November 1, 2014

Vermont’s rifle deer season starts Nov. 15


Hunters are gearing up for the start of Vermont’s statewide traditionally popular 16-day rifle deer season that begins Nov. 15 and ends Nov. 30. 

A hunter may take one buck during this season with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer. A point must be one inch or longer from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point, regardless of length. Spike-antlered deer, mostly yearlings, are protected during this season.

Hunters are reminded of a new law prohibiting shooting a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow while on or within 25 feet of the traveled portion of a public highway. An exception is a Class 4 public highway where it is illegal to shoot within the travelled portion. Class 4 roads are designated on town highway maps.

The new law also prohibits shooting a firearm, muzzleloader, bow and arrow, or crossbow over or across the travelled portion of a public highway.

Fish & Wildlife urges hunters to wear a fluorescent orange hat and vest to help maintain Vermont’s hunting season safety record.

A 2014 Vermont Deer Hunting Guide can be downloaded from the department’s website at  

Hunters who get a deer on opening weekend of rifle season can help Vermont’s deer management program by reporting their deer at one of the biological check stations listed below that will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 16:

  • Marty’s Sports & Gunsmithing, Inc., Bennington
  • Jericho General Store, Jericho
  • St. Marie’s, Inc., Swanton
  • Wright’s Enterprises, Newport
  • Keith’s Country Store, Inc., Pittsford
  • R&L Archery, Barre
  • Guilford Country Store, Guilford



Alice M. Chase

Alice Chase

Alice Chase


Alice Mary (Shortsleeve) Chase 94, of Williston passed away October 27, 2014 at Burlington Health and Rehab.

She was born in Burlington on July 23, 1920 the daughter of Stephen and Hazel (Bleau) Shortsleeve. She was married in 1942 to Leonard M. Chase, Sr. and had 51 happy years together before his passing in 1994.

Mrs. Chase enjoyed her life as a homemaker and gardener. She had a talent for sewing, when her children were young she handmade many of their clothes. She had a strong will and determination to survive which helped her live a full life. In the last chapter of her life when she required more assistance, she spent four happy years at Sterling House assisted living home in Richmond. There she made new friends and became very attached to the staff there. Her family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to the staff at Sterling House for providing excellent care and loving kindness to our mother while she was there.

She is survived by her three daughters, Alice Boyer of Lake Elmore, Genevieve Boyer and her husband David of Monkton, and Bonnie Chase of Essex Junction and one son Leonard M. Chase, Jr. and his wife Deborah, of Williston; 11 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren; one brother Kenneth Shortsleeve and his wife Dora of Humble, Texas, several nieces, nephews and many friends. She was predeceased by a daughter Nancy in 1987.

A private graveside service will be held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations, may be made to Sterling House, 61 Farr Rd., Richmond, VT 05477. Visiting hours will be held 4 – 6 p.m. on Oct. 30. Arrangements are by Ready Funeral and Cremation Service, Mountain View Chapel, 68 Pinecrest Dr. Essex Junction. Online condolences may be sent to

New offense has CVU soccer boys a game away from title try


By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Going into Wednesday (Observer press time) afternoon’s Division 1 semifinal contest at South Burlington High, the Champlain Valley Union High boys’ soccer team had found its scoring touch and then some.

Coach Katie Mack’s Redhawks had won their last four outings while putting up 19 goals and allowing a big, fat zero at the other end.

The wins included an opening playoff round 6-0 zipping of Burlington High a week ago Wednesday and Saturday’s 4-0 quarterfinal clipping of Hartford High. The Burlington match was at the Redhawks’ squishy Hinesburg pitch while the Hartford test was switched to the South Burlington turf due to excessive squishiness at the CVU fields.

The session at top-seeded 15-1 South Burlington pitted the fifth-seeded 12-3-1 Hawks against a Rebels’ team that had nudged CVU 1-0 at SBHS Oct. 1, the game’s lone score coming with about 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

South Burlington in its semifinal defeated St. Johnsbury academy 3-1.

