November 22, 2014

Police Notes

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June 30, 2011

Multiple charges

Jeffrey A. Nutto, 49, of South Burlington was cited on a charge of driving under the influence-second offense, driving with a suspended license-criminal, and violating conditions of release on June 22, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .166, according to the report. He was cited to appear in court on July 12.

Christopher J. Clark, 22, of Hinesburg was cited on charges of possession of three grams of marijuana and driving with a suspended license-criminal on June 23, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Intoxication

On June 22, police were notified that a man was intoxicated at Wal-Mart, according to police reports. He was taken to Act 1 detoxification center, the report notes. No other information was released.

On June 24, police were notified that a “possible drunk male” with bandages on his knees was walking on the bike path next to Harmony Spa, according to police reports. Police determined the man was intoxicated and he was taken by emergency services to Fletcher Allen Health Care after which police took him to Act 1 detoxification center, the report notes.

On June 24, police were notified that an “intoxicated female” was being belligerent and refusing to leave a local restaurant, according to police reports. Police responded and found the woman “slurring her speech and visibly intoxicated yelling at the staff on scene,” according to the report.  She was taken to a detoxification center, the report notes.

Driving under the influence

• Desideria R. Merchant, 48, of Burlington was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on June 21, according to police reports. Her blood alcohol concentration was .098, according to the report. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08. She was cited to appear in court. Her passenger was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Center after being refused at Act 1 detoxification center and “being uncooperative,” the report notes.

• Scott T. Graham, 51, of Lafayette, Colo. was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on June 22, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .093, according to the report. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Center as he had “no ties to Vermont and he was headed out of town,” the report notes. He was issued traffic warnings and was cited to appear in court.

• Jason P. Foley, 31, of Essex Junction was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on June 24, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .166, according to the report. He was cited to appear in court.

• John W. Blanchard, 28, of Essex Junction was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on June 26, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .168, according to the report. He was cited to appear in court.
• Justin D. Rich, 19 of Williston was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on June 26, according to police reports. His blood alcohol content was .082, the report notes. Because he is under the age of 21, he was also cited on a charge of having a blood alcohol concentration over .02, according to the report. He was cited to appear in court.

Lewd and lascivious conduct

Police received a report of a possible drug problem in the parking lot of an Industrial Avenue business on June 24, according to police reports. A man and woman were subsequently referred to the Williston Reparative Board on charges of “lewd and lascivious behavior,” according to the report. No other information was released.

Theft

Two “lift jack arms” were reported stolen from behind the Thomas Hirchak building on June 20, according to police reports. The units were inside the locked fence and each arm weighed about 80 pounds, according to the report. Anyone with information is asked to call Williston Police at 878-6611.

A manager at Ponderosa Steakhouse reported to police on June 26 that someone had stolen more than $600 from a restaurant safe, according to police reports. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call Williston Police at 878-6611.

Driving with suspended license

David R. Lawder, 43, of South Burlington was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on June 26, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on Aug. 1.

Police notes are written based on information provided by the Williston Police Department and the Vermont State Police. Please note that all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Sports Notes

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June 30, 2011

N.H. Wins Twin State Field Hockey Game

Champlain Valley Union’s Lawrence Dee, shown here in a game against Burlington in May, scored three goals in Vermont’s loss to New Hampshire. The annual game features the states’ top boys lacrosse players. (File photo)

With Champlain Valley Union’s Aubrey Deavitt and Louise Gibbs on the squad, the Vermont field hockey squad bowed to New Hampshire, 2-1, in the annual Twin State field hockey game.

The contest took place on June 24 in Keene, N.H.

South Burlington’s Ashley McDonald scored the Vermont goal. New Hampshire leads the series, 16-9-3.

NH Lax Stars Get a Scare From CVU-Led Vermont

Vermont made it close but lost, 13-10, to New Hampshire in the annual Twin State boys lacrosse game on June 25. The contest includes recently graduated all-star players.
The Granite State hoisted its series lead over Vermont to 17-2 with the win.

