November 26, 2014

Fire Department receives award

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Aug. 19, 2010

The Williston Fire Department recently accepted the 2009 Bronze Station Style Design Award from Fire Chief magazine.

The award was presented at the station by architect Alan Brown of Dore & Whittier Architects Inc.; Brown was the lead architect for the station.

The Williston Fire Station was chosen from 87 stations nationwide. New stations were evaluated, with the results published in a recent edition of Fire Chief Magazine. The Williston station is also featured for the month of August in the 2010 Awards Calendar.

The award was given largely for the functionality of the building, which was conceptualized after much research by Fire Chief Ken Morton.

Prior to the construction of the Talcott Road station, administrative functions and equipment storage had been dispersed throughout five locations in Williston. With all operations now in one place — as well as dorm space for eight people — the station can be staffed 24 hours a day. Currently, one full-time firefighter/EMT works at the station at night; the firefighter/EMT has support from on-call members sleeping at the station.

The community can also use the fire station, which as a community room with seating for 40 people. The community room, also used as a training room, was constructed to easily transform into an Emergency Operations Center, creating a single location for Police, Fire, EMS, and Public Works in the event of a natural disaster or emergency requiring the coalition of these integral departments.

Chocolate maker opens Williston facility

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Aug. 19, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

A well-known Vermont company has moved a portion of its operations to Williston.

Burlington-based Lake Champlain Chocolates opened a packaging and distribution center at 290 Boyer Circle on Aug. 9.

“They’re shipping as of that Monday,” Meghan Fitzpatrick, marketing specialist for Lake Champlain Chocolates, said earlier this week.

Fitzpatrick said all of the company’s shipping operations will operate out of the Williston location. Orders will range from wholesale shipments to catalogue and online sales.

“With increased sales in our mail order business, numerous partnerships with companies such as Vermont Teddy Bear, Crate and Barrel, Whole Foods and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, as well as the addition of 20 new products to the 2010-2011 catalog, the move will provide us with the extra space we need to continue this growth,” Allyson Myers, director of Sales and Marketing, said in a press release.

The move was a relocation from a building on Pine Street in Burlington, which Lake Champlain Chocolates shared with Dealer.com, a fast-growing company that builds websites for auto dealers and manufacturers. Lake Champlain Chocolate’s move allows Dealer.com to expand into the vacated space.

Lake Champlain Chocolate’s factory and retail store remain at 750 Pine St, where it has been since 1998. Since it’s founding in 1983, the company has always had a spot on Pine Street.

“It’s a location dear to everyone who’s been here for a long time,” Fitzpatrick said.

The company’s long-term goal is to find one central location for all operations, though Fitzpatrick did not know where that would be. She said Lake Champlain Chocolates signed a seven-year lease for the space at Boyer Circle.

The move comes shortly before the company’s fourth quarter, which Fitzpatrick said is the busiest time of the year as Lake Champlain Chocolates ships fall and holiday products.

School district to request permit extension

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Aug. 19, 2010

By Mariana Lamaison Sears
Observer correspondent

Work has begun at Allen Brook School to return the school entrance to its original configuration and address one of the Development Review Board’s concerns regarding the modular classrooms still in place at the school.

School District Principal Walter Nardelli said the corridor that connected the school building to the temporary classrooms was taken down and the original doorway is being restored. Electricity and water were disconnected and the units are shut down and ready to be moved, he said.

The hurried construction efforts are to show the district’s good faith as it prepares to ask the Development Review Board  for another extension to the temporary classrooms’ building permit, Nardelli said. The current permit expires Aug. 31, but the school was not able to find an affordable way to remove the units.

The district is asking for a 12-month extension, Nardelli said.

“The removal and restoration of the site is very expensive, over $100,000, and we hope to spread the work over one or two years,” he said.

The issue is scheduled for discussion at the Development Review Board’s meeting on Aug. 24, but nobody can predict how the board will respond, Planning Director Ken Belliveau said. He said he recommended that Nardelli address the school entrance issue. When the temporary classrooms were built in 2002, one of the school’s two sets of doors was transformed into a corridor to connect the building with the classrooms. The school entrance is a major concern for the board, he said.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room.

Household bakery joins statewide network

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Aug. 19, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Lori Marino displays a homemade pie in her kitchen on Harte Circle, where she operates Sweet Harmony Home Bakery.

Freshly baked goods — pies, muffins, cookies — sat on the counters of Lori Marino’s kitchen last Thursday, but the mother of four wasn’t just prepping a hefty helping of sweets for her family. She was baking for a variety of customers.