The new offensive approach came with formation changes Mack put in following a narrow and tense 1-0 loss at Essex High Oct. 10.

“We have been working together on it,” said forward Richard Baccei of the revamped approach in which he has been a successful sharpshooter. “Everybody is making it work.”

Baccei had one of the goals in the decisive victory over Burlington. Also finding the back of the net were Max Brown, Chris Reiss, Ollie Choiniere, Elliot Mitchell and Adam Hamilton.

“I am so pleased with the way we have scored,” said Mack after the romp over BHS, a team CVU nipped at home and tied on the road during the regular campaign. “We have been working on finishing.”

Friday’s finishers were Choiniere, Brown and Will Yakibik, while the Instigator-In-Chief was senior veteran midfielder and defender Patrick McCue. The man with the mighty foot booted home one goal and assisted on two others as part of a barrage of long bombs that helped keep the Hurricanes bottled up in their own end for most of the game.

Hartford netminder Jordan Allard had a busy time of it, making 16 stops while his teammates could unload just one shot on the CVU cage now known as Kellyland, where number one keeper Oscar and Grant hold forth. The victory was CVU’s 12th shutout of the season.

Redhawks close out gridiron season with 3-6 mark

Quarterback Jake Evans passes to 1,000-yard rusher Rich Lowrey during an October game. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

Quarterback Jake Evans passes to 1,000-yard rusher Rich Lowrey during an October game. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

The sting from Friday night’s Division 1 quarterfinal 54-6 loss to top-seeded Middlebury Union High at the Tigers’ den no doubt remained on Sunday, but Champlain Valley Union High head football coach Jim Provost was already looking ahead to next season.

The eighth-seeded CVU unit finished with a 3-6 record. The team lost its last two contests including the previous weekend’s regular season finale at St. Albans against Bellows Free Academy. Before that, had come a two-game win streak.

“We have a lot to build on for next year,” said Provost. The Redhawks lose 20 seniors but have 34 varsity members due to return, including quarterbacks Andrew Bortnick (junior) and Jake Evans (sophomore), plus 1,000-yard rusher Rich Lowrey, a junior.

At Middlebury, against the now 9-0 Tigers, who extended their overall win streak to 20 games, Lowrey plunged a yard to give CVU an early 6-0 lead, a touchdown set up by Bortnick’s 41-yard scurry on a keeper after the Redhawks had taken the game-opening kickoff.

CVU held Middlebury on downs and had further opportunities to do more damage, but fumbles and penalties proved costly

Helped by a CVU giveaway, Middlebury did move a short distance to go in front 7-6 on a 14-yard Austin Robinson scoring pitch.

But a short time later, taking over on their 7-yard line, the Tigers handed the ball to their whippet, diminutive back Bobby Ritter. The dude with a lot of gone sped around left end and zipped 93 yards into the end zone, and the Tigers were suddenly in full chomp.

The Redhawks never saw the end zone again, while Ritter scampered for two additional touchdowns while racking up 218 yards on just six carries. His average of 36 yards a lug was one of the most efficient performances of the campaign.

Provost said that the Hawks inability to make further inroads early in the game when they had chances was very costly. Ritter’s gallop then turned the game.

“We had a good offensive year,” he said, “but giving up the big plays was our Achilles heel.”

The coach praised Lowrey, who had a solid year running the ball, for his off-season dedication and work in the weight room.

—Mal Boright,
Observer correspondent

CVU field hockey team headed for title contest

Redhawk senior Lily Schmoker drives the ball down the field during Tuesday's semifinal game against Rutland High. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

Redhawk senior Lily Schmoker drives the ball down the field during Tuesday’s semifinal game against Rutland High. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

For the second time in three seasons, the Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team is in the Division 1 championship contest.

The Redhawks’ 3-1 semifinal victory over Rutland High Tuesday night at South Burlington boosted them into the title test Saturday at the University of Vermont against the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between top seed Essex High (13-0-1) and Middlebury Union (8-4-2), the fourth seed. That game was played at Middlebury College after the Observer’s press deadline.

