July 24, 2019



Anna (Bruce) Degree, 85, passed away on Friday, April 20, 2012 in Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. She was born in Williston on Sept. 17, 1926, to the late M. Clark Bruce and Lucy (Kenyon) Bruce. Anna grew up and was educated in the area. Anna married Wayne F. Degree in Williston on Aug. 16, 1952. She worked many part-time jobs, with her real focus being the care of her family. Anna is survived by her husband of nearly 60 years, Wayne; five sons, Bernard and Jacqueline, Roger and Lucy, Gerald and Yolanda, Dean and Ronda, Kelly and Kelly; 14 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; sister, Mary Labounty; brother, Clark Bruce Jr. and Judy; and several sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. Anna was predeceased by five brothers, two sisters, three brothers-in-law, one sister-in-law and one daughter-in-law. A funeral service was held on Monday, April 23, 2012 in the chapel of Corbin and Palmer Funeral Home, 9 Pleasant St., Essex Junction, with burial in the Hinesburg Village Cemetery. Grandsons Shawn, Chad, Andy, Jamie, Taylor, Dylan and Dennis were the pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Visiting Nurse Assoc. Homecare, 1011 Prim Road, Colchester, VT 05446.

HOME & GARDEN: Cost share program available for property owners to manage stormwater runoff

The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District was recently awarded more than $25,000 from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ecosystem Restoration Program for a project aimed at reducing stormwater runoff in the Lake Champlain Basin. Called “Let it Rain,” the project is a joint venture with Lake Champlain Sea Grant and provides residential and commercial landowners with incentive payments for implementing stormwater best management practices on their property.

“Stormwater is a larger issue than people might think, especially in urban environments where there are lots of paved surfaces and rooftops,” says WNRCD District Manager Justin Kenney. “When rain hits these surfaces, it doesn’t have an opportunity to infiltrate into the ground. Instead, it runs off into a storm drain, picking up pollutants, chemicals, pathogens and debris along the way. In a small number of cases, that water receives treatment at a wastewater facility. For the most part, however, it gets dumped directly into a river, stream or lake.”

There are a number of things people can do to help reduce the amount of water flowing off their property. Gutters that are directly connected to sewer pipes can be redirected to grassy areas. Rain barrels and cisterns can be utilized to store and reuse rainwater. Rain gardens can be installed to treat roof runoff. Driveways can be redesigned to allow for more infiltration. All of these practices, while they may seem small, amount to a significant reduction in stormwater runoff.

“What I’ve seen time and time again are property owners interested in managing runoff on their property, but they have a lot of questions about what exactly to do and how to pay for it. I’m excited to be part of this program where we can offer both types of support,” said Laura Killian of UVM’s Lake Champlain Sea Grant, a partner on this program.

“With the launch of this program, we are calling on landowners to take a closer look at their stormwater footprint and ultimately take responsibility for it,” says Kenney. “We recognize that this can be difficult and we want people to know that we are here to help. With this funding, we are in a position to provide landowners with both technical and financial assistance. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

For more information about the program, visit http://www.uvm.edu/seagrant/let-it-rain or email justin.kenney@vt.nacdnet.net.

Little Details

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

Chocolate, cheese and children

We stepped inside, seeking shelter from the rain. Deep, melodious voices filled the reverent space, rising to meet the soaring ceiling. Three pilgrims sat in the front pew, hymnals in hand. They sang in a language I couldn’t discern. Was it German or French or maybe Latin? Their backpacks and walking sticks lay sprawled on the cathedral floor, just beyond the vestibule. Theirs was a journey of tens or perhaps hundreds of miles to visit the holy places.

Fribourg’s Cathedral of St. Nicholas rests on the site of an early Christian chapel.  Construction of the gothic structure commenced in 1283; it was completed in 1430 with an enormous bell tower rising seventy-six meters above the Old City.

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of this Swiss town founded in the 10th century. The Cathedral is central to the annual Festival of St. Nicholas when, on December 6th, “St. Nicholas” leads a procession through the city, tossing traditional spiced cakes to children.

