Observer staff report
The Center for Technology, Essex—which serves 10 area high schools, including Champlain Valley Union High—will host its open house on Thursday, Sept. 18, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.
Called Face To Face Night, the event gives parents and guardians of center students the opportunity to meet administrators, teachers, guidance counselors and more. Parents can also learn about clubs and special programs available to students and receive instruction on Power School, the parental link to student grades, performance and attendance. Parents should bring the password they received from the school to the Face to Face event.
The Center for Technology, Essex is one of 14 technical schools in the state.
Observer staff report
Observer staff report
The Chittenden South Supervisory Union is interested in locating preschool age children (3 to 5 years) who live in the towns of Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, St. George and Williston, who show a developmental delay in the areas of speech and language, social adjustment, adaptive behavior, self-care, gross/fine motor coordination and cognitive development.
Contact the early educator at the elementary school in the town where the child resides. For those living in Williston or St. George, call the Allen Brook School at 878-2762.
The Chittenden South Supervisory Union is also interested in locating all school age children or adolescents with disabilities living in the towns of Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, St. George and Williston, who are not currently attending school, are attending a private school by parent choice or are being home-schooled. If you know of such a child or adolescent, call Meagan Roy, director of student support services, at Chittenden South Supervisory Union at 383-1234.
Observer staff report
A Champlain Valley Union High School senior was chosen as one of 51 youth ambassadors to serve nationwide during September, which is National Child Awareness Month.
Emily Coffin will receive a $1,000 grant and training to “establish a network between adolescent girls to counteract female peer aggression and emphasize the importance of female curiosity and ambition to help girl’s discover their true potential,” according to a press release sent by Coffin.
This month, she is headed to Washington, D.C. for training and meetings with Vermont congressmen before returning home to launch her project, PROSIS.
PROSIS, which stands for Professional Sisterhood, consists of workshops for female middle school students, led by female high school students. The workshops will address female peer aggression and ways to translate those behaviors into strategies to support women and girls for collaborative success.
PROSIS was inspired by a Vermont Works for Women report in which women identified a lack of allies and supportive networks as a factor that makes women ill-equipped to enter educational and career fields past high school. Coffin became involved with Vermont Works for Women through its LEAD IN program, a leadership development and career exploration program for young women. She hopes to expand the supportive and inspiring network developed through the program to adolescent girls in Vermont, she said.
Now in its seventh year, National Child Awareness Month is a program led by Festival of Children Foundation to raise awareness about issues affecting children and to encourage the nation’s youth to take action. The 51 youth ambassadors were chosen through a competitive application program.
“These teens and young adults are the future of philanthropy,” said Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, founder and executive director of Festival of Children Foundation. “They understand the importance of making a difference and giving back. Festival of Children Foundation’s collaboration with YSA allows us to give these kids the tools to create a powerful youth network that will create lasting change across the country.”
Observer staff report
The Brick Church Music Series is returning for its sixth season with its first concert set for Oct. 17. The series has gotten increasingly popular, attracting more than 100 people for each concert.
After the first event, concerts are held the second Friday of each month through April. The doors open at 6 p.m. for an art display featuring a different artist each month. Williston artist Nancy Stone coordinates this effort and introduces the artist during the concert.
The music begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 dollars in advance and $14 at the door; for seniors it is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Children under six get in for free. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at town.williston.vt.us/BrickChurchMusic and at the Williston Town Hall.
A season’s pass is available for $72 for adults ($10 a concert) and $60 for seniors ($8 a concert). Season passes can be purchased online or at the Town Hall.
Oct. 17: Dissipated 8
An all-male a cappella octet from Middlebury College.
Nov. 14: Patti Casey and Colin McCaffrey
Two of Vermont’s most popular artists
Dec. 12: Karen Kevra and Rebecca Kaufman
A flutist and a harpist perform seasonal music ending with a community sing
Jan. 9: Paul Asbell
An acoustic guitar master
Feb. 13: Bruce Sklar Trio
A superb jazz combo
March 13: Heliand Consort/ Benjamin Kulp
Classical chamber music including Williston cellist Ben Kulp
April 10: Bob Amos and Catamount Crossing
A Vermont-based high energy bluegrass group from the Northeast Kingdom
By Stephanie Choate
The Williston Observer’s sports correspondent Mal Boright has a second Hall of Fame membership to add to his list of journalism honors.
