January 24, 2018


Wendell R. Barry

Wendell R. Barry

Wendell R. Barry, 86, passed away December 23, 2017 at Starr Farm Nursing Center after a long illness. He was born in Woodsville, NH on January 28, 1931, son of the late Ray Barry Sr. and Maefred Barry.

He married the former Betty Woodward on December 30, 1952. He was a member of the U.S. Army having served in the Korean War.

He was also a member of the American Legion post No. 35 Cambridge for 49 years. Wendell was employed by Munson’s Earth Moving and Pizzagalli Construction Company before retiring in 1991.

He enjoyed hunting, fishing and playing cards. He is survived by his wife Betty, son Michael Barry and wife Jennifer of Belvidere, daughter Belinda Thibault and husband Paul of Williston and daughter Lisa Farrell and husband Randy of Richmond, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, his two sisters Marietta Corse and Macy Flynn and her husband Richard, several nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was predeceased by his brother Ray Barry Jr. and his wife Leoda, brother-in-law Dean Corse. The family wishes to extend a special thank you to the the staff at Starr Farm Nursing Center. Per Wendell’s wishes, there will be no visiting hours or services held. Memorial contributions in Wendell’s memory may be made to a charity of one’s choice.

The family also invites you to share your memories and condolences by visiting awrfh.com.

Timothy Comolli 

Timothy Doyle Comolli, beloved and legendary South Burlington High School educator, passed away on December 7, 2017, at his home in Williston.

He was 74. 

Mr. Comolli began his teaching career in South Burlington in 1965, and over the next 40 years built a reputation as an extraordinary teacher and visionary educator who introduced legions of South Burlington students to newly emerging technologies within the walls of the Imaging Lab, which he created and worked tirelessly to fund through grants, awards, business partnerships and donations.

Mr. Comolli’s ability to respect and understand the limitless potential of every student, coupled with his endless empathy and good humor for their individual life circumstances, ensured that his impact was very often life-changing.

This deep and abiding understanding of both the art and science of teaching allowed him to encourage and guide his students to discover, believe in, and pursue their own unique paths in life.

Tim brought over $2 million worth of equipment and resources to the South Burlington Imaging Lab, always with the intention of providing state-of-the-art opportunities for his students.

Tim attended schools in Montpelier, graduating from St. Michael’s High School in 1961. He received his bachelor’s degree in education from Johnson State in 1965, followed by a master’s degree in communications from Norwich University in 1985.

While beginning his teaching career in South Burlington, Tim also continued what would be a lifelong passion for all forms of communication, from radio and theater to TV, and ultimately, electronic arts.

He worked as an announcer for a number of Vermont radio and TV stations, and brought this experience back to the classroom as he developed classes in public speaking and video production.

His dedication and commitment to excellence were rewarded in the plethora of teaching awards bestowed upon Tim over the years. Among the most prestigious were the Christa McAuliffe National Teaching Award in 2003,

National Technology Teacher of the Year Award (Technology and Learning magazine) in 1999, the NFIE Excellence in Education award in 1998. He was also one of the first recipients of a Bill Gates “Road Ahead” grant in 1995.

Outside of the classroom, Tim was an avid gardener who loved nothing more than to “play in the dirt.” Tim’s love of gardening was surpassed only by his love for his students and his friends.

A lasting tribute to this talent can be found in his creation of the South Burlington High School Memorial Garden, where every retiring teacher received a planting in their honor.

The garden is another manifestation of Tim’s nurturing and caring nature, and his ability to help all living things grow and flourish.

 Tim was born in Montpelier on May 26, 1943, the son of Americo Joseph Comolli and Mary Anne Doyle Comolli.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by a sister, Claire Louise Forbes, a brother, Richard Comolli, and two nephews, David and Peter. He is survived by a nephew, Gordon Forbes, of Spencerville, New York.

Tim also leaves the legions of former students whose lives he has touched, and a vast family of friends who will miss him dearly.

A Celebration of Life was held December 30 at South Burlington High School. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the SBEA Timothy D. Comolli Scholarship Fund. Contact Joanne Abate at the Alumni Office, SBHS, 550 Dorset Street, South Burlington, VT 05403.

 To send online condolences to his family, please visit cremationsocietycc.com.

