May 27, 2018

Letter to the Editor

Dec. 15, 2011


Attend concert series, help eradicate polio

Every year the Williston/Richmond Rotary Club has a fundraiser for Polio-Plus, a longstanding campaign of all Rotary clubs around the world with the sole purpose of eradicating polio worldwide. With matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ultimate goal is to raise $555,000. And we are almost there!

Each year, we are the beneficiary of proceeds from one of the Old Brick Church concerts in Williston. We are also supported by the generous contributions of different area businesses.

This year, we raised more than $1,400 from ticket sales, donations at our refreshment stand and sponsorships. We’d like to thank those who attended the concert for supporting our efforts.

I’d also like to put in a plug for the Brick Church Concert series. Go to the Williston Town website for the list of concerts for this season. You can’t beat the price, the music is as good as it gets and it all benefits local charities.

The motto of Rotary is “service above self” but that goes with the help of good citizens in our community and wonderful local businesses.


Dave Ericson

Williston/Richmond Rotary Polio-Plus Chairman

Guest column: When worlds collide

Customer experience matters

Dec. 15, 2011

By Mitch Lieberman


I am over 40 years old, but very much the socially connected type. I do not subscribe to Front Porch Forum because I do not appreciate someone else defining the boundaries of my neighborhood, my network or the topic of discussion.

When “The Farmhouse Tap and Grill” (a restaurant in Burlington) did not live up to expectations, I shared my experience with neighbors. The neighbors I speak of are not tied to demographics or a physical location; it is the collisions of online and offline.

With the growing population of patrons who own smart phones, we share, share and share some more. Experience starts before I get to an establishment and ends well after I leave.

In the days before social media, the number of people with whom I shared an experience was limited to in-person contacts. Fast-forward to 2011, and my experiences reach multiple social networks: FourSquare, Yelp, Twitter and Facebook.

When I notice something that needs more attention, I also blog about it. The number of people who read my blog is not huge, but is still between 20- to 100-times larger than pre-social media. There is another element, something I tell my kids when they post anything online: “Google never forgets.” My blog and review are searchable and last longer than in-person conversations.

When The Farm House Tap and Grill opened, I had high hopes. I ended up disappointed. What was, and continues to be more disappointing is the delayed response through e-mail and Twitter. In fairness, I did not try to call.

Eventually, I received the following e-mail response:

“We realize that we did indeed go way past our quote times, that is our fault. I have been in the restaurant business for 12 years now and I too value a good customer service experience, which is what we strive for. I encourage you to come try us again, particularly not on UVM parents weekend when we clearly were overran.”

While there was recognition of an issue, there was no attempt to make it right. I was expecting a little more — maybe an offer of an appetizer on them or something else to show that they care.

On Dec. 5, after posting a review of the restaurant on my blog, I received another response from the restaurant — a very nice one. They offered to send a gift certificate and invited me to speak with them about the use of Twitter.

I still think it should not have taken this long and wonder if the note would have been sent had I not written the post (I will be sure to ask). Social moves fast.

If someone has a bad experience, do what you can to make it right. These things are just so easy. The future is about shared experiences with your neighbor — down the road or across the world.

Mitch Lieberman is a Williston resident and the vice president for Market Strategy.


Recipe corner

Christmas meals

Dec. 15, 2011

By Ginger Isham


On Dec. 24, 1877 a farm wife wrote: “I am baking today for Christmas  — I am going to have chicken and oysters, mince pie and custard pie, frosted cake and pickles, stockings all filled and I am going to bed.”

How different our meals were 100 years later. Years ago, I sang for 12 years in the church choir and at the Christmas Eve candlelight service — where all the choirs sang “O Holy Night.” It was very emotional. When I arrived home I thought of the smell of our cows in a warm barn and this made me think of the manger in Bethlehem. Our meal before the service had to be easy and simple. It was fish chowder, jell-o fruit salad and bar cookies.



2 or 3 slices bacon

2 chopped onions

2 or 3 peeled and cut-up potatoes

1 cup evaporated milk

2 cups hot milk

1 1/2 pounds of haddock

a pinch of salt, pepper and parsley.

Cook the bacon in a kettle. Remove and save for garnish. Add onions and potatoes to bacon fat and enough hot water to cover them. Put lid on kettle and cook veggies until soft. Cut fish into chunks and put on top of veggies, cover and cook a few minutes more until fish is tender. Add evaporated milk, hot milk, parsley and salt, pepper to taste. Serve with crackers or hot biscuits.