Boright was inducted into the Orleans-Northern Essex County Athletic Hall of Fame in a Sept. 6 ceremony. He was honored as an athlete and as a lifelong sports reporter at the sixth annual event, held at the Newport Country Club, one of 22 new members inducted.
Boright’s journalism career has spanned more than 40 years, much of it in sports coverage. In 2012, he was inducted into the Vermont Principals’ Association Hall of Fame. Boright’s high school and local sports coverage has been featured in the Williston Observer since 2004.
His sports reporting awards from the Vermont Press Association take up a sizeable chunk of wall space in the Observer’s offices, and The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named him the Vermont Sportswriter of the Year in 1967.
After playing baseball and basketball at Newport High School, Boright served as a medic in the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1957. He studied at the University of Maryland, the U.S. Armed Forces Institute and Nathaniel Hawthorne College.
After returning home to Vermont in 1958, he became the sports editor at the Newport Express. He has covered sports for the Rutland Herald, Burlington Free Press, Valley News in Lebanon, N.H. and Channel 22, the local ABC affiliate.
For nearly 30 years, Boright has voiced morning sports commentary on radio station WDEV as “The Swami” and is one of the members of “The Kid and The Geezer” radio show.
By Stephanie Choate
After 145 days and 2,180 miles on the trail, a Williston resident has joined the small and hardy group of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.
Ellie Beckett set off from Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia on March 23 and completed the trail on Aug. 15 on Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Altogether, nearly 14,500 people have completed the hike—whether in sections or in one go—since the 1930s. According to the Appalachian Trail conservancy, women make up about 25 percent of the hikers.
Now in Edinburgh, Scotland to earn her master’s degree in health systems and public policy, Beckett said she misses the trail—though she is certainly enjoying regular showers, real food and an actual bed.
“The hiker lifestyle is addicting though, very simple and very fulfilling,” she wrote in an email from Scotland. “It’s nice knowing when you wake up the only thing you have to do is walk north via the white blazes.”
She also misses her fellow Appalachian Trail hikers.
“The AT community is unique and wonderful, people are so kind and you really see that on the trail whether it’s someone giving you a hitch into town, trail magic on the side of the trail (gifts—often food or cold drinks—left on the trail for thru-hikers), or a stranger letting you borrow a piece of gear,” she said. “It just feels as though everyone you encounter is on-board with your plan and genuinely wants to help you reach Katahdin.”
Beckett made a goal to hike the Appalachian Trail after she and her brother hiked Vermont’s Long Trail—which runs the length of Vermont and shares about 100 miles with the AT—four years ago.
“I really enjoyed it, it was really hard but beautiful and I felt so accomplished afterwards,” she said.
She also encountered some Appalachian Trail hikers.
“They blew my mind,” Beckett said. “I wanted to be them and decided I would hike the whole AT someday; If I felt that strong and confident after just 280 miles, imagine 2200!”
After her college graduation seemed like a natural point to hike the trail, so she set aside this summer to reach her goal.
Although Beckett left Vermont alone, she made friends quickly.
“I met people at the Atlanta airport who became some of my best friends on the trail,” she said. “There were five guys that I hiked the whole trail with, the group split and reconfigured frequently, but I was almost always with some combination of the same people.”
Beckett said she began to hit her stride about 500 miles into the hike, in Virginia. She began regularly putting in 20-mile or more days.
“I loved Virginia, which is good…because it’s about a quarter of the length of the trail at around 550 miles,” she said. “When we were walking through Virginia the mountain laurel and rhododendrons were all in bloom, so we were walking through a tunnel of flowers.”
It was also early enough in the hike, she said, that her deadline—mid-August, leaving enough time to prepare for grad school departure—wasn’t looming and she could take spontaneous detours.
“Virginia also had bears in the Shenandoahs and ponies in the Grayson Highlands, so all of that considered, I’d say Virginia was my favorite state,” she said.
She said her favorite day, though, was a 27.7-mile slack-pack day—comparatively luxurious days when you leave your backpack at a hotel or have it driven ahead for you—from Crawford Notch to Franconia Notch in New Hampshire.
“The Whites were so beautiful and we got to Franconia Ridge in the early evening when the light was just gorgeous,” she said. “Overall it was a really fun, full, and beautiful day—and knowing I was headed back to a hotel with a shower and bed helped too!”
Her worst day was her longest, she said. After walking 24 miles, she reached a shelter at 7 p.m., just as rain began to fall.
“Instead of making the rational choice to stay there for the evening, one of my hiking buddies and I decided to see if we could hike through the night and make it into Harper’s Ferry for the sunrise—which would mean doing a 54 mile day.”
