July 23, 2019

The work of fireworks

Atlas PyroVision prepares for Independence Day in Williston

Fireworks will begin at dusk (approx. 9:30 p.m.) on Wednesday. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

For spectators, the annual Independence Day fireworks display in Williston lasts about 20 minutes.

For Mike Boisjoli’s team of fireworks technicians, it lasts roughly 100 hours.

“It’s about five hours of work for about every minute that we shoot,” Boisjoli said. “So it’s about 100 hours of labor from day one to finish.”

Milton resident Boisjoli is a level 5 (out of 5) fireworks technician for Jaffrey, N.H.-based Atlas PyroVision Productions. Although he’s the guy behind the Burlington, Milton and Sugarbush Fourth of July pyrotechnics, Boisjoli said Williston is special.

“The town of Williston is one of the last good, old-fashioned, classic hand-fired shows,” Boisjoli said. “The difference between manual and electric is you get more product with the manual show, because electric shows are very costly. You literally get more bang for the buck.”

Williston Director of Parks and Recreation Kevin Finnegan, who shelled out $8,500 for this year’s July Fourth fireworks, had lofty praise for Boisjoli and Atlas.

“They’re one of the premier companies in the country as far as fireworks go,” Finnegan said.

Boisjoli gave similar high marks for Finnegan’s town of employment.

“It’s one of those shows that we just love to do. We love to be out there. Williston’s such a great town,” Boisjoli said. “It’s one of those places where you feel very welcome and you can’t wait to go back there.”

Pre-fireworks festivities begin July 4 at 7 p.m. at Allen Brook School. The fireworks display has an anticipated starting time of 9:30 p.m.

The entertainment program is identical to last year, with carnival-style concessions, glow necklaces, music by SuperSounds DJ and a bounce castle for kids from Vermont Bounce.

“If folks want to see something different, then they have to step up with some volunteers to do it, because we’re pretty much maxed out with what we have going on,” Finnegan said.

What is guaranteed not to be a repeat is the fireworks display.

“We videotape most of the shows we shoot, so after we shoot a show we all get together and take notes,” Boisjoli said. “It’s actually an ongoing educational process. Every year we learn from the year before.”

Boisjoli, who owns a Subway franchise in Milton, contrasted his day job with his moonlighting gig.

“You’ve got two kinds of jobs. You’ve got a job where you go to work every day and you punch in, and you collect your check on Friday and you pay your bills,” Boisjoli said. “Then you have a job that you absolutely love to do and you don’t even care if you get paid—that’s the kind of job that fireworks are for the guys and girls who work for me.”

Boisjoli compared the experience of receiving a shipment of Fourth of July fireworks to a different American holiday.

“It’s like Christmas,” he said. “When we unwrap our presents, there are big bombs inside the box.”

Williston’s Independence Day celebration



6 p.m. – Family bike races

Williston Community Park Field House

Registration begins at 6:00 p.m.

Races begin at 6:45 p.m.

These events are family oriented bike races within the park and will include: slowest bike race; scooter race; kids races; family race; adult race.



4 p.m. – 6 p.m. — Library book sale

Williston Central School Gym

Contact Susan Raimy at 872-9707.


6 p.m. — Firecracker 5k Fun Run

Williston Community Park Field House

Registration begins at 4:45 p.m.

Race begins at 6:00 p.m.

Cost is $8 (includes T-shirt)

Categories include male and female, with age groups: under 12; 12-15; 16-19; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50+; family

Awards will be announced and given out during the band break at the Ice Cream Social


7 p.m. — Town band concert and ice cream social

Village Green

Come out and join the Williston Historical Society’s annual ice cream social as you listen to the town band play it’s first concert of the summer season.



9 a.m. – 2 p.m. — Library book sale

Williston Central School Gym


10 a.m. — Independence Day parade

Theme: “Homegrown Heroes”

Grand Marshal: Lynwood Osborne, celebrating 60 years with the Williston Fire Department

Parade float organizer: Tony Lamb

Judges Stand: Town Hall

Parade Route: Route 2 along Williston Road from Johnson’s Farm to Old Stage Road

Prizes: best neighborhood entry; best business entry; best theme; best community organization or group; best church; best band; best entry with music; best individual; best entry with children; judges’ favorite car; judges’ favorite tractor; judges’ award


11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. — Fire Department open house

Stop by the new firehouse and check out the facility.


