guarded his comments initially as he learned the ropes; however, he has more than made up for his initial reticence and provides thoughtful and beneficial contributions to our discussions. Kevin is unaffiliated with any political party and was determined to remain so. I respect and admire his independence and believe he represents a large chunk of Sharon voters. Kevin is a small business owner in Sharon and brings a valuable perspective to our discussions.

Eric and Kevin both have young families and are vested in Sharon’s future. They want a strong, viable town in which to raise their children.

Karen Dignacco




Mystery solved, unfortunately

A mystery envelope teased for my attention. “Glassfish.” What could a glass fish be? And, in Philadelphia. It looked like a bill. 

It was a bill ... for $1,183! This staggering amount was for services rendered July 4. We are in October, of course. A pale light dawned. Our local hospital was reported to be contracting out services.

I looked back into my calendar. A terrorist tick was removed from me in the Sharon Hospital Emergency Room in July. I thought a bill of over $1,000 might interest readers, especially those who feel medical costs are out of control.

Sunny McM. Kuskin



Duncan for BOF in Sharon

Please join me in supporting Robert Duncan for the Town of Sharon Board of Finance position. Bob and Stacy Duncan moved to Sharon with their family in 2004 and have been wonderful members of our neighborhood and community for many years.  

Bob is always helpful to neighbors in need and really cares about our town and its future.  He has served in many volunteer roles over the years in the New York and Connecticut area: former fire chief and life member of the J.H. Ketcham Hose Company, past President of the Harlem Valley Golf Club, youth basketball coach in Sharon, and frequent volunteer with the Lakeville Pony Club.  The many hours that Bob devotes in service to others truly demonstrates his care and concern for our community.

We need Board of Finance members with strong, proven business experience. Bob has worked for Municipal Emergency Services since 2001, and as a regional vice president for the past eight years, overseeing 30 employees in five states.  His keen judgment and strong leadership skills will be a true asset to the Sharon Board of Finance, and he deserves your vote.

Johanna Haan




Vote for Clayton and Shearer in North Canaan election

I encourage residents of North Canaan to vote for Susie Fracaro Clayton for First Selectman. I have known Susie and her Fracaro family since we were children. When you listen to Susie talk about North Canaan’s potential, it is with passion and determination. She recognizes the issues that need to be addressed to get North Canaan back on track, to grow and flourish. Susie speaks with knowledge about how to utilize the railroad for tourism and commercial needs, not just for North Canaan but from Massachusetts down through Kent. She is well aware of the agricultural potential for this entire region and how to make sure that North Canaan gets the resources necessary to grow and thrive. 

Susie’s active and longtime involvement in government, from her years on the Sewer and Water Commission, to the Board of Education, probate clerk, to serving as a selectman, has brought her to recognize North Canaan’s potential and the importance of this town for all of the Northwest Corner. She clearly knows all facets of government and the areas that need improvement. This, coupled with her background and work in hospital administration, legal assistant in real estate and estate planning and in radio and marketing, is a true asset to North Canaan and its residents.  

Susie is keenly aware of the health care issues facing many families and the need to be sure that North Canaan employees have sufficient coverage – while at the same time, to find savings needed for the town. She knows how to market North Canaan. She does it wherever she travels and to whomever she meets.   Susie’s passion, knowledge and know-how can get things done for North Canaan.

Additionally, Susie is able to juggle numerous things and still get each job completed. She was caregiver to her grandmother Fracaro for 12 years and to her dying mother. She’s battled breast cancer two times. All this while juggling her own family, work and volunteering for North Canaan. Susie continues to carry on.  

I urge North Canaan residents to support the team of Susie Fracaro Clayton and Todd  Shearer and give North Canaan the chance it needs to once again become a vibrant community.

Marlene Woodman




A new direction for North Canaan

This Nov. 3, residents of North Canaan will have the chance to vote for a new vision for their town, one in which the Select Board will listen to and  communicate with the town businesses and residents, and will draw on existing relationships with local and state legislators to secure funding to improve  the town.

Susie Clayton and Todd Shearer’s simple platform offers a fresh approach to government in our town: 

They will engage in regular discussions with the businesses and residents of Canaan in order to find out what matters to the townspeople and how we can all work together to achieve that vision.

They will use the relationships with local and state legislators that they have spent years developing to secure grants and develop other economic boosters for Canaan

They will improve the use of technology in our town, specifically through creating a more functional and user-friendly town website with which to announce public meetings and event.

Susie and Todd’s platform offers a real chance for North Canaan residents to be involved in realizing the future of their town.

