September 22, 2014

Right to the Point (5/20/10)

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Do your duty in all things

May 20, 2010

By Mike Benevento

Before reading today’s column, please know that this is my final “Right to the Point” article. For more than two years, I have taken pleasure in sharing my thoughts, principles and hopes with you. Thanks for perusing this column every other week. I hope you enjoyed it.

I am stepping down in order to seek election as one of Williston’s two representatives to the Vermont House. Continuing to write a conservative column while campaigning would give me an unfair advantage.

So, now is the time to give someone else a chance to write the column — perhaps even you. Please contact the Observer if you are interested in taking over.

If you are a Williston resident, please strongly consider voting for me in November. My goal is to represent all Willistonians — no matter what their political leanings are. Together, we can work for a better Vermont.

Prior to concluding my prologue, special thanks go to Calvin, Matthew and Kristine for their support. Without my family’s patience and help, I would not have been as successful these past two-plus years.

- – - – -

During my college days at the Air Force Academy — along with averaging 21 semester hours, playing sports, daily inspections and marching everywhere — I had to memorize many quotations.

My favorite was from Gen. Robert E. Lee: “Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more; you should never wish to do less.”

Duty is sublime — it is uplifting and awe-inspiring. Duty is not about tooting one’s horn or trying to impress. It involves quietly performing what is expected and fulfilling our obligations.

We should strive to live as Gen. Lee directed — doing our duty in all things.

Most anyone can do the effortless tasks and make simple choices. However, we need to go beyond that. We need to do the dirty work. Do the right thing. Do our duty.

It’s easy to neglect responsibilities, especially when they seem mundane. Nevertheless, these duties are necessary. For example: doing the dishes after a long workday, reading your children a book, watching their soccer match, volunteering for a charity, writing letters to a distant relative, emptying the cat litter and voting. All are perhaps boring and unglamorous — but important.

In America, plenty of families are falling apart because members are not doing their duty. Many things have worked in concert to hasten the family’s decline. They include higher living costs and taxes, two working parents, sliding educational standards, declining spirituality and slouching societal mores. These and many more pressures help tear down family structures. The biggest influence, however, is the abrogation of men from their fatherhood duties.

For the most part, women are the glue holding broken families together. Unlike a portion of fathers, most mothers have not left their children. Instead, these women chug along doing their duty — the hard work of raising children properly— while many fathers avoid being a “dad.”

Now, I realize that the last sweeping observation does not accurately describe every family. There are many single-parent families caused by a spouse’s premature death or led by fathers, same-sex co-heads and joint custody relationships working out fine. I am not talking about individual families, but discussing families on a macro level.

In America, about half the children are raised out of wedlock or live in single-parent homes. The numbers are more staggering for various minorities — some are approaching three out of four. Especially in inner cities, a stereotype finds young men impregnating young women, dumping them and shirking their responsibilities. Unfortunately, children of these fatherless families have less of a chance at a successful life.

Studies show that children raised in single-parent families are more likely to drop out of school, earn less pay, have higher divorce rates, are more prone toward violence and are more likely to have children out of wedlock — thus perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Hillary Clinton believes that it takes a village to raise a child. I disagree. It should only take a family. Sadly, because all too many fathers have abandoned their responsibilities, governments and villages feel obligated to step in and fill the gap.

We all work harder and harder for less and less pay. There never seems to be enough time to finish our “To Do” lists. Despite this, we need to remember that we have many important duties that we should all strive to complete. Simply being a very good family member is perhaps the most important of them all.

 

Michael Benevento has a bachelor’s degree from the United States Air Force Academy and a master’s from Troy State University. He and his wife Kristine reside in Williston with their sons Matthew and Calvin. Please send comments to [email protected]

 


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Liberally Speaking (5/20/10)

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Nuclear: The life-saving alternative?

May 20, 2010

By Steve Mount

You may or may not have ever heard of Adam Carolla — he’s a radio personality who also hosted The Man Show on cable’s Comedy Central and co-hosted Loveline, a sex and relationship advice show, with Dr. Drew Pinsky. Recently, tech Web site Gizmodo.com asked Carolla his opinions on a topic I’ve written about here before: nuclear power.

