May 21, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Jan. 26, 2012


Youth mentoring ‘exceptional’

Mentor Micaela Wallace (left) poses with her mentee, Williston Central School eighth-grader Amber Downs. Wallace, a St. George resident, was selected as Connecting Youth’s Outstanding Mentor of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

Last spring, a national expert evaluated Williston Central School’s mentoring program and proclaimed that it was the best school-based program she found “in all of America.” As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, I want to acknowledge and thank our partners who do so much to support our pairs: local businesses, neighbors and the entire WCS community.

Due to the strong mentoring community we have built together, students and adults coming into this program trust that they will have a positive and beneficial experience. Last June, 97 percent of our WCS mentors and mentees rated the program “excellent.” Similarly, 93 percent of WCS teachers rated their students’ mentoring relationships as being high quality (22 percent as “good” and 71 percent as “excellent”).

Between them, our 58 volunteers have given 200 years of service to WCS Mentoring. Sixteen of them were recognized by Mobius, the Mentoring Movement, on Jan. 18 for having volunteered as mentors for at least five years: Eric Adler, Deb Baker-Moody, Nancy Colbourn, Pauline Cozzy, Sally Dattilio, Bill Grover, Anne Marie Humbert, John Joachim, Cheryl Lalancette, Polly Malik, Shona Mossey-Lothrop, Nadine Paffett-Lugassy, Carla Stewart, Mike Thomas, Micaela Wallace, and Charlie Wolf.

Mobius gave special recognition to Micaela, a St. George resident, as Connecting Youth’s Outstanding Mentor of the Year. For the past nine years, Micaela has been a steadfast, inspiring, and terrifically fun mentor. She has also been a dream advisory board member: shaping, staffing, and giving her creative flare to WCS mentoring events.

What we are doing together in terms of school-based mentoring for middle school students is exceptional: in Chittenden County, Vermont and the country.

Thank you to this incredible, caring and “mentor-rich” community.

Nancy Carlson, mentoring

coordinator, Connecting

Youth Mentoring, Williston Central School

Five Target points to address

I think a few points need to be addressed before an informed discussion about the pros and cons of a Target department store in Williston can begin in earnest.

1. Will a Target store in fact add to the number of consumers shopping in Williston and hence represent additional income to the township? If all Target does is cannibalize the sales now made by Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and others, why bother? If the Target store attracts significant numbers of new consumers from places like Albany (N.Y.), Burlington, Hanover (N.H.) etc. then the additional 1 percent sales tax generated could be meaningful.

2. If No. 1 can be answered in the affirmative, what will the Selectboard do with the money? Lower taxes? Improve schools? What?

3. The third point is traffic. If Target is allowed to build where they now prefer, it will horrendously complicate an already stressed traffic situation on U.S. 2 and along the Maple Tree Place/Marshall Avenue axis. The Target store in Concord N.H. has 450 parking spots. This means that, at peak times, an estimated 150 cars enter and 150 cars exit every 30 minutes.

4. The proposed location has another negative. It will further eat into the space that separates the Williston commercial hub from the historic village. I think we should draw a very firm line at Maple Tree Place, and not allow any encroachment east from that line.

5. In my view, a logical place allowing acceptable traffic management via easy access from Interstate 89 — through a new exit to be built for that purpose, which would also serve the other mass retailers there (e.g. Wal-Mart) — would be west of Vermont 2A and north of I-89. The space between E-Commerce Park and Wal-Mart seems like a pretty logical spot to me.

Lutz Muller


Guest column

Ducking the health exchange bullet

Jan. 26, 2012

By John McClaughry


Just two years from now — if you are among the 143,000 Vermonters covered by private health insurance — you are highly likely to find your health insurance in complete limbo. That is, if Gov. Peter Shumlin has his way with the legislature — which given its composition, is also highly likely.

To understand why this will probably happen, let’s go back to the 2009 passage of ObamaCare. The centerpiece of that legislation is the requirement that by 2014 each state must establish a health insurance “Exchange.”

This Exchange will operate on a state-managed web site where small businesses and individuals will compare available health insurance policies, and choose the one that best meets their needs. Individuals will then qualify for Federal income-based subsidies to purchase their chosen coverage.

This doesn’t sound too threatening on its face — but there’s more.

