April 25, 2019


A slew of Champlain Valley Union High School track and field athletes qualified for the New England meet during the Essex Invitational meet on May 28. (Observer courtesy photos by Glenn Fay Jr.)






PHOTOS Memorial Day flag placing

Boy Scouts from Troop 692 placed flags at veterans’ graves on cold and rainy Saturday over Memorial Day Weekend. The scouts place flags on veterans’ graves at all four Williston cemeteries every year. (Observer courtesy photos by Dave Schmidt, www.daveschmidtphoto.com)





Photo by Max Ryan

Photo by Max Ryan

POPCORN: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ What an Enterprise


By Michael S. Goldberger

 Intent on having the first word and setting the tone of the post film musings when exiting J.J. Abrams’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” a 132 minute, colorfully amusing assault on the senses, I remarked to my wife Joanne, “Boy, they sure give you your money’s worth.” Translation: It’s huge and decadently excessive, but there’ll be no Pulitzer for writing.


Then, I ventured a zany analogy only an indulgent spouse would let pass. Maybe because my mind was switching its interest to food, I pontificated that both filmmaker Abrams and deli owner Harold Jaffe (of Harold’s N.Y. Deli in Edison, N.J.) happened upon ingenious business plans in their respective fields. In the latter case, the word is big.


The signature offering wowing ‘em at Harold’s for years, a giant pastrami sandwich now weighing in at $22.45, essentially represents two sales. Sure, while some lovebirds may share one, I speculate that most folks are only eating half and taking the other half home. Voila, they’ve bought two, good-sized meals. Don’t tell anyone I eat the whole thing.


The Abrams plan represents a different sort of savvy. Following the ten Star Trek films that logically evolved from franchise creator Gene Roddenberry’s 1960s TV series, the old gang was, uh,  getting old. Surely nostalgia has its place, but it’s doubtful audiences were eager to follow them to their adventures in assisted living. So, enter Ponce de León.


With a few sprinkles from the Fountain of Youth, we are jettisoned back to the future, to when the largely likable, always heroic crew of the Starship Enterprise were young, well-scrubbed and, adding to the entertainment, still a little wet behind the ears. Welcome to the prequel, Filmdom’s answer to Hamburger Helper®. There’s just one problem.


It comes into play in this 12th big screen episode. Heroes and villains, by rights of a destiny now guaranteed them, attain a super status in that they can’t die….not yet. Hence, when it looks like an overly irradiated Kirk hath dived too deep into the breach to save his crew from destruction, we know there’s a comic-book style caveat in the offing.


However, a kaleidoscopic panoply of special effects delivered for two hours with the intensity of the last minute of a 4th of July fireworks celebration, and available for extra $$$ in just OK post-production 3-D if you choose, goes a long way to making you toss out reason. Likewise, an unnecessarily convoluted plot works to divert common sense.


Still, despite liberties taken and an obvious commercial thrust aimed at attracting the largest, 13-25-year-old audience in the universe, a web survey of card-carrying Trekkies concurs the film passes orthodox muster. I wouldn’t know, but I can vouch the pastrami at Harold’s, mustard or not, is almost as good as the stuff served at N.Y.’s Carnegie Deli.


Of course none of that would matter to this young, thin and fit crew of explorers who doubtlessly feed on some space age version of Soylent Green. They’re far too busy either saving humanity or pondering friendship, duty, honor and philosophies related to world- saving to take time out for a snack, let alone indulge in a fat serving of smoked bovine.


Bright eyed and bushytailed, the best the Starfleet has to offer, they’ve got their work cut out for them in the persona of John Harrison, a rogue agent who destroys the London office and is in actuality the notorious Khan. Not to alarm you, but this dude has been voted one of the ten greatest film villains of all time by the Online Film Critics Society.


What’s scariest about the scourge is that like the current crop of real-life terrorists threatening our way of life, we’re not exactly sure what he wants. Other than the usual litany of goals like world domination and frightening the bejesus out of everybody who doesn’t believe what he believes, odds are he really doesn’t know what he wants.


