November 30, 2015

Peters wins snowboarding championship (4/15/10)

Two other Vermonters also fare well

April 15, 2010

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Champlain Valley Union High School student Dylan Peters spent more than 100 days on his snowboard this winter, and it paid off.


    Courtesy photo
Dylan Peters flips off a jump at the USA Snowboarding Association national championship, held at Copper Mountain, Colo. earlier this month.


    Observer photo by Stephanie Choate
Dylan Peters, 17, holds his snowboard and his gold medal from the USA Snowboarding Association national championship, where he won the junior men’s slopestyle competition.

Earlier this month, Peters, 17, won the junior men’s slopestyle competition at the USA Snowboarding Association national championship, held at Copper Mountain, Colo.

“It was crazy,” said Peters, a Williston resident. “It was pretty amazing because I didn’t really know what to expect when I went out there.”

Peters said he almost broke his ankle while practicing a jump before his run.

“I just tied my boot really tight and ignored it,” he said. “I got through and landed everything, so I was pretty psyched.”

Nearly 60 riders competed in the junior men’s slopestyle championships. Peters won with a score of 74.5.

“It’s definitely a good way to end the season and it opened new doors to go to other events and meet more people in industry,” he said.

Peters said his sponsors — Ride Snowboards, Von Zipper and Odd Men Out — were also happy about the win.

“There’s no limit really, I guess,” Peters said of his goals. “My goals are to keep progressing, and learn new things and take it to new places and new contests. There’s always people to meet and videos to shoot and places to ride.”

Peters said he thought his inverted tricks helped clinch the victory. Peters started with back-to-back rodeos, a trick that involves spinning 540 degrees while flipping. He also did a backflip off one of the rails.

“It’s scary to watch him,” said his mother, Sue Peters.

“Dylan’s been jumping and flipping his whole life,” she said. “As a toddler he was jumping off things. The things have just gotten bigger.”

Peters also came in fifth in the halfpipe competition.

“Getting fifth was a pretty big accomplishment for me,” he said. “This was my first year really riding the pipe. I put it all together and I was excited about that.”

Peters wasn’t the only Vermonter to do well in the competition.

Charlotte resident and CVU sophomore Charlie Shea, a good friend of Peters, came in fourth in the slopestyle competition, with 69.3 points.

“(Peters) and I threw down some really great runs,” Shea said. “It shows that Vermont is not a quiet state out here.”

Shea said the competition included “the best of the best.”

“I just think it’s really cool that they bring everyone from all over the U.S. and put them in one competition,” he said.

Garrett Mernick of Shelburne took sixth place, scoring 65.7 points.

Peters also competed in the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships in Stratton in March, and almost made it into the semi-final round, where he would have been riding against Olympians.

Peters said he usually rides four days a week, and skateboards in the summer. He spent his younger years riding at Bolton Valley Resort, and now trains with the Mt. Mansfield Snowboard Club at Stowe, coached by Mike Slaughter.

He missed four weeks of school to snowboard this year, though he took online courses and also attends Burlington Technical Center.

Peters said “it would definitely be cool” to snowboard professionally.

“I want to see how far I can pursue it and keep taking it to next level,” he said.


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Education Briefs (4/15/10)

April 15, 2010

CVU seeks Grad Challenge panelists

Champlain Valley Union High School wants community members to serve as panelists on Grad Challenge Presentation Day. On May 14, seniors will present the results of their experience and research completed during their Graduation Challenge, a yearlong learning project.

Students spent 20 to 45 hours on the projects, in which someone from the community guided them through the learning experience.

Community panelists will listen to students’ formal presentations about their grad challenge. Other panelists include CVU faculty. The day is split into three sessions, each lasting 90 minutes. In each session, students, panelists and audience members listen to Grad Challenge presentations from three or four seniors. Each presentation group is based on one of eight topic areas, which include Recreational Wellness, Science/Math, Business Education and Social Studies/Education.

Panelists listen to the presentations, ask questions and evaluate the presentations. The panelists are asked to attend a 30-minute orientation just prior to hearing the presentations.

