October 26, 2014

NEIGHBOR$ NETWORK: Williston Volunteers

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Volunteers making a difference

Ellie Campbell

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston resident Ellie Campbell knows how hard it can be to find the right place to live.

For the past seven years, she has spent five to 10 hours a week volunteering with local organization HomeShare Vermont, working to match people looking for housing with those who could use assistance in their homes.

“I decided to get involved because it a very worthy cause and I was familiar with trying to find a place to live at one point in my life and how hard that is without some kind of help from people in the know,” she said.

This year, HomeShare Vermont is celebrating 30 years of matching people. The program—which is targeted at seniors but has no age or disability requirements—matches homeowners with a home sharer who moves in to provide assistance in exchange for affordable housing.

“It’s hard to find housing that’s affordable,” Campbell said. “When you can find affordable housing and you have a generous enough heart that you want to be of value to somebody else, that’s what makes a great match.”

Campbell is one of the volunteers who vets potential candidates—conducting in-depth interviews, reference checks and multiple background checks.

“We do a lot of hands-on work, and most importantly we check in with them periodically after a match,” she said.

Campbell said she loves “everything” about her volunteer efforts, from the work the organization does to the people they represent and the people in the office.

“We don’t have business relationships, we have friendships that go on,” she said.

Campbell said volunteering can be very rewarding when you find the right match for your interests.

“This has been said many times, but I think people volunteer to help someone else, then they realize down the road that it’s a huge benefit to them.”

HomeShare Vermont provides free informational meetings the third Wednesday of every month at 412 Farrell Street in South Burlington, at noon and 5:30 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, call 863-5625 or email [email protected]

 

Local volunteer opportunities

There are plenty of ways to get involved in the local community. Here is a sampling of opportunities from United Way of Chittenden County. For more information or to volunteer, contact the United Way at 864-7541 or [email protected]

  •  The American Cancer Society’s Williston office is looking for volunteers age 18 or older to cover the reception desk for 2-3 hours a day, Monday through Friday.
  •  Volunteer as a community recruiter for the Girl Scouts, getting girls and adults excited about the opportunities provided. Volunteers could set up an information table at a community event, host a sign-up or put up flyers.
  •  Volunteer “Road to Recovery” drivers help drive cancer patients with no transportation to and from regularly scheduled cancer treatment appointments. Drivers are on call, and should have a good driving record and reliable vehicle.
  •  Meals on Wheels drivers are needed to deliver meals to seniors in Colchester, Essex, Jericho, Underhill and Williston on a regular, seasonal and substitute basis. Meals are picked up between 10 and 10:30 a.m. The route takes approximately one hour.
  •  COTS needs Playroom Volunteers to spend time with kids in the shelter in Burlington. Help with games, coloring, painting or other activities that you and the kids can do together. Minimum two hours a week. References and background check required.
  •  The Shelburne Museum will be hosting a variety of events during July. On Sunday, July 22, it is hosting the Day-Long Circus-Palooza, featuring circus artists, food and carnival games. Volunteers can help with set up, run carnival games, greet visitors and more. Three- to five-hour shifts, 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Shelburne Museum also needs volunteers to greet visitors, guide them to activities sites and help them experiment with a variety of media for Artscape, set for July 26.

For more volunteer opportunities, visit www.unitedwaycc.org. 

Williston resident nominated for volunteer award

A Williston resident has been nominated for United Way of Chittenden County’s new Building Block volunteer awards.

Karin Davis was nominated in the health section for her service to the Cathedral Square Corporation, which provides housing and services for seniors and individuals with special needs.

The awards are meant to recognize the impact community volunteers have on the quality of life in Chittenden County by serving in one of the three United Way building block to a better community—education, income and health.

This year’s 44 nominees will be honored at the United Way LIVE UNITED Celebration Breakfast on Sept. 7, from 8 – 10 a.m. at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in South Burlington. The event is open to the public. Seats are $18, and reservations should be made by Aug. 28. For more information or to register, call 860-1677, ext. 822, or go to www.unitedwaycc.org.

Library Notes

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Youth News

Star Gazing & Campfire Stories

Monday, July 23, 6:30 p.m. Listen to stories and learn about the night sky with the Vermont Astronomical Society. All ages. Pre-register. Participants are welcome to stay after hours for night sky viewing. Children ages 8 and younger must be accompanied by an adult while at the library.

