April 21, 2014

Court to hear shopping centers tax appeal (9/24/09)

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Maple Tree Place owner wants value reduced by $15 million

Sept. 24, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

The corporate owner of Maple Tree Place continues to dispute the tax value of Williston’s highest-priced property.

Inland Western filed an appeal earlier this month in Chittenden Superior Court. As of Monday, a hearing date had not been scheduled.

The appeal follows a decision last month by the Williston Board of Civil Authority to reject the company’s claim that the retail center is worth less than the town’s $80.9 million valuation.

Inland has argued that falling commercial property values should prompt a lower appraisal. An attorney for the company said during the Board of Civil Authority hearing that Maple Tree Place was worth $65 million.

But the board voted unanimously to deny Inland’s appeal, which could have reduced its annual tax bill by more than $200,000.

In its written ruling, the board said the town determined the value using the cost approach, which considers the quality of construction, the age and size of buildings and other factors.

That method of valuation is used with all commercial property in Williston. Town officials have noted that using another method for Maple Tree Place could prompt tax appeals from many companies in Williston.

“I don’t see how you can change it,” said Herb Goodrich, chairman of the Board of Civil Authority. “It’s what we do for the rest of the businesses.”

Bill Parks, Inland Western’s vice president for property management, did not return telephone messages. Robert Gensburg, the St. Johnsbury attorney who filed the court appeal for Inland, did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment.

Throughout the appeal process, which included a review by the Board of Listers and the Board of Civil Authority hearing, Inland has argued that the slumping real estate market and numerous vacancies make the property worth much less than the town’s appraised value.

That claim was greeted with skepticism from some Board of Civil Authority members, who noted that Inland paid $102.3 million when it bought Maple Tree Place in 2005. Inland’s attorney argued that the number is no longer relevant because the recession has driven down prices for commercial real estate.

Goodrich said the purchase price is an inescapable fact sure to be raised during the court hearing.

Maple Tree Place is by far the highest-valued property in Williston. IBM’s facility on Redmond Road is the next most expensive property, with an appraised value of $31.6 million.

Inland Western is a real estate investment trust affiliated with Illinois-based Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, which owns one of the nation’s largest portfolios of commercial real estate.

Absent a successful appeal, Inland Western will pay $1.3 million in local property taxes during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. If the appraisal was reduced to $65 million, the company’s tax bill would fall by about $241,000.

A devaluation would have a relatively minor impact on Williston’s $7.6 million municipal budget. Town Manager Rick McGuire said it would reduce revenue by about $30,000.

A ruling in Inland’s favor would have no effect on local school funding or education taxes, said Bob Mason, chief operations officer with the Chittenden South Supervisory Union.

Property taxes earmarked for education go into a statewide fund, then are disbursed using a complex formula, Mason said. Any revenue reduction would therefore be spread out among all school districts in Vermont.

 

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Truck slams into Tims Snack Shack (9/24/09)

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Four hurt, one dies from injuries sustained in crash

Sept. 24, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Rescue personnel found a frightening scene at Tim’s Snack Shack Thursday afternoon, after a pickup truck plowed into the roadside eatery and a nearby picnic table, injuring five people.

One of the victims passed away Tuesday afternoon.

The accident occurred around 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, toward the tail end of the lunch rush at Tim’s Snack Shack, said Williston Police Sgt. Scott Graham. According to Graham’s preliminary report, the driver who caused the accident appeared to have suffered a “medical emergency.”

Police are investigating the accident and declined to say if the driver would face charges.

Rescue personnel, along with Williston police officers and 10 firefighters, arrived at Tim’s Snack Shack minutes after receiving the emergency call. Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton said the department considered it a mass casualty incident. The snack shack is located at the junction of U.S. 2 and Industrial Avenue.

According to Snack Shack owner Tim Leggett, two customers had just finished picking up their orders and were on their way to sit at one of the picnic tables when he noticed a truck “out of control.” A white Ford F-150 pickup truck jumped a curb and headed straight for the eatery. Leggett said he shouted to his two employees to get out of the shack and tried to warn his customers, but it was too late.

