March 19, 2019

Hawks land top seed in girls soccer tourney

CVU finishes regular season with 12-1-1 mark

Oct, 27, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

For the Champlain Valley Union girls soccer team, the regular season’s final week featured a lopsided win and its first loss.

But that defeat (1-0 to Burlington, Oct. 21) did not keep the Redhawks from the top seed in the Division I playoffs that saw them in action Wednesday (after Observer press time) against Mount Mansfield Union (3-11).

Coach Brad Parker’s ladies finished with a 12-1-1-record, which included home-and-home 3-0 wins over the Cougars.

In preparing for the contest this week, the Redhawks were no doubt still smarting from Friday’s downer on the Seahorses’ turf, which has never been kind to the Hawks.

“We didn’t play well,” Parker said Saturday of the defeat in which Burlington held a narrow 5-4 edge in shots on goal.

The lone score came past the halfway mark in the second half when the Seahorses’ Gwen Buchanan unlimbered a long 30-yard free kick blast that found the net just under the cross bar.

This game was in stark contrast to last Wednesday’s (Oct. 19) explosive, 4-0 rumble over a strong 11-3 South Burlington contingent at the CVU booting place.

“We really played well today,” Parker said immediately after the season’s second victory over the veteran Rebels. “We were focused from the kickoff.”

Sophomore midfielder Audrey Morehouse was focused and then some. The quickster scored twice and assisted on two other goals — one of which was truly spectacular.

Poet John Keats once wrote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” There will be talk of this one for some time. Midway through the second half, with CVU holding a 2-0 lead, Morehouse got the ball in South Burlington territory. She took the ball quickly and — upon reaching the top of the box — slid a fast pass to a fast moving Shelby Hanlon on the right side. The co-captain, in one motion, knocked it into the South Burlington cage before goalie Sophie Barrett could react.

Commenting on the special play, Parker noted that it was Hanlon who originally got the ball to Morehouse at the other end of the field and then beat feet to get in position for the score.

Morehouse had the game’s first two goals. On the second, with about five minutes elapsed in the second half, she blazed close to the end line on the right side of the Rebels’ net and sent a quick shot that nudged the left post and fell into the cage.

“It was actually a cross,” Morehouse said after the game. “I’ll take it.”

MacKenzie Kingston had the other CVU score while Sophia Steinhoff and Haliana Burhans also garnered assists.

This Week’s Popcorn — “The Thing”

Hardly the Real Thing

Oct. 27, 2011

2 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


“The Thing,” director Matthijs van Heijninjen, Jr.’s prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 “The Thing,” reminds of a rule of thumb I learned early on in my moviegoing career — when my mom would beg me to take a sandwich to the full day of cartoons and a double feature. The really bad stuff happens not in the Arctic, but in Antarctica. It’s much colder.

Maybe not. But it’s a longer name. And it’s south, where it’s supposed to be warm. Such an anomaly of nature surely bodes of daunting dangers. Yeah, must be colder. But, I’m still not taking a sandwich, mom — I’m after popcorn, Goobers and Jujyfruits. Even David, my partner in filmgoing, brought no sandwich. And he was a better kid than me.

Another rule when you are little and confronted not with comedy or a Western but the dreaded horror flick that must inevitably rear its head at the Bijou, is that it must be decided beforehand whether or not you are going to look at the scary parts. Real good friends don’t show each other up, but are cowards together. It’s OK if you peek…a little.

Had they been as well practiced, perhaps the crew of Norwegian and American scientists who sojourn here to investigate what they think is an alien spaceship would have fared much better. I, of course, approached this latest “The Thing” armed with a lifetime of mechanisms essential to fending off all that could frighten me to the cockles of my heart.

That isn’t to say I didn’t achieve liftoff on a few surprising occasions. But for the most part, Mr. Heijninjen’s addition to the cult and lore that has been accumulating ever since Christian Nyby’s 1951 original — now regularly referred to as “The Thing From Another World” — is much more gruesome than it is scary. That’s just in case you’re going to peek.

