November 27, 2014

Town weeds out medical marijuana dispensary location

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By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

It was a dark and stormy night at the Williston Planning and Zoning office on Tuesday.

As the building’s lights flickered on and off and generator fumes wafted into the night air, Williston Planning Commission members Jake Mathon and Meghan Cope soldiered on through a meeting that sorely lacked a quorum.

Dispensing with a planned agenda that included discussion of recreation and school impact fee ordinances, talk instead turned to medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Planning Commission previously addressed the marijuana question at its Aug. 7 meeting, following a communication from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to Williston officials, which requested a formal town position on the possible location of a dispensary within town limits. At that time, the commission asked Planning and Zoning Department staff to prepare a map showing feasible locations for a potential dispensary.

Although current state law permits a maximum of four dispensaries operating in the state at any one time, it also stipulates that dispensaries cannot be located within 1,000 feet of schools or child care facilities. At the same time, it allows towns to specifically prohibit dispensaries, regardless of rationale.

As Mathon pored over a map prepared for Tuesday’s meeting by Williston Senior Planner Matt Boulanger, he proposed that the marijuana dispensary question is moot, due to the scarcity of potential locations in town.

“It doesn’t leave a whole lot of options, does it?” Mathon asked.

Adding to Mathon’s skepticism is the fact that the Vermont Department of Public Safety has granted conditional approval to two planned dispensaries in Burlington and Waterbury, according to a Sept. 12 report from The Associated Press.

Boulanger played the devil’s advocate, offering the hypothetical scenario that future state marijuana laws might become more lenient.

“What if the legislature comes back in a year or two and expands this, and says that now there can be more than four clinics in the state?” Boulanger posed.

Williston Director of Planning and Zoning Ken Belliveau said that if the town decides to assert its jurisdiction on marijuana dispensaries, it will likely require the input of the Development Review Board.

“It seems to me that if the town takes a stance on the issue, what it means is that somebody would have to come in and get a permit from the town before they could really do anything, especially if you said you had to get a discretionary permit, which would mean it would have to go to the DRB and would need a public hearing,” Belliveau said.

Cope expressed an indication of interest for that course of action.

“I like the discretionary permit piece, because it opens it up to a debate,” Cope said. “Essentially, if there’s a public hearing required, it’s very transparent.”

However, because of the absence of a quorum, no action could be taken on the matter.

The Planning Commission, a seven-member body under town charter, currently has five active members. Joel Klein, who recently submitted his formal resignation, hadn’t attended a meeting in more than seven months.

Belliveau made an open appeal for membership, suggesting that the Planning Commission, which requires four affirmative votes to approve a motion, is a less efficient body with only five members.

“You can’t get business done if there’s any dissent at all, if you don’t have enough people on the board,” Belliveau said, “and with too small of a board, I think you’re not likely to get as representative a sample of public opinion in the town.”

Stephen Mount memorial race set for Sept. 22

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Stephen Mount, shown here during the 2011 Dynamic Duathlon at Champlain Valley Union High School, died unexpectedly while participating in a triathlon less than three weeks later. The second annual Stephen Mount Memorial 5K Fun Run/Ride will take place Saturday at 4 p.m. behind Williston Central School. (Courtesy photo)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

To any runner who feels like giving up during the Stephen Mount Memorial 5K Fun Run/Ride, remember this: Steve Mount would want you to finish.

That’s because Steve Mount never quit at anything in life.

Mount, who died unexpectedly while competing in a triathlon on July 2, 2011, was a true renaissance man. A software engineer for 21 years at General Electric and IDX Systems Corp., Mount was also a U.S. Constitution aficionado and wrote a regular political column for the Observer. Additionally, the father of three served as chairman of Williston Families as Partners, the parent-teacher organization for the Williston School District.

The second annual fun run in Mount’s honor will be held Saturday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. Mount’s widow, Karen, observed that the race is a fitting homage to her husband because it combines two of his passions.

“The memorial race is a great tribute to him, because it puts two things that he really believed in together—the physical fitness and being healthy and taking care of yourself, and the other aspect, which is the education for kids,” Karen Mount said.

FAP member Sue Scheer said the memorial race is a way to cement Mount’s legacy as a benefactor for Williston’s youth.