Graham said the truck smashed into the back of a parked car before hitting the northeast corner of the shack, knocking the small building 4 feet back from its original location. The truck then hit the two customers head on at the picnic table before coming to rest behind the shack on a steep embankment.

Brian Marcelino, 52, of Colchester and Barbara Gregory, 68, of Shelburne were the customers struck. Graham would not go into detail on the victim’s injuries, only saying they were possibly life threatening.

Marcelino and Gregory were transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington soon after the accident.

Gregory later died after succumbing to her injuries.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson with the hospital said Marcelino remained a patient in recovery.

Also injured was Tim’s Snack Shack employee Jason Goddard, who was hurt while escaping the eatery. Leggett hurt his ankle in the accident, as well. Goddard was transported to Fletcher Allen, but was eventually released, police said. Leggett, who walked with a noticeable limp and a bandaged ankle Thursday afternoon, declined transportation to the hospital.

The driver of the pickup truck, Timothy Hill, allegedly told police he had been working at a construction site in South Burlington earlier in the day. Graham said Hill told police he was hit accidently in the head by a shovel and, not feeling well, decided to head home.

While heading east on Williston Road, Hill said he began to feel dizzy and tried to pull off the road, according to Graham. But Hill didn’t make it and does not remember the accident, Graham said.

“Witnesses told me it looked like the driver was unconscious,” Graham said.

Hill was also transported by ambulance to Fletcher Allen and was later released, according to police. Police said Hill tested negative after the accident for drugs and alcohol.

A company logo on the side of the pickup truck said it belonged to Environmental Products & Services of Vermont Inc., located on Commerce Avenue in Williston. The company handles environmentally related spills and waste cleanup projects, with locations throughout the East Coast.

A woman who answered the phone at Environmental Products & Services on Tuesday would neither comment on the accident nor confirm if Hill worked for the company.

Leggett said the accident has closed Tim’s Snack Shack for the year. Leggett added the eatery typically closes toward the end of October. He said the building was a total loss.

The inside of the shack appeared disheveled Thursday afternoon, with debris scattered in every direction. Leggett said the big equipment, such as the Fryolators and grill, would need to be replaced. While he vowed to return next season, Leggett said he was most concerned for his friends who’d been injured.

“I’m feeling terrible for people in the parking lot,” Leggett said on Thursday, adding he planned to visit them in the hospital later in the day.

 

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Never forget

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    Observer photo by Greg Duggan
Williston firefighter Tyler Hulbert waves an American flag at Taft Corners on Sept. 11. Several firefighters from the department spent an hour waving flags for a Sept. 11 memorial at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Vermont 2A. Earlier in the day, the department held a service at the Williston Fire Department recognizing police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001 and throughout 2009.

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Dillos trounce Killington in tourney opener (9/17/09)

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Supple and Martin sharp in victory

Sept. 17, 2009

In mid-July, the Killington Saints ensured that the Williston Armadillos, then 10-0, would not see a perfect season by handing the Dillos their first loss of the season by the score of 7-6. On Sunday, the second-seeded Armadillos, who ended the regular season with a 13-3 record, exacted revenge on the seventh-seeded Saints with a 16-1 win.

With the victory, Williston moves into the semifinals of the single elimination Vermont Senior Baseball League state championship tournament. The Dillos will face Newport Columbia, which was 8-8 during the regular season but pulled off a 16-4 upset of third-seeded Colchester on Sunday.

In the first game of the season, the Dillos had to come from behind to defeat Newport 8-5.

“They’re a solid team, with good hitting. We had our hands full the first time we played them and I expect the same this time,” player manager Dennis Johnson said about the upcoming game.

The Dillos were on their offensive game on Sunday, collecting 21 hits and five walks, as all but one of the 13 players hit safely. The outcome of the game seemed determined early as the Dillos scored in each of the first four innings to take a 12-1 lead.

