May 27, 2018

Field hockey squad angling for playoff seed

CVU closes regular season against Mt. Abe

Oct. 21, 2010

With each contest important to playoff pairings, the Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team returns home Friday to close out the regular season against Route 116 neighbor Mount Abraham Union High.

The Eagles will be hoping to repay the Redhawks for a 2-1 nipping CVU handed Mount Abe two weeks ago in Bristol.

The Redhawks took a 6-3-3 season mark to South Burlington on Wednesday for their second test against the undefeated Rebels. The game was scheduled for after press deadline.

In a rearranged contest Saturday due to wet field conditions in Hinesburg, CVU went to Middlebury and for the second time this season wound up in a deadlock with the Tigers, this time 1-1.

Following a scoreless first half, Louise Gibbs popped home a goal to give the Redhawks a 1-0 lead, Kathryn Maitland assisting.

The tally held up until there was 1:37 left, when Middlebury’s Sara Higgins notched the equalizer.

CVU out shot the Tigers, 5-3.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

Harriers geared up for championship run

Oct. 21, 2010

Just call Summer and Taylor Spillane the two-second cousins.

With Champlain Valley Union High’s cross country campaign entering the late season schedule of championship events, the two runners on the title hopeful girls teams traded team first-place finishes the last two weekends.

On Oct. 9 at Morrisville, Taylor Spillane led the girls to a team victory, edging cousin Summer by 2 seconds.

Last Friday at Underhill in a three-school meet, Summer returned the favor with a 2-second win over Taylor as the Redhawks swept to another team triumph in the girls division. The boys finished second to Mount Mansfield Union.

This Saturday the teams will be at Missisquoi Valley Union High for the Northern Vermont Athletic Council Metro Championship meet.

Coach Scott Bliss said Monday the team is in good health going into the late season competitions.

At Underhill, the girls as usual ran close together, taking the first five places and seven of the first eight.

The Spillanes were one-two in 19 minutes, 16 seconds and 19:18. Following were Adrienne Devita (19:26), Aleksey Jordick (19:49) and Julienne Devita (20:06).

Sophie Hess took seventh and Claire Trotter was eighth.

CVU’s Dan Hebert scored a victory on the boys side with a time of 16:33 to beat out Mount Mansfield’s Jack Hegman by 2 seconds.

The Redhawks’ Jared Keyes was fifth and Nick Bouton 10th.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent

Parents call for curriculum changes

Testy exchanges at School Board meeting

Oct. 21, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Two mothers used the public participation portion of last week’s Williston School Board meeting to criticize board members and the administration for the district’s below average scores on NECAP science exams.

Results released last month showed that 26 percent of Williston eighth graders scored proficient or higher on the New England Common Assessment Program tests, compared to the state average of 29 percent. Critical letters to the editor and guest columns — including a column from District Principal Walter Nardelli calling the results “unacceptable” — have appeared in the Observer since the scores became public. The Oct. 13 board meeting was the first chance for parents to publicly discuss the scores with School Board members.

Fourth graders in Williston fared better on the exams, with 66 percent of students scoring proficient or higher, compared to the state average of 54 percent.

The board is scheduled to hear a presentation on the NECAP science scores next month, but parents Abby Klein and Ann Smith made statements at the first board meeting since the release of the results.

“Obviously I was very disappointed in this board but not shocked,” Klein told board members, recalling that a group of parents called unsuccessfully for reform in the science curriculum two years ago. “This happened at my children’s expense.”

Klein said Williston Central School does not offer enough science instruction to students.

Smith spoke next, reading off a list of questions she wants answered at the November board meeting. Her requests included the following: a house-by-house comparison between academic teams to see if the curriculum from one house can help others, or if one house needs to undergo significant academic changes; whether any students are close to scoring at the highest level in science, Proficient with Distinction; scoring patterns to see where students are testing well and testing poorly; whether the school district follows the National Science Teacher Association standards of providing 80 percent of science instruction in the lab; and other data.

Chairwoman Holly Rouelle eventually stopped Smith and asked her to send the list to Nardelli.

The meeting escalated when Smith accused Nardelli of lying to parents two years ago about the amount of science instruction in Williston. The allegation caused Rouelle to interject and admonish Smith for getting personal.

“And rude,” added board member Darlene Worth, who said such an accusation should have been made behind the closed doors of a principal’s office rather than in a public forum.

Klein had also said earlier that she felt the administration hadn’t been honest with parents.

Rouelle told Smith to send an e-mail with her concerns and to return in November for the board’s meeting on the NECAP science scores.

“This can’t wait a month,” Smith said before stepping away.

Smith later told the Observer she sent a list of action items to the School Board. Her suggestions included putting a one-year moratorium on school plays, eliminating the remaining half-days for the 2010-2011 school year and mandating that all houses have one hour of science instruction each day.

She also requested that the November board meeting, which will cover the NECAP scores, be held in Williston instead of at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg.

“There is a science crisis at (Williston Central School) and it requires immediate action. We do not have time to study this to death and see what happens,” Smith wrote in an e-mail.

Everyday Gourmet

Secrets of the Tuscan kitchen

Oct. 21, 2010

By Kim Dannies

Piano, Piano, Pieno (Slowly, Slowly, Full) is a lovely Italian phrase that captures the essence of Tuscan cuisine. Food that slows us down and fills us up is the stuff of life; a proper meal, at a proper table, with wine, surrounded by loved ones. I recently indulged in this delightful routine while eating my way through Tuscany — a seductive place of lavender infused hillsides rimmed with olive trees, grapevines and sunflowers all bathed in extraordinary coffee-colored hues.