Last spring, the Vermont legislature enacted the legislation to create an ObamaCare-compliant Exchange. The state has some leeway in deciding which carriers and policies will be offered to Vermont residents. Since only two carriers essentially offer health insurance in Vermont — thanks to laws passed in 1991 and 1992 specifically to drive their competitors out — there will not be a lot of offerings to choose from.

That act also required that policies sold on the Exchange must offer what ObamaCare designates as a “silver” level of benefits. That is, the insurer must cover at least 70 percent of the costs and the insureds no more than 30 percent. This provision of the act will kill off all but the most expensive and impractical Health Savings Account-qualified high-deductible policies, to the dismay of thousands of Vermont HSA owners.

A new bill just submitted by the Shumlin administration (H.559) contains two key provisions, specifying which businesses will be forced into the Exchange, and prohibiting insurers from offering health plans outside of the Exchange.

ObamaCare allows states to define “small groups” as businesses with 1-50 or 1-100 employees. The Shumlin bill proposes to require all small businesses with up to 100 employees to purchase insurance only through the Exchange.

This would merge the present small group market with the individual market as an important step toward Shumlin’s goal of installing single payer Green Mountain Care in 2017. After that date, if Green Mountain Care is actually put in place, private health insurance would disappear.

The state government would then pay for and in effect ration all health care for every resident of Vermont not covered by Medicare, VA, or self-insured plans commonly provided by large companies like IBM.

Vermont businesses are quickly getting behind an alternative measure that makes more responsible choices. A bill by Sens. Vince Illuzzi and Hinda Miller (S.208) specifies that only small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can be forced into the Exchange, and businesses and individuals will remain free to buy insurance — including HSA-qualified plans, outside of the Exchange.

The great merit of passing the Illuzzi-Miller bill is that when Shumlin’s ambitious Green Mountain Care effort collapses, as seems likely, Vermont will still have a working — although severely restricted — health insurance market. Its enactment would also spare 143,000 Vermonters from a huge amount of government-caused grief.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute in Concord, Vt.


The Everyday Gourmet

Kiss a frog

Jan. 26, 2012

By Kim Dannies

Often called a celery root, celeriac will never be confused with its pretty cousin, true celery. So what if this bulbous dome, dotted by dangling hairy rootlets and dirt-filled crevices, is the geek boy at the dance? A quick shower and shave with a sharp peeler will soon reveal its princely flesh.

Celeriac delivers character and a bracing clean flavor: a cross between parsley and celery, only deeper, softer and slightly sweet. Shred it, roast it, puree it — celeriac adds a creamy volume, nutrition and flavor to dishes while remaining discreet. We’re talking marriage material here, people.

When the word gets out, celeriac will be winter’s hit veggie, showing up at parties everywhere. Eaters will wonder aloud why a particular dish of yours is so outrageously delicious. Go ahead, enjoy a quiet affair with this understated hero. You won’t regret it.



Peel one large knob of celery root and rinse. Shred raw root in a food processor or grate by hand. You’ll be rewarded with mounds of snow white, crunchy slaw. Place in a prep bowl.

Aioli: in a small processor, finely mince 3-4 garlic cloves. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard, the juice of a lemon, 1-cup of mayo, 1 tablespoon tomato paste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Process 30 seconds. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt. Fold the aioli over the celery root. Top with several handfuls of clean flat-leaf parsley. Serve immediately, or store in fridge up to one day ahead; serves 4-6.



Peel 6 medium red potatoes and cut into quarters. Peel one celeriac root and shred. Place all the veggies in a cooking pot and cover with vegetable or chicken stock. Add 6 whole garlic cloves and 1 medium chopped onion. Cover and bring to a full boil on high heat, then simmer the soup for 20 minutes until potatoes are very soft. Warm 1 1/2cups of low fat milk with 2 tablespoons of sherry and 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, on high, for 1 minute. Mash the potatoes and add the milk mixture. Puree the soup until it is smooth. Adjust flavor with kosher salt and pepper. Serves 6-8.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to


Life in Williston

Life interrupted

Jan. 26, 2012

By Karen Wyman


This week I barely made the deadline for this column. I was also late for work and late picking up the girls. I largely ignored my family at dinner, let phone calls go directly to voicemail and totally forgot about the girls’ swimming lessons.

Why? I am happy to say it’s not due to early Alzheimer’s. I am not proud to say that it’s due to an addiction — an addiction to Words With Friends.