Fribourg is my daughter’s city, her home for one year. My husband and I arrived as mere interlopers, breezing through with Aleksandra serving as translator, guide and cultural consultant. We learned a Swiss greeting requires three distinct kisses on the cheek and that men don’t kiss each other—real Swiss men shake hands.

I realize that the sacrifice of letting one’s child go can pay incalculable dividends: they learn to thrive in a foreign culture. In this year away from CVU, our daughter found her place as an exchange student, learning the history and culture of this French-speaking sliver of Switzerland while forging deep friendships and a special connection with her host family.

Walking along the periphery of the pews, I studied the Stations of the Cross, depicting Christ’s passion. Absent were the plaques, so common in European churches, honoring congregants who served in the World Wars.

Switzerland’s neutrality stance has allowed this multi-ethnic, landlocked nation to avoid war since 1815. This is a luxury on a continent bombed, mined, occupied and collectively traumatized during World War I, World War II and subsequent outbursts of ethno-religious and ideological conflicts. The terrorist threat does not appear to loom over this nation of chocolate, cheese and the soaring, snow-covered Alps.

Enormous stained glass windows spoke to me for their artistry and evocative storytelling. A multi-level masterpiece portrayed Heaven, Earth and Hell in a mélange of vibrant hues. The top tier captured the majesty of Heaven with angels swirling amid luminescent clouds. The middle tier featured the Adoration of the Magi. The Three Kings—Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar—greet a newborn babe bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh. Intricately cut and fused glass of ruby, emerald and sapphire contrasted the opulence of the Wise Men with earth-toned simplicity of a family in a stable. Hell, populated by sinister devils and desperate souls condemned to eternity amid flames, appeared in shades of blood red and singed orange, colors sharp as shards of glass.

“The stained glass windows remind me of the ones in Cracow,” my husband whispered.

I noted the name of the artist appearing at the base of the exquisite windows:  Jozef Mehoffer. A little research revealed that Mehoffer (1869-1946) was a Polish painter and decorative artist who studied at the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts. He was a frequent collaborator with Stanislaw Wyspianski, creator of renowned stained glass windows in many of Cracow’s churches.

Cracow is my city, the medieval gem in which I studied abroad. The connection made me smile as I reflected on finding Mehoffer’s work in what has become my daughter’s city.

Our whirlwind visit to Switzerland included visits to Bern, Chillon, Broc and Ovronnaz. We learned about the Swiss parliamentary system and the witchcraft hysteria from centuries ago. We lingered—perhaps a little too long—in the tasting room of Maison Cailler, Switzerland’s oldest chocolate factory.

We sipped local wines and savored authentic Swiss fondue—made with local Gruyere cheese—at our daughter’s host family’s chalet in the Alps. We spoke of history, politics and family values, comparing notes on our respective countries.

We realized how blessed our daughter is to have found this family—a welcoming family with six children—that runs on loads of love while maintaining the precision of a Swiss watch.

An ancient Swiss proverb offers the following advice:  “Avoid those who don’t like bread and children.”

We did.


Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston.  Reader comments are welcome at Editor@willistonobserver.com or LittleDetailsCol@yahoo.com

Letters to the Editor

Banish cruelty to animals — pass S.329

As I sat down to write this letter, a quick Internet search of the phrase “gestation crate” proved to be quite saddening. The only way to describe what I saw and read about this topic would be hundreds of images of fattened pigs stuffed into crates too small to move, their tails hanging out behind them and their snouts poking out in front of their sad eyes.

As delicious as I remember Christmas ham and Sunday morning bacon tasting, if you think about it – is it really as wonderful when you realize that the pig that was slaughtered for your food was raised in a crate so small she could not turn around, could not walk, could not bury herself in mud, and then when she was no longer able to reproduce, sent to slaughter? The meat from the pig you are eating was factory farmed for profit, and not allowed a natural pig life outside of being on your plate.

One of the reasons I choose to live in Vermont is the progressive nature and belief of civil rights to everyone. It is time for the Green Mountain State to move even further ahead and banish cruelty to its animals. And a great step in this animal rights movement in Vermont would be for our representatives to pass S.239 – An Act Relating to Ensuring the Humane Treatment and Slaughter of Animals. I encourage all our representatives to move past the “hot topics” at the State House and stand up for our animals. Please pass S.239.

