December 19, 2014

Who should be screened for lung cancer?

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By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about lung cancer screenings? My husband was a long-time smoker, but quit many years ago, so I’m wondering if he should be checked out.
—Concerned Spouse

Dear Concerned,
According to recent recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—an independent panel of medical experts that advises the government on health policies—if your husband is between the ages of 55 and 80, is a current smoker or quit within the last 15 years, and has a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years, he’s at high risk for lung cancer and should talk to his doctor about getting screened.
Pack years are determined by multiplying the number of packs he smoked daily by the number of years he smoked.
You’ll also be happy to know that lung cancer screenings—which are recommended annually to those at risk—will be covered by all private health insurance plans starting in 2015, and Medicare is expected to begin coverage this February or March. The Medicare screening, however, will only cover high-risk beneficiaries through age 74.
Lung cancer kills around 160,000 Americans each year, making it the most deadly of all possible cancers. In fact, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
Lung cancer also occurs predominantly in older adults. About two out of every three people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, and the risk of lung cancer peaks at age 71.
Lung Cancer Screening
The goal of annual screenings is to detect cancer early before symptoms appear. The five-year survival rate among people with lung cancer when it’s caught in its earliest stage is 77 percent, versus only 4 to 25 percent for people whose cancer has spread.
To get screened for lung cancer, your husband will need a low-dose computed tomography (CT) chest scan, which is a painless, noninvasive test that generates detailed three-dimensional images of his lungs.
For the screening, he will be asked to lie on a table that slides through the center of a large, doughnut shaped scanner that rotates around him to take images. Each scan takes just a few seconds, during which time he’ll be asked to hold his breath, because movement can produce blurred images. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes from start to finish.
You also need to be aware that a lung CT screening has its downsides. First, it exposes you to some radiation—about the same as a mammography, but more that of a chest X-ray.
Lung CT screenings aren’t foolproof either. They can produce a high rate of false-positive results, which means they frequently detect small spots (abnormalities) on the lungs that are suggestive of cancer, but aren’t cancerous. These false alarms lead to more testing and sometimes lung biopsies, as well as unnecessary worry and anxiety.
Prevention
Because smoking causes 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, the best way to avoid lung cancer is to not smoke, and if you do smoke, quit. Even if you’ve been a smoker for a long time, quitting now still decreases your risk. Other factors that can increase the risk of lung cancer include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos and other toxic chemicals or fumes.
For more information on lung cancer screenings, call the American Lung Association at 800-586-4872, or use their online tool (LungCancerScreeningSavesLives.org), which will help you determine if your husband needs to be screened.

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

HUB Happenings

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NEFCU acquires Health One
New England Federal Credit Union of Williston announced last week that it has acquired Health One Credit Union, a financial institution serving communities in Michigan and Ohio. The acquisition, which was finalized on Dec. 12, makes Health One a division of NEFCU and adds more than 3,000 members and $15 million in assets to Vermont’s largest credit union.
NEFCU has more than 91,000 members and $1 billion in assets. The acquisition of Health One is part of NEFCU’s strategy to expand into new markets that provide opportunities for future growth.
Health One Credit Union serves employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Michigan, and Medical Mutual in Ohio, in addition to its community charter. The institution was placed into conservatorship in May 2014 by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, which together with the National Credit Union Administration managed Health One prior to the acquisition, according to John Dwyer, president and CEO of NEFCU.
“As a result of NCUA’s intervention, and following a thorough review by our own team, we have found Health One to be a worthwhile addition to NEFCU,” said Dwyer. “In order for us to continue to provide the types of services and technologies that our members have come to expect, it’s important that we look for opportunities for growth that are consistent with our strengths and our strategic goals. Expanding out of state through this acquisition is a sensible approach that will benefit members of both NEFCU and Health One.”

