June 23, 2018

Academic Honors

Local students graduate

The following Williston and St. George residents graduated from various colleges and universities this spring:

  •   Lauren Burbank Fettle, Bachelor of Science in nursing, magna cum laude, Emory University
  •  Lauren Alicia Haley, Bachelor of Science in accounting, magna cum laude, Saint Michael’s College
  •   Theresa Fukuda, bachelor’s degree in biology, Providence College
  •  Rachael L. Franklin, Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and Bachelor of Arts in secondary education, magna cum laude, University of Rhode Island
  •  Connor S. Peterson, bachelor’s degree in biology, cum laude, with a minor in chemistry and African studies, St. Lawrence University
  •  Sandra Cheeseman, bachelor’s degree in nursing, Norwich University
  •   Benjamin Kinsley, bachelor’s degree in political science, Norwich University
  •  Justin P. Teator, bachelor of professional studies degree in management, specializing in sports management, Cazenovia College
  •  Siobhan E. Kelley, Bachelor of Arts in international development and social change, summa cum laude, Clark University. Kelley also received the Impact Award from the Department of International Development and Social Change.
  •  Jessica Booth, Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering with high distinction, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Loyola student honored

Corinne Vien of Williston has been inducted into The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and named to the dean’s list at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif.

Local residents honored at UVM

Two Williston residents were among students recognized for achievements in academics and service at Honors Day ceremonies at the University of Vermont earlier this spring.

At the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony, Evan W. Yandell received the Senior Award presented by the Computer Science Department. Yandell was also inducted into Upsilon Pi Epsilon National Honor Society for computer science.

At the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences ceremony, Bradford M. Berry received the American Society of Civil Engineers Award for meritorious work in the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Williston students inducted into National Honor Society

Renick Lalancette and Jenn Adams were inducted into the University of Vermont’s Alpha Kappa Delta National Honor Society.

Alpha Kappa Delta is the National Honor Society in sociology, founded in 1920 for the purposes of acknowledging and promoting excellence in scholarship in the study of sociology, the research of social problems and such other social and intellectual activities that will lead to improvement in the human condition.

Williston students make deans’ lists

The following Williston college students were named to the dean’s list.

  •   Matthew Hanudel, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass.
  •  April Burbank, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
  •   Timothy Clark, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Ga.
  •   Shelly Ho, Johnson State College
  •  Kiersten Olivetti, Johnson State College
  •   Madeline Zebertavage, SUNY Geneseo, Genesio, N.Y.
  •   Joshua Kinsley and Jonathan Zittritsch, Norwich University
  •  Calvin T. Benevento, McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.
  •   Mireille Kelley, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.
  •   Alyssa M. Bachand and Molly K. McClintock, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, N.H.

Local students graduate from CCV

The following Williston students graduated from the Community College of Vermont (CCV) on June 2:

RoseAnne Doyle, Jason Dubie, Stephanie Duval, Samantha Newkirk, Brendan Pelletier, Erin Roe, Megan Somers, Hannah Wagner. This year 587 students received associate degrees, the largest graduating class in the college’s history.

Vermont Tech Dean’s List

The following Williston residents have made the Dean’s list for the spring 2012 semester at Vermont Tech:

  • Brendan C. Downs-Dudley
  • Joshua R. Germain
  • Joseph F. Haller
  • Drew R. Johnson
  • Abigail M. Senesac

Local students names to Dean’s List at UVM

Undergraduate students with grade-point averages of 3.0 or better and who are in the top 20 percent of their classes have been named to the Dean’s List for the spring semester at the University of Vermont.

The students include: Benjamin S. Albertson, junior, Biological Scienc; Kanita A. Chaudhry, senior, Biochemistry; Samuel C. Chevalier, sophomore, Electrical Engineering; Lillian R. Coletta, first-year student, Secondary Education Math; Emily A. Cooke, junior, Communication Science & Disorders; Abigail A. Dunki-Jacobs, first-year student, Undeclared; Christopher J. Ghazi, junior, Mechanical Engineering; Kathryn M. Gray, first-year student, Elementary Education K-6; Bronwen E. Hudson, sophomore, Global and Regional Studies – Europe; Erin L. Keller, senior, Biochemistry; Renick Lalancette, junior, Sociology; Daniel A. Lambert, junior, Biological Science; Emily P. Loisel, junior, Political Science; Laura M. Macuga, sophomore, Business Administration; David C. Manago, junior, Environmental Studies; Taylor B. Marcotte, sophomore, Chemistry; Ailan H. Nguyen, junior, English; Grace M. Paquette, senior, Social Work; Zachary M. Pion, sophomore, Business Administration; Jessica L. Shapiro, junior, Public Communication; Rachel E. Shapiro, senior, Dietetics Nutrition & Food Sciences; Andrew P. Sweeny, senior, Biology; Benjamin A. Teasdale, first-year student, Biochemistry; Sophia A. Trigg, sophomore, Secondary Education Social Sciences; Eva M. Williford, sophomore, Mathematics


Williston students receive accolades at Rice High

Five Rice Memorial High School students from Williston were recognized for their academic and musical achievements at the school’s annual Underclassmen Awards ceremony on June 6.

