July 28, 2015

Five Williston dragon boats in competition

Dragonheart Vermont teammates embrace after their dragon boat race. (Observer courtesy photo)

Dragonheart Vermont teammates embrace after their dragon boat race. (Observer courtesy photo)

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Five Williston teams are ready to take up their oars next weekend for the 10th annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival.
The Vermont Technical College Knight Riders, Windows and Oars by Brownell, the S & S enQuestadors, The Synergy Fitness Psychos and the Survivorship NOW Snowstorm are set to compete in the Aug. 2 event at Burlington’s Waterfront Park.
Each team is made up of 20 paddlers and a drummer, who race 41-foot dragon boats through a 200-meter course.
Fifty community teams and 12 breast cancer survivor teams plan to compete. The races begin at 8:30 a.m. and run through 4 p.m., when the winners are awarded. Spectators are welcome at the free community event.
Since the festival began, it has raised $1.4 million for Vermont cancer programs.
This year, festival proceeds benefit Williston-based Survivorship NOW, as well as Burlington-based breast cancer survivor organization Dragonheart Vermont.
Created by Dragonheart Vermont, Survivorship NOW—which stands for Survivorship Network on Wellness—provides free classes, wellness programs and education to survivors of all types of cancer, men and women. Survivorship NOW works to bridge the gap between treatment and recovery, addressing some of the physical, emotional and psychological needs of cancer survivors, as well as connecting them with people who have gone through the same thing.
“We provide that place you come and get strong again, emotionally and physically and spiritually,” said Penni Cross, executive director of Dragonheart Vermont.
Survivorship NOW held more than 50 classes last month—from exercise to art—and had 248 class visits for the month of June. Approximately 70 people regularly attend Survivorship NOW programs, and some of them have formed the Survivorship NOW Snowstorm dragon boat team.
Cross said the festival can also provide that same empowering space.
“Our goal is for cancer survivors or those with cancer to have the same opportunity to feel empowered, to know wellness and to just experience it, and that’s what the festival can do,” Cross said. “You can’t help but feel all that energy that the festival creates.”
Systems & Software, a software company in the same Industrial Avenue building as Survivorship NOW, is participating for the third year.
“This is something that’s dear to our hearts,” said team captain Sharron Woodworth, a client advocate at the company. “Our team gets more and more excited every year that we do this.”
She said the staff has been selling purple ribbons on which people can write the names of loved ones that are battling or have battled cancer, or that they have lost.
“I think everyone somehow or another has been touched by this disease,” she said, adding that three of her coworkers are cancer survivors, and that everyone has family members or friends who have dealt with the disease.
Windows and Doors by Brownell will field a team for the sixth year.
“It’s an awesome day,” Marketing and Sales Manager April Bolin said. “Just being down on the waterfront, you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the country. The energy surrounding the event is palpable. People are really excited to participate. The staff here just really loves to do it “
She encouraged people to come check out the festival.
“It is pretty amazing to see 21 people working together to move these huge boats,” she said. It’s a really unique sport.”
Beyond supporting a worthy cause, she said it helps the staff come together as a group.
“You all have to work together to make it happen,” she said. “If people aren’t communicating you can feel the boat slow, but when everyone is in unison and all working together and all in time, its pretty amazing to see how fast you can get that boat to go.”
Beth Camp is leading the Vermont Technical College Knight Riders, her second year participating.
“I tried it last year and I just found it really empowering,” she said.
She also encouraged residents to come out and watch the races.
“It’s like an Olympic town with all the tents, and everyone’s decorated and in costume,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”
The weekend kicks off Saturday, Aug. 1 with a new event to celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary. Dragonheart Vermont is hosting the Paddles Up Party from 6:30-9 p.m. at Waterfront Park. Reverend Ben Donovan and the Congregation will perform in concert.
For concert tickets and information, visit the festival website at www.ridethedragon.org .

