October 31, 2014

Around Town


Food drive

The Williston Community Food Shelf will hold a food drive on Election Day, Nov. 4, at the Williston Armory. Residents can drop of monetary donations and non-perishable food items at a table that will be set up while the polls are open.

Dottie off the road

Dottie the Bookmobile, the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library’s latest bookmobile, has been retired and will not return to the streets of Williston, said Marti Fiske, library director.

“Dottie just became too run down and rusted out to continue service,” Fiske said.

Dottie, a retired 1991 diesel school bus, would have required major work to be safe and pass inspection. The bookmobile has extensive undercarriage rust, the rear axle is leaking, two pairs of rear tires need replacing and brake lines need to be replaced, among other issues.

“If we can purchase a new, slightly larger vehicle, this is an excellent opportunity for improved bookmobile service and will make outreach to seniors more efficient,” Fiske said.

A new bookmobile would cost $78,000, and the library is hoping to raise some of the amount through donations.

A new bookmobile could save staff hours by using a permanent adult collection on roll-out book carts. Currently, a staff member spends about four hours a week pulling 100 books from the collection, bagging them, taking them to seniors, re-bagging them and re-shelving them.

The library could also have books available for the parents while the bookmobile visits neighborhoods in the summer.

The library could also expand bookmobile service to Williston daycare centers year round.

“We figure that we could reach up to 425 children a month with visits,” Fiske said. “Daycares could check out books for in-house use while the children’s librarian provides a reading activity to the children.”

The new bookmobile would also have a wheelchair lift. The library has children on its current routes who need to be lifted out of their chairs and carried onto the bus for service. The wheelchair lift could also be used by seniors during the summer months and would allow library staff to roll carts into the senior communities during all seasons.

To learn more or make a donation toward a new bookmobile, contact the library at 878-4918 or visit www.williston.lib.vt.us

Rutland man under precautionary quarantine after West Africa travel


Man showing no symptoms; health officials say there is no risk to public health 

Observer staff report

A Rutland man who recently returned from West Africa—who is showing no symptoms of Ebola—has agreed to a 21-day quarantine.

Public health and law enforcement officials from Vermont met the man—who has been in West Africa to investigate the deadly disease but is not associated with any known health organization—at JFK International Airport on Oct. 27, and provided transport back to Vermont, according to an Oct. 28 press release.

The Vermont Department of Health requested that the Vermonter enter voluntary quarantine and active monitoring for fever or symptoms of Ebola for 21 days. The man agreed, and began quarantine on Oct. 27.

The state is not releasing the man’s name or location to protect his privacy and security. However, Rutland mayor Christopher Louras released a statement confirming that the man was a Rutland resident.

“Over the last several days, the City of Rutland and the State of Vermont have been working tirelessly and collaboratively to find a safe, secure location for this Rutland resident, and we have been successful,” he stated.

“Since his return to the U.S. there has been unbroken contact with the Vermont health operations team, which includes both law enforcement and public health officials, and because he has been asymptomatic for the entire period there has been absolutely no risk to either public health or safety.”

The man does not have an elevated temperature, has no signs or symptoms of illness and is not a health risk to anyone at this time, according to the Health Department. A person infected with Ebola cannot pass the infection on to others until he or she has symptoms—and then only through direct contact with bodily fluids. Ebola is not an airborne virus.

Federal officials assessed the man before allowing him to travel back to the U.S. and concluded there was not a health risk to the traveling public.

The Vermont Health Department requested the quarantine because the man was in the West African countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone with the stated intention of personally investigating the Ebola epidemic in those countries. While he has represented himself in public statements as a physician, he is not licensed as a doctor or health professional in Vermont. He was not traveling or affiliated with any governmental, public health, medical or aid organization.

“We do not know whether this person had exposure to the virus while in West Africa,” said acting Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan. “Because we can’t determine this—and combined with what we know about this person’s unsupervised travel, intent to help as a medical doctor and his statements—we are taking the precaution of quarantine while we actively monitor temperature and symptoms for 21 days.”

Twenty-one days is the longest it can take from the time a person is infected with Ebola until that person has symptoms of Ebola.

Like several states—some sparking controversy—it seems Vermont may initiate a quarantine period for anyone returning from Vermont from West African countries where Ebola is present.

“Any individual returning to Vermont from the affected countries will be actively monitored during that time and, depending on individual circumstances, active monitoring may include voluntary or mandatory quarantine,” the press release states.