  •  Ellen Sartorelli, a rising-senior, received The Kristen Charlebois Junior Excellence in History Award. In addition, she was awarded The Manfred K. Hummel Award for excelling in the close analysis of literature and excellence in writing. Sartorelli also received the Junior Excellence in Foreign Language Award, and was presented with RPI Medal, awarded to promising secondary school juniors who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science. She was also recognized for her participation in Boys’ and Girls’ State.
  •  Ezekial Geffken, a rising-senior, received The Junior Excellence in Science Award. He was also recognized for his participation in The Governor’s Institute on Engineering.
  •  Madeline Limanek, a rising-sophomore, was given The Freshman Excellence in Religion Award for her commitment to learning, always striving to do her best and excelling at seeing the similarities and differences among the religions of the world.
  •  The Freshman Excellence in Visual Arts Award was given to Williston resident Emily Dykes, who was recognized for demonstrating a gift for the art making process, her attention to detail and knowledge of process.
  •  Hannah Durkee, a rising-junior, was presented the Photography Award for her consistent growth, excellence and innovation.

Little Details: Southern sampler

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

“Are any of the vegetables vegetarian?” my sister asked.

What might seem an odd question in New England can be a highly appropriate inquiry in the American South.

Our server smiled. She’d heard this question before. “The collard greens are cooked with meat,” she said.

The menu at Jestine’s Kitchen in Charleston, South Carolina is soulful and sweet. It touts “traditional veggies, seafood and fried chicken.” As vegetarians, we knew the pickings would be slim. We were determined to sample traditional Southern cuisine, however peripherally.

“Have you tried fried green tomatoes?” my sister, who now lives in the South, asked. “You really should since you’re here.”

I guess it was time to taste an assortment of fried vegetables along with corn fritters and a glass of Sweet Tea.

We passed over plates of Fried Oyster Po’ Boy, Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy and Pecan Fried Whiting, rounding out our selection with grilled cheese sandwiches, cole slaw and fried okra. We shared a slice of Coca Cola Chocolate Cake for dessert. It tasted more sweet than chocolaty.

For the record: I never eat like this. Fried food sits like a cannonball in my stomach. Sugary drinks rarely find their way into our home. I simply embraced the “When in Rome…” mantra. I’d only be there for three days. How much arterial damage was possible?

Charleston, founded in 1670 as Charles Towne, inhabits a small peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic. My sister, whose company serves high-end construction, has an established client base in this beautiful southern city.

During our visit, we embraced a slower, easier gait, feeling the full weight of thick and sticky heat. Whenever possible, we aimed for shade beneath towering tulip and palmetto trees.

We passed exquisite homes offering a cornucopia of architectural styles: Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian and Regency. Beveled glass, expansive porches spilling out towards sidewalks, marble columns and bricked piazzas framed by flowers dazzled as we passed. Intricate wrought iron in black, shimmering filigree served up eye candy for those with an appetite for architecture.

Charleston is small in scale and entirely walkable. Steeples pierce the skyline overlooking the sea with nary a skyscraper in sight. We wandered through churches and churchyards reading old gravestones. Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian Universalist and even Hugenot houses of worship were among the featured faiths. Charleston is also home to a long-established Jewish community. Churches provided a quiet, cooling oasis when we needed a break from the  noise and heat of the street. We spied plaques memorializing congregants who served in “the Confederate War,” better known up North as the Civil War. I noted a lone Confederate flag adorning a grave.

The Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street was housed in a former showroom from which slaves were sold. Over 12 million slaves were brought to our shores by European and American traders. Charleston served as a significant port of entry. Although the importation of slaves was officially ended in 1808, smaller scale smuggling operations continued in the decades leading to the Civil War.

Upon arrival, slaves who survived the dangerous Atlantic crossing were housed in jail-like structures called barracoons. Shackles were removed to facilitate healing of cuts and bruises. Food rations increased and exercise was introduced to regain muscle. Slave traders oiled the bodies of and plucked gray hairs from their “product” to enhance appearance and disguise age. Physically appealing slaves commanded higher prices.

