April 24, 2018

Redhawks capture Div. 1 boys soccer trophy (11/12/09)

Nov. 12, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

It was not so much a crowning as it was a restoration.


    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer captains (from left) Tino Tomasi, Nick Hart, Andrew Blake and Chris Beaton hold the Division 1 boys soccer state championship trophies after defeating Burr and Burton Academy, 2-0, in Burlington on Saturday afternoon.


    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Champlain Valley Union High junior Mike Clayton (23) drives the ball downfield against Burr and Burton’s Stephen Mull.

After a 2008 season in which it was eliminated in the quarterfinals, the Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team reclaimed the Division 1 championship Saturday for the seventh time in eight years. The Redhawks had a solid 2-0 triumph over Burr and Burton Academy on Burlington High’s carpet.

CVU’s senior co-captain, deep defender and offense originator Chris Beaton said after the Redhawks’ semifinal victory over Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans last week on a wet home field that the team was looking forward to playing on Burlington High’s synthetic turf.

And after the game, Beaton confirmed that the venue was just fine, thank you very much, despite the raw morning and cold wind whipping off nearby Lake Champlain.

There were many important contributors to the victory, but it was three who took care of the scoring.

Senior midfielder Dylan Crow set up both goals. He gave an inside pass to junior Tino Tomasi for the score in the first half. Early in the second half, Crow booted a corner kick that junior Mike Clayton headed into the cage for the final tally.

For the three-year veteran Tomasi, getting in time up front after playing much of the season on defense, it was the first score of the year and brought forth a big smile.

“It’s good to be playing up top,” he said with a chuckle.

“We like having Tino up front,” coach T.J. Mead said. “Getting him off defense takes a load off his shoulders. Up front he can create.”

Clayton, who led CVU in scoring after missing 2008 with a leg fracture, put a deep chill on Burr and Burton’s hopes with just under three minutes gone in the second half. The tall tally man headed into the goal a hard shot from a Crow corner. It was his 20th goal of 2009.

In the never-ending pursuit of territorial integrity, CVU held overwhelming advantages in shots on goal (20-6) and corner kicks (8-0).

Playing a large role in helping keep the Bulldogs in front of their own house was junior midfielder Kyle Logan, who pressed the attack from midfield and twice got stymied on solid shots by busy and effective Burr and Burton goalie Matt Rosenthal, who had 17 stops.

Senior Nick Hart, Clayton (at least three times) and Tomasi were victimized by Rosenthal saves.

A team that comes to the title test with a 16-1 record no doubt has some stern stuff, and the Bulldogs showed it.

CVU net minder John Milbank had to come up with six rejections, one off Burr and Burton co-captain Brandon Oglivie moments before Tomasi broke the scoreless tie.

The Bulldogs’ best scoring chance came with 16:30 to go in the first half. B and B winger Danny Favreau motored in on goal and past a fallen Milbank with an open net looming. Defender Andrew Blake scrambled back to knock the ball away from Favreau and past the open left corner of the net to prevent a deadlock.

For Mead, the title is the third in the four seasons since he took the helm from retired coach Dan Shepardson.

The team, which allowed foes just six goals, started peaking at just the right time as the playoffs started, according to Mead.

The coach, who has said that he builds his teams from the back (defense) to the front, can get a bit grumpy when the opposition scores. There were very few occasions on which he was grumbling this year.

And with a core group returning next year, Mead said 2010 “will be very interesting.”

The road to the big trophy was the final high school campaign for seniors Elias Wiszereck, Jeffrey Wettstein, Milbank, Crow, Blake, Beaton and Hart.


[Read more…]

Administration considering configuration options (11/12/09)

Parent raises questions at board meeting

Nov. 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Where will third and fourth graders be placed within Williston Central School next year after the configuration change? Will the school need a sixth upper house team, which could cost more money?

Those were questions one parent put to the School Board and administration at the board’s meeting last week.

