Dr. Alan Betts, Pittsford, Vt.

Watch video at bit.ly/0924AlanBetts

Dr. Alan Betts, of Atmospheric Research in Pittsford, affirms after hearing teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speak at the United Nations and just days after the protest organization Extinction Rebellion with 100,000 followers shut down busy thoroughfare Sunset Boulevard  in Hollywood, California, that fossil fuel developers and the governments that support them must become more accountable for the rapid destruction of the biosphere in which all sentient life on Earth dwells. Betts unequivocally says “Climate change and the extinction of species has become an existential crisis for humanity, the first one on a a grand scale, on a global scale, which we have to deal with even though there is a huge vested interest in trying to protect business as usual.”

Interview, camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: Dogs’ day at White’s

September 8, 2019. Dogs are welcomed at White’s Pool in Rutland, Vt., for an afternoon of swimming, diving, fetching, running and socializing to benefit Rutland County Humane Society.

Amelia Stamp, Rutland

August 8, 2019

Heidi Crane, Mendon

Ed Porter, Rutland

Mara Schiff, Rutland

Katie Feeney, Rutland

George Feeney, Johnson

Mark Schiff, Rutland

Camera and production by RH Alcott

Allie Wilkinson, New York City

August 27, 2019

Visit bit.ly/0827AllieWilkinson to see and hear Allie tell the story in her own words.

Allie Wilkinson, of New York City, was artist-in-residence with 77ART during August 2019 in Rutland, Vermont. “It’s a really satisfying feeling when I get something that I wanted to capture. I plot things out small, and once I execute them on the large scale that I work at, it’s just really cool to see the final product and almost feel that I’ve created this being that now exists out in the world that’s, like, life-sized and can inhabit any space.”

Camera and production by RH Alcott

Street Talk: Walking to stop Alzheimer’s


Christina Hardman, Pittsford

RH: Tell me what’s going on here this morning.

CH: We’re getting together to support (the fight to stop) Alzheimer’s disease and walking for a cure. So we have a lot of local businesses coming together to support the Alzheimer’s association in the walk.

RH: So when you’re not here, what’s your involvement with Alzheimer’s disease? 

CH: I work for BAYADA hospice, and I’m the psycho-social manage, so I work with the social workers and spiritual counselors. We support a lot of clients who are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and the end of life. Our goal is, really, to bring them joy and the end of their life, and that might be through music or through animals.

RH: I see you’ve got a couple of animals here. 

CH: I have my dogs Lucy and Brooke. Lucy’s done a couple of Alzheimer’s walks. This is Brooke’s first, so it’s a whole family event we all come together to support the Alzheimer’s Association. 

RH: From here, where does the walk go?

CH: It usually goes down to Merchant’s Row and then all the way around the big block to the gas station, Stewart’s, at the end, then all the way back.

RH: That’s a long walk!

CH: It’s a pretty long walk. That’s why you need a couple of dogs to support you. 

RH: I’ll bet they appreciate the exercise. Thank you, Christina.

Heather Ruelke, Center Rutland

RH: Heather, I see you at the library for years. How long have you been at the library?

HR: Nineteen years.

RH: Nineteen years! You know there are other jobs — well, that’s a great job, a good job over there.

HR (laughing): Yeah, I love it. I wouldn’t want to give it up. 

RH: Tell me what you’re doing out here this morning. What’s going on?

HR: I’m a longtime friend of Jeannie and Mike Stimpfel, and she is one of the organizers of this event, and she asked me last year to come and take photos for her because I kind of am an amateur photographer, just do it for my own enjoyment. And I couldn’t because I was working. But she remembered to ask me in advance, so this year I took the day off and I’m here to just get as many photos as I can of what’s going on. It’s amazing. There’s apparently teams, and there’s all kind of — there’s tents and everything. I can’t believe it, it’s amazing here. 

RH: About how many people would you estimate are out here and it hasn’t even started yet?

HR: Oh, my God, there’s got to be, what, 50? 75 people at least?

RH: I think 100.

HR: Yeah! A lot!

Amy Larson, Rutland

We think it’s a really good cause. My mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s. She’s passed away, so it’s important to my husband that we’re here today, and me. We’re going to walk, hopefully, the whole way. 

