June 22, 2018

Grant to fund new bus service (10/22/09)

U.S. 2 route will stop in Williston Village

Oct. 22, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

Buses will soon link Williston Village to downtown Burlington, thanks to a federal grant announced last week.

The Chittenden County Transit Authority will receive just under $2.1 million to fund expanded bus service in Williston and a new route to Milton over the next three years. The money is part of a larger $3.9 million Federal Transit Administration grant that will pay for public transportation projects around the state.

CCTA several years ago identified as a priority a direct route along U.S. 2 from Burlington to Williston. Currently, riders must transfer at the University Mall in South Burlington before continuing on to Burlington.

“The lack of a single and direct bus route along Route 2 creates a ‘hole’ in the CCTA system,” the grant application stated. “Without direct, efficient and practical bus service along Route 2, a large market of potential riders will continue to be lost.”

Details of the new Williston route have yet to be finalized and are subject to approval by the transit agency’s governing board.

But Meredith Birkett, CCTA planning manager, said the plans call for the route to extend into Williston Village during commute hours. The tentative schedule includes two morning and two afternoon weekday runs into the village. Service frequency will increase around Taft Corners, reducing wait time for passengers to no more than 15 minutes during commute hours.

The existing route circles commercial areas of Williston before heading to either South Burlington or Essex Junction. The new route will trace a nearly straight line down U.S. 2, but buses will continue to stop at Wal-Mart and the University Mall.

The route will replace the current Williston and University Mall/airport bus lines, the grant application said. CCTA plans to use money spent on those routes to instead create “feeder” buses serving South Burlington and the airport, and to provide an Essex Junction connection.

“It is more than adding service to what’s already there,” Birkett said. “It is a route redesign.”

Williston has for several years helped fund bus routes. But last year the town’s Selectboard decided to officially join as a member town, giving Williston two votes on CCTA’s 14-member Board of Commissioners. Jim McCullough, one of the representatives, said he has taken an “almost passive” approach to advocating for better bus service, realizing that funding was in short supply.

“I’d love to tell you I went down there and banged my shoe on the table,” McCullough joked.

When McCullough was appointed, he said he hoped CCTA could add service to the village that also looped through residential areas along Mountain View and North Williston roads.

It is unlikely that those stops would be added to the new route, he said, because more stops means longer travel time to Burlington and higher expenses.

Al Turgeon, the town’s other CCTA board member, said he has advocated for service into the village by pointing out that Williston — unlike other member communities — did not have service to the center of town. He also said he’s  “appalled” at the lack of sheltered bus stops in Williston and will continue to push for them.

Towns served by CCTA buses are assessed a yearly levy based on level of service. Williston will pay $158,260 in the current fiscal year.

The grant requires a 20 percent local match, which will come from money provided by member towns. Matching funding, however, will not be drawn solely from Williston’s assessment, Birkett said. Town assessments are pooled and used to fund CCTA’s entire budget.

“We don’t say this is a Milton dollar and this is a Williston dollar,” Birkett said.

The grant falls $150,000 short of completely funding the U.S. 2 route, Turgeon said. That raises questions about whether CCTA will be able to carry out all its plans.

Chris Cole, CCTA general manager, said routes could be altered or other grants secured to cover the shortfall. But in any case, he said, Williston will not be asked for more money beyond its annual assessment.

The federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program that funds the grant is aimed at reducing traffic and hence pollution, said Dave Pelletier, public transit administrator for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, which distributed the money.

“The idea is basically to take single-occupancy cars off the road,” he said.

The Milton route can be added relatively quickly, but establishing the new Williston service will take longer because of the complexity of making other routes dovetail with it, Birkett said.

CCTA plans to hold public hearings over the next few months to gather input on when and where buses should stop. Birkett said CCTA hopes to launch the U.S. 2 route in the first half of 2010.

Turgeon said it has taken so long to streamline and expand bus service in Williston because CCTA has more demand for service than funding.

“It’s limited resources,” he said. “The bottom line is there is just not enough money to put a (bus) system out there where everybody wants it.”

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Time ticking for purchase of antique clock (10/22/09)

Oct. 22, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

When Williston farmer Russell D. Munson began a small side project 150 years ago, little did he know he would construct something to withstand the test of time.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
The etchings on the glass protecting the timepiece honor the reunification of the United States in post-Civil War America. Clock builder Russell D. Munson also incribed his name on the clock and the year in which it was completed.

A well-known tinkerer about town, Munson decided to put his skills to the test and build a grandfather clock. With his self-taught knowledge of mechanics and woodworking, Munson toiled on his clock for eight years, beginning in 1859.