Speaking during the public comment period of the meeting on Nov. 4, Nicki Layman, the mother of second and fifth grade students, asked District Principal Walter Nardelli and School Board members how house placement would be determined at Williston Central and why a sixth upper house is being considered. She also offered her own solutions for the administration to consider.

“Recommendations that make long-term sense, both academically and financially, should be considered above individual team preferences or attachment to space,” Layman said, reading from a statement.

Starting next school year, the Williston School District will undergo a major configuration change: Pre-kindergarten through second grade students will be housed at Allen Brook School and third through eighth graders will be housed at Williston Central. There will be a mix of two-year houses and four-year houses for grades five through eight.

Layman said she wants to make sure all third and fourth graders would be placed near each other in a wing of the school, rather than having the lower houses scattered between upper houses.

“Where are you physically going to put them and how is it going to function?” Layman asked Nardelli and the board.

Layman said she devised a solution she believes would be fair and equitable. She said all third and fourth graders should be housed in the “ABC” hallway where Meeting, Swift and Voyager upper houses currently reside. She said the houses have a similar physical space to those at Allen Brook, would be equitable in terms of facilities and allow for more teacher coordination and cross-team building.

Nardelli said the administration was not at the point of making decisions on house placement. He said he was waiting for next school year’s final enrollment projections to come later this month. The administration also plans to talk with individual teachers and staff to get their opinions about the best layout for Williston Central.

“There’s a lot of pieces of information we just don’t have yet,” Nardelli said.

As for the potential of a sixth upper house, Nardelli told the School Board in October it remained a possibility, especially if a large number of parents preferred their children in a two-year house instead of a four-year house. Creating another house would likely result in hiring more teachers and staff, he told the board last month.

Layman asked the board and Nardelli if an additional house was a feasible solution. Considering financial costs and the school district’s steadily declining enrollment, Layman believes the idea for a sixth house needs to be reevaluated.

“I am very concerned that if the administration does not take the time now to reconsider the ramification of adding a sixth house, then the decisions made down the line will not serve our school community well in the long or short term,” Layman read from her statement.

Nardelli said no decisions have been made on the sixth house and administrators continue to research the results of an online survey about house structure that parents took last month. According to survey results released by school officials last week, 41 percent of responding parents said they wanted their children to be in a two-year house; 52 percent said they wanted a four-year house for their children. Seven percent had no preference.

Budgetary concerns were also on Nardelli’s mind, he said. The configuration change will cost money in next year’s budget, he said, and needs to be done as cost-effectively as possible.

“We have to show (residents) we’ve been as efficient as we possibly can in this move,” Nardelli said.

“If we can get away with fewer classrooms, it’ll actually help us, especially at (Williston Central),” he added.


[Read more…]

Recipe Corner (11/12/09)

Appetizers for the holidays

Nov. 12, 2009

By Ginger Isham

Recently, when driving through the village of Bristol, my husband David and I stopped for a walk around the park. This is a special place for me, as I graduated from Bristol High School on the park’s bandstand in an evening ceremony with 28 other classmates. During our walk, we came by a large house where a man was putting out items with a FREE sign. I could not resist investigating. I came away with 10 cookbooks! Among them was Garden Way’s Joy of Cooking Cookbook, dated 1982. This first recipe comes from that book.


Green Bean Almond Pate

green beans, cut into short lengths for garnish

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 cups green bean puree (cook beans and put through blender)

1 1/4 cups almonds, slivered and toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce or salt to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Steam the green beans for garnish until tender crisp. Rinse with cold water and drain. Sauté onion in butter for 3 to 5 minutes and add thyme. Combine bean puree, onion, 1 cup almonds, soy sauce or salt and lemon juice in blender and process until almonds are ground. Mound this mixture on a plate and pat into a desired shape. Sprinkle remaining almonds on top. Place steamed green beans around sides. Chill and serve with crackers or pita bread triangles.


