October 25, 2014

Savvy Senior: What to consider when choosing a walk-in bathtub


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

I’m interested in getting a walk-in bathtub for my wife that’s easy for her to get into and out of, but could use some assistance. Can you offer any consumer tips? 

—Need Help

Dear Need,

A walk-in bathtub is a great option for seniors with mobility problems who have trouble getting in and out of a traditional tub. But with so many options available today, choosing one can be challenging. Here are a few tips that can help.

Walk-in bathtubs are specialty products that have a watertight, hinged door built into the side of the tub that provides a much lower threshold to step over (usually 3 to 7 inches) versus a standard tub that’s around 15 inches.

In addition to the low threshold, most walk-in tubs also have a built-in seat, grab bars, anti-slip floors and a handheld showerhead. And many higher-end models offer therapeutic spa-like features that are great for seniors with arthritis and other ailments.

The kind of walk-in tub you choose will depend on the size and layout of your bathroom, your wife’s needs and preferences, and your budget. Prices for a good walk-in tub typically run between $3,000 and $10,000 installed. Here are some other things you should know.

Quality check

The best walk-in bathtubs on the market today are made in the USA. Also, make sure the company you choose has a lifetime “leak-proof” door seal warranty and lengthy warranties on both the tub and the operating system.

Tub size

While walk-in bathtubs vary in shape and size, most models have high-walls (three feet or higher), are 26 to 32 inches wide, and will fit into the same 60-inch long space as your standard tub without having to reconfigure the room. If the walk-in tub doesn’t quite fit your old bathtub space, extension kits are available to ensure a good fit.

Door options

Most walk-in tubs have an inward opening door, but if your wife uses a wheelchair or is a large person, an outward opening door may be a better option because they’re easier to enter and exit. But, be aware that because these doors swing out, they require more bathroom space.

One other style to consider is the “rising-wall” bathtub made by Kohler, which sits about two feet off the ground and has a side panel that slides up and down. These tubs can be entered from a seated position, which makes it a nice option for wheelchair users.

Tub type

Most companies offer several different types of walk-in tubs. The most basic type is a soaker tub, or you can get a therapeutic tub that offers either whirlpool water jets or bubble massage air jets, or a combination of the two.

Fast fill and drain

One drawback to using a walk-in bathtub is that the bather must sit in the tub as it fills and drains, which can make for a chilly experience. To help with this, choose a tub that has fast-filling faucets and pump-assisted drainage systems, which significantly speeds up the process.

Where to shop

While there are many companies that make, sell and install walk-in bathtubs, some of the best in the industry are Safe Step (safesteptub.com, 800-346-6616), Premier (premiercarebathing.com, 800-934-7614), American Standard (americanstandard.com, 866-423-0800) and Jacuzzi (jacuzzi.com, 800-288-4002). Many big box retailers like Lowes, Home Depot and Sears sell walk-in bathtubs, too.

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover walk-in bathtubs, but many companies offer financing with monthly payment plans.

To get started, contact a few companies who will send a local dealer to your home to assess your bathroom, and give you product options and estimates for free.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Living Green: Wood options let Vermonters ‘heat local’

Vermont Wood Pellet Company's premium wood pellets are made using pulp-grade pine logs that might otherwise go to waste.

Vermont Wood Pellet Company’s premium wood pellets are made using pulp-grade pine logs that might otherwise go to waste.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

To Vermonters gearing up for the big fat bills that come with heating their homes in the winter, it comes as no surprise that heating accounts for 50 percent of a Vermont home’s energy use.

Wood-powered heat can help defray heating costs, add coziness to the long winters and keep heating dollars in state.

“Everyone’s heard of the eat local movement,” said Adam Sherman, manager at the Biomass Energy Resource Center at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. “We’re starting the heat local movement.”

With wood heat options, you get a local fuel. Along with Vermont grown, harvested and sold cordwood, the state has one wood pellet mill, Vermont Wood Pellet Company in North Clarendon.

Vermont Wood Pellet Company has “Heat Local” printed on every one of its bags, said President and CEO Chris Brooks.

The company employs 24 Vermonters at its mill. It works with more than 50 local loggers and truckers, and gets all its wood from a 30-mile radius. Altogether, that 30-mile radius generates about $3.5 million a year, and that money stays in the state, Brooks said.

