Chester's Mill - Editorial Archive

To ski, or not to ski: That is the question
Published: November 4th, 2008
Author: Julia Shumway

It's that time of year again when temperatures drop, the snow flies and people turn their time and attention to the fun of winter recreation.

Cloud Top is scheduled to open the north side ski lift this coming weekend with the best snow pack they've seen in 3 years. But, don't get excited by that just yet. "Best snow pack" is somewhat misleading. What that means for our little mountain is there are fewer patches of bare ground peeking through the snow this year than last. With just a little bit more of the white stuff to work with, resort workers will be able to groom the north run by doing a snow "comb over" of these dirt spots. The south side, unfortunately, is completely bald, with only frost skiffs and frozen mud puddles.

This is a make or break year for our small but charming ski run. With rising operational costs, unfortunate weather patterns and the opening of premiere ski resorts just a day's drive away, Cloud Top's season pass sales and tourism numbers have dropped dramatically over the past year.

Chester's Mill, being the small community that we are, cannot compete with the deep pockets currently investing in ski villages that provide 5 star amenities within walking distance of a ski lift.

While I don't think throwing good money after bad is the right thing to do, Cloud Top is an integral part of the Chester's Mill economy and the money it brings in is vital to the continued health of our small town. Perhaps it's time to give Mother Nature a hand and hire a snow-making machine to enhance and groom the slopes. Although these machines are costly, I believe they will pay for themselves with the revenue they bring in from the skier spillover that is bound to happen when vacationers cannot book rooms at our competitors but are still craving that rush of downhill skiing and snowboarding.

While these elite ski resorts offer just a little more than Cloud Top, our community offers a charm and simplicity that many people crave when seeking a vacation destiny. Good food, quaint shops, local entertainment, less crowds and affordable prices - sounds like heaven to me.

If we can keep Cloud Top open and operational for the season and weather the storm (or lack of one), I believe the people will tire of the carnival-like atmosphere at these new resorts and head for the pristine beauty of Cloud Top. I heard it said somewhere, "If you build it, they will come." I think it's pretty clear; we need to start building so there's something to come back to, right?

Something Stinked This Way Comes
Published: March 1st, 2008
Author: Julia Shumway

Listen closely Chester's Mill. Do you hear that? If you can't now, you will soon because that's your hard-earned coin banging through our town's decaying sewer system.

As each month passes, the real possibility of the city's sewer lines collapsing increases. Raw sewage will have nowhere to go but to back-up into the homes of our friends and family, businesses, schools and fellow townspeople.

I don't know about you, but my home is off-limits to indiscriminate dumping, as well as those pesky little diseases human waste carries: Dysentery, hepatitis, Giardia, Cholera and Typhoid Fever just to name a few.

We are inviting these unhygienic conditions into our homes with open arms because we are dragging our feet on simple repairs. If a toilet flushes somewhere in town and there is no sanitary line for its contents to reach our dilapidated Water Treatment Plant because there has been a breach in the line, well, say hello to your new little friends floating in your basements, seeping into your foundations and wicking up your walls.

This waste will also soak into our soil and waterways, polluting once again, our lakes and rivers that we continue to work so hard to clean up after the factories shut-down along their banks.

To sit back and wait for this disaster instead of repairing the weak lines now will cost the town tenfold as we will have no choices left to us then. The whole underground system will have to be replaced including the treatment plant. Don't forget to tack on the cost of repairs to homes and businesses once lawsuits hit the courts. There will also be hospital and doctor bills the city will be expected to pay when (not if) our citizens become ill.

Despite already sinking vast amounts of money into the maintenance of this infrastructure, the people of Chester's Mill have yet to see any solid improvements. Money has gone out for the very expensive exploratory crew who took to the streets in areas determined "at risk" to snake cameras into the sewer system. Their findings? We're in deep doo doo. Now, that was the expertise we were all paying for. Thanks for telling us what we already knew.

Our allocated monies were also used to mail slick brochures and pamphlets to each household and business with helpful tips on how to ease the stress on our weakening lines. Number one being: Don't flush items that could cause clogs and add pressure e.g., tampons, condoms, paper towels. Also stressed in bold print was the old adage, "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." The handouts offered good suggestions, but the real point is, even though all of these tips were relevant and helpful, they are only a band-aid.

The consultant hired on behalf of the town by Selectman Rennie evaluated our precarious situation and recommended a total overhaul of not only sewage lines, but the relocation, development and construction of a completely new and modernized treatment plant. At the last town meeting, Selectman Rennie offered land he owns for the new and improved facility at a reduced price to the town.

Although I appreciate the consultant's expertise and Selectman Rennie's generous offer, an independent study (also paid for with the allocated and dwindling funds) showed that our old plant could be rejuvenated and made efficient for our town's needs for many years to come.

A sewage crisis looms in our future my friends. Open your pocketbooks now so you won't be in over your heads later.

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