 

Russian Story Time

Tuesday, July 24, 11 a.m. Children listen to stories, sing songs, and find new friends. Includes a craft activity. Russian and English speakers are welcome. Up to age 5. No pre-registration.

 

Music with Raphael

Mondays, 10:45 a.m., Thursdays, 10:30 a.m., and Saturday, July 21 at 11:30 a.m. Come sing, dance and clap your hands with Raphael and his guitar! Traditional and original folk music for children up to age 5 with a caregiver. No pre-registration. Limit one weekday session per week per family.

 

Magic Show

Presented by Magicians Without Borders. Wednesday, July 25, 11 a.m. All ages. Children ages 8 and younger must be accompanied by an adult while at the library.

 

Teen Club

Thursdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Movies, snacks, book discussion, games and more. Theme: Percy Jackson & Greek mythology. Led by Mara Distler. For students entering grades 6 -12.

 

Ellie’s Preschool Party

Friday, July 27, 10:30 a.m. Guitar sing-along, movement to music, parachute and bubbles. Ages 1-5. Pre-register. Space is limited. Sponsored by Friends of the Dorothy Alling Library.

Adult Programs 

Brown Bag Book Club

Friday, July 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Looking to meet others who love to discuss books? This month we will discuss “The Tiger’s Wife,” by Tea Obreht. Copies available at library. Coffee, tea, juice and dessert provided.

 

Shape and Share Life Stories

Monday, July 23 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Prompts trigger real-life experience stories, which are crafted into engaging narratives and shared with the group. Led by Recille Hamrell.

 

UVM Landscape Change/Looking Back

The Vermont Interstate System. Saturday, July 28 at 11 a.m. Enjoy a presentation that will take you through Vermont’s changing landscape, including a section on Williston. Discussion to follow. Additional info available at www.uvm.edu/landscape.

 

New Nonfiction

In “Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss,” Jai Pausch describes her life as she cared for her husband Randy during his struggle with pancreatic cancer and her path forward after his death

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New Fiction

“Strange Music,” by Malcolm MacDonald, is the second book in the Dower House Trilogy featuring concentration camp survivors Felix Breit and his wife, who join with eight other families to live communally at the Dower House.

 

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

Around Town

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Intersection closed

The Intersection of Old Stage and Mountain View roads will be closed July 19, starting at 6:30 p.m., through July 20 at 6:30 a.m. for waterline construction. The town encourages drivers to seek alternative routes.

For more information, contact Lisa Sheltra, assistant director of public works, at 878-1239.

Harvest coupons

NOFA-VT, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Wholesome Wave Foundation have partnered to provide economic incentives to 3SquaresVT (formerly known as food stamps) beneficiaries at farmers markets in the form of Harvest Health Coupons, which have a dollar-for-dollar value redeemable at all participating farmer’s markets statewide. For a list of EBT markets, visit www.vtfoodhelp.com or call 211.

Guest Column: Summer tips for pet safety

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By Dr. Kathy Shaw

Summer temperatures might be great for tan lines and boating trips, but the excessive heat and increased outdoor activities could spell disaster for your pets. As the mercury rises, take just a few moments to insure that your pets are safe and prevent an urgent trip to the animal ER for a summertime emergency!

The most common heat-related problem for pets is heat stroke. Also known as heat stress or hyperpyrexia, heat stroke is a real emergency for dogs. Even on moderately warm days, an excited dog might show a body temperature increase of two to five degrees Fahrenheit. Since dogs don’t sweat like we do, they are unable to dissipate the excess heat and heat stroke may soon follow.

Any outdoor pet can overheat on a warm summer day, but short-faced breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, are at a higher risk. In addition, every year, thousands of pets succumb to heat stroke because they were left in cars while their owners ran “just a few” errands.

Many cities and states have now made it a crime to leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. These are important laws, as even on a 70-degree day, temperatures inside a car can soar to over 110 degrees in less than one hour!

Some owners try to help their pets by shaving the dog’s long coat. Although this seems like a good idea, a well-groomed and clean hair coat can actually insulate the dog from the heat and help keep them cooler.

In some cases, shaving the hair coat could expose a lightly pigmented dog to potential sunburn. For short haired lightly colored breeds, canine solar dermatitis is another problem. Boxers, pit bulls and Dalmatians are just a few examples of dogs that are at risk. In these cases, chronic exposure to hot sunny days damages the skin and causes tender, red, scaly lesions. Eventually, the skin becomes thickened and scarred.