11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Arts and crafts show

Williston Central School front lobby

Contact Nancy Stone at 879-0243


11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Williston Central School Cafeteria

Eat in or take out. Tickets go on sale at 9:00 a.m. and can be purchased the night before at the ice cream social; children $6;  chicken only $6; adults $10.

Menu: 1/2 chicken, coleslaw, rolls, cranberry sauce, cookie, lemonade, milk or coffee


11 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Food vendors

The Village Green

Hamburgers from Williston-Richmond Rotary

Hot dogs from Williston Boy Scout Troop 692

Popcorn from Williston Girls Softball League


12:30 p.m. — Parade Awards Presentation

The Bandstand on the Green


12:35pm – 1:00pm — Children’s games

The Village Green


1 p.m. — Frog Jumping Contest

Behind Williston Central School


7 p.m. — Musical entertainment

Allen Brook School

Music by Supersounds DJ, food vendors, glow necklaces, a Bounce Castle from Vermont Bounce and more.

Very limited parking will be available at Allen Brook. A shuttle bus will be operating from Williston Central School for folks traveling from the village. Please take advantage of the shuttle to eliminate the parking crunch at Allen Brook. The shuttle will begin at 7 p.m. and will continue until shortly before the fireworks begin; it will begin returning shortly after the fireworks are complete.


9:30 p.m. — Fireworks display

Fireworks will begin at dark.


All Day

Free entrance to Lake Iroquois for Williston residents

For more information about any of the Fourth of July activities, visit the town website, www.town.williston.vt.us, or contact The Williston Parks and Recreation Department at 878-1239 or finnegank@willistontown.com.

Lynwood Osborne, homegrown hero

Veteran firefighter to serve as town’s parade grand marshal

Lynwood Osborne will serve as grand marshal of the 2012 Independence Day Parade in Williston. January will mark Osborne’s 60th year of service with the Williston Fire Department.

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The grand marshal of Williston’s 2012 Independence Day Parade is the living embodiment of the parade’s “homegrown heroes” theme.

Lynwood Osborne, 79, is as homegrown as Willistonians come, having been born and raised in the same North Williston Road house where he still resides.

And if his Korean War record isn’t proof enough of his heroism, January will mark Osborne’s 60th year of service with the Williston Fire Department.

Osborne, known as “Ozzie” to most locals, was 21 when he joined the fire department in 1953. In those days, Osborne recalled, it was strictly a volunteer department for what was then a “regular farming town.”

“You had barn fires, farm fires, old houses with old wiring in there, a lot of chimney fires,” Osborne said. “I’d say 30 years ago is when it really started to change. The town started to change. There were more houses, newer houses, more businesses, different types of fires.”

Osborne, who once served as assistant fire chief, currently holds the rank of lieutenant. As the department’s safety officer, he is in charge of ensuring that firefighters receive proper training.

“What I think I like about firefighting is I am helping people,” Osborne said. “Now, when the younger people are coming up, I help train them and give them my knowledge.”

Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton, himself a 30-year veteran of the department, said Osborne’s dedication to the fire department makes him deserving of the grand marshal honor.

“He loves the department,” Morton said. “You’ve got to give anybody credit who shows up for 60 years.”

Osborne has decided that his 60th year of fighting fires will be his last. He has set a retirement date of Feb. 4, 2013—the same date he and his wife, Thelma, will celebrate 58 years of marriage.

“I just kind of know that I’m ready,” he said. “I can feel myself slowing down.”

The former Army mechanic doesn’t plan to sit idly in retirement, however.

“I’ll probably find another job somewhere,” Osborne said. “I used to deliver car parts. That is a real fun job. I’m a mechanic at heart, really.”

Guest Column: Neighbors troubled by pellet gun incident

Stock photo

By Patricia Griffin

I write this letter regarding a serious matter of safety for all our neighborhoods. Please alert your community that there is an unsupervised child with access to a gun shooting at pets, wildlife and people. The Williston Police ask to be contacted immediately (878-6611) whenever gun shots are heard or a person is seen carrying a rifle in the area.

My neighbors and I often hear gunfire coming from the direction of the protected deer shed/wetland on the restricted access road between Wood Lily and Forest Run. Believe it or not, while this area of Williston is mapped as “restricted,” it is not illegal to discharge a bird gun. Families with children, walkers, runners, and people exercising their dogs go through there daily; it was only a matter of time before someone got hurt. On June 18, 2012 about 10:30 a.m., someone did.

