Observer photos by Al Frey
Approximately 150 runners and walkers came out for the annual Williston Runs! for Education event, raising $4,500 for Williston Families As Partners.
Observer photos by Al Frey
Observer courtesy photos
Champlain Valley Union High girls varsity lacrosse held a clinic for girls in grades 2-8 on May 17. The high school team, led by coaches Becca Weiss and Chris Long, organized stations where the younger girls practiced shooting, defense, catching, scooping up ground balls and stick tricks. The CVU players gave advice and encouragement to the 56 girls who attended. The clinic ended with a group cheer and a shared snack.
By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer
I heartily welcome films about Baby Boomers, such as director Richard Loncraine’s “5 Flights Up,” concerning a sixty-something couple trying to figure out what course in life to take next. I mean, we are the second greatest generation, right? Of course I’m not so sure how I’ll feel when these niche interest movies segue into hospitals, nursing homes and beyond, assuming that I’m cognizant of said transitions. But, not to worry. Heeding the advice my sister Ann gave me when, at age seven, I first inquired about the possibilities of death, “That’s a long time from now.”
It’s the immediate future Ruth and Alex, now married forty years, are concerned with, the options suddenly expanded when their hotshot Realtor niece informs that the cute Brooklyn apartment they bought for a song and a dance is now worth about a million bucks. Oh, they’re only going to test the waters, mind you, and let Cynthia Nixon’s house broker extraordinaire show the place to just a few interested people. Suffice it to note, what was supposed to be an innocent inquiry into their home’s value spawns a multi-headed life of its own.
The frenzy of assorted gawkers and general oddballs parading through the convivial pair’s cozy little manse is mixed with touching and informative flashbacks … little sentimental pauses chronicling their lives together. Noted but subtly evoked, Ruth and Alex, believably portrayed by Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman, are pioneers of sorts, their courtship disapproved by Ruth’s parents. Otherwise, no Earth-shattering events punctuate the personal history. Rather, these are the simple passages that comprise the life experience of some good folks we soon get to like.
Alex is an artist who experienced an earlier popularity. However, as his longtime friend and agent awkwardly informs at dinner one evening, he is currently out of style. It’s apparent that Ruth, a teacher and hubby’s chief afflatus, was the breadwinner in more recent years. But no one’s complaining. Not that these dedicated lovebirds don’t fight. It’s just not a matter of course, even if during one little spat Ruth adamantly maintains, “This is not a disagreement; it’s a fight.”
But you can’t convince us, Ruth. In a society increasingly skeptical of connubial bliss, this devoted couple are the exception that proves the rule. In their hands, the war between the sexes has reached a peaceful resolution. When they quibble, it’s good-naturedly, the witty, tolerant repartee evincing the fair-mindedness and devotion that has marked their union. Alas, in recent years, they’ve become increasingly invisible, except when it comes to their money. So now here’s this real estate quandary to test their resolve.
You know the adage. When you say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money. While considerably less enthused than Ruth about picking up stakes, Alex, a bit despondent about his lack of financial success, confides that it would be nice to leave Ruth with a comfortable nest egg. Plus, let’s face it: with no elevator available, after forty years those steps alluded to in the title are becoming a bit of a challenge. Then again, can they find that New York City anomaly: an apartment every bit as nice as theirs, but for considerably less money?
Joining in the swirl of dilemmas suddenly confronting our intrepid duo, their dog is hospitalized with a serious ailment. Frequent calls to the veterinarian, who’s suggesting surgery as the only option, intersperse the Sturm und Drang of the aforementioned characters traipsing through their pad, ushered in by the insufferably pushy niece. Adding to the injury of being invaded and scrutinized, there is no shortage of insults unfeelingly levied about their home sweet home. As backdrop, a suspected terrorist, reportedly loose in the area, could hurt real estate values.
The script, adapted by Charlie Peters from Jill Ciment’s novel, is decidedly Neil Simon-esque…full of resilient personalities, untimely predicaments and quirky events, albeit lacking true originality. But there is that astute delve into the complexity and depths of universal issues: specifically, the slightly tarnished but nonetheless golden years that Ruth and Alex are determined to enjoy. There is a valiant heroism in their travail and quest, a loving statement about commitment, partnership and the sharing of goals: i.e. – the stuff of good marriages.
