November 23, 2014

Sears store opening in Williston next year (11/25/09)

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Nov. 25, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A Sears parts and service store closed in May, but the company will return to Williston with a new location in January.

 


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
A Sears Hometown store is scheduled to open on Harvest Lane in January.

A Sears Hometown Store is scheduled to open early next year on Harvest Lane in the building once occupied by Hertz Rental Company. Store owner Vince Abbiati said he’s excited to bring the “Blue Crew,” referring to Sears’ logo colors and uniforms, back to Williston.

“We wanted to go back in that area and be a service to the people there,” Abbiati said. “We’re filling a void.”

Abbiati said the new location will cover 9,000 square feet and be open by the last week in January. The store will carry all major appliances, lawn and garden tools, and various electronics, he added.

The store will also sell parts for Sears products and offer maintenance service. It will effectively act as a replacement of the parts and service center once located on Boyer Circle, but with much more inventory, Abbiati said. Sears also has a large department store located in the University Mall in South Burlington.

Abbiati has been a Sears employee since 1972, when he started at a location in Barre. Over the years, he’s opened several hometown stores throughout northern Vermont. He operated a store in St. Albans and Morrisville. Today, he owns and operates a Hometown store in Milton.

He said the Williston store’s goal will be to attract customers from Waterbury to Burlington. He also said it will be handy for customers only interested in shopping for Sears appliances.

“These stores are more convenient than fighting all that traffic getting into the mall,” Abbiati said. “And our store is owned by local owners.”

Abbiati said he’s looking forward to opening the Williston location and expects it will attract longtime customers of the Sears brand, as well as new ones.

“I know that customers in that area will be really, really pleased with what we’re putting together,” Abbiati said.


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Williston resident launches interior design business (11/25/09)

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Nov. 25, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Lindsay Jaccom is in the business of helping people in a creative way. When someone wants a new look for the inside of a home, whether it’s a living room, dining room, bedroom or all three, Jaccom wants that homeowner to call her.

 


    Courtesy photo
Lindsay Jaccom, who recently launched Lindsay Jay Designs as a local interior design business, stands in front of the fabric board in her office.

 


    Courtesy photo
Jaccom decorated her Williston living room with what she described as ‘clean modern lines on the furniture with an oval cocktail table to break up all the straight lines.’

A New York native who now lives in Williston, Jaccom is one of the town’s newest interior designers. She started her business, Lindsay Jay Designs, in late summer and promoted her services via word-of-mouth. She’s already worked on a few small projects in the Champlain Valley, and is in the midst of redesigning a home in Shelburne.

For Jaccom, her work combines her passions of art and architecture.

“I love how I can be creative every day,” Jaccom said, adding that she’s been busy learning the business aspects of her new venture.

She said becoming an interior designer requires a lot more work and education than many people believe. It’s not just decorating as a side hobby, she said; the profession requires study and knowledge of various types of architecture and art styles, and different prints, textiles and patterns.

As a student at the University of Vermont, Jaccom discovered her love for designing while earning her degree in studio art and art history. After graduating from UVM in 2006, she moved to New York City to study at Parsons New School of Design, enrolling in a two-year master’s program. Part of her studies led her to Paris, where she explored French architecture.

While in New York, Jaccom worked for a residential design firm, working on multi-million dollar apartments in Manhattan. She also freelanced her services on the side. Through her master’s degree and work in New York, she became allied with the American Society of Interior Designers, a professional organization for people in Jaccom’s vocation.

Jaccom returned to Vermont this year because she loves the state and believes Lindsay Jay Designs can succeed with artistically inclined Vermonters. Now a resident of Williston, she’s been a frequent presence at home shows around the Champlain Valley.

As part of her service, Jaccom works with clients to best realize how they want the interior of their home to look. By working with colors, fabrics and lighting, Jaccom provides several designs for clients to choose from.

As an interior designer, Jaccom takes care of all design issues. She chooses paints, furniture and lighting fixtures, orders products, sets up deliveries and organizes contracted workers.

Clients can spend as much or as little on a project as they want, Jaccom said. There is an initial design fee, and after that she charges a negotiable hourly rate. There can also be costs associated with any products purchased in the design, like furniture and light fixtures.

“I’m not one of those designers that comes in and says, ‘It has to be this way,’” Jaccom said. “It’s a collaboration between myself and the client.”

 

To contact Lindsay Jaccom and Lindsay Jay Designs, call 878-5857, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.lindsayjaydesigns.com.


