April 27, 2015

Maximize storage and countertop space in a small kitchen


By Sharon Naylor

If you have a small kitchen, you might be fighting the all-too-common problem of clutter: crowded countertops that leave little room for food prep and the dreaded avalanche of cooking pot lids and storage containers every time you open a cabinet door. But with a few easy improvements and just a few purchases, you can transform your small kitchen into an organized, airy space that still gives you access to all of the cooking pots, cookie sheets, spices and coffee mugs you need. And never deal with cabinet avalanches ever again.

Here are some of the top ways to maximize your small kitchen’s storage space and open up your countertops for a nicer look and better function:

Get rid of your upper cabinet doors. Sounds crazy, but according to Taniya Nayak, host of HGTV’s “$100 Half-Day Designs” online series, removing those doors for an open-shelving look can give you an extra 12 to 18 inches of storage space on each shelf and make it easier to access those neatly piled plates and drinking glasses.

Design multi-shelf and pullout shelves for your lower cabinets, maximizing the entire cabinet height for better storage and easy access.

If you have an L-shaped cabinet system with a corner cabinet, install an oversized Lazy Susan to put pots, pans and smaller cooking items on to maximize storage and, gain easier access.

Redesign your under-sink cabinet with pullout drawers, tilting drawers, stacking shelves and plastic buckets to gather all of those cleaning supplies into a smaller storage space. Use the full height of that tricky space with items like pullout wire racks in a three-tier system that lets you store smaller items.

Hang mugs on hooks under your upper kitchen cabinets. Getting them out of your cabinets frees up a lot of space and your display of mugs adds to the decor of your kitchen while still being reachable.

Get larger cooking utensils out of your utensil drawer. Serving spoons, soup ladles, spatulas and all longer utensils can be stored in a tall metal canister on your countertop, freeing up your utensil drawer.Do a little DIY. Those non-opening drawer fronts at waist level by your sink can be removed and fitted with hinges so that they do tilt open to reveal smaller stored items such as cork screws and bottle openers.

Install an organized shelf system. Using modular, customizable shelving units can expand your storage and display space and make better use of a wall you haven’t optimized for use.

Use that space above the fridge. Don’t overload it because it will get warm up there, but a pair of pretty rattan baskets can hold extra kitchen items.

Get creative with the sides of your kitchen cabinets. Shelving affixed to the sides of upper and lower kitchen cabinets gives you more storage and small shelves in a kitchen window are perfect for growing kitchen herbs.

Use magnetic storage on the sides of your refrigerator. You can affix magnetic spice tins and other magnetic storage items on your refrigerator to keep them out of the way.

And of course, a wise way to maximize your small kitchen’s storage space and countertop availability is to go section by section through each of your cabinets, pantry and countertops to discard or recycle anything that’s outdated, such as stained storage bowls (with or without lids) and other items that you no longer use. You’ll be surprised and delighted at how much space you free up with years’ worth of belongings cleared out, and you might just wind up with some choice items for a garage sale, using some of your profits to invest in additional smart storage racks, bins and canisters for your kitchen and for other rooms in your home.  —CNS


Running for ‘Gramma Pat’

Observer courtesy photo Patricia Buckler, aka Gramma Pat, at her 80th birthday.

Observer courtesy photo
Patricia Buckler, aka Gramma Pat, at her 80th birthday.

Local woman raises money, awareness for Vermont Respite House

Rachel Drew remembers the feeling she had the first time she walked into the VNA Vermont Respite House to visit her Gramma Pat. “It was like walking into a living room. It put me at ease and it made me feel very comfortable.”

Patricia Buckler, aka Gramma Pat, had been living at the Pines Senior Living Community in South Burlington when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, later, a massive brain tumor. Her care needs were too great to stay at home. A case manager at the hospital told her family about the Respite House.

“Gramma Pat was given incredible, compassionate care at Vermont Respite House. We will forever be grateful for what they did for Gramma Pat and for our family,” Drew said.

