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July 31, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Armadillos' player/manager Dennis Johnson knew the team would face an uphill battle against 4-5 Chelsea in Sunday's Vermont Senior Baseball League game: Both Armadillos' pitchers, Bill Supple and Greg Bolger, were out for the week.

Hoping to pull a rabbit out of his hat, Johnson enlisted Jim Merrier, who had been the Armadillos' sole pitcher in its inaugural season, and Tim Kupiak, who had previously played as a utility player for the team, but since leaving had pitched several years ago in the other senior men's league, to take the mound. Although each gave gutsy performances, both were plagued by wildness.

Merrier rendered just four hits in three innings, but also walked 10 while giving up five runs. Kupiak, in four innings of work, gave up six hits and walked five, giving up eight runs. In all, the Dillos pitching staff rendered 17 walks and 10 hits. Contributing to the teams' woes, they committed three errors, each one leading to an unearned run.

Some key plays kept Williston in the game. Chelsea left the bases loaded in the first as Merrier recorded a key strikeout. With the bases loaded in second and one out, Merrier fielded a grounder, threw to Darby Crum at home for one, who then threw to Pat Martin at third for an inning ending double play. In the third, with the bases loaded and no outs, Martin fielded a grounder, touched third for one and threw home to Crum, who applied the tag for another double play. In the fourth, while Chelsea scored six times, Kupiak prevented further damage by retiring two with the bases loaded to end the inning. In all, Chelsea stranded 16 runners in eight innings of offense.

The Dillos' offense outhit Chelsea 14-10 and refused to roll over. Down by two after one inning, the Dillos came back with three in the second. Martin (3-5, 2B, 1 run) and Crum (1-4, 2 runs) singled. After left fielder Dann Van Der Vliet (0-4, 2 runs) forced Martin at third, right fielder Roberto Seals (2-4, 2B 2 runs, 2 RBI) doubled to score Crum. Johnson (2-3, BB, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBI) and Joel Klein (3-4, 2 2B, 1 run, 4 RBIs) followed with successive singles to score Van Der Vliet and Seals.

After Chelsea scored one in the third and six in the fourth to take a 10-3 lead, the Dillos came back with one in the fifth. Klein doubled, Merrier was hit by a pitch and Wark reached on an error to load the bases. Shortstop Brent Tremblay (1-4, BB, 1 run, 1 RBI) then launched a drive over the left fielder's head, bringing home Klein. Before Merrier could reach home from second, however, Wark was thrown out sliding into third.

The Dillos scored four in the sixth to make it a 10-8 game. Martin singled. After Crum reached on an error, Seals' single scored Martin. Johnson then walked to load the bases. Klein then hit his second double of the game, clearing the bases.

The Chelsea lead was cut to 10-9 in the seventh as Tremblay walked and scored on Martin's double. But in the bottom of the frame, Chelsea scored three as the team put together two walks, a single and a double. Still, the Dillos clawed back as Van Der Vliet reached base on an error in the eighth and 56-year-old Johnson followed with a two-run shot over the right center field fence to make it 13-11.

Although the first two Dillos to bat in the ninth reached base, Chelsea retired three in a row to end the game.

On Sunday, the 7-3 Dillos travel to Bradford to play the 5-5 Connecticut Valley Orioles.

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S.D. Ireland has second seed in division tourney

July 31, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team earned the second seed in this weekend's Northern Division Tournament and is slated to open play in the double elimination event Friday afternoon against Addison County at the Middlebury College field.

Observer photo by Ben Sarle
S.D. Ireland pitcher Nick Angstman fields a ground ball during Saturday’s American Legion game against South Burlington.

Game time is around 4 p.m.

The Green and Gold Irelands beat Addison, which finished 13-5, twice during the regular season.

Coach Jim Neidlinger's Irelands appeared to have the division title and tournament top seed in their back pockets until they dropped three of their last five regular season contests and two of their last three. In Tuesday's finale, played at the Irelands' home field at Champlain Valley Union High School, the Colchester Cannons beat the home team, 4-3. The win gave the Cannons a 15-3 mark, good enough to nudge the 14-4 Irelands out of first place.