Champlain Valley Union head mentor Dave Trevithick coached the Vermont team with assistant Adam Bunting, and had five CVU stars on the roster.

Trailing 12-5, Vermont went on a 5-1 surge in the game’s late stages before falling short.
CVU’s Lawrence Dee had a typical game. The former Redhawk attacker collected three goals and a pair of assists. Former Redhawks’ goalie Eric Palmer had seven saves in sharing netminding duties with Hartford’s Sam Polis, who also made seven stops.

Other CVU players on the roster were Jake Marston, Jeffrey Palmer and Ben Teasdale.

CVU Softballers Nab Postseason Honors

Veteran Susan Parmalee led seven members of the Champlain Valley Union softball team with her selection to the annual All-Metro Division team.

The infielder was named to the second team infield.

Honorable mentions went to Redhawks’ Kayleigh Colbeth, Rachel Distler, Leah Leister, Cayla McCarthy, Alannah Roy and Leah Soule.

Mount Mansfield Union’s Kathy Mulligan was named Metro Coach of the Year.

Grad Challenge Spawns Softball Camp

For her grad challenge at Champlain Valley Union High School, Leah Leister will run a one-week softball camp from August 1 to August 5. Participants must be between the ages of 11 and 15, and do not need softball experience. Leister, an incoming senior and member of CVU’s softball team, will conduct the camp at the school’s softball field. The cost is $30 per player, to be paid at the first day of camp. The camp will run each evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

CSSU Buccaneers Sign-Up Deadline Approaching

The CSSU Buccaneers youth football program is conducting sign-ups for students entering third through eighth grade. Students from Williston, St. George, Hinesburg, Shelburne, and Charlotte are eligible. The season starts August 15 and goes through November. The registration deadline is July 1 and cost $115. A limited number of scholarships are available. To sign-up, go to www.eteamz.com/CSBuccaneers. For more information, e-mail Jill Lowrey at [email protected] or call 238-0797.

Irelands prevail in dramatic fashion

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June 30, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The S. D. Ireland American Legion baseball team, with a two-game winning streak in hand, rolls into Montpelier’s Recreation Field Thursday (5:30 p.m.) to tangle with Twin City in a league encounter. The two teams will get together again Saturday (noon) at the Champlain Valley Union High School ball field.

Barring a possible weekend makeup of last Sunday’s postponed contest at the Knights of Columbus South Burlington, the Clover Boys will next tackle the three-day Coopers Cave Tournament in and around Glens Falls, N.Y.

Spirits were high following Tuesday’s dramatic 1-0 home victory over Essex, which brought a 4-0 league record into the contest. Essex also blew out the Irelands, 16-2, in the Junction on June 24.

A huge difference maker this time was right handed hurler Sam Fuller, who made his first start for the Irelands a memorable one. Displaying an artistic change of speeds, plus a baffling, wrinkly curve to go with a solid heater, Fuller limited the Essex batting order to just three scattered singles and one walk. He struck out eight and threw just 77 pitches.
“My arm was tight the first three innings and then it loosened up,” Fuller said after the game.

The game’s lone tally came in the bottom of the second and was unearned. Ireland leadoff batter Sean Rugg’s infield grounder resulted in an overthrow of first base, so Rugg went to second. With one out, Curt Echo lined a shot down the right field line to easily score Rugg.

“I was looking for a fastball and (Sam Spencer, Essex pitcher) gave me one,” said Echo of 1-2 pitch that would decide the drama.

Behind Fuller, right fielder Larry Halvorson had the busiest evening with four catches in the windblown pasture.

Irelands win slugfest

Unlike Tuesday’s pitchers’ duel, Monday’s battle featured the Irelands scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth to top the visiting Vermont Jays from Franklin County, 11-10.

Trailing 10-6 going into their final at bat, the Irelands put together three walks, three singles, a sacrifice fly and a costly two-run throwing error to produce the late heroics. The epic ended when Will Conroy bounced a hard bad hop grounder to deep short to plate Ben St. Clair with the winning run.