CVU coach Kate McDonald said after her team’s triumph that either Essex or Middlebury will be a tough foe in the crowning game.

She pointed out that the Redhawks tied the Hornets at home and lost to them in Essex, while the Hawks nipped Middlebury in overtime at CVU. A second late season game with the Tigers was cancelled.

McDonald’s senior-laden (10) squad was led Tuesday by junior forward Kate Machavern’s two goals while senior forward Kate Burke also launched a tally. Rutland goalies Laura Hewitt and Courtney Casey were formidable as they combined for seven saves during CVU’s several sustained attacks.

“In a playoff game it is important to get the first goal and get rid of the jitters and then relax,” said McDonald.

Machavern took care of that just over two minutes into the nocturnal contest, rapping the ball past Hewitt from a scramble in front of the Rutland cage.

“She has a good nose for the goal,” said the coach of Machavern, who has been a leading producer for the Redhawks.

Burke, with an assist from Sami Harvey after a penalty corner, put CVU up 2-0 with six minutes and 11 seconds left in the first half.

Machavern, a converted midfielder, rang up her second pointer five minutes into the second half out of a CVU offensive storm in which Casey made at least three stops before the CVU junior popped the ball past the hustling Rutland netminder.

Machavern said that was also an important score because “they (Rutland) can always come back.”

In fact, the Red Raiders did when Allie Wolf caught junior CVU keeper Tashia Pashby Rockwood (three stops) out of the goal mouth trying to control a dangerous threat. Wolf steered the ball past the CVU goalie and into the empty cage.

But, no panic by the Redhawks.

“We kept up our intensity,” said senior defender Kathryn Asch, a dynamo CVU back liner who, from her center defense position, disrupted many of Rutland’s attempts at ball control.

“We were able to create more offense, but they had strong goalies,” said McDonald adding that it “was good to play on a great surface (turf).”

The Redhawks were also on turf Friday when they played their way to the semifinal with a 2-1 victory over seventh-seeded Mount Mansfield Union at Middlebury College. The game was switched from CVU because of poor playing conditions at the Redhawks drenched fields.

Seniors Lily Schmoker and Lauren Macy chalked up the Redhawks’ scores and Pashby-Rockwood came up with 10 saves against the Cougars, with whom CVU divided two regular season contests.

CVU and Burlington in Div. 1 soccer championship

The Redhawks celebrate during their semifinal game against Colchester, which they won 3-0. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

The Redhawks celebrate during their semifinal game against Colchester, which they won 3-0. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

By Mal Boright 

Observer correspondent

A familiar autumn setting is coming up for the undefeated (17-0) Champlain Valley Union High girls’ soccer team Saturday.

The second-seeded Redhawks will be on the artificial turf at Burlington High School Saturday, hoping to capture their fourth straight championship trophy and their second consecutive undefeated season. Game time was to be announced by the Vermont Principals Association.

It will also be familiar territory for the Burlington High Seahorses, who will be defending their home ground after beating Mount Mansfield Union 2-1 Tuesday while CVU was popping Colchester High 3-0 in semifinal games.

Burlington, fourth-seeded, hiked its record to 14-3 in making the finals for the first time since 2009, when it nipped CVU to take the title. 

During the regular season, the Redhawks scored two victories, 3-0 at home and 3-1 at BHS, over the Seahorses, both in September. 

A young and fifth-seeded Colchester team did not go easily at CVU’s soaked soccer meadow, with both teams slogging through a scoreless first half.

“We were a little frantic in the first half, partly because of the field conditions,” said CVU coach Stan Williams after the game.

In these tense playoff situations, first and then second goals take on immense importance, and this was no different.

For CVU it was tall, able junior midfielder Lia Gagliuso who, so to speak, launched the CVU rocket ship by booting a well-placed direct kick from outside the box high into the net and off the reaching hands of capable Laker keeper Danielle Witham. Just over a minute had elapsed after intermission.

