May 23, 2018

Limits considered for Maple Leaf Farm

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

It has been seven months since Maple Leaf Farm submitted a specific plan application to the Williston Planning and Zoning Department to establish an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center on the former Pine Ridge School property on Williston Road.

During that time, the Williston Planning Commission held two warned community meetings, both of which were contentious and highly divisive. Some Willistonians opposed the plan, citing the location’s proximity to residential neighborhoods and schools. Others argued that the facility would allow Williston residents suffering from alcohol and drug addiction to receive local treatment.

Planning Commission members were primarily observers during those meetings, taking feedback and letting the public engage with Maple Leaf Farm officials.

On Tuesday, the commission rolled up its sleeves and dug into the details of Maple Leaf Farm’s specific plan request to change the zoning of a property currently zoned for agricultural and rural residential uses.

Specifically, the commission addressed Maple Leaf Farm’s assertion that a zoning change of the Pine Ridge property is justified because it meets substantial public benefit criteria under the town’s bylaws through the preservation of open space—a viewpoint at odds with a group of nearby residents, who have argued that the land is already preserved by its rugged and undevelopable nature.

Williston Director of Planning and Zoning Ken Belliveau suggested that the commission consider requiring the applicant to grant a third-party conservation easement on the property, which would prevent development in perpetuity, regardless of future owners.

“I think that the commission would probably want to consider whether or not we would want to require that it be placed under a conservation easement, as opposed to just being designated (as open space),” Belliveau said.

Senior Planner Matt Boulanger proffered that the commission might want to think about the conservation easement question in terms of other perpetually beneficial assets that could be gained through the specific plan, such as primitive hiking trails.

“The thought exercise of what could happen there if we didn’t have permanent protection is a good one, because you need to line it up against are we getting something that we wouldn’t get otherwise,” Boulanger said. “The only way the town, through its regulatory process, gets a trail is if someone offers one as part of a subdivision review, where they get points in growth management for it and then they have to build it.”

Planning Commission member Kevin Batson had mixed sentiments.

“I have two conflicting opinions on that,” Batson said. “One is I don’t necessarily want to limit their ability to use it for passive recreation for people. But on the other hand, I think there is a need for us to sell it to the town. If they’re just going to leave it as open space, I don’t know if that’s enough public good.”

Commission member Meghan Cope suggested that aside from the preservation of open space question, Maple Leaf Farm should be required to set limits on its maximum number of both inpatients and outpatients.

“I’m not saying what the limit should be, but I’m just saying there should be a limit,” Cope said.

No formal decisions were made by the Planning Commission on Tuesday, although a consensus was reached to have Planning and Zoning Department staff draft definitions of suggested open space parameters and inpatient/outpatient limits.

Belliveau agreed to that course of action and added that he and Boulanger will discuss the conservation easement concept with Maple Leaf Farm officials in the coming weeks.

New names to be on town ballot

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

When Williston voters look at the ballot on Town Meeting Day, they won’t see any contested races, but they will see some new names.

The deadline to file for town seats—including Selectboard, Williston and Champlain Valley Union High School boards and library trustees—was Monday.

Residents filed petitions for all open positions except town constable, with petitions coming in at the wire at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, said Town Clerk Deb Beckett.

Kathleen DeLuca and Brian Goodwin are running for terms as library trustees, DeLuca for five years and Goodwin for three. Both are new to the position. Jude Hersey was appointed in 2012 to fill out the remainder of a term, and is running for the remainder of the term.

Incumbent town lister Gerry Huetz will also appear on the ballot to retain his post.


Changes to Williston School Board

After seven years on the Williston School Board, Chairwoman Holly Rouelle decided to step down.

“My youngest child is graduating from CVU this year, so it felt like my volunteer time coordinated with my children being in the CSSU school system,” she said. “After seven years, it was a good time to pass the torch to someone else.”

Rouelle’s last meeting is set for Feb. 13.

“I have definitely enjoyed my time on the board,” she said.