I talked to chefs and did a little cooking, too, and learned some “secrets” of the Tuscan kitchen, things we’ve all known all along, but sometimes forget to practice.

Cibi locali: Local, seasonal food. Italians know no other way; there is no locavore fad to embrace, they’ve lived it forever. What they do with a neighborhood pig is mind-boggling: vast selections of salamis, roasts and sausages right on down to a simple whipped lardo on toast — it’s a gastronomic marvel.

Ore: Time to spend, not save. Time to chop tomatoes, zucchini, porcini mushrooms. Time to mix flour and boil water. Time to read; “The Silver Spoon” is Italy’s cooking bible.

Dolci: Great desserts. Vin Santo wine, paired with Biscotti, is the perfect endnote to a meal; hazelnut studded panforte with a cappuccino is a must for morning fortification, and several almond ricciarelli cookies complement teatime.

Controni: The essential side dishes. Passion, respect, culture and love are ingredients that will never be found on a menu or in a cookbook, but they transform our everyday lives piano, piano, pieno.

Ricciarelli (reach-a- rell-ee)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grind up 6 ounces of blanched almonds and pour into a prep bowl. Add 1 cup confectionary sugar; fold in 1 tablespoon of flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Beat 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. Add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract and blend until a soft paste forms.

Place some confectionary sugar on a clean, dry surface. Form 1 tablespoon of dough into a small ball; roll in the sugar, then place cookie on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Repeat. Flatten each cookie lightly with a fork. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Yields 16 cookies.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to

Little Details

Vote your ideals, not your fears

Oct. 21, 2010

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

“Minds are of three kinds: one is capable of thinking for itself; another is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinking of others.”

— Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince”

It’s election season. Tracing curves along Oak Hill Road, I note placards touting one politician or another.

A gathering of signs inhabits a small island jutting into the road, calling attention to a particularly curvaceous intersection. Candidates of various political stripes — Republican, Democrat, independent — cohabitate among blades of grass. It’s an uneasy truce, a mingling of ideologies.

Someone vandalized — visibly crushed — the sign of my favored candidate for governor. It remained rooted yet crumpled, hanging on for its political life. Human hands did what wind could not. I cringed. The negativity of the gesture — for all to see — saddened and offended me. Politics offers many places to disagree, but please, let’s keep things civil.

This gubernatorial campaign in Vermont feels different. Personal attacks and fear-mongering prevail, with some candidates slinging more mud than others. Untruths spread like viruses — quietly retracted by campaign managers for few ears to hear. These shockwaves reverberate among the electorate, instilling misinformation and fear. Specters of Willie Horton and Swift Boat have reared their ugly, vile heads in the Green Mountain State. Neither party is innocent but, as voters, we must ask who threw the first muddied stone.

My family attended a recent gubernatorial debate at St. Michael’s College. I befriended a lovely older couple — a retired engineer and teacher from southern Vermont. We talked of careers, shifting weather patterns and the economy. Realizing we were of differing political stripes, we agreed it was OK to be on opposite sides of the political fence. We all want what’s best for Vermont — we may simply disagree on the roadmap to get there.

Listening to the candidates proved educational and, at times, entertaining.

Cris Ericson of the Vermont National Marijuana Party said that, if elected governor, she’d host a “Pardon TV Show.” Potential parolees would make their case before television cameras and Vermonters could call in to vote regarding their release.

Dan Feliciano, an independent from Essex, spoke with the thick accent of a Bronx native. He said his experience as a turnaround consultant would enable him to point out excesses in the state budget and run a leaner, more efficient government. I think Dan should run for treasurer or a newly-created “efficiency czar.”

Emily Peyton wants Vermont to create its own currency. Dennis Steele thinks Vermont should become its own country.

Brian Dubie and Peter Shumlin, the leading contenders, stated their visions for the state that, in my view, are more real world and grounded. Their political differences lie in the details.

Vermont faces serious challenges. Our prisons are overcrowded. Children go to bed hungry. Individuals lacking health insurance delay treatment. Skilled adults struggle to find employment in an economy convulsing from global insecurity.

Striking a balance between strengthening Vermont’s economy — while protecting waterways, forests and farmlands — presents a vexing conundrum. The best minds with the best intentions must work together to address these issues on behalf of all Vermonters.

Whoever emerges the winner of the gubernatorial race in November faces unpopular decisions. Lasting change rarely happens overnight. Thoughtful, incremental change often has more staying power. Politics is not about immediate gratification. It is about the painstaking, sometimes painful process of working with too little to achieve impossibly much.

Economic crises tend to be cyclical. Food insecurity is a silent, enduring scourge among poorer Vermonters — whether it’s a child, distracted by hunger, who performs poorly on NECAP tests or the woman who eats only part of her lunch at the senior center because she can’t afford dog food for her loyal pet waiting at home. Employability correlates positively with educational levels — helping kids thrive in school makes dollars and sense. The man who opts to have his teeth pulled because he can’t afford thousand-dollar crowns faces weaker job prospects when competing with an applicant sporting pearly whites and a broad smile.

Non-violent, ill-educated prisoners who suffer from substance and mental health issues would be better served by community-based treatment and supports than lock-ups that smell of urine. Having worked directly with men and women in the correctional system, I walked away with more compassion and less fear.

