July 18, 2019

CVU Sports, Concert

Academic honors

The following Williston residents were named to the Dean’s List of their respective colleges and universities for the fall 2017 semester. They are listed alphabetically by last name.

Megan Ammon, Penn State University

Amanda Beatty, Castleton University

Renee Benoit, University of Vermont

Sarah Bergkvist, University of Vermont

Mehanna Borostyan, University of Vermont

Nicole Bouffard, University of Vermont

Justin Boutin, Champlain College

Joshua Cameron, University of Vermont

Zowie Caouette, University of Vermont

Landon Carpenter, University of New Hampshire

Laura Durkee, University of Delaware

Taylor Fontaine, Champlain College

Edo Francisco, Johnson State University

Lansingh Freeman, Champlain College

Brendan Gannon, Sienna College

Sophia Gigliotti, University of New Hampshire

Kyle Gorman, University of Vermont

Jack Hall, Stonehill

Thomas Hark, Southern New Hampshire University

Julia Higa, University of Vermont

Elizabeth Hunt, Emanuel College

Emily S. LaCroix, St. Michael’s College

Russell Lasdon, University of Vermont

Sarah Leister, University of Vermont

Eliza Lemieux, University of Vermont

Julie Macuga, University of Vermont

Nicholas Mogielnicki, University of New Hampshire

Eleanor Moody, University of Vermont

Lydia Moreman, University of Vermont

Elizabeth Niekrewicz, University of Vermont

Rachel Nigh, University of Vermont

Cooper Norton, Babson College

Brian O’Connor, University of Vermont

Julia Parent, New England College

Deagan Poland, Castleton University

Kelsey Reed, University of Vermont

Kelsie Saia, University of Vermont

Victoria Thompson, Champlain College

Katrina Ulanov, University of Vermont

Max Whitcomb, University of Rhode Island


Joshua Ashley of Williston was named to the president’s list at Castleton University for the fall semester.

Mikala Clark of Williston was named to the president’s list at Southern New Hampshire University for the fall semester.

Nicole Johnson was named to the president’s list at Johnson State College for the fall semester.

Russell Lasdon of Williston was named to the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society at the University of Vermont.

Paige A. Watson of Williston graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Packaging Science.

Flag football registration opens

Registration for FlagFootball@CVU is open for the winter session held every Sunday in February and March. The program is a pick-up style flag football program for boys and girls in grades two through seven. Sessions will be held Sundays from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Champlain Valley Union High School gym. Games are coached by current CVU Redhawks football players and supervised by CVU football coaches.

The games will be non-contact and comprised of four to seven players per side. The program is free and open to all interested youth regardless of town of residence or experience.

More information and the required waiver are available at: https://tinyurl.com/CVUFlagFootball2018. Visit the program’s Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/CVUFlagFootball/

FlagFootball@CVU is sponsored by CVU Redhawks Football and the Buccaneers Youth Football Program.

CVU girls remain unbeaten

By Lauren Read

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union High School girls basketball team got the upperhand in the second quarter to pull away from South Burlington for a 48-24 victory on Monday night in a rematch of two of the top Division I teams.

Mekkena Boyd led the undefeated Redhawks (9-0) with 14 points, and Nicole Eaton scored eight of her 11 points in the second quarter.

Lindsey Albertelli added nine points and nine rebounds for CVU, which pulled away with a 16-4 second quarter.

Boys basketball

Burlington 58, Champlain Valley 43: The Champlain Valley boys basketball team could not overcome an 11-point halftime deficit and fell to host Burlington on Friday night.

Kevin Garrison tallied 27 points, including 14 in the first quarter, to help the Seahorses snap the Redhawks’ three-game winning streak.

Graham Walker had 14 points to lead CVU (5-3), while Will Burroughs netted nine points.


The Champlain Valley wrestling team competed in the Michael J. Baker Classic on Saturday in Essex, finishing in 13th place in the team competition.

Queensbury, N.Y., took first with 209.5 points, followed by Massabesic (Maine) in second with 161 points. Essex was the top Vermont school, coming in third place with 147.5 points.

Champlain Valley finished with 42.5 points.

Minimum wage hike harmful

There are six different proposals up for consideration by the Vermont Legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage. Sen. Michael Sirotkin, chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee, is leading the charge to enact S.40, which would hike the wage to $15 per hour over four years.

