May 27, 2018

Stinging Hornets got CVU boys to hockey title test

Redhawk Jack Hall takes on an opponent during Saturday’s semi final game. (Observer photo by Glenn Fay Jr.)

Redhawk Jack Hall takes on an opponent during Saturday’s semi final game. (Observer photo by Glenn Fay Jr.)

By Mal Boright 

Observer correspondent

Give this young—four seniors—Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team a test for a third time, and it will respond in a big way. A very big way.

After losing (2-1) and knotting (1-1) second-seeded Essex High during the regular season, the Redhawks, in front of a standing room only crowd of 1,100-plus Saturday, rubbed out the Hornets 3-0 at their packed nest in Essex to gain Wednesday’s  championship against top-seeded 20-2 South Burlington High at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House. The Wednesday night championship was after the Observer’s press deadline.

And it was the third test against the Rebels. The Redhawks blew past them 5-2 in December, but then got blanked 3-0 in the annual CSB Cup contest at Cairns Arena two weeks ago.

Wednesday was South Burlington’s first appearance in the Division 1 championship since 1997, while CVU was trying for a second Big Trophy in the past three years.

“Yes, we are young,” said head coach Mike Murray after the victory at Essex. He did not have to add that on this day youth was served. Essex had 11 seniors on its roster.

“It feels good,” added defenseman and captain Alex Bulla, as the joyful Redhawks left the ice.

Held to but two goals in the previous two outings against the defensively astute Essex club, CVU broke out for two goals in the closing three minutes and eight seconds of the initial period and then made them stand up before adding another score midway through the final reel.

Senior Kirk Fontana launched the first goal with 3:08 showing on the clock and Hoyt McCuin in front of Essex goalie Brock Paquette in the event of a rebound. Defenseman Drew Pitcher, a freshman, contributed the set-up pass.

Less than two minutes later, the Redhawks swooped in on Paquette using short and quick passes, with freshman Ryan Keelan finishing off the play with an assist from brother senior Pat Keelan.

Junior Brendan Gannon, another CVU swiftie, collected the final tally at 7:26 in the closing segment, after taking a McCuin pass and rushing in on Paquette with a hard, rising shot.

Defensively, the Redhawks generally kept the Hornets from any sustained offensive activity in front of strong junior goalie Greg Talbert, who made 19 stops and neatly covered up most potential rebound opportunities.

Paquette had 21 saves for Essex.

“We played a good defensive game,” said Murray, adding that the Hawks’ speed was significant.

The Redhawks’ penalty killers were called on twice, once in the second period and again in the third. Led by Bulla, Pitcher, Kaleb Godbout and others, they kept Essex from any serious forays in front of Talbert.

CVU skiers lead Vt. team to Nordic win

A 29-member Vermont team—including Champlain Valley Union High skiers (back row, from left) Jonathan Buzzell, Cooper Willsey, Forest Hamilton, Peter Unger, Ben Logenbach of Williston, Seamus Nolan of Williston, Charlie Maitland (front row, from left) Alison Spasyk of Williston, Tatum Braun, Rachel Slimovitch of Williston and Kate Burke—were victorious last weekend in J-2 (juniors) Championship event at Holderness School in New Hampshire. Coach Sarah Strack's unit dominated the day, which included a field of 225 14-and 15-year old competitors from New England, Idaho and Michigan. More members of CVU's Vermont championship Nordic team will be in Presque Isle, Maine this weekend for the Eastern Championships. (Observer courtesy photo)

A 29-member Vermont team—including Champlain Valley Union High skiers (back row, from left) Jonathan Buzzell, Cooper Willsey, Forest Hamilton, Peter Unger, Ben Logenbach of Williston, Seamus Nolan of Williston, Charlie Maitland (front row, from left) Alison Spasyk of Williston, Tatum Braun, Rachel Slimovitch of Williston and Kate Burke—were victorious last weekend in J-2 (juniors) Championship event at Holderness School in New Hampshire. Coach Sarah Strack’s unit dominated the day, which included a field of 225 14-and 15-year old competitors from New England, Idaho and Michigan. More members of CVU’s Vermont championship Nordic team will be in Presque Isle, Maine this weekend for the Eastern Championships. (Observer courtesy photo)


WILLISTON’S 250TH ANNIVERSARY: What’s in a name?