Clean air and clean water are worth standing up for. These priceless commodities bring immeasurable value to Vermont in a world growing increasingly dirty and devastated.

Our next governor must be a steward, a visionary with the optimism of a child and the fortitude of a big block of Barre granite.

Given the cautionary words of power politics master Machiavelli, I invite you to think critically, think deeply and, wherever you find yourself on the political continuum, think for yourself.

Vote your ideals, not your fears.

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

Letters to the Editor


Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Please note the Observer will not run any Letters to the Editor pertaining to the vote on Oct. 28, the edition prior to the election.

All Letters to the Editor written in regards to the election were to be received by Oct. 18.

‘Boys of Autumn’

A hearty thank you to Paul Angstman and Tom Parent for the tremendous coaching, leadership and mentoring they provided to the players of Williston’s “Fall Ball” Little League baseball team. Posting an undefeated regular season is typically testimony enough to the clarity, sportsmanship and love of the game that these two talented coaches imparted onto the “Boys of Autumn.” In this instance, all the players, parents, family and friends that watched this team develop and mature as ballplayers and members of our community learned lessons that will be applied today and in the future. Those lessons were about both baseball AND life.

The sacrifice of time and selfless dedication of these two coaches, and their families, is to be commended. On behalf of an entire very grateful team, I say, “Thank You” and bravo!

Springtime is RIGHT around the corner!!!

Cole Casale and family, Williston

School Board hosting budget forum

The Williston School Board would like to remind you that we will be holding a Community Budget Forum on Oct. 26, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The board will be making important decisions regarding the future of our educational system in Williston and would like your input on what our schools should look like given these targets. This forum will be held in the Williston Central School dining room.

Under the Challenges for Change law, the Department of Education was required to establish new spending targets for the 2011 school year for every school district in the state. On average, the reductions amount to a 2 percent cut for most districts to create a statewide cut of $23 million. Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca notes that last year, most local school budgets were level funded. He says imposing a 2 percent cut next year, on top of inflation, means that local budgets will face a roughly 5 percent cut.

Although these cuts are considered voluntary, the Supervisory Union must report back to the commissioner of education by Dec. 15 whether they will meet their target. At the community forum, the School Board will present first pass budget numbers and more information about the law, and solicit suggestions from the community for meeting the challenge. We hope that you can join us for this important work this Tuesday evening.

Chairwoman Holly Rouelle, Vice Chairwoman Deb Baker-Moody, Laura Gigliotti, Kevin Mara, Darlene Worth, Williston School Board

Vote Benevento for ‘positive change’

I am writing to you as a non-resident of your state, but a concerned citizen of our country. I am concerned about the apathy I see this time of year from the voting public toward the political machine. We have become very conditioned to view candidates, just by virtue of being a candidate, as just another “politician.” It is a shame that that word has become a negative connotation. What a risk new politicians are taking by throwing their hats in the ring to bring about change.

I would like to express my thanks to all people willing to subject themselves to the daily grind of a campaign, to try and bring about positive change. One such candidate, who is running in Williston, is Mike Benevento.

I have known Mike for over 20 years and have seen him get involved just for the sake of getting involved. I wish more candidates around our country were like Mike. He seeks no personal gain from his endeavor to hold political office but he does seek positive change. He wants what was given to him from earlier generations: a chance at prosperity for his family, for all Vermonters. Please consider him when you cast your ballots in November. He is self admittedly not a politician, just someone concerned enough to come off the sidelines and say, “We can’t continue down this path any longer!”

Daniel Johnson, Barnstable, Mass.

Macaig gets results

With all of the hoopla surrounding this fall’s elections nationally and statewide, here in Williston we are lucky to have such a clear choice in who will represent us in Montpelier — Terry Macaig.

As a 45-year resident of Williston, Terry really knows our town. Terry doesn’t just sit on the sidelines and enjoy the benefits of living here; Terry has been actively involved as a Justice of the Peace, has served eight years on the Selectboard and was a member of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. In his spare time he has been on the board of the Williston Historical Society and is active in Scouting and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

But being elected as a state representative isn’t a prize for serving your community well. We need representatives who get things done. Last term Terry was instrumental in shaping one of the few truly breakthrough agreements required to get our state through this financial crisis. Terry spent his “off season” last year as a member of the committee tasked to solve the retirement benefits shortfall for state employees and teachers. The committee was able to work with these valuable employees to reach a compromise that saved the state millions of dollars in future pension costs. These are the kind of results we need from our elected officials.

We are fortunate in Williston to have so many ready to serve in the Legislature, but Terry Macaig has earned our support.

Jeanne Jensen, Williston

Michaud has experience

If we’re really serious about wanting to fix Vermont’s economy and create jobs for our people, doesn’t it make sense to elect legislators who have actually run businesses and managed payrolls?

I think it does; that’s one of many reasons I plan to vote for Jay Michaud of Williston for the Vermont House.

Jay has been a successful businessman and entrepreneur for the past 20 years, so he has developed skill sets that will be invaluable in addressing legislative issues like creating new job opportunities, eliminating state deficits, reducing taxes and controlling government spending.

We need Jay in the Statehouse to protect Williston’s interests and make our voices heard loud and clear. Please cast your ballot on Nov. 2 for Jay Michaud for the Vermont House of Representatives from Chittenden District 2.

Anne Dickerson, Williston

Reelect Jim McCullough

We are writing this letter of endorsement in the hopes that we can help return Jim McCullough to the Vermont House of Representatives.

