Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Children and adults enjoy the snow at Rossignol Park hill off Industrial Avenue on Saturday. There was plenty of snow for families to sled, slide and snowboard following last week’s snowstorm, though much of the white stuff had melted by early this week.
Williston survives season’s first major bout with blustery weather
By Tim Simard
While parts of southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts were slammed with New England’s worst ice storm since 1998, the Champlain Valley experienced its first significant snowfall of the season.
Schools were closed across the area on Friday as snow, then sleet and freezing rain made for treacherous road conditions on a cold December day. Luckily, the valley missed the devastating damage and power outages that large portions of New England continued to deal with into this week.
According to National Weather Service data, recorded at Burlington International Airport in South Burlington, just over eight inches of snow fell in the area. Forecasters predicted close to a foot earlier in the week, but a period of sleet and freezing rain tempered snow totals.
It was the same story in Williston, as both Allen Brook School and Williston Central School cancelled classes for the day. Bob Mason, chief operations officer for Chittenden South Supervisory Union, said the superintendent’s office made the decision between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., with help from reports issued by the Department of Transportation.
In spite of the wintry mix, roads improved as the day wore on. Public Works Director Neil Boyden credits the hard work of the town’s plow drivers to stay on top of the storm. As the snow piled up in the middle of the night, crews were out plowing, salting and sanding. Boyden said only one plow broke down out of the seven plows the town owns.
The lack of wind prevented drifting snow from piling up on the roadways, and the timing of the freezing rain kept road conditions from becoming worse than they could have.
“If it had happened at the beginning of the storm, it would have been a different story,” Boyden said.
Sean Soper, a Williston firefighter, said calls for assistance during the overnight and early morning hours of the storm were light. But the department responded to a flurry of accidents and alarms during the last burst of snow late in the morning.
“We had a whole bunch of calls all at once,” Soper said.
Firefighters responded to two building alarms between 10 a.m. and noon on Friday, most likely caused by power surges, Soper said.
Around the same time, crews also responded to a motor vehicle rollover on North Williston Road at 10:53 a.m. Soon after, another crew responded to a car accident at 11 a.m. at the corner of Route 2 and Industrial Avenue, where crews discovered a vehicle had slid into an embankment. No injuries were reported in either accident.
Boyden said crews were out again Sunday evening as wind whipped snow across exposed roads. Plows on East Hill Road, North Williston Road and South Brownell Road fought with snowdrifts as warm air blew into the area.
Much of the snow melted on Monday with warm temperatures and rain showers, but winter returned Wednesday, with three to six inches forecasted to fall across the region. More substantial snow is expected Friday into Saturday, with more possible Sunday into Monday.
Dec. 11, 2008
Six players from the Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team and five from the girls squad have been named to 2008 Coaches All-State Division teams, the All-Metro teams or some combination of the two.
Champlain Valley Union High soccer captain Matt Sulva looks up the field during his team’s regular season finale against South Burlington High. Sulva received multiple All-State honors.
On the boys team, versatile senior Matt Sulva was named to the Coaches All-State Division 1 first team as a back and was also given a spot on the Burlington Free Press All-State first team, which encompasses all divisions in Vermont.
Also named to the coaches Division 1 team were junior back Chris Beaton, senior forward Jack Jesset and sophomore midfielder Tino Tomasi. Beaton and Tomasi were also honorable mentions on the Free Press’ All-State squad.
The four were also All-Metro first team selections while honorable mentions went to senior forward Tom Eddy and senior midfielder Brayden McKenna.
From the girls team, senior midfielder and captain Asia Sienko and junior midfielder Addie Peterson made the coaches All-State Division 1 listing.
Sienko was also named to the Free Press’ All-State second team.
Sienko and Peterson were also All-Metro first team. Kendall Berry, a sophomore, is on the second team. Honorable mentions went to senior Jahala Dudley and junior Lindsay Kingston.
