Japan Quake Puts Valley Nuke in Local Spotlight

The massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 12 created a still-evolving disaster at several of Japan's nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, the Louisiana company that owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is trying to get permission from the government to run the 40 year old reactor until at least 2032. Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

Fight Over Valley Nuke Rages

Twelve months ago, the Vermont senate voted to permanently close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The New York Times published several long articles about the vote, which, the newspaper suggested, would mean the reactor’s owner, Entergy Corporation of Louisiana, would be required to close Vermont Yankee in March 2012. In the weeks after the vote, activists who had worked for decades to close Vermont Yankee celebrated. There were at least two victory parties in Brattleboro, one of which was attended by about 200 people, including Peter Shumlin.

Photo: Skating on a Frozen River

This photo was taken December 19. It shows people ice skating, and an ice fishing shelter, on the West river just before it enters the Connecticut river in Brattleboro. Skating conditions were especially good because of the absence of snow, and weather forecasters were predicting more good skating weather. To reach this spot from the Brattleboro town common, take Route 30 for about half a mile. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full-size image.” photo by Eesha Williams

Photo: Goldfinch Near Brattleboro

This photo was taken on August 15 in Dummerston, Vermont, near Brattleboro. It shows three goldfinches. In autumn, male goldfinches shed their bright yellow feathers and become drab like the female. Females build nests in trees. The nests are woven so tightly that they will hold water.

One goldfinch that was banded in Ontario, Canada was found in Louisiana. The vast majority of the food eaten by American Goldfinches is grain. They eat large numbers of weed seeds, which helps vegetable farmers.

Photos: Birds and Dragonflies

These photos were taken on July 11 at a lake near Brattleboro. By the numbers: one dragonfly can eat 300 mosquitoes per day. If you don't see any dragonflies on a lake or river, the water is probably polluted. This lake is full of them, which means it's clean. Loons can stay under water for five minutes and fly 75 miles per hour. Loons can be 30 years old.

Loons are mostly solitary birds. But they sometimes gather for short periods in small groups of up to 20 birds in late summer and fall, and loons are sometimes seen in groups in the ocean, where they spend the winter.

In Valley, a Crisis in Care for Mental Illness

Recent budget decisions by the governors and state legislators in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont have caused a crisis here in the Valley for people with mental illness who don’t have good health insurance. That’s according to Paul Gorman. He’s president of the New Hampshire chapter of a national group, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Gorman is also director of the Dartmouth College Psychiatric Research Center www.dartmouth.edu He spoke with the Valley Post on July 13.

People Power Defeats Plan to Narrow Brattleboro's Downtown Sidewalks

Brattleboro residents defeated a plan by the administration of lame duck Republican governor Jim Douglas and lieutenant-governor Brian Dubie – the Republican who wants to be elected governor in November – that would have narrowed already-narrow sidewalks in downtown Brattleboro. The goal was to make cars, trucks, and SUVs drive faster through the world-famous, historic downtown on the shore of the Connecticut river. Dubie-Douglas also wanted to cut down trees on Main Street.

In Danger: Giant Park Near Keene, Brattleboro

Pisgah State Park, with thousands of acres, is the biggest state park in New Hampshire. It is in the town of Hinsdale, and two other towns. Hinsdale is directly across the river from Brattleboro. The following article was written by Jeffrey Scott and Marti Hobbes of the group Defenders of Pisgah. It was posted on a bulletin board at one of the entrances to the park on June 27. The only contact info provided for the group was:

P.O. Box 31
Spofford, NH 03462

Photos: Volunteers Install a Solar Water Heater

On May 22, volunteers from the Greenfield-based group Co-op Power installed a solar water heater near Brattleboro. Farmer Elizabeth Wood showed one of the volunteers her dairy goats. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "See full-size image." More information is at www.CoopPower.coop photos by Eesha Williams

Uprising by Vermont Prisoners

Some three dozen Vermonters were on “lock down” at a private prison in Tennessee on May 14 for non-violent civil disobedience on May 12. A prison official refused to tell the Associated Press when the prisoners would be allowed to make phone calls and have their other rights restored, for example, the right to exercise outside their cells. Guards used a "non-lethal grenade" to force the prisoners into their cells.