“Those are funds that go to the local community, they’re not going out of the community,” Brooks said. “It’s a really cool local model that works.”

More than that, heat is critical during Vermont’s bitter winters.

“We’re in this to keep people warm. That’s important and it’s a visceral thing…if you don’t have heat you don’t survive here,” said Brooks, adding that when many Vermonters experienced a shortfall of pellets last year, the employees in his mill put in extra hours to churn out more pellets.

“It’s local taking care of local.”

Not so with oil.

“Every dollar you spend on oil, you’re sending 80 cents out of the state economy,” Sherman said.

In addition to being local, wood heat is cost-effective.

“It’s about half the expense of oil or gas prices,” said Center Merrill, president of The Stove Depot, a stove dealer with four locations in Vermont.

When comparing fuel prices, the unit of measurement is the cost per million BTU of combustion.

Since prices—especially that of oil—is constantly in flux, it can be difficult to determine heating costs. But working from an estimate of $4 per gallon for fuel oil and $2.75 per gallon for propane, the fuel costs an average of $40 per million BTU of delivered heat.

A woodstove or pellet stove provides heat at $20-$22 per million BTU.

Steve Hedges, manager at Stove & Flag Works in Williston, has a simple reason to invest in a stove.

“If you want to be warmer,” he said. “A lot of people on propane are always turning the thermostat down, and they’re always cold. It’s really tough for some people.”

“You get a warmth you don’t with gas and oil,” Merrill said. “It’s instant spot heat right there.”


Woodstoves are by far the most common option in Vermont.

“Woodstoves will always be the king in Vermont, I believe,” Hedges said.

Combustion conditions are variable in a woodstove—it depends on how much wood you stuff into it and how dry that wood is—but the woodstove industry has seen vast improvements in the past 20 or 30 years, Sherman said.

Vermonters can make their woodstoves more efficient by keeping them burning hot enough to completely burn the wood and combustion gases.

Efficiency Vermont recommends consulting your stove manufacturer for the recommended temperature. You can purchase a woodstove temperature gauge that shows when your stove has reached that recommended temperature.

Hedges said the woodstoves his store carries cost between $1,000 and $3,000. Depending on what equipment you already have in your home, installation costs could climb to $600 or more.

Firewood costs can vary widely, depending on the supply available and type of wood. Last year’s long, frigid winter means that wood is more scarce this year—and inevitably costlier. High demand has driven prices north of $300 a cord, and many purveyors can’t keep up with requests. Hedges said he’s seeing wood prices climb each year, reaching about $350.

Green wood is the cheapest at $250-$300 a cord, but requires some planning ahead, since it should be stored in a dry place for two years before it is burned. Seasoned wood will run $275-$375 per cord, while premium kiln-dried wood will set you back $375 to $410 a cord.

Even with the price of wood climbing, a woodstove will offset the cost of propane or oil heat, as well as provide an electricity-free source of heat if a storm knocks out power in the winter, Hedges said.

As a rough estimate, a woodstove could save the average Vermont homeowner $1,500 or more a winter, Sherman said.

“That’s a two-year simple payback,” Sherman said, assuming a woodstove cost $3,000 to install.

Not to mention the payback on the cozy nights spent around a cheerily burning woodstove.


Pellets stoves are taking great leaps in popularity, and proponents point to efficiency, savings and ease of use.

“It has been and continues to be the lowest cost method of heating,” Brooks said of wood pellets. “It’s the same price right now as pipeline natural gas, but we always supply the last mile.”

A pellet stove stores 40 to 50 pounds of wood pellets in a hopper below the stove, which an augur brings up into a combustion chamber. Fans blow air into the chamber, then blow the hot air into the room. Gases are vented outside through a direct vent, no chimney is required.

While the stoves can be lit manually, they often only require the push of a button to start up, or can be fully automated and controlled by thermostat.

“(Pellet stoves) have just increased in popularity so much over the last especially five years,” Hedges said. “You don’t have to build a chimney, there’s automatic ignition, you’re still burning a wood product instead of petroleum products… the appliance may cost you more, but the benefits are quite rewarding.”