It was a typical day for Marino, who’s Sweet Harmony Home Bakery joined the Vermont Fresh Network last month. Marino founded the company last year out of her home on Harte Circle, where she still operates the business.

Though she initially began selling her goods at the Williston Farmers’ Market, Marino soon transitioned to baking primarily for restaurants, including Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza in Williston, Uncommon Grounds in Burlington and the Shelburne Meat Market. She also takes private orders.

By joining the Vermont Fresh Network, Marino pledges to work directly with at least three Vermont farms or food producers.

A press release from the network said, “VFN is the nation’s oldest statewide farm-chef partnership organization; it encourages farmers, food producers and chefs to work directly with each other to build partnerships in order to strengthen local communities.”

“It went along with the premise of my bakery,” Marino said, referring to the network’s emphasis on local and organic products.

Meghan Sheradin, executive director of the Vermont Fresh Network, emphasized the organization’s ability to foster relationships between chefs and farmers.

“It bridges the gap between the culinary world and agricultural production,” Sheradin said, explaining that the organization looks to create partnerships that effectively distribute local food from farms to chefs.

With more than 400 partner members — farmers, chefs and food producers — the network provides ample opportunity to share ideas.

Sheradin called it “the kind of feedback loop that no how-to list is going to give you.”

As a new member, Marino said she hasn’t taken advantage of networking opportunities yet. But she uses as many local products as possible. Sheradin said Sweet Harmony Home Bakery lists its partners in the Vermont Food Network as Ridgeview Farm in Fairfield, Adams Berry Farm in Burlington and Shelburne Orchards. Marino said she typically uses flour from King Arthur Flour, butter from Cabot and eggs from Shadow Cross Farm.

Marino picks her ingredients based on the season. She uses fruit in the summer — blueberry pies had just come out of the oven last Thursday — and makes pumpkin and pecan pies around Thanksgiving. Other offerings include apple pie, peach pie, cheesecakes and regular cakes.

Growing up in Shelburne, Marino’s mother ran a home bakery. Furthermore, her grandparents ran a dairy farm in Fairfield that also produced maple syrup, and she realized the amount of work that goes into running a farm.

So despite having a degree in music and a background as a singer, Marino’s experiences as a youth helped her when launching Sweet Harmony Home Bakery and joining the Vermont Fresh Network.

“I’ve had no formal training as of yet, other than growing up with it,” she said.

The idea to launch her own home bakery stemmed from a desire to work near her family.

“I decided to try it, and it took off,” Marino said.

Though she said the thought of expansion has crossed her mind, Marino expects to keep operating out of her kitchen for the time being.

Sweet Harmony Home Bakery can be reached at 876-7876 or at [email protected]

Williston’s community newspaper changes with the town

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Aug. 19, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Some 25 years ago, four local women, working out of their homes, produced the first issue of the Williston Whistle. The impetus, remembers Louise Ransom, was to inform the community about the local political scene.

“We started it because one of our friends was going to run for the Legislature,” Ransom said. “We realized there was no way in town to tell people about her.”

Ransom founded the paper in 1985 with Elaine Park — “she was the only one who had a computer in her house,” Ransom recalled — Ruth Painter and Sally Bryant; another woman soon joined the group. After operating for a short time out of Park’s house, Ransom said the paper moved to the downstairs of her home, where issues were laid out on a ping-pong table.

Ransom, who now lives in Shelburne, said she still has all the bound copies of the paper.

“It’s very interesting to look at the beginning of it, because we didn’t know how to do a layout,” she said.

Nowadays, the paper has a different name — it became the Observer in July 2003 — and an office in Tafts Farms Village Center. Layout is done on computers, using Adobe InDesign, before being sent electronically to a printing company each week.

The paper has grown along with the town. Ransom remembers documenting the events of a largely agricultural community, one that in the past 25 years has transformed into much more of a business community.

She recalls fighting Wal-Mart’s move to Williston. The paper initially supported Maple Tree Place, but lost its enthusiasm as plans for the mall changed.

“That’s what we in a sense were documenting was inevitable change, so-called progress, what it meant to be a rural town and what it became,” Ransom said.

As the paper grew, it moved into the Williston Coffeehouse, built by Ransom in Williston Village. Ransom and Bryant also bought out their partners and gained sole ownership of the paper.

“What was interesting in our paper, I think, was that we had lots and lots of columnists,” Ransom said, adding that she wrote an editorial for each edition.

