July 21, 2019

Vermonter at Large

Yes, elections have ramifications

July 28, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

In 2008,we elected Democrats to the presidency and control of Congress. In return we got a needed but little understood health care law that mostly takes effect a couple of years from now, plus some overreaching by the Donkeys.

Then came 2010 and more Republicans — partly as a result of Democratic failures in job creation and making the case for health care — took over the U.S. House with many state governorships and legislatures.

That gave us gridlock, a possible U. S. Treasury default and in general, chaos in Washington and several states.

In the words of former Alaska Gov. (resigned with two years left) and Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, “How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?”

Just ask the good citizens of Minnesota, where a GOP legislature hammered a no taxes pledge and a Democratic governor shut down state government for two weeks because a new state budget created a stalemate. Compromise was no longer in the political dictionary.

Take the query to Wisconsin. In Madison, newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a GOP-controlled legislature chopped up public employee unions even though the unions agreed to some pension cuts. It should be noted that Walker exempted the police and firefighters’ unions that supported him during the election. The governor and legislators of both parties are now facing recall votes.

And, as of this past Monday, ask stock and bond holders (perhaps yourself), how this past Congressional election that brought more than 100 rabid conservative ideologues to the U.S. House is working out for ya. These Tea Party enthusiasts are major contributors (but not the only ones) to the cuckoo’s nest atmosphere that has enveloped Washington, leaving the nation at the brink of default on its debts.

Leadership is thus far not very effective. House Speaker John Boehner and Whip Eric Cantor have to play to their hard core Tea Baggers, who themselves got elected in gerrymandered districts by hard core GOP voters.

No new taxes and stop big government were the basis of their elections. Oh yes, that and blind, almost fanatical opposition to anything President Barack Obama might propose. As a result, there were no compromises.

Senate leadership appears to be somewhat more flexible and that was where a glimmer of action was taking place at the start of the week.

While the Elephants are holding fast to their ideological positions, the Democrats are just as obstinate about entitlements, essentially Social Security and Medicare. So far they rigidly oppose even small changes around the edges.

Many believe this too will end with the required hike in the debt ceiling before default is reality. Don’t be too sure. The fault lines in Congress are as deep as they have ever been and that goes back to the pre-Civil War days.

A recent book, “1861—The Civil War Awakening” by Adam Goodheart, tells a lot about attitudes in a divided Congress during that tumultuous year.

According to columnist Thomas L. Friedman in Sunday’s (July 23) New York Times, help may be on the way but much too late to assist in the present crisis. Friedman writes that a third party “Americans Elect” is about to appear on the electoral stage and open the presidential nomination process from the Republican and Democratic parties that seem only interested in their ideologies and power.

This new movement would govern from the middle of the spectrum, which would give it far more flexibility in resolving issues

That sounds good. But it does not at first blush solve the vexing situation that our election by big bucks has gotten us into. To win election to national office, the hopeful needs big time party support and the largesse of individual and corporate givers who put their money where their self-interests are.

Since House and Senate members — when winning for the first time — look at their newly won office as a nice plush career, the stakes become much higher, the quest for money becomes much more vital, and the chances of casting a vote that disturbs either loud constituents or well heeled special interests are much more rare.

Congresspersons and, in some states, legislators who would vote for their nation or state first and career second are an endangered species.

Confession: This scribe was raised in a Northeast Kingdom Republican stronghold where it was said by citizens, “By golly I would vote for that fence post if it were Republican.” Much later when it came to national political parties, this individual decided, “a plague on both their houses.” However, the Republican Party now in Washington in no way resembles the thoughtful GOP members in the Kingdom years ago.

Right to the Point

Farewell, and a look at Israel

July 28, 2011

By Kayla Purvis

Editor’s Note: This week is the final installment of “Right to the Point.” Kayla Purvis has been the columnist for “Right to the Point” since June 2010. We wish her luck in college next year and beyond. The Observer will no longer run political columns but looks forward to beginning its “Life in Williston” series in the near future.

I was privileged enough to spend last week in Washington DC for a conference known as Christians United for Israel.

I learned many things during this conference, one of which was that the Observer has chosen this to be the last of the bimonthly political columns. I am disappointed, but fully understand the need to move on. I would like to use my farewell column to advocate for a wholly worthy political cause, and the subject of the CUFI conference: Israel.

And yes, I’m going to get Biblical.