Slaves were presented on the selling block and forced to walk, jump and hop for prospective buyers in a dehumanizing, exploitative dance. This human cargo was categorized as “extra man,” “number 1 man,” “second rate,” and “fair or ordinary man.” Women and children were sold, too, splitting families like bushels of corn.

Some slaves intentionally feigned mental illness or self-mutilated to thwart a sale. Slaves were prohibited from learning to read and write. Thank goodness Frederick Douglass was among those who defied their masters, preserving their stories of enslavement for posterity.

Visiting this small yet beautiful sliver of the American South reminds me that we all—New England included—have aspects of our history for which we are proud and aspects for which we are not proud. Preserving our past informs our understanding of today.

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

Letters to the Editor

Petition for publicly funded healthcare

I’m Jeffrey Haslett, a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center and the State Coordinator for the We the People Congress and Constitutional Lobby. Article 20 of our Vermont Constitution gives “we the people” a right to petition our government or to “instruct their Representatives.” So, “we the people” are petitioning Green Mountain Care to invest public money into keeping our population healthy with no out-of-pocket personal costs for universal access to comprehensive and medically necessary healthcare services, including dental, vision and long-term care.

Article 1 of our Constitution states, “That all persons are born equally…and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoy and defending life…”  Therefore, as required by Act 48, “we the people,” further petition for a completely publicly funded healthcare system focused on care for people, not coverage based on profits for corporations.

Jeffrey Haslett


Guest Column: Diversity in Vermont schools

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Armando Vilaseca

Vermont is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, bringing perspectives and benefits that strengthen our state. As an immigrant resettlement destination, we are home to many people from around the world, making Vermont finally reflect the diversity found across the country.

As a refugee from another country myself, I understand well the challenges that being a new American brings to families as well as to communities and schools. Learning a new language and adapting to the social and cultural differences can be daunting to new Americans who are also often struggling financially.

Having recently visited Winooski schools, I was very impressed by the dedication and efforts being made to support and educate these students. My experiences with the Burlington School District (BSD) are similar. Having visited the Integrated Arts Academy and the Sustainability Academy, I am moved by the dedication and supports made available to all students.

However, BSD has faced criticism that it has not been supportive of our new American students, and that some of these new Americans have been treated badly by the school staff and fellow students. BSD has an equity coordinator who works directly with the district on these issues. I know that as much as the district does to support all students, including the many programs and systems they have in place to support new American students, there is always more work to be done.

One of the issues of concern is the federal requirement that English Language Learners (ELLs) must take annual standardized content assessments before they’ve had a chance to develop sufficient English language proficiency. Vermont has appealed to the U.S. Department of Education to change this requirement, but without success. Although these assessments may not accurately reflect everything these students know or can do, they do serve as one source of baseline information about students’ current level of functioning in English in the core academic curriculum. In the long term, districts are held accountable through these annual assessments for showing that their instructional programs help ELLs as a group to make progress in content subjects and attain proficiency.

Federal civil rights and equal access laws, policies and court decisions also require school districts to provide ELLs with specialized language and academic support services until they have attained the level of academic English proficiency necessary to participate meaningfully in their academic courses and on content assessments. While these support services should never replace students’ participation in more academically rigorous grade-level classes, these programs seek to provide ELLs with greater access to content instruction in English while they are at the same time learning a new language.

Over the years, both the Burlington and Winooski School districts and their communities have demonstrated steadily growing recognition, support and resource allocation for creating the kinds of extra services needed to meet the educational needs of an increasingly diverse population of students and families. The schools have faculty and staff who are dedicated to supporting all students, and continue to work with staff on becoming more culturally and ethnically sensitive. The data shows that the group of students receiving ELL services during their Burlington High School career graduate and continue their education at virtually the same rate as their peers across the state.

At the same time, the district needs to be clear that harassment will not be tolerated. All schools need to address the challenges that students bring to schools in a way that is respectful and productive. I believe the statements made by the superintendent and the way the community has come together to address concerns and supports for students is a move in the right direction.

Armando Vilaseca, the Vermont Commissioner of Education, lives in Westford.

Selectboard chooses Circ alternative

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Like the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway itself, a decision from the Williston Selectboard on a “Circ alternative” has been a long time coming.

But unlike the oft-discussed, never completed Circ, the Selectboard moved forward Monday by choosing “Major Network Strategy 2” for further study by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and consulting firm Resource Systems Group Inc.

MNS 2, an offshoot of the “B” portion of the scrapped “Circ A/B Boulevard,” would involve an extension of Redmond Road that would connect with the southern terminus of Vermont 289 via a bridge over the Winooski River.

