June 18, 2018

Frozen fish foray1/29/09

    Observer photo by Greg Duggan
Tyler Utter of Bristol walks across a frozen Lake Iroquois with his ice fishing equipment last Thursday around noon. Utter said he caught five perch — ‘It was a pretty slow couple of hours,’ he said.

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Sports Notes1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

Wrestlers in two-day event at Essex High this weekend

The Champlain Valley Union High wrestling team will compete in the annual Mike Baker Invitational at Essex High this weekend. The grappling begins Friday afternoon at 3:30 and continues Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m.

CVU is coming off a 39-36 victory a week ago Thursday at Milton High.

Victors for the Redhawks were Sherman Wood (140 pounds) and Sam Fortin (160). The Redhawks also took six weight classes by forfeit.

Senior Jason Marko, who injured a knee in a recent match at Otter Valley Union, said this week he expects to be back on the mat soon.

New CVU girls lacrosse coach named

A five-season junior varsity girls lacrosse coach at Mount Mansfield Union High has been named the head girls lacrosse coach at Champlain Valley Union High.

Julie Sloan will take up the CVU reigns this spring, replacing Victoria Jones. Sloan will continue her full time physical education position at Mount Mansfield.

“We are lucky to get her,” CVU Athletic Director Kevin Riell said in making the announcement. “She is ready to move up to a varsity position.”

Riell said there is still an opening for a girls lacrosse junior varsity coach. Applications can be submitted to his office.


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CVU Nordic skiers finish strong in Jericho meet1/22/09

The Champlain Valley Union High girls and boys Nordic ski teams captured second and a tie for third in a cross country meet last weekend in Jericho.

The girls took the runner-up spot behind the victorious Mount Anthony Union High team, which posted just 12 points to the Redhawks’ 45 in the 10-school event.

Danika Frisbie led CVU with a fifth place finish while teammate Molly Hebert came in eighth. Mount Anthony skiers captured six of the top 10 spots.

CVU’s Sam Hughes took third in the boys division. The Redhawks tied with Mount Mansfield Union for third behind winning Mount Anthony and second place North Country Union.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Boys hockey has rematch with defending Vermont champs1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

Following a weeklong absence for exams, the Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team will return to the ice Saturday with a rematch against defending Division 1 champion Essex High. The game is scheduled for 12:20 p.m. at Cairns 1 Arena in South Burlington.

The two teams met in December for the first time since Essex’s victory in the championship game last year, with the Hornets taking a 1-0 victory in Essex.

CVU will take a 7-3-2 record into the game following its most recent victory, a 3-0 blanking of Mount Mansfield Union High last Saturday. Ben Soll, Robbie Dobrowski and Kyle Logan potted the goals for the winners, while net minder Mark Albertson earned the second shutout of the season with 15 saves.

The Redhawks fired away 31 times on the Cougars’ cage.

A week ago Wednesday, CVU played to a 1-all deadlock with South Burlington High. Derek Goodwin scored the Redhawks’ counter. Each team took 23 shots on goal.

While the game went into the record books as a tie, a shootout to determine the winner of the Chittenden South Burlington Cup was won by CVU, as Goodwin and Nate LaCroix netted goals while South Burlington got just one shot past Albertson in the one-on-one drama.

The game’s Larry Austin Most Valuable Player honors went to Owen Smith of CVU and the Rebels’ Ryan Norton.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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CVU girls hockey on home ice for next two games1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

After bagging a 4-1 victory over a strong, 10-3 Colchester High team last Saturday, the 5-5-2 Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey team will emerge from exam week this Saturday with a home match at Cairns Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. for the game against visiting, 2-11 Middlebury Union High.

Next up, on Wednesday, will be the Redhawks’ second meeting of the year with 4-8 Burlington High, a team they nipped 5-4 in mid-December. This game is also at Cairns, with a 7:30 p.m. start time.

In knocking off Colchester, CVU snapped a 1-1 second period tie with scores from Maggie Ryan (her seventh), Amanda Lacillade and Maggie Howard (her ninth). The Redhawks’ first goal came from Amanda Armell, her sixth.

