May 23, 2019

Letters to the Editor

May 26, 2011


Vermont 2A sidewalks must be connected

I am writing in regards to your May 5th front-page article, “Hearing sets Stage for new sidewalk.” I’m curious how Old Stage Road became the next sidewalk to be completed. I was glad to hear that safety was a major consideration for the new sidewalk to be built on Old Stage Road.

I was surprised to see the following week no one wrote and mentioned safety on Vermont 2A. On 2A, some fine new sidewalks have been made but not connected. Between the light at Mountain View Road and the Vermont State Employees Credit Union at 1755 Essex Road, there is no sidewalk. This means individuals making essential trips to catch the CCTA (Chittenden County Transportation Authority) bus for work or to the grocery store for food have to walk IN traffic.

Vermont 2A traffic is much busier than Old Stage Road traffic. I would imagine the higher traffic volume and purpose of walking (work/weekly groceries) would make completing this stretch of sidewalk a high priority. Perhaps these sidewalks will be addressed during the planning for a church at Beaudry Lane? I wonder if Williston has any plans to complete this sidewalk.

Ken Gregory




Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide

Some may be familiar with the above, which was first used by Australia’s Cancer Council campaign in 1981. This has become a worldwide reminder to all about what can be done to protect ourselves from the sun. May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. With the welcomed arrival of warm weather and sunshine, it is a reminder on how we can enjoy the outdoors and still protect our skin. Seek shade, slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat and slide on protective sunglasses. There are many sources for information about skin cancer and how to prevent sun damage, what to look for, what type of sunscreen to use, how often to apply, why one should avoid tanning booths, and why a child under six-months-old should stay out of the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society web sites have much information. Check your skin regularly and be aware of what to look for. The ABCDE guidelines for self-skin exam for melanoma are at the web sites, too. The letters stand for: A, asymmetry; B, border; C, color; D, diameter; and E, evolving.

You can enjoy the wonderful outdoors of Vermont and be sun smart, too!

Carol Burbank


Guest column

It’s never too late for a CVU summer connection

May 26, 2011

By Duncan Wardwell


The Champlain Valley Union High School summer camp provides many ways for CVU students to create positive connections to their educational environment. For more than 12 years, the camp has connected incoming ninth-graders with academics, clubs, sports, and CVU culture. Current and former CVU students serve as counselors to challenge campers to develop high school attitudes. The CVU summer camp illustrates how high school students may experience success in a variety of ways.

The process always begins in the winter when parents and students attend the eighth grade parent night to learn about CVU and the camp. I talk to groups of parents in core classrooms and a few experienced counselors answer student questions at four corners.

We want to prompt students to create a good first impression. Everyone wants to make new friends and know the layout of the school.

Families are encouraged to register as early as possible so I can coordinate counselors for interest area activities; however there are no deadlines on when students can join the camp. I joke with parents that they can register up until the last day of camp. I remove obstacles that might interfere with a good connection, and coordinate transportation and scholarship support. I’d rather have a student make a small connection rather than no connection at all.

The camp implements a variety of ways to cascade learning between new and current CVU students. Incoming ninth graders sign up for interest area groups led by counselors and CVU staff. Counselors serve as mentors for campers to develop high school skills. Last year, Anthony Jordick completed his CVU graduation challenge project based on personal experiences as a camper and counselor. He created a handbook for students to utilize during the summer and school year.

Jordick said: “Lessons about making friends, managing your time, and using the resources available to you are all things that we can learn from, as an adult and a learner. Making connections with the school is equally as important.”

André LaChance, a CVU English teacher for 22 years, challenges summer academy campers to know their teachers.

“It’s nice because I work in an informal way with a small group,” he said. “We talk about life at high school as a student, and we learn strategies for success. I also challenge them to interpret literature and write with revision techniques.”

The activities at the camp provide the initial connection but it often expands into the fall, winter, and spring.

“I often see them later in my English classes or help advisors and teachers plan for success,” LaChance said.