“We have to do a better job of small ball and the little things,” Neidlinger told his team as he started preparing it for the tournament immediately after the contest with the Cannons.

Weighing heavily was a serious case of LOB (left on base) disease. The Irelands stranded 15 runners against the Cannons after leaving 12 on Saturday in a disheartening, 5-4, eight-inning defeat in South Burlington against the Knights of Columbus aggregation.

On Monday, Whit Mikell helped the Irelands to a 5-0 victory against Franklin County in St. Albans as he fired a two-hit masterpiece.

“It was Whit's best game of the season,” said assistant coach Onnie Matthews, adding that the veteran right hander was throwing in the 85-mile-per-hour range.

Sluggers for the Irelands in the victory were outfielder Jared Badger with three hits and second baseman Anthony DeToma, who had a pair of hits.

The win took some of the sour taste from Saturday's loss to South Burlington, in which the Irelands coughed up a 4-1 lead by giving up three runs in the bottom of the sixth. They then lost on a walk and three scratch ground ball hits in the bottom of the eight when the K of C snapped a 4-4 tie.

The Irelands had taken early command in the game as Shane Montani slugged a second inning solo homer and hot-hitting Nick Angstman blasted a double and three singles, driving in two runs.

Angstman, the starting pitcher, fired five innings of one-hit ball before weakening in the sixth when South Burlington tied the game on three singles and a pair of walks.

Battle for first place

On Tuesday, the Irelands took an early 2-0 lead on Colchester. Justin Raymond led off in the first with a double to right and later scored on an RBI grounder by starting pitcher Paul “Bear” Handy.

A bases-loaded walk to DeToma provided the second Ireland run in the bottom of the second frame.

The Cannons struck for four runs in the top of the third on three singles, an RBI double, a hit batter and four stolen bases. They never surrendered the lead.

It was Colchester's only offense of the game. Relief pitcher Connor Mellen came on with two out in the third and retired 10 of the next 11 batters in 3.1 innings of hitless chucking. Angstman worked a scoreless seventh.

Frustrating for the Irelands was the offensive side of the game. They left the bases loaded three times, including twice when they packed the sacks with just one out.

In the bottom of the second, when it looked as if the home team might break the game open, Angstman launched a one-out screaming drive to right, only to have Cannons right fielder Travis Dulude roll to his right and fall to the grass, arms extended, to grab the sinking liner for the second out. Shocked Ireland runners did not advance and were stranded when Colchester reliever Spencer Dauderand picked up a strikeout.

The Irelands loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth, only to have the next two batters retired on outfield fly balls.

Montani's RBI single drove in the Ireland's third run in the sixth, but Mikell's two-out fly to deep center with runners at second and third was hauled in by Colchester center fielder Zack Aubin after a long run.

A two-out, bases loaded situation in the seventh went by the boards when Colchester closer Dulude whiffed the game's final batter.

The Irelands collected five hits in the game but were beneficiaries of 11 walks and one hit batter while two reached on errors. That's 19 on base in seven frames, but only three touched home plate.

Hopes are high that starting Friday the line drives will find places the fielders are not located.

Colchester also opens the division tournament on Friday, with a game against fourth place Orleans-Essex County.

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Little League All-Stars take state title

July 31, 2008
By Dawn Schneiderman
Special to the Observer

Contributed photo by Jeff Schneiderman
TOP : Davis Mikell is congratulated by his father and coach, Will Mikell, after hitting a home run in a state tournament game against Lyndonville.

2ND: Conner Stankevitch snags a line drive against Lyndonville.

3RD: Williston catcher Hayden Smith prepares to apply a tag at home plate against Connecticut Valley South.

BOTTOM: Davis Mikell (left) and Erik Bergkvist celebrate with rally caps after Tommy Fitzgerald drove in two runs in the bottom of the sixth and final inning to tie the score in the state championship game. Williston went on to win the game.


The Williston 11- and 12-year-old Little League All Star team is headed to Bristol, Conn. to represent Vermont in the New England Regional Little League tournament — the winner of which moves on to play in the Little League World Series.

“This has been a summer full of memories for 12 young men and the community,” said Coach Will Mikell. “It's an amazing thing for these young men, and they deserve it. It's been unbelievable.”

