October 23, 2016

Guest Column

Can you imagine a world without music?

April 21, 2011

By Sean Yarolin

Can you imagine a world without music?

Music is something we often take for granted. But imagine it didn’t exist. Imagine no radio, no music when you are driving in the car, no music at movies, and no dancing.
Without music the world would be a pretty boring place. But even more importantly, music makes people happier and more successful, and is just as important as other school subjects.

How do you keep music alive? Well, the answer is simple. Teach music in schools. Most schools teach music classes. However, as many school districts throughout the country consider budget cuts because of funding reductions, the music program often is one of the first to be cut. Many parents and community members fail to appreciate how music contributes to students’ personal and academic success. In some ways, music is just as important as more traditional academic subjects like math and science.

Music education improves grades and also can cause students to make healthier life choices. Believe it or not, music education has been proven to increase middle school students’ academic abilities in multiple subjects, including reading comprehension, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Music Psychology. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Music Education showed that students in good music programs averaged 22 percent higher on English tests than students who had worse or non-existent music education programs. Other studies have shown that music education increases the average scores of high school students in math and sciences. In fact, the College Board’s 2001 “Profile of College – Bound Seniors National Report” showed that students who played instruments scored on average 43 points better than non-musical students on the math section on the SAT. In the verbal section of the SAT, there was a 60-point difference. Music education helps improve students’ math and verbal skills. In addition, a higher score on the SAT is surely helpful come college application time.

However, not all of the advantages of music education are academic. Music relieves stress and can cause people to think more rationally and act less aggressively. Also, many people enjoy playing music. More importantly, students who play instruments or sing in chorus make healthier life choices. A 1998 report by the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse stated that students involved in music programs have a much lower chance of using drugs or other harmful substances as students and when they grow up. Music education also helps to round out a person. After all, people shouldn’t just study textbooks all day. There is more to life then that, and it is important that we teach it.
Some people would claim that music is not an important subject, because few careers require music education. However, music makes students happier, more successful, and better people. A very small number of people are professional musicians, but they hold the power to bring joy to the rest of the world, and many people still play music occasionally for fun. In many ways, teaching music really is just as important as teaching math and science. That is why it is important to keep music alive in schools.

Sean Yarolin is an eighth grade student at Williston Central School.

Around Town

April 21, 2011

Kindergarten registration

If your child will be 5-years-old by Sept. 1 and will enter kindergarten this fall, please go to the Williston School website at www.wsdvt.org to schedule a registration appointment. You may also call 879-5806.

CVU seeks Grad Challenge panelists

Champlain Valley Union High School is seeking community members to serve as panelists for its Grad Challenge Presentation Day, scheduled for May 13 beginning at 8 a.m.

Presentation Day consists of CVUHS seniors presenting the results of their experience and research completed during their Graduation Challenge, a yearlong learning project.
Students typically spend between 20 and 45 hours on the projects, and are guided through the learning experience by someone from the community.

Volunteer panelists will listen, along with panelists from within the CVU faculty, to the students’ presentations about their Grad Challenge. The day will be split into three sessions, each lasting 90 minutes. In each session, students, panelists and audience members will listen to Grad Challenge presentations from three or four students. Each presentation group is based on one of eight topic areas, which include Recreational Wellness, Science/Math, Business Education and Social Studies/Education.

Panelists will listen to the presentations, ask questions and perform an evaluation. The panelists are asked to attend a 30-minute orientation prior to the start of presentations.
The administration suggests that parents of CVUHS seniors not participate as panelists, so that they can watch their children’s presentations.

Anyone interested in serving as a panelist is asked to contact Community Learning Coordinator MaryAnne Gatos at mgatos@cvuhs.org or 482-7195, or fill out an online form by visiting www.cvuhs.org and clicking on the Grad Challenge link on the homepage.

Water service interruption

The Champlain Water District has scheduled improvements to a water main located on River Cove Road that feeds the Town of Williston water distribution system.

The Town of Williston Water Department, working in conjunction with the Champlain Water District, will be shutting water off to a portion of Lower River Cove Road for four to six hours during the workday, on a day to be determined during the week of April 25 or the week of May 2.