Normally, I would not use someone like Carolla as entree into a column topic, but what he had to say, in just a few minutes, was spot-on (though crude — if you look for Carolla’s video at Gizmodo, be sure to watch once the kids are in bed).

The interview was posted days after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and a month after the Massey coal mine disaster in West Virginia. Regarding nuclear power, Carolla asks this pointed question: after 11 people died drilling for oil and nearly 30 died digging for coal in just the last month, exactly how many people have died producing nuclear power in the United States in the past month, or year or decade?

His answer is zero. If we were to choose a way to produce power solely on the safety of the workers behind that power, nuclear is the clear choice.

Now, Carolla was riffing, and didn’t stop to think that uranium is also mined (albeit by non-Americans). There are dangers to uranium mining, not the least of which is exposure to radioactive dust and radon gas. But these are risks that can (and should) be mitigated. Coal miners, though, are never quite sure if they will emerge from the mine when they make their way in.

Environmentally, the threat posed by offshore oil drilling is no longer just a threat — it is about as real as it can get. So real, in fact, that President Obama is having second thoughts about his plans to allow more such drilling, as is California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Coal mining is no friend of the environment either, especially when the mountaintop removal method is used. Just think about that — removal of a mountaintop so we can burn the coal that the mountain is made of.

There are dangers, to be sure, in nuclear power. The last two years of news out of Vermont Yankee show that mistakes can and will be made; this is not to mention Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. These lessons cannot be forgotten.

These are, however, extreme examples. Given what we have learned since the last nuclear power plant in the United States came on line in 1996, and what other countries have learned, we know we can build safe, effective plants that can not only produce massive amounts of power in a relatively small space, but which can also reuse their own fuel, recycling it instead of sending if off for permanent storage.

Our power needs are growing and will continue to grow. Just imagine if electricity was clean, bountiful and cheap. Just imagine quantum-leap discoveries in battery technology that would make the electric car ubiquitous. Just imagine if we no longer need fossil fuels to produce electricity or run our cars.

If we redouble our efforts to bolster our reliance on renewables, continuing to improve solar cell efficiency and continuing to build wind farms in the right places, that will help. But what will also help is for we, as a nation, to decide that nuclear power must be a part of that future, too.

- – - – -

I want to take this opportunity to bid farewell, on these pages, to Mike Benevento. I have had the pleasure of writing opposite him for a year. Our point and counterpoint columns have reaffirmed to me that it not only possible to have civil discussions about matters we disagree on, it is absolutely essential.

In the end, we share a love for this country and its democracy. We both know that there are a few things that are essential to our freedoms: a free press, freedom of expression, freedom of speech and a system of government that allows for the peaceful and orderly transfer of power. Most likely, you reading this also share these values.

I look forward to debating the finer points of politics and the world with someone new. But be warned — you do have some large shoes to fill.

 

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 [email protected] or read his blog at http://saltyrain.com/ls.

 


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Letters to the Editor (5/20/10)

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May 20, 2010

 

Bring Pickleball to Williston

I notice in reading about the new recreation area planned for the Allen Brook area (“Board approves recreation park,” May 13) that tennis courts are a future consideration. I wonder if the Recreation Committee has determined if there is a real need for this investment. My observation of tennis courts in every municipality is that they are an underutilized facility. Do we really need them and are there alternatives?

Essex is currently introducing Pickleball in their recreation program and this makes sense for many reasons. For one, Pickleball can be played within a wide age range, from 8 to 80. Also, the skill level required is not as great as tennis, and doubles is a very common Pickleball game. It was introduced in Seattle, and many northern tier states such as Michigan and upstate New York have active Pickleball programs. Building separate Pickleball courts from tennis courts makes sense because the configurations are different and more Pickleball courts can be fit into the same area as tennis courts.

If we have sufficient tennis courts, I suggest we give a serious look to introducing Pickleball in Williston. It is definitely a growing sport.