And, while humming the special effects of a mediocre effort is like informing that a blind date has a great personality, the CGI razzmatazz here is nonetheless stellar. Pity it’s for such a nauseating purpose. These are the nightmarish images of a very disturbed mind. If you’re planning to remake “The Blob (1958),” get a hold of these folks.

Plot wise, it’s rather simple, and plays like a drawing room whodunit, only with lots of blood and very little subtlety. Once “The Thing” is out of the box, it’s every man and woman for themselves — with alliances regularly formed and broken to supply tension in-between devastating blurts of conscienceless attack. Democrats can learn something here.

In fairness, it’s pretty well acted for what it is. Plus, that the spatial geography in the Polar complex attains an almost kaleidoscopic aura as the action chases from room to room is a credit to filmmaker and art director alike. Shot from both the monster and scientists’ points of view, it’s just a matter of time before there’s nowhere left to run.

If you’re still living in your parents’ attic and delivering pizza, then there’s no sense me telling you where this “Thing” slots in among its cinema species. But for the great unwashed who don’t care enough to consult Wikipedia, but would like to know just in case it comes up at the next Daughters of the American Revolution meeting, it’s a prequel and paean all rolled into one.

John W. Campbell Jr.’s novella, “Who Goes There?” published in 1938 is the root DNA for the franchise, and is credited as such by all three permutations. But if you’re hoping to experience the kitsch of the original — fuhgeddaboudit. Still, the survival instinct at the core of its black heart is unchanged. It’s from another world, and it’s trying to get us.

Worse yet, this horrible “Thing” can replicate the form of any living being. So, uh oh … what we are dealing with is the black magic of biology. Someone in the compound isn’t who we think they are, and wants to eat us, or rather, assume us. And it’s not pretty when they do…yecch! Here’s a clue, though: It can’t copy inorganic matter.

This explains the teeth fillings Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s paleontologist, Kate Lloyd, discovers in a shower where one of these ugly metamorphoses took place. Gee, it’ll be a shame if it’s her. She didn’t even want to come. But then it would be too obvious if it’s Dr. Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen), the crazy zealot who would put us all in harm’s way.

When little and kicking through autumn leaves on the way home after seeing a horror movie, it’s proper to suddenly yell, ”I’m the Thing!” and attack your best friend, David. Then it’s his turn. You laugh. You are going to a warm supper where, happily, there is no “Thing.” Sadly, this “Thing” will not engender any of those emotions.


“The Thing,” rated R, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Matthijs van Heijninjen Jr. and stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ulrich Thomsen and Joel Edgerton. Running time: 103 minutes 

Sports shorts

Oct. 27, 2011



Coach Kate McDonald and her Champlain Valley Union field hockey team will continue their climb through the hills of the Division I postseason Friday with an assault on No. 1 South Burlington’s (12-2) mountain. The game is on the Rebels’ turf, slated for 3:45 p.m.

CVU bowed twice to South Burlington during the regular campaign.

The Redhawks, seeded ninth after finishing the regular season with a 3-7-4 mark, blanked No. 8 Mount Mansfield, 2-0, Tuesday afternoon in a playoff opener at Jericho Center.

In knocking off the 4-8-3 Cougars, CVU scored more than a single goal in a game for only the second time this season. Previous meetings with Mount Mansfield resulted in ties — 0-0 and 1-1.

Kathryn Loucks and Sarah Reed fired home the scores while goalie Evangeline Dunphy sparkled in the CVU cage with eight stops. The Redhawks had six shots on MMU netminder Kimi Kenney.


The Champlain Valley Union cross country team returns to Thetford Saturday and the annual Vermont State meet, the scene of past triumphs for the defending state and New England champion girls team.

It will be the Redhawks second appearance of the season at the hilly Thetford course, where the girls won an invitational event Oct. 1.

On Oct. 22, the girls crowded seven finishers into the top 12 positions in capturing the Northern Vermont Athletic Council metro title at Missisquoi Valley Union High School in Swanton.

