June 20, 2018

ANNIVERSARY: Votes, crimes and new faces headline past Octobers

The Williston Observer is celebrating its 25th year providing news to the community. Here are some stories from past months of October:

• Williston residents were to vote on Oct. 20, 1987 on whether to hire a town manager, the Whistle reported in its October 1987 issue. A growing town had resulted in the need for more municipal employees and a greater number of services.

“As these responsibilities have grown by major proportions in the last few years, the need for professional management of town affairs has become more evident,” the Whistle reported.

A town manager would perform “day-to-day coordination and management of the various town departments to make the most efficient use of … resources” and “would also oversee the financial management of the town under the direction of the (Selectboard),” according to the Whistle. The measure passed, and Williston’s first town manager started work in September 1988.

• In its October 1989 edition, the Whistle detailed the components of a bond proposal asking Williston voters to authorize a $6.72 million expense for a building and renovation project at Williston Central School. The state would have helped fund the $7.2 million project. Plans for the five-year project included 12 new classrooms and improved traffic flow for buses and pedestrians.

• As part of the Children’s Art Exchange, paintings from American and Russian kids lined Town Hall at a reception welcoming a delegation from Vermont’s sister state, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Karella, the Whistle reported in October 1989.

• The Whistle reported in October 1991 that the Williston Central School Board had in the previous month received the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education’s annual School Board/Community Award. At the awards ceremony in September, the Alliance co-chairwoman praised the School Board for maintaining and expanding its commitment to the arts.

• In the Oct. 21, 1992 edition of the Whistle, the paper reported that a new police chief, Ozzie Glidden, would join the Williston Police Department on Dec. 7. Glidden, 47 at the time, was the police chief in Richmond before coming to Williston.

• Former Town Manager Bert Moffatt won the Vermont League of Cities and Towns’ Municipal Person of the Year Award in October 1995, the Whistle reported in its Oct. 5 issue of that year. Moffatt had served as town manager in Williston for seven years prior to receiving the award.

• On Oct. 10, 1995, the Williston Planning Commission approved a $5.4 million, 400-student elementary school, which would eventually become Allen Brook School.

• “Supreme Court Clears the Way for Wal-Mart,” read the top headline in the Oct. 26, 1995 Whistle. The state’s Supreme Court rejected the final appeal against Wal-Mart. Burlington and Citizens for Responsible Growth had appealed a state permit for Wal-Mart, but the court said only directly-affected parties, such as the town of Williston or the Regional Planning Commission, could appeal the permit; Burlington and Citizens for Responsible Growth did not qualify to appeal.

• Williston Police Sgt. Bart Chamberlain found and removed a massive marijuana plant growing on the east side of town, the Whistle reported on Oct. 3, 1996.

“I’ve picked a lot of pot in my enforcement career, but I can’t remember ever seeing a plant like this,” Chamberlain told the Whistle.

The Whistle described the plant as 6 feet tall with a stalk “as thick as a man’s wrist,” and reported that the marijuana would have fetched more than $1,000 if sold. The grower, if caught, would have faced fines and up to three years in state prison.

• Full-time members of the Williston Police Department unanimously voted to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters labor union, the Whistle reported on Oct. 2, 1997.

• Circuit City Stores Inc. announced it would hire approximately 80 associates for its location on Marshall Avenue, which was set to open in November 1997. The Whistle reported in its Oct. 16, 1997 paper that the store would be the first Circuit City in Vermont.

The company went out of business early last year after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2008.

John Flanigan of the Public Works Department guides playground equipment onto a truck in October 2001. The main playground and the preschool playground at Williston Central School were torn down that month because of safety concerns. (File photo)

• Town and school officials, responding to concerns from parents, decided to study safety at the Williston Central School playground, the Whistle reported on Oct. 4, 2001. Parents showed then-Principal Elaine Pinckney pictures of jagged metal edges and exposed bolts on some of the playground equipment. Pinckney said the playground could see improvement, but she did not feel it posed an immediate danger to children.

Three weeks later, the Oct. 18 issue of the Whistle reported that the Williston School Board opted to close the playground. The board made its decision after parents presented a report completed in 1998 by a playground safety expert. The report noted potential hazards that included deteriorating wood, unsafe swings and missing safety rails.

By the time the Oct. 25 issue of the paper came out, school officials had decided to tear down the playground.

• Dorothy Alling Memorial Library Director Marti Fiske was hired in October 2005, the Observer reported on Oct. 6 of that year. Fiske joined the Williston library after serving as the head of Shelburne’s Pierson Library.

• Teachers belonging to the Chittenden South Education Association reached a contract agreement with Chittenden South Supervisory Union after months of working without a contract, the Observer reported on Oct. 18, 2007. The agreement followed nearly a year of negotiations; the previous contract had expired on July 1, 2007. Individual pay increases under the contract varied, but the supervisory union budget for salaries was set to increase by 4.3 percent in 2007-2008, 4.3 percent in 2008-2009 and 4 percent in the 2009-2010 school year.

• In 2007, Williston became the first municipality in the state to be designated a growth center. The Observer reported on Oct. 25, 2007 that the Expanded Downtown Board voted in favor of the designation. The growth center area included approximately 700 acres around Taft Corners, and the status made it easier for Williston to borrow money while encouraging development of a pedestrian-friendly downtown.

• The Williston Community Food Shelf moved to Maple Tree Place in October 2008 after operating out of the garage of the organization’s then-president Jill Lang. The Observer reported in its Oct. 23 issue that the Food Shelf was scheduled to open Nov. 1. The Food Shelf has since relocated again, and now makes its home at Suite 115 of 300 Cornerstone Drive.

• Two men died in an apparent murder-suicide at a home on Isham Circle, the Observer reported on Oct. 30, 2008. Police said Michael Putnam, 55, of Waterbury shot his estranged wife’s boyfriend, 59-year-old Gary Smith of Shelburne, before committing suicide. Police called the slaying Williston’s first murder in nearly 20 years.

• Champlain Valley Union High School’s field hockey team won the Division 1 championship in 2008. According to the Oct. 30 issue of the Observer, the 3-0 victory over previously undefeated Hartford High captured the second field hockey title in school history.

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