DEW, others honored
The Association of General Contractors of Vermont and the Vermont Independent Electrical Contractors Association held its 50th Annual Meeting and Best Builder Awards Ceremony on Dec. 2.
The AGC/VT Best Builder Award recipients were:
PC Construction Company for outstanding quality of work and effort in building, new construction category
Kingsbury Companies for outstanding quality of work and effort in specialty, new construction
DEW Construction Corp. for outstanding quality of work and effort in new building, heavy construction
J. P. Sicard Inc. for outstanding quality of work and effort in highway/utility renovation
ST Paving for outstanding innovations in road renovating constructing
Winterset, Inc. for outstanding quality of work and effort in highway, new construction
Bread Loaf Corp for outstanding quality of work and effort in historical renovation, construction

 

NEFCU DONATES TO WILLISTON COMMUNITY FOOD SHELF

Food Shelf donation 2014

Kyle Bergeron, Evelyn Rivera, and Sue Wainer from New England Federal Credit Union presented a “big check” for $2,500 to the Williston Community Food Shelf last month. On hand to accept the donation were Nancy Leonard, Lois Mason, Ginger Morton, Jen Selwah and Judy Smith.
The Williston Community Food Shelf is dedicated to eliminating hunger in the town of Williston. It is also the primary food shelf serving  St. George, Richmond and Essex. Its mission is to provide high-quality food to those in need in the community, and to connect community members and families with essential support services.
“The Williston Community Food Shelf is truly grateful to New England Federal Credit Union for its continued, very generous support. NEFCU makes a huge impact on our community and helping us fulfill our mission of feeding our hungry neighbors,” said Morton.

GROUPS release business conditions survey results
The Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic & Policy Resources recently announced the third quarter results of their joint initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey. The survey, which is conducted quarterly, takes a look back at the economic conditions of the previous quarter and provides a predictive index going forward.
The survey asked eight questions about the economic outlook, demand, capital spending and employment. Results include:
For the third quarter in a row, most responses to the overall question about the states business climate outlook were neutral to mildly optimistic
More than half of respondents (56 percent) shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring for available positions
For the third quarter in a row, the manufacturing sector had the most optimistic outlook (67 percent) on expected demand and employment

THE AUTOMASTER RENOVATES BMW SHOWROOM

Jonathan DeBrul, vice president of Automaster

Jonathan DeBrul, vice president of Automaster

The Automaster announced last week the commencement of a total renovation and expansion of its free-standing BMW showroom.
Deconstruction began on Nov. 24. The total renovation will include stripping the existing building down to the structural steel and rebuilding an updated showroom, with an expansion of 980 square feet of new showroom space to the existing footprint. Construction is scheduled for completion on April 20, 2015.
Merchants Trust Company announces hire, promotion
Merchants Trust Company recently announced two employee appointments.
Diane Kline joined Merchants Trust Company as personal investment officer. Kline brings an investment and client services background. She will be based at Merchants Bank’s South Hero branch.
Josh Jarvis was promoted to financial advisor I – trust.  Jarvis joined Merchants Bank in 2011 and has worked for more than a year with trust personal investment accounts.

MERCHANTS BANK HIRES WATSON
Merchants Bank recently announced Jonathan Watson has been hired for the position of audit director. Watson has over ten years of banking experience, including operations, retail and trust. He is a University of Vermont graduate and has earned the Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Fiduciary and Investment Risk Specialist designations.
POWELL WINS POWER-GEN 2014 WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
GMP recently announced that President and CEO Mary Powell was named Power-Gen 2014 Woman of the Year. Judges selected Powell because of how she has advanced the power generation industry, the positive impact she has made on her community and her leadership.
“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by our industry for the work that is happening in Vermont.  It is truly a gift to get to work every day with an incredible team focused on developing innovative solutions for our customers and communities.  Energy can be transformational in moving customers and society to a more secure and environmentally sound future, and we are determined to lead the way,” Powell said.

BURLINGTON COLLEGE BOARD APPOINTS MOORE AS INTERIM PRESIDENT
The Burlington College Board of Trustees recently appointed Dr. Carol Moore as interim president. The Board and Moore met with faculty, staff, and students in a town hall meeting.
Moore has spent more than 40 years advancing the educational experience—as a professor, an academic dean and most recently, as the former president of Lyndon State College. During her tenure, she successfully led the college through a revision of the mission through strategic planning, increased enrollment and retention, grew academic programs, and completed the college’s first major capital campaign raising $10 million.
“I am fully confident that Carol is capable of moving the College towards the goals of financial stability, enrollment growth, and a bright future.” said board chair Yves Bradley.

Batchelder tapped for head game warden position
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has announced that Lt. Jason Batchelder has been named the new director of fish and wildlife law enforcement. Batchelder will begin the role of Colonel this week, filling the position vacated by Col. David LeCours, who retired in October.

Batchelder has been with the department for 10 years, working most recently in the Morrisville area, first as a field warden and then as the lieutenant for the northeast district since 2013.