One of those columnists, Ginger Isham, still writes for the paper.

Isham originally wrote a column called “Farm Tails,” which detailed various aspects of farm life.

“They wanted a farm wife to write something about farm life, because we were more of an agricultural community at that time,” Isham said.

Isham wrote the column for several years and then, after a break, she began writing Recipe Corner, which appears in the Observer every other week.

Ransom ran the Whistle for 11 years before she and Bryant sold the paper to current publishers Paul and Marianne Apfelbaum, a husband and wife team.

“By the time we left, we had a nice good looking paper, and the town was very enthusiastic about us,” Ransom said.

The Apfelbaums had been publishing Vermont Maturity magazine for almost a year before taking over the Whistle.

“It was the community newspaper for the town of Williston — where we lived — it was exciting from that perspective, and since it was a bi-monthly at the time, we saw an opportunity and a need within this community, for transforming it into a weekly newspaper, with more focus placed on hard news,” Marianne Apfelbaum wrote in an e-mail.

Besides transitioning the paper to a weekly and focusing on more hard news, the Apfelbaums also watched the paper adapt with the community.

“When we took over the paper, advertising tended to be mostly from businesses in the surrounding area,” Marianne Apfelbaum recalled.

Ransom, speaking about the early advertising in the paper, said she went to potential advertisers after the first issue of the Whistle came out and earned just enough money to fund the next issue.

“That’s the way we kept it going,” she said. “We never lost money, but we never paid ourselves until later.”

Now, the Observer has two paid advertising reps — and a third on the way.

“We now have advertisers from a much broader area, in addition to advertising placed by local, regional and national advertising agencies,” Marianne Apfelbaum wrote in her e-mail. “We also added local columns, more feature stories and photos, an expanded classifieds section, and of course, the Web site, which we recently upgraded.”

As Isham said, referring to new town committees, more stores and more town employees, “There’s a lot more going on in town now. … There’s much more to report on.”

The Apfelbaums want to see continued growth in the paper, through an expanded advertising base and more reader submissions of photos and letters.

“We hope to … continue to respond to the community’s needs by listening to feedback from readers,” Marianne Apfelbaum wrote.

Though content may have changed in the 25-year history of the Whistle and Observer, the paper has always documented the events of Williston, and will continue to do so.

“The Observer is a big thriving newspaper, which we’re delighted to see it become,” Ransom said.

Primary elections Aug. 24 at Armory

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Aug. 19, 2010

Staff report

Williston voters will have options for several Vermont seats on the ballot at the Tuesday, Aug. 24 primary elections. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Williston Armory.

Numerous races feature contests between candidates vying for their party’s nomination to run in the general election, set for Nov. 2.

In local races, Democrats will choose six nominees to run for Chittenden County seats in the Vermont Senate. Seven candidates are vying for the six nominations: Tim Ashe of Burlington, Philip Baruth of Burlington, Sally Fox of South Burlington, Frank “Guyer” Geier of South Burlington, Virginia “Ginny” Lyons of Williston, Hinda Miller of Burlington and Andy Montroll of Burlington.

The other contested local race involves the Chittenden County assistant judge positions. Four Democrats — Charles Delaney of Burlington, Richard Durham of South Burlington, Maurice Mahoney of South Burlington and Connie Cain Ramsey of Burlington — are running for two seats.

At the statewide level, incumbent Patrick Leahy of Montpelier and challenger Daniel Freilich of Wilmington are running as Democratic candidates for a U.S. Senate seat.

Paul Beaudry of Swanton, John Mitchell of Rutland and Keith Stern of Springfield are up for the Republican nomination for representative to Congress.

The governor’s race features five Democrats seeking the party nomination: Susan Bartlett of Hyde Park, Matt Dunne of Hartland, Deb Markowitz of Montpelier, Doug Racine of Richmond and Peter Shumlin of Putney.

Christopher Bray of New Haven and Steve Howard of Rutland are running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Marjorie Power of Montpelier and Boots Wardinski of Newbury are running for the Progressive nomination, and Phil Scott of Berlin and Mark Snelling of Starksboro for the Republican nomination.

Two Democrats — Jim Condos of Montpelier and Charles Merriman of Middlesex — and two Republicans — Jason Gibbs of Duxbury and Chris Roy of Williston — are running for the secretary of state position.

Edward Flanagan and Doug Hoffer, both Democrats from Burlington, are running for auditor of accounts.

