July 31, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Opponents of the Vermont Gas pipeline staged a sit-in protest at the Williston staging area Wednesday morning, attempting to stop work on the pipeline extension project. Look for the story in tomorrow’s Observer.

Grant to help expand work-based learning


Observer staff report

Navicate, a non-profit working as a school-to-careers organization, recently received a $60,000 grant from the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation for the 2014-15 school year to help expand the opportunity of work-based learning activities to more Vermont students.
Navicate, formerly called Linking Learning to Life, partners with schools throughout the state to deliver programs that prepare youth with skills necessary for successful employment and continued learning.
“We all know that more students need opportunities to explore careers, especially while in middle and high school,” said Lindsey Lathrop, assistant director of Navicate. “We are interested in making this happen in a quality way. However, two things need to happen: teachers need the time and resources to excite students about career prospects and know how to create exploration activities. The second is that businesses and professionals need training on creating meaningful experiences in the workplace like job shadows and internships. These two areas are at the heart of this project.”
Navicate will partner with its sister organization, the Upper Valley Business & Education Partnership (UVBEP), on this project. The organizations have been working closely with the Vermont Agency of Education. The project will play into the statewide move toward an education system where all Vermont youth have equal opportunity to explore careers in addition to having adequate guidance with connecting academic learning to hands-on work-based learning experiences and post-secondary pathways.
The J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation collaborates with educators, organizations and philanthropists to improve and promote postsecondary and career education opportunities within the state with the conviction that through this work Vermont’s most important resource—its people—will become more fully empowered.

Around Town


Williston Fire Department neighborhood visits
As in previous years, the Williston Fire Department will conduct neighborhood visits throughout the summer, scheduled for every Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. A different neighborhood will be visited each week. At each neighborhood visit, residents can go through vehicles and meet the members of the Williston Fire Department. If you would like to schedule a visit for your neighborhood event, contact the Williston Fire Department at 878-5622.

Discounted theme park tickets available
The Vermont Recreation and Parks Association is offering discounted amusement park tickets to the Bromley Mountain Adventure Park in Manchester, Great Escape/Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George, N.Y. and Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass.
The discounted prices are $28 ($45 at the gate) for Bromley, $35 ($54.99 at the gate) for the Great Escape, and $38 ($59.99 at the gate) for Six Flags New England. Tickets are good any day for the duration of the 2014 season.
Stop by the Parks and Recreation Department in participating locations, including Williston. Tickets can be purchased during normal business hours. Not every community sells tickets to all 3 parks. Go to www.vrpa.org to find the list of ticket outlets under the “programs” tab and call ahead.
You can also buy Great Escape and Six Flags New England tickets online. For online tickets to the Great Escape, go to www.sixflags.com/greatescape and use “VTREC” for the promo code. For online tickets to Six Flags New England, go to www.sixflags.com/partnerlogin and use “VTParkandRec” for the username and “sixflags2” for the password.

BBB warns of IRS scam
Callers to Better Business Bureau say they have received voicemail messages stating they need to contact the IRS immediately or they would face legal consequences. Other messages threatened arrest by U.S. Marshals for failure to pay the correct amount of taxes.
According to the IRS, the agency never contacts taxpayers by phone requesting money. They also never contact taxpayers by email. If there is an issue with the IRS that requires your response, the contact would be made by U.S. mail. Consumers should never give out personal information over the phone or through email.