CVU was outshot by the Lakers 31-22. The Hawks’ senior goalie, Nicole Bonneau, came up with 30 saves in another outstanding performance.

According to statistics provided by her dad, Marty Bonneau, the CVU net minder has passed the 2,000 career save mark with 2,013 stops in her four years of facing shots in the CVU cage. Her overall goals-against average is 2.88, but just 1.91 this season, in which she has compiled three shutouts.

Last Wednesday, the Redhawks gave South Burlington High a case of Nicole see — Nicole stop. The little goalie came up with 28 saves in CVU’s 1-1 deadlock with the Rebels, who beat them 4-2 in the second game of the season.

Armell, assisted by Ryan, fired home the lone CVU goal late in the third period to forge the tie.


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Boys hoopsters return to action vs. MMU 1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Winners of three of its last four games before the exam week break in the schedule, the 7-5 Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team returns to the Metro Division battles Friday night when Mount Mansfield Union High blows into Bremner Gymnasium for a 6:30 varsity fixture.

The Cougars won only two of their first 13 games and will have the claws out as they try for a late run into the playoffs.

CVU coach Scott Bliss thought the arrival of the break was a bit untimely for his Redhawks, who easily put away Spaulding High of Barre 66-55 last Thursday night in their final contest before exam head scratching time.

“We worked the ball around and were much better tonight,” Bliss said after the game.

The improved performance made up for a series of misfires the previous Monday night, when the Redhawks had to strike in the second half to pull out a 52-45 win over an underdog Colchester team in the town by the bay.

In the victory over Spaulding, the Redhawks got balanced scoring, some early points off the bench and control of the boards to vault into a 23-point lead early in the final reel before the Crimson Tide closed the gap at the end.

Senior frontcourt veteran John Donnelly had another blooming blast for the Redhawks, netting 27 points, hauling in nine rebounds while adding an assist and a steal. Donnelly, who nailed a trio of treys from out yonder, was 10-for-14 from the floor and four-for-four from the charity line, an exercise in accuracy seldom matched.

He was joined in double figures by fellow seniors Jack Jesset and Paul Poirer, both with 12 points. Jesset added nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. Poirier nailed two net snappers from three-point land, snagged four steals, copped four rebounds and passed off for two assists.

Spaulding, 6-7, had some initial success, running to an early 9-2 lead by scoring on its first four possessions. But Donnelly, with 10 first quarter points, helped steady the Redhawks with help from Chris Nigh and Robert Russ, who launched three-pointers.

CVU took a 20-19 lead into the second quarter and then began to pull away, leading 42-32 at the half. A third quarter 17-6 burst iced it.

Sophomore Evan Tullar led Spaulding with 12 points while senior Ethan Blouin got 10.

CVU hit 23 of 49 shots from the floor and took a 28-14 haul from the boards. The Tide, which connected on 14 of 23 shots in the first half, wound up with 21-for-45 shooting.

Coach Seth Emerson’s junior varsity combine continued its current rampage with its seventh straight victory, 53-45 over the Tiny Tide. CVU’s jayvees are 10-2 for the campaign.


Spaulding (55)

Blouin 4 2-2 10, Tullar 6 0-1 12, Matz 2 0-0 4, Ballard 2 0-0 5, Durham 2 0-0 4, Hickey 1 0-0 2, Lawson 1 4-5 7, English 1 4-4 6, Hart 0 0-0 0, Dutil 2 1-1 5. Totals 21 11-13 55.

CVU (66)

Jesset 4 4-6 12, Ja. Donnelly 1 2-2 5, Jo. Donnelly 10 4-4 27, Poirier 5 0-1 12, Russ 1 0-0 3, Beaton 0 0-2 0, Nigh 1 0-0 3, Hurd 0 2-2 2, Bunbury 1 0-0 2, Lambert 0 0-0 0, Rensch 0 0-0 0, Duke 0 0-0 0, Leckerling 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 12-17 66.