Jerry Huetz, Williston

 

Nero fiddled

Financial intervention (more debt) isn’t the solution. It is about numbers. The welfare states of Europe cannot sustain their finances. As their financial world contracts the imbalance increases exponentially as does ours. A carefully balanced system that props up French farmers and the British medical system (the world’s third largest employer after the Chinese army and the Indian rail system) will soon be gone. The unions refuse to permit cutting wages and people are still retiring at age 53 in Greece.

What will step in to fill this void? It isn’t going to be the Americans this time. We are broke and living on unbacked securities. Besides, we are in the process of shutting down our energy and transportation sectors, which will make producing enough food to feed ourselves rather difficult.

The United States has more oil in the ground than the Middle East does. The Bakken formation in the Williston Basin located in Montana, North Dakota and parts of southern Canada has been recently upgraded by the U.S. Geological Survey to contain as much as 500 billion barrels of recoverable light sweet crude due to advances in drilling technologies. Why do we direct our attention to failed offshore drilling when we know where our energy future lies? Why send $700 billion overseas yearly when we can meet our own energy needs, right here, right now? Current research shows another 2 trillion barrels of oil 1,000 feet below the Rocky Mountains. Drill or doodle?

Shelley Palmer, Williston

 

Safety needed at Tower Lane and U.S. 2

We haven’t lived here very long, but it is impossible to get out of Tower Lane in the a.m. and also early evening. Those are the worse times.

I heard there have been many, many accidents, thankfully no deaths but that will happen.

Can we take care of this before any tragedy happens?

Just a four-way stop would help.

Please and thank you.

Marilyn Luchini, Williston

 


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Guest Column (5/20/10)

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Leash your pets

May 20, 2010

By Pamela Boutin-Adams

I have lived in Williston for more than 10 years and have been fortunate to be able to enjoy the bike path each day. I have to say, I wonder where most people’s common sense has gone. I guess you could say it has been on a long, long vacation!

The town of Williston has a leash law and every day it ceases to amaze me that people do not take it to apply to them. I really do not believe the town wrote this law to only apply to certain people, like the ones that say, “But my dog is friendly” or “I forgot my leash” or “My dog needs to run.” I have heard every possible excuse for not having a dog on a leash.

There are so many places that you could take your dog to let it run freely: behind Ben & Jerry’s, Patchen Road dog park, woods behind Lake Iroquois. Even do what I do — I take my guys to The Crate Escape once a week and they run and play all day long.

The bike path is for all to enjoy — kids, roller bladers, bikers, walkers, runners and, yes, even dog walkers. I have both of my dogs on leash at all times. I would not think of letting them run loose, yet every time I am at the park I see people open their car doors and let the dogs run loose with no regard to the town law. I do note that when I walk on the sidewalk in town, people do have their dogs on a leash. Those must be the common sense people.

Last fall, I walked at the park each day after having knee surgery; note I was without my dogs and walking with a cane and people were letting their dogs run up to me and almost knock me over. Like I said at the beginning, where is people’s common sense? This is a public park and bike path, not your personal dog-run-loose area, nor your dog poop area.

Now I won’t even get into all the dogs messes that are NOT picked up and the town does provide bags for us to do so. So come on people, please be considerate of other people and follow the laws of the town.

 

Pamela Boutin-Adams lives in Williston.

 


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Around Town (5/20/10)

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May 20, 2010

 

Daycare expansion approved

Sports & Fitness Edge has permission to expand its daycare service.

Based on plans for the project, the expansion would convert a field used for tennis, basketball and other sports into child care space. Club manager Laurie Adams has said the change would expand Sports & Fitness Edge’s childcare facility by 12,000 feet and double the number of kids the facility can accommodate. Approximately 80 children are currently in the daycare.

The Development Review Board approved the expansion by a 5-2 vote on May 11. Planning Director Ken Belliveau said the approval came with conditions to improve a nonconforming parking lot and add lighting to the parking area.

