March 19, 2019

Toys ‘R’ Us reopens after carbon monoxide incident

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Toys ‘R’ Us in Williston is open after high carbon monoxide levels prompted an evacuation of approximately 75 shoppers and employees.

Toys ‘R’ Us called the Williston Fire Department at 10:22 Thursday morning, said Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton, with concerns about an odor in the building.

“We got there three minutes later, and clearly something was wrong,” he said.

Firefighters set off the fire alarm, evacuating the building. They tested the atmosphere and found carbon monoxide levels at 120 parts per million. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the eight-hour exposure limit is 35 ppm and the five-minute exposure limit is 200 ppm.

“The mere fact that it was 120 was of great concern,” Morton said.

Two staff members were transported to the hospital with complaints of illness.

Firefighters ventilated the building, with the help of Vermont Gas. Within two hours, Morton said, the carbon monoxide levels went down to zero, and the store reopened.

Morton said the source of the carbon monoxide was a floor treatment unit that had not been properly modified for indoor use. Fire officials instructed the store’s owner to fix it.

Photos: CVU wrestling

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Photos: CVU boys basketball

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Photos: CVU girls hockey

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Photos: Williston Federated Church Christmas pageant

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Recipe Corner: Recipes for the holidays

By Ginger Isham

Below are recipes that can be made with little effort during this busy Christmas season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Hot bean dip

4 cups kidney beans or pinto beans (drained, save 1/3 cup of bean liquid)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup grated low-fat, cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Combine beans, oil and bean liquid in microwaveable bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes. Mash with potato masher. Stir in rest of ingredients and microwave until cheese melts. Serve hot or warm with salt-free corn chips or crisp veggies.


Broccoli, cheese and rice cups

1 cup white or brown minute rice, uncooked

1 cup chicken broth, low sodium

1 1/2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thaw and drain

2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1/4 cup ranch dressing, light or reduced fat

2 eggs

Prepare rice as directed using chicken broth in place of water. Cool slightly in bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture evenly into 8 greased muffin cups. Bake in 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.


Walnut mincemeat pie

2 eggs

1 cup sugar (3/4 will work too)

2 tablespoons flour

pinch of salt

2 cups prepared mincemeat

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

In a bowl, beat eggs lightly, gradually add sugar, flour and salt. Stir in rest of ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce oven to 325 degrees and continue to bake 35-40 minutes. Cool and store in frig.


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


Hub Happenings

Sock drop nets warm socks, cold cash

NEFCU Senior Marketing Executive Cindy Morgan (third from left) delivered a check for $10,000 to the Community Health Centers of Burlington. 

Through the month of November, New England Federal Credit Union and Community Health Centers of Burlington conducted a “sock drop” to provide warm socks for CHCB’s patients and the homeless during Vermont’s long, cold winters.

On Dec. 12, NEFCU Senior Marketing Executive Cindy Morgan presented 350 pairs of socks to Alison Calderara, CHCB’s community relations and development director. Combined with the socks that CHCB collected, the total came to more than 600 pairs. Morgan also handed over a $10,000 check, presented as part of NEFCU’s ongoing Community Giving Program.

“The Second Annual NEFCU/CHBC Sock Drop is a big success, thanks to the generosity of Vermonters who care about their neighbors. We look forward to many more,” said Calderara.

OpenTempo Helps Vermonters in Need Get a Good Meal

OpenTempo, Inc., a healthcare technology company based in Williston, donated 335 pounds of food and $400 to the Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf in time for Thanksgiving. On Dec. 12, the company prepared a meal for Meals on Wheels as part of the Cooking for a Cause program at The Essex Resort & Spa.

“As a Vermont company, it’s really important to us to stay connected with the local community,” said OpenTempo CEO, Rich Miller. “And the holiday season is a perfect time to help out.”

Edward Jones Ranked No. 1 in National Survey of Financial Advisors

For the 19th time, the financial services firm Edward Jones ranked number one in magazine’s annual survey of the nation’s six largest financial services firms, according to Gregory Lemieux and Christine Kesler Beall, financial advisors in Williston. The magazine randomly selects financial advisors nationwide and asks them to rank their firms in various categories.

Edward Jones’ overall score was 9.5 out of 10 possible points. The firm earned near perfect scores in overall ethics (9.8) and public image (9.7).


Phil Daniels, TD Bank market president for Vermont and Upstate New York, presented a grant to Vicky Smith, executive director of the King Street Center.


Williston’s Phil Daniels delivered a TD Charitable Foundation $12,000 grant to support King Street Center Teen Futures earlier this month.

“We are so grateful to TD Charitable Foundation for this tremendous vote of confidence in our program and for their many years of loyal support,” said King Street Center Executive Director Vicky Smith. “This gift allows us to provide critical support and enriching opportunities for youth and families.”

