June 18, 2018

Show will benefit crafters and charities (3/18/10)

Event to be held Saturday at St. Michael’s College

March 18, 2010

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

A unique event on Saturday will allow residents to shop for crafts while helping local artisans and charitable causes.


    Courtesy photo by Robin Davis
Last year’s beCAUSE Craft Show at Ross Sports Center in Colchester drew dozens of vendors and raised thousands of dollars for charity. Admission to this year’s event is $2 for adults, free for children less than 12 years old.

The beCAUSE Craft Show runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ross Sports Center on the St. Michael’s College campus in Colchester. The event, now in its fifth year, will have nearly 100 vendors.

Williston resident Heather Cleveland, who describes herself as the beCAUSE ambassador, said the event differs from other craft shows because it simultaneously accomplishes two goals: Promoting local businesses and boosting charitable giving.

“The craft show allows people to buy, say, a Mother’s Day gift, and while they are buying something from a local business, support a charity at the same time,” Cleveland said.

The show also aims to promote social and environmental activism, according to Cleveland, with an underlying goal of effecting global change with local action.

The event’s idealism is backed up by a dollars-and-cents commitment to charity. Between 50 percent and 100 percent of profits made by vendors will be donated to dozens of causes ranging from  Haitian relief to the Humane Society. All proceeds from the $2 admission charge will be donated to Heavenly Pantry Food Shelf in Essex.

Each vendor picks one or more charities that their sales will benefit. The charity’s name will be posted at each vendor’s table, Cleveland said, allowing customers to shop for goods to buy and causes to support.

The show first ran five years ago at Hiawatha Elementary School in Essex Junction, Cleveland said. It later moved to the town’s Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School, but attendance was poor.

The show’s founder, P.J. Neverett of Essex Junction, was diagnosed with cancer that year. Cleveland and four other volunteers pitched in to ensure the event continued. Neverett has stayed on as the lead organizer, Cleveland said.

Last year’s show was held at Ross Sports Center in Colchester, a roomier venue that attracted more vendors. This year, the number of vendors has nearly doubled, with 97 signed up as of last week.

A handful of this year’s vendors are from Williston: Allaire Diamond (hand-printed clothing); Sienna Fontaine (paintings and stationary); Lorelea Roberts (jewelry and photography) and Cheryl and Andre Hathaway (origami ornaments and homemade chocolates). Cleveland herself will sell baked goods and raffle tickets.

She said the show has grown so much that organizing it has become a part-time job, but it is still a fulfilling task. Over the years, the event has raised more than $30,000 for charities.

“I will actually be relieved when it’s over,” Cleveland said. “But it will be easier after this year because we never had it on this scale before.”

The recession has strained household budgets and made it harder for many people to respond to charitable appeals. Cleveland, an unemployed single mother, said she understands the situation as well as anyone.

“I’m on my 15th month of unemployment, so I know people are having a tough time,” she said. “But the fact that the community is feeling tough times means that organizations that rely on charitable donations are feeling it that much more.”

She said the show makes it easy to contribute because a purchase buys something tangible that just happens to help worthy causes.

“If you can get something from a local business and as an offshoot support a charity, that’s fabulous,” she said.


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Pushing to boost energy efficiency (3/18/10)

Congressman Welch promotes legislation in Williston

March 18, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Monday brought a busy morning to the Williston residence of Lynn Goyette and Eileen Blackwood. A half-dozen workers, dressed in white protective suits, pumped foam insulation into the drafty corners of the house’s basement and attic.

As a member of the Williston Green Initiatives committee, a citizen action group formed in 2008, Goyette saw she needed to make some changes to the couple’s 1840s home.

“As homeowners, we just knew where the drafts were,” Goyette said. “You can really feel them sometimes.”

By enlisting the aid of Williston-based Building Energy to perform an energy audit on the house, the couple realized they could save more than $1,000 a year by making home efficiency improvements.

Their project even gained national attention.

Congressman Peter Welch stopped by and toured the home Monday as Building Energy crews began their work. Amidst the couple’s basement, with plastic sheeting covering workbenches and furniture, Welch used the project as an opportunity to promote a new bill he’s working on in the U.S. Legislature.

Known as the Home Star bill, the legislation would provide all Americans with the possibility of saving money on energy-conserving home renovations and would spur job growth in the construction and home improvement industry. Welch told the assembled guests and media the bill would likely cost $6 billion and could be funded through the federal stimulus package, although that has not yet been determined.

“I’m optimistic this will be successful in Washington, and that’s saying a lot these days,” Welch said.

