October 22, 2014

All Scrapped Up provides haven for scrapbook fans

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Former Island Scrapbook Partner buys new business

July 28, 2011

By Steven Frank

Observer staff

Lorna Swann (right) took over Island Scrapbook from Laura Sharples on July 1 and renamed it All Scrapped Up. Linda Merchant (left) helps Swann run the scrapbook supply business during the week. (Observer photo by Steven Frank)

On the outside, a look around the Simon’s Plaza on U.S. 2 in Williston doesn’t signify any changes. The sign in front of the business between Allen HotSpring Spas and the Shell gas station still reads “Island Scrapbook Crafts & Supplies.”

Inside that 800-square foot retail space, however, changes are already underway.

On July 1, former Island Scrapbook co-owner Lorna Swann bought out her partner, Laura Sharples, and renamed the store “All Scrapped Up.” The shop’s general theme remains but Swann, 52, expects to breathe new life into a business that started in Grand Isle and came to Williston approximately three years ago.

“Island just didn’t fit with the name anymore. Now it’s just prime opportunity to get away from it, start with something new and fresh,” Swann said.

She added: “We have everything you need to make the scrapbook that you want.”

Those items include approximately 19,000 pieces of design paper — with themes from weddings to those for children — materials for stamp art and several types of adhesives.

All Scrapped Up also offers birthday party packages, classes on various scrapbooking techniques like photo cropping, and even getaways. There is a weekend retreat taking place in August and another one in November.

“The people are unbelievable,” Swann said of the groups that attend the shop’s classes and retreats. “There is definitely a passion.”

Swann, a Northfield resident, has two adult children and works two part-time jobs. She runs the store on Sundays and holds one of the classes.

“It’s fun, it’s relaxing,” Swann said of scrapbooking, which she began doing 14 years ago. “You can do whatever you want; there is no such thing as a mistake in scrapbooking. If you have something that is not just right it is an embellishment opportunity. Just cover it with something else or do something different.”

Linda Merchant also instructs a class and runs the store four days a week (it’s closed on Mondays). A scrapbooking enthusiast, Merchant introduced herself to Swann when the store came to Williston.

“I love interacting with people, helping them develop ideas and helping them expand on ideas,” Merchant said. “I really like the customer service end of things.”

Swann reported that a new sign for the store’s front is in the works and “just needs approval from the state.” She is also preparing to launch a new website. Swann said the site will include calendar listings of all the store’s events and consumers will be able to use it to purchase some of its products. Folks will also be able to learn about the different retreats and pay for them online via PayPal.

“I expect that by Sept. 1 we will have everything under control … It’s going to be really good,” Swann said.

For Swann, competition from larger chain stores like A.C. Moore, which opened in Williston earlier this year, and Michael’s isn’t much of a concern.

“To be honest, they aren’t competition. We are a specialty store,” Swann said. “People who truly scrapbook or card make or are true paper crafters know the difference in the quality. Most of (A.C. Moore or Michael’s) stuff is older.”

Swann also isn’t discouraged by the store’s location, which was originally at Taft Corners when it first came to Williston. It relocated to the Simon’s Plaza in April.

“We were tucked in the corner (at Taft Corners) and there were two trees blocking the storefront,” Swann said. “The people coming in and out of here are great. My only concern was parking but there is more than it appears … This is definitely going to work,” Swann said.

All Scrapped Up is open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 288-9616 or visit [email protected]

This week’s Popcorn: “Horrible Bosses”

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Deserves no promotion

2 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer

I’ve had some horrible bosses. Not quite “can’t wait ‘til they die so I can stomp on their graves” horrible, but horrible enough to be able to relate to the dire quandary best buddies Nick, Dale and Kurt are faced with in director Seth Gordon’s “Horrible Bosses.” Of course, unlike the boys, I never contemplated killing any of the stinking slave drivers.

Yes, it has come to that, and damn the consequences per an inconsistent screenplay that’s never endearing or funny enough to win our suspension of disbelief. OK, so there are some droll scenes in a “Dumb & Dumber” sort of way. And while we can’t believe anyone would hire these dudes in the first place, we still feel sorry for the poor fools.

