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Voters to decide on fate of School Forest

PUTNEY—The Putney Central School’s forest may soon become town property in order to keep it under local control.

On Nov. 2, Putney voters will decide whether the school board should sell the 164-acre School Forest to the town for a sum of $10.

During two recent special Selectboard meetings, the Board met with members of the Putney Town School District Board to discuss the issue.

At the end of the second meeting, on Sept. 26, the Selectboard voted to enter into a purchase and sale contract for the School Forest, contingent upon approval by the voters of the Putney Town School District.

The impetus for the transfer is Act 46, the education consolidation bill. On Nov. 7, residents will vote on whether to merge the school districts of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney.

Some Putney voters are concerned that “if the unification vote is in the affirmative, the property [will] disappear into the [merged] school district,” because it will become a district — and not a town — asset, Interim Town Manager Chip Stearns explained at the Sept. 27 regular Selectboard meeting.

Board Chair Scott Henry asked what will happen if the unification vote fails.

“We would probably go forward because, as of July 2019,” as per Act 46, the state Agency of Education could place the Putney Central School in a unified district regardless of what voters decide, and the School Forest would come under control of that new district’s leadership.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, Conservation Commission member Anne Kerrey presented Board members with a collection of comments from the commission.

“Generally speaking, we’re on the same page: that continued public access, preservation of all the wetland areas and forest areas, and continued access for educational purposes” remain, Henry said.

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Tamara Stenn
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Tamara Stenn (Brattleboro, Vermont, US) says...

Thanks for writing this Elayne. I was thinking the same thing myself. The silence we received from the hospital is quite deafening. Unfortunately we\'ve had to continue working with the hospital as other (minor) heath issues come up.

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Judith Skillman
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Judith Skillman (Newcastle, US) says...

Excellent and informative writing about the media and about the state of our nation. We must support the press speak truth to power, now more than ever before.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

We are also obliged to criticize the press when they merely echo the lies of the powerful. In this case, much of the press has taken a side, not just against the policies of the President, but against the election itself on behalf of the parties of war and Wall St. Just as the US has in the past agitated in other countries for coups against democratic outcomes they don’t like, much of the press, including this editorial, is now agitating for a coup here at home.

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Peter Ford
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Peter Ford (Dallas) says...

Nailed it - Thank you.

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TB Smith
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TB Smith (Ba, Oklahoma, US) says...

The divisiveness brought on by this shamefully poor excuse for a president has been once again, borne out by this article, and the responses to it .. his most devoted followers are the most gullible and easily swayed sheeple since the \"Kool-Aid party in Jonestown\" ... those who stand up the most fervently to this dictator \"wanabe\", will , inthe end, see him and the fellow purveyors of his garbage rhetoric like FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc., crumble and be dumped like stale crackers (pardon the pun) .. we must impeach this tyrant before too much damage is done, either from within or outside our borders.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

So it’s OK that access to outlets that simply recognize Trump as President is indeed being shut down? But isn’t that exactly what this editorial is against? Should outlets that cheered on Obama’s wars and love of Wall St have likewise been shut down? Only John Birch Society–inspired screeds against Trump indicate the “legitimate” press?

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

TB Smith’s comment in apparent support of the us-vs-them tone of this editorial illustrates why so many people distrust so much of the press (although, again, it appears to be only pro-Trump and anti-imperialist outlets that are actually being shut down): They are promulgating hysterical claims about fascism, Russians, and “crackers” not in the interest of the people, but wholly on behalf of the neoliberal/neoconservative program of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama to deny Trump the Presidency and even remove him from office – not democratically, but by coup if necessary. That makes the press rather anti-democratic and, indeed, against the people.

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Amelia Stone
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Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #429 (Wednesday, October 11, 2017). This story appeared on page D1.

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