Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 5-16-19

More thoughts on teen suicide rates

Cynthia Hochswender’s article on the rise in teen suicide rates (Lakeville Journal, May 9) was appropriately alarming. It is true that more and more young people are taking their own lives these days. And there is such a thing as suicide “contagion,” when young people will be spurred by the suicide of a friend, popular figure, or even fictional character to make an attempt themselves.

I would like to point out that there are a couple of practical steps concerned parents or other loved ones should take. Of course if you suspect your child is having suicidal thoughts you should raise the subject (it never “puts ideas in their head” to do this), have a calm and accepting discussion and arrange for competent professional help if necessary.

But beyond this, there are two concrete things to do: 1. Make sure all firearms are absolutely safe and secure. Ammunition should be locked away separately, and teens should not have keys. 2. Make sure that all potentially dangerous medications are only available in small, nonlethal amounts. People are often surprised to learn that this includes Tylenol (acetaminophen), which is generally thought of as harmless, but which can cause death from liver damage if taken in large amounts.

It’s unfortunately true that suicide is usually the result of an impulsive decision, and if we can keep the person from acting on that impulse they may live a full life that might otherwise have been tragically cut short.

Richard O’Connor, 

MSW, Ph.D.



Hopes Trump presidency is just a blip

It is with a feeling of impending doom that I watch President Donald Trump move our country from a democracy to a dictatorship. We are supposed to be a country of laws for the good of the people. Unfortunately, we have the leader of the United State ignoring and abusing these laws. How can one man inspire so many people to follow him? He is clearly a despot without any moral compass, compassion or respect for our country. Mr. Trump isn’t even particularly intelligent or articulate yet he has a legion of sycophants who are willing to break the law for him.

Is it the power that corrupts or is it Trump’s ability to reach into the worst parts of human nature? Adolf Hitler was able to use Jewish people as scapegoats to foster his power and corrupt the German people. Mr. Trump’s scapegoats are black and brown people, as well as underprivileged people of any ethnicity, and he blatantly says so. America has always been a beacon of hope for other countries, but that beacon has dimmed to a flicker.

I am hoping the Trump presidency is just a terrible blip in our country’s history, but it could segue so easily into more if we don’t recognize what is happening.

My husband Jack and I married in 1972 and have raised five beautiful children. We have watched how much our country has changed since that time. Gradually, people accepted us and became friends. Gradually, we watched other interracial couples appear. Gradually, people realized that the differences between us were very few. There are obstacles for all of us in life, regardless of our background, but the issue of color has haunted our country for so long.

Since the Trump presidency, Jack and I have watched the United States slide backwards into old modes of thinking. As sad and disheartening as this is, I refuse to believe that Trump and his followers will destroy the progress we have made. No truer thing has been said than: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Stand, folks, and resist!

Gretchen M. Gordon



Not the best way to capture customers

On Route 7 just outside North Canaan on the right-hand side, a local paving company has put up a large billboard advertisement saying in bold letters: “Bob Mueller should investigate …” then in smaller type below, “Why people live with ugly driveways …”

Aside from the fact that it is doubtful that Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave permission for his name to be associated with this product — he has more pressing issues on his plate — it is sad that one of the most seminal investigations in our country’s history, dealing with tampering by an enemy foreign government in our election process, should be so quickly trivialized. Is it eye-catching advertising copy? Indeed. Is it in good taste? 

Hardly. It’s offensive.

Bosco Schell

Falls Village


Career Experience Program is a great success at HVRHS

The Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS) Career Experience Program hosted a new version of the biennial large-scale career event on Wednesday, May 8. 

On that morning, in the span of one hour, 41 professionals from agriculture, the arts, veterinary science, business, building and trades, environment and wildlife, aviation and science, health and wellness, law and public safety, sports management and education shared their expertise with nearly 200 juniors and seniors in 14 locations around the school. 

Prior to the event, students were surveyed about their career interests and based upon their choice spent the hour in dialogue with professionals in that field. The setting was intimate, the conversation rich and the energy was all positive. 

