October 26, 2016

Dissection policy to remain in place at CVU

After hearing from science teachers that animal dissections at Champlain Valley Union High School are minimal and driven by student interest, the CVU Board opted not to change the school’s current policy.

The board asked Principal Sean McMannon, however, to keep it apprised of any changes to the curriculum or practice at the school.

In the fall, community members requested that CVU establish a policy of using digital dissection alternatives, including free virtual programs. The school’s current policy follows the state model, which allows educators to decide whether to include dissections in the curriculum and requires that students be given the choice to opt out and take part in an academic alternative.

The board decided to wait until the science department made its annual presentation on Feb. 13 to make a decision.

Nicole Gorman, who teaches AP Biology—currently the only CVU course that includes optional dissection—told the board on Feb. 13 that dissection is no longer part of the curriculum specifically required by the College Board. Dissection sometimes occurs during a portion of the course when students choose a project to delve into based on their interests. If a student is interested in anatomy, dissection might be part of his or her project.

Gorman also told the board that she often uses virtual labs as a pre-lab tool, but said that virtual dissections are “an excellent teaching tool, not a substitution,” as recorded by RETN.

She likened the virtual labs to a Wii soccer game that is realistic and gives players a good understanding of basics, but is not the same as playing in an actual game.

In past years, teachers at CVU used dissections more frequently in the classroom. But Gorman said that with recent College Board curriculum changes, dissections might not become more common in the future if a different teacher took over the course.

—Stephanie Choate,
Observer staff


Local elections: meet the candidates

Town Meeting Day is March 5. Voting by Australian ballot will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Armory. Absentee and early voting ballots are also available at the Williston Town Hall.

Several town positions will be on the ballot in March, all of them uncontested. Candidates responded to a questionnaire provided by the Williston Observer.


Jeff Fehrs


Jeff Fehrs

Running for: Selectboard (two-year term)

Years on the board: 15

What do you hope to accomplish in your time on the board? 

To help keep Williston a great community to live and work in, and maybe even improve it. This includes:

Providing a high level of municipal services at a reasonable tax rate

An inclusive community that welcomes and accommodates folks from across the socio-economic scales

A balanced transportation system and infrastructure that accommodates all users and promotes and encourages less dependency on single-occupancy vehicles

Since I’ve been on the Selectboard, Williston has made a lot of progress and is moving in the right direction. I hope to keep the momentum going.


Jay Michaud


Jay Michaud













Running for: Selectboard (three-year term)

Years on the board: 2

What do you hope to accomplish in your time on the board? 

I would like to finish the current projects we have on our plates. Several scoping studies are underway and it is important that we as the Selectboard choose a course of action. The transportation studies include the Lamplite Acres study (water/snow/ice/drainage issues), Industrial Avenue study (sidewalk/bike/pedestrian accommodations/bus access issues), grid street projects (one section is under construction, more are planned, but need to identify funding) and staying on top of the WENTS study (Circ alternative). Other projects I want to be part of include planning for the new water storage tank, restoration of the Brennan Barn, hopefully the construction of the new public works garage (if voters approve), the results from the Affordable Housing Task Force as it pertains to Williston and participating in the upcoming storm water management discussions.


Jeanne Jensen

Jeanne Jensen

Jeanne Jensen

Running for: Champlain Valley Union High School Board (three-year term)

Years on the board: 10

What do you hope to accomplish in your time on the board? 

During my tenure, CVU has increased its investment in technology and the arts to the great benefit of students; we now must focus on science and math. I support the high school initiative “CVU 2015,” which is transforming the way we deliver education to a more individualized approach with high student engagement. My goal for this term is to continue to press for improvements in student outcomes, particularly among our children of poverty. While CVU has made slow progress over the last few years, there is still more work to do in order to ensure that every student graduates able to make positive contributions to society. In this time of declining enrollment, resources must be reallocated, not added in order to achieve our goals while respecting taxpayers.


Polly Malik

(No photo provided)

Running for: Champlain Valley Union High School Board (three-year term)

Years on the board: 3

What do you hope to accomplish in your time on the board? 