Both Sherman and Hedges have pellet stoves in their homes. Hedges said the pellet stove is easier to use than a woodstove—he used to cut, haul and split his own wood—and he has seen his heating bills plummet.

Sherman installed his when he bought a home in Richmond nine years ago.

“With one little stove we heat our entire house,” he said, adding that the family only uses its propane central boiler for domestic hot water.

“Many people say stoves are just for supplemental heating, but it depends on the house. We like the fact that it’s a little warmer in the living room and a little colder upstairs where we sleep,” he said.

A typical pellet stove costs between $1,500 and $4,000 to purchase and install, depending on the model.

“With my home, with a $2,500 investment and the fuel savings, the payback was less than three years,” Sherman said.

While slightly more expensive to install, pellet stoves are more efficient than woodstoves.

“Pellet systems are quite efficient,” Sherman said. “It’s a controlled fuel, regulated, all sensor-based and automatic.”

The quality of wood pellets is variable, but Brooks said a ton of his pellets packs the same heating punch as 125 gallons of fuel oil or 1.5 cords of wood. The average household would need between three and four tons of pellets to heat its home for the winter. At $270-$290 a ton, that’s $810 to $1,160 for the year.

As of late October, Energy Co-op of Vermont was charging between $249 and $274 per ton for pickup, and $289-$314 for delivery.

Pellets are also sustainable, using wood chips, sawdust or pulp-grade wood that might otherwise go to waste.

Many Vermonters seem to be catching on to the benefits of pellets—Vermont Pellet Company’s 2014 supply is sold out, and they’ve sold out each year for the past four years.

“The challenge is in matching the demand for the product, which from my perspective is a bad thing,” he said. “I would love to see other mills open up.”

The company’s permit is to produce 18,000 tons a year—about what its wood recharge area can sustain.

“At this point, if we are to provide more pellets, our job is to build another mill, which we are looking at,” he said.

Hedges said he tells his customers to get in the habit of buying pellets in the spring or summer to make sure they have a supply.


“There have been a lot of really exciting advancements in centralized wood heating for homes, and more and more people are using high efficiency, clean-burning boilers,” Sherman said.

Like an oil-powered boiler, a cordwood or pellet boiler heats a water tank that stores thermal energy, distributing it to the home via baseboard heating or radiators.

A pellet boiler works exactly like an oil-powered boiler—you can get a bulk delivery in a tanker truck, filling a container attached to the system that automatically fills the boiler.

“Pellets have become exactly like heating oil or propane,” Sherman said. “A truck drives around and makes deliveries and the homeowner never touches the fuel.”

Like a propane or oil-powered boiler system, the temperature is controlled through a thermostat.

“The entire system is completely automated,” Sherman said. “It works exactly the same, it just uses a different fuel source.”

A wood-powered system also provides a homeowner’s hot water.

“I would love to no longer be burning fuel to do showers,” Sherman said. “If back then I had the option, I would have put in a pellet boiler system. It can cover the heating and hot water.”

A pellet boiler system will set you back between $10,000 and $25,000.

“It’s very expensive, but they’re extremely efficient and clean burning,” Sherman said.

The more expensive models also come with an extra water storage tank, providing more thermal storage and an even more efficient process, since the system has to start up and burn pellets less frequently.

A cordwood boiler works similarly, but must be manually operated.

They are also less expensive to install, costing between $5,000 and $12,000.

Cordwood boilers should have a thermal buffer tank, which stores thermal energy—meaning you don’t need to keep a fire going at an inefficient and less clean constant smolder. Instead, you burn a fire hot and fast every couple days, and store that heat.

“It’s less labor intensive and dramatically more efficient and cleaner burning,” Sherman said.

Of course, saving money on heat won’t do too much good unless you make sure the hot air isn’t leaking out of your home. Efficiency Vermont recommends completing a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR project.

Vermont International Film Festival opens Friday

A still from the Vermont International Film Festival's opening film, 'We Are the Best!'

A still from the Vermont International Film Festival’s opening film, ‘We Are the Best!’