Rabies confirmed in Williston


By Marianne Apfelbaum and Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

A woodchuck that bit a South Road resident last Saturday has tested positive for rabies, and local and state health officials are urging residents to use common sense and caution around wildlife.
After being bitten, the resident killed the woodchuck and brought it to the Vermont Health Department lab for testing, where the rabies diagnosis was confirmed on Tuesday. The resident is undergoing rabies vaccination, more formally known as post-exposure prophylaxis—a regimen of one dose of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Current vaccines are not especially painful and are given in the arm, according to the CDC.
Williston’s animal control officer, Millie Whitcomb, sent out a press release on Tuesday alerting area media about the incident and urging pet owners and those with livestock to confirm that their animals are current on their rabies vaccinations. She also suggested that pets should not be left alone outside, a sentiment echoed by Williston veterinarian Dr. Ryan Canales, who owns Long Trail Veterinary Center in Williston Village.
“People have to be very conscious of their environment,” Canales said, adding that even if a pet owner has a fenced-in yard, pets should be overseen at all times.
Canales said that if you see a skunk or a woodchuck, for example, “grab your pet and get out of there. Don’t investigate or test limits.” If your pet does engage with a wild animal, you should not intervene. “For your own safety, stay away…rabies is fatal,” he said.
According to the Vermont Department of Health website, rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease found mainly in wildlife—especially raccoons, foxes, bats, skunks and woodchucks—but can also infect domestic animals and humans. Rabies affects the central nervous system, eventually causing brain disease and death. While rabies usually causes a change in behavior, no one can tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it. Rabid animals may seem normal or can be lethargic or aggressive, losing their natural fear of other animals, humans and cars.
The South Road woodchuck is the 30th confirmed case of rabies in Vermont this year, though Vermont’s public health veterinarian, Dr. Bob Johnson, said many cases likely go unconfirmed. “There are so many cases of rabies in Chittenden County,” he said, noting that small rodents and rabbits “can get rabies, but they are not documented to have transmitted (the virus) because they die before it gets to their salivary glands.”
One suspected case in Williston happened Tuesday evening. Police were called to a Wildflower Circle residence regarding a rabbit that was acting strangely. Officer Skylar Provetto was able to capture the animal in a large plastic bag after several attempts, during which the rabbit would alternately move awkwardly toward the officer and then flop sideways and roll around on the pavement. Provetto confirmed that he thought the animal was rabid. Police said the animal was not taken to the Vermont Department of Health for testing.
Most of the 2014 Vermont cases involved raccoons. In late May, a big brown bat found in Williston tested positive for rabies.
Martha Dunbar, a USDA wildlife biologist who acts as the state’s rabies biologist, said Chittenden County is seeing more rabies cases this year than in the past, but that isn’t indicative of an overall upswing in rabies cases.
“Usually it’s cyclical in nature,” she said. “One area gets hit hard one year and one year it’s another area… The Chittenden area is getting more this year than perhaps they have in the past, but it tends to be that way.”
Last year, there were 50 confirmed cases of rabies in Vermont, none of them in Williston.
“Hundreds of cases of animal rabies have been reported throughout Vermont since 1992 and the outbreak will continue to be a problem for many years,” according to the Vermont Department of Health website.

Avoid any animal displaying strange behavior. Do not try to trap the animal by yourself. Call the rabies hotline at 1-802-223-8697 or call Williston Police at 878-6611.
If you are bitten by a wild animal or exposed to its saliva, wash the wound with soap and water and call your doctor immediately. Your doctor will decide whether you need a rabies vaccination. Untreated rabies is fatal to humans.
If you think you have found an orphaned animal, do not touch it. Visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com to find the nearest wildlife rehabilitator.
The Department of Health also recommends that residents not make their yards inviting to wild animals. Secure your trash and recyclables, make sure your compost is raccoon-proof and make sure birdfeeders are not accessible to mammals.
If you find a bat in a room with an unattended child or someone who was sleeping, the bat should be captured and tested for rabies. Only try to capture the bat if you can do so without getting bitten, and call the rabies hotline for guidance.

Make sure your pets and livestock are vaccinated. The CDC recommends that any unvaccinated dog, cat or ferret exposed to rabies be euthanized immediately. Canales said cats are the number one animals that are not being properly vaccinated.
If your pet was wounded by a wild animal not available for testing, you should assume it has been exposed to rabies. Call your veterinarian for information on how to proceed.
Keep pets inside at night, when many wild animals are more active. If they are out during the day, keep them on a leash or in an enclosed space, since pets that roam free are more likely to come in contact with wild animals.
Canales stressed the importance of staying away from wildlife. “Leave Mother Nature alone,” he advised.
Dunbar concurred, and noted, “If wildlife seems friendly, that is abnormal behavior.”

Vermont Gas pipeline project underway in Williston

Workers head to lunch Tuesday at the Vermont Gas staging area for the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project. (Observer photo by Stephanie Choate)

Workers head to lunch Tuesday at the Vermont Gas staging area for the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project. (Observer photo by Stephanie Choate)