On May 9, Drew is doing her part to give back by running in the Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run and Jiggety Jog. Every dollar raised will support the care of residents with terminal illness and their families.

This will be Drew’s second year participating in this annual, family-friendly event. This year, the Fun Run falls on her 29th birthday. She can’t think of a better way to celebrate and to honor Gramma Pat.

“It’s such a positive event and a really uplifting atmosphere with wonderful volunteers. This is a cause very close to my whole family’s heart. I’ll be participating as long as I live in the area,” Drew said.

Drew is keeping up a family tradition. Her mother, Lisa Bruce (Gramma Pat’s daughter), was the top fundraiser at the 2008 Fun Run and Jiggety Jog, raising more than $1,900 the Spring after her mother passed away at Respite House.

“I felt an emotional ease once my mom was at Respite House,” Bruce said of her experience in 2008. “And, every time I visited, I was asked ‘what do you need’? I received hugs from everyone — from kitchen staff to house managers to volunteers.”

Last year, Bruce passed the Fun Run torch to Drew when hip issues prevented her from participating in the event. Drew has high hopes she’ll surpass her $1,000 fundraising goal this year. Participants who raise $1,000 or more become members of the Jiggety Jog Club and are honored for their achievement at a ceremony following the race.

Drew echoed her mother’s sentiment about the comfort Respite House staff provided to the whole family, in addition to the excellent care Gramma Pat received. The family was grateful, Drew said, for counseling from staff on how to say goodbye.

“We all took turns sitting around her bed and saying ‘I love you.’ I think it was really cathartic for everyone, having that chance to say goodbye,” Drew recalled.

Drew was a college student at the University of Vermont with a full class schedule, a part-time job and theater rehearsals when Gramma Pat arrived at Respite House. If Gramma Pat had been in a hospital, Drew said she would not have been able to visit in evenings after school and work. Also, the environment would not have felt so warm and inviting.

Drew has sweet memories of those last weeks with Gramma Pat, the two of them spending time in her private room, listening to music.

“We had a little CD player. She loved Michael Bublé. I would sit next to her chair and hold her hand and we would listen together,” Drew said.

Drew will honor those memories on May 9 and also help make sure other families can have quality end-of-life experiences with loved ones at the Vermont Respite House Fun Run and Jiggety Jog.

No one is turned away from Vermont Respite House based on inability to pay. About 40 percent of the Respite House budget comes from community support each year, including the money raised at this event, the largest annual fundraiser for Respite House. Last year, Respite House served 214 people with terminal illness, providing them a home-away-from-home to live out their remaining days in dignity, surrounded by family and friends.

Visit www.vnacares.org/run to register for this year’s Fun Run or sponsor an individual or call 802-860-4435 for more information.

Police Notes



Douglas V. Gumlaw, 32, of Williamstown was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant and taken to Chittenden County Correctional Facility on April 7, according to police reports. No other information was released.

Driving under the influence

Garrett Johnson, 23, of Barre was cited on charges of driving under the influence, careless and negligent operation of a vehicle and excessive speed on March 29, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .117, the report notes. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is .08. He was cited to appear in court.

James E. Perras, 48, of South Burlington was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on April 4, according to police reports. His blood alcohol concentration was .113, the report notes. He was cited to appear in court.

Toby L. Wilson, 28, of South Burlington was cited on a charge of driving under the influence on April 5, according to police reports. He was taken to Act 1 for detoxification, the report notes. He was cited to appear in court.

Driving with suspended license

Dillon Smith, 26, of Burlington was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 25, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court on April 23.

Joshua P. Burgess, 30, of Williston was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license and violating conditions of release on March 26, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Lucas A. Hawley, 24, of Williston was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license and violating conditions of release on March 26, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Jonathan P. Rodger, 32, of Waterbury was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 26, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Molly E. Mahoney, 30, of Winooski was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on March 27, according to police reports. She was cited to appear in court.