Prior to, and in advance of the shutoff, notices will be delivered door-to-door to approximately seven affected customers.  Additional notices will be hand delivered if there is any variation to the schedule or number of customers affected.

If you have any questions, call the Town of Williston Water Department office at 878-6717 or the Champlain Water District at 864-7454.

Green Up Day is May 7

Vermont’s Green Up Day, first launched in 1970 by Gov. Deane Davis, is a day when thousands of volunteers come out in their communities statewide to clean up litter from roadsides and public places, for the community of Vermont. Always the first Saturday in May, Green Up Day will be May 7. Everyone is welcome to take part in this tradition unique to Vermont. For more information call Green Up Vermont, the non-profit organization responsible for Green Up Day, at 802-229-4586 or visit www.greenupvermont.org.

Sears Hometown Store earns national honor

The Sears Hometown Store of Williston has been named a 2011 Sears Hometown Store Premier Dealer. This annual award recognizes Sears Hometown Stores across the country that consistently offer the greatest customer service, outstanding store performance and standards, as well as exceptional demonstrations of local community involvement. In January, the Williston store was one of only 190 locations throughout the United States to receive this national recognition at the annual Hometown Celebration held in Orlando, Fla.

Only 20 percent of Sears Hometown Stores receive this prestigious annual award and, this year, each store receiving Premier Dealer status will be given the opportunity to participate in an exclusive charitable event to help support their community.

Artists wanted

The community room at the Williston Police Department recently installed a gallery hanging system and is interested in working with local artists in need of a space to show their work.  Group shows are also welcome.  Numerous community groups frequently use the room.  If interested, contact Millie Whitcomb at 802-764-1152 or email mwhitcom@dps.state.vt.us.

National Life Group Names Bob Cotton to be Chief Financial Officer

Williston resident Bob Cotton has been appointed chief financial officer and senior vice president of National Life Group.

In his new post Cotton, who joined National Life in 1993, will be responsible for all financial operations of National Life Group, a Fortune 1000 company with $29 billion in assets under management. He will also work with Assadi on strategy and business development.

Commenting on the appointment, Assadi said, “Bob’s deep knowledge of National Life Group and his broad familiarity with the entire financial services industry will be of tremendous value as we execute our plans for the future. As the leader of our companywide initiative to craft a new three-year strategic plan Bob brought energy and focus that helped us develop a clear direction for our future.”

Cotton began his career with the company as a staff auditor. He steadily assumed positions of greater responsibility and served as the company’s treasurer for six years before his appointment in January as senior vice president for finance.

Otter Creek Employee of the Year

Carol Carruth was recently voted Employee of the Year at Otter Creek Awnings, Sunrooms & Custom Closets of Williston, Vermont. Carol Carruth, a resident of Montpelier, joined Otter Creek in 2007 as a Sales & Design Professional for the Custom Closet division. She works closely with home owners and businesses to provide custom closet and storage solutions including reach-ins and walk-ins, pantries, laundry rooms, home offices, garage systems, and custom entertainment centers for existing homes and new construction.  Carol’s commitment to customer satisfaction is evident in her painstaking efforts to provide each of her clients with efficient, innovative, personalized designs expressly tailored to lifestyle demands and personal preferences. Carol holds numerous certifications and has extensive experience and training in the interior design field which makes her a knowledgeable resource for her clients in planning remodeling projects. In addition, Carol has devoted much of her personal time in the past year to working with the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Central Vermont. The winner of the Employee of the Year award is selected by Otter Creek employees via ballot and awarded to the individual who provides exceptional service to the company and to clients. This distinction reflects Carol Carruth’s rapport among coworkers, her professionalism and her ability to exceed customer’s expectations.

Otter Creek designs and installs custom awnings, sunrooms and closets for homes and businesses throughout Vermont.

Special Olympics Vermont names new President and CEO

Lisa DeNatale has recently been appointed by Special Olympics Vermont Board of Directors to serve as the organization’s President and CEO. As Special Olympics Vermont President and CEO, DeNatale will be responsible to ensure the ongoing success of the organization.

