May 20, 2018

CVU house director Adam Bunting accepts Montpelier principal job

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Adam Bunting.

Adam Bunting saved the best for last.

The Snelling House Director at Champlain Valley Union High School will depart CVU after the current school year to become the new principal of Montpelier High School.

But before bidding the Redhawks adieu, Bunting will deliver the commencement address at CVU graduation on June 15 as his last official act of business with the school to which he devoted 17 years of his life.

“This is maybe the highlight of my career—the students asked me to be the commencement speaker for graduation this year,” Bunting said. “I am absolutely thrilled that the students asked me to do that. That’s just a real honor.”

A Shelburne native, Bunting graduated from CVU in 1994. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Connecticut College, he returned to CVU in 1998 as a substitute teacher and assistant lacrosse coach before teaching English full-time in Fairbanks House for three years. Following another hiatus, during which he studied school leadership at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Bunting again returned to CVU, where he spent the past nine years as the director of Snelling House.

Bunting said he has mixed emotions about leaving CVU.

“It’s wonderful and it’s also hard. It’s one of those bittersweet times,” he said. “What I realized—and sometimes you only realize these things in retrospect—was that I’ve been talking with my students for years and years about the importance of personal growth, and I think as teachers sometimes we forget to take that lens and look at our own lives with it. There was something internally that was calling me to change things up.”

CVU Principal Sean McMannon said Bunting will be missed.

“Professionally, he’s been one of the most insightful and passionate leaders I’ve ever come in contact with,” McMannon said. “He has what I would call a gentle courage. He has a way where he can really get to the heart of matters.”

The current enrollment at Montpelier High School is about 340—roughly the same size as Snelling House. Bunting will replace current MHS principal Peter Evans, who will retire at the end of the school year.

“Within 15 minutes of talking to Adam, I just knew he was the perfect person (for the job),” Evans said of his successor. “I think the community will really benefit from his manner and genuineness.”

Bunting, 36, lives in Williston with his wife and two children. Despite the 29-minute commute to MHS, he said his family has no imminent plans to relocate.

“We really love Williston. No, we’re not going to move, at this point,” Bunting said. “We located in Williston on purpose.”

Bunting, who said the relationships he forged with students and the school administration will be what he will miss most about CVU, had some parting advice for his replacement.

“The most important part of the function of this job is really keeping an eye on, and building relationships with, the 350 students who are in Snelling House in ninth to 12th grades,” he said.

McMannon said eight candidates have interviewed for the house director job. He hopes to have the position filled by the end of the month.

Academic Honors

Champlain College

Champlain College’s 134th Commencement took place at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington on Saturday, May 5. In all, 451 undergraduates and 66 graduate students earned their degrees, including the following Williston residents.

-Erin Duffy, Bachelor of Science in accounting

-Alexandra Cota, Bachelor of Science in business

-Lance Millett, Bachelor of Science in business management

-Jordan Pavlik, Bachelor of Science in business management

-Coberlin Brownell, Master of Fine Arts in Emergent Media

-Shaina Lurie, Master of Fine Arts in Emergent Media

-Nathan Terrill, Bachelor of Science in graphic design and digital media

-Lami Tanko, Bachelor of Science in healthcare management

-Daniel Connors, Master of Business Administration

-Stan Tribble, Associate of Science in radiography

-Viktor Jagar, Bachelor of Science in software engineering

University of Vermont

On May 20, the University of Vermont awarded degrees to 2,552 students during the school’s 209th commencement, including the following Williston graduates.