The foundation also recently donated a total of $30,000 to the Vermont Foodbank.

The donation will be used to support the Foodbank’s network distribution program. Last year, the Foodbank distributed nearly 8.2 million pounds of food to 270 food shelves, meal sites, shelters, senior centers and youth programs throughout Vermont.

“With deep cuts to 3SquaresVT, reductions in donated food, and the cold winter months setting in, more and more of our neighbors are seeking charitable food right now,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “Our hunger-relief partners are being asked to distribute more food and provide more services during a time when resources are already strapped. This donation couldn’t have come at a better time and will be used to ensure more food for Vermonters in need.”


Elizia Meskill has joined Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs as an associate accountant. Meskill has 20 years of bookkeeping and tax preparation experience, as well as four years with a national nonprofit organization. Currently, she is preparing for the exam to earn certification as an enrolled agent.

Danaher receives A+ Certification

DominionTech Inc. announced recently that Jamie Danaher has received his CompTIA A+ certification. Danaher has 11 years of experience in managing information technology.

“Jamie has always been a high achiever here at DominionTech and this certification is validation of many years of hard work,” said Meg Meehan, help desk manager. “We believe his skills go far beyond this certification and that it’s only the tip of the iceberg.”

Danaher joined DominionTech in December 2012 and is front line support on the help desk.

Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel Donates pet supplies


Marc LeBlanc, co-manager, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel (left) delivers pet supplies to Megan Stearns, director of development and community outreach at the Humane Society of Chittenden County.


Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel donated more than 500 pet supply items to the Humane Society of Chittenden County earlier this week.

Lenny’s customers made the donations possible through a coin-drop game which raised $1,015. That money translated into 151 pounds of Wellness dog food, 39 pounds of Wellness cat food, five cases of wet food for dogs and cats, 55 pounds of peanut butter, 36 dog toys, 92 cat toys, 175 pounds of cat litter and over $100 in cash.

“All of Lenny’s staff at the Williston location are big animal lovers and we enjoy giving to the Humane Society each holiday season,” said Marc LeBlanc, co-manager at Lenny’s.

Federal Unemployment Benefit Cuts to Impact Vermont Claimants

Approximately 650 Vermonters will lose their unemployment benefits when the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program ends on Dec. 28. Unless Congress acts to extend the program before that date, the Vermont Department of Labor will have no authority or funding to continue the benefit program. While Congress has extended the program many times in the past five years, there is no indication at this time that the EUC program will be reauthorized.  The Vermont Department of Labor is currently notifying affected UI claimants.

Due to Vermont’s low unemployment rate, the maximum number of EUC weeks dropped to 26 weeks in June 2012. Congress further reduced the maximum of EUC Tier 1 benefits weeks from 20 to 14 weeks in September of 2012, where it has remained.

Any individual who needs help finding a job should come into one of VDOL’s local offices. For a list of the Department’s Career Resource Centers and other information, visit If you need help with housing, food, medical care or other essentials, dial 211 or visit

Local financial planner publishes book

Local financial planner and wealth advisor Philip Spillane recently published his first book, aiming to provide an easy yet effective wealth building process that anyone can follow. In “Starting With the Destination in Mind,” Spillane shares some of his personal experience as principal of Bell Wealth Management in South Burlington, as well as insights from luminaries like Ben Franklin, Steve Jobs and even Yogi Berra.

The book is intended to present financial advice in a non-technical way, for everyone from a recent graduate living at home to a family matriarch or patriarch concerned about leaving a legacy.

“The book is for anyone who is not content with where they are or where they are headed financially, but it also addresses keys to retaining wealth once it is attained,” according to a press release.

Small Dog Electronics Helping the Vermont Foodbank

Small Dog Electronics is helping the Vermont Foodbank to feed as many as 86,000 Vermonters who need food assistance. The company will donate 1 percent of every purchase to the Foodbank in December.

“We are deeply grateful to Small Dog Electronics and their loyal customers for this partnership,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO John Sayles. “Together we are ensuring that our neighbors who struggle to put food on their tables have the food they need.”

Charitable giving is an integral part of Small Dog’s corporate social mission. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Vermont Foodbank,” says Don Mayer, CEO of Small Dog Electronics. “Helping those in need is what the holiday season is really all about.”

CCTA collecting donations

The Chittenden County Transit Authority is participating in several initiatives in December to help collect donations during the holiday season.

On Dec. 7, CCTA brought a bus to Toys R Us in Williston and encouraged shoppers to “stuff the bus.” Shoppers donated 219 toys to Toys for Tots. CCTA is also collecting toys in its administrative offices in Burlington.