The Jays had lit up four Ireland pitchers for 13 hits and 10 walks. Drew Nick working the final 1 1/3 innings to notch the win.

The Clover Boys had hot bats of their own, unlimbering 13 hits. Conroy had four, including two doubles.

A shock and awe show came in the bottom of the third. With the Jays up, 7-3, the Irelands’ Nicky Elderton crashed an 0-2 pitch well over the fence in right center. Rugg, on the very next pitch, unloaded a fence-bouncing double to nearly the same spot.

That brought up Fuller and after taking a strike, the designated hitter sent a rocket shot deep over the fence in center for a two-run Jack. That closed the deficit to 7-6 and signaled a new Jays’ pitcher.

For the game, Rugg had two singles and an RBI double.  Elderton had two RBIs.

S.D. Ireland Legion Baseball Schedule

Thursday: at Twin City (Montpelier Recreation Field), 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: TWIN CITY, noon
Tuesday to Thursday: Coopers Cave Tournament, Glens Falls, N.Y

HOME GAMES (CVU FIELD) IN CAPS
Schedule subject to change

Right to the Point

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Obama’s speech misses the mark

June 30, 2011

By Kayla Purvis

United States President Barack Obama’s June 22 announcement regarding our presence in Afghanistan was a short one. I got the feeling that this speech was more of a reelection move than anything else. And, to be honest, it was an empty speech of fancy phrases and adjectives. Obama’s speechwriter tries to paint a picture of a deep, reflective president.

I don’t want a smooth-talker for a president. Come on, if you’re going to make a speech about what you’ve done in Afghanistan and Iraq, and your plans for Pakistan, do it straight up – just the facts, nothing overly eloquent. It is so obvious that he (or his speech writer) is trying too hard to sound pensive.

But, this is nothing new. I have rarely been impressed by any of Obama’s speeches because they are chocked so full of descriptive and inspirational words that you spend the whole speech trying to wade through them!

Perhaps the thing that grabbed my attention the most was the part when Obama said, “…Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security….”

Hold up!
I don’t recall us being legally obligated to that. Yes, we are a world leader. And yes, we are often willing to provide aid and protection to countries that ask for it, but responsibility? I’m not so sure that’s fair.

We can’t be selective with our “responsibility.” We can’t look at some countries’ situations and proclaim, “That’s not our business or responsibility,” and turn around and preach to ourselves that we are a world leader with a responsibility to take care of the rest of the world. We are not! As far as I am concerned, our main priority should be our own nation – not what we look like to other countries.

Either way, we look bad. We either insert ourselves into situations, or we ignore them. We need to work on only participating when our help, advice, protection, troops, etc. are solicited or if it’s a matter of immediate danger to our country.

Another good Obama line: “When threatened, we must respond with force.” He then said when the force could be targeted; we do not need to deploy large troops overseas. It looks like someone is trying to justify Libya air strikes?

The president also said that our supportive actions in Libya are giving Libyans the chance to determine their own destiny. What? We’re only over there because we have oil at stake – it has nothing to do with wanting to help Libya “determine their own destiny.”

I found it ironic that Obama mentioned our need to spend within our means, while he has proposed many unnecessary policies that do not do this.

I am pleased that Obama is trying to appeal more to both parties by inching toward the center, but I am not sure what to make of it. Is he truly moving toward the center? Is he getting nervous and reacting to the pressure to appear more centered? Is he just trying to gain reelection brownie points? All of the above?

I think Obama is grasping to solidify his presidency. Our unemployment rate has not gotten much better, and he is struggling with that. It’s not an easy task to drop our unemployment rate – I get that – but he made it sound like he was going to come to America’s rescue. He has not delivered.

The approximately 13-minute announcement was kind of a publicity thing. But that’s to be expected.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a 2011 graduate of CVU High School.

Liberally Speaking

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Leaving Afghanistan

June 30, 2011

By Steve Mount

Just under ten years ago, our undeclared war in Afghanistan began.

