February 27, 2015

PHOTOS: Pizza making

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Five-year-olds in the Williston Edge’s Kids & Fitness group took a field trip to make pizza at Williston House of Pizza Wednesday morning. Apparent pepperoni lovers Luca Richling (left) and Ryann Savage load toppings onto their pizza. (Observer photos by Stephanie Choate)

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Makayla Farnham (right) enthusiastically adds the first piece of bacon to what would become a pizza entirely hidden under a pile of bacon, along with pizza partner Parker Walker.

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PHOTOS: The Edgerton’s Rockwell

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Men of Tomorrow

Buddy Edgerton poses in multiple positions for ‘Men of Tomorrow’. Images courtesy of Buddy and Jim Edgerton.

RosietheRiverter

Mary Doyle as ‘Rosie the Riveter’

LoneRanger model

Buddy Edgerton also modeled for Don Spaulding’s ‘The Lone Ranger’ after graduating from UVM. Spaulding was Rockwell’s student.

Lone Ranger

Edgerton book cover

The Vet

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I Will Do My Best

Growth of Leader

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PHOTOS: CVU gymnastics

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Captain Jessie Johnson performs on the bar. Observer photos by Al Frey

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Senior captain Taylor Filardi executes a routine on the balance beam.’

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Gymnasts wore shirts honoring CVU’s late athletic director, Kevin Riell.

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POPCORN: “Fifty Shades of Grey” Black & Blue and in it for the Green

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“Fifty Shades of Grey”

Black & Blue and in it for the Green

2 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

The only film I ever walked out on was “In Cold Blood” (1967), about the gruesome murder of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, circa 1959. I was in college, had no readers to answer to, and, as testament to writer/director Richard Brooks’s accurate adaptation of Truman Capote’s book, the film seethed with unsettling depravity. Alas, I might as well have been tied down while viewing “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a disingenuously marketed bore no matter how you color it. I was on the clock, and could only hope some great surprise awaited.

 

But there was no call from the governor’s office in the 11th hour, no reprieve from the ennui that I was destined to suffer until the closing credits offered, at long last, their merciful release. Now I just had to figure out why I so disliked director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s filmic reworking of author E.L. James’s novel by the same title, write the criticism, and be done with it. Or so I thought.

 

For starters, to borrow from my earliest critical terminology, it’s icky…a decidedly gratuitous delve into a psychological malady profoundly bereft of any redeeming enlightenment. If, like Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey, you’re an intelligent billionaire in your twenties tormented by a sexual proclivity far afield of the graph, it’s not enough for me to learn that you were born in squalor and then, in your teens, fixed to your disorder by a predator of similar tastes.

 

No sir. Having introduced the topic of sadomasochism to a mainstream audience for the most part ignorant of the subject, it behooves to educate beyond the thumbnail pabulum our young, helicopter-flying tycoon feeds Anastasia Steele, the college co-ed who falls for him. For one, it’s simplistically dismissive and unfair to the afflicted. But in the grander, sociocultural picture, it is bamboozlement and emotional piracy on the high seas of movie entertainment. For gosh sakes, the thing is being sold as hearts and flowers, a promise of romance, released on Valentine’s Day.

 

Thus, one must feel almost as bad for the hopeful, starry-eyed viewers pining for a couple hours of vicarious amour as for innocent Anastasia, passably emoted by Dakota Johnson. Waiting for the right guy to come along, she just happens to meet the communications industry wunderkind whilst substitute-interviewing him for her sick roommate.

 

It is serendipity turned upside down and inside out, and in some sad ways a metaphor for all the star-crossed love affairs in human history. She is soon smitten, ready to submit her every being to this Marquis de Sade in knight’s clothing, unaware that his definition of commitment differs exponentially from hers.

 

She is Alice in S & M Land, initially open-minded and, in the tolerantly wishful ways of some women, hopes that she might “cure” him, change his spots and, as they both come to euphemize, live like “normal people.” But he tells her right off it’s no use. He’s hardwired to it. So if she wants to still see him, she must sign a non-disclosure agreement. Following that is a consent form outlining which pain-inflicting activities she’s willing to endure in the elaborate torture chamber that’s his divergent idea of a man cave.

 

Maybe it’s my naiveté. Isn’t this guy a sort of Dracula? What a place. Sure seems like an awful lot of trouble, and expensive, too…all those whips, chains, handcuffs and leather goods. Yet wealth and orderliness sanitizes it a bit, almost deflecting the sordidness. Furthermore, his affluence is seductive to the winsome victim. He informs that he “doesn’t do romance,” doesn’t make love per se, but only, well, you know. There’ll be no wedding bells or white picket fence.

