September 2, 2015

Everyday Gourmet

Umami is the flavor mommy

By Kim Dannies

Japanese cuisine is among the most stunning and flavorful in the world. Asian chefs use the word umami (pronounced “oou-mommy”) to describe foods that are especially savory and delicious. It is thanks to the work of Japanese scientist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda, who first discovered that the amino acid glutamic was responsible for the umami taste in seaweed.
For centuries food tastes were categorized as either sweet, sour, salty or bitter, and it wasn’t until 1908 that Dr. Ikeda identified the fifth flavor, umami. The glutamates common in protein-rich foods, ripe tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, cured ham, soy sauce, beef, oily fish, seaweed and mushrooms are some of the curators of this earthy essence. The taste of umami itself is subtle, yet it blends well with other tastes, expanding the flavors that make a dish more delicious.
Taste, smell, color, temperature, freshness and appearance all combine to create the quality of a food’s flavor. We immediately recognize the taste of sweet when we bite into a cookie or the sour pucker from a plump apple, but most palates don’t immediately identify the quality of umami. Newborn babies naturally detest sour and bitter flavors and adore the sweet. But breastfed babies become instant experts on the wonders of umami and experience its magic every time they suckle their mother’s breast milk, a protein source naturally rich in glutamates. (These babes are thinking “oou mommy, that’s so good” and they don’t care why.)
As cooks and eaters we already possess a natural instinct for aligning umami-rich ingredients. Traditional food pairings have endured for a reason — think tomato sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, or grilled beef with mushrooms sautéed in butter. Next time you prepare a recipe, before you decide to pare down the ingredient list or substitute items, consider this: Are you cheating your cuisine out of a layer of umami, and therefore extra flavor?
Umami has four roles in the kitchen to help cooks create more flavors on the plate:


1.    Flavor partner: Add umami-rich mushrooms, or ham, and fortified wine to savory dishes.
2.    Flavor builder: Use a tomato base, such as ketchup, and add soy, wasabi, fish sauce, brown sugar or horseradish combinations to layer additional flavors.
3.    Flavor balancer: Blend anchovies with mayo and raw garlic to soothe the bitter garlic and tame the unctuous mayonnaise.
4.    Flavor catalyst: In a roasted fish dish umami is the backbone flavor, yet it is nimble enough to welcome drops of lemon juice and pinches of salt to expand its primary flavor.
It may be known as “the fifth flavor,” but really, after exploring umami’s epic influence on taste, I’m thinking it is the mother of all flavors.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to

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Police notes

Suspicious man with gun
As the result of a complaint of a “suspicious male with a gun,” Kyle Wolfe, 20, of Williston was charged with disorderly conduct on April 8, according to police reports. Police were called after a witness allegedly saw Wolfe emerge from hiding between cars parked on the north side of the green at Maple Tree Place, pull a handgun from his pocket, run up to a passing motorist and “fire at the driver,” according to the report.
When police responded, Wolfe told them the gun was not loaded and that he had “just fired compressed air,” the report states.
The gun was a carbon dioxide cartridge BB gun, according to police. Wolfe was participating in a game called “Assassin,” which police say has become popular with area youth recently, and which police Sgt. Bart Chamberlain described as “a dangerous game.”
“He had spotted his victims eating at Quiznos, and waited outside to ‘ambush’ them,” Chamberlain said of Wolfe.
Police were concerned that motorists, pedestrians or police in the area could have seen the incident, believed the weapon was real, and that someone then could have been injured, the report notes. Wolfe was cited to appear in court.

Dog bite
The Williston Police Department is attempting to locate the owner of a dog that bit a PetSmart employee on April 15. The dog is described as a mix breed puppy that appeared to be part Shepherd and part Australian Cattle Dog. Police need to confirm the animal is up to date on its vaccinations. Anyone with information should contact police at 878-6611.