Letters to the Editor

An attainable and desirable energy future

I read with interest Willem Post’s Dec. 14 Letter to the Editor “Vermont’s unattainable energy goals,” and I am a little confused about where he stands and what he proposes.

He does not deny that climate change is real, but he seems to be against any proposal to combat it.

He is against a carbon tax, which every speaker at the governor’s climate forum in St. Albans that I attended spoke in favor of. We can no longer allow companies to pollute the atmosphere without paying for the cleanup.

We hold accountable companies that have used our rivers as convenient sources for dumping toxins, and air pollution is no different. The carbon tax is a way to level the playing field for all energy sources, and make polluters pay the whole cost of their products. Renewable energy is getting less costly every day.

Already, nuclear and coal cannot compete with wind and solar, and it is a matter of time before oil and gas will not be competitive either, but time is something we don’t have a lot of. We must take an “all things on the table” approach in the switch to renewables: tax the polluters; drive electric vehicles; generate energy from landfills, biomass, hydro, wind and solar; weatherize our ancient and beloved buildings; recreate our transportation system with ride-sharing, public transportation and walking; and transform our agriculture to sequester more carbon and create less polluting run-off.

There is always more. This is the last generation that can fix the problem we have been kicking down the road since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

We have to solve climate change now in our homes and businesses, our neighborhoods and our state and do the hard things other generations have put off. This is the issue of our time, and we must succeed for our children and grandchildren. Brian F. Forrest Williston

Guest Column: Vermont healthcare system changing for the better

By Carrie Wulfman

I have been a practicing physician in Vermont for 18 years, and I have seen many changes in medical practice over these nearly two decades.

One of the most positive changes I have seen is the creation of OneCare Vermont, a collaborative initiative between the University of Vermont Medical Center and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

One of the key aspects of OneCare is to reward primary care providers like me to work with our patients to keep them healthy rather than treating them only when they are sick.

This approach is an effort to move away from the current feefor-service system and move us to a value-based system focused on improving quality and promoting wellness by focusing on primary care for Vermonters. I have already put this new model of care into practice.

Thirty years ago, when I was applying to medical school, I wrote an essay titled “Treating the Whole Patient.” I recently came across this paper while going through some boxes, and had a lot of flashbacks and realizations. Being a primary care provider has been in my DNA since I first began thinking about becoming a physician, and I have had the honor of spending a career treating the whole patient.

I carry that desire through my work now, as chief medical officer for Porter Medical Center, where I have the opportunity to ensure that the work we are doing as an organization is in service to not just the whole patient, but our entire community.

I have more tools, training and resources now than ever before to do this work. I am convinced that the goals of payment and delivery system reform — to increase quality, access and affordability — can only be accomplished by bringing as many resources as we can provide to the patient, to help them engage in improving their health. When my patients are healthier, I will know that we have succeeded in this work. I have been treating a patient with diabetes and heart disease for several years.

I will call him “Joe.” Due to uncontrolled glucose levels over time, Joe required amputation below the left knee and a partial foot amputation on the opposite side. He walks without a cane, having adapted admirably to his metal fake leg, and is able to drive himself to his appointments. He recently needed to have a knee replacement in his right (good) leg due to breakdown of that joint over time. Because of his underlying complex health conditions, I referred him to an orthopedic surgeon at the UVM Medical Center to be evaluated for surgery.

Joe was sent home without a surgical appointment scheduled because his blood sugar levels were too high to safely operate. When I met with Joe and reviewed the note from the surgeon, the patient and I made a plan together to utilize resources for him that we are now able to access, thanks to programs like the Blueprint for Health and OneCare Vermont — our statewide accountable care organization.

This patient was able to access a care coordinator, a dietician, and a physical therapist, all within our office, which is his primary care medical home.

Together as a care team we developed a plan to get Joe’s blood sugar under control. The patient actively participated in his shared care plan and plant-based diet, and succeeded in getting his diabetes controlled to the level required by the knee surgeon in order to proceed with knee replacement. Not only was Joe able to have the knee replacement surgery, he changed his lifestyle and dedication to wellness and is back to health maintenance visits every three to four months.

This is one patient and one story, but know that primary care providers across the state are engaging in these reforms with the absolute same goal: to improve the lives of the people we serve. We can all continue to treat the whole patient, but now we get to do it with a lot more tools and resources, upheld by a team approach to coordination of care and prevention of illness. I realize that we have seen numerous programs come and go intending to improve both the delivery system and reduce the cost of health care.

