November 24, 2014

Williston

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By Mal Boright
Correspondent

Despite some differences in their views, Williston’s three members of the Vermont General Assembly are optimistic that the 2005 legislative session will bring some progress toward solving some of the problems in the state’s health care system.

Three separate plans from the House, Senate and Gov. Jim Douglas are currently in various stages of deliberation as the session enters its final weeks. The House has passed a framework for eventual public financing for all Vermonters while the Senate is working on incremental steps at cost cutting and access for the uninsured.

Douglas’ plan, made public late last week, would subsidize care for uninsured Vermonters.

Rep. Jim McCullough, who supports the House plan, believes, “something will come out of the session and go to the Governor’s desk. Everyone is committed to that.”

He sees a scenario in which the House and Senate plans will be taken up by a conference committee of members of both bodies with the result an acceptable bill.

McCullough firmly believes that the legislature needs some kind of progress this year and points to the out-of-control cost inflation in health care.

“Our system is a pieced together process that is not really organized,” he said. “Part of the reason for the spiraling costs is that there is really no system. People are falling between the cracks.”

McCullough added that “universal access to health care will be the answer,” and that the house bill will start the process of reorganization in preparation for a new, more comprehensive program. Funding of that program, probably public, is yet to be worked out.

Opposing the House bill was Rep. Mary Peterson.

“I thought it was too aggressive a plan,” she told the Observer over the weekend. “There are a lot of problems that need to be studied before we have that kind of payer (public funding) system.”

Peterson said she wants more immediate emphasis on “driving down the costs,” through paperwork reductions and other strategies.

She also believes that there will be some action taken by the legislature before it adjourns for the year.

“Really, everybody agrees that we need measures to save costs such as a single form,” she said. “But I don’t see any new tax being implemented this year. I’ll be happy just to make progress on the cost side.”

Peterson, whose husband is an orthodontist, and McCullough have differing experiences with small business people and their reactions to the House bill which, if ever implemented, would relieve business firms of medical insurance costs for employees.

McCullough, a longtime small business owner, says that small business people are making it known in Montpelier that the health care issue needs to be addressed now and there is support for the House plan.

Peterson says that while she has heard about this support, the small business people who have talked with her generally oppose the house bill.

Sen. Ginny Lyons, a member of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, has been in the middle of the action on the Senate side where legislation was finished in her committee Friday and sent to the Finance Committee.

She said the bill as presently constituted includes measures for cost containment and provides insurance packages for those without health insurance.

“The cost containment includes a prescription drug benefit, a hospital budget proposal, better integration of health systems and chronic disease initiatives,” she said.

Lyons admitted that “funding is the hard part.”

The Senate legislation calls for a 3 percent payroll tax on uninsured employees and a 3 percent tax on businesses who do not offer insurance to employees.

While Lyons admits there is still a long way to go to get diverse ideologies and opinions reading from the same book, she believes a movement toward consensus is underway.

“The Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont School Boards Association and many others are all working hard on this,” she said, adding that the Vermont League of Cities and Towns is calling for universal coverage.

Lyons also believes that there will be some legislative accomplishments by the end of the session which is but a few weeks away,

“We will have some long range goals set,” she forecast, “and we will have some initial cost containment pieces in place.”

[Read more...]

Williston man charged with molesting girl, 10

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Police allege relationship lasted two to three years

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

A Williston man faces life imprisonment after being charged with having a long-term sexual relationship with the young daughter of a friend.

Mark Hulett, 34, was arraigned Tuesday on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. Both assault charges carry potential life sentences.

Hulett pleaded innocent to the charges. He is being held without bail at Chittenden Correctional Facility.

According to court documents, Hulett made a full confession to officers with the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations on Monday. Hulett, who was interviewed in an unmarked car at Taft Corners Mobil gas station at approximately 11 p.m., admitted to having sexual contact with the girl, who is now 10 years old, multiple times over the past two to three years, court records say. Hulett said the last time he and the young girl had had sex was in April.

Hulett is a friend of the young girl’s parents and often stayed over at their house. The girl’s father told police that they frequently found Hulett sleeping in the same bed with the girl in the morning. The parents also told police that Hulett often babysat the girl and was in the house alone with her.

