Letters to the Editor - December 15
An open letter to the Sharon Board of Selectmen
I went to the Sharon Town Hall last week expecting to see a new exhibit by the artist and editorial cartoonist Dianne Engleke. I was disappointed to learn that her exhibit had been canceled. However, my initial feelings of disappointment turned to outrage when I learned that the reason for the exhibit’s cancellation was censorship.
I find it troubling and completely unacceptable that staff members or officials of the Sharon Town Hall should engage in artistic and creative censorship, and I am deeply concerned about the consequences of this form of censorship on our community.
Here is my message for the town officials in Sharon:
As town officials who are dedicated to public service and elected by the people of Sharon to serve the public interest, you must certainly share our country’s commitment to freedom of expression and imagination. Not only is it supported by the First Amendment and a long line of Supreme Court decisions, it is in our DNA as a free people.
I would expect you, as public officials, to demonstrate your respect for the intelligence and maturity of the citizens of Sharon by enabling them to view art, cartoons and/or opinions created by serious artists and thinkers — even if some citizens may or may not agree with or like it. In a free and democratic society, each and every one of us has the right to decide what art or creative expression we want to receive and engage with.
“Once you allow the government or any public institution to censor someone else, you cede to it the power to censor you, or something you believe in. Censorship is like poison gas: a powerful weapon that can harm you — when the wind shifts. Freedom of expression for ourselves requires freedom of expression for others.” (Reprinted from article number 14, “Freedom of Expression in the Arts and Entertainment,” from the ACLU, 2002, http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/freedom-expression-arts-and-entertainment)
Although I do not currently reside in Sharon, I am actively involved in many civic, cultural and educational organizations in our community. I also have many friends and colleagues who are residents of Sharon — all of whom were appalled by the actions of your officials.
I strongly urge you to reverse this decision, and show both the artist and our community the respect they deserve. I also encourage you and the town officials of Sharon to refrain from any further censorship. The future of our beloved community depends on it.
I’m glad Kent is in the 64th District
The recent announcement that the town of Kent has been moved to the 64th assembly district was welcome news (and somewhat unexpected) to our small corner of Connecticut.
For more than two decades, Kent has been a minor part of districts dominated by much larger towns, i.e., New Milford and New Fairfield. These towns share little cultural, economic or geographic values with Kent. Even our kids attend schools in a different school district. Yet, we have always seen ourselves as a part of our northern neighbors and viewed Kent as the southern entrance to the Litchfield Hills.
A small group of Kent residents set about to try to get the state legislature to move our town to the 64th District – a logical move for most of Kent. The 64th District is composed mainly of towns relatively the same size as Kent (a small part of Torrington is also included). All of the towns in the Region One school district (including Kent) are now in the 64th District. We were warned that it would be very complicated and fraught with political considerations. Our group had no lobbyists, no financial backing and no connections to get the move approved.
Sadly, several local community groups were asked to support this initiative but were reluctant to endorse our efforts. Too many people were concerned about the political consequences and minimized the logic of having our town joining our neighbors who share our interests and concerns and all being represented by one state representative.
That said, our small group continued to push forward following the proper procedure. Our campaign included letters to the local newspapers, a strong op-ed piece and appearances in Hartford to testify at the redistricting hearings to appeal directly to those who held our future in their hands. We spoke to many town leaders asking them for support including our first selectman who was supportive of our initiative. We talked with Rep. Roberta Willis (who would be affected by any change) to impress on her how adding Kent would help all the other small towns in her district.
Still, it seemed an uphill battle and yet, the decision to move Kent to the 64th was ultimately approved! In a small way, this is an example of how government should work. The state redistricting committee was composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. While they were unable to agree on other changes, they did respond to the logical wishes of Kent and approved this important change.
In a world where different factions of government seem to be unable to agree to compromise on most issues, it is heartening to know that occasionally our government does respond to the wishes of its constituents.
Richard P. Levy
Local businesses help students SOAR
Local businesses help students SOAR
SOAR, the privately funded enrichment program for Salisbury Central School students, is itself the beneficiary of enrichment from the many community members, professionals and businesses who generously share their talents and expertise. Salisbury Central School SOAR students truly flourish through their interactions with such talented adults.
SOAR’s diverse 15-class curriculum was enlivened this fall by valuable and creative partnerships with the local business community. Herrington’s sponsored a bluebird house-building workshop in which students learned basic carpentry skills. Herrington’s donated the materials, and their enthusiastic employees guided the children through the construction of their own one-of-a-kind birdhouses. Salisbury is clearly for the birds!
Salisbury is also home to several new money managers thanks to Salisbury Bank’s instructive “Master Your Money” class. For six weeks, Salisbury Bank donated the services of two bankers who taught students the principles of sound financial management. The children learned financial terms, role-played challenging financial situations, and even planned for retirement.
SOAR is enormously grateful to Herrington’s and Salisbury Bank for making possible these exciting, empowering classes. With such well-trained builders and bankers in town — not to mention their very generous benefactors — the possibilities for future SOAR collaborations seem limitless.
on behalf of SOAR
Chinatti will not serve as alternate
To the citizens of the town of Canaan: Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the municipal elections on Nov. 8. I greatly appreciate your support.
As per the results of my own investigation, my name appeared on the ballot erroneously. As such, I will not be serving as an alternate to the town of Canaan Board of Finance for the upcoming term.
Thank you, again, for all your support.
Family thankful to community
To our friends and neighbors: We would like to express our thanks for all the cards, flowers, food and remembrances that you provided our family during our time of sorrow. We will miss Charlie’s smile.
The words of one card we received say it best: “The world will never be the same because of the beautiful difference one life has made.”
The Trahan family