Stephen E. Mercure, 52, of St. Albans was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on March 28, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Grant L. Drinkwater, 58, of Essex was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on March 31, according to police reports. He was cited again for driving with a suspended license on April 3, according to the report. He was cited to appear in court.

Gary J. Kinneston, 55, of Burlington was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on April 2, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

Dayna H. Croteay, 35, of Essex Junction was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on April 4, according to police reports. Croteay was cited to appear in court.

Kasandra J. Clark, 30, of Starksboro was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license-criminal on April 4, according to police reports. She was also cited on charges of violation of conditions of release and failure to obey an officer, the report notes. She was cited to appear in court.

Christopher Fickett, 30, of South Burlington, was cited on a charge of driving with a suspended license on April 6, according to police reports. He was cited to appear in court.

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


Little Details: All that remains


By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

We arrived at the appointed hour, assuming a seat near the back of Wellington’s Cathedral of St. Paul. Pews near the front were reserved — for dignitaries, politicians and veterans and their families.

Organ music filled the cavernous church with a familiar melody, but we were not to sing My Country,‘Tis of Thee. I relied on the text provided in the program—and felt slightly conflicted in my patriotism as I joined congregants in God Save the Queen.

It was April 25, 2007, ANZAC Day on the New Zealand calendar. As temporary residents of this South Pacific capital city, my husband, daughter and I participated in events honoring New Zealand’s veterans and military war dead.

ANZAC Day coincides with a battle, a failed battle in World War I. Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the British Admiralty, was chief architect of a military campaign launched on April 25, 1915. Soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) landed at Gallipoli, joining other Allied forces in a quest to secure the Dardanelles from German-allied Turks, thus opening access to the Bosphorus Strait and Black Sea. Capturing the Gallipoli Peninsula, Churchill reasoned, would open a path to Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish forces dug in, largely trapping Allied forces on the beach. Both sides incurred signifant casualties. Approximately 87,000 Turks and 44,000 French and British Empire soldiers lost their lives. The Ottomans held their ground, yielding not their strategic advantage.

It’s estimated that 2779 New Zealanders — one-fifth of the Kiwis on the peninsula — died at Gallipoli. This small island nation’s commitment of over 100,000 troops, from a population of 1.1 million, represented a significant contribution to the British Empire’s war effort.

I share the names of three Wellingtonians who fought and died at Gallipoli. Private Douglas Wilson Gray, age 23, was killed in action on May 8, 1915. Private Harold James Thomson, age 19, was killed in action on August 8, 1915. Captain Victor Albert Kelsall, age 44, was killed in action on August 8, 1915. These were real people, with hopes, dreams and ambitions who never made it home.

The failed military assault lasted eight months before Allied forces evacuated. Churchill was demoted. He resigned from the Liberal government of Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith. Some predicted that Churchill’s disastrous military blunder would end his political career. It did not. Churchill would re-emerge on another battlefield — as an officer on the Western Front — and slowly, resuscitate his reputation.

At the memorial service in Wellington, Jewish and Christian clergy read from the Book of Isaiah and the Gospel of St. Matthew. The choir sang an excerpt from the poem of celebrated British poet Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), entitled, For the Fallen:

There is music in the midst of desolation and a glory that shines upon our tears. They went with songs to the battle, they were young, straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted. They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall not grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

Kerry Prendergast, then-mayor of Wellington, offered reflections on the significance of the day. Congregants sang God Defend New Zealand in Maori and English before exiting the cathedral and laying commemorative wreaths at the Cenotaph, an empty tomb honoring military personnel lost in World War I and World War II. A lone bugler played The Last Post followed by a moment of silence, a poem and, finally, the bugler concluded with Reveille.

April 25, 2015 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Allied landing at Gallipoli. I’ll be thinking of soldiers that day, across time, space and conflicts

Some soldiers return home. Some do not. Remembrance is all that remains.