I think that as a taxpayer and parent of a CVU student, it is important to offer quality education at an affordable price. The process of developing a fiscally sound budget with other board members and the school administration is always a challenge. There is this fine line to keep the taxpayer in mind while keeping the best interest of all students. In addition, I serve on the Facilities Committee, which is a sub-group of the board. I view the physical structure of CVU as an asset of the community and how important it is to maintain this asset for future incoming students.


Kevin Brochu

Kevin Brochu

Kevin Brochu








Running for: Williston School Board (three-year term)

Years on the board: 0

What do you hope to accomplish in your time on the board? 

I would be honored to serve on the Williston School Board. I am keenly aware of the impact education has on a person’s life journey.

Having two children in the Williston school system gave me the impetus to run. I have two very different but complementary goals:

As a parent, I would focus on helping our schools achieve academic excellence to prepare students for a successful future in high school, college and beyond.

As a health care provider, I would focus on our children’s health and get the “cupcake” out of school.

But most importantly, I am interested in listening to other parents’ ideas on how they would like to see our school system evolve and improve, and I am committed to ensuring that those ideas are heard, considered and, if appropriate, implemented.


Kevin Mara

Kevin Mara

Kevin Mara











Running for: Williston School Board (two-year term)

Years on the board: 3

What do you hope to accomplish in your time on the board? 

As a school board member, I want to continue to contribute to Williston’s reputation as the “best place to raise kids in Vermont.” Realizing that we are operating in tough economic times, I will continue the challenging work towards reducing costs where possible while maintaining the high educational standards we have come to expect from our school system.

Town looks into land use anomaly

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The area around the South Brownell and Williston roads intersection is one of the more peculiar ones in Williston, at least in terms of the town’s multicolored zoning map.

A narrow peninsula of residential land reaches out into a sea of industrial zoning.

“You’ve got two of the most different zones in town right up against each other,” Senior Planner Matt Boulanger told the Planning Commission Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, Planning Commission members struggled with solutions to the tricky situation, brainstorming a variety of ideas. The town’s Comprehensive Plan identifies the neighborhood as an area where “changes to land use rules should be considered.”

“This is a very, very difficult planning problem to address,” said Ken Belliveau, Williston’s planning director and zoning administrator. “It may take some doing to come up with a good solution.”

An Oct. 16 public meeting—and input from several residents at Tuesday’s meeting—made clear that there is no consensus among residents about what should be done.

Some neighbors are fed up with heavy traffic and changes to the neighborhood, and hope the town will rezone the area to allow commercial uses, giving them more flexibility to sell their property. Other residents want the town to leave their neighborhood alone.

Adding to the area’s issues, a plume of underground pollution has further compromised land use.

“There are definitely mixed opinions,” Planning Commission Chairman Jake Mathon said. “It’s a weird development pattern out there.”

One tool available to the Planning Commission is an overlay district, which would keep residential zoning properties in place, but allow for other uses as well—uses that could be specifically and narrowly defined by the town.

For example, the town might allow certain commercial uses only on properties on Williston Road. Or, it could allow higher-density residential use for apartments.

Like residents of the area, Planning Commission members had different ideas of what could be done.

Member Kevin Batson advocated for leaving the zoning as it is, saying that he felt most residents didn’t want further commercial encroachment on their neighborhood.

“Not only do people have houses there and want to stay there, they have new houses,” he said. “It’s inviting sprawl, that’s how sprawl happens, but the bigger problem is that it’s more encroachment.”

Michael Alvanos said changes could be nuanced, preserving the neighborhood while allowing for limited commercial uses, similar to Williston’s Historic Village.

“If people on Williston Road corridor start to get something more village-like, that’s how I sort of envision this area,” he said.

Commission members asked planning staff to put together several different scenarios for the commission to look at the next time it discusses the issue.

Before any zoning changes can be made, the Planning Commission must hold at least one public hearing before presenting a plan to the Selectboard. Belliveau suggested an additional public meeting to make sure any residents that wish to can weigh in.

