April 20, 2019

LITTLE DETAILS: Anatomy of a poem

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper


“Biscuits” by Willa Schneberg

Mostly when I’m vacuuming the carpet

in Mr. Besdine’s office

I don’t worry, just do the work

and know I’ll be sleeping in my own bed

when all the desks in all them offices

will have people sitting around them.

Sometimes I don’t hear the vacuum cleaner

and I’m quiet like when I play

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

in the Mission Baptist Church.

There are other times I imagine fixing biscuits

unrolling my cloth from the coffee can,

flour still on it from the last time,

smoothing it out on the counter,

cloth white, flour white.

My mother’s biscuit cutter

made from an old Pet Milk can,

not a tack of rust on it

presses in easy as a body to a hammock.

Some like biscuits and gravy,

I myself fancy biscuits with my homemade

muscadine jelly that comes from the

muscadine grape that grows wild.


I first encountered this poem while driving along I–89 towards Burlington. It was 8:35 on some weekday morning and I was listening to Garrison Keillor’s ‘Writer’s Almanac’ on Vermont Public Radio. So taken by the poem, I pulled over when it was safe to jot down the name of the poem and its author. Poetry can truly move us, if we open our ears to just listen.

The speaker in the poem is a night shift cleaner, a custodian. Maybe my initial draw came from the fact that my dad’s final job was as a custodian. Custodians, to some, are invisible and undeserving of a “hello” or, God–forbid, a “thank you” as they empty someone’s trash. The poet accurately depicts the multifaceted, multitasking capacity of a person who earns her keep by picking up the detritus of others.

The poem depicts her meanderings and musings while working. She is, presumably, cleaning the offices of white–collared, professionals with 9–5 hours, 401Ks and private piano lessons for their children.

I can just imagine her pushing her cart loaded with Clorox and Comet or running a Kenmore vacuum as her mind wanders from making biscuits in her kitchen, to her church, to her southern roots.

I like the simple eloquence of her voice as in, “I don’t worry, just do the work,” and her Southern–infused semantics and reference to muscadine grapes which grow wild in the American South. She clues us in on her recipe for biscuits by referencing her biscuit cutter made from an old Pet Milk can. My mom uses Pet Milk evaporated milk when she makes pierogi, Polish dumplings.

The physical setting is an office building at night. Lights are dimmed. Phones are silent. Baskets wait to be emptied, overflowing with the remnants of the work–a–day life—scraps of paper, apple cores and emptied soda cans—unless this office has a recycling and composting program.

The social setting is one of class distinction: blue collar vs. white collar, 9–5 vs. the Dead Man’s Shift, salaried vs. hourly, educated vs. limited education.

The speaker seems at peace with the world and her place in it—albeit a lower social station. Her job allows her the pleasures of daydreams, which take her to some of her favorite places—her kitchen, church and among wild muscadine grapes.

The poem is a concentrated collection of evocative words, chock full of visual, auditory and tactile references. The poet’s use of these sensory images is subtle; she does not hit you over the head with the “snap, crackle, pop” of onomatopoeia.

This poem reads easily. Its diction is informal, representing a conversational tone.

I love the title for its simplicity and accessibility. Biscuits are easy to make and require basic ingredients—but they are very satisfying. This poem starts with seemingly simple words. When blended together, these words deliver a deeply satisfying experience.

April is National Poetry Month. It’s a gentle reminder to revisit a beloved poem or explore poetry with fresh eyes, ears and imaginations. Happy reading.

Source: Schnedberg, Willa. In the Margins of the World. Austin: Plain View Press, 2001.

Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston. Reader comments are welcome at Editor@willistonobserver.com or LittleDetailsCol@yahoo.com


Letters to the Editor

Bakery owner thanks Maddie

Dear Maddie,

Thank you for your kind and positive memories of Kovals in the Williston Observer (“Add a family–owned bakery,” April 4). We at Kovals served Williston and many of the other communities with joy one month shy of 20 years.

Thank you Williston for giving our family that opportunity.

Oh! Maddie, we saved many of our recipes. If you ever want to bake your favorite chocolate frosted “rings” with fancy shots give me a call!