Marijuana charges
• On April 2, Michael Weisler, 39, of Waterville was taken into custody and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on May 5.
• On April 8, Brian Scotsross, 20, of East Fairfield was charged with possession of marijuana and retail theft, according to police reports. After Wal-Mart employees allegedly saw Scotsross steal two DVDs, his car was searched and marijuana was found in the vehicle, according to police. He was cited to appear in court.
• Muriel G. Lowell, 56, of Lake Elmore was charged with retail theft and possession of marijuana on April 9, according to police reports. Lowell allegedly stole about $60 worth of CDs and cell phone accessories from Wal-Mart, and had about four grams of marijuana in her possession, according to the report.

Six-car accident
On April 10, police, fire and rescue personnel responded to a six-car accident on Essex Road near the Vermont State Employees Credit Union just after 5 p.m. The driver of a rental car told police he was traveling about 40 mph and, after cresting the top of the hill, “misjudged the distance” to the vehicle in front of him, according to the report. Police observed no skid marks, and the driver said he didn’t “brake much,” the report notes. The driver hit the vehicle in front of him, which was stopped in traffic approaching the intersection of Essex Road and Industrial Avenue, the report states. The second vehicle then hit the third, which hit the fourth and so on, according to the report. The driver told police he “was not used to driving in stopped traffic,” according to the report.
Drivers in two of the vehicles were taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care and later released, according to police. Two of the vehicles sustained extensive damage, one moderate damage, and three minor damage, the report notes.
The driver of the rental car was found to be at fault for the collision, according to police.

Wanted woman arrested
On April 10, police arrested Jennifer Day, 25, of Bristol on two arrest warrants for passing bad checks after she came into the police department to pick up her license plates, according to police reports.
Her plates had been turned in to the police department “pursuant to a court order for some driving offenses,” according to police. She was retrieving the plates per a court agreement, but a police check revealed she was “wanted out of Lamoille County,” so she was taken into custody and lodged at the Chittenden County Correctional Center, according to police.

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South Burlington bus driver charged with DUI

Emery Corey, 68, of Williston was charged with driving a South Burlington school bus while under the influence on Monday afternoon, according to South Burlington Police. Corey was given two Breathalyzer tests after being arrested: One registered .067, the other .069, according to South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple. The legal limit for drivers of commercial vehicles, including school buses, is .04, Whipple said.
A passerby noticed a school bus stopped on the side of the road “for no apparent reason” on Monday at about 4 p.m., and saw the driver, later identified as Corey, throwing something from the bus, according to Whipple. The passerby called police, who responded, but found the bus had driven away, according to Whipple. The chief told the Observer that police later retrieved small, discarded bottles of alcohol, the “kind on an airline,” near the roadway.
Police later found Corey at the bus garage on Landfill Drive, and after speaking with him suspected he had been drinking, based on his behavior and the odor of alcohol, Whipple said. It has not been determined whether Corey was drinking at the time he was transporting children. Whipple said no parents reported any suspicious behavior prior to his arrest.
Corey was released on a citation and is scheduled to appear in court at 8:15 a.m. on May 5.

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Police Notes

Theft, marijuana possession

Morgan McConnel, 19, of Williston was charged with stealing more than $100 worth of CDs from Wal-Mart on April 15, according to police reports. She was also charged with possession of marijuana after police found “marijuana and several pipes/bongs in her car,” according to the report.


· Beverly Stoudt, 57, and Ashley Stoudt, 20, of Eden were charged with retail theft from Wal-Mart on April 16, according to police reports. The mother/daughter team went through the self-checkout without paying for some items, according to the report.

· A 15-year-old male from Richmond and two friends, from Richmond and Jericho, were charged with stealing a $50 pair of boots from Plato’s Closet on April 18, according to police reports. The case was referred to the Williston Reparative Board.

· Three vehicles were broken into at Courtyard by Marriott on Hurricane Lane on April 19, according to police reports. One window was smashed and small items and change were taken from the vehicles, according to the report. Anyone with information is asked to call Williston Police at 878-6611.

Bomb threat a hoax

Reginald Graham, 79, of Burlington was cited for “false public alarm” on April 18 after a Lavallee Lane resident called to report a bomb threat, according to police reports. Graham allegedly told the resident that he had put a bomb in the person’s car, which was parked in the resident’s driveway, according to police. The home was evacuated for several hours and the Williston Fire Department and Vermont State Police Bomb Team were placed on standby during the investigation, according to the report. After interviews by police, the threat was determined to be a hoax, police said.