-Nicholas A. Allgaier, Certificate of Graduate Studies in mathematical sciences

-Nicholas S. Archdeacon, Master of Public Administration

-Jessica P. Barrett, Bachelor of Arts in communication science

-Bradford M. Berry, Bachelor of Science in civil engineering

-Brittany L. Brogna, Bachelor of Science in business administration

-Hillary L. Burrows, Master of Business Administration

-Katherine R. Cahill, Master of Science in nursing

-Scott A. Camp, Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies

-Cameron Clark, Bachelor of Science in animal sciences

-Nicole W. Davignon, Doctor of Physical Therapy

-Bradley M. Docheff, Bachelor of Arts in English

-Norah C. Foley, Bachelor of Science in business administration

-Benjamin Greenfield, Master of Science in mechanical engineering

-Emily E. Heaslip, Bachelor of Science in dietetics nutrition and food sciences

-Sidra M. Hoffman, Master of Science in pathology

-Brittany L. Jean, Bachelor of Science in animal sciences

-Eze I. Kamanu, Master of Business Administration

-Leslye R. Kornegay, Doctor of Education in educational leadership and policy studies

-Ross M. Meunier, Bachelor of Arts in English

-Michael J. Moreman, Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics

-Grace M. Paquette, Bachelor of Science in social work

-Benjamin L. Reed, Bachelor of Arts in anthropology

-Chelsea L. Renaud, Bachelor of Arts in English

-Ketura L. Rich, Master of Education in special education

-Rachel E. Shapiro, Bachelor of Science, cum laude, in dietetics nutrition and food sciences

-Robyn E. Suarez, Bachelor of Arts in English

-Andrew P. Sweeny, Bachelor of Arts in biology

-Jay W. Tandan, Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies

-Rebecca Tharp, Master of Science in natural resources

-Luke Thornton, Bachelor of Science in business administration

-Glenn P. Varricchione, Master of Business Administration

-Natalie R. West, Bachelor of Arts in French

-Evan W. Yandell, Bachelor of Arts in computer science

Vermont Technical College

This year, 486 students received degrees on May 5, including several Williston residents:

-Brendan Downs-Dudley,
Associate’s degree in science nursing

-Vincent Franco, Bachelor of Science degree in computer
engineering technology

-Joshua Germain, Associate of Applied Science degree in business technology and management

-Abigail Senesac, Bachelor of Science degree in equine studies

Clarkson University

Aidan S. Zebertavage of Williston received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering.

Montana State University

Benjamin Larson, grandson of David and Ginger Isham of Williston, recently graduated with highest honors from the university’s College of Art and Architecture.

University of Maine at Farmington

Renate Dubois of Williston received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing on Saturday, May 12.

Coastal Carolina University

Thomas J. Giardino of Williston received a Bachelor of Arts degree on Saturday, May 5.

CVU student wins scholarship

Allison Giroux.

Champlain Valley Union High school senior Allison Giroux was one of five Vermont students to win the University Mall’s Scholarship of Excellence, sponsored by Finard Properties. Students were asked to describe how their volunteer efforts benefited the greater Champlain Valley community.

Allison Giroux, daughter of Roger and Denise Giroux, was recognized for her work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, raising money and coordinating volunteer efforts with the Vermont Walk to Cure Diabetes event.  Allison also volunteers with the American Red Cross and is active with several other civic organizations. Alison plans to attend the Honors College at the University of Vermont.

The scholarship winners will each receive $5,000 toward their first year of college.

Williston student makes Dean’s List

Tim Averill, a business management major, was named to the dean’s list for the spring 2012 semester at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Students inducted into National History Honor Society

The University of Vermont Alpha Alpha Psi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, inducted 40 University of Vermont students into its membership at an Honors Day Ceremony held in April.

Williston student Bradley M. Docheff was among those honored.

Phi Alpha Theta’s mission is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians.

Little Details: Mitigating woe

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

Professor Geoff Palmer, an accomplished academic, speaks with the refinement of an honorable British gentleman. Foysol Choudhury is a passionate community activist and respected restaurateur.

Both men are highly successful in their professions. As president and chair, respectively, of the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equity Council (ELREC), Palmer and Choudhury are committed to eliminating discrimination and reducing inequality in Scotland.

Palmer grew up in Jamaica, immigrating to Great Britain when he was 15. A talent for cricket opened educational doors that might otherwise have been closed to an intelligent, young black man of limited financial means. Choudhury, born in Bangladesh and reared in Scotland, grew up witnessing his father’s significant efforts to promote civil rights for ethnic minorities.

