April 20, 2018

REDHAWKS ROUNDUP: On the court—Brad and Scott Bissonette

Brad Bissonette keeps his hands on the ball during a playoff game in February. The starting forward and his twin brother, Scott, are hoping the team makes it to the state championships this year. (Observer courtesy photo by Shane Bufano)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The Champlain Valley Union High School boys’ varsity basketball team finished the 2011-12 season with a 12-10 record—a highly respectable mark for a team that at one juncture dropped seven consecutive contests during the 2010-11 campaign.

But as far as senior shooting guard Brad Bissonette is concerned, anything less than a state championship will be a disappointment this season.

“Patrick Gym is our goal this year, and I think we can do it. I think it’s realistic,” he said. “Unlike other years, the vibe is that it’s our year.”

Hinesburg resident Brad Bissonette is joined on the Redhawks starting five by his twin brother, Scott. A small forward, Scott Bissonette said having his sibling in the backcourt offers distinct competitive advantages.

“It’s definitely unique compared to everyone else,” Scott Bissonette said. “We just have a knack of where each other are on the court all the time. It helps when we’re in pressure situations.”

When asked what NBA players they most admire or try to emulate, both of the Bissonette brothers named versatile swingmen who possess the complete offensive package of slashing drives, mid-range finesse and long distance sharpshooting.

“The player’s game I like to mimic is probably (Boston Celtics forward) Paul Pierce,” Scott Bissonette said. “I like his jumper and his mid-range step-back.”

Said Brad Bissonette: “I like the way (Oklahoma City Thunder forward) Kevin Durant plays. He’s more of a shooter, a cold-blooded type of player, but when he wants to he can put his back to the basket or hit a floater in traffic. That’s what I try to mimic. A nice floater in traffic or a pull-up jump shot.”

The Redhawks dropped their Dec. 7 season opener to the Vergennes Commodores, 61-55. They also fell Tuesday to the Missisquoi Thunderbirds, 79-48, although they were without the services of Brad Bissonette in both games, who is on the shelf with a case of mononucleosis. He has been cleared to return for the Redhawks’ Dec. 18 tipoff on the hardwood of the Burlington Seahorses.

In the meantime, the CVU cagers will look to leverage home court advantage to even the season series against Vergennes on Friday at 7 p.m.

Scott Bissonette said the key to Friday’s grudge match will be limiting the Commodores’ trips to the charity stripe.

“We had too many fouls,” the 6-foot-3 forward said of the first matchup. “We gave them a lot of free throws. If we limit the fouls, then I think we can win.”

REDHAWKS ROUNDUP: On the ice—Molly and Evangeline Dunphy

Redhawk ice hockey forwards Molly Dunphy (left) and twin sister Evangeline Dunphy relax before practice Friday. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

With a record of 0-20, last year was a tough season for the Champlain Valley Union High School girls’ ice hockey team.

But you’d never know it from talking to teammates and twin sisters Molly and Evangeline (Eva) Dunphy.

“Even though we didn’t have the best season statistically last year, it was definitely one of the best teams I’ve ever been on, because we did come together and really supported each other,” Eva Dunphy said.

Molly Dunphy agreed with her sister, saying she’s optimistic about the upcoming season.

“The thing about hockey is you have to get very comfortable with your team to do well in games,” Molly Dunphy said. “I believe we’re a lot stronger than last year. Skating-wise we’re definitely a lot better, and we’re really starting to mold together as a team, so I think we’re going to have a much better season.”

The 16-year-old juniors both play forward positions, with Molly typically starting at left winger and Eva spelling the right wing position on the second line. The Williston residents also play field hockey for the CVU Redhawks, with Molly usually found at right inner and Eva stationed between the posts as goalie.

“Ice hockey’s always been my number one sport, and it’s the sport that I’m better at, because I just started field hockey last year,” Molly Dunphy said. “But the body positioning is so similar if you’re defending—it’s the same exact kind of angles for ice hockey. Shooting-wise, slap shots and wrist shots in ice hockey also translate over to field hockey.”

By contrast, Eva is better on the turf than the ice.

“I’m much better at field hockey than I am at ice hockey, but I like both of them for different reasons,” she said. “I really like ice hockey because you can be aggressive and not get caught for it.”

CVU girls’ ice hockey coach Ben Psaros said the Dunphys’ contrasting playing styles complement each other well.