As residents of Williston for over 25 years, we have witnessed firsthand Jim McCullough’s commitment to our community. Jim is truly a steward of our environment, keeping open space and responsible land use as a constant priority even as we witness what sometimes seems to be the almost inevitable residential and commercial development happening in our town. Jim seemed to have a voice if not a true presence in virtually every challenging issue that Williston has faced over these many years.

In addition, our family has spent years participating in the many activities provided at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center and we have all tucked away memories of Jim as a man of integrity and vision. Jim is a man who quite simply publicly advocates for what he believes in his heart to be in the best interests of all Vermonters. Please join us in re-electing Jim McCullough.

Art and Jennie Cernosia, Williston

Vote for Macaig

I have worked with Terry and have known him for a long time and consider him a friend. He is quiet yet very efficient and gets things done without a lot of fanfare, so many of you may not know him well.

Because of his involvement in so many areas of town and state government he has a background of experience to weigh the issues and will do what is best for most Vermonters. We need Terry in Montpelier.

Ginger Isham, Williston

Benevento believes in families, small government

On Nov. 2, Williston residents will cast votes for the state Legislature.

Mike Benevento is one of the candidates. I have known Mike for years through Williston Little League as a parent volunteer, coach, fellow board member and friend.

Mike is not a political insider; in fact, this is the first time Mike has run for political office. He is a fiscal conservative. Mike believes in promoting jobs by reducing taxes, supporting tax credits and permit reforms. That is exactly what Vermont needs in this turbulent time of out of control spending without checks and balances in Montpelier.

Our current representatives, I fear, have forgotten that the middle class is shrinking and so is our buying power, while our state debt spins continuously out of control.

Families that are the bedrock of Williston are suffering and all our representatives do is spend our children’s inheritance on stimulus programs. As the Chamber of Commerce indicated, our representatives get less than a stellar report card on fiscal responsibility.

Mike Benevento believes in strong family values. It is no longer a viable option to survive on one income and live the middle class ideals while maintaining family values to support our children. The family unit is suffering, as two parents have to bring in a double income and spend less and less time with their children.

The repercussions can be seen in everything from NECAP test scores to our shrinking bottom lines.

Mike is a strong proponent of smaller government that does not extend its tentacles into local affairs and school systems, while protecting essential services to help the needy and elderly. Mike Benevento is a man of integrity that is not afraid to do the hard work to serve all Willistonians fairly. Elect Mike Benevento as our state representative.

Chris Geffken, Williston

McCullough shares our values

What is it that prompts one to support a candidate for public office? The briefest answer is that support is given when the candidate’s values and legislative record reflect one’s own values and vision.

We are not new to the community, neither are we lifelong Vermonters. We have lived in this grand state, after living in many other places, nearly a quarter of our lives. What we have come to understand, and Vermont has played a role in that understanding, is that government is a process, the struggle to find balance between what citizens want, need, on one hand, and creation and maintenance of peace and orderliness on the other, enabling everyone, the community, to enjoy what has been achieved in a safe and peaceful manner. Some would also add in surroundings that bring beauty and serenity into lives.

We support Jim McCullough’s candidacy to continue as our state representative in Vermont’s House of Representatives, an office he has held for eight years. We do so because of Jim’s public service and voting record over many years on various Williston committees, boards and in the state Legislature. They reflect his values and vision, shaped by lifelong experiences as a small business owner and entrepreneur, his concern for the elderly and a passionate commitment to the environment.

Jim has contributed to shaping a government that is reflective of the values held by most of his constituents. They also reflect, we believe, what is so good and decent about Vermont, and why we are proud to live here.

Please vote to return Jim to our state’s Legislature.

Andrew and Bonnie Tangalos, Williston

Jay Michaud’s tireless dedication

Less than two weeks ago, Jay Michaud’s father unexpectedly passed away. Despite losing his Dad, my state representative running mate continued to tirelessly campaign door-to-door in an effort to introduce himself to, and get to know, Williston residents. His tireless dedication is impressive and will go far in serving our state should you elect him representative on Nov. 2.

Mike Benevento, Republican candidate for state representative, Chittenden 2 District, Williston

Support Macaig and McCullough for Vermont House

In these trying times, we need experienced leadership representing the residents of Williston at the Vermont Statehouse. So, I urge your support in reelecting Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough to the Vermont House of Representatives.

Both our representatives have a proven record of leadership in promoting economic growth and helping working Vermonters. Yet, at the same time, they both understand that protecting the environment sustains the quality of life necessary to entice businesses and entrepreneurs to settle here in Vermont and create good jobs.

Jim McCullough and Terry Macaig have a distinguished record of public service to the town of Williston and the state of Vermont through their participation on numerous town boards and charitable organizations. Let’s return Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough to the Vermont House of Representatives.

Joshua Diamond, Williston

Williston needs change in representation

I almost choked reading last week’s candidate profile where Jim McCullough asserts that he has been falsely labeled anti-business. No Jim, your continual 25 percent rating in the Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Report Card, your eight-year lock-step voting record with the Democratic super-majority and your incredibly naïve comments that only 345 good paying Vermont jobs will be lost with the closing of Vermont Yankee proves that you are indeed anti-business.