In an affidavit, Detective Sgt. Bruce Bovat, director of CUSI, said he had told the girl’s father how upset he would have been to find a man sleeping in the same bed with his daughter. The father responded that he had thought she could handle it.

The Observer is withholding the names of the parents to protect the identity of the girl.

The girl never disclosed any inappropriate touching with police when she was interviewed. However, she did confide in a cousin that she was having a sexual relationship with Hulett, court documents say. She also told the cousin that she loves Hulett and did not want to see him get in trouble, pleading with the cousin not to tell anyone, according to the court records.

During his interview, Bovat asked Hulett what he would say to the young girl.

“I’m very sorry and it will never happen again,” he told Bovat, according the court documents. “I’m sorry if I led you to think something that wasn’t real.”

Police are investigating allegations that another man sexually assaulting the girl. In 2003, CUSI investigated a sexual abuse case involving the girl, Hulett and the other man, but no probable cause was found to arrest either man.

[Read more...]

Village restaurant approved by town

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Old Brick Café to open next year

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

The rush on new restaurants in Williston over the past couple of years has bypassed the village. That apparently is about to change.

The Development Review Board last week approved plans for the restaurant called the Old Brick Café. The restaurant is scheduled to open January in a two-story historic home on Williston Road across from Town Hall.

The owner, Williston resident David Herskowitz, plans to initially serve breakfast and lunch. He has yet to decide on the menu, though he vows it differ from the offerings of chain restaurants clustered around Taft Corners. The cook he hires will help determine what will be served.

"We’re still waiting to hire a food person," he said. "We’ll decide then what’s on the menu and what’s reasonable." He is also considering bread and other items baked on the premises.

Herskowitz said he will spend between $180,000 and $200,000 renovating the 160-year-old home. Workers have already cleared trees from the back of the building to make room for parking and demolished the ell that linked a small barn to the house. The project has won federal approval as an historic renovation, making Herskowitz eligible for tax credits.

The bulk of the renovations will take place in the rear of the building. A patio and a new entrance will be built. A reconstructed ell will house the kitchen.

He plans to make only minor changes to the building’s interior to adapt is for a restaurant, moving a couple of walls and constructing new bathrooms.

In approving the eatery, the Development Review Board placed a handful of restrictions on its operation. The restaurant can be open only for breakfast and lunch, said Williston zoning administrator Scott Gustin. As part of the approval, Herskowitz was required to place landscaping on the side of the house to shield the parking lot from adjacent buildings.

The front of the home, which dates back to 1842 and contains just over 1,000 square feet of space, will remain unchanged except for a fresh coat of paint. The restaurant will seat 50 diners inside and 15 on the outdoors patio.

Parking is tight at the site, with room for just 17 cars. Herskowitz was granted an easement that allows cars to use the town-owned lot near Williston Central School and Community Park.

Herskowitz still needs to obtain a sewer allocation before he can open the restaurant. There is sewer capacity available for such commercial uses, said Public Works Director Neil Boyden.

Herskowitz is new to the restaurant business. But he does have experience with historic renovations. He owns a renovated youth hostel in Philadelphia’s historic district.

The village has been without a restaurant since Bread & Beyond closed in 2001. Since then, many village residents have hoped for a replacement that would give them someplace to eat closer than Taft Corners.

Williston has added numerous restaurants over the past three years, all clustered around Taft Corners. Most of them have been franchise operations, including Chili’s Grill & Bar, 99 Restaurant and Ponderosa Steakhouse. Locally owned eateries have also opened, among them Belle’s Café and Nicco’s Cuchino.

If business is good at the Old Brick Café, Herskowitz said he would consider expanding its hours and serving dinner. Gustin said the café would need approval to amend the existing permit to increase its hours of operation.

"If things go really well, our goal two or three years down the line is to serve dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Herskowitz said.

[Read more...]

Town scrambles to void unintended ban on landfills, recycling

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Snafu forces public hearing on zoning revisions

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

An apparent bureaucratic snafu eliminated a proposed landfill as an acceptable use in the agricultural/rural residential zoning district, but town officials are moving to correct the mistake.

