By Phyl Newbeck
Williston Central School teacher and veteran dragon boat racer Debra Lentine has renewed motivation to compete in this year’s Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival and Races.
Lentine got involved with the festival in 2005 after recovering from breast cancer. This March, she was diagnosed with brain cancer, and underwent six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy simultaneously. A team of teachers and staff will take to the lake in honor of Lentine and two other members of the school district community who have cancer.
The ninth annual festival is set for Aug. 3 at the Burlington Waterfront to raise money for cancer programs in Vermont.
For Lentine, the paddling is therapeutic.
“I feel like every time I practice, I’m killing off cancer cells,” she said. Although she is undergoing a regimen of five days of chemotherapy followed by 23 days off, Lentine intends to compete in the World Club Crew Championship in Italy this September.
In addition to the Williston Central School team, Lentine’s family and friends have formed a new team called Drain Brammage—a play on words, since the tip-off to Lentine’s current cancer was difficulty speaking. Some team members are local while others are coming from far away, and several veteran racers on the Dragon Heart team have joined the team to help out those who have never paddled before.
“Dragon boat racing is very important to me,” Lentine said. “I try never to miss a practice. The paddling itself is a piece of what’s important to me, but the warmth and camaraderie of the team is the most important.”
“Deb has not skipped a beat,” festival organizer Linda Dyer said.
Lyn Porter is captaining the Williston School District Cancer Castaways boat.
“We’re paddling because three known colleagues are fighting cancer at this point,” she said. “We all know somebody who has been touched by cancer, but this year having it close to home and within our schools, it has touched us deeply. We can’t fight with them, but we can paddle for them and support them.”
The festival is capped at 64 teams consisting of 20 paddlers and a drummer, and includes several boats composed solely of breast cancer survivors. Races take place every four minutes from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A popular part of the event is the flower ceremony, where teams link their boats together and throw flowers into the lake in memory of those who have died. Last year, the festival raised $140,000 and the eight-year total is close to $1.5 million.
Dyer describes the day as “a community festival where people team up to race for fun, fitness and charity.”
“It’s a great day and what sets us apart from a lot of other events is that it’s all about the community,” said Dyer. “It’s pretty exciting to see what the community can do to help cancer survivors.”
People can contribute to the event by racing, volunteering or simply donating to the cause.
“The money goes right back into the community,” Dyer said. “It’s what helps us do what we do all year.”
The school groups are not the only local teams competing.
Lauren Tomasi of Williston is part of a Merchant’s Bank team called Hakuna Matatas, a Swahili phrase meaning no worries. Tomasi is new to Vermont, having recently relocated from Oregon, and she said she’s excited to take part in a team-building event for a good cause. Part of the reason she and her husband moved east was to spend time with his late mother, who had cancer. In addition, Tomasi’s aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Tomasi has never been on a dragon boat but said she’s looking forward to the experience.
“I haven’t done much rowing before, and I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “I’m excited to learn more about what my part will be and how we’ll work together. If I’m going to do something I want to be good at it.”
April Bolin, marketing manager of Windows & Doors by Brownell, has been on the company’s team, Windows & Oars, for the last four years.
“It’s for a fantastic cause and we like to give back to the community,” she said “but it’s also wonderful team building for our company. After the first year, we realized how much fun it was and wanted to keep doing it.”
The team starts with staff and is supplemented by family members. A core group of about 60 percent of the team has paddled every year. Employees host a company-wide garage sale to aid in their fundraising efforts. Bolin, who lost all four of her grandparents to cancer, said none of the paddlers had ever been in a dragon boat before the first year.
“I’m a kayaker,” she said “but paddling the dragon boat is totally different.”
She praised the festival’s organizers for helping the team learn the fundamentals and getting them started.
“It’s a really great organization,” she said. “It gives people an opportunity to get together and look at the positive side of life.”
The day’s events will benefit Dragonheart Vermont and Survivorship NOW, a cancer wellness program based in Williston, which describes itself as a bridge between treatment and recovery. Survivorship NOW has roughly 30 free classes each month in topics ranging from art and music to exercise and nutrition. Exercise classes run the gamut from traditional cardio workouts to hula hoops and are free to both survivors and their caretakers.