The offense was led by shortstop Greg Bolger (3-5, 2 runs), center fielder Ray Danis (2-2, 2B, RBI), Dann “DVDV” Van der Vliet (2-3, HBP, 2 RBIs), left fielder Reid Crosby (2-4, 2 runs), third baseman Pookie Martin (2-4, BB, 3 RBIs), second baseman Brent Tremblay (2-4, 2 RBIs), catcher Tom “Bambino” Fitzgerald (2-4, RBI) and Jess Stein (2-4, 2 runs).

As the Dillos’ pitching opponent said after the game, it “didn’t matter what we threw today. You guys even hit the bad pitches safely.”

On the mound, Armadillo ace Bill Supple threw the first six innings to get the win, giving up one run on eight hits, while walking none and striking out three. Martin pitched the last three innings, continuing to demonstrate his prowess in relief by giving up just one hit and two walks, while striking out three.

The Saints demonstrated jitters in the first two innings and the Dillos were quick to capitalize. Williston scored two in the first as Crosby walked, Supple reached on an error and each scored respectively on singles by Martin and Danis.

The Dillos racked up six more runs in the second. Right fielder Darby Crum (1-3, 2B, 2 runs) reached on another Saints error, Stein singled and Johnson (1-2, 3B, sac, BB, RBI) sacrifice bunted, advancing Crum to third. After Crum scored on DVDV’s single, Stein and Johnson scored on successive fielder’s choices. Bolger singled and Martin walked to load the bases and Tremblay plated the two lead runners with a single.

After the Saints scored a run in the third on a double and a single, two more Dillos scored in the bottom of that frame. Danis doubled and scored on the Bambino’s single. Although Crum hit into a double play, Stein singled and Johnson brought him home with triple.

Williston piled on two more runs in the fourth when Crosby and Bolger singled and Martin plated both with a double.

Meanwhile, Supple was showing clutch pitching on the mound. Following three straight singles to load the bases in the fifth, Supple buckled down. He induced the next batter to ground to Tremblay at third, who gunned the runner down at home. The following batter flied out to short right, and the last batter of the inning hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice.

The lead grew to 15-1 in the sixth inning as left fielder Bill “Vegas” Daw (1-2, 2 BB, run) and Crosby singled and Supple brought both home with a double. Bolger then collected his third straight single to plate Supple.

The Dillos closed out the scoring in the seventh when Crum doubled and scored on DVDV’s single.

The semifinal game will be played at Williston Central School at noon on Sept. 20.

League standings and individual and team statistics are online at www.scorebook.com. Enter “Vermont Senior Baseball League” under league name search.

 

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CVU boys soccer schedule heats up (9/17/09)

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Sept. 17, 2009

It had been more than a week since their season-opening, 6-0 blowout of Mount Abraham Union High in Bristol when the Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team took to the home field Wednesday afternoon against Harwood Union High.

The game was scheduled for after press deadline.

Only game time would tell if the layoff helped coach T.J. Mead apply some fine tuning, or whether some rustiness had crept in.

Two more home games follow, with Missisquoi Valley Union in Hinesburg on Friday for a 4:30 p.m. contest and South Burlington High coming in Tuesday to resume their friendly rivalry in another 4:30 p.m. start.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

 

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CVU footballers jump to 2-0 start (9/17/09)

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Home opener on Saturday

Sept. 17, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

After two victorious road engagements, the Champlain Valley Union High football team will get its first appearance on home turf at 1 p.m. Saturday against 1-1 Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax.

 


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
Champlain Valley Union High running back Eric Palmer (30) carries the ball against Rice Memorial High on Saturday. The Redhawks cruised to a 33-8 victory over Rice.

One of the smallest schools in the state to offer varsity football, the always tough Bullets opened with a 32-8 home loss to Milton High despite 254 rushing yards. Then, last Saturday, BFA-Fairfax scored a 32-26 triumph at Mill River Union High in Clarendon.

The Redhawks are coming off an emotional 33-8 victory Saturday at Rice Memorial High, head coach Jim Provost’s alma mater and where he coached the longtime football power to a state crown in the 1990s.

“We played great,” Provost said of his CVU team after the game. “We got a couple of breaks and took advantage of opportunities for the second week in a row.”

