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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



The rest (areas) of the story

Lots of budget cuts are hard to get your head around. Say, the Department of Environmental Conservation is going to have fewer people. Well, exactly what does that mean to you and me? Even the people who work there are still trying to figure that out. But closing a rest area, we can understand.

We’ve all been to them, grateful for a clean, safe place to stop and do your business. All the better if they have good coffee and a friendly person behind the desk to make small talk with. I availed myself of all those things at the Highgate rest area just last week. Apparently, the friendly person behind the desk is going to lose her job now.

A bunch of out-of-state drivers want us to keep the rest areas open, according to the Associated Press. Easy for them to say, of course, in that they’re not footing the bill. Ah, but one of them even suggested the state ask for a $1 donation at each rest area.

Most of us would be happy to pay a $1 for a clean, safe rest area, but only if we didn’t have to, and then, well, maybe they’d be happy to pay in theory, just not on this particular visit. Next time, maybe.

I like a nice rest area as much as the next guy. You tend to remember states that have good ones (Tennessee) and bad ones (Arkansas). But the truth is we might all be better off if we got off at an exit, bought a cup of coffee and used the facilities at a commercial venture. If we hadn’t used the Highgate rest area, maybe we would have frequented the Swanton Dunkin’ Donuts.

There’s a nice rest area at the Vermont/New York border in Fair Haven that I haven’t stopped at in years because there are also two convenience stores with clean, plentiful restrooms, good coffee and cheap gas practically within spitting distance.

Why shouldn’t we encourage people to get off at Randolph and visit the convenience store or the McDonald’s rather than the taxpayer-funded rest area?

Would we miss out on the tourism angle? All those maps and fliers for B&Bs and Ben & Jerry’s? Why can’t there be some sort of public-private partnership by which the convenience store displays those?

Is it true, as one traveler told the Associated Press, that “Nothing’s worse than seeing somebody on the side of the highway, going to the bathroom"? I pulled a pop quiz on my husband at the breakfast table this morning. Fill in the blank, I said, Nothing's worse than ... ?

He'd just gotten back from visiting his father, who just had quadruple bypass surgery (he's doing well), and his mother, who is sitting home without electricity from last week's ice storm (she's not doing so well). So his first answer was not "seeing somebody on the side of the highway, going to the bathroom."

- Terri Hallenbeck

Didn't Howard Dean get some guff for proposing to close a rest stop on I-89 that is home to a Vietnam Memorial?

Isn't that same rest stop on the chopping block this time too?

Why aren't the same vet groups giving Douglas guff?
nope, Dean proposed closing the Randolph rest areas, not the Sharon areas. You may be confusing the very heated debate about where to construct the new (then) Sharon northbound rest area, which Dean suggested moving to the intersection of 89 and 91 so it could be used by drivers on both interstates. The Vets wanted to build the "new" rest area where the "old" Sharon rest area was, as that mileage marker is the same # as the number of VTers that lost their lives in Vietnam.

I do not think closing the new, multi-million dollar Sharon northbound rest area - which is home to the Vietnam Vets memorial - has ever been suggested, by either the former or present Governor.
According to the AP article:

"the state announced plans Monday to close Interstate 89 rest areas in Highgate, Sharon and Randolph."
Evidently, it's different when doogie does it.
Read the articles, folks. The state has proposed to close FOUR rest areas. The first being I-91 in Hartford , the second on I-89 in Highgate, the third one of the Randolph areas (I think the southbound one), and the final one being Sharon southbound (the old-style one across the interstate from the big new one).

Nobody has said anything about closing the new $10m (fed $$) Sharon northbound. The thinking being that folks coming up 89 from NH can stop at Sharon northbound and use facilities there, but not much reason to have another one just 15 miles or so up the road at Randolph northbound. Similarly, folks traveling south on 89 can - instead of Sharon southbound - use the Randolph southbound rest area.

Every Vermonter knows that we have six rest areas in about a 30 mile stretch . . . 2 in Randolph, 2 in Sharon, 2 in Hartford. The proposal is to close 3 of those 6, and one of the Highgate areas.

pardon me, typo . . . the northbound Sharon area would be kept open (the palace!), while Randolph NORTHBOUND would be closed. my mistake.
Actually, the worst thing is watching doogie take a leak on the metaphorical leg of Vermont, tell us it's raining, tell us that it's not raining hard enough to dip into the rainy day fund and refuse to shoulder and of the burden or bear any of the responsibility when he's the one responsible for the doogie deluge in the first place.
No matter how much you keep repeating that nonsense, Douglas is not responsible for the recession -- nationally or in Vermont.
If they close the rest areas where would jw meet his new friends?
bubba said...

"If they close the rest areas where would jw meet his new friends?"

Just what is it you're tryin' to say here, bubbakis?

Spit it out. Don't be shy.

Always a pleasure.
medtronic said...

"No matter how much you keep repeating that nonsense, Douglas is not responsible for the recession -- nationally or in Vermont."

Nice try, med-fly, but no matter how many times you keep spewin' that slop, I never said your boy was responsible for the national recession.

I said he is responsible for runnin' Vermont into the ground for six years, advocating and/or implementing the brain-dead policies of those who have squandered the surplus and made the recession worse and for mismanagin' things in Vermont for six years like his boy did for eight.

Big difference, little fella.

Always a pleasure.
No, you have said he's responsible for the current economic situation.

You can't have it both ways. You're a liar, a hypocrite, and the lowest form of dishonest political hack.

Little fella.
Anonymous ....

"No, you have said he's responsible for the current economic situation."

I did, eh? Then I'm sure you'll have no problem proving it, little factually-challenged fella.

Prove away. In other words, ya got bupkis. I'm shocked.

To the contrary, as I've said on numerous occasions, Doogie's responsible for taking the comparatively healthy Vermont Howard Dean handed him six years ago, dropping it and having his driver run it over with his state-owned SUV a couple thousand times.

Just like his boy, shrub, did with the country Bill Clinton handed him.

But, in fairness to doogie, at least he was actually elected before he did it.

You can't have it both ways, little fella.

If you can't make your case, and clearly, you can't, you're a liar, a hypocrite, and the lowest form of dishonest political hack.

Thanks for clearin' that up.

Always a pleasure.
It is unfair to leave the burden of providing clean restrooms on the individual businesses nearby. In Randolph, the Mobil station and the McDonald's will be full of people going and probably with the current economic situation, will be unable to buy anything which means the businesses would lose. I think that if their septics fail, they should sue the state of Vermont. It should not be left to the individual businesses to provde places for people to go!
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