May 20, 2018

Irelands’ late win keeps playoff hopes alive

July 15, 2010

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Andy Kent races to home plate to beat the throw and score S.D. Ireland’s first run of the game against Franklin County on Monday. S.D. Ireland lost the home game, 6-5.

S. D. Ireland American Legion baseball coach Jim Neidlinger might or might not have said, “(Houston) we have a problem” heading into the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday, with his slumping team trailing the Orleans-Essex-Caledonia Kings 3-0.

In any event, the Irelands got not one but two liftoffs in the closing two innings to score a walk-off 6-4 victory at the home Champlain Valley Union High field. The win kept alive their hopes for a state tournament appearance in late July at Castleton State College.

The satellite launches came from the bats of Nicky Elderton in the sixth — a two-run shot — and Drew Nick in the seventh, a three-run, game ending blast.

The victory lifted the Irelands’ North Division record to 5-8 and overall mark to 9-16. The team includes players from Williston.

With the rousing win as a possible propellant for a rocket-like surge through the remainder of the regular season, which ends Sunday, the Irelands were off to Montpelier Wednesday before returning home Thursday to meet the 5-7 Burlington Lynx at 5:30 p.m.

They then visit the Lynx Friday in Burlington. On Saturday, the Irelands will travel to South Burlington to tangle with the Knights of Columbus in a noontime encounter. A seven-inning contest that won’t count in the league standings will follow.

A trip to Lyndon State College and the OEC Kings on Sunday will finish the regular campaign.

To make the tournament, the Irelands likely need to win all of the remaining contests and could need help from others.

Comeback win in Hinesburg

Nick (2-for-4) punished a 1-2 pitch from OEC reliever Brandon Flood to break up Tuesday’s affair.

Down 4-2 after the Kings pushed over an unearned run in the top of the inning, the Irelands got the rally started when pinch hitter Lawrence Halvorson led off with a mighty double to right field. After a fly out, Shane deLaBreure rapped a rope single to right center off tiring OEC starter Matt Lyon, who was pulled in favor of Flood.

Collin Teator greeted Flood with a sharp single to left to drive in Halvorson and get the Irelands within 4-3.

Flood threw two dancing curves to Nick to get ahead 0 and 2. Nick took a ball and then uncorked the clout that cleared the bases.

“I was just trying to get a hit,” Nick said afterward.

He added that Elderton’s homer in the sixth was huge in turning the game around.

Going into the sixth, Lyon had limited the Irelands to three hits as he effectively mixed a variety of fastballs, curves and changeups. With one out, Sean Rugg worked a walk and Elderton, after getting deep into the count, launched a moon shot to the right of the 350-foot sign in center field. The ball went well over the fence, and Elderton’s blast put his team on the scoreboard and renewed life for the green and gold clads.

Dan French picked up the victory with four solid innings of relief, allowing only an unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh. Starter Curt Echo allowed three runs — two earned — in three frames of work.

The important win took away some of the sourness of Monday’s 6-5 home loss to Franklin County, in which the visitors took advantage of Ireland miscues and assorted strange happenings for five unearned runs.

Equally vexing to the locals were 13 runners left stranded including three in the seventh and final frame. With two runs home and down by a single tally in the seventh, S.D. Ireland could not take advantage of a bases loaded, one out situation.

It was the second loss in two days to the Franklins, who popped the Irelands 16-8 Sunday in St. Albans as a leaky defense caused the Irelands to give up an early 5-1 lead.

The Irelands went 1-4 in the Coopers’ Cave Tournament last week in Saratoga, N.Y., winning the finale of a Thursday twin bill, 9-2 over West Brook, Maine. Elderton earned the victory with four frames of strong pitching. Nick drove in three runs with a pair of hits and Rugg clocked three hits. Andy Kent unleashed two hits and chased home two runs.


Thursday: BURLINGTON LYNX, 5:30 p.m.

Friday: at Burlington Lynx, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday: at Knights of Columbus, South Burlington (2 games), noon and 3 p.m.

Sunday: at OEC Kings (Lyndon State College), noon


CVU students receive arts scholarships

July 15, 2010

Artistic abilities helped two Champlain Valley Union High School students snag scholarships from the nonprofit Vermont Alliance for Arts Education earlier this month.

Margaret Campbell Dunsmore and Jesse French each received a $500 scholarship; they were two of four students chosen statewide.

French, a Charlotte resident who plans to go to Hampshire College in Massachusetts, won in the music category. He played the electric guitar and sang covers and original compositions.

