July 23, 2016

Going nowhere

Stalled Circ wears on those stuck in local traffic

June 30, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Larry Currier of Williston explains how rush-hour traffic congestion at the intersection of Industrial Ave. and Vermont 2A causes him difficulty in pulling out of the driveway to the home he has lived in since 1972. (Observer photo by Adam White)

The sign hanging over Larry Currier’s garage reads “Never Better.”

It does not refer to the traffic going past his house on Industrial Ave. in Williston.

In fact, there are days when traffic is so bad that Currier cannot even turn left out of his own driveway, and instead makes a right and drives several miles out of his way rather than fight two lanes of unyielding motorists. Other times, he simply stands at the edge of his lawn near the corner of Industrial Ave. and Vermont 2A, and surveys the bumper-to-bumper congestion stretched in every direction.

“There’s almost no way to describe how bad it has gotten,” said Currier, who has lived near the intersection since 1972. “Car after car, just sitting there idling.”

Much like those cars, the potential solution to Vermont 2A’s traffic problems is going nowhere fast. Though the Federal Highway Administration has green-lighted the project through a Record of Decision authorizing its development, the Circumferential Highway has stalled at the state level, according to Vermont Secretary of Transportation Brian Searles.

“Though not insignificant, the Record of Decision is only one step in the process,” Searles said. “It is permission to proceed with development, not an order to proceed. We do have the Federal OK for this project, but there is still much, much more to talk about.

“Even after all these years, a fresh look at what we’re trying to achieve is still necessary.”

But those whose everyday lives are most impacted by local traffic issues have seen enough.

Dick Allen has lived on Bittersweet Circle in Williston for 14 years, and said that it has been “nearly impossible” to exit the road onto 2A during peak traffic hours. Allen thinks that the successful completion of the Circ would “take at least 50 percent of the traffic off 2A.”

“If they had done this the way they were supposed to, it would have been finished 20 years ago – and probably at about one-tenth of the cost,” Allen said.

In fact, the rising price tag of the Circ project is what has caused it to grind to a halt, according to Searles. He estimates the cost of the approved A/B Boulevard Alternative at $60 to 80 million, not counting “anticipated legal expenses” stemming from the approximately 560 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat that would be impacted by the project.

“There is no doubt that this project would end up back in court and, in fact, the state has recently received a letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threatening to veto the project,” Searles wrote in a letter to the Observer. “The state now finds itself in exactly the same place as we were in 2002: two federal agencies with diametrically opposed positions, with a costly legal battle again on the horizon.”

But residents wonder about environmental impacts caused by the existing traffic conditions, and why they haven’t received similar attention from groups like the EPA.

“What about all the exhaust from those cars that are sitting at a stoplight while it changes three (or) four times?” Currier said.

When it comes to impact, no one would be more affected by the Circ than the local landowners whose property would abut the proposed four-land, divided boulevard.

William Burnett’s family has owned Cherry Hill Farm on Williston Rd. since 1869, and the A section of the Circ would fall within 500 feet of the original farmhouse on the property.

Yet Burnett has, from the start, been in favor of the project – despite having had similar construction in the past change the face of his family’s farm forever.

“When the (Interstate 89) came along, it took away 11 acres and split the farm in half,” Burnett said. “It took away our water supply, and left us with a 54-acre parcel that we had no access to.”

Burnett said that his family ultimately gave up that land rather than continuing to pay taxes on it. Nearly 40 years later, he supports the construction of the Circ Boulevard for two primary reasons.

“There’s no way you can be opposed to it, because they will take your land by eminent domain – which they did,” Burnett said. “But I also realize the value that it has to the state. In all this time that it hasn’t been built, there is much more traffic in front of this house.”

Searles said that while the greater traffic issue in Williston and the surrounding area involves “a lot of moving parts,” those parts are all “moving very fast,” and he expects “something substantive to be determined by January.”

But those stuck behind the wheel of traffic-locked cars in Williston don’t share that same optimism.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’ll live long enough to see any of it get done,” Allen said.

Circ alternative clears hurdle

Federal approval leads Williston planners to explore impact

By Adam White
Observer staff

The Circumferential Highway through Williston didn’t hit a dead end after all – it is apparently just taking a detour.