So meet the commiserative trio, all at their wits end thanks to the untenable position each has been put in by his heartless taskmaster. Jason Sudeikis’s Kurt Buckman was on easy street at Pellit Chemical, where he was the No. 2 man until his paternalistic mentor died. Now he has to deal with his idiot, coke-headed son, Bobby, played by Colin Farrell.

Just as bad in another way is Kevin Spacey’s Dave Harken, the big honcho where Jason Bateman’s Nick Hendricks was expecting an imminent vice presidency. But surprise…the rotten cad was only dangling the spot to make our guy work harder. Adding insult to injury, the tyrant is quite proud of himself.

And then there’s Dale’s predicament. Living the male fantasy turned nightmare, dental assistant Dale, played by squeaky-voiced Charlie Day, is beset by the unremitting sexual onslaught of his nymphomaniac employer. Making it worse, because Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S., is proficient at anesthetizing folks and putting them in compromising positions, she’s blackmailing diminutive Dale.

That’s right. Be her Lothario or she’ll tell his fiancée a whole pack of lurid lies. Making it a double whammy, because Dale is a registered sex offender (bogus charge or not), if he doesn’t cooperate the lustful doc also threatens to report him to the authorities. The film’s only memorable performance — Jennifer Aniston’s bawdy dentist is a hoot.

Laying it on with a fervor heretofore rarely seen in her movie career, the pulchritudinous exhibition makes one wonder if Brad will have second thoughts about giving Jennifer the gate in favor of Angelina. Through word and deed that would make Mae West blush, the lovely Miss Aniston affirms that she has graduated from her girl next door image.

Otherwise, the film possesses no other notable features. The plot to murder the three horrible bosses takes a predictable, screwball route, replete with an atypical hit man portrayed by Jamie Foxx, his first name unmentionable in this space. Silliness prevails, with credibility tossed out the window. Sillier yet would be to take any of it seriously.

But while a farce doesn’t necessarily have to be believable, there’s a sliding scale of tolerability. If we’re busy laughing, who cares if it makes sense? In the case of “Horrible Bosses,” it simply isn’t humorous enough to justify the irksome lapses in plausibility. These ordinary fellows make the switch to potential killers all too readily.

You see, in the 11th hour, Mr. Foxx’s Blankety-Blank Jones explains why he can’t personally do the deed. However, in consideration of the $5,000 retainer he’s taken, he will advise. But he has only one bit of counsel for the desperate pals. In order to avoid the establishment of a motive, it would be wise if each man killed the other’s boss.

This arrangement paves the way for a bevy of confusion and illogicality that soon dissolves into a general free-for-all posing as a plot. A few running gags pepper the scenario, and from a helter-skelter script one gleans the occasionally amusing moment. However, it’s the horrible bosses themselves who keep this film afloat.

Forgetting for a second that this is supposed to be funny, which, regrettably, isn’t all that difficult, we note the title characters are not only vile but downright criminal. At a minimum, each deserves dismissal. Some even warrant legal prosecution. Still, much as they might conjure memories of our own tormenters, straight up execution is a tad stiff.

But, once convinced of their course, none of the three disgruntled employees exhibits the slightest angst over killing a fellow human being. In other words, they’re about as loony as their prospective victims. Thus, aside from being somewhat curious as to how things will turn out in the end, we inevitably lose interest amidst the flood of contrivances.

Too bad director Gordon didn’t have the wherewithal to impart some kernels of wit and wisdom about despotism in the workplace. In addition to tempering the gobbledygook, it would make the comedic failure less obvious. Unfortunately, like the truly grave problem it professes to address, “Horrible Bosses” is hardly a laughing matter.

“Horrible Bosses,” rated R, is a Warner Bros. Pictures release directed by Seth Gordon and stars Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis. Running time: 98 minutes

PHOTOS: Memorial mountain bike race

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Observer photos by Marisa Machanic

The Ryan B. Hawks Memorial Eastern Cup mountain bike race was held at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston on July 24.

