March 19, 2019

Recipe Corner

Holiday cookie variety

Dec. 22, 2010

By Ginger Isham

Here’s a new thought that daughter No. 2 shared with me: there should be 13 desserts on Christmas to represent Christ and the 12 apostles. I never heard this before, but you could display a variety of cookies on a tray and add wrapped Christmas candies to make 13 desserts. Add some of the following cookies.


(These were made during the Depression years by an Iowa woman)

1 pound German Sweet Chocolate

2 squares of bittersweet chocolate

Melt over hot water or in microwave. Stir in the following:

2 cups Rice Krispies

2 cups Corn Flakes

1 cup coconut (unsweetened)

1 cup nuts, chopped

Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet and put in the fridge to cool. Store in tight container in cool place.

Chocolate Caramel Graham Crackers

12 double graham crackers (each 4 1/4-by-2 1/2 inches)

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (I use 2 tablespoons less)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup nuts, chopped

Line a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan with foil. Place graham crackers on pan (may be tight fit). Melt butter and add brown sugar and cook until smooth, approximately 1 minute. Pour evenly over crackers. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the crackers. Put back in oven and bake about 1 minute to soften chips. Remove from oven and carefully spread chocolate over crackers with spatula. Sprinkle nuts evenly over all and cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes. Freeze until chocolate is firm, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil from back of crackers. Break into serving pieces. Can store in airtight container, with wax paper between cookies, in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.

Vanilla Cookies

(These are buttery rich and melt in your mouth)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 1/4 cups butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

Beat together sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and gradually beat in flour until dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly until dough is smooth. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log shape, 1 1/2 inches thick. Roll logs in granulated sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Slice each log evenly into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 275 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes until just colored (you can add few drops of food coloring to the granulated sugar before rolling logs in sugar). You can decorate slices before or after they are baked using candies or icing — or make sandwich cookies with a jam or icing.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

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

Right to the Point

Before we help others, help ourselves

Dec. 22, 2010

By Kayla Purvis

A bill has been proposed that would provide legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students living in America. It’s called the DREAM Act, and it lost its chance for 2010 as the Senate voted 55-41 on Sunday, five votes short of the number required to pass the bill.

The bill would allow children of illegal immigrants to become citizens through either two years of college, two years of service in the American military or a clean criminal background check. This sounds appealing and relatively harmless, and it’s a nice idea — I will give it that. I don’t doubt that it is well-intended.

This is, however, not the right time for a bill like the DREAM Act to pass in the United States. A common argument I hear from people who oppose Arizona’s immigration law and tightening security on our borders is this: the lives of the foreigners are far worse, and they could do better here. I won’t argue that some may be able to do better here than their native country.

While estimates fluctuate, the number of homeless Americans, according to a 2009 study by the National Coalition for the Homeless, is between 2.3 million and 3.5 million — 3.5 million! With a national population of about 300 million, that’s approximately 1 percent. Our jobless rate is still stuck in the 9-point range, according to the Financial Forecast Center. This means that we still have work to do at home before we start opening our doors to immigrants.

One thing I admire about America is our feeling that we need to take care of everyone else. It’s also something that can be, and often is, one of our biggest setbacks and flaws. Yes, a lot of immigrants want to come here for a better life, but with 3 million homeless Americans and a jobless rate near 10 percent, how can we possibly let them believe they will be any better taken care of here?

The bill that was proposed was too broad and would have made it too easy for immigrants to come here. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t allow immigrants. That is, legal ones. But I do have a problem with people sneaking into America and working under-the-table jobs, while there are thousands of Americans who are legitimately entitled to those jobs. What concerns me about this DREAM Act is not the fact that it would give citizenship to immigrants, but that it would make it too easy for too many immigrants to come here before we are back in a healthy economic place.