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CCTA rolls out charter changes (11/25/09)

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CCTA seeks broader funding

Nov. 25, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

For years, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority has been on the pay-as-you-go plan, relying on area towns to approve funding for local bus service.

 


    File photo
A passenger boards a CCTA bus in this undated file photo.

Now CCTA is pushing for legislation that would permit it to operate throughout northern Vermont, a move that could lead to a long-sought system of regional funding.

General Manager Chris Cole outlined the changes during last week’s meeting of the Williston Selectboard. It is one of a series of visits he’s making to Chittenden County towns in advance of the start of the legislative session in January.

Cole said the not-so-hidden agenda behind the charter changes is to build support for a regional tax that could pay for service that increasingly extends far beyond Chittenden County.

“The board and I have long felt that if we ever are to get regional funding, we’re not going to do it as Chittenden County alone, that we need a broader coalition” Cole said. “This creates that broader coalition.”

The charter, enacted in 1973, established CCTA as a legal entity akin to a municipality. It spells out where service will be offered and how the transit authority is governed.

Under the proposed changes, CCTA’s official area of operation would expand to Addison, Caledonia, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange and Washington counties.

CCTA currently operates in most of those counties, Cole said. The LINK Express commuter service runs to Middlebury, Montpelier and St. Albans, making stops in Charlotte and other towns along U.S. 7 and Interstate 89. The authority has also assumed routes in outlying counties as other transit companies disbanded or went out of business.

Seven Chittenden County communities, including Williston, are CCTA members. Each appoints two representatives to the authority’s governing board.

The charter change would give each member except Burlington just one representative. Burlington would continue to have two representatives, a nod to the fact that the city hosts CCTA’s offices and terminal and provides a large share of its funding.

Cole said the change would ensure a manageable-size board and make room for future members.

CCTA is currently funded through a combination of federal and state grants, as well as contributions from member communities and fares. Local assessments are based on the level of service provided to each town.

But that system is increasingly strained by the divergence between the demand for regional service and the desire for local control.

“That’s a problem for Vermont because transportation patterns are more regional than local,” Cole said.

The proposed charter change legislation calls for creation of a legislative study committee to “examine the policy issue of regional taxation for support of public transportation” and report back with recommendations by January 2011.

Cole told the Selectboard that in other jurisdictions around the country, regional public transportation funding comes from sources such as gas taxes, rooms and meals taxes. A regional public transit tax is also a possibility, which would be approved by voters in much the same manner as municipal and school budgets.

CCTA has for years pined for regional funding. Previous proposals have failed to win support from lawmakers and the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Dave Pelletier, AOT’s public transit administrator, said the agency would support some charter changes but it wants them to be modest and gradual. He said fully merging CCTA with the Green Mountain Transit Agency, a bus company serving Washington and Lamoille counties that CCTA operates under contract but still maintains as a separate entity, would be a good first step toward a regional system.

But he said immediately moving beyond that modest proposal raises questions of local control and how to establish regional funding in a state without county government.

“That’s the awkwardness of the situation,” Pelletier said. “We talk about regional services, but we don’t have a regional government.”

The Agency of Transportation is also worried that the proposed changes could reduce its flexibility to fund public transportation throughout Vermont, Pelletier said. Though the federal government provides the bulk of funding, matching state dollars are also required.

Terry Macaig, chairman of the Williston Selectboard and one of the town’s two representatives in the Vermont House, said he had yet to study the charter proposal and so did not know if he would support it.

Macaig said widening CCTA’s service area seemed logical, but a regional tax might be a tough sell. In years past, he said the Selectboard has expressed “angst” about an annual assessment to pay for county courts when it had no say in how that money was spent.

Jim McCullough, the other Williston representative in the House and a CCTA board member, said he “totally supported” the proposed charter changes.

One Selectboard member’s reaction to the initiative could be a preview of questions to come in a state that considers smallness a virtue.

“When first when you said the eight counties, I said wow, that sounds good,” Jeff Fehrs said. “But as we went on a little bit I wondered, is eight counties too big?”

 


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Roundabout opponents submit petition (11/25/09)

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Opponents seek Town Meeting referendum

Nov. 25, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

Foes of a proposed roundabout in Williston Village have gathered more than enough signatures to get the controversial traffic-calming measure on the ballot.

The recently submitted petition includes 456 names. Five percent of registered voters — 371 in Williston — had to sign to qualify for the Town Meeting ballot in March.

But the question — “Shall the Town of Williston replace the four-way stop at the intersection of Route 2, Oak Hill Road and North Williston Road with construction of a round-about?” — would be strictly advisory.