“I was just going to hit it (the ball) into the crowd but I saw coach signal for the shot so I tried to go for it,” said Gagliuso, whose talented foot is considered by Williams to be a special soccer weapon.

Then, with over 21 minutes remaining, CVU’s Audrey Allegretta found teammate Bronwen Hopwood alone on the left side of the Colchester cage. Hopwood, with her left foot, curled a perfect high shot into the open left side of the net, a shot on which Witham (14 stops) had no chance.

“You bent it like Beckham?” the senior Hopwood was asked.

“I did,” was the reply. “I was able to hit it perfectly.”

A little more than five minutes later, Hopwood scored again, taking a cross from Ellie Blake that tantalizingly bounced past the front of the cage to a waiting Hopwood who rapped the sphere into an empty corner.  

“I was in perfect position for the cross from Ellie,” Hopwood said.

Blake, a senior defender, also had some moments up back helping to deflect at least one first half Colchester shot away from the CVU goalie, where Maddie Turneau completed the Redhawks’ 14th shutout of the season with a pair of first half saves.

Williams’ crew gained the semifinal round Friday with a 3-0 home quarterfinal victory over Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans. 

The critical first goal came late in the first half from sophomore Naomi Burhans, who was positioned to slam home a corner kick from, yes, Gagliuso.

Sophomore Sierra Morton (from junior Megan Gannon) and Hopwood (from Anne Keene) completed the goal making in the second half. CVU held a 22-3 advantage in shots on goal.

Young CVU harriers bag state title and runner-up slot

Sophie Gorman (above) led the CVU girls cross country team to its sixth straight state championship. (Observer courtesy photos by Dan Grossman)

Sophie Gorman (above) led the CVU girls cross country team to its sixth straight state championship. (Observer courtesy photos by Dan Grossman)

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent 

Once again, the Champlain Valley Union High girls’ cross country team rules Vermont Division 1.

Since it is its sixth straight championship and 11th over the past 12 years, one might ask, “So what else is new?”

Well, new this year is that a youthful boys team came within a mere three points of grabbing a crown of their own, edged out by a senior-laden South Burlington High unit that captured its third straight title in the competition Saturday at Thetford.

The Rebels had 46 points to 49 for the Redhawks, who, according to coach Scott Bliss, have been improving all season. And the top CVU runners will be back next fall.

The CVU girls scored a 33 to 46 victory over runner-up Essex High. This after the Hornets had nipped the Redhawks in the Woods Trail Run on the same course Oct. 4 when, Bliss said at the time, “a lot of things went wrong, including a lost shoe during the race.”

This time, CVU had five runners crowded into the top 11, led by sophomore Sophia Gorman, who took second in 19 minutes and 44.1 seconds to winner Katherine Ogden of Stratton with a time of 19:31.3.

Senior Carly Neeld (fourth), sophomore Meara Heininger (seventh), freshman Jennifer Ireland (ninth) and senior Emma Putre (11th) made for a lot of red colors among the fastest finishers.

Close behind were Maeve Higgins in 25th and Abby Keim in 30th among the field of 96 runners.

The boys were paced by sophomores Tyler Marshall in fourth place and Calvin McClellan in fifth. Marshall’s time of 17:23.9 was just two seconds out of third. 

Five more CVU athletes packed their way into the top 22 including junior Elliot Eastman (12th), freshman Baxter Bishop (14th), junior Tyler Wong (17th), sophomore Harken Spillane (20th) and the lone senior, Burke Spillane, in 22nd. The field was 98 runners strong.North Country Union’s Sam Brunnette captured the event in 17:06.3 to beat out South Burlington’s Joey Staples and Sean MacDonald.

Next up for the CVU distance trotters: the New England Championships Nov. 8 in Manchester, Conn.

Looking back at past Halloween traditions

A Halloween prank from years past involved pushing over and rolling away the bandstand, seen above.