This section of U.S. 2 in Williston – located between the Williston Fire Department and the village – was left abandoned when construction of the Circumferential Highway stalled. The newly-approved plan calls for at-grade signaled crossings here and at Mountain View Rd. (Observer photo by Steven Frank)

Williston town planner Ken Belliveau gave a detailed presentation to the Planning Commission on Tuesday outlining the specifics of “Build Alternative 17,” a version of the Circ plan that the Federal Highway Administration has authorized the Vermont Agency of Transportation to proceed with developing. The reworked version of the highway project is designed to connect Interstate 89 in Williston with Vermont 117 and 289 in Essex.

The alternative plan – also referred to as “Circ A/B Boulevard” – entails construction of an initial portion of highway extending north from I-89 and terminating at Mountain View Road in Williston. This “A” portion of the Circ would include at-grade, signaled crossings at U.S. 2 and Mountain View Rd., and comprise two travel lanes in each direction separated by a 16-foot median.

The “B” section of the project – which would continue north from Mountain View Rd., cross a newly-constructed bridge over the Winooski River and connect with the existing southerly portion of VT 289 – would reportedly be completed as a subsequent project in the future.

“The Circ A/B Boulevard offers the best balance of addressing the congestion, safety and mobility needs of the area, while minimizing environmental and community impacts,” stated a release on a Vermont Agency of Transportation web page dedicated to the project.

Belliveau’s presentation outlining the specifics of Alternative 17 to the Planning Commission included the expression of concern about how it would impact the town of Williston.

Belliveau warned that the initial completion of just the A Boulevard under the proposed phasing schedule could pose problems in terms of local traffic, particularly in the vicinity of Mountain View Rd. He pointed out that well-documented concerns already exist about the intersection of Mountain View and North Williston roads, and the Circ could exacerbate that situation through a spike in transient traffic.

“In my opinion, there’s the risk … (that) if you have this new interchange with 89, and it terminates on local roads, do those roads now become attractors (for traffic)?” Belliveau said.

“We could see a net increase of traffic in Williston … of people just passing through to get access to this roadway,” he added on Wednesday. “From the perspective of the town, that’s a concern.”

Many local residents have echoed that concern during the Circ’s planning process in letters and e-mails posted on its website, www.circeis.org.

“If the Circ comes through Williston, we will move out of town before the construction even begins,” wrote Sarah Francisco of Brennan Woods Drive. “While it would alleviate traffic problems as they are now, it would eventually add more traffic problems in the future.”

Planning Commission member Michael Alvanos questioned the prioritizing of the A Boulevard over the B, suggesting that flip-flopping the construction schedule might better serve the Circ’s intended purpose of alleviating traffic pressure on high-volume intersections such as the five corners one in Essex Junction.

Belliveau identified two factors as likely impacting that decision. The first is difficulty in securing the required Section 404 permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for issues pertaining to the approximately 560 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat that would be affected by the project. These areas are more prevalent in the northern half of the proposed A/B Boulevard right-of-way.

Vermont Rep. Sue Minter, the state’s deputy secretary of transportation, acknowledged on Thursday that pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency has contributed to the Circ project’s current “stalemate.”

“That is something that we need to work out, before we end up going down a path pursuing something that we know will end up in court,” Minter said.

The second factor is the influence on the project from IBM, which already maintains its own bridge over the Winooski River at its facility entrance on VT 117.

“If you were paying attention during Governor Shumlin’s press conference (on May 20), he identified the regional Chamber of Commerce and IBM as who he had consulted prior to making his announcement,” Belliveau said. “Extrapolating from that, you would build A before B because it would create … a real improvement for (IBM’s) transportation options.”

Commission member Drew Nixon said that while he recognizes the A Boulevard’s potential value to IBM’s operations, but disagreed that it warranted the proposed construction schedule.

“Obviously, there’s value to the town of Williston to keep IBM here, and happy,” Nixon said. “But I think you have to build all of (the Circ), or none of it. I can’t see spending all that money on half a solution.”