1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup mincemeat (I made mine out of green tomatoes with no suet)

1/2 cup crushed pineapple undrained (or unsweetened applesauce)

2 beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

dash of salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Cream sugar, eggs and shortening. Stir in mincemeat and pineapple. Blend dry ingredients and mix in until smooth. Spread batter into a 9-by-13-inch greased baking dish. Bake on 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. When cool, frost with confectioners sugar icing flavored with vanilla or lemon. May bake in jellyroll pan for 15 minutes.



1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg; 2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped nuts, optional.

Cream sugar, butter and add egg. Mix dry ingredients and add alternately with applesauce. Mix well and stir in raisins and nuts. Bake for about 25 minutes in greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish at 375 degrees. Can also frost with confectioners sugar icing or dust with sugar. I like a penuche or maple icing for this recipe. Also can bake in jellyroll pan for fewer minutes.


Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.

Life in Williston

Political correctness season

Dec. 15, 2011

By Neel Tandan


Around this time last year, while leaving an elementary school that I worked at in Burlington, I said to a fellow employee, “happy holidays,” upon departing. He responded, not so cordially, “It’s Merry Christmas. None of that happy holiday (expletive).” I walked away feeling slightly uncomfortable, but also wanting to just get home.

It took a little while before I was able to digest the brief happening: a public employee working at a very large and diverse elementary school was at odds with the more or less designated and neutral holiday lingo that was typically used to describe this time of year. I was also trying to reconcile two apparently opposing ideas: the man struck me as someone who seemed to display a genuine love for his country, a patriot, if you will, but was also at odds with at least a section of its founding document: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution and a part of the Bill of Rights, which starts by saying, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

Recently, another blurb of news crossed my path that is relevant to this conversation. In Rhode Island, with one of the highest Roman Catholic populations in the country, Gov. Lincoln Chafee unveiled, in his words, a “holiday tree” in the statehouse that caused an uproar. The nomenclature he used was obviously deliberate and he cited religious tolerance and equanimity, as well as following the example of previous governors as his reasoning. As expected, Christians en masse, the Roman Catholic Church and others within and outside of the state were outraged. Another tree was actually placed in the Statehouse hallway by Republican lawmaker Doreen Costa as a counterpoint and a blatant act of disapproval. The governor has been criticized for taking political correctness too far, but Chafee stands by his decision.

This duel goes back centuries, often times between Christians alike.

Today, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union fight for a completely secular system, wielding the First Amendment as their weapon of choice. Christians, meanwhile, are fighting back with the same document — and in some cases succeeding. In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court in Lynch vs. Donnelly ruled that the town of Pawtucket, R.I. could use town property to display Christmas decorations.

In Williston, many retailers have slowly eliminated certain religious words from their advertising to have greater mass appeal to consumers. As a result, some Christian groups have actually called for boycotts of these companies’ merchandise and refuse to shop there while others just don’t care.

Neel Tandan is a lifelong Williston resident who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010.


Little Details

Peaceful tidings

Dec. 15, 2011

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

Chimes on my back porch jangle a wintry dance. Sweet, mellifluous tones follow a score set to the rhythm of the wind.

White birches, bare branches shimmering in afternoon sun, stand as sentries protecting the delicate ecosystem of fields at their feet. Mount Mansfield teases through my window. Regal peaks capped with snow poke through trees; stretching upward to touch a clear blue sky. I especially appreciate sunshine this time of year when days grow short.

With Christmas approaching, I’ve unearthed my collection of holiday books from hiding for their annual reading: “A Christmas Carol,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Seven Stories of Christmas Love” are featured prominently among my holiday stack. We’ll read O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of Magi,” even if it makes me tear up. A more recent holiday treasure, discovered two Christmases ago, is the story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. This short story inspired the film, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

My kitchen is warm and aromatic as I prepare holiday offerings to send to family. Cinnamon-infused gingerbread, homemade caramel corn and peppermint bark jockey for position on my counter. Pan Forte, an Italian fruitcake of honey, dried fruits, nuts, cocoa and spices, seasons as it waits to emerge in full flavor on Christmas Eve. Each confection awaits a still uncertain destination. Some will be sent to Idaho, others to Ohio or Connecticut. A heartier package travels to Fribourg, Switzerland, where our daughter is spending her sophomore year of high school. We, too, expect our own edible gifts to arrive. We just might score some high quality Swiss Chocolate.