Standing like a tall sentry guarding time, the 8-foot, 6-inch-tall clock remains noble in its advanced age. While the clock’s wood is worn in spots and its unique music box no longer plays its Civil War-era songs in tune, elaborate etchings on the pendulum’s glass doors still read as plain as day: “U.S.A. THE WORLDs CRADLE OF LIBERTY.”

“There’s nothing else like this,” said Ginger Isham, a member of the Williston Historical Society’s board of directors.

Today, the clock is owned by Russell Munson’s great-grandson, George Munson, and still resides in Williston.

The question is, for how long?

Munson’s legal guardian, Bob DiFerdinando, said the clock needs to be sold to help pay for Munson’s assisted living expenses. Though Munson originally wanted to donate the clock, he found it would not be practical considering his finances.

Munson hopes the clock will remain in town, but DiFerdinando said that might be impossible unless the Williston Historical Society buys the timepiece — soon — at its appraised value of $18,000.

“George wants it to stay in Williston and I’d love to see it stay in Williston,” DiFerdinando said. “We certainly don’t want to see it leave the state.”

Isham believes the Historical Society should purchase the clock as an historical treasure. But her wish has put her at odds with other members of the society, she said.

“We have the money to buy it and restore it and we should be doing it now,” Isham said.

Williston Historical Society board member Bob Bradish is “on the fence” about whether the group should purchase the clock. While he sees the clock as a unique historical piece, he wonders if the acquisition would be worthwhile.

“I just don’t know if the purchase of a clock is the right thing to do now,” Bradish said.

Munson and his clock

Russell Munson’s main occupation was farming, working the family land off North Brownell Road in the mid-1800s. But his passion was building and inventing. The more elaborate the design, the better. Munson crafted fiddles, pianos and music boxes, guns, locks and farming equipment. He built other timepieces, but the grandfather clock was his crowning achievement, one he proudly showed off at county fairs across Vermont, New York and New Hampshire.

Thematically, the clock is a tribute to the unification of the United States after the Civil War. The two escape wheels that vibrate the clock’s pendulum represent the North and the South, showing how both sides of the conflict could work together in a postwar United States. The etchings on the glass are statements to unification and a hope that the country would outlast its divisions.

The clock also has numerous creative quirks designed and built by Munson. The 40-pound pendulum has a separate timepiece built in its center. Inside the clock, a one-of-a-kind music box plays seven different Civil War-era songs — one for each day of the week.

With so many different features to the clock, it’s no wonder Munson traveled the Northeast, charging the curious to view his masterpiece, said Merton Esmond, an Essex Junction clock restorer.

“It’s a tremendous piece of work,” Esmond said.

At home in Williston?

Even with an appraised value of $18,000 and estimated restoration cost of nearly $7,000, Isham believes the clock is a bargain. She and Esmond said that after restoration, the clock could be worth $75,000.

DiFerdinando said time is running out for a purchase, and the clock will need to be sold elsewhere if the Historical Society doesn’t act quickly. According to Isham, a buyer in Richmond is interested, and Vermont Civil War author Howard Coffin has also expressed a desire to own the piece.

But Historical Society President Terry Macaig said some group members want more information, and the group is seeking someone to make a second appraisal.

“If we buy, then what do we do with it?” Macaig said.

Bradish said the society would want as many people as possible to view the timepiece. Storing the grandfather clock in the Historical Society’s Vermont Room at Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is an option, but Bradish doesn’t believe enough people would get a chance to see it there. He feels money could be better spent elsewhere, on community and historical education events.

Yet Isham believes the clock would attract more people to the Vermont Room and, as a result, garner interest in the Historical Society.

“George and (DiFerdinando) are bending over backwards to help us get this,” Isham said. “We need to do this. It’s an absolutely priceless piece of work.”e of work.”

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Energy audit at Dorothy Alling Memorial Library

    Courtesy photo by Mariana Lamaison Sears
Scott Gardner (left), owner of Building Energy, conducts an energy audit at Dorothy Alling Memorial Library on Sunday while Williston Green Initiatives volunteer Linda Birkenbach holds an infrared camera. See story below.

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Season winding down for CVU runners (10/15/09)

Oct. 15, 2009

The final regular season competition for the Champlain Valley Union High cross country teams will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday in a multi-team meet at Mount Mansfield Union High in Jericho Center.

This will be the Redhawks’ final regular season run before the district championships in Swanton on Oct. 24.

