May 23, 2019

Town considers fees for buried lines (5/28/09)

Utilities say charges result in rate increases

May 28, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

Underground utilities are out of sight and out of mind for most residents. However, they pose problems for Williston’s public works employees, who must contend with thickets of buried wires and pipes when they replace a culvert or maintain water lines.

The town hopes to recover the cost of working around what lies beneath by imposing fees on utility companies. A new ordinance establishing fees and rules for underground utilities will be the subject of a public hearing on Monday.

Town officials say the fees, which are expected to generate tens of thousands of dollars a year in revenue, defray the extra expense of dealing with the underground lines. Utility companies say the fees will be passed on to ratepayers.

“This will drive up costs. Ultimately someone has to pay, and that’s our customers,” said Harry Abendroth, manager of regulation, planning and engineering for Vermont Electric Cooperative, which serves 774 customers in Williston.

Dorothy Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, which supplies electricity to nearly 4,000 Williston residents and businesses, agreed that the fees result in higher bills. She and other utility company representatives note they already pay property taxes to the town on lines and other facilities.

Public Works Director Neil Boyden said Williston taxpayers foot the bill when a contractor charges extra or a town employee works more hours as a result of underground lines. The fees simply ensure utility companies cover those expenses.

“I think it’s the cost of doing business,” he said. “Hopefully, the fees will offset higher costs (for the town) in the future.”

Installing or repairing underground utility lines often requires digging up roads or sidewalks. Though utility companies must repair the damage, Boyden said “the patches are not ever as good as the original.”

The town currently charges a refundable deposit of $600 for each “disturbance,” or excavation of road or sidewalk, by utility companies. A permit is required, but the town doesn’t charge for it.

Under the proposed ordinance, utilities would pay $100 for a permit and another $100 for an inspection fee. The ordinance also imposes a $10-per-square-foot fee for excavating sidewalks and roads, and $1.75 per square foot for digging up green space. Boring horizontally underground, as is done for some utilities, would cost $1.75 per linear foot.

The fees would apply only to work done in the public rights of way along town highways. Rights of way vary, but typically include the paved surface and extend about 12 feet from each side of the road.

Utility work along state-controlled roads, which in Williston include U.S. 2 and Vermont 2A, would not be subject to the fees, Boyden said. Nor would the fees apply to lines buried along private roads.

Utility fees would help boost a municipal budget that has been hit by falling revenue from the sales tax and other sources. The town estimates that it will receive $25,000 from the new fees in the fiscal year starting July 1.

The proposed ordinance requires all new utility lines to be installed underground. Zoning rules have long required underground lines for new development, except where they are physically impossible, according to Ken Belliveau, Williston’s planning director.

The ordinance would extend the requirement to “major public improvement projects.” That would include new streets, although the rule could be waived by the Selectboard when it deems underground lines to be economically unfeasible.

Utility companies say underground lines are expensive. Abendroth said they can cost eight times more than ones strung on poles; Schnure pegged the premium at 10 times the price of aboveground lines. She noted that requiring lines to be buried benefits new customers but is paid for by everyone.

Schnure acknowledged that Green Mountain Power is concerned that fees for underground lines could become a trend in the 100 towns served by the company. Though Williston residents and businesses comprise a tiny fraction of GMP’s roughly 95,000 customers, she said if enough other towns start to impose such fees it could have a big effect on rates for everyone.

Representatives from GMP and Vermont Gas Systems have met with town officials in recent days to express concerns about the ordinance, Boyden said.

Utility companies say they are willing to pay their fair share but they also have to consider ratepayers.

“We try to be careful in everything we do to look closely at costs and keep them as low as possible,” Schnure said.

A public hearing on the utility line ordinance will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 1. It takes place at Williston Town Hall.


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Students dig deep to preserve Allen Brook (5/28/09)

May 28, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Along the banks of the rippling Allen Brook, Williston fifth grader Amelia Dodds stamped down on her shovel. Digging a hole along the stream, Dodds tossed piles of heavy dirt to the side. She then took a 3-year-old sapling of a silky dogwood tree and planted it in the freshly dug hole.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Fifth grade student Carlos Pino inspects a willow tree that he planted next to Allen Brook Tuesday afternoon.