A blend of seriousness and the self-effacing humor that ameliorates it celebrates the human condition with bittersweet empathy and a sighing acknowledgement of what’s truly important. Younger viewers with either ambitiously eclectic filmic interests or who have walked into the wrong theater will get a glimpse of what life adventures may lie ahead. But it’s the filmgoers who qualify for a 10% discount at Dunkin’ Donuts who will be truly elevated by “5 Flights Up.”
“5 Flights Up,” rated PG-13, is a Focus World release directed by Richard Loncraine and stars Diane Keaton, Morgan Freeman and Cynthia Nixon. Running time: 92 minutes
By Ania Robertson
Belgian endive is a member of the Compositae family, along with artichokes, dandelions and lettuce.
Ayurveda teaches that all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) should be eaten at every meal for us to feel satisfied and to ensure that all major food groups and nutrients are represented.
Our diet tends to have too much of sweet, sour and salty tastes. Belgian endive has a bitter taste due to intybin, a substance that is helpful to the digestion and the liver.
I know quite a few folks who are turned off by its bitterness. However, I love Belgian endive for its crunch, delicacy and because it is very low in sodium. It is a natural diuretic, and an excellent source for getting dietary fiber, which is essential to keep a healthy digestive system and protect against constipation. Also, it is a good source of vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E and K, as well as potassium, folic acid, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and calcium.
Toss Belgium endive with your salad or serve as a great hors d’oeuvre. Fill out the petals with “Boursin” cheese or pâté, and… use your imagination.
Belgian Endive Salad
I remove too much bitterness from Belgian endive by removing the core and soaking petals in water or milk for about 30 minutes.
2 medium Belgian endives
1/2 small apple
2 inches of fresh leek (white part)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (use Grapeseed oil Vegenaise)
1/4 teaspoon (or to your taste) fenugreek powder
dash of turmeric powder
salt and black pepper to taste
Cut endive petals into 1/4-inch strips
Cut apple into thin slices, and then into thin strips
Cut leek into 1/16-inch strips
In a small bowl, mix them with mayonnaise, fenugreek, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Ania Robertson is a certified life coach with additional certification in Ayurveda and Feng Shui.
By Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
If you have a 401(k), does it make sense to open an individual retirement account, too?
A 401(k) or another employer-sponsored retirement plan—if you’re lucky enough to have one—can be considered the backbone of your retirement savings. Contributions are easy because they automatically come out of your paycheck. Also, you may get an upfront tax deduction, and annual contribution limits are sizable—$18,000 for tax year 2015, plus a $6,000 catch-up for those who are 50 or older (both up $500 over 2014 limits). That means, depending on your age, you could contribute up to $24,000 in 2015. And if you get an employer match, that’s extra savings in your pocket.
But as positive as all this is, there’s a good case for having an IRA in addition to your 401(k). An IRA not only gives you the ability to save even more, but may give you more investment choices than you have in your employer-sponsored plan. And if you have a Roth IRA, there’s also the potential for tax-free income down the road.
But the type of IRA that makes sense for you personally will depend on your filing status and your income, so there’s a bit more to consider.
There are two types of IRAs: a traditional tax-deductible IRA and a Roth IRA. For 2014 and 2015, the annual contribution limit for both is $5,500, with a $1,000 catch-up if you’re 50 or older. However, each IRA does have an income ceiling, which will determine whether one or the other is right for you.
Traditional tax-deductible IRA. For someone who doesn’t have a 401(k) or similar plan, a traditional IRA is fully tax-deductible. Upfront tax deductibility and tax-deferred growth of earnings are two of the pluses of this type of IRA. However, if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan—such as a 401(k)—tax deductibility is phased out at certain income levels. For tax year 2015, the levels are $61,000-$71,000 for single filers and $98,000-$118,000 for married people filing jointly.
Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, you don’t get any upfront tax deduction, but you do get tax-free growth, plus tax-free withdrawals at age 59 1/2, as long as you’ve held the account for five years. And there’s no restriction if you participate in an employer plan. However, there are income limits that determine whether you’re eligible to open and contribute to a Roth. In 2015, the limits are $116,000-$131,000 for single filers and $183,000-$193,000 for married people filing jointly.
There are a couple of other things to consider when choosing between IRAs, the main one being whether you believe you’ll be in a higher or lower tax bracket when you retire. That’s because withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxed at ordinary income tax rates at the time of withdrawal; qualified Roth withdrawals, as I mentioned, are tax-free. Also, there’s no required minimum distribution for a Roth, but with a traditional IRA, you’ll have to begin taking an RMD at age 70 1/2.