“You want to make sure everyone has a fair chance to be heard, and also be able to listen to and think abut any possible scenarios,” he said.

THIS WEEK’S POPCORN: ‘Warm Bodies’ Zombie Tale for Diehards Only





By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


“To be dead…to be really dead, is…glorious!” Thus spake Count Dracula in the 1931 horror classic that bears his name. R, however, the male protagonist played by Nicholas Hoult in director Jonathan Levine’s “Warm Bodies,” would beg to differ. But then, the good count is a vampire, whereas our walking-grunting corpse is a card-carrying zombie.

Indeed, R, who can’t remember the name he went by before he left this life, isn’t happy with his purgatorial status. He also isn’t too fond of the insatiable hunger that forces him to murder and eat the brains of whoever falls within his grasp. It’s hardly something your skittish aunt Tillie would like, particularly the early and very bloody expository scenes.

Truth is, trying to figure just who exactly the filmmaker thought his audience would be causes one to consider the absurdity of giving this movie any truly serious scrutinization. Common sense would dictate that intelligent people, especially, could better serve the commonweal by putting their efforts into contemplating the meaning of life…not death.

As for the great unwashed, who don’t really give too much thought to where they get their bread (read: nachos) and circus, this might serve as a remedial lesson in variations on a theme. Fact is, it’s the Romeo and Juliet tale, and blatantly so, except instead of two very young and alive paramours, one of these star-crossed lovers is beginning to rot.

Act # 1, scene #1: Meet R, the narrator of our tale, who regales us with the ins and outs of his nether life, a situation resulting from an unspecified catastrophe that caused the zombie epidemic of which he is part and parcel. He is the undead philosopher, betwixt and between realities, missing the good life and feeling guilty about his dietary habits.

All the same, when he and his pals get a real hunger crave on, even a whole sack of White Castles or KFC’s Game Day Bucket won’t do. Nope, they’ve got to head for the city, beyond the protective wall, where the live people live. And thus it is on one of these epicurean adventures that R meets the beauty that is to die for, in a manner of speaking.

Of course there are complications that make the encounter a sticky wicket, not the least of which is the fact that R immediately eliminates the competition by dispatching and imbibing Julie’s boyfriend. And if that isn’t ghoulish enough for you, kindly note that feasting on the former beau’s brain, and thus reading his memories, kindles his ardor.

Adding to the taboo aspects of the ensuing affaire de coeur, heartthrob Julie, portrayed by the comely Teresa Palmer, is the daughter of Grigio, a no-nonsense, camo-wearing militarist in charge of finding and slaughtering zombies. Played by John Malkovich, doubtless he believes that the only good zombie is a completely dead zombie.

Confiding in her best pal, Nora (Analeigh Tipton), an aspiring nurse (continuing the Romeo & Juliet allusions), Julie tells of her strange interlude and resultant fascination for R. Girlfriend, trying to be understanding but nonetheless incredulous, responds, “Look,  I know trying to find a nice guy is hard, what with the apocalypse and everything, but…”

Such bits of comedy relief mixed with sheer horror, a splatter of melodrama and a bathetic moral lesson or two cause unevenness and give the film an identity crisis that only an indiscriminate teen-ager with way too much spare time could love. Still, romance is at the heart of it all, and suckers for said emotion can’t help but root for the pair.

I mean, talk about opposites attracting. You can’t be too much more opposed than the quick and the dead. Thus, its tongue implanted in cheek, “Warm Bodies” evinces an inherent running gag, albeit one that can’t successfully support an entire film. Naturally, or rather, unnaturally, the notion that true love transcends mortality itself has its appeal.

Less interesting but par for the course in any movie destined for mass consumption at the Multiplex, there are tumbrels of random action and lots of killing, if in fact dispatching a zombie is killing. So it behooves to note the different levels of butchery: Zombies kill people; people kill zombies; zombies kill boneys; and boneys kill just about everything.