— Leah Korce, Jericho


Booster seat or seat belt?

For my eighth grade challenge, I am informing/educating our community about car seat safety. Here are some important items to address:

Vermont Law states: All children ages 8 to 18 shall ride in a properly used child restraint or safety belt system;

All children up to the age of 8 shall ride in a properly used child restraint. Fines for violating this law: $25 for first violation; $50 for second violation; $100 for third and subsequent violation.

BUCKLE UP for every ride! Make safety a habit! Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 – 14.

Safety seat stages:

  • Stage 4 -— Seat Belt

Ride in the back seat until they are at least 13. When children outgrow their booster seats, they are at least eight years old and the belt fits them properly. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle’s seat? Is the lap belt below the stomach, touching the thighs? Is the shoulder belt centered on the shoulder and chest? Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle’s seat? Can the child stay seated like this for the whole ride? If the answer is no to any of these, continue to use booster seat.

  • Stage 3 -— Booster Seat

Children stay harnessed until they are at least four years old and 40 pounds. Children who do not meet both of these conditions may need a high-weight harness seat. Place the lap belt low over the hips. Place the shoulder belt across the center of the chest. Belt should not ride up on neck or down on arm. Booster must be used with both a lap and shoulder belt. Using only a lap belt can cause serious injury or death. No-back boosters may be used if the vehicle’s seat has a high back or a headrest and the belt fits correctly on the shoulder. If the vehicle does not have a headrest, use a high backed booster.

  • Stage 2 — Front facing properly installed car seat
  • Stage 1— Rear facing properly installed car seat

All infants under one-year-old and less than 20 pounds shall ride rear-facing in a proper child restraint that is not installed in front of an active air bag.

Please be seat-SMART in the car — it’s the law.

— Laura Durkee, Williston


Keep it simple at intersection

I agree with previous letters in the Observer regarding the intersection of North Williston Road and Mountain View Road in that we keep it simple and inexpensive. When driving down Mountain View Road recently, I felt the guardrail on the left could be removed to make the view of the intersection more clear. The posts on the opposite side protect walkers on the sidewalk. Thinking about cars coming to stop here when the road is iced and pedestrians are on the sidewalk makes this a safety barrier. If the power/light pole must be removed from the corner near the Owens house, it could be replaced by a boulder.

I also wondered if a crosswalk painted on the road would help bikers and walkers crossing from the sidewalk on the west to Governor Chittenden Road and a walking people sign installed on the south side, coming from the village. There must be many bikers who cross this area to get to Catamount during the year.

Most of the traffic is most likely an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon at this intersection, and that is only five days a week. It doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars where the busy time amounts to 10 hours a week.

Whenever I arrive at the intersection in the village, I find drivers are 99 percent courteous and take turns in a mannerly fashion. To have another 4-way stop at this intersection would not be difficult as drivers would learn to stop here as they do in the village. I do not think we need blinking lights to warn drivers — just warning signs before cars come to the intersection. After all, drivers should adapt to changes in the traffic patterns without too much trouble.

— Ginger Isham, Williston


Vermont Electric Cooperative Board vote

There are eight candidates on Vermont Electric Cooperative ballots that were mailed on April 17 to represent West District II. The West District includes 40 towns in Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Chittenden counties, and a small part of Starksboro.

VEC was founded in 1938 as a non-profit Rural Electric Adminstration utility to bring power to rural Vermont, starting with about 45 customers in Lowell and now serving approximately 34,000 members.

VEC is under member control through the Board. This, in turn, assumes members participate in the election of directors and remain current with their performance. In the past, member participation has been disappointing. When I ran two years ago, less than 10 percent of eligible members cast ballots. Another indication of member involvement is that I have been the only VEC member, with a few exceptions, present at Board meetings. Eight candidates this time suggests a change in interest and, if so, hurray!