It’s perhaps telling how dysfunction, of late a cause celebre in our social consciousness, has been personified in the shape of our fictional antagonists. In this case, harboring a grudge related to some past perceived wrong, Khan’s entire group of genetically engineered, superhuman cohorts, frozen in torpedo capsules, awaits his call to vanquish.


Ah, but we have youth. It’s fun seeing the way they were, even if the genesis of the Kirk-Spock, right-left brain debate gets a bit much. But what a bargain at over 2 hours. Oh, I’d prefer a great plot to the techno schmaltz. Which, might I suggest, should be a first course for rumination if discussing “Star Trek into Darkness” over that big, post film sandwich.

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” rated PG-13, is a Paramount Pictures release directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch. Running time:  132 minutes




EVERYDAY GOURMET: Humble crumble pie

By Kim Dannies

For happy people, the word “problem” is rarely part of the vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task or a dare. In other words, it’s not what happens, it is how we interpret what happens. How does this relate to cooking? Read on.

I decided to treat my pals to a simple fruit crostata. I have made this crust a hundred times—no brainer. But, when I rolled out the dough, something was funky—too hard and dry. Pressed for time, I turned to plan ‘B’ and coaxed the naughty stuff into a baking dish. I filled it with fresh cherries, rhubarb and strawberries and baked it open-faced. When I pulled it from the oven, the pie was U-G-L-Y! Humbled, I moved on to plan ‘C’ (for Crumble). Butter, sugar, flour, oats and another 15 minutes bake time did the trick, and the maple-glazed walnuts didn’t hurt, either.

It takes guts and good ingredients to turn a disaster into something tasty, so whenever you face a cooking obstacle, try seeing at it as a challenge. I was humbled until some simple crumble (and really good maple ice cream) saved my day.


Humble Crumble Pie

When moderation won’t do, this is the dessert for you


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse together 3.5 cups white pastry flour and 1 stick Crisco. Add a pinch of salt and just enough water to form the dough. Wrap in plastic and chill. Coat 2 cups of walnuts with 1/2 cup maple syrup; bake on a covered cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle nuts with a bit of sea salt.

Pit 2 cups fresh cherries; dice 3 cups fresh rhubarb and strawberries each. Combine fruit in a prep bowl; toss with two egg yolks and 1/2 cup cornstarch and sugar each.

Press dough into a 14 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish (up the sides). Add fruit and bake 45 minutes.

In a mini-processor, pulse 4 ounces of cold butter with 1/2 cup sugar and flour each; combine this with 2 cups oats to make the crumble. Top pie with crumble and some walnuts; bake 15-20 minutes.


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

State meet, New Englands next for CVU track and field


A slew of Champlain Valley Union High track and field athletes are heading to the New England meet after qualifying at the Essex Invitational on Tuesday. The meet was set for May 25, but driving rains and soggy conditions led it to be postponed until Tuesday.

On Saturday, the team will head to the State Championship meet, set for 9 a.m. in Burlington.

The top six athletes in each event qualify for the New England meet, set for June 8. CVU will be represented in a total 17 events.

On the girls side, speedy Haliana Burhans won the 200 meter dash and took second in the 100 meter race. Autumn Eastman won the 1,500 meter run and came in fourth in the 800 meter distance. Taylor Spillane and Julienne Devita both qualified for the 3,000 meter event, finishing second and third, respectively.

Eliza Giles will head to the New England meet after taking fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. Abigail Eddy qualified with a sixth place high jump finish. Emily Geske was second in the pole vault, and Brianna Hake second in the javelin.

On the boys side, Roshi Brooklyn was fourth in both the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. Jared Keyes was sixth in the 800 meter run. Brian Boisjoli was second in the pole vault, and Oren Klempner sixth.

CVU will have a strong relay presence at the New England meet.

The powerhouse girls 4×800 meter relay team—Devita, Eastman, Rachel Slimovitch and Spillane—handily won the event. The girls 4×100 meter relay team—Burhans, Katie Arms, Eddy and Abbey Norris—took third.