When the sun goes down and the temperatures start to cool, your pets still face many summer challenges. The bright flashes and loud bangs of thunderstorms and fireworks are terrifying to some pets and can cause anxiety, stress and even escape.

Normally calm pets may become distressed, destructive and even bite in an attempt to get away from the noises. While running, they are at risk for being hit by a car, becoming lost or encountering another animal that might be aggressive.

The warm summer season also brings out a many pests that will actively seek out your pets. Fleas and ticks are two examples, but some species of biting flies are very fond of dogs’ ears. Repeated bites can cause a condition that can be serious and difficult to control known as “fly strike.”

It is possible to enjoy the summer with your pets by taking just a few precautions. First and foremost, always be aware of the weather forecast. Knowing the high temperature can help guide your plans for the day.

Don’t leave your pet unattended outside or plan heavy exercise on hot, humid days. If your pet is left outdoors, he must have access to adequate shade and fresh water.

When it’s time to run errands, leave your pet at home. Even a few minutes in a hot car is enough to increase your pet’s body temperature dramatically.

If you find your pet disoriented, panting excessively or collapsed in the yard, move him immediately to a cooler environment. Use cool wet towels over his back, armpits and groin to help bring his temperature down. Fans are often helpful too. DO NOT USE ICE! Then, get him to your veterinarian immediately so that they can assess his status and begin life saving treatments.

Your veterinarian is also a good source of advice for products that will kill fleas and ticks. Some veterinarians also carry an insecticide gel that repels biting flies.

If you are planning to take your pets to any outdoor celebrations or cookouts, find out first if pets are welcome or if fireworks are planned. It might be easier to simply leave the dogs at home rather than risk a run-away or injury.

Most national parks allow pets, but rules vary by park, and of course your pets must be on a leash at all times. Check ahead on the parks you plan to visit.

Summertime should be a time for relaxation and fun…don’t let a pet emergency spoil your good time.

For information on veterinarians in your area, visit www.vtvets.org.

Dr. Kathy Shaw is a member of the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association.

Should gated subdivisions be prohibited in Williston?

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Planning Commission weighs in

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Most of the suggested tweaks to the Williston Unified Development Bylaw proved to be uncontroversial at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

Item 42.3.2 (“Change required residential setbacks from 15 feet to 10 feet as in the previous bylaw”) met with little opposition.

Nor did item 13.2.6.7 (“Word ‘sing’ is supposed to be ‘sign’”) cause a stir.

The same couldn’t be said for an item marked “Gated Subdivisions: Should these be prohibited?”

“It’s one of those things where it’s just a matter of time before someone would propose one,” said Ken Belliveau, Williston Director of Planning and Zoning.

Belliveau proposed the following language: “In no case shall gates of any kind be permitted across public or private roads, or driveways serving more than one dwelling unit.”

Planning Commission Chairman Jake Mathon was against such a bylaw.

“Do I want gated communities? I don’t really care for them. I’ve been down to Florida a few times and I don’t like that type of development,” Mathon said. “But that’s my personal preference, and if somebody else wants to do that on a private road, that’s their prerogative to do so.”

Commission member Kevin Batson sat on the other side of the fence on the issue.

“It’s not just a gate, it’s a fenced-in community,” Batson said. “You build a wall around your community, and I’m really opposed to that.”

Williston Senior Planner Matt Boulanger offered an opinion regarding the practical application of the proposed bylaw.

“What this would really do is affect the roads that are constructed as part of a residential development,” Boulanger said. “In Williston, you can put up to five units on what we call a private driveway—a road that you’re not required to build to the full private road standard. So one way you (could) do it is you just attach (the proposed bylaw) to that and say public and private roads constructed as part of a subdivision will not have access control gates (and) private driveways can.”

The only consensus reached by the Planning Commission on the gate debate is that it requires further discussion.

The commission agreed to include the gated subdivision question as an agenda item at a warned public hearing to discuss all of the proposed changes to the Unified Development Bylaw.

The date of the public hearing has yet to be determined.

St. George missing link in Vermont Gas footprint

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By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Four senior members of Vermont Gas Systems came to Williston last week with the intention of discussing the proposed Addison Natural Gas Project.

They ended up spending most of their time talking about potentially extending Williston’s existing natural gas service line on Vermont 2A into St. George.

The Addison Natural Gas Project, first pitched to the Williston Selectboard at its April 16 meeting, involves a proposal to bring Canadian-harvested natural gas to Addison County residents via a high pressure pipeline that would pass through Williston and St. George on its way south.