All interest area choices provide ways for campers to orchestrate success at CVU. The students that sign up for CY CVU explore how to improve personal assets through clubs, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Campers choose ways to connect to CVU with a technological, artistic, or athletic talent. LaChance also observes how counselors implement skills that transcend CVU.

“I mentor counselors as they facilitate a community environment,” he said. “The campers already feel ownership of their building and their decisions before walking off buses in September. We hand-select a talented group of counselors.”

The counselors learn how to implement CVU skills to the world in front of them.

Ellen Snyder explained, “As an experienced counselor, I really enjoy planning lessons, acquiring materials, and teaching art skills that allow a camper’s creativity to flourish.”

The counselors develop leadership skills and experience responsibilities that transcend high school. Each counselor contributes a unique talent, but is diverse enough to lead many fun interest areas activities.

There are many ways to discover success at CVU during the summer. Many future, current, and former CVU students will connect with content and community resources. To find out how to enhance your CVU connection, check out the CVU summer camp website at or call me at 482-7194.

Spaces are available for incoming ninth graders in both sessions, all interest areas.


Duncan E. Wardwell is co-director of Access CVU and coordinating the high school camp for the 13th consecutive summer.


The Everyday Gourmet

Memorial Day memories

May 26, 2011

By Kim Dannies


A soggy, sunless mud season has driven Vermonters collectively insane. It’s time to break out and celebrate a holiday in style. This weekend, as we remember those who have given their lives to protect our freedoms, trot out something special to share with loved ones. I’m thinking grilled beef tenderloin filets. Yes, tenderloin is pricey per pound, but no more so than lobster or lamb, and there is zero waste. It’s rich and satisfying, so smaller portions go further. Decidedly festive and delectable, it’s easy to prepare (even if it rains). This menu is guaranteed to make some nice memories for you and your guests.


Cherry Tomato and Bleu Cheese Salad (with Vermont Cure Bacon Lardons)

Buy the mini slab and slice up chunks of the bacon (lardons) Fry them in a large cast iron pan on a hot grill. Remove cooked lardons to paper towel, reserving the fat for the potato pancakes. Combine a mixture of spring greens, chopped celery, and sliced grape tomatoes (figure a heaping handful per guest). Add bacon lardons and crumbled bleu cheese. Toss lightly with a vinaigrette made of 2 parts olive oil and 1 part red wine vinegar. Season to taste.


Sweet Potato Pancakes

Peel and shred 2 sweet potatoes. Add 3 minced cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Re-heat the cast iron pan on the grill or stovetop, and drop large spoonfuls of potato into the hot bacon fat. Brown and form pancakes, flipping once. Cook for about 7 minutes. Makes 8 pancakes.


Grilled Asparagus

This one is easy and breezy. Snap off ends and toss spears in olive oil. Throw on the grill and sear, turning often for 5 minutes. Plan on 4 to 6 spears per person.


Grilled Tenderloin

Plan on 4 to 6 ounces per person. Cut fillets 2 inches thick. Sear on a hot grill for 4 minutes each side for medium rare, longer if desired.


Fresh Berry Parfaits

Combine fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and ribbon-cut fresh mint; douse with a bit of orange juice. Serve the fruit in pretty dessert cups along with high-quality shortbread cookies such as Walkers.

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


Places I’ve Played

Lie down to pleasant dreams

May 26, 2011

By Bill Skiff


“… Go not, like a quarry-slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed

By an unfaltering faith, approach thy grave

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch

About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”


The above is only part of William Cullen Bryant’s poem (“Thanatopsis”) that I memorized in my high school English class. I have always enjoyed the thought — more so recently.

During the past month, I have lost two Rotary friends. Heath Riggs from Richmond was a 92-year-old gentleman whose life was full of working to make the world a better place. I loved his dry Vermont humor.

Mike Coates of Williston was my buddy for many of his latter years. When you are as close to a person as I was to Mike, his passing leaves a void in my life deeper and wider than expected.

