May 25, 2016

The HUB: Factory store latest dream of local entrepreneur

Observer photo by Al Frey David Glickman in front of one of the machines at Vermont Butcher Block and Board Company’s newly opened factory store, on Boyer Circle in Williston.

Observer photo by Al Frey
David Glickman in front of one of the machines at Vermont Butcher Block and Board Company’s newly opened factory store, on Boyer Circle in Williston.

Vermont Butcher Block & Board Co. opens doors

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

When David Glickman, the owner of Vermont Butcher Block & Board Company, moved to this state, he was giving up the kind of Manhattan-centric lifestyle that to some sounds just like the dream of “making it.”

Working as a pharmaceutical project manager, he and his wife faced raising their first child in the city he grew up near as a suburban kid in Montvale, N.J. A switch flipped for them, he said. And he was sick of the suits. [Read more…]

Health Connect insurers seek price hikes

File photo by Morgan True/ VTDigger Al Gobelle is chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board which regulates how much insurance companies charge as one of its core functions.

File photo by Morgan True/ VTDigger
Al Gobelle is chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board which regulates how much insurance companies charge as one of its core functions.

By Erin Mansfield

For Vermont Digger

The two health insurance companies that sell through Vermont Health Connect are asking to increase what they charge for insurance plans by more than 8 percent each.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is seeking increases averaging 8.2 percent starting Jan. 1. MVP Health Care wants to raise its price for the same period by 8.8 percent.

The companies submitted the requests May 11 to the Green Mountain Care Board, which regulates how much the companies charge on the exchange as one of its core functions. [Read more…]

New CSSU School Board vote June 7

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

Next month, five residents of Williston will be running in a special election for the town’s allotted school board seats in a district that doesn’t yet exist. The proposal, for a merged school district, which will be put out to voters to approve or reject on June 7, whittles down the total number of board members from nine across three different boards, to four members on just one board.

Each of the five hopeful board members, who are running for the spots—the only contested seat is the sole four-year term — already have a role, acting as ambassadors to the school districts that currently exist. With the approval of a merger, all their terms would end when the Williston School District local board dissolves, on July 1, 2017. [Read more…]

Maple Tree Place quietly listed for sale

Dallas firm looking at acquiring the site

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

The sprawling retail complex of Maple Tree Place is up for sale, a spokesperson from its Illinois-based owners confirmed last week.

A public listing for the commercial property is not available however, because as Kim Freely, a vice president at Retail Properties of America, Inc. (RPAI) noted, information on the property listing “is only being shared with those who have signed a confidentiality agreement.”

“I can confirm that it has been listed in the market,” said Freely by email, but neither she nor a local property manager would provide further information. “I apologize.” [Read more…]

Williston homebrewer sweeps in state meet

Observer courtesy photo Aaron Ritchie, a Williston resident, swept a state homebrewing competition last month, winning nine awards for his ciders and beers, including Best in Show.

Observer courtesy photo
Aaron Ritchie, a Williston resident, swept a state homebrewing competition last month, winning nine awards for his ciders and beers, including Best in Show.

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

A Williston-based homebrewer and beer connoisseur won nine awards and finished “Best in Show” at the annual Green Mountain Mashers tournament, held last month in Westford.

Aaron Ritchie, who lives in Southridge and works for IBM, was bestowed with more awards than any other contestant at the Greg Noonan Memorial Homebrew Competition on April 30, winning nine prizes in total and two of the top all-show awards, Best in Show and the Vermont Pub and Brewery Brewmaster’s cup. He also won Cidermaker of the Year and two first-prize selections in their category: first place for the Strong Ale category for his Old English Ale, and first place in the Specialty Cider and Perry category for a hard cider aged on bourbon oak. [Read more…]

Schools’ new early release policy ignites firestorm

School board criticized for short notice

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

A change in the school schedules for the 2016-17 school year will send kindergarteners through eighth graders home an hour early every Tuesday. High school students will have a later arrival time every Wednesday.

The move, which was approved 4-1 by the Williston School Board on April 26, aims to provide improved, ongoing in-service training for public school teachers year-round, but it has ignited a firestorm from parents in recent weeks, after the coming year’s school calendar was published and the details emerged. [Read more…]

State buys up Route 2A land for Circ alternative

Observer photo by Jess Wisloski Norman Boyden shows his yard on Essex Road, which will be turned into a part of Route 2A.

Observer photo by Jess Wisloski
Norman Boyden shows his yard on Essex Road, which will be turned into a part of Route 2A.

Construction start still in the air

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

The traffic backing up along Essex Road during rush hour might be a thing of the past as early as 2018.

Transportation officials for the state confirmed last week that purchases and easements for 25 properties along the state highway have begun. It’s an early step in the process of adding turning lanes, a full-time traffic signal and widening the roadway to ease traffic congestion in the area.

“At this stage, we just have our plans recorded and the documents related to the pieces of property we’ve purchased,” said Chris Hunt, a Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) right-of-way manager.

The work on Route 2A is the primary Williston improvement to come out of the first phase of plans that were proposed by the Circ Alternatives Task Force back in 2013. The task force, which was made up of representatives from former Circ communities Williston, Essex, Essex Junction and Colchester convened over several years aiming to find traffic-relief alternatives after the completion of the Circumfrential Highway was quashed in the spring of 2011. [Read more…]