— By Mal Boright, Observer correspondent
Redhawks fresh off Burchard tourney triumph
Dec. 11, 2008
By Mal Boright
With the Burchard Tournament title in hand, the Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team goes into the heart of hockey land on Saturday. The team is set to travel to Montreal for an 11 a.m. contest with Lower Canada College, the alma mater of coach Doug Hopper.
“It’s my old school,” the coach said, adding that he wants to keep the flame alive.
The game provides solid competition for the Redhawks, Hopper noted.
“They have won back-to-back city championships and are strong again this year,” he said.
The two teams met a year ago, with Lower Canada winning, 5-3.
Before motoring to La Belle Province, the 2-0 Redhawks took on Burlington High after press deadline on Wednesday night at Cairns 1 Arena.
CVU is without Tim Reichert for the next few weeks after the forward fractured an ankle Friday night in a 5-2 victory over Rice Memorial High in the Burchard Tournament opener.
“We are going to miss Tim,” Hopper said. “We are keeping our fingers crossed that he will be back in February.”
Five CVU players scored in the game. Afterward, Hopper was particularly impressed with the penalty killing of forwards Ben Soll and J.P. Benoit, who helped keep Rice off the board for some eight minutes during a 5-3 Knights’ player advantage.
In the tournament championship Saturday, the Redhawks struck early and downed Colchester High 3-1 on goals by Sam Spencer, Kyle Logan and Derek Goodwin.
CVU got ahead 2-0 in the first period, wilted a bit in the second and then, according to Hopper, played well in the final reel.
Hopper praised the net minding of junior Mark Albertson, who had 25 saves against the Lakers. The coach also had good words for his defensive crew.
“Colchester has a very strong team,” he concluded.
Dec. 11, 2008
In the wake of Wednesday afternoon’s meeting with 0-2 Rice Memorial High, the Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey team will venture to Essex High on Saturday to tangle with the Hornets at 4:30 p.m.
Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Champlain Valley Union High sophomore Molly Howard (15) skates past a South Burlington defender on Saturday at Cairns Arena.
Coach Tom Ryan and his Redhawks were looking for their first victory Wednesday — the game was set to be played after press deadline — after losses last week to Hartford High (4-1) and South Burlington High (4-2).
The South Burlington loss was a hard one.
Molly Howard fired home a pair of goals for the Hawks, including a vital one with 3:58 remaining in the third period to tie the game at 2.
But just 15 seconds later, the Rebels’ Alie Cunavelis punched in the game-winner after completing an end-to-end rush.
South Burlington added an empty net score in the closing moments.
Nicole Bonneau made 23 stops for CVU, which was outshot 27-14.
— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent
Dec. 11, 2008
By Mal Boright
The 2008-2009 edition of the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team sent a sharp message to its upcoming foes with an opening night rumble past visiting Middlebury Union High.
It was simply that the Giddyap Gang’s unrelenting pressure is coming soon to a court near you.
Fueled by the all-out aggressive court-long play of guards Kendall Berry, Katie Bashaw, Carlee Evans and Amanda Kinneston, the Redhawks broke from the season’s starting gate Monday evening with a blowout 69-38 victory over visiting Middlebury Union High.
Next up for the youthful CVU combine is a Thursday night home contest with 1-0 Vergennes Union High (7 p.m.), followed by a visit from 1-0 South Burlington High at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
According to Middlebury coach Jared Bailey, the Tigers had three-plus starters back from a year ago. The Redhawks lost four of five starters from their Division 1 runner-up club, but the new edition’s hustle and bustle left the alleged more experienced but bewildered visitors looking up from behind all night.
The hard-nosed defenses by CVU, both full and half-court, produced 29 turnovers, which prevented Middlebury from running any sustained offensive patterns. The Tigers hit on just nine of 43 shots from the floor, an icy 21 percent.
While The Gang was creating chaos in the Middlebury backcourt, starters Kendal Kohlash, Renick Lalancette and Allison Gannon, and reserves Becca Russ, Shea Hulbert, Abbie Giles and Caitlin Rock took care of the inside work with effective rebounding and steady scoring.
