May 27, 2018

Everyday Gourmet (5/13/10)

Spring Fickle Food

May 13, 2010

By Kim Dannies

Sure, spring is here, but the wise cook always has a warming dish in their meal repertoire for crazy rainy nights or sudden snowstorms. A vegetable risotto spiked with creamy goat cheese is just the thing for healthy comfort food when the weather is making you cranky. It is simple to do and the ingredient combinations are unlimited.

I’m using spring veggies for this recipe, but feel free to create a new dish with leftover sweet bell peppers, onions, celery or proteins such as chicken, pork and seafood. You will find arborio rice in your supermarket. This Italian grown short-grain rice is full of starch, which gives risotto its classic creamy texture.

Spring Vegetable & Goat Cheese Risotto

Choose a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium high. Add 1 cup of sliced Crimini mushrooms and sauté until golden, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup arborio rice and toast the rice until golden, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup finely diced spring onion and 3 minced garlic cloves. Heat 4 cups of vegetable stock in the microwave. Slowly add the hot stock to the rice by the cup, incorporating and stirring as you go over a 15-minute period (I use a heatproof rubber spatula for stirring). When the batch is nice and creamy, the rice is al dente. Add 6 asparagus spears that have been sliced into 1-inch pieces; 2 cups shitake mushrooms de-stemmed and sliced in halves; 10 small fiddlehead ferns or a bunch of spring spinach, or both. Cover and turn off heat. Let the risotto set for 5 minutes. Gently fold in 4 ounces of creamy goat cheese. Season the risotto with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve on warmed plates and top with freshly chopped chives. Serves 2 generously, or 4 side servings.

For more light comfort food, visit my Web site, Go to Everyday Gourmet and click on 2008, March: Here Comes the Sun Corn Chowder. 2006, May: Greek Seafood Pasta. 2005, April: Deli Shrimp & Tortellini.

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 (5/13/10)

Semester’s end

May 13, 2010

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

The e-mail was short and decidedly sweet: “I just wanted you to know I graduated and got my degree. Thanks for all of your help.”

I searched my memory to recall this former student, one who rolled into class a little scraggly with that “just out of bed” look. I learned not to judge students by attire or level of physical dishevelment. This student actively participated in my Thursday morning Intro to Political Science class at the Community College of Vermont. His knowledge of current events and well-written essays were impressive. Only later would he explain that his academic career at a selective liberal arts college was derailed — by alcohol. CCV, he hoped, would serve as his ticket for re-admission to the school he was asked to leave.

Teaching at a college with small class sizes allows me to get to know my students as learners and people. Fifteen students enrolled in my course this semester. We sat around a table, discussing political concepts. The intimacy of our space left little room for texting, sleeping or being otherwise disengaged. We were not distanced by a lecture hall, video screen or legions of teaching assistants. An acquaintance who teaches Biology at a state university had 200 students and 15 undergraduate teaching assistants this semester. I’m impressed by the numbers and fully recognize it’s not for me.

My goals as an instructor include fostering a sense of community while challenging students to develop crucial reading, writing, public speaking and critical thinking skills. Traditional readings and lectures are complemented by theater, poetry, film, music and art interpretation activities.

Some students shine in their writing. Others may sparkle in an oral presentation. One student strummed a ukulele while making the case for alternative energy. Another served beef bourguignon and an Abenaki sweet potato soup while delivering a presentation on the “politics of food.”

When studying totalitarianism, students viewed an informal “gallery of totalitarian art” posted in our classroom. They served as docents, applying textbook learning to tease out political messages embedded in images from Mao’s China or Stalin’s Russia. We explored the concept of war via poetry, sitting in a circle while reciting Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Frost verses inspired by The Great War. Our study of utopian systems of Plato and Francis Bacon concluded with students creating and acting out commercials enticing others to join their “perfect” worlds.

Political science courses require vast amounts of reading and writing. I tell students up front I’m picky, extremely picky, about writing. Weekly papers are assessed based on structure, grammar, punctuation and the distillation of one’s unique thoughts in response to readings. Synopses are boring. Genuine, well-articulated reactions to writings by William F. Buckley, Machiavelli and Martin Luther King Jr., demonstrate deeper understanding. I encourage strong writers — and I’ve seen many — to commit to paper their best, most-polished work. Students who struggle with writing receive specific, supportive feedback on how to structure, edit and strengthen their pieces. It’s particularly satisfying to see a student with limited skills realize considerable strides over the course of a semester. I set high expectations. To do otherwise would be a disservice to my students.

