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This Week’s Popcorn

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‘Tower Heist’

Could use a loftier view

Nov. 17, 2011

2 & ½ popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

In “Tower Heist’s” opening sequence, Brett Ratner’s peripatetic camera delineates the major enterprise it is to run New York’s most elite apartment house while also noting the sense of community its employees share. Vintage Arthur Hailey (“Hotel”), the cozy sociology, holds such promise. Too bad the comedy caper that ensues fails to fulfill it.

The laughs are intermittent as building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) dons the role of a modern-day Robin Hood to recover funds pilfered from his band of once merry men by the Bernie Madoff-like fraud perched in the penthouse. While the film adeptly plies its genre stencil, the lack of both signature and soul deters it from attaining that comic high note.

Truly engaging farce requires that we embrace the protagonists. Outlandish as Laurel and Hardy are, we’re confident they exist — that they have a life when we’re not looking. While we kind of think Ben Stiller’s Kovacs lives outside the frame, the rest of his gang — although sporadically funny — merely represents the moving statuary the script requires.

This includes Eddie Murphy as Slide, the small-time thief/street thug Josh brings in to give his gambit a professional boost. Yes, it’s nice to see him back in the fold. And his characterization isn’t bad. But it seems as if he no longer has the business of laughter in his belly. A more heartfelt performance might have made for a zanier, ensemble synergy.

But aha, there is a dastardly good villain… the guy you love to hate. Alan Alda is despicably delightful as the duplicitous, disingenuous and whatever other adjectives describe those who not only have no qualms about appropriating other people’s money — but arrogantly believe it’s their right. He alone is reason enough to occupy Wall Street.

In this case he has depleted the pensions of all those who toil in the tony tenement. Hey, serves them right thinking they could triple their money. Adding insult to injury, it appears Alda’s Arthur Shaw has the N.Y. bench in his grease-filled pocket. Even the vigilance of Téa Leoni’s FBI Special Agent Claire Denham can’t wipe the lousy smirk from his face.

Josh, however, is undeterred. You see, ‘twas he, all chummy in a rich guy-dutiful servant sort of way (they even played chess online), who asked Shaw to please multiply thrice the portfolios. Now, double-crossed by the crooked king, his adopted mantra is “storm the castle.” It takes convincing, but he eventually forms his crew of accomplices.

Helping lead the charge are: Casey Affleck’s Charlie, the inefficient concierge otherwise distracted by his wife’s expectant condition; Enrique (Michael Peña), the slick, plebe errand boy who doesn’t know to be nervous; and housekeeper Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), who, quite conveniently, learned safecracking from her locksmith dad back in Jamaica

And just to add a touch of class, there’s Matthew Broderick’s poor, poor Mr. Fitzhugh. Shaw’s genteel antithesis, he is the Street’s onetime golden boy from Yale. But alas, he has lost the touch, and thus his ritzy condo, too. Since his wife and kids have bailed, he figures there’s nothing left to lose except his freedom, and maybe his life.

Though there’s a twist or two, expect no epiphanic surprises. The amateurs alternately bumble and impress, causing us a pleasing titter every time they manage a bit of criminal derring-do. Conversely adding a bit of subtext, Murphy’s ringer — not quite the expert he’d like you to think he is — plays blowhard critic and never fully trusted confederate.

Meanwhile, forming the sub-plot, a conflict of interest looms as Josh and FBI lady Claire trade the sort of barbs that have signaled potential romance ever since film first took to reel. While OK, the zingers are hardly Colbert and Gable in “It Happened One Night (1934” or Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally (1989).”

But here’s my real problem. Rodney Dangerfield said it best when he explained the inherent difficulties of playing tough clubs in neighborhoods like Red Hook and Canarsie… places where you went down two steps, socially and physically. Beseeched Rodney, “How do you make guys who are up for manslaughter laugh?”

Well, we’re not up for manslaughter. But this economic thing really has us down. It’s not just the hardship it causes folks in the middle and lower classes, but also the insult it is to the very idea of humanity — the great cover-up in plain sight that poses as a legitimate, fiscal argument. Bet some even wish they could dig up Joe McCarthy to sic those wise to them.