And for the second straight week, the leading provocateur was junior quarterback and captain Konnor Fleming. In the opening 39-20 victory over Burr and Burton in Manchester, Fleming ran for four touchdowns and threw for two more. At Rice, he ran for another four scores and lofted one pay dirt pitch.

That’s eight rushing six-pointers and three scoring throws in two games, serious numbers anywhere.

Against the Green Knights, Fleming scampered for 168 yards and passed for 145 for 313 yards total offense. He also punted four times, averaging 36 yards a boot.

“We rely on our running game,” Fleming said. “Coach kept calling the keeps and they worked.”

Fleming’s touchdowns came on a 70-yard third period jaunt and earlier sneaks of 4, 1 and 6 yards.

His sidekick in the ground division was halfback J. P. Benoit, who had 42 yards on 10 lugs.

First year Rice head coach Neil Brodeur — he played for Provost there — thought the game turned in the very first quarter as the Green Knights took the opening kickoff and began marching down the field.

Staying on the ground, Rice moved from its 43 to the CVU 7 for a second down when Redhawks’ defensive end Matt Long played Wyatt Earp and put away the opposing dudes.

First, Long dropped the Knights’ rolling out quarterback, Chris McCormick, for a 7-yard loss on second down. On the next play, Rice took a 5-yard penalty that set it back on the 18 for third down. Long then nailed McCormick for a 7-yard loss. On fourth down and 22, Long then chased the quarterback to the sideline, where defensive back Drew Nick finished him off.

“I like to play defense,” Long said.

On offense, he caught two passes for 16 yards and a first down.

CVU took over on its 28 and Fleming established the offense on the first play with a 35-yard turf pounder off tackle to put the Redhawks in Rice territory. Four plays later — one of them a 33-yard pass completion to Derek Goodwin — Fleming bolted over from the 4 for the first score. Brian Cherhoniak kicked the first of three points-after.

Led by the line play of Dale Conger and Dan Thabault, among others, the CVU defense kept Rice under wraps until midway through the fourth quarter while leading 26-0.

Evan Healy’s 45-yard return of a CVU punt gave the Knights the ball at the Redhawks’ 13. McCormick launched a first down scoring pass to Nicky Elderton and then hit Evan Hathaway for a two-point conversion.

CVU came right back to score its final touchdown, taking the ball at the 50 and moving into the end zone in three plays, Fleming’s 21-yard scoring toss to Ian Solomon the finisher.

Goodwin wound up with two receptions for 58 yards while Collin Teator, who hooked up with Fleming for a 94-yard bomb in Manchester, combined with the quarterback for a 50-yarder Saturday.

CVU’s second touchdown, late in the first quarter, came from an opportunity produced by the tandem of Long and Nick. Long tackled a Rice ball carrier at the Knights’ 40 and forced a fumble, which an alert Nick picked up and returned to the Rice 5. On fourth-and-one, Fleming sneaked into the end zone and CVU had a 13-0 lead, which it took into halftime.

The Hawks are two-for-two in their first encounters as a Division 2 team.

 

CVU-Rice, Stats

CVU        13    0    13    7 – 33

Rice        0    0    0    8 – 8

                                CVU        Rice

First downs                   8        9

Rushing yards           243        100

Passing yards            145        69

Return yards               55        141

Comp-Att                6-11-1    8-20-1

Punts-avg                4-36        6-46

Fumbles-lost             3-1        2-1

Penalties-yards         5-45        4-50

 

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Undefeated CVU field hockey team finds scoring punch (9/17/09)

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Sept. 17, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The rampaging Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team will close out a brief home stand Friday when Middlebury Union High — 2-1 entering the week — rolls into Hinesburg.

On Tuesday, the 4-0 defending Division 1 champion Redhawks will travel to South Burlington to test the Rebels, who were 3-0 coming into this week’s action.

Opposing coaches coming up with a game plan for facing CVU will likely be left scratching their heads, as the Hawks added three more players to their list of scorers Monday in vanquishing visiting Mount Mansfield Union High, 6-0.