Within the last year I also lost a great dance partner, my college roommate, and two longtime tennis partners. After Mike’s death, I thought, “Wait a minute, what is happening here?” Then I realized these friends were all getting older. And it hit me — so am I.

Death has always been in my life as it is in everyone’s. Animals died on the farm when I was a kid. I experienced losing a pet calf and my friend Teddy, the canine ballplayer.

Then mom and dad died. Dad was 92 and mom was 86, so I was somewhat prepared for their passing. I was much younger then, and death for me seemed a long time away. That was then — this is now.

When I sat with Mike during his last days I realized how difficult it is to die, and how no one really wants to do it. As you realize you are no longer going to be around for family events or take another run down a trail at Bolton Valley, it makes you ponder death and your own legacy. Mike and I agreed that someday we would take another run down a mountain together; we just didn’t know where it would be or when we would do it. I liked that.

As I continue my latter days, I wonder what my legacy will be. I sometimes remember Woody Allen’s thoughts on death and dying: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.” In reality, I hope when my time comes I will “rap the drapery of my couch about me and lie down to pleasant dreams.”


Bill Skiff grew up on a farm between Cambridge and Jeffersonville. After a career in education, he now lives in Williston, where he is a justice of the peace and Fourth of July frog-jumping official. In “Places I’ve Played,” he shares his experiences of growing up in Vermont. Comments are welcome at


Little Details

Ask the question

May 26, 2011

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper


I brought flowers. The bouquet, although splendid in color, paled in comparison to the enormous gratitude I felt. The woman who sat across from me a decade ago was a nationally regarded expert on domestic violence. She established one of Poland’s first crisis centers, serving individuals traumatized by abuse.

Poland’s domestic violence prevention movement surfaced after the August 1989 collapse of communism. Under the old regime, family violence was a topic swept under the rug. By 2001, this burgeoning democracy hosted a network of shelters, concentrated in urban areas. Dr. Wanda Badura-Madej was at the forefront of this public policy shift.

After reading an article in the “New York Times” about shelters in Poland, I wondered how my volunteer work in Vermont — answering a hotline, counseling women on safety planning, advocating for legislative changes — might translate overseas.

I made a funny sort of pitch to my husband:  “What if you took a leave from work … maybe we could spend a few months in Poland … maybe I could volunteer … you could be Aleksandra’s (our then-preschooler) primary care giver.”

My husband thought about it a moment and said, “Why don’t you research it?”

I started quietly investigating the possibility. A friend, a social work professor at the University of Vermont, connected me with a Polish sociologist at Rutgers University who directed me to programs in Warsaw and Cracow. I zeroed in on Cracow, my home for two years when I was an exchange student. My cousin Jacek assumed the task of finding us a three-month apartment rental. My husband formally requested a leave. We located an international preschool our daughter could attend.

Two domestic violence prevention programs operated in Cracow. I drafted a letter to the directors, detailing my volunteer experience. I expressed a strong desire to learn about Poland’s efforts to counter family violence.

I asked the question: “Can I volunteer within your organization?”

Dropping the letters into a mail receptacle, I realized I might be rejected or utterly ignored. Unless a solid connection was made, all bets were off. An email arrived from Dr. Badura-Madej indicating she’d take me on as a volunteer. We left in March 2001, toting clothes, toys, and a nebulizer with adaptor for our then-asthmatic daughter, and a pile of Dr. Seuss picture books.

I still remember my first day at the shelter. Standing outside the secure facility translating various labels by a row of buzzers, I wondered, “Which button do I push? Shelter? Administration? Directorship?”

I hesitated, thinking, “What have I got myself into now? Can I really do this? Is my Polish good enough?”

I pressed the button for administration, announcing my appointment with Dr. Badura-Madej. Ascending two flights of stairs, I encountered a receptionist who invited me to take a seat.

Dr. Badura-Madej, a middle-aged woman, approached me with a broad smile. She invited me into her high-ceilinged office and, demonstrating true Polish hospitality, offered a cup of tea. She seemed intrigued by my desire to volunteer. I explained it was about broadening perspective on domestic violence. I also felt I had a debt to pay for scholarship assistance received years ago, allowing my studies at Cracow’s Jagiellonian University.