Spaulding    19    13    8    15 – 55

CVU             20    22    19    5 – 66


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Tough schedule awaits CVU girls basketball squad1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Once the classroom exams are over this week, the youthful Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team will face some strong challenges in the bounce-bounce realm, starting with a 2:30 p.m. Saturday clash with 9-2 Burlington High at Bremner Gymnasium.


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Speedy Champlain Valley Union High senior Renick Lalancette blows past Spaulding High’s Casey Koch during Friday’s matchup, which Spaulding won by a score of 46-43.


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Kendall Berry, a Champlain Valley Union High sophomore, outruns Spaulding High’s Marissa Velez.

After that, it’s a Tuesday trip to Essex High, followed by a road game at Rice Memorial and a home contest with once-beaten Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans.

The 6-5 Redhawks lost their last two games prior to the week-long break, but did not go easily into the chilly nights on either occasion — three-point losses to a decent St. Johnsbury Academy five in the Northeast Kingdom a week ago Tuesday, and Friday night at home to 9-1 Spaulding High of Barre.

Coach Stan Williams could find positives in both games. CVU led St. Johnsbury in the final two minutes before the Hilltoppers went in front with a little more than 1:30 to go and then iced it with a pair of late free throws.

In the Spaulding contest, the Redhawks never led and trailed by as much as 12 points in the second quarter and again early in the fourth period when the Crimson Tide appeared on the verge of salting away a reasonably easy road win.

But while looking up from a 40-28 deficit, CVU got buckets from Renick Lalancette and Kendall Berry, along with free throws from Allison Gannon and Carlee Evans, to cut Spaulding’s edge to four points with 2:24 left in the game.

In the meantime, the CVU defense, which had given up five three-point bombs in the first half, two each by the Tide’s slick senior Marissa Valez and junior guard Kristy Thygesen, dug in and forced seven turnovers in the final reel to disrupt the Tide’s tidy plans.

For the final two minutes, Spaulding’s offensive output came just from the foul line.

The Redhawks turned up the heat when Lalancette, on a pass from Kate Bashaw, drained a trey to pull CVU to within 44-43 with 18 seconds to go.

It was “yikes!” time for the Tide.

CVU, however, did not a get another solid look at the hoop, as Spaulding nailed a pair of free flips at 14.7 seconds and a late try at a three-pointer was partially blocked.

Once the early rain of threes was over, the two teams played fairly even the rest of the way, with the Redhawks gaining the edge in the closing quarter.

Valez led the Tide with 12 points, but went 1-for 11 from the floor after knocking down two straight treys in the first quarter. Guard Casey Koch had 11 for the visitors.

Gannon paced CVU with 17 points and six rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and an assist. Lalancette fired in 10 points. Amanda Kinneston rustled up three steals, three rebounds and a pair of assists.

The CVU jayvee team saw a nine-game winning streak come to end, bowing to Spaulding’s once-beaten apprentices, 50-37. The little Hawks, down by 11 early in the fourth quarter, cut the lead to five before Spaulding regained control.


Spaulding (46)

Valez 3 4-6 12, Harvin 1 0-2 2, Barclay 3 3-5 9, Koch 5 1-6 11, Thyggesen 2 2-4 8, Lafrance 0 1-2 1, Badeau 1 0-0 3, Shea 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-25 46.

CVU (43)

Kohlasch 1 2-2 4, Lalancette 4 1-1 10, Gannon 6 5-7 17, Berry 2 0-0 4, Kinneston 0 0-0 0, Bashaw 1 1-2 4, Evans 1 2-2 4, Russ 0 0-0 0, Hulbert 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-14 43.

Spaulding    15    11    12    8 – 46

CVU             11    5    12    15 – 43


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Contract dispute could eliminate RETN coverage1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Viewers who tune into channel 16 in Williston to watch their elected School Board officials at work could soon see that public access television service disappear. The owners of channel 16, the Regional Educational Technology Network, better known as RETN, have reached a contractual impasse with national cable television company Comcast.

