April 22, 2018

Where the wild things are

Williston looks at protecting wildlife from development

Sept. 22, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

Much of the land in Williston could be impacted by overlay zoning being considered by the town’s Planning Commission. (Observer photos by Adam White)

Williston is exploring new environmental protection zoning that could have a major impact on the town’s future development.

A proposed overlay zoning district presented to the Williston Planning Commission on Tuesday showed that a significant portion of the undeveloped land in town serves as core habitat and travel corridors for wildlife. Members of the commission expressed optimism that the protection of such land — a task identified in a more general sense within the town’s Comprehensive Plan — will be easier to accomplish with the help of the overlay district.

“There is a lot of verbiage in the town plan that supports this, but it’s more ‘endeavor to persevere’ than anything concrete like this,” said Commission member Kevin Batson. “This gives us something definitive to implement.”

Environmental planner Jessica Andreoletti handed out to the Commission a series of maps — generated using data from a habitat assessment completed in conjunction with the University of Vermont’s Spatial Analysis program in 2009 — showing the areas in Williston that serve as core habitat and travel corridors for wildlife. Andreoletti said the maps effectively superseded older maps created by former town planner Lee Nellis, presumably from the examination of settlement patterns and cover.

“The Conservation Commission decided to stick with the science, because it’s more defendable,” Andreoletti said.

Brian Shupe, deputy director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, reviewed a six-page draft of habitat protection standards that included sections on purpose, review procedure and key definitions. Shupe — who is being promoted to executive director of the VNRC on Thursday, and has prior planning experience in Stowe and the Mad River Valley — said his role as advisor to Williston in regard to the overlay district is to “identify the threat (to wildlife) and appropriate policy choices the community can make to address it.”

“It is very difficult to just draw a line on the ground and say one side is great habitat, and one side is not,” Shupe said.

Commission members and the town’s planning staff agreed that restricting development based on the presence and activity of wildlife could prove contentious. Senior planner Matt Boulanger said that a number of recent development projects in town would have been impacted by the proposed overlay district, and planning director Ken Belliveau warned that implementing strict limitations on every area highlighted on the habitat and corridor maps would be difficult, if not impossible.

“To create an overlay process, it’s going to have to be sellable to property owners and the Selectboard,” Belliveau said.

He then suggested using further studies to prioritize areas of town  that are most important to wildlife, and exploring options for protecting those areas permanently.

“The best protection is always if you can buy the development rights outright, and get it out of the mix totally,” he said.

Shupe agreed that the town should be prepared to defend its policies and subsequent decisions in regard to the OZD.

“If you’re going to restrict property rights, you had better explain how you are going to do it, based on sound science and research,” Shupe said.

Batson suggested revising the habitat/corridor map to remove flood planes, wetlands, steep slopes and other protected areas that would not be considered for development regardless of wildlife patterns. Belliveau agreed that with such revisions, “the map wouldn’t look so draconian.”

“If the whole town is covered, that could create a hurdle that you’re never going to overcome,” Belliveau said.

Boulanger proposed an examination of undeveloped property parcels in town, and how they might be impacted by the implementation of the overlay district. Andreoletti supported that idea, and added that habitat and corridor maps were likely to change over time with shifts in wildlife activity, creating the need for fluidity in any resulting policies.

No definitive action in regard to the proposed overlay district was taken by the Planning Commission, which is scheduled to meet next on Oct. 4.

A draft of a significant habitat overlay zoning district was reviewed and discussed by the Williston Planning Commission at its meeting on Tuesday. (Left to right) Commission member Meghan Cope, Vermont Natural Resources Council Deputy Director Brian Shupe and Williston Environmental Planner Jessica Andreoletti listen as Senior Planner Matt Boulanger (not pictured) proposes an examination of undeveloped land parcels in town that would likely be impacted by the implementation of an overlay district.

PHOTOS: Williston remembers 9/11

Observer photos by Marisa Machanic

Williston police and fire officials held a ceremony at the fire station commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Hopes and prayers tied to balloons were also released at the Williston Federated Church on Sept. 11.

PHOTOS: CVU football vs. Brattleboro

Courtesy photos by Joe Kropf

The Champlain Valley Union football team improved to 2-0 with a 43-13 win against Brattleboro on Sept. 10.

PHOTOS: CVU boys soccer vs. Rutland

Observer photos by Steven Frank

The Champlain Valley Union boys soccer team opened its 2011 season with a 2-0 victory over Rutland at Essex High School on Sept. 8.

