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Letters to the Editor - December 22

Troop B is needed for public safety in the Northwest Corner


I believe the planned “regional dispatch” at Litchfield is a ruse to close Troop B altogether. This is a serious public safety issue, and the citizens of Northwest Connecticut will be ill served and poorly protected if it is carried out.

All the technology in the world will not make up for lack of accessibility and manpower in the field. That includes adequate patrol coverage and on-site staffing at Troop B. Troop B’s territory covers about 530 square miles, the largest troop territory in the state. It includes the 13 towns of Barkhamsted, Canaan (Falls Village), Colebrook, Cornwall, Goshen, Hartland, New Hartford, Norfolk, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Torrington and Winchester. There are usually no more than four troopers on patrol in the territory.

The combined population of those towns is 79,200. That is an increase of about 13,100 people over the 1970 census count of 66,058 people. We also experience a population increase from May to October due to families with summer homes in the area that relocate here during the warmer time of year. Add to that the tourists and sports devotees coming here for our recreational opportunities, and there is much more going on than meets the eye of the bean counters at DPS headquarters.

In the late 1970s Troop B was closed, its functions moved to Troop L as a cost-cutting measure. The drastic reduction in response times, lack of adequate patrol coverage and reduced police presence as a deterrent to criminal activity all led to strong public fear and dissatisfaction. In less than a year Troop B re-opened. Does anyone believe that with an increased population our public safety interests are served by repeating this historic mistake?

A new radio system was originally authorized and monies allocated around 1970 under Gov. Meskill’s administration. The current state police computer-aided dispatch radio system was installed at the end of the 1990s, with one of the last installations being at Troop B in 2000. It took 30 years to become reality and now we are going to tear it apart and reconfigure it at Troop L? At what waste and cost? One of the biggest changes made in the radio system was to separate the four troops in Western District onto their own radio channels so that troopers and dispatchers could clearly hear and communicate with each other with less confusion. Now we are apparently going to return to having too many personnel using the same airtime at once, another danger to the public and our troopers.

Col. Stebbins has suggested a phone in the lobby of the closed barracks for walk-ins to directly reach Litchfield for help. A phone in the lobby will be cold comfort to a domestic violence victim assaulted and chased to the empty Troop B by her attacker.

I encourage all our citizens to contact their boards of selectmen, their representatives and senators to ask that the Troop B plan be put on hold and fully investigated in detail before any change is made.

Mark A. Lauretano
Salisbury Selectman
Connecticut State Police, retired 2011

Festival of Trees a holiday success

On behalf of our Noble Horizons Auxiliary and Festival of Trees Committee, we would like to take this opportunity to thank one and all for making this year’s festival such a huge success.

In the spirit of the holiday season, your generous support continues to enrich the lives of our Noble community. Happy holidays!

Mary Barton
Karen Rossire
Co-chairs, Festival of Trees


Illegal aliens shouldn’t get to vote


I am wildly offended that my right to vote as a U.S. citizen is being belittled by the prospect of allowing illegal aliens to vote. That would be representation without taxation; they do not have the right to vote because they are here illegally.

The fact that Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven has the audacity to propose this (no doubt to lay the groundwork for future votes) insults those people who have legally entered this country and who have worked so hard to become citizens.

Mayor DeStefano should be ashamed of himself for proposing such a program. If he is so concerned with the illegal aliens’ status, let him take action toward making these illegals legal — without using legal taxpaying citizens’ money to do so. He can pay for it himself.

Beth Rybczyk


Estabrooks appreciate tributes

The family of Bob Estabrook wishes to publicly thank all those who acknowledged his death. The outpouring of kind thoughts, cards, calls, letters, flowers, food and newspaper coverage has been overwhelming, and we all have a greater appreciation for why Mary Lou and Bob considered the Northwest Corner of Connecticut a truly unique place to live.

We especially thank the Rev. Diane Monti-Catania of the Congregational Church of Salisbury, Al Sly, the church deacons, the hospitality committee and numerous volunteers who so spectacularly hosted Bob’s memorial service on Dec. 10.

We were moved by the musical tributes from the HousaTonics and from the baritone trio of Lee Collins, Paul Johnson and Jeff Benson; by the participation of Jo Loi of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship; and by the recollections by Patrick Carroll, James Estabrook, Thomas Estabrook, Andrew Roraback, the Rev. Duane Estes, Janet Manko and Donald Connery.

To the Lakeville Journal, where Bob was able to pursue his dreams during the last 40 years of his life, we offer our heartfelt appreciation for so warmly embracing Mary Lou and Bob from the day they purchased the paper.

With deepest thanks,

John, James and David Estabrook
Margaret (Estabrook) Carroll and extended family


Animals have homes, thank you

This is the time of year when we are all asked to give to worthy causes. The Little Guild of St. Francis is fortunate to receive throughout the year, especially from its many volunteers who socialize our cats and dogs and provide other services, like filling the gaping pothole in our parking area, and from its many generous donors, who support us year in and year out.