Mara joins School Board

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Aug. 19, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

A week and a half before the deadline to submit applications to replace Keith Roy on the Williston School Board, the board hadn’t heard from a single candidate. Yet before the deadline passed, the board received eight applications. From that set of candidates, the board opted to appoint Kevin Mara to the open seat.

“I’m honored and glad to be of service. I’m looking forward to getting started with it and trying to help the community and make a difference,” Mara told the Observer on Tuesday.

The School Board solicited applicants earlier this summer after Roy, a MEDEVAC helicopter instructor pilot with the Vermont National Guard, announced that he would resign Aug. 15, prior to deploying to Iraq.

Board Chairwoman Holly Rouelle said Mara stood out from the other candidates in that he had worked with the Williston School Board in the past, as a budget buddy and a member of the Williston Conceptual Frameworks Committee. Budget buddies participate in budget discussions each year. The Frameworks Committee was a group of teachers, administrators, parents and community members that made recommendations on the reconfiguration of the school district.

Rouelle also said numerous community members e-mailed the School Board recommending Mara as an objective person able to see more than one side to an issue.

Mara’s first meeting with the School Board will take place Sept. 7. He’ll serve on the board until Town Meeting in March.

“Because it’s a temporary role and we were looking for someone to jump in right before the budget season, we felt his learning curve was smaller than other candidates who’d never been to a budget hearing or who’d worked with the board,” Rouelle said.

Mara has two children: his daughter, Katie, is entering Champlain Valley Union High School as a freshman. His son, Patrick, is entering seventh grade at Williston Central School.

Mara said his prior experience with the school district generated his interest in doing board work and serving the community.

Despite the previous experience, Mara expects to face a lot of hard work.

“I think it’s going to be a big learning curve,” he said. “I think the biggest goal is going to be addressing what is going to be a very large budget challenge for the community next spring.”

The Vermont Department of Education has recommended budget cuts in school districts throughout the state, including for Williston and Chittenden South Supervisory Union.

Mara also wants to continue work to ensure equity throughout the school district.

The newest board member is unsure if he’ll run to retain the seat in March.

“It’s wide open in either direction,” he said. “I guess I look at it as a unique opportunity in that I’ve been appointed by the board. It gives me a chance to learn about the process and understand if what I think is going to be a lot of work is something I can handle and participate in.”

If he does decide to run for the position, he could face competition. Rouelle said “some incredibly qualified candidates” stepped forward to replace Roy. She said the board encouraged the applicants to maintain a relationship with the board by serving as budget buddies in the fall.

“The seat’s open in the spring for anyone who wants to run,” Rouelle said.

Road Watch

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Burlington

Road construction will reduce traffic to one lane at times on the following Burlington streets:

  • South Prospect from Maple to Ledge Drive
  • Jackson Court
  • Harrington Terrace
  • Main Street from Battery to St. Paul
  • Pine Street from Maple to Bank
  • Pine Street from Pearl to Cherry
  • St. Paul from Bank Street to College
  • St. Paul from Pearl to Cherry
  • George Street
  • Peru Street
  • Loomis Street from North Prospect to North Willard
  • School Street
  • Weston Street
  • North Prospect Street from North Avenue to Riverside
  • Barrett Street
  • Colchester Avenue from the Winooski Bridge to Barrett Street, milling scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20

Colchester

Work on Holy Cross Road will continue until mid-October. Traffic control will be present when required.

Essex

Sidewalk construction on Route 15 eastbound between Sunset Drive to the Price Chopper Plaza entrance will cause lane closures and occasional traffic delays. Traffic control is present, and this project should be completed by Sept. 1.

Essex Junction

Work on Pearl Street between the main gate of the fairgrounds and the intersection with the post office will last through Nov. 1. Most of the work will be between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. with occasional night work possible. Two-way traffic will be maintained at all times with traffic control present.

South Summit Street is CLOSED from Pearl Street to Cherry Street from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for road construction. Traffic will be detoured, and traffic control will be present. To accommodate school traffic beginning Sept. 1, South Summit Street will be open from 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., and then from 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. This project is expected to be completed by Oct. 5.

Interstate 89

Drivers should be aware of construction activity near the exit 14W northbound ramp.

Work to improve the exit 15 northbound ramp on I-89 in Winooski may cause traffic delays. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes if possible.

Jericho

Sidewalk construction on Route 15 from Lawrence Heights to Griswold Street will cause periodic lane closures through September.

Milton

Construction of the West Milton Road near the Lamoille River will reduce traffic to one lane. Traffic control will be present, and this project is expected to last until the end of August.

