April 18, 2019

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 kimdannies.com.

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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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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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WINGers give Williston five key areas for future focus

April 17, 2008

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Does Williston need a community center? Better bike paths? A reduction of its carbon footprint? More than 100 Williston residents gathered at Williston Central School over the weekend to answer some of these questions and discuss the direction in which they want to take the town.

"This is for the enhancement of the community," Tony Lamb, town moderator and event co-chairman, said on Friday. "More dialogue is a good thing. This kind of thing allows for direct participation in your community and it can be very powerful."

The community event, known as Williston Into the Next Generations (WING), was organized by a local steering committee in November. According to Lamb, the Friday and Saturday forum was created to give all residents an opportunity to speak on important town issues.

WING was a continuation of the Shelburne Farms and the University of Vermont's PLACE, or Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Education, program, which helps residents connect to their community through geography and history. The program offered a series of classroom and outdoor presentations in Williston in the fall.

Delia Clark, the WING facilitator, said the event had two goals — to strengthen vitality and community support and ensure Williston's sustainability in the future.

She told those who attended this was a chance to identify and clarify a shared vision.

"What kind of community do you want to be today?" she asked. "What kind of community to do you want to be in the future?

Residents sought to answer those questions by breaking into nine small groups Friday evening and Saturday morning to discuss various local issues.

Group members had to reach a consensus on how to move forward on certain initiatives. For instance, citizens interested in getting a community center would have to take their cause to the Planning Commission and Development Review Board, said Lamb.

On Saturday, the smaller groups brought their findings to the entire WING contingent, which eventually decided to focus its attention on five items: community-gathering spaces, environmental initiatives, responsible government models, transportation needs and maintaining Williston's rural character.

Clark, director of the Center of Place-based Learning and Community Engagement, was pleased with the turnout and the accomplishments. She has also led Vision-to-Action forums, which are community discussions similar to WING, all over the United States and Eastern Europe.

"I was struck by how much people were invested in the heart and soul of their town," she said. "It seems like the rest of Vermont has their own need for Williston (in terms of shopping and industry). I think this gave a chance for locals to express their own needs and concerns."

WINGing it

WING kicked off Friday evening with a community potluck supper and preliminary discussions on how the event would work. There were presentations from UVM graduate students on the history of Williston and how it could influence into the future.

Gary Hawley, a resident who sits on the town's conservation board, said he hoped the topics for discussion could be solved in the near future. The event would ask tough questions of Williston's residents, he said.

"How do you keep the rural character of the town, but allow for continued growth? Questions like that," he said. "There's quite a bit of structure to (WING), although I'm not sure what's going to come out of it."

Lamb said there was discussion within his groups that Williston is made up of several unique and diverse parts and the town is the sum of all.

"There's always a lot of talk of keeping the village the center of this town's activity," he said. "It's really the symbol of the Williston experience."

Lamb said ideas were put forth to reach out more to residents in the parts of town that are sometimes forgotten, such as the large section of town south of Interstate 89.

"It's important to link all areas of Williston, in terms of transportation, and culturally and geographically as well," he said. "We hope to recognize different parts of town and to not homogenize them, but to celebrate them."

Moving forward

Judy Sassorossi, a Williston Selectboard member and WING co-chairwoman, said she was very pleased with the event.

"It was a wonderful, free flow of thought," she said. "Weaving that social fabric was nice."

Clark said she hopes to see residents work at the initiatives they talked about. She said some residents have already decided how they will proceed, either by presenting to various town boards or forming new citizen groups. Much of what was discussed will be written up and released to the public shortly, she said. The WING organizers also plan to have future follow-up meetings.

"I hope they have come up with some collective dreams that could become a reality," Clark said.

Clark said through current politics and the growing force of globalization, making a difference at the local level is more important now than ever.

"Pretty soon we're going to be hearing about the red state-blue state debate all over again," she said. "We're a deeply divided country right now. At the local level, you don't have the luxury of being divided. You have to transcend the divisive politics."