Sports Notes

Sept. 15, 2011


Champlain Valley Union’s Parker Cornbrooks (right) defends Rutland’s Justin DelBianco during the Redhawks’ 2-0 victory in boys soccer at Essex High School on Sept. 8. (Observer photo by Steven Frank)

Having easily passed their first crucial test of the season Saturday, the Champlain Valley Union girls cross country team will hit the five-kilometer trail again Saturday morning in the annual Burlington High Invitational.

The defending Vermont and New England regional champs scored a solid team triumph Saturday in the 34th annual Essex High Invitational at Williston’s Catamount Outdoor Family Center. The boys’ team took fifth place among 10 teams.

CVU coach Scott Bliss has often said his teams need depth to find success in team competitions. The Redhawks apparently have met that requirement again this year.

The girls placed five runners in the top 10 finishers, led by race runner-up Taylor Spillane who was second to veteran Markie Palermo of Essex. Other Redhawks crowding into the top 10 were Adrienne DeVita (fifth), Julienne DeVita (sixth), Aleksey Jordick (seventh) and Autumn Eastman (10th).



Fresh from two victories in the season-opening Jay Brady Tournament at Essex last week, the Champlain Valley Union boys soccer team headed for Harwood Wednesday (after press deadline) to tangle with the Highlanders.

On Friday, the Redhawks have their home opener against Burlington before motoring to Essex Tuesday to test the always-tough Hornets.

Coach T. J. Mead was generally pleased with his team’s play in wins over Rutland Thursday (Sept. 8) and Rice Memorial Saturday (Sept. 10) in the Essex event.

“We had an interesting game Saturday,” he said of the 5-1 triumph over Rice.

Mead recalled that the Hawks got a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the contest, but the Green Knights tied it on a deflected goal. The Redhawks then surged back with a four-goal outburst before halftime.

The second half was scoreless but CVU controlled play.

Co-captain Sam Raszka paced the Hawks with a goal and three assists.

In Thursday’s 2-0 opening win over Rutland High, Joseph Shumway scored after a throw in from Shane Haley with 9:22 remaining in the first half. Haley scored the final goal in the second half and also popped a pointer against Rice Saturday.

CVU goalie Brandon O’Connell had three stops in the shutout while Rutland netminder David Cohen, an all-tournament selection, made nine saves.

Benjamin Comai and Chad Bateman of CVU were named to the all-tournament team.



Scoreless in its first two outings of the season, the Champlain Valley Union field hockey team hopes to get the offense into gear with three straight home games starting Thursday when 1-1 Essex comes into Hinesburg to test the 0-1-1 Redhawks (4 p.m.).

Mount Abraham (1-1) will be at CVU Saturday at 10 a.m. followed by Middlebury Union (0-3) next Wednesday.

A previously postponed home match with Colchester has been moved to a future date due to a lack of available game officials.

The Redhawks got blanked for a second straight game Tuesday at Mount Mansfield Union but came away with a scoreless deadlock. CVU netminder Evangeline Dunphy had just two stops while the Hawks had just three shots on the Cougars’ cage.

Last Friday (Sept. 9), CVU opened the season with a 4-0 loss to defending Division I champion South Burlington. In the contest, Dunphy had 14 saves.



Seven-time American Canadian Tour champion and Williston native Brian Hoar inherited his second win of the weekend in the ACT Late Model Tour and Série ACT Castrol combination Can-Am 200 at Circuit Riverside Speedway in Sainte-Croix, Canada on Sept. 11.

With the win, Hoar secured an unprecedented eight ACT Late Model Tour championship.

Hoar finished second to apparent winner Alex Labbé, WHO was later disqualified for failing to comply with a protest by the No. 91 QC team of his ACT sealed crate motor. It was Hoar’s 33rd career ACT Late Model Tour win and second straight Can-Am 200 win.

CVU Sports Schedule

Sept. 15, 2011


Saturday: at Burlington Invitational, 9:30 a.m.

Tuesday: at Colchester, 4 p.m.


Thursday: ESSEX, 4 p.m.

Saturday: MOUNT ABRAHAM, 10 a.m.

Wednesday: MIDDLEBURY, 4 p.m.


Friday: at Essex, 7 p.m.


Friday: BURLINGTON, 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday: at Essex, 4:30 p.m.


Thursday: at Milton, 4:30 p.m.


Wednesday: ESSEX, 4:30 p.m.



Schedules subject to changes

CVU girls soccer starts strong

Redhawks open with two victories

Sept. 15, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

With a pair of victories over southern Vermont teams on their 2011 record, coach Brad Parker and his Champlain Valley Union girls soccer team get some northern cooking Thursday when they take their 2-0 mark to Milton (4:30 p.m.).