The boys 4×800 meter team of Zach Marshal, Sean Delaney, Keyes, and Sam Logenbach also clinched a victory, cruising to first place by more than 6.5 seconds.

The boys 4×400 meter relay team—Keyes, Brooklyn, Sam Longenbach and David Keyes—is also headed to the New England meet, finishing fifth in Essex.

—Stephanie Choate, Observer staff

Williston’s Ro nets fourth straight boys title


By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

You have to go back to 2009 to find a Vermont high school boys tennis championship belonging to someone other than David Ro of Williston, a senior at Essex High.

Ro earned the title for a record-setting fourth straight year Sunday, defeating Cody Yu of South Burlington High, 6-1, 6-0, at Fitness Edge indoor courts in South Burlington.

Going into the match, Ro shared a record of three titles with Middlebury Union High’s Alex Davydov, who ruled in 1996 through 1998.

In becoming the first competitor to win four championships, the lanky six-foot-plus Ro has dominated Vermont boys’ high school tennis in a way possibly never seen before. In those four years of in-state play, Ro has never lost a set. Not once.

In an interview with the Observer Monday, Ro admitted he felt some pressure prior to the title match but once the ball was in play it was game on.

A more difficult match came in the semifinals when he bumped off younger brother Daniel 6-0, 6-3. Daniel, an Essex High sophomore, was seeded fifth despite making the championship match a year ago.

“I didn’t like it,” David Ro said of the semifinal pairing against his brother. “I wish we had been on opposite sides.”

However, next spring when David is at Dartmouth College, Daniel will be going for the individual honors once again.

“He has a very good chance for the title next year,” David predicted.

While he had little trouble winning on the indoor court, David Ro said he prefers to play outdoors. He said the strongest part of his game is his serve.

But not by tennis alone does David Ro rule a competitive endeavor. He is also the reigning Vermont high school chess champion.

PLACES I’VE PLAYED: For family, friends and freedom, I thank you

Uncle WWI Cecile Gratton 337th Bakery Company,  Burlington

Cecile Gratton
337th Bakery Company,

Friend Korean War Carlisle ‘Mike’ Coates 45th Infantry, 180th Division, Williston

Korean War
Carlisle ‘Mike’ Coates
45th Infantry, 180th Division, Williston

Great Grandfather Civil War Orange A. Baldwin 1st Vermont Cavalry,  Company C, Hinesburgh

Great Grandfather
Civil War
Orange A. Baldwin
1st Vermont Cavalry,
Company C, Hinesburgh

Uncle WWII Paul Austin U.S. Army, Burlington

Paul Austin
U.S. Army, Burlington

By Bill Skiff

This Memorial Day as I sat on my porch I realized how fortunate I am to be living in Vermont. As I sat there safe and free, my thoughts turned to my many family members and friends who had made timely sacrifices to make that feeling possible.

GUEST COLUMN: 3SquaresVT cuts would harm struggling Vermonters

By Angela Smith-Dieng


At the May 20 meeting of the Hunger Council of Chittenden County, community leaders from across the county gathered to learn about the state of the emergency food system in the county and efforts to decrease hunger. Leaders of food shelves, including those in Burlington, Winooski, Westford and Williston, shared the diversity of challenges they face in meeting the needs of the many families who come to them for food. Community support of food shelves is strong, but food shelves are still unable to provide as much food as they would like to families, and many advocates worry that the demand at food shelves would drastically increase if the Farm Bill being considered in the House of Representatives passes.

The Farm Bill is the primary legislation that authorizes agricultural and food policy in the country. While it includes a variety of agricultural and conservation programs, the bulk of Farm Bill funding supports one program—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in Vermont as 3SquaresVT.  The Senate version of the bill that may pass very soon (as it is being debated as I write this) contains $4 billion in cuts to SNAP over ten years. These cuts would not likely have an immediate or severe impact in Vermont. However, the version proposed by the House Agriculture
Committee includes $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts over ten years. The House bill would have a serious impact in Vermont as thousands of current participants would become ineligible and thousands more would see a major decrease in benefits. In turn, Vermont would likely see hunger rise in our communities and lines at food shelves get longer.