He showed “a good range of material and demonstrated confidence in performance, in addition to exhibiting solid instrumental and singing abilities,” according to the organization’s press release.

Dunsmore, who plans to attend New York University, won in the drama category.

She performed a piece from the CVU student production of the hit Broadway musical, “Rent.”

Dunsmore “impress(ed) the judges with dramatic talent and maturity,” according to the press release.

— Stephanie Choate, Observer staff

Recipe Corner

Berry, berry delicious recipes

July 15, 2010

By Ginger Isham

Mother Nature has certainly done her part in the ripening of the berries this year. The strawberry season was early, wet and too short. Then the high temperatures and hot sun brought on the raspberries and blueberries before we are ready for them. What a time of year! Of course, the best way to devour the berries is fresh off the bush. Then when you’ve had them this way three times a day for days, you look for another way to add them to your diet.

Try these recipes, which come from a small book I purchased when on a trip to Maine years ago. Called “The Berries,” the book was put out by Harvest Hill press of Salisbury Cove, Maine.

Strawberry Sorbet

2 cups strawberries

2 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh only)

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Purée berries in blender. Cook lemon juice, water and sugar over low heat until dissolved. Mix in berry purée and simmer 15 minutes. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square dish and place in freezer. Stir with a rubber spatula approximately every 15 minutes for up to 2 hours, until creamy. Allow to freeze and serve in bowls garnished with fresh berries, a small cookie or a piece of dark chocolate or mint leaf.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup raspberries

2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh only)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

1 clove garlic, crushed

pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in blender and refrigerate before serving on favorite green salad.

Blackberry Mint Salad

1 cantaloupe

1 honeydew melon

1 pint of blackberries

3 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh only)

3 tablespoons sugar

Cut up 1/2 of the cantaloupe and all of the honeydew melon into small chunks or small melon balls. Place in a bowl (such as a clear trifle bowl). Pour blackberries over the top. Cut up rest of cantaloupe and place in blender with lemon juice and sugar. Process until smooth and pour over the fruit. Serve cold, garnished with fresh mint.

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

Right to the Point

Illegal means illegal

July 15, 2010

By Kayla Purvis

Before writing about decisions surrounding Arizona’s immigration law, I want to explain what it is for those who aren’t sure. Arizona’s immigration law, also called S.B. 1070, requires immigrants to carry their alien registration papers with them all the time. It also orders police officers to question people if they have reason to believe they are in the United States illegally.

This law is intended to cap the number of illegal immigrants flowing into Arizona from the Mexican border and discourage others from trying to enter the United States illegally. It is neither intended to encourage racial profiling nor target legal alien citizens. Illegal immigration is a rising and growing issue, as shown in the fact that 1,200 more immigration bills were introduced in 2009 than in 2005, which saw 300 such bills.

The Obama administration and the Justice Department said that the bill, now a law, would, as the New York Times reported on July 7, “Undermine the federal government’s pursuit of terrorists, gang members and criminal immigrants.” They also claimed that the state of Arizona is utilizing powers reserved for the federal government, and that the law diverts the attention of police officers from people actually committing crimes.

Last time I checked, entering the United States of America illegally is a crime. And a dangerous one in terms of national security. Most individuals think of a certain profile when they think of a terrorist, but the fact is, there are terrorists in all countries, including ours. Not screening those who enter from outside our borders is not a smart move. Neither is not making stronger border security a top priority. President Obama’s lack of consistent and successful federal enforcement at the Arizona border led the state to take its own action. Now his administration and Justice Department are suing on grounds of flimsy arguments. Obama has stated his concerns about immigration, but then turns around and sues when there’s an outcry. Can’t have it both ways. There is always going to be opposition to any bill that is passed into law. What makes this one worthy of a lawsuit?

Concerns include racial profiling, less concentration on other crimes in states bordering Mexico and detention of legal citizens. While these are valid possibilities, they’re not horrible in the grand scheme of things. I can see how carrying registration documents and being questioned as a legal resident would be an inconvenience, and I’m not denying it will be frustrating for some. But I also realize that illegal immigration has many sides to consider, and one of those is making sure the United States is kept in mind at all times.

People have many reasons for wanting to get into America, oftentimes causing desperation. A group called the Good Samaritans focuses on humanitarian aid to any and all persons found in the Arizona desert. They maintain that humanitarian aid is not a crime, and leave water and provide first aid. Their goal is to lessen the amount of death in the desert. They recycle usable clothing and materials left behind by migrants entering the United States and give them back to others.