ANEW PLACE WELCOMES NEW DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING DIRECTOR
ANEW Place announced the addition of Jeff Walton as development & marketing director. Walton recently held the role of director of development for the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. Prior to that, he was major gift officer, annual giving manager and visiting assistant professor (and men’s soccer coach) at Paul Smith’s College.
“Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge around fundraising, marketing, and community engagement,” says Valerie Brosseau, Executive Director. “His experience and commitment to our mission make him a wonderful addition to our leadership team. We’re thrilled to have Jeff on board at this pivotal time following our recent rebranding, as we find new ways of working with the community to support this important work.”

UVM MEDICAL CENTER AWARDED
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America have chosen The University of Vermont Medical Center to receive the 2014 “Partnership in Prevention Award” for achieving sustainable improvements in eliminating healthcare-associated infections. It is the only healthcare organization in the nation to receive the award.
“This prestigious award is one of several recent affirmations of our commitment to providing the safest possible care to each patient,” said John Brumsted president and CEO of The University of Vermont Medical Center, and The University of Vermont Health Network. “I couldn’t be more proud of our dedicated providers and hundreds of other staff who have made us a national model for advancing evidenced-based practice in reducing healthcare-associated infections.”

COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS OF BURLINGTON’S DENTAL CENTER ANNOUNCES NEW STAFF
The Community Health Centers of Burlington Dental Center recently announced the following new dental providers:
Untray Brown is a new pediatric dentist. Brown has 15 years of experience caring for children with complex medical conditions and extensive dental disease at the hospital.
David Jette grew up in St. Albans and received his Dental degree at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in Buffalo, N.Y. He served two years as a general dentist in Richford and Swanton for the Northern Tier Center for Health.
Jennifer L. Logigian is a graduate of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health in Mesa, Ariz. and completed a General Practice Residency at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston.
Rian Stewart attended dental school at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, where he graduated with honors in 2008. Stewart has worked five years as a dentist in private practice, and has a particular interest in pediatric dentistry and global healthcare training and service.

FOCUS ON FILM AND THE GREEN MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCE NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The non-profit, FOCUS ON FILM, announces its hire of a new executive director for the Green Mountain Film Festival. The non-profit hired Rachelle Murphy, a Berlin resident and recent masters of art graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design, on Sept. 1. Murphy coordinated the 2014 festival in Montpelier.
Murphy comes with television and film production credentials, two film degrees, ties to Los Angeles and New York City, and a close relationships with prestigious filmmakers and other film festivals around the country.

AGENCY OF AG’S MARCKRES RECOGNIZED FOR OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP
Henry Marckres accepted his award from Dave Chapeskie, executive director of the IMSI (left) and Yvon Poitras, president of the IMSI.
Henry Marckres, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s consumer protection chief and resident maple syrup expert was awarded the prestigious Lynn Reynolds Award for Leadership in the Maple Industry at the annual meeting of the North American Maple Syrup Council and the International Maple Syrup Institute. Established in 1999 in honor of long-time IMSI supporter and director, Lynn Reynolds, the prestigious award is bestowed annually on a worthy IMSI member in recognition of outstanding leadership in the International Maple Syrup Industry.

ELMERGREEN JOINS TWINCRAFT SKINCARE
Twincraft Skincare recently welcomed Bob Elmergreen as the company’s newest director of business development. Hailing from the Midwest, Bob worked as a sales representative for more than 10 years. Shortly after re-locating to New England with Vans Footwear, he accepted a newly created role at Burton Snowboards as the resort channel sales manager before making the move to Twincraft.

MOWERY, ANTONIVICH JOIN DUBOIS & KING
DuBois & King consulting engineers announceD that Shawn Mowery has rejoined the firm as a systems administrator. Mowery brings 20 years of experience providing IT systems administration and management for Internet service providers, schools and financial institutions.
The company also announced that Jacqui Antonivich has joined the firm as an administrative assistant. Antonivich brings more than 20 years of experience providing bookkeeping, customer service, web design and administrative services for architectural, interior design, textile, recreational equipment and healthcare firms, as well as education.

