July 28, 2014

Four longtime CVU educators to retire

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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.

CLAUDIA MOORE

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.”

PATRICIA HEATHER-LEA

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.

GAY CRAIG

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.

CYNTHIA PASACKOW

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.”

Wirsing, Byrne retire from Williston Central

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As a paraeducator, Wendy Byrne has spent eight years helping Williston Central School students grow. Observer photos by Rachel Gill)

As a paraeducator, Wendy Byrne has spent eight years helping Williston Central School students grow. Observer photos by Rachel Gill)

Among other things, retiring teacher Mary Jane Wirsing is known for bringing chicken eggs into the classroom every other year so students can watch them hatch. (Observer photos by Rachel Gill)

Among other things, retiring teacher Mary Jane Wirsing is known for bringing chicken eggs into the classroom every other year so students can watch them hatch. (Observer photos by Rachel Gill)

Wirsing, Byrne retire from Williston Central

By Rachel Gill

Observer correspondent

Retirement is just weeks away for two Williston Central School educators. Looking back, they were reminded it was the kids that got them hooked on teaching.

Mary Jane Wirsing, a third and fourth grade teacher for 21 years, and Wendy Byrne, a paraeducator for eight years, will retire in June. Byrne has worked in education for 29 years.

Also retiring this year are Bob Mitchell, an administrator from 1969-2002 and a paraeducator for 10 years after that, and Julie Longchamp, who has taught in Williston for 25 years. Look for a story on Mitchell and Longchamp in next week’s Observer.

Mary Jane Wirsing

Teaching taught Wirsing how to laugh every day.

“We do a lot of laughing,” Wirsing said. “If laughing is not part of your day then that’s pretty sad.”

Julie Rodgers, a kindergarten teacher at Allen Brook School who has worked with Wirsing for 21 years, considers Wirsing’s humor a useful tool.

“She could use humor to diffuse situations with children at risk, elevate the classroom climate, lighten the load in a room and make everyone’s day a whole lot brighter,” Rodgers said. “She was the master of infusing humor.”

Along with humor, Wirsing uses music as a teaching staple. Every year, she helps to create an educational musical with her fellow teachers.

Her love of music extends outside the classroom. Wirsing has played the organ at her local church for 30 years, directs the Grand Isle County Chorus and plays with Northern Bronze, a Vermont hand bell ensemble.

“She really is an inspiration to the profession!” Williston Central School Principal Jackie Parks wrote in an email to the Observer. “Professional, skilled, compassionate, witty, focused and humble are just a few words that come to mind when I think of MJ.”

When Wirsing told her students she was retiring, she asked if they knew what that meant and they all laughed.

“One kid said, ‘yeah it’s when you’re too old to work,’” Wirsing said.

The students decided Wirsing should just do another job at school.

“They told me I should come back and be the janitor and another said ‘no, she should be the bus driver. That way we can see her every day,’” Wirsing said.

Wirsing will also miss the relationships formed with her colleagues.

“The people I have worked with have always been fabulous, I can’t imagine teaching any place else,” Wirsing said. “It really has been a wonderful ride in terms of working with colleagues who are bright, dedicated and really committed to children.”

Wirsing is grateful for the community support for education.

“We have been lucky in Williston because we have the resources because the community has always supported the schools,” Wirsing said. “It’s a hugely challenging job. It’s because of that I feel like that I can retire and feel like I did something worthwhile.”

During retirement, she hopes to spend more time gardening and with her animals. Wirsing lives in South Hero with her husband, Dolf Wirsing.

WENDY BYRNE

Byrne works with individual students or small groups who need extra assistance with reading or math.

“I support those kids if the teachers are doing something with science or social studies to try and modify the material so it’s easier for them to understand,” Byrne said.

Byrne taught middle school language arts in New Hampshire before moving to Vermont eight years ago. After years as a classroom teacher, working as a paraeducator gave Byrne a new perspective.

“Sometimes a teacher doesn’t get the sense of seeing a child grow and change and improve. Because I am working with individual kids and small groups, I’m doing things where I can actually see changes and improvement.”

Parks said Byrne has been a valued asset at Williston Central.

“She is skilled, dedicated, caring, hard-working and organized,” Parks wrote of Byrne. “Our students have benefited tremendously from her presence!”