Immigration laws are not designed to keep anyone out on grounds of dislike or not being welcome. There is a system, and the system needs to be respected. I understand that many migrants have legitimate reasons to be desperate to get into the United States, but that doesn’t make them exempt from the process by which legal citizenship happens.

The problem with an open-borders type of policy is that there would be an imbalance. If the countries of the world all agreed to keep their borders freely open, most people who could migrate would head to the United States, China or stable European countries. Not to mention the amount of terrorists that would flood the United States.

S.B. 1070 is a good start to capping illegal immigration through Arizona. While I’m sure the law could be modified to lessen the inconveniences on legal aliens, having a law is better than not having taken any action where the federal government has failed. I don’t think racial profiling will be as big of an issue as some are arguing. The officers conducting the investigations of persons can be and should be trained how to ignore race when questioning those they deem suspicious. A crackdown has to start somewhere, and Arizona has started a trend. Other states, though kept anonymous for the most part, have reportedly been asking for help wording bills similar to S.B. 1070.

This lawsuit is counterproductive, Obama.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a rising senior at Champlain Valley Union High School.

Liberally Speaking

Solving the immigration problem

July 15, 2010

By Steve Mount

The cliché is that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Often clichés are simply untrue, but in this case nothing could be closer to the truth. With the exception of 1.5 percent of us who, in the 2000 census, reported aboriginal heritage, the vast majority of Americans are the products of immigrant heritage.

The waves of immigration the United States has had include the English, Norwegians, Germans, Irish, Russian Jews, Mexicans, Asians and Armenians. Throughout the 19th century, the United States was a beacon to Europeans escaping famine, economic collapse and war.

At almost any point in history, we can find anti-immigration sentiment, often worked up to a fever pitch. The Italians; the Irish; the Chinese; the latest immigrant demon is Hispanics.

Liberals are often painted with a broad brush, and on immigration there is no exception. We’re soft on illegal immigrants, willing to open our borders to anyone who comes knocking, happy to offer up tax-financed social services to anyone.

These are not the positions that we take, however, and anyone who is willing to do more than 60 seconds of research on the Internet or to talk to a liberal friend will confirm it.

What, then, can we say about how liberals think about immigration?

Liberals are, if nothing else, realistic pragmatists. We recognize that the United States is still a great beacon to people of the world. Department of Homeland Security statistics show that we accept legal immigrants from every corner of the globe: 660,000 in 2007, just over 1 million in 2008 and 744,000 in 2009. The top countries of birth in 2009 were Mexico, India, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and South Korea. In that small list, we can see a wide variety of languages, religions and ethnic groups. Just the sort of melting pot that our children still learn about in civics classes.

People want to come here for all the right reasons and we, as a nation, are willing to let immigrants come. Thankfully, the current debate is less about legal immigration, but what to do about illegal immigrants. These are people we all know are here, whom we all rely on to some degree directly or indirectly, but who we often prefer to pretend don’t exist.

Perhaps it is time to create a new immigration status. Many illegal immigrants don’t want to become citizens — they just want to work to support their families. We are more than happy to allow skilled workers into the United States. We encourage it even, with special visas. The H1-B visa allows people to come to the United States to work, where the intent of the worker is not to be an immigrant. The visa is only good for specific positions and only as long as the person is in the specific job.

There is no equivalent, however, for unskilled workers. Perhaps there should be.

Let’s face it — illegal workers are willing to do things that most Americans are not. Whether it is to clean hotel rooms, pick fruit, milk cows, do simple construction, sew garments or take care of children, the jobs are there because there are illegal immigrants willing to take them. With a special non-immigrant status, allowing certain persons to come to the United States to live and work, we could control the flow better, keep better track of people, even increase tax revenues. Not quite an H1-B visa, with all of its paperwork and sponsorships, but something much more than the illegal status most such workers now have.

Closing off the border is not the answer. Border walls and fences can help staunch the flow of illegal immigrants in some specific places, but we cannot enclose the United States in a protective wall. It is impractical and would give us all a bunker mentality we have been lucky to avoid so far.

Above all, the United States is a place that should be a beacon to the world. To live up to that ideal, we must be compassionate even as we enforce our laws. In creating a new class of visa, we might eventually prevent most illegal immigration — with the added benefit of preventing these poor souls from falling victim to desert heat or, often worse, the villainy of organized crime.