“Steve Mount was a very involved parent in the Williston school system. He really believed in education for all children, and was just an amazing man,” Scheer said. “All the proceeds from this will benefit the Families as Partners organization, and all the money benefits the kids at Williston Central, helping to pay for field trips.”

Unlike the first annual event, Scheer said runners will be timed this year and awards will be handed out to the top three finishers in various age brackets.

The race will begin at Williston Community Park, behind Williston Central School, and will follow a counterclockwise loop around Old Stage, Mountain View and North Williston roads. Scheer praised the town for its recent installation of a missing stretch of sidewalk north of Wildflower Circle on Old Stage Road.

“It’s really cool now. The whole race can be run on sidewalk and bike path,” Scheer said. “For safety reasons, it’s ideal. There’s no reason anyone has to get out on the road.”

Karen Mount, who participated in last year’s run with her daughter and twin sons, said the support from the community since her husband’s death has been tremendous.

“He was an amazing man. He truly was,” she said. “The loss that has been felt in the community with his passing has been overwhelming, and still is to this day.”

Although the Mounts moved to Williston in 1996, it wasn’t until five years ago that they decided to build their own house. Karen Mount said there was never any question in her husband’s mind that the house would be located in the Williston community he held dear.

“Stephen was adamant that he did not want to leave Williston. I now realize what he meant by that,” she said. “There’s something different about Williston, as a town. They care about each other. They bind together when things are tough and are there for support, and we certainly felt that and are appreciative of that.”

Registration fees for the Stephen Mount Memorial 5K Fun Run/Ride are $5 for children, $10 for adults or $20 per family. Contact Sue Scheer at [email protected] for registration or volunteer information.  

PHOTOS: Williston’s corn season

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Local farmers have reported excellent corn crops this season, in contrast to the Midwest’s Corn Belt, which is mired in its worst drought in decades. (Observer photos by Luke Baynes)

PHOTOS: Long Trail Veterinary Center open house

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Residents chatted with Dr. Ryan Canales and enjoyed the party during the Open House & BBQ hosted by Long Trail Veterinary Center last Saturday in celebration of its recent opening in the village. (Observer photos by Marianne Apfelbaum)

PHOTOS: Habitat ReStore grand opening

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Volunteers, employees and visitors attended the open house for Green Mountain Habitat For Humanity’s new ReStore event on Route 2A  Friday. The nonprofit’s Executive Director David Mullin thanks everyone for their help in preparing the store for its grand opening on Sept. 8. The store is one of about 800 stores nationwide whose proceeds are used to help build affordable homes for those in need. (Observer photos by Marianne Apfelbaum)

 

 

 

 

POPCORN: “Robot & Frank”

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An Electrical Connection

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

Well, this is a real treat… one that ardent moviegoers will want to include on their dance card. In “Robot & Frank,” set in the near future, Frank Langella gives a touching demonstration in the subtleties of reality. Multilayered yet exquisite in its simplicity, his semi-retired cat burglar at a major turning point is sweet, sour and provocatively honest.

Directed by Jake Schreier from a screenplay by Christopher D. Ford, both members of the Brooklyn-based Waverly Films cadre and earlier anointed with the Alfred P. Sloan award at Sundance, it is a character-driven gem. Just doing what he’s been doing for five decades, Mr. Langella again puts himself in position for an Academy Award nomination.

Whether a result of good dramatic savvy from this primarily stage actor or a function of our own fickle subjectivity, we like this fellow human. After all, as he mutteringly notes whilst explaining it to Robot, almost every bauble he’s ever filched has been strictly high end, and it didn’t hurt anyone but the insurance companies…those no good so-and-sos.

Yep, ex-con or not, Frank features himself as strictly class, an expert in his field, and he now has, thanks to his son Hunter’s (James Marsden) concerns, a robotic caretaker whom he may regale of his exploits. Indeed, he recalls them in every detail, even if he doesn’t remember that Harry’s, his favorite hometown eatery in Cold Spring, N.Y., is no more.

Now there’s the rub, or at least one of them, the bitter icing on the cake. Divorced lo these thirty years, assumably for obvious reasons, Frank is apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s, though you’d be pretty hard put to diagnose it. After all, this is a man who has lived by his wits, and not one to pass up a resource, positive or seemingly negative.

