May 7, 2015

Comedic actor inspires serious fundraising

Hollywood couple Lauren Miller and Seth Rogen paused to pose for the Observer while discussing the nonprofit Hilarity for Charity organization and how it is trying to enlist the help of younger Americans in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia. (photo by Marianne Apfelbaum)

Hollywood couple Lauren Miller and Seth Rogen paused to pose for the Observer while discussing the nonprofit Hilarity for Charity organization and how it is trying to enlist the help of younger Americans in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia. (photo by Marianne Apfelbaum)

Seth Rogen visits UVM after Hilarity for Charity student fundraising 

By Marianne Apfelbaum

Observer staff

Even though a busy schedule meant he had barely slept in the past four days, Hollywood star Seth Rogen was more than happy to fly across the country to Burlington on Saturday to fulfill his promise to recognize the efforts of a UVM fraternity and sorority that won first place for the second year in a row in the nonprofit Hilarity for Charity U competition, whose proceeds exclusively benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Accompanied by his wife, actor/writer Lauren Miller, the couple praised the efforts of all the students involved, and cited UVM student John Fox for “largely spearheading” the successful UVM fundraising campaign. Fox was inspired to participate in the event in honor of his grandfather, who passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease more than a year ago.

The Fox triplets—John, Ryan and Griffen, all UVM students—enlisted the help of fellow Pi Gappa Alpha fraternity brothers and Alpha Chi Omega sorority sisters and came up with some creative fundraising ideas. The students’ efforts included baking and selling “cookies for a cause” on campus in the evenings, calling alumni, partnering with businesses to pick up trash and do clean-up projects for donations. The group raised $30,254, which will directly benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Miller told the Observer that the couple created the nonprofit after her mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at age 55. Her mother is now 63 and in the late stages of the disease, requiring round-the clock-care. Both actors emphasized the importance of quality care for those with Alzheimer’s and have partnered with Home Instead Senior Care to create the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Grant program.

“It was created to help those who can’t afford quality at-home care,” Miller said. “That’s what people need, and that’s (one way) we can help.”

So far, the program has donated 26,000 hours of at-home care, according to Miller.

Martha Richardson, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Vermont, based in Williston, was thrilled with the outpouring of support by both the actors and students.

“By encouraging activism and involvement, and using the power of their social media audience, Seth and Lauren have brought a whole new generation to the Alzheimer’s movement,” she said. “And we need every generation to get involved if we are to realize our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. We are so proud of the members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Alpha Chi Omega sorority for rallying around the Fox family. It’s clear that their motivation went far more deep than winning a visit from Seth Rogen, though that was pretty fun!”

Richardson also emphasized the urgent need for funds to support research. The national budget for this year raised the Alzheimer’s Research investment by $125 million (to $586 million), Richardson said, “But we are still well below the annual investment of $2 billion recommended by the scientific community to keep us on track for finding a treatment or cure by 2025, which is the goal of the Alzheimer’s National Plan.”

For more information on Hilarity for Charity, visit For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, visit

Teenage driver, bicyclist killed in Sunday crash


By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
Two Hinesburg residents were killed in a car accident on Sunday.
According to Hinesburg Police Chief Frank Koss, 17-year-old Champlain Valley Union High student Joseph Marshall was driving on Vermont Route 116 on April 26 when he lost control of his car and struck a bicyclist, Richard F. Tom, 47.
Police responded to the scene at 11:06 a.m. Bystanders performed CPR on Marshall and Tom, but both were pronounced dead at the scene.
In a press release, Koss cited “excessive speed” as the cause of the accident, and said alcohol or drug use is not suspected. Koss said on Tuesday that he does not have an estimate of the speed the vehicle was traveling but said “It was fast, fast. It wasn’t just a little over the speed limit.” The speed in that part of the road increases from 30 to 40 miles per hour.
Both were travelling south on 116 when Marshall lost control and struck Tom, then a tree.
Tom was less than half a mile from his home when he was struck and killed.
Champlain Valley Union High Principal Jeffrey Evans said Marshall was a senior. He said the mood at CVU is “somber and respectful” and that counselors are available to meet with students.
On Wednesday, students wore blue in honor of Marshall.
“Joe had some very close relationships with some of our students and faculty members, and it’s fair to say we’re reeling from this news,” he wrote in an email to the Observer. “CVU has suffered several losses over the past few years, and it is always a tragedy that requires great strength, compassion, and support from the people who make up the CVU community. I’m grateful to be surrounded by such strength, and I know we will lean on each other as we attempt to make sense and meaning from this awful circumstance.”
Evans said Marshall’s teachers and counselors described him as a young man with a big smile and bright future.
“Joe was a fantastic and caring young man,” Evans wrote, quoting a teacher. “He always had a smile on his face as he considered those he cared about. Joe had a close relationship and was extremely loyal to his family and friends and often talked about them with great pride. He was protective of them and would do anything he could to ensure their wellbeing.”
Evans extended his and the school’s condolences to the friends and families of both victims.
Visiting hours for Marshall will be April 30 from 4 to 6 p.m., with a prayer service starting at 6 p.m. in St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Hinesburg.
Kevin Bessett
, Green Mountain Bicycle Club president, said Tom was a prominent cyclist and had worked for Vermont Bicycle Tours and Earl’s Cyclery.
“He was very likeable, knowledgeable, well spoken, and would do anything to help someone out who needed it,” Bessett said in a statement. “He loved anything to do with cycling. He touched many folks.
It’s the first time in my 23 years of involvement with GMBC, and cycling, that a person I know will never return home from a ride. Myself and many others are devastated by this and will forever miss Richard and his charm.”