The Selectboard, by a 4-1 margin, voted in favor of MNS 2 over “Major Network Strategy 1”—an additional interchange on Interstate 89 between Exits 11 and 12, extending north to Mountain View Road, with an intersection on Williston Road.

The Selectboard was first presented with the three Circ alternatives at its May 7 meeting. After arguing to a deadlock at its subsequent May 21 meeting, the board extended the June 4 decision deadline to June 18.

After providing the disclaimer that he lives on Governor Chittenden Road and uses North Williston Road every day, Selectboard Deputy Chairman Jeff Fehrs suggested Monday that building another bridge over the Winooski River via MNS 2 would alleviate traffic problems on North Williston Road, which is used as a de facto Circ alternative to cross the Winooski River between Williston and Essex.

“Which bridge?” Fehrs asked. “If we don’t build a bridge … then I don’t see any choice but (that) North Williston Road needs to be improved to handle the traffic it’s going to see.”

Selectboard member Debbie Ingram, who cast the lone dissenting vote, was in favor of the third option, which would have looked at other network-wide transportation improvements without regard for MNS 1 or 2.

Ingram stated that she has favored the “no-build” third option from the very beginning.

“The two other alternatives, they haven’t made it through in 40 years, and so I don’t see why we see the need to keep trying to rehash them and keep trying to make them work,” Ingram said. “The amount of money that would be spent on them and the environmental impact they would cause for the very little traffic mitigation that they would affect, I just don’t see them being good options, either one of them.”

Selectboard member Chris Roy fired back, arguing that the choice is not which option to build, but merely which to further analyze in the context of a network-wide transportation study.

“It boggles my mind that people do not want to collect data and have information to make a more informed decision,” said Roy. “If people don’t want to have information or data about either option, that’s fine, that’s a choice people can make and we can agree to disagree. But let’s do it not by suggesting that studying something means committing to it.”

Selectboard member Jay Michaud sided with Roy, despite Ingram’s protestation that studying MNS 1 or 2 would be a waste of money on “red herrings.”

“I believe we need to make a decision, because other communities are developing their own transportation models. We have to do something,” Michaud said. “Give me the bridge or give me the Interstate interchange, because that’s going to move the most amount of traffic.”

After a failed motion by Ingram for the third option, the board voted 4-1 in favor of Fehrs’ motion for MNS 2.

The Essex Selectboard, after sitting in on the first portion of the Williston Selectboard meeting, also approved MNS 2 later in the evening.


On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the Williston and Essex selectboards agreed on MNS 2, members of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Resource Systems Group Inc. returned to the Williston Town Hall meeting room for a public discussion of the Williston-Essex Network Transportation Study.

The goal of WENTS, as it has come to be called, is “to develop a multimodal transportation improvement plan in the (Williston-Essex) study area to address mobility, connectivity and safety,” according to a meeting handout provided by the group.

The study area forms a nonagon shape that encompasses I-89 to the south, North Williston Road to the east, Vermont 15 to the north and the Industrial Avenue/Williston Road intersection to the west.

Based on the results of the respective Selectboard meetings, the study will include detailed analysis of the impacts of MNS 2 on the overall study area.

RSG Senior Director Bob Chamberlin stressed that the study will be multimodal in nature.

“We are very serious about looking at all modes of travel,” said Chamberlin. “Obviously, motorized travel is critical (and) goods movement is critical here, but a big part of the heart of the study area is the growth center that Williston has designated.”

Chamberlin noted that Williston’s designated growth center, which encourages a concentrated density of residential growth, allows for creative and non-traditional solutions to traffic congestion.

“I think it’s quite an interesting and important aspect that we need to take into account when we do our transportation modeling,” Chamberlin said. “It makes bicycle-pedestrian transit service much more viable, so I think it’s a development from a land use standpoint that’s very important to keep in mind.”



Other Selectboard news

FY 2013 municipal tax rate set at 23.23 cents

In non-Circ news, the Williston Selectboard approved a municipal property tax rate of 23.23 cents per $100 of property value for fiscal year 2013.
The figure is slightly lower than the approximately 23.5 cent municipal tax rate approved by voters on Town Meeting Day, due to the fact that the municipal grand list—the aggregate valuation of taxable property—is slightly higher than estimated in March.
The 23.23 cent tax rate is an increase over the 21.5 cent rate in fiscal year 2012.
Put another way, homeowners can expect property taxes to increase approximately $17 per $100,000 of property value.