PHOTOS: S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball

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

Colchester defeated S.D. Ireland, 5-3, on June 24 in the Vermont American Legion championship tournament. Bennington eliminated the Irelands from the double-elimination tourney on Monday.

Sports Notes

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July 28, 2011

 

CVU FLAVOR ADDED TO SHRINE GRIDIRON GAME

With the Champlain Valley Union coaching staff calling the shots and three former Redhawk players on the squad, the Vermont Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl football team of selected 2011 high school graduated stars goes into training Thursday morning at Kimball Union Academy in Plainfield, N.H.

The 58th annual game between Vermont and New Hampshire kicks off at 2:30 p.m., Saturday Aug. 6, at Windsor High School’s MacLeay-Royce Field.

“The coaching staff goes into camp Wednesday and the kids report Thursday morning for physicals,” CVU and Vermont head coach Jim Provost said in a telephone interview on Sunday (July 24).

From last fall’s CVU Division II semifinalists, Provost has quarterback-defensive back Konnor Fleming, two-way tackle and punter Cameron Fitzgerald, and linebacker Eric Palmer.

Instructions will not only from Provost but also his CVU staff of assistants including Tim Halvorson, Brendan and Kevin McCarthy, Tyler Provost and Mike Yesalonia.

Provost, who also guided the Vermont team in 1990 when he was the head coach at Rice Memorial, said he wants to start installing offensive and defensive schemes the first day of practice.

“We are hoping the kids arrive in shape,” he said.

New Hampshire has opened a wide margin lead in the series with a 10-game winning streak, but Provost is optimistic that his team of achievers can hold its own.

“We have the talent to win the Shrine game,” he said, pointing out that the 2010 team under Essex High coach Charlie Burnett was competitive and within a couple of plays of its Granite State counterpart.

“We are going down there to win,” Provost added. “If it doesn’t happen it won’t be because we didn’t believe we could.”

 

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 Aug. 1 to Aug. 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.

 

Bennington knocks S. D. Ireland out of Legion state tourney

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July 28, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

S.D. Ireland’s Dan French delivers a pitch during his team’s 5-3 loss to Colchester in the Vermont American Legion championship tournament on Sunday (July 24). Bennington eliminated the Irelands from the double-elimination tourney on Monday. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

The S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team returned to its northern home base early this week after falling to Vermont tournament finalist Bennington, 4-0, Monday at Castleton State College.

It was a swell beginning and a disappointing ending for the Irelands, who won their first two games in the eight-team double elimination event on Friday and Saturday. S.D. was then nipped by Colchester, 5-3, Sunday before being eliminated by Bennington, the southern division champ.

Bennington, a perfect 16-0 in the regular season, got a three-hit, eight-strikeout outing from pitcher Tyler Kunzmann. The Ireland knocks came from the bats of Larry “The Launcher” Halverson, Drew Nick and Tucker Kohlasch. On the mound, Nicky Elderton threw a complete game.

Halvorson was the Ireland’s clouter-in-chief for the tournament. He unloaded eight hits, including a pair of doubles and four RBIs in the four games.

In their loss to the Cannons on Sunday, the Clover Guys did not go quietly into the good sunset. Trailing 5-1 in the ninth, they rallied for two runs and had the bases loaded before Zach Tandy, Colchester High School’s pitching ace this past spring, came in to shut the door. Tandy walked Nick to bring in the third run before getting a strike out and fly out.

Nick and Jeff Badger each produced a pair of hits and an RBI. Halvorson stroked a two-bagger.

The Irelands opened the tournament Friday at St. Peter’s Field in Rutland after getting the north’s third seed with a regular season 10-4 record. They rolled to a 7-2 win over Brattleboro, the south’s second seed with a 13-3 mark.

Sam Fuller, who tossed a three-hit, shutout victory over northern co-champ Essex in a regular season highlight, worked eight innings and allowed 12 hits but also fanned 12 batters. Halvorson smashed three hits including a triple and double. Nick, Badger and Sean Rugg each rocked a pair of bingles.

Rugg got the mound victory on Saturday when the Irelands unloaded eight runs on Essex in the first three frames, and coasted to a 15-5 triumph. Halvorson continued his sweet swinging with three hits and three RBIs. Curt Echo uncorked three hits and two RBIs. Essex chipped in nine walks and five miscues.