Katherine Bielawa Stamper, a Williston resident, is a former finalist for the Coolidge Prize for Journalism for writings on civility. Reader comments are welcome at [email protected] or [email protected]


Williston July 4th celebration theme, design and meeting

Observer photo by Dave Schmidt Floats, fireworks and fun are all an important part of the annual Williston Independence Day celebration.

Observer photo by Dave Schmidt
Floats, fireworks and fun are all an important part of the annual Williston Independence Day celebration.

Recreation & Parks Happenings

The Williston Recreation & Parks Dept. is reaching out to the community to help with the July 4th Celebration. We are asking for community members, of all ages, to send in their ideas for this year’s theme. We are looking to pick one from all the entries to be this year’s theme. A theme should be a couple of words or a short phrase that can be used on a t-shirt to express the celebration of July 4th and Williston.

We are also looking for a t-shirt design. Each year, the t-shirt sale is very popular and people have been collecting them for years. We know it will be hard to design one without the theme, but due to timing and needing to get this done, we are looking for some great designs that we can match up with a great theme. You can come up with a design and a theme and enter them together.

Please send your theme or design to the Williston Recreation & Parks Dept., either by mail at 7900 Williston Road, or email it to us at [email protected] You can even drop it off at the Rec office in the Annex Building next to the Town Hall. All themes and t-shirt designs sent in by May 1 will be considered.

The next meeting of the July 4th Committee will be Thursday, May 7 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room. Everyone is welcome. We will be choosing the theme and t-shirt design at that meeting. Shortly thereafter, we will have forms available for vendors and parade participants. There will also be the final line up of activities for July 3 and 4.

If your business or organization would like to get involved and be part of this very special celebration, look for more detailed information  after May 15 at www.willistonrec.org

Upcoming Programs

New sessions starting- another round of program sessions is starting the week of April 27. Youth Programs include: Swim lessons and Performance Enhancement and Free Style at Green Mountain Gymnastics. Adult programs include Gentle Yoga, Boot Camp and fitness programs including Redcord Fit, Lunch Fit and Circuit Fit at Peak Performance. For those 50 and older, we also offer Chair Yoga and Mind and Body Fitness.

Summer Camp Registration

Summer camps are filling fast. Check out the Camp Guide and Camp Grid by visiting www.willistonrec.org.

 Boater Safety Course

In conjunction with the Vermont State Police, we are offering a Boater Safety Course. Open to anyone 12 years of age and older, the course is eight hours and is offered over four days. Participants must be present at all classes to be eligible for certification. The course is mandatory for any person born after Jan. 1, 1974, who will be operating a motorboat on Vermont waters. Ages 12 and up, Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., May 4-May 13, $10 per person.

Working to meet the needs of all learners at CVU


By the CVU School Board

Have you known a high school student who, at the end of four years, with graduation around the corner, suddenly appears to “wake up” in surprise to a looming reality of life after high school? Are you concerned when you see teenagers going through the motions to satisfy graduation requirements, out of touch with who they are, how they are motivated and in what ways they see themselves fitting into the world?

Transcending gender, socioeconomic level and academic performance, these concerns are not new at Champlain Valley Union High School. Grad Challenge is an example of a program that aims to help students learn deeply about themselves through a project that requires them to take control of a learning experience: directing the what, why, where and when. Another example is Advisory, a program that works to ensure that each student is “well known” by at least one adult in the building.

Recent state legislation, however, has provided us with an opportunity to expand our work on such student-centered learning. In June 2013, Act 77, which includes Education Quality Standards, was signed into law. This legislation requires that all Vermont schools implement Personalized Learning Plans, known as PLPs, beginning with grades 7 and 9 in 2015. CVU believes that, if implemented well, PLPs can be effective tools that can help students know themselves, take responsibility for their learning and begin to develop a vision for their futures after high school. PLPs present the opportunity to shift the learning culture not only at CVU, but, indeed, throughout the entire Chittenden South Supervisory Union in time.