At Middlebury last Saturday, Zack Pete scored his first victory of the campaign to lead the boys, credited by head coach Scott Bliss with team-wide, steady improvement.

The girls paced the CVU teams with a third-place finish, led by Adrienne Devita in second while teammate Summer Spillane came in sixth.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Field hockey team has regular season finale on Friday (10/15/09)

Oct. 15, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The defending Division 1 champion Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team roared into its final week of the regular season with 12 straight victories to its credit and two games remaining in which to keep things tidy for next week’s playoff pairings.

A huge test was set to take place after press deadline on Wednesday afternoon, when once-beaten South Burlington High rode its big yellow bus to the Hinesburg field.

The Rebels’ lone loss came courtesy of the Redhawks in a classic overtime 2-1 struggle under the lights on South Burlington’s turf on Sept. 22.

CVU will also be home Friday for the regular season closer with Mount Abraham Union paying a visit. The Hawks trounced the Eagles 4-1 in Bristol on Sept. 24.

The Redhawks passed an unexpectedly tough exam Saturday in Middlebury when the 4-6-2 Tigers took them into overtime. CVU’s KK Logan eventually ended the contest with a sudden victory goal.

It was the third time in three overtime challenges that Logan, game breaker extraordinaire, has put away the win. Logan also popped the earlier score to boost her season total to 12.

Emmaleigh Loyer passed for an assist and has a team-leading 10 helpers to go with her 10 goals.

CVU goalie Elizabeth Goddette had a rare busy time in the cage, making seven stops. Middlebury’s Kayla Whittemore had 11 rejections.

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Boys soccer team adds to win total (10/15/09)

Oct. 15, 2009

Redhawks travel to St. Albans on Friday

By Mal Boright

Observer staff

Fresh off two home victories in three days, the Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team took a 9-1 record into Wednesday’s match at Burlington High School against a team the Redhawks handled 4-0 on their home grass a couple of weeks ago.

The game against Burlington was scheduled for after press deadline, and the road travels were to continue Friday when coach T.J. Mead’s kicksters meet Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans. It will be the Redhawks’ only match against the Bobwhites this year.

On Tuesday, CVU returns home for a session with Mount Mansfield Union.

Mike Clayton unloaded three goals Monday as the Redhawks bopped visiting Missisquoi Valley Union High 4-2 in the makeup of a game previously postponed. Henry Sengle notched his second tally in the past three outings.

Clayton, a junior who missed last season with a leg injury, hiked his goal total to 14 in the Hawks’ 10 contests.

CVU outshot the Thunderbirds 16-6, with Missisquoi becoming only the second team this season to put up two scores against the Redhawks.

Essex High was the other team to put a deuce on the board, doing so a week ago Saturday in a 2-1 win over the Hawks.

This Saturday, CVU turned the tables with a 3-1 triumph. Clayton, Nick Spencer and Nick Hart handled the scoring honors against the now 8-2 Hornets. Sengle and Chris Sulva garnered assists.

CVU had an 11-7 margin in shots on net.

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Redhawks to play under northern lights (10/15/09)

Oct. 15, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

With a shorter-than-usual week of practice in which to rejuvenate a stalled offense, head coach Jim Provost hopes the Redhawks can get back some of the rumble and dash that helped propel CVU to victories in its first five games.


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
Champlain Valley Union High football player Derek Goodwin (28) carries the ball against Milton High on Saturday. Milton handed the Redhawks their first loss, 14-0.

A derailment took place Saturday at the Hinesburg gridiron when a scrappy, 4-2 Milton High squad handed the Redhawks a 14-0 whitewashing. CVU never got more than 5 yards inside Yellowjacket territory at the midfield stripe.

On Friday night, 5-1 CVU will make the 70-mile trek to Newport to test the 3-3 Falcons, who have had a wild up and down season thus far.

Last week, the birds from the north were up, posting an upset 19-13 win over 4-2 U-32 in East Montpelier. The previous week, the Falcons had crunched Oxbow High 69-28.

Three weeks ago, however, a winless Lyndon Institute whacked them, 44-8.

The week before that downer, North Country fell to Milton High 14-0.

The Falcons opened the season by blowing out Montpelier High, 46-13. They then got nipped by Mount Mansfield Union in a shootout, 54-44.

“Offensively, they (North Country) run a lot of fakes and do it well. We have to be disciplined on defense,” Provost said.

Milton put up a mighty defense in shutting down the Redhawks on Saturday, in a game in which field position became a determining factor. CVU got to midfield just four times in 11 possessions and on five occasions was burdened by starting inside its own 7.

“We executed poorly,” Provost said. “We could not get into a rhythm.”