 

Folks who in good faith expected a hot love story with some steamy sex may swear to never again see a film without first reading a review. (I hate to get you that way.) Moms and Dads with offspring of dating age will have yet another reason to shudder. Still, whether you can’t skip out because you’re a film critic or because your dinner date with Todd and Ginny isn’t for two hours yet, the hopeless romantic in you is offered no option but to root for our damsel in distress.

 

Doubtless, the niche audience whose numbers, I think, couldn’t possibly support the box office requirements of a major film release, will find this a rather dumbed down foray into their world…a mere primer with no elucidation. But for the rest, who are sure to feel as jilted as Dickens’s Miss Havisham in “Great Expectation” if they squander ten bucks to see “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I echo the advice offered by King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975): “Run away, run away!” As for me, the occupational hazard is over…until the sequel.

“Fifty Shades of Grey,” rated R, is a Focus Features release directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and stars Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and Jennifer Ehle. Running time: 125 minutes

 

 

 

Police Notes

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Accidents

On Feb. 14, from approximately 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Vermont State Police at the Williston barracks responded to numerous car accidents on Interstate 89 in Milton, Colchester, Williston, Richmond and Bolton. There was a 14-car accident at mile marker 102 on I-89 southbound in Milton that occurred while the police were assisting a tow truck removing a car that slid into the median. There were no injuries, according to police, who noted that the roads were incredibly slippery due to black ice. As vehicles started slowing down for the emergency lights and flares, they began to spin out of control, police said. Several other accidents occurred on the Interstate, all due to black ice and vehicles traveling too fast for the road conditions, according to police. Vermont State Police stress the importance of slowing down even when the roads appear to be clear, changing lanes when approaching emergency vehicles and always wearing your seatbelt.

Multiple charges

Shauna Francis, 24, of Burlington was cited on charges including driving with a suspended license and violation of conditions of release on Jan. 14, according to police reports. She was lodged at Chittenden County Correctional Facility on two warrants, one for felony possession of stolen property and the other for driving with a suspended license.

On Feb. 18, officers from the Williston Police Department and the Richmond Police Department, along with troopers from the Vermont State Police Williston barracks, responded to the exit 12 area of Interstate 89 for a report of a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction in the northbound lanes. The vehicle was located turning into the northbound rest area by the Williston Police Department shortly thereafter. The driver, Christian Tsoutsouris, 34, of Georgetown, Mass., was subsequently taken into custody and cited on charges of driving while under the influence and careless and negligent driving, according to police reports. He was lodged at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility for lack of $750 bail, and was cited to appear in court.

Driving under the influence

Whitney J. Dubie, 26, of Hinesburg was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on Jan. 16, according to police reports. Her blood alcohol concentration was .106, the report notes. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08. She was also issued a speeding ticket for driving 70 mph in a 35 mph zone, according to the report. She was cited to appear in court.

Theft

Chrystal A. Chagnon, 31, of Shelburne was cited on charges of retail theft and false pretenses after allegedly stealing more than $118 worth of merchandise from Toys R Us on Jan. 18 and then bringing the items to the store’s service desk for a refund, according to police reports. No other information was released.

Embezzlement

Alexander J. Garrison, 43, of Winooski was cited on charges of embezzlement and fraudulent use of a credit card after allegedly “knowingly” using a company credit card without permission to purchase $250 worth of merchandise from Bouchard Pierce Appliance on Jan. 26, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Eluding an officer

Briana M. Blow, 21, of Williston was cited on a charge of attempting to elude a police officer on Jan. 26, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Driving with suspended license

Erin M. Townsend, 36, of Winooski was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-second offense on Jan. 7, according to police reports. Townsend was cited to appear in court.

Raymond A. Lavigne, 40, of Milton was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Jan. 10, according to police reports. Lavigne was cited to appear in court.

Beth L. Johnson, 38, of Winooski was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Jan. 10, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Eric E. St. Cyr, 30, of Hinesburg was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on Jan. 11, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Marisha C. Lemoine, 22, of Shelburne was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Jan. 13, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Buffy Huntington, 40, of Bolton was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Jan. 29, according to police reports. She was also cited for violating conditions of release. She was cited to appear in court.

