May 24, 2018

Age no barrier to local marathon runners

Mary Clairmont (second from right) stands at the start of the Keybank Vermont City Marathon in 2012 with her running buddies (from left) Alice Bourgoin, Hollie Shaner-McRae and Tracey Moran. The group runs together nearly every Sunday morning, and Moran and Clairmont are set to run the marathon again this weekend. (Observer courtesy photo)

Mary Clairmont (second from right) stands at the start of the Keybank Vermont City Marathon in 2012 with her running buddies (from left) Alice Bourgoin, Hollie Shaner-McRae and Tracey Moran. The group runs together nearly every Sunday morning, and Moran and Clairmont are set to run the marathon again this weekend.
(Observer courtesy photo)

By Phyl Newbeck

Observer correspondent

Age is no barrier to running a marathon and several Williston runners will prove that at this Sunday’s KeyBank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington. There are eight local marathon runners who are over the age of 50 and still going strong.

For Ben Rose, 53, running the Vermont City Marathon has become an annual holiday.

“It’s a very joyous thing,” he said.

Rose has been running all his life, completing his first marathon at the age of 20. His best time for the Burlington race was 3:17 and he believes this will be his 20th time running the race. “It’s my hometown marathon,” he said. “It’s part of my annual cycle.”

One of the things he likes about marathons is that there are a lot of variables that can be controlled. “You can outsmart time,” Rose said. “You can get better as you get older with stretching, eating right, pacing yourself and having a better attitude. There are ways for age and treachery to beat youth.”

John LaCroix ran cross-country in high school and hated it, but as he got older he began compiling his bucket list. One goal was to run a marathon before the age of 40. LaCroix didn’t quite make his goal but he’s been running ever since, and at age 51 he plans to take part in his tenth Vermont City Marathon. What makes LaCroix different from some of his cohorts is he doesn’t think 26.2 miles is a long distance. LaCroix enjoys doing ultra-marathons of 50 and 100 miles and has better finishes doing those distances.

“A lot of people who can beat me any day of the week in shorter distances or even marathons can’t beat me at ultras,” he said.

LaCroix hopes to keep running for many years to come. “It’s a natural thing,” he said “and it becomes part of you.”

LaCroix trains outdoors year round and hasn’t been on a treadmill in years. He recalls one winter when he left his house at 3 a.m. to run to Shelburne Pond.

“It was a clear night,” he recalled “and there hadn’t been any cars to make tracks in the snow and the trees were covered with frost. You don’t get to see the world like that very often.”

LaCroix believes that to a certain degree, running keeps him young. “You’re given a choice when you get older,” he said. “The longer you sit in a chair, the harder it is to get back to where you were.”

The only woman in the group, Mary Clairmont, will be running her fourth Vermont City Marathon. Clairmont only started running at age 52, when a friend asked her if she wanted to do a half marathon.

“I feel excited that I can do this at 56 years old,” she said. “It has changed my life for the better. I can’t imagine not doing this.”

Clairmont said the key to running is to find a group to train with. She has been running every Sunday with the same group of people. “You can’t do this alone,” she said. For the last three marathons, Clairmont ran with a woman 10 years her senior but this year she’ll run with someone her own age. “It’s a young person’s sport,” she said “but the people who put together the races do a really good job of making everyone feel like they can do it.”

Rose doesn’t believe running a marathon keeps him young. “I’m aging at the same rate as everyone else,” he said “but this keeps me happy and healthy.”

Rose stops short of recommending that others should follow in his footsteps, recognizing that the sport isn’t for everyone. “If you’ve got a body that can run, it wants to be run,” he said. “If you can run, it’s a gift not to be squandered. Running puts me in a good place. ”

LaCroix believes the view from two feet is a much better one than what he would see from four tires. “Running is a vehicle for exploring,” he said. “It’s an adventure. As we get older it’s important to realize we can still have adventures. That keeps us young.”

A touching moment

On Monday night, my husband and I were driving south on 2A toward St. George when we noticed a line of cars pulled over on both sides of the road.

We parked behind the last car in the shoulder, and as I got out to see what was happening, I noticed several people in the road and a woman talking to someone in a truck. I asked the woman if she knew what had happened and she told me that a golden retriever was hit by a car. I was devastated; I am a dog lover and have a rescue retriever mix at home.

People passed word along that the dog was breathing very heavily and the outlook was not good. The Williston police arrived to provide additional assistance.