Taylor Spillane led the Hawks with a second place finish to Essex’s Markie Palermo. Palermo crossed the finish line in 17 minutes and 55.5 seconds and Spillane timed out at 18:02.

The subsequent cluster of Redhawks included Adrienne DeVita (fourth), Autumn Eastman (fifth), Julienne DeVita (ninth), Isabelle Unger (11th) and Sophie Hess (12th).

In team totals, CVU won the seven-team competition with 30 points. Essex followed with 47 and South Burlington placed third (88).

The CVU boys took fourth place with 107 points. The winning Mount Mansfield Union team had 32, led by Jack Hegman third-place finish. No Redhawk finished in the top 15.


The CSSU Buccaneers fifth and sixth grade junior varsity youth football team completed an 11-1 season on Oct. 16.

At the conclusion of the day,  coaches thanked the players for their efforts — individually and as a team.

The team then held a brief ceremony to honor three players: Jack ZuWallack of Williston received the sportsmanship award, Cole Boffa of Charlotte earned the offensive most valuable player award and Tre’ Diemer of Shelburne received the defensive MVP award.

Hawks boys soccer reaches quarterfinals

Third-seeded CVU blanks Brattleboro, 4-0

Oct, 27, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Champlain Valley Union boys soccer co-captain Ben Comai (right) battles for possession during the Redhawks’ 3-2 loss to South Burlington on Oct. 21. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

On a home field showing the soggy effects of wet weather and frequent games, the Champlain Valley Union boys soccer team sent visiting Brattleboro out of the Division I playoffs Tuesday, and looked ahead to a quarterfinal match against Wednesday’s (after Observer press deadline) opening round winner between No. 9 Hartford and No. 8 Colchester.

As of Tuesday night there was some uncertainty as to where and when the quarterfinal contest will be played.

If Colchester won Wednesday, the Redhawks and Lakers will meet Friday (3 p.m.) at CVU, according to Redhawks athletic director Keven Riell. The game site could be switched to Colchester if field conditions are poor.

Possibly a tad cranky after suffering their second loss (3-2) of the season last Friday (Oct. 21) in the regular season finale at South Burlington, the now 12-2-1 and third-seeded Hawks scored early in putting a 4-0 licking on the 14th-seeded Colonels (5-9-1).

Co-captain Ben Comai scored the all-important first goal early in the contest after a set-up pass from speedster Shane Haley. Comai scored again later in the first half with a short blast from the front of Brattleboro’s cage (Roshi Brooklyn assist).

The final two goals came off the powerful foot of Todd (TNT Toes) Forrester on direct kicks — near the end of the first half and with just over five minutes gone in the second half.

“I look for the wall and the where the goalie is and try to get the ball through a gap,” Forrester said when asked his thinking when lining up the shots from 20-plus yards.

On the first score, aggressive and solid Colonels’ goalie Galen Finnerty could not reach the blistering shot into the high, right side of the net. On the second, he was unable to move as the blast rocketed into the cage’s right side.

Despite giving up four goals, Finnerty racked up serious robbery on shots by Haley, Forrester, Sam Raszka and Chad Bateman as the Redhawks outshot Brattleboro by w hopping margin, 19-2. CVU netminder Brandon O’Connell earned the Hawks eighth shutout of the campaign.

In the loss at South Burlington, Haley and Ezra Mount-Finette scored CVU’s goals.

CVU’s Chad Bateman (26) controls possession during the Redhawks’ 3-2 loss to South Burlington on Oct. 21. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

Football Redhawks hitting the playoff road

CVU traveling to South Burlington Friday

Oct, 27, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Champlain Valley Union quarterback Drew Nick scores one of his two touchdowns during last Saturday’s (Oct. 22) loss to Middlebury, 27-21. The Redhawks open the Division I playoffs Friday night at South Burlington. (Courtesy photos by Joe Kropf)

The Champlain Valley Union football team will test Division I playoff waters Friday night with a return to South Burlington High School, scene of a narrow, 42-35, defeat just two weeks ago.