You’d have to lock up more than one faux Madoff to give us a truly big laugh. Vicarious revenge is self-defeating. With this topic we need fiction to create the sort of acerbic muckrake that makes us laugh via its truthful insights…the kind of thing Twain wrote.

Stuff that might make a difference — a tall order, it’s way out of “Tower Heist’s” reach.

 

“Tower Heist,” rated PG-13, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Brett Ratner and stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Téa Leoni and Alan Alda. Running time: 104 minutes 

Sports shorts

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Nov. 17, 2011

 

HONORS AND PARADE APPEARANCES AWAIT CVU CHEERLEADERS

In just its second year, the Champlain Valley Union club cheerleading program is already earning notable awards.

Five of the Redhawks have been named to the National Cheerleaders Association’s All-America squad with two to appear in New York City’s annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next Thursday (Nov. 24) and two to be in the Disney World Christmas Parade.

The five are juniors Sarah Gerry, Brenna Gorman, Lexi Delaire and Gracey Delisle, and sophomore Ashley Filardi.

Gerry and Gorman will be among 2,200 cheerleaders from across the country in the Macy’s parade.

Delisle and Filardi will be at the Disney World show.

The CVU cheerleaders started their routines at home football games in 2010 and continued this past season. “We had 19 cheerleaders this year,” said coach Michelle Filardi, adding that volunteers run the program. She said an application for varsity status is underway.

CVU FOOTBALL SENDING FIVE TO NORTH-SOUTH GAME

For the second straight year, five members of the Champlain Valley football team will be in action when the annual North-South Senior Bowl takes place Saturday (12:30 p.m.) at Middlebury College.

Representing the Redhawks will be Ryan Fleming (linebacker), Tucker Kohlasch (kicker, safety), Quinn Kropf (lineman, linebacker), Drew Nick (quarterback, safety) and Dylan Raymond (lineman).

“These guys are all very deserving,” said CVU head coach Jim Provost. “The game will be a good experience for them.”

The Redhawks will be part of the North team. North Country’s Bob Davis is head coach. Rutland mentor John Norman will direct the South squad.

The 2011 CVU team, which put up a 5-4 record and reached the postseason quarterfinals in its initial Division I campaign, has its booster-sponsored annual dinner Friday night at the school.

—Mal Boright

 

Around Town

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Nov. 17, 2011

RECREATION BASKETBALL LEAGUE REGISTRATION

The Williston Recreation Department’s basketball league is holding registration for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Participants must currently be in grades 1 – 8. There are no tryouts — all participants can play.

The cost to participate is $40 for one player or $60 for a family. Practices begin Nov. 28 and run for one hour, one weeknight per week. Games begin Saturday, Dec. 3 and the season ends Feb. 18.

To register, visit the Williston Town Clerk’s office, located inside Town Hall, at 7900 Williston Road.

 

Planning Commission argues merits of Industrial Avenue improvements

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Nov. 17, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

A discussion about transportation impact fees evolved into a debate about the future of the Industrial Avenue corridor when the Williston Planning Commission met Tuesday evening.

Specifically, the Planning Commission met to discuss what projects to include on an amended list of town improvements eligible for transportation impact fee funding that will be submitted to the Williston Selectboard for approval.

Also on the agenda was developing an alternative methodology to calculate impact fees, which are currently assessed based on a business’ peak afternoon traffic volumes. The current methodology doesn’t carve out an exception for an establishment that gets the majority of its traffic in the morning, such as a church.

But the conversation soon shifted to whether to include improvements at the intersection of Industrial Avenue and Williston Road (U.S. 2) on the list of impact fee-eligible projects.

The intersection currently forms somewhere between a “T” and a “Y” shape, and the traffic signal is often sardonically referred to by locals as a “straight on red,” due to the fact that eastbound Williston Rd. traffic is allowed to continue driving east after stopping at a red light.

