February 7, 2016

Obituary: Roberta R. (LaMonda) Stys

Roberta R. (LaMonda) Stys

Roberta R. (LaMonda) Stys

Roberta (or Bobbi, as she was called) Roscoe (LaMonda) Stys, 79, passed away at her home in Essex Junction after a brief and courageous battle with lung cancer, on Monday March 4, 2013 surrounded by her loving family. She was born on July 27, 1933 in Plattsburgh, N.Y. She was the daughter of the late Robert and Beryl (Roscoe) LaMonda.

She grew up in Potsdam, N.Y., graduated from both Potsdam High School and Ogdensburg Business School. There, she met Richard, who was a student at Clarkson University. They were married in 1954 and began their family in New York State. In 1965, they moved to Vermont to raise their five children.

Bobbi began her career in public education as manager of the Audio-Visual Department of South Burlington High School. Her faithful volunteer work throughout the district led her to a career as secretary of Chamberlain School.

Her devotion to volunteer work was a life-long commitment. She acted as the religious education coordinator and a parish council member of St. John Vianney Parish. She also volunteered in the Essex school system art classrooms and as a receptionist at the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans.

Her life was filled with helping to guide her five children as they grew and started their own families. She found great joy in supporting the endeavors of her grandchildren. She spent countless hours at baseball, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, football, swimming, track and dance events cheering on her family.

She held a deep love of the ocean, Amish Country, and painting. Her welcoming character, always ready to pour a cup of coffee for those needing company, will be greatly missed.

She is survived by her loving husband of 59 years, Richard Stys of Essex Junction; her son Rick Stys and wife Tammy of Apex, N.C.; four daughters Renee Vanyush and husband Mark of Milton; Debra Mosher of Essex Junction; Michele Webb and husband Kevin of Essex Junction; Kathi Dwyer and husband John of Essex Junction; her brother Bruce LaMonda and wife Carol of Shokan, N.Y.; a sister-in-law Joan LaMonda of Massena, N.Y.; nine grandchildren: Stacey Mosher; Justin Mosher; Collin Vanyush; Anna DeGraff and husband Javan; Sarah Webb; Nick Dwyer and wife Katelyn; Emma Dwyer; Tory Stys; Alexis Stys; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was also predeceased by her brother Robert LaMonda.

The family would like to thank the staff and physicians on Shepardson 4 and FAHC for their kindness, support and excellent care they provided for her. A special thank you goes to Dr. Hannah Rabin for her love, care, and friendship that she has been providing for years.

Per Roberta’s wishes, there will be no public visiting hours held. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Our Lady of Grace, Colchester with Revered Peter O’Leary officiating. Burial will be in the spring at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions in Roberta’s memory may be made directly to the American Cancer Society, 55 Day Lane, Williston, VT 05495 c/o Relay for Life of Chittenden. The family invites you to view more information and share your memories by visiting www.awrichfuneralhomes.com.

Police Notes

Suspicious snowmen

A Hideaway Lane resident called police on Feb. 28 to report that a snowman appeared “on her front door step during the day,” according to police reports. The resident had heard of “similar incidents happening in the neighborhood,” the report noted.

Multiple charges

Joshua Brunell, 24, of Colchester was cited on a charge of possession of marijuana and “arrested for possession with intent to distribute” on Feb. 15, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Outstanding Warrant

Williston Police arrested Sean M. Maring 31, homeless as the result of a motor vehicle stop in Maple Tree Place on March 12, according to police reports. Maring was on escape status from the Department of Corrections and a warrant was issued on Jan. 22, the report notes.

Counterfeit money

The Secret Service has taken over the investigation of recent incidents in Williston related to a “large counterfeit scam out of Canada,” according to police reports. On Feb. 25, SuperStore Electronics reported someone “passing fake money;” Peoples United Bank reported a customer trying to deposit $1,820 in “fake bills;” and Garden of Eatin’ reported two $20 “fake checks,” according to the report.


