DERBY – Two well-known residents are hoping voters will send them to the state house.
Incumbent Lynn Batchelor of Derby Line is seeking her second term. Meanwhile, Loren Shaw, after a four-year hiatus, wants to return to his seat. Batchelor and Shaw, both Republicans, are running unopposed.
Batchelor called serving the people an honor and enjoys being at the statehouse. She serves on the Human Services Committee, which works closely with hospice care, the Department of Children and Families and the Area Agency on Aging.
The largest challenge lawmakers recently faced was deciding on the number of beds the new state hospital will have.
Lawmakers also extended hospice care from six months to 12 months and lowered the age donors can give blood from 17 to 16.
Batchelor, who worked in the healthcare industry with physicians for many years, is not a big fan of the new healthcare reform act, does not see how it is going to work, and is concerned about the unknown cost. Batchelor is worried that some doctors will stop taking Medicare patients if the payments are too small.
Regarding wind turbines, it is not worth it to permanently destroy ridgelines that are centuries old, Batchelor said. From what she understands, the wind developers are the only ones who will truly reap the benefits. Batchelor does not think the government should be able to determine what someone who is a private landowner can do with his or her land, but the person has to consider the people around them.
Batchelor said the state should keep Vermont Yankee open and someone should build a new plant next door to the existing one. Nuclear is a viable way to go and there have been no real accidents, Batchelor said.
“You can’t say [look at] Japan, because we’re not going to have a tsunami,” Batchelor said. “It wasn’t the plant that failed, it was the fact the power failed to the plant and that’s what made it explode.”
Entergy, which owns Vermont Yankee, might not have been up front with Vermont, Batchelor said.
Batchelor favors building up broadband and cellular services. She would also like to make the state a better place for everyone, which includes bringing in jobs. Batchelor doesn’t like the idea of outsourcing jobs and favors having a Wal-Mart type store in the region.
Batchelor is delighted Shaw is running alongside her.
“I think we’ll make a good team,” she said. “I think we’ll do our very best to represent Orleans-1.”
When not at the state house, Batchelor is a program services clerk at the Northern State Correctional Facility. She lives in Derby Line with her husband David. The couple has three grown sons and two grandchildren.
Shaw, who served the people of Orleans-1 for eight years, stepped down for personal reasons in 2008. Gov. Jim Douglas appointed Bob Lewis of Derby as Shaw’s replacement. Last week, Lewis announced he would be running for state senate, leaving his seat wide open for someone to fill. So far, Shaw is the one person who has filed paperwork.
In a recent interview, Shaw said he felt he did a good job in Montpelier and represented his constituents well. For two years, he served as the clerk of the Fish and Wildlife Committee and later he served as committee vice-chair. Shaw also served on the General Housing and Military Affairs Committee for four years.
“I’m going back down there with a lot more wisdom than I had when I left,” he said. “I don’t think the way I used to think. I’ve always been a pretty good business person. Things were really good until the economy started to go south.”
Shaw, who owned several area businesses including the former Parkside Family Restaurant, said state labor laws forced him to pay someone more than he thought the person should have gotten. At the same time, fuel costs significantly increased and fees increased.
Shaw doesn’t make any promises but said he will try his best and “stand his stand” and represent Northeast Kingdom residents.
Hydropower is less expensive than wind power, said Shaw. Green credits, like those sold to the highest bidder, bother him. Shaw, who served on the water resources committee, is well aware of who is dumping mercury.
Shaw favors Vermont Yankee as long as the federal government continues to inspect it. The plant never ran at 100 percent and Shaw does not favor it running at 100 percent.
Shaw favors expansion of cellular phone and broadband services. He would also like to see every state agency undergo an audit every three years. Shaw suggested the state not fill some positions once the person retires.
“How can you run a business not knowing the unknowns,” answered Shaw, when asked his opinion on healthcare reform. Shaw also expressed concerned about a lack of competition. “If you’re the only gas station in town, chances are people are going to pay a good price.”
Shaw knows firsthand on the need for social programs. He and his wife, Elaine Shaw, have taken care of foster children and developmentally challenged adults. Shaw has also worked in the prison system.
Shaw has lived in Derby for 32 years. He is the father of eight adult children and grandfather to 19 grandchildren. He has four great-grandchildren. The Shaws previously lived in Charleston and ran the West Charleston Store. Later\, they also owned the Newport Car Wash and the former Sam’s Laundry Mat. Shaw is also a licensed pilot. He works at the Spirit of Vermont Real Estate in Newport Center.