Marge Koval



Thoughts on proposed school calendar changes 

I am writing in response to the proposal for a change in the school calendar (“New school calendar could mean longer year, more breaks” April 18, 2013). My primary reason I would be against it at this time is our Vermont weather! Our summers are very short. I love the fact that our children can spend time outside just playing! We also travel out of state frequently in the summer to see family, as we don’t have to worry about snowstorms and unsafe travel conditions. I do not need my children having a week off in October or two weeks off in February. Not everyone can go away in the fall and winter for an extended vacation. It is less likely in the late fall and winter that we would have desirable weather conditions. It is easier in the summer to find affordable outdoor activities…think biking, hiking and playing catch. Yes, those who can will be able to ski more. Sledding…maybe a couple of hours at best. Even this April week with cooler than wanted temps, I may be planning some indoor activities while I juggle work and keeping the kids engaged. I plan on attending the community forums and promise to listen with an open mind.

If Williston was located in Arizona, like the area Ms. Pinckney visited, I might feel differently.

Julie Watson


GUEST COLUMN: School Board asks residents to support school budget

By the Williston School Board

Please support the Williston School District and vote “yes” on the 2013–2014 budget. This is our second attempt at passing a budget that provides sufficient funding to maintain the quality education that our community expects.

The revised budget of $17,253,639 represents a 3.8 percent increase from the previous year. This is a significant reduction from the budget previously put forth to the community on Town Meeting Day. The previous budget represented a 5.09 percent increase. The Williston School District is able to make these cuts in the amount of approximately $215,000.00 without reducing the teaching staff or programs.

These cuts come from two primary sources. First, after hearing from our constituents, the Williston School Board decided to eliminate the 1–to–1 iPad initiative. Second, the revised budget reflects a reduction in budgeted health care costs. Health care costs will increase by 10 percent, instead of the projected 14 percent reflected in the previous budget.

The school board and administration worked hard in the face of a number of challenges to create this budget. One of the main challenges is that many of the expenses driving the school budget continue to increase despite declining enrollment. Fuel for school buses increased by 8 percent, wage increases for faculty are mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, and health care costs are still up a significant 10 percent. Meanwhile, funding from federal grants that provided a buffer for instructional support in the areas of literacy and math have diminished substantially.

Despite these challenges, the school budget maintains our children’s academic programs. Instructional supports for literacy and math curricula previously funded with federal grants will be continued. Other critical programs such as summer school and Connecting Youth mentoring will be preserved.

We are fortunate to have a school district that is focused on providing an excellent education for our community’s children. Teachers are dedicated, well trained, and effective in helping kids reach their full potential. Administrators have created a positive school climate to foster learning and growth for every student. And, one cannot say enough about the engaged parents and community members that support our schools.

The vote is scheduled for May 7, 2013. Voters may cast votes at any time between now and May 7 by stopping in Town Hall. With your support for the 2013–2014 school budget, we can maintain the quality education our community expects, which is an investment in our children and our future.

The Williston School Board includes Joshua Diamond, Kevin  Mara, Giovanna Boggero, Deb Baker–Moody and Kevin Brochu.


School budget revote to be drive–thru

Observer staff report

When residents turn up to vote on the second version of the Williston School District budget, they can do so from the comfort of their cars.

The Board of Civil Authority voted to conduct the budget revote as a drive–thru vote, Town Clerk Deb Beckett wrote in an email to the Observer.

Voting will still be held May 7 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters will enter at the Armory drive and exit by the police station. There will be three stops: first, to be checked off the checklist; second, to be handed a ballot, which voters fill out in their cars; finally, to drop the ballot in the box.

Beckett said there will also be a kiosk for anyone who wants to do a walk–in vote. The option of voting in the Armory will be kept open in case of bad weather.

Williston residents can vote anytime between now and May 7 by going to the Town Hall or requesting that a ballot be mailed to their home.

Senate likely to postpone lakeshore protection bill

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

A bill intended to improve water quality by limiting development and natural vegetation removal on Vermont’s shorelines will likely not move forward until next year.

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy considered the bill, passed in the Vermont House in early April, this week. Committee Vice Chair Sen. Diane Snelling of Hinesburg said the committee intends to organize a series of public meetings this summer to speak with landowners, residents and experts regarding shoreline protection options.

“My first goal is to get to clean water and have everyone participate,” Snelling said. “We are very far behind when it comes to shoreline protection.”

“I have always believed that when Vermonters know what the right thing is to do, they will do it,” she said.