Richmond

Work under the deck of the Interstate 89 bridge over U.S. 2 will reduce the overhead clearance on U.S. 2 to 14 feet and 6 inches. Motorists should also be aware of workers at the sides of the road. This project should be completed by Sept. 1.

Work painting the I-89 bridge over Jericho Road near the elementary school will reduce traffic on Jericho Road in that area to one lane for the next week.

Utility companies working in the area of the Checker House Bridge on U.S. 2 may reduce traffic to one lane at times for the next several months.

South Burlington

No parking is allowed on Airport Drive in front of the airport to accommodate delivery of large construction materials. This parking restriction is in effect Monday through Friday until Oct. 8.

Motorists should be aware of construction vehicles entering and leaving the main entrance to the Holiday Inn on Williston Road during the day.

Road construction on San Remo Drive will reduce traffic to one lane at times.

Underhill

Pleasant Valley Road just north of Mountain Road will be closed from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Westford

Through Aug. 24, a section of Route 128 will be closed due to a culvert replacement north of the Westford Village “Greens.” Traffic will be detoured onto Cambridge Road, Westford/Toot Road, Fairfax to Route 104, and back onto Route 128. In addition, paving in Westford Village proceeding to the intersection of Vermont routes 128 and 104 will cause lane closures and short traffic delays. Traffic control will be present, and motorists should use extreme caution while traveling through the work zone. This project is expected to be completed by Sept. 12.

Winooski

Crews will be working along the eastbound shoulder of Route 15 near exit 15 during mid-week.

County-wide

Motorists should be alert for bridge washing and mowing along all county roads. Minor traffic delays should be expected.

For additional information, contact Administrative Advantage at 802-872-9757. More information on current activities at the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization is available online at www.ccmpo.org.

Volunteers

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The listings below are a small sample of needs from more than 200 agencies, available by going online to www.unitedwaycc.org and clicking on “Volunteer.” If you do not have computer access, or would like more information about the volunteer opportunities, call 860-1677 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

INSTALLATION HELP

ReSOURCE needs a volunteer to help its IT manager install security cameras at the Pine Street location. Volunteer should be comfortable climbing ladders and using construction tools. Flexible weekday, evening or weekend schedule.

VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Jazz for Peace needs “virtual volunteers” to help raise awareness of its Foundation Grant program, which gives grants to organizations throughout the United States. Help choose recipients, assist the event or volunteer coordinators, help with publicity, website and more. Volunteers work from home on their own computers and on their own schedule.

MENTORS NEEDED

Mentors are needed in two programs; both require a background check.

Spectrum Youth & Family Services – Be a mentor to individual youth ages 12 to 22 and share mutual interests such as biking, fishing or cooking. Studies show that teens with mentors are less likely to use drugs or alcohol or to skip school. Mentors serve one to three hours per week and training, ongoing support and free activity ideas provided.

Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program – Be a mentor to a newly arrived refugee family and help them adjust to daily life in Vermont. This may include grocery shopping, cooking on an electric stove, understanding banking and budgeting or helping with English language skills. Flexible weekday, evening or weekend scheduling, about two hours a week.

FRANKLIN-GRAND ISLE SPECIALS

The Franklin-Grand Isle United Way needs volunteers to help with several important tasks:

• Reliable, safe drivers are needed to deliver resource directories to various locations.

• Help “Santa” sort and inventory wonderful donated toys to prepare for the holiday food and toy program. This volunteer needs to be able to lift 20 to 30 pounds.

• An office volunteer is also needed to help prepare materials and mailings of packets of information.

Some of this could be done at home. Flexible scheduling for all opportunities.

COMING EVENTS

A number of local groups are planning special events in August and need volunteers to help make their efforts a success:

Prevent Child Abuse Vermont – “Walk for Children” needs help with set up and checkpoint stations, sign posting, decorations, face painting and more. Volunteers receive a Walk for Children T-shirt. Aug. 28, shifts from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity – Help plan and run a community picnic at Shelburne Farms on Sunday, Aug. 29. Skills in graphic design, organization, phone communication and more are needed. About five hours per month in planning, plus event day.