Sabrina A. Germaine, 31, of Williston was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on Jan. 29, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Shawn P. Francis, 23, of Essex Jct. was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on Jan. 30, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Patrick French, 33, of Burlington was arrested on Jan. 30 on a warrant for failure to appear for his driving with a suspended license case, according to police reports. He was cited on a new charge of driving with a suspended license on Feb. 17, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Miranda K. Sweeney, 35, of Burlington was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-license expired on Feb. 2, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Police notes are written based on information provided by the Williston Police Department and the Vermont State Police. Please note that all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Recipe Corner: Tea and toppings

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By Ginger Isham

When my daughter asked for an old recipe for Russian Tea, I searched and found it in my beverage collection and thought why not share it, since we are in a deep freeze these days? The cranberry recipes are new from a family member named Jean. Can’t wait to try them.

Russian Tea

1 1/2 cups Tang (found it near the Country Lemonade)

1 cup instant tea with or without lemon and sugar

1 teaspoon EACH cinnamon, ginger and cloves

Mix all together and pour into an attractive container. Add 1 teaspoon of mix to a cup of boiling water.

Lemon Curd

(to go with scones)

3 eggs

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar (3/4 might do)

Beat eggs until frothy in a small saucepan and stir in lemon juice, sugar and melted butter. Place pan in another pan with boiling water and turn to simmer and cook until slightly thickened; stirring continuously. May use as a filling in cakes, cookies or over pound cake.

Cranberry Apples

Place cut and cored apples with skins in a pan. Cover apples halfway with water. Cook slowly, add cranberries and simmer until all is thickened. Can add brown sugar or dark maple syrup. Use as topping for oatmeal, pancakes or in yogurt.

Rice and Cranberries

Cook rice according to directions using milk for half the liquid. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon. During last 10 minutes of cooking, add 1/2 cup cranberries. Serve with chicken or pork.

Orange Sorbet

2 cups fresh orange juice, strain if desired

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest, grated

Blend all in blender until smooth. Pour into a metal bowl. Freeze until almost firm. Stir now and then. Spoon into a container, cover and freeze until ready to serve. Garnish with orange slices.

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

Simplified smartphones

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By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

I’m interested in getting my 72-year-old mother a smartphone, but want to get one that’s very easy for her to use. What can you recommend?

Shopping Around

Dear Shopping,

There are several different ways you can go about getting your mom a simplified smartphone that’s easy for her to use. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, here are some different options to consider.

The cheapest way to set your mom up with an easy-to-use, uncomplicated smartphone is to get her a second-hand android phone, and install a senior-friendly “launcher app” on it, which is a user interface software application. 

This type of launcher will turn the appearance and performance of most android smartphone into a simplified phone with big understandable icons for commonly used features (phone, text messaging, camera, contacts, etc.) and no excess clutter. Most launchers can also be customized to fit your mom’s needs and preferences.

There are a variety of launcher apps available that provide this type of technology and are completely free to use. Some popular options include, Necta Launcher (launcher.necta.us), Wiser (wiser-me.com), Seniors Phone (seniorsphone.mobi), Fontrillo (fontrillo.com) and Big Launcher (biglauncher.com), which also offers an upgraded version for $9.

Or, if you have an old Apple iPhone that you’d like to convert, check out Silverline Mobile (silverline.mobi) that converts both Apple and androids for free.

If you’re interested in purchasing your mom a new smartphone, you have options, too. For starters, you could purchase her a smartphone that’s specifically designed for seniors, like GreatCall’s Touch3 that costs $150 (with no contract) at greatcall.com or 800-918-8543. This is an android phone, made by Samsung, that has a 4-inch touchscreen and provides a simple menu list to often-used features like the phone, text messages, camera, pictures, email and Internet, along with your contacts and apps. 

It also offers a variety of health and safety features like the 5Star app that would let your mom speak to a certified agent 24/7 that could identify her location and get her the help she needs. Urgent Care provides access to registered nurses and doctors for advice and diagnoses. MedCoach sends medication reminders. 

Another way you could go is to purchase her a standard/mainstream smartphone that provides a built-in “Easy Mode” or “Simple” feature in the phone’s settings. This will let you convert the phone into a much simpler mode of operation, that provides larger, well labeled icons to only commonly-used functions like the phone, camera, messaging, Internet, pictures, contacts and her favorite apps. 

Smartphones that offer the “Easy Mode” or “Simple” feature include the Samsung Galaxy phones, which are available through most cell phone carriers at prices typically ranging between $400 and $850 without a contract. Or, for a more budget-friendly option, the Huawei Vision 2 and Huawei Ascend Mate 2, which you can buy as an unlocked phone or through Consumer Cellular (consumercellular.com, 888-345-5509) for $80 or $225 without a contract. Consumer Cellular is a top-rated no-contract service provider that also offers discounts to AARP members. 