 

United Way honors Williston resident

Cynthia Goodrich of Williston has been named United Way of Chittenden County’s Keyperson of the Year. Goodrich won the award at the United Way’s annual dinner and community awards celebration held earlier this month.

Goodrich received the award for leading a United Way campaign at her workplace, the law firm Paul Frank + Collins. The Keyperson of the Year award is United Way’s highest individual campaign award.

“This year’s Keyperson of the Year stood out from all the others because she not only motivated a committee to be as enthusiastic as she was, she brought stories of real need in the community to everyone in her firm,” said John Cronin, community campaign manager for United Way, according to a press release from the organization.

 

Environmental scholarship goes to Shaw

Kathryn Shaw, a Williston resident and graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School, received the town’s 2010 Environmental Scholarship Award.

The Selectboard recognized Shaw at a meeting on Monday night. The scholarship is for $5,000. The town established the scholarship approximately 20 years ago to support students pursuing an education in environmental studies.

Shaw studies environmental science and history at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where she will be a senior in the fall.

 


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Williston resident opens sports grill and bar (5/20/10)

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Buffalo Wild Wings coming to Burlington

May 20, 2010

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

A restaurant industry veteran and a former National Hockey League player are combining their skills to open a sports grill and bar next week.

 


    Observer photo by Stephanie Choate
Restaurant co-owners Martti Matheson (left), and Aaron Miller stand with Miller’s Olympic jersey in the new Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar.

“Anybody that has a pulse and enjoys beer, wings and sports is going to be here,” Williston resident Martti Matheson said. “New Englanders bleed sports.”

Matheson and his longtime friend Aaron Miller are set to open Buffalo Wild Wings on Shelburne Road in Burlington on May 24. The restaurant is one of nearly 700 nationwide.

“I think there’s a void for something like this,” Miller said. “You look at the chain-type restaurants that do well here, (Buffalo Wild Wings) is that on steroids.”

Matheson has been in the food and nightlife industry since college. He owns Red Square in Burlington and Green Mountain Bar Service, a catering company.

Miller’s background is in sports. He played in the NHL for 15 years for Colorado, Los Angeles and Vancouver, retiring two years ago. He was also on the 2002 Olympic team, where he won a silver medal.

Matheson said the idea to open the restaurant started a few years ago.

“It always came up, where do we go to eat and where do we go to watch the game?” Matheson said. “It’s always a restaurant or always a bar. There’s not really the perfect combination. This definitely brings it to a different level.”

After researching a few options, the pair began talking with Buffalo Wild Wings about two years ago.

Matheson and Miller plan to open three more locations in New Hampshire over the next four years, with the first one planned for 2012 or earlier.

Buffalo Wild Wings will take over the building that housed T.G.I. Friday’s at 555 Shelburne Road in Burlington. Matheson and Miller renovated the entire building.

“There’s nothing other than some steel and brick that is here from the old building,” Matheson said.

The restaurant will have between 40 and 50 televisions, including screens in the bathrooms and on the patio. The restaurant will show national and international games, as well as some local sports.

“You name it, it’ll be here,” Matheson said.

Miller said the draw of Buffalo Wild Wings is simple.

“Beer, wings and sports,” he said. “Pretty much that’s what it’s all about.”

 


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Missing sidewalk closer to completion (5/20/10)

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May 20, 2010

The long-awaited sidewalk on Old Stage Road near Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market, which would complete the rec path loop around Williston Village, is one step closer to completion.

Lamoureux & Dickinson Consulting Engineers are working on the design, which is a bit challenging due to wetlands in the area, according to Lisa Sheltra at the public works department. Sheltra said the design work is being paid for with a grant the town received last year.

Sheltra is finishing another grant application that she hopes will pay for the actual construction of the sidewalk. The deadline for the application is May 28. Sheltra said residents can send her letters in support of the project, noting it is helpful in persuading officials that the sidewalk is important to the community in terms of convenience and safety.

The stretch of Old Stage Road between Wildflower Circle and Adams Farm Market is a popular area for bikers and joggers, but lacks a shoulder on either side of the road.