I love this time of year for the music, literature, lights and fellowship with good people. Gatherings with family and friends, a Christmas Eve candlelight service and picnics by our decorated tree as the fireplace warms and flickers form treasured memories.

The holidays are a lovely — and sometimes — frenzied time. I work hard to try to not get caught up in the stress of the season. Grand expectations of expensive gifts no longer invade my expectations for Christmas Day. Homemade coffee cake, a few thoughtful presents under the tree and time spent in nature are my priorities for the 25th of December. Other days are intentionally left

As our lives become so busy, I’m reminded how important it is to just have time to be. Our daughter’s experience of attending a high school in Europe has opened her eyes to lives lived at a slower pace. Although engaged in both academic and extracurricular activities, she notes a distinct cultural value: family time really matters. Weekends are largely off-limits to extracurricular programming. Sports and Christmas are a little less commercial.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanza or Solstice, I wish you health, happiness and peacefulness in a time of fun… and, yes, reflection.


Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston. Reader comments are welcome at or


PHOTOS: Williston tree lighting

Observer photos by Kayla Walters (

The Williston Girl Scouts sponsored the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in Williston, held Sunday (Dec. 4) at the town gazebo.

PHOTOS: CVU girls hockey

Observer photos by Shane Bufano (

The Champlain Valley Union girls hockey team, shown in a recent practice at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, open the season at Colchester on Saturday (Dec. 10). For more photos, visit the Web Extras section at

PHOTOS: CVU boys hockey

Observer photos by Shane Bufano (

The CVU boys hockey team scrimmaged on Dec. 3. The ‘Hawks open the regular season Friday (Dec. 9) against North Country.


CVU boys and girls hockey teams look to replace last year’s firepower

Dec. 8, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent


Ben Psaros takes over as the Champlain Valley Union girls hockey head coach. His squad opens the season at Colchester on Saturday. (Observer photos by Shane Bufano)

Last winter, the Champlain Valley Union High boys’ hockey team skated to the Division I state championship, its second in three winters. The girls reached the semifinal round.

Both now head into 2011-12 season-openers this weekend, seeking to replace talented veteran front line snipers that were taken away by graduation.

Gone from Mike Murray’s boys is a trio of leading point producers, including last year’s Vermont Mr. Hockey Robbie Dobrowski — who is suited up this year in Middlebury College blue.

The girls have lost prolific scorer Mollie Howard while last year’s Miss Hockey, Sophia Steinhoff, is not back for her senior season.

Murray is building his squad from the back with veteran goalie Jason O’Brien, a solid start, aided by defense stalwarts Will Yandell, Quinn Kropf and Griffin Brady.

Junior Max Hopper is a key returnee up front. Murray said freshman Cam Rivard has been looking good along with sophomore Patrick Patterson.

Freshman defender Caleb Gadbout has also made his presence felt.

After last week’s jamboree in which the Redhawks downed Colchester but got nipped by South Burlington, Murray believed his team showed depth through four lines and was “pretty quick” with good feet movement.

A final scrimmage was set for Tuesday against Beekmantown, N.Y. at Cairns Arena, with the season lid lifter Friday night against North Country Union High (8:10 p.m.) in the annual Burchard Tournament at Burlington’s Leddy Arena.

Ben Psaros has taken the helm of the girls’ team after a few terms as assistant for the boys.

The CVU boys hockey team scrimmaged on Dec. 3. The ‘Hawks open the regular season Friday against North Country.

He is currently working with a roster of 20 skaters, which includes four from Burlington High School via a member-member agreement. Burlington dropped the sport last year due to a lack of players.

“(This) adds some nice depth of talent and allows BHS girls to continue their hockey careers,” Psaros said, adding that the former Seahorses are working in well.

Like the boys, the girls have a veteran netminder, Nicole Sisk, taking up the post between the pipes.

Veterans Molly Dunphy and Hannah Owens will be key attackers while sophomore Abby Smith has looked solid at a center position, and freshman Rachel Pitcher has been impressive on defense.

Psaros said the team played well Saturday (Dec. 3) in a scrimmage at Division II Woodstock.

Its campaign officially opens Saturday when the Redhawks visit Colchester (2:40 p.m.) at Leddy Arena.

PHOTOS: CVU girls cross country at Nationals

Courtesy photos by Steve Dipaoloa, Nike

Members of the Champlain Valley Union girls cross country team competed at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. on Dec. 3.