July 20, 2019

Music teacher leaving for Charlotte (5/28/09)

May 28, 2009

Rachel Gill

Observer correspondent

As a bassist, Andrew Smith has performed on stages in Turkey, Asia and, yes, even at local Burlington hot spots. Offstage, as a music teacher at Williston Central School, Smith brings his experience and passion for music into the classroom. Smith will soon take those skills to Charlotte Central School, as the new music teacher.


    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Williston Jazz Band Conductor Andy Smith takes the mic at the CSSU District Jazz Festival, held May 13 at Champlain Valley Union High School. Smith will become the new music teacher at Charlotte Central School next school year.

The position opened with the pending retirement of Tony Pietricola, the CCS music teacher for the last 23 years who is also an avid music performer throughout Vermont. Pietricola will step down from his position at the end of the school year.

“I don’t believe you can teach music without performing,” Smith said. “It sharpens our skills as educators, listeners and communicators.”

Smith will go to Charlotte after teaching music for 11 years at Williston Central School. Prior to Williston, Smith taught middle school music in New Hampshire for four years. Smith currently lives in Panton with his wife, Teresa, and two children, Hunter and Madeline.

“Kids, kids and kids, I look forward to working with them and making new connections with the Charlotte community,” Smith said. “It’s a great school and faculty and it will be a great place to work.”

In terms of what he will miss about Williston, just press rewind.

“It’s the same thing, the kids,” Smith said. “I have already experienced kids cycling through and moving on to CVU and always check in with them so in moving to another town in the district, I look forward to continuing to watching these kids’ musical careers grow.”

Working for Chittenden South Supervisory Union is something Smith is excited to continue.

“I love CSSU and all of the active music departments within the district,” Smith said. “We all work very closely with one another and I am very proud to work with such a fantastic group of individuals.”

Charlotte Central School Vice Principal Catrina DiNapoli, who is in her final weeks at the school, said Smith will be a welcome addition to the school’s staff.

“We are very excited about Andy, as kids and parents alike have responded very positively to him over the years,” DiNapoli said. “We know him to be energetic, creative and fun.”

Smith’s annual involvement with the Vermont Jazz Camp at the Elley-Long Music Center at St. Michael’s College has given him some Charlotte rehearsal time.

“The camp actually gave me the fortunate opportunity to work with Charlotte students and Tony Pietricola, both very positive experiences, “Smith said. “Tony and I had made it a tradition that I take the Charlotte kids and he takes the Williston kids.”

Making Music

Smith’s performance career includes playing the upright bass and the electric bass while touring with such acts as The Neville Brothers, an American rhythm and blues group, and Mighty Sam McClain, a Grammy nominated rhythm and blues performer. Smith toured with Sam McClain from 2002 to 2006, visiting five Russian cities and 15 Turkish cities.

“It has been an experience of a lifetime playing for tons and tons of people, and meeting some of my musical heroes,” Smith said.

It all started with Smith’s childhood passion.

“I had a box of 45s that I listened to over and over. I remember those 45s speaking to me. That’s what music does, it speaks to us,” Smith said. “It’s hard to put into words and I haven’t figured it out. The power of music, how music can bring tears to our eyes, how it deepens your soul and can make us to go out on the field and compete against any team.”

Smith said no matter the stage, it’s always about the music.

“It’s not that much different if you are playing on a stage to a huge crowd in Istanbul or to a group of your peers. Regardless of where you are, just try to pay homage to the song and do the very best you can,” Smith said.

For Smith, performing music is key to music education.

“It shows kids that music can take you wherever you want to go,” Smith said. “I hope that my experience on stage can be inspiring to students to keep it up and that they can do the same.”

Williston Central School Principal Jacqueline Parks said Smith has already accomplished that goal.

“He is not only a stellar teacher but also contributes to the greater school environment,” Parks said last week. “Just this morning we had an official opening of a new school courtyard and he organized student musical performances and the entire sound system. He is constantly going above and beyond.”

Smith will no doubt be missed.

“His leaving will leave a big hole in our school,” Parks said. “He is a prestigious educator and we wish him well.”


