December 23, 2014

Real property tax relief

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By Gov. Peter Shumlin

This week, we released an estimate that property taxes used to pay for public school education will increase once again this year to pay for a projected increase in school spending. While this year’s projected property tax increase of around 2 cents is half of last year’s, it is hardly good news. We all know that rising property taxes to fund education have put an unsustainable burden on Vermonters. Despite a steady decline in school enrollment over the last two decades, property tax payers have not seen a decline in their property taxes; they’ve seen the opposite. But while rising property taxes are one clear indication of the higher cost of education in Vermont, they are only the most visible aspect of the money Vermonters spend on our public education system. [Read more...]

Williston schools request support programs, staff

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Supportive programs and staff took center stage at the last Williston School District budget meeting.

Williston School District administration presented its requests for additions to the budget on Dec. 4. Board members and budget buddies—community members providing input to the board—will rank the additions they see as most important. From there, the board will decide what, if any, items to add to or cut from the baseline. [Read more...]

Restaurants grapple with balancing costs, prices

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Due to rising food costs, Ramunto's will raise its prices on Jan. 1 -- the first time since the eatery opened in 2009.

Due to rising food costs, Ramunto’s will raise its prices on Jan. 1 — the first time since the eatery opened in 2009.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza owner Jeff Paul recently made a tough decision—to raise his food prices for the first time since he opened the eatery in 2009.

While food costs are always inching upward, in the past year Paul said he has seen prices of his top three ingredients—flour, meat and cheese—jump significantly.

“I don’t want to take it out on our customers,” he said. “I love this Williston community…. But at the same time we can’t be bleeding money in terms of our food costs, so we have to raise some prices. We’re almost being forced to do it, just based on the fact that these food prices are spiking with no end in sight.” [Read more...]

Town manager proposes modest budget hike

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Spending plan would boost tax rate by 2 cents

By Greg Elias

Observer Correspondent

Town Manager Rick McGuire on Monday presented an operating budget that rises by just 1 percent, a much smaller jump than in recent years. But a disproportionate property tax hike and new stormwater fees may make some residents think costs are still too high.

The first draft of the 2015-16 fiscal year budget totals $9,889,870. It would require a 2-cent property tax increase, costing the owner of a $400,000 home an additional $80 a year.

The Selectboard listened to McGuire detail revenues and expenses, and then heard presentations on departmental budgets. [Read more...]

PHOTOS: Food drive

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Residents of Williston’s Pinecrest Village and Balsam Circle neighborhoods brought more than $250 and piles of food to donate to the Williston Community Food Shelf during a two-day food drive organized by (from left) Kelly Scannall, Ramona Guadalupe, Sue Hayes and Crissy Sears in late November.

Residents of Williston’s Pinecrest Village and Balsam Circle neighborhoods brought more than $250 and piles of food to donate to the Williston Community Food Shelf during a two-day food drive organized by (from left) Kelly Scannall, Ramona Guadalupe, Sue Hayes and Crissy Sears in late November. (Observer courtesy photos)

[Read more...]

PHOTOS: Christmas trees

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Members of the Goulette family (from left) Zander, Jared, Doug, Dee and Christian of Williston select their Christmas tree Saturday from the Isham Family Farm on Oak Hill Road. (Observer photos by Al Frey)

Members of the Goulette family (from left) Zander, Jared, Doug, Dee and Christian of Williston select their Christmas tree Saturday from the Isham Family Farm on Oak Hill Road. (Observer photos by Al Frey)

[Read more...]

POPCORN: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1” Undernourished

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2 popcorns

2 popcorns

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1”

Undernourished

2 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

 

Perhaps it’s happened to you…the feeling you get at a party given by folks you don’t know very well, where it seems like everyone but you knows something…maybe a secret or some life philosophy, and you never got the memo. There are few more discomfiting circumstances than being wont to wonder, is it me or them that’s amiss? But, admittedly dear reader, this is how director Francis Lawrence’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1” taunts me and upends all that I thought I knew about film. I don’t get it. [Read more...]

Recipe Corner: Leftovers recipes

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By Ginger Isham

I do hope all who traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday had safe travels. Last year, David and I began the tradition of going out for dinner so our children could begin to establish their own traditions. We have family day every week here on the farm. I do miss the leftovers, however.

Oatmeal Cranberry Cheesecake Bars
2 cups flour (can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup for whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 cups quick oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (3/4 cup or part oil might do)
12 ounces soft cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 16-ounce can whole cranberry sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch
Mix flour, oatmeal and brown sugar, and cut in butter. Save 1 1/2 cups and press rest into a 9 x 13 inch greased baking dish. Bake 15 minutes in 350-degree oven. Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, juice and vanilla. Spread over baked crust. Mix cranberries and cornstarch. Spoon over the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle saved flour mix over all. Bake 35 minutes at 350. [Read more...]

Personal tech products designed specifically for seniors

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By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend any tablets, smartphones or computers that are specifically designed for seniors? I would like to buy a device for my technology-challenged grandmother so she can get online and keep up with her grandkids better, but it needs to be super simplified so she can use it.
—Holiday Shopper

Dear Shopper,
There are actually several new tech products on the market today that are designed specifically for older boomers and seniors that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with technology.
These devices come equipped with simplified software, big, vivid features, less clutter and better customer support packages, which makes them more appealing and much easier to use than mainstream devices. Here are several top senior-friendly options to look into. [Read more...]

Older driver safety awareness week

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By Greg Smith
Our bodies experience physical and mental changes as we age. Some may be so minor that we hardly notice, while others may interfere with daily life. The following tips will help you cope with these transformations and hold onto your driving freedom.
Physical Ability
It is important to meet with a doctor and get a physical exam to identify any changes that [Read more...]