Driving under the influence

On April 19, police received a report of two intoxicated women purchasing beer at Taft Corners Mobil, according to police reports. The women left the store and were found on Essex Road, according to police. Shannon Ilges, 34, of Colchester was cited for charges of driving under the influence and for giving false information to police, according to the report.

Underage drinking

Ashleigh Tillson, 20, of South Hero was charged with underage drinking and transported to ACT 1 detoxification center with a blood-alcohol content of .111 on April 20, according to police reports. Tillson and an unidentified man had been in an argument at Clark’s Sunoco, according to police.

Driving with a suspended license

· Patrick Lavely, 52, of Essex was charged for criminally driving with a suspended license on Route 2 on April 20, and was also cited to appear in court on April 22 on an outstanding arrest warrant, according to police reports.

· On April 21, police cited Christopher Boutin, 21, of Georgia for criminally driving with a suspended license, according to police reports. Boutin’s driver’s license is currently suspended for a driving under the influence conviction earlier this year, according to police.

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Williston gardeners show their color

 Photo by Tim Simard

Armand Leggett, a resident at Taft Farm Senior Living Community, stands next to his garden plot on Cornerstone Drive. Leggett grows a variety of vegetables and flowers and has entered the Williston in Bloom competition. Read more on the story.


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Guest column

July 17, 2008
By Lawrence Keyes

Vermont needs fast, reliable Internet

Recent discussions around the state and during the campaign for governor suggest a growing unease about the prospect of economic growth and prosperity in Vermont. Travel and transportation are becoming more expensive. The state has lost several hundred high-tech jobs in the past year.

The admirable E-State initiative — an effort to bring broadband and wireless Internet to all Vermonters by 2010 — is largely an exercise to convince ourselves that “something is being done,” and “we've got it covered.” By late 2010, by magic, FairPoint (dangerously undercapitalized) and Comcast (the latest owner of the Vermont assets of the bankrupt Adelphia), and a few WISPs — wireless Internet providers — covering the hills and hollers, will have us covered. No significant attention is required by the state economic development folks; no significant public investment is required.

Talks with the Douglas administration and Gaye Symington have shown that they think the E-State deal is just fine. Pollina's Web site makes no reference to broadband at all.

What worries me is that with E-State we're going to get people barely off dialup. By going with wireless Internet connections, we believe that we have a state-of-the-art high-tech infrastructure superior to other states. That is how it is being sold. But, we're really just paving the dirt roads.

Wired broadband connections in 2008 are the equivalent of the interstate highway project of the 1960s, and the rural electrification projects of the 1940s. Broadband is the strategic infrastructure of our time, and should be treated as the crucial public investment that it represents. If we fail to invest in this infrastructure we will be passed by other regions that are making these investments.

Here's why. Current and future Internet services include voice and video in both directions. These services require high speeds and continuous connections to be effective. (E-mail, Web browsing and research, the stuff we've been using the Internet for during the past 20 years, do not). Further, new applications are predicated on the end-user being a provider, not just a passive consumer of another 142 high-def television channels or downloader of the latest iTune. In other words, high-speed broadband is not simply another medium for delivering the same old media by the same old conglomerates. Broadband enables individuals and small business to actively participate, lead and contribute to the future economic life of Vermont.

New applications, including distance education, telemedicine, videoconferencing and telecommuting, all of which are enjoying increasing interest and urgency with the increase in gasoline prices, are moving out of the research phase and into production. Several providers of these services are in Vermont and they service clients around the world. How ironic is it then that in many areas they can't reach Vermonters in their homes or businesses because of the lack of investment in broadband?

We're not out in front. We're barely catching up.