I don’t know if the dog pulled through. What I do know, and want that dog’s family to know, is that he or she was not alone that night. In addition to the people administering aid, cars had lined up far back on both sides of the road and it was very quiet out of respect for the injured dog. No one was trying to drive through even though there was an open lane; everyone wanted the police to have as much room as possible to work in a calm setting. People were genuinely concerned for the dog and its wellbeing.

Finally, when the police took the dog, a gentleman motioned cars ahead and people drove slowly past. I know everyone was hoping for the best for the retriever and the family that may not have even realized what happened yet.

There are so many things I love about my adopted state of Vermont. On Monday night, I loved the respect and care that Vermonters show for those members of our family that give unconditional love, a wealth of entertainment and never-ending loyalty…while asking for so little in return.

Kathy Browne


Turf fields meeting on May 29

Curious about the CVU Turf Fields Project? Want to learn more about how this exciting project will benefit our entire community? The Turf Fields Fundraising Committee has begun a series of informational forums, the next scheduled for Wednesday, May 29 at the Old Lantern in Charlotte, from 7 – 9 p.m. We will share background information, cost, fundraising details and more about this plan to bring two artificial turf fields, bleacher seating for up to 1,000 spectators, and lights to CVU. Please come—visit with your neighbors, ask questions and learn more! Light refreshments will be served, and cash bar available. For more information, visit

Williston students graduate

The following Williston and St. George students graduated from various colleges and universities this spring.

Burlington College

Alex Brett, Bachelor of Arts in human services

Castleton College

Katelyn Bashaw, Bachelor of Arts

Patrick Hollick, Bachelor of Arts

Claremont-McKenna College

Elizabeth Beckett, Bachelor of Arts in government, cum laude

Champlain College

Nicolas Pelletier, associate degree in software development

Melissa Sirrico, associate degree in radiography

Pavel Bitca, Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice

Dragan Jagar, Bachelor of Science degree in business

Elliott Lutton, Bachelor of Science degree in graphic design and digital media

Vicki Porter, Bachelor of Science degree in health care management

Samuel Spencer, Bachelor of Science degree in international business

Audrey Cano, Master of Business Administration

Joshua M. Scowcroft, Master of Business Administration

Luke W. Wight, Master’s in Business Administration

University of Vermont

Kimberly S. Ahlum, Master of Education in special education

Benjamin S. Albertson, Bachelor of Science in biological science, magna cum laude

Schuyler H. Allen, Master of Arts in Teaching in curriculum and instruction

Elvis Beric, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Minela Beric, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering

Ashley M. Besaw Master of Education in special education

Carly R. Brown, Master of Science in plant biology

Erin M. Burke, Bachelor of Arts in studio art

Kanita A. Chaudhry, Bachelor of Science in biochemistry, magna cum laude

James A. Christenson, Bachelor of Science in geology

Stephanie L. Commo, Bachelor of Science in Business Adminitration

Carolyn B. Dube, Bachelor of Arts in psychology

Kara E. Dudman, Master of Science in counseling

Leslie A. Freedman, Master of Education in special education

Danika G. Frisbie, Bachelor of Science in environmental sciences

Christopher J. Ghazi, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Scott A. Goodwin, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering

Daniel Greenfield, Bachelor of Arts in history

Holly Haggerty, Master of Education in special education

Susan A. Hayes, Doctor of Education in educational leadership and policy studies

Daniel S. Hopkins, Bachelor of Science in environmental sciences

Dylan P. Hudson, Bachelor of Arts in Greek

Jeremy F. Hulsey, Bachelor of Science in parks, recreation and tourism

Tony C. Jiang, Bachelor of Science in medical laboratory sciences

John A. Judge, Bachelor of Arts in psychology, cum laude

Bethany J. Karstens, Bachelor of Science in public communication

Erin L. Keller, Bachelor of Science in biochemistry, magna cum laude

Renick Lalancette, Bachelor of Arts in sociology

Daniel A. Lambert, Bachelor of Science in biological science

Mark C. Lamorey, Master of Science in electrical engineering

Andrew D. Lieberman, Bachelor of Arts in history

Emily P. Loisel, Bachelor of Arts in political science

David C. Manago, Bachelor of Science in environmental studies, cum laude

Brian J. McClintock, Bachelor of Science in Education in physical education K-12

Connor J. Mellen, Bachelor of Science in Education in physical education K-12

Shannon L. Moffatt, Master of Arts in English

Peter W. Moore, Bachelor of Arts in political science

Ailan H. Nguyen, Bachelor of Arts in English

Marissa S. Parente, Bachelor of Arts in psychology

Elizabeth F. Pope, Doctorate of Philosophy in animal science and food & nutrition science