Due to the many and varied contributions of our donors and volunteers, The Little Guild has been  able to rehome more than 200 cats and dogs that found their forever homes this year, and so will have a warm and permanent home to spend this holiday season and bring joy to their new family.

Thanks to our volunteers, assisted by our fine staff, and thanks to our donors, we were able to rehome so many cats and dogs at a time when most other shelters, due to the economy, were seeing a sharp decline in their adoptions. The staff makes a diligent effort to match the adopter and the animal, which is vital to the very low return rate at The Little Guild.

Once again, I should like to take this opportunity to thank our many volunteers who go above and beyond and our many generous donors who make it possible for us to accomplish our mission. Without them, there would be even more homeless cats and dogs.

A joyous holiday season to all, and especially to the volunteers and to the donors to The Little Guild of St. Francis.

Khurshed Bhumgara


SFS benefit was big success


Salisbury Family Services (SFS) held a much-delayed (because of some snow in October!) benefit, continuing their biannual habit of celebrating Salisbury’s own. One of our own this time was Laura Linney, the prizewinning actress known for her talent, charm and beauty. In spite of all odds, Ms. Linney graciously agreed to present her Master Class in acting on the new date, Nov. 26, at the Salisbury School, where four local students presented scenes from two plays they had prepared for her critique.

It was a fascinating and masterful program,the most successful in the history of SFS’s benefits, as Ms. Linney gently guided and commented on the young actors’ readings, exploring the fundamentals — motivation, characterization and business — of the acting trade, to a spellbound audience. Enormous thanks are due to her for the gift of her time and talent.

So many people contributed to the success of the evening, and the board of SFS wishes to acknowledge the generosity of the Salisbury School and its headmaster, Chisholm Chandler, and Procter Smith, head of the English Department and drama coach, for their willingness to provide a splendid venue and reception. And to Susan Knight, extraordinary organizer of a complicated event, and to Dan Dwyer, always a contributor in practical and inspirational ways.

Because of the change of date, several dinner parties which were to have followed the program had to be canceled. Hosts and hostesses were unfazed by the disruption and are due a great vote of thanks for their offering of the dinners, some of which will be rescheduled. Many more sponsors contributed substantially to the fundraising effort, for which we give grateful thanks to all of them. Without this kind of support, SFS would not be able to fulfill its mission of offering help to our Salisbury citizens who occasionally need help in confronting problems of housing, fuel, utility expenses and food — particularly in these troublesome economic times. Since 1930, founded by some extraordinarily farsighted Salisbury citizens, SFS has worked to support this endeavor.

Deeply and sincerely, the board commends all the many who continue to help out the few. Thanks, and thanks again.

Kim Fiertz
Mary Harvey
co-presidents of Salisbury Family Services


Our government must support solar energy


Having worked in the renewable energy space for many years, I read with interest Richard Shanley’s Dec. 8 column, “Solyndra, and other federal boondoggles” and agree with him on many points. It is generally a bad idea for the federal government to make such an outsize bet on a single company.

But it’s important to point out that the majority of federal subsidies for solar energy have been hugely successful. In California, there is more than a gigawatt of customer-owned solar generation. Incentives for rooftop photovoltaic systems have dropped from $4.50 per watt to 25 cents per watt, meaning that retail grid parity is just a frog-hair away. And well over half the solar power contracts that California utilities have signed—nearly 5 GW — are below the cost of a new natural gas plant. In Colorado, Xcel, the largest utility in the state, announced that it was going to meet its 30 percent renewable goal 8 years early, and at a savings to ratepayers of $409 million.

The point is, the programs, incentives and renewable portfolio standards are delivering. It’s a tremendous achievement — the commercialization of clean, renewable energy that doesn’t warm the planet, melt icecaps or acidify our lakes — at costs cheaper than the fossil fuel alternative. It’s a modern-day miracle. And it’s one that the vast majority of Americans support, regardless of their political orientation.

It’s also true that governments have long provided massive subsidies for the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, despite that these industries are amongst the most profitable in the world and continue to raise prices while inflicting tremendous damage to the environment. Yet these subsidies continue unabated.

The International Energy Agency reports that fossil fuels get six times the level of subsidies of renewables. And according to the most recent report on energy subsidies by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2007, subsidies to nuclear were 9.6 times higher than those for solar; natural gas and petroleum subsidies were 11.2 times higher; and coal subsidies were 22.2 times higher than solar. On this unlevel playing field, transitioning to clean, emission-free renewable energy is going to require some government guidance and support.

Here in Connecticut, Gov. Dan Malloy is reviving the state’s solar program with the goal of installing close to 400MW over the next six years. This is an admirable effort that will create thousands of new jobs and place Connecticut among our nation’s most forward thinking states. He deserves our support.

Henry Labalme
West Cornwall

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