Spicy Shrimp Nibbles

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound of shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed

1 cup guacamole

36 tortilla chips

parsley leaves

Mix first 5 ingredients. Sprinkle all sides of shrimp with this mix. Arrange in single layer on an oven rack sprayed with cooking spray in a broiler pan. Broil 2 to 4 inches from broiler for about 3 minutes. Just before serving, spread guacamole on tortilla chips with a shrimp on each chip and garnish with piece of parsley.


Fresh Fruit Dessert Dip

1 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

7 ounces marshmallow crème

Combine cream cheese and orange juice until smooth. Fold in marshmallow crème. Serve dip in center of large glass plate surrounded with cut-up fruit.


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


[Read more…]

Right to the Point (11/12/09)

Veterans Day has special meaning for Vermonters

Nov. 12, 2009

By Mike Benevento

On Wednesday, our nation celebrated Veterans Day. Observed on Nov. 11, the holiday honors all American military veterans — whether or not they fought in combat.

Originally known as Armistice Day, the 11th day of the 11th month was chosen as the holiday because it was the anniversary of World War I’s end in 1918. First observed in remembrance of World War I veterans, following World War II, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor all United States veterans.

With the upcoming deployment of Vermont Army National Guard soldiers to Afghanistan, Wednesday’s holiday holds special meaning this year. The Burlington Free Press reported a week ago that 1,210 soldiers from more than 250 Vermont communities will participate in Task Force Phoenix. Col. Will Roy will be their commander. Following training at Fort Polk, La. and in Ohio, the soldiers are scheduled to spend most of next year in Afghanistan.

According to its Web site, TF Phoenix’s mission is to train and mentor Afghan police and military forces to conduct independent, self-sustained counter-insurgency and security operations to defeat terrorism and provide a secure, stable environment in Afghanistan.

Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie noted, however, that the mission may change from training and mentoring Afghan security forces to counterinsurgency and security operations in a single area. According to Dubie, Vermont soldiers could participate in “clear-and-hold” missions that are evolving in Afghanistan.

Peter Hirshfeld of The Barre Montpelier Times Argus wrote, “The strategy calls on U.S. forces to eliminate Taliban and other insurgent forces in a specific area, and then live among Afghan communities to ensure the regions remain friendly.”

This means Vermont’s citizen soldiers may end up participating in a counter-insurgency strategy reminiscent of the surge in Iraq, which was extremely successful in reducing the violence in that nation. The goal would be to better protect the Afghan people while rebuilding the nation — thus making local citizens strong allies in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Over a period of time, the Afghan people would view Americans as their friends and the Taliban and Al Qaeda as their enemy. Thus, they would be less likely to turn a blind eye toward terrorist activities and more likely to actively aid American military personnel in destroying a mutual enemy.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal — President Barack Obama’s choice as NATO commander in Afghanistan — wrote, “We will not win simply by killing insurgents. We will help the Afghan people win by securing them, by protecting them from intimidation, violence and abuse.”

President Obama said the war in Iraq was a war of choice while the Afghan War is one of necessity. McChrystal has asked the president to increase troop strength by 40,000 to implement the new war strategy. Since Afghanistan is central in defeating terrorism, Obama will likely have to honor McChrystal’s request for additional troops.

This being the largest wartime deployment of the Vermont National Guard since World War II, there is a good chance that every Vermonter personally knows at least one departing soldier. That soldier could be a spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, neighbor, acquaintance or co-worker. Everyone in Vermont will be affected by the yearlong absence of these fine soldiers.

Employers, government, volunteer organizations and especially families will be left with big voids to fill. While most will be up to the task of making due without their missing soldiers, there is a good chance some will not.

We need to watch out for others and support the families. Oftentimes, the true heroes are those left behind who go about the extraordinary task of daily living while a big part of their family serves overseas.

A final note: I would be amiss not to mention last week’s massacre of Army soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. Exactly a week ago, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan allegedly opened fire on unarmed military personnel. Only a quick response by Fort Hood Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley — who confronted and shot the Army officer — ended the tragedy before more personnel were harmed. Even still, Hasan is accused of killing 13 and wounding 29 soldiers before Munley stopped him.