He recently cited a bipartisan committee report claiming raising the minimum wage would benefit the state and workers and result in very few job losses. But there is evidence to show that won’t be the case.

To see just how destructive such a mandate can be to low-wage workers, one needs only look at the recent experiment in Seattle. Politicians in that city were hailed when they raised the local minimum wage to $13 per hour, which is the second of three incremental increases to take that city’s wage to $15 per hour.

A University of Washington study conducted nine months after the wage went to $13 found about 5,000 low-wage jobs disappeared. It also found the number of hours worked by low-wage workers dropped by 3.5 million, and the average low-wage employee saw their paycheck drop by $125 a month.

When employers face a mandated wage increase, raising the pay of employees who fall below the new minimum isn’t the only cost they face. There are also additional payroll taxes to be paid. If the wages of workers making above the new minimum aren’t also bumped up, productivity is likely to suffer. The business owner may not be able to afford these added costs, and the marketplace might not tolerate higher prices for the goods they sell.

Jobs can be eliminated, hours cut and remaining employees asked to take on more duties. Those appear to be the choices Seattle’s employers made.

It is crucial that Vermont lawmakers consider the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage. The Seattle study shows that the people they intend to help would actually be hurt.

Shawn Shouldice

National Federation of Independent Business


Making school radon testing mandatory

In Vermont, we work hard to protect our kids from anything that may cause them harm. This is doubly true in school buildings, where we vet the people going in and out, monitor things like allergens and medications and take careful notice of how we maintain facilities. Unfortunately, there is a missing link in school safety, and that is in the air our kids breathe daily.

High levels of radon have been found in schools across the country, including some in Vermont. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is odorless, tasteless and clear and creeps in through foundations, silently accumulating in buildings and homes. Long-term exposure to radon can be harmful and even deadly.

While Vermont’s Department of Health offers free radon testing to public schools, only 74 of nearly 300 schools have taken advantage of this program since 2005. Of the schools that were tested, 15 percent had screening results classified as dangerous enough to recommend radon mitigation. These tests should be mandatory in every school building, and results should be disclosed to the teachers, parents and community members whose lives may be changed because of it.

Sen. Ginny Lyons is introducing a bill requiring schools to test for radon. This is a vitally important bill for all teachers, parents and families in Vermont that rely on schools to educate and protect our children. All Vermonters should urge their representatives to support this legislation and prioritize the health of our children and the air they breathe.

Rebecca Ryan

American Lung Association in Vermont

‘We shine brighter together’ 

This quote is featured in this year’s Williston Central School mentoring display — full of shooting stars and blinking lights — just unveiled in the school lobby. It speaks to the importance of mentoring in the lives of both mentors and mentees.

This National Mentoring Month, I want to focus on the ways WCS mentors lives are enriched by their participation in Connecting Youth Mentoring. Here’s what a few WCS prospective mentors had to say about what they hope to gain from their mentoring experience.

“For me, mentoring will be a chance to come down off a crazy schedule and connect with another person. We will have no agenda, no worries, we will just enjoy our time. How often do people say they can do that during an action-packed week?”

“I know I will get gems every time I am with my mentee, based on their traditions, culture and wisdom.”

“Mentoring sounds like a fun new role that will give me an opportunity to learn what’s going on in the mind of a cool kid.”

“Mentoring is a chance to connect with young people and increase my sense of meaning.”

“Mentoring lets me feel youthful and have unadulterated fun.”

“I will get to see a young person mature and build up their self-confidence and step out in life.”

“I love kids, value them highly, and enjoy spending time with them. I will treasure this one-on-one time each week.”

“I know I will get more back than I give.”

“I hope mentoring will keep me more vibrant, alive and in touch with young people.”

The initial decision to volunteer as a mentor comes from wanting to give back. The decision to keep mentoring, year after year, is a powerful statement of the reciprocity of mentoring relationships. It is no coincidence that the average WCS mentor has now served over five and a half years.

We shine brighter together, indeed.

Nancy Carlson

Connecting Youth Mentoring Coordinator

Williston Central School

With ‘mixed emotions,’ Scott signs pot legalization

Observer staff report

Gov. Phil Scott on Monday signed H.511 into law, legalizing the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana in Vermont beginning July 1.

Below, read his message to legislators upon signing the bill, as well as reaction from groups opposed to and in favor of the law.