  • On Feb. 25, a catalytic converter was reported stolen off a vehicle parked overnight at Superstore Electronics, according to police reports. The case is under investigation.
  • An inspection sticker was stolen off a car parked at Hirchak Auctions on Feb. 25, according to police reports. No other information was released.
  • On Feb. 25, Christopher Lafreniere, 31, of St. George was cited on a charge of possession of stolen property, allegedly in connection with jewelry stolen from Richmond, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on April 8. If anyone has further information on the burglary, call the Richmond Police Department at 434-2156.
  • Holly I. Cota, 36, of Williston and Logan R. Corey, 19, of Williston were cited on a charge of retail theft from Once Upon A Child on Feb. 8 after allegedly stealing more than $194 worth of merchandise, according to police reports. Both were cited to appear in court.
  •  Donald Catella, 41, of Huntington was cited on a charge of grand larceny after allegedly stealing three catalytic converters from Safelite Auto Glass on March 5, according to police reports. In a related incident on March 5, Joseph Ronald Robar, 26, of Hinesburg was cited on a charge of possession of stolen property, according to the report. Also on March 5, Duane Merrill’s Auction Co. reported that a catalytic converter had been taken off a truck parked in its parking lot, according to police.
  • With the public’s help, police were able to apprehend Dawn Kivela (aka Dawn Gaboriault), 30, of Burlington and cite her on a charge of grand larceny on March 5, according to police reports. Kivela allegedly grabbed an unattended purse off the floor at Once Upon A Child and hid it under her infant child’s blanket before leaving the store on March 4, according to the report. After receiving dozens of calls from the public relating to the incident, police were able to locate Kivela, and were also able to recover the stolen purse and many of its contents from a dumpster at the Champlain Farms on Williston Road in South Burlington, the report notes.

Police notes are written based on information provided by the Williston Police Department and the Vermont State Police. Please note that all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


Seahorses stand between CVU girls and hoop finals

Amanda Lougee takes the ball to the hoop during the March 8 quarterfinal game against St. Albans. The Redhawks won 52-28. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

Amanda Lougee takes the ball to the hoop during the March 8 quarterfinal game against St. Albans. The Redhawks won 52-28. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

A rugged Burlington High team will occupy a lot of space under baskets on both ends of the University of Vermont’s Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium Thursday night, when the 21-0, top-seeded Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team goes after the first of two wins it needs for the Division 1 crown. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Redhawks are at the semifinal level for the third straight year, following the first undefeated regular season in the school’s annals.

“I love playing at Patrick,” said junior guard-forward Emily Kinneston Friday night after the Redhawks dispatched Bellows Free Academy 52-28 in a quarterfinal contest at CVU’s Bremner Gymnasium.

Kinneston is an old hand at the UVM hoop palace, having seen action at Patrick the last two seasons as the Hawks earned their way into championship games only to get nudged by Rice Memorial High on both occasions.

Rice, 20-2, has the second seed and will tangle with third-seeded 17-5 Essex High in the other semifinal, starting after CVU and BHS complete their business.

Burlington, the fifth seed, is 15-7 after knocking out 7-15 Mount Anthony Union High of Bennington 54-33 Saturday at the Seahorses’ corral.

Historically, CVU is 12-4 in semifinals and 3-9 in championship games. Burlington is 2-7 in semis and 2-0 in crowning battles. The two teams last met in playdowns in 2003, a 35-33 Hawks’ victory.

Even though the Redhawks won both regular season games against BHS, the Blue and White posed problems on the boards and the contests were not decided until late in the closing quarters.

The first game at Burlington in January was won 49-47, when CVU freshman inside operator Laurel Jaunich sank a seven-footer from the baseline after taking a pass from Kinneston as the clock was running down. The ball dropped through the net as the final buzzer sounded.

Burlington had a 29-22 advantage on the boards, which was key as the Seahorses fought back from the five-point fourth quarter deficit to force the final moments.

The Redhawks scored a 48-42 victory over BHS last month in Hinesburg.

Ilona Maher (17 points in Saturday’s quarterfinal victory), Ajla Medic and Breanna Pidgeon have been leading point poppers lately for Burlington.

In cranking up Friday’s victory over BFA, its third of the campaign, the youthful CVU quintet, plus a solid bench, shrugged off an early 6-0 Comets lead, during which the Hawks missed their first six shots.

Kinneston nailed a pair of charity shots with four minutes and 54 seconds left in the quarter to put CVU on the board. Junior Kaelyn Kohlasch, among those coming into the game in one of coach Ute Otley’s shift changes, snapped in a trey and followed with a deuce and the Redhawks were on the wing.

CVU led 15-8 by the end of the quarter and 25-12 by halftime. The Hawks added a 21-point assault on seven-for-15 shooting in the third period to leave BFA out of contention.

The Redhawks T-Rex defense forced 21 BFA turnovers, with Kinneston the bakery’s top chef with six steals to go with her 14 points. Kohlasch led scorers with 16 points and chipped in five rebounds plus a pair of assists.

Amanda Lougee wiped up eight grabs off the glass, Taylor Goldsborough with six and Jaunich with five helped the Hawks to a 34-18 rebounding triumph.

Forward Leilani King led BFA with 10 points. CVU shot 34 percent from the floor, despite going just two-for-13 in the final reel. The Comets were at 31 percent.

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 vtcowcal@yahoo.com.


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.