With that loss, plus last Saturday’s (Oct. 22) last minute, 27-21 nipping at home by Middlebury, head coach Jim Provost and the fifth-seeded Redhawks (5-3) may have a little attitude going for them when they travel to South Burlington to meet the No. 4 Rebels (6-2).

“We have to find a way to win games late,” Provost told the Observer Monday.

For the past two weekends, it was the Rebels and visiting Tigers who got the late game-changers. South Burlington snapped a 35-all tie with a 63-yard touchdown pass with just over five minutes left.

Middlebury (7-1) took advantage of a misplayed punt reception deep in CVU territory to push over the winning score with less than 40 seconds remaining.

South Burlington will also be in comeback mode, having lost (28-19) to 3-5 Essex.

The Hornets held the Rebels — who raked up 476 yards in offense against CVU — to 258 yards, something of great interest to Provost and his staff.

“We feel pretty good about where we are,” Provost said in looking ahead to Friday night.

The coach hopes to have key running back Nick Ferrentino in the lineup to chew up big chunks of yardage. The junior missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

Senior co-captain and linebacker Ryan Fleming might also be ready to return after missing the Middlebury clash.

In addition, Provost noted the team is looking forward to another game on the South Burlington turf.

“Our team is built for it (turf),” he said.

For the Redhawks, post-season play is familiar territory. CVU appeared in the D-II championship game last year and reached the semifinals in 2009.


Last Saturday’s nudging by Middlebury probably cost the Hawks a home playoff contest but they still put on an offensive show for the CVU faithful in the season’s Hinesburg finale.

CVU took the opening kickoff and marched 81 yards in 15 plays, with halfback Brent Carreiro blasting in from five yards out for the touchdown. Tucker Kohlasch nailed the first of his three extra-point kicks.

In the drive, quarterback Drew Nick completed 5 of 6 passes for 34 yards and ran three times for 32 yards.

The Redhawks authored 80- and 66-yard scoring thrusts in the second period, with Nick scoring on 4- and 1-yard plunges to give CVU a 21-14 lead.

CVU’s Ross Harlow (62), Michael Fournier and Brendan Davitt (19) tackle a Middlebury player for a loss during their 27-21 loss to the Tigers on Oct. 22.

It would be the last paydirt visit for the Hawks but the Tigers, behind a slashing running attack that ground out a game total 314 yards, scored twice after intermission. Middlebury gained the final and winning touchdown after recovering a CVU bobble at the Redhawks’ 30 with 1:43 left in the game. It took four running plays for the Tigers to get the sixer — capped by quarterback Dillon Robinson’s 3-yard plunge.

For the CVU defense, Robinson was more than a handful. The senior signal caller ran 14 times for 90 yards and was 6-for-6 through the air for another 97 yards.

The Tiger passer’s successes came on short, on the move throws. When he dropped back and tried to go deep, the Redhawks sacked him five times for 35 yards of losses. Quinn Kropf, Matt Bauer, Michael Fournier and John Keen were among the defensive contributors.

Nick paced the CVU offense with 12 rushes for 74 yards, and 17 pass completions in 29 tries for another 200 yards. Keen had five catches for 103 yards. Big Ryan Beaudry grabbed eight passes for 63 yards.

Carreiro carried on 15 occasions for 72 yards, and caught one pass for nine yards.




MUHS (7-1)            CVU (5-3)

First downs                        21                                    16

Total yards                        376                                  350

Yards rushing                  314                                   150

Yards passing                   97                                    200

Passes att-com-int        7-6-0                             30-17-1

Fumbles-lost                     2-1                                    5-1

Sacked-yds lost               5-35                                   0-0

Penalties-yards               3-25                                   3-20

Punts-avg                          1-32                                   3-26

Return yards                       117                                    55



MUHS            0            14            7            6  — 27

CVU                7            14            0            0  — 21

Around Town

Oct. 27, 2011




The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced on Oct. 19 that Vermonters with insurance could still be eligible for grants to cover losses caused by tropical storm Irene.