A nice advantage of getting your mom a mainstream phone is that if she masters the Easy/Simple mode (or gets bored with it), and is ready to expand her skills, you can always switch the phone back to the standard operation mode exposing her to more options. You can also add any number of health and safety features to her phone, like what the Touch3 offers, by downloading their apps at greatcall.com/medical-apps.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

HUB Happenings

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NEW SALES AND DESIGN CONSULTANT

Vermont Custom Closets of Williston recently announced the addition of Caroline Stanton to its sales and design team.

Stanton has a Bachelor of Science degree in interior designer from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. She has five years of design experience working with architects, builders and remodelers designing in residential and commercial spaces as well as high-end yachts.

PALMER RECOGNIZED

TLC Homecare, LLC announced that Marsha Palmer, a personal care assistant with nine years of experience, was recognized as the Caregiver of the Year.

“Besides her exemplary work ethic, Marsha is positively contagious. She makes a difference to my work life every day,” said CFO Abi Ambekar.

Palmer received $250 from TLC to give to any charity of her choosing. She selected the Williston Community Food Shelf.

WILLISTON CPA FIRM PROVIDES SCHOLARSHIP

Williston-based Davis & Hodgdon Associates has awarded a $1,500 “Start Up” scholarship to a student of the 2015 Mercy Connections’ Women’s Small Business Program. Megan Stearns of Burlington will receive the scholarship towards her tuition for the 2015 winter/spring WSBP “Start Up” session. Stearns is an animal portraiture artist and has recognized potential for turning this focus into a business venture. She is currently the director of communications for Let’s Grow Kids and worked previously at the Humane Society of Chittenden County.

NOMINATE A BUSINESS

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Business Magazine are accepting nominations until March 6 for the Deane C. Davis Outstanding Business of the Year Award. The award is given to the Vermont business that has made exceptional accomplishments on a consistent basis and demonstrated success.

The deadline for nominations is March 6. Nomination forms are available at events.vermontbiz.com/deane-c-davis-nominations/

ACTIVE TIMES: PARISI SPEED SCHOOL #1 GYM 

In an article published by the Active Times last week, Parisi Speed School took home the number one spot on a list of the top gyms in America.

“We are thrilled to be named the best gym in America by Active Times,” said Bill Parisi, founder and CEO of Parisi Speed School. “We strive to give our members the best programs and training in the country.”

In order to come up with this year’s rankings, Active Times used its list of its 51 best gyms from 2013 and asked readers which gyms were their favorites.

MERCHANT BANK EXPANDS TEAM

Merchants Bank last week announced the expansion of its home lending division and three additions to the staff.

Dody Fraher-Ruland, residential and retail loan manager, will lead the division and expand the range of Merchants Bank’s home lending offerings. Fraher-Ruland, a Williston resident, has more than 30 years experience in the financial services industry, most recently as the statewide manager of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Dick Ploof was hired as a lending associate. He joins Merchants Bank from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, and has more than 24 years experience originating mortgages.

Deb Terrill was also hired as a lending associate, also from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. She has more than 30 years experience in the banking industry with more than 15 years experience originating mortgages.

DAIRY BRINGS IN $2.2 BILLION

Vermont’s dairy industry brings $2.2 billion in economic activity to Vermont annually, according to a new study funded by the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council.

Findings describe the impact of the industry on Vermont’s economy, landscape and way of life. Other highlights include:

Sixty-three percent of the milk produced in New England comes from Vermont

The dairy industry provides 6,000-7,000 Vermont jobs

Every cow brings $12,500 in economic activity to Vermont annually

Fifteen percent of the state is covered by dairy farms and the fields that provide feed

To read the full report, visit www.VermontDairy.com

CATHEDRAL SQUARE AWARDED 

Cathedral Square was recently named one of the 2015 Best Places to Work in Vermont.

The annual list was created by Vermont Business Magazine, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and several state departments.

In addition, Cathedral Square’s Richmond Terrace Senior Living received Efficiency Vermont’s Major Renovation Honor Award at the Better Buildings by Design conference on Feb. 4.

The awards recognize innovative and integrated design approaches for energy efficiency in Vermont’s commercial, institutional, industrial and multifamily buildings.