Yet despite the fact that the pipeline would be buried directly beneath the towns’ surfaces, it wouldn’t translate into any additional natural gas capacity for residents, due to the fact that the area lacks a “gate station” to step down the pressure of the gas transmission to a level suitable for residential use.

Steve Wark, director of communications for Vermont Gas, put the project in perspective for the audience members at the Williston Town Hall meeting room on July 11.

“If we build into Addison County, we can save folks, over 20 years, $44 million above and beyond the project costs,” Wark said. “I do see this as a greater good project. I frankly see this as a project that puts money back in people’s pockets.”

Eileen Simollardes, Vermont Gas vice president of supply and regulatory affairs, echoed Wark’s regional outlook.

“Economic development doesn’t stop at the county line,” Simollardes said. “It’s a small state. What’s good for one county is usually good for another, and the economic development potential here is huge.”

The general sentiment among the five Williston and two St. George residents at the meeting was favorable toward a project that would bring tax revenues to each of their hometowns.

But of more pressing concern to residents was extending the low pressure service line on Vermont 2A, which currently ends at the Old Creamery Road intersection, south through St. George and into Hinesburg to connect with the existing line at the intersection of Vermont 116 and Shelburne Falls Road.

Carroll Lawes, a resident of Lawes Drive (the private road off Vermont 2A immediately south of Old Creamery Road) elaborated on his meeting comments in a subsequent interview with the Observer.

“The key as far as I’m concerned is St. George,” Lawes said. “They have no natural gas. The key to it is how much pressure that St. George can put on Vermont Gas to get connected down there.”

St. George Selectboard member Debra Kobus, who went beyond the call of her normal duties by making the trek north to Williston for the Vermont Gas meeting, served as a spokeswoman for her constituents in a July 12 email to the Observer.

“Many St. George residents have expressed a desire to be offered the benefits of natural gas touted by Vermont Gas. Home heating oil and propane (prices) are through the roof and this is extremely hard on us all, but especially those of lower income or that are elderly and are on a fixed income,” Kobus wrote. “I am very much supportive of Vermont Gas providing the residents of St. George, as well as other Vermont towns, an option of purchasing a more reasonably priced form of energy to heat their homes.”

The reluctance on the part of Vermont Gas to extend the Vermont 2A service line past Old Creamery Road has been a matter of economics and population density.

“The problem is there’s not infrastructure, namely houses, to pay for the cost of pipe and installation,” said Brian Gray, Vermont Gas sales and marketing manager.

Kobus disagreed with Gray’s assessment in her email, stating that she estimates there are more than 220 potential residential and business customers located within a two mile stretch in St. George—well exceeding Vermont Gas’ 50-homes-per-mile minimum build-out requirement.

Simollardes explained at the meeting that one option for residents in an area of insufficient build density is an upfront customer contribution prior to pipeline construction. However, that option can be costly, because such contributions are taxed as income at a 40 percent federal rate that is passed on to the customers.

Assuming all households in the 1.6 miles of Vermont 2A between Old Creamery and Butternut roads buy into the idea of an upfront cash contribution, Vermont Gas estimates that a $4,000 contribution per household will be required.

The $4,000 contribution assumes a rate of $25 per foot of pipeline construction. However, if there is ledge located in the pipeline route, costs quadruple to $100 per foot of ledge.

Prior to learning of the $4,000 estimate at the July 11 meeting, Lawes received the signatures of more than 50 residents between Old Creamery and Butternut roads on a petition requesting natural gas connection.

Despite the four-figure price tag, he still believes that the long-term cost savings of natural gas—which costs 43 percent less than heating oil and 55 percent less than propane, according to a March 2012 study by the Vermont Department of Public Service—outweighs the upfront pinch to the pocketbook.

“Frankly, that’s not a bad deal for anyone that’s on a moderate income,” Lawes said.

The rub is that all residents must buy into the concept, and some residents on the Vermont 2A corridor can likely ill afford to write a $4,000 check in addition to their monthly mortgage and utility bills.

Toward that end, Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire, who attended the public meeting in his capacity as the town’s chief administrative officer, suggested the possibility of a special tax assessment district, similar to the district created for the Meadowridge neighborhood’s connection to the town sewer system in 2011.

“A special assessment district is a possibility,” McGuire said. “It’s feasible.”

As Meadowridge proved, a special assessment district is possible but complicated, requiring both Selectboard approval and an affirmative town vote.