Already one in seven Vermonters, including one in five children, are considered food insecure, meaning they do not have consistent access to enough food to meet their needs. SNAP, or 3SquaresVT, is the country’s first line of defense against hunger, and the only program that puts money directly into the hands of hungry households to increase their food purchasing power at grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

There are a number of additional nutrition safety net programs that serve particular populations (i.e. school meals, child care meals, meals on wheels, etc.), but SNAP is the program that serves all ages, from birth to death. The vast majority of SNAP households are very poor—the average income is about $6,600 a year for one person or $13,600 a year for a family of four, well below the poverty line. And the vast majority of benefits go to households that include children, elders and people with disabilities.

A wealth of research shows that SNAP decreases food insecurity, alleviates poverty and improves health and education outcomes over time. Yet, despite this proven track record, it remains the program most targeted for cuts in the House Farm Bill. Critics of the program say that program costs have grown too much since the recession. However, the program is predicted to decrease in participation over the next five years as the economy improves and fewer people need the help. Thus, program costs will also decrease, without the need for added cuts.

At Hunger Free Vermont, we are working hard to improve. It is critical that we support all aspects of the nutrition safety net in our local communities—from food shelves to summer meal programs for children—to ensure that children, families and seniors have good nutrition no matter where they are in their day. The fact is that food shelves would not be able to feed all the SNAP participants who would lose benefits if the House bill were to pass. Therefore, it is also critical that we support a strong Farm Bill that protects and strengthens SNAP on behalf of the 100,000-plus Vermonters who depend on its benefits to put food on the table. Hunger Free Vermont, a statewide organization working to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters, is doing this advocacy, but we need more voices to share the message. You can help!  Call your legislators and tell them we need a strong Farm Bill that protects 3SquaresVT for hungry Vermonters. Learn more about Hunger Free Vermont’s efforts to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters at www.hungerfreevt.org.

Angela Smith-Dieng is the 3SquaresVT advocacy manager at Hunger Free Vermont and staff member of the Hunger Council of Chittenden County, an initiative to reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the area. She can be reached at asmith-dieng@hungerfreevt.org.   

Storms affect town

Observer staff report

Record-setting rainstorms last week have kept Williston police and public works crews busy. Public Works Director Bruce Hoar said his department is still stabilizing roads after heavy rain last Wednesday and Thursday washed out culverts and flooded roadways.

Hoar said Redmond Road lost two driveway culverts and suffered erosion damage in ditches, while River Cove Road flooding caused an “extensive washout and flooded a home,” Hoar said. Hurricane Lane also sustained some damage, he said.

Williston police reported that last Thursday’s heavy rain caused flooding on Mountain View Road between Paya’s Auto and Katie Lane, as well as flooding and debris on St. George Road.

Police responding to a 10 p.m. report of flooding on Mountain View Road said Paya’s Auto was “completely under water to the tops of the cars in the lot,” and the owner was notified so the cars could be moved. Hoar said it was dark, but it appeared that “the water was halfway up the cars closest to the road.” A Paya’s employee declined to comment when contacted by the Observer.

Police also responded to reports of flooding on St. George Road at approximately 9:20 p.m. near Walker Hill Road and discovered the “southbound lane was inundated by water and that 6-10 (inch) rocks were covering the roadway in both lanes making a serious traffic hazard,” according to police reports. The road was closed while town and state highway crews removed the rocks.

According to National Weather Service data for the Burlington airport—the closest observation point to Williston—the area received 6.51 inches of rain from May 22-26, including a heavy 2.26 inches on May 23. Hoar’s research on the NOAA website showed that the May 22 storm produced a record-setting 1.43 inches of rain. He also noted that on May 23, 1.26 inches of rain fell in less than an hour. “You can’t design for that,” Hoar said.

A FEMA crew was dispatched to survey the damage countywide. Hoar is fairly confident that the damage will meet the $1 million mark, which he said is the point at which the federal government will provide the state with money for repair and rebuilding. For now, “we’re just trying to make things safe,” he said.