Dr. Badura-Madej prepared a comprehensive training schedule. I would read literature, observe support groups, spend time in a shelter, and consult with social work and psychological staff. Grasping the workings of the organization served as precursor to direct service.

“I want you to know,” Dr. Badura-Madej offered, “I’m here to help if you, or your husband and daughter, encounter any problems during your stay.” Her caring nature extended throughout my three month stint.

I played with kids in the shelter, singing loosely translated versions of “Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” I listened to women in support groups carefully plotting steps to live lives free of violence. I met Kamil, a 10-year-old boy, who told me he liked the shelter because “there’s peace and quiet and yogurt on Tuesdays.” I met wonderful, dedicated professionals who took the time to share expertise. Dr. Badura-Madej invited me to present perspectives on domestic violence prevention work in the U.S. to her staff and students.

Three short months later, it was time to say goodbye. Our family’s adventure proved life-changing, for each of us.

After presenting Dr. Badura-Madej the flowers, we shared another cup of tea in her office. I started to cry as I tried to convey how powerful the experience had been. I learned so much.

Dr. Badura-Madej smiled. She began fiddling with her necklace, gently slipping off its polished quartz pendant.  She slid the translucent stone across the table towards me.

“This is for you,” she said.

I accepted the gift, an expression of her kind and open heart. I had one burning question for my mentor, a pioneering advocate for Poland’s abused women and children: “Why did you first become involved in domestic violence prevention?”

She smiled and said, “Shortly after communism ended, President Lech Walesa’s government organized a national conference to consider social problems. A former colleague who emigrated to the West presented a paper on domestic violence. The topic sounded intriguingly egzotyczn (exotic) and I decided to pursue it.”

As summer approaches with youth opportunities to work and volunteer, I’m reminded that it’s important to teach our children to ask the question: “Does the possibility exist?” Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, these possibilities change our lives.


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



May 26, 2011



Harriet P. Thompson, 92, of Williston, formerly of Jeffersonville, died peacefully on Monday, May 16, 2011, in the Burlington Health and Rehabilitation Center following a short illness. She was born in Marlboro, N.J. on Jan. 21, 1919, the daughter of William and Minerva (Holmes) Preston. She was the youngest of 10 children, and has been predeceased by all. Harriet graduated from Freehold (N.J.) High School and attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. She continued her education and graduated from Scudder School in New York City. On Oct. 12, 1940, she married James A. Thompson in the Old Dutch Reformed Church in Marlboro, N.J. She was employed at Saugerties (N.Y.) High School for several years. After moving to Vermont in 1965, she volunteered at Second Chance in Morrisville for many years, was a volunteer ski instructor for the children’s ski program at Smuggler’s Notch and worked at Special Olympics events at the Notch, and ran and helped run the library in Jeffersonville for many years. She was a longtime member and volunteer at the Second Congregational Church in Jeffersonville, and belonged to the Crescendo Club in Jeffersonville. She is survived by her husband of over 71 years, James (Jim) of Williston; two daughters, Hallery Brunet and her companion, John Willis, of Williston and Bette Anderson of Olympia, Wash.; four grandchildren, James Brunet of Jacksonville, Fla., Jodie Donohue and her husband, Brian, of Summerville, S.C., William Brunet and his wife, Shirley, of Essex Junction and Robert Brunet of Waco, TX; two great-grandchildren, Aaron and Logan Brunet of Essex Junction; and numerous nieces and nephews. A celebration of her life was held on Saturday, May 21, 2011, at 1 p.m. in the Williston Federated Church. Burial will be at the convenience of her family. Visiting hours were held on Friday, May 20, 2011, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Ready Funeral and Cremation Service, Mountain View Chapel, 68 Pinecrest Drive, Essex Junction. To send online condolences to her family, please visit In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Williston Fire Department, 645 Talcott Rd., Williston, VT 05495.

