Congressman Welch hears local concerns

MANCHESTER - "It's a good day for Manchester," said Vermont Congressman Peter Welch to a full room of people at Garden Arts on Depot Street. A few dozen people turned up to hear Welch speak about Manchester and the recent results of the 20/20 Vision Project.

The room was originally set up with sandwiches and drinks at the back of the room, all provided by and available at the Fresh Market store, and a seat for Welch at the front of the room. However, a few minutes into Welch's suggestion of each participant in the room introducing themselves, he had organized the chairs into a circle around the room.

Welch commended the town of Manchester for their ability to work together to complete the roundabout project, and to continue to strive to improve the town with the 20/20 Vision Project.

"You can make progress if you're willing to be disciplined," Welch said, including both Manchester's ability to work together as well as his own work in Congress.

Welch made more ties between his work in the U.S. Government and working in a small town such as Manchester, mostly focusing on an ability to work together to reach a common goal if only in the right mindset.

Welch took the last 20 minutes of his visit for questions from the audience, including Joe Wagner, the outgoing president of the Chamber of Commerce, who spoke about Manchester's sense of community and how it related to issues Welch himself has faced in Congress.

Burr and Burton Academy Headmaster Mark Tashjian asked Welch questions on the topic of independent schools, school choice, and their voucher program. Welch responded by saying that he believes there are certain things that the government should have a hand in and some things that they shouldn't.

"I don't have any problem with states trying to figure [parent's school choice] out," Welch said. "I do have some reservations about a one-size-fits-all policy... I'm inclined to think that this is something that should be worked out a local level."

Congressman Welch also talked a bit about the amount of small businesses in Manchester and how they are affected by the bills passing through Congress and the House currently, including the healthcare bill. He made mention of the recently rejected Farm Bill and how it may impact local farmers all the way up to how students will be receiving lunches.

At 1 p.m. he had to depart for other meetings, but took a few minutes before he left to speak with some attendees additionally. Booklets on the Community Visit Report and Action Plan were available to take on the way out. A story on the results and actions will follow in the coming week.


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