VT SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO HELP SMALL BREWERS 

Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders joined other senators in introducing the bipartisan Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW Act). The legislation, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), would recalibrate the federal beer excise tax that small brewers pay, cutting the tax nearly in half.

“Vermont may be a smaller state, but we brew big beer,” Leahy said. “The Small BREW Act creates opportunity for these small brewers and businesses to continue to grow and support their local economies, and to serve their lengthening lists of fans.”

NEFCU GIVES $20,000

New England Federal Credit Union, as part of its ongoing mission of community support, recently made contributions to four Franklin County organizations. Recipients of $5,000 donations included Franklin-Grand Isle United Way, Franklin County Home Health Agency, Tim’s House and Martha’s Kitchen.

“NEFCU is committed to giving back to the communities that support us,” said Senior Marketing Executive Cindy Morgan. “We appreciate the opportunity to help these four wonderful organizations fulfill their helping missions.”

NEW STAFF AT UNITED WAY

United Way of Chittenden County recently announced two new staff members.

Amy Johnson is the new RSVP/foster grandparent director. Johnson has been working in the human services field for more than 15 years. Lenore Budd was hired as a volunteer programs assistant. Budd has spent years of both as a volunteer and managing volunteers.

JARRETT NAMED TO COMMISSION ON ALZHEIMER’S 

Glenn A. Jarrett, founder of Jarrett Law Office in South Burlington, has been named by Gov. Peter Shumlin to the Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. Jarrett’s law practice focuses solely on elder law, estate planning and related areas.

“The Commission members are happy to have someone with Glenn’s experience and interest joining the Commission,” said Martha Richardson, co-chair of the commission and executive director of the Vermont chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, based in Williston. “I have known Glenn for years and am looking forward to working with him on the Commission’s priorities: early detection; support for caregivers; and education and advocacy about Alzheimer’s Disease and related disorders.”

SYMQUEST HIRES TWO

SymQuest Group, Inc. announced earlier this month the addition of Marketing Coordinator Christal Fleishman and Contract Administrator Greg Hardy to the company’s South Burlington headquarters.

Prior to joining SymQuest, Hardy was head coach of the women’s U16 alpine ski team at Killington Mountain School. Fleishman worked as a client support specialist for SymQuest in the past and most recently was a marketing administrator for eDOC Innovations, Inc. based in Middlebury.

TWINCRAFT OPENS SECOND VERMONT MANUFACTURING FACILITY

Twincraft Skincare in January opened its second Vermont manufacturing facility, a 20,000 square foot space in Essex.

The facility, which Twincraft used for warehousing since 2003, has been fitted up to manufacture liquid products with natural, sustainable and organic ingredients: liquid and foaming soaps; bath and shower gels; lotions; creams; body butters; oils and more. Formulations, created in the Winooski lab, can now be mixed in one of the tanks in the Essex batch room and then bottled in one of the filling lines. Current capabilities include filling bottles and jars, and a tube filler for both plastic and metal tubes is being added in June.

PIZZAGALLI FOUNDATION PLEDGES $1 MILLION TO STEM 

Vermont’s Pizzagalli Foundation has made a $1 million gift commitment to support the University of Vermont’s $104 million STEM project, the largest capital project in the school’s history.

“We are thrilled that the Pizzagalli family is strongly supportive of UVM’s STEM project, including its new lab and classroom facility,” said UVM President Tom Sullivan. “With this $1 million gift, we are confident that we will be successful in realizing this most important new educational and research facility on campus.”

LOCAL WOMEN SUPPORT MARDI BRAS EVENT

Nearly 150 new bras were brought to the Spa at The Essex Resort on Mardi Gras, Feb. 17. The donated items were collected to benefit homeless women and women in transition that are served by COTS in Burlington. 

“This is a creative and unique way to raise awareness of the services of COTS and to offer women in need the luxury of a new, comfortable well-fitting bra. This is one of those unseen and unmet needs we face in our daily work with homeless families,” said Becky Holt, COTS director of development and communications.

Spa Manager Karen Smegal said, “We were thrilled with the generosity of our local community and were happy to give each donor a day pass to use the Spa facility sometime this year.”

LOCAL HARLEY-DAVIDSON DEALERSHIP RECOGNIZED 

Essex Junction-based Green Mountain Harley-Davidson was awarded with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company Bronze Bar & Shield Circle of Recognition award for the 2014 calendar year. Green Mountain Harley-Davidson earned the award for the Northeast region based on their motorcycle and related product sales performance, an evaluation of customer service and satisfaction, and various operational measures.