Stormwater meeting taking place June 1

May 26, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Town officials are seeking residents’ help in identifying problem areas for stormwater in Williston.

An open meeting will be held in the Town Hall meeting room on June 1 at 6:30 p.m to collect information to help assist with Williston’s Town-wide Stormwater Master Plan. Environmental planner Jessica Andreoletti said that input from residents is crucial to evaluating problem areas and formulating solutions for protecting area rivers and other waterways.

“The only way to improve the quality of our rivers is to work as a community,” Andreoletti said. “In a situation like this, everybody is the government. It’s something that we can’t do without the town’s input.”

The meeting – part of Phase II of the Master Plan, identifying stormwater problem areas – is aimed at identifying places where runoff and seepage could potentially reach waterways. Andreoletti said that she will likely “give the first example” by describing an eroded portion of the parking lot directly to the west of the Town Hall Annex, through which dirt and sediment from the adjacent armory lot is carried into a nearby catchbasin that empties directly into the Allen Brook.

Andreoletti said that subsequent input from townspeople about other problem areas will help “fill in the blanks” for town officials who simply don’t have the time or manpower to personally explore every inch of Williston.

“Input from people in town will be a big help to us, because we have enough problems focusing on town-owned infrastructure and caring for its problems,” Andreoletti said. “We need to manage our stormwater, too.”

Federal attention

Stormwater issues were also the focus when a team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency visited Williston late last week. Public works engineering technician Lisa Sheltra said that FEMA officials were in the area on Thursday and Friday to conduct a preliminary damage assessment of private homes impacted by recent flooding.

“They had a list of people who had concerns relating to flooding, and they went to those areas to ask questions about the damage,” Sheltra said.

Ray Doherty, state hazard mitigation officer for Vermont Emergency Management, said that the assessment was part of a statewide effort to “determine if Vermont would be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance grants for private homeowners.”

Sheltra said that FEMA had previously conducted an investigation into municipal flood damage, and that the organization is “still investigating” both facets of the issue.

Willistonians dash toward City Marathon

May 26, 2011

By Steven Frank
Observer staff

Robyn Matheson (Courtesy photo)

Thomas Spencer (Courtesy photo)

This Sunday, approximately 3,600 registered individuals, 1,400 relay teams, and 1,700 volunteers will descend upon Burlington for the 23rd annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon.

Eighteen of the individual and relay runners reside in Williston. The marathon features a range of athletic abilities, personalities, and backgrounds that are reflected in those Willistonians. This week, the Observer caught up with three of them: Thomas Spencer, Robyn Matheson, and Chris Long.



Thomas Spencer, 41, is about to run his second Vermont City Marathon after a four-year hiatus. His decision to return was first triggered by turning 40 and became official when his daughter, Emily, said she was going to volunteer. Emily, a sophomore at Champlain Valley Union High School, will turn 16 on race day.

“My goal is to finish, have fun, and be in good enough shape after to spend the rest of the day with my daughter,” said Spencer, who recalled spending the remainder of the day couch-ridden after his run in 2007.

Spencer, who doesn’t intend on topping his time from four years ago, began training just seven weeks ago and runs four times a week. He likes to train along South Road in Williston and noted that the town has several great areas for running, but Mother Nature hasn’t been cooperative.

“I have a treadmill that has gotten more use in the last seven weeks than it has in the last seven years,” Spencer said.

Spencer hasn’t done any other full-length marathons but has completed some half-marathons and 10k competitions. He prefers the City Marathon because of its route, particularly the bike path along the waterfront, and the support from spectators and volunteers.

“It’s such a beautiful run – perfect for guys like me,” Spencer said.



Robyn Matheson only began preparing for this year’s marathon five months ago, but that tardiness has nothing to do with procrastination or this spring’s wet weather. Matheson gave birth to her first child, a son, seven months ago.

“I don’t know how well I’m going to do,” said Matheson, who couldn’t run during the first two months after childbirth. “I wish I had one more month.”

Matheson, who recently turned 30, started slowly and increased her training earlier this year. At her peak, she ran between 45-50 miles a week and trains five days a week.