“Aesthetically it looks terrible,” said Planning Commission member Michael Alvanos. “I don’t like entering into our city and seeing that intersection have flaws to it.”

Planning Commission member Kevin Batson countered that the proposed intersection improvements — which include adding an additional left-hand turn lane on Williston Rd. — wouldn’t fix the greater traffic problems of the area.

“I’m not inclined to see money go to that … It’s kind of like — you can get more cars onto Industrial Avenue, but you can’t get them off, so what’s the point?” Batson said. “Without fixing the bigger picture — getting (traffic) off Industrial Avenue — I don’t see the improvement that this is going to buy.”

Ultimately, what tipped the scales against including the Industrial Avenue corridor on the list of improvements eligible for transportation impact fee funding was the fact that the town’s main water line — located under Industrial Avenue — would have to be moved to allow for construction improvements. It is unlikely that water line modifications would be eligible for federal funding assistance, making for a potentially costly bill for town taxpayers.

Other projects that were added to the list of impact fee-eligible town improvements (subject to Selectboard approval) include: a proposed connector road that would link Talcott Road with the Zephyr Road extension, to be built as part of the Finney Crossing mixed-use development; and a series of grid streets that would extend from the Hannaford supermarket on Marshall Avenue to the intersection of Helena Drive and Williston Road.

Also included on a separate list of impact fee eligible improvements, subject to potential state and/or federal funding assistance, was the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Vermont 2A and James Brown Drive.

On Nov. 9, the Circ Highway Alternatives Task Force agreed to add the Vermont 2A/James Brown Drive intersection to the list of projects that will be submitted to the Vermont Agency of Transportation in the hope of receiving federal funding under the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

The HUB: Therapist tunes up patients’ posture

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Williston practice provides Cornerstone of restorative therapy

Nov. 17, 2011

By Adam White

Observer correspondent

Cornerstone Physical Therapy’s Holly Spence, standing, demonstrates how a ‘90-90 Hip Lift’ and common balloon can be implemented to help a subject achieve neutrality between the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. As one of only 61 physical therapists in the country certified in postural restoration, Spence helps patients eliminate unwanted muscle tension that can lead to back pain, restless sleep and event joint degeneration. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Physical therapist Holly Spence sees the world differently than most people. She looks at a body — human or even equine, thanks to her passion for horseback riding — and sees factors like alignment, balance and neutrality at work.

Unfortunately for many people, the lines she sees are not straight and the biomechanical forces are working against one another; resulting in symptoms like chronic back, hip or knee pain, restless sleep and event joint degeneration. And as one of only 61 physical therapists in the country certified in postural restoration (as of 2011), Spence sees an opportunity to put her specialized training to work.

“I often see people suffering and think about how much more I could have helped if I had seen them sooner,” said Spence, who operates Cornerstone Physical Therapy in Williston’s Blair Park. “But even with older people — who have certain habitual patterns ingrained from so much repetition — we can help them. It might take a little longer, but the changes that can be made are amazing.”

Spence first began studying the discipline at the Postural Restoration Institute in Lincoln, Neb., in the late 1990s. She was attracted by the fact that it was neuromuscular based — drawing on areas she was already trained in — but also focused on more than just one specific body system or part.

“Once I took my first course in this area, I realized it was working on the whole body to help people get out of pain that might only be affecting one area,” she said. “Everything is connected, and a lot of our programs work on … the whole body. That’s where this approach is more advanced.”

Janie Ebmeier, director of business development and credentialing at PRI, said the Institute has grown from offering 15 courses — all taught by founder Ron Hruska — in the year 2000 to offering 50 this year, and has expanded beyond the nation’s borders to such faraway places at Poland.

“I think part of the appeal of our approach is that it’s more integrative, whereas most physical therapy is more specialized” Ebmeier said. “You’re not just going to treat a knee-pain patient; you’re going to be able to treat any patient who walks through the door.”

SHIFTING INTO NEUTRAL

Neutrality is an important concept in postural restoration. One of the therapy’s primary goals is to eliminate unwanted muscle tension, which can lead directly to stiffness and pain, particularly in older patients. To a clinician like Spence, neutrality equates to putting a patient’s body posture into a position in which a targeted set of muscles is disengaged, to relieve that tension.