It’s not too late to volunteer for the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. Interested parties can go to ridethedragon.org and click on the volunteer tab. An organizer will contact them and offer them tasks ranging from bailing water out of boats to handing out flyers and maps and organizing photo shoots of each team.
“No skills are required,” Dyer said. “All you need is a smile.”
By Phyl Newbeck
Observer staff report
For the second year, mountain biking’s top athletes will converge on Williston for the final race of a summer-long series.
The race is the last stop of the Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour, a seven-race series that draws the leading male and female riders.
Jericho native Lea Davison, an Olympic mountain biker who won last year’s Catamount Classic, is set to compete in the event again. Davison also won the Pro XT series last year, but this season an injury prevented her from competing in all of the qualifying races.
“I’m excited to be back in Vermont and racing on my home course at Catamount,” Davison said. “Nothing beats the love from local fans. I can’t tell you how much that support means to me.”
The Catamount Classic is set for Saturday, July 26 at Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, part of a weekend of racing and activities for all ages and levels. The event features bike demos, food vendors and kids’ activities.
Saturday’s Pro XCT starts at noon for men and 2:30 p.m. for the women’s event. Sunday features a short track competition starting at 2 p.m. for men and 2:45 p.m. for women.
On the same weekend, Lea Davison and her sister, competitive rider Sabra Davison, are hosting a screening of “Half the Road”—a documentary outlining the challenges facing elite female cyclists. Several of the tour’s mountain bikers will be on hand to meet locals and answer questions.
The film screening, set for July 26 at 7 p.m. at Main Street Landing in Burlington, will benefit Jericho-based Little Bellas. Founded by the sisters, the mountain biking foundation’s goal is to “help young women realize their potential through cycling,” according to its website.
“We are really excited to bring this film to Burlington, especially when focus is turned to pro cycling with the Pro XCT in town,” Lea Davison said. “‘Half the Road’ tells the story that is sadly familiar to top female athletes. When it comes to elite-level and pro competition, it’s still in many ways a man’s world. We hope by bringing this film here, Little Bellas can help raise awareness about inequity in sports and push for change.”
“Half the Road” was directed by Kathryn Bertine, who documented her road to the 2012 Olympics. She realized that prize money for women was much lower than for men, no base salary or union existed for women and women’s events were rarely linked to men’s.
Equality reigns in this race, however—the top five male and female riders will receive an equal share of a $15,000 prize purse.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Monkey See, Monkey Makes a Sequel
By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer
In a perfect circumstance, we would take all the politicians, seat them at little desks in a cute kindergarten classroom, and make them watch director Matt Reeves’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” Graham crackers and milk would be served. No popcorn or cheese nachos. Ok…maybe gummy bears. The hope is that the allegory, a politically savvy heir to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” would teach them something about what the sane folks on this Earth are trying to accomplish. I’m hoping this review prompts that tutorial.
While we wait for said renaissance, we good citizens, both patrician and plebeian alike, can comfort ourselves in the lessons of peace and general humanism taught by this very engaging film’s apes and a smattering of Homo sapiens who get it. As there’s more than a skosh of violence to impress just what we naked apes are trying to avoid, Mom and Pop might want to abide by the PG-13 directive. Otherwise, it’s all part and parcel of the film’s haunting panoply. Superb art direction helps etch the not so brave world presented.
It is the near future, and owing to some simian virus that leaked out of a test tube and killed most of the world’s populace, we’re not sure if there are any survivors besides the small community of genetically immune folks who are making do in San Francisco. Led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), a post-apocalyptic, self-styled Medici, their next step to recovery entails hiking into the Muir Woods and reconnecting a disabled power station to the dam. There’s only one problem…well, actually three in Realtors® parlance.
Location, location, location. That’s where the smart monkeys live…in general harmony, might I add, led by Caesar, their alpha ape personified. Winningly portrayed by Andy Serkis, who’s somewhere inside that costume, he is the anthropoid answer to the philosopher king. Honest, he aspires to no greater office, and is hence able to focus entirely on the job at hand: the commonweal of the constituency that has entrusted him.
Of course, like his namesake, he’s got his problems: Namely, an ape or two with either an axe to grind or a desire for a bit more power. Playing the proverbial right-hand man, the scheming prime minister, if you will, is Koba, a heretofore loyal yet rather dyspeptic sort, acted by Toby Kebell. Not to excuse him, mind you, but we’ll be told of his reasons.