For all the story’s notions of tolerance, boneys are where we draw the line. It’s OK to hate these murderous, skeleton carnivores. Poor devils anyway…they’re beyond hope, as is this movie’s chances of winning any serious accolades. Only zombie aficionados and folks curious to see how the other half doesn’t live could cuddle up to “Warm Bodies.”

“Warm Bodies,” rated PG-13, is a Summit Entertainment release directed by Jonathan Levine and stars Nicolas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich. Running time: 98 minutes


EVERYDAY GOURMET: Valentine vibe

By Kim Dannies


“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone, who’s close to you, is about as nice a Valentine as you can give.”

—Julia Child

Today’s the day, but no worries if you haven’t got your act together yet. Why not keep the Valentine vibe going all weekend with this luscious meal?


Lover’s Rum Cake 

Start with the cake: preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray Pam over a Bundt pan. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped pecans onto the bottom of the pan. With an electric beater, mix one 18-ounce package yellow cake mix, one package instant vanilla pudding, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup cold water, 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup dark rum; beating 1 minute. Pour the batter into pan, bake 45-60 minutes. Cool baked cake for 10 minutes; invert onto a serving platter. Lightly score the top and spoon the glaze slowly and evenly over the top, in 3 cycles, for maximum saturation. Serve with grilled pineapple and vanilla ice cream. Serves 10.


Rum Glaze

Melt 4 ounces of butter in a medium saucepan; add 1/4 cup water, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup dark rum. Boil 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Rib Eye  & Cheesy Shrimp Grits

Choose desired amount of rib-eye steak and lightly coat with Montreal Steak seasoning. Grill to desired doneness. (While you have the grill going, throw on some fresh pineapple to caramelize for the rum cake.) Cover meat and let set for 20 minutes. To serve, slice into thick strips and pair with steamed broccoli and grits.


Cheesy Shrimp Grits

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup stone-ground grits (or polenta) and cook, stirring well, until water is absorbed, 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon butter, and 4 ounces of bleu (or other) cheese. Fold in 6 ounces of cooked, chunk-cut shrimp. Taste for seasoning. Top with 2 more ounces of bleu cheese. Serve immediately; serves 2-4.

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 kimdannies.com.


Tough Seahorses visit unbeaten CVU girls Friday night

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Fifteen outings and 15 happies.

That’s the record for the youthful Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team coming off Tuesday night’s 44-25 victory at St. Johnsbury Academy and awaiting Friday night’s clash with big 10-5 Burlington High.

The Seahorses pose a serious threat to the unblemished Redhawks. CVU escaped Burlington with a 49-47 victory thanks to a last second eight-foot jumper by freshman Laurel Jaunich.

On Tuesday, BHS went to Essex High and downed the strong Hornets, 48-43.

The Seahorses open a three-game home stand for the Redhawks, with North Country Union coming in Tuesday, followed by Essex a week from Friday.

Junior guard-forward Emily Kinneston had all aspects of her game going Tuesday night, popping 21 points while making eight thefts of the ball and even blocking three Hilltopper shots. Backcourt mate Kaelyn Kohlasch added 12 tallies.

On the previous night, the Redhawks used a strong 29-13 second half flurry to knock off the visiting 8-5 Bellows Free Academy Comets 50-33 and sweep the two-game series. Unlike the first game last month in St. Albans, where CVU struck hard and fast for a 20-2 first quarter advantage, the Hawks led at the half by just 21-20.

For some, it might have been nervous time. For freshman Sadie Otley, it was just another night at the office. At the start of the third quarter, Otley took a pass from Kinneston and launched a three-point bomb. Otley then passed to Kinneston for a short jumper and CVU was off and running to a 10-2 burst. BFA never got closer than within five points afterward.

Kinneston finished with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals along with the usual floor burns. Otley nailed 10 points, plus a pair of rebounds and two assists.

The important labors in elbow country under the glass were handled nicely by Amanda Lougee with nine rebounds and Taylor Goldsborough and Jaunich with seven apiece.

Coach Otley had particular praise for Lougee, who added nine points and an assist in a very effective night in the paint.