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Construction began in Williston this week on the Vermont Gas Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project.
Workers have been clearing some trees on the right of way along Mountain View and Redmond roads. This week, they began delivering piping. Crews will lay the piping along the roads, weld it together, dig a trench and bury the pipe.
Project manager Charlie Pughe said the project should have little effect on traffic.
“There may be some times where there will be some impact to traffic, but I would expect it to be relatively minor,” he said.
Trucks will bring in more piping as needed to the staging area at the former Williston Driving Range on Route 2—likely two to four truckloads coming up from New Jersey per day—but shouldn’t hold up traffic more than the occasional light cycle, Pughe said.
Vermont Gas set up its staging area for the project at the former driving range in the spring, as reported in the May 22 edition of the Observer. All materials and piping for the project will go through the staging area, which will be set up until next summer.
Workers are organizing piping on the western side of the staging area. On the eastern side, workers are coating some of the piping with cement. Since some of the pipeline will run through wetlands and natural gas is lighter than air, it needs to be weighted down.
The project, brought before the town in 2012, will bring natural gas from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes through an underground high-pressure pipeline, passing through Essex, Williston, St. George and Hinesburg. The pipeline will roughly follow the planned route of the defunct Circumferential Highway.
Construction is starting in Williston on Mountain View and Redmond roads. Simultaneously, workers are building a new gate station on Route 2, just east and across the street from the Williston Fire Department. The gate station will connect to the Williston distribution system and increase reliability, Pughe said.
Next week, contractor ECI will begin boring under the Winooski River.
Pughe expects the Mountain View and Redmond roads portion to be completed in the next several weeks. Construction crews will then begin working to connect to the Williston gate station and heading north to Colchester.
Pughe said project organizers hope to have the section from Colchester to the Williston gate station completed by the end of this construction season in November. Next year, they will begin heading south. Pughe expects to reach Middlebury by the end of next summer, and Vermont Gas hopes to deliver natural gas by the 2015-16 winter.
Once the pipeline is completed and workers leave the staging area, there will be few visible signs that they were there. Crews laid down fabric over the grass and put gravel on top of it. So once construction is completed next summer, workers will scrape up and recycle the gravel, roll up the fabric and allow the grass to regrow.
The only above-ground portion of the project is the gate station on Route 2, which will be mostly shielded from the road by trees.
The Vermont Public Service Board approved the 41-mile natural gas pipeline, known as Phase I of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project, in December. Preliminary planning for Phase II, an extension of the transmission line to Ticonderoga, N.Y., is underway.
Vermont Gas received its final permits for Phase I earlier this month.
Vermont Gas is working with the town of St. George to finalize easements for the portion of the pipeline passing through St. George. Part of the easement agreement includes bringing distribution service to St. George by 2017.
Vermont Gas has approximately 3,000 customers in Williston, both residential and commercial users, and operates more than 58 miles of distribution piping in town.

PHOTOS: All-Stars shine

The Williston 9-10 All-Star Little League baseball team celebrates after wrapping up its season with a second place finish among 10 teams in Vermont District 1. After earning the top seed in pool play, the boys defeated last year’s 9/10 state champs­—South Burlington—3-2 in a nine-inning thriller. The boys went on to shut out Colchester 7-0 in the double elimination tournament, but lost to Shelburne in the semifinals and in the championship game on Sunday. The final tournament record was 5-3.

The Williston 9-10 All-Star Little League baseball team celebrates after wrapping up its season with a second place finish among 10 teams in Vermont District 1. After earning the top seed in pool play, the boys defeated last year’s 9/10 state champs­—South Burlington—3-2 in a nine-inning thriller. The boys went on to shut out Colchester 7-0 in the double elimination tournament, but lost to Shelburne in the semifinals and in the championship game on Sunday. The final tournament record was 5-3.


williston 023 [Read more...]

PHOTOS: Flynn Garden Tour


Approximately 400 gardeners or garden lovers turned out July 13 for the annual Flynn Garden Tour, raising approximately $22,000 for the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts’ Student Matinee Program through ticket and lunch sales and a raffle. The program brings schoolchildren from all over Vermont to performances and provides their teachers with curriculum to make these experiences part of their lessons. ‘The people and town of Williston really rolled out the red carpet for Sunday’s tour,’ said Cheryl Dorschner, tour chairwoman. Eighty volunteers also helped out, 12 artists and craftspeople displayed their work and five speakers shared expertise.

Flynn_004 Garden Tour 7-13-1

Observer photos by Al Frey

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2 popcorns

2 popcorns


Big Girl Lost

2 popcorns 

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


In “Tammy,” Ben Falcone’s irreverent, anything goes road comedy, Mellissa McCarthy as the title screw-up more or less entertainingly asserts that what’s good for the gander is good for the goose. Whereas raunchy free-for-alls like “Old School” (2003) and “The Hangover” (2009) have essentially filled the vacuum once so splendidly occupied by the great screwball comedies, they are mostly male dominated. Now, McCarthy proves she can abash, blunder and cuss as well as any guy. She is, as the French say, a piece of work. [Read more...]

Recipe Corner: The best of blueberries


By Ginger Isham


The best of blueberries
Blueberry season is under way. The berries are big and delicious this year because of all the rain and help from a grandson who has been keeping the weeds under control. [Read more...]

How to make an online memorial


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about online memorials? My uncle recently passed away, and some of the family thought it would be neat to create an online memorial to pay tribute to him, and accommodate the many family and friends who are scattered around the country who could not attend his funeral.
—Grieving Niece [Read more...]

Hub Happenings


Allstate agency owners earn service designation
Allstate exclusive agency owners Walter Hausermann of the Walter Hausermann Agency and John Coburn of the John Coburn Agency have been designated Allstate Premier Agencies for 2014.
The Allstate Premier Agency designation is bestowed on less than 48 percent of Allstate’s nearly 10,000 agency owners across the country and 50 percent of Allstate’s Vermont agencies.
The Walter Hausermann and John Coburn agencies have also achieved the Honor Ring award for both 2012 and 2013. The honor is Allstate’s symbol of outstanding business achievement. [Read more...]