The Board’s role is critical in assuring the Co-op provides safe, reliable and business-based power at the lowest attainable rates. To meet these ends, I believe there should be, periodically, new board members through term limits; and the Board should, from time to time, hold meetings in various locations within its service areas to make it easier for members to observe the Board in action and give the Board opportunities to hear from its members.

VEC belongs to its members. So, all members look over the ballots and VOTE!

— Schuyler Jackson, Hinesburg

Guest Column

What is gluten-free?

By Diane Mincher

Lately, I’ve seen more and more foods labeled “gluten-free.” What exactly is gluten, anyway?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It’s also in spelt, a type of wheat, as well as triticale, a cross between wheat and rye.

Some people -— estimates say one in every 133 people — have trouble digesting this particular protein. Gluten can damage the digestive tract, which results in poor nutrient absorption and can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Some common symptoms of gluten intolerance include gas, bloating, diarrhea, cramps, unexplained weight loss, anemia, fatigue or weakness. The condition, called celiac disease, varies in its severity.

Following a gluten-free diet isn’t as easy as avoiding bread, crackers, cereal and baked goods. Many processed foods may contain wheat, barley or rye, too, including beer, ale, lager, bouillon cubes, candy, potato chips, cold cuts and most cereals, unless labeled gluten-free.

French fries, rice mixes, flavored instant coffees, sauces, some processed and flavored cheeses, soy sauce, licorice, chocolate bars, self-basting turkeys, soups and vegetables in sauce are on the list, among others. Gluten also may be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins and lip balms.

Almost all gluten-free products now label their package as gluten-free or use a “GF” symbol. Reading ingredient labels on products is very important to make sure that that the item does not contain wheat, barley or rye.

Other foods or ingredients to avoid include bran, bread crumbs, bulgur, cereal extract, couscous, cracker meal, durum wheat, farina, graham flour, high-gluten flour, high-protein flour, semolina, spelt, vital gluten, vital wheat gluten, wheat bran, wheat germ, wheat gluten, malt, wheat starch and whole or enriched flour.

Baking without gluten can be challenging because gluten contributes important properties to various types of baked products like cookies, cakes, pastries and breads. Gluten-free cookbooks and online resources frequently offer gluten-free flour blend formulations for use in making cookies, cakes, quick breads and yeast breads. To bind and thicken gluten-free products, eggs and a starch-based product, such as guar gum and xanthan gum, are used.

If using these products, refrigerate all flours for freshness and quality, but bring to room temperature before measuring. Gluten-free baked goods can lose moisture and quality quickly. Wrap them tightly and store in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container to prevent dryness and staleness.

The gluten-free diet is a lifelong commitment and should not be started before consulting your doctor and being tested for celiac disease. Tests to confirm could be inaccurate if a person followed a gluten-free diet for a long period of time.

For more information, contact Diane Mincher, UVM Extension nutrition and food specialist, at (802) 388-4969, ext. 331, or (800) 956-1125 (within Vermont) or by e-mail at diane.mincher@uvm.edu

For a delicious, gluten-free recipes, visit  www.celiac.com, an online resource for celiac disease and gluten-free diet information.

— Diane Mincher is an Extension Nutrition and Food Specialist at the University of Vermont

Library Notes

Karen Wyman and her daughter, Kenzie, stopped at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library for a quick visit during National Library Week. (Courtesy photo by Marti Fiske)

Congratulations to Sharon Bay of St. George! She is the winner of our National Library Week drawing for a Nook e-reader.


Youth News

Vacation Week Movie

Friday, April 27, 3 p.m.  Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt in search of a sunken ship. Rated PG, 107 minutes. Grade 1 and up. Children ages 8 and younger must be accompanied by an adult while in the library.

Russian Story Time

Saturday, April 28, 10:30 am. Stories, songs and crafts for children ages birth through 5. This program is presented in Russian. English speakers are welcome. Presenters will translate and teach Russian words. Includes puppet show: “Teremok.”

Early Literacy Parent Workshop

Monday, April 30, 6 p.m. This parent workshop provides information and fun activities for promoting your two- to five-year-old child’s early reading success. Presented by Brenda Buzzell, Building Blocks for Literacy Coordinator at the Stern Center for Language and Learning. Pre-register at 878-4918.