Letters pertaining to the sidewalk project should be mailed or dropped off prior to May 28 to Williston Office of Public Works, 7900 Williston Road, Williston, Vt. 05495. If the grant or other funding is secured, the sidewalk could be constructed next spring, Sheltra said.

 

— Marianne Apfelbaum, Observer staff

 


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Exploring the history of North Williston (5/20/10)

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May 20, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

Nowadays, it’s not difficult to pinpoint Williston’s economic base as the areas around Taft Corners and Maple Tree Place. What many residents may not know, however, is that more than a century ago most of the town’s business was located in now sleepy North Williston.

This weekend, with support from the Williston Historical Society, Richard Allen will lead residents on a photographic and walking tour of North Williston’s past.

Allen, a history buff, drives through North Williston twice a day as he travels between his home in Essex and his job as an enrichment teacher in the Williston School District.

“North Williston caught my eye because there’s such a unique history,” Allen said. “It’s sort of a separate part of town. It still is, geographically separate. You go down the hill … and there’s a feeling of being out of suburban Williston.”

Allen said he was at a Historical Society meeting in 1990 when residents shared memories of North Williston. The stories intrigued him, and in recent years he began doing more thorough research about the history of North Williston with the thought of writing a book on the area. On Saturday, he will share the results of his research with the public in a presentation called “Smith Wright, Williston Businessman, and the Development of North Williston.”

“North Williston, basically, from when the railroad came through in 1849 through the latter half of the 1800s, was the economic engine of Williston,” Allen said.

A two-lane covered bridge over the Winooski River opened in 1860, Allen said, connecting North Williston to Essex and Jericho and further stimulating economic growth.

Though North Williston never supported a large population, in the second half of the 1800s it served as a commercial hub, with a woodworking plant, blacksmith shop, a cold storage plant and other businesses.

A man named Smith Wright, along with his sons, owned the cold storage plant. Allen said Wright had branches in Minnesota and Iowa, and shipped to Boston, New York and other locations in the Northeast.

“The first half of the slideshow zeroes in on him and his life,” Allen said.

Allen found much of his information from documents stored at the home of Jim McCullough, a native Willistonian and great-grandson of Wright. McCullough, who admitted, “My family never throws anything away,” still lives in the house once occupied by Wright. The attic of the home is full of thousands of pages of historical documents, McCullough said, including a few trunks containing business records from Wright’s business.

“Dick (Allen) came, we’d hump a box out of the attic, he’d take it home and go through it,” McCullough said. “He’d bring it back and we’d hump another box out.”

While Allen’s presentation will focus on the Williston of more than a century ago, he still sees similarities to today’s community. In the 1800s, Williston’s economic base centered on the railway and a link to towns north of the Winooski River; today, many of the town’s businesses sit just off Interstate 89.

As Allen said, “The industrial growth, the commercial growth is reflective of the changing transportation modes.”

Richard Allen’s presentation, “Smith Wright, Williston Businessman, and the Development of North Williston,” is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at May 22 at the Old Brick Church in Williston Village. For more information, call Allen at 878-3853.


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School district posts satisfaction survey online (5/20/10)

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May 20, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

It’s that time of the year again, when parents of Williston students can fill out an annual survey that asks about satisfaction with the town’s school district.

This year, the questions touch upon everything from school climate to curriculum to school communication. The questions are similar to those from last year’s survey.

District Principal Walter Nardelli said the survey has been offered for years, since before he joined the school system five years ago.

Nardelli noted that house-specific questions may not be overly helpful for modifying practices next school year, as the district is reorganizing its classroom structures for the fall. Still, he said the administration uses the results of the survey to analyze the entire school.

“We (the administration) look at it, teachers look at it. Everybody sees it through a different lens, has a different take on it,” Nardelli said.

Parents have until May 28 to fill out the survey, which is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/XNFZWZS.

The survey has 12 sections. The first three ask about a child’s grade level, which academic house he or she belongs to and the number of years a parent has had a child in the house.