I believe that the OneCare Accountable Care Organization will be successful and will support primary care providers like me who are true believers in health promotion and keeping our patients well rather than sitting back and waiting for them to come to us when they are sick.

It is a partnership between providers and patients that will make the difference and fundamentally change how care is delivered.

It aligns the incentives of the provider and the patient, and that does make all the difference in my opinion.

It is now time to stop talking about healthcare reform and start working on it — and that work has begun here in Vermont.

OneCare is investing in primary care and is promoting the type of medicine that I love to practice and that our patients need.

That is why Porter Medical Center is “all in” on healthcare reform and an active participant in the OneCare program. It is the right thing to do for our patients, our community and our organization.

It is a win-win for everyone and a promising investment in supporting the mission of UVM Health Network-Porter Medical Center.

Carrie Wulfman is a primary care physician and chief medical officer at Porter Medical Center in Middlebury

House leader outlines challenges as Legislature launches session

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson addresses lawmakers Wednesday on the opening day of the legislative session. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger

By Anne Galloway and Mark Johnson

For VTDigger

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson opened the second half of the 74th biennium of the Vermont Legislature on Wednesday morning with a measured speech about the depth of the difficulties the state faces and how she aims to bring representatives together to help begin to solve what have been intractable problems, from income inequality to the opiate crisis to cleaning up Lake Champlain.

Johnson, a Democrat from the Grand Isle district who takes a consensus-building approach to leadership, told lawmakers she had learned that although her title is speaker of the House, her real role is “listener of the House.” Her broader message was equally conciliatory.

As she outlined her priorities for the second half of the biennium, she emphasized the need to bring lawmakers and the public together around social problems that government must help resolve.

The state must find a way to address income inequality, she said, calling it the “greatest the moral issue of our time.” Later, Sen. Tim Ashe, the head of the Vermont Senate, outlined his priorities to the media, including a boost in the minimum wage. Several times Ashe spoke of the challenge of “affordability” in Vermont, a term that Republican Gov. Phil Scott had adopted as his overriding priority.

Ashe and Johnson talked about investments in mental health and opiate addiction treatment, the need to ensure the Legislature is free of the taint of sexual harassment, and the state’s obligation to address climate change for future generations. In an interview after her speech,

Johnson said she would be willing to move forward with two extraordinarily ambitious revenue initiatives that previously have failed to gain traction in the House: funding for water cleanup and a revamp of the education finance system. She stopped short, however, of backing a plan from environmentalists to curb climate emissions from fossil fuels through a carbon tax. Scott has said he will not support increases in taxes or fees of any kind.

Johnson said she has not drawn a hard line on increases in revenue. Johnson, the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said lawmakers have done “a good job of managing Vermonters’ money” by making an effort to shrink the gap between state revenues and expenditures over the past few years. It’s time, she said, to reinvest in key initiatives to address structural problems.

The cleanup of toxic algae blooms on Lake Champlain, for example, is a “moral imperative” that state government must take responsibility for, Johnson said. She is not, however, satisfied that a flat per-parcel fee, which the state treasurer has proposed, is the right approach. She wants to “tweak” that concept to ensure there is a nexus between polluters and funding sources for water quality programs.

While Johnson is concerned about how difficult the economic environment is for Vermonters, she is not — unlike Scott — proposing to squeeze state government and lower taxes. Instead, she emphasized that the state must improve the economy for everyone by creating programs that give middle- and low-income families better support.

“The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral and economic issue of our time and is a critical component of societal stability,” she said. The middle-class dream, she said, is becoming “harder to achieve.”

To read the full story, click here.

What to watch for in 2018

Williston Police Chief Patrick Foley has several positions to fill to get the department fully staffed.

Steven Bourgoin awaits trial on five counts of second-degree murder.

The “Expert Men” group start in Sunday’s Eastern Cup, hosted by the Catamount Family Center.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

As a new year dawns, Williston is faced with several decisions that call for thoughtful community consideration. Here are the key questions that will shape 2018, as citizens, community leaders and local organizations set a course for Williston’s future.