Laws are made by the people who show up. If you want North Canaan to be the best that it can be, and are ready to make your voice heard, be sure to vote for Susie Clayton and Todd Shearer on Nov. 3.

Talya Leodari


North Canaan


Please, keep noise down at LRP

To the Members of the Planning and Zoning Committee of Salisbury:

I have had the privilege of living in Salisbury since 1997. When I purchased my property I was told that yes, I would hear the racing at Lime Rock Race Track a little on Saturdays, but that on Sundays and evenings, racing was not allowed. I made my home here with that understanding.

Over the past 18 years, the noise level has increased significantly. My family and I often have to leave our home to find some peace. Many of my neighbors do the same. As time has moved on, engines have become more powerful and consequently, louder. The noise impressively travels and is amplified as it rises and bounces around Falls Village, Amesville and Salisbury. At this time, Sundays are the one day we have to enjoy the beauty and peace of our homes and community when the race track is active.

My home is my favorite place on this earth. This area of Connecticut is a sanctuary to me, my family and my neighbors. I hope to grow old here. It would be devastating to all us if our evenings, and our one quiet day of the summer weeks, were also taken by the eclipsing noise of Lime Rock. It would change our lives here drastically.

I have no desire for Lime Rock Race Track to curtail their schedule as is. I appreciate what the track has to offer our area. However, Lime Rock Race Track’s attempt to change their designation to that of “Amusement Park” would irrevocably transform their relationship to Salisbury, and to its residents, from Boisterous Neighbor to Noisy Autocrat.

The Northwest Corner of Connecticut has so much to offer and experience. Please protect our beautiful area from being completely dominated by one entity.

Laura Linney



Strongly opposed to Park proposals

The Lime Rock Cemetery Improvement Association is a very old organization comprised of dedicated individuals with strong ties to the village of Lime Rock. We take our charge very seriously to oversee and maintain the cemetery next to Trinity Church. We have been entrusted with this honor and have been a continuously operating entity since 1900, when funds were allocated by the Barnum-Richardson family for the perpetual care of the cemetery. 

As an example of our care and concern, we have just completed the first round of a $40,000 restoration project to our oldest and most elaborate stones. We take pride in this unassuming, peaceful and historic place and consider it the anchor for the Lime Rock Historic District, which is listed on the National Historic Registry.

We were recently served in the injunction motion by Lime Rock Park regarding the track’s request for Sunday racing. This action by the track immediately put us in a position to defend the cemetery. In an emergency meeting, the Lime Rock Cemetery Improvement Association voted to go on record as STRONGLY opposing Sunday racing at LRP. The track resides directly across the street from the cemetery. We have heard from numerous family members that they cherish the quiet solitude of Sunday afternoons to connect with their deceased love ones. Sunday racing carries with it the potential for significant traffic jams on our country roads and the added pollution that goes with it as well as screeching tires, loudspeakers and clouds of drifting smoke. This nuisance associated with Sunday racing would not only prevent any quiet time to honor those who have passed, but the added pollutants will lead to increased deterioration of the stones, which we battle continuously.

We also feel that another seriously troubling aspect of LRP’s proposed activities is one for which we have not been named and certainly should have been named as it affects us directly.

Lime Rock Track is also requesting an expansion of their camping activities to a field directly across the street from the cemetery. The track is requesting approval for no limitations on entering and leaving the campground night and day. As there are currently no controls for alcohol consumption in the track’s existing camping area, the expansion of the camping to the area immediately across the street from our historic cemetery, along with excessive drinking could lead to vandalism and unauthorized visitation to the cemetery in the dark. This would pose a safety risk for both the visitors and the historic stones. 

In addition to the potential for vandalism to the stones and our 150-year-old stone wall, we are concerned that our exposure via the liability risk for trespassers will add undue expense to our operating costs.

In conclusion, we voted to go on record as opposing both of Lime Rock Track’s proposed motions and are thus supporting the zoning amendments 221.1 & 221.3 currently proposed by the Salisbury Zoning Commission.

Lisa M. Keller


Lime Rock Cemetery

Improvement Association

Lime Rock


Little Guild not as it once was

For those who read the letter to the editor Oct. 1 regarding the change in practices and leadership at the Little Guild, allow me to correct the record.

I was the canine manager at the Guild until April 2014 and I knew Magic better than anyone on earth. Magic was not an attack dog. He was loved and loved his owner. Yes, according to the owner, he bit her arm over an incident with the garbage. The owner’s own words on Facebook state it had never happened before and her home was at an extraordinarily high level of stress because they were moving across the country and the military base she was moving to denied Magic. She had no place for Magic. 