Lund Family Center – Help set up, decorate, assist with parking, registration and more at the annual fund-raising evening on Grosse Pointe in Ferrisburgh. Sept. 11, four-hour shifts from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Lund Family Center in Essex Junction – Volunteers for the annual Adoption Picnic in Essex will lead activities, monitor food and games, help with set up and parking, and more. Sept. 25, two-hour shifts between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

This Week’s Popcorn

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‘The Other Guys’ gives us straight cop/funny cop

By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer

Classic comedic conventions commandeered by the unique nuttiness that is Will Ferrell make director-writer Adam McKay’s “The Other Guys” a bona fide laugh fest. Spanning the spectrum of shtick from slapstick to heady juxtaposition, this ceaselessly rambunctious send-up of cop shows cajoles you into its mad modus operandi.

Will Ferrell as Allen Gamble and Mark Wahlberg as Terry Hoitz are “The Other Guys,” desk-jockeying partners down at the precinct who look on from the sidelines while their illustrious betters glom all the glory. That’s fine with Allen, who prefers the accounting end of police work. But not so for Terry, a seething mass of pent-up, career discontent.

Making it worse, the drab assignment has come of his own doing. There isn’t a soul in the Big Apple who doesn’t know it was Hoitz who mistakenly took Derek Jeter for an interloper in a Yankee Stadium tunnel and shot him in the leg. His every waking thought is about getting out, mixing it up with the bad guys and redeeming himself.

Thus it’s highly unlikely that the passively inclined partner he incessantly disparages will prove a path to his sleuthing salvation. But then this is farce, where the playing field is often delightfully evened by the muse of sentimentality and dreams. If tramps can become kings and wallflowers princesses, what’s another heroic gumshoe?

Of course, Terry initially denigrates all the hard research Allen has been putting into a financial mogul’s neglect to take out the proper scaffolding applications. But when it proves the smoke that could lead to a potentially deadly inferno of corporate fraud, he and Allen are soon on their bumbling, crazy way, doing the derring-do without a clue.

They are the odd couple of detective work. Allen, serene and able to see the good in almost everyone, is full of surprises. Always raging, Terry is angered even more when he discovers the inner Allen after being invited to his home and meeting the wife. Gradually, between the guffaws, we get still more chortles as their back stories are recounted.

Unfortunately, there is an often disjointed feel to director McKay’s free-for-all, as if any one of the story’s raucous vignettes might tumble off the tentative high wire on which it recklessly scurries. Credit Ferrell and Wahlberg’s likeable caricatures and some very screwy occurrences for keeping the plot afloat. Good supporting performances help, too.

Particularly effective in joining Ferrell to play opposite Wahlberg’s flummoxed, decently portrayed straight man, Michael Keaton is precinct Capt. Gene Mauch, who moonlights as a manager at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Like Mr. Ferrell, Keaton is an unflappable master of the understated, his complacence in outrageous circumstances adding to the absurdity.

The undisputed top banana, however, is Ferrell. Reprising his unlikely champion in yet another permutation, the familiar, wacky contradictions are in full attendance. But while we’ve seen this drill before, we still can’t help feel joy and minor amazement as the sterner stuff our Walter Mitty is made of hoists up the standard for the average Joe.

Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton perfected the wishful metamorphosis in the early part of the last century. But although interpreting it for today’s sensibilities, Will Ferrell manages to maintain the vital humanism that makes the cliché so uplifting. Even those of us who aren’t living lives of quiet desperation like a vicarious thrill now and then.

Wahlberg’s would-be super cop as both built-in detractor and witness to Allen’s heretofore hidden talents mirrors our amused disbelief. Not that any of it actually makes their crime-busting any easier. They dither and fumble all the same, slipping and sliding through peril and threat, more often than not surviving solely by fool’s luck.

Naturally, they’re working the case sans departmental blessing. By the time they really get their wheels spinning in place, the captain has busted them. Terry is supposed to be doing traffic patrol, and Allen has had his police revolver replaced with a wooden replica … and not even a good one at that. Meanwhile, the swindlers are doing their worst.

To complicate matters, Allen and his lady have a tiff. She heads for Mom’s. But while Eva Mendes as beauteous wife Sheila plays into the big gag nicely, the real treat is Viola Harris as Mama Ramos. The entrusted go-between as Allen and Sheila try to both mend fences and outsmart the villains, her delivery of increasingly bawdy missives is priceless.

But if you parse its elements, it’s apparent that director McKay’s madcap lampoon of the buddy-buddy/cop genre is greater than the sum of its parts. Which may be attributed to the lunatical conviviality created and just sheer chance. But whatever it is, once swept up in the laugh contagion, we ask, who needs heroes when we’ve got “The Other Guys?”

“The Other Guys,” rated PG-13, is a Columbia Pictures release directed by Adam McKay and stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Michael Keaton. Running time: 107 minutes.