That morning, my neighbor down the street reached over to pet a cat in her own driveway, and as she did so, she felt several pellets hit her. In the same instant, the cat vanished in a flash.

She looked up and glimpsed a youth (she guessed him to be about 10-12 years of age) standing with a rifle by the break-away gate on the Forest Run side. Naturally she yelled at him and he, of course, darted back through the woods. She thinks he might have been so intent on stalking the cat, he did not notice her there. Had she not been wearing sunglasses (there was a ping in the lens) she would have lost an eye; another pellet lodged in her face, bled profusely, and needed a surgeon to dig it out.

Photographs of the injury and the offending ammo were taken to the police department where she filed a report. The cat owner, concerned her pet was likewise shot, had him examined and X-rayed by a vet, costing hundreds of dollars to do so.

Perhaps the next logical step is to lobby for tighter controls regarding pellet gun use. If you support such a motion, please contact me at clydex17@aol.com.

Patricia Griffin is a Williston resident

Meet the Williston House candidates

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Four candidates will battle for Williston’s two seats in the Vermont House of Representatives in the upcoming election season.

Democrats Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough are the incumbents.

Republicans Jay Michaud and Thomas Nelson are the challengers.

Macaig has served two terms; McCullough has served five.

Michaud made an unsuccessful House bid in 2010; Nelson is making his debut to Vermont politics.

The Observer recently spoke separately to the four candidates about their respective candidacies and the current state of the state.


Macaig was born in Schenectady, N.Y., and has lived in Williston since 1966. A 10-year veteran of the Williston Selectboard, he retired from the Vermont Department of Health in 2000, but has continued his longtime service as town health officer in Williston.

Macaig views health care reform as a pivotal issue in the election season.

“I think that no matter what party we’re in, we recognize that the health care system is broken. The big question is how do we fix it?” Macaig said. “I’m a supporter of a single-payer system. We have many single-payer systems right now. We have Medicare, which is a single-payer system. The state employees’ health plan is a single-payer system, as is the teachers’ plan.”

Macaig also plans to work on job creation if re-elected.

“While our unemployment rate is low in the state, we still need to create the jobs that keep our kids in-state if possible,” Macaig said. “The private sector is the one that’s going to produce the jobs, and I think state government is the one that needs to give them the stimulus to do that, whether it’s tax breaks or other stimulus packages that we can provide without severely affecting the state budget.”


McCullough is a Willistonian through and through, born and raised on the Governor Chittenden Road property that has been in his family for generations. An avid outdoorsman, McCullough and his wife, Lucy, have run Catamount Outdoor Family Center on their property since 1978.

McCullough said he’s been a proponent of health care reform since day one of his first term as state rep.

“Ten years ago, when candidate Jim first announced his plan, one of the things I said I stood for was quality, affordable, accessible health care for all Vermonters that was not contingent on employment,” McCullough said.

An opponent of Vermont Yankee’s nuclear power plant, McCullough said he believes that the state needs to continue increasing renewable energy options.

“When I was on the (Natural Resources and Energy) committee, I was the single person who got the net metering that we have today going,” McCullough said. “I could not get it in the bill in our committee, but what I did get in the bill is we would get the Public Service Board to look at it. So now we have an amazing net metering thing, and that’s very much helped the expansion of primarily solar in the state of Vermont.”


A Burlington native, Michaud has lived in Williston since 1973. In addition to his current position on the Williston Selectboard, Michaud is an independent service provider for FedEx and co-owns and operates Legends Eastside café in Milton.

Michaud said that if he is elected he will use his small business experience to create jobs and bring fiscal balance to Montpelier.

“I think I’m a contemporary. I know what’s going on. I hear what Vermonters are talking about. The business community is still concerned. They’re concerned about the economic climate and what’s happening in Montpelier,” Michaud said. “For a lot of the folks that I serve food to at the restaurant, it’s about economics and job security, and they’re looking for jobs for their kids. I really know how to create jobs, and I certainly know how to do budgets and make some hard decisions. You have to do that every day as a small business owner.”

Michaud added that working to improve the current business climate in Vermont would help to ensure the viability of the state economy for future generations.

“I really believe we in Vermont are exporting our biggest asset every year, which are our college graduates,” Michaud said. “They graduate and they have no work. They’re our future, and we’re letting them go.”