DeNatale comes to Special Olympics Vermont with a wealth of brand development and management experience, most recently serving in a variety of global leadership roles at Ben and Jerry’s.  Prior to her employment with Ben and Jerry’s, DeNatale worked with top sports organizations in various marketing capacities, including Nike and Reebok.
Special Olympics Vermont, based in Williston, is part of an unprecedented global movement that improves the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through quality sports training and competition, empowering people with intellectual disabilities to develop their skills and realize their full potential.

MicroStrain’s Arms wins award

MicroStrain President and CEO, Steve Arms, was presented with the Best Paper Award at the 7th annual DSTO International Conference on Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS), taking place in conjunction with the Australian International Air Show at the Fourteenth Australian International Aerospace Congress.

Arms’s paper, “Flight Testing of Wireless Sensing Networks for Rotorcraft Structural HUMS,” describes MicroStrain’s work with the U.S.Navy to flight test an advanced, next generation sensing system for structural loads monitoring of the critical rotating components on a Sikorsky MH-60S helicopter.  This represents the first successful system demonstration in flight of a wireless data acquisition system, capable of autonomous self-configuration and data aggregation. MicroStrain is based in Williston.

Local planting project to take root on Earth Day

April 21, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Nine species of trees and shrubs will be planted along this section of the Allen Brook in Williston as part of the global Earth Day initiative. The vegetation will form a riparian buffer zone to help protect the brook from excessive soil erosion along its banks and runoff from nearby agricultural operations. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Earth Day turns 41 on Apr. 22, and organizers hope to mark the occasion with “A Billion Acts of Green” around the globe. That ambitious goal will be addressed on a local level by two projects aimed at adding more green to the natural landscape.

Williston has planned a special planting effort to coincide with Earth Day. Preparations will be finalized on Friday for the vegetative restoration of 3.5 acres of land that borders Allen Brook, a process that will generate stormwater offset credits through the planting and transplanting of various tree species.

“It’s a big kick-off project,” said Jessica Andreoletti, town planner and staff liaison to the Williston Conservation Commission. “We plan to duplicate this restoration effort over multiple parcels with interested landowners throughout 2011.”

The Allen Brook Restoration Project will entail planting strips of vegetation up to 150 feet long along the main body of the brook and 50 feet long along its tributaries. The strips will comprise native shrubs and trees including silver and hard maple, box elder and numerous live willows that were donated to the project by private and corporate landowners in town.

“Willows have deep-binding root systems that can help hold together streambeds and other areas prone to erosion,” said Ian Ambler, a Stowe-based landscape designer and contractor hired by the town to work on the project. Ambler said that measures will be taken to give the newly planted saplings “a leg up” on competing flora and natural predators, including polypropylene brush mats on the ground and collars around the bases of the trees.

In order for the project to generate stormwater offset credits, the land must be under municipal control. Andreoletti said the town is in the process of securing easements for the parcel involved in the Allen Brook project. She said that independent appraisers will determine the value of the land being converted from field to forest, and that the end result of the entire process will benefit all parties involved.

“It’s a win-win-win situation,” Andreoletti said. “It helps improve the water quality in the Allen Brook, which is a major goal for the town of Williston. Landowners can receive funds for their easements, for land that is already undevelopable because of town ordinances. And the credits will go into a bank, where future developers of projects in the Allen Brook watershed could use them to meet stormwater offset requirements.”

Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, created Earth Day in 1970. Originally conceived as a “national teach-in on the environment,” the first Earth Day was essentially a nationwide protest against corporate America’s lack of environmental responsibility.

Last year’s 40th anniversary Earth Day saw 225,000 people participate in a Climate Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The annual event’s national organizing body, the Earth Day Network, currently reports its online membership at more than 900,000 people.

Hundreds gather to remember Peters

April 21, 2011

By Greg Duggan
Observer correspondent

Artwork, photos and other items commemorate the life of Dylan Peters during a memorial service at Bolton Valley on April 13. The Williston 18-year-old passed away on April 7 due to injuries sustained in a single-car accident. (Observer photo by Greg Duggan)

Teens, parents, teachers, coaches and others who knew Dylan Peters came together on April 13 at the Bolton Valley base lodge to remember the life of the Williston teen.