It takes us a while to grok his MO, mostly because Frank may not be in conscious control of all his newest mechanisms…particularly his variation on playing possum. His kids, the aforementioned Hunter, who Frank continually asks about Princeton (though he’s long graduated) and the tree hugging Madison (Liv Tyler), are lovingly aggravated.

But what we come away with on first blush is that, despite claims of excess childhood baggage, especially from Hunter, these are good children and responsible citizens, their Dad’s occupation notwithstanding. Yeah, things are never quite clear-cut or simple, and require careful examination, which is why it’s much easier to be prejudiced than tolerant.

Tossed into this philosophical mix, upping the ante in the highfalutin treatise on value judgment, is the introduction of Robot, a whimsical deus ex machina meant to bring not only safety and succor to Frank’s existence, but objectivity…supposedly. It’s quite a matching, a parrying of diverse minds that segues into a dissertation on friendship.

But here’s the deal. You see, Frank wants to “go out clean” as he puts it…meaning, from what we gather in his eyes when he waxes of it, to do one last great heist: a job so perfect that it transcends mere burglary. No, this will not only be his pièce de résistance, but an achievement so elegant, so platonically perfect that it will stand as his life’s vindication.

Which is why, after initially railing against the invasion of Robot, he hatches a scheme. He will make a confederate of the machine, authoritatively voiced by Peter Sarsgaard. But not so fast, says Robot, who is programmed for Frank’s welfare. He agrees to be impressed into service by the second-story man only if Frank accedes to a low salt diet.

With only a moment’s hesitation, Frank accepts. Now they are partners in crime. The tutelage begins. Soon Robot is an expert lock picker, and cute as heck as he embraces the occupational lingo. And, as is so often the case with unusual affiliations, the camaraderie formed is far more profound than the intended purpose. The ensuing tête-à-tête charms.

Hip professors of ethics may want to include for dissection portions of the dialogue between the thief and his apprentice as right, wrong and rationale are humorously and intellectually rummaged with Socratic aplomb. Succinct yet smart, and interspersed with dark as well as giddy truths, the writing and Mr. Langella’s intuition sublimely meld.

Oh, and there’s a twist involving a pretty woman. Though not a great film in and of itself, Langella’s tour de force makes “Robot & Frank” a fascinating étude in the art and wiles of aging. And while his mechanical co-star is only called Robot, if my crystal ball is right, it’d be nice to dub him Oscar, after the award Mr. Langella will win February 24.

“Robot & Frank,” rated PG-13, is a Samuel Goldwyn Films release directed by Jake Schreier and stars Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon and the voice of Peter Sarsgaard. Running time: 89 minutes 

RECIPE CORNER: Easy salsa and scallop recipes

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By Ginger Isham

When visiting the Addison County Field Days, I stopped at a 4-H booth and purchased a $2 cookbook titled “Fiesta Time” with recipes from children in kindergarten through eighth grade. A young man, 5 years old, took my $2 and I asked him to autograph it. His name was Caleb. This recipe is from section K through grade 2. It calls for a tomatillo. This was a new ingredient for me. It is a small Mexican green tomato with a papery covering and has a tart flavor. You can substitute an under-ripe tomato and add a squirt of lime juice.

 

Simple Salsa

4 large tomatoes

1 chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tomatillo, diced (remove paper covering)

salt to taste

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

 

Combine in a bowl the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, tomatillo and salt. Mix and add half of the jalapeno pepper and taste. Add rest of jalapeno if you want more heat. Cover and chill until ready to use. Garnish with sour cream. May use lemon juice for lime juice and a food processor to chop and puree ingredients.

 

Scallops and Corn 

3 ears of corn, cut from the cob

1 and 1/4 pounds scallops, rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 red peppers, chopped

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/3 cup fresh chopped basil

1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro

 

Use 2 fry pans on high heat. Put 1 tablespoon of oil and butter in each pan. In one fry pan, put corn, peppers, garlic and cumin. Cook on high until veggies are crisp tender. Add scallops to other fry pan and cook on high for about five minutes, browning on both sides. Just before serving add basil to the veggies and cilantro to scallops. Place veggies in a bowl and top with scallops. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Work underway at Williston parks

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From left, Winooski Valley Park District crew members James Gilbane, Manny Eichholz and Ben Waters, Williston Conservation Commission intern Zach Theberge and WVPD’s Tom Fuller stand next to the newly installed sign at Mud Pond Conservation area. (Courtesy photo by Tim Lamed, WVPD parks manager)

Residents walking Williston’s trails may have noticed some improvements this summer.