Food for Thought Teen Library Volunteers

Thursday, May 3, 4-5 p.m. Our Teen Advisory Group meets for pizza, discussion and library projects, grades 7-12. Get ready for summer! Help make decorations for summer reading programs. First Thursday of each month.


Adult Programs 

Yoga Workshop

Saturday, May 5 from 10:30 a.m.- noon. Explore the origins of yoga, look at the sage Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, learn some techniques of pranayama, and move through an invigorating and relaxing sequence yoga asana.  Instructor: Leo Leach. Please register as class size is limited. Bring a mat or towel.

So You Have A Story, Now What? Tips for authors in a digital publishing age

Monday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. Authors Diane McDonald Goodrich and Tim Brookes discuss how to get your work considered and some digital self-publishing options, including the Champlain College Publishing Initiative.

Story Crafters Series

Sandy Baird: Finding the Path Forward. Monday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. Baird, Professor of Legal and Justice Studies at Burlington College and founder of The Caroline Baird Crichfield Fund for Women in Need, shares her story of how she succeeded after childhood adversities.


New Fiction

“An Unexpected Visitor” by debut novelist Anne Korkeavivi is the tale of a day-in-the-life of a British diplomat’s wife, a chance encounter and the suspense that ensues.


Rosamund Lupton, author of the bestselling “Sister,” weaves another riveting story of loss and love in the psychological thriller “Afterwards.”


New Non-Fiction

Special Agent Clint Hill reveals his story from the humble beginnings of a North Dakota orphanage to the protective detail of his secret service assignment in “Mrs. Kennedy and Me.”


Anna Quindlen reflects on the past, present and future and the ever-changing interests of women in “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir.”


The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is located at 21 Library Lane in Williston, and can be reached at 878-4918. www.williston.lib.vt.us

Local Scout plans cemetery kiosk to honor military veterans

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Avery Caterer

Despite temperatures that hovered in the mid-40s and wind gusts that reached 15 mph, Avery Caterer was smiling as he stood in Williston’s East Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, dressed only in the short-sleeved uniform of Williston Boy Scout Troop 692.

Unperturbed by the weather, Caterer plunged the faux gold-plated blade of a ceremonial shovel into the earth to mark the groundbreaking of a kiosk that will serve as a guide to locate the tombstones of the military veterans laid to rest within the cemetery’s confines.

A 16-year-old junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, Life Scout Caterer spearheaded the kiosk initiative in conjunction with the Williston Cemetery Commission as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project, which tests the leadership skills of those seeking the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts.

The final resting places of over 100 veterans will be indicated on the completed kiosk – at least one of whom served in the War of 1812.

“I’m really hoping that it’s going to raise awareness about how many veterans there are,” Caterer said. “Before this project, I really didn’t know how many veterans have fought for us just from this state – and just from this town, even – so learning that was a wakeup call.”

The kiosk – which will be located in the upper left corner of section 3 of the cemetery, near the border of the Johnson Farm – will measure 7 feet by 9 feet and will be set 3 feet above the ground. A Lexan cover will be installed to protect the wooden structure from the elements and hinged doors will be locked at night to guard the memorial against vandalism.

Caterer said he would like to have the project completed by Memorial Day (May 28), although it will be contingent on raising the necessary funding.

To date, he has raised $350 of the roughly $700 needed to see the project through to completion.

Caterer noted that while the primary purpose of the kiosk is to honor both those who died for their country and those who have since passed from the earth following military service, he hopes that it will also serve as a reminder of the active military personnel who continue to put themselves in harm’s way in defense of freedom.

“I’ve met people who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s kind of sobering to learn what goes on,” Caterer said. “So I figure the more recognition they get, the better.”

Those wishing to make a donation toward the construction of the cemetery kiosk can send a check to Troop 692 Treasurer, 489 Metcalf Drive, Williston, VT, 05495. Checks should be made payable to: “Williston Troop 692.”