The trip to the New England Regional tourney is the prize for winning a hard fought state championship tournament in Brattleboro, held over the past week against teams from St. Albans, Lyndonville and Connecticut Valley, winners of their respective districts.

Williston went into a hole early, losing its first game in the double-elimination tournament in a rain soaked outing against St. Albans last Wednesday. The loss put Williston in a “win or go home” situation for each of its remaining games. But the boys' bats came alive for the next two games, as they defeated Lyndonville 9-3 and St. Albans 12-4.

The wins moved Williston into a showdown against undefeated Connecticut Valley. Williston needed two wins against the southern Vermont team to take the championship.

The first game was a classic pitcher's duel, and Williston came away with a 1-0 win. Jamie Pierson and Davis Mikell pitched a masterful game for the win. They were helped by a terrific defensive play in the sixth, when Tommy Fitzgerald threw out a Connecticut Valley player at home to preserve the win.

Williston scored its single run in the fourth inning, after Mikell smacked his team's only hit of the game. With Mikell on third and one out, Ryan Schneiderman put the ball in play, allowing Mikell to score on a fielding error by the Connecticut Valley second baseman.

Both teams made up for the lack of scoring in their first outing when they met for the championship game on Monday. Connecticut Valley came out strong, posting a 7-2 advantage at the end of the second inning. Connecticut Valley expanded its lead to 10-3 in the middle of the fourth.

But Williston started chipping away in the bottom of the inning, plating four runs on hits by Mikell, Connor Stankevich and Hayden Smith. The Willistonians added another in the fifth on a pair of singles by Tommy Fitzgerald and Schneiderman, cutting the lead to 10-8.

Williston continued to apply pressure in the sixth and final inning. With the bases loaded, game hero Fitzgerald cranked a line drive double to right field to drive in the tying runs.

There was more to come. Williston loaded the bases again, and with two outs and two strikes, the Connecticut Valley pitcher threw a wild pitch. Speedster Brendon “B.G.” Gannon, pinch running for Max Whitcomb, who had drawn a walk, raced home from third and beat the tag for an 11-10 Williston victory.

Fitzgerald and Mikell led the team with four hits each, while Stankevich pitched four clutch innings in relief to earn the win.

“We wouldn't be where we're at without the effort of all 12 of these boys. Every player has made a significant contribution to get to where we're at,” Coach Mikell said.

A schedule posted on the Little League Baseball Web site, www.littleleague.org, has Williston facing off against Massachusetts on Friday. The Vermont team is scheduled to play Rhode Island on Saturday, Connecticut on Sunday and New Hampshire on Tuesday. Maine also has a team in the tournament.

The top four teams move on to the semifinals, scheduled for Thursday. The regional championship is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9.

“I'll make one prediction only. And that prediction is, these young men will represent their community with pride and distinction,” Will Mikell said. “We belong where we're at.”

Editor Greg Duggan contributed to this article.

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House by house: Analyzing schools

July 31, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Broken down by house, Williston's 2007 scores on the New England Common Assessment Program reveal differences between the teams, though District Principal Walter Nardelli said the information only demonstrates a part of what students are learning.

In the upper houses, average math scores ranged from 74 percent to 89 percent of students scoring proficient or higher; reading scores ranged from 71 percent to 84 percent proficiency or higher; and writing scores ranged from 48 percent to 71 percent proficiency or higher.

Lower house math scores of proficient or higher ranged from 64 percent to 96 percent; reading scores ranged from 66 percent to 83 percent.

Nardelli provided scores last week for each grade in each house in response to a Vermont Public Record request from the Observer. The numbers used in this story and accompanying graphs represent the average scores for all grades in an academic house.

NECAP averages by house
Percentage of students scoring proficient or higher

The information in these graphs represents the average scores for all grades in an academic house, based on grade-by-grade scores for each house provided by the Williston School District. The school district would not provide the actual names of houses.

Nardelli expressed apprehension over releasing the information, saying it was not meant for “public consumption” and fearing it would keep the town and schools in “further turmoil.”

In recent months, parents have at various community forums and School Board meetings voiced concerns about perceived inequity across the houses.