Whether or not you choose to open an IRA, if your employer offers a Roth 401(k), you might also consider adding this to your retirement savings strategy. There are no income limits to participate in a Roth 401(k), and you can have both types of 401(k) accounts at the same time. Having both doesn’t mean you can contribute more than the total annual 401(k) contribution limit, but you can split your contributions between the two, giving you a combination of both taxable and tax-free withdrawals come retirement time.
The goal of all this is to give you the greatest opportunity to save, with the greatest flexibility. First, contribute enough to your 401(k) to capture the maximum company match. Then, if you’re eligible—and especially if your 401(k) has limited investment options—open either a traditional or a Roth IRA and contribute the annual maximum. Next, if you can, put more money in your company plan until you max it out. And if you get to the point where you can save even more (kudos!), put that money in a taxable brokerage account.
The bottom line is you can’t really save too much, only too little. So use all the savings and investing vehicles available to you to save as much as you can, as early as you can—and, at the same time, get the maximum tax break. You won’t regret it. —CNS
Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz is president of the Charles Schwab Foundation and author of “The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty.”
The Winooski Senior Center will host the AARP Smart Driver Class on June 16 at 5 p.m. The 4.5 hour refresher course is open to all drivers 50 years and older. This is the only evening class being offered this summer in Chittenden County.
The curriculum addresses the normal physical changes brought on by the aging process, how these changes can affect driving ability and then offers ways to compensate for those changes. The course also addresses changes in vehicles, regulations and roads. Participants will also learn how to interact with other road users, including truckers, bikers, pedestrians and distracted drivers. The class will address Vermont driving regulations, many of which have changed over the years.
Many insurance companies offer a discount to drivers who have completed the class. Drivers who have qualified for a discount by taking the course must take a refresher course every three years. There are no tests.
The fee for the course is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members.
To reserve space in the upcoming class, call the Winooski Center between 9 a.m. and noon at 655-6425.
The Vermont Department of Health is offering grants to small businesses with between five and 50 employees to create worksite wellness programs.
“Worksites are a great place to focus on changing health behaviors by encouraging and supporting healthy eating and physical activity habits,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen.
The Working Toward Wellness grants provide funding and technical assistance to develop seven workplace wellness programs at seven sites across the state—Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Middlebury, Morrisville, Newport and White River Junction.
Worksites will be given a one-time award of $3,000 to help start up a wellness program with a focus on increasing the physical activity and healthy eating opportunities for employees. Worksites will be matched with Health Department staff from their area district office that will work closely with them throughout the grant year to:
Compose a wellness team
Identify the wellness needs of the company and employees
Create goals for the program
Plan and implement wellness programming
The application deadline is June 12.
Grant winners will be selected based on readiness to develop a worksite wellness program, including support from leadership, employee engagement and ideas about what they want a wellness program to include.
Grant winners will be announced June 26.
The application can be found at http://www.vermontbidsystem.com/BidSearch.aspx?type=1.
Todd & Elizabeth Warren Honored With Big50 Award
Todd and Elizabeth Warren, owners of Otter Creek Awnings and Vermont Custom Closets, were selected by REMODELING magazine to join the REMODELING Big50. The Big50 awards were presented at a gala dinner at the Remodeling Leadership Conference in Washington, DC on May 7. The winners are featured in the May issue of REMODELING, a national trade publication read by more than 130,000 professional remodeling contractors, with longer profiles of the winners posted on its website.
“We are very honored to receive this distinction,” said Todd Warren. “The award recognizes excellence and leadership, and we are privileged to be named to this select group of remodelers.”
NEFCU DONATES TO LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS, GIVES SCHOLARSHIPS
Four times each year, New England Federal Credit Union selects four deserving recipients at random to receive $625 each, for a total of $10,000 annually. Recently, NEFCU announced its community giving donations for the first quarter of 2015:
Williston Runs!, which supports Williston students and teachers by promoting physical fitness and raising money for school programs.
Howard Center’s Community Friends Mentoring Program, which provides quality mentoring relationships for children and youth aged 6 to 12 with stresses in their lives.
Girls on the Run, a transformational, physical activity-based, positive youth development program for girls in 3rd to 8th grade.