Ever since installing this application on my phone, I have been obsessed. I play it anywhere and everywhere, and won’t stop until I give myself a migraine or fall asleep. I can totally relate to Alec Baldwin getting kicked off an airplane for refusing to quit playing this stimulating game. I’m not sure if I would hold up an entire flight of people, but I am guilty of holding up traffic once when trying to play at a stoplight. Don’t worry. I would never play while driving, which is precisely why I have barely left my house this week.

For those of you who are blissfully unaware of Words With Friends, it’s essentially Scrabble that you play with your social media friends or random opponents. At one point, I had 10 games going with different friends, including one of my close girlfriends who recently moved across the country. Although we were 2,000 miles apart, it was like she was in my living room having late-night snacks and playing a game. We messaged each other about our days via the app and what we were eating. As the tiles and board space became sparse, however, the conversation turned into trash talk. In our defense, we started out supporting each other for high-scoring words and appreciating each other’s creativity when obscure words were produced. Our competitive selves quickly took over though, and we no longer built up or complimented each other. Accusations of cheating started to fly as we questioned each other’s knowledge of the words we just played. These late-night bouts may not demonstrate fine sportsmanship, but they sure do add some spice to otherwise uneventful nights.

Finally, I woke up one morning to the sight of large dark circles under my eyes and the pain of a pounding headache. I admitted to myself that I had hit rock bottom and needed help. I was being hypocritical by limiting the amount of time my girls could play video games — sometimes even stopping them mid-game much to their chagrin. I now realized first-hand how powerful the urge can be to immerse oneself in technology; whether it’s video games, social media or just plain old Internet searching. I didn’t want us to become a family who no longer talked to each other, with everyone just paying attention to their electronic devices.  I immediately uninstalled my Words With Friends app, sadly realizing I may not have enough self-control to monitor my own time limits as I do my daughters’. It was my way of imposing a time out, a time out from technology.

I realized this would be my New Year’s resolution: to be more present with my family and friends. I am going to be conscious not to check emails, texts, Facebook, etc. when I am with others. I want those significant to me to know they are more important than whatever alert is beeping at me on my phone. I realize this is common sense and courtesy, but it has all but disappeared in today’s society.

I think of how I want my girls to emulate respectful behavior, even making them take part in handwritten thank you notes with a “drawing” before they could even write their names. Why not set technology boundaries now and practice what I am sure I will preach to them in the years to come? Rules, such as, no technology use ever while driving, or finishing a phone call or text before approaching a sales counter immediately come to mind. I think I self-intervened just in time, before my “addiction” turned into Words With Enemies, and I lost any more valuable time with family and friends.


Karen Wyman has been a Williston resident for six years, and lives with her husband and twin 4-year-old daughters.

Places I’ve Played

Swimming pool basketball

Jan. 26, 2012

By Bill Skiff


Vermont native son Peter Bent Brigham established Brigham Academy in Bakersfield in 1879; he later founded Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Though the Academy is no longer a school, it was a hotbed for high school basketball in the 1940s and 50s.

Originally conceived to be Brigham’s swimming pool, plans changed during construction and it became a basketball court. It maintained many of its swimming pool characteristics, which led to a unique set of home court advantages.

The floor of the court was down at the bottom of the pool. It was closed in on four sides by high solid walls. At the top of the walls, a balcony around three sides formed a horseshoe viewing area. Spectators would hang over and taunt opposing players as they dribbled up and down the court. Other times, when fans thought the officials were not looking, they would drop things on opposing players.

The backboards hung at each end of the court from iron pipes attached to the side of the protruding balcony. Kids sitting behind the basket would shake those pipes causing the backboard — and basket — to move. When shooting, you thought you were seeing double. Sometimes, as the backboards moved, loose particles fell off and into your face. The fans doing the shaking would also make faces at you as you went up for a layup. Our Cambridge team felt home court advantages were influencing the competition but the officials never seemed to notice. If we complained loudly enough, they made the kids move.

Down in the pit, chairs for more spectators sat around the edge of the court and against the wall. The out-of-bounds line was just in front of these chairs. People sitting let their feet stick out onto the court. As you dribbled down the side of the court, spectators would pull in their feet just a few feet ahead of you. Sometimes, if you were ahead of one of their players, they would wait until the last minute to move their feet (which allowed their player catch up).