You may recall the failed Tech Academy proposal in Essex a few years back? Almost everyone agreed that this was a good idea, but it foundered under the weight of politics and financing which played one town off another. Now we're on the cusp of being able to provide technical education via distance learning. This isn't merely a theoretical possibility. Collaborators, including the Vermont Software Developer's Alliance, Linking Learning2Life, St. Michael's College, the city of Burlington and the town of Colchester have submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation for a pilot project using a Vermont-based company, Global Classroom, to deliver advanced placement and technical courses to students throughout the state via broadband.

My own company, Microdesign, with the University of Vermont Department of Physical Therapy, is delivering a thrice-weekly exercise program to a dozen patients in their homes via broadband using their home television sets and cameras, which allow the instructor to supervise and correct their movement. We see potential for cardio rehab, diabetes management, and a host of health and wellness applications, provided the participants have affordable, reliable broadband connections to their homes.

Understandably, politicians pick their battles. I want to suggest that the investment in broadband infrastructure should be given the highest priority by all candidates for governor.

Many solutions to the intractable problems we face in Vermont of workforce training, skyrocketing education and healthcare costs, and economic development will be delivered via broadband. And it will take forward-thinking legislation and economic incentives, in partnership with private initiatives, to get us there.

Lawrence Keyes is a principal with Microdesign Consulting Inc. in Colchester, and chairs the Vermont Software Developer's Alliance outreach committee.

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Legion baseball dominating league play

July 17, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

There is no question that league games agree with the S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team.

After closing out a 9-0 first half with a 10-3 victory over highly regarded (8-4) Orleans-Essex County on Tuesday in Hinesburg, the Irelands opened the second half of their league campaign on Wednesday, after press deadline, with a home fixture against Addison County.

The local boys — S.D. Ireland players hail from Charlotte, Hinesburg, Huntington, Shelburne and Williston — were 9-0 in league play and 13-9 overall.

Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Paul Handy of S.D. Ireland watches a pitch during Tuesday’s American Legion baseball game against Orleans-Essex County.The Irelands head to Montpelier on Thursday afternoon before returning home to the Champlain Valley Union High field Friday for a home makeup game against Waterbury at 5:30 p.m.

Starting on Sunday, the Irelands return to the road with a game at St. Albans (Franklin County), followed Monday at Waterbury and Tuesday against O.E.C. at Lyndon. The two Waterbury games are rescheduled from Sunday’s doubleheader rainout in Waterbury.

In cranking out the victory over O.E.C., a team that upset the Irelands twice in state tournament play last August, the locals found their batting stroke late against O.E.C. lefty Adam Farrar. The Ireland offense supported the three-hit, eight strikeout pitching of southpaw Paul “Bear” Handy.

Two of the three runs against Handy were unearned and two of the hits were scratch infield rollers. He walked just one batter and was never in any serious difficulty, requiring 90 pitches for the seven-inning complete game.

But early on it was Farrar who was making smoke rise at the plate. The O.E.C. veteran retired the first 10 Ireland batters, seven via the whiff route. Farrar was providing heat on an already warm afternoon and the fanning Irelands were manufacturing some breezes.

But with one out in the bottom of the fourth, and down 1-0, the Irelands got to Farrar for a five spot. The lefty started missing the plate and surrendered four walks, one of them to Connor Mellen with the bases loaded. Jordan Armstrong laced a two-run single and Whitney Mikell’s blue darter to center for a single also produced a run.

“When he (Farrar) started missing the plate he stayed with his fast- ball,” said Ireland catcher Nick Angstman, who slammed three hits and drove in three runs after striking out in the first inning.

Mikell and leadoff batter Justin Raymond each socked two hits for the victors, who added two runs in the fifth and three in the seventh.

The Irelands’ lone extra base hit was the fifth inning double by second baseman Anthony DeToma, who was robbed of at least another double in the sixth when O.E.C. right fielder Matt Major made a back-to-the-plate, leaping grab of DeToma’s long belt in deep right center.

On Saturday, the Irelands won their eighth straight league game and second over Essex with an 8-2 thumping of the Junction club in the weekend regulation nine innings.

Once again, coach Jim Neidlinger got solid starting pitching, this time from Justin Raymond, who worked seven frames and allowed just three hits while walking two and striking out eight.