CVU suggests that parents of seniors not participate as panelists, so that they can watch their children’s presentations.

If interested in being a panelist, contact Community Learning Coordinator MaryAnne Gatos at or 482-7195, or fill out an online form by going to and clicking on the link in the middle of the home page.


Poster children

Williston Central School students Emi Borch and Mary Rutenbeck tied for first place in the middle school category of the Vermont Foreign Language Association’s Poster Contest.

The students were honored at the Statehouse last month. The 2009 VFLA Poster Contest theme was “Communicate Globally, Connect Locally.” Awards were given in three categories: elementary, middle and high school.

Emi Borch is a sixth grade student who is studying French with Madame Michele Choiniere. Mary Rutenbeck is an eighth grade student who is studying French with Madame Deb Laskarzewski.

All winners were greeted by Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie and numerous state representatives and senators.


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Voter survey results to be posted on Web site (4/15/10)

April 15, 2010

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Local voters can see how their fellow residents feel about Champlain Valley Union High School issues when the CVU Board publicizes the results of its voter survey.

CVU Board Chairwoman Jeanne Jensen said she hopes to post the results on the school’s Web site,, in the next week or two.

During its April 13 meeting, the CVU Board discussed the results of an optional survey distributed to voters on Town Meeting Day.

Approximately 600 people took the survey.

Jensen said the survey showed “overwhelming support” of art and world language programs at the school.

“I would certainly be hesitant to cut world languages or arts, because it’s clearly a priority for our community,” Jensen said.

Another major survey topic, which has been discussed in several supervisory unions across Vermont, was school board consolidation.

On the survey, voters were asked if Chittenden South Supervisory Union should condense its seven boards into one. The majority of respondents, approximately 60 percent, were in favor of consolidating.

“Sixty percent in favor is a pretty substantial response,” Jensen said.

On Town Meeting Day, voters approved the merger of four school districts in Addison Northwest Supervisory Union. Two bills in the Vermont Legislature could reduce the number of school districts and supervisory unions.

The survey also showed “lukewarm” support for online courses, Jensen said. She added, however, that many of the comments made it seem that people misinterpreted the question, thinking the board intended to replace in-class lessons with online ones, rather than offer additional courses online.

“That was a learning moment on how to phrase things,” she said.

Board member Jonathan Milne said publicizing the survey could be a way to solicit more responses.

“It is a way of engaging the community in conversation,” he said.


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Williston teachers announce departures (4/15/10)

April 15, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

The Williston School District has at least eight openings to fill for the 2010-2011 school year.

At the School Board meeting on April 7, District Principal Walter Nardelli read a series of letters, each from an educator announcing his or her departure.

Enrichment teacher Richard Allen plans to retire after 42 years with the school district. First and second grade teacher Kathy Dodge of Calliope House also announced her retirement.

Susan Stewart, a third and fourth grade teacher, accepted a position as principal of Monkton Central School. She’ll be replaced by Becky Martell, a first and second grade teacher.

Part-time music teacher Andrea Haulenbeek and full-time special educator Louise Limoge indicated they would not return next school year.

Marcy Foster, a special educator, requested a leave of absence for personal reasons. Family and consumer science teacher Rachel McKnight will be on medical leave for the year, and Harbor House math and science teacher Dominique St. Arnaud requested a leave of absence to spend time with her growing family. She is due to give birth to a second child this summer.

The School Board approved and accepted all of the requests.

“That’s a lot,” School Board member Darlene Worth said, with several other comments in agreement.

Nardelli told the Observer the district typically loses five to eight members of the faculty each year. This year, he said the district is determining if it’s possible to cut back on hiring replacements for any of the full-time faculty while maintaining the existing quality of education.

The district has already advertised to fill Martell’s first and second grade teacher position. Nardelli said the school district received 265 applications for the opening. No one has been hired yet.

For the one-year leave of absences, Nardelli said the district hires replacements on a one-year basis.

“That person knows someone is going to come back and take that position,” Nardelli said.

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Everyday Gourmet (4/15/10)

Hip sips

April 15, 2010

By Kim Dannies

When it comes to cocktails, James Bond and I are definitely on the same page.

