August 31, 2015

Sales tax revenue falls again11/20/08

Numbers may reflect economic downturn

Nov. 20, 2008
By Greg Elias
Observer staff

Local sales tax revenue fell 11.8 percent in the third quarter, another ominous sign that national economic woes may be hitting home in Williston — though other factors likely contributed to the decline as well.

The town received $598,258 from the local option tax during the months of July, August and September. That’s $80,463 less than the same period in 2007.

Williston relies on the tax to fund about a third of the municipal budget. The new sales tax numbers have Town Manager Rick McGuire concerned but still hoping for a rebound in the near future.

Revenue from the sales tax “continues to be very weak, but we’re hoping it won’t go down a lot more,” he said.

There is evidence that the latest slide in local sales tax revenue mirrors numerous negative developments in the national economy and may foreshadow an even larger drop in coming months.

The numbers predate the announcement last month that Linens ‘n Things was going out of business and last week’s bankruptcy filing for Circuit City. Both chains have stores in Williston.

Proceeds from the statewide sales tax are also falling, a change from earlier this year when Vermont enjoyed rising revenue even as Williston’s sales tax numbers declined.

“Right now, we’re in the middle of a typical economic downturn,” said Jeff Carr, president of Economic & Policy Resources in Williston. “With the economy down, it’s not surprising that you see downward pressure on sales tax revenue.”

Consumers have stopped using credit to purchase big-ticket items like appliances and flat-screen televisions, Carr said. Some of Williston’s largest retailers sell such items.

Since 2002, Williston has collected a 1 percent local option tax that is tacked onto the state’s 6 percent sales tax. The levy has allowed the town to significantly reduce reliance on property taxes to fund municipal services.

But changes in state rules in 2007 apparently wounded Williston’s cash cow. Vermont now levies the sales taxes based on a purchase’s destination, so Williston and the other towns with a local sales tax receive no revenue when items are shipped elsewhere. Since the rule change, local sales tax revenue has fallen in six of seven quarters.

Williston has slightly raised the property tax and increased its budget reserves to deal with the declining sales tax revenue. The town currently has about $1 million to cover shortfalls or unexpected expenses.

Another factor in this quarter’s sales tax decline was a pair of tax holidays in July. The state has promised rebates to towns with local option taxes. McGuire expects Williston to receive about $10,000.

McGuire suspects that the town’s revenue losses may have been much larger, theorizing the tax holidays siphoned off sales that would have occurred before and after the holidays.

Though local sales tax revenue was already falling, it appears that the latest decline may be tied to the national recession.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that retail sales fell 2.8 percent in October, the largest single-month decline on record.

The state saw a 3.6 percent drop in sales tax revenue for the four-month period ending Oct. 31, said Susan Mesner, an economist with the Vermont Tax Department. The state this week plans to revise downward its forecast for all revenue sources.

The most recent drop in Williston’s sales tax proceeds points out its pitfalls as a revenue source, Carr said.

When times are good, local residents enjoy bargain-priced government services, he said. When the economy declines, other types of taxes must be raised or services cut at the worst possible time.

“This is the dark side of funding public services with a cyclically sensitive source of revenue,” Carr said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

[Read more…]

Students give waste the heave-ho at CVU11/20/08

Nov. 20, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Sounds of laughter drifted out from a bright orange tent as smiling Champlain Valley Union High School students stood in a circle, giddily ripping apart garbage bags last Thursday. Candy and chip wrappers stood out in an odorous pile of half-eaten sandwiches, fruits and granola bars. Plastic bottles rolled out of the mess when a slight breeze blew by. Students, some wearing what looked like hazmat jumpsuits, laughed with each other and mocked their peers for tossing out clearly useable items and foods.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
CVU seniors use claws to sift through garbage bags at the school’s Trash on the Lawn Day.

Students in Susan Strack’s environmental science class, as well as members of CVU’s Environmental Club, tore apart bags of last Tuesday’s garbage in an effort to sort the waste and determine what students were throwing away instead of recycling.