Although military members know the risk of injury and death is inherent to their chosen profession, it is still a shock to have suffered such violence from a fellow soldier — especially so far away from the battlefield. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Hasan’s assault — and their loved ones. Because of what many consider homegrown terrorism, unfortunately, Veterans Day held a special meaning for Fort Hood personnel.


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


[Read more…]

Liberally Speaking (11/12/09)

Remembering all honored veterans

Nov. 12, 2009

By Steve Mount

I was having a relaxed lunch with my grandmother the other day when the subject of Veterans Day came up. The day, set aside to honor all military veterans, is a state and national holiday on Nov. 11, but not a day off for most businesses or schools. GE, where I work, does give all of its American employees Veterans Day off, which prompted the turn of conversation.

She spoke of my grandfather’s time away during World War II, but more specifically of what she was doing during those times. While he was off serving in Italy, she was trying to make ends meet back in Massachusetts, with a newborn daughter to take care of.

She told of finding a place to live and work, taking care of the children of a school headmaster; of the friendships my mother, as a toddler, made with his children; of the family dinners they were welcomed at and the dinners where she was expected to help serve the guests.

She told of my grandfather’s homecoming, and how he was expected home in the afternoon, but surprised them by arriving in the morning instead. She told of his meeting his daughter for the first time.

As I listened to these stories of “home,” a specific feeling began to tug at me — I’ll get to that feeling in a moment.

Technically, I am one of the veterans whom we honored Wednesday. I served in the National Guard for five years in the early ’90s. I feel embarrassed to be included in the category, though. I never saw any combat, never even left the country. My comrades and I watched the invasion of Iraq in Desert Storm from the comfort of our living rooms in Vermont, from the comfort of our armory in Swanton.

I feel like I sacrificed nothing more than a few summers in Kentucky, one weekend a month in exotic locales like Jericho, or a few weeks away at far-off Fort Drum. Compared to those veterans who spent years away from home, with those who endured gunfire and artillery, my service was a walk in the park.

My children ask me, from time to time, about what I did in the Army. I have fond memories of my Southern drill sergeants, of the young men from Vermont and New Hampshire that I trained with, of driving tanks through the backwoods of Camp Johnson, of firing shells at plywood cutouts in the hills of the Ethan Allen Firing Range, of waving to the cheering crowds from a perch atop my tank as we drove down the street during a Fourth of July parade.

I tell them that I served in the Guard because I felt it was the least I could do. That I hoped because of what I did and what countless others before me and since had done, that they might never have to put on a uniform. But if they did, that they would join a proud American tradition of military service.

Which brings me back to that feeling — the feeling that while we honor our veterans, we should also honor those they left behind. The spouses who raised the children while the soldier was away. The parents who wished for some news, but not the wrong kind of news. The civilians who endured the shortages and rationing. These people are also veterans of a different sort, and as we honor those who served, I feel that we should also honor those who supported those who served.

In June of this year, according to the Department of Defense, U.S. military personnel were serving in 150 countries across the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from the single soldier in Guyana to 171,000 personnel in Iraq. Significant numbers are also serving in Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Djibouti, Belgium, Turkey and Bahrain.

These men and women currently serving join an estimated 43 million other veterans who have served the United States since the Revolutionary War. Hopefully you were able to take a few moments on Wednesday to remember all of these people, and to remember those who supported them back at home.

For it is because of “home” that they serve at all.


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


[Read more…]

Letters to the Editor (11/12/09)

Nov. 12, 2009


Put the roundabout to vote

While distributing, during October, the latest roundabout petitions requesting that a town vote be held in March 2010 to determine whether the project should go ahead or not, I have spoken with many Williston residents concerning the roundabout. A great many of those voters are having difficulty understanding why the Williston Selectboard is so adamant about pushing the project through based on the fact that many of the reasons for the project presented by the board at some of the informational meetings appear less than compelling and sometimes even frivolous.