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Recipe Corner (5/28/09)

Treats from Hawaii

May 28, 2009

By Ginger Isham

Recently, on vacation in Hawaii, we ate at an outdoor restaurant on Waikiki Beach where you selected meat or fish from the menu and cooked it yourself on the big outdoor grill on the beach side of the restaurant. Included with the meal was a buffet of salad ingredients, cold fish and other choice items such as poi, which is a purple sauce made from the taro plant, a longtime island staple. Also, there were small blocks of a white coconut pudding called haupia. Haupia is a traditional Hawaiian dessert. It is a staple dessert at all luaus. A luau is a large buffet that includes pork from a pig that is cooked in a ground oven, called an imu. Since I am fond of coconut, I researched haupia and found that it is served plain most of the time and is often used as a topping for a white wedding cake. I can’t wait to add it to my dessert list, along with the Kona Coffee Latte Pie.

Haupia Pudding

2 cups coconut milk

1 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons corn starch

dash of vanilla (optional)

Put 1 cup of coconut milk in a saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch and stir into pan. Cook until mixture thickens. Add rest of coconut milk and whole milk. Cook until thickens. It should have a shiny look. Remove from heat and pour into an 8-by-8-inch dish and chill until firm. Cut into squares and serve.

Haupia Pie

Make a piecrust with 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts of your choice. Mix together and gently press into an 8-inch pie plate and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Pour cooled, cooked coconut pudding into baked pie shell and chill. Serve with whipped cream sprinkled with toasted coconut. I would be tempted to serve it with a raspberry or other fruit sauce.

Kona Coffee Latte Pie

(Kona is one of the world’s best pure coffees, and is grown in Hawaii.)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup ground Kona coffee, dark roast (use coffee of your choice)

1 pound of white chocolate chips or chunks

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 9-inch chocolate cookie piecrust

In saucepan, combine cream and coffee. Scald over medium to high heat. Remove from heat and strain coffee grounds. Add white chocolate and let sit a few minutes and then whisk until smooth. Add cinnamon and whisk again and pour into pie shell. Place in fridge until firm. Serve with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

NOTE: Pure Kona coffee is best. A Kona blend means 1 out of 10 beans is a Kona bean and the rest of the beans come from anywhere in the world.

Ginger Isham was the co-owner of Maple Grove Farm Bed & Breakfast in Williston, a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road where she still lives.


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Letters to the Editor (5/28/09)

May 28, 2009

Thanks, everyone!

We wish to thank our families, friends and neighbors who signed petitions in support of our opposition to a roundabout in our village.

Thank you to all of you who did not get to sign a petition and verbally expressed your support.

A thank you to all those people outside of Williston who could not sign a petition but still expressed their support to us in person or with e-mails.

We were overwhelmed!

Last, we thank our Selectboard members for their willingness to review their decision at their next Selectboard meeting on June 1.

Marie Lareau

Ginger Isham



Listen to students and teachers

Watching the town of Williston grapple with the issue of multiage classroom configuration causes me to reflect on my own experience. In one month I will graduate from eighth grade after four years in a multiage team at Williston Central School. Multiage classrooms build strong relationships, enhance learning and create a supportive culture.

The classroom creates an ideal place for students to learn real life skills. Eighth graders regularly assist younger students and develop mentoring skills in the process. The fifth graders look up to older students as models of appropriate behavior and academic achievement. Students collaborate often, with every age group bringing different skills.

Multiage classes also support valuable relationships. Students get to know teachers well and become more comfortable with them and their teaching style. In turn, teachers get to know students and their individual strengths and needs. The multiage environment also creates meaningful peer relationships. I have friends in all different grades, enriching both my academic and social experience in middle school.

Multiage classes produce strong leaders and communicators, skills students will carry with them through life. When fifth graders see motivated older students, they strive to behave similarly. Multiage education creates a helpful, open environment. As a student, I know any time I need help with an assignment, someone will be there. We become accustomed to working with peers with different abilities.

As the town struggles to find the right configuration for our school district, I hope the voices of students and teachers are valued. They are the ones most affected by the choices to be made.