“The environmental class uses the data to make change here at CVU,” Strack said.

This was the third year for CVU’s Trash on the Lawn Day, and progress in recycling and composting was evident just in the numbers.

The high school reduced its daily trash output by nearly 170 pounds from last year’s numbers. The 2007 Trash on the Lawn Day counted 482 pounds of trash, while this year saw 312 pounds.

Jen Sankey, the waste reduction coordinator for the Chittenden Solid Waste District, said she’s overseen similar Trash on the Lawn Days in Essex and Colchester, and at Mount Mansfield Union High School. She said CVU continues to be a leader in recycling and composting.

“It’s amazing how much you can tell about a school or individual by what they throw away,” Sankey said.

According to Strack, the school reduced its Styrofoam waste by 98 percent, metal can recyclables by 88 percent, and compostable items by 68 percent.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Charlotte junior Kate Litke and Williston senior Dylan Fath, co-presidents of Champlain Valley Union High’s Environmental Club, help sort garbage and recyclables last Thursday during the school’s third annual Trash on the Lawn Day.


“That’s huge,” Strack said. “We had half the bags we had last year.”

Environmental Club co-president and Williston senior Dylan Fath agreed.

“We’ve eliminated a lot of Styrofoam with some of the changes in the lunchroom,” Fath said as he helped sort trash and recyclables into labeled piles.

Last spring, the Food Service staff and the Environmental Club helped get new reusable plates for the cafeteria, along with a better composting system. Fath believes those changes made a world of difference. It also made the sorting time go by faster with less garbage.

In past years we have been out on the lawn ripping open bags and sorting trash well through third block,” Fath said, referring to the school’s lunch period. “This year however, we were done opening new bags halfway through third block.”

The sorting of trash began at the beginning of second block.

Plastic bottles seemed to be the problem item this year. Strack said students discovered 31.5 pounds of plastic bottles, mostly from classroom trash bags. Fath said since most bottles came from classroom trash bags, there needed to be more recycling opportunities school-wide.

“The simple solution may just be putting a few more recycling bins out by the trash cans in the halls and in other commons areas,” he said.

As trash and reusables collected in different areas, students agreed the hands-on experience reinforced the need for recycling. Charlotte senior Virginia Farley said she helped out with the event two years ago and took the environmental class this year because she’s interested in pursuing environmental science in the future. While she likes the fact students recycle more, she’s hoping they’ll continue to curb their waste.

“The fact that there’s still so much uneaten foods people throw out is disheartening,” Farley said. “I just found a non-eaten cookie, and the cookies are good here.”

But overall, Fath said he couldn’t complain with Thursday’s results. He said CVU has made a concerted effort in reducing all its waste, from saving electricity by turning off computers at the end of the day, to reducing paper waste by using more electronics-based programs.

“As you can see, the CVU society certainly cares about our footprint,” Fath said.

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New England meet challenges CVU runners (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008

While the Champlain Valley Union High boys and girls cross country teams finished well back of the leaders this past weekend in the New England Cross Country Championships at Manchester, N.H., each claimed second place among the Vermont Division 1 competitors.

The girls, who lost to Essex in the recent state meet at Thetford, finished 14th overall. Among the Green Mountain State teams, they placed second to St. Johnsbury Academy (11th) but well ahead of the Hornets (26th).

Summer Spillane (79th) was the top CVU individual finisher among 279 female runners.

The Redhawks’ Tony Sulva came in 39th among the 266 boys to claim the second best Vermont finish. The boys team took 17th place, placing behind 10th place Essex, the top Vermont team.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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CVU sends Gault to football

Nov. 13, 2008

Matt Gault, the four-year, 300-pound lineman for the Champlain Valley Union High football team, has been chosen to play in Saturday’s North-South Vermont Senior Bowl at Middlebury College.


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
Champlain Valley Union High football player Matt Gault (64) sets a block during a game against Winooski earlier this fall. Gault will play in the North-South Vermont Senior Bowl at Middlebury College on Saturday.