Nelson grew up in Barre and has lived in Williston for the past 20 years. A retired Vermont State Police captain, Nelson currently works as a senior analyst with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Nelson said that if elected, he would bring a common man perspective to Montpelier.

“I think there’s a lot of people who are frustrated with government nationally, and even at the state level, and they often feel that the people that get involved and get elected, too many of them have agendas or are out for some sort of personal gain,” Nelson said. “I’m a working person and a family man, and someone who cares about his community and his state and his country. I’m also a thorough person and a very experienced investigator, so I think I can figure out the truth and get a lot of good information and facts in that process so that good legislation occurs.”

He said a key area he would investigate is the taxation of small businesses.

“We need to encourage businesses to add more jobs, either through incentives or an evaluation of how high taxes are that a business will face trying to expand or locate here to begin with,” Nelson said.

WSD terminates Hendricksen

Para-educator accused of lewd conduct with child

Jonathan Hendricksen

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The Williston School District has terminated the employment of Jonathan Hendricksen, the special education para-educator and former YMCA swim instructor accused of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

“John Hendricksen was terminated on May 30,” Williston District Principal Walter Nardelli wrote in an email to the Observer. “His employment was terminated under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.”

Hendricksen, 28, of Winooski pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court on May 10 to charges that he sexually molested a 7-year-old boy while the boy was showering after a swimming lesson.

The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations was alerted to the allegation on April 6, after the boy’s aunt filed a report with the Burlington Police Department.

Hendricksen was placed on paid administrative leave by the school district on April 9.

At a pretrial status conference on June 21, Judge James Crucitti set an Aug. 1 deadline for subpoenas, a Sept. 1 deadline for defense counsel to provide a list of defense witnesses to the state, an Oct. 1 deadline for depositions and a Nov. 1 deadline for motions.

A second pretrial status conference has been tentatively scheduled for the first week of November.

Town to create affordable housing task force

The Williston Selectboard discussed affordable housing as part of its annual retreat on June 25 at the Courtyard Marriott. Pictured (CLOCKWISE) are Sarah Carpenter of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Kenn Sassorossi of Housing Vermont, Selectboard Deputy Chairman Jeff Fehrs, Williston Planning Commission member Shannon Hiltner, Selectboard member Debbie Ingram, Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig and Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The June 25 event at the Courtyard Marriott was called a retreat, but the Williston Selectboard used the occasion to move forward on a plan to improve affordable housing options in Williston.

In addition to the five Selectboard members, the retreat included three town officials and three Williston Planning Commission members. Also in attendance were Sarah Carpenter of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Kenn Sassorossi of Housing Vermont and attorney Tony Lamb, who served as moderator.

Carpenter kicked off the evening’s discussion by addressing the high cost of Williston’s rental properties.

“Renting in Williston is very expensive,” Carpenter said. “The average rent as a percentage of median income is 47 percent. The benchmark that we always talk about is 30 percent. So essentially, that means that the renters you have in Williston are cost-burdened.”

Sassorossi put the problem in the larger context of Chittenden County.

“We don’t produce much new housing, which is one of the reasons why our housing supply (in Chittenden County) is as constrained as it gets in the United States,” Sassorossi said. “One measure (of that) is the vacancy rate. The vacancy rate in a healthy market is somewhere around 5 percent. In Chittenden County right now, it’s difficult to measure, but it’s well below 2 percent. So it’s clearly an undersupply of rental housing, which particularly impacts lower income families.”

Sassorossi, whose nonprofit work at Housing Vermont is aimed at creating perpetually affordable rental housing, suggested that the appeals component of the permitting process needs to be streamlined.

“For us, the biggest challenge is appeals—the fact that neighbors can appeal without any skin in the game,” Sassorossi said. “I don’t mind an appeal, but we ought to have a process that secures a resolution fairly fast. Otherwise, the appeals (process) is really a way of killing a project.”

Selectboard member Chris Roy expressed nostalgia for the Vermont of the ’60s and ’70s, when compact neighborhoods with modestly priced ranches and raised ranches were affordable first home options for young families.

“The concern I’ve had with Williston is it seems like there’s a lot of four-bedroom colonials that are being built, and then you have affordable housing, and nothing in between is being built,” Roy said. “What can we do to have that full spectrum?”

Carpenter responded that the problem is the lack of financial incentive for developers to build low- or mid-priced housing.