A call for comment to IBM’s facilities department in Essex was not returned.

Build Alternative 17 would also impact operations of existing and potential future facilities of the Chittenden Solid Waste District on Redmond Rd. in Williston. Planning commission member Jake Mathon brought up prior comments by Selectboard member Chris Roy about how “the dump and the Circ were linked, and that seems to have been forgotten as dozens of years and a number of administrations have gone by.”

Belliveau said that the town’s planning department “would like to see the CSWD get direct access from the Circ,” and questioned whether it fits the vision of Williston’s Comprehensive Town Plan to “support one without the other.”

The Circ project appeared indefinitely stalled when Gov. Shumlin announced at a press conference in Williston that “the original plan is never going to be built.” Shumlin cited cost as a mitigating factor in that decision, and that issue is at least partially addressed by the delayed A/B phasing of the Boulevard plan.

The green light for that plan came after the FHWA published a Final Environmental Impact Statement following the required two public hearings on the issue last August. The FHWA then issued a “Record of Decision” on the process, which allows the Department of Transportation to proceed with final design, permitting, property acquisition and construction.

“By our issuance of a ROD for this project, we are herein granting location/design approval for the proposed action,” wrote FHWA Environmental Program Manager Ken Sikora in a letter to Vermont Secretary of Transportation Brian Searles. “You may proceed with the further development of the project.”

Circ project manager Ken Robie of the Vermont Agency of Transportation said on Thursday that while the FHWA’s Record of Decision “gives VTrans the authority to move forward with development,” the state has not committed to any action in regard to the plan.

“It allows us flexibility to build it as we can,” Robie said. “But it doesn’t require us to build it, or build it within any specific amount of time.”

Belliveau said that he has engaged in correspondence regarding the project with Searles and Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Michele Boomhower, but neither has revealed any definitive timetable for it.

“They are just going to build A for the time being,” Belliveau said. “They might build B in the future, but nobody knows when that would be. There is really no time frame for any of this.”

PHOTO: Father’s Day trek

June 23, 2011

Observer photo by Adam White

A Father’s Day excursion to Catamount Family Center in Williston gave (from right) Derek, Riley and Porter Burkins of Jericho a chance to crank out some mountain biking fun together.

Volunteers

June 23, 2011

The listings below are a small sample of needs from more than 200 agencies, available by going online to www.unitedwaycc.org and clicking on “Volunteer.” If you do not have computer access, or would like more information about the volunteer opportunities, call 860-1677 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

FLOOD CLEAN UP

Colchester-Milton Rotary is organizing its community to assist with the clean up from the unprecedented flooding of the Colchester waterfront. The two-day effort will help remove debris from neighborhoods, beaches, and preserve the 27 miles of shoreline.

Professionals will be on site with heavy equipment. Volunteers will gather on June 25 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and June 26 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), parking at Colchester High School and middle school. Transportation to the staging area, water and food will be provided. Volunteers can fill out the online form located at http://bit.ly/ldlIyi.

HELPING RONALD

Ronald McDonald House charities is looking for volunteers to greet visitors to the family room at Fletcher Allen, offer compassionate support, help with daily operations and make referrals to available resources for families as needed. Three-hour shifts between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week. Weekend volunteers are especially needed. Volunteers are also being sought to make cookies, prepare a dessert or plan and create a dinner meal for guest families at the house. Dinners may be prepared in Ronald’s kitchen. Cooks and bakers are asked to provide the ingredients.

SUMMER YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES

A number of local groups have volunteer opportunities for teens this summer:

Bike Recycle Vermont – skilled artists and crafts people are needed to turn old bike parts into fun and functional objects, and art for a new fundraising venture. Two hours a week, minimum age 15. Front desk staff is also needed, minimum age 16.

Chittenden Community Action – volunteers needed to post flyers around Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction. One hour a week. Minimum age 13.

Lake Champlain Committee – help stuff and seal envelopes for a fundraising campaign. Minimum age 14.

Richmond Land Trust – learn about and remove invasive silver maple-ostrich ferns during plant removal workdays. Up to three hours a day. Minimum age 14.