The 2014 Vermont International Film Festival, held Oct. 24 through Nov. 2 in downtown Burlington, features more than 90 screenings, special events, receptions and filmmaker events. Events take place at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center in the Film House and Black Box Theater. Lunchtime screenings are at The BCA Center on Church Street and additional screenings and events will happen at Skinny Pancake, ArtsRiot and Signal Kitchen. Full information about all film and events can be found at www.vtiff.org.

For most screenings, tickets are $10, $8 for seniors and $5 for children and students. A Festival Gold Pass is also available for $120, which gains access to most films and events, and VTIFF members gain discounted or free access to films and events. 

2014 Festival Highlights 

Festival Kickoff Film & Event: ‘We Are The Best!’

The festival starts with a bang, Friday, Oct. 24 with a screening of the Swedish film “We Are The Best!” This film has been winning the hearts of critics and audiences all over the world, ending up on numerous 10 best lists this year. Director Lukas Moodysson creates an invigorating portrait of teenage punk—that boisterous, rambunctious energy that’s re-fueled anew by each generation’s sense of righteous passion, impatient desire for independence and uneasy brew of angst, anger and ambition. “We Are the Best!” is a delightfully vivacious experience, brimming with infectious humanism, which perfectly captures the irrepressible spirit of youthful rebellion.

An opening night party at Skinny Pancake at 8:30 p.m. will follow the screening. 

Norman McLaren And Steve Woloshen Retrospective 

On Saturday, Nov. 1 at 3:30 p.m. in the Main Street Landing Film House, there will be a special anniversary screening to honor world-renowned Academy Award winning filmmaker/animator Norman McLaren on the 100th anniversary of his birth featuring Steves Woloshen, considered a McLaren disciple and respected and admired for scratch animation films in his own right. McLaren came to Canada from Scotland in 1941 to work at the National Film Board, where he was asked to form its animation department and where he developed his technique of drawing directly on film stock. Woloshen will present a selection of his favorite McLaren shorts and some of his own. 

‘20,000 Days on Earth’ and Gala Closing Party at Signal Kitchen 

Saturday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in MSL Film House, join festival-goers for the closing night film, “20,000 Days on Earth” — a bold vision of one of music’s most mysterious and charismatic figures: Nick Cave. In their debut feature, directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard fuse drama and documentary by weaving a cinematically staged day in Cave’s life with never-before-seen cinéma vérité observations of his full creative cycle. This screening will be followed by a closing party at 8:30 p.m. at Signal Kitchen in Burlington, celebrating the season two premiere of the Vermont PBS series “Makin’ Friends with Ryan Miller.” Miller, lead singer of Guster and host of the show, will sing songs about friends with his friends in Swale. A set by Swale will follow. 

Family-Friendly Films

A special selection curated for the whole family, weekends at 11 a.m. at Main Street Landing Film House. 

“The Boy And The World” (“O Menino E O Mundo”), Saturday, Oct. 25: Brazillian director Alê Abreu’s beautifully rendered, dialogue-free film is an emotionally resonant, visually enthralling, utterly charming tale perfectly suited for audiences of all ages.

“Ragnarok,” Sunday Oct. 26: Ragnarok sits on the same summit as many of the best adventure films of the 1980s. It steers clear of the trappings of modern family fare—just great storytelling, acting and adventure.

“Zip & Zap And The Marble Gang,” Saturday Nov. 1: “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang” explores themes of friendship, courage and acceptance, and is a wonderful addition to the children’s adventure film genre.

VTIFF After Dark

A series of three genre films presented at ArtsRiot on Pine Street at 10 p.m. 

“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” Sunday Oct. 26: Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour’s first feature has been described as a “Middle Eastern feminist vampire romance,” but it’s much more than that. 

“Honeymoon,” Tuesday Oct. 28: This taut and smoldering horror story’s strength comes from two incredible performances that will leave you gutted. 

“Life After Beth,” Thursday Oct. 30: Writer-director Jeff Baena unearths a fresh and hilarious take on zombies, bringing together an all-star comedy cast including Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon and Anna Kendrick. 

Special Event: The Cold War On Film 

England film historian and television producer Taylor Downing will introduce a special screening of “Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (screening as part of the festival Sunday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.) to mark the 50th anniversary of the film and will talk about the making of the film. As a separate event, he will present “The Cold War: The Wall Comes Down” (Monday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at Champlain College), part of Turner Broadcasting System’s landmark 24-part TV series.  