Laura Harris



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Guest Column (5/28/09)

Meeting the education challenge

May 28, 2009

By Rebecca Hurley

In his first presidential speech broaching the topic of education, President Barack Obama said, “Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we’ve let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us. … What’s at stake is nothing less than the American dream.”

He wasn’t exaggerating — in 2006, the Program for International Student Assessment found that 15-year-old American students place 25th out of 30 developed nations in mathematics, literacy and problem solving.

Many find comfort in the knowledge that $1 billion from the economic stimulus package has been allocated to education, and that even in the midst of the economic downturn education is not being overlooked. Indeed, lack of funding and resources has long been used as an excuse for failing school systems. But more dollars can’t buy the reform our schools need.

In the 1990s, the struggling Kansas City school district was given an additional $2 billion to build the ideal school system. The resulting Olympic-sized swimming pool, new computer labs, taxis for students and even a zoo didn’t improve educational outcomes. Instead Kansas City schools worsened to the point they eventually lost their accreditation.

If money were the solution, then the Washington D.C. school system should far surpass most other public school systems in the nation. During this past year, D.C. schools spent $13,848 per student, the third highest in the United States and more than $4,000 above the national average. The result was that only 14 percent of fourth graders scored at or above proficiency in mathematics and reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.

In contrast, Minnesota spends $9,180 per pupil, slightly less than the national average, but produced the best results of any state. In fact, 50 percent of Minnesota fourth graders scored at or above proficiency in math, and 37 percent scored at or above proficiency in reading, according to the NAEP. This was the best in the nation and it is still far from acceptable.

Locally, Vermont spends an average of $13,090 per student. According to the NAEP, 49 percent of fourth graders scored at or above proficiency in math, and 41 percent did so in reading.

The results for all 50 states were analyzed in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s publication, “Report Card on American Education,” which for 15 years has ranked states based on test results, financial inputs and other factors. Vermont received the second best score in the country.

This report also considers the correlations between student performance and such factors as teacher-pupil ratio and teacher salary. The result is that there is no consistent relationship between per-pupil expenditure, class size or teacher salary and students actually being able to read or do math at grade level.

What does appear to produce results is parent involvement, teacher dedication and school-by-school autonomy in setting curricula. Consider the American Indian Public Charter School. Once among the worst schools in Oakland, Calif., it is now the highest-scoring middle school in the city under the leadership of Ben Chavis. The transformation occurred despite spending $2,000 less per pupil than the district (and having no computers for the students). Charter schools, such as American Indian Public, are free to select their own staff and are given more autonomy to tailor their style and curriculum to meet the needs of their students.

Subscribing to what has been coined the “money myth,” the belief that more money will lead to better education, is a costly mistake. Taxpayers are forced to pay for something with little to no results. What is worse is that other solutions are avoided despite their promising potential. We cannot afford to keep overlooking these options while dumping more and more money into the current education system.

Obama has clearly stated his support for greater accountability and flexibility, and called on states to open new, innovative charter schools. There is hope that our schools will take up this challenge. After all, it is the American dream that is at stake.

Rebecca Hurley is a research associate at the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington, D.C.


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Right to the Point (5/28/09)

Disappointing 2009 legislative session

May 28, 2009

By Mike Benevento

Earlier this month, the Vermont Legislature concluded its somewhat disappointing 2009 session. Sadly, the Democrat-led body appeared at times to be more interested in promoting an activist liberal agenda than creating a sustainable budget.

The Legislature started on the right path by passing a child predator bill. Sadly, it took 12-year-old Brooke Bennett’s rape and slaying for the Legislature to adopt a stronger law against sex offenders. Among other provisions, S.13 creates a mandatory 25-year minimum sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child.

In an issue with a local twist, the Legislature approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim McCullough of Williston to study alternatives to chloramine. Because some residents have complained that the disinfectant causes health problems, H.80 uses federal money to study other options for treating water supplies.

There is little doubt that House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate leader Peter Shumlin did not let a declining worldwide economy stand in their way. They came to Montpelier with their own agenda — confident they had a veto-proof majority to get it done.

As time went on, it appeared that the two leaders did not listen to what the majority of Vermonters wanted. Instead of focusing on the most important issues — the economy and the budget — they pushed the Legislature to pursue a liberal agenda.