The war against the Taliban and al Qaeda was a righteous one. Our actions there were supported by most Americans and by much of the international community. But even a righteous war takes its toll.

More than 1,500 American soldiers killed; almost 11,000 wounded, $427 billion spent. All of these numbers are “as of this writing.”

With the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, it is time for us to leave Afghanistan. Or, at the very least, it’s time to begin the long, slow, deliberate process of pulling out.
Fortunately, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he is ready to begin that drawback.

Currently, the United States has about 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. In his speech on June 22, Obama informed America, and the world, of our plans for some of those troops.

Beginning next month, pullouts will begin, and over the next year, Obama indicated that 33,000 US troops would be coming home. This still leaves a significant U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. But it is a start.

The announcement, if you listened closely, did not say when we would be out of Afghanistan completely. Indeed, many Americans forget that we are not currently “out” of Iraq, so even though many consider that conflict over, it is not. Unfortunately, our continued presence in Korea and Europe, following the Korean War and World War II, may be a signal that it might be generations before we fully leave Afghanistan and Iraq.

The President did say that after the initial 33,000 come home, additional troops will leave “at a steady pace.” The mission of U.S. troops will transition “from combat to support.” The President said that by 2014, the transition will be complete, and Afghan troops will be fully responsible for their own security. Undoubtedly, however, our support role will not have ended, and we can expect to be in Afghanistan for the long haul.

What we did in Afghanistan was necessary; we have a commitment to stay there as long as it takes to make the nation able to stand on its own, and hopefully, in the long run, be a full and solid ally in the fight against terrorism.

I don’t want us to pull out of Afghanistan or Iraq too early, leaving behind chaos that could haunt us in the future. Were that to happen, all the blood that has been spilled and all the money that has been spent will have been in vain. But we cannot be the parent to these nations. We must have a plan, a strategy, to eventually pull out for good. The President also announced an international summit, to be held in May, to start making such plans for Afghanistan.

The President’s announcement is a step in the right direction. I wish he had made more firm commitments to pull out larger numbers sooner, and perhaps he will be able to make such moves as time wears on.

The President did rightly warn that the United States would continue to use its influence for the good of not only our people but of all people. He said that he would not bow to pressure from those who take a more isolationist stance, or from those who take a more interventionist stance.

“We must chart a more centered course,” he said.

“We must be as pragmatic as we are passionate,” he continued. “As strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force. But when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by and acting on our own. Instead we must rally international action, as we’re doing in Libya.”

And there’s the rub. We’re currently involved in three major conflicts. As in the cases of Afghanistan and Libya, we don’t always have the luxury of choosing when and where we fight. But because conflicts like the Libyan one will continue to crop up even as we are engaged elsewhere, we must always have a mind to the endgame.

The homecomings for those 33,000 troops now expected to be home by next summer will be bittersweet. For some troops, the departure will be the last time they step foot on foreign soil in a uniform. The homecomings, however, must also be a reminder of all those still serving “over there,” and a renewal of our commitment to bring them all home.

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 [email protected] or read his blog at http://saltyrain.com/ls.

Around Town

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June 30, 2011

Hydrant flushing begins Tuesday

The Town of Williston will conduct its annual hydrant flushing beginning Tuesday and going until the end of August. Water customers may experience some low water pressure during this time. For questions or concerns call 878-1239.

Tomashot earns academic award from St. Michael’s College

Williston resident and Champlain Valley Union High School student John W. Tomashot was named the 2011 recipient of the Saint Michael’s College Book Award for academic achievement with a social conscience.

According to a news release from the college, the award recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in volunteer service and academic achievement. Saint Michael’s, founded on the belief that serving others is part of its Catholic tradition, seeks to honor those who demonstrate the true spirit of volunteerism.

Award recipients, named at schools throughout the country, are high school juniors who are inductees of the National Honor Society or an equivalent school-sponsored honors organization. They must demonstrate a commitment to service activities in high school or community organizations, taking leadership roles in these activities.

