June 20, 2019

PHOTOS: Miss Vermont Teen USA

Observer photos by Marianne Apfelbaum
Miss Vermont Teen USA Karsen Woods visited Ramunto’s Pizza on Saturday while raising money for the national pageant, which will stream live from the Bahamas on July 28 at 8 p.m.


Observer photos by Shane Bufano
The CVU girls lacrosse team played Mount Mansfield Union on May 23. The Redhawks are set to play Brattleboro Union High School in their first playoff game on Friday.

PHOTOS: CVU girls tennis

Courtesy photos

The CVU girls tennis team competed in the Vermont State Individual Tournament , a three-day event held in Montpelier. In a draw of 44 of the top high school players, Andrea Joseph (right) from Williston came in 3rd place and Emily Polhemus (left) from Shelburne came in 4th place. Coach Amy DeGroot (center) was there to encourage the team during the tournament.

PHOTOS: Vermont City Marathon

Observer photos by Stephen Mease

Hundreds of Vermonters, including many Williston residents, ran the 24th annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon & Relay and YAM Scram on May 27. Winner Kasie Enman of Huntington finished in 2 hours, 43 and 13 seconds.

PHOTOS: WCS art show and concert

Observer photos by Stephanie Choate

Parents and students admired artwork—including ceramic cupcakes and figures, wire sculptures and drawings—at the Williston Central School before taking in the spring concerts on May 24.

This Week’s Popcorn: ‘Bernie’

Stranger Than Fiction

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 Echoing the quandary my great, great grandfather, Shmuel the Philosopher, voiced when he asked, “Who’s to say what’s real?” filmmaker Richard Linklater takes truth and reality as entertainment to a whole nother level in “Bernie.” Loosely based on the circumstances revolving around a 1996 murder in Carthage, Texas, it is oddly charming…very oddly.

Controversial from the get go, chances are the documentary style account wouldn’t be nearly as funny and engaging without Jack Black’s stellar performance as the title character. Meet Bernie Tiede, the stranger who rode into town, got a job as assistant funeral director and within a very short time became Carthage’s number one citizen.

A great early scene, wherein Bernie is the invited alumnus giving a demonstration to a mortuary class, offers us a peek into his persona, perhaps explaining the innate charm that has gained him such profound esteem in the community. He’s the everyman, the caring soul personified, whether overseeing a burial or championing a new wing for the church.

If the local players need someone to iron out the wrinkles in their latest production, heck, he can go one better by singing the lead role…proving himself a veritable Music Man in more ways than one. Yet of all his talents and accomplishments, the most amazing feat is when he wins the friendship of filthy rich, much hated town curmudgeon, Marge Nugent.

Portrayed to a T by Shirley Maclaine in a role she’s made her very own in recent years, no one likes Marge…not even her kin, most of whom have tried to sue her for wealth that isn’t coming to them either now or after her demise. She’s made that clear. But with Bernie it’s different. His dedication is transcending; he’s soon her constant companion.

But then something shocking occurs…an event so untoward that people just can’t digest it. All of which focuses the director’s ruminations on the prismatic fickleness of perception…a monograph on the subjectivity that decides what we embrace as the truth. Then, bumping up the stakes, the screenplay opines how that can affect our morality.

It’s told in flashback, after the facts we don’t know, unless you’re familiar with the 1998 “Texas Magazine” article originally written by Skip Hollandsworth. Mirroring the real life complications inherent to the tale, Mr. Linklater takes the very questionable liberty of mixing actors with interviews of actual denizens of the East Texas burg.

It’s the reality show transposed to the big screen, challenging the very concepts of fiction, truth and that great crucible of understanding that lies in-between: the gray area. While Confucian scholars might deem the dramatic interrogatory a no-brainer, for us Westerners the smile it forms on your mouth belies the furrows it puts on your forehead.

Most of the townsfolk like Bernie, as do we, thanks entirely to Mr. Black’s ingratiating portrayal. While it foretells a broader possibility of roles for the primarily comic actor, the tricky foray into black comedy brings us to an amusing dilemma— the ethical conundrum that beats at the heart of the film— though I won’t tell you exactly why.