Sara Holbrook Community Center – assist an experienced English Language learner teacher, working one-on-one with immigrant and refugee children, chaperoning field trips, etc. One day a week, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., June 28 to July 30. Instead, a volunteer could help with a summer camp for elementary school children once a week, July to mid-Aug., must be able to swim. Minimum age 16.

Vermont Respite House – bake cookies, brownies, cakes or sweet breads for hospice in Williston. Minimum age 12.

Winooski Valley Park District – help with trail maintenance, removing invasive species from natural areas, and park clean up. Volunteers must wear shoes that can get wet and bring sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of drinking water. Two to three-hour shifts. Minimum ages 12 to 16, depending on project.

MUSIC DAY CAMP

The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association needs volunteers for a music day camp from June 27 through July 1. Volunteers will supervise afternoon activities from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., set up and clean up activities, etc. Teen volunteers must be ages 15 to 17.

MOVIN’ ON

Community Health Center of Burlington is moving into their new location on Riverside Avenue and needs volunteers to help disconnect, move and reconnect computer equipment, telephone equipment and other moving tasks. Professional movers will move the big items. Volunteers should be able to lift, bend and move, tech background helpful but not necessary. July 1, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

KICK-OFF EVENT

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps is hosting its start-up dinner for 175 crew and guests on Friday, June 24, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Volunteers are needed to help with dinner prep and clean up, registration, parking, etc.

FOR THE TEENS

The Winooski Underground Teen Center needs volunteers to help cook and serve a meal for 30 Winooski children, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. They also need assistants to work with staff to oversee center, maintain safety and interact with teens; Tuesday or Thursday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

 

This Week’s Popcorn – “Midnight in Paris”

The Brilliance of Woody’s twilight

 

 

 

By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer

Attempting to figure out where filmmaker Woody Allen’s brilliant “Midnight in Paris” slots in among his best works, it occurs that it would be just as difficult to decide which of Babe Ruth’s homeruns were the most magnificent. Featuring soulfully whimsical writing, exquisite direction and superb acting, he knocks this one right out of the park.

Drawing us in from the get-go with a perfect montage of Paris from every angle at every time of day, rain or shine, he essentially admits he can love another city almost as well as he does New York. It is the playground for this elegantly literate comedy. By film’s end Woody charmingly reaffirms every glorious notion and myth about the city of lights.

It will prove a most alluring and challenging crucible for Owen Wilson’s Gil Pender. A successful screenwriter on vacation with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her parents, he hears the call of his passion. Maybe he should just chuck Hollywood, move to Paris and devote himself to a life of belles-lettres. You know, do the Left Bank thing.

Then the magic is introduced. Just in case Gil needed further inspiration to engage in the literary dream that Paris evokes, one night when the wanderlust takes him exploring through the streets, a strange thing happens. Pulling up in a 1920 Peugeot Landaulet limo, several revelers beckon Gil to join them. Hesitating only a second, he hops aboard.

They arrive at a party. Hmm…must be a costume gala. Everyone is dressed in the glamour of the Lost Generation, Paris, circa 1920s. And then a fellow whose wife just happens to be named Zelda, introduces himself as Scott Fitzgerald…F. Scott Fitzgerald, he adds. If ever there were a theme park to fulfill one’s fantasy, Gil has stumbled upon it.

He meets them all, a pantheon of the great scribes, painters, critics, pundits and hangers on, and, what’s more, they like him. This includes Kathy Bates’s marvelously interpreted Gertrude Stein who, Ernest Hemingway assures, would be the best to evaluate the novel Gil has been struggling to write. Tellingly, it’s about a man who runs a nostalgia shop.

Gil escapes to this world from the appointed pickup spot each midnight, drawing only the slightest suspicious inquiry from Inez. The beautiful but self-absorbed lass has not fallen far from the tree. She assures her heinously materialistic mom (Mimi Kennedy) that, while odd, Gil will be a good provider. Besides, he isn’t to be taken too seriously.

It’s a parable worthy of Aesop, replete with a beautifully iterated panoply of familiar Allen themes about love, career and squeezing the utmost joy and knowledge from life’s big puzzle. Intelligently convivial, it invites us into the big joke, name dropping, edifying and adding the author’s twist on the storied era he so lovingly praises and deconstructs.

