May 27, 2018

‘DARK KNIGHT’ descends on Williston

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and his wife, Marcelle, pause outside the Majestic 10 movie theater in Williston prior to a special pre-release screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the final installment in the most recent trilogy of the Batman franchise. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Holy senator, Batman!

There was no red carpet rolled out at Maple Tree Place on Sunday, but Williston’s Majestic 10 cinemas could have been mistaken for Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the appearance of such VIPs as Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer and Sen. Patrick Leahy.

The occasion was a special pre-release screening of the Warner Bros. production “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment in the trilogy of Batman movies starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Though the follow-up to the massively successful “The Dark Knight” didn’t make its New York premiere until July 16, the Williston event was made possible through the efforts of Leahy, a devoted Batman aficionado who has cameo roles in both the new film and its prequel.

Leahy, who said his Batman fascination began soon after he learned to read at age 4, thinks that the continued popularity of the Batman character stems from the Caped Crusader being an essentially ordinary man who does extraordinary things.

“People see it as someone who stands up for the underdog,” Leahy said. “He’s somebody who has no superpowers, yet stands up for the underdog.”

Ripton, Vt. resident Cody McGlashan, who drove more than an hour to see the film four days in advance of its official Vermont premiere, views the latest Batman trilogy as the current generation’s benchmark movie franchise.

“I feel like the ’70s and the ’80s had ‘Star Wars’ and the 2000s have Batman,” McGlashan said. “In my opinion (earlier Batman franchises) were good and they were fun, but they didn’t get to the level of the ‘Dark Knight’ movies.”

The Majestic 10 staff pulled no punches in decorating for the gala reception, transforming Oscars Bistro and Bar into “Wayne Manor,” complete with a VIP entrance overseen by tuxedo-clad theater employee Tyler Bradley—a dead ringer for Batman’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth.

Tickets for the movie screening were $100. The reception required a minimum $1,000 donation, with proceeds benefiting the children’s wing of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington.

Over 300 people were on hand for the 7 p.m. screening—none of whom were members of the media.

“Press coverage of the event is welcomed, however press will not be allowed inside the theater to see the film regardless of how they procured a ticket,” read a statement on ECHO’s website.

“The Dark Knight Rises” will be officially released to the public at midnight on Thursday, July 19.

The Majestic 10 will host a “Dark Knight” marathon leading up to the midnight premiere, with screenings of “Batman Begins” at 6 p.m. and “The Dark Knight” at 9 p.m. Tickets for the movie marathon are $19.50.

This Week’s Popcorn: “Ted”

Stuffed with Fantasy

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” is a kid’s fairy tale strictly for adults. And although you get the feeling the filmmaker is breaking new ground, one isn’t quite sure in what way that is. Clearly, however, this is a sweet, nutty and rather raunchy romp through the imagination, deliriously blurring the line between child fantasy and so-called grownup responsibilities.

Once upon a time, about 20 or so years ago, there was a shy little boy named John Bennett who had no friends, and little prospect of ever accumulating any. Thus, one Christmas, to ameliorate the situation, his parents bought him a Teddy bear. They became fast friends. Only problem was, Teddy wasn’t real. So little Johnny made a real big wish.

Fast forward to the present and the once heralded Christmas miracle is all but forgotten by a fickle media that made it the cause celebre back when the title character first took human breaths. But that’s OK with John and Ted, who’ve been as inseparable as peas and carrots lo these many years. And that’s OK with John’s girlfriend, Lori…or so it seems.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll mine the main plot in this oddly shaped love story. While Mila Kunis’s Lori, a career lady who shares digs with the duo, appreciates the kinship she has ostensibly turned into a triangle, she worries that her beau is limiting his horizons, working in a dead-end car rental job by day, getting stoned with Ted by night.

Fact is, John is aware of her concern, fully acknowledging his curious case of arrested development and the downside of maintaining so devoted a link to such a fantastical childhood. Yet he feels indebted. What would Ted do without him? But most of all he’s having a great time, stuck in perennial adolescence with his bear. What to do, what to do?

Adding heady substance to auteur MacFarlane’s creative scenario, Ted isn’t completely selfish, but rather in sympathy with the tragic dilemma his brother under the fur faces. That’s the wonderfully strange thing. He’s real. If we cut him, doth not his stuffing escape? Great F/X and Mr. MacFarlane’s emotive voicing make him fully alive to us.

Mr. Wahlberg, as the would-be adult Johnny Bennett, is quite good in a difficult role, responding to and engaging a cinematic chimera, a cutting edge variation on Jimmy Stewart’s tête-à-tête with Harvey. But the question this fictional relationship ultimately begs is, can an animated character win an Academy Award? You can make a case for it.