Jessica L. Shapiro, Bachelor of Science in public communication

Hannah V. Shaw, Bachelor of Arts in economics

William G. Tharp, Doctorate of Philosophy in clinical and translational science

Lindsay M. Thornton, Doctor of Medicine

Tova A. Tomasi, Bachelor of Science in psychology

Rachel E. Venooker, Bachelor of Arts in psychology

Kayla R. Walters, Bachelor of Arts in English

Abram G. Weinberg, Bachelor of Science in parks, recreation and tourism

Ruth Willis, Master of Science in nursing

Farmers’ Market moves to Taft Corners

FarmersMarket-052313--563New management
model underway

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The Williston Farmers’ Market has a new home.

The market—set to open Wednesday, May 29—has moved from its Williston Historic Village location to New England Federal Credit Union, located at 141 Harvest Lane.

The market will run from May 29 to Oct. 2 from 4-7 p.m. on the green next to the credit union.

“We were looking for a location that had higher traffic, but still provided us with a green space,” Market Manager Becca Rimmel said.

So far, 16 vendors have signed on for the 2013 season, though Rimmel said she hopes that number will grow to 20.

“We have a lot of really great products,” Rimmel said. “We have local cheeses, we have maple syrup, local vegetables, local prepared food, we have music and different activities and taste tests throughout the summer.”

Rimmel added that most of the vendors are from Williston, and the others aren’t from far away.

“Not only are (market shoppers) supporting local business, but they’re really supporting our neighbors, which is great,” she said.

Longtime vendor Lisa Boutin of Boutin Family Farm—who has sold her jams, jellies, pickles, berries and fruit at the market since it began—said she thinks the new location will be good for the market. Visitors—and therefore sales—at the market’s Williston Historic Village location have been down in recent years, she said.

“I think it’s going to be good for the market and for its growth,” she said.

New to the market this year are: Starksboro-based Lewis Creek Farm, which grows vegetables, flowers, plants and strawberries; West River Creamery of Londonderry, selling cheeses; produce, flower and egg producers Savage Gardens of North Hero; and St. Albans-based catering company The Clean Spoon, specializing in natural, clean eating. After an absence, Great Harvest Bread Company and Ants in Your Pants are set to return to the Williston Farmers’ Market.

Also new this year, market organizers are looking for interested residents and vendors to form a Williston Farmers’ Market Board to run the market, rather than relying on a sole manager.

“We’re working toward a more sustainable model to hopefully make sure the market can continue regardless of who’s able to manage it,” Rimmel said.

Boutin is set to join the board, which has not yet met.

“Most other markets have a board,” she said. “It’s going to be helpful having a mix of vendors and community members to run it and have more than just one person in charge.”

Rimmel is also looking for residents to volunteer at the market. The market has partnered with City Market’s member working program, meaning hours spent volunteering at the farmers’ market can go toward a member’s working hours.

The Williston Farmers’ Market will run from May 29 to Oct. 2 from 4-7 p.m. on the green next to New England Federal Credit Union. For more information, visit or email


Starting a business is a healthy risk for teens

By Matthew Murakami


Creating and developing a small business is a healthy risk for a young person to take. The process of creating a business can be very successful and it can help your community by creating jobs. Having a passion and an activity you enjoy is just one way to help a teenager be successful and may help them avoid unhealthy choices. Taking a healthy risk is a great way to build confidence.

Often, young people have a lot of creativity and can come up with a good business idea. For example, a former Williston Central School student made his own business, Distler’s Pretzels. Almost everyone now in Vermont knows what Distlers Pretzels are, this business was based on a good idea. Everybody likes to eat pretzels, so why not make them even tastier by adding some spice? Creativity helps with building confidence. Turning a passion into reality can be a great feeling for any teenager.

Another reason a teenager should attempt to start his or her own business is because it can help the economy. Teenagers can earn money and create jobs! For example, by creating your own business, whether it be a lawn mowing business, a food vending business or a business doing odd jobs, making money is all of a sudden possible! Focusing on working hard, paying attention to responsibility and working with others, a teenager is making positive strides towards adulthood.

If a small business is created and successful, employees can be hired. Adding jobs to the community is a great thing. When people are earning money working, they have money to put back into the community in the form of eating out, buying things at stores and shopping at local markets. When this happens the entire community benefits.

Some may say that teenagers aren’t ready to start their own business and not ready for all that responsibility. I disagree! Some teenagers are ready and can be really responsible. Some teenagers want a means to express their passion and to help their community. Working hard and persevering through obstacles while creating and maintaining a small business is a perfect healthy risk for an interested teenager to take.