Does Jim have any idea how hard it is to create 345 new jobs in Vermont? Does he realize he disregarded that out-of-state workers pay a significant amount of payroll tax into Vermont’s tax base? Does he have any comprehension of the unknown negative effect that a drastically increased utility rate will have on Vermont’s current and future employers? In 2010, let’s send some new representation to Montpelier and give Jim more time to ride his bicycle around whatever fantasy world he is living in: “Waters … are the foundations of life and business.” Really?

I urge Williston voters to elect Mike Benevento and Jay Michaud on Nov. 2. Williston and Vermont need a drastic change from the Democratic majority currently controlling the Legislature and these two candidates will work to change the climate in Montpelier. We need representatives who truly understand that Vermont’s other important environment is our business environment and who will work to lower taxes and promote job growth making Vermont a better place to start, move or expand a business.

I also support Brian Dubie for governor. He will continue to counter-balance the left and provide the check and balance we have enjoyed over the past eight years with continued common sense and fiscal conservancy.

Brennan Duffy, Williston

Vote for Charlie Smith

I would like to encourage Vermonters to place your vote for Charlie Smith for state Senate.

I first met Charlie when we both served on the Lake Champlain Workforce Investment Board. One thing I noticed and continue to admire about Charlie is his ability to think through complicated issues and to help others reach consensus and decisions … a rare talent. Charlie’s experience combines leadership and achievement in business, state government and community affairs. He will bring his legislative colleagues together around pragmatic, long-term solutions to contain the cost of government and support the creation of new jobs for Vermonters.

Because Charlie is a common sense thinker and an accomplished business leader, a vote cast in his direction will be a worthwhile investment in our collective future.

James T. Rude, Williston

Elect Fox to the Senate

I am writing to strongly urge voters to choose Sally Fox to be one of their new state senators. I met Sally nearly 25 years ago when we were both elected to our first terms in the Vermont House. During her 14 years as a state representative from Essex, she was a tireless advocate and a strong voice for children, families, seniors and people with disabilities. At the same time, she was also responsible for leading the way on strengthening our criminal and civil laws.

Sally’s leadership skills are demonstrated by having been elected assistant majority leader and appointed chairwoman of the Judiciary and the Appropriations Committees. In all of these roles she was incredibly well respected for her in-depth knowledge of the law and for her understanding of the budgeting process. She is an approachable, personable consensus builder and always found ways to balance the competing interests of constituents, advocates and her fellow legislators. No easy task!

I was so pleased when I learned that Sally sought to return to the Legislature in the hope of replacing retiring Sen. Doug Racine, who we all know was the finest champion of maintaining the social safety net for those Vermonters who are most in need. I believe Sally will be just as effective, creative and persuasive as he was, and I personally can vouch for her being one of the hardest working legislators ever to have served in the Statehouse. Chittenden County and all Vermonters will be incredibly well served if Sally Fox is elected state senator on Nov. 2. Please vote!

Linda Almy, Former state representative for Bolton, Jericho and Underhill, Underhill Center

Ashe asks for votes

I’ve been honored to represent Williston residents in the Senate. Since my election two years ago I’ve made it a priority to stay in touch with what’s going on in Williston, and to keep you informed of what’s happening in Montpelier in the pages of the Observer, by attending local meetings and through phone calls and e-mails with hundreds of residents.

I also hope I’ve served you well in the Senate. I played a central role on issues including broadband deployment, unemployment insurance, tax policy, agricultural development, farm and forest conservation, and more. Visit my website,, for more details about my accomplishments in Montpelier.

My efforts to prevent cost-shifts onto the middle class and to improve the lives of Vermont’s senior citizens are two reasons why Bernie Sanders once again supports my election.

Finally, I want to thank Williston voters for the privilege of serving you in the Senate, and I ask for your support on Election Day.

Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, Burlington

Shumlin supports education

Peter Shumlin has my vote for governor because he is the better choice to address education needs in Vermont. As a professional in education, I appreciate that Shumlin’s plan is thoughtful and forward-looking, ranging from changes in universal pre-kindergarten to helping graduates pay down college debt.

The skills needed for the new economy are very different than the skills needed for jobs in previous generations. Education and training at the post-secondary level will be essential for 62 percent of all jobs by 2018, yet only about 40 percent of Vermonters currently hold an associate’s degree or higher. In order for Vermonters both young and old to succeed in an evolving job market and fast-paced economy, we must bridge this gap. I believe one answer lies in making critical investments in workforce training for our students from elementary school through college as well as our adult workforce. Peter Shumlin understands this. He has pledged to strengthen career awareness education in our public school systems beginning in elementary school and increase career exposure for our middle and high school students through a renewed focus on technical education, dual enrollment, school-to-work initiatives and internships.

We must find ways to keep our educated young adults in Vermont once they graduate. Quality is a priority, and so is cost containment for students. I’m most enthusiastic about Shumlin’s plan to help college graduates pay for their education while launching their careers in Vermont. Shumlin is proposing that Vermont high school students who finish their college degree at a Vermont college or university and secure a job in state will receive an income tax credit to help pay their college debt. This plan will go a long way toward ensuring that when students graduate, they do so without crippling debt.

Dee Steffan, Williston

Shumlin provides leadership

I would like to respond to the letter “Frightened by Shumlin” in the Oct. 14 edition of the Williston Observer. It is difficult to find the right spot to begin here as the letter gives so many openings, but overall Shumlin’s plans actually try to do something for more Vermonters rather than simply cut and gut for the most vulnerable and the middle class like Dubie’s plan would under cover of the recession.