“Eva’s come a long way. She’s much more of a puck handler than she was last year,” Psaros said. “She’s more of a hard-nosed forward, whereas Molly’s more of a finesse, tactical kind of forward.”

Psaros, a former CVU hockey player who graduated in 2000, is in his second season as coach of the girls’ Redhawks squad.

“They have a lot of fun,” he said. “They’re always on time, positive and they just want to be here. It’s a good dynamic, a good locker room.”

After last year’s 0-20 mark, Psaros is hoping to put a crooked number in the win column this season. But with just three sets of forwards and two sets of defensemen on the roster, Psaros said injuries could play the biggest factor in the success of the season.

“We have to stay healthy, or we’re in trouble,” Psaros said.


Champlain Valley Union High School coaches provide a glimpse of their teams for the winter season.


Alpine Skiing

Head coach: Mike Minnerly, ninth year

Key returning veterans: Girls: Dana Kaufman; Emma Putre; Cassidy McGlaflin; Sarah Caffry. Boys: Mark DesLauriers; Ted Hadley; Will Colomb; Zach Holman; Skye Golann.

Leading newcomers: Girls: Jaime Johnson; Samantha Provost; Emma Owens; Natalie Franklin; Sydney McGlaflin. Boys: Boomer Vazquez

Season prospects: We are young! Very young. With over 30 athletes, we have only three seniors and three juniors. Having said that, we will be just fine. Our returning boys will carry the load and we should fare well. Our girls could be something to watch. We have several young girls who could really surprise us. I suspect the beginning of the season could be rough, but we will mature as a team and should finish strong.


Boys basketball

Head coach: Scott Bliss, sixth year

Key returning veterans: Brad Bissonette; Scott Bissonette; Joe Chevalier; Lucas Aube; Ryan Beaudry; Austin Busch; Wes Carroll; Hans Lynn; Layne Waples.

Leading newcomers: Zack Evans; Ed Myers; Brandon O’Connell.

Season prospects: We should be pretty competitive. We return nine players and when we get everyone healthy we should be able to compete with most metro teams.


Girls basketball

Coach: Ute Otley, second year

Key returning veterans: Emily Kinneston, junior; Kaelyn Kohlasch, junior

Leading newcomers: Too early to tell.

Season prospects: CVU girls basketball expects a rebuilding year after graduating six of its top eight players from a team that went 20-4 last season. Kinneston returns to lead the Redhawks after earning second team all-state honors as a sophomore. She will be joined by three mature seniors, a slew of fundamentally sound juniors and two athletic freshmen. Coach Otley is cautiously optimistic about her young team’s potential.



Head coach: Bob Abbott, first year.

Assistant coach:Kiley Boureau.

Key returning veterans: The team consists of 17 girls with five returning seniors and three strong incoming freshmen. Captains Madison Bourdeau, Grace Carey and Megan Kloeckner will help lead this team for another strong year. Two powerhouse juniors, Megan Nick and Sarah Kinsley, will provide strength.

Leading newcomers: Strong incoming freshman Jackie Casson, Caroline Hern and Jessie Johnson will create some experience depth to the lineup.

Season prospects: Last year, CVU fell just .25 of a point short of the state title. Returning upperclassmen Sarah Gerry, Marcella Consiglio and Olivia Arms will also be adding to the strength and depth of the team. The season outlook seems strong, but injuries always play a part. The number one goal from the coaching staff this season is to stay healthy.


Boys ice hockey

Coach: Mike Murray, fourth year

Key returning veterans: Alex Bulla, junior and captain; Kaleb Godbout, sophomore; Brendan Gannon, junior; Will Bernicke, junior; Cam Rivard, sophomore.

Leading newcomers: Jack Hall, freshman; Ryan Keelan, freshman; Drew Pitcher, freshman; Jake Garrett, senior.

Season prospects: The team expects to return to a position of contending for the league championship. It is a young squad, with only four seniors.


Girls ice hockey

Coach: Ben Psaros, second year

Key returning veterans: Molly Dunphy, forward, junior; Randi-Lynn Katon, defense (Burlington High School, senior); Rachel Pitcher, defense, sophomore. Hannah Carpenter and Sylvie Shanks, team captains, seniors.

Leading newcomers: Tashia Pashby-Rockwood, goalie, freshman); Meghan Hanley, returning from a year off, forward.

Season prospects: Looking to build off last year’s learning and continue to understand the game of hockey. Only five girls have played the game of hockey outside of our program here at CVU. Most picked up the sport their freshman year and have basic skating skills, but lack the true knowledge of the game. That will be our team focus and goal this year—understanding the game.