This is accomplished partially through a sort of linear analysis – gauging whether a subject’s pelvis is aligned over his or her femur when standing, for example, as well as exercises involving oppositional muscles that may be affected by habitual movement or even respiratory patterns. Spence cited the diaphragm and abdominal muscles as an example of the latter, using a position called the “90-90 Hip Lift” to demonstrate how a subject’s breathing can be affected.

“You can’t breathe properly with your diaphragm if your abdominals are weak,” Spence said. “And if you have poor breathing, that’s going to affect restorative sleep.”

While most people may only envision posture as a consideration when sitting, standing or walking, Spence said body position when sleeping can also play a significant role in quality of rest — which can then have a domino effect in terms of other symptoms.

“When your body’s joints are not in a neutral position at night, you can’t properly rest,” Spence said. “I get feedback from patients all the time about how much better they sleep after (therapy).”

TOP-DOWN APPROACH

Postural restoration is literally a head-to-toe philosophy; Spence said she often works with an entire interdisciplinary team to ensure that everything from the set of a patient’s jaw to his or her choice of footwear is promoting proper alignment to help achieve neutrality.

“We even work with an orthodontist, to make sure someone’s bite is neutral,” she said. “And it is amazing, the support you get from shoes and the position they put your body in. Usually, by someone’s second visit we are looking at footwear.”

Spence likened the body-to-feet connection to an automobile’s relationship to its tires.

“We ‘tune people up’ all the time,” she said. “It’s just like when your car is out of alignment. If you don’t straighten it out, you’re going to keep wearing out your tires.”

While postural restoration has helped many senior citizens reverse the effects of muscle tension and misalignment, it has also been of benefit to younger, more active people. Ebmeier said PRI will begin offering a credentialing program to athletic trainers and strength and conditioning specialists early next year, and Cornerstone already has competitive athletes taking advantage of its services.

According to a testimonial on the facility’s website, competitive runner Erika Nestor of Burlington ran her fastest half-marathon ever after being treated by Spence and company.

“I feel like a new runner,” Nestor wrote. “I didn’t realize how tight I was before, particularly in the upper body. After our sessions, my whole body moves differently and more easily. It feels as if my spine is lubricated and can now move freely. My running has improved and I find I’m running faster and more easily.”

Spence estimates that upward of 70 percent of her clientele are over age 40, and many of them have been suffering with back, hip or knee pain for extended periods of time. She said the implementation of preventative therapy — before postural problems lead to pain — could make a major difference for many people who are unknowingly setting themselves up for “golden years” marred by creaky joints and stiff muscles.

“I believe that there needs to be a shift,” she said. “If we could start working with people earlier in their lives, we could prevent a lot of issues in the future for them.”

The HUB: Here comes the sun

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AllEarth Renewables outshines traditional energy competition

Nov. 17, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

AllEarth Renewables President and Chief Executive Officer David Blittersdorf stands beside one of his company’s ‘AllSun Trackers’ behind its corporate headquarters in Williston. AllEarth completed construction on the South Burlington Solar Farm — Vermont’s largest solar installation — in June. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

AllEarth Renewables is hot right now, but it’s still doing more than its share to cool the effects of global warming.

The Williston-based AllEarth Renewables, Inc. won the 2011 Business of the Year Award from the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce last week. It’s the latest in a series of honors for AllEarth President and Chief Executive Officer David Blittersdorf, who was also selected by Bloomberg Businessweek in June as one of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2011.”

Although AllEarth today is primarily in the business of solar energy, Blittersdorf began his career in the early 1980s during the nascent days of wind power. Despite handing over the reins of the Hinesburg-based wind measurement company NRG Systems to his wife, Jan, wind remains a fascination.

“Wind still is a passion,” said Blittersdorf. “Being a wind guy, I was able to take a lot of the lessons I learned in wind energy to build a successful solar tracker.