The people of Israel started with Abraham. In Genesis 12, God says to Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed by you (Genesis 12:2-3).” So Israel would be the nation to rise from Abraham, and anyone who blesses Israel will be blessed, and anyone who curses Israel will be, well, not blessed.

A perfect example of this is the United States. We are, as it stands, Israel’s one true ally. And look at our nation! Look at how quickly we advanced, how many privileges we have that other nations do not. And look at the Six-Day War. Israel had a stunning victory over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and gained control of the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

The Jewish people have historical and biblical rights to Israel; they are not “occupying” it. They own it! And anyone — including the United States — who tries to remove them from that land is going to be torn down.

There is question about America’s loyalty to Israel right now. There are calls to destroy and delegitimize Israel, to divest from them, and even to return the Jewish people to Germany and Poland “where they came from.” Helen Thomas, a former member of the White House Press Corps, has been recorded saying that the Jews need to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland and the U.S.

Listen to me carefully. Bad things will happen to the United States if we abandon Israel. Enemies surround Israel; one of which is also threatening to wipe out the U.S. There is the ruthless Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, radicals in Syria who received $1.56 billion from Iran and has allies in Turkey, Al Qaeda presence in Yemen; Libyan rebels with strong ties to Al Qaeda.

Then there is Iran, which is a huge problem. President Barack Obama, you will not be able to negotiate with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You must prepare for military actions because Ahmadinejad wants us to feel powerless and powerful at the same time. Iran will soon have the capabilities to wipe out our entire electronic infrastructure; from traffic lights and cell phones to Wall Street, banks and our military intelligence system.

Iran’s nuclear missiles are capable of reaching our eastern states so it’s not just Israel’s problem. They call Israel “Little Satan” and call the United States “Big Satan.” We’re a target.

I will leave you with these few statements that were our talking points for our Congressional meetings: Israel is not the problem. Pressure on Israel is not the solution. We need to provide security aid to Israel. We need to stop Iran.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a 2011 graduate of CVU High School.




Elaine Sarah Gay, of Williston, died peacefully at Fletcher Allen Health Care on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, surrounded by loving family and friends. Elaine was born on Valentine’s Day, 1956, in Pittsburgh, Pa. to Samuel Moss and Ina (Mandel) Moss, who predeceased her. She was educated in Monroeville and Pittsburgh, Pa. area schools, then attended the University of Vermont, where she met her husband and life-partner, Paul. While at UVM they were VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteers in southern Vermont and were married in Windsor in 1975. Elaine remained committed to progressive social issues for her entire life. Elaine was employed in the health care field for her entire adult life. Most of that time was spent as a clinical research coordinator in geriatric medicine, psychiatry and most recently, nephrology. She was passionate about her work and leaves behind many close colleagues, patients and friends. Elaine genuinely enjoyed life. Her many hobbies included cooking, reading, kayaking and gardening. She will be terribly missed by those who had the good fortune to know her. Elaine is survived by her loving husband, Paul; their son, Daniel of Worcester, Mass. and his wife, Amy, and their children, Imogene, Mirabel and Jarvis; and their son, Neale of Greenfield, Mass. and his wife, Christina, and their daughter, Clara. She also leaves behind two sisters, Lynda and Stephanie, and a brother, Frederick, all of California. The family would like to thank Drs. Steven Grunberg, Janet Ely and Ruth Heimann, as well as the many wonderful nurses and staff who cared for Elaine during her cancer treatment in FAHC. A funeral service was held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 22, 2011, in the Boucher and Pritchard Funeral Home, 85 No. Winooski Ave., Burlington. Visiting hours were in the funeral home on Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Arrangements are by Boucher and Pritchard Funeral Directors. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Elaine’s memory to the American Cancer Society, 55 Day Lane, Williston, Vt. 05495.

Around Town

Williston’s Blaine nominated for United Way award

July 28, 2011

United Way of Chittenden County announced this year’s 29 nominations for its “Hometown Hero” volunteer awards on July 20, which recognize the impact community volunteers have on the quality of life in Chittenden County.

Williston resident Elizabeth Blaine was nominated for her service as an RSVP volunteer to the Cathedral Square Corporation, a non-profit organization based in South Burlington that owns and manages properties for seniors and individuals with special needs.

This is the tenth year the annual awards will be made by the United Way of Chittenden County Volunteer Center, according to a news release from the organization. The winners will be announced on Sept. 9 at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center. In all, the nominations honor 64 individuals and 3 businesses, with more than 546 combined years of service and more than 9,324 combined hours of service annually in Chittenden County.