Until Vermont tackles the exploding corrections budget and health care costs ($5 billion a year now, with thousands still uninsured, and rising $1 million a day), we will never make it out of this hole that Republican economics sank us into. And it costs an average of $50,000 a year per offender. Our prisons are now so full that we send some of our offenders to out-of-state prisons, costing taxpayers millions of dollars on top of what corrections already costs.

The author despairs of a “Democratic governor and Legislature with no chance to check their power to tax, spend and regulate.” De-regulation produced the great recession of 2008. Cutting taxes for the wealthiest has produced longer unemployment lines and a disappearing middle class; non-spending has produced a deteriorating infrastructure; a divided and antagonistic Legislature and administration has only produced gridlock.

Vermont needs a united front with a governor of Shumlin’s caliber and energy to haul us out of this hole.

Walter Carpenter, Montpelier

Vote for life

There are good, conservative candidates to vote for this year and they need our support — from the governor’s race to the local races.

I am thankful that Brian Dubie is pro-life. The fact that he is being attacked for his belief in the sanctity of life is shameless. Paul Beaudry is also pro-life and I know that there are other great Republican candidates.

Abortion is not the right answer, even in the most difficult situation. There is someone who would love that child, no matter what.

The Bible talks about how God sees the unborn child (please read Psalm 139:14-18). They are beautiful and precious.

It is honorable to defend the unborn children and we should support those candidates who do.

Christine Parker, Starksboro

Guest Column

Pick a charity and feel good about your choice

Oct. 21, 2010

By Jeff Rasley

Giving money to a worthy cause should be a personally satisfying experience. But for many people, donating money is nothing more than the impersonal experience of writing a check. Busy folks might not have the time to be active volunteers for the charities they want to support. So, how to be more involved than just writing a check?

Here are five ways:

1. Give direct – Consider donating directly to a worthy cause versus a big bureaucratic charity that simply divides up your donation into tiny amounts distributed among many different organizations. You decide which particular charity is worthy of your donation. Why leave that personal decision up to someone else?

2. Take the time to decide – It’s your hard-earned money. Spend the time to think through what cause or organization you really care about. If you did have the time to devote yourself to a cause or volunteer for a nonprofit organization, what would it be? What stirs your passion? If you love animals, consider your local Humane Society. You should be able to find a charter school to support, if educating children is your special passion. Of course, the religious organization that promotes your faith is worthy of your financial support. But you can be even more targeted in your support by designating gifts to particular programs sponsored by the organization.

3. Ask to see results – Modern technologies offer many ways you can see the direct results of your charitable giving from the comfort of your living room couch or office chair. Reports with digital photos can be e-mailed by staff in response to requests from donors. Most organizations have websites that are regularly updated with news about projects and the organization’s initiatives. Every donor has the right, and should exercise it, to see a nonprofit’s financials.

4. Read the reports and look at the pictures – But you don’t need to immerse yourself in the financial minutiae of the charitable organization to feel involved. Enjoy the photos of those kids playing in the shoes you donated. Watch the video posted on the website of the well being dug in that remote mountain village. If you don’t have the time to pound nails, you can still enjoy the photos of the house going up.

5. Require accountability – If you’re not an accountant and don’t want to audit the books of your chosen charity, don’t. Just ask to see proof that your money has been used in the way you directed. When you give money to the athletic department of your alma mater to purchase new jerseys for the basketball team, there is nothing wrong with asking for a team photo showing off the team’s new outfits. Tracking your donation to make sure it has done what you wanted is your right. And don’t be afraid to ask what percentage of the nonprofit’s receipts goes to administrative overhead. Any organization that has hefty administrative costs may be more focused on paying its personnel than fulfilling the mission you want to support.

Americans are the most generous givers in the history of the planet. Whipping out the billfold or writing a check to support worthy causes is a regular exercise of most Americans. The transaction can end as nothing more than a simple transfer of funds. Or, it can be the beginning of a satisfying relationship. When the charitable donor and the charitable organization engage in mutual sharing, both sides will find the relationship more meaningful.

Jeff Rasley is co-director of the Basa Village Project and author of “Bringing Progress to Paradise” (Red Wheel/Weiser). You can visit him online at

Localvore movement on the rise in Vermont

Oct. 21, 2010

By Susan Orzell-Rantanen
Observer correspondent

To the roster of herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore describing the varied eating habits of the animal kingdom, add one more: localvore. The localvore eats only foods grown or produced within an average of a 100-mile radius of where he lives, to the extent that it is possible.

Locally grown foods are available at natural food stores, farmers’ markets, community-supported agricultural enterprises and farm stands, and while the proprietors of these and similar establishments offer the goods differently, they chorus, “The localvore movement is skyrocketing!”

Until the 20th century, “eating local” was by necessity the way of life. Today, the same practice requires planning, dedication and, in some cases, more money; it is a culmination of many deliberate choices. “Localvore Challenges,” which urge consumers to buy only local foods for limited amounts of time as a gentle re-introduction to the concept, have sprung up across Vermont to help people interested in the benefits of those choices follow through.

According to well-sourced data published by Vermont’s Mad River Valley Localvore Project, these benefits are many. To enjoy green peas from a nearby farm flies in the face of the statistic that, “on the average, foods travel 1,500 miles before arriving on your table,” which explains the fact that “the average meal uses 17 times more petroleum products” than the same meal produced locally. If you visit the supermarket to buy frozen or canned peas that include a flavored sauce, add this statistic: “70 percent of processed foods in U.S. grocery stores contain bioengineered ingredients.”