The visitors had a formidable front wall anchored by big and mobile tackles Jamie Holbrook and Russell Justin, with linebackers Dino Georgakis, Tanner Palermo and Tyler Robitaille adding considerable pressure.

The Redhawks were held to six first downs, one via Milton penalty and two in the final two minutes of the game. The ground game produced 54 yards, with J.P. Benoit picking up 33 on nine carries.

There were also few opportunities through the air, with 18 throws resulting in five catches for 19 yards and three interceptions. Four passes appeared on target but were mishandled.

Defensively, CVU gave nearly as good as it got, but the field position problems proved too much to overcome.

Milton’s first score came with 1:45 left in the first half, when Holbrook became a back and smashed into the end zone from 4 yards out to complete a short drive that opened at the CVU 36.

Matt Long and Cameron Fitzgerald stuffed Milton’s rush on the two-point conversion attempt.

The Yellowjackets scored again midway through the third quarter, set up at the CVU 30 after a pass interception and 25-yard return by Garrett Baker.

The Blue and Gold slowly crunched its way to the 5 in seven plays. Quarterback Palermo then sneaked into the end zone. Milton tried another run for the two points, but Fitzgerald and Dan Thabault rose from the trenches to stop it.

Early in the fourth quarter, CVU’s defense, led by Mikey Bean, Nick Meunier, Dale Conger and others, held Milton on downs at the CVU 3. It was the second time the Redhawks had kept the Jackets out of touchdown territory from inside the 5.

But on the Redhawks’ first play, the ball was fumbled in the end zone; CVU recovered, but was downed for a safety and the final 14-0 tally.

Collin Teator had CVU’s lone recovery of an MHS bobble and Derek Goodwin a pass interception.

“We have to pick up the pieces this week,” Provost said on Monday. “But we are still in charge of our playoff destiny.”


Milton-Champlain Valley Union, Stats

MHS 0 6 6 2   –   14

CVU 0 0 0 0   –   0


                       MHS          CVU

First downs       10             6

Rushing yards    178        54

Passing yards     50         19

Return yards     85          20

Comp-Att-Int     2-9-1       5-18-3

Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0       2-4

Punts-Avg            4-33       5-26

Fumbles-lost          4-1         3-0

Penalties-yards        11-92     2-20


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Scoring touch comes back to Redhawks (10/15/09)

Girls soccer knocks off MMU

Oct. 15, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

“Get in there!” veteran Champlain Valley Union High girls soccer coach Brad Parker yelled at the ball as it was parked directly in front of a partially empty Mount Mansfield Union High net in the early moments of Tuesday’s game on a wet Hinesburg field.


    Observer photo by Greg Duggan
Erika Gobeille (6), a senior on the Champlain Valley Union High soccer team, makes a pass during Tuesday's 4-1 win over Mount Mansfield Union High. Gobeille scored one of the Redhawks' goals. For more photos, visit www.willistonobserver.com.

The ball was not listening to the coach. It was finally cleared out of the zone by Mount Mansfield players.

But the sphere did find the payoff area several times later in the game as CVU put together a 4-1 victory and boosted its record to 8-0-3. The Cougars fell to 6-4-1.

“We are playing well,” Parker said after the game, which set up Thursday’s contest at 6-5 South Burlington High. The Redhawks are back home Tuesday to take on 3-6-1 Essex. CVU and the Hornets played to a scoreless draw in Essex 12 days ago.

That began a two-game set of deadlocks in which the Hawks scored only once, that in a 1-all tie at home with Burlington. Thus the four goals Tuesday were very welcome.

The first two tallies came midway in the first half. Shelby Hanlon fired a shot from the left side at 23:41 and just two minutes later, Lindsay Hawley, getting a rebound from her corner kick, unleashed a 25-footer past MMU net minder Bea Hassler.

The goals were Hanlon’s third and Hawley’s first.

Early in the second half, with rain pelting down, Erika Gobeille took a pass from Emma Eddy, maneuvered in front of the cage and lifted a neatly placed 20-yard shot just under the cross bar and beyond the reach of Hassler. It was her fourth score.

Molly Howard fired her fourth goal of the season moments later, with the assist going to Hannah Turnbaugh.

Halley Fisher got MMU on the board later in the half.

The wet field, with a fair amount of standing water, made the game a splatter fest. Still, CVU defender general Haleigh Smith, who had some stellar defensive moments, said playing in the slippery conditions was fun.

For most of the game, CVU with solid midfield play dominated the all-important geographical imperative and might have had even more scores but for deep defensive play of Cougars Lindsay Kilday and Abby Cole, plus Hassler’s work in the cage.