Employers are not stupid. Given the chance, they would much rather hire the person willing to work for lower wages. It’s more important for us to focus on getting our own people back to work, fixing that jobless rate and finding Constitutionally acceptable solutions to our approximately 1 percent homelessness rate. If we don’t do that and continue to spend so much time on other issues, we aren’t going to help ourselves. The faster we get back on track, the faster we can get back to helping those immigrants.

The United States has the potential to be what it used to be … it will just take a lot of work to get there. We can still be that place where everyone sees opportunity and prosperity. But if we don’t zero in on getting ourselves back on track before we pass bills like the DREAM Act, then we are only digging ourselves in deeper. It isn’t fair to Americans if the government tries to take care of illegal inhabitants before it tries to help its own people. It’s like the advice that is given to missionaries traveling to countries with starving children: don’t give all your food away; you aren’t of much help if you start starving too.

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

Liberally Speaking

Get a lawyer!

Dec. 22, 2010

By Steve Mount

I, dear reader, watch an almost embarrassingly large amount of television. It is one of my vices. There are worse things.

One of the types of shows I enjoy the most involve the police in some way. If you’ve watched almost any television in the past 20 years, you know the type. There are classics like the “Law & Order” franchise, “Homicide: Life in the Streets,” and “Hill Street Blues;” there are variations on the theme like the CSI franchise; and newer shows like “Medium,” “The Mentalist” and “Blue Bloods.”

If you’ve watched almost any television in the past 20 years, you’ve also heard the Miranda warning. The warning, which the Supreme Court has ruled must be given to suspects of crimes before they are questioned, goes like this:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

The verbal warning is kept relatively short, so that police can recite it quickly (which is good, for television), but there is a much longer version — almost three times longer — that is more comprehensive and is usually given in written form.

The key components of the Miranda warning, spoken or written, are these: the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney and the fact that your own words can be used against you.

The point of all this is the dismay that I feel when watching some of these favorite police shows of mine. You might think, with my build-up above, that my problem is that police in these shows tend to forget the Miranda warning. Actually, to my memory, most television cops are very good about giving the Miranda warning, and many scenes end with a suspect being carted off in handcuffs for questioning as the arresting officer starts reciting, sometimes in a rote monotone, “You have the right to remain silent ….”

No, it is not the TV cops’ treatment of the Miranda warning that causes me dismay. It is that most suspects seem to forget all of their rights as soon as they step into a police station.

I certainly understand the need to move the story along, and watching a suspect sit and wait for a lawyer is hardly compelling television. In fact, a lawyer-supervised interrogation is also hardly compelling — much more TV-friendly is the tearful or angry confession, caused by a detective asking just the right question or a suspect being caught in a lie. And I have to admit a certain degree of schadenfreude when a smug suspect, whom the audience is well-aware is guilty, slips up and realizes they’ve just confessed to the crime.

What I’m afraid of, what my dismay is all about, is that as people watch these shows, and see these suspects spill their guts with a lawyer nowhere in sight, they will begin to think nothing of it — that should they ever find themselves in that situation, the best or perhaps only option, the Miranda warning be damned, is to confess and take their punishment.

As a civil libertarian, I want everyone to know their rights and exercise them to their fullest extent. But don’t get me wrong — in the end, with their rights intact, I want the guilty to be punished to the fullest extent. What I wish is that these shows could figure out a way for suspects to be represented by counsel and still get their just rewards.

Perhaps it is too much to ask — that a suspect exercising his right to counsel can still be compelling drama. But there has to be a way, and I issue a challenge to the writers of Hollywood to not only write such story lines, but to make them the majority rather than the minority. Unfortunately, I don’t know any Hollywood writers.

What I have, dear reader, is you. God forbid you should ever find yourself as a suspect in a crime. But if you do, don’t go down the route taken by too many TV characters. Exercise your rights and get yourself a lawyer; don’t answer any questions without that lawyer present; and for goodness’ sake, follow your lawyer’s advice.