Sophomore class leaders greeted our visitors, whisked them to classrooms around the school and photographed the event. Faculty and staff facilitated the 14 sessions. Dave Moran and his students in the Agricultural Program provided robustly blooming potted flowers as a token of gratitude for our guests as they departed the building. Robin Beaujon and Cindy Fuller played critical roles in coordinating the event. Patricia Mechare from the Region One Board of Education was able to attend on behalf of the board. Principal Ian Strever and Assistant Principal Steven Schibi provided leadership support for the event and created the space and time for it to occur. The morning was a true team effort.

The Career Experience Program and the entire school community are grateful to these professionals for spending their time with HVRHS students. The event highlighted all that is good about our community and its high school. 

Connections to caring professionals in the local community as mentors and role models are critical for our students. We are so fortunate in Region One to have an abundance of these individuals willing to engage with Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

If you’d like to view the array of professionals who were with students that morning, visit www.hvrhs.org/school-resources/career-experience/

Mary B. O’Neill, Ph.D.

HVRHS Career Experience Coordinator

Falls Village


There’s something to winning with honor, losing with dignity

I’ve been around the world enough to know what others think of the United  States. And listening to locals from France, Croatia or Israel sounds a lot  like how some people feel about the New England Patriots. They are the best and maybe that’s why people love them. But sports fans often love to hate perennial winners. They seem a bit like bullies. We all know that while it’s Robert Kraft who writes the music, it is Tom Brady who conducts the orchestra. Hate them or love them, you have to respect them.

But what if every time the Patriots scored, they threw the ball at the other players and called the other team “Loser Rams” or “Cry Baby Falcons” or “Pathetic Panthers”? Winners? Yes. Classy? No. And if the Patriots lost, maybe they would take their (under inflated) ball and go home. What if they even berated Brady when he threw an interception. Irreverent and unapologetic.  Remember the Karate Kid and the Cobra Kai dojo? Like that.

I also play trivia on Tuesday nights and will look at lists of possible answers just in case: the seven wonders of the world, the horses that won the Triple Crown, the name of actors who played Superman. That sort of thing.

And then I was looking at the Seven Deadly Sins. And when I read down the list of sins, I had to admit a little guilt across the board. But then again, I’m not a U.S. president. And the more I read down the list — Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Envy, Pride, Wrath — the more I thought it sounded like a guy I know. Almost as if he were listing attributes on an online personal ad. Wait. Is Dishonesty there? I can’t help but think, I wouldn’t want my daughter going out with this guy and I probably wouldn’t want him as a friend.

Of course, there are a lot of people who like a guy like that. A big house, vacation homes, lots of servants and whose coattails are long. But in sports, there are two types of people who like a certain team — the tried and true, diehard fan, and then there is the gambler, who is only betting on the team for that game. Your base and your fair weathers. If it’s not love for the team, it would seem to be all about money.

Now I’m not Christian and I’m surely no angel, but I consider myself to be an American patriot. And if I played on a team that made it to the Super Bowl, not only would I want to be the best and win, but I would want the other teams to respect me. I’m a “win with honor, lose with dignity” type of guy.  

But then again, I’m a Giants fan.

Andrew Schwartz



Working together on affordable housing

I am a member of the Falls Village Housing Trust Board of Directors. Thank you for your editorial of May 9. The FV Housing Trust has been progressing thoughtfully toward remedying the affordable housing problem in Falls Village, and it was nice to be acknowledged. 

In 2013, Falls Village Planning and Zoning voted to accept a segment of land on River Road as zoned for affordable housing.  This legislative change followed several years of work by community members and engineers, as they examined and then discarded various locations. The River Road location was chosen as the only location available which had the right soil and subsoil for septic fields.  

In the tradition of our communities, the extensive work of determining the best location was done on a volunteer basis. This sort of work is time-consuming and fraught with opinion and controversy. Regrettably, one does this work unrewarded, with very little praise but plenty of criticism.  

A committee of Sharon and Salisbury citizens worked eight years, putting together the best technology and location for our new transfer station, only to hear loud protests from a few who fancied they might be affected.  