Closing the loop

S.D. Ireland wins bid for Old Stage Road sidewalk, water line construction

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

This stretch of Old Stage Road is scheduled for construction of a sidewalk to connect Wildflower Circle with the small piece of sidewalk constructed several years ago in front of Adams Farm Market. Completion of the project, scheduled for Sept. 1, will complete the ‘loop’ from Old Stage, Williston, North Williston and Mountain View roads, and make it safer for pedestrians and drivers. (Observer photo by Marianne Apfelbaum)

Any Williston walker or runner knows the drill.

Traveling “the loop” formed by Old Stage, Williston, North Williston and Mountain View roads is smooth sailing on pedestrian-friendly sidewalks until one hits the bare stretch on Old Stage, between Mountain View and Wildflower Circle, and has to contend with traffic on the road’s slim shoulder.

Those days will soon be over.

According to Williston Director of Public Works Bruce Hoar, the town issued a notice of award to S.D. Ireland for the construction of the missing link of the sidewalk. Although a formal contract has yet to be signed, S.D. Ireland’s winning bid of $343,880 also includes the cost of building an extension to the town water line that runs along Old Stage Road.

Like the completion of the sidewalk loop, the water line extension will have the effect of looping the area’s water system, thus decreasing the number of affected customers should a water line break occur. In the longer term, it will improve Williston’s overall water line infrastructure, should the town construct a new water storage tank on one of two proposed sites in the vicinity of Old Stage and Mountain View roads.

The sidewalk and water line projects, which will run concurrently, are slated to begin construction in early May, with a Sept. 1 deadline for completion.

Hoar said that while the projects will likely require flaggers and one-lane traffic during certain periods of construction, at no point will traffic be shut down entirely on Old Stage Road.

Education funding on chopping block

Sequestration likely to take effect in January

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

When the Budget Control Act of 2011 was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Aug. 2, 2011, after an extended period of partisan haggling, its immediate effect was to raise the U.S. debt ceiling by $400 billion – thus averting the first default on the country’s sovereign debt in its 235-year history.

Almost an afterthought to the aversion of the unthinkable were the ramifications of the government’s increased borrowing power. Namely, that the Democratic and Republican factions of Congress would need to reach an agreement on how to slice $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit to avoid triggering mandatory, across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration.”

To that end, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was created.

On Nov. 21, 2011, the co-chairs of the so-called “Supercommittee” released a statement which began: “After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

Thus, barring an eleventh hour Congressional miracle in a presidential election year, the across-the-board federal budget cuts will take effect in January 2013.


While the mandatory budget cuts would affect myriad government programs, at the local level its impact would be felt most acutely in education funding.

Williston resident Shannon Hiltner, the Parent Teacher Association Federal and State Legislative Representative for Vermont, traveled to Washington, D.C. in March to discuss the potential impacts of sequestration with Vermont’s congressional delegation.

She said it was an eye-opening experience.

“It is extremely frightening to me how unaware people are of the automatic triggers that are built into the federal law, known as sequestration, that will cut more than $9 million from the education budget in Vermont alone,” Hiltner said.

Although the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit think tank, estimates Vermont’s 2013 education-related budget cuts at $10.7 million, the federal Congressional Budget Office projects a $9.1 million reduction.

Hiltner said either scenario would be devastating to local students and educators – particularly in the area of special education.

“Funding at risk includes special needs, gifted and talented, early education, teacher education and a host of other programs – and the cuts go into effect midyear,” said Hiltner. “Losing funding, in my opinion, can go one of two ways: on the back of the taxpayers to make up the shortfall, or cutting services outright.”

Vermont PTA President Rae Couillard urged Vermonters to speak out against a federal measure that could negatively impact one of the key measures of the state’s favorable livability rating.

“That’s why people come and live in Vermont – because we’re known to have a good education system,” Couillard said. “It’s really going to be cutting a lot out of special education.”

Based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, $4.4 million in budget cuts are projected at the state level from ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) programs, while $2.3 million is slated for cuts from IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) programs. In addition, $1.2 million is projected to be cut statewide from Head Start, a program that provides education, health and nutrition services to low-income children and parents.