Welch said the legislation, sometimes referred to as Cash for Caulkers, would offer up to $3,000 in rebates for homeowners purchasing energy-saving items. Customers could receive the rebates instantly at the cash register rather than waiting until the tax-filing period.

Tom Allen, vice president of Allen Lumber in St. Johnsbury, was on hand for Welch’s speech. He said the legislation, if passed, could be a real “shot in the arm” for home improvement companies, large and small.

“This program has the potential to be a real win-win situation,” Allen said.

Welch said he wants to put into practice nationally what already takes place in Vermont. He added that President Barack Obama, along with many Republican members of Congress, support the bill.

“I’m delighted that what they want to make happen we’re already making happen here in Vermont,” Welch said.

As Welch explained, Vermont already offers rebates and tax incentives to residents making energy efficiency improvements. Goyette said that while the Building Energy installation will cost approximately $6,500, a third of that is covered through Efficiency Vermont, a nonprofit agency that urges residents to conserve energy.

“It’s not cheap, but it’s still a good deal,” Goyette said.

Goyette and Blackwood said they got the idea to make home improvements after Building Energy completed an energy audit of Williston Town Hall in late 2008. Even after recent renovations to the town building, the audit showed the inefficiency of the space.

Brian Bergeron, Building Energy’s job supervisor, said Goyette and Blackburn’s home had typical problem areas for structures more than 150 years old. By adding state-of-the-art foam insulation, the old home becomes new again and could sell for thousands more on the housing market, Bergeron said.

Even if Goyette and Blackburn don’t sell their home in the future, the energy savings they’ll receive will pay any costs back over time. Blackburn hopes to save 30 percent on the heating bill each month next winter. This winter, for instance, the couple paid $600 to $700 per month for propane heating, Blackburn said.

Welch said the energy savings and home improvement work will go a long way in creating jobs and kick starting the economy.

“It just makes common sense to get our economy going again,” Welch said.


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Student-directed musical debuts Thursday (3/18/10)

March 18, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A funny thing is about to happen at Champlain Valley Union High School this week.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Ethan Tischler, playing the character Pseudolous, introduces the show during Monday’s dress rehearsal.

Beginning Thursday night, CVU Drama will present “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,” a popular musical comedy set in ancient Rome. Directed by Shelburne senior Justin Small as part of his graduation challenge, the play is the second spring musical the drama club has performed at CVU.

Small has participated in nearly every facet of CVU’s theater presentations during his four years at the high school; he’s acted, produced and worked behind the scenes, including writing a student play. This is his first time taking over directorial duties; he wanted to have that experience through his graduation challenge, a yearlong project all CVU seniors must complete to graduate.

On Monday afternoon, Small sat in the middle of the CVU auditorium, waiting for the curtain to open on the musical’s first dress rehearsal. So what does a director think at that specific moment?

“The show’s not mine anymore,” Small said with a laugh. “You just give it up and you pray.”

Small relaxed noticeably following the opening number, “Comedy Tonight,” which features an elaborate introduction by Ethan Tischler playing the character Pseudolous, and ends with a rousing finish by the entire cast.

The play debuts at 7 p.m. on March 17, with additional shows at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.

The musical comedy features an array of characters in an involved plot focusing on Pseudolous, a lazy Roman slave looking to earn his freedom. First produced in 1962, the play featured music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, with Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. The story takes its plots and themes from different farce writers dating back to Roman times. The musical also became a motion picture in 1966 starring many from the original stage cast.

Small said he chose “Forum” as his play because it was the first live theater production he experienced.

“It really made an impression on me and really stuck with me,” Small said. “It was an easy decision to pick this one.”

From there, Small held auditions in December and began rehearsals in January. He cast 18 students for the various roles and included freshmen through seniors.

Sebastian Ryder, CVU Drama’s co-curricular director, said Small has done an excellent job managing a stressful project. Ryder, who directed the CVU fall productions for the past eight years, said the final days before opening night can be the hardest, yet most exciting period for first-time directors.

“It’s the final push and everyone is doing what they need now to make it successful,” Ryder said.

“Forum” is also completely student produced. Producers Ryan Nick and Kelsey Jensen have been busy putting together programs, as well as advertising the musical to community members. Jensen, a Williston senior, said spring productions aren’t as well known to the general public.

“It’s a lot more work, although I don’t think people realize it,” Jensen said.

Small now knows firsthand the work in preparing a school musical. On top of his school work and graduation challenge assignments, directing the play became an all-encompassing project. But Small said he’s gained a lot through his experience.

“I learned you shouldn’t second guess yourself in front of the cast,” Small said, retrospectively. “A lot of times, you go with your gut.”