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Towns joining the environmental movement

Richmond and Williston host action groups

April 17, 2008

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Earth Day, which is celebrated the world over on April 22, came early to Richmond on Saturday during the town's sustainability fair. Local residents turned up to learn about how to save the earth from the threats of global climate change.

Representatives of local environmental groups and energy-efficient technologies spoke with attendees on the importance of thinking into the future for energy conservation.

At the same time, Williston residents were gathered at Williston Central School to discuss the town's environmental future at the Williston Into the Next Generations (WING) event (see the story on page 1).

Carrie Deegan, Williston conservation commissioner, said the town has already begun taking steps to become more environmentally sound, and hoped the WING event could move residents towards the direction Richmond has taken.

Sustainability in Richmond

The sustainability fair, held at the Richmond Free Library, was sponsored in part by the local Richmond Climate Action Committee. According to committee chairman Steve Bower, the group began a year ago by taking small steps to help the town become more environmentally responsible.

"First, we want to do projects that enable people to take steps to lower their carbon impact," Bower said. "Second, we want to raise the level of awareness of the urgency of the problems we're facing."

He said everyone needs to take steps to change energy intake. Bower admits he's part of the problem — he commutes to Bristol every day for work. Even though he tries to carpool with coworkers in Hinesburg, his carbon footprint is still bigger than he wants, even as he works to offset it.

"I've done what I can to minimize my impact, but I'm not pretending it's not a big effect," Bower said.

One of the first initiatives organized by the Climate Action Committee was a compact fluorescent lights (CFL) campaign, meant to get residents and town offices to switch from regular, incandescent bulbs. In two months, the group sold more than 4,000 indoor light bulbs. Bower said the Change-A-Light Challenge was a success, due in part because the light bulbs were sold for the reduced price of 99 cents at the Richmond Home Supply.

According to the Web site of Energy Star, a program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through energy efficiency, if every home in America replaced just one regular light bulb with a CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than three million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars annually.

The committee has been working with Efficiency Vermont, a statewide provider of energy efficiency services, to identify which town buildings need to become more energy efficient. Town officials have even pledged to reduce Richmond's carbon footprint by 10 percent.

"The town has been very supportive of what we're trying to do and it's the kind of cooperation we're hoping continues," Bower said.

Bower believes a quarter of Vermont's communities have formed their own climate action groups. He said a community can form its own committee by working with the local conservation commission to set goals, or a town can create a paid energy coordinator position, as Richmond has done.

"Any town can form their own ad hoc citizens group," Bower said. "If you get enough interested people together, you can make things happen."

He said there are 10 members that officially maintain the group, while there about 200 residents on the mailing list.

The committee has only been in Richmond for a year and Bower seems hopeful small community action groups will make a big difference in lowering the danger of global climate change.

"I am very hopeful that as people become more aware of the magnitude of problems we're facing, they'll take action to limit the severity of the outcome," he said.

Williston takes action

One of the main areas of attention for residents at WING was environmental issues. Deegan said in her small group discussions there was a sense the town wasn't doing enough to curb its carbon footprint.

"We're looking at an energy audit of the town buildings," she said. "Hopefully, this will begin the process of reducing the town's carbon footprint."

She said the conservation commission would meet soon to discuss ways to move the town forward environmentally. There was talk about creating a separate climate action committee, something Deegan hopes will happen.

Meanwhile, Vermont Green Up Day is coming on Saturday, May 3. The Williston green up is once again being organized by Kimberly Richburg of the town's Public Works Department. She said she'll hand out garbage bags that Saturday morning for residents interested in cleaning up the town roadways. There were more than 325 volunteers last year and Richburg hopes more will turn out this year.

To participate in Williston's Green Up Day, call Kimberly Richburg at the Parks and Recreation Office at 878-1239 or at richburgk@willistontown.com

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