Notching their first goals of the season were veteran co-captain Kathryn Powell and senior Kelcey Lamphere, each with a pair of scores, and senior midfield controller Maggie Ryan with a singleton.

Upfront veteran KK Logan notched her fourth tally plus an assist.

Logan got the assault started with two minutes and five seconds gone in the first half when she maneuvered in front of MMU net minder Jen Haley and unleashed a hard shot from 10 feet out.

Powell, who was also solid on defense, notched her goals later in the half with Emmaleigh Loyer assisting on both.

Ryan set up Lamphere’s first goal midway through the second half.

Kelsey “Coast-to-Coast” Jensen, whose long clearing blasts kept the Cougars in their own end much of the game, got things going for the final two scores.

At 17:44, Jensen cut loose with a hard shot that rebounded off Haley’s pads to Ryan, who alertly knocked the ball into the cage.

Eleven minutes later, Jensen fired a shot at the goal that bounced off Logan’s stick to Lamphere, who made the scoring deposit.

CVU goalie Elizabeth Goddette got her third shutout and, for the second time this season, didn’t need to make a save.

It appeared the veteran net minder might have some business late in the second half but the defense, led by back Aubrey Deavitt, was adept at clearing the ball from dangerous territory in front of Goddette.

 

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CVU harriers in Burlington Invitational on Saturday (9/17/09)

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Sept. 17, 2009

The Champlain Valley Union High girls cross country team will be seeking a second straight invitational title on Saturday when the toes hit the ground at the annual Burlington High Invitational. The race starts at 9:30 a.m.

The CVU girls scored an impressive victory last Saturday in the Essex Invitational at Williston’s Catamount Family Center. The Redhawks finished with 39 points to 59 for Essex High and Mount Mansfield Union, tied for the runner-up slot.

CVU’s boys finished fifth in their division, with Londonderry (N.H.) High taking the team crown.

The Redhawks’ Summer Spillane paced her team, finishing second by some nine seconds to victor Jenna Griffith of Colchester High, who posted a winning time of 20 minutes, 19.89 seconds.

Joining Spillane at the top of the field were teammates Adrienne Devita in third and Laura Jackson in fifth. Annie Jackson took 14th and Julienne Devita 15th.

Zack Pete was again the top runner for the CVU boys, taking seventh place.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

 

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CVU girls soccer team shoots to 4-0 start (9/17/09)

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Redhawks play under the Colchester lights on Thursday

Sept. 17, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Having dispatched a southern visitor at the Hinesburg soccer foundry on Tuesday, coach Brad Parker and his 4-0 Champlain Valley Union High girls soccer team were looking forward to their first night game in a while when they visit Colchester High Thursday for a 7 p.m. clash.

 


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Emma Eddy (10), a Champlain Valley Union High junior, outpaces Burr and Burton’s Samantha Labate in the first half of Tuesday’s game.

 


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Champlain Valley Union High’s Nicole Utter sends a corner kick toward the Burr and Burton net.

The Redhawks, who traveled south for a 4-0 triumph at Rutland High on Friday, had a more difficult time Tuesday with southern representative Burr and Burton of Manchester. In the end, however, CVU emerged from overtime with a 2-1 win.

Tuesday’s win came from a foot and the head of Kylie deGroot. The senior forward knocked in a corner kick with 4:20 left in the first overtime to snap the 1-1 tie and seal the winning deal. The goal came after a corner kick from junior Lindsay Hawley.

“The ball came off the corner from Lindsay and bounced around and then came to me,” said a smiling deGroot, who now has three goals for the season.

The pair had previously hooked up with 23:14 left in the first half, when deGroot headed in another well-placed corner from Hawley.

At the time, it appeared that the Redhawks might get more. They had a big advantage in territorial play but continually just missed on shots, with deGroot, Aden Peterson and Kendall Berry among those coming up empty.

After intermission, Burr and Burton net minder Jillian Blaisdell stopped a point blank slam by Sara Lewis and deGroot lined a blast off an upright and back into Blaisdell’s hands.