What do PLPs look like? This is actually the work in which our district is presently engaged. A large group of CSSU professionals and administrators from every CSSU school (and 21 other school districts throughout the state) are attending in-depth learning workshops facilitated by the Great Schools Partnership and supported by an Agency of Education grant. This yearlong experience is aimed specifically at the implementation of PLPs and proficiency (standards) based learning, both state mandates.

It is likely, though, that PLPs will consist of the following steps: building a self profile (who am i?); identifying personal goals; making a plan; implementing the plan; assessing goals; reflecting on goals; and, finally, revising goals, as students engage in new experiences and mature. Goals can be short or long-term; they can be personal choice or required. The PLP itself might take the form of a paper or virtual portfolio. No matter what, the PLP should be viewed as a living document that is reviewed and updated regularly with caring adults who can support student goals. The purpose of the PLP is not to find a major or identify a career after high school. It is to help students internalize the process by which one knows oneself and can envision specific steps to achieve personal goals—a lifelong and transferable skill.

We are excited by the prospects offered by the PLP, but, as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” The Agency of Education agrees, noting that the PLP “is only as good as the process that supports the development and use of the document.” We look forward to keeping you informed about the development of the PLP, with stories from students and parents. In the meantime, we hope you agree that PLPs are a positive step away from the one size fits all model of secondary education to a model of education that meets the needs of all learners.

Williston representatives to the CVU School Board include Jeanne Jensen, Polly Malik and Gene McCue. 


Around Town


CVU craft fair May 2

The annual AccessCVU Craft Fair is set for May 2 at Champlain Valley Union High, with more than 70 Vermont crafters. There is no cost for admission.

New this year, the CVU Sophomore Class Council will host the “For Kids-Make ‘n Take Craft Fair,” designed for children from preschool through fourth grade from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities will be set up in separate stations and include: decorate your own cookies; put together Perler bead items; create your own placemats; make bottlecap magnets; paint a pet rock; craft a suncatcher; Mother’s Day gift making. All stations will be supervised by CVU sophomores. Entry to the Make ‘n Take event is $5 per child and will go directly to supporting Class Council activities. Maximum cost per family is $10.

All Shook Up Variety Show returns

Francesca Blanchard is the featured artist in this year’s All Shook Up Variety Show, benefiting young people with special needs, set for May 16.

Blanchard will perform to benefit the The Joe Shook Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for differently-abled campers to attend Partners In Adventure’s summer day camp program. The Fund honors Joe Shook, beloved camper, Williston resident and CVU student, who passed away at the age of 20.

The show will be hosted by local comedian Maryanne Gatos and will include performances by Williston fiddler Duncan Yandell, a friend of Joe’s, guitarist Dylan Hudson and R&B artist Jamell Rogers.

The event will take place at the Williston Central School at 7 p.m. Tickets for adults are $25, $10 for children under 12.

Avoid muddy trails

The Green Mountain Club is reminding residents that hiking trails are vulnerable during the spring.

Higher elevation trails on state lands are closed from April 15 through Memorial Day weekend. Lower elevation state parks and forests have trails that are open.

Hikers walking on saturated soil or on the sides of trails cause irreversible erosion and vegetation damage. Green Mountain Club staff recommends that if the trail is so muddy you need to walk on the side, turn back and seek another area in which to hike.

For details on what trails are open, visit the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation website, fpr.vermont.gov.

Young Writers Project


Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages Vermont and New Hampshire students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences in newspapers, before live audiences and on websites youngwritersproject.org, vtdigger.org, vpr.net and cowbird.com. Young Writers Project also publishes a monthly digital magazine, The Voice. YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to donate to YWP, go to youngwritersproject.org/support.