Steve Mount has been a Williston resident since 1996. He is a software engineer at GE Healthcare and is devoted to his family, his country and his Constitution. You can reach Steve at or read his blog at

Letters to the Editor

Dec. 22, 2010

Clear the rec path

At 7 a.m. on Dec. 17 I went out to get my newspaper and watched a man, carrying a large briefcase and another bag, struggle in the slush of the southbound travel lane of North Williston Road, heading toward the bus stop, presumably to catch the 7:05 a.m. commuter CCTA run.

Why, you might ask, was this man not walking on the nice, new, safe rec path we have along this stretch of road? Because the rec path has not been cleared of snow and is therefore not available for use. To find the reason for this oversight, I went to speak with Bruce Hoar, Public Works director, on my way to work. Bruce showed me minutes from a Selectboard meeting I attended in the fall of 2008 when I petitioned the Selectboard to keep the new rec path maintained and clear for use year-round for the general health, safety and well-being of all users. At that meeting, the Selectboard voted to approve this request.

What I heard from Bruce the morning of Dec. 17 is that the Selectboard “tabled” future clearing of the rec path (although it was kept clear for most of the 2009-2010 winter season). My understanding is that the equipment for clearing the rec path of snow is in place and the cost is small in the greater scope of town expenses.

I asked the Selectboard to tell me and my neighbors what we need to do to have the rec path kept clear for the health and safety of our residents, many of whom use the path regularly for exercise and for commuting by foot and via the CCTA bus system.

Kerstin M. Hanson, Williston

Editor’s note: Kerstin M. Hanson sent a slightly modified version of this letter to the Williston Selectboard on Dec. 17.

Recognizing great school leaders

Most of us have heard the expression, “It’s lonely at the top” when difficult or unpopular decisions have to be made. Applying the expression to Vermont’s school principals today, it is fair to say that they have certainly had a lonely year contending with budget targets, declining enrollments, adequate yearly progress expectations for all students and the possible loss of their jobs if their school is labeled as “persistently low-achieving.”

Although some say, “I wouldn’t ever want your job,” the principalship still remains one of the most important positions in education today. A recent Wallace Foundation Report, “Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning” (July 2010), said that exemplary leaders make a huge difference four ways: by setting a direction for their schools, by developing the people in their organizations, by redesigning their organizations (providing workplace conditions to let motivation and capacities grow) and by managing the instructional program. It goes on to state, “We have not found a single case of a school improving its student achievement record in the absence of talented leadership.”

The Vermont Principals’ Association seeks the public’s help in identifying and nominating exemplary school leaders. At our Summer Leadership Academy, we celebrate their successes with an awards ceremony. If you know a leader who has the above qualities, now is the time to act. We appeal for you to nominate your exemplary school leader (principals, assistant principals and tech center directors). The nomination forms are available at, by calling 802-229-0547 or by e-mailing

The ripple effect of this is that good leadership leads to improved results for our kids. Won’t you please take the time to nominate a great leader for a VPA Leadership Award? Many thanks in advance for supporting our school leaders.

Ken Page, executive director, Vermont Principals’ Association

Guest Column

Lessons of being born on Christmas

Dec. 22, 2010

By Anita Snow

I was a brand-new baby stuffed into a fuzzy, red holiday stocking when a nurse placed me in my mother’s arms on Christmas Day.

In the half-century since, my birthday has always been intricately linked, for good or bad, with one of the world’s most celebrated holidays.

Like many born on Dec. 25, I sometimes felt shorted when it came to presents, especially by friends. But I’d always smile when my mom assured me that I was her favorite Christmas gift ever.

Thankfully, my mother had good sense, and didn’t name me Holly or Noel as some of her friends suggested. Combined with the last name Snow, that might have been a bit tough out on the playground. At the very least, it would have sounded a little too cute, or silly, after I reached adulthood.

Mom also had the good sense to arrange my family birthday party a few days or weeks before Dec. 25. She wanted to make sure I knew that my life was worth its own celebration.