Byrne enjoys forming lasting relationships with kids and parents.

“Even going to the dentist, the person cleaning my teeth asked where I work and I said Williston Central and they shared their fond memories of their kids being here and the relationships they have with the teachers,” Byrne said.

Byrne expects retirement will bring change.

“It will be different, I will definitely have to work hard to maintain those relationships with my colleagues,” Byrne said. “I will also definitely miss the kids. Working with kids has kept me younger, so not being around kids all the time is different.”

Byrne hopes to learn to embrace retirement and try new things.

“Retirement is a worry to me, from the standpoint that being an educator and being a teacher, you spend a lot of your time outside of school continuing to be an educator and a teacher,” she said. “I think teachers have a tendency to not develop themselves outside of their job because of that, so that’s going to be my challenge to develop interests that I have had but just never had time to do. I have a trip to Italy planned for this fall so I am looking forward to that.”

Ringing in 250 years

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Town finalizes anniversary plans

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

On June 7—the 250th anniversary of the signing of Williston’s town charter—residents can step back from their day-to-day lives and learn to appreciate Williston all over again.

A community dessert potluck—including a giant Williston-themed sheet cake—is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Williston Central School cafeteria, followed by the premiere of Williston filmmaker Jim Heltz’s updated documentary “Williston Revisited—A Community Portrait.”

Working on the film gave Heltz a new appreciation for his hometown, taking him off the same few roads he drives every day and into all the corners of town.

“When you’re going out and filming and stopping and really looking at all these beautiful places the town has, it is amazing how beautiful the town is,” he said. “That’s one thing I hope to capture.”

The aptly named film is an update of “Williston: A Community Portrait,” an award-winning documentary Heltz made 20 years ago as a relative newcomer to Williston.

“I love the town and I really wanted to do it, and it’s been a great experience,” he said. “As you step back and reflect and really look at it again, it makes you appreciate it a lot more…. This was a great opportunity for me to sort of really look at it again and appreciate everything Williston is.”

Heltz, who teamed up with local photographer and journalist Stephen Mease for “Williston Revisited,” interviewed 16 people for the film, capturing 16 perspectives on the town and the fast-moving changes in the past 20 years.

The first thing he filmed, in March of 2012, was the Isham family sugarhouse. Changes at the Isham Family Farm reflect those in Williston, Heltz said. The farm has developed and diversified—shifting from a dairy farm to producers of berries, syrup, sunflowers and corn, with solar panels on the roof and plans to develop an event space.

The film also touches on a community effort to restore the Brennan Barn, a relic of Williston’s past as a farming community. Though plans are to restore it as a historic structure, it will be used for a new purpose, adapting to the changing needs of town residents.

“There have been changes in the town but, everyone has adapted to the changes in different ways,” Heltz said. “There’s always going to be this old and new.”

Heltz and Mease will show the high-definition film on the big screen June 7, and have copies available for $20. The film will also be shown on July 4. A collection of Mease’s photos from the “Williston Revisited” project will be displayed at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, beginning June 1.

DAY IN THE LIFE PHOTO SHOOT

Also on June 7, all Williston residents are encouraged to take part in a daylong photo project to capture a day in the life of Williston in its 250th year. Residents can take photos of their activities throughout the day and post them to photo-sharing website Flickr.com, using the tag Williston250. Or, post photos on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #williston250.

Posting photos allows them to be shared town-wide and considered for the Observer’s 250th anniversary photo special, published June 13. By uploading the photos, you agree to let the Observer print them without compensation, though photographers retain all the rights to their photos.

For more information about the process or to upload photos, visit www.flickr.com/groups/williston250/.

TOWN-WIDE PHOTO

After snapping photos, feasting on desserts and taking in the movie, residents can keep the festivities going on June 8 with a town-wide photo shoot at the Williston Community Park at 9 a.m. Every resident in Williston is invited to gather at the park for the commemorative group photo, which will be published in the Williston Observer on June 13.

WILLISTON BEER

Williston will soon have its own town beer to celebrate its 250th anniversary.

Local brewer Marty Bonneau, Fiddlehead Brewery and McGillicuddy’s Irish Ale House are teaming up to create a special Williston brew.