Four longtime CVU educators to retire

Champlain Valley Union High School teachers Patty Heather-Lea (left) and Cynthia Pasackow are retiring this year after decades of teaching at the high school. (Observer photo by Rachel Gill)

Champlain Valley Union High School teachers Patty Heather-Lea (left) and Cynthia Pasackow are retiring this year after decades of teaching at the high school. (Observer photo by Rachel Gill)

By Rachel Gill

Observer correspondent

Champlain Valley Union High School will bid a fond farewell to a combined 115 years of teaching as four longtime educators retire this June. For all four, retirement means saying goodbye to a school full of family.

Retiring this year are: Claudia Moore, school nurse for 24 years; Patricia Heather-Lea, mathematics teacher for 35 years; Gay Craig, science teacher for 22 years and intermittent Latin teacher; and Cynthia Pasackow, mathematics teacher for 34 years.

The school honored the four retirees during a party at Catamount Golf Club in Williston on May 23.

CVU teacher Norm McLure helped organize the event.

“There are two feelings. You feel sad because they will not be here to talk with and you feel happy for them because this is what they want to do,” McLure said.


Moore considers retirement to be bittersweet.

“There is a camaraderie here,” Moore said on May 24, as her voice quivered a bit. “This got me all choked up at the party last night because I think of school as family, the teachers and the kids.”

Being a mother of three and the school nurse was a perfect partnership.

“I always felt like my kids always helped me with my job at school and my school kids helped me with my job as a parent because you knew what all the kids were going through,” Moore said.

One of Moore’s cherished CVU memories is graduation challenge, a senior year student community service project.

“It’s a chance to see how gifted and talented the students are,” Moore said.

Moore was also involved in many student trips abroad.

“Chaperoning those trips has been very special. I got to go to France and Costa Rica,” Moore said. “The kids make you so proud. They are so respectful and thoughtful.”

Another favorite is student advisory. Teachers are assigned a handful of students to meet with daily for attendance and to check in about school and life.

“Having an in-depth relationship with a group of kids over four years is really special,” Moore said.

Moore started at CVU in 1989, after nursing positions with the Vermont Department of Health, the Veteran’s Association and the Winooski School District.

CVU was a bit different then.

“There were 740 kids, now there are 1,365 kids,” she said. “Then, I used to take the yearbook home and memorize all the kids’ names.”

Moore plans to keep busy after retirement, continuing to work part time at Fletcher Allen Health Care as a maternity nurse.

She also wants to spend more time with her family and might volunteer with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. Moore did similar work when she worked at the Vermont Department of Health.

“We helped families when they first came to the United States, so that’s always been a love of mine,” Moore said. “You see all these people come from different cultures and they do so well. I’m always just so amazed.”


Heather-Lea believes she was meant to teach.

“When I was a kid, when I played, I made fake lists of students so I think I always wanted to be a teacher,” Heather-Lea said. “Growing up, kids would come to me to ask for help with school work, so I’ve been doing some form or extension of teaching for a long time.”

From her first day in 1978, she knew CVU was a special place.

“When I step into the school, even way back then, I say, ‘this is a good place for kids,’” Heather-Lea said. “There’s just something special here, I’m grateful for that.”

The students made the job really stick.

“It’s a job and, two, it’s important work in the world,” Heather-Lea said. “It’s never boring and you get to touch kids lives and they touched my life so there’s not much in life better to do what I do.”

Connecting with kids pulls at Heather-Lea’s heartstrings.

“I get gushy about this,” Heather-Lea said. “It’s like a passage. You do what you do and put yourself out there in life for adolescents who are potentially going through emotional ups and downs to basically be an even-keeled and opened-hearted teacher.”

When it comes to what she will miss, Heather-Lea hopes to fill those holes in other ways.

“The things I will miss I hope to get from other places in life,” Heather-Lea said. “We teachers have to move on every year, graduates move on, and now I’m the one moving on… I’m sure I will be doing some crying when I’m packing up.”

Heather-Lea plans to give herself time to unwind.