Yet Lawes remains convinced of the project’s short-term viability and long-term public good.

“I really think this is a doable project and should be a doable project,” Lawes said.

Police Notes

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Timothy E. McQueen, 54, of Burlington was taken to Act 1 detoxification center on July 10 after police received a report of an intoxicated man on a CCTA bus in the Wal-Mart parking lot, according to police reports.

Driving under the influence

  •   Paul Schweikert, 50, of Williston was cited on a charge of suspicion of driving under the influence on July 14, according to police reports. No other information was released.
  •  Rachel Denoyelles, 31, of Carmel, N.Y. was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on July 16, according to police reports. No other information was released.

Theft

Police are investigating the theft of copper from Northeast HVAC on Boyer Circle. Anyone with information is asked to call Williston Police at 878-6611.

Simple assault

On July 15, police received a report of a “physical altercation” between two men in the parking lot of Roadside Marine on Industrial Avenue, according to police reports. Police subsequently cited Joshua Lacourse, 24, of Barre with simple assault, according to the report. No other information was released.

Police notes are written based on information provided by the Williston Police Department and the Vermont State Police. Please note that all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Water line relocation would cost town half a million dollars

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Selectboard discusses water line, stormwater funding projects

Observer file photo

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

To invoke poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, water was everywhere at Monday’s Williston Selectboard meeting.

Following a routine annual report by Jim Fay of the Champlain Water District, the board heard a status update from Vermont Agency of Transportation Project Manager Ken Robie on proposed improvements to the intersection of Williston Road (U.S. 2) and Industrial Avenue.

While the intersection isn’t immediately adjacent to any bodies of water, H2O will play a major factor in any improvement measures, due to a town water line that will need to be relocated prior to construction—at an estimated $500,000 town expense.

A previous U.S. 2/Industrial Avenue improvement plan failed to gain traction with a 2007 iteration of the Selectboard. At that time, the board balked at the plan’s hefty price tag and lack of adequate pedestrian facilities. It also questioned whether traffic congestion was sufficient to warrant the project.

Calls for safety improvements were renewed following a Sept. 2009 traffic accident at the intersection that destroyed local eatery Tim’s Snack Shack and resulted in one fatality.

On Monday, Robie provided a summary of the revised project plans, which include a sidewalk on the south side of U.S. 2, two left-hand turning lanes for eastbound traffic on U.S. 2 and a more orthodox intersection layout.

“In general, what the project is made up of is a reconfiguration of that T-intersection with Industrial Ave.,” Robie said. “So Route 2 itself will straighten a bit so you won’t have that ‘sort-of’ right turn … and Industrial Ave. will be turned to be more of a direct T-intersection with Route 2.”

What hasn’t been modified, however, is the requirement for the town to relocate a portion of its water line.

“Because of the age and the type of material of the existing water line, any construction above it will damage it to the point where you’re going to have failures during construction, or you’ll have failures that will follow after the project’s completed,” Robie said.

Selectboard member Chris Roy raised the question of who should pay for the proposed relocation of the water line: all Williston taxpayers or just residents connected to the town’s water system?

Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire responded by suggesting that a hybrid approach might be in order.

“There is very little benefit to the water users of moving that line now. So who gets the benefit? The people who are using the road,” McGuire said. “I’m thinking that maybe some sort of cost-sharing (arrangement) might make sense, because there is some depreciated value there that could be charged to the water users, but maybe a large portion of that could be charged to the town, and then the town might (recoup) some or all of that from impact fees.”

Because of the high cost of potentially moving the water line, the board expressed a desire to revisit the matter during the annual budget season, so that it will be fresh in the minds of voters on Town Meeting Day.

Barring any unforeseen setbacks and contingent upon an affirmative vote by town residents, Robie said project construction is expected to occur in the summer of 2015.

STORMWATER STUDY

The final water-related item on the Selectboard’s agenda concerned a revisited discussion of a stormwater system funding study presented to the board at its May 21 meeting by consulting firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.

Besides the option of maintaining the status quo to address stormwater issues, VHB suggested creating a stormwater coordinator position or a more expansive stormwater utility to administer a fee system that would bill property owners for stormwater services based on the amount of impervious surface owned by the resident.

Williston Director of Public Works Bruce Hoar, in a memorandum prepared for the meeting, advocated that the town explore the creation of a fee-based structure through a dedicated stormwater coordinator position.