The Selectboard retains the authority to ignore such votes. Under state law, only on fiscal matters such as the municipal budget can petitions prompt a binding vote.

In fact, the Selectboard is not even required to place the question on the ballot, according to state officials.

The town consulted with Hinesburg attorney Joseph Fallon, who said the board is obligated to include the requested language on the ballot as long as the petition is signed by the required number of voters and submitted 40 days before town meeting.

But Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said the board, when approving the town meeting warning that establishes what is on the ballot, can exclude such petitioned advisory questions.

Kathy DeWolfe, director of elections and campaign finance, seconded that opinion. She said the statute states that petitioned items “shall” be placed on the ballot, but case law has established the provision applies only to issues where voters have the final say.

Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig said he and other board members would probably approve the ballot question. After all, he said, the board has always welcomed input on the issue, and the ballot results will show where all voters — not just those who signed the petition — stand on the issue.

The question of who decides what on the roundabout is just the latest twist in a proposed road improvement and subsequent petition drive that has proceeded by fits and starts.

The debate about how to deal with commute-hour backups and accidents at the intersection where U.S. 2 meets Oak Hill and North Williston roads simmered for years. It finally came to a boil in March when the Selectboard chose a roundabout rather than a traffic signal to ease congestion and decrease collisions.

That prompted vocal opposition and a petition drive. But because the petition did not ask for a vote, it resulted in no action by the town. A second petition was circulated, this one vetted by town officials.

But even that did not prevent problems. Town Manager Rick McGuire said the way the petition is worded will leave it unclear exactly where voters stand.

“Unfortunately, the warning mixes two issues: keeping the intersection the same and one option of changing it,” McGuire wrote in a memo to the Selectboard. “What happens if someone supports changing the intersection but just doesn’t like a roundabout?”

Ginger Isham, who led the petition drive, said it was too late to make changes by the time she learned wording was a problem.

“We had over 100 signatures,” she said. “We weren’t going to start over again.”

Though Selectboard members may welcome voters’ guidance, answers to frequently asked election questions posted on the Secretary of State’s Web site warned that such scenarios can have unintended consequences.

“It is wise to consider whether the board will follow the ‘advice’ of the voters on an advisory article, before adding it to the warning,” the Web site said. “It can be very frustrating to voters to vote on an issue at town meeting and then find that the board is not going to follow the advice of the vote.”


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37-unit subdivision proposed for North Williston Road (11/25/09)

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Nov. 25, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A large, grassy field off North Williston Road could become the home of a 37-unit subdivision.

The development, a mix of single-family homes and multi-family units, would be built on nearly 23 acres across from the Williston Golf Course. Williston’s strict growth management system, however, could make development of the project a years-long venture. Under the growth management regulations, new units in the zoning district where the subdivision would be built will not be available until after 2015. Permits for five units are available in the area prior to 2015.

At the end of October, the Snyder Group Inc. requested a pre-application permit, which will be reviewed by the Development Review Board at its next meeting on Dec. 8. Longtime Williston residents Alden and Phoebe Bryan, who have a home across from the proposed subdivision, own the land.

The Snyder Group, along with J.L. Davis Inc., is also developing the Finney Crossing project in Taft Corners, which has yet to begin construction. Developer Chris Snyder said the 37-unit subdivision would be a perfect development in helping the town create a more vibrant village.

“It meets a lot of our company’s goals and the goals of the town,” Snyder said.

According to plans, the development would contain two streets; a private drive would access five single-family homes and a public loop road would access the rest of the units. Four duplexes, along with a neighborhood park, would be built within the loop.

Snyder said some of the homes may be classified as affordable housing, though he couldn’t speculate on an exact number.

“It’s tough to say what will be affordable and what won’t be affordable in 2015,” he said.

The Bryan property is mostly flat with a few sections of Class 2 wetlands. The Allen Brook runs through the southwest corner of the land, which also borders the Williston Central School property. Proposals call for a trail to connect to existing footpaths and the nature trail boardwalk that spans the Allen Brook, allowing access to the recreation fields at the school.

Snyder said one of the main appeals of the Bryan property is its proximity to the village.

“Connectivity-wise, it’s perfect,” he said.

Phoebe Bryan said she and her husband, Alden, have owned the land since 1965. Farmer Ward Johnson frequently hayed the property for many years, Bryan said from her vacation home in Florida.

Senior Planner Matt Boulanger said the development would be a good fit in Williston’s residential zoning district.