Raymond’s only slight problem was with an occasionally independent curve ball, with which he hit four batters (all from the right side of the plate).

“It just didn’t break and was in on the batters,” Raymond said after the game. His curve is more of the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. variety in that it breaks wide rather than straight down. It nevertheless can be a first rate knee buckler for the poor swinger, as eight strikeouts would show.

>Evan Roeser worked the final two innings, allowing a pair of singles and a run.

Angstman led the plate attack with three hits while Mikell, Armstrong, Handy and Pat Ittleman each had two. Ittleman and DeToma clouted doubles.

It was the Irelands’ second victory over Essex, one of the challengers for the regular season crown.


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Little League stars advance to second round

July 17, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The Williston 11-12-year-old Little League All Star team continued its strong performance, picking up two victories in the second round of the District I Little League tournament.

In its first victory, Williston overcame strong pitching by the Winooski team, scoring four runs on five hits, to earn a 4-1 victory. Williston matched Winooski’s pitching, using four pitchers across six innings and giving up only one hit, a solo homer in the top of the fifth.

Jamie Pierson pitched the first three innings, holding Winooski hitless, and left the game with Williston in the lead 3-0. Davis Mikell started the scoring for Williston, with a solo home run in the first.

Contributed photo by Jeff Schneiderman
Erik Bergkvist, followed by Davis Mikell, rounds third on the way to home plate during the Williston 11-12-year-old Little League All Star team’s 8-5 win over South Burlington over the weekend.

After a scoreless second, Tommy Fitzgerald reached base in the third when the center fielder misplayed a fly ball. Mikell was then intentionally walked and Ryan Schneiderman came to the plate with two out and two on. He drove in Fitzgerald with a single up the middle, moving Mikell to third. The team used some trickery to bring Mikell home, when manager Will Mikell signaled for Schneiderman to fake a steal to second, hoping to initiate a pickle between first and second. The Winooski team fell for the ploy, and Mikell scored from third before Schneiderman was tagged out to end the inning.

Williston struck for one more run in the fifth, when Fitzgerald scored his second run of the game. He led off the inning with a single and advanced to second when Erik Bergkvist drove the ball through the Winooski second baseman’s legs. Mikell was intentionally walked for the second time in the game to load the bases. Schneiderman hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Fitzgerald from third, for the final run of the game.

The pitching committee of Bergkvist, Mikell and Chris Reiss were solid in relief, striking out five across the final three innings.

Defeating the undefeated

In its second game of the weekend, Williston faced an undefeated South Burlington team. Down 3-1 after one inning, Williston came back to win the game 8-5. Connor Stankevich started the comeback in the second with a base hit, which he converted into a run with aggressive base running, assisted by several wild pitches from South Burlington’s starting pitcher.

Williston came alive in the third, scoring five runs on four hits. Mikell added an insurance run in the top of the sixth, with a solo homer off a pitch intended as part of an intentional walk.

Mikell was equally strong on the mound, striking out twelve of the seventeen batters he faced.

The South Burlington club did not give up, however, and created some tense moments in the bottom of the final inning. Mikell left the game with one out in the inning, and South Burlington quickly scored two runs. South Burlington was poised for more, with the bases loaded and the top of the order coming to the plate.

Bergkvist, pitching in relief, remained calm, and stopped any thoughts of a rally. The next batter hit a sharp line drive right at the pitcher, which Bergkvist caught and tossed to first for a double play to end the game.


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Zoning administrator D.K. Johnston stepping down

Resignation agreement to govern employee's references

April 17, 2008

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

An outgoing town employee has struck an unusual agreement that forbids bad references from his bosses.

Williston zoning administrator D.K. Johnston signed the resignation agreement last month. The seven-page document was also signed by Town Manager Rick McGuire and Johnston's immediate supervisor, Town Planner Lee Nellis.

Much of the agreement is written in thick legalese common to contracts. But the heart of the agreement concerns provisions for references.

Town employees "shall not make any negative or derogatory comments about Johnston or the performance of his work with the Town," the agreement states.