CVU Drama Co-Curricular Director Sebastian Ryder is leaving the Champlain Valley Union High School club to focus on her full-time work at Barnes & Noble.

For the past eight years, Ryder has directed fall musicals and helped students produce their own productions in the spring. She said she’s made countless friends through her theater work, including faculty members and student actors.

Ryder said her experience at CVU was “incredibly rewarding.”

“I think there’s something in the water down there in Hinesburg because the kids are just amazing,” Ryder said.


— Tim Simard, Observer staff


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Football honors for CVUs Long (3/11/10)

March 11, 2010

After a season of terrorizing opponents’ offensive players from his defensive end position for Champlain Valley Union High’s Division 2 football championship runners-up, post-season recognition is coming Matt Long’s way.


    File photo
Champlain Valley Union High senior Matt Long, pictured above, has been named to the Vermont Shrine football team. Long was also nominated for the Vermont Football PRIDE Award.

The senior was recently named to the Vermont Shrine football team, which will play New Hampshire in August in the annual renewal of the game that features graduated senior stars from the previous season.

Long is the first CVU player named to the team in the five years of the varsity football program at the school.

In addition, Long is the Division 2 nominee for the Vermont Football PRIDE Award.

Created in 2007 by South Burlington Dolphins youth football program director Rene Laberge, the program names one outstanding football star from each of three high school divisions. They will be honored in an April 25 ceremony at Castleton State College, where the overall winner will be named.

Also nominated were Essex High quarterback Max Librizzi from Division 1 and Windsor High quarterback and defender Gavin Callahan from Division 3.

Over the season, the 6-foot-5 Long blocked at least four punts (two for touchdowns) and had opposing quarterbacks running for their lives. He also found time to maintain a 3.8 academic average.


— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Gone fishin’

    Courtesy photo
Alec Distler, a member of Williston Boy Scout Troop 692, fishes during a recent scout trip to the Bahamas. See more photos under Web exclusive photos.

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Leftovers from the winter sports campaigns (3/11/10)

March 11, 2010

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

That second-seeded Essex High knocked off once-beaten and top-seeded Burlington High 44-37 in Saturday’s Division 1 championship basketball contest was not really much of a surprise.

Essex, which had divided two regular season contests with the Seahorses, had more weapons — although Burlington had Joe O’Shea, one of the top all-around hoopsters in the state.

When Champlain Valley Union High gave Burlington a mighty challenge in the final regular season contest at Bremner Gymnasium, the 6-foot-4 and very mobile O’Shea knocked down 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to keep BHS afloat at a time when CVU was rocking the boat. The Seahorses, ahead by just two points with 13 seconds left, won, 51-44.

In a 51-46 Division 1 semifinal victory over Mount Anthony Union High at the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium, O’Shea pulled the game out of the fire with 11 points under final period pressure, bringing BHS from behind for the victory.

And O’Shea netted 23 points and hauled down 12 rebounds in the championship test, but had little meaningful help. Meanwhile, Essex got solid contributions from starters plus the bench, a combination that proved lethal to CVU in its 60-46 quarterfinal defeat at the hands of the Hornets.

In that game, CVU’s D (for defense) Troop of seniors Chris Nigh and Nick Hart limited Essex ace Demir Smajovic to 10 points on three-of-10 shooting from the floor. Smajovic did grab 12 rebounds and contribute three assists.

The D Troop was coach Scott Bliss’ first option defenders who could keep the opposing forces’ big guns from going wild and controlling the outcome of games.

Nigh, with Hart and others in relief, also held Spaulding High sharpshooter Evan Tullar to 13 points (four-for-10) in the 50-41 playoff victory over the Tide that earned the Redhawks a trip to Essex.

And, in the previous game, Nigh had gone mano-a-mano with O’Shea with solid results (six points first half) until the BHS star took over the game late in the third period.

So who was the best player the defensive ace had to work against this year?

“Oh, it was Joe O’Shea, no doubt about it. He is quick and has those long arms and can get up there,” Nigh said following CVU’s finale at Essex.

“Demir (Smajovic) is also a very good player,” Nigh added, noting that the Essex star does a lot of things very well.

Next season, the Redhawks for the first time in four years will not have to devise a defense for O’Shea. He will be at NCAA Division 1 Holy Cross College, where he has a scholarship.

After knocking out CVU, St. J makes history

In the Division 1 girls basketball tournament, 12th-seeded St. Johnsbury Academy made history, becoming the first school to come from that low a seed to take the championship. St. Johnsbury Academy knocked off Rutland High 27-24 in the title test Thursday night at the Patrick gym.