Todd Balcom, manager at McGillicuddy’s who spearheaded the project, said they settled on a pale ale, though they have not settled on a name yet.

“A pale ale is a common style that might have been brewed in the late 1700s by Thomas Chittenden or some of the other folks who were brewing in New England,” he said. “And pale ales are extremely popular today.”

Bonneau is set to begin the brewing process at Fiddlehead on June 12. It should be on tap at McGillicuddy’s on July 1 and throughout the summer. Beer afficianados can also try the beer and buy growlers at the Fiddlehead Brewing Company in Shelburne.

“It’s fun to celebrate our history. Most folks in New England I think have a strong connection to their roots,” Balcom said.

Tackling town transportation issues

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

“The squeaky wheel gets the park and ride.”

That phrase, uttered by Williston Selectboard member Debbie Ingram, summed up a theme of the Selectboard’s May 22 transportation-focused retreat.

During the four-hour retreat, the board heard updates from state, regional and town groups regarding a litany of transportation projects in Williston which, if they all come to fruition, could bring significant changes to the way residents get around town.

Williston Selectboard members expressed a determination to be the town’s advocates to ensure that projects in the hands of state and regional entities move forward, including a long-awaited Williston park and ride.

Vermont Agency of Transportation representative Ken Robie, who presented updates on a variety of VTrans projects on May 22, said his office gave him a rough estimate of 2018 for anticipated construction of a park and ride south of Interstate 89, one of two park and rides long planned in Williston.

Selectboard members expressed frustration that a Williston commuter lot seemed to be forever on the horizon, while the state recently announced plans to expand the Richmond park and ride.

“To me, it doesn’t make sense that we haven’t a long time ago had a park and ride in Williston,” Ingram said. “It’s long overdue. 2018, to me, that just sounds unacceptable.”

Maine-based developer Raymond Ramsey, who owns the lot under consideration for the park and ride immediately south of Interstate 89, came before the Development Review Board in the winter with a conceptual plan to subdivide the property to accommodate a hotel, gas station and park and ride.

“It’s one of the things I feel like we’re kind of failing our citizens on,” Ingram said. “I really feel strongly about it. It would alleviate a lot of the pressure on the Richmond park and ride, and do all the things we say we want to do—encourage carpooling, encourage less fossil fuel use.”

VTrans Project Manager Wayne Davis, who was not present on May 22, told the Observer on Tuesday that VTrans is still committed to building the park and ride.

“We’re still trying to move forward,” he said. “It’s a built-up, busy area. It hasn’t been an easy road and I don’t really see where it’s going to be easy from here on out, either.”

He also said that 2018, while five years away, is a reasonable estimate—and that it’s always possible the project could move more quickly.

“2018 seems like a long way out, but when you stop to think about everything we have to go through, it’s not really as long as you might think,” he said.

Once Ramsey and the town finalize a subdivision, VTrans can begin designing the park and ride, Davis said. The plan would still need to go through Act 250 permitting, which can sometimes take a year.

“I wouldn’t say that we’re out of the woods until we have it built,” Davis said.

At the retreat, other Selectboard members also voiced their frustration with the delay.

“I realize this is VTrans dollars, it’s not town dollars and I’m cognizant of that,” Selectboard Member Jeff Fehrs said. “I’ve been on the Selectboard for…15 years and this has been before us for pretty much most of that time.”

“This is about as environmentally responsible a project as there is,” Board Member Jay Michaud said. “There’s no doubt that the day after you build this thing it’s going to be full.”

Board members were also irritated that the various agencies involved in transportation projects did not seem to communicate with each other regarding their needs and timelines.

Chittenden County Transport Authority representative Meredith Birkett said that CCTA would be unlikely to add a Williston stop to its popular LINK Express line running from Burlington to Montpelier, with stops in Richmond and Waterbury, should a park and ride south of the interstate be built—surprising, since the state pushed for a park and ride in that location specifically to accommodate easy bus access.

“The link is functioning incredibly well right now … we’re very hesitant to add any stop to the link,” Birkett said. “Our perspective is the most need right now is for a park and ride somewhere in Taft Corner area or a little bit outside.”

Birkett said the option wouldn’t be taken off the table, and CCTA officials speculated that they could see the potential for two LINK lines, one stopping in Williston and one in Richmond.