Film Panels 

Bodies In Action: Sunday, Oct. 26, Main Street Landing Black Box Theater A panel of dancers will speak following the 1:30 p.m. screening of “Born To Fly,” documentary film about action-obsessed choreographer Elizabeth Streb.  

Civil Liberties, or how to obtain information: Saturday, Oct. 26, Main Street Landing Film House  Panel follows the 2 p.m. screening of “Informants,” a unique look at FBI informants themselves, highlighting the crucial role they played in actively enlisting young men who never demonstrated any inclinations toward violence.  

Vermont Filmmaker’s Showcase 

The Vermont Filmmakers Showcase brings 13 films this year to The Main Street Landing Black Box Theater, presented by the filmmakers. These films showcase a diverse and talented group of local filmmakers, and demonstrate the passion and dedication that is present in Vermont for filmmaking. Films will be selected for The James Goldstone Award, the Ben & Jerry’s Award, the Footage Farm USA Award, VCAM Audience Favorite Award and VTIFF Awards for Best Film, Best Screenwriting and Best Acting. Each film screens for free, donations are accepted for VTIFF. See www.vtiff.org for film schedule. 

Around Town


Rec Department hosts community pumpkin carving

The Williston Parks & Recreation Department is hosting a free community pumpkin carving night on Friday, Oct. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Williston Central School Cafeteria. Carvers can come dressed up or not and should bring their own pumpkin. Volunteers and staff will help you carve a masterpiece. Free pizza will be provided by Williston House of Pizza while supplies last. Refreshments and goodie bags for kids will also be available. For more information, email [email protected] or call 878-1239.

Sock drive at Lenny’s

In an effort to support Vermont’s homeless population this winter, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel is holding a sock drive now through Christmas. Socks are being collected at Lenny’s four stores, including the Williston location, and will be donated to adults, children and babies served by COTS at Christmastime. The sock drive is the result of a joint effort between Lenny’s and Zoe Lawrence, a CCV student from Central Vermont.

Alzheimer’s Association wins grant

The Williston-based Alzheimer’s Association, Vermont Chapter was among nine local nonprofit organizations to be awarded a total of $17,678 in Small and Inspiring grants from the Vermont Community Foundation for local projects this spring and summer. One of a number of staff-directed competitive grant rounds at the Foundation, the Small and Inspiring program funds work that helps connect people to their neighbors, their land and their history in ways that strengthen the fabric of the community. Community Foundation fundholders partnered with the Foundation in making the grants, which typically range from $250 to $2,500. Visit vermontcf.org to learn more. Nonprofits interested in applying for a Small and Inspiring grant are encouraged to visit vermontcf.org/availablegrants for more information. There is one remaining round of Small and Inspiring for 2014, with a deadline Dec. 1. The association received $2,000 to support “The New Normal,” a community-building initiative centered on social events and activities that unite and empower people living with early Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Williston schools recognized for culture and climate


Observer staff report

Allen Brook School and Williston Central School were among 11 schools statewide recognized as “exemplar schools” for the 2013-14 school year by Vermont’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports team.

It is Allen Brook’s second time on the list.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, known as PBIS, is a school-wide, systems approach to improving social and academic competence for all students. School staff, administrators and family members work together to create positive and safe learning environments by teaching and supporting behavior expectations in all school settings.

PBIS is not a curriculum, intervention or practice. It is the behavior component of a multi-tiered system of supports framework that uses data to guide selection, integration and implementation of the best evidence-based practices for improving social and academic outcomes for all learners. At the foundation of this system is high-quality instruction and clear, positive feedback for all learners.

Vermont’s PBIS is now in the seventh year of implementation. Thirty-nine percent of Vermont schools are implementing the system in 81 percent of the state’s supervisory unions/supervisory districts.

The exemplar schools were recognized Oct. 7 at the annual Vermont PBIS Leadership Forum.

“To receive this acknowledgement, these schools show evidence of implementation fidelity and demonstrate that sustained implementation has had positive effects on learners’ academic and behavioral performance,” according to a press release. “VTPBiS Exemplar Schools demonstrate a significant commitment on the part of staff and the recognition that school culture and climate contributes to the overall success for all learners.”