Plus, there’s a twist within the twist, and a heartfelt love story tucked dreamily inside the romantic comedy. Her name is Adriana. Played by Marion Cotillard, the would-be couturier to the stars has lived with Modigliani and Picasso, though not at the same time, and won Hemingway’s affections. She tacitly becomes Gil’s guide to 1920s Paris.

Sad-eyed and wise beyond her years, she exudes a vulnerability and fatalism Gil can’t help but find attractive. What’s more, she takes him seriously, as she does the devotion to art for art’s sake. And like Gil, she pines for another era. The comparative wistfulness is terrific and informing. Gosh, this is an awfully good piece of writing.

Naturally, Allen suffuses Gil’s 1920s paradise with the great melodies of the time, and makes sure to have Cole Porter (Yves Heck) himself at the piano one night, regaling partygoers with those intelligently significant lyrics. The casting is great. With just a touch of defining caricature added, everyone looks and acts as we imagined they would.

Corey Stoll is especially funny as Ernest Hemingway; Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston are appropriately reckless as Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, respectively; and Adrien Brody is a hoot as Salvador Dali. If you’re looking for an early handicap on the nominations, figure Kathy Bates as a strong possibility for best supporting actress.

Insofar as Owen Wilson’s writer in wonderland, this doubtlessly is his best performance to date. Indeed, he distinguished himself in “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) and has achieved amiability via several farces. However, whether it’s because Woody inspires actors or he recognizes their hidden ability, here Wilson expands his thespic menu.

And Allen, playing Auntie Mame to our Patrick Dennis, generously wants to show and tell us every smart and comical thing he knows. Thus, whilst trying to figure where this fits among the filmmaker’s finest works, and recalling Robert Browning’s phrase, “the best is yet to be,” it occurs “Midnight in Paris” just might herald a new dawn for Woody.

“Midnight in Paris,” rated PG-13, is a Sony Pictures Classics release directed by Woody Allen and stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates. Running time: 100 minutes

Everyday Gourmet

Strawberry fields forever

June 23, 2011

By Kim Dannies

Strawberry season is a firm signal that – by hook or by crook – we really are going to have summer. As a kid, my favorite June meal was strawberries and whipped cream; it still is. Berry picking days are not forever, so get out and pick! Plan to add strawberries to every dish you can. Here are some easy summer stunners.

Strawberry, Cucumber and Feta Salad

Gently run the tines of a fork down the skin of 2 English cucumbers. Cut them lengthwise in half. Thinly slice half-moons of cucumber and place in a glass preparation bowl. Hull and cut 3 cups of fresh strawberries into a large dice. Place with cucumbers.

Mix together 1/3 cup of rice vinegar and 1/3 cup of orange juice. Add a drizzle of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, a small pinch of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
Whisk dressing well and pour over the cucumbers. Gently toss mixture; marinate ahead up to 12 hours. To serve, gently toss, and then strain off most of the dressing. Add fresh mint leaves, crumbled feta cheese, and pistachio nuts to taste. Serves 6.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries

Hull and slice 2 pints of fresh strawberries. Drizzle with a bit of orange juice and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with Pam cooking spray. Zest two lemons. Combine ½ cup of olive oil with 1/3 cup of lemon juice. Separate 7 eggs, reserving the yolks and whites. Measure out 3/4 cup of sugar. Measure 1 cup flour with a pinch of salt.

In a mixing bowl beat 7 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Reserve. In a second large bowl, beat 5 egg yolks with the sugar for 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat 1 minute. Beat in 2 tablespoons of the lemon zest. Add olive oil and lemon in a stream while beating. With a large spatula, gently fold in one-third of the egg whites to the batter; fold the remaining whites in until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake 45 minutes.

Cool cake, slice and serve topped with strawberries.

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 kimdannies.com.

Road Watch

June 23, 2011

Temporary bridge at U.S. 2 in Richmond now open

A temporary bridge and road at the U.S. 2 Checkered House Bridge in Richmond opened Wednesday. The temporary, two-lane bridge over the Winooski River is directly adjacent to the existing 1929 bridge on U.S. 2. Construction of the temporary bridge will allow traffic to flow smoothly on U.S. 2 while construction is underway at the existing 1929 bridge.