A man steers a horse and wagon outside the Oak Hill Creamery in the early 1900s.

A man steers a horse and wagon outside the Oak Hill Creamery in the early 1900s.

By Richard H. Allen

Special to the Observer

Geographers define toponymy as the study of place names, their origins and classification. Some Williston place names have changed over the years and can reveal insight into the town’s past.



What is the difference between a pond and a lake? Most people would say a pond is smaller and perhaps more mundane. What we know today as Lake Iroquois was once called Hinesburg Pond. It had a long-standing reputation for its fine fishing, as witnessed by a bill introduced in the Vermont legislature in 1866 to ”preserve the fish” in the pond, probably a reaction to the impending dam (built in 1867) that would raise the water level and provide power for the Hinesburg industry. As the pond gained a reputation as a pleasant place to picnic and summer, there was a movement to change its name to better reflect its beauty. A piece in the Sept. 11, 1895 Vermont Watchman suggested the pond label be dropped and replaced with something like Mirror or Crystal Lake. The “clear, cold and deep” water, the setting of “forests, rocks, and cultivated fields” and “an abundant supply of Vermont’s finest fish” all “deserve the name of a lake,” the Watchman states. At that time, there were three cottages on the pond, with a promise of more to be built.

On June 9, 1897, it was reported in the Vermont Watchman that the name was officially changed to Lake Iroquois because “as tradition says the Iroquois Indians once held councils on its shores.” Given that the Iroquois confederacy was located in upstate New York, this was a curious choice for the renaming.



Mud Pond’s very accurate and descriptive hydronym would keep this body of water from ever becoming a popular recreational asset like Lake Iroquois. But the name did not hold people back from harvesting ice from the pond for the creamery in 1892 and for years afterwards. Flora M. Whitcomb gathered Mud Pond lore for a 1976 article in the Williston Historical Society Bulletin and recounted her favorite story. Several boys would take lanterns to the shores of the pond on spring nights to watch for turtles coming out to lay their eggs in the gravel. Once the eggs were laid and the female had returned to the water, the boys would gather up the eggs and take them home until they hatched. The young turtles were then let go and would naturally return to their home base.

Mud Pond is the source of Allen Brook, a stream that flows entirely within the boundaries of Williston, and, according to Esther Swift in “Vermont Place Names,” is named for Ethan Allen.



Around 1900, Williston residents had three town centers to service their needs. North Williston, by the railroad tracks in the Winooski River valley, had a store, school, post office, train depot, industries, farms and houses. The village of Williston, along the present Route 2, also had a post office, several stores and churches, and was considered the center of town. There was a third town center called Talcott (a.k.a Talcottville) that was located on what is now Old Creamery Road, near the intersection with Oak Hill Road. There was a Talcott post office from 1897 to 1903, a store, a school (1858-1950) and a creamery. In 1901, Talcott was important enough to be serviced by a stage (picture a horse-drawn wagon) that left the North Williston depot at 8:10 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. daily, except Sunday.

A cheese factory was established here in 1868 by Hiram Walston and managed by Lewis H. Talcott from 1870 on. The Oak Hill Co-op Creamery Association operated from 1891 to 1903 to “manufacture butter and cheese and sell milk and deal in milk products,” according to a March 1, 1892 Vermont Public Record. Hindered by the lack of railroad service, this creamery was at a disadvantage when compared to those in North Williston and Essex Junction. It was under the auspices of the Borden Company and later H. P. Hood until 1937. Before the road was named for the old creamery in the late 1990s, it was known as West Oak Hill Road.



Many of the other roads in Williston were named after a prominent family that lived on them including Fay Lane, Chapman Lane, Van Sicklen Road and Bradley Lane. The Brownell family name was given to a road and mountain in Williston, and later a block and library in Essex Junction. The Brownell house at 3188 South Brownell Road, now the Imajica Equestrian Center, was in the family from 1841 to 1942.