Nordic Skiing

Head coach: Sarah Strack

Assistant coaches: Eli Enman, James Donegan, Marina Dosch

Key returning veterans: A strong group of returning girls and boys from last year’s team. Girls returning from last year’s championship team include Cally Braun, Autumn Eastman, Emma Hamilton, Kayla Servin and Taylor Spillane. Returning boys include Thomas Clayton, Sean Delaney, Will Kay, Sam Longenbach and Emmett Peterson.

Leading newcomers: We have several new skiers to the team, key standouts right now include Forrest Hamilton and Tatum Braun.

Season prospects: We have our largest team ever of 80 skiers! Most of the new skiers are new to the sport. However, we have several skiers who raced in middle school, and key returning skiers. After one week of practice, it is clear we have strong leadership on the team to help guide such a large group. There are several team goals for this season, depending on past experience in the sport. Several groups of skiers want to learn the sport, while others want to improve to make the varsity or state team. At the highest competitive level, the team is hoping to repeat its success at the state championships for both the girls and the boys.


Coach: Gunnar Olson, third year

Key returning veterans: Connor Brown; Connor Gobielle; Alex Craige; Alex Legg; Grant Poston; Liam Bowley.

Leading newcomers: Kienan Kittredge; Alec Distler; Shaun Lussier; Brandon Young.

Season prospects: Third place in the all-state championship last year and we expect to exceed that this coming February. We expect to put at least five wrestlers in the state finals and we expect at least five champs. We hope to see the most successful season in the history of CVU wrestling.

REDHAWKS ROUNDUP: North Country trip next for CVU wrestlers

Redhawk Grant Poston was the 170-pound champion at the St. Johnsbury Early Bird tournament. (Observer courtesy photos by Jennifer Olson)

Fresh from a third place finish in the regional St. Johnsbury Academy Early Bird Tournament Saturday, the Champlain Valley Union High wrestling team will hit the road Tuesday for North Country Union High in Newport.

The trip follows a home session this past Tuesday when St. Johnsbury, Essex High and Vergennes Union visited the Redhawks.

New head coach of the Redhawks is Gunnar Olson, an assistant last year, who has taken over for Rahn Fleming.

Olson, with increased numbers of athletes in the program this year, is optimistic about the unfolding season.

“I believe in my heart we have all the components to close the gap that Mount Anthony (multi-year defending state champion) has set,” Olson said in a news release.

The optimism was well placed Saturday as the ‘Hawks took third place and led all Vermont teams in the St. Johnsbury event. Teams from Maine and New Hampshire took the top two places.

Leading the CVU wrestlers was junior Grant Poston, who won the 170-pound class title.

Runner-up slots were earned by sophomore Alex Legg (126) and senior Connor Brown (160).

Senior Alex Craige (120) and freshman Kienan Kittredge (152) had third-place honors, while junior Connor Gobeille (152) and senior Isaiah Boyd (145) were fourth in their classes.


Mal Boright,
Observer correspondent

Volunteer Opportunities

The listings below are a small sample of the more than 350 volunteer needs from more than 250 agencies. For more information, visit www.unitedwaycc.org or call 860-1677.


The Turning Point Center of Chittenden County needs help wrapping gifts at the Phoenix Bookstore through Dec. 24.  Flexible weekday, weekend and evening schedules. Vermont CARES is looking for volunteers to wrap gifts at Burlington Town Center to support HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Dec. 20, 21 and 24, 5-8 p.m.


Become an IRS certified tax preparer through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Volunteers serve four to six hours a week helping lower income individuals and families file taxes and receive the earned income tax credit. Free training provided during January or online, must pass an IRS test to become certified.


VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties is looking for volunteers to help in the medical records office with filing, scanning, sorting, etc. Weekday afternoons, five to 10 hours a week.


Cathedral Square Corporation is seeking volunteers to teach low-impact group fitness, gentle yoga and/or one-on-one exercise at each of its sites. Flexible scheduling. References and background check required.


Burlington Emergency Shelter needs volunteers to provide dinner for shelter guests. A great group opportunity to serve neighbors in need. Volunteers provide the food, cook it at home and bring a ready-to-eat meal, which they can stay and share with the guests. Call to schedule a date.


Heineberg Senior and Community Center is seeking a friendly, motivated volunteer instructor for a weekly class in January to help seniors avoid canes and walkers by improving strength and balance. Monday and Thursday morning schedules.