Of course, it’s always possible the Academy will shun the ursine phenomenon because of his foul-mouthed ways. Plus, he’s not part of the Hollywood establishment. But aside from the incredible fact that he exists only on film, it’ll take some doing to top his totally enrapturing portrayal. Yep, his persona even matures with the circumstances, so to speak.

Simple of plot, the screenplay assigns judge, jury and prognosticative duties to the viewer, who is beset with figuring out how this sticky wicket of a social dilemma might be resolved. While we’d like to see Lori and Johnny live happily ever after, we can’t entirely fault party animal Ted for whatever encumbrances to that goal he represents.

After all, he didn’t ask to be wished into existence. And he’s known little else but to make his best pal happy. Similar to twins who’ve developed their very own language, for John and Ted moving on with their lives means regaling each other with one memorable anecdote after the next, needing only a buzz word to incite a mutually enjoyed cackle.

Here, Mr. MacFarlane shows us via a cleverly eccentric monograph within his movie that he knows true male friendship, or bromance as film writers have come to call it of late. Ted and Johnny’s residence in a constant private joke is a testament to their bond and a declaration of dedication to a gesellschaft, whether they know what it means or not.

And maybe no one understands that fact better than Lori, impressively realized by Miss Kunis. Secure in her sense of self worth, figuring there’s enough love to go around for all those concerned, Lori is confident in Johnny’s love. But there’d be no dramatic purpose here if that confidence weren’t intriguingly shaken by a series of hilarious complications.

Consistently spiced with Ted’s ever-abashing, street corner profanities, the Boston Southie dialogue is integral to the comedic lilt as the film mind-snatches you into its screwy world. Complemented by allusions to pop culture, politics and anything else that strikes MacFarlane funny, “Ted” is a bizarrely delightful bearer of movie entertainment.

 “Ted,” rated R, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Seth MacFarlane and stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and the voice of Seth MacFarlane. Running time: 106 minutes 





PHOTOS: Hotel fire

Observer photos by Melanie Watson

Twelve local units responded to a fire that caused $1 million in damages at TownePlace Suites in Williston on July 8.

9-10 all-stars beat Colchester

Ben Herskowitz draws one of Williston’s 11 walks during the game against Colchester last Sunday. (Courtesy photo)

By Matt Rushford

Special to the Observer

The Williston 9-10 year old all-star baseball team continued their unbeaten run through the Division championship tournament with a win over Colchester on Sunday. Played on the impressively well-groomed South Field in Shelburne, the four-inning mercy rule-shortened game drove Williston straight toward a showdown with cross-town rivals South Burlington on Wednesday night.

Colchester showed up strong early, shocking Williston with a solo home run by the second batter that bounced off the top of the center field fence and out of the park. Williston’s defense quickly shut the door with two consecutive strikeouts by pitcher Storm Rushford.

The boys in blue answered with a 14-1 run over the next four innings, powered by hits from Brandon Arnold, Aidan Johnson, Baker Angstman, Ben Mazza-Bergeron, Rushford and Griffin McDermott. McDermott closed out the game with a relief appearance in the fourth that sealed the deal for Williston.

Perhaps one of the most surprising impact members of the squad is a player who has neither stood at the plate nor stepped onto the field once in the tournament. Cale Layman suffered a fractured thumb in an early practice session this summer and has had a cast on for weeks. Nevertheless, he shows up for every practice, taking batting practice one-handed and playing the field with a lefty glove. He suits up for every game, giving his support to his teammates from the dugout while waiting impatiently for his hand to heal. His perseverance and dedication is clearly an inspiration to his team, who have adjusted their goal for the season to include making it far enough in the tournament for Layman to rejoin them in a game.

That still means getting past South Burlington, the team that has spoiled Williston’s division championship hopes for several years running. The first confrontation between the two will take place this Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Shelburne (after press time). Might as well be high noon.

Sports Roundup

Ireland Legion Team facing must-win tests

By Mal Boright 

Observer correspondent

Off to Glens Falls, N.Y. Tuesday and the annual three-day regional Cooper’s Cave Tournament, the S. D. Ireland American Legion baseball team will be in some pressure games when it resumes league play on Saturday at noon with a seven-inning make-up contest against Addison County at the Champlain Valley Union High field.

Monday’s 9-1 loss to the high flying Colchester Cannons (8-1 in the Northern Division) left the Irelands with a 4-6 league mark and in jeopardy of missing the state tournament late this month at Castleton State College.