“This work is something I feel I have to do,” Palmer said. “I was lucky. I met good people along the way.  To realize my potential, I had to run into people who knew how to access the (educational) system.”

“I got involved,” Choudhury says, “because I grew up in this society. I feel like I’ve been lucky. People like Geoff and my father knew how to speak up. There are lots of people who don’t. If I can help someone who feels they are being discriminated against, I am happy to do it.”

ELREC is not new to Scotland. Established in 1971, it occupies a space on Edinburgh’s Forth Street, a short walk from the heavily touristed Royal Mile. Agency Administrator Arun Gopinath oversees day-to-day operations. He coordinates volunteers, secures funding and conducts outreach activities. It’s a lot of work for a small office.

As an American citizen who once worked in a U.S. civil rights office, I was drawn to ELREC. Past experience investigating alleged discrimination in employment and housing prompted a desire to understand what discrimination “looks like” in this northern region of the United Kingdom.

ELREC’s vision statement communicates a commitment to “work towards a prejudice free society where everyone is treated with respect, integrity and justice.” Protected classes under Scotland’s Equality Act of 2010 include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Choudhury shared a story of a Chinese immigrant woman who recently came to the office. She held a shut-off notice from the gas company and was extremely agitated. She felt she had no place else to go for help. Choudhury sat patiently and listened as she explained her story in English, her second language. It became evident that she was not in arrears. There was simply a miscommunication with the utility.

“I picked up the phone,” Choudhury recalls, “and the problem was fixed. I still remember the relief on her face. We help people —black people, immigrants, all kinds of people—to investigate complaints, fill out job applications, whatever they need.”

How does ELREC do this? First, we must consider the diversity of the Edinburgh region. Although the population is largely Caucasian, there are significant BME (Black Minority Ethnic) communities present.  Edinburgh is home to immigrants from across the globe including former reaches of the British Empire—India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya, etc.

Refugees from places like Somalia, Congo and Sudan further enhance the cultural tapestry. Interestingly, with establishment of the European Union, many East Europeans travel to the United Kingdom for work. It seems I can’t step into a café or grocery without hearing someone speaking my parents’ mother tongue—Polish. Scotland’s unemployment rate, estimated at 8.1 percent, precipitates occasional tensions toward “migrants” who are perceived as taking jobs away from Scots. This is not unlike the animosity that sometimes rears its ugly head toward immigrants in the U.S.

With the power of the Equality Act behind them, ELREC provides advice and assistance to investigate and address alleged instances of discrimination in housing, education, employment, healthcare, etc. They foster “capacity building,” working across sectors to promote greater sensitivity and awareness. They engage Scottish Parliament, business owners and government agencies in trainings and discussions. ELREC strives to empower members of minority groups—including young people — to actively advocate for themselves. One particular effort focusses on reducing bullying in schools. All advice offered to complainants is free and confidential.

ELREC is funded by local and federal government funds, including law enforcement.  Individuals and foundations also support their work.

Gopinath proudly displays the following quote from American civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the ELREC office: “Laws may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

I am reminded that working for human rights transcends age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and geographic boundaries. We are far richer when each person is afforded a voice at the table. Our world becomes more just when individuals—including those historically denied access—are allowed to realize their full potential.

Palmer, in a final reflection, offered a bit of wisdom from Scotland’s beloved poet Robert Burns: “Burns,” he said, “described goodness as ‘the mitigation of woe.” That is what ELREC strives to do.

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

Memorial Day Memories

Dad’s Army-Navy hymnal, 1941

By Ginger Isham

Ginger Isham’s father.

My father and his four brothers were in World War II at the same time. He was in the Army, along with brothers Abel and Thomas, while brother Elliott was in the Air Force and youngest brother Hobart was in the Navy. My father never left the States, but spent most of his army life in the south. He injured his leg when he jumped down off a tank. He was religious and patriotic.