I’m not sure what the answer to the question of illegal immigration is, but I am sure that demonizing illegal immigrants is not it.

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 or read his blog at

Letters to the Editor

July 15, 2010

A vote for Dubie

I’m an Independent voter and typically vote for Democrats, but this year I’m supporting Brian Dubie because he is the best candidate for the job. We need someone who will not have a learning curve, but can hit the ground running.

I decided to show my support by joining other volunteers in Williston’s Fourth of July parade. It was a lot of fun, and it was great to see how enthusiastic everyone was.

Two things impressed me. First, the campaign was so well prepared — ready with signs and stickers to hand out, which showed a lot of organization. Second, it was great to see so many young people supporting Dubie’s campaign. My kids are in high school, and I want them to be able to find jobs in Vermont once they graduate from college. Dubie’s focus on jobs and building Vermont’s economy are important to me, and I look forward to having him in the governor’s office next year.

Anne Blakely, Essex

Guest Column

Lawmakers should extinguish cigarette taxes

July 15, 2010

By Lawrence J. McQuillan

Faced with yawning budget deficits, state legislators are looking for new revenue sources. Many think hiking cigarette excise taxes is the pain-free answer, but they’re wrong.

This year, New York, Utah and New Mexico have already raised cigarette taxes by $1.60 per pack, $1 per pack and 75 cents per pack, respectively. In 2009, 14 states plus the District of Columbia implemented cigarette-tax hikes. At least 20 states are looking to do or have already done likewise in 2010.

Lawmakers claim such tax hikes generate substantial revenue while discouraging smoking. Yet the history of cigarette taxes shows otherwise. Any revenue increases following cigarette-tax hikes have typically fallen well short of projections. When Maryland increased its cigarette tax by $1 per pack last year, Gov. Martin O’Malley promised it would raise $255 million in new revenue. The actual amount was $117 million short of that figure.

Following the District of Columbia’s 50-cents-per-pack hike in October, cigarette-tax revenues are projected to fall by nearly $8 million in 2010. And during the two years since New Jersey increased its tax by 17 cents a pack, the state suffered a $24 million loss in cigarette-tax revenue. These examples are not anomalous.

According to a Chicago research group, just 16 of the 57 state-level tobacco tax hikes implemented between 2003 and 2007 actually met or exceeded the revenue projections. Perversely, cigarette taxes also make state governments dependent on tobacco use. If lawmakers are counting on steadily increasing cigarette-tax revenue to close budget gaps, then they’ll need to recruit more smokers or hope for higher daily smoking rates.

Why don’t cigarette taxes deliver as promised? Some people respond to higher prices by never starting to smoke or by quitting. That’s a healthy decision, but one that individuals can make on their own. Many of those who don’t kick the habit simply go elsewhere to buy cigarettes.

In New York, for example, many smokers shop at local Indian reservations, where cigarettes are sold tax free. District of Columbia residents flout their tax increase by traveling to low-cost neighbors Maryland and Virginia. There is also the “underground economy” for illegal purchases of cigarettes, and with each new tax hike that market grows.

When politicians single out this politically unpopular industry for further tax hikes, they are trying to balance state budgets on the backs of the poor. Nearly one-third of the nation’s smokers have incomes below the federal poverty line. When cigarette taxes rise, low-income folks bear more of the burden than wealthier people, as the poor have to fork over a higher percentage of their already meager income to purchase a pack.

Proponents of regressive cigarette taxes dismiss concerns about their impact on the poor by citing the costs to the state of treating smoking-related illnesses. But whether cigarette smokers cost the state more money is debatable — some studies suggest that smokers actually cost health care systems less than nonsmokers because they tend to die quicker and younger.

By this logic, cigarette taxes should only recoup the net costs smokers impose on society. But a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that smokers “pay enough taxes to cover the net costs they impose on others” as far back as 1986. Piling on more taxes simply makes the tax system more unfair. The average state cigarette tax is already $1.38 per pack. And that’s on top of the dollar tax the feds levy.

As the record shows, cigarette tax hikes fail to deliver revenue according to promise, and they punish those who can least afford to pay higher taxes. Politicians’ addiction to cigarette taxes also causes state legislators to avoid better ways of cutting budget deficits and restoring their economies to health such as reducing government spending, lowering taxes and implementing policies that promote job creation.

Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan is director of Business and Economic Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Contact him at

Food Shelf seeks donations

Plant a Row program supplies produce

July 15, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Sue Stanne arrived at Taft Farms Business Park last week with three bags of fresh bok choy, spinach, lettuce and radishes, a donation for the Williston Community Food Shelf.