An 18-year-old student at Champlain Valley Union High School and Burlington Technical Center, Peters died April 7 following a single-car accident on Oak Hill Road. A preliminary investigation by the Williston Police Department attributed the accident to “excessive speed along with loss of control of the vehicle,” according to a press release.
Peters’ passing prompted hundreds of family members and friends — many of them wearing purple, the teen’s favorite color — to pack into the Bolton Valley lodge for the memorial.

“It’s good to be here with you guys to celebrate Dylan’s life,” Zach Hoag said to open the ceremony.

Hoag, a Bolton snowboard coach, led the ceremony. “Happy persistence” was the phrase he used to describe Peters’ efforts to become a better snowboarder. The persistence paid off, as Peters excelled at the sport, winning competitions, earning sponsorships and making close friends.

Peters’ brother, Dustin, and another friend, Evan Engisch, played Green Day’s “Time of Your Life.” The band Problem Child also performed two songs.

Peters’ parents, Jim and Susan Peters, shared stories about their son, as did several other friends. The memories caused mourners to laugh, sniffle and dab their eyes at reminiscences of the teen’s snowboarding feats, raps, artwork and mischievous escapades.

The Peters family plans to remember Dylan with the Dylan Peters Art of Snowboarding Fund, which Sue Peters wants to use to benefit snowboarding and art endeavors for youth. Contributions can be made to the Dylan Peters Art of Snowboarding Fund, c/o Sue and Jim Peters, 1102 Ledgewood Drive, Williston, Vt. 05495.

Faith in technology

April 21, 2011

Internet brings Beckett back for Palm Sunday service

By Adam White
Observer staff

Williston Town Clerk Deb Beckett watches and listens through an online video connection as choir director Martin Hain directs vocal practice prior to Williston Federated Church's Palm Sunday service on April 17. (Observer photo by Adam White)

During a pause in her Palm Sunday service, Rev. Joan O’Gorman looked out over the parishioners seated in the Williston Federated Church. As she met one familiar gaze near the front of the room, she broke into a wide smile.

“To see Deb’s face, as if she was sitting right there in the second row, was moving and joyful,” O’Gorman said.

Though Deb Beckett is currently deployed to Iraq with the Vermont Army National Guard, the longtime Federated Church member and Williston Town Clerk was able to join Sunday’s service through Internet technology. The online communications system Skype provided an audio and video feed of the service that Beckett was able to access with a personal computer in her containerized housing unit in the camp of Co. C 3/126 Aviation (Air Ambulance) in Iraq.

“It was fabulous,” Beckett said afterward. “It was amazing to be able to see and hear everyone. It was almost like I was there.”

A 25-year veteran of the National Guard, Beckett is on her second tour in the Middle East; she spent a year in Kuwait in 2005 with Task Force Green Mountain. She has the opportunity to attend a general morning service at the Tigris River Chapel in her unit’s base camp, but found that she missed many aspects of the Federated Church after spending more than two decades worshipping there.

“As much as the services here are good and I appreciate that we have very enthusiastic and committed chaplains in this Brigade, it is a very different atmosphere,” Beckett said. “It seems to be very temporary, and just because of the circumstances and variety of faith backgrounds, the services are very generic.  I really miss the traditions and fellowship of the Williston Federated Church, especially the music, the fellowship and of course the message.”

Sunday’s service centered on the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, and O’Gorman was able to draw parallels between the Biblical material and the present conflict in the Middle East.

“Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as we continue to weep over all of the places in the world where there is a lack of peace,” O’Gorman said. She then lit a special “candle of peace,” and offered a blessing to all those currently serving in the military.

Beckett had previously listened to audio recordings of hometown services on the Federated Church’s website, but said that unreliable connections could make that process time-consuming and frustrating. The idea for her to join the Palm Sunday service via Skype came after she had used the website to communicate with friend and fellow parishioner Pam Sevigny, whose laptop was used to make Sunday’s connection.