“One of the biggest problems with a solar tracker is wind loading,” continued Blittersdorf. “I know all about wind, so we can make a tracker that can withstand hurricane force winds, and we use technology and ideas that really came out of the wind industry.”

Blittersdorf said AllEarth’s shift from wind to solar power came at the tail end of 2008, when America was in the midst of a financial crisis and raw prices of solar panels dropped by nearly half.

“I came up with our (AllSun Tracker) design on a napkin on New Year’s Eve (2009) at the American Flatbread (in Burlington),” Blittersdorf laughed. “Our nieces had crayons and they were drawing because they were waiting for the pizza, and I borrowed a crayon and drew up the design.”

AllEarth’s innovative solar tracker design — which is about 45 percent more efficient than traditional solar panels — uses GPS (Global Positioning System) and wireless technology to determine where the sun is going to be at every minute of the day.

“It’s a fairly straightforward system,” said Andrew Savage, AllEarth’s director of communications and public affairs. “The premise is that the tracker follows the sun throughout the day and it’s able to capture the sun’s greatest potential.”

Savage said that favorable changes enacted by the Vermont Energy Act of 2011 to the state’s net metering policy — which allows homeowners to receive credit on their electricity bill for excess solar energy produced — have been instrumental to AllEarth doubling its sales from $10 million last year to $20 million this year.

“Net metering is critical to our business, because that is how a homeowner, a business, a school or a municipality can afford to get into solar,” Savage said. “When the sun isn’t shining you’re able to draw from the grid as you normally would, and when the sun is shining you use the energy that you’re producing. And if it’s shining more than your usage, you’re actually putting it back in the grid. You’re essentially using the electric grid as a giant battery.”

Savage noted that although solar trackers aren’t cheap to install, their long-term benefits outweigh the upfront costs.

“Trackers essentially cost about $30,000, but after incentives it would be closer to $16,000 or $17,000, after tax deductions and rebates,” said Savage. “But once you own the system, once you’ve paid if off, you’ve got electricity for life. The panels are guaranteed for 25 years to be producing at a minimum of 80 percent of their original capacity.”

AllEarth is the biggest provider of solar energy in Vermont and is responsible for the state’s single largest solar implementation: a 2.2 megawatt solar farm in South Burlington containing 382 solar trackers that produces an average of 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

Savage pointed out, however, that AllEarth — and America as a whole — has just begun to scratch the surface of the sun’s energy potential.

“Enough sun falls on the earth in one day to power the world’s electricity demand for an entire year,” Savage said. “It’s pretty amazing to think of the possibilities there. “

The HUB: Following The Leaders – Mikaila Stanislas, owner and general manager of Simply Divine Café

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Nov. 17, 2011

By Steven Frank

Observer staff

 

Simply Divine Café is located inside the White Cap Business Park on Industrial Avenue in Williston. The eatery serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Observer photo by Steven Frank)

Finding one of the youngest — possibly the youngest — female business owner in Williston requires an excursion from the main commerce center around Taft Corners to a daytime eatery tucked away in the White Cap Business Park on Industrial Avenue.

There one can find 22-year-old Mikaila Stanislas behind the counter of her Simply Divine Café — providing service with a smile to a regular crowd of customers in and around the nearby Avenues A, B, C and D.

Stanislas got her feet wet in the industry working for her mother at another café in Williston. Now the St. Albans resident is calling the shots — purchasing the light fare breakfast and lunch eatery that used to be Yvonne’s Café seven months ago and overseeing five employees.

Simply Divine, which also provides catering, specializes in bakery items and sandwiches. In addition, the café offers homemade soups, wraps and 15 types of dressings.

Stanislas recently sat down with the Observer and talked about her café and what it’s like to be a business owner.

Williston Observer: What led you to buying the café?

Mikaila Stanislas: My mom owned a café for six years and I actually worked there. She ended up selling it. I then got into the corporate world and missed every second of the restaurant business. My father did all the construction in this development and owned this spot. He was leasing it to Yvonne (Brown, owner of the site’s former eatery) so I took over the lease.