The total length of the temporary bridge is 392 feet with a 266-foot center span. The temporary bridge will be used for two years until the Checkered House Bridge is re-opened in late spring 2013.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation urges motorists to please use caution when navigating the construction site and abide by all posted speed limits.

-State Agency of Transportation

Road repairs

Due to the recent flooding and severe rain, damaged roads may cause road or lane closures. Motorists should take care and be alert for Town and State crews repairing damage to roads and highways. Motorists should be alert for workers mowing, filling potholes and cleaning catch basins on the highway and state roads throughout Chittenden County, which may require occasional lane closures. VTrans paint crews are painting state and certain town highways. Paint areas are signed.

-Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization

Sports Notes

June 23, 2011

Four from CVU Named to Boys Lacrosse All-Star Contest

The Division I champion Champlain Valley Union boys lacrosse team will be well represented Saturday when the Vermont graduated senior stars meet their New Hampshire counterparts in Hanover, N.H.

Four Redhawks have been chosen for the Green Mountain squad and include high scoring attacker Lawrence Dee, face-off specialist and offensive organizer Jake Marston, defender Ben Teasdale, and veteran goalie Eric Palmer.

CVU will also have a presence along the sideline. Redhawks’ head coach Dave Trevithick will be the mentor for Vermont, assisted by long time sideline sidekick Adam Bunting.
No CVU players were named to the Vermont girls team.

CVU’s Keller, Eastman Score in Track Championships

Champlain Valley Union’s Thomas Keller captured fourth place last weekend in the Vermont State Decathlon Championships at Burlington High School.

Michael DiMambro of Essex was the overall winner.

In the girls’ heptathlon, CVU’s Autumn Eastman took the runner-up slot in the 800 run.

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 cssubuccs@gmail.com or call 238-0797.

S.D. Ireland looks to build off tournament

American Legion squad prepares for league contests

June 23, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

With a slew of weekend games behind it, including the annual wooden bat wars, the S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team has a relatively light league schedule in the immediate future starting Thursday with a visit to Essex.

That will be followed by a Sunday road encounter with the Knights of Columbus South Burlington, and a return tilt with Essex at the Champlain Valley Union High School home field Tuesday.

Last week’s heavy schedule may have played a role Tuesday when the Irelands got nailed, 16-6, by Addison County in Middlebury. The Irelands popped Addison, 5-1, on June 16 in Hinesburg.

Drew Nick (four hits) helped the Irelands (4-4, 2-2) grab an early 6-0 lead. But Addison unloaded for 13 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take command.

On Monday, the Clover Boys handed the Colchester Cannons their first league defeat of the young season, 10-9, at the CVU ball yard. The rumble almost got away from the Irelands when the Cannons struck for six runs in the top of the seventh and final innings, turning a laugher into a Maalox moment for the victors.

With a 10-3 advantage and needing just three outs, the Irelands saw the pesky Cannons parlayed a series of hits into six runs.

Relief pitcher Nicky Elderton, who was greeted with two singles, got a whiff to retire the side.

Ireland struck early and often with the long ball to build the big edge, with help from starter Sean Rugg’s effective pitching.

Rugg was touched up for three singles in a scoreless first inning but then settled down, allowing just an additional single as he twirled into the sixth. He then gave way to Dan French with two out and two runners on, the result of a hit batter and Rugg’s third walk.
The right-hander said his curve was “inconsistent” but was changing speeds better in the late innings – he struck out three of his four whiff victims in the fifth and sixth innings.

Offensively, the Irelands were in a slugging mood. They cranked out 14 hits, three of which were mighty muscular four-base mashes – two by Larry “The Launcher” Halvorson and one from Elderton.

Halvorson rocketed a three-run smash over the fence in dead center in the first inning for a 4-0 Irelands lead. The right fielder uncorked a two-run belt in the fourth, which followed Elderton’s two-run clout. The fireworks put the home guys up, 10-2.