The Selectboard approved a sewer allocation rate of $7.50 per gallon for fiscal year 2013.
The rate represents a compromise between a minimum U.S. Consumer Price Index adjustment from $6.37 to $6.52 per gallon and Williston Public Works Director Bruce Hoar’s recommendation of $10 per gallon, which is the rate Williston will pay Essex Junction for sewer capacity over the next five years.
In addition, the board approved a water connection rate of $6.37 per gallon for residential and commercial accounts and $3.19 per gallon for affordable housing. It also approved a sewer connection rate of $7.24 per gallon for residential and commercial accounts and $3.63 per gallon for affordable housing. The increases were in line with the seasonally adjusted CPI increase of 2.3 percent.
The board also agreed to set water and sewer use rates at $3.15 and $4.85 per 1,000 gallons, respectively, for fiscal year 2013, starting with the second quarter billing in August 2012.


The Selectboard agreed to keep ambulance service fees at $525 for basic life support and $625 for advanced life support. However, the board increased the mileage rate from $14 to $16 per mile, based on Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton’s report that annual fuel costs have increased by 15 percent.
The board also kept Planning and Zoning Department fees the same, with the exception of decreasing the home business permit fee from $75 to $30 and increasing the boundary line adjustment fee from $30 to $100.

On the ROAD

Prevent child heatstroke deaths in vehicles

Parents and caregivers are urged to take steps to remember not to leave children alone in vehicles. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration review of child hyperthermia cases noted that a majority of the fatalities occurred due to a change in the driver’s regular, everyday routine.

Three children have died as a result of vehicular heat stroke so far this year, as of May 31, according to information gathered by KidsAndCars.org. Last year, 33 children died, and 49 died in 2010.

Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. Younger children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults, and are at greater risk for heatstroke.

Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. So, if you leave your kids unattended, in or near a vehicle, it won’t be long before they are playing in it. High temperature, humidity and poor ventilation create an extremely dangerous environment in a vehicle trunk. Hide and seek can turn deadly if they get trapped in the trunk, where temperatures can rise very quickly, resulting in heatstroke or asphyxiation.

Use the following tips to avoid vehicular heat stroke

  •   Teach children not to play in or around cars. Teach them that vehicle trunks are for cargo, not for playing. Explain how dangerous a vehicle’s trunk can be.
  •  Always supervise your children carefully when in and around vehicles, and check the trunk right away if your child is missing.
  •  As of 2001, auto manufacturers were required to equip all new vehicle trunks with a glow in the dark trunk release inside the trunk compartment. Show your kids how to use the release in case of an emergency.
  •  Make a habit of looking in the vehicle—front to back—before walking away.
  •   Never leave infants or young children unattended in a vehicle—even if the windows are partly open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
  •  If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
  •  Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
  •   Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle or placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle.
  •  Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.


Vulnerable users of Vermont roads include pedestrians, bicycle riders, operators of road repair equipment and wheelchair users. When passing vulnerable users, drivers must exercise due care and increase clearance distance. Drivers must not pass too close to a vulnerable user and no occupant may throw any object or substance at a vulnerable user.

Discovering Williston’s past

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

UVM archeology student Nick White meticulously digs at a Native American site off Route 2A, while his classmates Shayna Lindquist (left) and Katie Hoadley take careful notes. (Observer photos by Stephanie Choate)

University of Vermont archeology student Nick White carefully scrapes dirt from the edge of a precisely cut hole in the ground, pausing to make sure he is pulling the soil away at the right angle.

In the grass next to his classmates lies a plastic bag filled with the group’s haul so far—shards of stone tools and a small fragment of pottery dating somewhere between 800 and 1200 A.D.

A narrow undulating line of darker soil in the pit signals a storage site. White carefully tips the collected dirt into a bin, to be later analyzed in a lab for evidence of food or other organic material that may have been stored there, many years ago.

The UVM field class spent Tuesday and Wednesday collecting the last samples from the archeological dig, located just off Route 2A near James Brown Drive.

“We’ve gotten a sizeable sample,” said John Crock, associate professor of anthropology at UVM.

The site was identified last year by the Maine-based Northeast Archeology Research Center during a study in advance of development. Archeologists from the center finished their activities last week, salvaging artifacts from 15 one-square-meter holes.

The artifacts are from a relatively recent period in Vermont’s history, the late woodland period.

Long before a steady stream of cars zoomed down the road, the spot was a small base camp for Native Americans. NE ARC President Ellen Cowie said the site was not a village, but there is evidence of fire hearths and stone tool carving. A small group was likely there for at least a couple of weeks, though she said it’s too early to tell much more than that.

Though people living in Vermont at that time were not nomads, they moved with the seasons to get different resources, such as food and stone for tools.

Archeologists will analyze the data over the next several months, and Crock and Cowie said they hope to learn more about who lived there, when, for how long and what they did while they were there. Once the artifacts are carbon dated, Cowie said archeologists should be able to pin down the date to within 40 or 50 years.