WO: Why didn’t you stay in the restaurant business after your mom sold her café?

Stanislas: It was at the point where I wanted to finish school and venture into a job with health benefits and all that fun stuff, which ended up to be not all it was cracked up to be — with all the 14-hour days. It got overwhelming.

WO: What did you do in the corporate world?

Stanislas: I worked for an international fulfillment center. Basically, you import and ship goods from outside the U.S. into the U.S. We also did distribution, we ran a lot of websites. So we would take orders off the website, put them into our ordering processing centers and they would ship them out.

WO: When the café became available, did you get any advice and assistance from your family? How did that process go?

Stanislas: My mom was able to help me as far as how to go about licensing with the state. She helped push things along for me. My father was there to be the paper-pusher, too.

WO: How did you come up with the name of your café?

Stanislas: I was looking for something catchy but not overextravagent. I figured the simply part would make people know that we’re going to sell simply baked items, nothing fancy. My AOL (America Online) username (had divine in it) so that’s what led me in this direction.

WO: What are your thoughts on this location?

Stanislas: It’s a great location. It’s a great development with all the avenues around here. So, luckily, we get a lot of business off the avenues. With the catering aspect of things, we go all the way to Colchester. So catering opens up the window a little bit, and that’s been great. It’s been about getting the word out there, not so much a location thing.

WO: What are the challenges you face now as a business owner, compared to when you worked for your mom?

Stanislas: Before, when I was an employee, I did my job and then I would leave. The responsibility changes when you become an owner and time management is a huge deal.

WO: Let’s face it. You can look in Williston or anywhere else in the world and it would be difficult to find a lot of 22-year-old business owners out there. Does your age present any additional challenges?

Stanislas: The younger you are, I think people tend to take you less seriously. Luckily, when it comes to the café world, people know me from my mom’s café and know all the work I did there. From that, I have been able to develop a good reputation.

WO: As an owner, what are some of the things you have to do that others wouldn’t realize?

Stanislas: There is all of the daily preparation, especially with the catering that goes in and out the door. A lot of that goes out before six o’clock in the morning. Then there is the other end of things, the paperwork and all that fun stuff. Nobody sees that.

WO: What do you enjoy about owning Simply Divine?

Stanislas: It’s an accomplishment — that’s probably the best way to put it. At the end of the day, you feel accomplished as opposed to just working 14 hours for somebody else … Looking back at the end of the day and seeing everything you did just makes you feel great.

WO: Given how old you are, does your age give you an extra sense of accomplishment?

Stanislas: Yes. If I can do this at 22, what can I do at 40?

WO: What are some of your popular menu items?

Stanislas: The quiches are very popular. The scones are popular, too. Soups are always a good seller. Our sandwiches are really yummy as well.

WO: What does the future hold?

Stanislas: Honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t plan on doing this. I had the opportunity and jumped. I just go one day at a time.

WO: Is there anything you’re planning for in the short-term?

Stanislas: For the winter, we’ve been trying to do a hot dish every day. I want to do seasonal changes but do things one step at a time so there isn’t a drastic change for the customer.

WO: Why should some eat at Simply Divine?

Stanislas: We use all fresh ingredients. Our bread is baked fresh every day. And a lot of people come here because of the interaction they get. On most days, when somebody walks in — I know what (he or she) did last week and sometimes what (he or she would) want. If somebody comes in and they get the same thing every day, who wants to come in and tell you what it is every single day? So it gets to a point where knowing your customer and their name is very important to your business.

Simply Divine is located at 426 Industrial Avenue, Suite 155, in Williston. It is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Catering can be arranged outside of business hours.

 

If there’s a business owner that you’d like to see featured in “Follow The Leaders,” let the Observer know by contacting editor Steven Frank at 872-9000 x17 or [email protected]

 

CVU girls win N.E. cross country championship, eye return to Nationals

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Nov. 17, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union girls cross country team won the New England championship on Nov. 12. (Observer photo by Josh Kaufmann)

The ultimate goal for major league baseball teams is to be playing on October.