Subsequent sections include questions about parent satisfaction with teachers, academic development, curriculum and school communication. The multiple choice format for responses ranges from “Very satisfied” to “Very dissatisfied” with an option for “Don’t know or N/A.”

The survey includes two open-ended questions: “What would be the one area you would change if you could” and “Additional comments.”

The practice of releasing an annual survey to gain parent feedback is spreading across all of Chittenden South Supervisory Union. Cindy Koenemann-Warren, director of human resources in CSSU, said the supervisory union is adopting Williston’s survey model for other schools.

Hinesburg and Shelburne are likely to launch a survey this spring, Cindy Koenemann-Warren said. Surveys for Charlotte Central School and Champlain Valley Union High School are expected to take longer to unveil.

The surveys will follow a format similar to Williston’s, though individual schools may tweak aspects of the survey to fit their own needs and academic structures.

“We’re relying heavily on their expertise and experience,” Koenemann-Warren said of Williston.

She said the surveys will help evaluate teachers as well as schools, and will also help gauge trends taking place across the supervisory union.

 


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Armadillos drop season opener (5/13/10)

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Team rebounds against Newport

May 13, 2010

The Armadillos, Williston’s team in the Vermont Senior Baseball League, dropped their season opener, 7-5, on April 26 in Woodstock.

The loss came despite Williston outhitting its opponents, the Killington Saints, 12 to 6. The Dillos’ offense was led by center fielder Ray Danis (3-4, run), left fielder Reid Crosby (2-3, BB, run) and pitcher Pat “Pookie” Martin (2-4, run, RBI).

On the mound, Martin (0-1) got the start for Williston, but was plagued by wildness. Martin threw four innings, giving up seven runs, five of which were earned, on six hits and five walks. He recorded two strikeouts. Greg Bolger threw the final four innings for Williston, giving up no runs on one hit and one walk while striking out four.

In the second frame, Killington capitalized on three walks, followed by two singles and an error to take a 3-0 lead.

Williston went up by one in the top of the fourth as the Dillos bounced back with five runs. After Danis singled and Crosby was hit by a pitch, Martin, Bolger (1-3, run, RBI), first baseman Pete Picard (1-4, run, RBI) and catcher Darby Crum (1-4, RBI) singled in succession, each bringing home a runner. Right fielder Billy Daw (1-3) walked to load the bases and second baseman Dennis Arnold (1-3, RBI) singled to bring home Picard.

Martin, however, was unable to hold the lead. Killington plated four more runs in the bottom of the fourth on four hits, three of which were for extra bases, and a hit batsman. While Bolger was nearly flawless in relief, the Dillos’ offense was unable to mount a further comeback.

On May 2, the Dillos prevailed 4-1 in their home opener against Newport, which went to the championship game last season. The team’s offense, which again rapped out 12 hits, was led by Danis (2-4), Bolger (2-4, 2B, RBI), third baseman Jesse Stein (2-4, 2B, RBI) and Crosby (2-3).

Bill Supple started on the mound for the Dillos, going 5 1/3 innings, rendering one unearned run on three hits and four walks, while striking out two. Bolger (1-0) pitched the last 3 2/3 innings, giving up no runs, one hit and striking out two.

Newport scored their sole run in the third on two singles, a walk and an error by Stein at third. That lead stood until the eighth, when the Armadillos scored all four of their runs. Following three straight singles by left fielder Dan Morse (1-1, BB, sac, run), first baseman Ted DiGrande (1-3, run) and Scott Hill (1-3, run), Supple was hit by a pitch to force home a run. Bolger plated another on a sacrifice fly and when the throw trying to get the advancing runner got away, another run scored. Stein then singled home Supple to round out the scoring.

From there, Bolger recorded a one-two-three ninth inning to get his first win of the season.

On May 16, Williston will host 2-0 Mad River Valley. Game time is noon.

League standings and individual and team statistics are online at www.scorebook.com. Enter “Vermont Senior Baseball League” under league name search.


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