Local gardens are producing greens right now, and the Food Shelf has seen a lot of lettuce and other leafy produce as donations come in through the Observer’s Plant a Row for the Hungry Program.

For the past five years, the Observer has sponsored a local Plant a Row program, which encourages gardeners to donate fresh produce to food shelves.

Stanne, a Master Gardener and member of Williston in Bloom, heads up the Master Gardeners’ community gardening project with June Jones. Williston’s Master Gardeners, who earn their designation through the University of Vermont Extension, have a 90-by-18-foot plot in the Williston Community Garden at Brennan Woods. At the space, the Master Gardeners offer gardening tips and advice, and also grow plenty of food for the Williston Community Food Shelf — all produce from the garden benefits the Plant a Row program.

“Plant a Row is a huge help,” said Cathy Michaels, president of the Williston Community Food Shelf. “We’ve had great produce throughout the summer, which is always welcome.”

Even with the Plant a Row program, however, the Food Shelf can struggle through the warmer months. Michaels said donations tend to rise in the fall, in preparation of Thanksgiving and Christmas. But in the summer, contributions often decline.

“The shelves are incredibly bare,” Michaels said, noting that the Food Shelf needs to provide more food during the summer, as children who receive free and reduced lunch during the school year remain at home.

Michaels said the Food Shelf needs peanut butter, pasta, rice and cereal, as well as volunteers.

“It’s hard to get (volunteers) to come in on Saturday mornings, Tuesday nights,” she said.

Despite the need for non-perishables, Plant a Row supplements the Food Shelf supplies with fresh produce.

“They’re always excited and always very, very grateful,” Michaels said of Food Shelf clients receiving Plant a Row donations. “We’re really happy to be able to give them the fresh produce, because that’s one thing we aren’t able to get on a regular basis. It’s a really nice thing to have in the summer.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Stanne, Jones and Joan Fox-Cota, another master gardener, had harvested radishes, bok choy, squash and zucchini for the Food Shelf. Stanne expects the garden’s tomatoes to ripen by next week.

Jones said the Master Gardeners support Plant a Row for a couple of reasons.

“For some of them who’ve been coming for years, they like doing it because the food is going to the Food Shelf and they enjoy gardening,” Jones said. “Others are interns, and need to put in so many hours to be certified. Some come back in subsequent years.”

Stanne and Jones suggested that anyone looking to plant an extra row in their garden do succession plantings of green beans, or put in lettuce, spinach, radish or bok choy seeds.

In a change from past years, when donations were dropped off outside the Observer offices, produce for Plant a Row can be brought directly to the Food Shelf. The Food Shelf is located in the same building as the Observer, on the bottom floor in Suite 115 of 300 Cornerstone Drive.

To volunteer for or donate to the Williston Community Food Shelf, call 735-6303 or visit

Fine wine found in Williston

July 15, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Keith O’Gorman, owner of Bel Canto Wine, holds a bottle of Barolo in his Maple Tree Place shop.

When Keith O’Gorman talks about wine, he speaks of more than just an alcoholic liquid encased in a glass bottle. To him, to enjoy a wine is to journey to a faraway part of the world.

“I don’t think of it as alcohol, I think of wine as a place in a bottle,” O’Gorman said while standing in his Bel Canto Wine shop, surrounded by approximately 400 bottles of wine. “A wine from Italy, I feel like I’m tasting Italy.”

The store opened in Maple Tree Place on July 2. A former Burlington police officer, O’Gorman left the department to open Bel Canto. Vermont law prohibits police or other enforcement officers from holding a liquor license.

“I’ve been a wine enthusiast for seven years, and wanted to follow a passion,” the 28-year-old said. “It became a really big hobby, and now I own a store.”

O’Gorman brought Bel Canto to Maple Tree Place because he saw an opening in the market serving Williston, Jericho, Essex and other nearby towns. While sitting on a bench drinking a coffee near Starbucks a year ago, O’Gorman decided that Maple Tree Place would be a good spot for his business.

Since then, he passed the first level of the Court of Master Sommeliers Program and became a member of the Society of Wine Educators. He also saved money to launch the business venture, which he said is self-financed. With a friend, he painted the space and helped build cabinets to hold the wine selection.