Newcomer Kevin Brochu is running unopposed for the vacated three-year term. A physician assistant in the emergency department at Fletcher Allen Health Care, he said he has never been on a town board, but is running primarily as a civic duty.

“I have two children in school, and I feel like as a member of Williston, I should participate in helping develop the school system,” he said.

His children are 6 and 9.

“Education is probably one of the most important things that can affect a person,” Brochu said.

Brochu said he doesn’t have any specific goals, but thinks he would be a good fit for the board.

“I think that I’m a very open-minded person and a good listener and also willing to make tough decisions,” he said.

Kevin Mara, who has been on the Williston School Board since 2010, is running uncontested to maintain his seat for a two-year term.

Jeanne Jensen and Polly Malik, Williston representatives to the Champlain Valley Union High School Board, are running again for their three-year terms on the board, both uncontested.


Incumbents running for Selectboard

Selectboard members Jay Michaud and Jeff Fehrs are both running uncontested for their spots on the Selectboard.

Michaud, who has been on the board since 2011, is running for a three-year term.

“I feel as if we have a lot of unfinished business to wrap up that I’m really excited about,” he said, mentioning grid streets, alternatives to the Circumferential Highway and the proposed public works facility.

“I’d like to stay true to our town plan,” he said.

Michaud said he has had fun in his two years on the Selectboard, and has enjoyed the opportunity “to contribute to the town and to the future of the town.”

Fehrs is up for a two-year term. He has served on the Selectboard since 1998.

“I think there’s still more to be done,” he said. “At some point I’m going to feel that I’m not effective anymore or it isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be or I’m not learning, I’m just not at that point yet.”

Fehrs said he doesn’t have any particular goals for his potential two-year term, but that there are issues that the board has been working on.

Fehrs said he has learned something from every Selectboard member he has served with since joining the board.

“I think everyone has been on the Selectboard for the right reasons,” he said.

Volunteer Opportunities

The listings below are a small sample of the 300+ volunteer needs from more than 250 agencies you can find online at If you do not have computer access, or would like information about the volunteer opportunities below, call 860-1677, Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


JANUARY IS NATIONAL MENTORING MONTH: Throughout the month, we will feature a variety of programs that invite volunteers to make a difference in a child’s life by serving as mentors.

Howard Center, Child, Youth & Family Services: Adult mentors are needed for children with developmental disabilities. Bake brownies, play games or even rake leaves for two hours, once a week with a special child. Training and support provided. References and background check required.

Girl Scouts of the Green & White Mountains: Help inspire a new generation with a passion for leadership, law, government and advocacy through the “Girls Rock the Capital” legislative internship program for Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 which starts in spring 2013. Help coordinate this program and serve as a mentor & leader in the group’s endeavors. References and background check required.

Winooski Community Services Department: Serve as a tutor and mentor in the Girls Only! after-school program for high school girls. Volunteers may work one-on-one with students doing homework or in small groups. Assignments may include English papers, math problems, driver’s ed., etc. Volunteers should be excellent role models for the girls. Wednesdays, 3-5 p.m. Background check required.


DRIVERS NEED – Essex Meals on Wheels is looking for regular, seasonal and substitute drivers to deliver meals to seniors in Colchester, Essex, Jericho, Underhill and Williston. Meals are picked up in Essex Jct. between 10-10:30 a.m. and the route usually takes just over an hour for delivery. Drivers can drive alone or recruit friends to sub for one another. Reliable car, valid driver’s license and insurance required. Weekday scheduling.


SOUP SUPPER – The Sara Holbrook Community Center is looking for volunteers to help at the annual Soup Supper fundraiser by washing dishes. A great group activity! And you get all the soup, salad and desserts you can eat! Thursday, Feb. 7, 5-9 p.m.


SNOWSHOE SHUFFLE – The American Lung Association will hold a snowshoe shuffle race at Bolton Valley on Saturday, Feb. 9 and is seeking volunteers to help with registration, cheerleading, water stations, etc. 8 a.m.-1 p.m.