On the border Williston shares with Richmond, Yantz Hill stands out prominently. The hill is unlabeled on 1857 and 1869 maps of Chittenden County. On the 1906 USGS topographic map, it is labeled Yantz Hill. But according to Moody and Putnam, in “The Williston Story,” it was called John Charles Hill at one time. Charles was born in Canada around 1817 and lived in Williston in 1850 with his wife Matilda and three children. The Yantz family arrived in Williston later and is listed in the federal census as living in Williston from at least 1900 on.

The other hill named after an early resident is Bean Hill in North Williston. It was never marked on a map and is only in the public record because of a photo of North Williston taken in the early 1900s “from Bean Hill.” Sanborn Bean was a property owner in the area in the early 1800s. There are not too many people today who call the hill, west of North Williston Road and south of Fay Lane, Bean Hill.



Intersections of roads were often named. The schoolhouse that is now in front of Williston Central School is commonly referred to as the Stove Pipe Corner School. It was originally on the northwest corner of Mountain View and North Williston roads. Many of the houses in the area were fitted with stove pipes and not chimneys. Moody and Putnam venture that this might have been an indication of the very modest means of the residents in that area. Ironically, the schoolhouse had a brick chimney, not a stove pipe, when it was moved in 1988.

Whether named after a family, a physical characteristic or a business, the place names in Williston provide some interesting chronicling of the town’s past.

Local historian Richard Allen will present a free slide show, “Stories from Williston’s Past,” May 11 at 11 a.m. in the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library as part of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration. 


PLACES I’VE PLAYED: There’s a (sap) sucker born every minute

By Bill Skiff


P.T. Barnum had it right when he said there’s one born every minute.

Now, I don’t mean the ones that hang around on the bottom of the Lamoille River or the ones who didn’t believe that Lance Armstrong was doping. Or even those that still don’t believe the first ingredient in some peanut butter is sugar.

I mean the ones who believe that thick sweet syrup comes from a tree ready to eat. Or the ones that believe that sap comes from a tree and makes syrup—but they are not sure what kind of a tree it comes from or where these trees grow. One of this latter type came into my office during sugaring one year—and I saw her coming.

I have been known to consider a practical joke once in a while. That spring, I pulled off my best effort ever.

It started by my cutting down a maple sapling four inches in diameter and 10 feet tall, with branches going every which way. I strapped it to the top of my car and headed for my office at Mount Mansfield Union High School, where I was a guidance counselor.

I arrived early and cut the tree so I could wedge the trunk against the tile floor and the top against the ceiling tile. Next, I trimmed the branches so they spread out on both sides of the trunk, and left one near the top so it hung over the top of the office door. It looked quite natural standing there.

I then drilled a hole through the tree—and on through the wall into my office at the same height.

I attached a metal spout to one end of a small rubber tube and hammered the spout into the tree. The other end of the tube I invisibly threaded through the tree and through the wall into my office. Next I ran the remaining tube up the office wall and hung it on a nail.

I dangled a water-filled quart bottle from the ceiling and attached it to the tube. Our chemistry teacher provided me with a metal clamp; this enabled me to control the flow through the tube. None of this background apparatus was easily visible looking at the tree.

Next, I hung a metal bucket on the spout embedded in the tree. Now I was ready.

Before any students arrived, I adjusted the clamp so it allowed a small amount of water to run down through the wall, through the tree and out the spout. Drip, drip, drip it began. Ping, ping, ping it sounded as it hit the bottom of the metal bucket.

As students began filtering into the office they were amazed to see sap running in the guidance office.  They pointed out that it wasn’t running very well. I told them to come back at noon when the sun was out and it would be running better. At 11:45, I loosened the clamp to allow more water to enter the tube—the sap ran faster. They laughed and went out to tell their friends. Soon, kids were stopping by the office just to see how the sap was running each day.