Statement from Gov. Scott

“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511 … I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children. In this context, it is very important to understand what H. 511 does and does not do.

“While this legislation eliminates penalties for adult (age 21 and up) possession of no more than one ounce, and cultivation of no more than two mature plants on their private property, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Vermont and its sale is prohibited. Also, consumption of marijuana in public places is prohibited. Consumption of marijuana by operators and passengers in a motor vehicle is prohibited. And schools, employers, municipalities and landlords are also empowered to adopt policies and ordinances further restricting the cultivation and use.

“The legislation also include(s) stronger criminal and civil penalties for selling to or enabling the consumption of marijuana by someone under 21; criminal penalties for using marijuana in a motor vehicle with a child present; criminal penalties for using or growing marijuana at facilities serving children; clear legal liability of the consequences of making marijuana available to minors; strict penalties for possession of marijuana by those convicted of felony sale of marijuana, selling a regulated drug to minors, or on school grounds; and stronger penalties and fines for open containers in a motor vehicle.

“My veto of (last year’s) S.22 also plainly expressed my reservations about a commercial system which depends on profit motive and market driven demand for its growth. I look forward to the Marijuana Advisory Commission addressing the need to develop comprehensive education, prevention and highway safety strategies. To be very direct: There must be comprehensive and convincing plans completed in these areas before I will begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial ‘tax and regulate’ system for an adult marijuana market. … Until we have a workable plan to address each of these concerns, I will veto any additional effort along these lines which manages to reach my desk. “

Statement from Matt Simon, New England political director of the Marijuana Policy Project

“Adults in Vermont no longer need to fear being fined or criminalized for low-level marijuana possession and cultivation. This is a great step forward for the state and the whole region. Responsible adults will soon have the freedom to enjoy a safer option legally, and law enforcement will be free to concentrate on serious crimes with actual victims. We are looking forward to working with lawmakers and state leaders to continue improving marijuana laws in the Green Mountain State.”

Statement from Smart Approaches to Marijuana

“While we always oppose any legalization measure that will inevitably increase use rate among our youth and make our roads more dangerous, we recognize that since H.511 stops short of legalizing sales, it can be seen as a compromise.

“We will await the final report from the Governor’s Marijuana Commission. After reading the preliminary report released on Jan. 16, we feel confident that the departments of health and public safety share our concerns with full legalization, and support the need for a cautious approach.

“We look forward to continuing to our work in Vermont and collaborating with medical professionals, educators and law enforcement communities to educate Vermonters on the dangers that legalization poses.”

Resurrecting Trinity Baptist School

Enrollment grows, girls wear pants and a new administrator takes the helm

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

After bottoming out at roughly 30 students in 2012, Williston’s Trinity Baptist School is in the midst of a turnaround. Its current enrollment — 70 students including kindergarten through 12th grade — remains a far cry from its 180-student heyday in the mid 1990s, but it appears the school has recovered from the attrition that nearly forced it to close six years ago.

First-year administrator Rob McIlwaine identifies a few factors he believes have fueled the resurgence.

There is a long-standing disconnect between Christian notions of creationism and public school teachings of evolution. But, according to McIlwaine, new divides have surfaced in recent years that have led more Christian families to consider a private, bible-based education.

Examples include public school acceptance of non-binary notions of gender, the adoption of national Common Core standards measured by standardized tests and the proliferation of interpretive forms of grading (Trinity sticks to the traditional A, B, C, D and F).

“There is a view being presented in government schools that is antithetical to a biblical world view,” he said. “We don’t have any opposition to public schools, but their worldview and ours are really different.”

McIlwaine spoke Monday inside the school’s single building behind Trinity Baptist Church off Mountain View Road. It was the first day of “School Choice Week” in Vermont, part of a national movement to increase awareness about educational options for children. Gov. Phil Scott signed a school choice week proclamation earlier this month, and a rally was held Wednesday in Montpelier with several Trinity students in attendance.

“Vermont has many different types of public and nonpublic schools, as well as families who educate their children in the home,” Scott’s proclamation reads. “It is important for parents in Vermont to explore and identify the best education options available to their children.”

Launched in 1974, Trinity attracts students mostly from the families that attend its parent church. It also enrolls students from Essex, Richmond and as far away as North Hero who attend similar churches.

Trinity’s families, McIlwaine said, are looking for an education that aligns with what is taught at home and in church.

