August 24, 2019

Town plans to reroute flooded Mud Pond trails

Aug. 26, 2010

Flooding from beaver activity has made some of the trails in the Mud Pond Conservation and Recreation Area impassable. The town is working on a plan to reroute the trail to the north of the flooding.

Beaver activity has flooded some trails in the Mud Pond Conservation and Recreational Area, but the town is working to plan a rerouted trail.

“We’re trying to find a way to divert that by making a trail that goes to the north of Mud Pond,” Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti said.

Currently, there is a path that leads in approximately half a mile to the pond from Mud Pond Road, off South Road. The trail connects with a loop in the adjacent Mud Pond Country Park, across South Road.

The Five Tree Hill Trail is on the other side of the flooding, and can currently only be accessed from Oak Hill Road.

Since the area is conserved, the beaver cannot be trapped or killed, Andreoletti said. Workers can remove dams less than two years old, but the beaver just keeps rebuilding them, she said.

The Conservation Commission has some funds for trail maintenance, which could cover the cost of structures that need to be built, but not workers. Andreoletti said the town will probably look for volunteers to help reroute the trail.

The trail will likely be rerouted sometime next year, Andreoletti said.

— Stephanie Choate, Observer staff

Levitt and dog to compete at fair

Aug. 26, 2010

By Jessica Sanders
Observer correspondent

Linda Levitt and her dog Madison, pictured above, will compete in dock jumping at the Champlain Valley Fair.

Champlain Valley Fair is going to the dogs, and one Williston resident will be there to help make it happen.

The fair, which opens Saturday at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex, will feature dock jumping dogs in three different genres: Extreme Vertical, High Jump and Speed Retrieve. Williston resident Linda Levitt will be competing at the fair with her black lab Madison. Although Vermont does not have its own dock jumping club, Levitt and Madison practice in a pond behind their home.

“Jumping into a pond and into the lake is very different than jumping into a pool because it looks different to the dog. First of all the dock is much higher. It’s 2 feet above the water, and they’re looking into clear water, so you have to practice,” Levitt said.

Despite Vermont not having a club, Levitt loves competing and practicing with Madison.

“It’s fun for both of us,” she said.

The competition is brought to the fair by Dock Dogs, a traveling act. The event, which will run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6 in Essex, was booked last year by Rich Lewis, director of communications for Champlain Valley Exposition.

“We have a convention every year that highlights a lot of acts and a lot of artists and people who make their livelihood through doing fairs and festivals,” Lewis said. “A number of years ago at the convention this group showed up called Dock Dogs. It was very intriguing.”

Dock Dogs gives relatively seasoned competitors, like Levitt, the chance to be recognized regionally and worldwide.

“Events that are put on by DD National allow competitors to earn national titles and chances to receive an invitation to the World Championship at the end of the season,” Kristen Brayne, secretary of Hudson Valley Dock Dogs in Millerton, N.Y., explained in an e-mail.

Levitt has visited the Hudson Valley Dock Dogs club, and has competed in many places including Canada and Maine, where Madison has won first place for Speed Retrieve.

The three different parts of each competition test different skills. Extreme Vertical presents the dog with a bumper that is held in the air, and it is raised incrementally higher. The challenge is to see how high it can go before the dog can no longer reach it.

The High Jump is similar, but requires effort from the owner as well. The owner must throw a non-living, non-food item in the air, and the dog must jump out and catch the toy while it’s soaring above the pool. Levitt explained that Madison lacks in this category because of her own inability to throw well.

Speed Retrieve is a little different, and challenges a dog’s ability to move quickly through the water by timing its swim from the dock to the other end, where the dog must retrieve a bumper.

Though the Champlain Valley Fair has hosted a multitude of other dog competitions, this one is different.

“A lot of people, they are interested in dogs, but this is a new presentation, a new angle on dogs,” Lewis said. “Dogs from outside actually doing the competition. It’s one of those things, a lot more people are involved in this.”

Lewis is unsure if he will bring Dock Dogs back next year, mostly based on the act’s busy schedule. But he believes it will attract many fair-goers, and be a fun and entertaining new act.

Augusts marked by new places and new faces

Aug. 26, 2010

The Williston Observer is celebrating its 25th year providing news to the community. Here are some stories from past months of August:

• The new Town Hall was officially dedicated in 1988, as reported in that year’s August edition of the Williston Whistle. The Town Hall moved into the old Grange Hall and was dedicated in a July 4 ceremony.