A Halloween prank from years past involved pushing over and rolling away the bandstand, seen above.

Observer staff report

On Friday, legions of spooky trick-or-treaters will hit the streets of Williston, scaring residents and coming away with sugary rewards. Years ago, residents recall a little less treating and a lot more tricking. 

In Richard Allen’s book, “North Williston: Down Depot Hill,” he describes two “North Williston boys, Charles Irish and Bob Chapman, along with some friends” who set their sights on the bandstand that used to stand at the intersection of Depot Road and Williston Road.

“It seems as a Halloween prank they would move the bandstand by tipping it on its side and rolling it out of sight,” Allen wrote. “When asked if he ever got in trouble for this, Charles Irish replied, ‘No, I wouldn’t say I really got in trouble. Didn’t get caught. That’s a good way to put it.’”

Several members of the Williston Historical Society shared their remembrances of Halloweens past.

Parties and pranks

The 4-H club for years had a big party in Jean Ankeney’s barn (on Butternut Lane)—that was in the late ‘70s early ‘80s. We would have a costume parade with prizes, games and supper (hotdogs) cooked over the fire in her big fireplace. Halloween was not as big a deal when I was young. We would dress up in homemade costumes and drive to a few acquaintances’ homes. There might be a small gathering at friends’ houses. 

When I was growing up, it was Cabbage Night that was big with pranksters. It was quite dangerous, but a couple young men, whom I won’t name, used to hang a tire from the old iron bridge in North Williston and set it on fire. I’ve also heard the story from my folks about how two young men held onto an “invisible rope” stretched across Route 2 by the brick house on the corner of Oak Hill Road, causing cars to come to a screeching halt.

—Brenda Perkins

Tire fires

In our early days here, on Cabbage Night, there were always tire fires, usually on Chapman Lane. They went on for many years!

—Ginger Morton

Treats (and a talk) 

In our early years living on one of Williston’s more rural routes, Governor Chittenden Road, we would prepare to greet goblins and superheroes, princesses and pirates, at our front door with a bowl of candy for treats, or alternative “tricks” in envelopes that might contain cash or “Tricked you!” notes inside. Farm families would pile their costumed kids into trucks and vans in the early evening of Halloween and make the rounds to the other agricultural homesteads in the area, giving the event an extended family feel to the pilgrimage. Although not among that vocational circle, (I was one of the two dentists in Williston at the time), our proximity to the Clark Farm ensured that we were included in that circuit for candy beggars. For about eight years, we answered the door to greet toddlers to teens from the Fontaine, Johnson, Conant and Clark farms. For a while, the numbers swelled, with new infants arriving, eventually chaperoned in later years by sisters who were old enough to drive, but too old to dress up in costumes. Everyone got candy, some scored some cash, and even the kids who poorly chose the “Trick” envelopes got second and third tries until they succeeded in getting it right. Of course, everyone left with a new toothbrush, a move that was expected, since I was nearly everyone’s dentist, and the hypocrisy of sinful candy dispensing was balanced by a brief lecture on oral hygiene.

The autumnal visitors slowly diminished over the years, and at some point stopped altogether, although we continued to decorate our porch with (increasing) numbers of grizzly tableaus, moaning dummies, rubber rats, flying bats and jaw-clacking skulls. I know that my wife, Marlene, felt sorry for me as I packed away the ghoulish props for another year, but I’d like to think that at least our beagle got a kick out of my efforts. I still keep a couple of masks, bowl of candy and toothbrushes handy on the hall table in the event that an errant zombie knocks on our door on the 31st. And with good reason for hope, as within the last three years, on our road alone, several mothers, some of whom presented their masked faces at this door decades ago, have been blessed with baby goblins of their own! I can’t wait to greet them back with: “Trick or Treat! And don’t forget to brush your teeth!”