Fatal accident in Williston


Observer staff report

Police are investigating the cause of an accident that killed a Williston man last week.

The Williston Police Department responded to the Oct. 16 accident at approximately 2:30 p.m. A car left Williston Road at the top of French Hill and hit a tree. The driver, Michael G. Walker, 69, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said it appears he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Any witnesses to the accident are asked to contact Sgt. Brian Claffy at 878-6611.

Haunted Forest brings spooky thrills to Williston

Witches cast a spell during last season's Haunted Forest, a popular outdoor theater production. This year's event is Oct. 24-26 at the Catamount Family Center.

Witches cast a spell during last season’s Haunted Forest, a popular outdoor theater production. This year’s event is Oct. 24-26 at the Catamount Family Center.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

With Halloween growing closer, families and friends can take in spooky fun and frights at the annual Haunted Forest.

Each October, more than 400 volunteers—actors, costume designers, pumpkin carvers, technical crew and more—transform the trails at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center into a forbidding outdoor haunted house, complete with nearly a thousand jack-o-lanterns lining the paths.

The event will be held Oct. 24 – 26 at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston. Due to inclement weather, Haunted Forest staff canceled Thursday evening performances and moved them to Sunday evening.

This year’s theme is “Entering the Catamount Asylum.” Attendees get a creepy tour, complete with peeks at the work of doctors trying to cure patients of their fears—clowns, spiders, claustrophobia, dolls and more.

“There are some common fears as well as a couple not-so-common fears,” said organizer Katie Ballard.

The Haunted Forest has been running for 34 years, first at the Audubon Society in Huntington, then at Catamount since 2002. Favorite attractions return this year, including the 20-foot-tall animatronic Pumpkin King, Vortex Tunnel and Sindy Skinless and the Decomposers.

Organizers say the show focuses on a haunted Halloween, not horror. The shows are family-friendly, and a matinee on Saturday is geared toward children 8 and younger focused on helping Wizard Wartlekrunch find his lost staff.

“Our children’s matinee is really engaging and interactive,” Ballard said.

Multiple shows are held each night, as well as a kids’ matinee on Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Attendees are admitted into the Forest in groups of 20 to 25, then escorted through a series of spooky skits along the dark forest paths.

The evening shows cost $13 and the matinee is $9.

“People should come check out the Haunted Forest because it is a great way to support the volunteers that make it happen and to give back to the community,” Ballard said, noting that the Haunted Forest gives tickets to local organizations and seeks out other ways to support the community.

This year, it is giving out two $500 scholarships to Haunted Forest volunteers.

Ballard said the Haunted Forest also provides safe and alcohol-, drug- and violence-free fun for hundreds of volunteers and attendees.

“It’s all about being out in the woods and having fun, putting a product together that audiences are going to love,” she said.

For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.thehauntedforest.org. Tickets are also available at The Alpine Shop in South Burlington or Buttered Noodles on Harvest Lane in Williston.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 238-0923.

Macaig, McCullough running unopposed for Vermont House of Representatives



Terry Macaig (above) and Jim McCullough (below), are running unopposed to represent Williston in the Vermont House.

Jim McCullough

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston residents will see two familiar names on the ballot for representatives to the Vermont House on Election Day.

Terry Macaig and Jim McCullough, both Democrats, are running unopposed—a rarity in Williston.

There is typically good competition for House seats, said Town Clerk Deb Beckett. The last time there was an uncontested House race was 1978, when Republican Howard Lunderville held a seat. That was back when Williston had only 1,891 registered voters (773 of whom cast a vote for Lunderville)—less than a quarter of what it has now.

Macaig is running for his fourth term.

Though he has no competition this go round, he said his experience and years of town service make him fit for the task.

“While I’m sure I haven’t voted the way everyone wanted me to every time, I’ve done my best to try to represent the people in the town, and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.

Macaig, who has lived in Williston for 48 years, has also served 12 years on the Selectboard, the last nine as chairman. He is a justice of the peace, member of the Board of Civil Authority and president of the Williston Historical Society.

In his six years in the legislature, Macaig has served on the House Corrections and Institutions Committee.