Mom wasn’t the best cook in the world, but she always baked me a birthday cake from a boxed mix — sometimes vanilla, sometimes chocolate, but always a little lopsided and drowned in waves of creamy white frosting. Invariably, the cake was topped with a plastic ballerina with a crown and pink tutu, balancing on one pink slipper submerged beneath a whitecap, her slender arms forming an arc above her head.

I looked forward every year to the slightly burnt smell of the crust as the battered tin pans containing two golden-brown cakes were pulled from the oven with quilted mitts. I looked forward to the frosting, the beautiful dancer, my name spelled out in red shiny squiggles, each year of my life marked by a single red candle.

A few days later, my mom would recruit me to help make Christmas cookies, the sugary dough rolled out on wax paper and sliced with aluminum cookie cutters in holiday shapes: a tree, a snowman, a star, a bell.

When I was small, it was a novelty to be a Christmas baby. It made me feel special.

The cardboard Advent calendar in our kitchen marked not only the approach of Christmas, but of my birthday — even if we usually celebrated it early. Every day starting Dec. 1, my brothers and I took turns pressing back the flaps of the calendar’s little windows.

Riding in the back seat of my mom’s Ford Fairlane station wagon, I would be reminded by the holiday songs blaring from the AM radio — “Jingle Bell Rock,” the Chipmunks’ “The Christmas Song” — that my own big day was near.

I delighted in Christmas as its own holiday: the perfume of pine penetrating our otherwise sterile Southern California tract home, the Episcopalian church ladies giggling from too much rum-laced eggnog when they sang carols on our doorstep, the ceramic Nativity scene on the small table next to our tree, Baby Jesus resting in his manger absent his two little hands, broken off during too much play by small children.

I loved the tree, festooned with red, green, white and yellow light bulbs, and clumps of silvery tinsel that we combed from plastic packages and refused to thin out before we draped it on the branches, just to spite my older brother, Danny. I liked the look of the tiny striped candy canes we hung on the needled branches but never ate, sometimes finding a stray one months later, cracked in bits inside its plastic casing under a sofa cushion.

And, like any kid, I loved the presents, and the fact that I got more than anyone else and on two different days so close together.

As the years passed, the birthday gifts became less important, and so did the size of the celebration.

I found that not everyone was as sensitive as mom in making sure my day wasn’t overwhelmed by the Big Day.

“This is for Christmas AND your birthday!” one of the twins I had befriended in high school told me, smiling brightly as she handed me a package when I was about 16. “Hmm,” I thought. “They give me one present every year and I have to cough up four: one for each birthday and one for each of them every Christmas. Is that fair?”

After college, when I began working as a journalist in Latin America, I sometimes didn’t even tell people that I had been born a Christmas baby. Many of those Christmases, anyhow, were spent working, covering natural disasters, rebel uprisings. I couldn’t be bothered.

But after my mom died six years ago, being a Christmas baby became important again.

And now, every year, I make my own version of the birthday cake mom used to bake.

In my case, it’s usually red velvet cupcakes, in honor of my mom’s Southern heritage. Like mom’s bigger cakes, they are lopsided, and they’re drowning in big waves of white cream cheese frosting. The annual ritual makes me feel close to her again, and reminds me, as she once did, that no matter what day I was born my life is worth its own separate celebration.

And that for one person, at least, I was the best Christmas present ever.

Anita Snow is a writer for The Associated Press.

ANNIVERSARY: Police share December headlines with holiday happenings

Dec. 22, 2010

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

• In December 1991, the Whistle broke the news that Williston Central School Principal Marian Stroud would resign on June 30, 1992, after 17 years at the school. In Stroud’s statement to faculty, the principal said she wanted “to move closer toward my true passions, children, the growth of the intellect and the act of learning.” Teachers, administrators and parents all spoke highly of Stroud.

• The December 1991 issue of the Whistle announced that the Vermont State Police planned to move to Williston in 1992.