The Redhawks got their home season off to a rip snorting start Tuesday with a 7-0 triumph over visiting Burr and Burton of Manchester.

While sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Kingston potted three scores and co-captain Shelby Hanlon added two, the quick and speedy Redhawk defense and midfielders held the Bulldogs without a shot on goal.

After being turned away from several early scoring opportunities, CVU finally broke through with 12:58 remaining in the first half when Hanlon knocked a hard point-blank shot off Burr and Burton goalie Callie Zak’s hand.

The deluge followed. Taylor Goldsborough scored a little more than four minutes later and Sophia Steinhoff — after a speedy and deep penetration of the Bulldogs’ defense by sophomore Haliana Burhans — booted home a pointer for a 3-0 lead.

Kingston scored twice in the first three minutes of the second half and Hanlon soon followed with a line drive under the cross bar for her second tally (Burhans assist).

Anna Spector set up Kingston’s final and hat trick score with 1:08 to go in the game.

CVU unleashed 20 shots on a trio of Burr and Burton netminders. The Bulldogs are 1-2 for the season.

Hanlon, a returning veteran from the solid 2010 squad that lost a lot of key players from graduation, said after the game that the “new players are working in very well.”

The initial road trip of the season last Saturday (Sept. 10) resulted in a 1-0 win at Rutland. Kate Raszka fired home the lone goal, the Redhawks’ first of the campaign.

A previously postponed home game with Rice Memorial has been rescheduled for Monday at the ‘Hawks Hinesburg nest. CVU girls soccer.

Redhawks football prepares for Hornets’ nest

2-0 CVU faces Essex Friday

Sept. 15, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

CVU receiver Matt Bauer tries to handle a pass from quarterback Drew Nick during the Redhawks’ 43-13 victory over Brattleboro on Sept. 10. (Courtesy photo by Joe Kropf)

When a 2-0 high school football team goes up against one that’s 0-2, a positive outcome for the unbeaten combine should be a piece of cake, right?


Champlain Valley Union head coach Jim Provost is not buying the cake business as he looks ahead to the Friday night (7 p.m.) clash in Essex between his 2-0 Redhawks and the 0-2 Essex Hornets.

“Essex just might be the best 0-2 team in the state,” Provost told the Observer Monday. “They will be sky high. This is almost a playoff game for them.”

Last weekend, while CVU was dispatching Brattleboro at home, 43-13, Essex was suffering a 31-28 loss at Middlebury

“We have to prepare this week for perhaps the best team we will see all year, “ Provost added, noting that Friday’s contest is the home opener for the blue and gold Hornets.

It will be the second straight year the Redhawks have visited the 2009 Division I champs in their house. Essex popped the Hawks last fall in a game that saw both starting quarterbacks sidelined by halftime.

In CVU’s initial outing before the home folks Saturday (Sept. 10), the Redhawks fell behind Brattleboro in a fumbly first quarter before they grabbed a shaky 12-6 edge by halftime. CVU then rolled in the second half behind a crunching ground attack and stingy defense.

Led by halfback Nick Ferrentino (22 carries, 168 yards, three touchdowns), the Redhawks piled up 253 rushing yards.

Quarterback Drew Nick connected on 10 of 20 passes for one score and one rushing touchdown. “Old Thunderfoot,” kicker Tucker Kohlash, knocked in a 27-yard field goal and a pair of extra points.

But it took some time for the Red and White to get the offense clicking.

Two lost fumbles in the first quarter played a role. The second turnover gave the Colonels good field position at the CVU 41. Seven plays later, Brattleboro was in the end zone on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Higley to wide receiver Aaron Prue with 2:33 left in the reel. The kick for the extra-point was wide.

Midway in the second quarter, a naked reverse by Nick from the BUHS 40 got the Redhawks moving. Faking passes, Nick rolled out to his right and ran 26 yards to the Brattleboro 14. On first down, Ferrentino exploded up the middle and into the end zone to knot the contest. Kohlasch’s kick for the point-after bounced off the left upright.

Five plays later, CVU was back in business. Nick, from his defensive back position, picked off a Higley pass and returned it 15 yards to the Colonels’ 34. Four plays later, Ferrentino had an 8-yard scoring run. The elusive back gained 18 yards in three carries in the drive, and Nick connected with lanky end Ryan Beaudry for 16 yards. An extra point kick never happened due to a fumbled center snap.