 “This action is being taken both to protect others and ensure this person receives early and high quality care in the unlikely event that illness develops. Throughout the 21 days of quarantine, this individual will receive twice-daily health checks, plus food, shelter and other comforts. Local public health officials will be monitoring and in contact with this individual throughout quarantine.”

According to the Health Department, quarantine is an established, although rarely used, public health action that separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. If a person is under quarantine, he or she must stay in their home or at an alternate location deemed appropriate by the Health Department.

If a traveler begins to show symptoms, the Health Department will immediately implement protocols to transport the patient to a designated facility such as Fletcher Allen Health Care. The Health Department has been working closely with health care providers and hospitals to prepare for a patient showing Ebola symptoms.

 Ebola facts

Ebola is a dangerous viral disease that is epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where public health and health care infrastructure has been insufficient to control its spread.

Ebola is only spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is sick or has died from Ebola. Health care workers or people caring for patients with Ebola or the dead are most at risk of contracting the disease.

Ebola is not spread by casual contact. It is not spread through the air, water or food produced in the U.S. Ebola does not spread easily from person to person like the flu, measles or active tuberculosis.

Election Day is Nov. 4

Williston voting will take place in the Williston Armory from 7am to 7pm.

Williston voting will take place in the Williston Armory from 7am to 7pm.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston voters will have an array of choices for county and state seats on Election Day, which falls on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Voting will be held at the Williston Armory, located in the Historic Village next to the Town Hall Annex, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Those who can’t make it to the polls on Nov. 4 can vote early by stopping at the town clerk’s office or requesting that a ballot be mailed. To request a ballot, call 878-5121.

On the ballot

The options facing Williston voters include the following:


Matthew Andrews, Plainfield, Liberty Union

Mark Donka, Hartford, Republican

Chris Ericson, Chester, Independent

Randall Meyer, Marshfield, Independent

Jerry Trudell, Energy Independence

Peter Welch, Norwich, Democratic


Pete Diamondstone, Brattleboro, Liberty Union

Chris Ericson, Chester, Independent

Dan Feliciano, Essex, Libertarian

Scott Milne, Pomfret, Republican

Bernard Peters, Irasburg, Independent

Emily Peyton, Putney, Independent

Peter Shumlin, East Montpelier, Democratic


Marina Brown, Charleston, Liberty Union

Dean Corren, Burlington, Progressive/Democratic

Phil Scott, Berlin, Republican


(Choose up to six)

Tim Ashe, Burlington, Democratic/Progressive

Phil Baruth, Burlington, Democratic

John Cisar, Essex, Libertarian

Christopher Coolidge, South Burlington, Libertarian

Dawn Ellis, Burlington, Democratic

Joy Limoge, Williston, Republican

Virginia “Ginny” Lyons, Williston, Democratic

Ben Mayer, Burlington, Libertarian

Michael Sirotkin, South Burlington, Democratic

Diane B. Snelling, Hinesburg, Republican

Travis Spencer, Milton, Libertarian

Paul Washburn, South Burlington, Libertarian

Glyn Wilkinson, Burlington, Libertarian

David Zuckerman, Hinesburg, Progressive/Democratic


(Choose two)

Terry Macaig, Williston, Democratic

Jim McCullough, Williston, Democratic

In addition to the above candidates, Williston voters can select candidates for the positions of state treasurer, secretary of state, auditor of accounts, attorney general, probate judge, assistant judge, state’s attorney, sheriff, high bailiff and justice of the peace.

For more information, visit the Vermont Secretary of State’s election website, www.sec.state.vt.us/elections.aspx

Salt shed work resumes, questions remain

Despite the collapse of the under-construction salt shed in August, work on the main building of the new public works facility is progressing smoothly. The  building construction is on schedule, with the department staff slated to move into the new building at the end of December.

Despite the collapse of the under-construction salt shed in August, work on the main building of the new public works facility is progressing smoothly. The building construction is on schedule, with the department staff slated to move into the new building at the end of December.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Work resumed this week on the salt shed at the new Williston Public Works facility after the under-construction shed collapsed in August.

Construction is moving swiftly on the main building of the new facility, and town staff expects the department to be able to move into the building on schedule at the end of December. 

Still, a big question remains unanswered—who will pay for the added expenses.

A state investigation concluded that flawed temporary bracing and faulty design caused the roof of the salt shed to collapse while workers were on top of the structure, injuring four of them. 