“My recommendation is to have a second phase of this project look more in depth into the addition of a Stormwater Coordinator and a fee based structure,” Hoar wrote. “The addition of an employee whose sole purpose is to deal with this huge issue would certainly lead to better efficiencies between departments and help ensure that we stay in compliance with the existing (federal MS4) permit and any requirements of the new permit.

“Secondly and probably even more important,” the memo continues, “is making sure that a fee based program will work for the town and is structured correctly.”

Selectboard Deputy Chairman Jeff Fehrs agreed that the go-slow approach of creating a stormwater coordinator position is more prudent than immediately going whole hog by creating a full-fledged stormwater utility.

“If you start with a coordinator, that position could eventually develop into a multi-person utility, but as sort of a first step, a coordinator position may make more sense,” Fehrs said.

Following Fehrs’ comments, the board unanimously agreed to continue study of a stormwater management fee system using the stormwater coordinator organizational model.

Art unfolding

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Marie Jewell’s painting of the Barber Farm House in progress. (Courtesy photo)

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

This weekend, local artists will flock to Jericho for the Plein Air Festival, setting up their easels in sweeping meadows and shady greens to bring summer landscapes and objects to life.

Three Williston residents are among the nearly 80 artists from Vermont and neighboring states participating in the second year of the festival, set for July 21.

Pastel painter Phil Laughlin said the festival “takes art out of the museum and off its pedestal and makes it very accessible to people.”

“There are a lot of really talented artists out there… it’s pretty amazing to just watch them build a painting,” he said.

Laughlin, a realistic painter with a naturalistic focus, said he will choose a spot based on the light and mood. He painted at last year’s festival, and said it’s a great opportunity for artists to get out of their studios and meet other artists and art appreciators.

Oil painter Marie Jewell said it’s also fun to see what other artists have created while working with the same lighting and subject.

Jewell, a realist who calls herself a “Sunday painter,” said plein air painting—which stems from the French term “en plein air,” meaning “in the open air”—is vastly different than painting from a photograph.

“A photograph can’t capture all the colors and values and vibrancy that you see in the landscape … you lose a lot in a photograph,” she said.

“Painting outside, you make decision about colors and values and what to leave out, and you only have a certain amount of time to capture what you see.”

Pastel artist Marla McQuistin, who is participating for the first time, said painting outside gives artists a better feel for the subject.

“It seems like you’re inside the scene more,” she said.

Artists will be painting at Jericho Settlers’ Farm, Barber Farm and on the Jericho Green, among other locations. Members of the public can watch the artists and talk about their creative methods, beginning at 9 a.m.

Artists will take their work to the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery by 3 p.m. to be framed, and work will be  available for direct sale throughout the day. Paintings will also be displayed at the gallery from July 22 through Aug. 12, with a public reception on July 22 from 2–4 p.m.

Town settles in civil rights complaint case

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Observer file photo

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

A settlement agreement of $75,000 has been reached in a civil rights-related complaint filed against the town of Williston and Sgt. Scott Graham, a member of the Williston Police Department.

The complaint, filed by Burlington resident Antoinette Bennett-Jones and her attorney, Lisa Werner, in Vermont Superior Court on May 20, 2011, alleged that Graham used excessive force during a traffic stop involving Bennett-Jones in the parking lot of Wal-Mart on June 11, 2008.

Bennett-Jones, who is African-American, claimed that race was a motivating factor in the alleged incident.

Graham, in a June 13, 2011 response prepared by the law firm of English, Carroll & Boe P.C., denied that he used excessive force after observing Bennett-Jones’ vehicle in the fire lane outside Wal-Mart. He further denied that Bennett-Jones’ race played a factor in the traffic stop.

Graham admitted that he wrote Bennett-Jones a $314 ticket for violation of “Obedience to a Law Enforcement Officer.” The violation was adjudicated on March 11, 2009, with the court ruling in favor of Bennett-Jones.

Attorney Nancy Sheahan, who represented the town of Williston in the matter, told the Observer that Graham was “dismissed from the case without payment attributable to him.”

Sheahan said that the decision to settle was based on a recommendation from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns Property and Casualty Intermunicipal Fund, with whom the town maintains liability insurance.

The town was responsible for a $500 deductible, according to Sheahan.

In an email to the Observer, Werner stated: “Antoinette’s primary goal was to raise awareness. However, it is very stressful to be involved in this type of case. A settlement provides closure. When the offer was made, it was simply too much money to reject.”