While most Vermonters grew increasingly concerned about the economy, Democrats took action elsewhere. Shumlin sponsored S.115, a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry. Despite relatively little discussion, the Legislature voted to legalize such civil marriages. Although polls show the majority of Vermonters do not favor same-sex marriage, the state Legislature overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto — making it the law starting Sept. 1.

The liberal agenda continued to be on display when the Legislature authorized S.125. Besides expanding the sex offender registry, the bill creates a juvenile crime when teens electronically send explicit photos. Of course, the “sexting” part of the bill drew nation-wide criticism. As the Republican leaders noted, “Your job may be in jeopardy, but your 13-year-old daughter will be able to text a pornographic video of herself to her 18-year-old boyfriend with no worries.”

Perhaps because liberal causes distracted the Legislature, it did not appropriately focus on the budget. Thus, instead of making difficult choices on social services, it chose to delay cuts until future years. The lack of time and the Democratic propensity to spend money resulted in increased spending at a time when Vermonters are already overtaxed. Although Vermont has America’s highest state tax rate, the Democrats passed a budget including $26 million in tax increases.

With every Republican voting against it, Democrats truly own this year’s budget. Because Douglas will veto the package, he called for a special legislative session next week to improve it. However, Democrats are confident they have enough votes to override Douglas’ veto and their budget will become law without further changes. Both of Williston’s representatives, Democrats Terry Macaig and McCullough, voted for the budget.

The budget relies on federal stimulus money and tax increases to make up for declining revenue in order to avoid cutting the size of government. Still, the Democrats’ budget totals $200 million in deficits over the next two years. These deficits will surely grow when federal funds run out.

Besides the tax increases and funding deficits, Douglas and Republicans point out that the budget does not address a $160 million shortfall in Vermont’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Additionally, while student enrollment continues to decline, the budget does not cut education spending. Finally, as noted by Angelo Lynn, publisher/editor of the Addison Independent, the plan allocates just $4.1 million in a $4.5 billion budget for economic development and job creation investments.

In the end, Democrats refused to make meaningful cuts to state government and the result is a budget greater than what Vermonters can realistically afford.

“This bill demonstrates this Legislature’s inability to make the hard decisions needed to assure Vermonters’ financial health,” said Rep. Tom Koch, R-Barre. “It manifests an attitude that the taxpayers can always be tapped to do just a little more.”

Over the next few years — as revenues continue to decline and the federal stimulus money dries up — the Legislature will face two choices: Cut spending or increase taxes. As Rep. Rick Hube, R-South Londonderry, wrote, “Those who would write budgets that overspend will have a tendency to fund them by overtaxing.” Since the Democratic-led Legislature has already shown it cannot cut spending, get ready to pay higher taxes for the foreseeable future.

Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.


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Liberally Speaking (5/28/09)

The legislative session: triumph and compromise

May 28, 2009

By Steve Mount

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” said baseball sage Yogi Berra. So it is with this year’s legislative session. Though they have adjourned, they will be back.

At least one act of the Legislature will have a lasting and profound effect on Vermont and, perhaps, the nation.

That act, S.115, has a deceptively meek title: “An act relating to civil marriage.” Known colloquially as the Same-Sex Marriage Act, it will give same-sex couples marriage equity as of Sept. 1, 2009. Plan on extensive news coverage of wedding ceremonies that day.

The act also protects religious institutions, specifically allowing almost any such institution in the state to refuse to perform any marriage that violates its beliefs.

The act, in just 10 printed pages, made Vermont a vanguard in the effort to bring marriage equity to the entire nation. Vermont is the first state to have its Legislature open up marriage to same sex couples, rather than have it imposed by the state’s judiciary. After Gov. Jim Douglas vetoed the act, there was uncertainty whether the Legislature could garner the votes to override. On April 7, however, the Legislature was able to override the veto, by the absolute narrowest of margins.

S.115 was the most high-profile bill the Legislature worked on, but not the only one.

For young hunters, H.64 eliminates Youth Hunting Day for Vermonters 16 and under, and expands Youth Hunting Weekend to anyone 15 and under who has taken a hunter safety course.