Most of the students I encounter juggle jobs with homework. Some work full time and/or raise children as single parents. A few struggle with mental illness. One lived in her car for several weeks. Immigrants — from places like Bosnia, Moldova and Mongolia — painstakingly complete homework with dictionaries at their side.

There’s a point in the semester — typically around week 12 — when someone “falls out of the canoe.” He or she simply drops out of class without a word. As deadlines mount, some students give in to overwhelming pressure.

Witnessing this phenomenon too many times, I’ve since instituted a practice that, I hope, helps keep folks gliding along in our communal canoe. I invite students to silently ponder the following questions: “What is your ambition?” “What is your dream?” There is often a difference between the two. I advise them to write their answers inside their front notebook covers. Pursuing one’s ambitions and dreams often requires delayed gratification. For those who might give up, I gently remind them that someone is always waiting in the wings, ready to take their place.

I teach at CCV because I love the diversity of the students I encounter. I am privileged to work with young — and not so young — people investing the time, money and hard work required to realize their educational goals. Some will fall out of the canoe. A few will swim back, climb in and paddle to their intended destination. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.


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


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Letters to the Editor (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010


Let’s do something about climate change

It seems that with regards to climate change, contributors like Shelley Palmer (“Letters to the Editor,” April 29) and Mike Benevento (biweekly “Right to the Point” column), who often cites the reactionary party line, have indeed gone the way of the ostrich. Repeating twisted statistics, opinion and using slander and ridicule won’t change away the facts on the ground: the Arctic Ocean has become a liquid rather than frozen mass and the trees are flowering and greening up three to four weeks ahead of long term seasonal norms. Folks, this is climate change plain and simple. Not weather change, but climate change, although the weather has certainly been a bit overcharged and aberrant as well.

None of the global warming deniers seem to be able to supply a reasonable framework for these major changes. Did we cause it? Who knows? Can we do something about it? Maybe. Should we try and/or care? I think so, personally. But to keep pushing the do nothing agenda is to be like the guy who, when caught stealing red-handed, denies it, proclaiming, “Who are you going to believe, me, or your own lying eyes?”

Stewart Cohen, Williston


Only culture change can stop climate change

Global warming is by far one of the most confusing and ambiguous issues we face. To reduce the label stigma, we have changed global warming to “global climate change” to more accurately represent the raw effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The fact is, climate change is a global concern — real or not, the possible implications are devastating and irreversible on any relevant time-scale.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Instead we need silver buckshot that is aimed at our most basic societal functions. The solution encompasses a simultaneous transition to more efficient structures, sustainable energy sources and evolving from the habit of waste generation to conservation. These ideas are not novel or revolutionary — but they are not yet universally accepted even though time ticks by us.

The solution to our environmental woes must permeate even deeper than “going green.” The green movement that has become associated with climate change is not about changing the superficial treatment of symptoms; the green movement will only succeed as a change in culture. We have become a culture of overconsumption and waste generation, of ignorance and of convenience. You pay for gasoline at the pump but the greater price is climate change. Those who pay this hidden cost-of-culture the most are the ones who can afford it least — nature doesn’t see a world of nations and states and privatized benefits with social costs. It is one world, one home to us all. Global warming isn’t the problem — we are.

Colin Willard, Williston, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., Environmental Engineering ‘10


Taxing everybody

If you view state and federal revenue shortfalls as a problem of insufficient taxation rather than irresponsible spending, the VAT tax could be the answer to those endless budgetary shortfalls.

Taxing consumption is good in that it takes income from everybody not just from the producers in our society. I might be in favor of such a tax if the 16th Amendment (this amendment exempted income taxes from the constitutional requirements regarding direct taxes) were repealed. The politicians in Montpelier and Washington have shown no interest in restoring individuals’ personal liberty by permitting them to decide how to spend much of the money they earn. A VAT tax without a repeal of the income tax would greatly accelerate the current growth in government and would continue to decrease our standard of living. The top 5 percent of wage earners now generate 61 percent of income tax receipts while the bottom 50 percent only provides only 3 percent of total revenues.