“We’ll need to win out,” said coach Jim Neidlinger.

That means six straight victories against teams in similar straits

The loss to the Cannons snapped a three-game winning streak by the locals that began with a whopping 26-1 outburst on Saturday at Montpelier, and continued on Sunday with 7-6 and 9-6 wins in an exhibition twin bill at home against Tri-County from Glens Falls, N.Y.

The big bats exploded in Montpelier. Davis Mikell and Larry Halvorson each crushed homers, with Mikell adding two other hits and driving in five runs, while Halvorson scored three times and drove in three tallies.

Winning pitcher Will Conroy tossed five shutout innings and also collected three hits while driving home two runs.

In an eight-inning 7-6 first game victory Sunday, Drew Nick unloaded a two-run homer, Conroy tripled and Ryan Machavern slugged a double and scored in the bottom of the eighth,. while relief hurler Calvin Benedetto earned the victory.

Machavern got the pitching victory and game two, while Austin Purinton registered a save. Curt Echo slammed two hits and drove home a pair of scores.

On Monday, the bats generally fell silent against Colchester lefty Addy Wheelock (Winooski High this spring), who escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam in the bottom of the first to post a three-hit route-going job.

Halvorson’s double in the fourth, Echo’s infield single in the sixth and Rayne Supple’s two-bagger in the seventh were the Ireland safeties. Dylan Ireland produced the sole run with a seventh inning sacrifice fly.

Colchester was in a slugging mood, lashing out 13 hits off Echo and Nick, the crusher a three-run homer by Jeff Sutherland in the top of the fourth that gave the Cannons a 5-0 advantage at the time. Cody Sharrow and Josh Rylant socked three hits each.


Sunday soccer

Observer photo by Luke Baynes

Team Misunderstood battles Team Honey Badgers on the pitch behind Williston Central School on Sunday in a Mexicali Coed 6v6 Summer League playoff match. The 28-team adult soccer league requires teams to be coed and prohibits slide tackling to allow for a ‘competitive, safe environment,’ according to league organizer Briant Hamrell.

Everyday Gourmet: Bun bathing

Pan Bagnat (phan bahn-YAH), or bathed bread, is a Niçoise salad-inspired sandwich that shouts “summer!” Pressed between two rounds of artisan bread you’ll find tuna, egg, black olive, caper, tomato, roasted red pepper, arugula, and a mustard-anchovy infused vinaigrette. The concoction is wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated overnight so that the spunky dressing bathes the bread, soaking in flavor and moisture. It is the perfect picnic sandwich; a 16-ounce round of bread will feed six hungry friends. I like to use Red Hen Bakery’s Cyrus Pringle loaf.

Julia Child introduced Americans to this French Riviera classic warning that “the oil from the dressing should run down your arm when you eat Pan Bagnat.” I don’t recommend this as a sunscreen strategy, but I can’t think of anything more deliciously sensuous than devouring this feast, fresh from a swim on a hot July afternoon, arms dripping oily dressing and hands clasping icy beers.


Pan Bagnat

Vinaigrette: in a small jar with a cover, combine 4 T virgin olive oil, the juice of a lemon, 2 t Dijon mustard, 1or 2 T anchovy paste, 1 T minced shallot, 2 minced garlic cloves, fresh pepper and sea salt to taste. Shake well to emulsify, adjust for seasoning. The dressing will be robust in flavor.

Next, hard-boil two eggs; cool and slice. Roast a sweet red pepper over the open flame on a gas stove (or use one-half cup bottled red peppers, dried on paper towel.) Chop one-third cup pitted kalamata olives and combine with 1 T capers. Slice 2-3 tomatoes (enough to cover bread surface.) Drain and flake two 6-ounce cans of tuna packed in oil.

Compose the Pan Bagnat: slice a round 16-ounce bread in half through the middle. Bathe the surface of each half with the vinaigrette. Cover each surface with fresh arugula leaves. Layer the remaining ingredients onto bottom half of the bread and cap with the top half. Wrap tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. Place Pan Bagnat in fridge with a heavy weight to compress it; set overnight, or at least three hours.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France.  She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to

Life in Williston: On the road again

By Karen Wyman

Nothing says summer quite like a family road trip. It is the ideal scenario for tons of memories to be made. Unfortunately, for our family, most of our memories can easily be mistaken for scenes from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Although we can now look back and laugh on most of these mishaps, at the time they were far from amusing. My husband likes to warn people that if they ever see us in line for an attraction, checking into a hotel or boarding a flight, they should quickly find a different plan! If there’s going to be an issue or delay, it will more than likely happen to us and anyone who is unlucky enough to be near us. This summer, we are bound and determined to finally have a problem-free excursion.