“The State Police have been trying to re-locate in the Williston area for several years now,” the Whistle reported. “The primary reason is to better serve the public and allow them easier access to their police force. The Williston location is central to the Vermont State Police area of responsibility.”

• A year later, in the Dec. 9 1992 issue, the Whistle reported on the State Police relocation. On Dec. 7, the police moved to Williston from Fort Ethan Allen in Colchester, where state troopers had been located since the 1960s.

• The Williston Post Office also relocated in December 1992, moving to 9 Blair Park from its former location on Commerce Street.

• A draft of a study conducted by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns recommended that the Williston Police Department triple in size in five years, the Whistle reported on Dec. 19, 1996.

“The study … concludes that Williston’s police service isn’t staffed, supplied, or equipped in a manner that even permits it to meet the existing needs of this growing community — much less the needs officials project over the next five years and into the next century,” the Whistle reported.

At the time, Williston had four full-time police officers, including Chief Osburn Glidden, and various part-time officers.

The study also praised the professionalism of Williston’s police force.

• The District 4 Environmental Commission approved construction at Maple Tree Place, as outlined in a Dec. 18, 1997 issue of the Williston Whistle. The decision came nearly 22 years after developer Pyramid Co. first proposed a shopping mall in Williston.

• The Dec. 24, 1998 edition of the Whistle included an article about local politicians’ reactions to the impeachment process of President Bill Clinton. Most politicians and community members called for bipartisanship and fairness.

• The Dec. 9, 1999 issue of the Whistle included an article about a free booklet available to help people assuage concerns of the change to the year 2000, entitled “Y2K and You.”

• The Dec. 7, 2000 issue of the Whistle described a police fund-raiser where only a fraction of the money raised went to charity, prompting questions and a state investigation. A Maine-based company soliciting money on behalf of the Williston Police Officers Association kept more than two-thirds of the money raised, a Whistle investigation found.

• Teachers at Williston Central School tactfully steered children toward healthy lifestyle choices through two school programs, physical education and family and consumer sciences, an article in the Dec. 11, 2003 issue of the Observer described. The programs were part of an effort to stem the rise of obesity.

• Thousands of shoppers swarmed to Williston for post-Thanksgiving deals, according to a Dec. 2, 2004 issue of the Observer. Williston’s big box stores have become a major destination for shoppers looking for Black Friday savings.

• A Williston school bus driver was ordered to take down Christmas decorations she had hung inside her bus, a Dec. 9, 2004 Observer article reported.

“Depending on your point of view, making a school bus driver take down colorful Christmas decorations because they violated district policy was either a Grinch-like gesture or an attempt to respect religious diversity,” the article reads.

• The Dec. 1, 2005 issue of the Observer included an article about a Connecticut man who was killed when he crashed his small plane in Williston during a snowstorm, less than 2 miles from the Burlington International Airport.

• A fire that consumed two Williston families’ homes drew attention to the fact that all Williston homes are not close to a fire hydrant, according to a Dec. 21, 2006 article in the Observer. Firefighters had to lay down nearly a mile of hose to fight the fire on Chapman Lane.

Protesters young and old display anti-war messages during a demonstration at Maple Tree Place in 2007. High school students organized the event to protest recruiting practices, but the demonstration also included those opposed to the Iraq War. (File photo)

• Thirteen demonstrators were arrested after staging an anti-war protest in Maple Tree Place, a Dec. 6, 2007 Williston Observer article relayed. Approximately 75 high school and college students and other demonstrators gathered to noisily protest military recruitment outside the Vermont National Guard office. Thirteen protesters, including three juveniles, were cited for trespassing.

The Dec. 13, 2007 Observer featured an article about a pro-military demonstration staged in response to the student protest.

Sewer to connect through South Road

Dec. 22, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Sewer relief for Meadowridge’s failing septic system will come via South Road.

The Selectboard decided on the route Monday night, opting for the South Road option instead of extending a sewer line along U.S. 2.