ON THE SLOPES – Alzheimer’s Association needs experienced outdoor volunteers for one of New England’s premier backcountry skiing events, The Camels’ Hump Challenge. Volunteers will staff the mid-way fire and tent spot for skiers to take a break. Knowledge of skier safety or first aid is a plus. Sunday, Feb. 10, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


PULLING STRINGS – Puppets in Education helps teach children to keep themselves safe and healthy and to appreciate each other’s differences. They are looking for volunteers to help with administrative needs, event support and program advocacy. Tasks may include public relations, fundraising, conference activities, marching in holiday parades, etc. Flexible weekday and Saturday scheduling.


FIX-IT FOLKS NEEDED – ReSOURCE is committed to creating value from materials that are otherwise wasted and providing social entrepreneurial opportunities for disadvantaged youth, age 16-24. Volunteers with woodworking skills will help make items such as benches, tables and birdhouses and pass along your skills to youth. Requires significant carpentry or woodworking experience and the desire to pass those skills on to the next generation. Regular weekly scheduling.

PHOTOS: CVU boys basketball

The Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team beat Essex 58-55 in a raucous double overtime triumph on Jan. 18. (Observer photos by Jayson Argento,










PHOTOS: CVU girls hockey

The Redhawks bowed to Mount Mansfield-South Burlington High 9-1 on Jan. 19, with Eva Dunphy scoring the lone CVU goal. (Observer courtesy photos by Deb Beckett)




PHOTOS: basketball clinic

The Champlain Valley Union High School varsity girls basketball team poses with middle school players at a Jan. 12 basketball clinic.





PHOTO: Volleyball champions

The Williston co-ed recreational volleyball team—(from left) Julieta Rushford, John Haftarczuk, Lorraine Domenicucci, Julian Haftarczuk, Don Dempsey, Brian Valentine and Chris Herskowitz—won the 2012 fall session championship. (Observer courtesy photo)


THIS WEEK’S POPCORN: “Zero Dark Thirty” like clockwork


By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


I figured it would be tense and exciting. I knew Mark Boal’s gripping screenplay, based on actual, firsthand accounts, would be informative. But what I didn’t count on was how eerily haunting director Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the hunt for and eventual assassination of al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, would be.

Focusing on the heretofore unsung heroine of the true saga, a female CIA agent known to us only as Maya, the time spent rummaging through the modus operandi of evil takes a toll. The sheer horror of what befell us on 9/11 is relived, and the need for retribution is dramatically examined. It is time spent in ugly but sorrowfully necessary circumstances.

Even if you rethought things considerably in the flower power 1960s after originally growing up on John Wayne shooting his way to democracy at every historic opportunity, it can’t be escaped. It’s that patriotic tingle when first we’re shown the specially modified Blackhawk helicopters that will carry Navy SEAL Team Six to their date with destiny.

We’re reminded how thin the buffer that protects us is, and how great is the resolve to destroy all things American, whether because of religious belief, jealousy, class warfare or an aberrant combination thereof. It is impressed by one CIA boss who, angry at the lack of progress, screams, “There’s no secret cell also working on this. We’re it!”

That sends a shiver. But it’s the stone cold determination evoked by agent Maya, depicted with steely eyed intensity by Jessica Chastain, that best personifies the fire required to fight the fire. We see it after her arrival at a black site in Pakistan when she witnesses her first interrogation. While nary a wince from her, we mull the use of torture.

Expect no political correctness. There’s no trying to show the evildoer’s side of things. Considering the 9/11 prologue, it’d be an insult. This is a war movie about the new kind of war and what it takes to win it. And, save for a few moments where it can’t be helped, there is no great show of pride in doing what we must to protect our way of life.

Oh, but of course, like Jell-O, there’s always room for politics, from way up top right down to the field operatives. Convincing performances by good and bad guys alike, combined with a decrepit, third world atmosphere that makes you thank your lucky stars you live in the good old U.S. of A., powerfully establish the sociopolitical landscape.