While in the army, he was an assistant to the chaplain. Recently, I picked up his old Army-Navy hymnal, copyrighted 1941. I looked carefully through the pages, which I had not done in the past. I guess I did so because our grandson was graduating from Norwich University. I was amazed to find a section for the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths. There was a prayer for Taps, Washington’s prayer for the nation, a prayer for our country and a cadet’s prayer.

The cadet’s prayer is my favorite, as it contains words of wisdom that are appropriate for any person of any age or walk of life, anywhere. Some sections of it are paraphrased here:

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretence ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. Help us, in our work and in our play, to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

During this time of graduations, I think these are fitting words for all our young people also.

I learned all the patriotic songs in school, and also because my mother would sing them from this hymnal in the evenings after the supper dishes were washed and put away. I wish we heard them more often today. Especially around the time of our veterans’ holidays.

Around Town


Williston Central School’s Voyager House and the Williston Historical Society will host “The Williston History Roadshow” at the Old Brick Church on May 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The event will follow a format similar to the PBS program “Antiques Roadshow,” in which attendees are asked to bring a maximum of three antiques from their home for appraisal, with a suggested donation of $5 per object appraised.

Appraisers include Kyle Scanlon of Vermont Estate Services and Ethan Merrill of Merrill’s Auction Gallery on James Brown Drive. Merrill, the brother of Voyager House social studies teacher Aron Merrill, is also a judge on the upcoming History channel program “Picked Off.”

The event at the Old Brick Church will also feature a display of the Historical Society’s collection of local artifacts, with information about each item provided by WCS students.

Proceeds from the event will help support future collaborations between WCS and the Historical Society.

Liebman wins award in Secretary of State’s Poster and Essay Contest

Secretary of State Jim Condos recently honored the winners of the 2012 Vermont Secretary of State’s Poster and Essay Contest in Montpelier.

As part of the awards celebration, contest winners toured the Vermont State House and the Vermont Historical Society or Supreme Court. First prize winners were presented with a certificate and a $100 prize donated to each student’s classroom to spend on civics education.

“It was very difficult to select winners from the many fine essays and creative posters we received,”said Condos. “This program is a great way to get younger students thinking about their state and its history, while encouraging older students to examine the nature of self-governance and its importance in a free society.”

Winners included Jonathan Liebman of Williston, a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, in the Young Voter Engagement division for his essay, “Voting in the United States: A Troubling Quandary.” Honorable mention went to CVU students Dana Kaufman, Thomas Keller and Grace Vincent.

The Vermont Secretary of State’s Poster and Essay Contest is an annual event to promote awareness of Vermont history, the Vermont Constitution and the importance of voting and democracy among students in grades K-12. The winning posters and essays may be viewed on the Secretary of State’s Kids Page website at

Nominate a teacher

Do you know a Vermont teacher who has inspired you and who deserves statewide recognition? For 10 years, the Vermont Humanities Council has honored such teachers with the Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award, which recognizes a Vermont educator in grades 6 through 12 who exemplifies excellence in the teaching of the humanities. VHC seeks nominations for the 2012 award. Nominating letters are due June 15. The recipient receives a $1,000 check and public recognition at VHC’s fall conference.

Nominations may be made online at or mailed to Vermont Humanities Council, Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 or emailed to To learn more, visit

Museums offers free admission to military families

The Vermont History Museum is one of more than 1,500 museums across America to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer in collaboration with the National Endowment of the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense.

“Our goal is to support and connect with military families. This is our way to openly appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families,” says Mark Hudson, Vermont Historical Society executive director.

The Blue Star Museum program is available from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2012. Active duty military include Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and active-duty National Guard and Reserve members.

At the Vermont History Museum, the Freedom and Unity multimedia exhibit represents Vermont’s history from 1600 to the present. Visitors can walk through time, experiencing an Abenaki wigwam, a re-creation of the Catamount Tavern where the Green Mountain Boys gathered, a railroad station complete with working telegraph and a WWII living room with period music and magazines.