Snelling said she has heard from many people that support the bill, but also from many landowners concerned that the bill would infringe on their property rights, and possibly affect their property values.

A mailing sent out to lakefront property owners by a group called Friends of Vermont Shorelines—which Snelling described as “an alarmist approach”—urged landowners to encourage their legislators to defeat the bill.

Attempts to reach a spokesperson for FVS wer unsuccessful as of press time.

Bill H.526 would require a permit from the Agency of Natural Resources for the construction of more than 500 square feet of new impervious surface within 250 feet of the shore. A permit would also be required for clearing an area larger than 500 square feet. The rules would not apply to existing structures.

Rep. Jim McCullough of Williston, who helped draft the bill, cited high phosphorus levels and other pollutants in Lake Champlain and some of Vermont’s 800-plus lakes and ponds as an impetus for the bill.

“This is about getting a handle on that by putting in practices that will, in a natural way, ameliorate those problems,” he said.

McCullough said the original bill started out stronger, but the House committee tried to reduce the impact on property owners after hearing from their constituents.

“There are very strong property rights feelings that I can understand, then there’s another group of people who have very strong beliefs that our state water quality is of tremendous value to the state of Vermont and needs to be protected,” he said.

Under H.526, The Agency of Natural Resources would have two years to develop rules governing the permits. The rules would not apply to towns that have their own lakeshore protection bylaws—towns also have two years to develop bylaws.

Snelling added it is definitely possible that the Senate would opt to make changes to the bill.

On Lake Iroquois, regulations on shoreline development vary. The portion of the lake in Williston requires a 150-foot setback on any new development, while Hinesburg requires a setback of 75 feet.

Planning Director Ken Belliveau said he did not think Williston’s regulations would meet the bill’s requirements, since they do not address vegetation or impervious surfaces. The towns of Williston and Hinesburg have begun looking into an overlay district to create consistency in regulations for the lake.

Among Lake Iroquois landowners, opinions are mixed.

Bob Pasco, president of the Lake Iroquois Association, testified in favor of the bill before the Senate committee recently.

Purely from a water quality standpoint, Pasco and the majority of the association board think the bill would help reduce pollution—though Pasco said the board does not unanimously support it.

“It’s not a strong bill … I think having a bill on the books at least backs up the kind of work that the state and lake organizations are trying to do to keep the water from becoming more polluted.”

Pasco was clear that the Lake Iroquois Association is not a homeowners association and is only concerned with the health of the lake. He said it’s understandable that property owners don’t want their rights infringed upon.

“Yet, the people who are promoting it feel that waterfront property is different in that if you don’t use best practices, you’ll affect everybody on that water body.”

Pasco said Vermont is the only New England state without a shoreline protection law on the books.

“We’re not protecting our water and consequently our lakes and ponds are not in as good a shape as they are in other northern New England states,” he said.

To read the full text of bill H.526, visit http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/House/H-526.pdf.

Williston writers bring burst of creativity

By Rachel Gill

Observer correspondent

A pink hippo, a Russian tortoise, six chocolate lab puppies and a woman determined to uncover secrets of her childhood are among the cast of characters brought to life by four local female authors whose new books do everything from inspire to educate.

Residents Karen Sturtevant and Bella Margi, former Williston teacher Justine O’Keefe and Williston business owner Helen Hipp have all recently published their first books. Their ties to Williston are not the only commonality. All four were inspired by impactful real–life experiences.

Hipp’s inspiration for “A Different Kind of Safari” came when she and her son, Raymond Chadwick, then 14, saw a pink hippo in the Mara River during an African safari in 2001.

Chadwick immediately named her Rosie, giving rise to the book’s character, Rosie the pink hippo. The book also stars a young boy named Raymond, inspired by Hipp’s son, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The story encourages readers to celebrate being different, following the pair on African safari adventures to explore a world free of labels.

“There are a lot of challenges and issues shared amongst children and adults around self–acceptance,” Hipp said. “It’s important to be reminded of that and to learn that for ourselves, so that was the wonderful opportunity that came out of this story.”

When they first saw the rare pink hippo, Hipp and Chadwick were in awe—but the hippo clearly was not popular.

“The hippo was being tolerated, but not necessarily accepted and that is such a huge piece that brought the story to the surface,” Hipp said. “The hippo’s pigmentation was the only difference, not her size or anything else, but to us she was Rosie, big and beautiful…. That pink hippo made me wonder, ‘why should everyone be the same when there are so many different kinds of different?’”