Police Notes

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July 28, 2011

Theft

Jessica Trombley, 23, of Burlington and Lisa Dalley, 42, of Burlington were cited on charges of retail theft from Wal-Mart on July 19, according to police reports. Another woman was also referred to the Williston Reparative Board for theft, the report notes. No other information was released.

A stereo was taken from a van on Pioneer Drive on July 24, according to police reports. Another car was also “broken into,” according to the report. The investigation is ongoing.

 

Suspicious person

A golf cart was towed after police received reports on July 20 that a man was driving the cart “with a flag on the back” down Williston Road, according to police reports.

 

Intoxicated person

A man was taken to Act 1 detoxification center on July 23 after police received a report of an intoxicated man “walking down the middle of the interstate,” according to police reports.

 

Driving under the influence

Kyle Brennan, 22, of Colchester was cited on a charge of driving under the influence — “drugged driving” — on July 23 following “2 hospital transports,” according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Center “for detox for the night,” the report notes. No other information was released.

 

Unsung Hero Award

At its annual Student Recognition Day event last month, staff and students of HowardCenter Jean Garvin School in Williston awarded the “Unsung Hero Award” to the Williston Police Department and the Williston Community Justice Board. According to Garvin School Director Lisa Bilowith via a news release, the award recognized the two community groups “for supporting our dreams, advocating for our students, creatively problem-solving challenges, and believing in our success.”

Steve LaTulippe, Director of the Community Justice Board, accepted the honor on behalf of both organizations.

“One of the clear objectives of the Williston Police Department and the Williston Community Justice Board is to take a compassionate and proactive stance when it comes to dealing with youth of the community. Our association with the Jean Garvin School’s administrative team, staff, and students allows us to fulfill that role as needed and when called upon by the school,” LaTulippe said in the release.

He credited Williston Police Sergeant Scott Graham as being instrumental in forming the relationship.

Bilowith added in the release: “We are proud to select both agencies because they worked in collaboration with us throughout the school year to be a presence, not only in times of crisis response, but also proactively and educationally. They made an effort to know several of our students, encouraged students to consider their actions in a different and more constructive light, and even brought a few students on ‘ride-alongs’ and to lunch.”

The HowardCenter Garvin School serves the therapeutic and academic needs of children aged 12 to 17 in Chittenden County.

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.

CVU announces fourth-quarter honors

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July 28, 2011

The following students from Williston and St. George made the fourth-quarter honor roll at Champlain Valley Union High School:

 