The Department of Public Safety investigation also found that a licensed engineer was not used to design the temporary bracing, as required by building code.

The Vermont Department of Labor is also investigating the accident. Steve Monahan, the department’s director of workers’ compensation and safety, said he hopes the investigation will be completed “soon.”

Town Manager Rick McGuire said the contract with Neagley & Chase Construction Co. of South Burlington—which the town hired to both design and build the facility—stipulates that work proceed if issues arise. 

McGuire said it’s unclear whether the town’s insurance company or Neagley & Chase will cover the cost of cleanup and rebuilding after the collapse, since each thinks the other should pay. 

“And therein lies the stuff of wonderful legal battles,” McGuire said.

Once the project is completed, the town will likely be involved in mediation and arbitration, McGuire told the Selectboard on Oct. 20. 

The town’s insurance company has agreed to defend the town’s interests and cover losses if the town is required to pay, according to McGuire

Even with the collapse, the project remains on budget and mostly on schedule, McGuire said. 

“We had hoped originally to have the salt shed done long before the main building was done so we could move our salt and sand supplies into that building before moving into the main building,” McGuire said. “That will not happen, obviously.”

The town has also hired a separate engineering firm to check the structural soundness of the new salt shed once it is completed, a normally unnecessary precaution, but at least a reasonably priced one at less than $1,000.

“Normally we don’t have to do that sort of thing,” McGuire said. “In light of this, we decided we’d have our own structural engineer look at it.”

Observer recipe columnist publishes first book

Kim Dannies cooks in the 'nerve center' of her kitchen. Dannies' first book, 'Everyday Gourmet' is available on Amazon.com

Kim Dannies cooks in the ‘nerve center’ of her kitchen. Dannies’ first book, ‘Everyday Gourmet’ is available on Amazon.com.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

After a decade crafting adventurous and accessible food—and chronicling her family life—in her Everyday Gourmet recipe column, Kim Dannies is ready to head in a new direction.

The La Varenne-trained food writer has recently published her first book, “Everyday Gourmet,” a collection of her most-loved columns from her years writing for the Observer.

As a collection, the book falls between a cookbook and a memoir.

“I wanted to put something down for my daughters, something physical for them to hold in their hands,” Dannies said.

Now 24, 26 and 28, her daughters Kate, Tuckie and Quinn popped up frequently in the column, especially the earlier ones.

“The goal was to document my kids’ childhood,” Dannies said. “This seemed like a really good timeframe to do it… I basically have their childhood in this spectrum of columns.”

Dannies pointed to the description on the back of the book to sum up the soul of her column and resulting book.

“The columns chronicle Kim’s busy family life as she keeps the kitchen pots bubbling while parenting three spirited daughters,” it reads. “The recipes are satisfyingly delicious and they celebrate Kim’s practice of eating well—and living well—everyday.”

The book took a little more than a year to put together, and includes roughly half of Dannies’ columns.

“It’s a real process but it’s been a really, really fun process,” she said.

Dannies selected more story-driven columns.

“I wanted to have narrative that was a little more substantial,” she said.

She partnered with Williston designer Elliot Schneider, a Champlain College student who is currently studying abroad in London.

“A large part of designing incorporates communication,” Schneider told the Observer via email. “Ultimately, the goal is

to communicate the message clearly, creatively and visually appealingly.”

Schneider said he and Dannies met weekly to make sure they were on the same page.

“We worked together to ensure her vision was executed in a way that was not only easily digestible and enjoyable to read but to also have a different look and feel than the other books that people may be used to today,” he wrote. “She gave me the content and her goals and let me have some fun with it. It was great.”

Currently in his third year at Champlain—which he said has given him the tools and freedom to work on real projects in his field while studying—Schneider said he never expected to be part of creating a book between his second and third years of college.

This week also marks Dannies’ last Everyday Gourmet column, as she turns her attention to some other projects.

“I’m grateful to the Observer for providing me the opportunity to have a platform for my writing,” she said. “I’m really happy I had that opportunity to share my story with my community. Hopefully, they have benefitted from learning about cooking as well.”

Dannies also has two more books in the works.

She is now working on a book called “Everyday Essentials,” more of a classic cookbook and sister book to “Everyday Gourmet.”

 “It’s my greatest hits,” Dannies said. “The things I am just always looking for and always go to—the company casserole, the coffee cake at Christmas.”

Dannies said she also plans to include some blank pages within the book, so people can paste in their own go-to favorites.