This isn’t Matheson’s first marathon – she completed the Boston Marathon several years ago and ran the City Marathon four other times – but it could be her toughest. In addition to the short amount of training time, she’s had to work her training schedule around her son’s. Matheson has also been nursing, which she said uses up a lot of her energy.

“First, and foremost, I have to be a mother,” Matheson said.

Matheson, who likes to train along Old Stage Road and the bike path near Williston Central School, isn’t using motherhood as an excuse. In fact, she is using it to motivate herself and others.

“You often hear people go, ‘I just had a baby. I can’t do it,’” said Matheson, “but that’s an excuse. You can do it.”



Those who don’t wish to volunteer or have the stamina to run 26.2 miles can still get their City Marathon fix. Chris Long will run with four others, including his daughter, Sarah, as part of the Windrunnerz relay team.

“When you go to the start line at 7:30 a.m., you really get into the atmosphere,” Long said. “It’s so exciting.”

Long, 52 and an engineer at IBM, has two colleagues on his team. He said his team is just going out there to have fun and are “not out to set any records.” His daughter, who plays lacrosse at CVU, has the shortest leg (approximately three miles). Long has the last leg – 5 ½ miles that will take him through the waterfront bike path to a roaring crowd at the finish line.

“It’s the glory leg,” said Long, who has never run the marathon as an individual but has done several other relays. “I’ve already done it once … it’s the luck of the draw I guess.”

Long’s training began indoors on his treadmill and rowing machine. He began training outside recently, sometimes in the rain, and uses a four-mile loop near his home in Heritage Meadows.

“This carries me into completing my goal of staying in shape for the summer,” Long said.


The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon starts at 8 a.m. near Battery Park on Park St. and finishes at Waterfront Park. For more information, go to

Veterans salute true meaning of Memorial Day

May 26, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Veterans Walt Trepanier (left) and Lynn Shepard pose beside the war memorial monument located between the Town Hall and Annex in Williston. Trepanier and Shepard will take part in a special Memorial Day ceremony at the monument on Monday, with a wreath placement and address by Vermont Air National Guard commander Bill LaPointe scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. (Observer photo by Adam White)

When he first returned from World War II, all Walt Trepanier wanted to do was forget.

As an Army engineer deployed to the South Pacific, the now-86-year-old Williston man’s experiences in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines were “worse than anything.” He remembers freed prisoners of war from Corregidor Island who looked like “walking skeletons,” and working in constant fear of an enemy who was all but invisible.

“We were cutting roads through the jungle, and it was so thick that we could barely see what was right in front of us,” Trepanier said. “It was dangerous, because we never knew where the Japanese were. They were dug into bunkers before we got there.”

Sixty-six years after returning stateside, Trepanier is fighting a different battle – to help keep the memory of departed veterans alive. He is part of a group of Williston veterans from American Legion Post 45 who will hold a Memorial Day service on Monday at the monument park between the Town Hall and Annex to honor the 10 townspeople listed on the memorial monument that were lost in World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.

The 11 a.m. ceremony will include the placement of a wreath at the base of the monument, and words from guest speaker Bill LaPointe, the commander of the Vermont Air National Guard and a Williston resident.

“We want to make sure that veterans are never forgotten,” said Lynn Shepard, a Vietnam vet currently serving as the acting commander of Post 45. “It seems like a lot of people don’t understand what Memorial Day is – a day dedicated to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Standing beside the monument a week before the ceremony, Shepard and Trepanier agreed that public perception of the holiday does somewhat of a disservice to veterans. Too many people equate Memorial Day only with “picnics and parades,” according to Trepanier, while the true significance of the occasion has faded into the background.

“It’s not supposed to just be a day off from work, and some big party,” Shepard said. “It’s for remembrance.”

Shepard’s recollections of returning home from Southeast Asia are marred with the bitterness that was directed at many Vietnam vets by anti-war activists. He remembers soldiers “being spit on” and called “baby killers,” despite what they felt was a selfless commitment to all Americans.