“He is a strong kid and a good kid,” CVU head coach Jim Provost said of Gault, who was one of four captains on the 2008 team.

Gault is one of 44 senior players to represent the North team in the contest. Six of the players hail from CVU’s Division 3.

The game kicks off at noon.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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CVU football not just for boys (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Her older sister, Tova, was a valuable member of the Champlain Valley Union High girls soccer team before graduating this past spring.


    Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Tallon Tomasi (4) stands with her junior varsity football teammates during a game against Rice Memorial High last month. Tomasi was the first female to compete in football games at Champlain Valley Union High.


    Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Champlain Valley Union High junior varsity football player Tallon Tomasi (4) sets up for a play against Rice Memorial High on Oct. 20.

Brother Tino was a star on the boys varsity soccer team as a sophomore this fall.

But freshman Tallon Tomasi gets her athletic kicks in a different way during the autumn season: She plays football.

As a member of the CVU junior varsity gridiron squad, Tallon Tomasi played running back and, late in the season, defensive cornerback for the Redhawks.

In a 22-6 victory over Mount Abraham Union, Tomasi got loose for a 50-yard touchdown run late in the game to clinch the victory.

“She has an uncanny ability to find the seams and then accelerate into the open field,” jayvee coach Rahn Fleming said of the freshman scat back.

Fleming added that the smallish but speedy Tomasi was used as “a situational back,” and played for two or three offensive series in each contest.

He said she is the first girl to actually compete in football games at CVU.

The idea that football is a hard-nosed sport does not trouble Tomasi. Late in the season she got some time in on defense and added, with a bright smile, “I tackled a couple of people.”

Tomasi said the notion of playing football came to her from watching the sport on television.

“It looked like fun,” she said.

So last fall Tomasi signed up and played with the South Burlington Dolphins in the junior high age league where Fleming, then coaching the CVU area Buccaneers, saw her in action.

This season’s tryouts at CVU, she said, had her, “really scared at first.” But after the usual grind with conditioning, she said she settled into the routine.

“The physical part was pretty much what I expected, but the plays were hard to remember,” Tomasi added.

She also pointed out that there was a lot of support from the boys on the team, even those she would scamper away from for big gains during scrimmage contests.

Tomasi said her family is okay with her choice of fall sport, even though her mother “thinks I’m kind of crazy.”

She is eyeing a possible try at wrestling this winter and then a go at club rugby in the spring.

And in autumn of ’09, football is once again in the plan.

“I asked Tallon if she is going to play this coming year,” said head coach Jim Provost. “She said yes. That is what I wanted to hear.”


[Read more…]

Committee extends deadline for configuration recommendations (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Major configuration changes to the Williston schools may have to wait another year.

The Conceptual Frameworks Committee, originally scheduled to make its recommendations for configuration changes to the School Board in January, is now set to work into the spring before reaching a decision. The extended timeframe will push back any implementation of changes from the 2009-2010 school year to the following year.

The School Board approved the time extension last month, and the Frameworks Committee talked at its Oct. 16 meeting about its schedule moving ahead. The committee will meet through the spring to discuss issues of school configuration and house equity.

Special teacher and community forums are also planned. The first community-wide forum is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24. from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the cafeteria. The second community forum is scheduled for Jan. 12.

Explaining the reason for the schedule change, Frameworks facilitator Mary Jane Shelley said the amount of work was too much to sort through before the January deadline, which had been established because the School Board wanted to hear configuration recommendations before putting together next school year’s budget.

The Frameworks Committee is now scheduled to come up with a final configuration recommendation in March, which will then take a full school year to be implemented. The 2009-2010 school budget will reflect plans to work on a future configuration, while the 2010-2011 school budget will likely see the full impact of any new configurations, Shelley said.

Discussions on house equity will likely occur around the end of March and beginning of April, Shelley said.

Shelley said she’s “extremely pleased” the board agreed to give the committee more time to work, which will create a less rushed atmosphere.

“It’s a realistic time frame,” Shelley said. “It will give the committee more voice.”

