September 25, 2018

Volunteer opportunities

By Sue Alenick

United Way Volunteer Coordinator

SteAmfest

The Essex Train Hop Committee is presenting “SteAmfest 2018: The Art of Possibility,” an art and innovation festival Sept. 21-22 in Essex Junction. Volunteers needed to help run stations and art exhibitions. Enjoy the Friday night art walk and Saturday artists’ market, both with live music and street food. Contact Darby Mayville at 868-6944 or email darby@essexjunction.org.

INFORMATION PLEASE [Read more…]

Business survey results released

Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs, headquartered in Williston, partnered with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce on a Vermont Small Business Economic Outlook Survey in July. The survey queried executives at about 140 small- to medium-sized businesses over a diverse set of industries. The following results were released this week. [Read more…]

Recreation and Parks

Fall programs

To register, go to willistonrec.org.

Adult Fitness — Ages 16-plus, 18-plus and 50-plus. Use It to Lose It, Aquatic Fitness, Dangerous Girls, Chi Kung, Gentle Yoga, Tao Tin, Kickboxing, Golden Grooves, Strength Training, Seated/Gentle Yoga.

Adult Education — Ages 16-plus, 18-plus and 50-plus. American Heart Association BLS CPR/AED, Heartsaver CPR/AED, Knitting, Collage. [Read more…]

Guest Column: Scott’s nomination changes gun control narrative

By Clai Lasher-Sommers

Gov. Phil Scott’s victory in the recent Republican party primary shows that the vast majority of Vermonters — including those in the Republican party — are supportive of his courageous actions to pass gun safety measures. Scott’s win sends a clear message, and politicians and political pundits nationwide should pay attention: Republicans can stand for common sense gun measures and be supported for their efforts at the ballot box. Gun violence prevention is a bipartisan issue with bipartisan support. [Read more…]

Firefighters, town agree on 3-year contract

Williston’s firefighters have a new three-year employment contract that brings their pay closer in line with other full-time firefighters in Chittenden County, but they remain at the bottom of the countywide firefighter pay scale. [Read more…]

Independent investigation of VT Gas pipeline requested

James Dumont. File photo by Erin Mansfield/VTDigger

By Elizabeth Gribkoff

For VTDigger

Opponents of a Vermont Gas pipeline want the Public Utility Commission to move forward on an independent investigation of the pipeline construction.

The PUC, at the behest of the Agency of Natural Resources and concerned citizens, ordered an expert review of the methods and practices used to construct the controversial 41-mile pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury.

A letter filed last Wednesday with the PUC by Bristol-based attorney James Dumont on behalf of Hinesburg and Monkton residents says the PUC has not confirmed whether the third-party investigation has begun. The letter requests a meeting with the PUC, Vermont Gas and the Department of Public Service “to get the investigation underway.”

Beth Parent, a spokeperson for Vermont Gas, says the company will meet with the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Public Safety and the opponents to move forward on the independent investigation.

“We remain focused on how we can support an outside expert review,” Parent said in a comment made by email. “We are confident that the inspections and testing we’ve done have confirmed the overall integrity of the pipeline.”

Dumont alleges that photos and other information obtained from Vermont Gas in late July show that the company did not comply with PUC requirements.

“The new information again raises the specter that Vermont Gas Systems has placed in jeopardy the safety of the public, the health of Vermont’s wetlands and streams, and the integrity of the commission’s permitting process,” Dumont wrote.

Three months after the pipeline was completed in April of 2017, regulators began investigating claims that the pipeline was not buried deep enough. The Agency of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Service completed filings last March seeking an expanded investigation into pipeline construction methods.

The “two most critical public safety defenses” for natural gas pipeline construction, according to federal guidelines, are quality control during construction and an intact system — called “cathodic protection” — to prevent corrosion of the pipeline, wrote Dumont. Vermont Gas did not comply with either safety measure, he said in an interview last Thursday.

Vermont Gas hired contractors to install the pipeline and did not inspect or require reporting during the construction process, Dumont alleges. Copies of documents obtained in July confirm opponents’ suspicions that Vermont Gas did not follow the construction guidelines spelled out in the company’s Certificate of Public Good, he said.

One of those requirements was that the pipeline be buried with sand or other “approved backfill” — e.g. rocks no larger than 3 inches. Dumont claims that at two of six sites excavated as part of an inspection, the pipeline was not buried as required. Photos show that at one site, the pipeline is “enveloped in clay” with no sand bedding.

At another site, the inspection report says, the pipe was “padded in clay, buried with rock.” Photos indicate those rocks are 5-6 inches long, said Dumont.

“Here we have photographic proof that they violated the most basic safety precautions that they committed to follow when they got their permit,” he said.

To read the full story, click here.

New sparkle for ‘jewel of community’

Observer photo by Al Frey
Elizabeth Ponce and Ethan St. Amour cut the ribbon for the refurbished Williston Central School

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Two days before school began for real, the doors to Williston Central School opened Monday night for a first look at the $20 million in upgrades completed this month.

[Read more…]

Brewers, planners tackle growing beer waste stream

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

With the Burlington Beer Company planning to expand production by more than 1,000 percent and its restaurant by 400 percent, Williston has its own success story in an industry on the rise. [Read more…]

Kindergarten Kickoff

Fair kicks off Friday

The 2018 Champlain Valley Fair opens at 3 p.m. Friday with hundreds of food concessions, agricultural exhibits, concerts and shows.

About 120,000 people are expected at the fairgrounds, at 105 Pearl Street in Essex, over the 10-day event.

“We’re excited to kick-off the ten best days of summer,” Tim Shea, executive director of the Champlain Valley Exposition, said in a press release. “This event dates back to the early 1900s and is a staple of Vermont’s summer traditions.”

The daily schedule is as follows:

Monday, Aug. 27 — Kids’ Day

Wednesday, Aug. 29 — Carload Day

Thursday, Aug. 30 — Vermont Foodbank Day

Friday, Aug. 31 — Military Appreciation Day

Sunday, Sept. 2 — Making Strides Day

More information is available at champlainvalleyfair.org.