In the last 15 minutes of regulation, Burr and Burton became more aggressive and contentious in those individual battles for ball control.

Junior forward Jenna Hoffman evened the score when she recovered a loose ball in CVU territory and raced in on goal, knocking a line shot into the high left corner of the yawning goalmouth. CVU net minder Emily Sackett had no chance on the play.

Sackett then made two later saves to preserve the deadlock, her third and fourth of the contest. Blaisdell had nine stops for the visitors.

Haleigh Smith was a major presence on defense for the Redhawks, as was Lindsay Kingston.

In Rutland on Friday, Molly Howard, Nicole Utter, Erika Gobeille and Amanda Kinneston contributed the scores for the Hawks.

 

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CVU embraces latest technology with new Web site (9/17/09)

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Sept. 17, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Next week, Champlain Valley Union High School will launch a redesigned Web site and network that aim to streamline communication and become an integral technological learning tool.

 


   
The new Web site for Champlain Valley Union High School employs the latest technology.

Principal Sean McMannon said the Web site change is part of the widespread Web redesigns taking place for all Chittenden South Supervisory Union schools. Like the other school Web sites, this change is a long time coming.

“It’s the future of learning and we need to prepare our students for that,” McMannon said, adding that CVU is following where many college Web sites have gone in recent years.

John Dawson, CVU’s information systems manager, agreed with McMannon, saying that CVU should remain on the cutting edge of 21st-century learning.

“We want to Web-enable the delivery of education,” Dawson said.

The genesis of the new site began three years ago, when some classrooms began using a program called Moodle. This software allows teachers to create virtual learning environments where students can collaborate on projects online. Teachers can also post assignments, messages and discussion topics that students can access outside of classroom time. McMannon said Moodle instantly caught on with students and became one of the most accessed computer tools within the school.

A new Web site was soon created — learn.cvuhs.org — and began to evolve. The Web address now shows the pilot Web site that will replace the current design at www.cvuhs.org.

The main page will have updated announcements for students, staff and members of the community. Much like the old site, there will be links to student activity Web pages and school information. There will also be a section on the right side of the front page that will link to various student multimedia projects. McMannon and Dawson said just the front page is a step up from the current site.

“Our old network and old system was very limiting,” Dawson said.

Beginning in July, Dawson worked to build the new site and network to include the Moodle programs. Dawson said Google applications proved to be the best and most efficient tools for students and teachers. Most importantly for McMannon, the Google programs are free.

On Monday, the school’s e-mail system switched from a GroupWise account to Google Mail. McMannon said e-mail addresses will not change, however. Google Mail will allow staff and students to create scheduling calendars and send messages to different groups of people. Students and staff have already been using Google document programs in the classroom.

“The nice piece about Google is that it supports collaboration,” said Charlie MacFadyen, CVU’s technology integrationist.

Instead of sending large group-emails that sometimes would get lost in the fray, the school community will be able to communicate via online message boards.

Students will be able join groups associated with their classes and activities and will be able to retrieve information through these groups. Once they sign on for the day, students will have immediate access to their e-mail system and other applications. McMannon said the system is being called the “dashboard.”

“It’s got that one-stop shopping appeal to it,” MacFadyen said.

Many of the programs are nothing new to CVU students, McMannon said.

“A lot of these kids have been doing this for a while,” he said. “The learning curve isn’t as steep for kids.”

But for some faculty and staff, the new technologies will be more of a challenge. MacFadyen said he’s been teaching the new programs in group settings. While certain programs are brand new to some faculty, they understand the importance, he said. McMannon said he’s proud of how staff has rallied around the new technology.

“They’ve handled the changes with complete professionalism,” he said.

Starting sometime next month, parents will also be able to use the site on a more collaborative basis. They’ll be able to create usernames and passwords for the site so they can monitor their children’s class work and school information.

For now, school officials are looking forward to next week’s launch. More importantly, the new Web site signals the major changes schooling has undergone in the past decade. Gone are paper-based projects and outdated e-mail systems.

“Students just don’t learn that way anymore,” Dawson said.

 

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