New business brings passion for premium wood

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The Tree House staff (from left) Jeremy Ravelin, Lucas Jenson and Carl Farnsworth hold a slab or black walnut.  (Observer photo by Stephanie Choate)

The Tree House staff (from left) Jeremy Ravelin, Lucas Jenson and Carl Farnsworth hold a slab or black walnut.
(Observer photo by Stephanie Choate)

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
A group of passionate woodworkers has set up a new shop for their fellow enthusiasts.
The Tree House provides materials and custom mill work for professional woodworkers, as well as hobbyists.
“I look at this business as an enabler for all of the talented craftsmen out there, whether they are basement weekend warrior types or professional woodworkers,” said owner and Williston resident Lucas Jenson. “We are here to support them with materials that are easily accessible at fair prices, with great service, as well as knowledge and passion.”
The Tree House sells both native and exotic high-end hardwood lumber, hardwood plywood and live-edge slabs.
“These are basically cross-sections of trees,” Jenson said. “They go from one edge of the bark to the other. They are big pieces with a lot of character…. They make beautiful tables and benches. They’re really unique, signature pieces.”
The retail shop, located on Route 2A behind Enterprise Rent-a-Car in South Burlington, opened Dec. 1. Soon, Jenson and his coworkers plan to open a mill shop, selling higher-end finished cabinetry and pieces, as well as offering custom work.
While Jenson doesn’t envision creating finished furniture pieces, they can custom-mill countertops, trim work and more—giving woodworkers a head start on their projects.
Jenson teamed up with Jeremy Ravelin and Carl Farnsworth, longtime industry insiders.
“Jeremy runs the mill shop,” Jenson said. “He’s a very accomplished woodworker. Jeremy’s passion really lies with working with hand tools.”
“Carl has worked in the lumber industry for 20 years,” Jenson said, “He has great experience.”
Jenson, a New Hampshire native, took a class on furniture building and cabinetry after college.
“I really fell in love with woodworking,” Jenson said. “My father is a lifelong do-it-yourselfer, so it’s sort of in my blood.”
So, he bought a table saw—which he stored in the dining room of his apartment and dragged onto the deck for projects.
He and his wife moved to Burlington, then Williston, where he worked in marketing until decided to get out from behind a desk and back into woodworking. He ran a construction company for nearly 10 years before opening The Tree House.
“I’m really excited about this and the opportunity to get back in touch with what I loved about working with wood—finished carpentry and cabinetry, furniture building, the really nice stuff, not the bones behind the wall,” Jenson said.
Jenson encouraged anyone with an interest in wood to stop by.
“We have a large inventory of high quality products, we have a skilled knowledgeable, passionate and friendly staff, reasonable prices, and we also offer unique items that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “We like to consider ourselves a destination for craftspeople, and we’re here to help.”
The Tree House Hardwoods & Millshop is located at 1891 Williston Road, Suite 3. For more information, visit www.treehousehardwoods.com or call 497-3530.

Winter safety tips

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Thousands of Vermonters lost power during last week’s storm. The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes offered the following tips to keep families safe and warm if the power goes out.

Family Safety
Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand.
During the power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information—that’s what your battery-powered radio is for.
Turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.
Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.
Check on elderly neighbors, friends or relatives who may need assistance during the outage.

Keeping Warm
Put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)

Food
Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies and pet food as appropriate on hand. Be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.
Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.

Generators
Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.
Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.
Consider purchasing and professionally installing a permanent home generator.

When Power Returns
When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.

Rec department looking for program proposals

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By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
Williston’s new recreation director, Todd Goodwin, is looking for community instructors interested in teaching spring programs.
“We’re just starting to gear up for our spring and summer program guide,” Goodwin said. “We’re figuring out what direction to go in.”
Goodwin is asking individuals or businesses interested in teaching a class between March and August to send him a program proposal.
“It could be anything from fitness activities to art,” he said.
He is also looking for technology, sport or specialty summer camp ideas for late June to mid-August. Camps are one week, Monday to Friday, and can be full or half day.
Proposals should be turned in by Jan. 5.
The program proposal form is available on the Parks & Recreation page of the town website, town.williston.vt.us. Rec department looking for program proposals

Around Town

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Williston resident hosts writers boot camp
Michelle Demers will host a program entitled “Writer’s Boot Camp” at the Writer’s Barn in Shelburne this January. The process-oriented, six-week course is open to writers of all interests and experience.
Demers is a writer and teacher. She holds two master’s degrees in writing—an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and an MA in professional writing. She has taught at Saint Michael’s College and currently teaches writing courses through CCV, Vermont Technical College and CVU ACCESS.
The workshop will take place on six consecutive Thursdays beginning Jan. 15, from 6-8 p.m. The course costs $175. Space is limited. Email [email protected] or call 985-4202 to reserve your space.
Funding available
Funding is now available for new or existing projects, programs and organizations that serve women and girls ages 15-25 through the Vermont Women’s Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation.
Examples of program activities include experiential learning opportunities, career mentoring, financial literacy and credit education, internships, computer literacy, community service learning, and leadership development and personal growth.
Nonprofits may apply online at any time for up to $10,000. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 30, 2015 at 5 p.m. Visit www.vermontcf.org/VWFGrantmaking to learn more.

