This past Sunday I was driving home from my weekend job at the mountain when I saw black smoke hanging over Route 100 in Waitsfield. At the base of the smoke I saw a warehouse in flames and several pickup trucks and a few sedans on the side of the road. There was a blazing fire and the vehicles belonged to the volunteer firefighters who were on scene working to contain the flames. A little further down the road I watched 82-year-old Waitsfield Select Board chair Paul Hartshorn (clad in an extra 25 pounds of firefighting gear), manually opening the fire hydrant to fill the water truck. Firefighters and EMS personnel remained on scene for over seven hours.

I wondered what the volunteers had given up in order to respond and what it was about their character that inspired them to sign up, attend trainings and then show up at dangerous situations, undoubtedly at inconvenient times. But then I figured, well, they’re Vermonters. It’s what they do.

I appreciatively think of Vermont culture as no-frills austerity meets unquestionable independence, ownership and responsibility. There is something in the lack of population that requires this.

Many of us not from here are here because of this culture, this responsibility to be engaged and feeling that participation matters. The high-quality elementary schools, trails, clean air and bucolic views don’t hurt either.

I often hear how connected the people who are connected feel that this community is. I usually point out that it’s limited to specific socio-economic silos and certainly does not extend to all. But in these emergency situations, even the strongest naysayer has to recognize this community is incredibly capable of providing its own solutions.


Unfortunately, the school board has left the community solutions out of their process. In fact, the community is not considered at all. Barely a majority of the board has pushed its agenda of closing schools and terminating teachers for the goal of cost containment alone. Those of us that have been paying attention have witnessed the underhanded tactics that have been involved in this takeover, the shortsightedness of the plan and the general manipulation of forcing this move to require the passing of the bond.

It’s time for all of us to pay attention. Please go to for clarity.

We are faced with constant chaos that is unfolding on the national stage and it is near impossible to have influence there. But in just one moment here in this district you can be heard.

Let’s go into Town Meeting on March 3 and take our community back. Vote down the school budget as a statement about their myopic process and divisive leadership of our schools.

The members of this community are the experts on what it needs and what it wants. Keeping them out of the process is a slight to democracy.

Baruzzi lives in Fayston, Vermont.