They hiked in the dark and the rain over a feature called “the roller coaster”—densely packed steep hills—until they reached the West Virginia border just after 3 a.m. After four hours of sleep, they hiked the last 16 miles to Harper’s Ferry on the northern border of West Virginia.
“Heading into Harper’s the terrain was mild and the weather was perfect, but for me after that huge day and very little sleep it was the most miserable 16 miles of the trip!” she said.
Southern Maine was a tough stretch as well.
“It’s just a much more rugged stretch of trail than most of the rest of it and mentally I was pretty ready to be done. It was frustrating being so close but still so far away—yes, when there’s 280 miles left of a 2,185 mile trail you are ‘close,’ but 280 miles is still a long ways to walk!”
She also learned some lessons from the experience, applicable in distance trail hiking and life in general.
“When a challenge seems too large and impossible it’s important to just take one step at a time,” she said. “The whole thing might seem daunting, but no single step is too difficult.”
She also referenced two common trail sayings. The first—“the trail provides”—taught her to “trust that everything will work out and to really appreciate what’s around you.”
The second saying was “hike your own hike.”
“No matter how you hike your hike there’s always someone who thinks you’re doing it wrong—you’re either going too fast or too slow, or they think slack-packing is cheating, or you stay in town too much or too little, or whatever. Whatever way you choose to do your hike is your own, and no one needs your approval and you don’t need theirs,” she said. “I guess the larger lesson to apply to real life here is that it’s important to ask yourself why you’re doing things the way you’re doing them, if it’s for you or for someone else, and if you’re doing it for someone else it’s important to know why.”
By Stephanie Choate
Williston could soon gain nearly 40 acres of conserved land, along with an established trail system.
At its Sept. 2 meeting, the Selectboard mulled a request to allocate up to $160,000 from the Environmental Reserve Fund to aid in purchasing 39 acres of land in southeastern Williston.
Earlier this summer, the board approved the use of the fund to help pay for an appraisal of the land, owned by David and Christiane Herskowitz on Christmas Lane. After reviewing the appraisal, the Conservation Commission voted unanimously to request that the town allocate money from the Environmental Reserve Fund to purchase the land and add it to Mud Pond County Park. The land would then be conserved through a perpetual conservation easement held by Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
The Herskowitz parcel abuts the Mud Pond County Park, and its addition would increase the size of the park by 50 percent. Currently, the Fellowship of the Wheel—a mountain biking organization—maintains more than a mile of trails on the Herskowitz property. In addition to mountain bikers, the trails are used by walkers and cross country skiers.
A report prepared by the Conservation Commission said the land also provides a key habitat link from Mud Pond to what’s called the Richmond Ridge to the east.
The Herskowitzes have already received growth management allocation for a five-unit development on their property—a crucial step in the town’s permitting process—but David Herskowitz said he would rather see the land conserved.
“I would like to see the land conserved if possible so it will always be enjoyed uninterrupted by all the bikers, hikers and skiers that make so much use out of it,” he wrote in an email to the Observer. “As part of an existing trail system, it makes a lot of sense to sell it to the town for this future use and to allow a potential trailway connecting to Lake Iroquois. The neighbors also are in support of this alternative to development so it makes a beneficial situation for everyone.”
The property was appraised for $320,000. The Environmental Reserve Fund would cover half of that cost, and Conservation Commission members seem confident they can raise the remaining funds required through a variety of sources.
Bob Heiser of the Vermont Land Trust said the total project cost would likely be between $345-350,000 once legal and stewardship costs are factored in, but that the Land Trust would be willing to help secure funding.
“I think its’ a great project and if the town looks at it as something they want to participate in, we’d be happy to help out,” he said at the Sept. 2 meeting, as recorded by CCTV.
The allocation would mean the fund would drop to its lowest levels in several years. The board recently approved a $218,320 expenditure to purchase development rights on the Bruce Farm, though the money has yet to be removed from the fund. Once it is removed, approximately $257,000 will remain in the fund. If money is allocated for the Herskowitz property, the fund will have a balance of $97,000.
While Conservation Commission member Gary Hawley allowed that the figure was relatively low, he told the Selectboard the money is there to be spent on quality projects.
“It’s bringing it down, but all of our wish, including you guys and the Planning Commission has been to spend that money and use it wisely, but let’s use it,” he said.
The board put off making a decision until its next meeting, set for Sept. 22.