An important act for wine producers, S.27 allows “manufacturers or rectifiers of vinous beverages” to hold wine-tastings on their property, as long as they provide 14-day notice of the event to the department of liquor control. The act also allows producers to sell products they did not produce, which could increase networking opportunities for this burgeoning industry.

Notably for Williston, H.31 approves our charter changes, including one that allows the town manager to appoint and discharge the zoning administrator. Also important for the Williston community, teacher Al Myers was honored with House Concurrent Resolution 160, the passage of which was witnessed by many Williston students.

Despite all this good work, though, it ain’t quite over yet. The governor is recalling the Legislature into a special session to deal with the budget. The budget approved by the Legislature, in bill H.441, has come under fire from the governor as being irresponsible and unsustainable.

This is the governor’s job — to use his judgment to determine if bills passed by the Legislature are appropriate for the state and to veto them if they are not. Since the budget passed the Democrat-controlled House by a comfortable margin, but not by enough to override a veto, the threat of a veto is being taken seriously. The governor’s proposal is being looked at closely by legislative leaders as they prepare for the special session.

According to news reports, though, those leaders are not happy with what they’ve seen. The governor’s budget has cuts that the Legislature does not want to see, but worse, it envisions savings that have no definite source.

Democrats want to tax higher-income Vermonters, placing a $5,000 cap on itemized deductions and replacing the 40 percent exemption on capital gains tax with the $5,000 cap. The additional funds raised allowed the legislative budget to cut across-the-board taxes and to avoid additional budget cuts. The governor argues against the adjustment because he opposes new revenue in general and wants to see more cuts to the budget.

The budget is an essential part of the running of the government, which is why this dodge and parry is even taking place at all. The governor’s veto pen is his leverage, but the Legislature is not without some leverage of its own. Without a budget, the wheels of government will grind to a halt and, as the executive, the governor will shoulder much of the blame if a compromise cannot be reached.

State Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon has volunteered to help mediate the differences between the two proposed budgets. This would certainly be a positive step. The best scenario for the state would be for the two sides to come to a compromise before the special session, and then have the session simply rubber-stamp that compromise.

Then, it would be over.

Steve Mount has been a Williston resident since 1996. He is a software engineer at GE Healthcare and is devoted to his family, his country and his Constitution. You can reach Steve at steve@saltyrain.com or read his blog at http://saltyrain.com/ls.


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Around Town (5/28/09)

May 28, 2009


Welch hires staffers

Rep. Peter Welch has picked a Williston resident to serve on his staff.

Brent Raymond will work in the congressman’s Vermont office as business liaison. Raymond was formerly a vice president at TD Banknorth’s Wealth Management Group and subsequently worked as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.

Raymond, who originally hails from Swanton, served in the U.S. Air Force and later in the Vermont National Guard. He graduated with honors from Hunter College in New York City.

Raymond lives in Williston with his wife, Leyla, and their 1-year-old son, Brodyn.

Racine receives public service award

State Sen. Doug Racine, D-Richmond, who represents Chittenden County, received the annual Vermont Public Service Award for 2009. The award was given by Vermont’s five Community Action Agencies, and recognizes outstanding support of the Community Action anti-poverty services. It also honors leadership on issues affecting low-income Vermonters.

Racine received the award earlier this month at the Northern New England Community Action Association Annual Conference, held at the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H.

“For the last 25 years no Vermont lawmaker has shown more consistent and vigorous support for programs to help the poor, the disabled and the elderly, than Doug Racine,” Tim Searles, president of the Vermont Community Action Director’s Association, said in a press release.

Connecting Youth Mentoring Program Receives National Training

Nancy Carlson of Williston Central School, the Connecting Youth Mentoring program coordinator, received training earlier this month for the MentorPRO® system. MentorPRO® is an online tool that provides a standardized system for collecting, tracking and analyzing mentoring data. The system helps monitor the relationships between mentors and mentees.

The workshop was sponsored by Mobius, the Mentoring Movement through a grant from The Permanent Fund for the Well-Being of Vermont Children.

For more information about mentoring in Williston, contact Mobius at 658-1888 or visit www.mobiusmentors.org.