To find out more about Blue Star Museums, visit To find out more about the Vermont History Museum, call (802) 828-2291 or visit

Letters to the Editor

Thanks for finding lost dog

I would like to thank a Williston couple, Kevin Many and his wife, for calling the Williston Police to report they had found a lost dog on Monday morning. It was my lost hound, Duke, who had gotten off his tie-down on Saturday afternoon and took off like hounds do. I was heartsick and called all the local police stations and drove around to my neighbors off Route 2A and Butternut Road. From previous experience with other dogs that had gotten loose, I thought most people would try and catch a lost dog and call the local police. In this case, Duke traveled for almost two days and was totally exhausted, but the kindness of the Manys helped me get him back. I also want to thank Officer Ben Hollwedel, who stayed at the Manys until I could get there to get Duke. Duke was so exhausted that he could barely get up and move—he probably would have died in the woods if the Manys had not taken care of him and called the police.

The point of this letter? One, if you find a lost dog, try and catch it or at least call the police to report a “sighting.” Two, if your dog gets loose, call the police and report the dog missing. I thought most people would know this, but several people I spoke to said they never would have thought to call the police.  The Williston Police said they used to have an animal control officer, but don’t now. From calling the other police departments, there are various methods used, but it all starts with a call to the police department.

Molly Holland



Salmon grateful for service to state, not running for re-election

I have decided not to run for the office of state auditor this November.

I have achieved the goal set when I took office in January 2007, to transform the Vermont State Auditor’s Office into a first-rate performance auditing shop. It is time for me to move on to new challenges.

I have a number of options presented to me, and some still out there, in God’s hands. It is most likely I will land in federal service in the IG or CFO communities as my passion continues to be improving government performance and better federal-state-local intergovernmental collaboration. I have an offer from a CPA firm as well.

I want to thank those I have worked with and the people of Vermont who elected me. It has been an honor to serve you with the talented staff at the auditor’s office. Because of them, our office has been able to transform to a high quality performance audit office, adding value to the state.

I also thank the Legislature and other partners that worked hard to bring embezzlement prevention tools to fruition. I am grateful for the many joint efforts of collaboration to improve Vermont (government) performance. I appreciate everything very much.

I expect to finish out my term and begin a new job in January, and continue to serve Vermont with great honor.

Tom Salmon

St. Johnsbury

Guest Column

So who, exactly, uses a food shelf?

By Sally Stockwell-Metro

“Those people just scam the system. Why don’t they get a job?”

For some people, these thoughts float unbidden to the surface when we see people waiting outside a food pantry or food shelf. We may not even realize that we’re judging others. Most of us don’t know the statistics or understand the variety of circumstances that bring people to food shelves.

There are several facts, though, on which we can probably all agree:

  • A single parent must feed his or her children.
  • The normal expenses of running a household amount to a lot of money. The head of household pays: rent or mortgage; heat, water and sewer bills; gasoline costs for transportation to and from work; food and clothing expenses; either health insurance premiums or the bills for health care visits and more.
  • There is tremendous competition for well-paying jobs.
  • A retired senior needs healthy food in order to stay healthy or to prevent chronic problems from getting worse.
  • The monthly income of many families, especially retired seniors, does not increase with the cost of living.
  • A person who has worked all his or her life, raised children, paid taxes and generally contributed to society should be able to live comfortably in retirement.

Statistics on the status of families throughout the state are startling. For the years 2007-2009, 14 percent of Vermont households were food insecure—meaning they lacked the financial resources for enough food to fully meet their basic needs at all times. One in five Vermont children—some 25,400 kids—currently live in food insecure households, and one in six Vermonters is hungry. From 2008-2010 data, 12,290 Vermont children depend on food shelves each month for emergency food.

National studies show that children in food insecure homes are at increased risk for poor quality diets and nutritional deficiencies, developmental delays, obesity, decreased academic performance, and increased aggression, depression and hyperactivity.