A VAT tax is a dandy way to diminish freedom and increase the political class’ control over choice by exempting products considered green and by applying large taxes to fossil fuels, tobacco, alcohol and sugar. The possibilities for social engineering are just about endless. Ask the governments of Greece, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Britain and Ireland how a policy of VAT taxes and unrestrained government spending is working out for them.

Worth a try perhaps. Nothing to lose but our solvency.

Shelley Palmer, Williston

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Guest Column (5/13/10)

The medical solution we've been waiting for

May 13, 2010

By Abby Trombley

Imagine being as young as 6 years old. You are waiting in a hospital, waiting for a kidney. Your kidney no longer works, and the only solution is an organ transplant. There are many people ahead of you in the line waiting for organs and the doctors don’t know how long it will be before you can have the operation. What they do know is, if you don’t get a healthy kidney soon, you will die.

Unfortunately, many people are in this same situation. Human cloning would be beneficial to organ transplants, would lead to more scientific discoveries and could treat and prevent fatal illnesses. If scientists had the ability to legally produce human clones, cloning would be beneficial in many ways.

First of all, human cloning would be beneficial for organ transplants. The fact is, every year people die waiting for organ transplants. The number of people waiting for organs is far greater than those willing to donate. If everyone who needed one had his own clone, an organ would be available right away without any trouble. There would be no problem finding a donor with a matching blood type, and no waiting for long periods of time for that operation to happen. Cells could also be grown for the same purpose. Konrad Hochedlinger at the Whitehouse Institute of Biomedical Research said, “These cells may be used to treat diseases, such as diabetes or spinal cord injury without the complications of organ rejection.” Clones would make the difficult process of organ transplants smoother and faster-paced, and would save lives.

Second of all, the discovery of human cloning would lead to many more scientific discoveries. If you look into our scientific past, almost every single invention that aids human living was made possible because of some discovery. One example of this is the discovery of electricity. Once humans discovered electricity we were able to use that knowledge to create lighting, heating and many other appliances. Another example is the discovery of magnetism. Without magnetism we wouldn’t have cell phones, computer disks, railroads and many other things. Who knows what scientists would discover if human cloning was further researched and made possible?

Finally, human cloning would treat and prevent diseases. It has been proven that with cloning humans we would have a cure for cancer. Replicating genes would make it possible to switch certain cells on and off in a way that would cure and prevent cancer. Other illnesses, some terminal, such as liver failure, Down syndrome, kidney failure, Leukemia, spinal cord injury and genetic ailments, could also be cured by cloning. Cloning could also cure defective genes. The average person has eight defective genes in her body that will develop sickness. With cloning, this could be entirely prevented. Cloning is also beneficial for heart attack treatment. Heart attacks are the number one killer of humans in both developing and developed countries. Cloning healthy heart cells and injecting them in the damaged heart area can treat heart attacks. Cloning would save the lives of many with medical issues.

On the other hand, people have thought human cloning to be inhumane. Rachel Mateck of the Western Courier even referred to it as “playing God.” Human cloning is not inhumane, it is in fact exactly the opposite; human cloning would save lives. One solution to this problem is scientists creating headless clones. They have done this to tadpoles and believe they do have the technology to make a headless human clone. This is not as cruel or vulgar as it seems; a clone without a head would simply have no thoughts or emotions, and would therefore not think or feel anything about the process.

Another problem with human cloning is that 90 percent of cloning attempts fail, and the cloning process is difficult and expensive. There are, however, many documentations of successfully cloned animals including horses, monkeys, sheep and other animals. Also, as scientists got more experience with human cloning they would find more efficient ways to clone.

In conclusion, it is obvious many problems would be solved if only human cloning were legal. With human cloning, there would be easier organ transplants, cloning would treat and prevent diseases and many more scientific discoveries would be made. Human cloning would save lives. Human cloning is the next step in both scientific and medical advancement, and humans just have to be brave enough to embrace it.


Abby Trombley is a seventh grade student at Williston Central School. She penned this essay for a writing class.


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Correction (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

An article in the April 22 issue of the Observer (“Crews help restore Allen Brook”) incorrectly identified a grant amount from the state. A crew from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps planted trees and shrubs along the Allen Brook. The planting and other work cost approximately $2,530, which came from multiple state grants: $7,650 from the Department of Environmental Conservation and $10,000 from the Agency of Natural Resources.