In September, representatives from the Meadowridge neighborhood had approached the board requesting help for the neighborhood’s failing septic system. Sixty homes in Meadowridge use two septic systems, and one of those systems has had ongoing problems despite repeated septic tank pumping and costly attempts to fix failures. The Selectboard decided that the failing system posed a public health hazard — particularly if problems continue well into the future — and threatened the ecosystem of the nearby Allen Brook. The board therefore decided in late September to allow the neighborhood to tap into the municipal sewer system.

As engineers studied design options for the sewer installation, they came up with two routes: one that would extend a sewer line west from Johnson Lane along U.S. 2; more recently, engineers realized a sewer line could connect to Meadowridge via South Road and Oak Hill Road.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said the South Road option was $142,000 cheaper, and also avoided the need to obtain state permission to work on U.S. 2, a state highway. Installing a line along U.S. 2, however, would give the town the option to extend the sewer district in the near future. Yet when the two options were presented at a Selectboard meeting on Dec. 13, residents along the proposed U.S. 2 route — who already have septic systems — voiced their displeasure with the possibility of paying for a sewer installation.

Meadowridge expects to pay for the installation, but the town can set up an assessment district to help the neighborhood borrow money.

When the Selectboard revisited the issue on Monday night, members voted 3-1 in favor of the South Road route. Chris Roy cast the dissenting vote and Jeff Fehrs abstained.

Roy said at the meeting that he preferred the U.S. 2 option when considering the future of Williston, but felt it unfair to impose the cost on those residents. He admitted to having a difficult time making a decision.

Fehrs said he did not have enough information about costs to make a decision.

Voters still need to authorize the project.

“A town-wide vote will be required to approve the establishment of a sewer assessment district and to authorize the borrowing of funds,” McGuire wrote in his report for Monday night’s meeting.

To have the issue placed on the ballot for Town Meeting in March, the Selectboard needs to determine the assessment details by the end of January.

The report also noted that other details of the sewer line expansion need to be determined, though not by next month, including deciding whether the town or Meadowridge will manage the construction contract and granting sewer allocations to individual households.

Buttered Noodles caters to kids

KidSurplus reopens with new store, new name

Dec. 22, 2010

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Alan Levi, owner and president of Buttered Noodles, greets customers at the store’s registers. Formerly called KidSurplus, Buttered Noodles opened last month on Harvest Lane and greatly increased its retail space. (Observer photo by Tim Simard)

Williston’s homegrown Buttered Noodles children’s store recently underwent a massive growth spurt. Last month, Buttered Noodles, formerly known as KidSurplus, moved from Boyer Circle and reopened its doors in a mammoth warehouse space on Harvest Lane.

Owner and President Alan Levi said he’d been thinking for a long time about growing KidSurplus into a one-stop shop for baby and children’s gifts and accessories. The business’ 4,300 square-foot showroom, which sat adjacent to the company’s online sales headquarters, proved too small for what Levi had in mind. Moving to a 21,000 square-foot space on Harvest Lane allowed the business to switch gears and become the Champlain Valley’s premier children’s store, Levi said.

“We needed to expand,” Levi said. “We felt there was a niche in the market for what we do.”

Levi changed the company’s direction and believed it needed a name change as well. Levi went with Buttered Noodles, a name he had floated around his head for years. For him, it represents the fun, fickle and whimsical nature of children.

“Buttered noodles — that’s all my kids ate until they were 13 years of age,” Levi said.

The store has been open for approximately three weeks. Levi and his staff worked feverishly to launch Buttered Noodles the weekend after Thanksgiving, even though much of the store was in transition. Last Friday, local workers continued updating the warehouse space by installing giant wall fixtures for baby carriages, bicycle trailers and other large pieces of equipment.

Shoppers wandered the aisles, looking through racks of clothing and shelves full of toys. A few commented to Levi about the store’s layout; Burlington architect Donna Miller helped design the store, and artist Anthony Sini, also of Burlington, created the business’ artwork and new logo. And while parents shopped, children frolicked in the Club Noodle playroom, enjoying an assortment of building blocks.