There are many people who have to sacrifice some living expenses in order to pay others. At the Williston Community Food Shelf, we have an average of 200 family visits each month, of which about 60 are second visits for the month. Sixty-eight percent of our families are one to three people, the majority of whom are seniors living on fixed incomes. The rest in that category are mostly single parents with one or two children. Six percent is families of six or more people — often these large groups are two families living together in order to share living expenses, or a grandparent who has taken in an adult child and the grandchildren.

There may be families that abuse the system, perhaps going to several food shelves or even selling some of the food they receive. But we see these very infrequent episodes as being driven by hunger and need.

We should all be aware that life shifts unpredictably. A major health problem can bankrupt a family. Both wage earners can be laid off. A divorce can leave a mother with her children and an inadequate source of income. More often, the costs of living, like gasoline and heating oil prices, rise just enough to unbalance a family budget. We may all be one paycheck, one job loss, one disabled vehicle or one bad diagnosis away from needing a food shelf.

No one should be ashamed to use our service. We invite anyone who thinks that people who visit food shelves are cheating the system to come in and volunteer with us. We would welcome your help!

The Food Shelf is open Tuesdays 5 – 6:30 p.m., Thursdays 9 -11 a.m., and Saturdays 9 – 11 a.m. For more information, visit

Sally Stockwell-Metro is the Operations Manager at the Williston Community Food Shelf.

On the ROAD

Road crews will be out in force this summer working on Vermont’s roads. Check this section each week to see which projects are underway, what conditions to expect and when the projects are expected to be complete—plus, helpful tips to keep you safe on the road. Roadwork information is provided by the Vermont Agency of Transportation. To learn more and view maps, visit


Current work

Richmond: Bridge reconstruction on U.S. 2, temporary bridge in place. Completion expected Nov. 30.

South Burlington: Bridgework, including milling and paving on Interstate 189. Use extreme caution. Completion expected at the end of June.

Burlington: Cherry and Church streets will be one lane at times, until May 29. Curbing will be underway on Pearl and St. Paul streets until the end of summer.

Colchester: Gravel road maintenance and painting will be underway throughout town, with traffic controllers in place. The date of completion is unknown.

Barre: New main being flushed on U.S. 302/Main Street. The project is moving quickly. Completion expected by the end of summer.

Berlin/Montpelier: Rock scaling on northbound I-89 between exits 7 and 8 until mid-October, right lane closed, no delays expected.

Randolph/Williamstown/Berlin: Bridgework on I-89 northbound between exits 4 and 6, reduced to one lane with speed restrictions. Completion expected by June 28.

Rutland: Paving with flaggers on site on Route 4, short delays expected. Completion expected on Aug. 19.

Danville: U.S. 2 work: Paving is beginning, with alternating one-way traffic. Completion expected in November.

St. Johnsbury: Work on U.S. 2 St. Johnsbury bridge over I-91. Expect traffic signals, 40 mph speed limit, merge early, no delays. Completion expected in September.

Poultney: Delays for paving project on VT 30, south of Poultney. Completion expected on Aug. 19.

Fairfield: Road closure on Route 36 due to bridge problems, detour will be in place. Work is expected to last until May 29.

Franklin County: Bridges on I-91 between exits 23 and 26 reduced to one lane in both directions, with multiple works zones. Completion expected in September.


Upcoming projects

Richmond/Waterbury: Construction is expected to begin soon on north- and southbound I-89, lasting until late summer.


Safety tip of the week

The Click it or Ticket enforcement campaign is set for May 20 to June 3.

The campaign is part of a joint effort by the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to increase the seatbelt usage rate throughout the state.

The campaign begins in the wake of several recent fatal crashes in which motorists were not wearing their seat belts.

Motorists should expect checkpoints daily and officers will watch traffic very closely in work zones. Buckle up, focus on safety and put down the cell phone.


Tracy A. DeBrita and Jeffrey D. Gilbert of Williston


Tracy A. DeBrita and Jeffrey D. Gilbert of Williston announce their engagement. The bride-to-be’s parents are the late Albert A. DeBrita and Sandra DeBrita of Jericho. The future groom’s parents are Gordon and Peg Gilbert of Burlington.