Bottles upon bottles line the back wall of the shop, and O’Gorman has also set up display stands featuring wines for under $14, wines for under $20 and a collector’s table. He described his selection as containing high end wines along with good, inexpensive wines. Many of the bottles come from Italy, though O’Gorman also sells products from France, Germany, Spain, Hungary and other countries. He sells a few wines from New York, but has yet to offer any Vermont selections.

Wine, O’Gorman explained, goes through three tiers of mark-up before reaching retail customers. Wineries sell to importers, which sell to distributors, which sell to retail outlets. For that reason, O’Gorman said Vermont wine drinkers can obtain local wines more cheaply by buying directly from a vineyard.

O’Gorman has a collection of 563 bottles at his home in a climate-controlled cellar, and drinks about three bottles of wine each week. He said he’s tried 90 percent of the wines he sells, and has purchased the other 10 percent based on the reputation of the wine.

“I don’t carry anything I wouldn’t happily share or serve at my dinner table,” O’Gorman said.

Jim Brigham, a friend of O’Gorman who also used to work for the Burlington Police Department, said he’s learned a tremendous amount about wine from the shop owner.

“He is an extremely knowledgeable guy for his age. For being 28 years old, he certainly has a passion,” Brigham said. “That passion comes out when he speaks to you about different regions and varietals.”

O’Gorman wants to share that passion with customers. He plans to host weekly wine tastings on Saturdays, with the next one scheduled for 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 24.

In addition to wine, Bel Canto offers microbrews, cigars, imported olive oil and imported tomatoes from Italy. O’Gorman wants to sell half a case of wine a day, but said at this point he’s happy to have people visiting and exploring the store.

Besides running Bel Canto on his own, O’Gorman is also studying to obtain a master’s of law degree from Champlain College. While he’d eventually like to hire an employee to help at the shop, O’Gorman said he plans to run it by himself for the time being.

“I’ve been encouraging him as of late to follow his dream, follow his passion,” Brigham said. “He did it. This is the realization of his dream.”

Bel Canto Wine is located at 11 Walnut Walk. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The shop is closed on Sunday and Monday. For more information, call 879-9111.

Williston woman urges support for soldiers

July 15, 2010

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Barbara Greck heads up the Vermont chapter of Soldiers' Angels.

Williston resident Barbara Greck always keeps a few gift certificates in her purse to give to any soldiers in uniform she sees.

“A big chunk of our population has been taken away from their families to serve,” Greck said. “We’re living with all the freedoms we have because of these men and women who have gone off to war and fought for us, and we take it for granted sometimes.”

Greck, a retired teacher, has been organizing soldier outreach programs. She has been urging her neighbors and fellow Vermont residents to get involved, doing anything from writing a letter to a soldier to helping military families with yard work.

“In a small way, we can all do something to help in the effort,” Greck said.

Greck is the captain of Vermont’s chapter of the nationwide nonprofit Soldiers’ Angels, which works to support soldiers and their families.

“I think the best thing about being retired is you can get involved in something like this,” she said. “It makes me feel wonderful … being a help in some way to our soldiers over there, God bless them all.”

Right now, Greck is striving to raise awareness about Soldiers’ Angels and its work.

“I’d just like to wake people up and say there is a definite need and there will be a need when these guys get home,” she said.

She is also working to get Vermont businesses to donate their products, everything from coffee to manual labor.

Greck has encouraged several of her neighbors to get involved.

Williston resident Shirley Rounds has already sewn approximately 60 cooling scarves. The scarves are filled with superabsorbent hydrogel, which gets cold when soaked in water.

“I don’t think people realize how hot it is over there and what something from home means,” Rounds said. “I just think it’s necessary to keep up their morale.”

Rounds, who has a Vermont National Guard flag flying outside her house, said it is easy to make a difference to soldiers.

“Even just writing a letter or sending a card means so much to these kids,” she said.

Another neighbor of Greck’s, Midge Mast, has also been getting involved. She said it takes very little effort to write a letter or put some things in a box.

“I think it’s just wonderful if you can give them something,” Mast said. “It seems like so little, and then they’re doing so much.”

Greck started writing letters to a local soldier who was deployed eight years ago. She did some research on the Internet and connected with Soldier’s Angels.

“It kind of fell into place and it’s been kind of like a calling to help,” she said.

Now, Greck and a local group support a company of 10 soldiers in Afghanistan, sending letters once a week, along with care packages.

“It just gives them something to read over there that’s positive,” she said. “You don’t have to commit, you just have to do it once or however many times you feel you can.”

For more information or to get involved, contact Greck at 288-9644 or visit