Suffice it to note that Matthew McConaughey as Danny Buck, the district attorney, never buys into the Super Bernie syndrome that transfixes Carthage. In fact, he’s rather suspect of the adopted favorite son. Also suffice it to note, he may or may not be vindicated when aforementioned events put the town on its ear and culminate in a cause celebre.

Working backwards to the big finale from a script he penned with writer Hollandsworth, director Linklater manages a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. If you were to read it, it wouldn’t be half as enamoring as what results from the smorgasbord of down home colloquialisms his largely amateur cast uses to state their colorful points of view.

It’s a delirious panoply of ostensibly heartfelt verbiage, a lazy Susan of well-meant prejudices and assumptions skillfully juxtaposed with down-home wisdom and native intelligence. It’s part of why comedy can be such a great conveyor of truth… unshaded opinions told for what they are, delivered here as if auditioning to portray Will Rogers.

Which reminds me of a great tall-tale teller in college who, on the dorm fire escape during warm fall nights, told the most outlandish stories, all inevitably ending with him coaxing the dean’s daughter to an assignation. But we let him, because it was so much fun. You see, we’re being had a bit, or not, depending on how your antennae receive it.

A provocative exercise that’s the cinematic equivalent of a brain teaser or a magician’s conjuration, you can take its implicit challenge or allow yourself to enjoy it on face value. And because it’s so intriguing, especially in light of the specious smoke and mirrors its storytelling style employs, I’d be interested in knowing exactly which “Bernie” you see.

“Bernie,” rated PG-13, is a Millennium Entertainment release directed by Richard Linklater and stars Jack Black, Shirley Maclaine and the townspeople of Carthage, Texas. Running time: 104 minutes 





CVU teams get cracking in post-season play

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The Vermont Principals Association announced post-season playoff pairings on Monday in six sports, with Champlain Valley Union High teams picking one top seed and a second seed.

The number one seed went to coach Amy deGroot’s undefeated girls tennis team (14-0), which opened its playoffs Wednesday on its home Shelburne courts against 16th seed St. Johnsbury Academy (1-12).

The 14-2 baseball team drew the second Division 1 playoff seed and also opened the playoffs at home Wednesday against 15th seeded North Country Union (2-13).

Coach Dave Trevithick’s defending Division 1 champion boys lacrosse team earned a fifth seed with its 11-5 season mark and played off in Hinesburg Wednesday against 12th seeded Burlington High (1-15).

The girls lacrosse team, under first-year head coach Erin Malone, drew a fourth seed as a result of its 9-5 mark and will have a home match on Friday (4:30 p.m.) against fifth seeded Brattleboro High, 9-5.

A road trip awaits the 7-7 boys lacrosse team, which travels to Newport on Wednesday to meet fourth-seeded North Country Union (9-1-1). CVU drew

13th seed.

Also on the road Wednesday will be the 14th seeded softball team (1-15), which hops a bus to Brattleboro Union High for a session with the third seeded 14-2 Colonels.

Wednesday games and matched were played after the Observer’s press deadline.

Williston duo rules state tennis tournament

Willistonian David Ro plays for Rice Memorial High School. (Photo by Shane Bufano)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent 

Essex High junior David Ro won his third consecutive Vermont Interscholastic boys individual tennis title on Saturday at Burlington’s Leddy Park.

This year his foe in the championship match was a very familiar person: his younger brother, Daniel, a freshman at Essex High.

David Ro won the match 6-1, 6-1 and became the first three-time champion since Alex Davydov won his third straight in 1998.

David and Daniel are the sons of Chris and Una Ro of Williston.

In winning another crown, David extended an unbeaten streak against state high school competitors that goes back to his first match his freshman year. In that unblemished time, he has not even lost a set.

In his first season this year, Daniel went undefeated in his individual matches and earned the trip to the title test with a close, tense victory over Brattelboro Union’s Isaiah Ungerleider 4-6, 7-5, 6-0.