RH: That’s more than a mile, I think.

AL: I think it’s 2 miles, I believe. I wasn’t here last year. My husband was. I couldn’t be here, but if it’s the same route, we’ll be going down to Stewart’s and then up North Main Street, I believe, yeah, so we’re looking forward to it. And it’s a nice day!

RH: It’s a beautiful day!

Jeannie Stimpfel, Clarendon

Today is Saturday, the 7th of September, and we’re in Main Street Park for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and this is one of the main events of the Alzheimer’s Association for raising money. There’s over 600 walks across the nation, and we’re fortunate to have ours right here in Rutland, Vermont. 

RH: Do we foresee an end to Alzheimer’s any time soon?

JS: We’re waiting for that day, and if you stick around you might see something special today. We have different flowers in different colors that represent orange for someone who just supports the Alzheimer’s Association. And then there’s blue — blue means that person has Alzheimer’s. And then the purple is for someone who has lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s. Yellow is a caregiver or a care partner, and you’ll find that today — actually it started last year — there’s a white flower. And that is hope, and that is for our first survivor. The National Institute of Health has really stepped up thanks to advocacy the Alzheimer’s Association does. There’s also another group, called AIM, that advocates. They can go to Washingon and go to the hill and talk to senators and congressmen. They can go to Montpelier and talk to our representatives there, plugging away to get money, to get funds. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and because Vermont is an aging-population state, we do have a higher percentage per capita just because of the graying of our state, however, that’s one of the reasons Vermont has an Alzheimer’s Association office because they know that they need to be here. We also know there’s 13,000 people in the state of Vermont with Alzheimer’s.

RH: You don’t have to be aged to get Alzheimer’s.

JS: No. There’s different levels — early onset can be anyone 60 and younger. It’s not a disease, unfortunately, that just for a certain population. There are folks that are as young as 30 who have had it. My sister was diagnosed in her mid 60s. It spans all ages, but we’re fighting every day to get a cure, and the research and care is what the Alzheimer’s Association is all about.

RH: Well, thank you very much for all the work that you do. And let me ask you a question — do you think that this music hammering away at my eardrums is going to trigger any dementias of my own? 

JS: No, I don’t think so! And I have a feeling we rocked it out back in the day.

RH: Yeah, you’re right. The damage is done. 

JS: Whatever’s good for your heart is good for your brain — walk, stay engaged. You can visit alz.org the website where there’s a plethora of information. There’s a 24/7/365  number, 800 272-3900, that people can call, and you’ll talk with a master social worker. 

Ed Larson, Rutland

This is my third year coming to the walk for Alzheimer’s. My mother had dementia and Alzheimer’s, and passed away from it, and other members of the family, too. It’s on my wife’s side of the family, too, Amy, and one of the reasons we come is in memory of them, and hopefully one day soon there will be a first survivor of Alzheimer’s and that’s what it’s all about for us every year. This is a deep issue for us. It touches us all every year. We wouldn’t miss this. It’s important. Actually, I carry the purple flower for my mother, and I’ve got a selection of them that I put in my  vegetable garden every year just to remember because she liked the vegetable garden so much. It’s humble, but it’s important. And that’s what this is all about.

Ray Fish, Rutland

I came out this morning to recognize this terrible disease that people suffer. Hopefully, someday they’ll find a cure for it, and that’s why I’m here to donate and also to participate and to remember, not only today but every day of the year.

Interviews and photos by RH Alcott

Back in the saddle

First Central Vermont Horse Festival, Rutland Fairgrounds, Aug.31 to Sept. 2, 2019

Casey Bellerose, N. Ferrisburg

August 31, 2019

Rutland Herald: Tell me about Piper. You’ve had her since she was three.

Casey Bellerose: Yes, since she was 3 years old. She’s nine now. I got her as she was, just a trail horse, and I’ve brought her up to now being a show horse. We do on average at least 20 shows every summer. Every weekend is pretty much spent showing through the summer. We travel to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont now. I’ve done a show in Maine. So basically all over New England. 

RH: She was totally responsive to everything you were doing. When you stepped up, she stepped up. She didn’t even have to think about it.

CB: We’re pretty much in synch. 

RH: What was that category called? 