Mixing several instructive parables, with strong symbolic allusion to the European conquest of the New World, it is obvious that these two civilizations are about to clash. We hope that calmer heads prevail, but speculate that the Vegas odds are against it.
While the albeit competent Dreyfus is decidedly hawkish, in a reverse of the power structure back in Monkey Town, it’s his point man, Malcolm, sympathetically depicted by Jason Clarke, who always first considers the enlightened, nonviolent route.
Smaller melodramas in each camp furnish the subplots, the everyday joys and turmoil that inform our humanity, so to speak. Combine all these elements and therein lies the philosophical essence of what several generations of screenwriters have been trying to impart ever since Pierre Boule’s 1963 novel inspired the first “Planet of the Apes” (1968). In short, beyond appearances, what does it really mean to be human?
The great surprise is that for all the opportunities to lapse into a platitudinal preachiness, especially when you consider that the gist of the message has had seven previous iterations, there is a novel freshness here. The characterizations among the apes, which include gorillas and at least one scholarly orangutan who forms a bond of learning with Malcolm’s son, Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee), become as real to us as the animals who spoke from the pages of the Golden Books® we pored over in childhood.
Marvelous special effects heighten the drama. Whether the CGI is helping sculpt personages (or is it apenages?), contrasting the fragility of the machine world with haunting forest landscapes or depicting the brutality of some pretty heavy battle scenes, it is always to complement, not upstage. For good measure, and to please a sentimental sense, parallels are made between Caesar and Malcolm’s quests for domestic tranquility.
Of course a modicum of open-mindedness is suggested. I’m reminded of a dorm mate at Olde Ivy Film Criticism College who shunned cartoons because, “C’mon, how could Porky Pig talk?” But that’s the point. If we aspire to a greater civilization, a childlike trust is required of all parties…an ability to embrace wisdom no matter from what race or creed it emanates. In its dedicated effort to proffer said ideal with entertaining panache, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” doesn’t monkey around.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” rated PG-13, is a Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation release directed by Matt Reeves and stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell. Running time: 130 minutes
By Kim Dannies
Nothing makes me happier this time of year than a pie bursting with local summer berries enveloped in a buttery, flaky crust. The strawberry rhubarb season was one of the best in recent memory, and now sensational raspberries, peaches, and blueberries are taking their turn on the pie carousel.
There are a couple of easy secrets to a really good piecrust. The single most important thing is to use white pastry flour. Regular flour makes a decent crust, but pastry flour makes a sublime one.
Typically I buy pastry flour from a bin, but I recently splurged on a bag of local Nitty Gritty Grain white pastry flour. I was astonished at the superior quality of my crust. It formed and rolled out beautifully, held the oozing fruit in check, and melted in my mouth. I couldn’t stop eating the pie. I even did a side-by-side bake off with my traditional flour just to be sure, and there really was no contest. At $12.50 for a five-pound bag, it is dear—but definitely worth it.
The next secret is really good butter. Use the best butter you can afford in your crust, you WILL taste the difference. Vermont’s Cabot unsalted butter is a good place to start; if the pie is a super special one, go all the way with Vermont Creamery’s 86 percent butterfat butter.
The rest is easy. Add three generous cups of pastry flour to a food processor. Cut 1- pound of cold butter into 8 pieces and add to flour. Add a pinch of salt and pulse mixture 20 times to create a coarse mixture. Add 1/3 cup of cold water and hit long pulses until a ball forms in the bowl, about 1 minute. Add more flour if the dough sticks to the sides, or add more water drops if the mixture is not forming into dough.
Wrap dough in plastic. Chill for at least an hour or freeze until needed. I like to roll out my crust for a 9×12-inch rectangle baking dish leaving wide flaps all around the edges.
I add my filling, then pull the flaps up, crostata-style, with an rough opening in the center. I lacquer on some egg yolk and dust with raw sugar. The result is an earthy brown-berry-oozing wonder that serves 12.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.
By Jim Miller
Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend any credible resources that rate the best vehicles for older drivers? My wife and I are both in our 70s and are looking to purchase a new automobile but could use some help choosing one that’s age friendly. What can you tell us?