“We were doing what our country wanted us to do – protect freedom and liberty,” Shepard said. “We live under the stars and stripes now, but we could be living under the Swastika or the hammer and sickle if not for the sacrifices made by veterans.”

The two Williston men recognize that veterans of the recent military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have received far more support from the American public, with Trepanier saying, “it’s about time.” But they also note that those younger generations of vets have not gravitated toward organizations like the American Legion and VFW, at least not yet.

“I think that when you’re younger, you want to forget about what you went through,” Shepard said. “When you get older, you want to tell your story and have it carried on.”

Such a changing of the guard seems necessary in order to keep veterans’ organizations going. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that in 2008, the number of living World War II veterans had plummeted from approximately 16 million to 2.5 million, with upward of 1,000 more dying each day. Trepanier said that he is “one of the last” WW-II veterans in the immediate area, though his sense of pride at having served in the second Great War hasn’t dimmed with the passing decades.

“I still wear my World War II cap when I go out, and people see it and thank me for my service,” said Trepanier, a resident of the Whitney Hill Homestead who still drives. “It seems like every year, more and more of us old veterans are passing away – but coming up on 87, I’m still going.”

Trepanier said that he helped design the star at the center of the Williston memorial, and was on hand for its dedication in 1994. He said that “a lot of people, mostly big shots like politicians” were present for the dedication, and Post 45 is hoping for a similarly healthy turnout for the Memorial Day ceremony.

“We’re hoping to get at least 100 people, but we’ll see,” Shepard said. “What is most important is that people understand what this day is about.”

And even as they fight to keep the true spirit of Memorial Day alive, Shepard and Trepanier look forward to a day when the Legion and VFW will no longer be needed – and the memories of departed veterans will be distant ones.

“We hope that in our time, there will be no more veterans’ organizations because there will be no more wars,” Shepard said. “But until then, we don’t want those who made the ultimate sacrifice to be forgotten.”


DRB grants third extension to project

May 26, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

The Williston Development Review Board voted on Tuesday to grant a six-month extension for developers of the Atwood/Hood affordable housing project off North Williston Road to submit final plans for approval. The Board approved the extension by a vote of 4-1, with chair Scott Rieley – the lone naysayer – questioning whether the additional time was warranted.

“We are here to uphold the code, not to be party to your business plan or changes in your business plan,” Rieley said. “My concern … is what constitutes new information, versus a business decision on your part. They are not the same thing.”

The extension granted on Tuesday was the third given to the project during its approval process. Senior planner Matt Boulanger said that the developers had been granted an initial six-month extension as allowed by the town bylaws and a second under the advisement of the town’s land-use attorney, based on the project being “tied up in litigation.”

Making the third extension contingent on DRB approval was necessary, Boulanger said, in the interest of “fundamental fairness” in a situation that has surpassed established guidelines.

“We are somewhat out on a procedural limb here,” Boulanger said. “What do you do when the bylaw – and state law – stop telling you what to do?”

Town planner Ken Beliveau expressed wariness before the meeting of granting the project yet another extension, saying that it could “create a precedent” that might prove problematic in the future. Had the extension not been granted, the developers would have been required to submit their final plans – in compliance with all existing conditions of approval – to the town next week, or begin the entire approval process over again in the pre-application stage.

As it is, the extension is effectively keeping alive a zoning bylaw that was amended in June 2009. The project was approved under regulations that permitted two dwelling units per acre, to be calculated using the total acreage of the property involved. The new bylaw allows for three units per acre, but excludes wetlands and steep slopes from the acreage calculation. Boulanger said that there are approximately three acres of wetlands involved in the Atwood/Hood development.

Several neighboring property owners voiced opposition to the project at Tuesday’s DRB meeting. Briant Hamrell questioned why developers were struggling to manage the affordable housing component when their attorney, Randy Amis, was a former executive director for the Champlain Housing Trust. Igor Arsovski argued that the necessity for another extension was really “based on the business environment … a climate that can go up and down at any time.”