Williston Town Planner Lee Nellis said the “C” that would indicate landfills and transfer stations are conditional uses in the district is missing from the town’s zoning table. Nellis said he initially wondered if the absence of the “C” was a typo, but he did not find any evidence that it was an accidental omission.

Therefore, the town will go through a public process of revising the table.

“It appears to have been an inadvertent thing and we’re just trying to correct it,” Nellis said. “We have to go through the process and make sure there are no questions about it. It’s just a formality — at least from the town’s point of view.”

Last week, the Selectboard agreed to schedule a public hearing on the proposed zoning changes. The hearing will be held Monday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. during a Selectboard meeting.

In addition to the missing “C” for landfills and transfer stations, there is no “C” alongside the line for recycling centers in the district.

The Chittenden Solid Waste District currently has a transfer station on Redmond Road that accepts recycling in the agricultural-rural district. Waste Systems International operates the facility. CSWD has plans to replace the transfer station with a landfill in the same vicinity sometime in 2008. In addition, Waste Systems International operates a recycling center for CSWD at the site.

The transfer station and recycling center are now characterized as non-conforming uses because of the apparently accidental change in the zoning table.

The Selectboard revised the town’s zoning ordinance early in 2004. The change to the zoning tables removing landfills, transfer stations and recycling centers as acceptable uses appears to have been made back then.

The town had little motivation to remove the operations as acceptable uses. The removal violates the town’s host town agreement with CSWD. The town receives compensation for the refuse deposited at the facilities.

Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs said he believes he remembers talking about the proposed landfill during the zoning ordinance discussions. He thought the Selectboard had included the landfill as a conditional use.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed changes on April 19. The hearing lasted from 7:31 p.m. to 7:32 p.m., according to minutes of the meeting. Only Richard Hamlin and Tony Barbagallo, a representative of Chittenden Solid Waste District, were in attendance. Both supported the change.

“It was a pretty sleepy event,” Nellis said.

Fehrs emphasized that his interest in changing the zoning regulations to allow for landfills and similar uses was not because a landfill was proposed for the district, but because it fits with the comprehensive town plan.

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Town hopes to salvage soon-to-be-demolished farm buildings

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By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

The abandoned buildings that rest conspicuously alongside U.S. Route 2 at Mahan Farm will be taken down in the next six months to make room for a new fire and rescue facility. However, a town official hopes the buildings can be removed rather than demolished.

Public Works Director Neil Boyden said he has begun to investigate whether someone might be interested in preserving the buildings, which include a house, one storage building, one barn and two silos.

Boyden said, in the past month, he has received two serious inquiries about the long red barn, including one informal offer for acquiring the building. Boyden said the barn might be the best candidate for restoration. He does not expect the silos, for instance, to draw much interest.

“We’re hoping to get some good proposals for removing at least the red barn,” Boyden said. “We think that definitely still has some value to it. We’d like for everything to be saved.”

Boyden said salvaging the buildings has some appeal from the standpoint of not wasting the structures. Preserving the buildings, which total 20,000 square feet, could also prove less expensive than demolition, Boyden said. The town has $90,000 budgeted for the removal of the structures — $25,000 for environmental clean up and $65,000 for demolition and removal.

Boyden said he hopes finding other uses for the buildings would cut into the costs, though he acknowledged: “There’s a whole lot to getting rid of buildings. It’s kind of new territory for myself and my staff.”

Second Harvest Antique Lumbers, a Jeffersonville business, plans to take a look at the buildings. John Wilson of Second Harvest said he had not yet seen the Mahan Farm facilities, but said complete restoration is the No. 1 goal of salvage operations.

“The goal is to be able to put it together just like it was,” said Wilson, who seemed particularly interested in the house. “Every piece can be saved sometimes.”

Wilson said even when an entire building cannot be put back together, different parts of buildings are often salvageable and useful. For instance, Wilson said Second Harvest occasionally sells floor planks to a California business that uses them for the construction of movie sets.

It is unclear whether the long red barn lends itself to the alternate uses — house, artist studio, restaurant — into which abandoned barns are occasionally transformed. It is metal and the newest of all of the structures on the site, so it does not carry the vintage cachet. Its most likely future use would be the same as its former and current uses — as a barn or storage building.