CVU swished 21 of 51 floor shots while limiting the Comets to 13-of-48 shooting. Junior Lauren Larose led BFA with 11 points.

Sports Roundup

CVU boys hoop five home to Colchester Thursday 

After four straight losses, the 8-9 Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team hopes to correct course Thursday (7 p.m.) when the Colchester High Lakers roll into Bremner Gymnasium.

Coach Scott Bliss and his Redhawks scored a narrow 42-40 triumph at Colchester Jan. 21 after gaining a large lead and hanging on late in the game.

On Monday night, the Red and White journey to Essex High seeking a second triumph over the Hornets.

CVU is looking for some rejuvenated offense to help the victory quest, as the Hawks have averaged just 33 points in their last three outings, which include losses to undefeated St. Johnsbury Academy (67-38) last Thursday and to Mount Mansfield Union (51-27) Monday night.

It was the Hawks second loss to the 11-5 Cougars. Brad Bissonette flipped in 13 points to pace CVU.

At St. Johnsbury, where the Hilltoppers are now 17-0, Ryan Beaudry had eight points to lead the Redhawks.


Saturday trip to Stowe for boys hockey team 

With the regular season fast winding down, coach Mike Murray and his Champlain Valley Union high boys hockey team were home to Rutland High Wednesday, after the Observer’s press deadline. On Saturday, the team will travel to Stowe High for a 6:15 p.m. encounter.

The Redhawks took a 9-3-3 record into the Rutland game, having tied the Raiders 2-2 on the road in late December. CVU popped Stowe 6-1 at Cairns Arena in mid-January.

This past Saturday, the Hawks snapped a scoring drought that saw them tally just four goals in three games (one loss, two ties) by pasting Rice Memorial 9-1.

The bombardment was led by Jeremy Lerner and Hoyt McCuin, each snaring two goals and two assists. Elliott Mitchell accounted for a goal and two assists, while the other net fillers were Will Bernicke, Ryan Keelan, Jack Hall and Kirk Fontana. Zach Weimer held forth in the CVU net.

A week ago Wednesday, the Redhawks fell 3-1 to the 10-3-2 Colchester High Lakers, despite a 38-24 advantage in shots on goal. Brendan Gannon fired the lone CVU score while netminder Greg Talbert came up with 21 saves.


Hockey girls at Hartford Saturday afternoon 

The winless (0-14-1) Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey team travels to 3-12-1 Hartford High in White River Jct. Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. with hopes of popping the Hurricanes.

The two teams squared off at Cairns Arena in mid-January, with Hartford emerging with a 4-2 victory in a competitive contest.

The Redhawks were in action Wednesday night after the Observer’s press deadline, playing host to Missisquoi Valley Union High.

Last Saturday, CVU went to St. Albans and got zinged 9-0 by the Bellows Free Academy Comets.


CVU JV wrestlers go for title Saturday 

While the Champlain Valley Union High varsity wrestling team awaits next weekend’s Vermont State Championships at Vergennes High, the junior varsity wrestlers head for Barre and Spaulding High this Saturday for the JV state tournament.

The grappling begins at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the varsity has a bronze trophy to admire. The Redhawks captured third place in last weekend’s Northern Vermont Athletic Council’s dual competitions.

—Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


PLACES I’VE PLAYED: Hey old timer, I hope that…

Bill Skiff and his wife, Ruth, at their wedding in 1956 (left) and on their 56th anniversary in 2012. (Observer courtesy photos)

Bill Skiff and his wife, Ruth, at their wedding in 1956 (left) and on their 56th anniversary in 2012. (Observer courtesy photos)

By Bill Skiff

Sometimes things happen that touch your heart:

My wife and I were leaving the Fire House Restaurant in Barre. We came out, arm in arm, stopping before crossing the street. As we stood there waiting, an old pickup carrying two young men came along and stopped. The driver, seeing us waiting to cross, waved us ahead. When we reached the other side of the truck, the passenger rolled down his window and yelled, “Hey old timer, I hope I still love my old lady the way you do when I’m as old as you!”