She’s also putting together a book called “Bumper Sticker Parenting,” a collection of the top parenting advice she’s gleaned in 25 years working with Chittenden County parents while running children’s enrichment center PrimeTime.

Dannies encouraged any other Williston residents who feel like they have “a book in them, and we all feel like we have a book in us,” to go for it. CVU teaches courses in layout software InDesign, and self-publishing can be a fun process.

“You’ve got to stick with it,” she said.

Editors note: The Observer is grateful to Kim for all the wonderful recipes, insights and professional work she has provided over the years. She has an expert eye for the simple luxuries, and her recipes and prose represent her passion for food and life. We wish her the best on her new ventures!

Town hires new rec director


By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

After sifting through more than 100 applications, Williston town staff has chosen a new recreation director.

Todd Goodwin, currently South Burlington’s recreation director, will begin Dec. 1.

Goodwin began in South Burlington in 1980 and has held various positions within the Recreation and Parks Department. He has held the director position for the past year, and was the assistant director for 10 years.

“It seemed like Williston was looking to build their program base for their department,” Goodwin. “My heart has always been in programming. It’s kind of my passion and strength. I just saw it as way of being able to be a director but also have my hand in the programming aspect. We’ve done a lot here in South Burlington and I hope to bring a lot to Williston.”

Goodwin said he plans to spend time in the community, getting to know what works and where he can grow programs.

Goodwin’s selection follows a nationwide search after former director Kevin Finnegan resigned from the position in July. Finnegan had served for 16 years.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said town staff interviewed eight candidates, and selected four for a second round of interviews. McGuire said Goodwin most closely matched the profile of the position developed after gathering input from a town survey and staff interviews.

“We were looking for someone that had a strong background in recreational programming, and Mr. Goodwin definitely has that,” McGuire said. “He has an excellent reputation and he seemed like a good fit for what we were looking for.”

Approximately 100 residents took a survey over the summer about the recreation department, McGuire said.

“In general, people seemed to be pretty satisfied with the facilities that we have to offer, but there was some interest in improving the recreation programs that we have to offer,” McGuire said.

At the beginning of the search, the town opted to reshuffle the duties, creating a standalone Parks and Recreation Department. The town’s Recreation Department had previously been a sub-department of the Public Works Department.

That means Goodwin will be a department head, reporting directly to McGuire. It also means a higher pay range. Goodwin was hired at an annual salary of $62,200.

McGuire said residents can expect an increase in program offerings, which means more expenditures but also more money brought in as revenue.

“The public will see a renewed emphasis on programming, and a whole set of new programs,” McGuire said. “We’ll be trying to fund a lot of these new programs out of the revenues we receive. That fits in with what we’re getting from survey results and Mr. Goodwin’s expertise.”

PHOTOS: CVU Girls Soccer vs. Mount Mansfield

Sierra Morton outplays a Mount Mansfield opponent during an Oct. 17 game, which the Redhawks won 3-0. (Observer photos by Al Frey(

Sierra Morton outplays a Mount Mansfield opponent during an Oct. 17 game, which the Redhawks won 3-0. (Observer photos by Al Frey)

[Read more...]

PHOTOS: Fall Foliage

Two boaters take in the fall colors on Lake Iroquois last week. Photos by Al Frey.

Two boaters take in the fall colors on Lake Iroquois last week. Photos by Al Frey.

[Read more...]

POPCORN: The Judge



3 popcorns

3 popcorns

“The Judge”: In Defense of Sentiment

3 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer


I like a little schmaltz in my movies every so often. So regardless of whether director David Dobkin’s “The Judge” is a courtroom drama posing as a family melodrama or vice versa, I forgive its sentimentality in the name of emotionally satisfying entertainment. Even those hard-noses in disagreement with my dispensation must concur that the fine synergy between lead actors Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr. nearly compensates for the liberal doses of treacle.

[Read more...]

Recipe Corner: Pumpkin recipes for family


By Ginger Isham

Adding pumpkin to Sloppy Joes is not a new idea, as this recipe comes from a 2001 cookbook, “The Best of Country Cooking.”

Pumpkin Sloppy Joes

2 pounds of ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup tomato juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon EACH cloves, nutmeg, pepper

2 cups canned pumpkin

Cook beef and onion in skillet. Add ketchup, tomato juice, chili powder, salt and spices. Mix well and bring to a boil. Stir in pumpkin. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve over warmed or toasted hamburger buns with slices of dill pickles. [Read more...]