For more information about United Way of Chittenden County and the Volunteer Center, visit www.unitedwaycc.org, call 860-1677 or email volctr@unitedwaycc.org.

Local artist’s Wahter Man Project aims to increase awareness

July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Williston resident Shawn Luke. (Observer photos by Adam White)

‘Wahter Man’ by Shawn Luke.

Shawn Luke has a fascination with water equal to his passion for creating art. Both are currently on display in the Community Room at the Williston Police Station, in an exhibit called the Wahter Man Project.

A Minnesota native who currently lives in Williston and works as a development engineer for IBM, Luke recently sat down with the Observer to talk about his artistic roots, his social mission and what the exhibit has meant to his efforts.

Williston Observer: What was the basis of your inspiration for painting?

Shawn Luke: I started working with acrylics back in high school, and did an entire portfolio in preparation for going to art school. But my father had pushed me to do something that had more potential for a career, so I ended up going to engineering school … and coming to Vermont to work for IBM. But I needed a creative outlet; I had a need, a desire, to get out and create. The art is a continuation of what I like to do in my engineering work, which is to create different things. And there is a social mission in my work as well, which makes me feel like I have a larger connection.

WO: Was that mission — raising social awareness about water and issues relating to it — something that was there from the beginning?

Luke: In a way, yes. I’ve always liked working with shapes, so part of it is tying into the shape of the water drop. But more so is the sense of interconnectedness, and water seems to have that. It’s the one thing that really connects all life forms. It’s the bond that ties us together.

WO: How does your engineering background influence your art?

Luke: In some ways, (painting) is a large departure from what I usually do — which is very analytical and rigid. The art form is very different; it allows me to be much more free with my thinking. But there is a lot of crossover as well. I use technology as a tool, sketching things out on a computer before I put them on canvas.

WO: You were also involved in scouting. How has that played into who you’ve become as an artist?

Luke: Scouting was a great outlet for me, because it allowed me to get out into nature and experience it firsthand … and that ties you into that bond: the lake you’re canoeing on is water, and that’s what the bear and moose are drinking; it’s part of the ecosystem. And I didn’t just go through Boy Scouts; I’m an Eagle Scout, and you’re an Eagle Scout for life once you attain that rank. Part of that is to continually give back, to find ways to do service. For me, raising awareness about water is a great social mission. We are able to collect money through the Wahter Man Project that we can donate to really empower the organizations that are on the ground, providing clean water to the people that need it the most.

WO: How do you determine where the money that you raise goes?

Luke: I research the organizations, and one that I’m really passionate about right now is water.org. They have this infrastructure that they’re able to leverage to quickly and efficiently get water to people that need it. And you don’t only give them money; you can tell them exactly where you want that money to go. Right now, we’re helping out the relief effort in Haiti.

WO: How did you get your art into the police station? Did you get arrested, and mention to them that you’re an artist?

Luke: Fortunately, it was nothing that wild. They had a posting in the newspaper, and since I live here in Williston, it’s a nice fit. It’s close and convenient, and it’s a beautiful place. I am very humbled to have my artwork there.

WO: How has the exhibit been received?

Luke: Very well. Really, I was just trying to get exposure, and get people thinking and talking about water. I didn’t expect to sell anything — but I ended up selling my most expensive painting on the first day.

WO: Overall, how would you sum up your experience of having your artwork on display at the police station?

Luke: I think it’s been, by far, the best opportunity for me to showcase my work. It has given me a lot of confidence, and helped to get me really focused. (The police department has) been very supportive, and having that support behind me has really meant a lot.

Shawn Luke’s Wahter Man project will be on display in the Community Room at the Williston Police Station through mid-August. For more information, contact the WPD at 764-1152 or visit Luke’s website, www.wahterman.com.

Williston Food Shelf hungry for donations

July 28, 2011

By Steven Frank
Observer staff

Cathy Michaels, president of the Williston Community Food Shelf, is working through a difficult period of increasing demand and decreasing supply. (File photo)

Faced with a still fragile economy and a time of year when donations are typically at their lowest, the Williston Community Food Shelf is dealing with high demand and low supply.

A total of 176 families came to the food shelf in June; 15 of which were new clients and 47 of which visited twice.

“Since we opened (almost three years ago) we have always seen a spike in the summer,” said Cathy Michaels, president of the Williston Community Food Shelf, which serves Williston, St. George, Essex and Richmond. “I think a lot of it are those who qualify for free or reduced lunch who are now home. That adds up to about 10 extra meals per child. Then, if you have two or three kids — think about it — it’s a lot.”