Furthermore, some data was not even available, such as a recent inquiry of the effectiveness of the four-way stop that is presently in place or the effectiveness of the stoplight at the South Brownell Road and U.S. 2 intersection, a very similar one to the North Williston Road and U.S. 2 intersection, et cetera!

Many also feel that a popular vote would give the Selectboard an indicator of what the majority of the Williston voters think about the issue, one way or the other, and as such should not be prevented from taking place.

We would most certainly expect the Selectboard to respect the wishes of the Williston voters and to include the matter of the roundabout in the vote scheduled for early next year.

Marie Lareau, Williston


Support reading at the Food Shelf

Swift House in Williston Central School has been working to raise money for the CLiF organization, which stands for Children’s Literacy Foundation. The creator of this organization raises money and buys books to donate to places such as homeless shelters, family rooms in jails and low-income libraries.

Our goal is to raise $3,000 so we can buy brand new, high quality books for the Williston Food Shelf so that people who utilize the Food Shelf can also pick up a book for each child in their home for the holidays.

Please help us donate the gift of reading to children that frequent the Food Shelf. To help raise money, we are raffling off a High Definition Flip Video Camera. Each raffle ticket costs $5 or you can buy five tickets for $20.

We are also accepting donations. Checks can be made out to the CLiF Organization and can be turned in at the Williston Central School front office, or mailed to Swift House, Williston School District, 195 Central School Drive, Williston, Vt. 05495. Your help and donations to this cause are greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your support!

Josh Klein, Reneé Benoit and the families of Swift House


Obey the ‘move over law’

Most drivers in Vermont know when to move over for law enforcement, fire and rescue vehicles sounding sirens and displaying blue or red flashing lights.

However, they don’t know that when approaching a stationary tower and repair vehicle displaying an amber light, they are required by Vermont law to proceed with caution and, if traveling on a four-lane highway and safety conditions permit, make a lane change.

Every year nationwide, many law enforcement officers and towers are seriously injured and some die at the hands of careless drivers. The Vermont Towing Association, with the help of the Vermont DMV and our legislators, have added towers and repair vehicle drivers working along the side of the road to the Vermont Move Over Law.

Please obey the law and make it safe for the people who are here to serve you.

Vermont Towing Association


Thanks for the bottles

Williston Girl Scout Troop 30444 would like to extend a big thank you to all the businesses and residents who supported us with their generosity in our annual bottle drive. It all helps lead to a great scouting experience!

Betsey Dempsey, Troop leader


Chickens on the loose

To whom this may concern on Maple Road in Williston, who owns five hens wandering around other people’s property: If you may please contain them to YOUR property it would be gratefully appreciated.

Rhia Dumont, Williston


Take pride in CVU achievements

Once again an early November weekend provided the setting for extraordinary achievements by the students of Champlain Valley Union High School.

Championship finals for boys and girls soccer produced the time-honored thrills of skilled athleticism and competitive excitement, resulting in tremendous satisfaction on the part of team members, coaching staff, parents and friends of CVU. These teams and their supporters demonstrated the finest qualities of sportsmanship and success on the playing field.

The pride engendered by both teams and their brilliant seasons of play could only be matched by another school activity of similar and comparable achievement. CVU Drama inaugurated the new performance space in their renovated auditorium with a production that demonstrated equivalent challenges of emotional commitment and the demands of weeks of rehearsal and preparation. Their brilliant and dazzling production of “Pirates of Penzance” was performed by drawing upon such similar dedication and boundless energy as demonstrated by the soccer teams.

Final games of championship seasons and closing nights of CVU musicals share a common spotlight, highlighting imagination, talent, hard work and superior effort. The students and the staff who help to create and make real these achievements provide a source of legitimate pride for the entire CVU community and beyond. Thanks to them, each and every one, for making this weekend in November so memorable and so satisfying.

Steve Nasuta, Williston


[Read more…]

Guest Column (11/12/09)

Government’s role in health care

Nov. 12, 2009

By James T. Rude

The debate over health care reform is not just a debate about the best way to provide health insurance coverage; rather, at the most basic level, it is about the role of government and the extent to which it should compete in decisions between an individual and his or her medical providers.