“It’s hard, because the developers want to go where it’s most profitable to them, and there’s not a lot of (profit) margin in the mid-range, lower-end pieces of real estate,” Carpenter said. “A lot of those earlier affordable developments were subsidized by the public. Now it’s all the developer’s nickel.”

Sassorossi offered an even bleaker outlook.

“I’m not sure that today’s raised ranch isn’t a condominium,” Sassorossi said. “That is entry-level housing. Because the land costs and the costs of building that raised ranch are too high.”

Williston Director of Planning and Zoning Ken Belliveau suggested that Williston’s affordable housing problem goes beyond macroeconomic factors.

“The most glaring example of a problem would be with Finney Crossing, which represents 356 dwelling units that we would expect to come online sometime between now and the next 10-12 years, and none of those units are required to be affordable,” Belliveau said.

Although Selectboard Deputy Chairman Jeff Fehrs stopped short of advocating that Williston become a direct developer or financier for affordable housing, he did urge the town to take a more active role in ensuring the availability of reasonably priced housing options.

“To me, the question is along the lines of how much of a player does the town of Williston want to be?” Fehrs asked. “If we want Williston to be more of an inclusive community, it seems to me we’ve got to really get off our high horse and actually help make it happen, instead of saying we want it to happen.”

Sassorossi submitted that a dedicated affordable housing group could help address the issue.

“You have a conservation commission. Maybe you need an affordable housing commission that can be there to serve as a resource and as a sounding board, as a way of thinking about ongoing housing policies for affordable housing,” Sassorossi said.

Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire proposed that the Selectboard adopt a twofold strategy, by having the Planning Commission examine potential improvements to the town’s Unified Development Bylaw, while also creating an affordable housing task force to look at other holistic approaches to the issue.

“If the board wants an action step, it would be to have staff categorize these different options and then assign them,” McGuire said. “Some would go to the Planning Commission and some would go to the (affordable housing) task force.”

Sensing a board consensus on McGuire’s proposal, Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig dispensed with the normal protocol of Robert’s Rules of Order by declaring the motion passed.

Not coincidentally, dinner was then served.

Grimm reaping

Local youth makes hay with modern fairy tale

Cast and crew members of ‘A Very Grimm Fairytale’ pose for a group photo during a recent dress rehearsal. Led by writer and director Madeleine Barrett (front row, center), the group of local youths will stage two performances of the play on June 29 at Williston Central School. (Photo courtesy of Madeleine Barrett)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

School’s out for the summer, but Madeleine Barrett and her company of dedicated students of the stage will be at Williston Central School’s Al Myers Theater on June 29 to present a Barrett original production.

“A Very Grimm Fairytale,” written and directed by Barrett, a recent WCS graduate, concerns a comic legal battle between fairy tale writers the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, who sues the brothers for the rights to their stories. In order to retain custody of such characters as Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Clever Gretel—who have turned into common criminals out of boredom with the “happily ever after” concept—the Brothers Grimm must convince the judge that the characters can be reformed.

Barrett previously collaborated with Sam Messer, a literacy teacher in WCS’ Voyager House, on the screwball comedy “Clowns and Crooks.” She said the experience gave her writing renewed purpose.

“I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but this year with the play, when I did ‘Clowns and Crooks,’ I really was interested in (theater),” Barrett said. “From my experience with the Voyager play, I just felt like this was something that I really want to do with my life.”

Barrett is now flying solo, with Messer and several parents providing required adult supervision at rehearsals.

“Maddy has taken on a new adventure in writing her own full length play,” Messer wrote in an email to the Observer. “Now, she is truly in the driver’s seat, handling everything from casting to publicity. Without a doubt, she is certainly becoming one of our area’s best up and coming writers.”

Joining Barrett in the production are 16 local youths, including Assistant Director Mishka Rehak, who plans to incorporate her experience with the play into her WCS eighth grade challenge next year.

“It’s something that people are giving up time in their summer to do, so it was really hard getting people, but the people that we have are really dedicated to it and passionate about it,” Barrett said.

Barrett, who plans to try her hand at acting by auditioning for the role of Rizzo in the fall production of “Grease” at Champlain Valley Union High School, said she hopes other Williston Wildcats will follow her lead.

“I hope that this will be an inspiration for people who maybe don’t know where to go if they want to write or they want to act,” Barrett said, “and by doing this as a younger adult, it might inspire them to go out and just go for it.”