The Hilltoppers, down at the half, came from behind by holding Rutland without a hoop for the final 14 minutes of the game, a defensive payoff rare at that level of play.

St. Johnsbury earned a trip to the semifinals — where it popped Burr and Burton Academy 36-25 — by nudging CVU, 40-37, in a quarterfinal contest in Hinesburg.

In that game, the Hilltoppers got in front early (12-4 end of the first period) by forcing turnovers and disrupting the Redhawks’ offense. CVU put together a furious rally in the final minutes but could not force a tie.

St. Johnsbury, which split a home-and-home series with CVU during the regular season, finished with an 11-13 record and the Big Trophy.


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Sports Notes (3/11/10)

March 11, 2010


CVU girls second, boys fourth in state Nordic finale

Led by ninth place finisher Kylie deGroot and 10th place finisher Sienna Searles, the Champlain Valley Union High girls Nordic ski team snagged the team runner-up spot a week ago Wednesday in the classical state championships at Prospect Mountain near Bennington.

The Redhawks, with 138 points, were some 67 behind titleholder Mount Anthony Union but well ahead of third place Brattleboro Union High, which finished with 260 points.

CVU’s girls’ relay team took third place behind winning Mount Anthony and second place Rutland High.

The CVU boys team came in fourth, with Sam Epstein earning a seventh place individual finish. The relay team was fourth behind winning Mount Anthony, which also captured the boys team title.

CVU girls third in state alpine meet

With Taylor Spillane finishing third in the two-run slalom, the Champlain Valley Union High girls alpine team took third place last week in the state championship meet at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl.

Spillane finished behind winner Kate Cutting of Rice Memorial High and Caitlin Bliss of Rutland High and was the Redhawks’ lone top 10 finisher of the day.

Cutting also won the giant slalom.

CVU, with a team score of 160 points, trailed winning Rutland (109) and Mount Mansfield Union (139) in the team standings.

Coach Mike Minnerly could not be reached for comment.

Two Redhawks in Saturday’s All-Star hockey contest

Two members of the Division 1 runner-up Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team will be on the ice Saturday in Essex for the annual Essex Rotary Key Bank All Star Hockey Classic at the Essex Skating Facility.

Goalie Mark Albertson and forward Sam Parent will represent CVU as part of the Austin Conference team that will meet counterparts from the Harris Conference in the contest featuring seniors from Vermont interscholastic hockey teams.

Rosters are set by league coaches.

Game time is 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students, and will be available at the door.

Logan, Ford represent CVU girls in Hockey Classic

There was a Champlain Valley Union High presence in the Essex Rotary Key Bank All Star Hockey Classic for women, played by senior stars Saturday at Essex.

Redhawks forward KK Logan and defender Kate Ford were selected for the game and played for the Harris Conference team. Though neither Logan nor Ford had a goal in the contest, their team put together a 5-2 over the Austin Conference.

Former Redhawk finishes first college hoops season

Former Champlain Valley Union High basketball star John Donnelly, who graduated last spring, turned in a solid initial season this past winter at Vassar College in the Liberty League.

Playing 29 minutes per game, Donnelly was the team’s second leading scoring, averaging 10 points a game.

He also tied for third in the league among rebounders with 7.2 per contest, and led the league with 126 defensive rebounds, an average of five per outing.

CVU spring sports tryouts open Monday

Monday will be spring, at least for Champlain Valley Union High athletes and many others in Vermont high schools.

That is the day tryouts begin for the spring sports seasons that run up to June graduation time.

According to CVU athletic director Kevin Riell, tennis tryouts were being scheduled depending on availability of indoor facilities.


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New positions for School Board members (3/11/10)

March 11, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

After the Williston School Board celebrated the passage of the 2010-2011 school district budget at its last meeting, board members went through a realignment process.

Darlene Worth exited her role as board chairwoman and now heads the Chittenden South Supervisory Union board of directors. Holly Rouelle, former board vice chairwoman, now leads the Williston School Board. The board made the change at its March 3 meeting.

“We kind of all moved up a position,” Rouelle said.

As Williston board chairwoman, Rouelle takes on the responsibilities of setting meeting agendas and conferencing with other school board chairpersons. Deb Baker-Moody is now vice chairwoman of the board.

While Worth leads the CSSU board, she remains on the Williston School Board. The CSSU board handles decisions on a supervisory union-level and includes members from the Champlain Valley Union High School, Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, St. George and Williston school boards.

Rouelle and Worth praised the community for passing the budget last week. Rouelle said the community supported the board’s efforts to keep next school year’s budget increase under 1 percent.