“It’s a beautiful piece of land, close to the village with easy access to the school and town recreation paths,” Boulanger said.

The problem is there aren’t enough units available for construction allocation within the town’s growth management system. Only five units are available through 2015, and other projects could be competing for the same units in next year’s growth management review. More units could open up after 2015, but town planners and Planning Commission board members have decided nothing yet, Boulanger said.

“It’s harder to build in the places where we’re not encouraging growth,” he added.

In growth management, landowners compete annually for available building units. Availability is determined by the town’s limited sewer capacity. The Bryan property falls into an area that has few units available.

Boulanger said even though it might be several years before the proposed subdivision could be completed as designed, the site plan can be approved before any house is built.

“I believe they just want to get the ball rolling on this and put it out there,” he said.

Snyder said he’s hoping to receive allocation for the five units on the private drive to get started on the project. Once 2015 rolls around, Snyder believes his development will be in the forefront for new growth management allocation.

The next Development Review Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Town Hall.


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CVU buzzes with renewable energy

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    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Champlain Valley Union High School seniors Jacob Hinsdale (left) of Charlotte and Warren Colomb of Williston hold up small solar panels to power a water pump. The school held its Renewable Energy Day on Nov. 12, with physics students demonstrating projects. See full story under School News.

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Long, Thabault named to football North team (11/19/09)

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Nov. 19, 2009

The Champlain Valley Union High football season may be over, but seniors Matt Long and Dan Thabault will be back in the pads Saturday for the North team when it meets the South at noon in the annual North-South game at Middlebury College.

The two have been practicing this week for the all-star clash. Long was a defensive end and Thabault a linebacker for the Redhawks.

 

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

 


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Former CVU star hooping it up in college (11/19/09)

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Nov. 19, 2009

Last winter, John Donnelly was scoring baskets and hauling down rebounds in starry numbers for the Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks. In the summer, he made his presence felt in the Vermont all-stars’ win over New Hampshire in the annual Rotary Classic.

Now, the 6-foot-5 hoopster is making his presence felt in the college ranks.

Donnelly was named the Liberty League’s rookie of the week for a strong first game performance in which he scored nine tallies, hauled in four rebounds and added two steals in leading his Vassar team to a 78-66 triumph over Endicott.

 

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

 


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New Englands a tough run for CVU harriers (11/19/09)

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Nov. 19, 2009

The state champion Champlain Valley Union High girls cross country team led Vermont teams Saturday at the 75th Annual New England Championships at Wickham Park, Conn., but finished 11th place in the overall team standings.

Summer Spillane led her CVU teammates in 56th place, while Adrienne Devita came in 77th, 23 seconds behind Spillane’s time of 20:23.

In the boys event, CVU’s Zach Pete, individual Vermont titleholder, took 87th, and was fifth among Vermonters.

 

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

 


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Redhawks had fruitful swoop into Division 2 football (11/19/09)

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Nov. 19, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Their faces muddy, their normally white with red trim uniforms darkened from the wet and muddy conditions, a disappointed Champlain Valley Union High football team slowly strolled from the Essex High field Saturday afternoon. They did so with heads held high.

 


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
The Redhawk offense huddles up before a play in Saturday’s Division 2 title game against Colchester High. CVU lost to the Lakers, 22-14.

 


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
J.P. Benoit (21) carries the ball for Champlain Valley Union High School.

During a season that head coach Jim Provost described as “magical,” the Redhawks had emerged from a 2008 non-playoff season in Division 3 to swap blocks and tackles with the powerhouses in Division 2 before bowing to 11-0 Colchester High, 22-14 in the championship contest.

According to news reports last weekend, the football coaches association had been considering moving the Lakers to Division 1 next year.

CVU closed its season at 9-2 and proved it belongs in the new division.

According to CVU senior defensive end Matt Long, the team’s solid season was the result of hard work that began shortly after last year’s announcement that a higher division was going to be the new order in 2009.

“We knew we needed to step up this year,” the veteran said. “We all worked hard in the offseason and were pleasantly surprised (with the season).”

The Redhawks rolled through the regular campaign with an 8-1 record, losing only to Milton High 14-0 at home on a day the offense simply stalled.

CVU closed out with three straight victories and then bumped off a highly-regarded, 8-2 Mount Mansfield Union team in a semifinal nearly two weeks ago, bringing football enthusiasm in the school community to a new level.

The championship game was played in on-and-off rain that became more persistent in the second half, reducing field conditions to slop city, a condition football players don’t mind all that much.

“It was fun,” said sophomore linebacker Drew Nick, wet and muddied.