The Frameworks Committee, which grew out of last spring’s public debate about the best configuration options, is charged with making recommendations on how to improve configuration, house equity and communication between the school and the community.

Recommendations for improved communication were to be presented to the School Board at its Wednesday evening meeting, after the Observer went to press. According to the minutes from the committee’s October meeting, the board would hear suggestions to create more consistent communication with the community, better respond to parent concerns, increase communication, improve the functioning of Families as Partners and enhance the district’s Web site.

Shelley said it was important for the committee to hear from a number of sources in determining configuration recommendations. To do so, the committee will be hearing more from teachers and the community. Two voluntary teacher forums and two community forums are in the works to give as many people as possible a say on what they’d like to see in a new configuration.

The community forums would be more workshop-based, with attendees joining small groups to work on specific ideas dealing with configuration. The small groups will be facilitated by a member of the Frameworks Committee, who will have to remain impartial during discussions. Shelley said this process would allow for better and more pointed debate on key issues.

The first teacher forum is scheduled for Nov. 18, with the second forum happening in December. The first community forum is scheduled for Nov. 24 at the Williston Central School. The second will occur in January. If necessary, there may be a community-wide survey in January or February, Shelley said.

In the meantime, the committee brainstormed what was working and what wasn’t working with the current configuration at its Nov. 6 meeting. Several topics were discussed, including opportunities for students to mingle with others in their grades, teachers teaching to their subject strengths, opportunities for older and younger students to interact, and a configuration that supports safe and respectful behavior throughout the school.

The committee will decide which issues are seen as “critical” and “important” at its Nov. 20 meeting at Williston Central School, starting at 6 p.m. The time and exact location for the Nov. 24 community forum is forthcoming.


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Williston students turn to Stern Center for extra help (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The Williston School District and the Stern Center for Language and Learning began teaming up this month to close the achievement gap that exists between certain groups of students and their peers.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
The Stern Center for Language and Learning, located on Allen Brook Lane, has seen an influx of clients as certain Williston students received money for extra tutoring.

In the subjects of math and reading, Stern Center tutors are now bolstering the work of teachers to make sure all students receive a high level of education, said Sally Conant, program director for the center.

“Williston is really working so hard to meet the needs of their students,” Conant said. “It’s nice to be able to supplement a program they’re already getting 90 minutes a day.”

The school district has been required by the Vermont Department of Education to provide supplemental services to economically disadvantaged students who failed the New England Common Assessment Program exams, commonly referred to as NECAP tests. Economically disadvantaged students are those who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Twenty-five students were registered by their parents for the services by the Nov. 1 deadline, said District Principal Walter Nardelli. Families had a choice of where to enroll their children, based on a list approved by the Department of Education. School districts did not have a say in which provider a family could choose.

All Williston students chose the supplemental services from the Stern Center, Nardelli said.

Williston, along with 22 other Vermont schools, did not meet the required improvements on the NECAP tests for Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, over the past three years in the areas of low income or special education students. Thus, the district had to provide the extra services.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to track student improvement each year to ensure they make AYP. Vermont measures progress through the NECAP tests, which are given to students in grades three through eight. The exams test students in math and reading, as well as writing in grades five and eight. This year’s NECAP tests took place in October.

Each qualifying student gets upwards of $1,900 to spend on the supplemental services. The money comes from the district’s federal Title 1 funds for low income students. Families can choose how often their children receive tutoring, from a couple times a week to a couple times a month. The Stern Center charges $80 an hour for tutoring. Once the funding runs out for the student, families can opt to pay out of their own pocket for continued services.

Ed Wilkens, development director for the Stern Center, said the supplemental services requirement has brought an “influx” of new students to the center.

“That has certainly increased any given number of students who need the help,” Wilkens said.

And while it may look like schools are being punished for not achieving AYP, the supplemental services are a great benefit to families.

“Families necessarily wouldn’t have had the resources needed to help their child before coming here,” Wilkens said.