“This is kind of hard,” Dodds said Tuesday afternoon as she packed down the dark brown dirt around the tree’s roots. “I thought the ground would be sandier.”

But Dodds and her classmates said the hard work was worth it. At the end of the day, she and her classmates in Tad Dippel’s Full House science class were looking to plant more than 100 trees and shrubs along Allen Brook.

All around the impaired waterway’s banks, students planted an assortment of native trees and shrubs, hoping to one day return the Allen Brook’s surroundings to their natural state.

“Our goal is to get the bank to stabilize and provide shade,” Dippel said, shovel in hand as he stood in the bright sunshine.

The tree plantings were part of a coordinated effort between Dippel’s class, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Vermont Watershed Alliance, and Williston’s Planning Department. Jessica Andreoletti, a Williston planner, said getting the students to help restore the stream would not only help the town, but also create an excellent real-world lesson.

Spread along the banks of the Allen Brook were differently colored flags. Each flag corresponded to a certain tree students would plant. Orange and red flags placed in the floodplain represented spots for boxelder and willow trees. High on the banks north of the stream, blue flags represented the locations of future red oak trees.

Andreoletti said the trees chosen for planting will stand up to environmental forces along the Allen Brook, such as beaver activity and floods.

“This area is going to flood, but all these plants can handle it,” Andreoletti said.

All the trees, paid for by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, came from a conservation nursery at the Intervale in Burlington, Andreoletti said.

Before any of Dippel’s fifth and sixth grade students started digging around, Frank Pendleton, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, demonstrated the best ways of digging and planting. Pendleton told the students that planting saplings instead of seeds would make it easier for the trees to thrive.

“The grass comes in so thick that it’s so hard for the trees to come back,” Pendleton said.

Students discovered how tough the grass was, and how deep its roots ran, as they began planting trees. Student Kyle Salomon worked a particularly tough patch of ground before planting a red oak. Salomon said he’s had some experience in planting trees in previous community projects.

“I’m kind of used to it, you could say, but I haven’t done it in three or four years,” Salomon said, adding he had been learning about river ecosystems recently in Dippel’s class.

Dippel said in 10 to 15 years, the planted trees should start maturing enough to better protect the Allen Brook. The trees will add improved filtration for the stream, and provide shade to the grasses, cooling down the Allen Brook’s water temperature. It will also create new habitats for birds and small mammals, he said.

Student Loran Stearns thought she might return in 10 years to see how her hard work paid off. Along with Tashia Pashby-Rockwood, Stearns planted a tiny willow into the floodplain.

“We’ve been learning a lot about river restoration,” Stearns said.

Pendleton was pleased with the progress students made on Tuesday and appreciated their enthusiasm. He hoped to get more students back to Allen Brook to remove invasive species, including buckthorn and honeysuckle, from its banks at a later date.


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Season winds down for CVUs rocking tennis teams (5/21/09)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Following Wednesday’s matches against Essex High, the high-flying Champlain Valley Union High tennis teams have just two more dates on the season schedule.

The undefeated girls travel to Colchester High for a 3:30 p.m. match on Tuesday. They then return home Wednesday, the following day, to close out the regular campaign against Rice Memorial High at Shelburne’s Davis Park.

Knocked from the undefeated ranks at Stowe High Saturday, the CVU boys will play host to Colchester at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and then travel to Rice on Wednesday, the usual reverse of the girls’ schedule.

The 7-1 boys returned to their winning ways Monday at Davis Park by trimming 6-6 South Burlington High, 4-3, led by singles victories by David Hilderbrand, Marc Vecchio and Tabor deGroot. Will Hurd and Corey Dawson paired up for the doubles win that put the Redhawks over the top.

In the 4-3 defeat at the racquets of 7-0 Stowe on Saturday, Hurd and Dawson captured their doubles match. CVU’s two singles victories were earned by Vecchio and deGroot.

The girls are 10-0 after squeaking by previously unbeaten Stowe, now with a 7-1 record, 4-3 at home Saturday and popping 6-6 South Burlington, 5-2, on the road Monday.

The triumph over Stowe was fashioned in the singles battles, with Cassie Smith, Kylie deGroot, Anna Clare Smith and Colleen McCarthy collecting victories.

It was the same against South Burlington, with Abby Stoner joining her four teammates with individual triumphs.