While there are a number of websites that rate new vehicles for older drivers, one of the most credible is Edmunds.com, a top-rated online resource for automotive research information.
For 2014, they developed a list of “top 10 vehicles for seniors” based on user-friendly features that help compensate for many of the physical changes—like diminished vision, arthritis and range of motion loss—that can come with aging.
But before we get to the list, here is a rundown of different features that are available on many new vehicles today and how they can help with various age-related physical problems. So depending on what ails you or your wife, here’s what to look for.
Knee, hip or leg problems
For comfort, a better fit and easier entry and exit, look for vehicles that have six-way adjustable power seats that move the seat forward and backward, up and down, and the seat back forward and backward. Also look for low door thresholds and seat heights that don’t require too much bending or climbing to get into. Leather or faux leather seats are also easier to slide in and out of than cloth seats.
Limited upper body range of motion
If you have difficulty looking over your shoulder to back up or merge into traffic, look for vehicles with a large rear window for better visibility, wide-angle mirrors which can minimize blind spots, back-up cameras, active parallel park assistance and blind spot warning systems that alert you to objects in the way. Also, for comfort and fit, consider vehicles that have a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, adjustable seatbelts and heated seats with lumbar support.
Features that help with difficult and painful gripping and turning problems include a keyless entry and a push-button ignition, a thicker steering wheel, power mirrors and seats and larger dashboard controls. And in SUVs and crossovers, an automatic tailgate closer can be a real bonus.
Look for vehicles with larger instrument panels and dashboard controls with contrasting text that’s easier to see. And those with sensitivity to glare will benefit from extendable sun visors, auto-dimming rearview mirrors and glare-reducing side mirrors.
Short and/or overweight
Look for six-way adjustable seats, adjustable foot pedals and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
2014 Best Vehicles
Here is Edmunds list of the top 10 vehicles for 2014 listed in alphabetical order. Each offers features designed to support drivers coping with the conditions discussed above. Their picks include both sedans and SUVs, and range from top-of-the-line luxury models to those with more affordable price tags.
Acura RDX SUV, Audi A8 Sedan, Ford Taurus Sedan, Honda Accord Sedan, Hyundai Sonata Sedan, Lexus ES 350 Sedan, Mazda CX-9 SUV, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan, Toyota Avalon Sedan and Volkswagen Passat.
To read more about the details of these choices visit edmunds.com and type in “Top 10 vehicles for seniors for 2014” into their search bar.
Another excellent resource that can help you choose a vehicle that meets your needs is the American Automobile Association’s online tool called “Smart Features for Older Drivers.”
At seniordriving.aaa.com/smartfeatures you can input the areas you have problems with—like knee problems, arthritic hands or a stiff upper body—and the tool will identify the makes and models that have the features that will best accommodate your needs. Although this tool looks at model-year 2013 vehicles, in many cases the features shown are carried over for 2014 models.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
The Route 2 repaving project between Waterbury and Bolton will cause lane closures with alternating one lane travel during the week. Traffic control will be present, and motorists should expect traffic delays.
Motorists should be aware of paving operations on Appletree Point Road, Balsam Street, Farrington Parkway, Vest Haven Drive, Wildwood and Leddy Park Road through Aug. 8. One-way travel will be maintained, but delays are expected in and out of Leddy Park during the work.
Paving will start on Route 15 at Butlers Corners in Essex and continue north to just past Browns Trace Road in Jericho. Traffic control will be present and motorists should expect delays. This project should be completed by the end of July.
Work repaving Vt. Route 128 from the intersection of Route 15 in Essex extending north on Route 128 for 5.7 miles into Westford will cause one-lane travel in areas and reduced speed limits. Weather permitting, there will be paving from Weed Road north to the end of the project. There will be guardrail and curb work on the Essex end of the project during the week. Traffic control will be present and motorists are asked to use extreme caution. This project will be completed by Aug. 1.
Interstate 89 – Between Richmond and Colchester
Nighttime work on I-89 between Richmond and Colchester continues. Work hours are Sunday through Thursday between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. and work is weather dependent. Motorists should expect lane closures and traffic delays. The speed limit is reduced and fines are doubled for speeding within the construction zone. Motorists should use extreme caution while driving through the construction areas. This project is expected to be completed at the end of August.