Early in the second half, CVU officially took charge. Recovering a Brattleboro fumble at the visitors’ 21 on just the third play of the third quarter, the Hawks scored in just three plays on a Nick keeper from the 3, — Ferrentino set up the score with an 18-yard run that left a trail of prone white clad would-be tacklers. Nick passed to Matt Bauer for the two-point conversion and a 20-6 lead.

After that, the CVU frequently scored. Nick hooked up with Brent Carreiro on a 14-yard scoring toss with 5:43 left in the third quarter and Kohlasch launched his field goal midway through the final reel.

Ferrentino bolted 15 yards around the right side for the final touchdown with 1:07 to play.

“Our (offensive) line really did at great job today,” Ferrentino said after the game and his second straight 100-plus yard performance.

Also deserving praise was the defense, led by linebackers Ryan Fleming, Michael Fournier and Quinn Kropf, along with Harey Ottinger, Pete Wernhoff, Bobby Russell and Nick.

“We were well prepared for (Brattleboro),” said Fournier who, along with Fleming and Wernhoff, had a role in the six sacks of quarterback Higley.

Higley, a junior, despite the sacks and being under constant pressure, still hit on 18 of 33 passes for 238 yards and two scores.

“Our defense is really coming together,” said Provost who also had good words for Russell’s punting (four for 35-yard average) that backed up the Colonels deep in their territory on at least two occasions when the game was in doubt.

CVU 43, Brattleboro 13

BRATTLEBORO (1-1)            CVU (2-0)

First downs                            12                                                14

Total yards                             277                                              301

Yards rushing                        61                                                253

Yards passing                        238                                             70

Yards lost, fumble                0                                                  22

Pass att, comp, int               33-18-2                                      20-10-0

Fumbles-lost                         3-2                                               4-2

Sacked-yds lost                     6-22                                             0

Penalties-yds                        3-25                                              3-25

Punts-avg                              5-28                                             4-35

Return yards                        79                                                  50



BRATTLEBORO            6            0            0            7   — 13

CVU                                  0            2            21         10 —  43

Peak performance

Trudell Consulting Engineers joins forces with Winooski competitor

Sept. 15, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer correspondent

Former competitors Jeffrey Padgett (left) and Jeremy Matosky have merged their civil engineering firms. Negotiations took just four months. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

For two guys who crossed paths for the first time earlier this year, Jeremy Matosky and Jeffrey Padgett have had remarkably similar careers.

For starters, they graduated from the University of Vermont just three years apart with bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering. After college, each apprenticed in a big city — Matosky in Boston, Padgett in Philadelphia. Finally, each returned to Vermont and eventually became owner and president of his own civil engineering firm in Chittenden County.

Today, Matosky and Padgett know each other a lot better. On Sept. 1 — after just four months of negotiations — Matosky’s company, Trudell Consulting Engineers, announced that it has acquired and merged with the Padgett-run Engineered Solutions, Inc. As part of the merger, ESI’s staff will relocate from Winooski to TCE’s location in Williston’s Blair Park.

“(ESI’s) staff is a little bit younger than ours, so we’re looking forward to having some new blood and new ideas,” Matosky said. “Many people here have been here for 30 years. Many of our managers and engineers have done it all, so to tie that to young, ambitious engineers who are out there doing things very fast for clients is great.”

Padgett, who will serve as vice president of customer relations for TCE, agreed with Matosky.

“Our businesses have always almost overlapped, but never quite,” Padgett said. “(The merger) definitely gives us horsepower and the ability to take on more diverse projects without as much risk.”

Richard Trudell founded TCE in 1975. He sold the business to Matosky in 2004, but has remained with the company on a part-time basis as its senior engineer. In addition to a full range of civil engineering services, TCE provides surveying, permitting, landscape architecture and other planning services. Major projects in its portfolio include Technology Park in South Burlington and Taft Corners Park in Williston.

“Vermont’s not an easy place to do development,” Matosky commented, recalling the initial reticence many Willistonians felt toward the Taft Corners development. “It’s very much about trying to balance the perception that development is bad with the needs of people who want to live here and all the things they need to live here. Williston has done a good job of envisioning this commercial center and now developing more housing.”

More recently, TCE has been working on a project for Taft Corners Associates that will involve the construction of two mixed-use retail buildings on vacant land next to the Ponderosa Steakhouse at the corner of Vermont 2A and Marshall Avenue. TCE’s tasks on the $4 million project, which is scheduled to begin construction next spring, include site and landscape design, along with permitting and survey work.