Lenore Budd has been hired as a volunteer programs assistant. Budd has spent years both as a volunteer and managing volunteers. She served on the South Burlington Recreation Path Committee for 13 years and is now the chairwoman of the Trails Committee in Hinesburg.

STEWART JOINS VPR CLASSICAL

James Stewart has joined VPR Classical as its local weekday afternoon host. His program can be heard on Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m.

Stewart recently finished his Doctorate of Musical Arts in music composition from The Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

“We were impressed by James’ intelligence, knowledge of music, and enthusiasm for sharing his passion with the public,” said VPR Classical Managing Producer Kari Anderson. “He is also an experienced educator and writes for musical theater. He is already proving to be a wonderful addition to the VPR team.”

FOX JOINS BLACKROCK CONSTRUCTION 

Lee Fox has joined BlackRock Construction as project manager.

Fox has a diverse background and more than 15 years of experience in the construction development and home-building industry.

Vt. House passes ‘fee bill’ 

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By Anne Galloway

Vermont Digger

The House passed what is known as the fee bill earlier this month, but not without a few changes to the legislation, which raises $2.8 million in additional monies from professionals, developers, waste haulers, bakers and restaurateurs.

Lawmakers reduced fees for waste hauling companies slightly, and cut additional fees for restaurants by $100,000. The amendment was pitched by Rep. Laura Sibilia, an independent newbie from the Windham-Bennington district.

Sibilia took her proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee before the final floor vote on the bill. The amendment was initially deemed “unfriendly” in a 5-5 vote by the committee, but with a little negotiation, spearheaded by several Republicans who agreed to support the fee bill as long as the fees were lowered, the amendment passed 10-0.

Ultimately, the bill passed on the floor in a voice vote.

For the full story, visit VTDigger.org

The HUB: New financial company puts education first

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Chris Kirkpatrick

Chris Kirkpatrick

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston native Chris Kirkpatrick wants to help Vermonters take control of their financial future. 

“The more I looked at the industry and saw how broken the system was, the more I wanted to create something that gave people a different solution and a different way of viewing how money works,” he said. “I wanted to start a company that more than anything else was really focused on education…. The real goal basically is to simplify financial confusion.”

Kirkpatrick launched LIFE180—the letters stand for Leading Into Financial Excellence—in November, with the goal of teaching people to be self-empowered with their money and addressing systematic problems of financial planning. 

When more that nine out of 10 people find themselves at retirement age without enough money saved to keep up their standard of living, he said, it can’t just be each individual’s fault. 

“It’s hard to look someone in the eye and say ‘Listen, Bob and Sue, you didn’t do your job and it’s your fault,’” he said. “It’s really hard to blame the individual. It’s very much more of a systematic issue. It comes down to lack of education.”

Kirkpatrick said his process is based on education and changing the way people think about money and saving. 

“The ultimate goal is to really just educate people to a totally different way of thinking about their money and to challenge people to look at their financial lives and realize you can’t fix anything you’re not willing to put some time and effort into,” he said.

The first question he asks each client is, given what they are currently doing to plan for the future, do they know what rate of return they would need to make sure they can retire and live at their current standard of living? 

He said, of approximately 5,000 people he has asked, only one person has known the answer.

“If nobody knows the answer to that question, does anybody really have a financial plan or are they just throwing around money and hoping for the best?” he said. “If you have no plan and you don’t know what you need to do, what are the chances you’re going to accomplish what you want to accomplish?” 

The answer doesn’t have to be complicated, he said. He focuses on removing financial inefficiencies, like not having a budget or paying too much for insurance.

“We try to break it down and show people you don’t need to have a really complex financial plan to navigate your life and operate efficiently,” he said.

He said he also wants to reach out to as many people as possible, especially those who feel they aren’t in a position to save. 

“One of things we have as a mission is to reach out to Main Street America and be able to help the people and coach the people who don’t feel like they qualify to have a financial advisor,” he said.

Before launching LIFE180, Kirkpatrick was director of recruiting and development at National Life in Vermont. Before that, he was a professional poker player, reaching a ranking of 64th in the world. 

“I’m just a numbers guy,” he said.

Now, he has a staff of 14.

“It’s growing faster than I anticipated,” he said.

Kirkpatrick said he’d like to see LIFE180 become a national organization, starting in Vermont and growing outward. 

“I think the country needs what we do,” he said. “ I see the financial industry going through some major changes in the next decade. We’re trying to be ahead of that curve and be there to help people put themselves in a position where they have control of their financial lives.”

For more information, visit www.life180.com