Affordable housing is about us, and not a strange them that we do not know. Affordable housing is for the newly single parent who can’t afford to keep the house. It is for the senior who can’t do the stairs anymore. It is for the journeyman plumber and his grocery clerk wife with two kids who need to stay close to family who provide after school care. It is for a couple with a disabled child or parent who needs handicapped accessibility. 

These are life and survival issues, which are more important than whether there will be more traffic on Lime Rock Station Road. When there is more traffic there, we will solve any problems that arise. That is because we are a community, and we work together to help each other.  

Martha Miller

Lime Rock


Northwest ConneCT, both clear and opaque

Thanks to Kim Maxwell, president of NW ConneCT, for his letter (5/2/19) regarding our misunderstandings, but we’ve been taking our information about their intentions directly from them all along. 

The handouts at their February Norfolk forum noted: “Northwest ConneCT was formed…to orchestrate a regional fiber optic network covering 25 towns… [and to] enhance our mobile coverage through small cell antennas.” And on their website they explain that “…small antennas can be installed on telephone poles or light poles to augment the large antenna towers where signals are weak or non-existent. These antennas are connected back into the mobile network through fiber-optic lines. It is our intention to use the fiber network…for this purpose, installing antennas at strategic locations to improve reception. The communities will bear the costs, which are not trivial…” 

Now, in his letter, Mr. Maxwell says NW ConneCT is “…not proposing a vehicle for broad distribution of small cell antennas but rather a network consisting entirely of fiber optic lines that would connect all homes and businesses...”

So which is it? “Entirely” fiber? Or fiber hybrid with small cells? 

Mr. Maxwell verifies our writing about fiber’s likelihood to bring ubiquitous radiofrequency radiation (RFR) via small cells near homes/businesses with biologically active exposures even at very low intensities. We were clear on the difference between 5G and generic small cells which now carry 3G, 4G, and 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless for smart phones. 5G is different in every conceivable way from 4G though both function with RFR in different frequency bands. Mr. Maxwell, a tech entrepreneur from California, surely knows that today all 4G LTE antennas are imbedded with 5G hardware that can be activated remotely at varying speeds on different capacity fiber lines.

It’s disingenuous for NW ConneCT to brand itself “entirely wired” when there is a robust small cell component in their plan that hastens more RFR here. And PURA preempts town authority to control antenna placement. They’ve even told towns not to bother with small cell regulations (unlike the Siting Council for macro towers). This will boomerang on towns that don’t understand what can happen financially, legally, and environmentally with a new 24/7 ubiquitous genotoxin. 

Small cells — no matter what “G” — are pitting citizens against government at all levels. That’s why towns across the country are outlawing small cells and there are 12 suits against the FCC. NW ConneCT’s website notes: “…there is no example in the country of a number of municipalities forming a collective, building out a network, using it to enhance its mobile network fabric, and offering all conceivable services over it. We will be the first…” True. And if it stayed 100% wired fiber sans wireless that would be great, but it won’t and can’t according to FCC bundling rules. 

Silicon Valley utopian technophoria does not translate to largely RFR-free rural environments. Why not target areas where better Internet connections are needed without a gigantic new county-wide hybrid irradiating infrastructure? Towns are not asking the right questions yet.

B. Blake Levitt

The Berkshire-Litchfield 

Environmental Council



Thanks for keeping “Western” open

Sunday morning, May 5, I tuned in Sharon’s WQQQ for their program Tri-State Sunday Connection and listened to state Rep. Maria Horn’s (D-64) report that she has, like Republican Brian Ohler before her, succeeded in stopping the closure of “Western” in Torrington, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DEMAS) decades old, outstanding program for the substance addicted and mentally ill.  

“Western” provides service to 600 clients in the Northwest Corner and has done so since the closure of Fairfield Hills Hospital in Newington. Two years ago, as a cost-cutting measure, Gov. Dannel Malloy threatened to close both “Western” and the DMAS office in Danbury. Then-state Rep. Brian Ohler at that time helped to work a budgetary miracle in Hartford to keep “Western” open and now Rep. Horn has done the same when the current governor’s budget proposal also threatened to scrub the Northwest Corner’s state directed mental health services program. Thank you, Maria!

Wm. Earl Brecher