The Mahan Farm buildings are one of four sets of abandoned buildings close to U.S. Route 2 between Taft Corners and the village. Other boarded buildings are located at the Pecor farm, which is owned by Ray and Jeanie Pecor; the Goodrich farm, which is owned by the Snyder Companies; and the Chase property, which is owned by Al Senecal.

Boyden does not believe the barn and silos lend any rural charm to the drive into the village.

“It’s become a pretty good eyesore,” Boyden said. “It continues to deteriorate and get in worse shape. And there’s some liability with it, too.”

Boyden said some vandalism had occurred at the property over the years.

The town received the Mahan Farm property from the developers of Maple Tree Place. The property was tagged to serve as a wooded buffer between the development of Taft Corners and the village. The site of the buildings was deemed ideal for the new fire and rescue facility.

Boyden said he believes it will take between four and five weeks to prepare the site for construction of the fire and rescue building. Boyden said Town Manager Rick McGuire has given him a Nov. 1 deadline to have the site cleared for construction.

One challenge will be removing the items currently housed in the long red barn. The town, the Williston School District and the state Agency of Transportation each use the building for storage, and, at least in the town’s case, there is no obvious place to put its equipment.

Boyden said the town will discard some items, but others, like tractors and the library’s bookmobile, will need to find new homes.

“That’s going to be an issue for us,” Boyden said.

[Read more...]

Students clean up brook

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Surprising items among debris

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

When a collection of six University of Vermont seniors first visited the stretch of the Muddy Brook corridor they had been assigned to study, it was winter and snow blanketed the brook’s steep, eroded banks.

Therefore, it was a shock when the students arrived in April, after the snow had melted, and discovered the garbage that was littered across the land. The soda cans and fast food bags were no surprise, but the mufflers, sink, refrigerator, doors and automobile took them aback.

“This place is gross,” Liz Harrison, one of the group members, said last week. “I don’t know how some of that stuff got down there.”

The students returned last week to clean up as much of the garbage as they could. The group was one of five in Professor J. Ellen Marsden’s conservation biology class to study portions of the Muddy Brook this spring. Harrison’s group was responsible for the stretch extending north from U.S. Route 2 to the Winooski River.

The students’ clean-up plan was designed to improve conditions for wildlife and water quality along the Muddy Brook, which divides Williston and South Burlington.

The brook serves as a wildlife corridor, though the erosion of the banks and the presence of eight roads that cross the brook can make for less than ideal travel. Harrison said the group encountered a flock of turkeys and a deer when it visited in the winter. It saw two dead beavers this spring.

Harrison, Leo Velez, Sarah Curtiss, Andrew Eberly, Ryan Boylan and Raphael Okutoro arrived at 9 a.m. last Thursday and began hauling the trash from the nearby woods.

The students had performed an inventory of the garbage on April 17 and had utilized it, along with the aid of Public Works Director Neil Boyden, to secure a $300 grant from the Chittenden Solid Waste District for disposal of the collected refuse. A short video of the students’ inventory of the trash can be seen at www.uvm.edu/~velez.

The bulk of the trash was found on the banks near U.S. Route 2 and a nearby shopping center. Curtiss said the brook’s banks are much less affected closer to the Winooski.

The students did not find the refrigerator, nor did they attempt to remove the automobile. The sharp, often muddy incline of the bank made it difficult to access some of the trash and to carry away the larger items. Some of the debris deposited in the area likely ends up being funneled down the banks into the brook, destined to be carried to the Winooski River.

A seven-mile portion of the Muddy Brook is included on the state’s list of impaired waterways because of issues with toxics, nutrients and temperature. The impairment is attributed to land development and the lack of buffers.

The students speculated about where some of the trash might have originated, but emphasized they did not know for sure. They described watching a snowplow shove large amounts of snow from a parking lot down the South Burlington bank of the brook on one of their visits, carrying untold amounts of debris.

Harrison said removing the trash would not likely affect the fate of the wildlife that frequent the Muddy Brook corridor. However, she said, the group’s work might raise awareness of the issues at the brook.