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Around Town (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

Ready to shred

Anyone looking to dispose of confidential documents is in luck: two credit unions in Williston are hosting free paper shredding days in the near future.

New England Federal Credit Union is partnering with SecurShred, a professional document shredding company, to host its May 2010 Shred Fest on Saturday. The Shred Fest will take place at NEFCU’s main branch at 141 Harvest Lane in Williston from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 15. The public is encouraged to bring documents containing personal information, including cancelled checks and old bank and credit card statements. NEFCU and SecurShred request that participants bring no more than five boxes of documents. Shred Fest will not accept documents from businesses.

The second shredding day is offered by VSECU on June 5. Shred Saturday is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at VSECU’s Williston Branch, located at 1755 Essex Road. VSECU’s Berlin Branch at 365 Paine Turnpike North will also have shredding services available. VSECU will accept up to 10 12-by-10-by-15-inch boxes of paper.

Roy files for secretary of state

Williston resident Chris Roy, who last year announced his candidacy for Vermont secretary of state, has qualified for the ballot. On May 10, Roy filed his petition to run for office. He said he was the first candidate in Vermont to qualify for secretary of state.

Roy also serves on the Williston Selectboard.

CSWD Drop-Off Center to close Wednesday

Chittenden Solid Waste District’s Williston Drop-Off Center is scheduled to close for the day on May 19. The waste district plans to repave the drop-off center.

Anyone looking to dispose of trash, recyclables or compostable items on Wednesday can visit CSWD’s Drop-Off Centers in Burlington or Essex. The Burlington center is located at 339 Pine St. and open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Essex Drop-Off Center is located at 218 Colchester Road and open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information, call the CSWD Hotline at 872-8111.


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Celebrating Military Appreciation Month (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

Gov. Jim Douglas signed a proclamation late last month making May 1 to June 14 Military Appreciation Month in Vermont.

Douglas signed the proclamation at the request of Vermont Soldiers’ Angels, a non-profit group dedicated to providing aid and comfort to soldiers, veterans and their families. Soldiers’ Angels members asked Vermonters to show their support for troops by flying an American flag at their home or displaying a yellow ribbon somewhere.

At the same time, two Williston businesses are launching promotions for troops and veterans.

Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel and Darn Tough Vermont Socks have teamed up to create a program called “Socks for Soldiers.” For every pair of Darn Tough socks Lenny’s sells in May, the two companies will donate a pair of socks to a Vermont National Guard soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The companies hope to donate 300 pairs of socks.

This month, Dunkin’ Donuts kicked off its “Serving Those Who Serve” program. Every Wednesday in May, participating Dunkin’ Donuts are offering a free medium coffee to military personnel and veterans.


— Stephanie Choate, Observer staff


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Town learns about Superfund site (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

Residents and town officials came out last week to learn about the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming work at a Superfund site in Williston.


    Image courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to spend the late spring and summer analyzing the area in the map above to determine the extent of a contaminated groundwater plume beneath Commerce Street and South Brownell Road.

Approximately a dozen residents and officials attended an informational meeting last Wednesday evening; two more residents went to a similar meeting the morning of May 6.

In the community room of the Williston Police Department, EPA officials Karen Lumino and Pam Harting-Barrat answered questions about future work at the site, and what the presence of the Commerce Street plume means for residents of the area.

High concentrations of compounds used to clean metals have contaminated groundwater beneath Commerce Street and South Brownell Road. Quebec-based Mitec has been named as the source of at least some of the contamination, and has helped pay for some of the remediation efforts. The state had control of the site until 2005, when the EPA took over the cleanup efforts. Later this spring and into the summer, the EPA plans to continue its study of the area by conducting a geophysical survey and taking samples from more than 20 wells. The agency wants to delineate the extent of the contamination.

Because all buildings in the area use municipal water and sewer rather than well water, the EPA believes there is little risk of health problems. The agency plans to study the possibility of vapor intrusion, and hopes to confirm a state study that showed little risk of vapors causing health problems.

Williston Planning Director Ken Belliveau, who has conversed with the EPA in the past about the site, attended Wednesday’s meeting. He said the EPA’s main piece of advice for anyone looking to build in the contaminated area was to build on top of a slab and create some sort of vapor barrier around the foundation.