State and federal officials urge everyone who has homeowners insurance, flood insurance or both to register with FEMA. They may have disaster-related losses their insurance does not cover, such as: payments for a temporary rental while a home is being repaired; repair of a disaster-damaged well or septic system; repair or replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle; personal property and household contents losses; disaster-related medical or dental expenses; moving and storage expenses.

Those who believe all their losses are covered by insurance are nevertheless encouraged to register by Nov. 15 (extended from Oct. 31). FEMA cannot help anyone who discovers an uninsured disaster-related problem — for example, mold — who fails to register before the deadline. Those who register may be eligible for assistance after the registration window closes.

Property owners must provide proof of what the insurance covers. This is because FEMA cannot make grants for losses that are already covered by insurance.

Register online at, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 800-462-7585. Users of Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362. The toll free phone numbers are staffed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.



The Stern Center for Language and Learning, a nonprofit learning center with locations in Williston and White River Junction, elected Ruthann Hackett, Ellie Kenworthy and Justin Molson to its board of directors on Oct. 7

Hackett, a Charlotte resident, is program coordinator for the United Way Volunteer Connection and was a board member for the Vermont Hunter Jumper Association. She presently serves on the Stern Center’s special events committee, according to a news release.

Kenworthy is finance administrator for Paul Kenworthy, DMD, PC. In the past she has served on the Burlington Development Review Board and Fletcher Allen Health Care Board of Associates. She resides in Burlington.

Molson, of Jericho, has served as a guest member on the Stern Center’s Sscholarship committee for the past two years and has assisted with its events.

Scrap metal companies square off

DRB approves All Metals Recycling’s permit to establish outdoor storage area despite argument

Oct. 27, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The livelihood of a Williston scrap metal recycling company was at stake Tuesday when representatives from All Metals Recycling appeared before the Williston Development Review Board to seek approval of a discretionary permit to establish an outdoor storage area and continue operation of a scale at its Dorset Lane facility.

Following a public hearing in which the DRB heard opposing comments from Hobart Popick — an attorney from Langrock Sperry & Wool, LLP representing 13 Williston residents, including Mark Burnett, owner of the Hinesburg-based Burnett Scrap Metals LLC — the DRB approved the discretionary permit, with several stipulations.

As part of the conditions levied by the Board, All Metals will be required to install a vegetative buffer on its property and add additional shrubbery in front of a dilapidated fence. All Metals will also be prohibited from recycling automobiles at its Williston facility — a service it provides at its primary Hardwick location.

Williston town planner Ken Belliveau was particularly emphatic about the prohibition of automobile recycling because of the potential for hazardous waste pollution.

“As I recommended in the ‘Conditions of Approval,’ and what my understanding was of their operations here in Williston, was that (automobile recycling) was not part of their operation and we would not support that,” Belliveau said.

Randy Towns, co-owner of All Metals Recycling, nodded in agreement at Belliveau’s comments.

Popick, speaking on behalf of Burnett, whose company is in the business of automobile recycling, argued that the location of the All Metals facility — which, unbeknownst to Towns when he moved in two years ago, is partially located on town land — could prove to be costly to the town if the business were to relocate.

“If the tenant were to cease operations and go elsewhere, will the town actually have a potentially hazardous clean-up situation on its hands that town residents would then have to be responsible for, to the extent that a portion of these operations are actually occurring on town property?” asked Popick.

Towns, addressing the Board, said the use of town land was unintentional and made no mention of All Metals possibly relocating from Williston.

“As far as us using the town’s property — for which I certainly apologize … (the owner) didn’t even know, or wasn’t sure, where the property line ended, so we did not do that intentionally at all,” Towns said.

To continue to operate on town land, All Metals would be required to enter into a lease agreement with the town of Williston. The agreement would have to be approved by the Williston Selectboard.