Nardelli cautioned the scores do not tell the whole truth regarding the equity of education within the houses, and was concerned parents would start requesting transfers of students in the middle of the summer without knowing all the facts.

“People are going to have assumptions that aren't true,” he said. “It is normal that you'll get differences between houses.”

Since 2005, NECAP tests have been administered to students in grades three through eight as a way to measure a school's adequate yearly progress, according to Michael Hock, director of educational assessment for the Vermont Department of Education. Grades five and eight are tested on writing. Adequate yearly progress must be measured under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Nardelli said the school receives the NECAP scores on a school, grade and individual student basis from the DOE. To get the house information, the district takes individual test scores and groups them according to the house a student attends.

But Nardelli said no one — including teachers, administrators and him — sees the names of the houses on the NECAP results. The name of the house isn't as important as the results, Nardelli said.

A Vermont Public Record request from the Observer for a key to identify each house with the scores was denied. Cindy Koenemann-Warren, human resources director for Chittenden South Supervisory Union, said in an e-mail to the Observer that no such record exists and would not be provided. She said CSSU consulted with its lawyer in reaching the decision.

“The School District is not required to provide the report in an alternate format nor is it required to create a report that does not currently exist,” Koenemann-Warren wrote.

The results

While the percentage of students scoring proficient or higher in each subject varied by house, most houses were above the state average in the tested subjects. All houses exceed the state math average of 63 percent proficiency.

Only one lower house is below the state reading average of 70 percent proficiency, with another upper house matching the state average. In writing, one upper house matches the state's 48 percent score, while the rest are above the average.

Williston as a school district averaged 79 percent for math, 77 percent for reading, and 63 percent for writing.

Nardelli said the scores are meant to be analyzed at grade levels, not in a house system such as Williston's. He said he's more concerned about balance between grade levels than getting exact scores between houses.

The current house scores don't show student progression through the school system, he said. Nardelli said the best information NECAP testing provides is how a particular student is improving in math and reading through the school years.

Hock of the DOE agreed, stating the important issue is that students are meeting the state standards.

“If I was the principal, I would hope each house was scoring above the state averages,” Hock said, adding he believes Williston consistently has strong scores.

Nardelli said a number of factors could explain some of the variances in scores across the houses, including the distribution of special education and economically disadvantaged students. Statistically, neither group performs as well as its peers on the NECAP tests, Nardelli said, a problem the school is trying to fix. And while the administration strives to balance the number of special education students and economically disadvantaged students across the houses, it does not always work out equally.

Also, the movement of students in and out of town, or between houses, can affect the scores of a house each year. The chemistry between students in the houses, and between teachers and students, can also affect scoring.

“It's not black and it's not white,” Nardelli said. “It's a gray area.”

Asked if he believed the NECAP tests are the best way to measure a student's academic abilities, Nardelli shook his head and said, “No.” What's important is that students know how to learn in life, not how to learn to take a test, he said.

“The fact is Williston kids know how to learn,” Nardelli said.

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School Board finalizes plans for Frameworks

July 31, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

In anticipation of the first Williston School District Conceptual Frameworks Committee meeting this Thursday, the School Board and administrators met for one final special meeting to finalize details on how the committee should proceed.

Frameworks facilitator Mary Jane Shelley of TriFocal Consulting was on hand to help board members and school officials put the final touches on the committee's assigned tasks during the Monday afternoon meeting, as well as determine the summer and fall meeting schedule.

The Conceptual Frameworks Committee, a group of administrators, parents, teachers and students, formed recently to develop a plan for the future of the school district.

Shelley reiterated the importance of the committee's work.

“The reason this is happening is because people have strong opinions and you're responding to that,” Shelley said.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place Thursday, July 31 from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In attendance on Monday were School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth and board members Laura Gigliotti, Deb Baker-Moody and Holly Rouelle. District Principal Walter Nardelli, Williston Central School Principal Jackie Parks and Allen Brook School Principal John Terko were also on hand, as were Jude Newman, director of curriculum and instruction for CSSU, and Sandy Raymond, administrative assistant for CSSU.

During the three-hour meeting, the group discussed the desired outcomes of the Frameworks Committee, as well as what obstacles the committee may face.

Parks said she wanted to see transparency and trust return between the school system and parents.