Though injecting an artistic flourish here and there, Ms. Bigelow achieves a compelling integrity by steering clear of the clichés generally employed in most action yarns. Sadly, these facts need no dramatic embellishment, and by relating them so astutely, she fashions a nearly three hour film that won’t have viewers checking their watches.

We remain in awe as the director essentially ferries us through an arduously detailed Sherlock Holmes sleuther rife with blind alleys, false starts, painstaking investigation and undaunted dedication. The search for a needle hidden in a haystack that ostensibly encompasses the whole wide world hammers home the aloneness of America’s mission.

We won’t learn very much about the CIA agent referred to here only as Maya, except that she evinces many of the personality earmarks mystery writers love to imbue their protagonists with. She is a loner, exhibiting an economy of lifestyle bereft of all superfluousness, as if machine-honed specifically for the mission that is her obsession.

Adding a notion of humanness to the proceedings as well as a glimpse into the inner sociology of things CIA is Jennifer Ehle as Jessica, a senior agent who suggests the appeal of friendship to the younger firebrand. While mildly receptive, Maya nonetheless isn’t above criticizing that many of her older colleagues’ methods are just so Cold War.

Also effective in establishing the mood and aura of the narrative is Jason Clarke as Dan, the agent under whose wing Maya first learns her field craft. Controversial in that he’s a proponent of waterboarding and other interrogative methods that soon come under congressional scrutiny, he smartly personifies the inherent conundrum of his occupation.

Exemplifying the business and red tape end of things, that necessary contingent behind the selfless heroism, Kyle Chandler is Joseph Bradley, the top official in Pakistan. And, giving a piercing look into the enemy camp, Reda Kateb is torturingly credible as Anwar, the stereotypical detainee. The faint of heart will want to skip his searing inquisition.

An important film marking America’s resolve in the war against terror, and hopefully the turning point in the defeat of that cowardly scourge, director Bigelow’s pedigreed account raises the bar on what we expect from historical drama. We don’t cheer at the end, but rather, muse how “Zero Dark Thirty” is proof there is a time for everything.

 “Zero Dark Thirty,” rated R, is a Columbia Pictures release directed by Kathryn Bigelow and stars Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke and Jennifer Ehle. Running time: 157 minutes.

Buzzer beaters: overtime wins carry boys forward


The crowd begins to react to a buzzer-beater shot launched by Scott Bissonette, following a last-minute attempt by senior Redhawk Ryan Beaudry (center, on floor) sinks into the net. The team went on to win in double overtime. For more photos, visit the Web Extras section. (Observer photo by Jayson Argento)

Observer correspondent

The 4-6 Burlington High Seahorses will test the overtime-earned, two-game win streak of the 6-5 Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks boys basketball aggregation Thursday night at Bremner Gymnasium.

It’s the second session of the season for the Swimming Steeds and the Birds, with CVU capturing a 50-40 victory at BHS on Dec. 18, which snapped a season-opening three-game losing string.

Monday night at Colchester High, coach Scott Bliss’ Hawks climbed over the .5 mark with a second-straight overtime victory, 42-40 over the 2-8 Lakers.

This followed Friday evening’s raucous 58-55 double overtime triumph against a hefty 5-3 Essex High combine at the CVU nest.

At Colchester, it was CVU’s Big Luke getting the job done in the additional four-minute period. Center Lucas Aube, a huge contributor Friday, canned the only bucket in overtime for the victory.

Point guard Austin Busch coolly snapped the cords twice on free throws within the final 60 seconds of regulation to force the tie and additional minutes. CVU’s leading scorers in the game were Joe Chevalier and Brad Bissonette, each with 10 points.

In Friday’s game, it appeared that Essex would motor home with a two-to-six point victory until the final moments of regulation. Trailing 43-41 after a Tom Carton layup (20 points, eight rebounds), CVU had the ball with 16.7 seconds left.

A three-point attempt missed and Ryan Beaudry rebounded about eight feet from the hoop. His desperate attempt fell short but into the hands of teammate Scott Bissonette, who let fly with a layup, the buzzer sounding just after the ball left his hand. In perhaps the dramatic moment of the season, the ball rose and then fell through the basket and CVU had a 43-43 tie, the game deadlocked for only the second time. The first was at 41-41—otherwise, the Hornets led the entire night.