Then it happened. One morning we had a visitor from a college admissions office. She was so excited to see the way sap ran from a tree and wanted to learn more about the sugaring process. I explained the process—as only a Vermonter could. As she left to visit classes, I encouraged her to come back at noon when the sap would really be running. She did—and so my lesson continued.

At the end of the day when she came back to my office, she stood in front of the tree looking at it with questions in her eyes. Finally, she realized the tree was just sitting on the floor. When total realization set in, her thoughts teetered between embarrassment and revenge.

We later became friends but, even now, when we get together, she takes me to task over the time I gave her my “sugaring lesson.”

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


LIFE IN WILLISTON: Spring is in the air

By Karen Wyman

Ah, the smell of spring in Vermont is in the air—maple syrup and pancakes. As my husband and I scrambled around the house setting the clocks ahead, our girls excitedly shouted important reminders to us. No, they weren’t reminding us to also change the smoke alarm batteries, or to make sure our taxes were filed, they were regaling the fact that the Williston Fire Department Pancake Breakfast is coming up soon. I’m not sure how they know to connect “springing ahead” to the annual breakfast, but they are indeed correct!

If you haven’t attended the breakfast, we highly recommend you check it out this year. It’s a fun way to reconnect with neighbors you haven’t seen much during the winter, enjoy some delicious food and support our local fire station and EMS. If you are interested (and you should be!) it’s Sunday March 24 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Did I mention it’s all you can eat?

If the thought of maple syrup has you excited, you also won’t want to miss Vermont Maple Open House Weekend next weekend. Williston boasts some wonderful facilities—The Comeau Family Sugarhouse, Sugartree Maple Farm and the Isham Family Farm. Nothing says spring in Vermont quite like watching the sap boil!

I would be totally remiss if I didn’t also mention this coming weekend’s big event—St. Patrick’s Day. Also, if you have children who would love to try to catch a naughty leprechaun, you’re in luck, because Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is holding a “Make a Leprechaun Trap” event. One of our favorite seasonal traditions is making a trap each year with the girls and waking up on St. Patrick’s Day to see what mischief the little guy created in the house. It never fails that we find green water in the toilet bowls, upside-down chairs, green milk in the fridge, and always an empty trap! I feel confident this is the year we will catch him though.

On Sunday, March 17, you can also catch S.D. Ireland’s annual Concrete Mixer Parade to benefit the S.D. Ireland Cancer Research Fund. Little ones are guaranteed to love the sight of the mammoth trucks and the sounds of honking horns galore!

Every year during these first few weekends in March, we have out-of-state friends come visit us. We are so proud to show them the beautiful town we live in and all of the family-friendly events there are to experience, especially during this time of year. Watching a young child have his/her first taste of sugar on snow and then bite into a pickle is priceless! Judging from Williston’s extensive community calendar over the next few weeks, this year surely won’t disappoint our visitors.

So, happy maple sugaring and happy Leprechaun Day to you and yours, and although Manti Te’o may have forever tainted this wish, I would still like to wish you all the luck of the Irish!

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


Letters to the Editor

School budget defeat

I don’t remember not voting for a school budget anywhere before our legislature passed Act 60.

I have not voted for one since.

Act 68 failed to improve Act 60.

I am strong for every one of our children to have a good education. I am also strong for property rights fairness.

Act 60/68 and our modern zoning practices are destroying Vermont values.

Jean Brown


School district must change goal

The defeat of the Williston School District budget at Town Meeting centered on the Board’s proposal to provide iPads to middle school students. This is but a small part of a larger problem—not just with the budget, but with the education goals that the board embraces.

The WCS principal stated that a main purpose of education at the school is to provide students with access to information “twenty-four/seven.” That is a flawed goal.

The purpose of elementary and middle school education should be to teach English, mathematics, science, history, the arts, foreign language, Euro/American culture and the responsibilities of citizenship. Teaching students how to access information should be done only incidentally to assist teaching those subjects. Until the School District changes its fundamental goal, every budget will be unworthy of approval.