CVU loses longtime activities director Riell

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Kevin Riell

Kevin Riell

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
Champlain Valley Union High School’s longtime activities director, Kevin Riell, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday evening, while attending an athletic directors’ conference in Washington, D.C.
CVU Principal Jeff Evans said students were notified on Monday morning, and he sent an email to parents Monday afternoon.
“Kevin was an integral member of the CVU administration, school, and CVU community for a very long time,” he wrote in the email to parents. “Our condolences go out to Kevin’s family, friends, students, and fellow faculty/staff members.”
Riell, 56, was at CVU since 1986.
“Kevin had a profound impact on the culture of the athletic program at CVU and on the CVU community,” Evans, himself a former basketball coach, wrote in an email to the Observer. “CVU has a long history of athletic success, yet I never heard Kevin talk about ‘winning’ as a goal or driving factor. He understood the lessons of sportsmanship, collaboration and perseverance in the face of adversity are the cornerstones of any quality athletic experience.”
The CVU School Board observed a moment of silence at its Monday night meeting.
“This is just a terrible, terrible loss for our community,” Board Chairwoman Susan Grasso said.
“The CVU co-curricular program is this highly-functional huge family…and Kevin will forever be known as its patriarch,” Evans wrote.

Fire and rescue seeks more staff

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By Matt Sutkoski
Observer correspondent
Williston’s fire and rescue services need more staff, there was little debate about that Monday evening.
The question is, how much staff to add, and how much to spend on the new salaries?
The topic came up as the Williston Selectboard continues to review fiscal 2016 budget proposals, methodically working toward bringing a spending plan to Williston voters on Town Meeting Day.
Monday night, it was the fire department’s turn to go over the budget.
The Williston Planning and Zoning Departments also got a budget review, but that received far less discussion than the fire and rescue departments.
The overall operating budget proposal Town Manager Richard McGuire has presented to the Selectboard is $9,889,870. That would be about $80,000 more than the current spending plan Williston voters approved back in March.
The fiscal 2016 budget, if adopted exactly as McGuire has now, would mean Williston property owners would face a little more than a 2-cent increase to the property tax rate. While the basic parameters of the budget are largely set, a lot of discussion is ahead before a final spending picture emerges.
Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton said he wants to hire two more full time staff to ensure that each of three shifts at Williston Fire and Rescue have three people on duty. The budget proposal McGuire offered the Selectboard has just one new hire.
Morton said the town increasingly needs the two positions, particularly at times when there are two calls for help simultaneously.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to staff a second ambulance,” Morton said. “We really need to do the right thing.”
Wages, overtime and benefits for one position would cost roughly $74,120 said Susan Lamb, Williston’s finance director. Morton said the position would save about $21,000 in wages for overtime call backs to fill shifts. So the net cost of a new position would amount to about $53,000.
Overall, the fire and EMS budget for Williston under McGuire’s plan would amount to $1,641,940, up from the current $1,514,920. Morton’s would add a bit more than $50,000 to the increase.
The Selectboard held its budget review at Williston Woods Monday. Only a handful of people attended, and no resident commented on the budget proposals.
In contrast to the fire department, planning and zoning expenditures elicited little discussion, mostly because that portion of municipal spending looks to be largely the same as what’s in place now. The planning and zoning budget is proposed at about $416,000, up $10,000 from current spending.
Selectboard member Chris Roy suggested to Town Planning Director Ken Belliveau that the Conservation Commission review how much money is set aside each year for land conservation.
The numbers might need to be fine tuned to better reflect current priorities for conserving land. “It would be helpful to gain a longer range sort of strategy,” Roy said.
The Selectboard made no decisions regarding spending plans. It is still in the process of gathering more information from different departments.
“We’ll be looking at this over the next several weeks, said Board Chairman Terry Macaig.
A public hearing on the overall budget proposal will be held in January, and a final proposal will be in hand by the end of that month. Voters will ultimately decide the fate of the municipal budget in early March.