In conclusion, starting a business begins with a creative idea. Teenagers have a lot of creativity and are ready for more responsibility. Taking this healthy risk is very beneficial for a teenager who is interested. Learning to overcome obstacles and work hard to achieve a goal builds character and confidence. Both the teenager and the community can benefit from the creation of a small business.

Matthew Murakami is an eighth grade student at Williston Central School.


Crafting Maple Leaf Farm parameters

Maple Leaf Farm’s application to open a rehabilitation center in Williston brings up many questions for residents.


By Rachel Gill

Observer correspondent

The Williston Planning Commission tossed around a handful of ideas on Tuesday to serve as potential parameters for activity and site use as part of Maple Leaf Farm’s application to open a rehabilitation center in Williston.

Maple Leaf Farm, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center based in Underhill, submitted a specific plan application to the Planning and Zoning Department last June. It is seeking a zoning change to open a facility at the former Pine Ridge School property.

At two contentious public meetings, residents raised concerns over security, proximity of neighbors and Williston Central School and traffic impacts, while others cited the need for a more centrally located addiction treatment option for Chittenden County.

The commission’s May 21 meeting addressed two areas—preservation of open space and the scope of Maple Leaf Farm’s activities.

The commission reviewed a letter sent from Maple Leaf Farm Executive Director Bill Young that addressed a request for more information regarding certain components of Maple Leaf Farm’s specific plan application.

According to Maple Leaf Farm officials, a zoning change is justifiable because the organization would provide a substantial public benefit through the preservation of open space.

The Planning Commission requested that Maple Leaf Farm conduct a survey identifying the boundary between possible future development and open space—though Maple Leaf Farm’s current plan is to only use existing structures.

“We will need to nail down what part of the property could be developed and what part would not and that’s really where the survey comes in,” said Ken Belliveau, planning and zoning director.

While Young’s letter provided a map of possible boundaries, the actual survey and boundary marking could be done after an approval for a zoning change as part of the Development Review Board review process.

Young also checked with the Vermont Land Trust, as the commission requested, to explore options for a conservation easement that would help designate and maintain the open space.

Vermont Land Trust will not manage a property without control over the easement, Young wrote. The easement would need to be transferred to the Vermont Land Trust first, which could cost $12,000 to $14,000, according to estimates provided in the letter. The Land Trust would first need to determine if it is interested in the property.

“Just because you want the Vermont Land Trust to hold a conservation easement doesn’t necessarily mean they accept it,” Belliveau said. “How this particular one would rank for them, it’s hard to know.”

Another option is to designate the open space on a site plan.

“This option provides the least amount of protection because it’s not being managed,” Belliveau said.

In the letter, Young suggested finding a cost-effective option to manage the easement.

“It should be both simple, effective and not expensive,” Young wrote in the letter.

The commission entertained the idea of crafting a management plan agreement for the easement with joint involvement between the Conservation Commission, the Planning Commission and the Selectboard.

Larry Williams of commercial real estate firm Redstone, who is assisting Maple Leaf Farm in its potential relocation, said if a management plan helps move the process forward, it has his support.

“One idea would be to have Maple Leaf commit to providing a management plan and even filing an annual report to show how we are complying, that would be the more straightforward way,” Williams said at the meeting.

Belliveau said the method is an option, but it would be a slight deviation from the Conservation Commission’s regular role.

“We can certainly ask them to see to what extent to which they are willing to take some sort of active role in the monitoring of the open space,” Belliveau said.


Young’s letter also included detail of the activity to occur at the facility. The letter proposed no more than two outpatient programs or groups — such as Alcoholics Anonymous or support group meetings —  per day, not to exceed 15 people at a time.

“Because of the location of this property and where the points of access are on Williston Road, we previously discussed wanting to minimize traffic,” Belliveau said. “During the public meetings, concerns were also expressed about the program having residential and outpatient components and we want to make sure we address those concerns.”

Leah Orsky, program director at Maple Leaf Farm, said outpatient programs are new in terms of treatment services offered by the center.

“There is significant change in substance abuse treatment with insurance reform and other factors, so it’s prudent for us to offer different types of treatment,” Orsky said. “It typically means meeting three days a week. So a group of 15 people would come for three or four hours, so it’s two of those groups a week.”

Belliveau said creating some parameters is smart move.

“We need to consider how people who are not involved in it are going to perceive how it’s operating,” Belliveau said. “For some, anxieties and concerns are elevated right now because it’s fear of the unknown. So rather than shooting for the moon here, my recommendation is to allow for some parameters to help alleviate people’s anxieties.”