Chadwick, now 27, is living a happy, healthy and independent life.


Helen Hipp


“Rosie and my son’s life stories are so similar and to put their stories together helps people with self–acceptance issues,” Hipp said. “It’s really special that the story is written from a real–life experience to help us not make a diagnosis an identity, and that’s an issue that all of face at some point in our lives.”

Hipp, a psychotherapist, started WithinU Life Coaching in Williston in 2008. Her professional and personal experiences helped create this story.

“I am very proud of the work that created this book. Everyone involved I consider to be my safari family, they are great,” Hipp said. “I hope it gets people carried away on their own safari.”

For upcoming events and book locations, visit www.adifferentkindofsafari.com.


Getting creative with Gert, Stu and Zippy 


Karen Sturtevant


“The Adventures of Gert & Stu and Zippy Too!” by Williston resident Karen Sturtevant also encourages readers to get carried away by imagination. The story follows friends Gert, Stu and Zippy, a Russian tortoise, during make–believe trips using Gert’s adventure box. The three must get creative when a dragon eats the adventure box, leaving them to find a new way home.

“The story is about how a simple cardboard box can create such a wonderful opportunity for adventure,” Sturtevant said. “The story celebrates kids’ real sense of wonder and that with just that they can go anywhere and do anything.”

Local artist Susan Bahr of Underhill illustrated the book in vividly bright watercolor.

“I love how she made the words and the characters really come alive through her artwork,” Sturtevant said.

Although this is Sturtevant’s first book, she is no stranger to writing. Sturtevant is the editor–in–chief of Vermont Bride Magazine and a contributing writer to the magazine. In the mid 1990s, she taught preschoolers, whose imaginations inspired her book.

“During story time, we used to create our own stories and that inspired me to create the characters Gert and Stu,” Sturtevant said. “Then I thought how great it would be to introduce them to my pet tortoise, Zippy.”

Zippy still lives in Sturtevant’s home, alongside two pet guinea pigs.

After formulating her characters, Sturtevant had a goal to hold the book in her hands.

“I always wanted to write a book and it was finally time to cross it off the bucket list,” Sturtevant said.

To connect with the book’s characters, Sturtevant encourages kids to create their own adventure boxes.

“Whenever I go into classrooms for readings, I bring along my adventure box filled with everything you need to make your own adventure box—crayons, markers, stamps and ribbon—you can use anything,” Sturtevant said. “This really lets the kids get excited about using their imaginations.”

The book is available at Buttered Noodles and the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, among other places. Sturtevant is set to read from the book at the library on July 30. For more information, visit



Helping dogs with books 


Bella Margi will sell her book, ‘Home at Last,’ at the Williston Farmers Market this summer. Proceeds benefit dog rescue.

The youngest author of the pack is Bella Margi, an eighth grade student at Williston Central School, also inspired to write by a family pet.

In her book, “Home at Last,” Margi tells the story of a litter of six chocolate lab puppies and their mom, who need a home.

“It is about their journey to their forever home,” Margi said. “Once they are rescued into a foster home, they are all eventually adopted by different families.”

Margi’s family dog, Quinn, a 4–year–old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was her inspiration.

“My own dog was rescued by a dog rescue and I want to educate people about why you should adopt dogs and what happens and the process,” Margi said. “Reading and writing are both something I love to do so I thought those would be good ways to educate people.”

The book’s proceeds will be donated to Champlain Valley Canine Rescue, the organization that connected Quinn with the Margis.

Margi said readers get to come along on the journey, as the story is told through the puppies’ perspectives.

“They are excited they got rescued and on their way to the foster home they try to hang their heads out the car windows, but they end up being too short,” Margi said. “They even get to play outside and they had never been outside, so they are really excited about that.”

Margi also illustrated the book with colored pencils and undertook getting the book published.

“I reached different printing companies for the most cost–effective and I chose Smart Press,” Margi said. “It is really good to know that I am actually helping, and once all the proceeds are collected, they will help dogs be rescued and it would be cool to know I helped get that done.”

Margi’s mom agrees.

“She has done an amazing job.She thought of the concept last summer and followed through,” Nancy Margi said. “Now she is raising awareness to an issue that some people are not aware of and how the process works.”