I do not know of anyone on either side of the political spectrum who believes that reform of the health care system is not needed. The growing cost of health care has been well documented and is likely to continue to be driven by the following: Increases in utilization of services brought about by an aging population; growth in new diagnostic and therapeutic advances in medicine; increases in procedures to safeguard against claims of malpractice; ever increasing government mandated benefits; and, finally, growth in the public’s expectation that most, if not all, of hospital, office visit and treatments should be covered by health insurance. All of these factors contribute to consumption, which has greatly increased the aggregate cost of health care.

If one of the goals of health care reform is to reduce health care utilization, then no matter which side ultimately wins this debate, health care spending will continue to grow unless someone or some entity says, “NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE IT.” Who decides what health care services should be purchased or rationed is at the heart of this debate.

One key driver for health care reform appears to be that “47 million people are without health insurance.” This “uninsured” population represents less than 10 percent of the U.S. population when netting out non-U.S. citizens and those who are currently eligible for Medicaid and other programs. The number actually falls much further when you subtract people between jobs and those who could afford it, but choose not to spend money on health care insurance premiums.

But I don’t even think insurance coverage or being able to buy affordable health insurance is central to the debate. If it were, then the fix would be relatively easy.

For example, I recently separated from my employer and I am now on COBRA. My wife and I are in our early 60s and our COBRA premium for a high deductible plan for the both of us is $264 per month before any federal COBRA subsidy. My monthly premium is highly affordable because my ex-employer is located in Illinois.

The Illinois BlueCross BlueShield plan is accepted by most Vermont health care practitioners and hospitals and is priced far lower than what a comparable plan would cost if I purchased the same level of coverage from the Vermont Blues. This is not the fault of the Vermont insurance company; rather, the difference in premium is due to the fact that Vermont state government regulations stipulate to insurance companies that if they want to sell health insurance products in Vermont, they must set their premiums to cover all state mandated benefits and set the price of the premium similar for all purchasers regardless of age and health status.

Once my COBRA benefits run out 18 months from now, I will be forced to buy my insurance in Vermont and pay a significantly higher premium for basically the same coverage I now receive. This problem would be solved if I were allowed to buy health insurance from across state lines.

A government controlled and centrally planned health care solution has been the dream of some for many years, but there are costs and consequences associated with this approach that are more problematic than the suggested benefits.

The first major cost is that government run programs are always more expensive than promised. Take Medicare and Medicaid, where the costs have grown significantly beyond what was projected when the legislation was proposed. Medicare alone has grown 10 times more expensive than even the most pessimistic assessment of ultimate cost — and it continues to climb. These programs are currently unaffordable and are perilously close to default, and yet we want to add a significantly larger program to an already over taxed system? Unfunded and poorly funded mandates are pathways to financial ruin that only fools would follow.

The second cost is actually a consequence, and that is to our freedom to decide among the best options that fit our needs. For example, I like a high deductible plan, but under the House and Senate bills, these options would be outlawed.

What government can do, to fix what government messes up, is to get out of the way. The appropriate role of government is to clear away obstacles and let consumers effectively exercise choice at price points they can afford. Legislators are not to be trusted when they are intent on building systems that chip away our freedoms and significantly increase taxes for current and future generations, particularly when elected officials are hell-bent on leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary.


James T. Rude is a Williston resident.


[Read more…]

Williston seventh grader wins regional art contest (11/12/09)

Nov. 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A Williston Central School seventh grader recently won a calendar art contest sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League’s New England chapter. Gabby Ribeiro was one of 13 students from New England chosen to have her art featured in a 2010 calendar.


    Courtesy image
Williston seventh grader Gabby Ribeiro’s drawing, pictured above, was chosen from more than 1,000 entries to appear in a 2010 calendar produced by the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

More than 1,000 school children participated in the contest, according to the league’s press release. Twelve drawings will be featured for 2010 — one for each month — plus a separate drawing for the calendar’s cover.