Sara Holbrook Community Center invites dynamic, skilled volunteers to share special interests in an after-school program. Hip-hop, gymnastics, skate boarding, drama, pottery, science…whatever will excite you and the kids. About 1 1/2 hours a week for 6 weeks. References and background check required.

Health Department urges Vermonters to get flu shot

Health Department urges Vermonters to get flu shot

The Vermont Department of Health is urging people to get a flu shot, as an early flu season is underway nationally and in Vermont.

“Don’t wait until someone around you gets sick to get vaccinated,” said Patsy Kelso, state epidemiologist for infectious disease, in a press release. “It takes up to two weeks for the shot to be effective, so do not delay this year. Get your shot.”

Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older.

Flu viruses spread mainly through droplets spread through the air when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose.

There are some simple actions everyone can take to stay healthy and keep illness from spreading.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve every time you sneeze or cough.

Wash your hands often and well with soap and water.

Use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Keep hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

Stay home from work, school or public places when you’re sick.

Flu symptoms typically include fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and body aches.

People at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications are:

Pregnant women

Young children, especially infants

People 65 years of age and older

People at any age with certain chronic medical conditions


By Karen Wyman


I can’t believe it’s time once again to write about holiday and winter activities. In between the hilarious ugly sweater parties, rambunctious Yankee swaps and those calorie-laden cookie swaps, how could there be any more fun to be had you ask? Well, just let me tell you.

It seems every town offers at least one breakfast with Santa, and of course, Williston doesn’t disappoint. Gardener’s Supply is holding Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 15, so hurry up and sign your little ones up to break bread with the big man himself. Also, if you haven’t had the chance to bring the family to Maple Tree Place yet this season, you will want to get there this weekend for the final horse-drawn carriage rides with Santa. And you can get a little shopping crossed off your list as well!

If we are lucky enough to get snow this month, Catamount Outdoor Family Center will be the place to be! It’s so important to spend quality time as a family, and what a bonus to have a place where you can all be active together during these long winter months. You and your family (or just you if you need some alone time!) can enjoy the outdoors while sledding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Five Tree Hill Park also offers a scenic trail appropriate for most ages that is great for snowshoeing. If you’re like my family, it’s all about the sledding, and Rocky Ridge Golf club offers some of the best sledding hills around.

Since New Year’s is right around the corner, some of you may already be thinking about those resolutions. Perhaps this is the year you will learn to knit or speak Italian? CVU Access Program has several classes starting in January including a variety of ethnic cooking classes and even computer classes—so you can learn how to use your Black Friday electronic purchases! If becoming a more effective parent is on your agenda for 2013, you won’t want to miss Vicki Hoefle’s “Duct Tape Parenting” series being offered at Williston Central School beginning in January. Free childcare will also be provided. (And no, you can’t just drop your children off and go out to dinner instead of attend the seminar; I called and asked when I saw “free babysitting.” It was worth a try.)

It’s also important to remember what this season is truly about: giving. The Williston Food Shelf is in need of many items this time of year including spaghetti sauce, canned fruit and soup. Homeless shelters, coat drives, toy drives, animal shelters—it doesn’t matter which cause you choose, just please remember to help others if you can during this season. Dorothy Alling Memorial Library also offers a fun way to teach children about giving. From their Giving Tree you can select a book to purchase for the library or you can even sponsor an event that the library will host. My girls love choosing a book for the children’s section each year, and then checking it out as soon as it goes into circulation to see their names on a “dedicated in honor of” sticker inside the cover. Also, don’t forget our dedicated police and fire departments that work through the holiday season to keep us all safe and protected. You can call and see if there are any donations their departments may need, drop them off some baked goods or treats, or even write them a card of appreciation and thanks.

We can also give a gift to our future generations by reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible during this potentially wasteful time. You can try to creatively wrap gifts in newspaper or old Christmas cards, or better yet, place gifts in reusable shopping bags for two gifts in one. Coincidentally, I think the catchphrase of “reuse and repurpose” has unintentionally made re-gifting socially acceptable these days. People will believe they are doing their part to save the environment by passing along the Elvis commemorative plate from Aunt Martha or the orange crocheted scarf from great-grandma. To truly help out, we can all just use less gas by shopping locally right here in Williston!

Hopefully you have been inspired to partake in some winter activities with your family once all the obligatory parties and gatherings have been attended. If you are like me and dread the holiday baking task, I want to share with you an E-card I came across that offers a creative alternative: “Forget the holiday cookie swaps, have a cocktail swap instead. Same calories, cleaner kitchen!”