Founded in 1983 by Dr. Blanche Podhajski, the nonprofit Stern Center helps students receive one-on-one and small group help in literacy and other academic subjects. Headquartered in Williston, the center also has a location in White River Junction and aids students from across the state.

Conant said there are many reasons that some Williston students lag behind their peers in terms of learning literacy and math. Some students may have missed out on certain “building blocks” of early learning, such as being read to at a young age or learning the basics of reading comprehension. Also, new students coming into Williston sometimes have a hard time adjusting to new teaching styles and seek the added help, she said.

Conant said students in kindergarten through third grade need 120 minutes a day in literacy and math instruction. If students begin falling behind in learning time, it makes it much harder to make up the achievement gap as it grows wider in later grades, she added.

“Most of the students need more time, and there’s never enough time,” Conant said.

In helping students with literacy, tutors at the Stern Center regularly read aloud and help them understand basic phonics. Making the connections between reading and comprehension is also an important aspect of the service. Conant finds math to be a “double challenge” because so much of it is based on comprehension, and therefore, literacy.

Conant is optimistic for Williston students who are enrolled with the supplemental services and said there is “no question” the district will be able to close the achievement gap. She said with the combination of Williston’s hands-on approach and the Stern Center’s supplemental service, families will start seeing positive results.

“Williston has been very proactive,” Conant said. “They care so much for their students.”


[Read more…]

Police Notes (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008


• Burglars attempted to enter Dental Ceramics on James Brown Drive on Nov. 3, according to police reports. Police found four doors with “pry marks,” the report notes. The investigation is ongoing.

• About $200 was stolen from Lacillade Lumber on Essex Road last weekend, after a burglar “came in through a window,” according to police reports. The investigation is ongoing.

• A home on Butternut Road was broken into on Nov. 6, but nothing was taken, according to police reports. Police found glass on the floor and noted the “house had been ransacked,” the report notes. Fingerprints were taken and the investigation is ongoing.

Driving with suspended license

• On Nov. 3, Bart Hutchings, 32, of Colchester was charged with driving with a suspended license “following a suspension for DUI,” according to police reports.

• Robert Robbins, 28, of Burlington was charged with driving with a suspended license on Nov. 8, according to police reports. No information as to the nature of the suspension was released. He was cited to appear in court.


A “homeless man” was found outside of Daddy’s Junky Music on Nov. 4 “talking to himself, (and) scaring customers,” according to police reports. Police called a taxi to take him to a hotel for the night, the report notes.

Driving under the influence

Luis Guadalupe, 56, of Williston was charged with driving under the influence-refusal on Nov. 4, after police responded to a call of a possible drunk driver leaving the Pour House in South Burlington, according to police reports. He was released on a citation to appear in court.


• Several medications were stolen from a vehicle parked at Hannaford on Nov. 5, according to police reports. The investigation is ongoing.

• A canoe was stolen from behind Powderhorn Outdoor Sports on Williston Road on Nov. 7, according to police reports. The case is under investigation.

Wanted person

Benjamin Conroy, 34, of Burlington was arrested and taken to Chittenden County Correctional Center on Nov. 8 on charges of failing “to complete a work release” following a motor vehicle stop, according to police reports.

Peddler’s license needed

Police received complaints from Williston residents regarding men selling Christmas wreaths door-to-door on Nov. 9, according to police reports. Police located one man and told him he needed to get a peddler’s license, which the man agreed to do, the report notes.


[Read more…]

Everyday Gourmet (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008

By Kim Dannies

Teasers for holiday appetites

The holidays are right around the corner, so it’s time to perfect a few tasty teasers. Instead of throwing a full-fledged party this year (or doing nothing at all) consider hosting what my Quebecois friend, Jenn, calls “Cinq à Sept” (arrive at 5 p.m. and depart by 7). Stunning savories and a specialty drink are served, then guests move on to other engagements with appetites piqued. My hors d’oeuvres — retro with a twist — are hearty, healthy and taste heavenly. Go ahead, give it a whirl. Your friends will be pleased, the entertainment budget eased, and you can tease that you slaved all day.