Bret Powell


CVU board members thank voters

Many thanks to all Williston voters for supporting the CVU budget: the Williston members of the CVU Board are grateful for the continuing support of our community for our school and our students. CVU provides great academic programs, a wide variety of co-curricular activities and a myriad of options for our Williston students and the students from the other towns in the district. Our jobs as Williston members of the board are made easier by your support and we are able to spend more of our time focusing on making our high school even better!

Thanks again for the support.

CVU board members Jeanne Jensen, Polly Malik, Jonathan Milne, David Rath


GUEST COLUMN: Increasing costs not real reform

By Tim Ayer

Vermont’s independent small businesses have frequently highlighted the impacts of Montpelier’s current health care policies. On behalf of our nearly 1,800 members, we want to thank Fletcher Allen, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Vermont’s hospitals, doctors and the Business Roundtable for putting additional focus on this issue. Perhaps this represents a transition point in this debate.

The political promises are well documented: provide $500 million or more in savings to Vermonters; remove the burden of insurance from employers; provide subsidies to those who can least afford to pay—while improving, never rationing, our care.

Now, Montpelier acknowledges the best they can do is “bend the cost curve.” That’s politician-speak for slowing increases. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence their proposals will even “bend the curve.”

Lawmakers are repealing the Catamount Health Plan (a plan accountable for increasing the number of insured Vermonters) but maintaining the Catamount employer tax of $11 million. At the same time, they’re asking low income Vermonters to pay more for new plans, raising taxes on your insurance claims to the tune of about $12 million and offering fewer choices in a new system, dubbed “Vermont Health Connect.”

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Vermont Health Connect will be the only place for employees of businesses with fewer than 50 employees and individuals to purchase insurance. In just four months, small businesses and individuals will be asked to compare health plans for which there is currently no information available and make critically important decisions about health care security. Big corporations and labor unions are exempt, of course.

As a small employer, there are many things to consider before sending employees into the exchange. Most importantly, you don’t have to send them there alone—you can still help them. And a broker can help you.

The Shumlin administration announced in January that $1.6 billion in taxes would be required to finance its single-payer system. Yet, despite paying consultants to produce a tax plan, they squashed the details and asked a nine-member panel to provide a financing plan. None of this information will be available until after the 2014 elections. The same tactic was used two years ago to evade accountability—despite repeated promises to the contrary.

What will be covered? How much will it cost? Who will make critical decisions for you and your family? Will there be a payroll tax on employers or an income tax on individuals—or both? How will all of this impact hiring, investment and economic growth in Vermont? No one in the administration knows—or will admit—the answers.

Vermont’s small businesses love our state and care deeply for their employees, who for many are like family. They’re willing to fight the forces of global and national economies to stay here, stay open, care for their employees, contribute to our quality of life and pay their fair share. They should not have to fight so hard against anti-small business undercurrents right here at home.

While the politics of a single payer plan play out, small businesses are unable to make important decisions—like whether to expand and create more jobs. They have no idea how high taxes and health care costs will rise or what impact changes will have on their employees. Recent property tax increases alone will force some to lay off employees or close their doors. Montpelier, however, refuses to acknowledge that costs and uncertainty have already become too much—a trend that Vermont’s population clearly illustrates.

Just two weeks ago, owners of a small plumbing and heating business sorrowfully moved their operation and young family to New Hampshire. The costs of living and doing business here, coupled with uncertainty over health care, were too much to bear. Sadly, they aren’t the first and under these conditions they won’t be the last. Vermont must do better.

Tim Ayer is a small business owner and a member of National Federation of Independent Business/VT. 


Young Writers Project selections

Students responded to a prompt to use this photo of tower 22 at Mad River Glen, looking east to write about winter. (Photo by Jet Lowe, 2006, Library of Congress)

Students responded to a prompt to use this photo of tower 22 at Mad River Glen, looking east to write about winter. (Photo by Jet Lowe, 2006, Library of Congress)

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, published by this newspaper and 21 others. This week, we publish responses to the prompt “I like…Make a list of the things you like” and a prompt asking students to use a photo, available at, to write about winter in Vermont.