There are countless great places to visit within a comfortable driving distance of Williston. Many people have found the AAA office in Maple Tree Place extremely helpful in customizing road trips and recommending hotels and local activities. As the price of gas slowly goes down, it is a great time to take advantage of weekend getaways. Here is a little sampling of some possible destinations, sparing you the comedy of errors that was often involved when we ventured to them, and how they can be enjoyed with or without kids!

Before children (B.C.), my husband and I loved to head to Quebec City or Mont Tremblant for a romantic escape. We also loved to visit Montreal to enjoy the amazing shopping, restaurants and nightlife. These days, when we head to Canada, we are much more likely to go to the Biodome and Planetarium or visit The Granby Zoo.

B.C. we would also venture to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to golf, relax at a spa and visit the outlets. Now, N.H. trips consist of Storyland, Santa’s Village and a round of miniature golf. Heading to Maine for romantic walks on the beach, delicious lobster dinners, and you guessed it, outlet shopping is also over. It has been replaced with visits to York’s Animal Kingdom and Splashtown U.S.A. Gone are the days of heading to Newport, R.I. to tour mansions and vineyards and stroll along the breathtaking Cliff Walk. These B.C. trips to R.I. would usually include a side trip to Foxwoods and a coveted stop at Providence Place Mall (do you see a pattern here?) as well as amazing Italian dinners on Federal Hill. We are looking forward to an upcoming trip to R.I., but sadly Newport and Foxwoods are nowhere on the agenda. This trip will consist of a zoo, a water park, the Mystic Aquarium and, inevitably, a visit to Build-a-Bear or Chuck E. Cheese.

I can’t leave out our closest “Big City,” Boston, and how much road trips there have changed from the B.C. days. There are no more magical dinners in the North End, no crazy bar hopping before a Red Sox game, no leisurely walks down Newbury Street and there most definitely is no getting off the T at Downtown Crossing for some shopping. Visiting Boston is now all about the Children’s Museum, the Aquarium and the Swan boats. Our “gourmet” dinners now occur in Faneuil Hall at a restaurant devoted entirely to macaroni and cheese. The things we sacrifice for our kids!

I must admit, to see familiar places and things through my children’s eyes is absolutely priceless. Although I cherish the adult time and the B.C. activities with my husband, being lucky enough to travel with my children is the best experience by far.  I hope this encourages some of you to get on the road this summer with your family.

If the thought of traveling in the car with your family causes anxiety, I want you to know you’re not alone. Before you head out, you should be aware of the results of a road trip study conducted on mothers by GPS company Tom Tom: 60 percent of moms state “being together as a family” is the best part of a trip regardless of the destination; 41 percent say being in the car with their children is more stressful than being at work; 36 percent are highly likely to argue with their partner during a road trip. The study also found that the average family road trip is five hours, and children will become bored in the car within 27 minutes. I guess there’s nothing left to say except—happy trails!

Karen Wyman has been a Williston resident for seven years, and lives with her husband and twin 5-year-old daughters.

On the Road: Williston roadwork update

Roadwork projects are underway in Williston this summer. For more information, contact the town’s Public Works department at 878-1239.

  • Old Stage Road, from Wildflower Circle to Mountain View. Continuing construction of a water main and a pedestrian path is underway until Sept. 1.
  • Continuing construction in the Hamlet and Finney Crossing subdivisions off Zephyr Road.
  • Construction beginning on “Lot 30” and the grid Street located off Wright Avenue.
  • Paving portions of the following roadways will begin the week of July 16: Avenue C; Old Creamery Road; James Brown Drive; East Hill Road; Walker Hill Road; Hickory Hill Road; Leroy Road; Terrace Drive; Lawnwood Drive; Paul Street; Turtle Pond; Redmond Road. Dates to be determined.

Around Town

ANR seeks tire piles

The Agency of Natural Resources is asking for assistance in locating any piles of 100 or more old tires that may have been scrapped in the area. If you have any knowledge of piles of discarded tires, please call the Williston Fire Warden at 878-5622, to aid in the eventual cleanup of these tires.

Children’s Memorial Service materials deadline Aug. 15

Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen is set to hold its tenth annual Children’s Memorial Service on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Ira Allen Chapel on the campus of the University of Vermont.

The service provides parents and families an annual opportunity to honor the memory of a child who has died, in the presence of other families, caregivers and community members. This annual service is intended to support families in their shared experience of mourning the loss of a child.