We began to laugh and couldn’t stop. So much for our self-perceived youth. We looked at each other and knew why we were laughing. It was so true and so funny at the same time. When we reached our car, we saw a truck driver standing beside his truck laughing as hard as we were.

I realized the young man was right. I first saw Ruth working on the second floor of the Springfield College administration building. She was the assistant to the director of guidance: I was enrolled in the guidance department’s Master’s degree program.

Now, here we were, 58 years later, crossing the street in Barre. How had we stuck together all these years? I am certain the young man had no idea how our love had lasted—but he knew it was important enough that when his time came he wanted to feel the same way. I am not sure exactly how it happened either, but I am sure glad it did.

It is not easy to look over the years and figure out what makes love stay. There are so many events—some good, some not so good—that make up a lasting relationship. Sometimes I think it may be just good luck or just not wanting to give up. Or maybe you find a life rhythm with another person that just feels good, comfortable and rewarding.

I know that as the years go by things change. Some get better, some stay the same while others seem to go away. How that mix develops makes a difference. Sometimes you recognize the changes and sometimes you cannot. The trick to a lasting relationship, it seems to me, is figuring out what is important to your relationship—and making necessary adjustments as changes occur.

I am not sure anyone gets it all right all the time, but when you come close, it really is exceptional. That young man was right: I do love my old lady and I am thankful she still loves this old man.

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.


LIFE IN WILLISTON: Romance or finance?

By Karen Wyman

Some people treat Valentine’s Day as if it was just another day, but many of us love to have the perfect excuse for a date night with our sweetheart. The most obvious choice for celebrating is dinner and a movie, and Williston has us nicely covered for both activities. For those who prefer to stay in, we have wonderful markets to help create a romantic dinner complete with the perfect wine or microbrew, a great video store to pick out that must-see rental and now even a cupcake store for a sweet dessert! Of course, the customary gifts of heartfelt cards, gorgeous bouquets of flowers, delicious gourmet chocolates and exquisite jewelry are also conveniently found in Williston. You can declare your love for your significant other and for Williston by supporting locally owned businesses! Wander into one of these specialty stores, and I guarantee you will find the perfect sentiment for your loved one.

If you are looking for a more nontraditional date, Williston also offers many creative alternatives to dinner and a movie. How about a couple’s massage at one of our local spas (relaxing and romantic!), a private dance lesson at one of our dance studios (how passionate!), a training session at one of our health clubs (getting fit together is hot!), or even a moonlight snowshoe walk on one of our many trails? Ok, now I’ve really put the pressure on you to use your imagination this year!

Unfortunately for me (and for my hubby), it seems February is more about finance than romance. Besides the daunting task of organizing the income tax information, I also find myself in total fundraiser mode. One of my favorite yearly commitments is being a coordinator for the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days. Nothing beats the idea of brightening the day of both adults and children who are bravely battling cancer by presenting them with cheerful daffodils or a teddy bear! If you are interested in this wonderful cause, you can visit www.cancer.org for more information. As many of you know, we have an ACS office right here in Williston where you can also stop in for more information.

This year, I am also excited that my girls are old enough to participate and sell Girl Scout Cookies.To be fair, I can’t really say that I am working very hard at this project. I mean these things sell themselves—people are knocking on our door to buy them! Granted, I do have to handle the pricing and money collection, since one of my girls informed a neighbor that each box costs “40 bucks.” She may actually be a budding saleswoman, because once our neighbor learned the real bargain price of $4 a box, he bought $40 worth. If you are all salivating for Girl Scout cookies, you can visit girlscouts.org and download “The Official Girl Scout Cookie Finder.” Yes, there is an app for that! We also have a Girl Scout office right here in Williston if you need further information.

For the next few months, my financial focus will be on the FAP’s (Families As Partners) largest community fundraising event for the Williston schools—The Big Basket Raffle. Area businesses generously donate to various themed baskets or to a silent auction. This year, some of the themes are: “Family Entertainment,” “Green Living,” “Spa Day,” “Golf Fanatic” and many more. Everyone is invited to attend this spectacular event and hopefully bid big on some of these great items! If you’d like to be involved in the Big Basket Raffle or have your business featured in one of the various baskets, you may contact FAP at willistonfap@cssu.org.