Bubbling baby Reubens

You’ll need about 8 to 10 slices of Swiss cheese and 3 ounces of turkey pastrami. Lightly toast 8 slices of pumpernickel bread, crusts removed. Spread each slice of toast with whole grain Dijon mustard; cut each slice into quarters. Cut slices of Swiss cheese to match bread quarters and place one square on each quarter. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add 2 matching layers of turkey pastrami and one more square of Swiss cheese to each section. Slice each Reuben section in half again. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until cheese is bubbling, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, skewer 48 tiny gherkins (cornichons) with funky toothpicks. Pierce Reuben squares with the cornichons and plate. Makes 64.

Salmon studded deviled eggs

Prep a dozen hard-boiled eggs, preferably organic. (Tip: boil eggs with 1/3 cup salt and cool completely for easier peeling.) Gently combine 6 ounces of chopped smoked salmon (look for salmon “trim” in seafood freezer section); 1 tablespoon baby capers; 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill, 1/3 cup finely minced red onion; 1/3 cup (or less) mayonnaise; kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Split each cooked egg length-wise and remove yolks. Crumble six whole yolks into salmon mixture (reserve remaining yolks for doggies) and mix lightly in with a fork. Loosely dollop small portions into individual egg white halves. Garnish with a light sprinkle of paprika and a wisp of dill green, plate. Makes 24.

Peruvian purples with caviar

Cut 12 small Peruvian purple potatoes in half. Place potatoes in a wide sauté pan and cover with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt; don’t crowd potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 7 to 9 minutes until potatoes are just barely tender. Gently transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and cool. Whisk together 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream, mayo, or cream fraiche with some drained horseradish (to taste), and kosher salt and pepper. Chill. Arrange potatoes on a serving platter and spoon a tiny dollop of cream onto each potato. Top with a pinch of black caviar and then add a small “X” cross of fresh chive over each potato top. Makes 24.

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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Letters to the Editor (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008


Hypocritical guest column

John Holland’s recent Guest Column ad hominem tirade (“Down with Republican conservatism”) is a harbinger of a very narrow-minded individual. Maybe he should take a deep look down inside what he and the Democratic Party truly represent (abortion, homosexual marriage, socialism, blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, wealth distribution, weak national defense, anti-God and family values — to name a few) as the true cause of his apoplexy?

Holland’s meltdown draws disturbingly ignorant and pejorative inferences that conservative Republicans alone, in the name of business, are solely responsible for worldwide hunger and crimes against children and the poor, cause of war, famine and the like. Such asinine and rhetorical conjecture is demonstrative of scaremongering intended to divide and conquer the nation and parties into further alienation, instead of reconciliation. What about conservative Democrats Mr. Holland? Are they not responsible?

I refuse to stoop to Mr. Holland’s level and visceral approach, so, I will remind him of his dearth of historical perspective and facts regarding Republicans and Democrats alike.

Emblematic significances attributed to both parties are noteworthy — and not so noteworthy — and too deep to fit in these pages. But just remember, Mr. Holland, your Democratic party also supported and voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats in majority also voted overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate to bail out Wall Street and big business to the tune of $700 billion (and counting) because Democratic Congressman Barney Frank lied about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac being solvent when they weren’t — and then stuck it to us taxpayers, both Democrat and Republican alike. Did you forget about this Mr. Holland?

It is also you and the Democrats, Mr. Holland, that are equally responsible and culpable for such atrocities against humanity (and then some) — and against us American taxpayers.

Such hypocrisy.

Steve Letares



Holland and Marx

In reading the guest column piece penned by John M. Holland titled “Down with Republican conservatism,” (Nov. 6, 2008) I was struck by the sheer ignorance of the author. At a time when many in this country are seeking unity, Holland offers one of the most hateful and ridiculous opinions yet to grace the pages of the Observer. If this was Mr. Holland’s attempt at political humor, then apparently the joke went over my head. However, if this is truly the belief of the author, I have to wonder why he has not chosen to reside outside the United States of America.