“The conditions were the same for both teams,” added Long and others.

The difference maker in this contest was Colchester’s smallish but elusive junior running back Devon Grammo, who hotfooted it around and through CVU for 187 yards on 28 carries. The stats included a touchdown trot of 64 yards in the third quarter that put the Lakers up 16-14.

“He (Grammo) is like a fish,” said Nick, who spent a fair amount of time chasing the halfback. “He just bounces off people and keeps going.”

Midway in the first period, Colchester’s vaunted ground game appeared ready to rule as the Lakers marched 64 yards in 12 plays. Grammo gained 52 of the yards. But the CVU defense stiffened in front of the goal posts and held Colchester on downs, J.P. Benoit hauling down a pass receiver at the 1 before lineman Cameron Fitzgerald stuffed Grammo’s fourth-down burst attempt.

But the long march did pay off eventually for the Lakers when a fumbled snap on the Redhawks’ third down from their 7-yard line resulted in a safety and 2-0 lead.

CVU’s defense generally kept the Lakers under control for the remainder of the half, with linebackers Dan Thabault and Eric Palmer, along with Long, playing prominent roles.

The CVU offense got rolling with 36.8 seconds remaining in the half, amassing an unforgettable series of plays that put the Redhawks up 8-2, got the red clackers in the red crowd clacking and left the Colchester side of the field in stunned silence.

Quarterback Konnor Fleming (105 yards in 15 carries) got matters started with a 44-yard bust up the middle from the CVU 20 before being pushed out of bounds at the Lakers’ 36.

On the next play, Fleming threw a perfect pass to end Ryan Busch, who caught it and was knocked out of bounds at the 2.

With 19 seconds remaining, the call went to slashback Benoit, who slashed into the end zone for the touchdown. Fleming added the two-point conversion on a keeper.

Colchester may have been stunned by the sudden turn of events, but the Lakers were not seriously humbled.

With a fired-up CVU set to receive the second-half opening kickoff, the Lakers unleashed an onside boot that was a rocket, bouncing off a Redhawks front liner and back to midfield where Colchester recovered.

On the first play, Lakers sophomore back Alec Kozlowski shot off tackle for 40 yards before Busch and Fleming caught him at the 9. It then took four downs for Colchester to score, the touchdown coming on a 12-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jack Leclerc. The extra point put the Lakers up 9-8.

CVU was then held on downs. After a Fitzgerald punt put Colchester back on its 36, on the first play Grammo got loose on his 64-yard romp into the end zone, with the point-after making it 16-8.

The Redhawks came right back. Starting at their 48, Benoit (94 yards, 14 carries) got the offense rolling with a 17-yard scamper. The lithe halfback added 8- and 24-yard romps before Fleming finished the drive with an 11-yard scoring pitch to Busch (3 catches, 58 yards). A two-point conversion try was fumbled away.

Colchester struck again midway in the final reel, staying on the ground and using muscle in the form of 230-pound fullback Jared Vetters, who rocked into the middle of trenches for 23 yards in four plunges, powering over from the 2 to complete a 62-yard drive.

Down 22-14, the Redhawks tried to pass their way back into a tie in the waning minutes but the Lakers’ pass defenders were ready with two interceptions.

 

CVU, Colchester, Stats

CVU                        0            8            0            6   –   14

CHS                        2            0            14            6   –   22

 

                                                CVU                        CHS

First downs                    10                         11

Rushing yards                210                       290

Passing yards                 73                         31

Return yards                  61                         7

Comp-Att-Int                 6-16-2                3-10-0

Sacks-Yards Lost           1-6                        0-0

Punts-Avg                      3-30                      6-28

Fumbles-lost                  7-1                        3-1

Penalties-yards              4-30                      5-25

 

BOOSTERS HOST TEAM DINNER

The Champlain Valley Union High cafeteria had a full house Sunday night for the annual dinner honoring the 80-plus players on the 2009 CVU teams. The dinner was sponsored by the football boosters organization.

Chris Long of the boosters said some 280 attended the dinner, which began about 24 hours after the Redhawks’ narrow loss to Colchester in the Division 2 title contest Saturday at Essex High.

Head coach Jim Provost said that player-of-the-game honors went to end and cornerback Ryan Busch in the championship game and to defensive end Matt Long in the semi-final victory over Mount Mansfield Union the previous week.

It was noted by Chris Long on Tuesday that turnout for games this year far exceeded those for earlier seasons and “was huge” for the championship test Saturday.

 

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

 


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