“Sounds like haven’t talked to each other, that’s where going to be up to us,” Michaud said. “I get that disconnect from all of them…we’re going to have to facilitate that.”

Toward the end of the retreat, the board created an action item to work with Vtrans to prioritize the park and ride and coordinate with CCTA and regional planning groups by reaching out to those with decision-making capacities.

“Nobody’s taking complete ownership, nobody’s really driving the train,” Chris Roy said.

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS

As with the park and ride, the board left the retreat feeling that it would have to push for Williston’s interests as alternatives to the scrapped Circumferential Highway move forward.

Other Circ communities like Essex and Colchester have projects in the construction phase, while Williston’s are being studied.

“We’re kind of the ones left twisting in the wind, because our stuff is still in the studying phase,” Roy said. “Everyone else has their double crossover diamonds and their crescent connectors and we’re just studying stuff.”

Roy said it might take some pressure to make sure that Williston’s projects move forward. Board members agreed that they should take steps to continue meetings of the Circ Alternatives Task Force, a group of representatives from the four Circ communities.

“It’s up to the locals to lead on this,” Fehrs said.

During the retreat, the board heard updates from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission about four Williston Circ alternative studies it is managing, most of which are scheduled to be wrapped up toward the end of the year.

The first is a study to improve pedestrian and bike travel, as well as public transportation, on Route 2 between Taft Corners and Williston Village. A local concerns meeting regarding the corridor is set for June 18, hosted by the Williston Planning Commission.

“This particular project or corridor has been high on the town’s wish list for a long time,” Belliveau said. “That it’s gotten elevated coming out of the (Williston-Essex Network Transportation Study) I think is a positive thing… It is a big gaping hole in the system and it’s been a priority for the town for a long time.”

The second study will evaluate traffic congestion at the Vermont 117 and North Williston Road intersection and North Williston Road flooding issues. Three public meetings, which CCRPC representatives said would likely be held in Essex, are planned for the summer.

Fehrs said he was frustrated that North Williston Road—which the town had hoped to keep a local road with the Circ highway—was being asked to take on the role of a major connector road. He added that residents want slow speeds through their village—not ideal for a connector road.

“It’s almost like we’re asking a pickup truck to do a dump truck’s work,” Fehrs said. “It can do it, but it’s not the right tool.”

A study is also underway for improvements to the intersection of Vermont 2A, Industrial Avenue and Mountain View Road. A local concerns meeting will be scheduled for early summer, where residents can share their concerns and issues with the area. Potential solutions will be presented at a public meeting in the fall.

“It does seem to me, given that there’s going to be no Circ Highway, that (2A) is going to have to increase in width, whether we do it now or do it later,” Fehrs said.

Ingram noted that Selectboard members frequently hear from residents in that area who cannot get out of their houses, a worsening problem.

The final scoping study underway is for a reconfiguration of Exit 12 off I-89. CCRPC is set to hold a public meeting on June 4 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall, where residents can share their ideas to improve congestion, safety, bike and pedestrian access and travel in general at Exit 12 and Vermont 2A.

“I think overall it’s just keeping all the balls juggled and coordinating everything going on…especially in the fall when all these things are going to come to us,” Ingram said. “Just making sure everything keeps moving and gets coordinated.”

The Selectboard’s final action item, added at the end of the retreat, read “Be optimistic!”

Williston’s paths and trails

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Click on the map for a larger version. Map created by Williston Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti.

Click on the map for a larger version. Map created by Williston Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti.




Williston might be known for the big box stores and bustle of Taft Corners, but 75 percent of the town is rural. A system of primitive trails for hikers, cross-country skiers and mountain bikers winds through the town’s forests and farm fields, offering stunning vistas and quiet nature exploration. See pages 14-15 of the May 23 issue of the Williston Observer for a full-size map of the town’s trails. Maps and more information about the trails are available at the Town Hall and the town website, www.town.williston.vt.us.

Below are descriptions of each trail.

 

TRAILS-5TreeHill2

FIVE TREE HILL COUNTRY PARK

Walkers and skiers

Five Tree Hill, named for five large sugar maples near the overlook, offers the best vista in town—a panorama of Lake Champlain and the Adirondaks. The overlook is 1.3 miles from the parking lot on Sunset Hill Road. Five Tree Hill’s 57 acres includes vernal pools, several types of forest and animal habitats. It also runs along part of the VAST trail.