Lisa Phelps Williams and Michael Phelps of Middlebury announce the birth of their son, Colby Douglas Phelps, born on May 2 at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

Selectboard members disagree on Circ alternatives

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Selectboard member Chris Roy demonstrates the benefits of a Circ option at the May 21 Selectboard meeting. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

In 1982, Michael Jackson released “Thriller,” the best-selling album of all time. Cal Ripken Jr. played the first of his 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games. The Falklands War began and ended. And the municipalities of Williston, Essex, Essex Junction and Colchester formed a union municipal district for the shared goal of the construction of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway.

In its embryonic state, the crescent-shaped “Circ” would have connected Vermont 127 in Colchester to Interstate 89 in Williston. Now, due to various environmental, legal and fiscal issues, it extends only from Vermont 2A to Vermont 117 in Essex.

The original Circ was a proposed beltway of the so-called Eisenhower Interstate System, which produced the primary Vermont portions of Interstate 89 in the early 1960s. Little did the 34th U.S. president know that his most lasting namesake would still be debated more than 40 years after his death, in a town less than half the size of his hometown of Denison, Texas.

But such was the case when the Williston Selectboard, a full two and a half hours into its May 21 meeting, launched into its most heated Circ-related debate of the past year.

The discussion began innocuously, as Williston Director of Planning and Zoning Ken Belliveau relayed the results of the Williston Planning Commission’s May 15 analysis of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission’s presentation to the Selectboard on May 7.

At the May 7 Selectboard meeting, Michele Boomhower of the CCRPC gave the board three “Circ alternative” options for further research by the regional commission:

Option 1: An additional access point to Interstate 89 between Exits 11 and 12, extending north to Mountain View Road, with an intersection on Williston Road.

Option 2: An extension of Redmond Road, which would connect Mountain View Road to the current southern terminus of Vermont 289, via a bridge over the Winooski River.

Option 3: Neither of the previous options, with a contingency to explore other area-wide transportation improvements.

Belliveau said the Planning Commission didn’t reach a decision on the matter due to a lack of substantive information, but, if pressed, would likely lean toward option three.

Following Belliveau’s statements, North Williston Road resident Seth Maciejowski provided public comment in favor of option two.

“I think the harder piece of this is doing the bridge across the Winooski—the ‘B’ section (option two),” Maciejowski said. “It’s almost like, if you can get rid of that, you can solve the intermediate problem of the current traffic … and still have the door open for the ‘A’ segment (option one) later on.”

Selectboard member Chris Roy responded by illustrating on the seldom-used chalkboard on the eastern wall of the Town Hall Meeting Room that option one would result in greater mitigation of Williston’s overall traffic congestion.

“Unless we have more capacity, there will never be any relief in Williston,” Roy said. “We are fooling ourselves if we think all the other towns will very patiently and politely hold off and not do anything while we engage in a lot of studies…. Personally, my goal is to make one half of the A/B segment so that then, eventually, the second piece can be built.”

Debbie Ingram disagreed with her fellow board member, suggesting that the Circ is dead, and that it’s time to bury illusions that it might someday come to fruition and explore different options.

“This is the same information that we’ve been spinning round and round for 40 or 50 years now,” Ingram said. “You’ve heard the old saying—you do the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result, and that’s the definition of insanity. To me, I just think we need to move on.”

Selectboard member Jay Michaud posited that by choosing option three, Williston risks being left behind the other Circ communities, which are further along with Circ alternative projects.

“The transportation funds are out there. We have to take advantage of them, or lose them,” Michaud said. “For everybody in Williston, we owe them to pursue this to the next level to see what our options are out there…. I just don’t think we can sit idle any longer.”

Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig closed the debate by requesting that Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire ask the CCRPC what the “drop-dead date” is for the Selectboard to reach a decision.

At the previous meeting, Boomhower set a June 4 deadline for the board’s formal response.