Michaels added that summer has also been the season that’s yielded the fewest donations every year since the food shelf’s inception.

However, Michaels is hopeful that a few innovative approaches will help bridge the gap to the “season of giving” around the holidays. A booth at the Williston Independence Day parade raised $920 and approximately 100 pounds of food. A table at the “Groovin’ on the Green” summer-long concert at Maple Tree Place is also producing supplies. In addition, clients are also starting to reap the benefits of this year’s stock from Williston’s Plant a Row for the Hungry, which is part of a national grassroots program that the Observer started locally four years ago.

“We’re seeing lettuce, squash and green beans. It’s nice to be able to offer that. You don’t see that in a lot of food shelves,” Michaels said.

Another unique element to the Williston Community Food Shelf is that clients get an experience similar to one they would find in a grocery store. They receive carts upon entering and can shop with volunteers.

“Most food shelves give you a pre-packed box of food, which can have some items that won’t be used and go to waste,” Michaels said.

Michaels added that her clients are “very grateful” and that the majority of them are employed. Much of that is a reflection of the economy, which has resulted in wages not keeping up with cost of living increases.

“Forty-seven second visits doesn’t indicate an improvement in the economy,” Michaels said.

In places in and around Williston, the amount of need is surprising to others, according to Michaels.

“I don’t think there is awareness,” she said. “People think of Williston as an affluent town … But there are people in need here, just like everywhere else.”

In addition to donations, Michaels is looking for more volunteers and fundraising ideas. She also wants prospective clients to understand that it’s OK to ask for help and that’s why the food shelf is there.

“It’s hard for people to swallow their pride,” Michaels said. “Some people can feel shame but you know what? This can be any of us at any time.”

The Williston Community Food Shelf is located at 300 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 115, in Williston. Its open Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

A river runs through it?

Williston homeowner contests inflated water bill

July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

The owners of this home at 424 Metcalf Dr. in Williston were billed for 90,000 gallons of water during the fourth quarter of this past fiscal year, more than five times their average water use during the first three quarters. Homeowner Brian Ricca appealed to the town’s Selectboard on Monday night, calling the bill “exorbitant.” (Observer photo by Adam White)

No matter how Brian Ricca crunches them, the numbers just don’t add up: four family members plus four toilets does not equal 90,000 gallons of water.

But that is the amount listed on the Metcalf Dr. homeowner’s fourth quarter water bill, which totals $613.65 — more than five times the family’s average bill for the first three quarters of the fiscal year. Ricca appealed the bill to the Williston Selectboard on Monday, saying there is no way his family could have used that much water.

“There seems to be something amiss,” Ricca said. “I’m not looking for a handout here, just some reason and logic.”

The family’s average water bill over the previous three quarters was $122.23. The third-quarter amount ($91.46) was estimated, due to weather conditions in February that made it difficult to “even find the meter,” according to town manager Rick McGuire.

“Because that bill was estimated, this (problem) could have started at the beginning of a six-month period, and it wouldn’t have been caught until the end,” McGuire said.

Public Works director Bruce Hoar told the Selectboard that several steps were taken to identify the problem once Ricca appealed his bill, starting with a test to determine whether one of the four toilets in Ricca’s home was leaking.

John Marchant, branch manager of the plumbing department at Blodgett Supply Co. in Williston, said on Tuesday that a faulty seal between a toilet’s tank and bowl is typically to blame in such scenarios.

“If the flapper that seals off between the tank and bowl is running, you could run your water bill to enormous proportions,” Marchant said.

Ricca said tests did not reveal problems with any of his toilets, and that the volume of water used makes that explanation unlikely. He provided the Selectboard with data from a University of Pennsylvania study estimating that “a silent leak in a toilet can waste up to 7,000 gallons of water per month.”

“Even if all four had leaked for the entire time, it still would not equal the amount showing up on the bill,” Ricca said.

Hoar said that the only other explanation was a faulty reading; his department had the meter in question tested — at further expense to the homeowner — and found it to be functioning properly.

“There is nothing wrong with the meter,” Hoar said. “The water went through the meter; that’s all I can say. Where it went after that, I don’t have a clue. Once the water goes through that meter, we have no control over it … (but the town is) paying for it.”

Selectboard member Debbie Ingram raised the possibility of someone in the house — or even a family pet — being the culprit. Ingram said that she has seen YouTube videos of cats that learn to flush toilets, and have been captured doing so repeatedly.