For the Champlain Valley Union girls cross country team, the goal is to be running in November and possibly December.

And here in 2011, as it was in 2010, November can be a spectacular month. Last Saturday (Nov. 12), the Redhawks racked up their second straight New England Interscholastic title in North Scituate, RI They now look forward to the Nike Northeast Regionals on Nov. 26 in Wappingers Falls, NY, where they took second place last year and gained a spot in the Nationals in Portland, Ore.

The Northeast event will be at Bowdoin Park in the Empire State town of 5,000, just north of Fishkill. The Redhawks return five of the seven who ran in the 2010 competition.

In the New Englands, Taylor Spillane paced CVU with a fourth-place finish as the second Vermonter across the line. Elle Purrier from tiny Richford was the winner in a record time of 18 minutes and one second, eclipsing the previous course record by 14 seconds.

Spillane’s time was 18:32, seven seconds better than old foe Markie Palermo of Essex (sixth). It was the second time Spillane has finished ahead of the Hornets star this season.

Key to the Redhawks victory was the pack finish of teammates Aleksey Jordick (36th), Julienne DeVita (48th), Adrienne DeVita (52nd), Autumn Eastman (56th) and Isabelle Unger (84th), all within 18 seconds of Jordick’s 19:26.

“I looked around and there they were, 1-2-3,” said Spillane of her mates in a telephone interview on Monday.

The CVU junior said the course was exactly what coach Scott Bliss trained them for — flat with one hill.

“The race went great,” Spillane said, noting that even a restart did not trouble the victory-bound CVU crew.

Bliss has always warned about the unexpected and importance of getting past such potential distractions.

Spillane had praise for Purrier, Vermont’s champ who smoked the field.

“She is really something,” Spillane said. “Elle has been strong all year.”

Sophie Hess, the seventh member of the CVU contingent, ran despite a slight injury.

Last year in the Wappingers Falls event, the Redhawks ran as the Champlain Valley Club because the interscholastic campaign ends with the New Englands. Taylor Spillane was 14th, her cousin Summer Spillane (2011 graduate) was 16th, followed by Jordick (28th), Adrienne DeVita (44th) and Julienne DeVita (46th).

 

Girls team scores

1. CVU 112

2. La Salle (R.I.) 155

3. Coe-Brown (N.H.) 167

4. Bishop Guertin (N.H.) 248

5. Barrington (R.I.) 250

6. Essex 273

 

Also:

25. South Burlington 579

26. Mount Mansfield 612

27. Harwood 620

28. St. Johnsbury 645

Cashing in

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Williston Central student wins radio contest

Nov. 17, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Williston resident Jared Avery, a sixth-grader at Williston Central School, won $1,000 in a radio contest sponsored by Lamoille Valley Ford in Hardwick. Avery’s 60-second spot — describing the free services Lamoille Valley provides to active military personnel — took first place honors out of more than 100 entries. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

How old were you the first time you had $1,000 to your name?

Sixteen?

Eighteen?

Thirty?

Jared Avery is 11. He’s a sixth-grader at Williston Central School. He’s a typical kid, interested in basketball, rollerblading and video games. But there’s one thing that sets him apart from his classmates: $1,000.

Avery won the grand by capturing first place in a student radio contest sponsored by Lamoille Valley Ford in Hardwick.

The rules: develop a 60-second radio advertisement describing the free services — such as oil changes, brake inspections and tire changeovers — that Lamoille Valley Ford provides to active military personnel.

Avery, with an assist from his father, Adam, pulled out all the stops — overlaying his voice on top of a multi-layered cacophony of drums and crunching rock guitar riffs, courtesy of the GarageBand computer program.

“Hi, my name is Jared, and I’m here to tell you all about the great things they’re doing for our servicemen and women at Lamoille Valley Ford,” the ad begins. It goes on to describe the “entire platoon of free services” Lamoille Valley provides to military men and women, and concludes: “So whether you’re an active military or patriotic civilian like me, come on over to Lamoille Valley Ford on Route 15, Hardwick, Vermont, where the troops are always supported.”