The competition between Bakersfield and Cambridge was fierce. We played for bragging rights. The entire population of both towns attended these games — the towns closed down. You couldn’t buy a quart of milk if you tried.

The competitive loyalties were very personal. In one game, our center, Charlie, was holding the ball over his head when Frank, an opposing player, reached up and grabbed it. Both players hung on, as Charlie bent down with the ball. He continued pulling the ball down, while Frank clung on. As it turned out, Frank’s mother was a teacher at Cambridge High — but her son played for Brigham. Suddenly, when Frank flew up and over Charlie’s back — and landed in a heap on the floor right in front of her — she jumped up and hit Charlie over the head with her umbrella.

While Charlie stood dumfounded, the officials stopped the game and consulted their rulebook. They found no reference to a foul that could be called on a mother, so they gave the ball back to us and continued the game.

When we played them later in a Waterbury tournament, another teammate’s mother cheered so hard that she was taken to the hospital at halftime with a heart attack. We won and she lived.

Private academies fell on hard times during the 1960s. In 1966, Brigham Academy closed. Many attempts over the years to restore it have failed. The original Academy in Bakersfield is on the National Historical Registry.

The court at Jericho High School also had an interesting home court advantage: a heating grate in one corner of the court. It supplied heat for the entire building. We lost the ball there many times. When you dribbled down the court, the ball bounced waist high. When you dribbled over the grate, however, it only raised knee high. As you passed over the grate, you found yourself dribbling air — while an opposing player grabbed the loose ball behind you and headed the other way.

Our team dressed for the game in an adjacent building. When you were ready, you ran through the snow and subzero temperature to the building with the basketball court. You arrived half frozen, with snow all over your sneakers.

Johnson High School’s court was lined with supporting pillars down both sides, located just out of bounds. Sometimes, when you were guarding an opposing player down the sideline, he would give you a little push and you were  “picked off” by a pillar. He would then go down the other end of the court to score.

There were many talented girls teams in the 40s and 50s. Next time, I will share with you what made their game of basketball so different — and fascinating.


Bill Skiff grew up on a farm between Cambridge and Jeffersonville. After a career in education, he now lives in Williston, where he is a justice of the peace and Fourth of July frog-jumping official. In “Places I’ve Played,” he shares his experiences of growing up in Vermont. Comments are welcome at

Breaking News: Williston Police Chief Roy Nelson resigning

Jan. 24, 2012


The Town of Williston announced Tuesday that Police Chief Roy Nelson has submitted his letter of resignation effective Jan. 31.

Nelson has been on a leave of absence since June to undergo treatment for cancer in his home state of Connecticut. According to a news release from the town, Nelson cited continuing health concerns and his desire to remain close to his family as reasons for his decision.

“I have enjoyed working with Mr. Nelson and have found him to be a professional and caring chief. He will certainly be missed,” Town Manager Rick McGuire said in the release.

The recruitment process for Nelson’s replacement will begin over the next week. McGuire’s goal is to have a new chief by June 1, according to the release.

Check out Thursday’s Williston Observer for complete coverage.

—Staff report

PHOTOS: CVU boys basketball

Observer photos by Shane Bufano (

The Champlain Valley Union boys basketball team lost to Rice Memorial 66-36 on Jan. 13.

PHOTOS: Austin Burbank’s Eagle Scout project

Courtesy photos by Bill McSalis Jr.

Austin Burbank, 16, of Williston Boy Scout Troop 692 delivered his Eagle Scout project to the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington on Jan. 2. He designed and built two carpetball tables, with a little assistance from other scouts and adults. Also as part of his project, the Champlain Valley Union High School junior coordinated with the club to determine what was needed. Carpetball is a tabletop game played with pool balls. It resembles bowling, with players taking turns rolling pool balls down the table to knock their opponents’ pool balls into a pocket.

This Week’s Popcorn

‘Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol’

Jan. 19, 2012

3 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Director Brad Bird’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” starring Tom Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt, reminds of that rather interesting guest who overstays his welcome. While amiable and engaging through dinner, after dessert his stories become repetitive. Unfortunately, the only way to edit the fellow would be to kick him out of your house.

Though free of said moral dilemma, the filmmaker nonetheless fails to lop a good 20 minutes off his otherwise rousing and wonderfully absurd adventure yarn. If the tale were to conclude after what surely seems like the third act, complete kudos would be in order. But a problem in story structure makes for a cumbersome addendum and gilds the lily.