“We felt like if we got things cleaned up and looking better here, then people might get interested in what’s going on in this area and taking better care of it,” Harrison said.

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Selectboard OK

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Board split on changes to existing regulations

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

A divided Selectboard approved interim subdivision regulations Monday night that will significantly alter the town’s growth controls, producing a more even-handed system for developers, town officials said.

Approximately 25 people attended the public hearing on two proposed drafts of the interim subdivision regulations. Audience members who spoke were overwhelmingly supportive of the draft titled “Skipping Ahead.” The Selectboard ultimately passed that draft with some minor clarifications by a vote of 3-2.

The regulations are designed to eliminate some obstacles large and small residential projects currently face when attempting to receive the phasing allocations they need to build. Under the current regulations, mid-sized developments have a substantial advantage in navigating the development review process.

The new regulations will ensure that projects are evaluated on a more equitable basis, according to Town Planner Lee Nellis. Small subdivisions outside of the town’s sewer district will not be overshadowed by mid-sized and large projects in the Taft Corners area, where the town hopes to focus growth. Instead, projects will be evaluated on their own merits and not in comparison to dissimilar proposals.

Meanwhile, larger projects will be able to receive phasing on a more advanced schedule, allowing projects to be built faster and more affordably. Finally, the town will better link phasing and sewer allocations in an effort to eliminate instances where developers receive the phasing to build, but do not get the sewer capacity to support construction.

Most of those attending the session said the proposed regulations would produce a more reasonable approach to the residential phasing process, eliminating some of the inequalities that exist under the current rules. Variations of the word “fair” were repeated frequently.

“’Skipping Ahead’ is much more objective, much fairer for everyone across the board, regardless of the district they’re in,” said Cathy O’Brien, a member of the Development Review Board.

Selectboard members Jeff Fehrs and Andy Mikell cast votes against the proposal, saying the regulations needed further study and more time to be considered. The two emphasized that the regulations would have a major impact on development in town the next 10 years and should be fully explored before being activated.

“Too much too fast with too many uncertainties,” Mikell said, explaining his position.

However, Selectboard Chairwoman Ginny Lyons and board member Ted Kenney argued the town had already analyzed the regulations and their ramifications in sufficient depth. (Selectboard member Terry Macaig voted to approve the regulations, but did not speak on the topic.) The Selectboard began reviewing versions of the proposed interim regulations in November, and they have been a frequent agenda topic in the subsequent months.

“We need to bring some closure to this process,” Lyons said. “It’s been dragged out to a point that is really inappropriate.”

In order to make the new regulations work, the Selectboard needed to approve changes in the town’s sewer allocation ordinance that would support the new subdivision rules. The Selectboard approved the proposed sewer allocation ordinance by a vote of 4-1 on Monday night. Mikell opposed the ordinance.

The amendments in the ordinance will not go into effect until late July, at the end of a required 60-day period. That amounts to a delay of a few weeks for the developers, who ordinarily would have a chance to seek sewer allocations starting July 1.

Mikell and Fehrs wanted to consider concerns raised in an e-mail from Development Review Board Chairman Kevin McDermott about the impact of the interim subdivision regulations on affordable housing. They advocated having the Planning Commission review the issues at its next meeting.

However, the other three board members decided the issues McDermott raised were not significant enough to postpone the passage of the new rules.

Similarly, the three board members who approved the regulations decided not to incorporate two proposed changes the Planning Commission made for the “Skipping Ahead” proposal. Because the changes were deemed substantive, the Selectboard would have been legally obligated to hold another public hearing on the proposed regulations. The hearing would likely have been scheduled for sometime in June.

Among those supporting the new rules Monday night were Ken Stone and Tom Vieth, who were representing the Williston Interfaith Affordable Housing Committee. They said the new regulations would help bring more affordable housing to town.

Two applicants currently awaiting a ruling on their phasing request also endorsed the proposal. They represented both the small and large ends of the development spectrum.

Jan DeSarno, who with her husband, Dave, has a three-lot subdivision planned on six acres, said the new regulations would make more sense than the current ones.