Buttered Noodles has a larger variety of clothing brands and toy selections than KidSurplus, along with a multitude of other items for babies, toddlers and older children. Levi said much of the clothing and accessories sell for 40 percent to 60 percent off the normal retail prices, which was always a big draw for KidSurplus shoppers.

Buttered Noodles purchases its products from manufacturers looking to sell excess inventory or from children’s stores that are downsizing. For instance, a children’s book company might contact Levi to see if he’s interested in buying discounted copies of a book that’s about to go into a new printing. None of the items in the store have been used, Levi said.

“What people have to understand is that it’s all brand new, all high-quality,” Levi said.

Along with staple items carried over from KidSurplus, Buttered Noodles expanded the baby section, included mid-priced cribs and furniture and began adding an eco-friendly, organic clothing line.

In a town known for its big box stores, Levi said his large business will attract many customers from around the Champlain Valley. And while some giant stores are owned by companies outside of Vermont, Levi’s is homegrown. He’s worked in the children’s product business for more than 30 years and is the former owner of South Burlington’s Kids Town. Levi also lives in Williston.

“People are finding it refreshing to have an independent owner take something of this size and just go with it,” he said.

Levi said Buttered Noodles will have its grand opening celebration next month. He plans to hire 15 to 20 employees for part-time and full-time positions. A website with online shopping capabilities will debut this spring, he said.

Buttered Noodles is located at 64 Harvest Lane. For more information, call 764-1810.

School Board wants lean budget

Dec. 22, 2010

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

In an effort to keep costs low for taxpayers, the Williston School Board wants to see no increase from this year’s school budget to the next.

Board members asked school administrators to find ways to keep costs on par with this year — or even decrease costs — while upgrading the district as needed, School Board Chairwoman Holly Rouelle said.

At the same time, the board rejected a state request to lower the district’s net spending by 2 percent as suggested by the Vermont Legislature’s Challenges for Change bill. Rouelle said the cuts required to meet the challenge appeared too extreme.

“We all felt unanimously that it was too much,” Rouelle said. “It would have cut too much of what makes Williston special.”

The current 2010-2011 school budget is expected to be $16.32 million. Bob Mason, Chittenden South Supervisory Union’s chief operating officer, said Williston would need to cut more than $360,000 from last year’s budget to meet the Challenges for Change goals.

Earlier this month, Nardelli showed the board how the Challenges for Change cuts might affect the school district. Personnel costs would need to be reduced by $206,000, requiring layoffs of essential staff. The school would also need to delete a bus run, adding more strain to the transportation system, Nardelli said. He told the board these cuts would significantly reduce services for students and leave the district on the financial edge with no backup plan should some unpredictable event occur.

Williston isn’t the only school district in CSSU to turn down the Challenges for Change recommendations. Charlotte and Champlain Valley Union High School also said no to the suggested cuts. Hinesburg and Shelburne indicated they could meet the challenge.

Rouelle said that while the board hopes to keep next year’s budget nearly equal with this year’s, the district still needs to limit its costs.

Nardelli said the school might be able to reduce this year’s budget by as much as $238,000 and still maintain quality programs. Through staff attrition and computer software changes, cuts might be implemented with minimal effects to students, he said.

At the same time, the district needs to make important additions. With Williston’s eighth grade students lagging behind the state in science test scores, Nardelli said new science materials, along with a science lab and classroom, are necessary to reverse the district’s declining performances on standardized tests. The science lab and classroom alone is estimated to cost upwards of $45,000, Nardelli said.

Also, the district is in need of a school counselor, a social worker and a behavior specialist. These part time positions would add $121,000 to the budget. In addition, Nardelli asked the board to consider adding another full-time world languages teacher at a cost of $74,000.