Softball, Track and Field

Playoffs underway for CVU baseball, softball

Champlain Valley Union High baseball and softball teams began their second (playoff) seasons on Wednesday, with the14-2, second-seeded baseball aggregation home to 12th-seeded North Country Union and the 1-15 softball team on the road against third-seeded 9-5 Brattleboro Union.

Wednesday’s games were after the Observer’s press deadline.

The baseball team’s game with 3-13 North Country was postponed from Tuesday due to weather.

An opening round victory would give the Redhawks a home encounter on Friday at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of a Wednesday pairing between 10th-seeded South Burlington High, 7-9, at seventh-seed Essex High, 11-5.

Coach Tim Albertson’s CVU combine, blanked 7-0 with but two hits by Colchester ace Zach Tandy, got the raps back on Friday with a 6-1 triumph at Middlebury Union.

The slugging came from Larry Halvorson with a two-run double, Curt Echo’s triple, single and RBI, plus Brendan Davitt’s two hits.

Dylan Ireland pitched into the sixth inning, allowing seven hits while whiffing five to get the win. Davis Mikell worked the final inning and two-thirds, fanning three.

The softball team, should it win at Brattleboro, would play on Saturday against Wednesday’s winner between sixth-seeded Mount Mansfield Union and 11th-seed North Country Union. That game would also be on the road.

CVU bowed to Colchester and Middlebury in its final two regular season tests.


State meet up next for CVU track and field

With 17 athletes qualifying for the New England meet on June 9 in Saco, Maine, the Champlain Valley Union High track and field team will now focus on the Vermont Division 1 State Meet on Saturday at Burlington High.

In the highly regarded Essex Invitational on Saturday, which drew upward of 1,000 competitors, 11 CVU girls and six boys punched their tickets for Saco by finishing in the top six in their events.

“In general the day went well,” CVU assistant coach James Donegan wrote in an email. “There were several season’s bests and personal bests for individuals.”

The Redhawks took a first in the 4×800 relay as the team of Taylor Spillane, Autumn Eastman, Claire Trotter and Isabelle Unger hot-footed to the triumph.

The 4×100 relay team of Tallon Tomasi, Abigail Eddy, Abbey Norris and Sienna Searles took third.

The boys 4×800 team earned a third place finish. The team included Elijah Cory, Sam Longenbach, Sean Delaney and Jared Keyes.

Double individual qualifiers included: Spillane with a second and third in the girls 1,600 and 3,200 runs; sprinter Haliana Burhans in the 100 and 200 dashes (third, fourth); and Matt Baurer with a runner-up and fifth in the boys high jump and triple jump.

In addition, Eastman took second in the girls 800, Unger was third in the 300 hurdles, Sara Lewis finished third in the pole vault and Brianna Hake fifth in javelin.

Brian Boisjoli captured a fifth place in boys pole vault.

CVU lacrosse teams open playoffs at home

Redhawk Lucia Llona hangs onto the ball during the May 23 game against Mount Mansfield. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

As an old song might have gone, “There is no place like home during playoff time.”

The Champlain Valley Union High boys and girls lacrosse teams open the Division 1 playoffs on their Hinesburg grass, the boys on Wednesday and the girls on Friday.

Coach Dave Trevithick’s fifth-seeded 11-5 boys took on 12th-seed 1-15 Burlington High on Wednesday. A victory meant a trip to fourth seed 11-4 Woodstock Union on Friday.

The girls are seeded fourth and are set for a home contest on Friday (4:30 p.m.) against fifth-seeded Brattleboro Union, also 9-5. A win would bring a likely meeting on Tuesday at top seed 12-1 South Burlington High. The Rebels will be matched on Friday against either eighth-seeded Mount Mansfield Union or ninth seed Essex High.

Both CVU teams bowed in their final regular season games.

The boys got tripped 15-9 on Friday night at Essex High, despite three goals and two assists from Chris Bulla, plus a pair of scores and two helpers from Alex Bulla. It was the Redhawks’ second loss to the Hornets, who took possession of the “Bucket” for the next 12 months.

The girls also lost on Friday, bowing to 14-2 Middlebury by a 14-8 tally. The Tigers earned their second win over CVU, which got two goals each from Abby Owens and Jessica Dudley.