“We’ve had our dog for seven years, and she is unable to flush the toilet,” Ricca said. He added that his wife has a stay-at-home job, and would likely detect such a problem before it led to large-scale water waste.

Hoar said that similar situations have been brought to his department’s attention in the past, and that circumstances have always been found to warrant collecting the due amount in full from the homeowner. Hoar mentioned one instance in which an elderly couple — struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss — allowed a faulty toilet to run unchecked for an extended period of time.

The three Board members present at Monday’s meeting voted unanimously to appoint a yet-unnamed individual as a fact-finder to conduct further investigation and advise them on the situation.

“We’re all homeowners here, and we all sympathize with your situation,” Ingram told Ricca. “(The bill) doesn’t sound reasonable.”

Grant sets stage for linking bike paths

July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Contractors from S.D. Ireland work on a section of multi-use path between River Cove Rd. and James Brown Dr. in Williston. Final funding is now in place to link existing sections of the path, creating a continuous route from Industrial Ave. to Overlook Park near the Essex Junction village line. (Observer photo by Adam White)

The final piece of funding is in place to connect a series of multi-use path segments along Vermont 2A in Williston.

The town has accepted a bid of $163,621 from S.D. Ireland to construct the middle section of the path, between Tire Kingdom and James Brown Dr., which will link segments to its north and south and complete a continuous stretch between Industrial Ave. and Overlook Park.

A final construction stage will consist of paving all of the new sections contiguously, which will increase the efficiency of the project and help builders complete it on time.

“This has been in the works for quite some time, but now they’re moving right along on it,” said Lisa Sheltra, engineering technician for the town of Williston and municipal project manager for the bike path. “It has to be completed by Oct. 14, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to finish before that, at the pace they’re going.”

Public Works director Bruce Hoar echoed Sheltra’s optimism in statements to the Selectboard on Monday.

“They’ve had no major (problems),” Hoar said. “They’ve had a few minor issues, but nothing major.”

The first and third sections of the path were bid together, also by S.D. Ireland, after the town received a combined $445,550 in federal and state funding. The overall project will be completed using a combination of funding from the transportation, community and systems preservation program and an enhancement grant, according to Sheltra.

The 10-foot-wide, asphalt path was previously completed from Industrial Ave. to River Cove Rd. S.D. Ireland’s crew is nearing completion of pre-paving work on the portion from River Cove Rd. to James Brown Dr., and has already finished similar work on the final section from Tire Kingdom to Overlook Park.

Selectboard chairman Terry Macaig said that the completed path will address safety concerns from area residents about that stretch of 2A.

“There is pretty much heavy traffic all day long on that stretch of Route 2A,” Macaig said. “For people biking to Essex in particular, there is not a lot of (shoulder) on that side of the road to protect them from car traffic. This will hopefully alleviate that problem, and make it a lot safer.”

Sheltra said the project will also entail some additional drainage work and a retaining wall, as well as some handrails. She said that Staff Sterling Management of Morrisville is providing state-required, on-site inspection of the process.

“They are there 24/7, making sure that (contractors) are doing everything according to design and state standards.”

The protection of pedestrians and bicyclists is a priority expressly identified within Williston’s proposed 2011 Comprehensive Plan. Section 6.2.7 of the plan states, “Access for pedestrians and bicyclists will be separated from access for vehicles where possible.”

Macaig said that the availability of outside funding for the project has been a significant contributing factor to its success.

“This is a good piece of work, in that we’ve received a lot of grant money that didn’t have to come out of the town coffers,” Macaig said.

Macaig also said that more multi-use path improvements are on the town’s radar for the future, including a portion between Industrial Ave. and Taft Corners, to the south of the current project.

“There is a large section missing in the middle, that will require a large, expensive bridge over the Allen Brook,” Macaig said. “We’ve made it a priority to complete these paths, so people can travel safely on them.”

Town pushes pause button on Plan

July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard agreed to push back its approval vote on the 2011 Comprehensive Plan on Monday, due to low attendance at its regular meeting and insufficient time to review some final revisions.

Ten townspeople were present to voice their opinions at what was slated to be the final public hearing on the Plan, but Board chairman Terry Macaig said that required warning time under state regulations was not given in regard to changes made by the Planning Commission.

Macaig said that additional language within the Plan — particularly pertaining to the Circumferential Highway Project, Chittenden Solid Waste District landfill project and connection between the two — would require discussion in another public forum prior to the Board’s approval of the document.