• The Aug. 19, 1992 issue of the Williston Whistle included an article detailing a softball game between the fire and police departments. The challenge for “an old fashioned hand-smacking soft ball” game had been floating around for a few weeks, according to the article. The police won the game, although the paper did not report the score.

• The Aug. 24, 1994 edition of the Williston Whistle announced its new owners, Paul and Marianne Apfelbaum. The Apfelbaums, who still run the paper today, announced the paper would begin publishing weekly the next month, with extended coverage of local and school news.

• The Aug. 29, 1996 edition of the Williston Whistle included an article about a proposed underground pedestrian tunnel at Taft Corners. The tunnel, among the ideas proposed by town officials for federal transportation funding, would have crossed diagonally under the intersection of U.S. 2 and Vermont 2A.

• Williston went to 24-hour daily police coverage in 1997, adding two officers to the four-person staff, according to an article in the Aug. 21, 1997 issue of the Williston Whistle.

• The front page of the Aug. 19, 1999 edition of the Williston Whistle was dedicated to Howard Lunderville, a community icon who died earlier in the week. Lunderville, known as “Mr. Williston,” worked to found the fire station and had been the fire chief, police chief, first constable, a state representative and more.

• The Aug. 1, 2002 edition of the Williston Whistle included an article about Foxwood Farm, a 30-horse farm formerly located in Taft Corners, moving to Charlotte. Owner Jean Pecor said the development at Maple Tree Place, directly across from her property, was “the last straw,” according to the article.

• The Aug. 21, 2003 issue of the Williston Observer included an article about staff layoffs at IBM. IBM laid off 500 workers from its Essex Junction and Williston facilities.

• Plans for The Old Brick Café on Williston Road were approved in 2004, as reported in the Aug. 19 edition of the Observer. David Herskowitz now operates the restaurant as Monty’s Old Brick Tavern.

• During a visit to Pamplona, Spain, a Williston resident had a near miss during the running of the bulls, according to an article in the Aug. 17, 2006 edition of the Williston Observer. A bull’s horn came within inches of Pogo Senior’s hand before turning in another direction. Senior called running with the bulls the most thrilling thing he has done in his life, outside of the birth of his children.

• The Aug. 9, 2007 issue of the Williston Observer includes an article about the release of the massive study of alternatives to the proposed Circumferential Highway. The study, however, failed to find the best option.

“Like a gripping novel with the last few pages torn out, the document reaches no conclusion,” the article reads.

• An article in the Aug. 14, 2008 issue of The Williston Observer announced that Williston would soon become home to the state’s first anti-terrorism task force, the Joint Terrorism Task Force of Vermont. FBI Director Robert Mueller and Sen. Patrick Leahy inaugurated the task force.

• The Aug. 6, 2009 issue of the Observer included an article detailing the decline in charitable giving during a tough economy. Several local non-profits, including the Committee on Temporary Shelter, or COTS, described drops in donations, endowments and grants. The same issue included an article about the growing donations to the Observer’s Plant a Row for the Hungry program, which had already collected more than 300 pounds of food that summer.

• Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., one of Vermont’s fastest-growing businesses, announced plans to expand into Williston last August, according to the Aug. 20, 2009 issue of the Observer. The company moved into a building on Marshall Avenue.

Hearing postponed on modular classrooms

Trailers may become affordable housing

Aug. 26, 2010

By Mariana Lamaison Sears
Observer correspondent

The entrance to Allen Brook School undergoes construction last week as the school takes its modular classrooms out of use.

A lack of quorum for Tuesday’s Development Review Board meeting has left the Williston School District awaiting an answer on its request to extend the permit for Allen Brook School’s modular classrooms. But a new hearing has already been scheduled for Sept. 14.

With the permit expiring Aug. 31, the school situation will fall into no man’s land, said Planning Director Ken Belliveau. Still, the school submitted the extension’s request on time and is not responsible for the cancellation of the meeting. It is not uncommon that board meetings get cancelled due to lack of quorum as people go on vacation, Belliveau said.

“It’s a volunteer board, we’re in the summer, it happens occasionally,” Belliveau said. “It’s life.”

Meanwhile, the school continues negotiations with the Addison County Community Trust for relocating the modular units and converting them to affordable housing, said Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason.

“The fact that the DRB meeting has been postponed until September will have no impact on the start of school for students or on the School Board plans to finalize negotiations with the Addison County Community Trust,” he said. “As we speak, documents covering the transfer are being exchanged between parties and will likely be finalized in the next couple of weeks.”