General writing

I Am a Farmer

By Ben Boutin

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I am a farmer. I have a cow named Summit. I won her at a Summit in Derby. I had to write an essay on what I had learned from past Summits. I showed Summit and we got second place out of 25 so I have been working with her and walking her and washing her. I also have eight other cows back at my house. They are really big and they are going to be milkers.

I also have 12 turkeys and 40 chickens. I have been selling eggs like crazy, but my chickens are keeping up with the selling. It takes me forever to do all of my chores.

Some day I am going to have my own farm and milk my own cows.


Safe: Where do you feel comfortable and safe?

My Neighborhood

By Olivia Fransicso 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

My safe place during the day is outside anywhere in my neighborhood, for example, my backyard. In my backyard there is a lot of shade on a hot day. It’s always quiet so I have a place to draw or read. Another place that I feel safe during the day is walking around my neighborhood.



By Leigh Kerbough 

Grade 5, Williston Central School 

I feel comfortable at home, at school and at Cochran’s. I feel safe at Cochran’s because I have my brother and my friends there. A lot of people there make me laugh and I have fun with them. I know all the trails and I know where not to ski. So I am not afraid of getting lost because I know I wont. Also there is a safe lodge. I also know that there is basically nothing to be afraid of.



By Tiferes Simcoe 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

Everybody has a place where they feel safe. For some people it’s their house. But maybe it’s outside like in a tree house or in your backyard. Maybe it’s somewhere like the water. I feel safe in a pool by myself because I feel so free and alive — and so calm.

Habitat ReStore expands

Observer file photo The ReStore is holding a grand opening for its newly expanded space on Saturday, April 25. The event will feature free balloons, door prizes, grilled food and more.

Observer file photo
The ReStore is holding a grand opening for its newly expanded space on Saturday, April 25. The event will feature free balloons, door prizes, grilled food and more.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity ReStore is doubling in size.

The store, which sells new and gently used items, took over the space next door, knocking down interior walls, refurbishing the floors and ceilings and putting in new insulation.

The ReStore is holding a grand opening for its newly expanded space on Saturday, April 25. The event will feature free balloons, door prizes, grilled food and more.

“It’s really exciting to see just how much more space we have,” said Executive Director David Mullin. “It’s already chock full, even into the expanded space. We’re just waiting for Saturday to open the door.”

The store opened in 2012.

“At that time we were thinking that 7,000 square feet was going to be really hard to fill,” Mullin said. “We quickly found out that the response from the community, both from a donations standpoint and purchasing standpoint, was outstanding and we quickly realized that we needed more space.”

All money raised from sales of items at the Habitat ReStore goes toward building Habitat homes. Residents can also score deals.

“A lot of people don’t realize the extent of what we have,” Mullin said. “They think it’s just building materials. They get in here and they’re kind of surprised.”

While the store does stock building materials, it also has a wide variety of furniture, appliances and household goods. Most of the donations come from residents, but some businesses also donate new items. ReStore staff will also pick up large donations for free.

“The sole mission of the Habitat ReStore is to provide money to help us build houses locally,” Mullin said. “In addition, it does help us keep literally tons of material out of our Vermont landfills.”

Mullin said in the last 18 months, the store raised enough revenue to build a local Habitat house.

“That’s over and above what we had been doing,” Mullin said. “We’re so grateful to all of the local donors.”

Blue Cross pressures state on unpaid VHC premiums


By Morgan True

For Vermont Digger

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is prepared to bill the state for millions of dollars in past-due premiums, according to a letter the company sent to state officials last month.

In a March 5 letter to the state, which was provided to VTDigger, BCBS said it expects that $3 million to $5 million in past due premiums from 2014 “will never be collected,” and the company would be billing Vermont Health Connect for the final amount due at the end of March.

A BCBS spokesman said that while the company has not yet billed the state, its intention hasn’t changed. The situation could be avoided if BCBS and the state are able to reconcile their accounts, said Kevin Goddard, BCBS vice president for external affairs.

Read the full story at vtdigger.org.