“We’ve hopefully turned the curve around in corrections spending, saving some money by keeping people out of jail and having them serve time in their house or in a transition type of housing,” he said of his accomplishments in the committee.

He decided to run again because “there’s a lot of unfinished business that needs to be taken care of,” he said.

“I’ve been a proponent of health care reform, whether it’s going to be single payer or universal coverage or something else, something needs to happen,” he said.

He also listed property tax reform as a major task facing the legislature, as well as setting the state budget.

“In the years I’ve been there the budget has always been a problem,” he said. “Over the course of six years, we’ve had to reduce the budget by a couple million dollars. That’s not been easy and it’s not going to get any easier.”

McCullough is running for his seventh term.

A lifelong Williston resident, he co-founded the Catamount Outdoor Family Center and serves as a Justice of the Peace. He is a member of the Williston Historical Society and vice chairman of the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

McCullough said he wanted to thank voters for the trust they put in him 12 years ago when he first ran for the House.

“I hope that I have demonstrated a responsibility to that trust,” he said.

“I’m doing a good job and I love it,” he said when asked why he wants to run again. “That good job is not just for the town of Williston, but for the whole state, which every thinking legislator really does.”

Most recently, McCullough has worked to get groundwater preserved as a public trust.

“Now all Vermonters own the groundwater and there are restrictions on how much of it can be used by any one entity or person,” he said.

He also worked on other water quality issues, including a ban on hydraulic fracturing and the Shoreland Protection Act.

More broadly, he has been proud of his work for marriage equality and health care access.

Some of those same issues will be important in the next term, along with ones the legislature has been working on his entire tenure.

“We are today on the precipice of deciding whether or not we can afford to have universal health care, or you might say whether we can afford not to have something different than what we’ve got today.”

The education funding system is also a top issue.

“Twelve years ago, I agreed with people on their front porches that we needed to do something about our education financing program,” he said. “In 12 years, the legislature has not been able to come to grips with it and figure out how to make that work. There is, I believe, now the political will to do that, and I want to be a part of that.”

Voters will have the final say, though not many choices, at the polls on Nov. 4.

Jay Michaud leaving Selectboard


By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

After nearly four years on the Williston Selectboard and four decades in Williston, Jay Michaud is moving on.

Monday marked his last Selectboard meeting. Michaud, who grew up in Burlington and moved to Williston in 1973, is moving to North Carolina to take on the role of Delta Airlines general manager for the Wilmington International Airport.

“I’ve established deep roots and ties here,” Michaud said. “I’m a native guy, so this is kind of a scary thing for me to leave the state.”

Michaud, formerly Delta’s station manager at the Burlington International Airport, has been commuting to North Carolina since mid-August.

While he said he will miss “everything” about his home state, he’s a little less enthusiastic about Vermont’s winters, making this a good time to move. He’ll be less than 10 miles from two beaches.

“I guess the economics and the climate had a lot to do with it,” he said of his decision to take the North Carolina job.

Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig said the board has appreciated Michaud’s service.

“He’s been a good asset to us,” Macaig said. “The perspective from his business (experience) is one we might not have had otherwise…. We certainly wish him well in his new endeavors.”

Michaud joined the Selectboard in 2010. After working to start Champlain Valley Union High’s football program and a youth football program and planting more than 500 trees in Burlington, he had a remaining goal—“to serve the greater good,” he said.

“I thought the Selectboard was a good match for me,” he said.

After four years, he’s finally seeing some of the things the board worked for during his tenure come to fruition—grid streets in Taft Corners, bike paths and sidewalk continuations, the new public works facility. Crafting a responsible budget was also a major part of the task, though one Michaud said he enjoyed as “a numbers guy.”

Michaud thanked Williston residents for electing him to the board.

“I am just very humbled that the townsfolk elected me not once but twice,” he said. “I appreciate their support…. What a great opportunity it’s been for me and I hope I served them and represented them well.”

Michaud’s resignation is effective Oct. 31, but his term expires in March. The board opted to not fill the position, waiting for residents to vote in a new candidate at Town Meeting in March. The board could have appointed a candidate, but with advertising and interviews, the position likely would not have been filled until December, right in the middle of budget season, Macaig said.