The Town of Williston is due to purchase 383 acres that currently comprise the Catamount Outdoor Family Center off Governor Chittenden Road this spring for use as a permanently conserved public park. A group of citizens, neighbors and planners have been meeting monthly since July to determine what will be allowed on the property. They are also hashing out an agreement the town plans to enter into with the Catamount Outdoor Family Center to manage day-today operations — as the center does now as the property’s current owner — and determine which recreational uses will be free and which will be fee-based. The group plans to make decisions during meetings in February about whether to allow hunting, snowmobiling, horseback-riding, and dog-walking on the property. It already has agreed to allow camping during special events and free ice skating and trail-walking.

Can the Williston Police Department finally get fully staffed? Williston has a new chief of police, Patrick Foley, who is determined to return the department to full strength after it has suffered chronic staffing problems. The department is currently running without a detective unit, as its experienced officers have been moved back to patrol duty to fill vacant officer positions. The 17-member force has four officer vacancies; one has been filled by a rookie who is attending the Vermont Police Academy this year and is expected to start in June. Foley is hoping to fill the other three vacancies before the end of the year. Complicating matters, though, the department’s administrative assistant, who would be instrumental in the hiring process, resigned in November.

Foley said he has received more than 100 applicants for that position and expects to have it filled by February. “That is a core position for me, so I can do other things I need to do,” Foley said Wednesday.

Operating without a detective unit means the department can fall behind on following up on cases, returning to the scene of a crime and coordinating with other local and state agencies, Foley said. Those responsibilities have fallen to the patrol officers. “Everyone has become a detective,” Foley said. If the patrol officer vacancies are filled, Foley plans to call for applications from existing officers interested in the detective positions. Will Bourgoin be found guilty? A Williston man is currently awaiting trial on five counts of second-degree murder stemming from a 2016 crash on Interstate 89 that killed five Vermont teenagers. Steven Bourgoin, 37, is accused of speeding the wrong way down the interstate and crashing into a car carrying the teens. Then, after police responded to the crash, Bourgoin is accused of stealing a Williston police cruiser and using it to cause another highspeed crash, this one involving multiple cars at the scene of the first crash. In a toxicology report released in November, Bourgoin was shown to have several drugs in his system at the time of the crash. He has been deemed mentally competent to stand trail. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the five second-degree murder charges. A trial is expected to start in April.

Milfoil overruns parts of Lake Iroquois in this 2016 file photo. The Lake Iroquois Association plans to use a controversial herbicide treatment in 2018. Observer file photo

Will herbicide be dumped into Lake Iroquois to control milfoil?

A decision is expected this spring from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation regarding whether or not the Lake Iroquois Association can apply a chemical called Sonar to the lake to alleviate the overgrowth of non-native Eurasian milfoil.

Although the summer of 2017 was not as bad as the previous summer, when boating and swimming were severely hampered by the overgrowth, the association plans to press for a permit from the DEC to use the chemical.

The DEC was inundated with opposition to the idea from lake-area residents who argued that the chemical has not been proven to be safe.

As a result, a permit approval process that typically takes about six months has stretched out for more than a year as the DEC works to respond to each of the opposition comments.

Will growth management caps be loosened?

The chair of the Williston Planning Commission, Jake Mathon, advocated in meetings last year to eliminate the growth cap the town has used since 1990 to regulate the pace and location of land development.

Mathon argued that the cap, which limits growth to 80 new residential units per year, has artificially slowed the build-out of larger developments in Williston and limited the diversity of projects that get proposed in town.

The Development Review Board has requested recommendations from the planning commission to modernize the system. The commission will continue to discuss potential changes this year, with an eye toward making recommendations to the selectboard.

Among the potential changes are an increase in the 80-unit annual allowance, an exemption for affordable housing and a change in the split of which zoning districts the 80 units are allotted to.

Currently 56 are allotted to the growth center, 12 to the remaining sewer core and 12 to the agricultural/ rural zoning district.

Observer photo by Jason Starr
The medical marijuana dispensary in Brandon has reportedly leased this house on Route 2A as it attempts to open a satellite dispensary in Williston.

Will a medical pot dispensary open in Williston?

The four existing medical marijuana dispensaries in Vermont are each authorized to open a satellite operation under a legislative update to Vermont’s medical marijuana law passed last year.