Kohlasch led the list of 10 — count ‘em, 10 — scorers with 14 points on six-of-nine shooting. Russ had 12 points and Kinneston 10.
The veteran Gannon, a junior and third-year starter, sat out most of the first 16 minutes with foul trouble but played much of the second half and shared the rebound lead with Lalancette. Each had eight grabs from the glass.
High points in the win included:
• Eleven players got into the game and 10 scored. The starters produced 36 points while the reserves knocked in 33.
• The Redhawks were moving the ball well as their 29 baskets (64 shots) came with 16 assists, led by Berry with seven helpers.
• The defensively motivated Hawks never allowed Middlebury to launch any kind of run. Four consecutive points in the second quarter was its best stretch, going from a 29-11 deficit to 29-15.
A potential red flag was the 20 fouls committed, 12 in the first half. The Tigers got to the line for 29 free throws (18 made), compared to nine-for-12 by the Redhawks.
“We were doing some reaching,” coach Stan Williams said.
Overall, the coach was pleased with the performance, noting that the team showed both flexibility and depth.
Coach Matt Lutz’ jayvees did some jiving and rambling of their own as they racked up a 57-25 triumph in the evening’s opener.
L. Kelley 0 5-10 5, Ritter 3 6-7 12, Brown 0 1-2 1, Whittemore 4 1-1 11, J. Kelley 0 1-3 1, Anecharico 1 1-2 3, Scholten 0 1-2 1, Kirkaldy 1 0-0 2, Cox 0 2-2 2. Totals 9 18-29 38.
Kohlasch 6 2-2 14, Lalancette 2 2-2 6, Gannon 2 0-0 5, Berry 4 0-1 8, Bashaw 1 0-0 3, Russ 5 2-2 12, Kinneston 5 0-0 10, Hulbert 1 0-0 2, Rock 0 0-0 0, Giles 1 3-5 5. Totals 29 9-12 69.
Middlebury 8 11 10 9 — 38
CVU 16 21 17 15 — 69
Missisquoi Union High up next
Dec. 11, 2008
By Mal Boright
After dividing its opening two games of the season, the Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team had a few days of practice before venturing out this Friday night to Swanton — the Redhawks had a fixture with 0-2 (going into the week) Missisquoi Valley Union High.
Observer photo by Karen Pike
Champlain Valley Union High’s Jake Donnelly goes up for a basket during Saturday’s game against Mount Anthony Union High.
Observer photo by Karen Pike
The Champlain Valley Union High basketball team reacts from the bench during the final minute of Saturday’s game against Mount Anthony Union.
The Thunderbirds also played twice last week, losing 79-45 at South Burlington High and 76-71 in overtime at North Country Union.
Following the northern trip, the Redhawks return home Tuesday night to entertain South Burlington.
This past Saturday afternoon, coach Scott Bliss’ charges gave the Mount Anthony Union High Patriots some final minute chills before bowing 71-67, as a late bombardment of treys were not quite enough to overtake the visitors.
Bedeviled by second half shooting woes and turnovers, the Redhawks trailed 62-51 with 2:11 left in the game and by 65-56 with 1:03 to go.
Senior Ryan Poirier uncorked a three-pointer with 53.6 seconds left, but the Patriots’ little reserve guard Dennis Brooks hit two free flips at 0:51.5 to restore the lead to 67-59.
CVU senior Jack Jesset (16 points) snapped home a layup with 41 seconds remaining, but Brooks, two seconds later, hit one of two free throws. Mount Anthony guard Kyle Callahan added one of two and it was 69-61 with just over 20 seconds to go.
Redhawk senior John Donnelly opened the bomb bay doors from downtown and buried a three with 19 seconds remaining to close the gap to 69-64 and bring the sizeable crowd to its feet.
The roars became deafening as Mount Anthony turned the ball over against the CVU press and Poirier delivered another three from on the move outside the circle to get the Redhawks within two points, 69-67, with 10.4 seconds left.