Interstate 89 – Milton Lamoille River Bridges Project
The northbound right shoulder at the Milton Bridge is closed. Motorists should be aware of the possibility of unplanned lane closures to conduct maintenance during the week.
The bridge on Browns Trace near the intersection with Lee River Road is closed through Aug. 15. Traffic is detoured until the project is completed.
Culvert replacement on Hanley Lane will reduce travel to one lane. Motorists should expect minor delays and this project should be completed by Aug. 21.
Construction on the realignment of U.S. Route 2 between East Avenue and the ramps for I-89 by the Sheraton Hotel continues on the north side of U.S. Route 2 by the Sheraton Hotel and UVM property. The sidewalk on the north side of Route 2 is closed from the Holiday Inn to East Avenue. Pedestrian traffic is detoured. The bus stop remains open on the north side of Route 2 by the Sheraton. Regular work hours are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. with no lane closures expected during peak hours. This project is expected to be completed July 31, 2015.
Joshua Clark, 22, of Waterbury was cited on a charge of embezzlement on July 8, according to police reports. Mountain Air Systems reported to the Williston Police Department that Clark had been using a company credit card to transfer money to his personal bank accounts and also paid for his cell phone bill, according to the report. To date, Clark is accused of stealing nearly $3,000 from the company, the report notes. Clark is scheduled to appear in court on July 31.
On July 1, as the result of an investigation by the Williston Police Department, Logan Corey, 20, of St. Albans was arrested on charges of felony identity theft, felony false impersonation and a misdemeanor count of petit larceny stemming from charges related to the theft and use of an EBT card, according to police reports. Corey was lodged at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
Larry Kirby, 41, of Williston was cited on a charge of domestic assault after an altercation was reported to and investigated by police on June 25, according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Facility.
William A. Myers, 26, who is homeless, was cited on a charge of simple assault on June 26, according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Facility.
Pierre Begeleus, 37, of Williston was cited on a charge of domestic assault after an altercation at a Williston home on June 25, according to police reports. He was taken to Chittenden County Correctional Facility and held for lack of $1,000 bail.
Driving with suspended license
Christopher J. Clark, 25, of Hinesburg was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on June 23, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.
Robert Daley, 36, of Underhill was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on June 30, according to police reports. No other information was released.
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.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has received a large number of calls recently from members of the public complaining about bears.
“Our phones have been ringing constantly the last couple of weeks with calls from people asking what to do about a bear that has been visiting their yard,” said Col. David LeCours, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s director of law enforcement. “The first thing we tell them is to identify and remove whatever is attracting the bears.”
People often inadvertently encourage bears to come out of the forest by providing food without realizing it. Some of the most common sources of food that attract bears are pet food, bird feeders, barbecue grills, household trash containers or dumpsters and campsites with accessible food or food waste.
Bears that have found food near someone’s house nearly always return to find more, developing habits that can lead to the bear’s ultimate demise. Relocating a nuisance bear is very difficult—they frequently have to be put down.
“People often assume that we can just capture and move a bear to a more remote area once it becomes a problem,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s bear project leader. “Bears can easily move dozens or even hundreds of miles in search of food, so there’s really nowhere in Vermont we can put a bear that it won’t find people’s houses if it’s determined. Prevention is really the key. The only way to deal with a problem bear is to remove whatever is attracting it in the first place.”
Feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal. A law was passed in 2013 making it against the law to feed a bear and wardens have begun issuing tickets to violators. A Montgomery man was charged by the Fish & Wildlife Department for intentionally feeding bears earlier this month.
Vermont law also states that residents must take reasonable measures to protect their property from bears before lethal force can be taken. Some of these measures include:
- Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.
- Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.
- Feed your pets indoors.
- Do not feed birds April 1 through Nov. 30. Bringing feeders in at night doesn’t work, because of seed that is spilled on the ground.
- Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough.
- “We’re in a period of transition with this new law,” said Hammond. “People are really starting to get the message and have been taking steps to scare bears away or remove attractants as the law dictates, rather than just shooting the bear.”
- “Our wardens have been a tremendous help in our efforts to habituate bears to stay away from people when there is a problem,” said Hammond. “They’ve been working overtime trying to help landowners while also striving to save the lives of these bears.”
For more information about living with Vermont’s black bears, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.