This is the 25th year the Anti-Defamation League has hosted the contest. The calendar will be distributed across New England.

Ribeiro’s colorful drawing, showing people of all shapes, sizes and colors holding hands under the words “We’re All in this Together,” will be the artwork for July in the Anti-Defamation League’s calendar. Ribeiro said she was pleased to find out two weeks ago that she won.

“I was really surprised when they told me because I didn’t think I’d actually win,” Ribeiro said.

Williston Central School art teacher M.C. Baker asked her students to draw a poster for the contest. She said when she saw Ribeiro’s work, she knew it would be a winner. Ribeiro said she drew the picture in keeping with the Anti-Defamation League’s mission, which works to stop bigotry, anti-Semitism and extremism.

The contest is a partnership between the Anti-Defamation League, the Boston Children’s Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. As part of the contest’s awards, Ribeiro’s artwork will be shown in both museums starting early next year. She plans to go to Massachusetts to see her drawing on display.

“That’s really exciting for me,” she said.

[Read more…]

Utility ordinance tabled once again (11/12/09)

Power, phone companies raise issues

Nov. 12, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

Opposition from utility companies again delayed passage of an ordinance that would impose fees when underground electrical, telephone and gas lines are installed.

The Selectboard held a public hearing last week on the ordinance. The board seemed poised to pass it after numerous other discussions on the topic and extensive input from utility companies over the past several months.

But representatives from Green Mountain Power, FairPoint Communications and Vermont Electric Cooperative each attended the Nov. 2 hearing and urged the board to reconsider the ordinance. They presented a letter to the board with fresh concerns about the new fees.

“That kind of surprised me,” Selectboard member Ted Kenney said. “I think that’s why we postponed the hearing, because board members hadn’t even seen the letter.”

“They were relatively new arguments,” Kenney added, “or arguments framed a different way.”

The ordinance would allow the town to recoup costs associated with dodging the tangle of wires and pipes installed in the rights-of-way next to roads. Officials say buried lines increase the time it takes town employees to repair things such as culverts and sewer lines.

The fees would generate an estimated $25,000 a year in revenue for the town.

Williston now charges a refundable deposit of $600 each time a utility company installs a new line along the town’s rights-of-way. Under the ordinance, utilities would pay a $100 permit fee and a $100 inspection fee, which are not refundable.

The ordinance also imposes a new $10-per-square-foot fee for excavating sidewalks and roads, and $1.75 per square foot for digging up other areas. Boring horizontally, so-called “trenchless technology” where lines are installed parallel to the ground, would also cost $1 per linear foot.

That later provision had previously prompted complaints from Vermont Gas, which increasingly uses the method to install lines. The fee was reduced, with town officials saying they wanted to encourage that kind of installation, which is thought to have a smaller impact on above-ground vegetation and nearby pavement.

The other utility companies outlined their concerns in a three-page letter presented to the Selectboard. It argued that the ordinance fails to make a distinction between upgrading and repairing lines and installing new ones.

It also restates a complaint voiced months ago by Vermont Gas: That the ordinance will greatly drive up costs, which will then be passed on to customers in the form of higher rates.

Mary Morris, legal assistant for Green Mountain Power, said GMP wants to know in advance how much the ordinance will increase the cost of installing and maintaining lines.

She said GMP does not have a problem with the idea of charging excavation fees. The power company just wants to ensure fees are proportionate to actual costs incurred by the town.

The letter from the utility companies says the new fees would substantially increase the cost of moving lines underground. For example, if a homeowner wanted to upgrade to underground service, the fee would add $475 to the cost, about 10 percent of the total price tag.

Another issue raised in the letter is whether the ordinance would require above-ground lines to be placed underground when they are repaired or replaced. If so “the costs would be astronomical,” the letter stated. The utilities requested the ordinance include a grandfather clause covering such situations.

The ordinance is not intended to force utilities to install existing lines underground, said Town Manager Rick McGuire. He said the town will continue its long-standing practice of requiring new lines to be installed underground while allowing existing lines to remain overhead.