Known among human resource professionals as a "non-disparagement clause," it permits town officials to simply state what position Johnston held and for how long. The clause also allows Nellis to provide a positive letter of reference that is pre-approved by Johnston, then give verbal references consistent with the letter.

The agreement requires Johnston to be paid for accrued vacation, compensatory time and personal time – 151 hours in all. He will continue to be covered under the town's insurance policy through the end of the year.

Williston officials were tight-lipped about the circumstances of Johnston's departure from a job he held for almost 3.5 years. It is unclear whether he was asked to resign or quit.

"It's not quite that clear cut," McGuire said. "I guess it was a decision by both parties that it would be best if he moved on to another position."

The agreement states the town wanted to restructure the zoning administrator and assistant town planner positions held by Johnston and that they "will no longer exist in their present form."  

Reached at home, Johnston declined comment on the agreement, although he did thank members of the volunteer boards he worked with during his tenure.

"I think the agreement kind of speaks for itself," Johnston said. "I'm really not allowed to say anything."

The agreement forbids any statement by Johnston or town employees that "impacts negatively on either the Town's or Johnston's reputation in the community."

Under the agreement, Johnston is allowed to continue working for the town of Williston through June 30 as assistant town planner. McGuire said Johnston is still "doing some work" for the town.

But he is no longer zoning administrator, a position that has among its duties enforcement of the town's land-use rules. Nellis said he has for now taken on the zoning administrator's responsibilities.

Johnston is currently paid $23.71 an hour, said Susan Lamb, the town's finance manager. The total payment for accrued benefits will therefore be $3,580.21. Lamb noted that all employees are paid for accrued benefits when they leave.

The agreement allows Johnston to resign before June 30 and still collect the pay that would be coming to him through that period as well as the accrued vacation and comp time.

Non-disparagement clauses

Employment experts say resignation agreements, while not routine, are becoming increasingly common.

"It's really to avoid future litigation that relates to what can be an emotionally charged situation," said Bill Reynolds, general counsel with the Vermont Department of Human Resources.

The state of Vermont employs about 7,000 people. Reynolds estimated that more than a dozen resignation agreements are struck with state workers each year.

Mark Heyman, president of Cope Human Resources in Burlington, said resignation agreements have in the past been more common in the private sector than in the public sector, but that is changing.

Heyman said non-disparagement clauses are often used to smooth over disagreements that arise when employees leave.

"In general, nobody wants bad things to be said about them," he said. "In employment disputes, there are very often going to be contested facts."

Contracts that restrict what can be said by and about a former employee let private firms avoid situations that can turn into public relations problems, said Heyman, formerly deputy counsel with the Vermont State Employees Association. But he acknowledged that such agreements with public employees raise more complex issues.

"The difference in the public sector is there is an interest in knowing about the way government works," he said. "The public's right to know needs to be balanced with the employee's right to privacy."

A common way employers avoid problems is to simply refuse to give detailed references. Heyman estimated more that 75 to 80 percent of private firms now have policies against providing references that go beyond confirming dates of employment and job duties.

The town of Williston appears to be headed in that direction. Earlier this month, the Selectboard discussed a draft policy that would require employees to sign a form releasing the town from legal liability before receiving a detailed reference.

Johnston's departure was complicated by the fact that under state law zoning administrators are appointed, not hired like most municipal employees. The statute requires planning commissions to recommend candidates, who are then appointed by selectboards to three-year terms.

Johnston's term ends June 30. McGuire said the Williston Selectboard was advised of Johnston's pending departure and the agreement.

Johnston was hired by the town in December 2004. The job has at times thrust him into the middle of heated land-use disputes. He has dealt with issues ranging from a disagreement over whether a Little League scoreboard should be permitted in the town's historic district to enforcement of rules against temporary signs.

Nellis said the zoning administrator position as currently configured is both stressful and frustrating, so the town is considering changes to make the job more appealing.

Most of the zoning administrator's duties involve answering questions from the public about land-use rules and attending board meetings. Enforcement has in practice been a relatively small part of the job, Nellis said, but is perhaps the most difficult duty.

"Time-wise, enforcement is a very minor component of the position, but stress-wise it makes a huge impact," he said.

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