The two organizations have struggled for more than a year to agree on changes Comcast is asking RETN to make. While RETN has complied in some areas, it says it won’t in others. Rob Chapman, president of the Vermont Access Network — which represents RETN — and director of Vermont Community Access Media, said Comcast has been “flexing some muscle” and, quite possibly, overstepping its bounds in what it wants.

“It’s been difficult to understand why Comcast is doing what they’re doing,” Chapman said.

The Pennsylvania-based Comcast, the largest cable provider in the country, said it is looking for more accountability in local access television stations. Kristen Roberts, the company’s senior director of community and public relations, said Comcast has concerns over fiscal and administrative management of RETN. Roberts confirmed RETN has not fulfilled all requests. The two are currently at a stalemate.

‘Critical time’

Doug Dunbebin, the community relations associate for RETN, said this is a “critical time” for the station. Comcast did not renew its contract with RETN South, which serves Charlotte, Ferrisburgh, Hinesburg, Shelburne and Vergennes. And now Comcast has indefinitely suspended its contract with RETN North, which serves Burlington, Essex Junction, Essex Town, South Burlington, St. George and Winooski in addition to Williston. The contract was suspended because certain demands by Comcast have not been met.

Roberts said in a statement the changes Comcast has asked for allow RETN to better manage itself.

“We proposed a contract which would provide enhanced oversight of RETN as they work to put in place a plan to ensure administrative and financial responsibility for our customers and our company’s investment in community access programming,” Roberts’ statement said.

But Dunbebin said the changes would have usurped the power of the RETN Board of Directors, which includes representatives of all the member towns.

Chapman agreed. He said Comcast has made similar requests to access companies across Vermont and other parts of the country.

“I don’t know what their motives are, but it appears to be a corporate strategy across the board,” Chapman said when asked if Comcast had plans for its own type of local community access stations.

Roberts and Comcast did not respond to questions about business plans in their statement to the Observer.

Chapman said Comcast must provide local access television in accordance with the federal Telecommunications Act. Cable companies generally work with public access stations to provide the content, but nothing in the law says they can’t do that themselves.

“We’ve had to justify our existence with (Comcast),” Chapman said.

Local effects

Dunbebin spoke to the Williston School Board at its regular meeting last Thursday about the contract negotiations. He asked board members to fill out a quick online survey about the importance of the station in the community.

“Clearly, this process is going to take a long period of time to resolve,” Dunbebin said.

Dunbebin said he’s been steadily visiting school boards served by RETN to detail the latest news and ask for help in contract renewals. He said the community might soon be asked to comment as well.

School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth said after the meeting she was surprised to learn about the contract issues. She said that while she doesn’t frequently watch channel 16, she does know it’s an important resource for the community.

“I’ve had people say they’ve watched (School Board) meetings on it,” Worth said.

The contract cancellations and suspensions won’t affect viewers initially. Dunbebin said RETN would continue to provide coverage of local school board meetings and events, even when there is no money coming in from Comcast. He did not say how long such coverage would last.

Dunbebin said there was still a chance new contracts could be signed and there were avenues for negotiations. RETN and Comcast will be approaching the Vermont Public Service Board for mediation. Both parties have expressed hope for some agreement in the future.

Chapman put the onus on Comcast to find a solution.

“I hope someday soon they’ll see how important public access is to Vermonters,” Chapman said.


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School budget increase at less than 1 percent1/22/09

Williston’s cuts include classroom teacher, teaching assistant

Jan. 22, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

In its last meeting before officially approving the 2009-2010 school budget, the Williston School Board agreed on cutting four positions, including one classroom teacher and one teaching assistant. Along with those cuts and other budget reductions, next year’s budget is estimated to be $16.89 million — an increase of 0.4 percent.

Chittenden South Supervisory Union Superintendent Elaine Pinckney said at last Thursday’s budget meeting the increase could change before final approval this week, but would most likely remain well under 1 percent.

The School Board said its primary motive in keeping the budget at such a low increase was to help residents cope with the struggling economy. Also, the low percentage staves off the Act 82 penalties of requiring a second vote for school budgets that exceed a state set percentage growth.