Aube, who notched a game-high of 21 points and hauled away 16 rebounds, hit a pair of free throws to give the Redhawks their first lead, 47-45 with 47.7 seconds to go. Essex’s Luke Salerno tied it with a driving layup to bring on the second additional period.

With the score tied at 53, Aube sank a driving layup and subsequent charity toss with 23 seconds to go. Aube was four-for-11 from the line, but when the game was up for grabs in the overtimes, the center swished three in a row.

The Hornets’ Tyler Warren connected on a layup to get the visitors within 56-55 with 15 seconds to go.

Brad Bissonette (15 points, four rebounds) appeared to salt the game away, sinking two foul shots with nine seconds remaining. But there was more drama as the Hornets’ Tyler Warren (10 points, four rebounds) had a three-point bomb nullified because a time out had been called, leaving the final score at 58-55.

CVU stayed in contention through much of the game with gritty defense that forced 14 Essex turnovers through the second and third periods, thus limiting Essex to 47 shots from the field, of which it sank 20. CVU was 21-for-61.

The CVU JVs rolled up a 37-25 win.

North Country trip next for unbeaten CVU girls quintent

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

It was not easy at Burlington High Tuesday night, but the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team escaped with a final-second 49-47 victory and will take a 9-0 record to North Country Union in Newport on Friday.

The Falcons fell 27-20 to St. Johnsbury Academy Tuesday. CVU clubbed the Hilltoppers 60-24 at home Saturday afternoon.

Following the journey north, the Redhawks will make the short trek to Essex High on Tuesday for the season’s first showdown with the 9-1 Hornets.

There were chills and thrills at Burlington, where the 6-3 Seahorses, after trailing by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, rallied in the fourth quarter to force a nerve-pulsing final two minutes that included four lead changes before CVU freshman Laurel Jaunich sank a 10-foot baseline jumper at the closing buzzer.

The final shot came after BHS’s tough center Ilona Maher (eight points, 11 rebounds) had tied the contest at 47-all with one of two free throws with 19.3 seconds remaining.

Following a time out, CVU moved the ball into the forecourt to Emily Kinneston (12 points, four assists). Kinneston drove into the foul line, drew a double team, and then calmly passed inside to the unguarded Jaunich, who quickly fired up the winner.

Kinneston after the game agreed that when she lured the defense, instinct took over and she got the deft pass to the open Jaunich.

CVU had taken a 40-32 edge early in the fourth quarter thanks to a trapping defense that had kept the Seahorses off balance, plus poor BHS shooting (eight-for-41) through the first three periods.

Burlington went to a press, forcing two steals with resulting successful layups that fueled a 12-2 run that gave the Seahorses a 44-42 lead with two minutes to go.

CVU’s Kaelyn Kohlasch (17 points, three assists) sank a crucial three-pointer at 1:40, and the Redhawks retook the advantage. Kohlasch had a final-reel hot hand with nine points.

BHS’s Kaitlin Garrison put the ‘Horses back in the lead with a rebound shot with inside of a minute remaining, only to have Jaunich respond from underneath, the first of her two huge final-minute baskets. Jaunich finished with six points and three rebounds, plus an assist.

Burlington’s muscular game under the glass gave CVU problems on the boards and a 29-22 edge in grabs. The Hawks’ Amanda Beatty hauled down six rebounds to pace the winners’ inside operations.

The Redhawks had things mostly their way against St. Johnsbury on Saturday with all hands participating in a blowout win. CVU got off to a 33-9 halftime lead, then eased to the victory, forcing 26 turnovers from the visitors. Nine Redhawks scored, including Kinneston’s 15 points, Kohlasch’s nine and Jaunich’s eight.

Coach Kathy Kohlasch’s junior varsity hiked its record to 9-0 with a 37-25 triumph over St. Johnsbury and a 38-28 win at Burlington.