That could occur at the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 15.

“There are major changes … that needed to come back to us for a look, and for the townspeople to look at and consider as well,” Macaig said.

The fact that there were only three Board members present at Monday’s meeting also played into the decision, according to Macaig.

“You’d like to have as many Selectboard members there as possible, for their diverse opinions, to review the final document and take action on it,” Macaig said.

Diverse opinions were in no short supply at the meeting, as Williston residents took the floor to address a wide range of topics — several of which are not included in the proposed Town Plan. Joseph Myers asked the Board about a study being conducted on traffic patterns near the intersection of North Williston and Mountain View roads, and whether a roundabout was still being considered there.

“It is only being studied to the extent of determining whether it needs to be changed,” Town Manager Rick McGuire said. “There will be a series of public meetings on this issue later.”

Carol Burbank of Pamela Ct. asked the Board to consider supporting an assisted living facility in town, saying that a number of Williston’s senior citizens “have had to move away” during the latter part of their lives.

“I think this is something we seriously need to consider,” Burbank said. “I hope it is something you will … think about.”

Local developer Jeff Atwood spoke next, saying he was “discouraged and disappointed” that a master plan for Williston’s village center was called for in the previous Town Plan in 2006 but has yet to be completed. Atwood also said that affordable housing was prioritized in the last Town Plan, but hadn’t been sufficiently addressed, in his mind, in the five years since.

“I guess we’re just going to stay status quo,” Atwood said.

Tim Beauvais of Old Stage Rd. questioned setback discrepancies in different zoning districts in town, saying that a 15-foot setback hindered a renovation project at his family’s home. Beauvais asked why the setback — originally 10 feet — was changed, requesting “a realignment to something that made sense before.” Fellow resident Sue Powers also questioned why some areas of town are held to different zoning standards than others.

Town planner Ken Belliveau responded by saying that the bylaw changes could have been “an oversight, an error or something deliberate.”

McGuire then brought focus back to the Town Plan. “This document really does need to get adopted before we can address changes in the bylaws,” he said.

Oneida Acres hosting garage sale to benefit accident victim

By Luke Baynes

Observer correspondent


Attention bargain hunters and garage sale buffs: get ready to break open your piggy banks because Saturday is going to be a big one.

Oneida Acres is hosting a community garage sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The community, whose streets form a rough circle, is accessible from Sharon Drive off Vermont 2A or Gail Terrace off Industrial Avenue.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit Stephen St. Peter, the 49-year-old son of Oneida Acres residents Paul and Evelyn St. Peter, who was paralyzed from the shoulders down following a swimming accident last summer.

“They’ve always been the type of neighbors that are there for everybody,” Fran Henning said of the reason why the community decided to band together to help the St. Peters. “They’re just beautiful people.”

So far, 14 families have indicated that they will participate in the sale, which will include furniture, sports memorabilia, toys and tools. It will be left to each family’s discretion how much of the individual proceeds they will donate to the St. Peter family.

“I tend to like to do garage sales as a hobby on Saturday mornings,” said neighborhood resident Anne Robillard, who will be donating all of her sales proceeds to the St. Peters. “I went to several in the Williston area and I mentioned that we were going to do this Williston benefit and asked if they would donate their leftovers to us, so I have a garage full of leftovers now to be able to sell at the garage sale.”

The sale is timely, coming a day before the one-year anniversary of Stephen St. Peter’s tragic accident. Evelyn St. Peter, who has lived in Oneida Acres since 1965, noted that while her son is coping surprisingly well with the adversity of being a quadriplegic, the sale will provide much needed financial relief.

“The first year or two you’re just bombarded with expenses that insurance doesn’t cover,” she said. “We have a really nice neighborhood over here. They are very, very nice people. I am so glad I live in this neighborhood.”

Unbeknownst to Henning when she set the date for the sale, July 23 will mark the 56th wedding anniversary of Paul and Evelyn St. Peter. The couple can’t think of a better way to spend their special day.

“Usually we spend the day and go somewhere,” said Evelyn St. Peter of her wedding anniversary. “But we’re more than happy to stay home.”


Those who wish to make a contribution to the trust fund established for Stephen St. Peter can send a check to Paul and Evelyn St. Peter at 72 Gail Terrace, Williston, Vt. 05495. Checks should be made payable to “Stephen St. Peter” and indicate “For deposit only” on the back of the check.