“If anything, I hope I’m going to undo,” she said. “What happens with teaching or any intense job is school becomes a very busy place to be with all these elements to deal with so those busy hysterics, I won’t miss.”

Heather-Lea is looking forward to keeping it simple.

“I plan on doing Thai Chi, saying my prayers, I love to sing, maybe write more letters to the editor, I like to sew, and just being present with my husband, the simple things,” Heather-Lea said.

For Heather-Lea, life always offers new opportunities.

“Others things will unfold in your life, that would be my message to any high school student,” Heather-Lea said.

Heather-Lea is planning a nonalcoholic potluck and story sharing celebration for all present and past students June 22 from 5-7 p.m. at Holley Hall in Bristol. Attendees should bring their own plates and utensils.


Craig, who came to CVU in 1991, wanted to be a water quality researcher until she was bitten by the teaching bug. During her first few years at CVU, she continued doing lab research and made a discovery.

“I realized this is not nearly as much fun as teaching,” Craig said. “There is no profession more fun than teaching. We have fun every day… Could you imagine coming to a class every day with someone who is not having any fun?”

Craig does not call her next step retiring.

“I am what we call rebooting,” she said.

While Craig is stepping down from teaching, she plans to continue working with water quality in Vermont or Massachusetts.

“We may pull up stakes and move to the children and grandchild area in Boston,” Craig said. “My son said, ‘we have water in Massachusetts, Mom.’”

Craig taught water quality as part of the freshman core science curriculum, including an annual trip to Lewis Creek in Charlotte so students could practice water quality screening skills—one of her favorite parts of teaching.

“My favorite is kids swimming in Lewis Creek, really testing the water,” Craig said.

The students themselves are another favorite aspect.

“They are funny, fun and curious,” Craig said. “They are all little scientists—they just need a little direction as to what to investigate.”

The desire to learn is something Craig will miss in her colleagues as well.

“I think I will miss my colleagues because they, too, are always learning and are willing and able to do anything that will enhance the education of our students,” Craig said. “People that get hired here are just very curious lifelong learners.”

Corinna Hussey, a fellow freshman core teacher for the past 11 years, said Craig always reminds her why she is a teacher.

“She always reminds me to focus on the kids and to make sure the units I teach are interdisciplinary, which has helped me become a better teacher,” Hussey said.

Hussey said she looks at Craig as a mother figure.

“Teaching in a core makes people you work with a part of your family and Gay has become my school mom. She challenges me and support me. She’s all things in one,” Hussey said.


Pasackow said she has enjoyed every moment of teaching math in her 34 years at CVU.

“It’s great to work with kids in math,” Pasackow said. “Oftentimes kids don’t like math, but if you make it fun and a little humorous, it can make it better. I have a good sense of humor so my classes tend to be fun.”

Watching students learn is something Pasackow will miss.

“I will miss watching kids grow over the course of four years,” Pasackow said. “I teach tenth to twelfth grades, so to see them mature is special and I will miss the stimulation of teaching math.”

Pasackow said teaching calculus has been particularly rewarding.

“It’s such a rich course and the kids have to work really hard and it’s very rewarding to see them get so much out of the fact that something really hard can be mastered if you put the work in,” Pasackow said.

Pasackow has also enjoyed watching students’ talents outside the classroom.

“I have always enjoyed sports events. I’m a big sports person,” Pasackow said. “I’ve really enjoyed going to all the sports events at CVU over the years, as well as watching all the wonderful opportunities students have been given through the work of the drama department.”

As 34 years of teaching come to a close, Pasackow is looking forward to enjoying her retirement years.

“I consider it my endless summer,” Pasackow said. “I plan to start playing tennis three days a week and do some traveling.”

Pasackow said the idea to travel came from her girlfriends.

“My girlfriends who retired before me told me I had to plan a trip,” Pasackow said. “So my husband surprised me and planned a trip to Portugal.”

Exciting travel destinations aside, Pasackow said CVU has proven to be one of her favorite places.

“This is a great school to teach in, my colleagues are terrific, there is lots of support from the school and community,” Pasackow said. “It has always been a wonderful place to teach.”