Belliveau also said the planning department is questioning whether zoning should be changed in the area. The area is a mix of industrial and residential. Belliveau said he didn’t hear people on Wednesday calling for zoning changes, or claiming to have problems selling property.

“I also wanted to see the extent that folks in the neighborhood had specific questions or concerns from a land use perspective,” Belliveau said. “I didn’t really get any questions from anybody that was there.”

Lumino said other attendees at the Wednesday meeting asked about the hazards of vapor, and the length of time before the EPA develops a remedy.

The two residents who attended Thursday’s meeting live outside the area thought to be contaminated, but wanted to confirm that with the EPA. They also asked about the history of the contamination and risks of health problems.

Harting-Barrat said she told Belliveau that if people looking to buy or build in the area have questions about the Superfund site, they should contact the Board of Health and call the EPA.

“Once people are informed, they’ll make their own decision,” Harting-Barrat said.

Following the work this spring and summer, the EPA will conduct a risk assessment of the Superfund site. If the agency finds health risks, it will conduct a feasibility study to find a remedy. Lumino has said it could take three to five years for the EPA to present an action plan, which could include doing no more work to the site.

Belliveau said the town plans to stay in touch with the EPA throughout the process.

“We’re trying to stay informed as best we can,” Belliveau said.

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Board finalizes utility fees (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard has decided upon a fee schedule for its utility ordinance, eliminating two fees in the process.

The board passed the ordinance in December, but postponed a decision on the fees until this month. The ordinance regulates the placement of utility lines on public rights of way.

“The ordinance allows for the Selectboard to adopt fees or change the fees as they deem necessary without a public hearing process,” Town Manager Rick McGuire wrote in an e-mail to the Observer.

At its meeting on May 3, the board passed a fee schedule that charges $100 for a permit fee, $100 for an inspection fee and a fee of $10 per square foot of pavement or concrete repairs.

Those fees had met little opposition during the process, though representatives from utility companies have argued against fees for green space and directional boring, which were proposed at $1.75 per square foot and $1 per linear foot respectively.

Jim Condos of Vermont Gas Systems appeared before the Selectboard on May 3 to reiterate those arguments. Regarding the fees for disrupting green space, Condos said that Vermont Gas is already required to repair damaged areas.

So-called “trenchless technology” allows utility companies to install lines underground with horizontal boring techniques. Williston’s fee on boring would have been the first of its kind in the state. Condos said that any extra cost to Vermont Gas Systems would be transferred to customers through a rate increase.

Beth Fastiggi of Fairpoint also attended the meeting and told the Selectboard she agreed with all the concerns raised by Condos.

Bruce Hoar, the town’s director of Public Works, argued that assessing fees could cover future costs to the town, such as repairs to broken lines.

Ultimately, the Selectboard listened to the concerns of Condos and Fastiggi and approved a motion to do away with the green space and boring fees.

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Board approves recreation park (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

Construction on a new recreation park behind Allen Brook School could begin in a matter of weeks.

The Development Review Board gave the park a discretionary permit on Tuesday night. The park can now move forward with building permits from the town, and still needs to finalize state permits.

Allen Brook Principal John Terko, in his April report to the Williston School Board, wrote that work on the fields will begin at the end of the month and run through the summer. Planning Director Ken Belliveau said he’d be surprised if construction begins that soon, as the project still requires permits.

As Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan said, however, “We’re definitely getting close.”

Once the permits are lined up, the Recreation Committee can put out a request for proposals and hire a construction company.

The first phase of construction will bring two multi-purpose fields for sports including soccer and lacrosse. Finnegan said once the fields are built, people will need to wait at least a year to use them as the grass takes hold.

Much of the discussion at Tuesday night’s Development Review Board meeting focused on parking issues, and how many spaces would be needed. Some members argued for building additional parking immediately, while others advocated for a phased approach. Belliveau said the board eventually opted for phased parking.

A few nearby residents also questioned the lighting of the fields and courts. Finnegan said the Recreation Committee has yet to finalize lighting plans, but is likely to come up with requirements to have lights go out by 10 p.m., or to prohibit baseball and softball games from starting an inning after 10 p.m.

After construction of the multipurpose fields, subsequent building phases will include tennis and basketball courts, softball and baseball fields and a playground.

Finnegan said the entire park is expected to take more than 10 years to build.

“It’s a nice joint venture here with the school and the town,” Terko said.

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