“It was great news to hear,” she said.

Voters also re-elected Rouelle to a three-year term and board member Keith Roy to a two-year term. Both members ran unopposed.



In an effort to improve communication within the school district, the Williston School Board announced its use of a new tool it hopes the community will embrace.

Board Chairwoman Holly Rouelle created a Facebook “fan page” on the popular social networking Web site and plans to update information, meeting times and other school related news. As of press deadline, the fan page had 37 fans listed, including board members Roulle, Keith Roy and Laura Gigliotti.

“It’s another way to celebrate the good things going on in the Williston schools,” Rouelle said.

— Tim Simard, Observer staff


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School district rolls out tech changes (3/11/10)

March 11, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Since the unveiling of a new Web site last fall, new technological changes continue emerging within the Williston School District.

For the first time, the student placement process will be wholly completed online. Also, the district is currently moving towards becoming a Google-based campus.

For Bonnie Birdsall, Williston’s technology integration specialist, the next few months will be an exciting time. Moving student placement to the Web site will streamline the process, she said. And using free Google applications will enhance communication and save the district money in the long run, Birdsall added.

Currently on the district’s Web site, parents can register a new account by creating a login name and password. Parents are asked to create the account before March 15. The online placement form will be available starting March 18. Birdsall said the account information will be used for school purposes only and will not be shared with outside groups.

Parents that don’t register online can still participate in the placement process the old-fashioned way — using pens and pencils to fill out paper forms.

Nearly 300 parents created Web site accounts since an e-mail went out last Friday in regards to the information.

“I found that to be a really good response,” Birdsall said.

Birdsall said the district is also working on more features that will be available for parents with site accounts. She envisions they will be able to visit sites dealing specifically with their students’ academic house, including information on schedules, homework and projects.

While parents become more involved with the district via the Web site, teachers and staff are preparing themselves for a major change. By mid-April, e-mail addresses for all school personnel will switch to Google addresses, which will allow for more efficient communication within the district and with parents, Birdsall said.

By using Gmail by Google, teachers and staff will also gain access to calendar applications, as well.

Many changes similar to the ones in Williston are occurring within schools across Chittenden South Supervisory Union. Champlain Valley Union High School made a similar move last year, which Birdsall called a success.

“They were the ones that figured things out for everybody,” she said.

School personnel and students are already familiar with Google document applications. Teachers urge students to use “Google docs” on group projects and individual work. The application allows users to work on assignments and save their work within Google. This lets those working on group projects access work on any computer and make changes from there.

As Allen Brook School enrichment teacher Betty Poirot told the School Board at a February meeting, “Google docs is changing the world.”

Parents will continue to be updated on the upcoming technology changes in the Williston School District, Birdsall said. And while teacher e-mail addresses are changing, the old ones will continue to work for some time, she added.

Birdsall believes Google and its Web-based tools are altering the way people communicate and how everyone uses technology. And it’s for the better, she said.

“(Google is) forging the way with great technology, so why fight it?” Birdsall said.

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Recipe Corner (3/11/10)

Spring's tonic

March 11, 2010

By Ginger Isham

Don’t you just love these sunny days we have been having? The heavy wet snow and the north wind? Mother Nature knows what will make the sugar maker happy!

We make our best maple syrup under these conditions. (This time of year, excitement builds with the thought of spring just around the corner and seed catalogues show up in the mailbox.) My maple recipes are spread out all over my counters.

The following recipe is new and from a cookbook I purchased in Nova Scotia titled, “The Sugar Bush Connection” by Beatrice Ross Buszek. The Mennonite ladies of Ontario made many of these pies for a maple festival.


Vanilla Pie (First step)

1 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup sugar (I would use a little less)

1 cup water

1 egg

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend all ingredients until smooth and cook until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and cool.


Crumb Topping (Second step)

1 cup brown sugar (I would use 3/4 cup)

1 cup flour

1/4 cup shortening (maybe butter or oil)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Blend all ingredients until they have a crumb-like texture.


Pour the cooked pudding mixture into an unbaked piecrust. Sprinkle the crumb topping over this. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Maple Hints

> Add maple syrup to marshmallow creme for a special sundae sauce.

> Add maple syrup to mashed turnips along with butter and seasonings.

> Pour 2 tablespoons of maple syrup into the cavity of a baked acorn squash along with salt and pepper.

> Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup (darker grade) to a glass of cold milk and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

> Add 2 tablespoons hot maple syrup to a cup of Chai tea.

> Drizzle Fancy maple syrup over sliced strawberries and other fruits to give them a shine.


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


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