Tomashot was presented with, “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” a book written by 1993 Saint Michael’s graduate Loung Ung. In the book, Ung gives an autobiographical account, from a child’s perspective, of surviving captivity during the genocidal Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

Jim’s House earns grant

The Executive Board of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (Vermont Chapter) will officially recognize Jim’s House, Inc., this week with a grant from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in the amount of $2,000, according to a news release. The APDA Vermont Chapter will match PhRMA’s grant for a total of $4,000.

Jim’s House, located in Williston, was founded and named after Jim Crevier, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in 1997 and died in 2001. The house has been made available for people with neurological diseases and their care providers coming to Fletcher Allen Health Care from such a distance as to require an overnight stay.

The release stated that grant money will be used to help defray the financial obligations of the house’s upkeep.

Obituaries

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June 30, 2011

Joseph M. Shook
Joseph M. Shook, 20, son of John and Elizabeth Jordan-Shook, died suddenly on Saturday, June 25, 2011. Besides his parents, Joe is survived by his twin, Samuel, and his older brother, Jeremiah; his grandmother, Loretta Jordan of Williston; and numerous loving aunts, uncles and cousins. Joe was a graduate of Williston Central School and Champlain Valley Union High School. Both schools embraced Joe’s spirit and love for learning and life. The family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to Williston Central and CVU staff, Joy Peterson, Carter Smith, Terry Thyng, Karen Halsted, Kate Webb, Linell Vilaseca, Mary Stearns, Rosanne Fredriksen, James Ransavage, Katie and her CVU advisory, Peggy McDonald, Sharon Ogden and friends and students of CVU’s Partners club. Special thanks to Bonnie Benson, Mili McCoy, Inger Dybfest and Karen Shearer. Thanks to the staff of the CVU school store, Passport Video and the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library where he volunteered. Thanks to all his medical care providers through the years. Joe was very active in Partners in Adventure. Partners in Adventure was an important part of his life, and he loved it all: the fitness Fridays, Saturday night outs, the socials, winter camp and summer camp. He made lifelong friends through Partners. Special thanks to Debbie Lamden, Sue Minter and all the Partners in Adventure campers and staff. Calling hours were Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gifford Funeral Home, 22 Depot St., Richmond. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Joe’s name to Partners in Adventure, P.O. Box 867, Shelburne, VT 05482.

Timothy A. LaFountaine
Timothy A. LaFountaine, 49, of Williston, passed away April 4, 2011, after a long illness. Tim had many accomplishments in his short life. He proudly served in the United States Air Force. He painted and held a journeyman’s license in plumbing and natural gas. Tim was also a person that would always help people — a giving soul. Tim is survived by his daughter, Ashley LaFountaine of Vermont; father, Aimes P. LaFountaine of Conway, S.C.; two brothers, Todd M. LaFountaine of Burlington and Randolph S. LaFountaine of South Carolina; three sisters, Theresa I. Aldrich of Tampa, Fla., Tonya L. LaFountaine of Charleston, S.C. and Sandra L. Bain of Conway, S.C.; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. A graveside memorial service will be held on July 2, 2011, 10 a.m., Lakeview Cemetery, Burlington. All relatives and friends are welcome to attend.

Guest Column

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Our stars and stripes

June 30, 2011

By Ginger Isham

Many people will display the American Flag on July 4. Towns will line their main streets with “Old Glory,” military and others will carry the flag in parades, people will wave the flag from floats and children will wave the flag from the sidelines.

There are some rules to follow related to our flag. Rule No. 1 is there shall be no disrespect shown to our nation’s flag because it represents a living country and is considered a living thing. The flag should never touch the ground. Words, insignias, figures or embroidery shall not be added to our flag. It should never be worn or used as clothing, bedding, draperies, athletic uniforms, or as a costume. It should never be used as a cover for pillows. When there are two or more national flags displayed, they should be on separate poles and equal in height. One should never carry the flag horizontal or flat. It should always be held upright and flown free. If one wears a flag pin, it should be located on the left side of clothing.