Perhaps he can find a used time machine and become neighbors with Karl Marx.

Tony O’Rourke



Holland had it wrong

The Nov. 6 Guest Column (“Down with Republican conservatism”) is yellow-garbage journalism. The Williston Observer sure allowed John Holland to make himself look like a fool.

A brief Democratic and Republican history — which most Vermonters should know, or should at least be made aware of:

Collectively speaking, Republicans are responsible for the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery. Historically speaking, Democrats are responsible for oppression and tyranny against African-Americans — one who just so happens to be President-elect of the United States of America.

 Jan. 1, 1863: Republican President Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery.

It was Republicans who worked to pass the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, the 14th, which guaranteed equal protection under the laws, and the 15th, which helped secure voting rights for African-Americans.

 Sept. 28, 1868: Democrats in Opelousas, La. killed nearly 300 blacks who tried to foil an assault on a Republican newspaper editor.

 Oct. 7, 1868: Republicans criticized Democrats’ national slogan: “This is a white man’s country: Let white men rule.”

 April 20, 1871: The Republican Congress adopted the Ku Klux Klan Act, banning the pro-Democrat domestic terrorist group.

The Republican Party also played a leading role in securing women the right to vote. In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to favor women’s suffrage. When the 19th Amendment finally was added to the Constitution, 26 of 36 state legislatures that had voted to ratify it were under Republican control.

Fast speed to 2008 – Republicans who crossed party lines are primarily responsible in electing the first black president in U.S. history.

I am not attempting to cajole anyone, but maybe Mr. Holland should know his facts and history about Democrats and his perceived spurious Republican boogeyman propaganda before he spouts junk-science that Democrats are holier-than-thou and the saving grace of the world — because history knows otherwise.

Nicolas Xartopoulos



Representative thank you

Thank you, Williston townspeople, for your trust by returning me to Montpelier as your state representative. This is a labor of love for me. Remember, good government is a participation sport. Tell me what is on your mind. I have a need to know.

State Rep. Jim McCullough, D-Williston


Forum for school configuration options

Please come to the first community forum at Williston Central School’s cafeteria on Nov. 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to updating you on the work the committee has accomplished so far, the Conceptual Frameworks Committee is very interested in hearing your thoughts about general configuration options. Go to the district’s Web site,, click “Conceptual Frameworks Committee,” “Notes and updates from the meetings” and “General Configuration Options” to see the options you will be discussing in small group conversations.

This is the first of two opportunities to let the committee know what’s important to you as family and community members about general configuration options. The second community forum will be held on Jan. 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be focused on more specific configuration options that the committee is considering. At the community forums, committee members and board members have volunteered to be neutral facilitators of small group discussions. Notes will be taken about participants’ thoughts on the configuration options and the information will be brought back to committee members for further discussion. You will have the opportunity to sit at a discussion table with the facilitator of your choice.

In preparation for this forum, please click on “Research Links” to read some research articles about the drawbacks and benefits of various building configurations, multi-age classes, looping and grade span options. This will be important to ensure that all the participants at the forums have some common understanding of the issues.

In the Oct. 23 edition of the School Bell, there was an update explaining the changes to the timeframe of the committee. An updated version is included on the Web site as well. Click on “Notes and updates from the Meetings,” and then “Conceptual Frameworks Committee Update 11-10-08.”

The Conceptual Frameworks Committee


Thanks to election workers

With the presidential election barely behind us it is time to recognize the extraordinary work of our town clerks and their election assistants.

It is not easy to run an election: long lines of voters waiting to check in, voters who can’t remember where they are registered, politicians glad-handing voters outside the polling place, poll watchers who can’t hear names and, this year, piles and piles of absentee ballots to process. And yet, it is essential to our trust in the democratic process that our election workers perform their duties professionally and without bias.

I am proud that Vermont’s town clerks and their election assistants ensured that this year’s election ran smoothly. Congratulations and thanks to all who made this possible!

Deb Markowitz

Secretary of State


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