“We don’t think it’s fair that a small subdivision should be put in with a 300-lot subdivision,” DeSarno said.

Bob Snyder, president of the Snyder Companies, which is one of the developers involved in the 350-unit mixed-use subdivision for the Pecor horse farm, also spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I think it’s much fairer,” Snyder said. “Regardless of size, it opens up opportunities for everyone.”

[Read more...]

Selectboard approves ordinance governing town

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New rules will not be strictly enforced

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard on Monday passed an ordinance that regulates how residents use bike paths and sidewalks.

The ordinance, which was approved by a 5-0 vote, includes a provision that gives pedestrians the right of way on paths. Other parts of the new ordinance require users to travel at safe speeds and dogs to be leashed. Fines for violations range from $25 to $125.

The dog provision attracted most of a crowd of 14 that attended an April 18 public hearing on the ordinance.

The dog lovers, most of whom are frequent users of the section of the bike path at Williston Community Park, said they did not want to be fined for allowing their dogs to walk off a leash. The dog owners insisted that they could maintain control of their pets without leashes.

The town already has a dog control ordinance that says dogs must be leashed unless they are being used or trained for hunting. The ordinance is not strictly enforced.

Town officials assured the dog walkers that the town would not actively enforce the paths ordinance, either. The town will instead only respond to complaints about violations. Public Works Director Neil Boyden said he has not received a single complaint about bike path behavior in the past eight to 10 years.

Town Manager Rick McGuire compared the bike path ordinance to the town’s noise ordinance. He pointed out that police officers only enforce the noise ordinance in response to complaints and do not patrol for violations.

Selectboard Chairwoman Ginny Lyons said that approach was sensible. She said municipal officials could spend all day enforcing the town’s various ordinances.

Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs missed the public hearing on the bike path ordinance, but reviewed the minutes of the meeting. He said Monday that he had some initial concerns with the ordinance and the board’s statements indicating that the town would not actively enforce the new rules. However, he said a recent incident in town in which an unleashed dog bit a resident changed his mind about the sidewalk and bike path ordinance.

“The incident with the dog made me think that maybe in some cases it’s a good idea to have an ordinance even when we’re not necessarily going to enforce it,” Fehrs said.

Town officials have emphasized that the ordinance was not developed to limit uses of sidewalks and bike paths, including the practice of allowing dogs to run free. The ordinance was instead intended to limit the liability of property owners who grant the town easements that allow paths to cross their property.

Boyden has been meeting with property owners to ask for easements that would allow for construction of bike path extensions. Some property owners have expressed concern about their legal liability, he said. Three property owners who attended the April 18 hearing seemed satisfied with the new ordinance’s protections.

[Read more...]

Police break up teen drinking party on Hillcrest Lane

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By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

Acting on an anonymous tip, Williston police officers last week crashed a small underage drinking and pot-smoking party and broke it up before it could become a larger gathering.

Williston Police Officer Brian Claffy said five teenagers were ultimately cited in some way for alcohol violations in the incident. Claffy said the odor of marijuana was also evident inside the Hillcrest Lane house where the party was located, though no one was charged with a drug offense.

Claffy said police arrived at approximately 9:45 p.m. at the house, finding a small gathering of teenagers.

“I think it seemed as though it was going to be something bigger,” Claffy said. “If we hadn’t gotten the tip that we did, I think they would have had a pretty decently sized party.”

Claffy said police received written information Friday that teenagers would be holding a party involving alcohol at the Hillcrest Lane house that night. The parents of the teenage host of the party were out of town.

Police repeatedly visited the street and drove by the house during the evening. Eventually, police recognized activity in the house and knocked on the door. The 15-year-old male who lives at the residence refused to allow police inside, Claffy said. However, Claffy said, the youth was “clearly under the influence of something other than alcohol,” and police took him into protective custody.

The 15-year-old was staying with neighbors while his parents were out of town. The neighbors were out for a few hours Friday and could not be reached. Neither could police contact the owners of the house.

The five other teens at the house would not leave the residence initially, Claffy said. Police officers stationed themselves at both the front and back doors of the residence. Two of the teens eventually relented and came outside to speak to officers.