Holy cord snappers, Robin.
But in this case, the Red Birds ran out of time. Turnovers on both ends were followed by Callahan’s two foul shots at 2.1 seconds, which iced it for the Patriots.
It was the first game of the campaign for Mount Anthony, which, according to the team’s coaches, returned four starters from last year.
Using isolation and one-on-one drive-for-the-hoop tactics, the Patriots hit 27 of 48 shots for a tidy 56 percent from the floor. Most of their shooting came from within five feet of the wicket on drives into the paint or backdoor cuts.
CVU had success running a similar offense in the first half as a hard-driving Jesset and John Donnelly combined for 28 of the Redhawks’ points in a 32-32 halftime standoff.
But CVU’s shooting went arctic in the final four minutes of the third period as the steady Patriots put together a 14-5 burst to take a 52-47 edge into the final reel.
A 9-2 run by the visitors in the first minutes of the fourth quarter — CVU went 1-for-9 from the floor over the same time period — put Mount Anthony up by 11.
John Donnelly, who had 24 points in Thursday’s 75-52 victory against Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, finished with 27 on Saturday and added eight rebounds. Jake Donnelly chipped in with 10 counters, all in the second half.
In the BFA victory, Jake Donnelly threw in 20 points and Poirier hit for 19, including five tosses from international waters.
Bliss said that after a somewhat tight first half, the Redhawks got out to as much as a 30-point advantage before the Bobwhites closed to within 9 against the CVU bench.
The 1-1 junior varsity, after a win in St. Albans, trailed Mount Anthony by as much as 10 points in the second quarter, but came back to take the lead in the second half only to get nudged 59-53.
MOUNT ANTHONY (71)
Burke 5 0-2 10, Whyte 2 2-3 6, Parmenter 6 3-6 15, Nichols 8 3-3 19, Callahan 4 5-11 13, McVay 1 0-0 2, Rogers 0 1-2 1, Darwell 0 0-0 0, Brooks 1 3-4 5. Totals 27 17-31 71.
Jesset 8 0-0 16, Ja. Donnelly 2 5-5 10, Jo. Donnelly 10 4-6 27, Poirier 3 0-0 8, Beaton 2 0-0 4, Bunbury 1 0-0 2, Nigh 0 0-0 0, Hurd 0 0-0 0, Russ 0 0-0 0, Rensch 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 9-11 67.
MAU 18 14 20 19 — 71
CVU 19 13 15 20 — 67
Dec. 11, 2008
By Tim Simard
Increased teacher support, a new Chinese language program and building improvements are items Champlain Valley Union High School Principal Sean McMannon would like to see as part of next year’s budget. These changes would keep the school at the forefront of learning in Vermont, he said.
On Monday night, McMannon presented decision packets — a list of budget requests for 2009-2010 — to the CVU School Board. Potential additions include more instructional support teachers, updated technology equipment and updates to the capital plan. Overall, McMannon was looking at $342,000 in additions to the current year’s baseline budget of $21.03 million.
Instructional support teachers have a number of important responsibilities, McMannon said, including working with teachers to improve classroom instruction, planning in-service days and coordinating professional development for teachers.
“Having teachers move into these positions would help us greatly,” McMannon said.
McMannon cited former math teacher Charlie MacFadyen’s new job as technology integrationist within CVU as a helpful support position. MacFayden no longer teaches students in a classroom setting.
Also discussed was the possibility of adding a Chinese language teacher, a first for the high school. In a survey taken in November 2007, 33 percent of CVU students wanted to see Chinese as a new language offering — it was the language that drew the most interest from students in the survey. McMannon said the language is an important one in today’s increasingly global culture.
“It would be very helpful to bring in a new language and a non-European language as well,” he said.
In terms of the capital plan, updates to the high school infrastructure should also be considered for next year, McMannon said. A roof, put on in 1981, is in need of replacement over rooms 138 to 158. A new phone system and new public address system also needs to be considered. The total cost of capital improvements would be $120,000, McMannon said.