If negotiations are successful, the school will then begin removing the units from the school ground. The units are now disconnected from the main building and maintenance personnel is working on final details to the school entrance so it will look as it was originally designed when students return to school next week after the summer break.

Town ponders more hunting bans

Aug. 26, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard is facing pressure from residents to prohibit hunting on two town-owned parcels, Brownell Mountain and the Hill Property, but must determine who would enforce any regulations — and if hunting bans would actually stop people from shooting guns in the areas.

The Selectboard held a public hearing on the issue Monday. Residents crammed into the Town Hall Meeting room, most of them advocating for a hunting-free zone on Brownell Mountain. The discussion even escalated to the point where much of the audience backed the idea of prohibiting hunting in all of Williston.

Currently, hunting is not allowed in areas of Williston north of Interstate 89. South of the interstate, hunting is permitted with a few exceptions.

Following a Selectboard decision last fall to prohibit hunting in Five Tree Hill Country Park, located on Sunset Hill Road, the town’s Conservation Commission conducted a study of other town-owned parcels.

At Monday night’s meeting, attendees focused the discussion on the Brownell Mountain area.

Following a summary of the issue from Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti, resident Rick Brownell opened the public comments with an impassioned statement for the Selectboard to prohibit hunting on Brownell Mountain.

Apart from saying that “real hunters” avoid Brownell Mountain due to a lack of game, Brownell pleaded that the Selectboard consider the safety of homeowners and their children, as well as students at the Brownell Mountain School.

Brownell even accused the Selectboard of “bending over for a handful of target shooters.”

Other neighbors spoke after Brownell, telling stories about hearing nearby gunshots — including from semiautomatic firearms — seeing hunters pass within yards of homes and finding gutted deer close to residences. Nearly all the Brownell Mountain area residents who spoke asked the Selectboard to prohibit hunting on the land.

“I went through the Second World War and I never got killed, and I’d hate to get killed in my own backyard,” one resident said, drawing some chuckles from the crowd.

Fish and Wildlife Warden Dave LeCours attended the meeting at the invitation of Andreoletti and answered questions about state hunting regulations. Vermont is one of only a few states that allow hunting on all land unless it is posted otherwise.

Yet LeCours and others at the hearing voiced the concern that posting private property further encourages poachers to hunt on the land, knowing that other hunters won’t be in the area.

Yet for all the arguments to ban hunting, the consensus seemed to be that most shooting came from people setting up firing ranges.

“Judging from what I’m hearing, it sounds to me like you’ve got a small group of outlaws,” Frank Stanley said, referring to the tales of poaching and firing semi-automatics.

Stanley argued that if some people are already disobeying the law, a hunting ban would be unlikely to convince them to stop shooting.

Evan Hughes of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, who said he helped the town draft the existing firearms ordinance, urged the board to take its time before making any changes to where the town permits hunting.

Jude Hersey of the Conservation Commission and Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig reminded the audience that the hearing was meant to address the Hill Property as well as Brownell Mountain. Hersey noted that new trails on the Hill Property connect to Five Tree Hill, where hunting is prohibited.

Because two Selectboard members — Ted Kenney and Chris Roy — were not at the meeting, Macaig said the board would postpone a decision on the issue.

High voter turnout for primary

Aug. 26, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

The 1,770 Williston voters who cast ballots on Tuesday nearly doubled the town’s typical turnout for a primary election.

“My guess is it’s because there’s such a race with the governor’s race,” Assistant Town Clerk Kathy Smardon said while working at the polls in the Williston Armory. “Williston people are pretty active when it comes to voting, anyway.”

The five-person contest to win the Democratic nomination for gubernatorial candidate had garnered the most headlines across the state, yet as the Observer went to press on Wednesday a winner had yet to be declared.

Unofficial results as of noon, with 253 of 260 precincts reporting, had Peter Shumlin in the lead with 18,009 votes, 225 ahead of Doug Racine. Deb Markowitz was in third with 17,244 votes, followed by Matt Dunne with nearly 15,000 and Susan Bartlett with just over 3,700.

The winner will face Republican Brian Dubie in November.

The Democratic primary proved the most popular in Williston, with 1,309 voters casting Democratic ballots. On the Republican side, 461 ballots were cast. Not a single Williston voter filled out a Progressive ballot.

Racine had the most support in Williston, taking 403 votes. Markowitz had 353 votes, with Shumlin in third with 273 votes.