The localvore movement is about more — much more — than the important health and taste benefits of fresh produce. The bottom line is, as always, economic. The Mad River Valley Localvore Project notes that “91 percent of each dollar spent in a traditional food market goes to suppliers, processors, middlemen and marketers and only 9 cents goes to the farmer, while farm markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of every dollar.”

Let’s make this more personal: “If Vermont substituted local products for only 10 percent of the food we import, it would result in $376 million in new economic output, including $69 million in personal earnings from 3,616 jobs,” thus benefiting all Vermonters.

Eating locally is by definition all about community, and the farmers that are members of the aptly named Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program (in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture) consider themselves partners with consumers. In this system, the producers sell “shares” in their upcoming harvest to consumers in the spring long before the produce is ready. This up-front money is available at the crucial time of year to buy the supplies (including seeds, fertilizer and fuel), needed to grow the crops. As the harvests come in throughout the summer, “members” who have “pre-bought” items enjoy the fresh produce. In CSA terminology, an “item” is a certain amount of a certain vegetable, such as four ears of corn, a bunch of carrots, or a bag of lettuce. Shares are available in single-, family- or senior-sized increments and delivery to predetermined checkpoints may be arranged for set days.

Some farms also offer a winter CSA. The Vermont Department of Agriculture lists 16 CSAs in Chittenden County.

The Boutin Family Farm, on South Road in Williston, is managed by family members Kevin and Lisa Boutin. Of the 120 acres, 40 are tillable, and are referred to by Lisa Boutin as “a huge backyard garden” providing a plethora of items for about 50 members during a 12-week share season. The Boutins designed a creative method of marketing, offering a coupon book that allows consignees to “purchase” vegetables and fruits harvested each day.

“We make it very convenient,” Lisa Boutin said.

The summer produce, which is certified naturally grown, ranges from asparagus to zucchini and from blackberries to strawberries and is available at the farm stand, through a “U-Pick” operation on the farm, and at local farmers’ markets.

Joe and Anne Tisbert own the 300-acre Valley Dream Farm, which sits on the town line dividing Underhill and Cambridge. The farm supplies an estimated 200 members during a 24-month share season.

Valley Dream is among the more than 525 farms certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, or NOFA-VT. Anne Tisbert says this certification, which involves meticulous recordkeeping and on-farm inspections, entitles them to a coveted state and USDA seal. NOFA also manages Farm Share, a program that allows low-income Vermonters to buy from CSAs.

The nature of agriculture, which can mean unexpected gluts of produce, allows CSAs to “give back to the community,” according to Anne Tisdale.

“We donate thousands of pounds of food to local food shelves and to the Vermont Food Bank,” she said.

CSAs often sell at farmers’ markets, a growing venue benefited by the localvore movement. In 2008, there were 64 farmers’ markets registered by NOFA-VT, up from 19 in 1986. NOFA-VT lists “the total gross sales from the markets that responded in 2008” as more than $5.5 million.

According to the organization, the summer Burlington Farmers’ Market, held weekly in City Hall Park, is among the four largest in the state. The Richmond Farmers’ Market, held weekly on Volunteers Green, is considered more average in size for Vermont. Manager Carol Mader, who works closely with a board of directors, states that there are 25 permanent seasonal vendors, which is capacity for the location, selling primarily agricultural products and prepared foods. There is also a waiting list of “day vendors” on call to take a spot that may be vacant if a seasonal vendor is unable to attend a market.

The Williston Farmers’ Market, after operating on the village green through the summer and into the fall, moves inside the Williston Armory this weekend. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“The localvore movement is becoming huge and we’re seeing the results of that in the (market) revenues,” Mader reports, noting that revenues have increased 170 percent over the past few years. “We have a strong following of customers over the years. We’ve seen many people who used to buy things for maybe one dinner now trying to buy for the week. We also now have a meat vendor. People are finding that prices are more competitive.”

She cited trucking costs as one reason for the rising supermarket prices.

Natural food stores are another avenue reporting increased sales from the localvore movement. Natural Provisions of Williston, managed by Peter and Allison Lafferty, opened in 2007 as the second location of a popular store in St. Johnsbury. The 10,000-square-foot store and delicatessen on Harvest Lane maintains 20 employees. Peter Lafferty emphasizes that the naturally grown and/or organic foods and products are purchased locally as much as is possible in a full-service grocery that also sells health and beauty products and cleaning supplies.

“The localvore movement is on a huge rise,” he said. “It’s so good for the community as a whole. The number of people who come in here and actually say, ‘Show me what is local’ has been growing a lot over the past two years. People care about supporting the community.”

Around Town

Oct. 21, 2010

Williston student part of Young Writers Project

A Williston student has a piece of work featured in a Young Writers Project anthology, representing the best writing and photography of students across the state.

Anna Rutenbeck is one of more than 100 students whose work was included. The anthology, the Young Writers Project’s second, was released last weekend.

The Young Writers Project, founded in 2006, publishes students’ best work online and in newspapers.

Williston has two ‘Rising Stars’

Vermont Business Magazine’s inaugural list of Rising Stars included two people with Williston-based businesses.

The list of Rising Star Award winners is made up of 40 winners under the age of 40.

Williston’s stars are Erika Keith, volunteer coordinator at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and Joe Sinagra, executive officer of the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Vermont.

“Award recipients were selected by a panel of judges for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities,” according to a press release.