CB: That was a hunt horse and hand.

RH: And you won first place.

CB: Yes. We take a lot of blue ribbons home usually. I’m going to be here all day (Saturday). I’ll be going to Champlain Valley tomorrow.  Most of my weekends is shows, whether it’s an all-weekend show, which usually will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes it’s just one-weekend shows, sometimes it’s like this when I show in one spot, travel to the next spot for the next day. 

Lindsay Markowski, Sudbury

August 31, 2019

Lindsay Markowski: I’m set up here for my Magna Wave Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy business. PEMF is the use of pulsed electro-magnetic field, and what it’s doing when you use it on a horse or human, or small animal is that it’ll go through, find areas that are sensitive and then open up those areas to promote healthy blood flow or oxygen so an area can heal.

RH: Sounds complicated! So with electricity, you open people up.

LM: Yes. Make them feel better.

RH: Tell me about your horse.

LM: His name is Spanish Evade. My family bought him in Nebraska when he was a year old. When he was three, he started showing. He won a lot of classes on the quarter-horse circuit. He earned his register of merit for three classes, and then eight years ago, he won two world-championship titles. He has sired horses that have qualified for the American Quarter Horse Association World Show, which is held in Oklahoma City. He has a lot of successful foals with a limited foal crop. 

RH: Does he like to show?

LM: He does like to show, but he like to be retired, too.

Julia Adams, Shrewsbury

August 31, 2019

Julia Adams: We’re here at the Central Vermont Horse Festival. This is the first show that we’ve had of this kind since the fair. I’ll be judging the trail classes of the horse show over here in the infield later on once the in-hand classes get done. 

RH: As a judge, what do you look for?

JA: So in the trail classes that I’m specifically judging today, we’re looking for horses and riders to maneuver through different obstacles that they might find out of the trail. Some of them, or most of them, are now man-made items that are out there, so they need to be able to weave through cones, cross a bridge, be able to pick up items, dismount, ground-tie your horse — so there’s a bunch of different maneuvers they have to do in a pattern.

RH: This was the halter class, and some of the horses are more responsive to their handlers than others, and I guess that’s what you look for. And you were talking about conformation in this class.

JA: Yes. So halter classes are judged not so much on manners, but on conformation of the horse themselves and what they’re built for. This class that’s in the arena right now are ranch class, so you’re looking for a horse that has some body and some substance that’s pretty stocky, has a good build and looks like it has good stamina to go out and work on a ranch or on a farm most of the day so they can go out and work cows, you know, herding, cutting, that kind of thing. 

Hailey Hults, Benson

August 31, 2019
August 31, 2019

Harley Stocker, Castleton

August 31, 2019
August 31, 2019

Candee Flanders, Mount Holly

September 1, 2019

RH: Candee, tell me something about your horses. You’ve keep horses for six years. What have you learned about the nature of horses in relationship to people?

Candee Flanders: They are absolutely therapeutic. They are an amazing animal — they give you confidence, they teach you responsibility, they teach you empathy. They just regulate and teach you all kinds of stuff. … They are just calming, so they really allow you to get to the core of yourself. That’s how I experience them. I like to take care of them. I don’t ride like my daughter does, so she does more of the riding and I take physical care of them.

RH: When you say that they’re calming, physically how do they do that?

CF: They know when you’re sad and when you’re upset. My personal horse will come up to me and just nudge me, and he won’t leave me alone if I’m having a bad day.

Jacky Marston, Castleton

September 1, 2019

RH: Jacky, tell me how all this came together this summer.

Jacky Marston: Andrea Hathaway Miglorie, really, it was her brainchild, she and some other people had been thinking we ought to do something with the fair for quite awhile. The (previous) horse facilities had really declined. She’s on the Rutland Agricultural Society board, and, basically, by cajoling people and networking with her horse friends and some other people got some energy together. I think it was Monday nights, Thursday nights were  were volunteer nights to take the barns apart and then eventually put it back together. I think the teardown was actually worse than putting it back together. She got the Rutland Vo-Tech kids to built that announcer’s booth there. She got Markowski Excavating and Miglorie Excavating — had a lot to do with this new ring. This is all new, this ring. 

Interviews and production by RH Alcott