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Myers life celebrated

    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Bill Kirkpatrick plays ‘Amazing Grace’ on the bagpipes during the closing moments of Saturday’s celebration honoring the life of Al Myers. Approximately 700 people from throughout the community turned out to honor Myers, a Williston Central School teacher who passed away last month. See story below.

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Armadillos crush Bolton for third win (5/21/09)

Offense goes into high gear

May 21, 2009

On Sunday, the Williston Armadillos put on a hitting exhibition against the Bolton Bombers, rapping out 22 hits and collecting 15 walks en route to a 26-2 victory.


    Courtesy photo by Dennis Johnson
Williston Armadillos pitcher Greg Bolger winds up for a pitch during Sunday’s game against the Bolton Bombers.

The offensive damage was inflicted on a team-wide basis, as all 12 Dillos hit safely in the Vermont Senior Baseball League game. Eight of them collected multiple hits, 11 of 12 knocked in a least one run and all 12 scored at least one run. Additionally, the Dillos picked up their long ball game, as pitcher Greg Bolger (2-5, HR, BB, 2 RBIs), first/third baseman Jesse Stein (1-4, HR, 1 run), shortstop Brent Tremblay (2-4, HR, 2 BB, 4 runs, 2 RBIs) and third baseman “Pookie” Martin (2-4, HR, 2 BB, 5 runs, 1 RBI) deposited homers into the stands. Other Dillo offensive stars were second baseman Pete Picard (3-3, 2 BB, 3 runs, 2 RBIs) and outfielder Brian Donahue (3-5, 1 run, 2 RBIs).

On the mound, Bolger picked up the victory to improve his record to 3-0, holding the Bombers scoreless over the first five innings, while giving up five hits and one walk, and striking out six. Bolger was relieved by Martin, who made his mound debut, throwing the next two innings, giving up one run on two hits and one walk, and striking out two. Dennis Johnson (2-4, 2B, 2 BB, 1 run, 4 RBIs) pitched the eighth, giving up an unearned run on two hits and one walk. Ray Danis (1-6, 1 run) threw a scoreless ninth, giving up one hit and one walk, while striking out one.

“While it was touch and go for awhile, after we scored six runs in the top of the sixth to take a 21-0 lead, we got the ball girl’s (Charlene Johnson) blessing to take out Bolger and let me pitch for the first time” said Martin. “It’s different on the mound than it is on the sidelines.”

The Dillos notched three runs in the first as Danis reached on an error, Tremblay walked and Bolger reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Martin walked, Dann “DVDV” Van der Vliet (1-4, 2 BB, 3 runs) hit into a fielder’s choice and Picard singled, with a run scoring in each instance.

The lead went to 9-0 in the third, when 14 Dillos batted. After Tremblay singled, Bolger and Martin hit back-to-back homers; two walks later, Stein hit a three-run homer.

Another six runs were scored in the fifth. Bolger walked, Picard singled and Johnson walked to load the bases. Those runners scored when Stein walked and catcher Darby Crum (2-5, 2B, BB, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) doubled. Stein scored on a fielder’s choice, and singles by Hughes and Donahue brought home the final two runs of the inning.

The sixth inning saw six more Dillos score, as Bolger, DVDV, Picard and outfielder Billy Daw (1-4, BB, RBI) walked and Martin, Johnson and Donahue singled. Another run scored in the seventh, as Tremblay walked and DVDV and Picard singled.

The final four runs were tallied in the ninth, when Donahue singled and Tremblay homered, Martin and DVDV reached on successive errors and Johnson knocked them both in with a double.

On Sunday, the Dillos travel to Airport Park in Colchester to play the 2-1 Bayside Braves.

League standings and individual and team statistics are online at Enter Vermont Senior Baseball League under league name search.


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Sports Notes (5/21/09)

May 21, 2009

CVU golf team second at Kwiniaska

The Champlain Valley Union High golf team took second place in a four-way match Tuesday at Kwiniaska’s golf spread. Essex High rolled to the win, with North Country Union High and Milton High finishing behind the Redhawks.

Top CVU golfer was Andre Bedard with a 78, which was five strokes back of the 73 posted by medalist Dale Lee of Essex. Lee’s four teammates all fired 78s or better.

Other CVU scores were: Jack Tomashot with 80, Eric Robinson with 83, Chris Nigh with 86 and Alex Socinski with 91.