Crock and Cowie both expressed thanks to the landowner, Aaron Vincelette, whom Cowie said has “generously given what he could to the project.”

Though development will destroy the site, Cowie said the dig has been a success from the archeologists’ perspective, and they have been able to collect enough material from the core area of the site.

“We’ve gotten a good sample,” Cowie said. “We will be able to better understand what was happening there and have a better idea of Native American settlement in the area and right in that spot.”

Trio of Willistonians join state Senate race

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Three Willistonians are among the 17 Chittenden District residents who have declared their candidacy for Vermont Senate.

Joining incumbent Democrat Ginny Lyons in the Chittenden District race are Williston residents Debbie Ingram, a Democrat, and Shelley Palmer, who filed two petitions: one as a Republican and another as a Tea Party Independent.

The Chittenden District, which is apportioned six senators, includes all of Chittenden County except Colchester, which is in the Grand Isle District.

Lyons, chairwoman of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, is seeking her seventh consecutive term in office.

Palmer came up short in a 2010 Senate bid, following two unsuccessful runs for the Vermont House of Representatives.

Ingram, who defeated Palmer in the 2011 Williston Selectboard race, is making her first bid for state office.

The Observer recently spoke separately to the three Williston candidates for state Senate about their backgrounds, qualifications and visions for the future of Chittenden County and the state of Vermont.


Ingram, a Georgia native, has lived in Vermont since 2002. A partner in a local film production company, Ingram also serves as executive director of the Burlington-based Vermont Interfaith Action, a community organizing project.

“I think I have a unique mix of having worked in Burlington for the past five years as a community organizer, working on issues that have come up from the grassroots with the ordinary citizens that I work with,” said Ingram. “I feel like I know the Burlington issues really well, and also having been on first the Planning Commission in Williston for five years and now the Selectboard … I feel like I also know the issues that face people in the rest of the county.”

Ingram said one of the major reasons she decided to run for senator is to work on bringing health care reform to fruition.

“I’m completely supportive of the governor’s plans and really excited about the Green Mountain Care program and the whole idea of universal care paid for through a single channel,” she said. “I think that really is the best way to try to reform our obviously broken health care system, and I think that Vermont can really lead the way for our whole country and demonstrate how well that kind of system can work.”

Ingram said that if she is elected she will also focus on improving affordable housing options, which will have the likely effect of reducing commuter traffic.

“Continuing to work with our Land Trust and with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board is a way that the state can provide the funding that’s necessary for increasing the supply of affordable housing,” said Ingram. “We focused for a long time at trying to keep people’s housing costs at 30 percent or less of their income, but there’s also a measure of trying to keep your transportation and housing together below 30 percent of your income, because sometimes people have to move farther outside the communities in which they work in order to find more affordable housing—but then their transportation costs rise.”


Lyons was born in the Finger Lakes region of New York and has lived in Vermont for more than 40 years. A longtime biology professor at Trinity College, Lyons also served on the Williston Selectboard from 1990-2000.

Looking back on her past term, Lyons said she’s most proud of her work in developing sustainable energy sources for the state.

“I think the biggest accomplishment that I’ve had over the past couple of sessions is moving us forward on a comprehensive energy plan and really getting the dialogue going at the local level as well as at the state level,” said Lyons.

While Lyons said Vermont needs to reduce its carbon footprint and overreliance on fossil fuels, she also argued that the state should temper its ridgeline development for wind power.

“My position is that we need to establish a set number of those large wind projects,” she said. “I frankly think we have enough in the state right now. I think that we ought to start looking at other options, and solar is not a bad option for our state.”

Lyons’ Senate campaign will also focus on health care reform. While she supports Gov. Shumlin’s plan for a single-payer health care system, she also sees room for compromise.

“The most important part of (the proposed single-payer system) is when small businesses start looking at the exchange and purchasing those policies, or their employees purchase those policies separately, that will bring back a huge tax credit benefit to those companies and those individuals,” said Lyons. “But I am not convinced that when this is all said and done that this will be what we would call a single-payer system. I think that there will be significant choices within the system, and I think that there will still be a place for private, corporate companies to be competitive in the new health care environment.”


Palmer, whose last Senate run cost just $350, said his campaign is centered on the fact that he is a normal guy who understands the needs of the average Vermonter.

“My campaign isn’t based on money. I work for Engineers Construction. I earn a little less than what would be considered the livable wage in Vermont,” Palmer said. “I’m an average guy. I’m a guy who puts his pants on one leg at a time.”

Palmer said that if he is elected he will seek to curb the expansion of state government spending.