It doesn’t help that, with the piggyback surplus slowing matters and giving us a chance to think, it occurs that the melodrama attached to the exhilaration is pure bathos. Odd in comparison to the stunning ingenuity it means to complement, its inclusion seems as disingenuous as a fast food restaurant putting a “trace of Vitamin C” in the hefty fries.

That said, this is pretty snazzy stuff, with enough spy-related gizmos and gadgets to fill any catalogues Hammacher Schlemmer or The Sharper Image might plan in the far future. And Mr. Cruise, adeptly sharing the limelight with an ensemble worthy of the gig, ostensibly reminds again that without him there couldn’t have been a “Rain Man (1988).”

Of course, just as the extortionary fees in such gambits have climbed from the hundreds of thousands into the billions over the years, the real estate at risk also hasn’t escaped the wiles of inflation. Threaten to knock off the local pumping station if they don’t fork over a hundred grand and they’d think you a piker. Now, it’s the whole world or nothing.

Dusting off the never completely settled Cold War friction, arch-villain/madman Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), aided by his genius goony, Wistrom (Samuli Edelmann), has a strange plan to achieve world peace. It’s apparent he hasn’t heard the maxim about not throwing the baby out with the bath water. He’d like to just cleanse the whole orb.

That’s right, steal and activate the Russian nuclear launch codes and force humankind to begin anew. Witnessing the cold liquidations he performs while warming up to his scheme, it probably won’t make much sense to try and reason with the crazy. In short, this is an assignment for Ethan and Co., providing of course that they choose to accept it.

Since it’s the fate of the planet at stake, what kid’s soccer game is more important? So off they go, into the breach, maybe the best balanced bunch of crusaders the silver screen will see this week; and nice, too. As alacritous and welcoming as Snap, Crackle and Pop, surely these worthies deserve a positive Yelp review under the category, World Savers.

Paula Patton supplies charm and eye candy as Jane Carter. OK, so she runs like a girl. Still, she’s about the prettiest co-secret agent one could hope for, and can commiserate with Ethan in that she, too, lost a loved one to the cruel realities of international intrigue. Plus, the pulchritude serves a plot purpose when Jane is called to do the Mata Hari thing.

But the key-supporting bit is Simon Pegg’s reprise of Benji Dunn, techno geek extraordinaire. He could be streaming Netflix out of your kitchen faucet faster than you can say Ethernet megabit. While hardly as burlesque but nonetheless reminiscent of the jesting Hope furnished in the road movies, his wryness is a comedy relief for the times.

And naturally, if push comes to shove, in good nerd sidekick tradition he can be counted on to surprise us with an emergency whirlwind of kung fu fighting. Of less certainty is what might be brought to the party by special analyst William Brandt, the wild card foisted upon the gang when a sudden tragedy requires a complete rethinking of the plan.

‘Hmm,’ we surmise while scratching the stubble of our chin. ‘He sure is badass for just an analyst, don’t you think?’ While no great shakes, this enigma, etched appropriately enough by Jeremy Renner, will have some folks guessing. However, even I, who can rarely figure these things out, kind of grokked the soap opera-ish skinny in his case.

All of which is why this should appeal to the great unwashed. It’s lots of glitz and fancy derring-do, easily accessible without having to know the secret handshake. And, in a world where the spin increasingly obfuscates values, clearly identifiable good guys and villains make “Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol” a properly spirited entertainment.


“Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol,” rated PG-13, is a Paramount Pictures release directed by Brad Bird and stars Tom Cruise, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg. Running time: 133 minutes 

CVU Sports Schedule

Jan. 19, 2012



Saturday: ESSEX, 12:45 P.M.

Monday: COLCHESTER, 6:45 p.m.



Friday: at St. Johnsbury Academy, 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday: BURLINGTON, 7:15 p.m.



No scheduled meets



Saturday: BFA-ST. ALBANS, 11:55 a.m.

Wednesday: at North Country, 7 p.m.



Friday: BFA-ST.ALBANS, 5:20 p.m.

Wednesday: at South Burlington, 5:10 p.m.



Saturday: Slalom at Lincoln Peak, 10 a.m.

Monday: site to be announced



Friday: vs. Mount Mansfield Union at Jericho, 3 p.m.



Friday and Saturday: at Essex High School Classic Tournament, 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.




Schedules subject to change