“Home at Last” will be available this summer at the Williston Farmers Market or by emailing nmargi@comcast.net.

Finding family secrets


Justine O’Keefe


Justine O’Keefe’s inspiration for her historical novel “Scattered Pages” came from her grandmother.

“My grandmother was given to her grandparents when she was 5. ‘Given away’ is how she used to put it,” O’Keefe said. “My aunt had a basket of letters my grandmother and grandfather exchanged during courtship and that’s where I got that inspiration.”

“Scattered Pages” explores a young woman’s struggle to uncover the truth surrounding her childhood abandonment during World War I. Gemma Enman was taken to New Hampshire as a child, away from her family on Prince Edward Island, to be raised by her grandparents on their small farm in the White Mountains. Despite loving her grandparents, she wanted to find the truth about her parents.

“We were really on the cusp of great change at that time, a huge amount that took place in that period,” O’Keefe said.

Since 2010, O’Keefe has focused on her novel and other writing projects.

“It is really amazing and I have learned so much,” O’Keefe said. “When you decide to take on something like this, it is the most interesting and rewarding choice.”

O’Keefe is especially excited when readers identify with the story.

“To hear people’s responses to the book is great,” O’Keefe said. “Folks identify with the story because everyone has grandparents and if not, there is another aspect of the story they think about.”

Before tackling her book project, O’Keefe taught in Williston schools for 26 years and at Waitsfield Elementary School for seven years. Years of writing as a teacher polished her skill, but it was her retirement in 2005 that sparked her interest in writing a book.

“I wanted to find another interest that took me completely in another direction,” O’Keefe said. “You have to keep going even if you get older and find a creative outlet.”

O’Keefe said the rest is history.

“I made a pact with myself to try to write a first draft, without breaks. I sat down and something came to me,” she said.

“Scattered Pages” is available at Barnes & Noble and can be ordered by local bookstores by request.

Parker looks back on lengthy coaching career

Brad Parker

Brad Parker

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

A greatly improved game, a better appreciation of the true meaning of high school athletics and friendships that have lasted for years.

Those are some of the highlights of Brad Parker’s 27–year run as a girls’ soccer coach at Champlain Valley Union High, which came to end recently with his retirement. He will continue his full–time work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The coach is turning in his clipboard after two straight Vermont Division 1 championships. In 24 seasons as mentor of the varsity Redhawks, Parker saw his teams record 340 victories and 42 ties with only 45 defeats. There were 11 state crowns and 16 appearances in Division 1 title contests.

From the record he compiled, Parker could well be the Bear Bryant or Geno Auriemma of Vermont high school soccer.

Parker, in a recent sit–down interview, first wanted to thank his family.

“I never could have coached this long without their support and encouragement,” he said, adding that he has been married for 30 years and has a 23–year–old son and daughter, 21.

Parker bleeds Redhawk red. The Hinesburg native played soccer, hockey and tennis at CVU, then soccer for four years at the University of Vermont.

After graduating from UVM, Parker’s friend Jeff Goode was coaching the CVU girls varsity soccer program and when his junior varsity coach departed, Goode asked Parker if he would take the job.

“I said I would commit for one year,” Parker recalled. “I had some reservations. For instance, I wondered if girls would listen. I found out that 99 percent do.”

Parker said that he liked the job and committed for another season. When Goode then left, Parker got the big job.

“That was when I really found my passion for coaching,” he said. “Some of those kids I coached for four years. I still hear from some of them and some now have kids of their own in grade school.”

How has the overall game changed since he began piloting soccer teams?

“It has improved tremendously,” said the coach. “The kids are more skilled. They have more practice opportunities and the clubs have been a positive influence. Kids with a passion for the sport can play year round.”

Parker said the personal maturing process from years of coaching was instructive.

“When you are a young coach, part of you thinks about your record and it’s ‘my players,’” he said. “As you go along, you start to look at the real purpose of sports and you think of it as ‘our team,’ which leads to a better understanding of what high school sports is all about.”

He said he developed an appreciation of the positive impacts sports experiences can have on team members and some of the life lessons to be learned.

Parker recalled one player a few years ago who, coming off two solid junior varsity seasons, had to be cut as a junior because she began tryouts unprepared for the pre–season drills.