“My biggest thing is finances in Vermont. I think the state is going in the wrong direction. It’s the expansion of government, the nationalization of the health care system, onerous rules and regulations—and it’s getting bigger,” he said. “The biggest concern is the ever-expanding state government, which makes the private sector shrink. And what Vermonters are really concerned about is they would like to earn a better living.”

Palmer disagrees with Lyons and Ingram about the viability of a single-payer health care system.

“Look at the (U.S.) Supreme Court case coming up in June,” Palmer said. “If they throw out the Obamacare bill in its entirety, Vermont’s going to wind up with a $500 million bill that Medicare and Medicaid are not going to reimburse. Then what are we going to do?”

He also has concerns about the increasing number of state energy subsidies.

“If you want to have solar panels, I’m all for it. But I’m not for someone else having me subsidize their solar panels,” said Palmer. “It’s not sustainable. Everyone talks about sustainability, but if we go in the direction we’re going, economically we’re going to have a much harder time and it’s going to get a lot worse.”

Palmer said that while he usually disagrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., he respects the fact that Sanders means what he says and sticks to his convictions. He said he would bring the same kind of straight talking approach to the state Senate.

“I’m not a politician,” Palmer said. “I’m going to tell you what I think. You may agree with it, or you may disagree with it, but you know exactly what you’re getting.”

CVU class of 2012 graduates in style

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Roswell Harlow (left) and Tallon Tomasi lead the Pledge of Allegiance at graduation. (Observer photo by Steve Mease)

The lobby of the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gymnasium was a sea of Redhawks red on Friday, as the Champlain Valley Union High School Class of 2012 stood in caps and gowns waiting for the rest of their lives to begin.

The pre-graduation atmosphere was part giddiness, part apprehension, part relief.

“It’s been a long time,” said Phil Clark of Williston. “This is the day we’ve been waiting for.”

Andrew Dickerson of Shelburne said he’s looking forward to moving on.

“I’m excited,” Dickerson said. “It’s time to not be in high school anymore.”

Mary Collins of Williston had a more practical attitude.

“I’m just trying not to fall,” said the high-heeled Collins. “That’s my one goal.”

Collins, who later surefootedly received her diploma, strutted one of the bolder footwear choices among female graduates. Others wore conservative flats, while many took the middle ground with wedge-heeled shoes, which offered a height advantage without the unsure footing of stilettos.

Even some of the guys took precautions, wearing sneakers instead of hard-soled dress shoes. Ian Sloan went barefoot.

Kate Neil, an exchange student from New Zealand, offered a different take on the ceremony.

“Graduation in New Zealand, it’s just like, ‘You’ve finished all you can do and you can leave now.’ It’s nothing like this,” said Neil. “There’s nothing with a cap and a gown, so all of my friends (in New Zealand) are really jealous that I get this.”

At 1 p.m. on the dot, the Class of 2012 filed into the Patrick Gym to the clashing cymbals of the “Triumphal March” of Verdi’s “Aida” for the start of CVU’s 48th commencement exercise. Flashbulbs lit up the crowd as glittered inscriptions glinted on the tops of graduation caps.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem—sung by soon-to-be graduates Alicia Phelps, Claire Sammut and Jessica Dudley—Student Body President AnnaClare Smith addressed the packed gymnasium with the same Albert Einstein quote she cited to the senior class at the beginning of the school year.

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour,” she quoted. “Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

Smith applied Einstein’s jocular theory of relativity to senior year of high school, which is both interminable and transient.

“Today, we can finally understand this quote. In two sentences, Einstein was able to simplify one of the most visibly impossible concepts to understand into something we can relate to—the variable passage of time,” Smith said. “Maybe just for the rest of this ceremony and today, we can sit here and really appreciate the moment. Because as we look back on the past four years, it is clear that time has gone by far too quickly. Or perhaps, at the exact rate it was meant to be.”

The oldest “graduate” at the ceremony was 36-year-old commencement speaker Adam Bunting, the former CVU student and Snelling House director who will assume the principal position at Montpelier High School in the fall.

“Be confident and be strong, Class of 2012. Because we know one thing about you: your scars, your flaws and the painful memories of your missteps are constant reminders and indicators of future success that is deeper than the transitory nature of a college, or a job, or a break or a reward,” Bunting said. “Class of 2012 … I am proud of you and proud to graduate with you. Be okay.”

Following Bunting’s address, the 346 graduates—from Zackary Adams to Andrea Young—took the stage in alphabetical order to accept their diplomas. A smattering of cheers and applause rang through the gym with the announcement of individual names, but none got a larger ovation than Young, who raised her diploma above her head with both hands, prompting the Class of 2012 to loft their caps high in the air in ecstatic unison.