Elaine Pinckney, superintendent of the Champlain South Supervisory Union – which includes the Williston School District and Champlain Valley Union High School – said that officials from the Vermont Department of Education have indicated that a 10 percent reduction in CSSU-allocated federal funding should be expected if sequestration occurs.

The irony, Pinckney noted, is that the educational area that will be hit hardest by the congressional gridlock is special education programs – the same programs that are required by federal law to maintain a certain budgetary standard.

“What I do know is it will be a hardship for us to figure out, and we will need to take (funding) from other programs,” Pinckney said. “We’re kind of between a rock and a hard place.”

Town eyed for gas pipeline

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

It’s called the Addison Natural Gas Project, but the largest pipeline expansion project in Vermont Gas’ history will need the participation of several Chittenden County towns – including Williston.

According to Steve Wark, director of communications for Vermont Gas, Williston is vital to the success of the project’s preferred route.

“Why am I here tonight?” Wark posed at the April 16 Williston Selectboard meeting. “I’m here tonight because Williston plays a critical role. Frankly, it would be very difficult to do this project without the Circ communities of Colchester, Essex and Williston.”

The preferred route for the pipeline – which would bring natural gas to Vergennes, Middlebury and other parts of Addison County – would bypass Burlington by following the route of the unrealized Circumferential Highway from Colchester to Williston. After passing underneath the Winooski River, the pipeline would follow Interstate 89 to the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) substation off Sycamore Street. From there, it would track south to Addison County by following Vermont 2A to the “VELCO corridor” between U.S. 7 and Vermont 116.

The long-term plan of Vermont Gas – which gets its natural gas from Alberta via the TransCanada pipeline – is to service Rutland and points south, and to eventually connect to the U.S. natural gas supply.

“Essentially, Vermont is an outlier. We are connected to the Canadian system, but we don’t connect to any part of the U.S. system,” Wark said. “So what that does is it puts us at the very end of this Canadian system, and one of the reasons that we’ve started to think about expanding our system is not only to serve other people in Vermont, but ultimately, we’d love to be able to probably 20-25 years from now connect to the U.S. system and have access to a different source of gas.”

Citing the 450 Jericho residents who reduced their annual carbon dioxide emissions by 900 tons by converting to natural gas, Wark said Vermont Gas’ growth vision complements Vermont’s vision of becoming a greener state.

“Our vision is that because natural gas is clean and supportable … it’s poised to be really a great fuel resource for not only the country, but in particular, Vermont,” said Wark. “We believe that it can help reduce this dependence – or overdependence – on foreign oil, and it can also reduce the greenhouse gas emissions profile in the state.”

However, the high pressure pipeline running beneath the town’s surface wouldn’t translate into increased natural gas services for Williston residents, due to the fact that the town lacks a “gate station” to step down the pressure of the gas transmission to a level suitable for residential use.

Selectboard Deputy Chairman Jeff Fehrs addressed that shortcoming by asking Wark what tangible benefits Willistonians can expect to receive from the project.

“What do we get out of it?” Fehrs asked. “It sounds like there will be no benefit in terms of providing additional gas to Williston.”

Wark responded that in addition to providing increased reliability to existing natural gas customers, the pipeline would offer tax benefits to the town. Although he was unable to provide specific figures during the project’s conceptual stage, Wark noted that natural gas transmission lines are generally valued between $1 million and $1.5 million per linear mile and would be subject to municipal taxes on an annual basis, based on that assessed value.

Wark added that the project should be looked at in terms of its benefit to the state as a whole.

“I see this as a greater good project. I see this as a way to help other Vermonters, and sometimes, it doesn’t always help the person that you’re immediately going through their area,” Wark said. “It will help people in Addison County to lower their bills, it will reduce carbon, and that money comes back into the economy.”

In an April 19 letter to Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire, Fire Chief Ken Morton wrote that the proposed natural gas transmission line would require increased training for emergency responders and more sophisticated metering equipment for detecting and quantifying gas levels.

However, Morton also noted: “When compared to other fuel transport options, pipelines rank among the safest modes of transporting fuels, and/or natural gas.”