Family, friends, healthcare providers and other community members are all welcome to attend the service. While this event is presented by the Vermont Children’s Hospital, it is open to all families who have experienced the loss of a child of any age, at any time in their lives, regardless of whether their child was ever a patient at Fletcher Allen.

Parents who wish to attend and wish to have their child’s name, photo and/or a special reading included in the program should contact Marlene Maron at 802-847-4880 by Aug. 15.

For further information about the service please call Dr. Maron.



The American Red Cross held two blood drives in Williston last week—one in the parking lot outside the RehabGYM, and the other at Burlington Emergency & Veterinary Specialists on Commerce Street.

Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative Jennifer Bergeron was pleased with the results of the July 5 drive at the RehabGYM.

“It was a successful drive,” Bergeron said. “The goal was to collect 14 units, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Bergeron noted that the Williston blood drives were part of a nationwide effort to address the current blood shortage in the country.

“It’s a national shortage. I’ve only seen it like this twice, where they’ve issued an emergency need,” Bergeron said. “It’s because of the storms that are happening across the nation.”

The July 6 drive at BEVS yielded about 10 pints of blood, according to Hospital Manager Whitney Bierschenk. It also offered pet owners the opportunity to register their dog or cat for blood donation.

In August, the Red Cross will hold two more blood drives in Williston: Friday, Aug. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at DEW Construction in Blair Park; and Tuesday, Aug. 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

Blood donors at both events will receive a free pass to the 2012 Champlain Valley Fair, which will be held Aug. 25 – Sept. 3 in Essex Junction.

Guest Column: Get thrifty at 50

By Dave Reville

When it comes to saving for retirement, too many folks have a lot of catching up to do.

According to most research I’ve seen, nearly half of people over 55 have saved less than $50,000 for retirement. In fact, half of Americans haven’t saved anything at all, according to another survey.

Most people just don’t get serious about saving for retirement until their children have left the nest. Unfortunately, adult children are taking flight later and later these days.

But don’t think because you’re 50 or older it’s too late to start. In fact, one of the benefits of turning 50 is the government makes it easier for you to close the savings gap by allowing you to divert extra money to a retirement account at work, an IRA or both.

This “catch-up contributions” provision applies to employer-sponsored plans, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457(b)s. If you’ll hit the big 5-0 by the end of the calendar year and you have one of those plans, the tax laws allow you to contribute an extra $5,500 above the normal $17,000 annual limit. That means you can save up to $22,500 in pretax dollars every year between now and the day you retire.

Even without any portion of the catch-up being matched by your employer, the additional contribution translates into an extra $825 to $1,925 in tax savings (depending on your tax bracket). You’ll only pay taxes on the contributions later, when you start taking distributions from the account.

You can also put an extra $1,000 a year into an IRA.

It’s important to note there are minimum and maximum age and income limits that restrict whether and how much you can contribute to all of these plans. Check with the IRS or a tax professional for details.

Of course, all of this is a moot point if you’re not making smart decisions with your investment portfolio before and after you retire. Here are a few investment principles you can apply to your 401(k):

Diversify. Don’t put all of your money into one class of investments. If you spread the money around, when one investment is down, there’s at least a chance another one will be doing well.

Take a little risk. Is all your money in the “safe” option? If the return is less than the inflation rate, you’re losing money.

Consider automatic options. Life-cycle or target-date retirement funds are “set-it-and-forget-it” programs that automatically select a diverse set of investments based on the appropriate level of risk for someone your age. They also automatically rebalance each year to ensure that market gains and losses have not left you with too much exposure to any particular class of investment.

Beware of fees. Management fees are subtracted from your account. Even a one percentage point difference in fees can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over time. Your employer— or the free AARP 401(k) Fee Calculator (registration required)— can tell you how high your funds’ fees are.

Pay attention. Be sure to read your account statements and if you’re concerned that an investment is not doing well, consider making a change. Your 401(k) provider — as well as third parties like Kiplinger’s, Morningstar, Yahoo! Finance and others – should have tools that can help you choose the fund that’s right for you.

Plan for a long life. The Treasury Department has proposed new rules that would make it easier to use a portion of your 401(k) savings to buy annuities, which provide a guaranteed monthly income for life — regardless of what the market does.

If you’re in your 50s and you’re just starting to get serious about saving for retirement, you might feel a bit like Don Quixote reaching for that unreachable star. But by working a little longer, postponing your Social Security claim (thereby supersizing your monthly benefit for the rest of your life) and supplementing Social Security with another stream of guaranteed income (like an annuity), your heart, at least, may lie peaceful and calm.


Dave Reville is the Associate State Director – AARP Vermont.