Dan Keene, owner of Lamoille Valley Ford, said Avery’s advertisement — which will be aired on 10 to 12 radio stations across the state — was a clear stand-out among the 100-plus entries.

“He explained our military service program accurately, first and foremost,” Keene said. “Then his energy and enthusiasm in doing the ad with a music background … he really went over the top in how he explained the program.”

Avery’s mother, Michelle, said she couldn’t be prouder.

“We’re ecstatic,” she said. “Jared can really do stuff if he’s motivated to win something.”

Jared Avery commented that $1,000 (minus taxes) is the most money he’s ever had in his life, although he’s already spent a few of his Benjamin Franklins.

“I bought an iPad, put $100 in my college (savings plan), $100 to my dad’s church and the rest of it I’m (going to) wait till Black Friday,” he said, adding that a PlayStation 3 will be among his Black Friday purchases.

Avery’s contributions to the community didn’t stop with the $100 donation to Mosaic Church. As part of the contest, Lamoille Valley Ford made a matching $1,000 pledge to the winning student’s school. In Avery’s case, the funds will be put toward two WCS programs: CY Mentoring, a program that pairs fifth to eighth grade students with dedicated mentors; and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, which focuses on reducing student behavioral problems through proactive and preventative tactics.

“(CY Mentoring’s) funds were cut significantly this year at the last minute, so this was really helpful to them,” said Jackie Parks, WCS principal. “It was a gift for us, because all funding is really tight this year. It makes a big difference.”

Avery said that it felt good to help out his school and that he wouldn’t hesitate to enter another radio contest if the opportunity arose.

“I enjoy money,” he said with a wide smile.

School baseline budget increases

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Nov. 17, 2011

By Steven Frank

Observer staff

Next year’s baseline budget for the Williston School District, which includes Allen Brook (top) and Williston Central (bottom) schools, totals nearly $16.82 million — 3.17 percent higher than this year. (Observer photos by Steven Frank)

In the closing minutes of the Williston School Board’s regular meeting on Nov. 9, Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason unveiled a double-sided piece of paper that will open the floodgates for the impending budget process.

The FY2013 baseline budget, distributed by Mason to each member of the Board, shows a 3.17-percent increase over this year’s budget. This school year, the Williston school district is budgeted to spend approximately $16.3 million. The baseline for next year is $516,111 more, totaling nearly $16.82 million.

The baseline budget highlights what the district would have to spend in order to provide the same level of services and staff as the current year. It provides a launching pad for the Board to begin crafting a budget proposal, a process that kicks off Thursday with the first in a series of budget meetings. The meeting, which is scheduled to include a review of the baseline budget, begins at 4:30 p.m. and will be held in the Williston Central School dining room.

Despite the increase, Williston District Principal Walter Nardelli is encouraged.

“If you look at the other CSSU schools, ours is a good number,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that the number will end up here, but for a starting point it’s good.”

The majority of the increase is for instructional programs and support services, which Nardelli attributed to a rise in healthcare costs.

Transportation and utility costs are estimated to rise 6 percent and gasoline is budgeted for a 26-percent spike. Mason pointed out the challenge of developing those numbers.

“It’s a shot in the dark, this far ahead of when we’re actually going to go to the pumps and get the gas,” Mason said. “It’s much more pleasant for us all if our staff covers it and we end up with a little upside next year, rather than struggle and find out what we’re going to cut for the costs of fuel for our buses.”

Another challenge is a return to working with a baseline increase. Last year’s baseline was nearly $220,000 lower than FY2011.

“The work that the Board has to do between now and January will be more difficult this year than it was last year,” Mason said.

Mason pointed out that the district benefitted last year from finishing a 20-year bond payoff for WCS’s east wing and auditorium completed in 1991. That eliminated $358,000 from the budget.

“It’s too bad we can’t do that every year,” Nardelli said.

As for the budget’s impact on property taxes, Mason said it’s too early to project because the state hasn’t estimated its tax rate. Tax implications are slated to begin being addressed at the Board’s budget meeting on Dec. 15.