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Too many volunteers leads to dilemma (5/28/09)

More applicants than openings for boards

May 28, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

The Selectboard appointed two new members to sometimes hard-to-fill boards and commissions. But with more volunteers than openings, it delayed a decision on another pair of applicants.

“It’s a nice predicament to be in, to have more volunteers than openings,” said Selectboard member Judy Sassorossi. “Usually we’re begging.”

Three Williston residents applied to serve on either the Development Review Board or the Planning Commission. Michael Alvanos, an architect, and Heidi Auclair, a small business owner, each indicated they would serve on either panel. John Bendzunas, a federal probation officer, applied only for the Development Review Board.

Also seeking appointment was Carol Weston, a project engineer for the city of Burlington, who applied to be Williston’s representative on the Winooski Valley Park District. Kristen Hankins, a University of Vermont student, applied for a seat on the Recreation Commission.

The conundrum for the Selectboard was that there was only one opening on each of the boards and commissions.

It was the first time in recent memory that there were more applicants than vacant seats. In fact, the town has at times struggled to find volunteers. On at least a couple of occasions, boards and commissions have been left without enough members to reach a quorum.

The Selectboard has over the past couple of meetings interviewed applicants and discussed appointments. At its May 18 session, the board settled on a potential solution to the too-many-applicants problem.

Town Manager Rick McGuire noted that Bendzunas had applied for only the Development Review Board. McGuire suggested that Bendzunas be appointed immediately because a full complement of members was especially important for the quasi-judicial DRB, which rules on proposed developments.

Selectboard member Chris Roy wondered if either Alvanos or Auclair could instead be steered toward serving on the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, which has an opening but no volunteers.

That option appealed to the Selectboard, which voted to appoint Bendzunas to the Development Review Board and Weston to the Winooski Valley Park District. Each will serve a one-year term.

Kevin Batson was reappointed as an alternate on the DRB.

The board delayed a decision on Hankins, who has yet to appear before the board, until she could be interviewed. It directed McGuire to ask Alvanos and Auclair if they would instead serve on the Regional Planning Commission.


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Ramuntos offers homemade pizzas (5/28/09)

New restaurant to open next week

May 28, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The smell of freshly baked pizza filled the air of Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza earlier this week. Co-owner Jeff Paul pulled a hot cheese pizza from one of the restaurant’s many ovens and cut the large pie into tiny slices. Even though the restaurant is not scheduled to open until Monday, Paul was busy getting the word out about Williston’s newest pizzeria.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Ray Bostock, manager of the new Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza in Taft Corners Shopping Center, flings pizza dough into the air during the restaurant’s pre-opening. Ramunto’s is scheduled to open Monday.

The cheese pizza Paul boxed up was a free sample for a local office. Handing the pizza over to the “future customer,” Paul shouted, “Tell your friends about us.”

Located in the Taft Corners Shopping Center where Today’s Gourmet used to be, the new restaurant is part of a blossoming Ramunto’s franchise. Founded by Cliff Ramunto in Rutland, the chain has expanded to a handful of locations in New Hampshire and Vermont. The Williston location will be the franchise’s first in Chittenden County, according to Paul.

Paul, who co-owns Williston’s Ramunto’s with longtime friend Kiet Nguyen, said it’s been a dream of theirs to start a business. Paul, an acquaintance of Cliff Ramunto, said opening the franchise was the realization of that dream.

Before owning the franchise, Paul was a director of membership sales at the YMCA in Burlington and Nguyen worked as a bookkeeper for Williston-based Hettena Wright & Horton CPAs, P.C.

“This was an opportunity to be involved in something that would be completely ours,” Paul said.

Paul said Ramunto’s draw is its homemade pizzas, which use fresh ingredients. All dough and pizza sauces are made on-site and cheese is grated daily, he added.

Ramunto’s is also famous for its Garlic Knots — baked dough twists sprinkled with garlic. The restaurant makes a cinnamon version, as well.

Besides specialty pizzas and calzones, Ramunto’s will also offer salads and submarine sandwiches. Paul said the menu would eventually expand as the restaurant gains footing.