 

TRAILS-MudPondLookout

MUD POND CONSERVATION AREA

Walkers and skiers

A half-mile route from the parking lot on Mud Pond Road (off South Road) leads to Mud Pond, surrounded by 158 acres of wetlands and forest. The trail also connects to Mud Pond Country Park. Mud Pond Conservation Area can also be reached from the Sunset Hill Road parking lot, across the street from the Five Tree Hill trail. It leads 1.5 miles to a newly built lookout over Mud Pon (pictured above), but does not yet connect to the trail on the eastern side of the pond. A trail all the way around the pond is slated to be built in 2014.

 

TRAILS-MudPondCountryPark

MUD POND COUNTRY PARK

Walkers, skiers and mountain bikers

This 79-acre natural area has a 2.3-mile round trip multiple-use trail open to mountain bikers. The trail system expands every year and is well maintained in partnership with mountain biking group the Fellowship of the Wheel. Parking is available on Mud Pond Road.

 

TRAILS-SuckerBrook

CROSSTOWN TRAIL

Walkers and skiers

Opening in July, a new trail will connect the newly formed Sucker Brook Hollow Country Park on Vermont 2A, Five Tree Hill Country Park and the Mud Pond Conservation Area—nearly 3.5 miles in all. From a new trailhead and parking lot on Vermont 2A, the trail lead across a 57-ft long footbridge over the Sucker Brook, past historic features and farmland and up to Five Tree Hill—about 1 mile. The trail then leads down to the new observation platform at Mud Pond. Hikers will not yet be able to connect to the east side of Mud Pond.

 

OAK VIEW HILL

Walkers and skiers

Oak View Hill offers a 1.3-mile outer loop and half a mile of inner loops on the Isham Family Farm, behind the sugarhouse. All the trails are named after Isham family members. Highlights include a pond, active sugar operation and wooded knoll with views of Bolton Valley, Mount Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, Shelburne Pond and the Adirondaks.

 

VILLAGE BIKE PATH

Multi-use

The Village Bike Path runs through the Williston Community Park—which offers a playground, athletic fields and courts and a skating rink/skateboard park—and connects to Allen Brook Park through the South Ridge neighborhood. It also makes a loop along Williston Road, North Williston Road, Mountain View Road and Old Stage Road.  Many other Williston roads include a bike path, including parts of Vermont 2 and 2A and Marshall Avenue.

 

TRAILS-AllenBrook

ALLEN BROOK NATURE TRAIL 

Walkers and skiers

A half-mile loop with an additional half-mile section leading to Michael’s Lane offers a quiet spot to look for birds, beavers, different forest types and spring flowers. The trail connects to the Village Bike Path, starting with a footbridge over the Allen Brook. It is the most accessible primitive path from Williston Village, and is ideal for families.

 

TRAILS-Commons

COMMONS TRAIL 

Walkers and skiers

The Commons Trail offers a half-mile walk off the beaten path, accessed off Tower Lane and Pinecrest Village. The trail passes through common land, includes a boardwalk over a wetland and rock outcroppings perfect for a picnic.

 

LAKE IROQUOIS RECREATION AREA

Walkers and skiers

Along with the sand beach, playground and lake access, the Lake Iroquois Recreation area offers a 1.5-mile hiking trail loop on the northeast side of the lake. The trail passes through forest and includes access to scenic lake viewpoints.

POPCORN: ‘The Great Gatsby’ A Bit Jazzed Up

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2.5_popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

Too bad the 1926, silent version of “The Great Gatsby,” filmed only a year after F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the book, is missing. Add that to the 1949 edition, the 1974 adaptation I consider the best, and this latest techno-charged remake directed by Baz Luhrmann, and we’d be dangerously armed for all sorts of didactic, comparative studies in filmmaking.

 

Instead, maybe like what Daisy Buchanan wished for her daughter, we should be pretty little fools, unfazed by all that rigor and fuss, and simply enjoy this latest offering for what it is: a big, boisterous, partially faithful incarnation, conceived and filmed for a new generation. Of course I can’t be that reckless, Old Sport. You see, I believe in Gatsby.