I wish all of you a very happy and safe holiday season.

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

PLACES I’VE PLAYED: A gift returned

By Bill Skiff


As we approach the Christmas season, our thoughts turn to the Christmas story, to Santa Claus and—to presents. There are presents and there are gifts. I have discovered over the years that there is a difference.

I remember the Roy Rogers double holster gun set I received from Auntie Ruth. That was a present that touched my heart. Then there was the talk of encouragement my dad had with me before I left for college. That was a gift—one that touched my life.

Later, there was the gift of academic confidence given me by a favorite teacher, the understanding given by a childhood friend when my puppy died, the acceptance received by a classmate of another race and the unconditional love given by a grandparent when I was a teenager and not sure who I was.

These were not presents that came wrapped in Christmas paper and tied with a red ribbon. These were gifts that did not end up at the recycle station, nor were they left out in the rain to rust and disintegrate. These were gifts that traveled with me throughout my life. They were gifts that changed how I felt about myself and others.

This Christmas, let us return these gifts we received from our favorite teacher, a friendly priest, a life partner or a loving grandchild. Let us return their gifts of compassion, tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love.

These gifts will not fill stockings, but they will fill hearts—and they can change the world.

Bill Skiff grew up on a farm between Cambridge and Jeffersonville. After a career in education, he now lives in Williston, where he is a justice of the peace and Fourth of July frog-jumping official. In “Places I’ve Played,” he shares his experiences of growing up in Vermont. Comments are welcome at vtcowcal@yahoo.com.

Letters to the Editor

Town appreciation

Have you ever noticed that the amount of corrugated plastic signs placed on the side of the road in our town is less than others? That’s because our town staff, led by Ken Belliveau, is watchful and regularly scoops up those without permits. He also takes the time to inform offenders that these off-premise signs are not allowed under Williston’s developmental regulations and are also illegal under Vermont state law.

A “tip of that hat” to Ken and our town maintenance on their efforts to keep our roads free of clutter and our town looking beautiful.

Andy Freeman


Maple Leaf Farm…
a good fit? 

The proposed sale of Pine Ridge School to Maple Leaf Farm has been a frustrating subject for many Williston residents, myself included. Upon first hearing the idea, I commented that common sense would keep a rehab center from being placed near two elementary schools and neighborhoods of young families. Common sense appears to be an uncommon virtue particularly when the political connections and silver tongue of Bill Young are involved.

At the previous town meeting (note: next meeting set for Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m., Williston Town Hall), two vociferous critics were a doctor and a nurse. Many of us in the medical profession deal with drug seeking/narcotic addiction literally on a daily basis.  We see addiction make liars and criminals out of otherwise good people. I asked Mr. Young about the crimes typically associated with addiction when informed that MLF had no security. He conceded that crime is associated with addiction but stated that it is as often prostitution as it is burglary. That is far from reassuring. I have asked three different law enforcement officials, including a DEA agent, what they would do if they lived in Williston. Each stated he would vehemently oppose a rehab center in their neighborhood and particularly so near their children’s schools.

We were asked to open our hearts to these patients, but I question MLF’s commitment to their needs. Why place patients facing difficult personal and physical choices so close to potential easy access to temptation? I-89 and the Williston rest station are a quick walk on Route 2. City bus service and thus downtown Burlington is close by. Addicts are troubled people who benefit from MLF’s current “serene setting in the foothills of Mount Mansfield.” In that setting, they are less risk to themselves and to others—especially the children and citizens of Williston.

Robert D. Nesbit, M.D.,



Dissections not right for CVU

I am shocked to learn that CVU’s dissection program includes cats (“Changes sought in CVU’s animal dissection policy,” Oct. 25). I remember the sick feeling and dread I felt during the weeks my science class spent dissecting fetal pigs (needless to say, I happily took the backseat and allowed my science partner to perform the entire dissection while I stood a few feet away and pretended to take an interest—and notes). I could not imagine performing this kind of class work on what most consider a household pet. Perhaps it is commonplace to today’s students, but I had no idea dissecting cats had become the norm.

MacNair and Jensen both made excellent points about kids feeling social pressure to fit in and the practice of dissection being outdated, burdensome, and, basically, unnecessary because of the level of computer programs now available. There are many good arguments for seeking out alternatives, especially at a high-school level (if these kids want to be doctors, they’ll be swamped in hands-on instruction—on human cadavers—in college), but isn’t it enough that there are more humane options easily available?