New Business Puts Fresh Spin on Year-round Cycling

A new small business has partnered with Burlington locals to make the sport of cycling a year-round activity. The business, IdleFast Events, paired with long-time outdoor sporting goods supplier Skirack and the cycling team 1K2GO Sports to provide daily compu-training classes for anyone seeking more friends, fitness and fun this season.

Cyclists clamp their bikes to the compu-trainer machines, allowing a complex computer program to measure nearly every facet of a rider’s physical exertion. The machines simulate the outdoor experience of cycling in an environment friendly to all levels of ability and interest. Certified USA Cycling coaches guide each participant through 1.5 to 2 hour-long sessions in which riders can race among themselves or compete against the clock.

Carlson joins Green Mountain Power

With the impending retirement of longtime Green Mountain Power communications executive Steve Terry at year’s end, Kristin Carlson will join GMP as director of media Jan. 6. Carlson, co-anchor of “The 30” on WCAX and senior political reporter, will lead the company’s efforts to develop new communications strategies to improve the customer experience.

“Steve Terry brought decades of communications experience to the company when he joined Green Mountain Power in 1985,” President and CEO Mary Powell said.  “While it will be impossible to fill Steve’s shoes, Kristin has similar skills and experience, and shares our commitment to clear, open and transparent communications.”

Terry, 71, started at GMP in 1985, retired from the company in 2006, and served as a consultant to the company for the next six years.  He returned to GMP full time in early 2012, with plans to stay two years.

Renewable NRG Systems hires technical account manager 

Renewable NRG Systems, a designer and manufacturer of resource assessment and turbine optimization equipment for the global renewable energy industry, recently hired Barry Dugan to develop the market and manage the sales of Avent Wind Iris Lidar systems in North America.
Dugan comes to Renewable NRG Systems from Cambridge, Mass. advertising agency Soldier Design, where he served as general manager/business director.

Unemployment at 4.5 percent in October

The Vermont Department of Labor announced that the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for October was 4.5 percent, a decrease from September’s rate of 4.6 percent. October represented the first reported decrease to the statewide unemployment rate in Vermont in five months.

The comparative national average was 7.3 percent, up a tenth of a percent from September.

new board members at The Stern Center for Language and Learning

The Stern Center for Language and Learning, a nonprofit learning center with a location in Williston, elected the following new members and officers to its Board of Directors during its recent annual meeting. The new board members are Sarah Beal, Jon Pizzagalli, Brian Till and Sara Trimmer.

U.S. News ranks UVM among Top 10 Best National Universities for Veterans

In a recent list by U.S. News ranking the best colleges and universities for veterans, UVM placed 10th among 52 top national universities that offer benefits to men and women returning from service.

The university’s career center, which can help veterans translate their military experience to a civilian resume, and the Veterans Collaboration Organization, a peer support group, were cited as key advantages for this population.
In order to be considered for this inaugural Best Colleges for Veterans list, schools had to have been ranked in the 2014 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges, as well as be members of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.


Nelson Lyford Jr. joins DuBois & King

DuBois & King consulting engineers recently announced that Nelson Lyford Jr. has joined the firm as a project engineer in the Site and Land Development Division and will focus on site development work for wireless telecommunication and land development projects. Nelson lives in Montpelier and works out of the firm’s South Burlington office.


New England Super Lawyers recognizes Karen McAndrew

Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew recently announced that Karen McAndrew has been included by Super Lawyers in the Top 100 Attorneys and the Top 50 Women Attorneys in New England. McAndrews is senior litigation counsel at Dinse focusing on complex litigation, employment and higher education law.

Triad Temporary Services to close after 27 years


By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

After connecting local businesses with workers for more than 25 years, Williston-based Triad Temporary Services is closing its doors.

Triad President Stanley Grandfield announced on Dec. 1 that the end of the year would mark his retirement and the closing of the company.

“While it was a difficult decision to make, I thank you for your incredible support in endorsing a Vermont-owned and operated small business which has brought so many benefits to us both over the past twenty-seven years,” Grandfield wrote in a Dec. 1 letter to clients. “I have always believed that we are each other’s clients, and I will certainly miss this company, our colleagues, and wonderful clients like you.”

A life-long Vermonter, Grandfield started the business in 1986, after retiring from a career in the banking industry. Half a year into his first retirement, he was bored, and decided to purchase a company called Triad Design Services with a partner. After seeing the value of temporary help at that company, they opened a companion business called Triad Temporary Services.

Grandfield could not be reached for comment before press deadline.

Locally owned and operated, Triad provides short-term or long-term staff covering a broad spectrum of occupations, specializing in providing clerical and manfucaturing help. Triad focused on central and northwestern Vermont—developing relationships with several large companies that have a steady need for temporary help—but has worked with businesses as far north as Newport.