Third baseman Curt Echo (three singles), Rugg (two hits), Shane DeLaBreure (two hits) and Drew Nick (RBI single and sacrifice fly) also paced the offense.

Ryan Crowley had three hits and two RBIs for the Cannons.

The Irelands went 2-2 in the wooden bat tournament: defeating South Glens Falls, N.Y., 7-2, on June 17 and, 7-0, on June 18; losing, 12-1, to Saratoga, N.Y. and to Lachine, Quebec, 7-2, on June 17.

Dylan Ireland hurled five innings of three-hit ball for the win against South Glens Falls. In the other win, Will Conroy pitched six scoreless innings and smashed an RBI double.

S.D. Ireland Legion Baseball Schedule

Thursday: at Essex (Essex High School) 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: at K of C South Burlington, noon
Tuesday: ESSEX, 5:30 p.m.

HOME GAMES (at Champlain Valley Union High School) IN CAPS
Schedule subject to change

Local teen’s voice is heard

Williston’s Harris earns state-level appointment

June 23, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Champlain Valley Union High School junior Laura Harris, 16, has been appointed to a two-year term as a student representative on Vermont’s State Board of Education. A former legislative page at the Vermont State House, Harris was chosen from a pool of 29 applicants. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Laura Harris knows how powerful a single voice can be.

The 16-year-old from Williston played a part in shaping the current curriculum at Champlain Valley Union High School, where she is entering her junior year.

“For the last two years, I have taken Chinese classes at CVU,” Harris said. “This year they weren’t going to offer Chinese III, so I wrote letters to the administration pushing to get the class offered – and now it will be.

“That made me realize that students do have a voice in the education system.”

Harris’s voice will now formally become part of that system. She was recently appointed to the Vermont Board of Education as one of its two student representatives. Harris will serve a two-year term in the seat vacated by Robert Kelly of Otter Valley Union High School, as a non-voting member in her first year and a voting member in her second.

“It should be really interesting to see how policies get made, and where the ideas come from,” Harris said.

Despite her age, Harris is no stranger to politics. In fact, she has already experienced the inner machinations behind the scenes at the state level – and it had whetted her appetite to get more involved.

“In eighth grade, I was a legislative page and got to work in the State House every day,” Harris said. “It is one thing to read about politics in the newspaper; it’s another thing to see it happen right in front of you.”

The Board “develops the state’s strategic plan” for education, according to Jill Remick, communications director for the Vermont Department of Education. When it came time to fill Kelly’s position, a statewide call was put out and the initial pool measured 29 applicants.

“We tried to cast as wide a net as possible,” said Susan Spaulding, Vermont’s director of appointments to boards and commissions.

A selection committee whittled the number of applicants down to three, and conducted interviews with the finalists. Harris received a phone call a few days later, from an assistant to Gov. Peter Shumlin.

“I was asked to come in and meet with the Governor,” Harris said. “I had met him a few times before, so I was familiar with him – but I was still really nervous.”

Those butterflies abated as the two talked shop, and realized they shared some similar views.

“He explained to me his positions on education, and the direction he wants to see the education system go in,” Harris said. “One thing that he and I both agreed on was having a more individualized approach to education, catered toward students’ interests and learning styles, rather than things like standardized tests.”

Before receiving any outright confirmation from Gov. Shumlin, Harris picked up on some verbal clues indicating that she had been chosen for the Board.

“He kept saying ‘when you are on the Board,’ and that kind of spoiled it,” Harris said with a laugh. “At that point, I was pretty sure I had gotten (the appointment).”

Harris will miss the newly configured Board’s first meeting while she travels to Serbia, but will begin attending monthly meetings in September along with the other student representative, Liz Strano from Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington. Remick said that the inclusion of the students on the Board is mutually beneficial.

“It’s invaluable to have student voices at the table, to participate, ask questions and provide a perspective that the other board members don’t have,” Remick said. “It’s great for the students as well, to have that kind of input at the state level.”

Harris views the experience as a new chapter in a story she has already begun to explore.
“I’m a part of the education system every day, in the role of student,” Harris said. “I think any student can bring a valuable perspective to the Board.”