High Honors

Nicole C. Akiki

Hannah L. Apfelbaum

Ferne E. Arsenault

Michelle E. Asch

Bradley B. Barth

Hallah E. Bates

Ian S. Batson

Calvin T. Benevento

Alexandra M. Bernier

Kendall L. Berry

Hannah W. Bond

Austin W. Burbank

Mari L. Caminiti

Christopher D. Castano

Joseph M. Castano

Samuel C. Chevalier

Jenna N. Clear

Lillian R. Coletta

Mary  Collins

Parker J. Cornbrooks

Alyson M. Cozzy

David J. Daly

Conor J. Delphia

Abigail A. Dunki-Jacobs

Evangeline S. Dunphy

C. Todd  Forrester

Kirsten D. Forrester

Taggart S. Francis

Rose E. Friedlander

Sierra C. Frisbie

Taylor H. Goldsborough

Evan P. Grey

Mackenzie A. Gunn

Bennett R. Hadley

Laura A. Harris

Ju-I (Alan)  Huang

Olivia A. Isham

Chandler R. Jacobson

Aleksey K. Jordick

Andrea A. Joseph

Liam P. Kelley

Grace E. Kennedy

Dani R. Klein

Kaelyn L. Kohlasch

Maya E. Kunigis

Sydney W. Lalancette

Eleanor L. Laukaitis

Eliza E. Lemieux

Noah S. Lieberman

Benjamin R. Liebman

Jonathan L. Liebman

Corinne S. Loiseau

Olivia G. Loisel

Asa A. Mease

Gregory D. Meyer

Mikayla L. Morin

Brittany D. Mount

Lily H. Nguyen

Tuan Q. Nguyen

Alyson J. O’Connell

Emmett B. Peterson

Christopher J. Petrillo

Bryn C. Philibert

Marta P. Plociennik

Cote J. Pudlo

Matthew T. Rich

Sara K. Riordan

Makenzie R. Roberts

Mary M. Rutenbeck

Ryan S. Schneiderman

Sylvie M. Shanks

Sophia  Steinhoff

Henri F. St-Pierre

Louis J. St-Pierre

Benjamin A. Teasdale

Celia E. Trifilio

Chloe A. Trifilio

Niles E. Trigg

Grace A. Usher

Eleanor C. Wallace

Paige A. Watson

Kevin O. Wilkinson

Andrea E. Young

Grace H. Zebertavage

 

 