A crew from Winooski Valley Park District—a partnership of seven local communities, including Williston—has been helping Williston Conservation Commission intern Zach Theberge with several upgrades to the parks.

The group recently installed a new sign at Mud Pond Conservation Area and helped to replace broken and rotten boards on the bridges and walkways throughout the park.

In addition to regularly mowing Williston’s Allen Brook trails, Five Tree Hill, and the Commons Trail, WVPD crews will be assisting Williston in completing construction projects at other town-owned properties. Crews will be working along the trails at Five Tree Hill, replacing broken bridge decking throughout the park and replacing an old bridge. The WVPD crew will also be working at the Commons Trail, building an extension of the boardwalk constructed last fall.

For more information, visit www.wvpd.org.

— Observer staff

CVU girls harriers staying ahead of the pack

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Taylor Spillane. (File photo)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Saturday, at Williston’s Catamount Family Center, it was just another day at the hot-footing office for the Champlain Union High girls cross country team.

The two-time defending New England champions captured their ninth straight Division 1 Essex Invitational, taking the first three places in the nine-team competition.

Next up for CVU is the Burlington High Invitational on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

Leading the way in Saturday’s victory were veterans Taylor Spillane, Autumn Eastman and Julienne Devita. Spillane got around the course in 18 minutes and 54.8 seconds, some 20 seconds better than her 2011 time.

Eastman finished in 19:07.9 and Devita in 20:06.4

The best girls time was posted in Division 2 by Ellie Purrier from little Richford High, who broke her own course record with a time of 18:46.8.

CVU easily captured the Division 1 team title with 39 points to runner-up Hanover, N.H. High’s 81 and Mount Mansfield Union’s 90.

The Redhawks are hoping that the big three will soon be a big four, when seasoned runner Aleksey Jordick returns to competition.

In the Division 1 boys event, South Burlington High swept to victory behind Malcolm Plunkett’s division record time of 16:51.1, a nearly two-minute advantage over second place Rebel teammate Tommy Royer.

South Burlington and Londonderry, N.H. each finished with 26 team points. CVU was fourth with 109 and no finishers in the top 10.

Former CVU soccer star among Vermont Sports Hall inductees

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By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent 

Jen Carlson, a standout soccer star at Champlain Valley Union High School before she went on to three-time win Big East First Team honors at the University of Connecticut is one of 13 initial inductees into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame.

“She was one of my best players,” said 25-year CVU girls soccer coach Brad Parker of Carlson, who played four years at the school.

Carlson was a two-time High School All-American during her CVU years. At UConn, she scored 40 goals and racked up 40 assists to finish among the university’s all time leaders.

This first class of state athletic standouts will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame at a Nov.17 dinner at the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington.

Inductees along with Carlson include:

  • Long time WCAX-TV sportscaster Tony Adams.
  • Outdoorsman and legendary deer hunter Larry Benoit of Duxbury.
  • Snowboard inventor and sport organizer Jake Burton Carpenter of Londonderry.
  • Burlington High, University of Vermont and Red Sox pitcher Ray Collins.
  • Enosburg High, University of Vermont and Red Sox third baseman Larry Gardner.
  • Springfield High, University of Vermont and Olympic track and field star Albert Gutterson.
  • Brattleboro and U.S. Olympic medalist cross country skier Bill Koch.
  • Rutland native and U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning alpine skier Andrea Mead Lawrence.
  • BFA St. Albans, University of Vermont and National Hockey League star John LeClair.
  • Mount Anthony Union High and Wake Forest University basketball standout Nicole Levesque Andres.
  • National media broadcaster and race track promoter Ken Squier of Waterbury.
  • Montpelier High, Syracuse University and Boston Patriot football player Bob Yates.

The Vermont Sports Hall of Fame was launched in October as a nonprofit organization to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to Vermont sports.

Public nominations for the 2013 class can be made and additional information obtained at www.vermontsportshall.com.