Snow and Sleds

By Matt Trifaro

Grade 5, Williston Central School

Winter here is lots of snow.

Winter here is full of sleds.

Winter is a skiing time.

Winter is hot chocolate everywhere.

Winter is at the mountains.

Winter is bringing out the shovels.

Winter is the season where you see red noses on all the kids.
Winter is snowball fights everywhere (except during school).

Winter is snow gear time.

Winter is smiles all around.



By Reagan Dufresne

Grade 5, Williston Central School

Oh winter, oh winter

You fill me with joy

You bring cheer to the poor little girls and the poor little boys

When you’re around everyone wants to be around you

You bring us closer to that special place they call home

I watch as you sparkle, touch the spirits of our hearts

But I ask you how?

How do you lift our spirits

When all we do is throw trash on you?

If only the world would realize what we have.

Oh, I love you, winter and I cry when you go.

Winter, oh winter, I will miss you so.


I Like… 

By Naomi Diamond 

Grade 5, Williston Central School 

Times when I’m happy

Things that bring me joy

Places that make my imagination grow

Times when I’m with my whole family

Things that make me excited to do again after stopping

Places that make me feel as if I’m in a movie

Things like a big snowstorm happening right this second

Places like here, when I sit back and enjoy my surroundings

Times like right now when I can type this list of things I like


I Like… 

By Sophie Beliveau 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

I like the song the crickets sing on the warm nights of summer

I like the snow that tickles my cheeks like little fingers in the winter

I like the way the sky blushes at sundown as if it were embarrassed

I like the sound of my friends laughing together in the middle of a silent classroom

I like the hot sand at the beach when it feels like the earth is angry

I like the sound of the clouds crying

I like the feeling of safety of being snuggled up in a warm blanket during a thunderstorm

I like the feeling of accomplishment after scoring a goal in soccer

I like the sound of the ocean whispering its unheard secrets


What I like

By Aidan Johnson 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

I like sports

I like forts

I like the donuts that are glazed of some sort

I like Mike and Ikes

Do you like Mike and Ikes

I like watching the guys on motorbikes

I like board games

I like lions

Because of their manes

I like snow

I like cookie dough

I like anyone who never says no

I like the smell of May

Or a beautiful spring day

I like golf tees

But not bees

But most importantly

I like me

Around Town

VYO to perform at Brick Church

The Vermont Youth Orchestra is set to perform at the Old Brick Church Friday at 7p.m., the latest performance in the Brick Church Concert Series. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, with a $2 discount for seniors and youths. Children under 6 can attend for free. For more information, visit


Williston group to perform in Irish festival

Dancers from the Williston-based McFadden Academy of Irish Dance are set to perform as part of the 18th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival, which features Irish music, dance and cultural events throughout the month of March. Owner Beth Anne McFadden and students will perform traditional ceili dances, and lead the audience in participation. The event is set for Sunday, March 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Mater Christi School in Burlington. For more information, visit

Sugaring equipment stolen

Police are investigating the theft of more than $7,000 worth of sugaring equipment from a South Road sugarhouse.

Stolen equipment includes: a blue, three-horsepower Tithill vacuum pump worth $4,100; a $2,600 Westfab seven-inch filter press; a syrup refractometer and hand tools.

The items were likely stolen sometime between Nov. 3 and Dec. 18.

“Either somebody is trying to set up their own operation somewhere or they’re trying to sell (the items) for money, said Officer Travis Trybulski, who is investigating the case. He said it is unlikely that the items were stolen for scrap metal.

Trybulski recommended that sugarhouse operators lock their sugarhouses, keep equipment secured and make a note of suspicious people or vehicles.

Owner Denny Lewis could not be reached for comment before press deadline, but his sugarhouse, nestled against the woods at the edge of a field, is securely padlocked.

A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of the items. Anyone with information should contact the Williston Police Department at 878-6611.

—Stephanie Choate, Observer staff