Williston, a third of state’s public schools, to get jump on universal pre-K

By Elizabeth Hewitt
For Vermont Digger
A third of Vermont school districts—including Williston and all schools in Chittenden South Supervisory Union—are on track to launch universal pre-kindergarten programs in the next school year.
Melissa Riegel-Garrett, pre-K coordinator for the Agency of Education, told the Vermont Child Poverty Council on Tuesday that some school districts are poised to implement universal publicly funded pre-kindergarten schooling at the end of the summer.
The implementation will put them in compliance with 2014’s Act 166 one year ahead of schedule.
“This is the right thing to do for our students,” CSSU Superintendent Elaine Pinckney wrote in an email to the Observer. “If we’re serious about ensuring that all students leave our schools prepared for the world of work/ careers and/or college, the work starts before kindergarten and is chain-linked to the results we get years later. There may be some bumps along the road as we implement this law, but at CSSU we are embracing it and look forward to working with all of our community partners to ensure a rigorous, meaningful and relevant educational experience prek-12.”

For the full story, visit:  vtdigger.org

PHOTOS: Bulldog Rescue

Observer photos by Marianne Apfelbaum

Photographer Cat McKeen (above, at right) worked with various members of the Williston Fire Department and rescue bulldogs from Williston-based Vermont English Bulldog Rescue to shoot photos for a benefit calendar. Proceeds from the calendar will benefit the organization.

DSC_0539 [Read more…]

PHOTOS: Little League All-Stars back in action



Observer photos by Al Frey

The Williston 11-12 All-Stars played the first game in the double elimination part of its tournament Sunday after finishing pool play, outscoring opponents 31-4 in three games. The team bowed to a tough South Burlington team 4-3 on Sunday, and then beat Richmond-Charlotte on Monday 14-1. It played Colchester Wednesday night, after the Observer’s press deadline. The 9-10 team is undefeated after three pool play games and the first two games of the double elimination tournament. The 9-10 team plays in the district championship game on Sunday.

Wlstn LL Stars_0016 vs SB 12Jul15 [Read more…]

PHOTOS: Williston Farmer’s Market

Farmers' Market_0005 08Jul15 [Read more…]

PHOTOS: Maple Tree Place concert

Hundreds of Williston residents and visitors turned out to watch the weekly concert series at Maple Tree Place last week, listening to Beach Boys cover band, the Beach Bums. (Photos by Al Frey)

Hundreds of Williston residents and visitors turned out to watch the weekly concert series at Maple Tree Place last week, listening to Beach Boys cover band, the Beach Bums. (Photos by Al Frey)

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POPCORN: “Terminator Genisys” Well, He Said He’d be Back


2.5 popcorns

2.5 popcorns

2 & ½ popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Of late I’ve been looking askance at my automatic coffee maker, and not just because I wanted to use the word askance. I dare say, I’ve also become more than just a little suspicious of my toaster. Granted, these are things—and I underline the word things—that were manufactured for my convenience. However, doubtlessly prompted by movies like Alan Taylor’s “Terminator Genisys,” the fifth in the series, I’ve become wary of their nature…more specifically, of their motives. Nine out of the last ten sci-fi films have been about the war between man and machine.

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What’s Cooking? Pork tenderloins

By Lucy McCullough

Looking for a tasty dinner that is ready in just minutes?

This is a nice change from the usual summertime hurried meals. By toasting the almonds and cutting and pressing the tenderloin in advance, you can make this delicacy in 15 to 20 minutes. [Read more…]

How to choose the best place to retire

By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

My wife and I will both be retiring in a year or two and are interested in moving to a smaller house in a better climate, but could use some help. What resources can you recommend for locating and researching good places to retire in the U.S.?

Looking To Relocate [Read more…]

Hub Happenings

Mount Family Group, Ltd. moves to Williston

Mount Family Group, Ltd., the longtime Burlington-based franchisee of Westaff Workforce Solutions and Remedy Intelligent Staffing, has moved its corporate headquarters from Burlington to 188 Allen Brook Lane in Williston. The company needed more space in the growing Burlington Westaff branch office and a larger meeting space for the Mount Family Group’s corporate office. This new corporate headquarters is the home to James Mount, COO, Karen Mount, CAO, Jill Marsano, CFO and Denise Burns, director of administration.

Quinlan joins optometry office

Kelly Quinlan

Kelly Quinlan recently joined the optometric practice of Dr. Thomas Clark — Williston Optometry in Blair Park — as an optician. She has been a practicing optician for 25 years and is American Board of Opticians certified. She is also a Hoya technology expert. [Read more…]