“The community needs to start rebuilding trust,” Parks said.

Nardelli said he wanted to see the community share a common vision of the future of student learning. With the world moving so fast, he said he wants the community to look ahead, not behind. Several board members agreed.

“Everything that we do is to better the experience our students have in Williston,” Rouelle said.

Worth said she hoped for recommendations that would be feasible to implement, and wanted to determine classroom structures that would garner more support from the public.

“I think we have very high hopes for this committee,” Worth said.

Nardelli hoped the committee would understand that some recommendations may not be ready for implementation right away and some things could take years to take effect.

“No matter what happens, there will be educational gains and losses,” Nardelli said. “Even though the model may look great, there are still going to be some sides that are missing, no matter how you cut it. The committee has to realize that.”

Shelley told the group that achieving these goals would not come easily and they discussed what might get in the way of a successful Frameworks Committee.

“We're operating under a highly charged, emotional backdrop here,” Newman said. “Being able to suspend judgment will be real difficult for some folks here.”

Worth said she hoped rumors and misinformation would not spread, adding that the public would be able to dispel any rumors by asking members of the School Board via e-mail or by referencing the committee minutes online.

The group decided committee minutes would be posted on the school district Web site within five days after the meetings, with agendas being posted at least three days before meetings.

Other business

The group added to the Frameworks Committee ad hoc members Newman and University of Vermont professor Cynthia Reyes, a Williston resident and middle school education expert. The ad hoc members will not be voting members, but will be on hand during certain meetings to offer expertise and guidance.

The group also decided the School Board would hear the Frameworks Committee's final report and recommendations during the mid-December School Board meeting; the timeline will allow a board vote to be taken by January in time for school budget finalizations.

“All recommendations have to be reviewed and (calculated) out,” Worth said. “We're not sure what can even be implemented the following year.”

Nardelli suggested a community forum in January where the board could present the Frameworks recommendations and possible budget costs to the public.

“It's going to cost some money to do this,” Nardelli said. “I guarantee it.”

The group decided the public forum would take place on Jan. 8, 2009. The School Board then plans to vote on the recommendations at its Jan. 15 meeting.

While the Frameworks Committee is meeting, the public will have a chance to comment at the end of each session.

A Frameworks Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 14 was moved to Monday, Aug. 11 to accommodate scheduling conflicts. The meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Williston Central School. The rest of the meetings are scheduled to take place two Thursdays each month through December.

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Fire log

July 31, 2008

Car accidents

•    On July 11 at 12:59 p.m., crews responded to a multi-vehicle accident at the intersection of Williston Road and Industrial Avenue. They found three vehicles had collided with each other in a domino effect. According to the fire report, a 2004 Kia sedan rear-ended a 1996 Dodge Dakota, which in turn rear-ended a 1997 Mercury Marquis.
St. Michael’s College Rescue and Essex Rescue responded to reports of injuries. Patients from the Kia and Mercury were transported to Fletcher Allen Healthcare.
Fire crews cleaned up the fluids at the accident site. Engines 3 and 4 responded, along with the Hazmat truck and command car. Seven crew members were on scene.

•    A multi-vehicle accident was reported on July 15 at 3:51 p.m. Crews responded to the intersection of Industrial Avenue and North Brownell Road to find a Ford F-150 had rear-ended a Ford Ranger. Both cars had significant damage.
St. Michael’s College Rescue responded to the scene and transported two patients from the Ford Ranger to Fletcher Allen Health Care. The driver of the F-150 refused treatment.
Fire crews assisted in patient care and cleaned an oil and gas spill from the accident site. Engine 3 and the Hazmat truck responded. Six crew members were on scene for 45 minutes.

•    Crews responded to a multi-vehicle accident in the parking lot of Taft Corners Shopping Center on July 20 at 5:03 p.m. A Ford Taurus and Chrysler Town & Country collided, receiving moderate damage. There were 10 patients on scene, but no major injuries and all parties refused treatment.
Soon after, at 5:11 p.m., a multi-vehicle accident was reported on Interstate 89 northbound, one mile south of exit 12. Three vehicles were involved, with two crashing into a guardrail. Two cars drove off before crews arrived and one car was towed. Vermont State Police also responded.
Engines 1 and 3 responded to both scenes, along with the Hazmat vehicle and cars 2 and 3. Eleven crew members responded to both, as well.