“A Very Grimm Fairytale” will be performed June 29 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Williston Central School’s Al Myers Theater. Tickets are $5. For more information, contact Madeleine Barrett at 871-5153 or defyinggravity53@gmail.com.

Williston hosts two concert series this summer

Stock photo

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff 

Williston residents will have plenty of chances to take in outdoor concerts this summer, as two music series begin.

The Williston Town Band’s weekly concerts in the village and the summer concert series on the green at Maple Tree Place promise a great season of varied music.

The Fourth of July festivities mark the beginning of a string of concerts by the Williston Town Band, made up of nearly 40 music-loving locals of all ages.

“We have a terrific group of people that make up our band, and they range from kids in elementary school to retirees,” said Town Band President Barbara Russ—who keeps the beat on the bass drum—in an email to the Observer.

“Our players are some of the best musicians in the area, so we love that they are a part of this merry music making.”

Every Wednesday night this summer, the town band will be in the bandstand, either performing or practicing. Concerts are set for July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15 and Aug. 22, all from 7 – 8:30 p.m., with rehearsals on the Wednesdays in between.

The band is also scheduled to play on Aug. 31 at the Vermont Lake Monsters game at Centennial Field.

Russ said the band has new music this year, and the expert direction of conductor Kim Tokarz keeps the group energized and on key.

“We’re looking forward to a nice, sunny, warm, mosquito-free season,” Russ said.

If Williston residents are booked on Wednesday nights, they have another chance to listen to free live music every week.

The Maple Tree Place summer concert series is now underway. A different band will play every Thursday through Aug. 23 on the Maple Tree Place green, from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“It just gives people something to look forward to on a Thursday evening, something families can enjoy together,” said Maple Tree Place General Manager Karen Sidney-Plummer, who organizes the event. “We have a lot of great bands lined up this year.”

New this year, Top Hat Entertainment will emcee the event, and lead a half hour of interactive family-oriented games and giveaways before the concerts, beginning at 6 p.m. Visitors can also choose from a variety of food vendors, along with free face painting.

Soul and R&B group Real Deal is set to play on June 28, and rock group Sturcrazie on July 5.

For a full schedule or to give feedback, visit www.shopmtp.com. For more information about the Williston Town Band, visit www.willistontownband.org.

Todd Shepard named police chief

Todd Shepard

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Todd Shepard, deputy police chief for the city of South Burlington, has signed a conditional offer of employment to become the next Williston police chief.

Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire made the announcement Tuesday in a press release.

“I believe Mr. Shepard has the leadership skills, experience, and personal qualities that our department needs to move forward in a positive direction,” McGuire stated in the release. “Mr. Shepard will be a valued addition to our management team.”

McGuire told the Observer on Tuesday that Shepard’s employment is contingent on a background check by an outside investigator. He said that while the terms and conditions of employment have yet to be negotiated, Shepard would likely be offered a salary on the higher end of the advertised $54,410 – $78,168 range for the position.

Shepard, 48, has served as deputy chief of the South Burlington Police Department since 2005. A native Vermonter, he worked briefly for the Milton Police Department before joining the SBPD in 1985. He was also chairman of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council from 2007-2009 and has served on the Milton Selectboard since 2010.

Shepard said he had been contemplating retirement before the Williston police chief position became available.

“I guess I’m just not ready for retirement,” Shepard said. “Working next door to Williston for as long as I have, I’ve just seen the town grow and I just realized the potential opportunities for the growth of the department.”

Shepard joins a department that has been beset by internal strife in recent years, as outlined in a May 2011 internal investigation report by former Burlington Police Chief Thomas Tremblay. Shepard said he hopes to bring a stabilizing presence to the department.

“It’s been very unfortunate that two of their permanent chiefs have gone out for medical reasons, and they’ve had the misfortune of having a lot of interim leaders in the organization, and I think that plays some part in some of what’s been going on over there,” Shepard said. “I think that just being given the opportunity to come in and lend some stability to the organization might help out.”

The police chief search process began almost immediately after former Williston Police Chief Roy Nelson resigned on Jan. 23. Nelson’s announcement came seven months after he took an indefinite leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment.

McGuire said he received more than 70 applications for the position. The runner-up was Robert Stafford, the former chief of the Milton Police Department, who is currently a captain with the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council.

McGuire said he and Shepard have discussed a tentative start date of Aug. 20, contingent on the successful completion of the background check and the negotiation of an employment agreement.