A worn out flag may be burned if made of wool or cotton. If it is made of synthetics, it should be buried. If you have a question about what to do with a worn flag, contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. A local cleaning company can sometimes clean the flag for free.

On certain occasions, the president or governor can order the flag flown at half-staff.
Former military and veterans may give the military salute to the flag when not in uniform. It is OK to fly a flag that doesn’t have 50 stars.

All-weather flags do not have to be taken in each day at sundown. Flags flown at night should be illuminated with a light to show that it’s on display.

Today there is U.S. legislation being considered to:

• Prohibit importing foreign-made American flags and the sale of them

• Allow the flag to be given to immediate families for someone killed in the line of duty, such as a policeman, emergency technician, or rescue person

• Give the family of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol

There are approximately 20 holidays a year when we are encouraged to fly the flag. Did you know one of the most recent ones, declared by President Barack Obama in 2009, is National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day on July 27? There is also Peace Officers Day (honoring those killed in the line of duty) on May 15. The flag can be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day.

A final bit of info about our flag. “Reveille “ is played when the flag is being raised and “Taps” is played when lowering the flag.

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

Circ draws town brass to capitol

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Macaig among officials at traffic meeting in Montpelier

June 30, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Like the traffic it aims to alleviate, the Circumferential Highway project has ground to a halt – but politicians on the town and state level are determined to keep moving forward on the issue.

State representatives Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough from Williston and town manager Rick McGuire traveled to Montpelier on Tuesday to take part in a discussion with state officials about traffic issues and possible solutions. Gov. Peter Shumlin, Secretary of Transportation Brian Searles and Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Michele Boomhower were among those who listened to input from town officials from Williston, Essex, Essex Junction and Colchester.

“The governor started by saying that … we need to do something simpler and quicker than what has been discussed in the past,” Macaig said. “He invited the towns and other interested parties … to get together in the next few weeks to start brainstorming.”

Macaig said that McGuire and other town managers will be the “key people” in organizing joint meetings between town officials and other entities, such as IBM, which have commercial interests tied to possible solutions to the area’s traffic problems. He said that an ongoing dialogue was encouraged between the towns and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, in order to pinpoint strategies to relieve traffic congestion in specific areas.

Macaig said that Gov. Shumlin did not expressly say that the Circ had been eliminated from consideration by the state. Searles opted for similar language when asked about that possibility earlier this week.

“Nothing is off the table,” Searles said. “But we have to be realistic about our options.”
Macaig said that he came away from Tuesday’s meeting with the sense that town officials were being asked to look beyond the federally approved Circ A/B Boulevard alternative at more conservative traffic solutions.

“My inference is that if the Circ and Boulevard are not dead, they are on life support,” Macaig said.

Macaig said that he was relieved at that idea, considering the potential impact that the completion of just the A Boulevard – even on a temporary basis – would have on traffic on and in the vicinity of Mountain View Rd. in Williston. Macaig said that McCullough presented an alternative idea at Tuesday’s meeting, one that he had previously discussed with Deputy Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter.

“If we built a highway to Mountain View Rd. in the area of Redmond Rd., would IBM be willing to sell its existing bridge (over the Winooski River) to the town, and create a separate, secure route around its facility?” Macaig said. “It’s an innovative idea, and Jim threw it on the table.”

Even before Tuesday’s meeting, local officials were taking action in regard to the Circ debate. Linda Meyers of the Essex Selectboard wrote a letter to other area Board chairs this week encouraging “the four impacted communities to come together and present a united response.”

“In the absence of proactive action on the part of Williston, Essex, Essex Junction and Colchester, there is a high risk that the previously earmarked future funds for the Circumferential Highway will be utilized for other purposes unrelated to the need to reduce congestion in our four communities,” Meyers wrote.

Macaig said at Monday’s Selectboard meeting that McGuire, town planner Ken Belliveau and public works director Bruce Hoar were scheduled to meet with Boomhower in early July to further discuss traffic issues in Williston and possible solutions.

Settlers Village back on the map?