Brian Beaudoin, a senior project manager with Sanborn, Head & Associates — retained by All Metals as a consultant — said early indications are that the town is open to negotiating a lease agreement.

“The conversations that I’ve had with Bruce Hoar, the public works director, is that the town of Williston is willing to enter into a lease agreement,” Beaudoin said. “We’re going through that process right now.”

CVU thespians taking center stage

School’s theater program presents ‘Pippin’ this weekend

Oct, 27, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff


Champlain Valley Union High School will present three performances of the musical, ‘Pippin,’ beginning Oct. 28. Some of the CVU cast is seen (above) in a dress rehearsal performance of the song, ‘Morning Glow.’ (Photo courtesy of Candy Padula)

The Stephen Schwartz musical “Pippin” is best known for its successful Broadway run under the direction of Bob Fosse, but a lesser known fact is that it began as a student production at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh — making its revival at Champlain Valley Union High School a homecoming of sorts to the scholastic stage.

The CVU Co-Curricular Theatre Program will present three performances of “Pippin” this weekend, beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. A second performance will be held Saturday evening at the same time, followed by a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“Pippin,” set around 780 A.D., concerns a young prince who attempts to find meaning and purpose in life through a series of misadventures in war, romance and political revolution.

As CVU theatre program director Candy Padula pointed out, although the milieu of the show has little in common with the world of today’s teens, its themes are timeless.

“Pippin goes through an awful lot of angst,” Padula said. “He tries a bunch of different things, and he fails at several of them, but I think it’s very important for people to figure out what they don’t want to do as they’re on their own journey, (in order) to figure out what it is they want to do.”

Mikayla Morin, a CVU senior who plays the head of an acting troupe that serves as the show’s Greek chorus, agreed with her director.

“It’s a very thought-provoking play,” said Morin. “There’s this whole overlying question of what is the purpose of life. It’s sort of existential in a way.”

Morin, who plans to study writing and film acting in college, has bittersweet emotions about the production.

“I’m excited for the play — we have a lot of good comedy moments in it and a lot of really talented actors — but I’m a little sad,” Morin said. “I’m going to pursue writing when I go to college, so this is kind of like my last musical theater production, I think. But it’s kind of nice to go out with a leading role and to be able to be a big influence on the production that will possibly be my last.”

“Pippin” isn’t likely to be the last musical of Evan Cohen’s high school acting career. Cohen, who plays the title role, is still a junior.

“I’ve done the school show every year since seventh grade, and I’ve done a musical every year as well,” Cohen said. “It’s a blast. I’m having a lot of fun. There are a lot of cool people doing it (this year).”

One of those “cool” people is Cohen’s brother, Arlo. A freshman at CVU, the younger Cohen will perform a duet with his elder sibling.

“Arlo is playing Pippin’s love interest’s son, but they do have a little bit of a father-son relationship, which is very sweet,” Padula noted. “One thing that’s sort of funny to me is I gave away a really nice, fun Pippin song to what ended up being Evan’s younger brother.”

Padula said the show’s eclectic mix of production numbers, which include a go-go dancing performance and a vaudeville-style cane dance, will give the audience a little bit of everything.

“It’s not your traditional musical,” said Padula. “It’s such a varied offering of different styles of theater that I think there’s definitely something in there for everybody.”

The CVU cast will have a full dress rehearsal on Thursday, allowing them to get mentally prepared for opening night.

Evan Cohen, who said he has never come down with a serious case of stage fright, offered the following, simple piece of preparatory advice to his fellow cast members: “Sleep a lot. That helps.”