In “Casino Royale” 007 declares, “I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well made. I hate small portions of anything.” (To make a 007 Martini: 3 measures Gordon’s gin, 1 of vodka, half measure of Kina Lillet; shake 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, twist of lemon.)

It’s time to retire my winter drink (Perfect Manhattan: 2 measures Marker’s Mark bourbon, 1/2 ounce each red and white vermouth, dash of bitters; shake 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, twist of lemon) in favor of a spring-like celebration libation. I scouted out these cool cocktail recipes currently making the bar rounds. These sips are so good they even make Tax Day seem hip.

English Rose: Cosmos are out — this variation of the classic Martini might be just the thing to sip while you watch your roses bloom. In a shaker filled with ice, add 2 measures gin, 1 ounce dry vermouth, 1 ounce apricot brandy, 1/2 ounce lemon juice and 1 teaspoon grenadine. Shake 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, add a cherry.

Ginger Julep: A cool Derby variation. In a highball glass, muddle a slice of orange, 5 mint leaves and 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup and fresh ginger juice, each. Add 2 measures Kentucky bourbon and chipped ice, stir.

Raspberry Mojitos: For a chic Cinco de Mayo. In a highball glass, muddle 6 fresh mint leaves, 3 whole raspberries, the juice of 1 lime and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Add 2 measures of light rum, stir. Fill the glass with chipped ice; top with splash of club soda.

Bellinis: A Mother’s Day delight. Make a peach puree by peeling 4 ripe peaches. Dice and puree in a food processor. Make a raspberry puree by pureeing 1 cup fresh or frozen berries in a food processor. In tall champagne flutes, place 1 tablespoon of peach puree and 1 teaspoon of raspberry puree. Fill glasses with Prosecco.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to


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Little Details (4/15/10)

Loaded questions

April 15, 2010

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

“Share a story about a time you felt your social class,” our minister invited.

Silence swept the room. We mined our memories. This was a class on social class — a touchy subject in egalitarian America.

“I remember my mother, a widow, a seamstress with a small dress shop … I remember her nervousness when meeting my future in-laws who were wealthier and more highly educated,” one woman said.

She tearfully recounted her relief when her prospective father-in-law warmly welcomed her mother into the family fold. This daughter of a seamstress would rise to state senator, fiercely advocating for Vermont’s underprivileged in Montpelier’s hallowed halls.

Another classmate, a retiree who qualified for Section 8 — affordable housing — recounted telephoning a senior community in Shelburne to ask if they’d accept his certificate. With monthly fees alone far exceeding his means, he was out of luck. The leafy life care retirement community seemed beyond his reach. He mentioned how some Burlington seniors — poorer ones — felt more comfortable eating meals at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf than the senior center. Socioeconomics separates in ways age cannot.

I shared a story from my arrival in Vermont in 1991. Hired as an associate director at a Vermont higher education institution, I was trained by my predecessor, a confident graduate of an elite college. The state college I worked my way through was definitely “minor league” by comparison. While in her office, she took a call from her father. The half of the conversation I heard went something like this:

“You’re where? New York City?” she laughed. “You’re calling from a limo?” The banter continued as I sat in what would soon be my office.

Long before the proliferation of cell phones, car phones demonstrated extravagance. Call concluded, she turned to me and said, “That was my dad calling from New York. He’s there on business. … What does your father do?”

A sense of surprise and unease welled up inside me.

“My father is a school custodian,” I said, hesitantly.

“Oh,” she responded, unimpressed, and returned to work conversation.

Did she think less of me because my father’s profession involved mopping floors and cleaning toilets? Did she have a clue what she was asking? I felt angry she’d ask such a question. What did my father’s job have to do with anything? Should I have explained his education was interrupted by war and imprisonment as a teenager in a Nazi slave labor camp? Would she care he came to America a refugee, working two and three jobs to put food on the table? Could she possibly understand he took a janitor job at 64 when the factory closed and my sister, still in college, needed health benefits? Her question made me feel smaller. She played the class card, unmasking my lower status.