“It all begins with God,” he said. “He exists, and he is the sovereign creator of the universe and that’s not being taught in public schools.”

At the same time that a widening divide between public school teachings and Christian beliefs has turned more people toward Trinity, the school has also relaxed one of its signature traditions — its dress code.

For the first time this winter, girls have been permitted to wear pants, as opposed to the knee-length skirt that has been the tradition for 43 years. McIlwaine called it a common sense decision.

“Culturally, things have changed since the Christian school movement started in the ’60s and early ’70s,” Mcllwaine said. “The concept of modesty and appropriateness used to be for girls to wear a skirt. We are not holding onto those traditions as much anymore.”

Trinity requires male students to wear collared shirts and pants, and girls to wear modest shirts and skirts down to the knee. The change to allow girls to wear pants will be in effect only December through February.

“It is definitely a lot better,” said Trinity eighth-grader Michaela Milligan, who has been at the school since kindergarten. “Pants are much warmer, more flexible and more comfortable. And you don’t have to change after school.”

A dress code is still important for the school, though. McIlwaine said it instills “a mindset and an attitude that ‘we’re here for school.’ If kids are dressed to play, they want to play.”

The dress code is another recruiting point for parents dismayed by student attire in public schools.

“Even the administrators are frustrated with how girls are dressing in public schools,” McIlwaine said. “Our dress code is designed to be modest, not ‘look at me.’”

McIlwaine took over for Sharron Loller, who was forced to step down as the school’s administrator due to an illness last year. She died earlier this month. McIlwaine had planned to arrive last summer, but instead came a few months early when Loller’s health deteriorated.

The church’s lead pastor, Billy Gotcher, recruited McIlwaine from a similar job in Scarborough, Maine. The two had worked together at a church in Michigan in the early 2000s.

Gotcher has been the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church for three years.

“The relationship I have with him drew me here,” said McIlwaine, a native of Chicago and father of three. “We felt the Lord was leading us this way.”

The school building is in the middle of a renovation with classrooms receiving new flooring and paint last year and plans for a kitchen renovation in the works for this summer.

McIlwaine’s goals are to continue to grow enrollment and promote spiritual growth and academic excellence in students. The school plans an open house for prospective students April 6.

Board splinters on town meeting agenda

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The question of whether to keep Williston a member of the Winooski Valley Park District split the selectboard Tuesday when it finalized the agenda for Town Meeting Day. But ultimately, it will be up to the town’s voters to decide on the March 6 ballot.

Board members Jeff Fehrs and Terri Zittritsch voted against the Town Meeting Day agenda, preferring to rescind the question that asks voters to authorize Williston’s withdrawal from the park district. Last year at this time, the board had agreed to put the question to voters if the district did not reduce the town’s $32,000 annual cost of membership by changing the way it charges its seven member municipalities.

Board members Terry Macaig, Joy Limoge and Ted Kenney formed a majority approving the Town Meeting agenda with the park district membership question included. The Williston Conservation Commission recommends the town retain its membership.

The agenda for Town Meeting Day also includes a ballot question asking for voter approval for the town to purchase the solar panel array behind town hall for $345,000, a question whether to join a new regional district to consolidate the dispatch of police and emergency services in Chittenden County and for voter approval of an $11.1 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget represents a roughly 5 percent increase in spending (approximately $500,000) over the current year and an estimated 2 percent increase in the tax rate, which amounts to a half-cent increase per $100 of assessed property value.

The board’s endorsement of the budget, dispatch and solar questions was unanimous. But, as it was on the park district question, the board was also split regarding the agenda for the Annual Town Meeting on March 5, the night before ballot voting in the Williston Central School auditorium.

A group of local environmental activists had submitted a petition requesting the board include on the agenda a non-binding resolution of support for the State of Vermont’s renewable energy goals. Board members Macaig, Fehrs and Zittritsch voted to include the question, while Kenney and Limoge voted against it.

Here is a deeper look at the issues the board wrestled with while determining what voters will consider at Town Meeting Day.

Leaving the Winooski Valley Park District

The Winooski Valley Park District (WVPD) owns and manages 18 public parks in Chittenden County, but none are accessible from Williston. In a formula based 50 percent on population and 50 percent on property values, Williston is the fifth-highest contributor of the seven member municipalities.