I may have unintentionally given you all fair warning, but please don’t hide if you see me coming toward you these next few months—even though the chances are quite high that I will be asking you for money!

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


Williston couples share their love stories

The Observer asked couples who have been together for 20 years or more to share their love stories for our Valentine’s Day issue.


Our Love Story

By Rachel and Larry Ring


We blame it all on a furry mongrel named Ginger.

While in the elevator one winter’s day as I once again headed out to walk that elderly dog, I met the woman of my dreams. Her first words were not promising. “My God, what an ugly dog,” she said.

Fortunately, the conversation improved from there, and we were soon good friends. On our first official date, Rachel stood me up at the movies! The movie was terrible, and I was pretty mad, but Rachel was there waiting for me at movie’s end, having been held up at work. This was before cell phones, the dark ages, and she could not call to let me know she’d be late. But there she was outside the theater with a hug and a smile. We’ve been in love ever since, and married 24 years with three beautiful children, and a new (cuter) dog.


Our Love Story

By Larry Mindell


Peg Allen and I met in October 1980, when she was a hair stylist in Burlington. I was new to the area and needed a haircut. Peg’s eyes were the first things I noticed, behind the most stylish eyeglasses I’d ever seen.  Peg said she thought I had nice hair (go figure, she was a hair stylist)!

We hit it off immediately, but both of us were in our 30s, divorced and a little skittish about relationships. We got to know each other during haircuts for nine months, until Peg took the initiative and asked me out for a drink. After many wonderful dates, we were married May 26, 1985. I liked the way she cut my hair so much I had to marry her!

There’s a line in a poem by Robert Browning, “Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” As good as the past 30+ years have been, the next 30 will be even better!


In love, with words

By Rick Blount



Lesli wrote a column for the college newspaper. Valentine’s Day my freshman year, she wrote, “I don’t like being in love. It does strange things to me. I smile too much.”  Her funny, smart words made me smile.

But she was two years ahead, one of the cool party people. I was a runner geek.

The next year, I edited the newspaper and Lesli edited the yearbook in the office next door. We began talking about life. One weekend, she invited me over to write headlines.

We married my senior year. We already had created a vocabulary of our love—words from philosophy class, math. We still add words—from travel, reading, life.

This is our 32nd  Valentine’s Day together. Lesli will be up first, making coffee, sitting with the newspaper and a pen, writing smart, funny comments in the margins. Her words will make me smile.


Love Story

By Glenn Steinman











Some folks don’t believe in love at first sight. Well, I have witnesses.

Fran and I met through some friends at a pool hall on 14th street in New York City 22 years ago. ALL of them confirm this story.

When Fran and I first laid eyes on each other something powerful happened. Words can’t explain the feelings, but here’s what it looked like: The world stopped! Not just for us, but for everyone around us. There might have been 150 people in that place; everyone stood frozen, nobody took a shot, nobody spoke, nobody blinked. They just watched as two street kids let down all their defenses and fears and let the undeniable truth that love at first sight had just changed them forever.

Once the world started moving again, an old-timer came up to me and said, “You take good care of that girl, now.”

I always will.



My love story

By Lucie Pecor



On my husband’s 17th birthday at North Beach in Burlington, he asked me to go out. When he was 18, he enlisted in the Navy. While he was in boot camp in Florida, I received three letters in one day asking me to marry him. At the same time I was reading his letters, the phone rang. Yes, it was him, asking me to marry him. Of course, I said “yes” and on Jan. 12, 1979 he flew back to Vermont. On Jan. 13, we married. We were 18 embarking on a new life together away from home the first time, no honeymoon as he was in Navy’s A1 School. On Jan. 13, 2009, he surprised me and married me all over again in the same church we married in 30 years before. It has now been three daughters, three grandchildren and 34 years together, we are hoping for at least 34 more wonderful years.