The award winners will be honored at the Rising Stars Award dinner on Nov. 4, and will be featured in the November issue of Vermont Business Magazine.

FairPoint jobs permanent in Maine, N.H., Vt.

FairPoint Communications and its major union have agreed on making 90 temporary call center employees permanent, and the union is celebrating the change.

Officials with Local 1400 of the Communication Workers of America say the change comes after an 18-month battle with management, and will mean both better job security for the workers and better service for customers.

The change affects temporary workers at FairPoint facilities in Portland and Bangor, Maine, Manchester, N.H. and Burlington.

— The Associated Press

Election 2010: Six Democrats running for Senate

Oct. 21, 2010

Six Democratic candidates are vying for Chittenden County’s six seats in the Vermont House, running against six Republicans and four independent party candidates. The Observer provided each candidate with a brief questionnaire; responses appear below.

Responses from Republicans and independents appeared in last week’s issue of the Observer. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Tim Ashe

(Editor’s note: Ashe identifies himself as a Democrat/Progressive)

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Project manager at Cathedral Square, an affordable senior housing organization. I’ve managed construction projects creating or renovating 290 affordable apartments with combined budgets totaling more than $20 million.

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 16

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

Providing long-term, affordable health insurance and energy to residents and businesses.

Last year, Vermont hospitals sought budget increases of $112 million, MVP proposed a 31 percent Catamount premium increase and BC/BS proposed a 12 percent Catamount increase. The health care industry is out of touch with Vermont’s economic reality. I’ll pursue reforms that provide health insurance to every Vermonter and lower costs for small businesses by taking a firm stance against these increases.

The discovery of tritium in a drinking water well is the latest nail in the coffin for Vermont Yankee. I’ll work to develop a plan to replace VY’s share of Vermont’s base energy load with local, renewable energy and to increase investments in efficiency and weatherization programs to save private and public dollars.

Philip Baruth

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Teacher/Writer

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 18

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

“Restoring prosperity” — growing jobs, increasing wages, incubating small businesses. And the number two issue is that we’re badly positioned right now to compete in a fierce global economy.

But the solution is the same. By aggressively pursuing Vermont’s share of the boom in the renewable energy sector — and building out the state’s information infrastructure — we can spur short-term job growth and lift all boats in the long term. Let’s continue the Clean Energy Development Fund, streamline permitting and target tax cuts at firms developing solar, biomass and small wind technologies. I hope to work hand in glove with Sen. Ginny Lyons on the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, helping this county prosper. That’s also how we’ll keep our next generation home in Vermont.

Sally Fox

City/Town of residence: South Burlington

Profession: Attorney

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 34

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

The most important problem facing Chittenden County is the condition of the economy. We have an unacceptable rate of unemployment and underemployment and people are struggling with the high costs of everything from energy to health insurance.

The Legislature and the administration must work together with the business, education and non-profit sectors to strengthen our infrastructure, provide access to capital, institute a predictable and progressive tax policy and make a more responsive government in order to create and retain jobs in Vermont.

I support

• Effective and consistent regulation — predictable and transparent permitting

• Equitable taxation system

• Higher education

• Universal health insurance

• Green jobs

• Maintenance of the social safety net to prevent homelessness, incarceration and fractured families.

Virginia ‘Ginny’ Lyons

City/Town of residence: Williston

Profession: College professor

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 39

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

Economic challenges. Revitalizing Vermont’s economic plan is important as is improving our taxation system. Investment in renewable energy, creative economy, small business, working landscape and 21st century jobs will build our future. We must ensure agriculture and working lands are in Chittenden County’s future. Improvement of municipal and state environmental regulations, including storm water utilities, is important.

Vermont continues to benefit from my leadership in energy, the environment and health care. Economic downturn and poverty hurt many in our county. Continued support for Reach Up, affordable housing and Workforce Development Programs is key for change. Core services for mentally ill, disabled and senior citizens will maintain our system of care. The consultant’s report will help reduce business health care costs and improve accessibility for more residents.

Hinda Miller

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Business consultant, Vermont state senator (

Number of years living in Chittenden County: over 30 years

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

My hopes for the upcoming session are thoughtful reform in health care and taxation. Expert commissions are studying these complicated issues to give legislators a road map for decision-making. Overall taxation must be radically addressed, especially escalating property taxes and reengineering education funding and school reorganization. Health care reforms to reduce premiums and costs within the system as well as continuous improvement and access are an absolute necessity. There is no silver bullet; in both cases, those who can supposedly afford it pay for those who cannot, which no longer works because of skyrocketing costs. Which brings me to the last issue. Government must create conditions so businesses can create jobs, which will result in more tax revenues to pay for above expenses.

Andy Montroll

City/Town of residence: Burlington

Profession: Attorney with my own practice, the Law Office of Andrew Montroll; formerly an optical engineer

Number of years living in Chittenden County: 20

What is the most important issue facing Chittenden County? If elected, how will you address that issue?

The most important issue facing Chittenden County is the same that’s facing Vermont and the country — jobs and the economy. Because many people choose to live and start businesses in Vermont for its high quality of life, enhancing our quality of life is crucial. We should also promote the economy through tax incentives for businesses that create new jobs; ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care; promoting a green energy future; and ensuring we have excellent, affordable schools. As an attorney with an engineering background, and with nearly 20 years of public service, including my current service as vice chairman of the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization and as past president of the Burlington City Council, I’m ready to tackle these challenges in Montpelier.