—Jack Price

Mr. Pumpkin

I immediately thought of “Mr. Pumpkin” with my Dad, Howard Carpenter. He had such fun on Halloween, being Mr. Pumpkin for the neighborhood children (and adults).  

He would put together “Mr. Pumpkin” using hay-stuffed coveralls and a pumpkin for a head. He would place one part of the intercom inside the body of Mr. Pumpkin and discreetly hide the wiring to the other part so it went inside our house. 

On Halloween, “Mr. Pumpkin” would sit there on the front porch and as the children came up onto the porch, he would say (in a very “Mr. Pumpkin”-like voice) “Hello. My name is Mr. Pumpkin. Would you like a trick or a treat?”

When the child answered, “a treat,” Mr. Pumpkin would say, “Then you need to ring the doorbell.” Invariably, the child would turn off the light (we had an old-fashioned doorbell that you had to pull. But the light switch was a button that looked like a doorbell).

 So Mr. Pumpkin would say, “Oh no, no, no, I am afraid of the dark. You have to ring the doorbell!” So then they would ring the doorbell and my Mom would answer the door with a bowl of candy.

It was the same speech every single time and never seemed to get old. It was always such fun and Mr. Pumpkin had many, many friends that kept coming back year after year—generations, too!

—Karen Reed 

Library Notes


Does your employer offer directed giving or a matching gift program? The library is fund raising for a new bookmobile. Your donation is tax-deductible. Please contact Marti Fiske at the library if you need more information for your employer’s giving program.

Youth News

Make It! Rubber Band Bracelets

Monday, Nov. 3, 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. Bring your own loom, use one of the library’s or just use your fingers! For grade K and up. Presented by Food for Thought Teen Group. Pre-register at 878-4918.

Read to a Dog

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Bring a book and read to Oli the Samoyed, a therapy dog registered with Therapy Dogs of Vermont. All ages. Call 878-4918 to pre-register for individual reading sessions.

Babytime Playgroup

Wednesday evening, Nov. 5, 6-7:30 p.m. (first Wednesday of each month). For children birth-2 years and their caregivers. Age appropriate toys, stories and fingerplays. For information call 876-7555. Sponsored by Building Bright Futures & DAML.

Food For Thought Teen Group

Thursday, Nov. 6, 4-5 p.m. Grades 7-12 Teen Advisory Group. Teens meet for pizza, discussion, book/DVD selection, and planning special events for the library. New members welcome.

Fall Story Time and Craft

Tuesdays, 11 a.m. For children ages 3-5. Nov. 4: Bears and Birds; Nov. 21: Science Story Time with Kristen Littlefield. (No story time Nov. 11 and 25).

After-School Games

Monday, Nov. 10, 3-4 p.m. Bring your own trading cards (Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh) or play one of the library’s games. Grades 3 and up. Snacks provided.

Adult News

Friends of the Library

Nov. 3, 7 p.m. Planning for winter and spring programs, voting on donation to benefit the library bookmobile.

Shape and Share Life Stories

Monday, Nov. 3, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Learn to craft engaging stories from life experiences. Led by Recille Hamrell.

Gentle Yoga with Jill Lang

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Presented by Williston resident Jill Lang. Come and enjoy free classes. Please bring your own mat.

The Tech Tutor

Wednesday, Nov. 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Stop by anytime during tech hours for one-on-one technology help from a teen. Guarantee a time by making a 15-minute appointment 878-4918.

Chair Yoga with Jill Lang

Tuesday, Nov. 7, 10:30 a.m. Presented by Williston resident, Jill Lang. Come and enjoy free classes. Please bring your own mat.

College Application Essay

Monday, Nov. 10, 6:30-7:45 p.m. With the trickier Common Application essay topics and increased importance of the essay in college admissions, it’s more critical than ever to write a great application essay. Learn tips and strategies for this high-stakes composition from Lauren Starkey, local author of “Write Your Way into College.”

