February 1, 2015

50-plus EXPO celebrates 20 years


Vermont’s largest event for seniors and baby boomers is celebrating its 20th year.

The Vermont 50-Plus & Baby Boomers EXPO will be held Saturday, Jan. 31 at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel & Conference Center from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Baby Boomers, seniors and all ages are invited to enjoy a day of fun and learning featuring 100 exhibit booths, seminars and workshops covering a variety of topics, AcroYoga and acupuncture demos, giveaways, Lyric Theatre Musical Revue, dance party with DJ Charlie Rice, Elvis Tribute Concert, silent auction and raffle to benefit Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, art demos and more.

The event is hosted by Williston Publishing & Promotions, the company that owns the Observer. 

The Elvis Tribute Concert will be held from 12-1 p.m., featuring professional Elvis impersonator Dana Z. He has performed at theaters, casinos, festivals and special events across the country.

A new addition to the EXPO this year is the Tech Pavilion. BoomerTECH Adventures will host a technology help desk all day, providing answers to tech questions. They will also offer a variety of tech workshops during the event.

Tickets are $5 at the door, $4 in advance. The event is handicap accessible and includes free parking.

For more information, visit www.vermontmaturity.com/expo or call 872-9000, ext. 18, or email [email protected]

Board proposes $9.8 million town budget 


Tax rate would increase by 1.5 cents

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The Selectboard passed a trimmed-down version of the town’s 2015-16 municipal budget this week, but the tax rate is still projected to rise by a penny and a half. 

The Selectboard on Monday approved an operating budget of $9,843,940, approximately $34,000 more than last year, a 0.35 percent increase. The budget would result in an estimated tax rate of 28.5 cents, meaning the owner of a $300,000 house would pay $855 in municipal property taxes. 

Though the increase is modest compared to other years, Selectboard members expressed some wariness, since residents will also be faced with a new expenditure this year—a stormwater fee costing most homeowners $51 a year. Residents will see their first bill next month.

During its Jan. 20 budget meeting, the board asked Town Manager Richard McGuire to suggest cuts that would shave half a cent off the tax rate increase. 

“We have really been very frugal with our budget over the years,” Board member Chris Roy said during a Jan. 20 meeting, as recorded by CCTV. “You have to look long and hard. There isn’t a lot of stuff that’s just hanging around out there that’s easy to knock off. Each year, the opportunities for low hanging fruit are diminishing significantly.”

On Monday, the board approved a budget that trimmed nearly $46,000 from the original proposal. 

Among the measures was a $10,000 decrease to the budget for improvements to Rossignol Park. McGuire told the board during its Jan. 20 meeting that planned improvements to the park are winding down, and he thinks they can be accomplished on the reduced budget. 

The board also decided not to increase the town’s contribution to the Environmental Reserve Fund by $10,000. The annual contribution will remain at $30,000, as it has for several years.

However, the budget also includes a onetime contribution of $110,000 to the fund, from the revenue received from the sale of municipal land to Vermont Gas. The addition is intended to replenish the fund after it was used to fund several recent conservation projects.

“We had a onetime unanticipated revenue from the sale of land to Vermont Gas,” McGuire said. “The idea was, it makes sense, since we acquired that additional money from the sale of land, that we put it back into the Environmental Reserve Fund to acquire additional land eventually.”

The Selectboard also reduced the budget for repairs to the Town Hall by $8,000. 

It also saved $25,000 by opting not to establish a fund for a new highway truck down the road, putting the decision off until the new truck is actually needed. Rather than saving ahead of time, the truck would likely be acquired through a lease purchase, McGuire said.

The board also opted to add a onetime $20,000 expenditure to the budget—taken out of the town’s fund balance—to go toward the cost of a new library bookmobile. The library has already raised 80 percent of the funds required through donations and grants. 

The board has been working on the budget since the beginning of December. Since the budget process began, the Selectboard heard from representatives from all town departments. 

Residents will vote on the municipal budget on March 3. The Selectboard will present information on its budget during Town Meeting, set for Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at Williston Central School.

Races begin for town, school board seats


By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Willistonians will have plenty of candidates to choose from when they go to the polls in March. 

“It’s the first time in a long time there are actually some races,” Town Clerk Deb Beckett said. “There’s a good resurgence of people that want to get active and involved.”

This year, there are multiple candidates vying for three positions—two Selectboard seats and one Williston School Board position.

Monday was the filing deadline for candidates. 


Candidates for three positions on the Williston Selectboard will come before the town this March.

Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig, who is completing his 13th year on the board, is running uncontested for another three-year term. 

Jeff Fehrs, who has been on the board for 15 years, is running for another two-year term. Newcomer Anthony O’Rourke is also running for the two-year term on the board.

Selectboard member Jay Michaud resigned last year and moved to North Carolina, leaving the remaining year of his term open. 

Three Williston residents are hoping to fill his seat—Melissa Ham-Ellis, Ted Kenney and Joy Limoge.