The only contested local election was the Democratic race to represent Chittenden County in the state senate. Seven candidates sought six nominations. Williston incumbent Ginny Lyons led the vote in town, receiving 1,064 votes; with 13,037 votes across the county, she was the leading vote-getter of the seven candidates. Lyons will be joined on the November ballot by Tim Ashe, Sally Fox, Hinda Miller, Philip Baruth and Andy Montroll. Frank Geier was the odd man out.

In the statewide races, Williston resident Chris Roy fared well in his hometown, garnering 334 votes compared to Jason Gibbs’ 115 in the race for the Republican nomination for secretary of state. Yet Gibbs proved more popular throughout the rest of Vermont, and won the nomination.

Williston resident Shelley Palmer also had the support of his town, earning the second-most votes for Chittenden County state senate nominees on the Republican ballot. Palmer and five other Republicans will all appear on the November ballot.

Turnout strong for primary

By 5 p.m. on Tuesday, more than 1,300 voters had visited the polls. The final number came to 1,770 — well above the typical primary turnout of 900 or so voters, according to Smardon. The figure signified 23 percent of Williston’s 7,556 registered voters.

“It’s been very steady, a very good turnout for a primary,” Smardon said.

Other than a quiet period in the early afternoon, Smardon said a steady stream of voters passed through the Armory.

Resident Mary Kay O’Brien, for one, said she voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin.

“I like his … years of leadership on the state level,” O’Brien said, also noting that she always votes and feels it’s an important right.

Sara Moran, a public health nurse for the state, also said she felt compelled by the right to vote, and said it was nice to see people visiting the polls.

“I believe it’s important that people vote,” she said. “I think it’s a responsibility.”

Darlene Isham exercised her voting rights to support the Republicans.

“I think it’s time for a change,” she said, elaborating that she wants to see more of the Grand Old Party on Vermont’s political scene.

Outside the Armory, candidates and campaign helpers held signs and chatted with voters.

“There’s no sweat in this one,” Terry Macaig, a Democratic incumbent in the Vermont House of Representatives, told the Observer while holding a sign Tuesday evening.

Macaig said he visited the polls in the morning, at noon and again in the afternoon. He and fellow incumbent Democrat Jim McCullough will face Republican challengers Mike Benevento and Jay Michaud in November.

The two Republicans also held signs outside the Armory Tuesday evening, and voiced their pleasant surprise with the number of voters.

“I imagine a lot are here for the Democrats,” Benevento said, before Michaud interrupted to joke that the two Republicans were the main attraction.

Nearby, a staff member of Racine’s campaign held a sign supporting the gubernatorial candidate. Will Senning had already visited Edmunds Middle School in Burlington around noon and Waterbury in the morning.

“We’re feeling confident … and hope that the Chittenden County folks come out,” Senning said.

Charles Merriman, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state, also stood outside the Armory on Tuesday evening, after visiting Montpelier, Middlesex and Burlington earlier in the day. He had sign-holding support from Williston resident Ellie Beckett, who also wore stickers for her neighbor, Ginny Lyons.

“Charlie is just the best guy for the job,” Beckett said.

Unfortunately for Merriman, not all Vermont voters thought so, and he lost the Democratic nomination to Jim Condos.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Here’s how Williston voted in two of the contested primary elections:

Democratic nominees for Chittenden County state senate

Ginny Lyons                        1,064

Tim Ashe                        789

Hinda Miller                        773

Sally Fox                        744

Philip Baruth                        656

Andy Montroll            630

Frank Geier                        418

Democratic nominee for governor

Doug Racine                        403

Deb Markowitz            353

Peter Shumlin            273

Matt Dunne                        201

Susan Bartlett            58

PHOTOS: Bolton potholes

Aug. 19, 2010

Courtesy photos by Braden Lalancette

Williston teen Braden Lalancette recently visited the Bolton Potholes swimming area.

PHOTOS: Sweet Harmony Home Bakery

Aug. 19, 2010

Observer photos by Greg Duggan

Lori Marino runs Sweet Harmony Home Bakery out of her home in Williston, and recently joined the Vermont Fresh Network.

PHOTOS: CVU football practice

Aug. 19, 2010

Observer photos by Greg Duggan

The Champlain Valley Union High football team began practices on Monday to start the fall season.

PHOTOS: Evening on Lake Iroquois

Aug. 19, 2010

Observer photos by Greg Duggan

Photos taken at Lake Iroquois on Monday evening.