With the completion of the ESI merger, the newly reinforced TCE staff will take on an even larger project. Jay Peak Resort, which has been a client of ESI’s since 2004, is in the midst of a $100 million-plus expansion project. Padgett, who called the Jay Peak upgrade “the biggest project in Vermont right now,” said that it is the primary reason why he decided to join forces with Matosky.

“It’s a great mountain and they’re a great client, and we were really struggling with them leaping into the stratosphere as far as projects go,” Padgett said.

Among the improvements planned by Jay Peak are revamped water and sewer systems, a luxury hotel and an indoor water park that will be the largest of its kind in New England.

“By merging our talents,” Padgett continued, “it opens up opportunities to do more for Jay and for other bigger clients. Trudell doesn’t just have a 30-year history. Now they have a staff that can be a 30-year future.”

Company puts power of flight within reach

Vermont Skycatcher offers streamlined course for pilots

Sept. 15, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

The Williston husband-and-wife team of Diana Nelsen and PJ Proxee pose alongside the Cessna light sport airplane they are using to start Skycatcher Vermont, a flight school aimed at helping people obtain their pilots’ licenses in less time — and at less cost — than they could through traditional private certification. (Observer photo by Adam White)

PJ Proxee was 12-years-old when his mother took him for his first flying lesson, and made an unusual request to his instructor.

“She wanted him to scare the snot out of me, so I wouldn’t want to come back,” Proxee said with a laugh. “It didn’t work at all.”

In fact, Williston’s Proxee is now a professional pilot, starting up a business that harkens back to his first childhood lesson. He and his wife, Diana Nelsen, have formed Vermont Skycatcher — a flight school aimed at helping aspiring pilots get their wings in less time, and for less money, than they could through traditional certification.

Proxee’s company centers on its namesake aircraft, the Cessna Skycatcher. A light sport aircraft, the Skycatcher features two seats and weighs in at less than 1,320 pounds, with a four-cylinder engine that produces a maximum 100 horsepower.

Those specifications qualify the aircraft for operation under a sport pilot certificate, a grade created by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1994. Whereas a traditional private pilot certificate typically requires between 40 and 80 hours of training time at a cost of between $10,000 and $14,000, the sport pilot certificate program can cut those numbers in half — making flight more accessible to the public.

“What used to happen was that families would come to the airport, and stick their noses up against the Plexiglas window — and they would dream,” Proxee said. “But over time, the fences around airports have gotten very high, and the razor wire has gotten very sharp. It has created such a barrier between interest and actual achievement; we want to make it more accessible.“We don’t want people to feel like this is something that is above them.”

The sport pilot certificate limits users to daytime flights below 10,000 feet, in good weather, within just the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. With the light sport category taking off across the country in terms of popularity, Cessna ramped up its assembly process and planned to deliver 150 Skycatchers in 2011. Proxee flew his home from YingLing Aviation in Wichita, Kan. on Aug. 23, and Vermont Skycatcher officially joined the light sport movement with its first paid student lesson on Sept. 10.

“More and more flight schools are adding light sport instruction to their curriculum, and getting light sport aircraft,” Nelsen said.

Specialized training allows users to land in controlled airports like Burlington International, and pilots are not required to obtain Federal Aviation Administration medical clearance — creating a green light for individuals who require medication that would normally negate them from operating an aircraft.

“As long as you have a valid driver’s license and are able to drive, you can fly as a sport pilot,” Proxee said.

Simplification is a key component of the Skycatcher, in terms of both the plane and its namesake Vermont company. The plane features an LCD primary flight display that incorporates six instruments — altimeter, air speed indicator, vertical speed indicator, directional gyro, turn coordinator and attitude indicator — that would normally each have their own gauge within a cockpit. Proxee said the high-tech functionality of such a “glass cockpit” makes it more appealing to young students.

“We’re exciting the youth through the ‘ghee whiz’ stuff on the airplane, the (global positioning system) and the cool screens,” Proxee said. After capturing the attention of aspiring youth pilots, he and his wife are also committed to making the experience more readily available.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is start up a scholarship program, in order to give back to the youth in that way,” Nelsen said. “And we’ve been in touch with someone in the Big Picture program at South Burlington High School, trying to see what we can do to work with their program.”

As their company takes flight, Proxee and Nelsen are focused on building a solid foundation for their business, based on personalized instruction and local clientele.

“We’re not a big company, we’re a part of the community,” Proxee said. “We’re excited to work with the people here, to take each person individually and make sure the lessons are structured around them.

“We think that’s the best way to help people’s dreams of flying become reality.”