The Redhawks lost senior midfielder Lindsay Kingston in the first half with a knee injury.

Goalies Emily Sackett and Sarah Monteith had four saves for CVU while Hassler turned away nine shots.


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Parents raise concerns about equity (10/15/09)

Oct. 15, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

As the Williston school administration prepares for next year’s district reconfiguration, parents are expressing concerns about how the process would occur and how it would ensure complete equity within the school.

About 15 parents gathered before the School Board and members of the school administration Wednesday night at the board’s meeting. Parents raised concerns with the breakup of upper house teams in next year’s reconfiguration.

Parent Tracey Barth said that while she understood why some parents might prefer a change in the current academic house structure, she feared next year’s change would destroy houses that are already functioning well.

“Don’t disrupt the houses that are succeeding, please,” Barth said.

Also discussed was the administration’s ongoing work to improve equity between the houses. Many parents at the meeting apparently agreed that an online survey asking for input on equity was skewed to elicit only negative reactions to the current house system.

“I found that survey that went out was very disturbing,” parent Dale Hadley said.

Maira Newell, another parent who expressed reservations about the survey, said she hoped administrators would consider what’s best for the students in any equity decisions.

“Equity doesn’t necessarily mean quality,” Newell said. “You can be mediocre and have equity all around.”

When classes begin next summer, Williston will see a completely different school configuration: pre-kindergarten through second grade students will be housed at Allen Brook School, while students in grades three through eight will be at Williston Central School. The current four-year lower house structure will disappear, replaced by two-year houses. The upper houses, which include grades five through eight, will be a combination of four-year and two-year houses.

At the same time, the administration is developing ways to ensure there will be equity between all houses, which parents have stated in the past has been a problem.

Last school year, the Conceptual Frameworks Committee — made up of parents, students, teachers and community members — developed possible reconfigurations to address parent concerns with the school’s house structure. The administration is finishing the committee’s work with equity.

District Principal Walter Nardelli took time to alleviate some parent anxieties, saying the administration would attempt to make next year’s transition as smooth as possible.

“We can support different options within our school,” Nardelli said. “We can handle it.”

Kevin Mara, a parent and member of the Frameworks Committee, echoed Nardelli’s sentiment, saying that by allowing different upper house configurations, an equity issue could be solved.

“We would be doing a disservice to our students to not have that choice,” Mara said.

Another way to ensure equity would be a complete change of the upper houses, parent Ann Smith suggested. She said mixing up teaching teams and student populations would be the only way to have total equity in the configuration process.

“Fair’s got to be fair,” Smith said. “Let’s make it an equal playing ground and start fresh.”

Nardelli did not go into complete detail on how the upper houses would be restructured. Currently, the administration is asking parents if they would prefer to have their children in two-year or four-year houses. The results of the responses will help determine the look of next year’s upper houses, he said.

Results from the equity survey will also help with the reconfiguration process. At Wednesday’s meeting, Nardelli said the school had received more than 300 responses from the equity survey. The results will be sorted by topic and then investigated by members of the school community.

“Then we’ll come out and share (results) with parents,” he said.

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Recipe Corner (10/15/09)

Chocolate cookies

By Ginger Isham

My favorite cookies contain chocolate and oatmeal and, of course, butter.

I like to think that if I put 1/2 cup of butter in a recipe that makes 24 or more cookies, then each cookie has about 1 teaspoon of butter. To eat slightly more healthily, I often leave out 1 tablespoon of butter if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup, will use 3/4 cup of butter instead of 1 cup and will cut down to 3/4 cup of sugar when the recipe calls for 1 cup.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1/4 cup flaxseed

1/2 cup olive oil (light tasting)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar (I use 1/3 cup)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour (I use only King Arthur brand)

2 cups quick-cooking oats

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

Cream the flaxseed, oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chips and nuts. Drop onto lightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes.

Bear Paw Cookies

1 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup chocolate-flavored syrup (such as Hershey's for ice cream)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1/4 cup milk

peanut halves or cashews

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add chocolate syrup and stir. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat well after each egg. Add vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition. Cover and put in fridge to chill. Drop by teaspoon onto oiled cookie sheet. Press 4 nut halves into center of each cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and finish cooling on wire rack.

Whoopie Pies

2/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered cocoa

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cream shortening, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk. Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Drop onto oiled cookie sheet. Spread with spoon to circle shape. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool. Put 2 cookies together with your favorite white, chocolate or peanut butter icing.



Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.


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