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Lawyer: latest VANR study satisfies deer issue

June 30, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Mike Fontaine of Williston compares aerial images with the area for a proposed housing project at his family’s sand pit off North Williston Rd. on Tuesday. The Fontaines have spent the past six years trying to move forward on the project, which is currently blocked by a debate over deer habitat in the area. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Changing times are making it harder for a longtime Williston family to support itself solely through farming. Changes in the habitat of local deer may help clear a long-standing hurdle for that family’s Plan B.

Mike and Dan Fontaine have spent roughly six years trying to get a proposed housing project on their 300-acre family farm off the ground, having encountered resistance from environmental agencies in regard to deer wintering habitat. The latest round of debate over the Settlers Village project took place in a courtroom on June 16, when the Fontaines argued that an Act 250 permit condition from 1991 should no longer apply to the proposed development area.

The area in question is currently an active sand pit, the restoration of which is required under its current Act 250 permit once its use ceases. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has argued that the proposed housing project would compromise that restoration process through its effect on the wintering habits of the local deer population.
In its annual report to the governor in February, the Vermont Natural Resources Board stated, “the owners have other alternative locations on the subject property to locate housing, and the placement of the homes where owners propose would create a bottleneck in the deeryard and unduly impact Act 250 Criterion 8(A).”

The Fontaines’ attorney, John O’Donnell, said that the latest versions of deer wintering habitat maps released by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in April indicate a change in the deer’s habitat that renders the condition moot.

“We argued that the condition should no longer apply because this land is no longer within the boundaries of the deer wintering area,” O’Donnell said.

Mike Fontaine said that while the proposed project calls for 30 acres to be utilized for housing, more than 200 acres would be dedicated to conservation at no cost to the state or town. O’Donnell said that the conservation area includes approximately 99 acres of deer wintering area that would be held in perpetuity.

Mike Fontaine said that town officials have been strongly supportive of the project, largely because of the scope of land it seeks to conserve.

“There are some elements of the town plan and zoning bylaw that strongly encourage the kind of project the Fontaines have proposed with Settlers Village,” Williston senior planner Matt Boulanger said. Boulanger said that the zoning bylaw requires a minimum of 75 percent of a development parcel within the town’s agricultural/rural zone to be designated as protected, open space – a condition satisfied within the Fontaines’ plan.

The project calls for the two segments of housing comprising 34 total units, with a portion being designated as affordable. The sand pit has been mined for approximately 20 years, providing revenue that has been used to pay property taxes according to Dan Fontaine.

“The sand is going to run out in probably two years, he said. “Once that happens, we won’t have the revenue to pay the taxes.”

Mike Fontaine said that the family’s farm produces vegetables, beef and replacement heifers, though not at enough of a volume to pay the “close to $20,000” in annual taxes on their property. The Settlers Village project was conceived as a way to utilize their land in a profitable way while also providing needed housing for the community.

“Years ago, they said (farmers) had to diversify – and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Dan Fontaine said. “This could save us.”

The debate over deer wintering habitat brought the development to a halt. The Fontaines insist that the development won’t impact deer wintering grounds; in fact, Dan Fontaine said that he walked the area with a biologist and found evidence bringing the scale of the animals’ presence in the area into question.

“(The biologist) showed me hemlock saplings, and said that if this was a deer habitat, those would all be gone – because the deer would have eaten them,” he said.

Mike Fontaine joked that “the deer aren’t going to pay the taxes” on the property, but the reality is that he and his family have invested a sizable amount of money and time into the planning, design and permitting process for Settlers Village.

“Since we got into it, it has snowballed,” he said. “At this point, we’re hoping to get our money back, maybe with interest. But we’re not going to get rich off it, that’s for sure – we have too much invested in it right now.”

O’Donnell said that the Act 250 permit is set to expire in 2016, due to its classification as an earth extraction permit. He and his clients aren’t expecting a ruling on the deer issue until “the end of the summer.”

“It’s been a frustrating and puzzling process,” O’Donnell said. “Act 250 is supposed to promote responsible development, not stop all development.”