“This is a good way to keep in touch with her,” Sevigny said. “It works well – as long as there are no sandstorms on her end – and computer-to-computer, it’s free.”

Beckett said that the ability to Skype and email regularly wasn’t available during her first deployment to the Middle East, but has since become fairly common among military personnel overseas.

“I have been able to Skype with friends and family on a somewhat regular basis, and it is a pretty common way for people to communicate,” Beckett said. “Some soldiers have used Skype to read stories to their kids or pop in at a family gathering type of thing – but I have not heard of anyone Skyping a church service.”

Beckett said that the technology – which one of her fellow parishioners said was “like something out of science fiction” – is the closest many soldiers can come to making the over 5,000-mile trip back home for important events.

“We were preparing to Skype the birth of a baby,” she said. “Fortunately, the new baby held off long enough for Dad to make it home on leave – but it was close.”

Beckett hopes to return stateside “in about four or five months,” but will continue to participate in Federated Church services via Skype in the meantime. Rev. O’Gorman said that “gathering with those near and far” is very much in the spirit of what the church is all about.

“We pray for Deb every Sunday, but to have her present with us in this way is truly special,” O’Gorman said.

Rose’s path leads into the Wilderness

April 21, 2011

Williston resident takes reins of new regional chapter of Society

By Adam White
Observer staff

Williston resident Ben Rose is the new northeast regional director of the Wilderness Society. (Courtesy photo of Ben Rose)

Like a through-hiker huddled beneath a lean-to during a thunderstorm, Ben Rose is waiting for the right opportunity to embark on the next leg of his journey.

Williston’s Rose became the new northeast regional director for The Wilderness Society last month, after 12 years as executive director of the Green Mountain Club. He has since been holding down a desk at the Youth Conservation Corps’ Richmond office, until a location can be found for TWS’s new regional nerve center – a process that he says must happen in due time.

“We have a number of things we need to explore before we put down our roots,” Rose said last week, during a break in leadership training at TWS’s national offices in Washington, D.C. “Right now, I have a fire hose of information pouring out on me, and I’m trying to absorb it like a sponge.”

Rose has a tough act to follow as he takes over the Wilderness Society’s Northeast director position from Leanne Klyza Linck. During her five years in the position, Linck was the chief architect of the legislative strategy that led to passage in 2006 of the New England Wilderness Act, which permanently protected 76,500 acres in the Green Mountain and White Mountain National forests.

It was during that process that Linck met Rose. She was “impressed by his understanding of the importance of wilderness,” and she recognized in him some of the qualities necessary for success in what was then her position.

“Ben is someone who can sit down with people with very different views and backgrounds and have a conversation with them,” Linck said. “He’s not a polarizing person; he’s very reasonable and approachable.”

Rose is the third Vermonter within the Northeast program’s administration, along with Hinesburg’s Klinck – who will now serve as the organization’s vice president for Eastern conservation – and Ann Ingerson, a resource economist from Craftsbury. Rose said several aspects of the regional program still need to be ironed out before an ideal location for the new headquarters can be determined.

Even with a full plate, Rose said that he fits well into TWS during what he described as a “turbulent time” for the organization.

“I tolerate ambiguity well,” Rose said. “I don’t mind being in a complex organizational matrix.”

Protecting the environment isn’t just a career choice for Rose; it is also an issue that hits close to home for the longtime Williston resident.

Jessica Andreoletti, the town’s staff liaison to the Conservation Commission, recalled Rose’s involvement in the WING (Williston Into the Next Generations) Initiative in 2008, when he advised local residents about the best political mechanisms through which to accomplish their goals and have their voices heard.

“Ben is always in the loop, involved with the movers and shakers when it comes to environmental issues and the town,” Andreoletti said. “He’s an advocate, and he pays a lot of attention to what people around him are saying.”

Matt Larson has served as interim executive director at the Green Mountain Club since Rose resigned the position effective March 19. Larson said that Rose “left the Green Mountain Club in great shape,” making its transition to a new full-time leader easier while leaving behind a legacy to live up to.