“The roof repair is our number one priority right now,” he said.
Other decision packets included an experimental program that would allow students to take online courses in a subject area not offered by the school, and then bring those lessons back to CVU classrooms. Additional technology equipment purchases were also discussed.
“We’re trying to progress our school as much as we can and be sensitive to the troubling economic times we’re in,” McMannon said.
School Board Chairwoman Jeanne Jensen said final decisions would come in early January after discussions.
“I’m excited to see these decision packets,” board member Jeff Parker said. “There’s some real neat things in there.”
Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason spoke to the School Board about changes in how CVU pays for greater supervisory union-wide services. Like all districts in CSSU, the high school pays its portion for the superintendent and human resources office. CVU also chips in for other shared services between schools, such as technology departments, transportation and education coordinators.
There are significant increases in shared service costs, Mason explained, since CSSU has reconfigured its formula for how much each district pays. Supervisory union transportation funding needed an overhaul, as did the food service payroll.
The technology portion of CVU’s shared services is going up more than $24,000, or 14 percent, from last year. Mason said the school uses a larger share of technology needs and technician costs.
Next year, CVU’s food service employees will be paid through CSSU rather than through the high school. Essentially, CVU will transfer $302,000 from its food services portion of its budget to the supervisory union. This change occurred after CVU and the Williston School District exchanged employees during Williston’s food service restructuring last year.
“Overall, this will improve the utilization of the talent we have,” Mason said.
A line item in the high school’s food service will reflect the change, Mason said. He added CVU could nix the idea and go back to the way it was if the board chose to do so.
Jensen believed it was worthy of further discussion, although at a later date.
“Discussion will happen after the budget season whether we keep it with CVU or with CSSU,” Jensen said.
School Board discussing alternative funding options
Dec. 11, 2008
By Tim Simard
With private donations slow to appear and a rough economy making a bond vote a tough sell, the fate of Champlain Valley Union High School’s auditorium renovation is up in the air. But members of the CVU School Board agree it needs a drastic update sooner rather than later. Proponents of the auditorium say it’s a vital piece of the CVU community.
“It’s really a classroom in our school,” said Sarah Tischler, co-chairwoman of the auditorium fundraising committee. “It moves kids who might have a home in this school.”
The auditorium is considered the last piece of CVU that needs drastic upgrades. When the school was renovated in 2003, the auditorium was left off due to costs. Save for new seating in 2005, it’s been 44 years since the space has had any major improvements.
The total projected cost of the renovations is around $2.3 million. The School Board has $800,000 in a capital fund that could be moved to a construction fund pending voter approval in March. School Board Chairwoman Jeanne Jensen guessed the school could find another $200,000 for the renovation, but it’s still a long way from the projected cost.
“For me, it’s that nagging checklist item, in that everyone did an amazing job to make (school renovations) happen, but this didn’t happen,” said Principal Sean McMannon. “It’s the one room you go in and it’s not up to where we need to be.”
Tischler said private donations have been slow to come in recently.
“Fundraising has definitely slowed down,” Tischler said. “I admit, I’m having a hard time asking right now.”
Tischler said in the last few weeks, she was able to raise $12,000, bringing the private donation and grant total to $280,000. The goal was to reach $1 million in donations. Tischler said she doesn’t see any big donations coming down the pipe in the future, either.
She said while people are supportive of the renovation, many believe it’s a municipal or infrastructure project, not something that should be privately driven.
“I’m hearing that more now than in the beginning,” Tischler said.
Katie Palmer, a CVU alum and advocate for the auditorium renovation, said she thinks this December is a bad time to ask people for money, but believes there are enough former students who might be willing to donate next year.
“I have no doubt that we’ll get there,” Palmer said.
Jensen suggested three possibilities: wait until next year to see if the economy improves, ask the community to make up the difference with a bond, or take what money is available and work with that.