After discussion, commission members agreed they’d like to see the outpatient numbers reduced to one group meeting per day or include a limit for group meetings per week, plus a weekly limit of vehicles visiting the facility.

The commission plans to continue hashing out its recommendations for specific parameters to include in conjunction with any possible changes to the zoning of the Pine Ridge property. A draft of that language is expected at a Planning Commission meeting in mid-June.

Open Studio Weekend: Artwork of note

ArtWknd-Stone-Vibrations-Fiddler328By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The tunes at the Brick Church Music Series get locals’ toes tapping and heads bobbing—but local artist Nancy Stone felt the music’s movement in her hands.

“At the first concert, I felt something happening,” she said. “My hand wanted to be drawing.”

Stone started sketching at the concerts—capturing the feel and movement of the music in a notebook full of line drawings over four years.

“I just let loose with the drawings and the shadows,” she said. “I realized this was like a diamond mine that I could go and mine.”

Her sketching inspired “Line Notes,” a window installation of 60 drawings on translucent paper, and a series of layered watercolor paintings in handmade triptych books called “Vibrations.”

Residents can experience the series—along with many of Stone’s other works—this weekend. Stone, whose studio is located at 294 Old Creamery Road, is among 242 Vermont artists and craftspeople who will open their studios to the public this weekend in the 21st annual Spring Open Studio Weekend.

May 25 and 26, bright yellow signs along Vermont’s roadsides lead visitors to studios displaying paintings, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, glassware, furniture making and countless creative endeavors.

The weekend is intended as a statewide celebration of local artists, as well as the visual and creative process, organized by the Vermont Crafts Council.

The council created maps charting various daylong of half-day loops art lovers can take to experience a variety of studios, available on its website, Studios are open in neighboring towns of Hinesburg, Shelburne, Richmond, Jericho, Essex and more.

Stone said visiting an artist’s studio is an entirely different experience from a gallery visit.

“Whenever you go into someone’s studio, you start to see the tools…it’s the whole feel of the place of creation, rather than the creations on the wall,” she said.

She also said it’s an easy and low-key way to meet artists and experience their work.

“Half, or more than half, of the fun is talking to people about the creative process,” she said. “(Visitors) can just bop in, chat, look around and leave.”

St. George multimedia artist Sean Dye is also set to display his work at his studio, located at 681 Willow Brook Lane. Dye could not be reached for comment before press deadline.

Stone has been involved in book art for years—creating elaborate paper designs and hand-stitching words and designs.

“With books, it’s the ceremony of opening it, and traveling through time,” she said.

She said she also loves watercolor, letting go of some of the precise control over each brushstroke.

“I like to play, rather than knowing what I’m going to do,” she said.

For her “Vibrations” series, she used a self-developed technique she calls poured watercolor. She soaks mostly empty, dried up tubes of paint to get the last bit of pigment out of them, then pours the diluted paint over fabric or lace to get a pattern evoking the type of music portrayed.

Her work will also be displayed at a show titled “Drawn to Music,” at Burlington’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul from June 4 – Aug. 29, along with sculpture and mixed-media artist Melinda White-Bronson, who created sculptures inspired by music.

Several musicians will perform during the show, including Williston musician Michael O’Connor, who is composing music based on the “Drawn to Music” art with harpist Monika Baege—a turnaround of the show’s theme.

“Music has always been special to me,” O’Connor said. “I got into doing open tuning (a type of guitar tuning), and open tuning is really kind of an outlet for me.”

O’Connor said an image or piece of art often inspires him to come up with a new melody. He talked with Stone and White-Bronson to understand what their art meant to them, then used that to write a meaningful song.

“Once I get to know a little bit about what those images mean … for me it’s a matter of putting a melody to it and writing a song,” he said.

O’Connor and Baege are set to perform at the show’s opening, scheduled for June 7 from 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information about the “Drawn to Music” show, visit

For more information about the Open Studio Weekend and to see a map of participating locations, visit or call 223-3380.

PHOTOS: Williston Central School musical ‘Annie’

A cast of 58 Williston Central School students performed “Annie” as the school’s spring musical on May 11 and 12. The play also marked AJ Cronan’s last year as artistic director. (Observer photos by Jayson Argento,










PHOTOS: Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run & Jiggety Jog

More than 240 participants and volunteers turned out for the Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run and Jiggety Jog in Williston on May 11, raising nearly $50,000 for the Vermont Respite House. (Observer photos by Jayson Argento,