Recycling facility reopens after contamination


By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Chittenden Solid Waste District’s Materials Recovery Facility has reopened after a contamination sickened workers on Tuesday.
The facility was closed in the afternoon after chemicals from an aerosol can—which turned out to be a form of pepper spray intended to deter bears—that had been put into a recycling container were released. The building was evacuated and 23 staff members were treated for exposure, according to Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton.
“We’ve had a lot of incidents over the years similar to this, though not on this scale,” Morton said. “This certainly was a large scale in comparison to what we’ve seen in the past.”
University of Vermont Medical Center spokesman Mike Noble said 12 people were transported to the hospital, and all were treated and released on Tuesday.
Crews from Williston fire and police departments, along with IBM and Essex fire units, responded to the scene. The state HAZMAT response team was also called in to decontaminate the 23 workers.
There were 42 people in the building at the time. Several downwind buildings were also closed for about an hour, their employees evacuated.
Workers for Casella—with which CSWD contracts to operate the facility—reported nausea and difficulty breathing while sorting containers.
CSWD General Manager Tom Moreau said the bear spray canister made it through machine sorting before ending up on the conveyor belt, where it was punctured and immediately sickened employees. He said the shift supervisor grabbed the container and threw it to the floor, then evacuated everyone and called 911.
“Thank heavens, there doesn’t appear to be any permanent injuries,” Moreau said.
Moreau said it is apparently time for CSWD to step up its efforts to educate the community about what to do with aerosol cans and hazardous waste. Empty, non-hazardous aerosol cans—those that contained food products—can go in the recycling bin. Those with hazardous materials—such as pesticides, hairspray, WD-40 or insect killers—should be taken to the hazardous waste facility or picked up by CSWD’s Rover. Empty cans that contained hazardous materials go in the trash.
“We have a facility in Chittenden County that takes hazardous waste,” Moreau said. “We’ll take them from you at no cost whatsoever. Give us a call and we’ll deal with those, you don’t have to worry about that. Just don’t throw it in the recycling. We appreciate your desire to recycle everything, but cans with hazardous waste don’t go in your blue bin.”
CSWD’s Environmental Depot, located at 1011 Airport Parkway in South Burlington, accepts hazardous material from businesses and residents in Chittenden County.
“Accidents like this can be prevented if containers of hazardous materials—empty or full—are kept out of the recycling system,” said Clare Innes, CSWD marketing and communications coordinator. “The recycling process depends on the men and women at the MRF whose job it is to sort materials residents and businesses put in their recycling containers. Remember: If it’s something you wouldn’t pour down your drain, it cannot be recycled, and is not safe for the recycling sorters to handle. If you don’t know for sure if something you need to dispose of is safe for recycling, we ask that you call the CSWD hotline at (802) 872-8111 or visit our website at”
Moreau said this is the first time contamination has occurred at that facility.
Moreau also thanked the rescue personnel that responded.
“Everyone handled it very professionally, from Casella to the town of Williston,” Moreau said.

POPCORN: “Danny Collins” Idol for the Ages


 Popcorn - 3

3 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


I suspect there will be a spate of movies custom made for Baby Boomers as they proceed into the sexa- and septuagenarian periods of their lives. They will nurture and extoll the virtues of this mixed blessing that’s certainly better than the alternative. Call them the Dick and Jane films for golden-agers: i.e. — See Dick have a hip replacement; see Spot sympathize. Hopefully, most will be as entertaining as writer-director Dan Fogelman’s “Danny Collins.” [Read more...]

United Way seeks input from older adults about wellness


United Way of Chittenden County and a group of community partners are inviting residents countywide, aged 60 and over, to participate in a survey on the unique services and activities that help them stay healthy and feel good. The survey will gather information about what types of services older adults want, where they want to receive them and how they want to hear about them. [Read more...]

Healthy Food for Two: Big power of small things


By Ania Robertson

Adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet will give you some protein and fiber and it is a flavorful way to get essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Also, according to Japanese researchers who [Read more...]

Driving safely with dementia and knowing when to quit


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

Is it safe for seniors with dementia to drive and if so, when should they stop? My dad has early Alzheimer’s disease but still drives himself around town just fine. 

Looking Ahead

Dear Looking,

While most doctors agree that people [Read more...]

CVU baseball, softball on weather watch


By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The pitter-patter of rain on the roofs is no longer welcomed by Champlain Valley Union High baseball and softball players.

The baseball Redhawks were rained out of a previously postponed appearance at Mount Mansfield Union High Tuesday. The teams rescheduled (again) the game for May 2, a Saturday. [Read more...]

Burlington next for CVU girls lacrosse team


By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

They went into the spring break with a 2-0 record, now after some 12 days off, the Champlain Union High girls lacrosse team will have its first really home game of the young season Tuesday against Burlington High at 4:30 p.m.

The Seahorses rolled to a 3-0 mark prior to vacation week. [Read more...]

CVU tennis teams return to action


Following a 12-day vacation break, Champlain Valley Union High’s boys and girls tennis teams get back into the swing of rackets Tuesday, the boys motoring to St. Johnsbury Academy, while the girls play host to their Hilltopper counterparts at Shelburne’s Davis Park.

Prior to the spring days off, the girls hiked their season mark to 4-0 with 5-2 and 7-0 triumphs [Read more...]