Voltage opens on new field

The Vermont Voltage soccer team is looking forward to opening the season on new territory — at Burlington High School. After 12 years playing at the Collins-Perley Sports Complex in St Albans, the Voltage were forced to find a new venue due to major renovations occurring this summer at Collins-Perley.

Saturday marks the opening game for the Voltage as they take on the Ottawa Fury. The game on May 23 begins at 7 p.m. at the new Burlington High School sports complex.

Voltage fans can expect the same entertainment available in St Albans, with local dance teams, Sparky the Voltage mascot, food, and soccer. Tickets are $6 for adults and $2 for children.


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Mighty Essex next up for CVU softball team (5/21/09)

May 21, 2009

The Champlain Valley Union High softball team will be looking for victory number one Thursday at the home digs of the undefeated (11-0 at week’s start) Essex High Hornets.

The Redhawks fell to 0-11 Tuesday with a 23-0 home loss to St. Johnsbury Academy.

CVU stroked nine hits but could not manufacture key blasts with runners on. Holly Bachilas, Susan Parmalee and Heather McLaughlin rattled two hits each for the Hawks. Chrissi Whitaker swatted a double.

On Saturday, CVU bowed 8-1 to visiting 6-5 Milton High. McLaughlin accounted for the lone CVU tally with an inside-the-park home run.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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CVU boys lacrosse team regains victory stride (5/21/09)

May 21, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The Redhawks are back!

That is no doubt the word around boys high school lacrosse circles after the Champlain Valley Union High combine logged its third straight victory Saturday, a 14-2 thrashing of visiting Mount Anthony Union High of Bennington at the hilltop nest in Hinesburg.

The victory was their third straight following a set of three losses in a row against some of the Metro might.

CVU continued its late season push Tuesday with a 10-6 triumph at Mount Mansfield Union High in Jericho Center. In lifting their season mark to 10-3, the Redhawks got four goals from Nick Spencer. Tim Reichert and Nick Hart each popped a pair of tallies. Singles came from the sticks of Wes O’Brien and Alex Hennessey. CVU outshot the Cougars by a 20-10 margin.

On Saturday, the Redhawks will engage in the first of a series of three games against their previous tormentors with a trip to St. Albans for an 11 a.m. game against Bellows Free academy.

On Wednesday, defending state champ Essex High comes to Hinesburg for a 4 p.m. match. The following Saturday, South Burlington High will be at the hill for an 11 a.m. contest.

After that the wait will be for postseason pairings.

Big days were aplenty Saturday in the win over the Patriots. Sam Spencer netted three goals to go with a pair of assists, while Owen Smith also scored three times and helped on another.

Dean Priest notched a pair of scores while setting up four others. Reichert and Lawrence Dee also potted a pair of goals each.  Hart and Nate Wells fired home singletons.

CVU outshot the visitors, 20-9.

Last Wednesday, Priest and Reichert led the attack with two goals and an assist each as the Redhawks scored a 9-3 victory at Burlington High, their second triumph over the Seahorses.

CVU net minders Eric Palmer and Will Dubuc shared time in the goalmouth and totaled 16 stops.


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Final home game Saturday for CVU girls lacrosse (5/21/09)

May 21, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Southern strategy is probably best left for the politicians.

After two losses against teams from Vermont’s temperate zone, the Champlain Valley Union High girls lacrosse team (0-10) faced its last two home games of the season this week against northern neighbors. The Redhawks were scheduled to entertain Mount Mansfield Union at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Spaulding High of Barre at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

They will wrap up the regular campaign next week with night tilts at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Essex High and at 7 p.m. on Friday at South Burlington High.

This past Saturday, CVU headed to Bennington for some of that famed southern hospitality. Instead, the Patriots popped the visiting Hawks 16-3.

On Monday, it was back on familiar home ground, where a crisp, well-functioning Rutland High team lived up to its pre-game 11-1 record to earn a 16-6 decision over CVU.

The Raiders jumped to an early 6-0 lead in the first half and never looked back, although the Redhawks did have some moments.

With 8:15 remaining in the half, junior Lucy Halvorson scored off a pass from sophomore Devan Wilkins to put CVU on the board.