“I think whoever comes in next is going to have some big shoes to fill,” said Larson, citing Rose’s work on the GMC’s multi-million-dollar Second Century Campaign as a significant accomplishment within his 12-year tenure as leader of the Vermont organization. Rose was also involved in dozens of land conservation deals as well as several major upkeep and improvement projects along Vermont’s Long Trail with the Club.

The Green Mountain Club is a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. The Club is centered in a new headquarters off Route 100 in Waterbury, the construction of which came to fruition while Rose was in charge.

The Wilderness Society is the nation’s leading conservation organization, committed to protecting the 635 million acres of public lands in the United States. Since its founding in 1935, the Society has been instrumental in the protection of 110 million acres of designated wilderness in 44 states.

Selectboard: plan must lay foundation for affordable housing

April 21, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Affordable housing plays a significant role in Williston’s 2011 comprehensive plan, and the issue took center stage several times during the Selectboard’s meeting on April 18.
The Board continued reviewing a draft of the plan, focusing on its growth management and housing section. Planning director Ken Belliveau and planning commission member Jake Mathon were also on hand to help the Board review an analysis of the town’s reserve sewer capacity and proposed amendments to its sewer allocation ordinance.

In its most significant action of the three-hour-plus meeting, the Board voted 3-2 in favor of increasing the wastewater allocation for new commercial and industrial projects from 4,000 to 7,500 gallons per day.

Board members Jeff Fehrs and Debbie Ingram voted against the increase, expressing disappointment at the lack of allocation for affordable housing projects within the proposed amendments. Town manager Rick McGuire said there are simply no such projects “on the horizon” for the town.

Belliveau said that capacity for affordable housing could be obtained, if necessary, under an existing allocation for “encouraging new development,” since those projects would address one of the objectives within the town plan.

Section 5.2 of the plan lays out “objectives aimed at encouraging a wider range of housing types in Williston,” including more affordable options. Belliveau said that inclusionary zoning was one way to encourage such projects.

Fehrs expressed concern that a lack of wastewater allocation might be “a huge barrier” to affordable housing, given that Belliveau had confirmed earlier in the meeting that all of the capacity in the town’s agricultural-residential and residential zoning districts has been allocated through the end of fiscal year 2015.

“There is still ample allocation left in the growth center, and that is an area where we’re trying to target 50 percent of the town’s housing growth over the next 10 years,” Mathon said.

Fehrs countered by asking whether the planning commission had “looked at the benefits of affordable housing occurring in other parts of town, too.” Belliveau explained one way in which the town’s growth center is an ideal location for affordable housing.

“Density is a significant factor in what price point housing is likely to come in at,” Belliveau said. “It affects development costs, and land costs, per housing unit. One of the best ways to incentivize (affordable) housing is to boost density.”

Belliveau also said that market fluctuation can greatly affect whether affordable housing remains so, and suggested that management by a non-profit program or trust was one of the only ways to guard against that.

The Board also voted unanimously in favor of maintaining a 7-percent reserve capacity within the municipal wastewater system, after Belliveau and public works director Bruce Hoar addressed the potential danger of decreasing that reserve.

“The system is not getting any newer,” Hoar said, citing infiltration and inflow problems occurring between Old Stage and North Williston roads. “I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable making that number any lower.”

PHOTOS: Big Basket Raffle

April 14, 2011

Observer photos by Kayla Walters (www.kaylaphoto.weebly.com)

The Big Basket Raffle and Silent Auction, an annual fundraiser for Families As Partners, was held at Williston Central School on April 9.

PHOTOS: CVU girls lacrosse

April 14, 2011

Courtesy photos by Thomas Spencer

The Champlain Valley Union girls lacrosse varsity and junior varsity teams earned victories over Mount Abraham on April 9.

PHOTOS: CVU boys lacrosse

April 14, 2011

Observer photos by Shane Bufano (www.shanebufano.com)

The Champlain Valley Union boys lacrosse squad exploded for a 17-8 victory over Woodstock on April 12.