 

It’s too beautiful a story to sully or mess with, arguably, with all due respect to Mr. Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” our literature’s best short novel. Moreover, as it is, along with Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” one of the finest sociological reflections of The Roaring Twenties, any present mindedness is a contradiction in terms.

 

So hold onto your hat when I relate that, doubtlessly due to Jay-Z’s role as executive producer of the film, the soundtrack is suffused with so-called rap and hip-hop interpretations of the era’s Jazz Age sounds. Well, it’s their ball, but as far as my sensibilities are concerned, it flies badly afoul. Surely it’s not what Fitzgerald heard.

 

All of which opens a can of worms we should stay away from lest we get bogged down in a lengthy rumination on what a transformation from written page to the big screen should accomplish. Well, OK, let’s get bogged down just a little. Rule #1 for the adapting artist certainly must be, don’t gild the lily. It’s presumptuous and unfair to the muse.

 

Unfortunately, dabblers both good and mediocre, especially when working somewhat out of their medium, operate in the allusion that they are not merely interpreters of the objet d’art they’ve been entrusted with, but spiritually acknowledged collaborators. More realistic purveyors might argue that, commercially, the market demands a modernization.

 

In that respect, one can’t help feel director Luhrmann, whose “Moulin Rouge!” (2001) I’m still trying to assimilate, has a condescending need to spoon feed the story to his presumed audience. Hence, by both re-arranging the chronology of the tale and prematurely divulging the mystery that is Gatsby, he commits an unpardonable faux pas.

 

Like the curious throngs of flappers, cognoscenti and powerbrokers who flock weekly to the outrageous parties the elusive Jay Gatsby throws at his West Egg manse, we must be mystified. Maybe he did kill a man. Perhaps he is Kaiser Wilhelm’s nephew. But it is only though narrator Nick Carraway’s experience that we might really know, Old Sport.

 

Oh, it’s all still pretty glorious, wonderful, beautifully sad and hopelessly optimistic, thanks mostly to the great, originally sourced writing that, like a resolute oak making its way through the sidewalk cracks, won’t be denied its preeminence. Happily, the inherent magnificence isn’t lost on a predominantly good cast aware of its romantic responsibility.

 

Although Redford remains Gatsby to me, handsome yet still boyish Leonardo DiCaprio presents a durably acceptable persona whilst also incorporating some commendably empathic nuances within the title character. And while Carey Mulligan falls short of the wealth-imprisoned Daisy that Mia Farrow etched, her old college try gets the job done.

 

But here’s where I eat my hat. I didn’t think anyone could ever hold a candle to Sam Waterston’s Nick Carraway, one of belles-lettres’ most iconic examples of the narrator as philosophical observer. However, while not entirely relinquishing my prejudice, it bears noting that Tobey McGuire informs with notable aplomb why he is the star he is.

 

Unhappily, my open-minded inclination spreads to neither Joel Edgerton’s Tom Buchanan nor Elizabeth Debicki’s Jordan Baker. Bruce Dern’s 1974 portrayal managed a seething yet still far suitably subtle indignation toward Gatsby, whereas Lois Chiles’s tennis star/ best pal and less objective counterpart to Nick was more correctly ambiguous.

 

Far more egregious, however, is Amitabh Bachchan’s thespic miscalculation of Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby’s gangster-benefactor so wonderfully evoked by Howard Da Silva. You share Nick’s awe, but should believe it when Gatsby relates, “He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919.” Da Silva’s Wolfsheim could, but not this guy.

 

Still, by my own definition, this effort adequately checks the dance card delineating what film adaptations of novels should achieve. Putting aside notions of contemporization and other liberties taken, by nonetheless conveying the story’s essence, odds are it’ll inspire one to re-read or, better yet, read for the first time why he is indeed “The Great Gatsby.”