My roommate in college was friendly, outgoing and not exactly “academically oriented.” We got along well enough. I lived in the dorm Monday to Friday, travelling home to work on weekends.

Her father, a suited salesman who wore too much cologne, slipped into town periodically. He’d treat her to dinner and drop a thick wad of bills. She gleefully worked through the stash over the next several nights, going out to bars. I might have done the same — if I walked in her sandals.

I was often in our room studying when “Dad” arrived. During one visit, her father cast a glance toward me and asked with a hint of sarcasm, “Kathy, why don’t you go out and have some fun? You study too much.”

My weak response was something about how I had to work in addition to attending school. The door shut behind them. Tears of anger — at his cruelty — rolled down my cheeks as I redirected myself to my schoolwork.

Each Friday, I’d take a bus to a train to a bus to get home to my restaurant job. I’d reverse the jaunt early Monday mornings to get to my on-campus Work Study job before class. Travelling Route 9 near Boston, I passed Wellesley College on my to and fro journey. I often stared at the sign, wondering what it might be like to attend a fancy school like that. Wellesley felt as unattainable as Mars.

It’s human to ask each other questions. It’s a way to get to know someone, to demonstrate interest. It’s also a way — if you’re of a certain persuasion — to assess pedigree, or lack thereof. For folks from socioeconomically disadvantaged circumstances, these can be emotionally loaded questions.

When getting to know others, I am most curious about “the hand” they were dealt in life and what they’ve chosen to do with it. Pedigree has its advantages — but so does a lack, thereof.


Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston. Reader comments are welcome at or


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Letters to the Editor (4/15/10)

April 15, 2010


Health care for the people

I would like to respond to the letter “Energy and health” in the March 25 edition of the Observer. “One day,” the writer said, “our health care system can be just like (Cuba’s).”

In Cuba, unlike America, every citizen has access to health care and pharmaceuticals at costs that do not break them apart. No one goes bankrupt because of a medical problem; no one is denied or thrown off of health insurance because of an illness or pre-existing condition. There is no such thing as a 40 percent increase in health insurance premiums such as Wellpoint inflicted on California this year. There are no health insurance CEOs reaping millions a year in salaries as their companies take in record profits while thousands of Americans lose their insurance and tens of thousands die annually because they cannot afford any health care.

While no great fan of Fidel, I wonder what the author finds wrong with this type of health care system and why it would be such a bad thing if ours came to resemble theirs in some ways. It is not the best in the world, nor the worst. It is, however, far better than what the Cuban people had under Fulgenico Batista, the brutal dictator and American puppet who raped the country before Castro’s revolution got rid of him.

The Cuban system has accomplished something America cannot yet bring itself to do: cover all of its citizens. What, exactly, is so terribly wrong with that?

Walter Carpenter, Montpelier


Drug accusations ‘off base’

In the April 1 Observer, Champlain Valley Union High School was accused of having a “rampant” drug problem, and the administration was said to “nearly encourage” it (Letters to the Editor, “Drugs at CVU”).

As a senior at CVU, I found these accusations to be offensive and very off base. I have spent four years walking those halls, and I have found CVU to be the complete opposite of the picture painted in the aforementioned letter. I have never seen a drug deal occur in the hallway, or a teacher allow an intoxicated student to walk free. Obviously I could have missed something, but I have talked to many students and faculty members in the past week who agree with me that these attacks on the CVU community are completely unwarranted and false.

CVU is one of the best schools in the state. We consistently do well on standardized tests, many of our students go on to incredible colleges and overall the CVU community is incredibly caring.

Although CVU is a great school, we cannot allow ourselves to be naïve. It is high school, and we have to expect some drug use from students. But to say the administration does nothing about it is completely untrue. From the first days of class freshman year, students are taught the dangers and consequences of drug use. Dealing drugs can result in immediate expulsion, and being caught using drugs or alcohol can get kids suspended from school and sports. The faculty really cares about each and every kid, and the vast majority of the students really care about the school.

I want this message to get to the parents and future students at CVU. CVU is an extraordinary school, not some drug emporium. Spend a day here and you will understand that our students are not drug abusing delinquents, but friendly, thoughtful kids. Please learn the facts next time before you insult a whole community.