“She was very disappointed. I suggested to her that next fall she come back in good shape and determined to play. She may be disappointed now, but she could do something about it,” he said.

The player did come back the following year and was not only ready to play, but became one of Parker’s top performers, even gaining an all–state mention after being in every game.

The coach agrees with those who opine that effective coaching is more good management of people than tactics and strategy, even though those have their place.

“I have always been close to the players,” he said. “I try to become a small part of their lives so I can be a positive influence in the little time I have with them.”

He cited the “vital importance” of good team chemistry and how all 22 members of the roster have roles to play.

A Parkerism for a life lesson is: “Be noticed for the right reasons.”

He added, “The smart ones take that to heart.”

At CVU the players have been smart and dedicated, as the results have shown.

Locals ‘Get Moving for Boston’

Runners from northern Vermont gathered Saturday afternoon for a fundraising run to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Runners from northern Vermont gathered Saturday afternoon for a fundraising run to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. (Observer photo by Stephen Mease)

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Ryan Polly finished his first marathon 250 miles from where he started it, surrounded by hundreds of local runners to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

The Williston resident—whose experience in the Boston marathon ended in turmoil after bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 250—organized Get Moving For Boston, a benefit walk/run on the chilly Burlington waterfront Saturday.

Nearly 700 people joined Polly—in Burlington or virtually from across the country and as far away as the Philippines—raising $10,300. Since then, the number has climbed to nearly $14,000. The money is going to the Massachusetts General Hospital Emergency Fund for bombing victims treated there, as well as the One Fund, established to raise money for the victim’s families and continuing treatment costs.

Polly said the atmosphere at Saturday’s run was “overwhelmingly positive.” About a dozen other Boston marathon runners joined Polly, sharing a moment of silence before the run began.

“It was a really good high and I think exactly what we were hoping it could be,” he said. “People were clearly coming together as a community to help another community.”

Polly organized the run in an “incredibly impulsive moment,” he said, after returning from Boston.

“I was really sort of disturbed by everything I saw,” Polly said. “I felt really helpless and like I needed to do something.”

Within 24 hours of posting a website, Richard Vaughn of local race Zombie Run contacted him, providing logistical help. People began signing up to participate almost immediately.

“Really for me it was about proving to myself that I’m not going to allow what happened to impact me,” he said. “It turned into, ‘what can we do to help those who weren’t as lucky as I was.’”

Williston resident Rick Blount and his wife, Lesli, took part in the event.

“Everyone just wanted to do something,” Blount said. “I wouldn’t say it was a celebration, because it wasn’t, and people were very aware of the emotion of it, but I’d say maybe it was defiant.”

Blount, a lifelong runner, said he was motivated to join after someone in his biking group shared a simple but powerful sentiment.

“What he said was, ‘my kids are grown but I have two young grandkids, and sometimes I take them to sporting events.’ That was such a powerful thing to think about,” Blount said. “We all have our connections to it.”

Ryan Polly (Observer photo by Stephen

Ryan Polly, organizer of the Get Moving for Boston fundraising run, thanks the approximately 700 people who attended and the supporters of the run. (Observer photo by Stephen Mease)


Polly said he was nearing the finish line when he heard what he later learned were bombs detonating.

“I heard these sounds in the distance, one right after the other,” he said. “I thought it was a car backfiring or fireworks.”

Polly kept going until he was about 3/4 of a mile away from the finish, then “all hell broke loose.”

“It was just massive panic,” he said. “We didn’t know what to do. People kept running and were being physically pulled off the course, people dropped to the ground, everyone got on their phones trying to call their families.”

Polly began desperately trying to call his wife, Kel, who was supposed to watch him cross the finish line with their 21-month-old daughter, Emma.

He borrowed several different phones, but only heard what he called “deafening silence” on the line. Finally, he saw a woman who had managed to get through to someone. He glued himself to her side until she finished her conversation, then asked to use her phone. When his call didn’t go through, he finally lost it.

“I broke down and got really emotional,” he said. “She said ‘We’re going to keep trying until it works.’”

Polly finally got through to his wife after several tries.

“Once I heard my wife’s voice and she heard mine and both of us realized we were OK… we both said ‘get the heck out of there,’” he said.

On the long car ride back to Williston, the Pollys were consumed with “what ifs.”

“What if Kel hadn’t gotten stuck on the subway? What if I hadn’t had a rock in my shoe?” he said.