While some school budget proposals in Vermont request high increases amidst the shaky economy — including Burlington’s at more than 9 percent — the Williston School Board expressed satisfaction in keeping its increase small. Pinckney said all school districts within CSSU have been working to keep their increases below 1 percent.

“We’re in a great place right now,” said School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth.

Williston’s cuts

Upon the recommendation of District Principal Walter Nardelli, the board agreed to cut one teaching assistant position, one upper house teacher, and two paraeducators. Nardelli cited declining enrollment as a main reason for cutting the jobs.

As Nardelli explained to the board, a large “bubble” of 139 eighth graders is moving on to Champlain Valley Union High School next year. The incoming fifth graders moving into the upper houses are a group of 120. In the other lower grades, student enrollment stays steady or slightly declines, compared to the current fourth graders. Nardelli said class sizes would not be adversely affected if the board cut one upper house teaching position.

School Board Vice Chairwoman Holly Rouelle wanted to make sure teaching assistants and upper house teachers would be appropriately balanced throughout the school when the positions disappeared. Nardelli said the administration would do just that.

Nardelli also spoke in favor of teaching assistants, handing out a three-page job description to the board and to parents who attended the meeting. Responding to questions from an earlier budget meeting, he said teaching assistants do a wide array of work besides photocopying tests.

“If they’re not doing the job, then who’s going to do it?” Nardelli said. “Some of the work would significantly cut into teaching time for our teachers.”

In previous budget meetings, only one paraeducator position was identified as a possible cut. Nardelli recommended cutting two positions whose time was not reimbursable under state and federal law. Most paraeducators’ time in the classroom gets some form of funding from state and federal agencies.

Nardelli also said the hope was to avoid layoffs.

“Most of the positions would be taken care of by natural attrition, including the teaching position,” Nardelli said.

There were some additions decided upon at the budget meeting as well. A special educator’s part-time position — already figured into next year’s budget — had its hours increased from 1.5 days a week to 2.5. Also, the board approved the decision packages for $3,000 in fine arts supplies and $2,000 in library computer software upgrades, pared down from an earlier quote of $3,100.

The much discussed $10,000 decision package for Smart Boards — a type of interactive white boards — was not voted on, as Nardelli said it was possible to buy the equipment using leftover funds from this year’s budget.

Nardelli also found other ways to save money in the budget. In fact, the latest savings exceeded the $325,000 needed in reduction to avoid the second vote of Act 82. Through some staffing changes and confirmed retirements, the district will save around $118,000.

“It still means we would be hiring people back (for the positions), but this number reflects the savings we would get,” Nardelli said.

The board praised Nardelli’s work in helping to reduce the budget. Nardelli also credited the staff members of the CSSU central office in helping him crunch the numbers.

The final School Board budget meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. in the Williston Central School library. The board is expected to sign off on the final budget article that will go to voters on Town Meeting Day in March.


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Fire Log1/22/09

Jan. 22, 2009

Gas leak

Fire crews noticed a smell of gas in the air at a small construction site in Blair Park at 10:15 a.m. on Jan. 5. Already on scene doing pre-planning work with the site’s owners, crews investigated to find that all natural gas connections to the building were loose and leaking. Vermont Gas was called in to fix the problem.

Car accidents

•    A Toyota Camry, traveling on Mountain View Road, encountered a snowdrift and icy conditions and crashed into a telephone pole on Jan 7. Fire crews responded to the accident at 7:38 p.m. and found the driver was suffering from back pain. St. Michael’s College Rescue Service responded to the scene and transported the driver to Fletcher Allen Health Care.

•    On Jan. 11, during a snowy morning, fire crews responded to an accident scene on North Williston Road near Fay Lane. On the steep and narrow section of road, a Plymouth Neon spun out of control on the icy road surface and landed in a ditch. The driver complained of chest pains and St. Michael’s College Rescue Service arrived to transport the patient to Fletcher Allen Health Care.


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