With pre-graduation nerves dispelled, the mood of students after the ceremony was both celebratory and reflective.

“It’s awesome,” said Christian Williford of Williston. “I’m so happy to be done, but I’m going to miss a lot of friends. But I’m looking forward to college.”

Smith, who will attend Middlebury College in the fall, summed up the mixed emotions of high school graduation.

“It’s pretty overwhelming, because four years go by so fast, but it’s a great feeling. We have a really awesome class and it was so much fun to graduate with everyone,” Smith said. “CVU’s such a great school, because there are four towns, and when you come in freshman year you don’t know anyone and you’re excited to meet everyone, and now every single face is like I grew up with them.”

This Week’s Popcorn: ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

First Class Accommodations

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Enjoying the profound and humorous insights about one’s golden years so charmingly assayed by John Madden’s “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” it occurred that this film should be mandatory viewing for anyone with a civic sense. While seniors will enjoy the concurrence of truths they’ve learned, young folks should benefit most from its wisdom.

Apparently, none of the characters etched here by a fine ensemble of grade A British thespians saw that dooming sign in the grocery stores, barber shops and auto garages of their youth that read, “We grow old too soon and smart too late.” For in 21st Century England, approaching the precipice of their last act, they are all painfully unprepared.

For most it’s money. In a comical, expository scene, being shown a humdrum example of over 55 housing mediocrity, Penelope Wilton’s Jean Ainslie exclaims, “Thirty years in the Civil Service and this is what we can afford?” For others it’s a dream unfulfilled, an inability to adjust, or, as in Grahame Dashwood’s case, a past affair never reconciled.

Had Arthur Hailey added to his “Airport” and “Hotel” a work he might have called “Active Adult Community,” odds are it’d mirror what novelist Deborah Moggach so affably achieved in “These Foolish Things,” here transposed to the screen by Ol Parker as “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” A bunch of people share a bunch of problems.

Mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore, to paraphrase Peter Finch’s newscaster Howard Beale in “Network” (1976), our splendid dramatis personae decide to make some destiny modifications. Having all learned about the title residence in India through colorfully descriptive, exalting brochures, it’s there they will outsource their retirement.

Although widow Evelyn Greenslade, sharply portrayed by Judi Dench, hasn’t quite resorted to eating cat food, yet, her dear departed, financially irresponsible spouse has left her little choice. The same situation pretty much applies to the aforementioned public servant and her Casper Milquetoast of a spouse, Douglas, caringly played by Bill Nighy.

Continuing down the line, the great Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly has a bad hip and a broken heart after being told by the family whose children she raised and accounts she kept in order for over thirty years that her services would no longer be needed. Putting her rabid xenophobia aside for the moment, the hip replacement is a real steal in India.

And then for some, the decision to export one’s future has, in varying degree, a sexual connotation. Pretty Marge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie), like Tennessee Williams’s Blanche Dubois, has always relied on the kindness of strangers to ensure her sense of wellbeing. Whereas Ronald Pickup’s wily Norman Cousins is just an old rake on the make.

Running counterpoint to these sagas of the silver-haired set is the story of their ambitious host, Sonny, the youngest of several Indian brothers, all of whom have achieved some sort of success. Played by Dev Patel, the perennial optimist hopes to make his fortune and so impress his mom that she accedes to his love of the lesser caste Sunaina (Tena Desae).

But it won’t be easy. Sonny somewhat overstated the beauteous attributes of the Marigold, which is neither best nor exotic in the conventional sense of those adjectives. Like that first house the realtor showed you, just to set you up for the realities of the market, this is a fixer-upper extraordinaire. Insofar as Mom, well, she’s Babbitt in a sari.

Of course the rambling hotel, replete with tons of great old columns, alcoves, nooks and rooms bereft of doors is an architectural metaphor, its blighted state begging to rise up from the ashes and realize its potential glory. Thus it follows that, like Dorothy’s pals in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), each sojourner hopes to find what’s lacking in his or her life.

Reminded of the adage, “There, but for the grace of G-d, go I,” our souls demand we root for them, both as fictitious characters and because of the real world shame they represent. You want to wave their plight under the haughty noses of Social Darwinists the way the Ghost of Christmas Present revealed to Scrooge the indigent tots under his robe.

It is muckraking in its politest, most savvy form, a synergy of Western and Eastern sentiment woven into a compelling cry for redress. Although the faucets leak, the phones don’t work and the food is a bit spicier than you’re used to, just chalk it up as part of the overall charm that makes “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” a four-star film destination.

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” rated PG-13, is a Fox Searchlight Pictures release directed by John Madden and stars Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Dev Patel. Running time: 124 minutes