Chris Beaton, CVU Student Council president


Poor science

Most government intrusion into our peaceful pursuits is based on junk science and junk economics. Politicians know this, so do reporters. But to listen to them you wouldn’t think so.

Why then does Vermont heavily subsidize both solar and wind generation of electrical power? Both are expensive and are not capable of providing for our electrical needs. If you remove the words “solar and wind” and insert “nuclear” you end up with Republican rather than a Democratic mantra. Why did Obama have to guarantee 100 percent of the loans on a few new nuclear power plants in Georgia? Because if it made financial sense then somebody else would have been willing to finance them. Nuclear is about as affordable as solar and wind power are clean. We are all forced by our government to pay for energy production that is financially foolish. Why do we put up with this? That road leads you toward government dependence and away from energy independence. How much more forced ruinous economic behavior can we afford?

People are ignorant enough about basic science to be easily bamboozled into banning incandescent bulbs and plastic bags as solutions to serious energy and pollution issues. They don’t come anywhere close to fixing problems yet politicians croon about the necessity of giving us the foul tasting medicine.

We consume 15 million barrels of oil daily. We produce 5 million. Unfortunately, no amount of local drilling is going come close to filling that gap. Cranking up taxes or building a “smart grid” that permits the government to regulate the temperature inside my house won’t cure energy woes.

Perhaps we can get those politicians to address the most dangerous greenhouse gas of them all — the dreaded dihydrogen monoxide. Ban it before it is too late!

Shelley Palmer, Williston


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Guest Column (4/15/10)

Your lifestyle, your legacy

April 15, 2010

By Dr. Bill Schenck

Each generation leaves a legacy.

The “Greatest Generation’s” legacy was victory in World War II and the boom of the 1950s. What will our legacy be? Twitter? Blogs? Unfortunately, our legacy is that our children will have a shorter life span than our own. This is the first time in history that a generation is being set up for evolutionary failure.

What truly scares me though is the lack of urgency to fix this problem. The root of this epic issue is childhood obesity, an epidemic that is sweeping our nation and quite literally weighing us down financially, emotionally and intellectually. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the prevalence of obese children from 1980 to 2002 has more than doubled for 6- to 11-year-olds, and more than tripled for 12- to 19-year-olds.

But what does this mean? Obesity is considered a low-grade, systemic inflammatory disease. Inflammation is the underlying cause of most of our health problems — from dandruff to heart disease. An obese child has a higher risk for almost every health issue, including diabetes and many forms of cancer.

So what do we do? Well, we do a lot. And most importantly we do it right now. The good news is that we know exactly what is causing this epidemic. Our lifestyle choices are raising a generation of malnourished children who prefer the ease of Cheetos and television to the more appropriate youthful choices of apples and playtime. Since lifestyles are created over many years and by a series of choices, they are difficult to reverse. We no longer have the luxury of believing lifestyle change is too complicated. Instead, let us focus on what we can do right now. If we do a few things right in the short term, the long-term outlook can change in profound ways.

I have dedicated the past 20 years of my life to learning about disease prevention and healthy lifestyle choices. There is more than enough information available for us to be responsible leaders of health in our families. I understand where to start can be overwhelming, so my suggestion is this: start simple and lead by example. If you do those two things, we can save our kids — and ourselves — in the process.

First, let your kids play. Open your doors and have them run around; they are born to do this. After playing, make sure they are rewarded with water, healthy snacks and a balanced diet. Trust me, as a parent of four children, they will eat whatever you put in front of them! The American food supply is currently inundated with health-robbing “foods” high in sugar and bad fats. Some “foods” are not actually food as they lack the nutrients to help sustain life. High fructose corn syrup, found on many labels, is a substance our bodies simply were not made to consume. Instead, give children a variety of foods — the more colors on their plate, the better! Put a big emphasis on fruit, veggies, protein and legumes.

Give your kids water. Lots of water. Soda and lack of proper water consumption are leading causes of obesity and a quick fix in your household. Start by giving them a quart of water a day and work up to half their body weight in ounces each day. And, if we are not doing it ourselves, surely we cannot expect our kids to do it.