The Vermont Marijuana Registry, a division of the Department of Public Safety, has identified Williston as one of the preliminarily-approved satellite locations. Representatives of the dispensary in Brandon — Grassroots Vermont — recently checked in with the Williston Planning and Zoning office to discuss the town’s dispensary approval process.

In November, the dispensary finalized a lease on a 2,400-squarefoot commercial building at 4560 Williston Road, near where Industrial Avenue and Route 2 come together, according to a report in Business People Vermont Magazine.

The location is near the same spot the dispensary attempted to move to in 2015.

A dispensary in Williston would require approval from the Development Review Board. Lindsey Wells of the Vermont Marijuana Registry said a dispensary would need to receive town approval and have a solid long-term location before the Department of Public Safety would issue a final approval.

Will the CVSD board implement statewide education spending control measures?

Just before the new year and the start of the legislative session, Gov. Phil Scott renewed a push he initiated during his first year in office to rein in school spending.

He convened an education summit in December with public school leaders to lobby for flattening per-pupil spending and reducing staff-to-student ratios.

School spending continues to increase while Vermont’s student population steadily declines, he said. The proposal follows last year’s effort to implement a statewide teacher health insurance benefit to control health care costs.

That effort was tabled for consideration again this year.

Locally, the Champlain Valley School Board faces a half-million dollar budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, primarily due to an increase in salary and health insurance costs in the two year teacher contract it agreed to last spring.

In October, the board endorsed a Vermont School Board Association resolution to support Scott’s proposal to control teacher health care benefits by negotiating them in a single statewide contract.

With the budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year nearly ready to present to voters for Town Meeting Day consideration, any cost-containment measures the governor and legislature agree to this year will impact the school district’s budget for the following year.

Will two new hotels get green-lighted?

Developers of the 400-home Finney Crossing neighborhood that is under construction off Zephyr Road revealed in August how they plan to initiate the commercial/ retail aspect of the development.

They proposed — and received preliminary Development Review Board approval for — a 100-room, three-story hotel with an indoor pool and a rooftop solar array that would be a locally-owned franchise of a national hotel chain.

Across Route 2A, another hotel is proposed for 34 Blair Park Road on a parcel that is home to the Williston Post Office. The Vermont Hotel Group, in a November presentation to the board, described the project as a four-story, 96-room hotel with underground parking.

Both hotel proposals are expected to return to the Development Review Board this winter for a discretionary-permit-level review.

Which enhancements will the selectboard choose for North Williston Road?

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission presented a host of possibilities to reduce speeding and enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety along North Williston Road in December.

The Williston Selectboard plans to select a preferred option after taking public input in February. Speed control options include speed bumps, rumble strips and speed feedback signs.

Pedestrian and bicycle improvement options include widening the road to add on-street bike lanes and/or adding a 10-foot-wide recreation path along the west side of the road.

The improvements could total as much as $6.3 million, according to the CCRPC. The purpose of the project is “to ensure that North Williston Road is a resilient travel corridor and that all travelers, including vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, can travel safely and efficiently along the corridor,” the CCRPC stated in its December presentation to the selectboard.



CVU boys hockey, girls basketball, boys basketball

How to divvy up your family belongings peacefully and sensibly

By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

What’s the best way to distribute my personal possessions to my kids after I’m gone without causing hard feelings or conflict? I have a lot of jewelry, art, family heirlooms and antique furniture, and three grown kids that don’t always see eye to eye on things.

Planning Ahead [Read more…]


By Jan Kenney

Mom’s Christmas Coffee Cake

Holiday memories can be pictures in your head of family gatherings, special gifts, the perfect tree, holiday dinners with friends, loved ones. But they are also smells and tastes and sounds. [Read more…]

Hoops teams take titles at Riell tourney

Observer photo by Al Frey
Wil Burroughs (25) completes the steal during CVU’s win over Burr & Burton at the Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament championship game on Saturday.

By Lauren Reed

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley boys and girls basketball teams hosted the third annual Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament to kick off their seasons last weekend, and both teams started strong with tournament titles. [Read more…]

BizConVT 2018 seeks ‘speed seminar’ presenters

BizConVT, an innovative B2B networking event produced by Williston-based Event Moguls, is seeking ‘speed seminar’ presenters for the inaugural show on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 at the Sheraton Burlington. [Read more…]