Williston Author: ‘House of Wonder’

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m. Sarah Healy introduces her new book “House of Wonder.” It’s funny, sad, hopeful and heartbreaking and filled with characters that stick with you and make you care. Sarah’s debut memoir “Can I Get an Amen?” was a hit. Book signing available.

New in Adult Non-Fiction

“The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns. Documentarian Burns follows up on his recent multi-part documentary on the Roosevelts with this in-depth book full of historic photographs and portraits.

“Lincoln: An Intimate Portrait.” Continuing with our theme of past presidents, is this new, well-reviewed book of photos and stories on the life of the 16th chief of state, released in honor of the upcoming 150th anniversary of his assassination.

New in Adult Fiction

“Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories” by Joyce Carol Oates. The National Book Award recipient and New York Times bestselling author’s new release is a collection of thirteen short stories.

The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is located at 21 Library Lane in Williston, and can be reached at 878-4918. All events are free.

Service, community and climate change


By Ben Civiletti

Fresh out of college, I know first hand that it can be difficult to find work—especially meaningful work—these days. In an era of many complex challenges, the state of the world can feel depressing, and embarking on life as an adult, a little daunting.

That is why I feel lucky to have begun service as an AmeriCorps member, proudly working with the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network in their effort to support Vermont’s town energy committees. In the less than two months since I began, I have come to admire these volunteer, grassroots groups and find inspiration and hope in what they are accomplishing. They are, as we say in AmeriCorps, “getting things done”—working with their municipalities to stop wasting energy by retrofitting buildings, with their schools to bring solar online, with businesses to promote transportation solutions and more.

This experience has already showed me that when many problems seem so complicated and so entrenched in our society, we can move forward. It has become clear to me that if you do something, if we all do something, taking one step at a time, the problems become smaller. They become surmountable.

The benefit of breaking problems into manageable pieces is the foundation upon which AmeriCorps works, and how this important program serves our country. Members serve directly with communities, helping low-income Vermonters access wholesome food, reduce their energy burden, access affordable housing and more.

In my service, I am watching local energy committees lead Vermont forward on a critical issue of our time—climate change. They are untangling complicated issues and achieving real results, from helping get the South Hero Town Office retrofitted (reducing the town buildings fuel consumption by over 50 percent and carbon emissions by over 25,000 pounds) to helping quadruple the number of solar installations in the towns of Waterbury and Duxbury.

It has become clear to me that communities across Vermont are ready to roll up their sleeves and dedicate their time to important issues.

One effort that many Vermonters are taking action on as of late is helping the state “button up.”

On Nov. 1, the Button Up Vermont Day of Action, Vermonters are working in a variety of ways, in communities across the state, to raise awareness about the benefits of tightening up our leaky homes and buildings.

As Governor Peter Shumlin has said, “Vermonters spend hundreds of millions of dollars every single year by letting oil and fossil fuel driven heat leak out of our old buildings, forcing us to reach into our pockets to pay for oil at high prices, where, if we just used less, had more efficient buildings, we’d save those dollars. (That’s) why Button Up Vermont is so important and why we need your help. First, it puts money in your pockets. Second it makes our planet more livable for future generations.”

The goal of this statewide initiative is to motivate more Vermonters to take actions themselves—or help their community do something—on Nov. 1. Whether that’s sealing your storms windows (or helping your elderly neighbor do it), patronizing your local hardware store to buy supplies to caulk leaky doors and windows or taking a more significant step—like getting an audit and undertaking comprehensive weatherization improvements—there are many things people can do.

The point is, to help save energy, save money and do something to combat climate change, taking action doesn’t have to be difficult. It just has to be done. So check out to learn far more about what you can do on Nov. 1 or what you can do beyond that, including starting or joining an energy committee.

It’s my hope that I can help ensure that the challenges we face as individuals and a shared global society feel a little less depressing and a lot less daunting. That starts with each of us taking steps forward and, cumulatively, having significant, positive impact.

Ben Civiletti is the AmeriCorps Member serving at the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network. Reach him at [email protected] Find out more about VECAN at and Button Up Vermont at