Information provided by Williston Fire Department.

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Vermont native joins ranks of Williston Police

July 31, 2008
By Marianne Apfelbaum
Observer staff 

“It's kind of like the Wild West up there.”

That's how the newest member of the Williston Police force describes the setting of his previous job.

Officer Joshua Moore, 24, joined the Williston Police Department last week after two years working in St. Albans City, where he said, “It was violent … lots of domestics, fights with knives, guns and bats. You had to be on your toes.”

Moore is excited to be in a new town, one that is placing an increasing emphasis on community policing and service. But he is not naïve about the realities of police work, no matter where you are.

“Just because it is Williston doesn't mean there are not bad people and bad things going on,” he said.

Indeed, Williston's weekly police log is filled with everything from burglaries to fights to DUIs, but the variety is one of the things Moore enjoys most about police work.

Contributed photo
Williston’s newest police officer, Joshua Moore, gets sworn in last week by Town Clerk Deb Beckett.

“I like going to work and not knowing what is going to happen,” Moore said with a smile last week while on duty at the station. “I can't sit around and do a desk job.”

His ambition and dedication to community service run in the family. His father is the founder and director of an alternative high school in Barre and his mother is a nurse at Fletcher Allen Health Care. One of his two sisters is a student, while the other works for the American Cancer Society in Washington, D.C.

A native son, Moore grew up in Jericho and currently lives in Colchester with his wife, Kathryn. He received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Castleton State College and graduated from the Vermont Police Academy in 2006.

Graduation was a significant milestone for Moore, who had always wanted to be in law enforcement. As a youngster, Moore “knew lots of police officers and really looked up to them,” he said.

Moore chose Williston as the next step in his career because “it is one of the best police departments I know of in the state. It has lots of respect from other departments.” He also noted the positive attitude of his co-workers and the town as a whole.

“You can tell from this facility (the relatively new police headquarters), and the police officers' attitudes, it seems like everyone wants to be here,” he said, adding, “It makes your job easier when you have support from the community.”

With the hiring of Moore, the police department is now fully staffed, albeit without Police Chief Jim Dimmick in the office. As reported in the Observer last week, Dimmick is recuperating from a stroke he suffered on July 12 while vacationing in New York. Town Manager Rick McGuire and Detective Sgt. Bart Chamberlain are filling in temporarily until more is known about when Dimmick might return to full-time duty.

Chamberlain is happy to have Moore on board to help. He praised Moore's professionalism and thinks he will be a “good fit” for Williston. “He is very service-oriented. He is compassionate and I like the way he relates to the public,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain also noted Moore's track record with his previous employer.

“He is extremely well thought of in St. Albans City. He was recently promoted there to detective, which is virtually unheard of (after such a short time). They recognized his potential.”

Moore said he felt coming to Williston and policing a larger area represented a lateral move in his career, one that will allow him to focus more on community outreach.

Among others, Moore credits his father with the advice that set him up for success. “Hard work goes a long way,” Moore said his father always told him. “It has for me so far.”

[Read more…]

Letters to the Editor

Eat Mexican to Support Little League

In an effort to help support and ease some of the cost to Williston Little League families, we are holding a fundraiser at Mexicali Restaurant. On Monday August 11, 10 percent of all sales will be donated to the team to help defray costs incurred from their trip to the Eastern Regional Championship in Bristol, Conn.

So, come enjoy lunch, dinner, take out or just drinks. Mexicali is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. A huge congratulations to all the players, coaches and parents!

Nick Charboneau,
Mexicali Grill, Williston

Congrats to Williston
Little League

Williston should be very proud of the boys from the Williston Little League. They are the first ever 11- and 12-year-old All-Star State Champions from the Town of Williston!

I also want to congratulate the 9- and 10-year-old and 11-year-old teams that had great runs in their district tournaments.

As a former coach, I was very proud of my teams because of their great work ethic and determination in preparing for and playing in this tournament, and although we never reached the heights of this team, we played hard, were competitive to the end, had fun and learned some valuable and tough lessons. I am well aware of the effort and time put in by the players, coaches and parents and they should be proud of what they accomplished.