“The Great Gatsby,” rated PG-13, is a Warner Bros. release directed by Baz Luhrmann and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey McGuire. Running time: 142 minutes

 

 

PHOTOS: Girl Scouts plant trees

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Williston’s sixth grade Girl Scout Troop 30821, led by Meghan Mathon, planted 50 trees along the Allen Brook on May 14 in cooperation with Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti and Seth Gillim, assistant manager of the Intervale Conservation Nursery. (Observer courtesy photos)

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PHOTOS: Boys lacrosse

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The Champlain Valley Union High School boys lacrosse team beat Middlebury 6-0 on May 17, capturing its second shutout of the season. (Observer photos by Jayson Argento, www.lakechamplainphotography.com)
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RECIPE CORNER:Summer drinks for young & old

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By Ginger Isham

 

Coffee ice cream with chocolate sauce is a favorite of mine. Maybe some of these recipes will become your favorites. Serve on a hot summer day and experiment with different kinds of ice cream.

 

Coffee Punch

1 quart of strong coffee

1 quart of milk

1 pint half and half

1 bottle chocolate syrup, 16 ounce size

1 8-ounce container Cool Whip

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, maybe

Blend all ingredients in punch bowl, adding scoops of ice cream last. Make your own substitutions for cool whip and ice cream. Makes 1 gallon.

 

Best Coffee Shake

1 cup strong coffee

1 3-ounce bar of milk chocolate, broken in bits

3 cups chocolate, coffee or vanilla ice cream

Put coffee and chocolate bits in blender and blend until chocolate bits are chopped fine. Add ice cream and blend all just until mixed. Makes 2 servings.

 

Strawberry or Raspberry Romanoff

2 cups vanilla ice cream (try French vanilla)

1 cup fresh strawberries or raspberries

1 tablespoon sugar

3 ounces of Grand Marnier

1/2 cup whipping cream (use all purpose or light)

Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve in large wine glasses. You can serve it over cubes of pound cake and add a fresh sprig of mint.

 

Strawberry Ice Cream Soda

1 1/2 cups milk

1 10-ounce package of frozen strawberries

1 pint of strawberry ice cream

1 16-ounce bottle club soda

Blend on high speed the milk and strawberries. Divide into six glasses. Add a scoop of strawberry ice cream to each glass and slowly fill glasses with club soda.

Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.

 

Sports Roundup

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South Burlington next for softball

The Champlain Valley Union high school softball team is set to take on South Burlington on Thursday afternoon before playing Milton High at home on Saturday.

On May 18, the softball team snagged its third win of the season against North Country, beating it 6-3. Alanna Roy had three hits and was a vital part of a game-ending double play in the seventh inning. Claire Potter was the winning pitcher.

On May 21, the Redhawks lost on the road at Missisquoi, 3-18.

 

Girls lacrosse headed to Essex

The Champlain Valley Union High girls lacrosse team is set to head to Essex High on May 23 for one of its final three regular season games. On May 28, the team will take on Mount Mansfield at home.

On May 21, the team bowed to South Burlington 5-20. On Saturday, it played a close game against Burlington High, which ultimately defeated the Redhawks 18-14. Kate Raszka scored four goals and Brenna Gorman tallied three.

 

CVU to host girls basketball camp

Ute Otley, Champlain Valley Union High varsity girls basketball coach, will host a basketball camp for elementary and middle school players in June. The camp is intended to teach and develop the fundamentals of basketball.

The camp runs June 24-28 in two sessions: 9 a.m. to noon for girls entering fourth through sixth grades; and 1 to 4 p.m. for girls entering seventh through ninth grades. It costs $135 per player, with a $10 discount for campers who sign up before June 17. Sign-ups at the door are welcome.

The camp is a fundraiser for the CVU basketball team, and players volunteer as counselors.

Campers should wear proper clothing—t-shirts, shorts, socks and gym shoes.

Sign-up forms are available on the CVU website, www.cvuhs.org/summer-camps-at-cvu.  For more information, contact Otley at 425-6549 or [email protected]

Williston resident in world orienteering championship

Williston resident Ethan Childs, 19, has been named to the 2013 U.S. Junior World Orienteering Championship team. He is one of 12 young men and women age 20 and under selected to represent the USA this summer in the Czech Republic. The championship begins June 30, and the team will head to Europe to train in mid-June.

Childs, a University of Vermont freshman, has competed around the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This will be his third championship—he previously represented the U.S. in Poland and Slovakia, where he was the top-placing American competitor. He won the 2012 North American Championship for junior boys in the middle distance and a sweep of the sprint, middle and long distance races at the 2010 North Americans.