The Selectboard may reconsider the ordinance at a meeting this month.


[Read more…]

Williston brothers succeed at unique sport (11/12/09)

Nov. 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Trail runners enjoy quick jogs down root- and rock-laden paths. Mappers like using compasses and maps to chart interesting routes through different terrain. Orienteering competitors combine both in strategy-filled endurance races that require participants to think on their toes while watching where they put their feet.


    Courtesy photo
Andrew Childs finishes an orienteering race at the Canadian Championships last year.


    Courtesy photo
Ethan Childs logs in at the finish line of an orienteering race held in May.

“It’s like trying to read a book while running a five-minute mile,” said Andrew Childs, a 17-year-old Williston resident and Champlain Valley Union High School senior.

Childs and his younger brother, Ethan, 15, are two rare athletes in Vermont. They compete in the sport of orienteering, an activity that mixes strategy and physicality. It requires the competitor to have expert map and compass skills while simultaneously dashing through thickly wooded areas.

“You have to find a balance between thinking and the speed you’re going,” said Ethan Childs, a CVU sophomore. “Go too fast and you might miss something.”

In any given orienteering event, competitors follow a well-detailed map from point to point to point. Each destination is called a “control,” and racers that find each control must log their entry to complete the race. The racer who finishes with the fastest time wins.

The Childs are on their way to being the best in their game. On Oct. 26, both teens placed high at the U.S. Orienteering Championships in Wisconsin, despite competing above their normal age categories. Ethan took home a gold medal in the 17- to 18-year-old age group and Andrew took home a silver medal for the 19- to 20-year-old age group.

The Wisconsin race posed several challenges — ankle-twisting boulder fields, chest-deep swamps and other natural features that make the 8-kilometer race a hard one.

Such challenges make it important to consult a map before bounding off to the next control, the brothers said. By using the compass and map skills, an expert orienteering competitor can find the quickest route to the next control. That can be harder than just running through the woods, Andrew said.

“With orienteering, you don’t always want to run the straight line,” he said. “The main challenge is reading the map quickly, keeping on track and not screwing up.”

The strong performances in Wisconsin could be the deciding factor for the brothers to earn spots on the junior team for the U.S. Orienteering Federation. In doing so, the teens will be able to compete in the Junior World Orienteering Championships and other races in Europe.

Last year, Andrew made the team and competed in the international event in Italy. This year, he plans on making it again and bringing along his younger brother. He envisions orienteering in Europe as an annual family tradition.

“Every summer now, we’ll be in Europe competing,” the elder Childs said.


An orienteering culture

Orienteering may be a niche sport in North America, but it’s a popular one in Europe, specifically in Scandinavia, where it started in the late 1800s. The Swedish military devised orienteering as a military sport to test soldiers on land navigation skills and physical endurance. Eventually, it became a popular civilian activity.

Today, thousands compete in European events, but only hundreds compete in races in North America. In an activity that has relatively few competitors compared to other endurance sports, a friendly camaraderie develops between participants, Ethan said.

“We all know each other and are friends,” he said.

It’s also a family affair — the Childs’ parents, Carl and Mary Jo, met while orienteering in Europe and continue to compete. Ethan said he and his brother were reared on the sport.

“Ever since I could walk, I’ve been orienteering,” Ethan said.

The sport has proved a perfect way for the family to see the world from a completely different viewpoint. The Childs boys consider themselves lucky to be able to experience a run through the meadows of the Alps or the pine forests of Sweden.

Though the closest orienteering courses can be found in New Hampshire and New York, the Childs train by creating their own courses in Williston and compete on the CVU cross country team. But there’s nothing like getting out in the woods, racing with a compass fastened to a thumb and map wrapped around a wrist.

“When I’m doing an orienteering course, I’m pushing myself physically,” Andrew said. “But I’m usually focusing on my map so much and when I’m doing that, I don’t even notice how (physically challenging) the race is.”

[Read more…]