Terms for two positions on the Williston School Board are expiring in March. 

Chairman Kevin Mara, who has been on the board for five years, is running uncontested for another two-year term. 

Deb Baker-Moody, who served for nine years on the board, is not seeking reelection. 

Two Williston residents are running to fill the position—Karen F. Maklad and Michael Wayman. Both served as budget buddies this year, providing input to the board on its fiscal year 2015-16 budget proposal. 

Two positions for Williston residents are also available on the Champlain Valley Union High School Board. 

Gene McCue is running for a two-year term, uncontested. McCue joined the board last May, completing the remainder of former board member David Rath’s term. Rath resigned from the board and moved to Dubai last year. 

CVU Board member Jonathan Milne is not seeking reelection to his three-year term. No one came forward to fill his seat on the board. 

Beckett said residents could still run as write-in candidates, which has happened in the past. A write-in candidate would need at least 30 votes to be elected.

If a resident wants to join the board after elections, Beckett said the CVU Board can opt to appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy, but only until the next March election.


Several other candidates will be on the March 3 ballot, none of them with opposition. Jude S. Hersey is running for another five-year term as library trustee, Charles S. Coney and Linda Levitt for positions on the board of listers. 

A one-year term on the board of listers and the perennially empty position of first constable are vacant. 

PHOTOS: Amabassador Noah


Noah Cohen, a second grader at Allen Brook School, was named the 2015 Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Champion for Vermont in a ceremony on Jan. 16 at the school. Noah was born with VACTERL association, a rare disorder that affects multiple body systems and that has so far required numerous surgeries. He calls UVM Children’s Hospital ‘my hospital’ and, with his family, is committed to fundraising to ‘assure that all kids who need the hospital have as positive a hospital experience as he has had,’ according to information provided by the hospital.



Noah CMN 01-16_105 2015

Noah with Dr. Lewis First, chairman and professor in the department of pediatrics at UVM College of Medicine and Chief of Pediatrics at the hospital.

[Read more...]

PHOTOS: CVU gymnastics

CVU gymnasts bowed to an always-strong Essex High team on Friday at Green Mountain Gymnastics. (Observer photos by Al Frey)

CVU gymnasts bowed to an always-strong Essex High team on Friday at Green Mountain Gymnastics. (Observer photos by Al Frey)

[Read more...]

PHOTOS: CVU Hockey vs. Essex



Senior forward Cam Rivard lines up a move toward the goal during Saturday’s game against undefeated Essex High. The Redhawks lost 2-1. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

Senior forward Cam Rivard lines up a move toward the goal during Saturday’s game against undefeated Essex High. The Redhawks lost 2-1. (Observer photo by Al Frey)

[Read more...]

POPCORN: “Into the Woods” Lumbers a Bit



2 1/2 popcorns

2 1/2 popcorns


“Into the Woods”

Lumbers a Bit

2 & ½ popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

film critic


Director Rob Marshall’s movie adaptation of James Lapine (book) and Stephen Sondheim’s (music and lyrics) “Into the Woods” is whimsical and enchanting until about the 60% mark, at which time it bogs down into the catastasis. That’s the point in drama, as I explained to my daughter Erin when she was little, when push comes to shove and it looks like things might not work out too well. She quickly informed: “I hate the catastasis.” Well, me too sometimes. Here, in what is essentially a two-part saga, it disrupts more than heightens the experience. [Read more...]

Recipe Corner: Soup as the main course


By Ginger Isham

Sometimes I double a soup recipe so I can put some in the freezer for later. I save any kind of left over potato, veggies, canned tomatoes, rice, pasta and meats for soups. By adding onion, garlic, celery and spices, along with chicken or beef broth, you can be creative with soups. The following soup is one I have not made for a long time.

Mulligatawny Soup
(the name means “pepper water”)

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 medium tart apple, peeled and chopped
1 medium stalk of celery, sliced [Read more...]

Elder Education Enrichment announces spring programs


Elder Education Enrichment will begin its spring series of programs on Feb. 2.
The EEE series is held at the Faith United Methodist Church, a handicapped accessible facility, located in South Burlington at 899 Dorset St. Parking is available at the church, with overflow parking allowed at the north end of the Temple Sinai parking lot at the corner of Swift and Dorset streets.
Lectures cover topics in areas including Vermont issues such as community policing, Vermont and U.S. history and foreign affairs. Each lecture starts at 2 p.m. and lasts one hour. Coffee and refreshments are served 1:15 and 1:45 p.m. during the first session of each month. [Read more...]

Getting around when you can no longer drive


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
Where can I find out about alternative transportation options for my elderly mother? She needs to give up driving, but before she does, we need to figure out how she’ll get around.
—Searching Daughter

Dear Searching,
Alternative transportation services vary widely by community, so what’s available to your mom will depend on where she lives. Here’s what you should know. [Read more...]