Polly said Bostonians were an amazing help, providing food, warm clothing, water and bathrooms immediately.

“Within five minutes of realizing something bad had happened, the people in Boston were helping,” he said.

Polly started running in 2011 to improve his health, and though he wasn’t enthusiastic at first, he is a fully converted runner now, running six days a week.

“It’s less about my health and now it’s really about my wellbeing,” he said. “If I don’t get out for a run, I can turn into a real jerk.”

Polly is signed up for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon in May, which he said he still plans to participate in.

After the whirlwind of organizing Saturday’s run and being invited to throw the first pitch at Fenway Park Sunday, it was back to the real world Monday and onto the long process of healing.

“I think it’s going to take time to be completely over it,” he said of the events in Boston. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be over what happened there.”

For more information, to donate or to post photos of your run, visit getmovingforboston.webs.com.


By Kim Dannies

As we jump full force into spring cleanup projects, it’s wise to remember that there will be a rogue day or two when it is still bone-cracking-cold outside. Despite our bodies’ attempt to transition to lighter foods, these are the days that we still crave warmth and sustenance. Be prepared for this culinary contradiction, and I promise that you will be richly rewarded.

I like to keep something at the ready that involves melted gooey cheese; that usually does the trick for me. Think grilled panini or a quick flatbread pizza with a side bowl of steaming soup. The good news is that it’s possible to enjoy these hearty foods with a lighter, healthier twist.

For example, try a bacon and bleu cheese flatbread. By choosing flavorful turkey bacon and a small amount of pungent cheese, you’ll enjoy lean protein and satisfying flavor with minimal calories. Choose store-bought whole wheat; knead 1 teaspoon of cornmeal into the dough as you prep it. Roll it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Top the dough with five strips of turkey bacon, sprinkle 4 ounces of crumbled bleu cheese. (Prep this before you set out to do chores for a few hours). About 20 minutes before the hunger-pains hit, heat oven to 425. Bake flatbread at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. While the flatbread cooks, toss a generous handful of fresh arugula with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the flatbread is ready, top the surface with the greens, cut into six portions; serve immediately.

A good grilled sandwich, like turkey cheddar avocado panini, requires decent equipment. I love my Cuisinart “griddler gourmet” because there is no prepping of the bread with extra calories, like butter or oil. In just minutes, it toasts the outside to a perfect golden crunch as it melts the gooey cheese. Choose a square-shaped whole-wheat roll designed for panini. Slice open the roll and add a thick slice of turkey breast, a slice of cheddar, and a little ripe avocado. Prep the panini early, set in fridge covered in plastic, and 20 minutes before break time, heat up the griddler. You’ll be transitioned to nirvana before you know it.


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. Archived Everyday Gourmet columns are at kimdannies.com. Kim@kimdannies.com.


Hub Happenings

Local companies recognized for workplace safety 

Six Vermont employers—including three from Williston—were recognized for a strong commitment to effective workplace safety at the Annual Vermont Workplace Safety Conference held last week in South Burlington. The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Workplace Safety is the highest honor given by the state to recognize an employer’s commitment to workplace safety and health.

Williston businesses Asten Johnson and Cardno ATC, as well as Chittenden Solid Waste District were honored. Bio Tek Instruments of Winooski, Nor-Dic Farm of Panton and Hayward Tyler of Colchester also received awards.


New faces at AllEarth Renewables

AllEarth Renewables announced the recent hiring of Jack Nichol as an electronics technician and George Shelley as a programmer.

Nichol, of Burlington, is a former U.S. Marine who served as an avionics technician during two tours of duty in Iraq. He comes to AllEarth from UTC Aerospace Systems.

Shelley, also of Burlington, worked as a software engineer for electronic healthcare records at AllScripts of South Burlington. Before that, Shelley was a software engineer with IBM in Essex.


NEFCU promotes Reichard, elects board members 

New England Federal Credit Union recently promoted Cindy Reichard to the position of mortgage loan officer. Reichard, a South Burlington resident, has been with NEFCU for 20 years.

“I’m extremely excited about taking on the challenges of my new position,” Reichard said.

NEFCU also announced the election of three members to its board of directors. Returning member Charles DesLauriers has served on the NEFCU board since 2002. New board member Robert Letovsky is a faculty member at Saint Michael’s College, where he chairs the Department of Business Administration and Accounting. Ruth Uphold was the medical director at Fletcher Allen Health Care’s Emergency Department from1981-2006.