The board disagreed on whether it should go for a bond. Making up the difference would mean asking for a bond of $500,000. Jensen said the cost to an individual taxpayer would be small, but it’s the idea of more money that could cause the bond to not pass.
“People are having a hard time right now and we need to be sensitive to that,” board member Lia Cravedi said.
Board member Joan Lenes agreed.
“I think it would look insensitive on our part,” Lenes said. “It’s the perception of the times.”
Jeff Parker said he would “entertain” the idea of a bond. He cited rising costs in construction as a reason to do the renovations sooner than later.
“The impact can be very little to each taxpayer and this program deserves it,” Parker said. “I think at some point we need to take some action.”
At next week’s budget meeting, the School Board will hear from Jules Chatot of Banwell Architects, a New Hampshire-based institutional design firm. Chatot designed the CVU renovations and 2003 and has worked with Williston and Charlotte schools in the past.
“I have great confidence in Jules,” McMannon said. “He knows us well and he knows this building well.”
The CVU School Board budget meeting will take place on Monday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in rooms 140-142.
Williston School Board wants to avoid second vote for budget
Dec. 11, 2008
By Tim Simard
The Williston School Board has asked the school administration to find ways to cut the district’s proposed budget by $325,000, even if it means eliminating teaching and assistant teaching jobs. The hope is to save enough money to avoid a potential two-vote article on the school budget come Town Meeting Day in March.
Currently, the district employs 18 teaching assistants — positions that may be eliminated to avoid the penalties of Act 82, which requires the second vote if the district exceeds a certain level of increase. School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth told the Observer after the board’s Dec. 4 meeting that a middle school teaching position could face elimination as well.
Any staff cuts would be “an incredibly difficult” decision she said, but may be necessary for a budget to pass.
“It would be good to not have to go for that second vote,” Worth said.
Act 82, enacted by the Vermont Legislature earlier this year, is a spending cap for school budgets. If a district’s budget exceeds the state-mandated restriction, then a second vote is required to pass a complete budget. Were a vote held today, residents would be asked to approve one article for $16.44 million, plus an additional article for $325,000.
District Principal Walter Nardelli and Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason have been meeting to find ways to cut costs. Their report is expected for the board’s next budget meeting on Dec. 18.
“We need to see what might cause the least pain and what elements of pain might be tolerable,” Mason said.
Worth said if there was no way to reduce the number, then Nardelli and Mason would have present to the voters what the $325,000 represents in terms of school services and employees.
There was discussion amongst the board and its “budget buddies” — citizens chosen to help the board during the budget process — about the possibility of the second vote passing, especially in light of the current recession.
“Do we do the cutting or do we let the community do the cutting?” asked Marty Sundby, a budget buddy and former chairwoman of the School Board.
Worth said one of the few places to cut costs would be with salaries. The board reiterated any cuts should affect students the least, but the elimination of some teacher aide positions would be of concern.
Other budget news
Mason talked about current school enrollment and class sizes. Overall, enrollment is stable, and is expected to decrease by a little more than 20 students in the next school year. Class sizes for kindergarten through fourth grade should stay around 18 students per teacher in 2009-2010, and at 23 students per teacher for fifth through eighth grade.
Board member Holly Rouelle said the information is sometimes deceiving.
“I know some classes that are huge,” Rouelle said.
Full House, for instance, has an abundance of eighth graders, and Swift House has a larger number of fifth graders. Each house is a bigger, five-teacher team, but Williston Central School Principal Jackie Parks agreed the increased number of students in the house has been an issue this year.
“Those of us living it know there’s a difference (in class sizes),” Parks said.
Bob Mason also spoke about how Williston’s budget pays for more CSSU services, such as monies for the superintendent’s office and human resources office, and other shared services between schools, including technology departments, transportation and various education coordinators. All food service employee payrolls are being run through CSSU this year as well.
Some of the shared services can be altered in the Williston budget to save money, Mason said, but it could come at a price of reduced benefits. Still, the board seemed interested in taking a closer look in helping to trim the budget to avoid the two votes.