Lucy’s House for the Prevention of Homeless Pets, whose mission is to keep pets in their original homes with their owners.
NEFCU also recently named the three winners of the 2015 NEFCU Nursing Scholarships. Each year, NEFCU’s Nursing Scholarship Program provides three scholarships of $3,000 each to qualified applicants. This year’s recipients were: Sierra Zambarano of Burlington, currently attending the University of Vermont; Basu Dhakal of Burlington, currently a licensed medical assistant with the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Cancer Center who will be attending Vermont Technical College in the fall to become a registered nurse; and Dawn Miller of St. Albans, who currently works at the University of Vermont Medical Center Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit and will be pursing her Registered Nurse degree this fall at Vermont Technical College.
GARDENER’S SUPPLY RECOGNIZED
Gardener’s Supply was recently recognized for creating the most positive overall employee impact by the nonprofit B Lab with the release of the fourth annual ‘B Corp Best for Workers’ list. The ‘B Corp Best for Workers’ list honors businesses that earned a worker score in the top 10 percent or more than 1,200 Certified B Corporations from over 120 industries on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community and the environment.
WARREN JOINS CANCER PATIENT SUPPORT FOUNDATION
The Cancer Patient Support Foundation recently elected two new board members — Williston business owner Elizabeth Warren of Essex Junction and Susan Shouldice of Burlington.
Warren and her husband, Todd, own and operate Otter Creek Awnings/Vermont Custom Closets in Williston and have been active in local cancer support nonprofits and events for many years. The company is the title sponsor for The Rally Against Cancer campaign for UVM, an effort to help with cancer awareness in partnership with UVM sports teams. Warren has also been involved with Cocktails Curing Cancer and has been in leadership positions for other nonprofits over the last 10 years.
MERCHANTS BANK PROMOTES MCDURFEE
Dody Fraher-Ruland, residential and retail loan manager of Merchants Bank, recently announced the promotion of Debra McDurfee to residential and retail lending associate. McDurfee has 18 years of banking experience, with 11 years as a personal banking lender for Merchants Bank. She is an active volunteer in her community and assists at Hope Lodge in her spare time.
Burlington Business Association APPOINTS Richard Deane as NEW BOARD Chair
The Burlington Business Association has appointed Richard Deane of TruexCullins Architecture as the new chair of the board of directors. Richard Deane officially took over the seat of chair last month at the BBA’s 37th annual dinner celebration with the ceremonial handing over of the gavel by retiring chairman Tom Brassard. Brassard served a two -year term as chairman from 2013 to 2015 and will maintain a seat on the BBA board and serve as board secretary.
KEYBANK HIRES VALLIERES
KeyBank has hired Jeremiah “Jay” Vallieres as a mortgage account officer.
Vallieres has more than 12 years of experience as a mortgage loan officer. Prior to KeyBank, he served as a mortgage loan officer for People’s United Bank and Mortgage Financial, Inc. in Colchester.
PRICE CHOPPER ASSOCIATES RAISE FUNDS
Thousands of Price Chopper shoppers throughout the Northeast showed their support for the MDA Shamrocks Program to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association during February and March. This year’s sales of the popular green and yellow Shamrock mobiles was more than $271,000.
Vermont Public Radio has been honored with three regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including recognitions for Continuing Coverage, Writing and Website from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).
“As a public broadcaster, we are accountable to the community we serve,” said VPR News Director John Dillon. “We are honored to receive these awards because they go to the heart of VPR’s mission to provide an essential and trusted independent voice for news and information in our region.”
VERMONT FEDERAL CREDIT UNION RECEIVES GOVERNOR’S EXCELLENCE IN WORKSITE WELLNESS AWARD
In recognition of its efforts to promote the health and wellness of employees over the past year, Vermont Federal Credit Union received a Governor’s Excellence in Worksite Wellness award.
“At Vermont Federal, we think it’s important to recognize staff not only as a team, but also as individuals,” said Cynthia Turner, vice president of Human Resources. “It is a priority for us to partner with quality companies, offering top-notch benefits of the traditional and nontraditional types.”
BCBSVT ‘FIT-FRIENDLY’ WORKSITE
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for helping employees eat better and move more.
“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at BCBSVT. We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite,” said Don George, president and CEO. “We’re committed to providing the best workplace environment possible to our employees. Offering our employees a robust, comprehensive worksite health and wellness program benefits not only their health but also the good work they do every day.”