CVU mulls bonds, budget

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By Stephanie Choate
Observer correspondent
The Champlain Valley Union High School Board weighed its options for addressing chronically waterlogged athletic fields—an issue both the school and the board have struggled with for years—during its Monday night meeting.
A high concentration of clay stops water from draining from the schools fields when it rains or snows—forcing home games and practices to be moved or canceled.
Last November, the community narrowly defeated a $1.5 million bond proposal to build two synthetic turf fields. Since then, the facilities committee drafted a reduced option—one synthetic turf field and the engineering necessary to install it for $950,000. A $950,000 bond would mean $14 a year for the owner of a $400,000 home.
The board, however, was divided on whether this is the right time to approach the community, since two district towns—Shelburne and Charlotte—are being asked to approve bonds to fix critical structural shortcomings.
“As a school, we do support our co-curriculars. They’re a really important way to keep kids connected to the school,” said board member Jeanne Jensen. “There’s always some kind of co-curricular that’s a passion. For some kids that passion is sports. Having them play on second-rate fields is a lot like having our kids in a second-rate auditorium before we decided to fix that.”
Some board members said, though, that turf fields seemed like a bit of a luxury while other schools faced leaking roofs. Shelburne voters are being asked to approve an $11.2 million bond to replace its school’s aging roof.
“Is it the right time for CVU to go to bond for (a field), given that one of our sending schools has to go for a significant bond for a very significant issue?” Jensen said.
Others, though, felt that finding a solution to the problem shouldn’t be delayed any longer.
“We as a board have faced this issue for more than a decade,” Jonathan Milne said. “I’m convinced that our solution is not perfect, but it’s the best solution.”
Milne added that working on the drainage of the existing natural grass fields wouldn’t entirely solve the problem.
“No matter what we do with natural turf, when we get three days of rain, students are going to be out of practice, they’re going to be in the parking lot, they’re going to be postponing games,” he said. “All we’re doing is punting in my mind. I’m not sure that it’s fair to the athletes, the CVU students and the CVU community not to allow the voters an opportunity to weigh in on this.”
The board did not take action Monday, postponing its decision on whether to approach the community for a bond to its Jan. 12 meeting.
On Monday, the board also looked at several decision packets—requests for additional funding—presented by the administration.
The first is an initiative to provide Chromebooks—a tablet device—to all incoming freshman. Eventually, all students would be provided with their own device. Purchasing 325 Chromebooks at $330 each would mean a $107,250 expenditure, but the school would also realize savings by not replacing its existing stock of laptops. With the savings, the net cost of the Chromebooks would be $42,500.
The measure is intended to provide equal access to technology for all students, and to avoid classroom disruption that occurs when students are all using different devices and trying to get up to speed.
“Multiple platform used in one classroom can be really problematic for the instructor,” Evans said.
Another decision packet included adjusting the substitute teacher budget to more accurately reflect what the school ends up paying each year—approximately $20,000 over what is budget ed annually.
The administration also asked the board to approve $5,500 for a girls volleyball coach and program cost. Girls volleyball is likely to become a VPA-sanctioned varsity sport in the next year. Volleyball has become a popular club sport, attracting approximately 25 girls this season.
Evans also requested $3,500 for an assistant coach for girls lacrosse. Turnover of girls lacrosse head coaches has been high, and an assistant would help attract and maintain quality candidates, Evans said. It would also help satisfy Title IX requirements, since the boys have an assistant coach, funded by its booster club.
Evans also requested $3,500 for an assistant football coach, reducing some of the pressure from the boosters, which typically have to raise $25,000 per year for coaching, equipment and supplies.
Jensen also suggested adding $30,000 to the operations and maintenance budget to more accurately reflect money being spent and to offset the end of reimbursement payments from district schools for construction on the bus barn, which are ending in the next fiscal year.
The board also got some good news—estimates for health care costs and several announced retirements pushed the baseline budget estimate down by approximately $175,500.
If the board approved everything the administration requested, it would result in a net subtraction of $30,500 from the baseline budget presented earlier this month.
That’s still slightly more than a 3 percent increase over last year’s budget.
The board asked Evans to craft a potential budget that would shave the budget to a 2 percent increase, as well as a version at an exactly 3 percent increase, for its next meeting, set for Jan. 12. The community will ultimately approve or reject the budget in March.