A/B Honors

Ryan J. Allen

Katherine E. Arms

Olivia H. Arms

Timothy P. Averill

Ashley L. Bachand

Zachary T. Barden

Ryan S. Barland

Kristin R. Bauer

Dillon G. Beliveau

Justin R. Belliveau

Austin R. Bennett

Stephen  Bennett

Erik J. Bergkvist

Holly E. Bertolet

Ryan C. Boland

Andrew R. Bonneau

Kathleen A. Boutin

Nicholas R. Bouton

Kaitlin E. Bowen

Griffin W. Brady

Jenna I. Brassard

Christopher M. Bresee

Connor J. Brown

Sam T. Brown

Austin T. Busch

Kyle T. Byrne

Kelsey  Caminiti

Ayla R. Campisi

Cynthia R. Carpenter

Simon V. Casson

Ethan  Childs

Phillip J. Clark

Evan R. Cohen

William D. Colomb

Kody A. Corbosiero

Brianna N. Currier

Rebecca P. Daniels

Jordan D. Davis

Sierra J. Davis

Adrienne  DeVita

Julienne  DeVita

Mikal A. Dixon

Forrest M. Dodds

Jake P. Donnelly

Remington E. Donnelly

Benjamin D. Drinkwine

Jasmyn M. Druge

Taryn L. Druge

Amanda K. Ducharme

Molly D. Dunphy

Josefin Ehn

Brian J. Fisher

Andrew K. Gale

Brendan P. Gannon

Emma L. Gause

Rebecca S. Goldberg

Katelyn C. Goodrich

Hannah C. Grunvald

Warren A. Grunvald

Shane P. Haley

Patrick J. Heltz

Konrad J. Herath

Julie  Ho

Katelyn  Hodgkins

Megan D. Hodgkins

Joshua F. Huber

Owen H. Hudson

Shae L. Hulbert

Halima O. Hussein

Salat O. Hussein

Laura V. Jennings

Alison R. Kahn

William  Karstens

Emily L. Keller

Ryan A. Kelley

Rachel C. King

Emma F. Kinsel

Shelby L. Knudson

Tucker D. Kohlasch

Nicole R. Kolibas

Joseph P. Kolk

Elizabeth R. Ladd

Jenna N. LaFountain

Kristyn L. LaFrance

Matthew P. Lambert

Nicholas J. Ledak

Leah G. Leister

Sarah C. Leister

Hannah E. L’Esperance

Madison R. Litchfield

Sarah J. Long

Samuel H. Longenbach

Sofia N. Lozon

Zoe L. Lucia

Hope E. Luria

Lida  Lutton

Kathryn C. Lyle

Catherine R. Mara

Ryan A. Martel

John P. Martin

Alexandra L. Mauss

Conor M. McQuiston

William R. McSalis

Jessie D. Melincoff

Lauren F. Meunier

Katherine E. Meyer

Maria K. Mignano

Hayley M. Moon

Brandon  Murakami

Laura T. Murphy

Kelly Y. Ng

Alexandra E. Novak

Emily M. O’Brien

Erin M. O’Brien

Benjamin P. Ogle

Cody P. Osborne

Alexandra M. Owen-Fortin

Dylan  Paquette

David M. Parker

Josiah R. Parker

Anna L. Philibert

Tyler M. Pillsbury

Phoebe C. Quayle

Elizabeth J. Reynolds

Kristian J. Riley

Alyxandra L. Rivard

Peter C. Roy

Anna C. Rutenbeck

John P. Ryan

Shannon E. Ryan

Michael J. Schell

Elliot H. Schneider

Jason L. Schneiderman

Andrew J. Schultz

Jacob B. September

Patrick W. Sheedy

Philip J. Sheedy

Jonathan L. Slimovitch

Hayden C. Smith

Pauline Soler

Leah M. Soule

Anne R. Spector

William B. Spencer II

Emily C. Spencer

Aleksandra R. Stamper

Meghen A. Sullivan

Eva S. Theriault

Sarah E. Thompson

John W. Tomashot

Tanner A. Tomasi

Tino A. Tomasi

Olivia H. Vande Griek

Kelsey L. Walters

Thomas M. Weening

Anthea S. Weiss

Caelin C. Weiss

Cale C. Whitcomb

Breanna M. Willard

Kyle G. Williams

Wilson  Yandell

Kaya E. Yurieff

Committee seeks public input on school district consolidation

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July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

The potential Regional Educational District consolidation could lead to more efficient operations and increased accountability for student outcomes at schools like Williston Central, but it might also result in a tax increase and reduction in elected school board officials representing the town, according to study committee member Charlie Magill. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Gathering public input is the next step for a study committee formed by the Chittenden South Supervisory Union Boards of School Directors and tasked with exploring consolidation into a Regional Educational District (RED).

The 12-member committee held the last of six scheduled meetings on July 18, at which discussion continued about the pros and cons of merging the seven Chittenden South school boards into a single entity. Champlain Valley Union School Board chair Jeanne Jensen, who is on the study committee simply as a Williston resident, said that some form of public forum is planned before a final recommendation is made to the State Board of Education this fall.

“We could not give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down without the approval of the community,” said Jensen, who noted that the forum won’t take place until school resumes. “We need to give people the opportunity to express their thoughts, and ideas that we didn’t come up with.”

That input will then be used to draft a report to the BOE, in which the CSSU outlines its goals for the consolidation and its criteria for implementing it.

A similar report has already been submitted by the Chittenden East Supervisory Union. Fifteen members representing the seven Boards within that Union put together 18 Articles of Agreement, to be approved by each district in order to create a RED for Chittenden East. The CESD report also included a detailed cost benefit analysis outlining issues such as improved student opportunities and outcomes, staffing, data collection and reporting and budgeting.

The RED did not progress any further than that stage for CESD, however. Two of the five communities from that district voted against the consolidation in June: Huntington and Richmond. Addison Northwest also shot down the RED with its first community vote.

“All of the essential communities have to vote ‘yes’ in order for it to pass,” Jensen said.

Charlie Magill, a Williston community member who served a decade-long stint on the CVU School Board in the 1970s and 80s, said that taxes played a role in Addison Northwest’s rejection. He said that Vergennes — which faced a tax increase under the proposed consolidation, which was first approved — voted against it during a re-vote brought about through a petition.

Magill said Williston could face similar issues under the proposed RED.

“Williston has the lowest per-pupil cost in the entire Supervisory Union,” Magill said. “The town would probably see some tax increase as per-pupil cost was averaged out over a combined school district.”

Jensen said the CSSU study committee is “pretty close” to deciding what its recommendation will be, though she added any further elaboration prior to the public forum phase would be premature. Jensen did say that certain elements of the consolidation that might appeal to other districts do not exist for CSSU.

“There are not significant financial gains for us, because we’ve already taken a lot of those measures,” Jensen said. “We can’t go to the community and say, ‘this is going to save us a million dollars.’ That sort of low-hanging fruit is gone.”

Another possible downside to the RED is that Williston would stand to lose a bit of its representative power under the proposed reconfiguration, according to Magill.

“The town currently has four members on the CVU School Board, and five on the Williston Board,” Magill said. “That number would go down to four on the combined board; Williston would lose more than half of its elected school board officials.”