Finally, look around your house. There are numerous lifestyle choice triggers in your house you are passing on to your children from your cupboards to your medicine cabinet. Over the next few weeks, as we all do our spring cleaning and find ourselves throwing things out, I encourage you to extend this process to your kitchen cupboards. If it says “high fructose corn syrup” on the label, throw it out. If it is not real food, throw it out. I understand for many this can be scary and I truly can appreciate that. But please, do your children the favor of remembering that your lifestyle is your legacy.


Dr. Bill Schenck has more than 20 years of experience in preventative health, including chiropractic, nutrition, neurology and active rehabilitation. He practices at Schenck Chiropractic in Williston. Dr. Schenck can be reached at or 802-878-8330.


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Suspicious man targets children (4/15/10)

April 15, 2010

Police are trying to identify a suspicious man who has been spotted in town. On April 1, police said, the man was reportedly “watching children” near the tennis courts and pool in the Southridge development. On April 5, it was reported that a man jumped out of the bushes at two elementary school girls on the bike path near Old Stage Road. Later that day, he was seen on Metcalf Road riding a bicycle, according to police reports.

The man is described as “older with a graying beard and straggly hair,” according to the report. He may have glasses and be wearing a Boston Red Sox hat, dark shirt or sweater and possibly riding a bicycle.

Anyone with information should contact police at 878-6611.


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New Web site connects Vermont teens (4/15/10)

April 15, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

With hip-hop beats thumping through the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground on Friday night, dozens of teens and young adults crowded in front of the stage, where DJ ZJ of the Lab worked a set of turntables.


    Courtesy photo by Ali Desautels
DJs from The Lab play music at the launch party, held Friday night at Higher Ground.

The crowd had come out to the South Burlington venue for the launch party of, a new Web site aimed at Vermont’s teens and young adults. Williston Publishing and Promotions LLC, the same company that owns the Observer, put Firefly online in January. Last week’s party marked the first major effort to notify Vermont teens of the new site.

“There were quite a few people there,” said Stephanie Choate, the Web site’s editor. “It was really good in terms of getting the word out.”

Firefly has been in the works for nearly two years, with Williston Publishing organizing focus groups and visiting with high school and college students throughout Vermont.

“We saw a need for a hub where teens and young adults could connect and share information and more about what matters to them,” publisher Marianne Apfelbaum wrote in an e-mail.

The Web site primarily targets Vermonters between the ages of 16 and 19. Firefly visitors are, theoretically, Firefly contributors. Though Choate currently creates a good portion of the content — and at 23 admits, “I was in high school not that long ago” — she also reviews submitted content to ensure the site doesn’t host inappropriate material.

Content ranges from movie and music reviews to high school sports scores to art. A calendar section highlights events happening throughout the state.

“Pretty much everything on the site is a direct result of feedback we got from young adults,” said Choate, who also works as a reporter for the Observer and The Charlotte Citizen, another community newspaper owned by Williston Publishing.

As the Web site describes, “Firefly is a community where Vermont’s young adults can download their lives and show the world more than a thing or two about what’s important to them. It’s a place where they can get local news about people their age and see what they’re up to. … Ultimately, Firefly is a place where Vermont’s young adults can be heard.”

Right now, Choate said, Firefly has a few regular contributors at local high schools, as well as one from the University of Vermont. The students aren’t paid, though Choate and Apfelbaum said the experience of being published can help with finding jobs or internships.

In time, Choate hopes to have teens and young adults generate the majority of Firefly’s content.

“We hope that as more people find out (about Firefly) we’ll get more submissions,” Choate said.

Since Jan. 1, 1,375 individual visitors have clicked on, according to data provided by Special Projects Manager Sue Duke. The launch party, which drew almost 200 people, was one way to spread the word about the new site. That weekend, from April 9 to April 11, 118 unique visitors went to

“(A) great group of young people came out to have fun and celebrate,” Apfelbaum said of the party. “They really rallied around the concept of this Web site and that it is designed just for them!”


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