Moments later, at 6:51, sophomore Liz Betz weaved her way through the Rutland defense and fired home a goal to bring the youthful Redhawks — the team has only five seniors — to within 6-2.

But Rutland scored the next goal out of a crowd in front of the CVU net for a 7-2 edge at intermission. The Raiders added three more in the first five minutes of the second half before junior Emily Shaw ended the Rutland string with a goal at 18:31.

Rutland bolted to a 14-3 lead before CVU sophomore Amanda Kinneston got loose for three scores in the closing 10 minutes. Kinneston also potted a pair of tallies against Mount Anthony.

Senior midfielder Hannah Wright scored four goals to pace Rutland. Two other Raiders notched three pointers each.

Rutland goalie Jesse Wilson had five saves, including a nifty one on CVU’s Erika Gobeille, who made several strong sorties into the Raider defenses.

The Redhawks were without senior co-captains Michaela Cornbrooks and Elizabeth Beckett, both lost to leg injuries.


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Redhawks blank St. J on the diamond (5/21/09)

Baseball team heads to Essex on Thursday

May 21, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Returning to winning ways Tuesday with an 8-0 home bopping of St. Johnsbury Academy, the young but surging Champlain Valley Union High baseball team will take on one of the Metro Division’s ruling class Thursday, when the Redhawks invade Essex High for a 4:30 p.m. test against the 9-2 (beginning of the week) Hornets.

Now 4-7, coach Tim Albertson’s Redhawks will then travel down Route 116 to Bristol and Mount Abraham for an 11 a.m. game on Saturday against the solid Eagles, who bumped off the Hawks 7-2 in the mid-April season-opener in Hinesburg.

The victory over 2-9 St. Johnsbury was especially tasty for the Hawks, who had suffered a galling 11-10 defeat at home Saturday to Milton High when the Blue Devils rallied from an 8-5 deficit with a six-run explosion in the top of the seventh.

But that became distant history Tuesday, when freshman Curt Echo and junior Andrew Leckerling combined for a six-hit shutout to go with an errorless defense.

“This was good today,” Albertson said, noting that the team will be in a good frame of mind for the Essex trip.

CVU has won four of its last five games after opening the season with six straight defeats.

Echo, in gaining his first varsity triumph, scattered five hits, walked four and whiffed six Hilltoppers over the first six innings.

“He threw 93 pitches and 65 were for strikes,” said Redhawks pitching coach Onnie Matthews. “That is very good.”

Leckerling took over in the seventh and shut down the visitors with just a single.

Echo’s only hint of serious trouble came in the top of the fourth when, with one out, Hilltoppers Shane Thorgalson and Mike Guidosh reached on backyard sale hits, a pair of real cheapies. One was a slow grounder under an infielder’s glove, the other a pop between the mound and third base.

With the game scoreless at the time, the two runners were sacrificed to second and third, but Echo then got a strikeout to end the threat.

In the bottom of the fourth, CVU struck for all of its runs, the door being opened when the first two batters, Joe Myers and David Titus, reached on infield miscues. Echo then reached on a well-positioned bunt single, which rolled to the shortstop, loading the bases.

Jared Badger lined a two-run single to center. After Andrew Nick was walked, Collin Teator ripped a shot to right center to drive in two more runs. The pings just kept coming as Leckerling, Konnor Fleming and Myers bashed consecutive RBI singles and Titus stroked an RBI grounder.

Heartbreaker vs. Milton High

The conditions Tuesday were windy, causing some adventures with infield pop-ups. But it was routine when compared with Saturday’s high winds, particularly at the start of the game.

Both starting pitchers, Teator and Milton’s Alex Duchesneau, ran into control problems, no doubt partially caused by trying to stay on the mound in gale force winds.

Teator left after two innings in which he allowed just two hits but walked five and allowed three tallies, only one of which was earned.

Down 3-0 going into the bottom of the second, CVU struck for four runs on Andrew Nick’s two-run double and Teator’s two-run single after Duchesneau had set the stage with three walks.

The Redhawks hiked the edge to 7-3 and 8-5 before Milton struck for the six-spot in the top of the seventh off Nick, who had pitched four innings of strong relief going into the frame, and Emily Sackett.

Down 11-8, CVU bounced back with two runs and had the bases loaded with one out before losing a runner at the plate for the second out. A ground out finished off the Redhawks.


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