Jensen said that possible benefits of the RED include increased accountability for student outcomes, as well as more efficient communication between the representatives on what are now seven separate school boards.

“We have to decide if those intangibles are worth disrupting the system we have now,” Jensen said.

 

Guest column

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The new climate change high command

July 28, 2011

By John McClaughry

Three years ago, then Senate President Peter Shumlin was the lead sponsor of a bill — ardently promoted by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group — to “make global warming the top priority of everything we do, not only in government, but in our own personal and private lives.” Shumlin’s conviction to this peculiar notion is so intense that he later declared, “Any other conclusion is simply irresponsible.”

So much for reasoned debate.

Now, as Governor, having set Vermont state government off on the road to raising $3 billion in new taxes to pay for single payer health care, Shumlin is again turning to his top priority of 2007.

The advocates now describe the issue as “climate change” because Mother Nature dropped the ball on “global warming.”

On May 17, the governor announced establishment of the Vermont Climate Cabinet — composed of nine state officials he appointed. The new body, chaired by ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz, will seek to ensure that “Vermont continues to be a national leader (in addressing) the challenge of climate change.”

The new Cabinet’s primary duty is to “leverage interconnectedness” by coordinating climate change efforts across all state agencies and departments. It will also tend to a long list of informing, strategizing, partnering, promoting, propagandizing, fostering, advising, and of course, federal funding for “climate change mitigation.”

To get some idea of what the nine Shumlin appointees are likely to recommend, it’s worth looking back to the original Shumlin bill of 2008, S.350. That bill actually passed (Act 209), but only after the House — to the intense disappointment of VPIRG and presumably its lead sponsor — had pulled almost all of its teeth.

S.350 proposed to create VPIRG’s desire, a climate super-government with duties equivalent to those of the new Shumlin Climate Cabinet, but with a broader composition. That “climate cooperative” of 2008 would have been charged with supervising a bewildering array of task forces and working groups to produce a host of reports advocating new regulations, controls, mandates, plans, rules, standards, taxes and subsidies.

The bill would also have mandated — and enforced compliance — with a statewide greenhouse gas emission inventory and a state cap and trade program. This latter scheme would require emitters of the dreaded greenhouse gases in excess of a state-determined cap to buy emission tickets from other emitters operating under the cap. The bill prescribed gas-guzzler taxes on vans, SUVs, and pickups to finance subsidies for $41,000 electric cars. These provisions were dropped from the bill that was enacted.

Other complementary proposals either adopted or considered in the past few years were the Clean Energy Development Fund (to be funded by a new tax on electric bills); a Renewable Portfolio Standard, to require utilities to buy electricity from favored producers; a feed-in tariff, to require utilities to pay as much as five times the market price for renewable electricity; and tax benefits for people who install renewable energy systems. Act 168, enacted in 2006, actually declared a state goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to an unimaginable 50 percent below 1990 levels.

Also urged were new subsidies for commuter rail (after the state threw away $28 million on Howard Dean’s now-defunct Champlain Flyer); the Shumlin “thermal efficiency utility” to subsidize businesses to save money on heating fuel; an ever-increasing electricity tax (now at $40 million, on its way toward the $81 million demanded by VPIRG) to expand Efficiency Vermont’s services to more needy people like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters; a carbon tax; stringent building codes to reduce carbon footprints; and Act 250 amendments to put a stop to developments beyond walking distance of work, store and post office.

Now let’s be clear: It makes good sense for families, businesses, and governments to take cost-effective measures to reduce wasteful energy consumption. It makes good sense for vehicle buyers to consider the tradeoffs among speed, weight, power, safety, and fuel consumption. It may make good sense to install a renewable energy system where sun, wind, wood and water are favorable. Free people make those decisions all the time.

What makes no sense at all is this infatuation with the increasingly untenable notion that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions produce any detectable effect on the Earth’s climate — or that any conceivable collection of big brother regulations, taxes, mandates, and subsidies could achieve anything besides turning Vermont into an even less free and more taxed enclave of bureaucracy, servility and economic stagnation.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute, a public policy research and education organization.