On top of these supplements, Nardelli said Williston Central is in dire need of boiler upgrades. The current boilers are more than 45 years old and parts are becoming scarce if the three heating oil tanks break. School officials approached the School Board last year about the boiler issue, but it was decided to wait on replacements since the cost was deemed too high. Now they can’t be ignored, Nardelli said.

Replacing one boiler may cost between $153,000 and $166,000, although the school might be eligible for rebates from Efficiency Vermont. Instead of tacking on the boiler to next year’s budget, Rouelle said the board is considering asking voters to approve a separate bond.

“Taxpayers will hopefully be supportive of that,” she said.

By keeping next year’s budget level funded or even reducing it by 1 percent — $163,000 — Rouelle hopes the board can make essential changes while easing the burden on taxpayers.

“Every year, we’ve been cutting and cutting and cutting, but it’s necessary,” Rouelle said. “Next year is looking as grim as this year.”

The School Board plans on revisiting the budget on Jan. 6.

CVU aces Outright Vermont’s report card

Dec. 22, 2010

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Champlain Valley Union High School is one of the safest schools for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, according to a survey by advocacy group Outright Vermont.

CVU received the highest possible score on the Safe Schools Report Card, along with 10 other schools.

“These schools are doing amazing work to end harassment and provide needed support to (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, or LGBTQQ) youth,” an Outright Vermont press release read.

Outright Vermont surveyed all 61 public high schools in Vermont for its 2010 Safe Schools Report Card.

The survey asked schools whether they have some form of Gay-Straight Alliance, gender-neutral bathrooms, whether they track bullying and harassment and if they have a bullying and harassment program. CVU answered positively to all four questions.

CVU’s Gay-Straight-Transgender Alliance has been active for more than 10 years.

“The kids say it’s a safe place to be yourself,” said teacher Emily Rinkema, who has been one of the group’s advisors for nearly 10 years. “People come for a lot of different reasons, and we don’t ask why.”

The group, which has between 15 and 20 members, meets once a week. It offers support or just a place to meet friends — whatever students want to get out of it, Rinkema said. For some, it makes a huge difference.

“We’ve got students who, when they come up from middle school, they say that just knowing the high school has an active GSTA made them feel like they can get through high school,” she said. “For some kids, it’s the one place where once a week they can completely be themselves.”

Melissa Murray, Outright Vermont’s executive director, said that the mere presence of a Gay-Straight Alliance improves the climate of a school for all students. It especially helps those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, some of whom may not have other support systems.

“The biggest issue facing queer youth in Vermont is isolation,” Murray said.

Outright Vermont found that 46 percent of schools, including CVU, have a Gay-Straight Alliance. Murray said that while her team is seeing progress, there is still work to be done.

“Harassment is the major issue,” she said. “The rate of harassment of queer-identified youth is off the charts. In some schools it’s getting better, in some schools it’s getting worse and some schools refuse to acknowledge that it’s an issue.”

Bullying in school based on someone’s status in a protected class — in this case sexual orientation — qualifies as harassment, according to Vermont’s education laws.

Outright Vermont officials spoke to nearly 4,000 youths in schools this year about harassment. At the end of each presentation, the speaker encouraged each student to do one thing to make his or her school a safer place.

“It puts it in the hands of the students to really make a difference,” Murray said.

Rinkema said CVU has not had to deal with many issues of sexuality-related harassment or bullying.

“If anything, sometimes there’s some ignorance,” she said. “Kids will say, ‘That’s so gay,’ but it’s not being done out of intolerance, it’s being done out of ignorance.”

To combat the use of the word “gay” as an insult, the Gay-Straight-Transgender Alliance has peppered the halls with posters suggesting other words to use instead.

Rinkema said CVU generally has a safe climate, possibly because the Alliance has been active for so long.

“The kids here feel safe and they feel accepted,” she said. “Overall, I think the kids feel lucky to be here at CVU. It’s a wonderful school and a wonderful community.”