Town Manager Rick McGuire has pushed over the past year for the town to exit the district. Without a change to the funding formula — he proposed basing it on population alone, reducing the town’s cost to $25,000 annually — the town is not receiving enough value for its contribution, he argues.

According to WVPD Executive Director Nick Warner, the district’s board of directors discussed changing the formula at several meetings last year but could not muster the political will to make a change that would affect all of its member towns.

Warner instead proposed that the district increase its role in Williston by taking over the management and improvement of one of the town’s public parks. In October, he identified the town-owned Mud Pond Conservation Area as a possibility. Then, in a surprise donation from land owner Peter Jacob, the town acquired 29 acres along the Winooski River off Route 2A in December.

According to Williston Conservation Commission members, the Jacob parcel is a perfect fit for the park district, partly because it is along the river like the majority of WVPD properties. Warner has proposed creating a parking area on the Jacob parcel and trails to access the river.

“We are on the verge of getting what we always wanted from the district, and it would be a shame to stop our membership at this point,” conservation commissioner Carl Runge said Tuesday.

Commissioner Eric Howe noted that, about five years ago, the commission had advocated for the town to withdraw from the district. But the relationship has improved since Warner took over three years ago, he said. And with the town’s conservation efforts focused on the expected acquisition of the 370-acre Catamount Community Forest later this year, the support of the WVPD “is more important now than ever,” Howe said.

“We have reversed our opinion,” he said. “It is a good use of town funds now.”

McGuire advocates contracting out for conservation and land management services to the district on an as-needed basis. But if Williston withdraws, it could jeopardize the district’s existence, Runge countered.

Voters will be presented with a yes/no question authorizing the town to withdraw from the district on the March 6 ballot.

Supporting the state’s renewable energy goals

The State of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan puts Vermont on a path to source 90 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2050. A group of Williston environmentalists attempted to collect signatures from 5 percent of the electorate (450 voters) to raise the question of local support of that goal at Town Meeting Day. The group proposed a non-binding resolution crafted by environmental non-profit 350.org for use at Town Meetings statewide.

Despite the fact that the group collected only 274 signatures, below the 5 percent threshold, a majority of selectboard members agreed to put the question to voters at the March 5 meeting in the WCS auditorium.

“I feel like people should be allowed to have their say,” Zittritsch said. “That is kind of the purpose of Town Meeting, to hear from residents … It affects the way we spend money, so I think it is a valuable topic.”

Kenney and Limoge disagreed, saying discussion on the non-binding resolution would be out of place at Town Meeting.

“I support what they are trying to say. I am passionate about it. But I’m not inclined to put this on Town Meeting because it’s not directly related (to Williston),” Kenney said.

“I’m afraid it will be a free-for-all that takes up an enormous amount of time,” Limoge added.

In addition to lending support for the state’s renewable goals, the resolution also encourages “the town’s continuing efforts to implement energy efficiency measures and preserving town lands for future generations.”

Purchasing the solar array behind town hall

In 2012, the town worked with a Waterbury-based renewable energy developer, Green Lantern Capital, to install a solar array on town-owned land behind town hall. Their contract gives the town the option to take ownership of the panels this year.

The array is appraised at $345,000. Town Finance Director Jennifer Kennelly recommends the purchase, identifying $200,000 of surplus funds available and $125,000 left over from a public works building improvement project to fund most of the purchase.

Renewable energy consultant Jeff Forward said the town would save about $40,000 on electricity costs if it buys the panels.

“You will be getting something for the money you put in,” he said. “It is rare that a municipality has that opportunity.”

Joining a regional dispatch district

Several municipalities in Chittenden County have been working for about two years on a plan to consolidate the dispatch of police and emergency services into what is being called the Chittenden County Public Safety Authority. Williston will be one of seven cities and towns that will have a question on their Town Meeting Day ballots asking for voter authorization to join the group.

McGuire said the town won’t immediately need the group’s services, but he advised joining it in case Williston’s current dispatch arrangements end.

Currently, the Town of Shelburne dispatches Williston’s fire and ambulance service, and the Vermont State Police provide after-hours dispatch for the Williston Police Department.

“They may pull the plug on that, and we’ll be in a position to move to the regional (authority),” he said.

“In the end, Williston has little to lose and much to gain by participating in the formation of this regional authority for dispatch services,” McGuire wrote in a December memo to the board.