The 15-year-old who lives at the house then gave the officers consent to enter the residence. Claffy said police did not search the house, but did gather the remaining teens who were inside. Each youth was given a Breathalyzer test. Police confiscated nine cans of beer from the house.

Two of the teens had not been drinking, including the 15-year-old who lives at the house. Claffy said one of the teens admitted to flushing marijuana down a toilet.

Police learned the names of each of the youths at the house and called their parents. The parents arrived to collect their children. The neighbors who were watching the 15-year-old also arrived. Their son was among those teens involved. Claffy said each of the parents was cooperative and helpful to police.

Two of the teens were given notices for an alcohol diversion program. Claffy said if the teens complete the program then their respective alcohol citations will be dropped.

Two other teens had previous alcohol violations. One was issued an alcohol citation, and the other was cited for violating juvenile probation.

Police declined to release the names of any of the teens because their cases are being treated as juvenile offenses. Police also did not indicate whether those cited were all Williston residents.

Another teen was given a notice for the alcohol diversion program during a traffic stop near the house Friday night. The teen was traveling in a vehicle with other youths. They appeared to be arriving for the party, Claffy said. He said he confiscated beer and rum from that vehicle.

Claffy said he observed multiple vehicles carrying juveniles turn onto Hillcrest Lane and the turn around after seeing police cruisers at the house.

Williston Police Chief Ozzie Glidden said he expects similar incidents involving youths and alcohol in the coming months.

“These types of things are not unusual, especially this time of year,” Glidden said

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Police bolster ranks with supervisory slots

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By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

The Selectboard approved on Monday the addition of two supervisory positions in the Williston Police Department in an effort to improve officer retention.

The force will add two patrol sergeant positions under the plan. One sergeant will cover the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, while the other will cover the midnight to 8 a.m. shift. The sergeants will rotate shifts every three months.

Currently, the force only has two supervisors, Chief Ozzie Glidden and Detective Sergeant Bart Chamberlain. Both typically cover the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift on weekdays.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said the proposal, which was approved by the Williston Police Officers Association, a chapter of Teamsters Local 597, will give officers an increased opportunity for advancement. The lack of promotion possibilities has been frequently cited as one reason for the high turnover rate of officers in the Williston Police Department, which has had chronic problems keeping its full allotment of officers.

“This will provide an extra incentive for officers to stay,” McGuire said.

The new sergeant spots will replace two officer positions. McGuire said it will cost the town approximately $6,000 to add the senior positions.

Brennan Woods complaint

Fred Reiner of the Brennan Woods subdivision took the Selectboard to task on Monday for what he says is the town’s failure to crack down on speeders on Brennan Woods Road.

Reiner said he has previously spoken to the town about the issue, but has not seen any results. He said the speed of traffic combined with the preponderance of children in the development meant that a resulting tragedy was “not a question of if but when.”

Selectboard Chairwoman Ginny Lyons said the board would get input from Police Chief Ozzie Glidden about the police department’s monitoring of traffic in the neighborhood.

When Reiner declined to return to the audience until he heard what the board’s “action items” would be on the issue, Lyons said the board could not consider the question in detail because it was not on the agenda. She said the Selectboard would not know what the specific issues on the road were until municipal staff had done some research.

The town does not own the road, but Reiner said that should not be a factor. “I’m paying taxes, but I’m not receiving services for them,” he said.

Board appointments

The Selectboard appointed Brent Raymond to the Development Review Board and Randy Stevens to the Conservation Commission.

Raymond, who works in the corporate trust department at BankNorth, previously served as a trustee for public funds for the town. Stevens is a stone artist and developer.

The board also renewed the terms of a host of incumbents, including Gary Hawley, Richard Pritsky and Jean Kissner (Conservation Commission); Joy Peterson and Jane Petrillo (Design Advisory Committee); Kevin McDermott (Development Review Board); Steve Bradish (Planning Commission); and Caroline Ford (Recreation Committee).

Among the remaining openings are one spot on the Conservation Commission, one spot on the Design Advisory Committee, one spot on the Planning Commission and four spots on the Recreation Committee.

Michael Healey and Tianna Tomasi have applied for positions on the Recreation Committee.

[Read more...]