Tickets are $6 for CVU students, chrildren, faculty and staff; $8 for general admission. Tickets are available by completing the order form at

CVU sophomore Zoey LaChance designed the poster (above) for Champlain Valley Union High School’s production of ‘Pippin.’ LaChance also has an acting role in the play. (Image courtesy of Candy Padula)


Cleared for takeoff

Locally produced ‘Tin Can’ shown at Vermont International Film Festival

Oct. 27, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The cast and crew of ‘Tin Can’ — (from left to right) Tim Kavanagh, Logan Howe, former Williston resident Stephen Maas, Jayson Argento and Eric Clifford — answer questions from the audience following the film’s premiere at the Vermont International Film Festival on Oct. 21. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

Its title may be similar to a Kevin Costner golf movie, but Logan Howe’s feature-length debut is set as far from the bucolic sprawl of a golf course as possible.

“Tin Can,” set almost entirely within the claustrophobic confines of a spaceship, had its Vermont premiere at Palace 9 Cinemas in South Burlington on Oct. 21 as part of the opening night of the Vermont International Film Festival. Directed by Howe — whose husband, John, owns and operates Rocky’s Pizzeria in Williston — “Tin Can” concerns three astronauts who find themselves lost (literally and figuratively) when a mission to Mars goes horribly awry.

Howe said her involvement in the project began with a casual conversation she had with screenwriter, and former Williston resident, Stephen Maas.

“He told me he was going to start building a spaceship in his garage, and I wasn’t sure whether to take him seriously,” Howe said. “As we got to know each other better, he told me about this script he was writing and eventually he asked me if I was interested in directing it.”

Maas noted that his choice of subject matter was based on curiosity and practicality.

“They did this experiment in a European space station where they were doing Mars mission simulation and they actually put people in an enclosed environment for the length of time it takes to go to Mars,” Maas said. “I was also thinking about how can I make a film with as few locations as possible, as condensed in terms of resources as possible — because we had no resources — but still make something really effective.”

It took Maas 10 months to build a replica space pod in his one-car garage, often with materials he scavenged from junkyards. Howe then shot the actors — including Maas, in the lead role of the spacecraft commander — by digitally zooming through vents built in the outside of the set.

“There were no cameras on the ship at all,” said co-star Eric Clifford, who made his acting debut as a member of the astronaut crew. “It was all through the vents, so it really made it easy to get into it because there were no cameras in your face.”

Howe, who referred to science fiction as her “favorite genre,” named Terry Gilliam (“Brazil,” “12 Monkeys”) and Ridley Scott (“Alien, ““Blade Runner”) among her primary directorial influences. She also pointed to Duncan Jones as a contemporary favorite, whose recent films “Moon” and “Source Code” mark a return to a more cerebral, character-driven form of sci-fi filmmaking.

From left to right: Jayson Argento, Eric Clifford, former Williston resident Stephen Maas and Tim Kavanagh appear in a scene from ‘Tin Can.’ Kavanagh, playing himself, portrays a late night talk show host who interviews a team of astronauts prior to their mission to Mars. (Photo courtesy of Intrinsic Films)

“In modern movies, sci-fi tends to be about crazy makeup or silly aliens and all these special effects, and the human story gets lost,” Howe said.

In addition to directing and playing the role of Maas’ onscreen girlfriend, Howe had 12 other technical designations on the film, including art director and set designer. Maas, for his part, had 17 different job titles.

“You wear a bunch of different hats to make things work,” said Tim Kavanagh, the former host of WCAX-TV’s “Late Night Saturday,” who plays himself in the film, in addition to serving as its executive producer.

“Tin Can,” which won “Most Artistic Film” at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival in September, is one of 24 Vermont-made films that will be screened as part of the VTIFF. The lineup also includes the Kavanagh-produced “Soul Keeper” and “One Voice,” a 16-minute short about teen bullying directed by Williston resident Joel Klein and produced by fellow Willistonian Debbie Ingram.

“I think (the amount of local films in the festival) really speaks volumes to the state of independent filmmaking in Vermont,” said Kavanagh.