Paul and Nguyen have hired 12 employees to help them bring the restaurant to fruition. They’ve also hired a former assistant manager of a Ramunto’s in New Hampshire, Ray Bostock, to be their new manager.

Once the restaurant opens, Paul said he plans to add delivery service and a liquor license. Ramunto’s currently has seating for 24, along with a big-screen television to give the restaurant a comfortable atmosphere, he said.

Paul believes the location in the shopping center at Taft Corners will be successful and he hopes customers will tell their friends about the food.

“It’s a great product,” Paul said. “And when you taste it, you’ll fall in love with it.”

Ramunto’s is scheduled to open Monday, June 1. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. Call 879-1000 for more information.


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Lake Iroquois opens for the season (5/28/09)

May 28, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The Lake Iroquois Recreation District opened its 2009 summer season over the weekend, though only a few residents took to the beach. Weather turned out to be iffy over Memorial Day weekend, with warm temperatures offset by cool winds and even some rain.


    Observer photo by Ben Sarle
Hinesburg residents Heather Rice (left) and her daughter, Alya MacManaway, enjoy Lake Iroquois on Monday.


    Courtesy photo by Bob Pasco
Greeter program coordinator Audrey Wallace of St. George (from left), Darby Brazoski of Connecticut and Amy Bovee of New Hampshire will greet boaters at Lake Iroquois this summer and check watercraft for invasive species. Deirdre Walsh of Bristol, who is not pictured, will also serve as a greeter.

Still, Ken Martin, owner of the park’s snack bar, said he hopes high temperatures and bright sunshine will be the norm this season at the beach, especially on the weekends.

“The more sun, the better,” said Martin, owner of the Oasis on Lake Iroquois. “I’m hoping this summer will be a sunny one.”

Boaters to the lake also encountered a “greeter team” of college students, checking boats and trailers for non-native plants and educating people about the dangers of invasive species. According to Bob Pasco of the Lake Iroquois Association, this will be the first year the organization is paying weekend greeters to talk to boaters at the Lake Iroquois State Fishing Access.

The towns of Hinesburg, Richmond, St. George and Williston oversee the park. Daily passes to the park’s beach are available for residents for $5 and $3 for senior citizens. Children under 12 are free.

Seasonal permits are also available. Williston residents can pay $25 for the year, and add a second family vehicle to the permit for $14. Senior citizens 62 and older can pay $12 for a season pass.

Summer camps are available to Williston residents for $60.

Williston Public Works Director Neil Boyden said the park would be open every weekend until the last day of school on Friday, June 12. The park will then be open daily, from 9 a.m. to dusk, until Labor Day.

Boyden also said activities are weather dependent and the park and beach might not open on rainy days. The same can be said for Martin and the Oasis snack bar.

Martin, who is the transportation director for Champlain Valley Union High School, is entering his second season as the owner of the park’s snack bar. It offers a variety of lunch items, including hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. Ice cream and other desserts are also available.

Last year, Martin said, the weather made it difficult on his business. Rain dampened many weekends in June and July. Martin said if heavy rains are forecast for any days this summer, he’ll probably close for the day.

“I really can’t judge last year because it was such a bad weather season,” Martin said.

Stopping invasive species

At the lake’s boat ramp, college students studying biology and the environment have been hired by the Lake Iroquois Association to inform boaters about the harmful effects of invasive species on the lake’s ecosystem.

St. George resident and Oberlin College student Audrey Wallace said Lake Iroquois’ proximity to Lake Champlain makes it important to check for invasive species. Wallace, who will work at the lake as a greeter, said problem organisms, such as zebra mussels, can attach themselves to a boat without the owner knowing. The greeters will check boats and trailers before they enter the lake to make sure no invasive species enter the water.

“We see if (the boats) have been in other bodies of water recently,” Wallace said. “We’re already facing a milfoil problem in the lake, so we don’t want more of that.”

Wallace said boaters are understanding of the greeters’ responsibilities and often assist them in looking for invasive species that may be attached to their boats.

Along with Wallace, the Lake Iroquois Association has hired three University of Vermont students as greeters — Amy Bovee, Darby Brazoski and Deirdre Walsh. Pasco said association volunteers will act as greeters during the week.


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