The Fit-Friendly Worksites program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping worksites make their employees’ health and wellbeing a priority.
CHRISTMAS LOFT CHANGES HANDS
The Christmas Loft, Inc, a Jay-based Christmas specialty retailer, has sold its Shelburne store to Steve and Deb Mayfield, owners of the Shelburne Country Store, according to a May 2 announcement. The business will remain at its present location on Shelburne Road. The new location will be officially named the Country Christmas Loft and will operate a corresponding website, www.CountryChristmasLoft.com.
CROSS RETURNS TO VERMONT TECH
Vermont Tech recently announced that Dwight Cross has returned to the college and is the new associate dean of enrollment and alumni affairs. Cross has 25 years of experience in the education field. He assumed the position in mid-April.
“I believe Dwight’s addition to the college community will add strength and leverage to the work of our admissions and recruitment operation,” said President Dan Smith. “He will also give us the capacity to creatively engage our alumni and other stakeholders in support of the college.”
Cross has spent the last three years working as the Director of Admissions at the New England Culinary Institute. Prior to that, Cross worked in a variety of admissions and enrollment positions at Vermont Tech. Prior to his position at NECI, Cross was with Vermont Tech for 22 years.
VERMONT PBS AWARDS ARONSON-RATH
Vermont PBS recently recognized Vermont native Raney Aronson-Rath with its first annual Vermont Public Media Ambassador Award, in recognition of Vermonters whose vision and leadership are advancing the role of public media in the digital age.
Having grown up in Washington, Vt., Aronson now serves as deputy executive producer for the much-awarded PBS public affairs program, Frontline, and is a leading voice on the future of journalism. She has been internationally recognized for her work to expand the PBS investigative journalism footprint and to re-imagine the documentary form across multiple platforms.
KELLER WILLIAMS WELCOMES THREE
KW Vermont recently welcomed three new agents.
Sara Vizvarie Crothers, a real estate sales professional from Burlington, has joined KW Vermont and Sarah Harrington Real Estate from Century 21 Jack Associates. She is a native Vermonter, bringing more than two years of experience and a diverse skill set that includes more than 10 years combined experience in customer service, marketing, sales, advertising and fundraising.
Mariah Murphy, a real estate sales professional from St. Albans, has joined KW Vermont. Murphy will be joining the Shawn Cheney Group as a buyer specialist. She brings many years of real estate experience to the Shawn Cheney Group.
Paul Barnard, a real estate sales professional from Colchester, also recently joined KW Vermont. as an individual agent. He has a strong background in EMT skills and recently received his realtors’ license.
COHEN TO JOIN VEC
Vermont Electric Cooperative announced recently that Andrea Cohen, executive director of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, will be joining VEC’s senior leadership team at the end of the legislative session. Cohen will serve as manager of government affairs and member relations.
Cohen joined VBSR in 2006 as public policy manager before becoming VBSR’s executive director in 2010. Prior to that, she worked at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation managing the Vermont Solid Waste Management Program.
VERMONT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DOWN TO 3.8 PERCENT IN MARCH
The Vermont Department of Labor announced recently that the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for March was 3.8 percent. This represents a decrease of one-tenth of a percent from the revised February rate (3.9 percent). The national average in March was 5.5 percent, which experienced no change from the previous month’s estimate. As of the prior month’s initial data, Vermont’s unemployment rate was tied for sixth lowest in the country. March represents the sixth consecutive month without an increase to the unemployment rate.
MERCHANTS BANCSHARES ACQUIRES NUVO BANK & TRUST COMPANY
Merchants Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of Merchants Bank, and NUVO Bank & Trust Company recently announced the signing of a definitive agreement pursuant to which Merchants Bancshares, Inc. will acquire NUVO Bank & Trust Company for approximately $21.8 million in stock and cash, which represents $7.15 per share.
“We are excited to enter the greater Springfield, Massachusetts market through a combination with NUVO Bank & Trust,” said Michael R. Tuttle, President and CEO of Merchants Bancshares. “The market has witnessed a great deal of change recently, the NUVO team is extremely experienced, and the growth opportunity is significant. We plan to invest in and grow the NUVO team and business. While operational areas will be combined, the value created in this merger will be more attributable to revenue growth than expense reduction. We look forward to welcoming the NUVO banking team to our Merchants family.”