Town Cobbler remains a Taft Corners staple

Business endures industry shift

Oct, 27, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

John Welsh (above), owner of The Town Cobbler, repairs a shoe in his Williston shop. Welsh, who has been located in Williston for 13 years, plans to someday hand the business over to his son, David. The Town Cobbler, located in Taft Corners, is the only shoe repair shop in Williston. (Observer photos by Luke Baynes)

Cobblers are a dying breed, but don’t tell that to John Welsh.

Welsh’s shoe repair business, The Town Cobbler, has been a mainstay of the Taft Corners Shopping Center in Williston for the past 13 years. And while many small businesses have suffered during the recent recession, Welsh’s business has improved.

“(With) the economy, people are digging in their closets,” Welsh said. “Nobody’s throwing anything away. Let’s say you need a new pair of shoes. You go and look in your closet.”

The well-heeled Welsh has been cobbling since the 1970s, when he began moonlighting at DePaul’s Shoe Store in Winooski while still a member of the Shelburne Police Department. Eventually it became too much for him (“I burned out playing cop,” he recalled) and he retired from the force, and opened his own cobbler shop on Shelburne Road in Shelburne before relocating to Williston.

Road construction in the 1990s caused Welch to relocate.

“They were gonna build that damn road — that four-lane highway they put in down there — and I knew that anybody down there wasn’t going do well, and there were a lot of businesses down on Shelburne Road that had to borrow money to keep going,” Welsh said. “Let’s say you get going south on (U.S. Route) 7 and you get in that line of traffic — you’re not getting out because you may not get back in.”

After flirting with a location in St. Albans, Welsh said he chose Williston after driving around the area and observing traffic patterns.

“(Williston is) the go-to area, so I’m a go-to business,” he said. “You don’t stay here; you come in, (if) you’re going to Walmart, you drop your stuff off; if you’re going to Shaw’s, you drop your stuff off.”

A former U.S. Marine who was stationed in Cuba, Okinawa and the Philippines, Welsh is the quintessence of “old school.” He doesn’t have a cell phone. He’s never owned a credit card. He doesn’t use the Internet. About the only modern convenience in his shop is a Keurig single-cup coffee brewer, which gets heavy use whenever one of his old police or Marine buddies shows up.

“I’m a no-nonsense guy,” Welsh said. “I’ve been known to throw a customer out once in a while. I don’t take a lot of crap.”

But he has stayed successful because he maintains a base of long-term, loyal customers who value his unique brand of customer service.

“Everyone who knows me from the old days trusts me,” he said. “We don’t sell you anything you don’t need. But if I tell you, ‘You need oil on these shoes,’ then you really do need oil on these shoes.”

Welsh also has a soft side. He sings bass tenor in the choir at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Shelburne. He’s the state coordinator for “Toys for Kids of Vermont,” a nonprofit organization that operates the largest Christmas toy collection program in the state. He also forgoes his usual $12.75 minimum service charge and punches holes in belts for free, with the suggestion that customers instead toss a buck or two in the Food Shelf jar in his shop.


Welsh’s son, David, has been working intermittently for his father for the past 17 years, and will eventually take it over full-time.

“I would like to carry it on for a while,” said David Welsh. “I don’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life, but I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.”

The junior Welsh hopes the concept of shoe repair can reach the younger generation.

“It’s an increasing problem where a lot of older people know that shoes can be repaired — they remember going to a cobbler when they were young probably — but a lot of parents aren’t handing that knowledge down to their children,” he said. “Therefore, there’s a whole generation of people out there that doesn’t even know that cobblers exist and shoes can be repaired.”

When the elder Welsh, 66, hands over the reins, he doesn’t see himself leaving the cobbling business entirely.

“My life is very simple. I have no hobbies. I have very few interests in life,” John Welsh said. “I’ll (still) come in (after I retire). I’ll putz around.”

And one thing he’s certain he won’t do is wallow in regret, or wonder what might have been.

“Every morning I get up, and whatever life gives me, I deal with it,” he said. “I look back at what I’ve done and where I’ve been, and I don’t think I’d change a goddamn thing.”

The Town Cobbler is located in Taft Corners Shopping Center.