Especially today, we must teach kids the importance of thinking about why we make the choices we do as a society and doing the right thing, and I don’t see how making the humane choice can ever be wrong. If there is a humane option, how can we justify doing otherwise? I applaud the school board for giving the issue serious and fair consideration instead of dismissing it immediately (http://www.retn.org/programs/cvu-school-board-meeting-october-10-2012) because, to quote Jensen, “it’s just how we’ve always done it.” I strongly encourage them, the teachers, and the staff at CVU to consider what their decisions and actions teach these kids outside the subject of science.

Lisa Vear


GUEST COLUMN: How the legislature works

By Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough

The legislature will convene on Jan. 9, 2013 to elect a speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate, who presides over the senate when the leuitenant governor is not available. All 150 representatives, 30 senators and state officials, from the governor on down, will be sworn in and the hard work will begin.

The speaker will assign each House member to one of 14 standing committees and the Senate Committee on Committees will appoint each senator to at least two of the 11 standing committees. Half of the committees meet in the morning, the other half in the afternoon. House members have more time to work on bills in detail, as they spend all day in one committee. Senate members divide their time in both morning and afternoon committee sessions.

A group of non-partisan, in-house attorneys, each with specific expertise, is employed by the state as legislative council. They draft bills as requested by representatives and senators. Often a constituent will ask to have a bill introduced. The bill is read for the first time and sent to the committee of jurisdiction in the House or Senate. More than 1,200 bills are introduced during the two-year cycle. The committee will hear from the legislative sponsor of the bill and decide whether to take it up for a full hearing. A bill is almost never voted out of committee in the same form it enters, as people from all sides of the issue have their say and may offer amendments. A legislative council attorney is always present for bill research in the committee, giving legal advice and rewriting the bill as directed by the committee chair.

Once a bill is thoroughly vetted by the committee and voted out, it is sent to the floor of the House or Senate for second reading and vote. If it passes second reading, it is read a third time and voted on. If the bill passes third reading, it is sent to the other body to go through the same process. If both houses agree on the wording, it is sent to the governor for his signature. If there is disagreement between the two houses, then the bill goes back to the committee that started the process. That committee can agree with the other body and send it to the floor for a vote or it can disagree and ask for a committee of conference to be formed to work out the differences. This committee is made up of six members, three each from the House and Senate. If they come to an agreement, the bill is sent back to both chambers for an up-or-down vote without amendment. If the bill passes both chambers, it is sent to the governor for signature. As you can see, this is a lengthy process and few bills make it through the full process each year.

For the most part, polarization and partisan politics are most evident in the House and Senate chambers during debate. Lines in the sand may have been drawn according to political party core values. The “give and take of reasonable people” is more the norm in daily committee action as bills are being discussed. Compromise that Vermonters expect is the author of the final product prior to second reading.

The two weeks before the end of session are quite exciting. Bills that have not moved out of committee are often tacked on to must-pass bills or other ones that have a good chance of passing. If they have not had hearings and been properly vetted, their chances of passage are slim.

Representatives and Senators are elected for two-year terms. They are paid a weekly salary with an allowance for transportation and meals with housing (if they stay in Montpelier) only when the legislature is in session, usually from January to mid-May. They are also paid on a daily basis if their committee or a special committee meets after the session ends. While they may know generally of all bills introduced, they specialize in the bills that their committee is working on. Do not hesitate to ask your legislator the status of a particular bill. They may not be aware immediately but can check with the committee chair or legislative council on it. You can go to the legislative website, http://www.leg.state.vt.us/, to view bills “as introduced,” as well as track their progress. The public is always welcome to sit in on committee meetings and, in most instances, may testify if they request in advance to be on the agenda. There is a huge amount of information available on the website that is well worth becoming familiar with.

An integral part of the Legislature are the legislative pages. Thirty 8th grade students are selected each year from across the state to deliver messages and watch the legislative process. Ten pages each work six-week sessions, live in Montpelier four days a week and get paid for their efforts. We encourage students to apply for this unique experience next summer.

We are continually amazed how long it takes to get things done while, at the same time, how fast things happen. At any given moment, the Legislature is like your best and worst day at university; complete with your best and worst professors. The Legislature works best when you do your civic duty and communicate with your legislator. Good government is a participation sport.


Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough are Williston’s representatives in the Vermont House.