We wish you all the luck in Bristol as you continue your quest to get to Williamsport.

Congratulations to the coaches, the parents, the Williston Little League Organization and most of all to those players who made Williston proud — way to go Williston Little League!

Doug Teator
Editor's note: This letter arrived just after the 11- and 12-year-old All-Star team captured the Vermont title.

Negotiation clarification

The “Community Forum” in the Observer is a wonderful avenue for community members to voice their opinions. However, when community members state facts about our education system that are simply not accurate, they do a disservice to our schools and to our community. Phil Ronco's Guest Column on July 31 was incorrect when he wrote, “However, the fact that the teachers' contracts are negotiated behind closed doors by the School Board (consisting of teachers from other districts) strikes me as a rather blatant conflict of interest.”

Negotiations are done as a Chittenden South Supervisory Union district committee and there are two school board representatives on that committee from the Williston School Board. Currently, there is only one teacher employed by another district on the Williston School Board — myself. To avoid conflict of interest, I have never served on the district negotiations committee. Board members Darlene Worth and Keith Roy, both non-teachers, were the Williston representatives during the last negotiations process.

Not only am I a teacher, but I am also a Williston taxpayer, faced with a 40 percent increase on my property tax bill … how does that make me “exempt” from “economic reality?”

Community members with questions about how school boards function can find information at the Vermont School Boards Association Web site www.vtvsba.org or by contacting Williston School Board directors (phone numbers and e-mails are listed in the Speak Your Mind section of the Observer each week).

Holly Rouelle
Williston parent and taxpayer
Essex Town School District educator
Williston School Board vice chairwoman

[Read more…]

Guest column

How will I survive?

By Ginger Isham
August 7, 2008

With the price of gas, and predictions for high costs of fuel for keeping warm this winter, how am I going to survive on a budget and fixed income? There is no way I can control what I have to pay for gas or fuel except to shop around.

I am retired, so my health insurance is somewhat stable. I have limited control over some of my health costs. I need to visit my dentist on a regular basis, have routine check-ups and tests to prevent more serious problems and higher medical expenses. Here, I have some control. Exercise is a key to keeping well and feeling good. It helps keep the blood pressure down, the blood sugar under control, the body moving and the blood flowing. My diet and what I eat is a factor also of which I have control.

Even though the cost of food has gone up, I have some control in this area. I can use coupons and have more than one supermarket to shop at in close range. I can stick to the basics of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and protein, whole-grain breads and cereals. I do not have to make recipes that call for unusual and expensive ingredients or a lot of seasonings and ingredients. I can choose what quick method of cooking I use and length of time food needs to be cooked.

I can choose what I buy or make for family gifts, making sure they are practical and useful. I can visit the local discount stores for greeting cards or make my own. The computer has many verses for all occasions. I can wrap gifts in leftover wallpaper, use wallpaper borders with tissue paper, brown bags with markers, new towels or even the Sunday funny papers. I can recycle gift-wrap, like we always did at Christmas as a child.

I can use old puzzles and games with missing parts for crafts, such as filling in the outline of a flower, car or house with matching puzzle pieces as a frame for a gift for a grandchild, or I can help the grandchild make his or her own gift. I can buy inexpensive material or gently used material and make pillowcases as gifts.

I can make my own centerpieces by placing candles, outdoor greens and flowers in containers I have on hand.

I can shop for clothes and shoes only when there is a sale or I can visit the gently used shops. I remember the excitement of hand-me-downs as a child and in my own family today–the idea that something nice was free and did not cost anything!

I can watch movies at home rather than go out. I can make my own popcorn and snacks. I can invite friends in for movie night. I can bring out the old games of Scrabble, Checkers and Pictionary, and card games of hearts, rummy and flapjack. Today my granddaughter and I enjoy the card game Skip-Bo.

I can do all these things easily because I have had the luxury of learning how to do them in the past when I had the misfortune not to have so many stores available to tell me what I need to survive in this life.

Ginger Isham is a longtime Williston resident and former co-owner of Maple Grove Bed & Breakfast. She writes a biweekly “Recipe Corner” column in the Observer.

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