According to her posts, he knew it and was reacting to it. No, he should not have bitten her, but one incident in one-and-a-half years does not warrant immediate killing. He was dead within a couple hours of the ‘incident.’ Magic deserved the same opportunity every other dog used to receive from the Little Guild: a medical exam, an assessment, a chance for the many real no-kill shelters and individuals to take him. 

The Guild absolutely was notified of the intent to have him killed (this is fact) and offered only to pay the bill to kill him. He was denied the chance to return to the shelter. He was denied the opportunity for an exam, an assessment and a chance to be transferred to someone who cared. As the petition proves, 650+ people cared.

Bugsy was also killed by the Little Guild a few months ago. Bugsy was walked daily by volunteers, unsupervised. He was never labeled as ‘caution’ and loved by many. Bugsy was described on their website with their own words as “A 1.5 year old big squishy faced guy…  He loves walks, to be snuggled with and he especially loves his stuffed toys … He is a quick learner and is a people pleaser.” Yet he was killed. Why? Because the Executive Director had a highly controversial trainer come in that never even took Bugsy out of his tiny kennel for assessment. Not even for a walk like everyone else. Within minutes he was labeled as “dangerous” and the Little Guild euthanized him within 48 hours. 

Due only to the community outrage over the killing of Bugsy, the other dogs this same trainer labeled as “should be killed” were reassessed by another professional and each of them was assessed as adoptable pets. The Little Guild sent these dogs to a real no-kill facility. Unfortunately, Bugsy was already dead and didn’t have a chance to be assessed properly.

So yes, the philosophy has changed at the Little Guild.

Recently a Little Guild board member stated at a public meeting the problem with the “old” Little Guild was it was “run on emotion.” He is partly right, that emotion is called “compassion.” It is heartbreaking to know it no longer exists at the Little Guild.

Stephanie Thompson



No policy change at the Little Guild

After muddling through that dark and misleading petition attacking the Little Guild, it was refreshing to read their board of directors’ uplifting and transparent letter to the editor in last week’s Lakeville Journal.

Not only does the board clarify that there has been no policy change at the Little Guild, it further clarifies that they continue to take in sick, injured, malnourished, and “problem” dogs that they feel they can rehabilitate and safely adopt out.  Their success can be measured by the huge increase in the number of adoptions over the past year.

 I have volunteered at the Little Guild for a few years.  I’ve fostered dogs for them and helped at community-outreach programs and fundraisers.  I have seen nothing but solid forward movement by the new administration.

While there has been no policy change, there have been many positive changes, including making the building a warm, clean, and clutter-free environment for potential adopters to meet potential pets. Adding much-needed personnel to care for and interact with the animals will reduce the stress levels of the dogs and cats as they await adoption.  Additional front-desk help keeps things organized and running smoothly; phones are answered in a timely manner, and guests are greeted as they enter. A new focus on implementing a foster program enables the Little Guild to take in more animals and frees up space for those who need special attention on location.

 The bottom line is that we need to focus on finding suitable homes for the dogs and cats who wind up at the Little Guild.  I am grateful to the board of directors, employees, and volunteers who do their best and beyond to see that these animals go to loving homes.

Denise Bate



Thanks for a great chili cookoff

What an exceptional weekend in Salisbury! Noble Horizons and SOAR were thrilled to collaborate with so many businesses, organizations and community members to welcome back ​the Fall Festival Chili Cook-off. ​

We ​especially appreciate the White Hart Inn’s warm and gracious hospitality;  how fortunate we were to partner with them.

We are also indebted to our extraordinary corps of tireless volunteers,​ our brilliant electrician, Gordon Gustafson, the Salisbury Congregational Church, the Lakeville Methodist Church and the 46 very talented professional and amateur chefs who together made this wonderful community event possible.

The tantalizing chilies created by the 24 professional chefs, and the clever and utterly delicious entries prepared by the 22 accomplished amateur chefs, each named and thanked in our Lakeville Journal advertisement this week, provid​ed a truly delectable array of chilies. We salute the winners of this year’s cook-off, also named in our ad, and gratefully acknowledge the generous sponsorships of St. John’s Church, Sharon Hospital, La Bonne’s Market and The White Hart Inn.  

The Chili Cook-off exemplifies our community’s exceptional capacity for teamwork, and we look forward to the privilege of ​working together again next year.

Caroline Burchfield

Noble Horizons

Liza Pinder Steinmetz