Anyone engaged with Triad was either absorbed into jobs at the company with which they had been placed or were transferred to other local staffing firms, said Kathleen Lawrence, senior staffing coordinator.

“I’m really proud to have worked for him and we wish him the best in his retirement,” Lawrence said. “People in Williston have been great to us.”

THE HUB: State’s first Weight Watchers store opens in Williston

The first Weight Watchers retail store in Vermont opened in Williston on Dec. 8. Residents can browse programs and weight loss tools and attend support meetings. (Observer courtesy photo)

The first Weight Watchers retail store in Vermont opened in Williston on Dec. 8. Residents can browse programs and weight loss tools and attend support meetings. (Observer courtesy photo)

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Vermont’s first Weight Watchers retail store opened in Williston last week, hoping to help Vermonters get a handle on their weight in a reasonable way.

Known for its point system, Weight Watchers developed the stores as a new way to draw people and organize its offerings in central locations. Residents interested in its weight-loss and body images programs can stop in and learn more, purchase memberships and shop for Weight Watchers products designed to promote a healthier lifestyle. Members can also weigh themselves privately.

Marty Moses, territory manager for Weight Watchers, said Weight Watchers helps members lose weight by teaching them to eat healthfully—eschewing fad diets and focusing on a doable, sustainable way to change eating and lifestyle habits.

“Our philosophy is you should learn how to eat healthfully in a way that will help you lose weight, but also is something you can do for the rest of your life,” she said. “We teach you what the best foods are and how to include indulgences in a way that’s doable and at the same time healthy.”

The store opened its doors Dec. 8, and staff are planning a series of kick-off events to celebrate its opening, according to manager Phyllis Etienne. Events begin with a fashion show on Dec. 28 and makeovers on Dec. 29. Weight Watchers is also partnering with several local eateries—including Starbucks, Panera, Longhorn Steakhouse and Natural Provisions—for January seminars on skinny drinks, ways to eat out healthfully and getting started with healthy foods, Etienne said.

“We encourage our members to eat fruits and vegetable, lean protein, whole grains and dairy,” Moses said. “Essentially, what we believe is you can eat anything you want, but healthy foods first.”

Weight Watchers has two ways of monitoring food intake. The first and most well-known is its point system, which has been around since 1997. Foods are assigned a point value based on what Moses described as “a simplified way of calculating your calorie intake.”

Members can also choose unlimited foods from a “power food” list—all fruits and vegetables, lean protein like chicken and fish and whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and, a favorite, popcorn—and eat to satisfaction.

The food plan is the pillar of Weight Watchers’ identity, Moses said, but it also has a personal touch.

“All of our leaders and team members are successful Weight Watchers members,” Moses said. “They’ve gone through the program. They’ve lived it, they’ve lost weight on it, they’ve seen success with it and they have a desire and a passion to pay it forward and help other people who want to lose weight. I think that really makes a difference, that personal touch that we have.”

Moses said the Williston location is Vermont’s first—and will most likely be its only—Weight Watchers store location. The corporation chose Williston because it has one of the largest population bases and a central location, she said.

The site will also host daily meetings where those on the program gather to share experiences. Moses said the meetings are a helpful tool, and residents can come visit a meeting for free.

“It is rare that I sit in a meeting and not get inspired by all the people and their efforts to get stronger, more confident and more self empowered,” she said. “Someone always has a comment or a story, and I walk away thinking, ‘Wow.’”

Weight Watchers is located at 62 Merchants Row in Williston. For more information, visit


Root 7 set to perform at Brick Church concert

A cappella group Root 7, which includes (from left) Chris Nial, DeAnna Bevilacqua, Samantha Donalds, Guinn Hand-Boniakowski Joe Antonioli, Corrine Mertz and Colleen Christman, are set to perform Friday at the Old Brick Church. (Observer courtesy photo)

A cappella group Root 7, which includes (from left) Chris Nial, DeAnna Bevilacqua, Samantha Donalds, Guinn Hand-Boniakowski Joe Antonioli, Corrine Mertz and Colleen Christman, are set to perform Friday at the Old Brick Church. (Observer courtesy photo)

Observer staff report

Local a cappella group Root 7 is set to perform at Friday’s Brick Church concert—the fourth performance in this season’s series.

The Delles—three local women who will perform a selection of favorite tunes—will open the concert.

This week’s concert proceeds, as well as proceeds from a silent auction, will benefit the steeple project at the College Street Congregational Church in Burlington.

Tickets for the concert, held at the Old Brick Church in Williston Village, are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Advance tickets are available online through the town’s website,, or at the town clerk’s office. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.