Champlain college president retiring

Champlain College President David F. Finney announced earlier this month that he will retire next year.

“It has been the professional privilege of my life,” Finney said, “to serve Champlain for nearly a decade. It has been remarkable to witness the changes that have occurred and I am very thankful to have been a part of it all.”

Finney, who has been president for eight years, will retire on June 30, 2014. The search firm Storbeck Pimentel has been hired to assist the college in its search for Finney’s successor.


Ribbon cutting for new Williston business

New Williston business Vermont Custom Closets held a ribbon cutting earlier this month. The business offers “vignettes” highlighting different spaces within the home, from master bedroom closets to a cubby space for the family dog. Vermont Custom Closets shares a showroom space with Otter Creek Awnings & Sunrooms on Echo Place.


VSAC has new CEO 

Scott Giles, vice president of Vermont Student Assistance Corporation since joining the organization in 2003, has been chosen to succeed longtime president and CEO Don Vickers. Giles will take the reins on July 1, when Vickers retires after 42 years with the organization.

“Scott is committed to Vermont and VSAC’s values. Under his leadership, we believe VSAC will become an even stronger catalyst and support system than it is today for Vermonters seeking education and training beyond high school,” said Dorothy Mitchell, chair of the VSAC Board of Directors.


McHenry honored 

Barb McHenry of PrimeLending’s Williston office was recently listed in Mortgage Executive Magazine as one of the nation’s top 1 percent mortgage originators for the second year in a row.


Green Mountain Water Environment Association names executive director

The Green Mountain Water Environment Association recently announced that Mary Ellen Parkman has been named executive director.

“We are very pleased to announce that Mary Ellen has agreed to fill this important role,” said Bob Fischer, president of the GMWEA. “With almost 15 years in the industry, extensive wastewater treatment plant design experience, and Board of Director experience within the organization, we couldn’t ask for more.”


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont ‘best place to work’

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont was recently named one of the 2013 Best Places to Work in Vermont, winning the top spot among large companies.

The annual list was created by Vermont Business Magazine, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Department of Economic Development, the Vermont Department of Labor, the Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group. “This is a tremendous tribute and recognition for all of our employees,” Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont CEO Don George said.


Vermont energy efficiency programs win national recognition

Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems won national recognition last week for five energy efficiency programs, selected from a national pool by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

“Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems are delivering energy savings that are critical in helping customers reduce their energy costs,” said ACEEE Utilities Program director Dan York. “Plus they make an important environmental contribution by reducing pollution from the use of fossil fuels.”


 Vermont unemployment rate 4.4 % in February 

The Vermont Department of Labor announced March 29 that the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for February was 4.4 percent, compared to the national average of 7.7 percent. This represents a decline of three-tenths of a percent from the prior month’s estimate of 4.7 percent. February was the seventh consecutive month without an increase to the unemployment rate in Vermont.


Vermont Mutual donates to Vermont Foodbank

Employees of Vermont Mutual Insurance Group recently made a trip to the Vermont Foodbank, spending the afternoon working in its warehouse and presenting the Foodbank with a $7,500 donation.

“Vermont Mutual has been taking action against hunger in Vermont for more than 10 years now. They are a leader in the fight against hunger in our state,” said John Sayles, chief executive officer of the Vermont Foodbank.


Firm announces directors and shareholders

Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C. recently announce that Nicole Andreson and David Gurtman have been elected as directors and shareholders of the firm.

Andreson joined the firm in 2007, focusing on the representation of physicians and hospitals in professional malpractice and licensing actions. Gurtman joined the firm in 2006, practicing in the areas of business transactions, non-profit organizations and commercial real estate.


Merchants Bank opens new branch

Merchants Bank held an official ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration at its new South Burlington location on the corner of Williston Road and Hinesburg Road.

Champ, the Lake Monsters’ mascot, made a guest appearance to greet customers while bank staff provided guided tours and shared information about the new branch design and awarded prizes from local businesses.


SymQuest hires Fundis 

SymQuest Group recently announced the hiring of Mark W. Fundis as a shop technician.

Fundis is responsible for new and used multi-functional output products, including printers and faxes, and trouble-shooting and reconditioning used equipment for rental and resale.