April 25, 2015

United Way seeks input from older adults about wellness


United Way of Chittenden County and a group of community partners are inviting residents countywide, aged 60 and over, to participate in a survey on the unique services and activities that help them stay healthy and feel good. The survey will gather information about what types of services older adults want, where they want to receive them and how they want to hear about them.

As part of a focus on health, United Way of Chittenden County works to ensure that all people have access to the supports and care they need for optimal health and well-being. “We want to hear from a broad range of older adults about what they need and want. Based on the survey data, we will identify areas where more information is needed,” said United Way Community Impact Manager Diana Carminati. “Following the survey, we will host small group discussions about how Chittenden County could better meet the unique needs of our residents as they age.”

The brief survey can be completed online at surveymonkey.com/s/HealthAge or a printed survey can be requested by calling 802-860-1677. All survey responses are anonymous and individual information is confidential.

Driving safely with dementia and knowing when to quit


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

Is it safe for seniors with dementia to drive and if so, when should they stop? My dad has early Alzheimer’s disease but still drives himself around town just fine. 

Looking Ahead

Dear Looking,

While most doctors agree that people with moderate to severe dementia should not take the wheel, in the early stages, the medical consensus is that driving performance should be the determining factor of when to stop driving, not the disease itself.

With that said, it’s also important to realize that as your dad’s driving skills deteriorate over time from the disease, he might not recognize it. So it’s very important that you work closely with him and his doctor to monitor his driving. Here are some tips that can help.

Warning Signs 

The best way to keep tabs on your dad’s driving is to take frequent rides with him watching out for key warning signs. For example: Does he have trouble remembering routes to familiar places? Does he drive at inappropriate speeds, tailgate or drift between lanes? Does he react slowly or make poor driving decisions? Also, has your dad had any fender benders or tickets lately, or have you noticed any dents or scrapes on his vehicle? These, too, are red flags.

If you need some assessment help, hire a driver rehabilitation specialist who’s trained to evaluate older drivers. To locate a specialist, visit driver-ed.org or aota.org/older-driver.

Transition Tips

Through your assessments, if you believe it’s still safe for your dad to drive, you may want to start recommending some simple adjustments to ensure his safety, like driving only in daylight and on familiar routes and avoiding busy roads and bad weather. Also, see if he will sign an Alzheimer’s “driving contract” (see alz.org/driving to print one) that designates someone to tell him when it’s no longer safe to drive.

In addition, you should also consider getting a GPS vehicle tracking system for his car (like motosafety.com or mobicopilot.com) to help you keep an eye on him. These devices will let you track exactly where he’s driving and allow you to set up zones and speed limits that will notify you via email or text message when he exits an area or arrives at a designated location and if he’s driving too fast.

Time to Quit

When your dad’s driving gets to the point that he can no longer drive safely, you’ll need to talk to him. It’s actually best to start having these conversations in the early stages of the disease, before he needs to quit driving, so he can prepare himself.

You also need to have a plan for alternative transportation (including a list of family, friends and local transportation services) that will help your dad get around after he stops driving.

For tips on how to talk to your dad, the Hartford Financial Services Group and MIT AgeLab offer a variety of resources at safedrivingforalifetime.com – click on “Dementia and Driving.”

Refuses To Quit

If your dad refuses to quit, you have several options. First, suggest a visit to his doctor who can give him a medical evaluation and “prescribe” that he stops driving. Older people will often listen to their doctor before they will listen to their own family.

If he still refuses, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles to see if they can help. Some states require doctors to report new dementia cases to the DMV, which can then revoke the person’s license.

If all these fail, consider hiding his keys or just take them away. You could also disable his vehicle, park it in another location so he can’t see it or have access to it, or sell it.

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


Williston July 4th celebration theme, design and meeting

Observer photo by Dave Schmidt Floats, fireworks and fun are all an important part of the annual Williston Independence Day celebration.

Observer photo by Dave Schmidt
Floats, fireworks and fun are all an important part of the annual Williston Independence Day celebration.

Recreation & Parks Happenings

The Williston Recreation & Parks Dept. is reaching out to the community to help with the July 4th Celebration. We are asking for community members, of all ages, to send in their ideas for this year’s theme. We are looking to pick one from all the entries to be this year’s theme. A theme should be a couple of words or a short phrase that can be used on a t-shirt to express the celebration of July 4th and Williston.

We are also looking for a t-shirt design. Each year, the t-shirt sale is very popular and people have been collecting them for years. We know it will be hard to design one without the theme, but due to timing and needing to get this done, we are looking for some great designs that we can match up with a great theme. You can come up with a design and a theme and enter them together.

Please send your theme or design to the Williston Recreation & Parks Dept., either by mail at 7900 Williston Road, or email it to us at [email protected] You can even drop it off at the Rec office in the Annex Building next to the Town Hall. All themes and t-shirt designs sent in by May 1 will be considered.

The next meeting of the July 4th Committee will be Thursday, May 7 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room. Everyone is welcome. We will be choosing the theme and t-shirt design at that meeting. Shortly thereafter, we will have forms available for vendors and parade participants. There will also be the final line up of activities for July 3 and 4.

If your business or organization would like to get involved and be part of this very special celebration, look for more detailed information  after May 15 at www.willistonrec.org

Upcoming Programs

New sessions starting- another round of program sessions is starting the week of April 27. Youth Programs include: Swim lessons and Performance Enhancement and Free Style at Green Mountain Gymnastics. Adult programs include Gentle Yoga, Boot Camp and fitness programs including Redcord Fit, Lunch Fit and Circuit Fit at Peak Performance. For those 50 and older, we also offer Chair Yoga and Mind and Body Fitness.

Summer Camp Registration

Summer camps are filling fast. Check out the Camp Guide and Camp Grid by visiting www.willistonrec.org.

 Boater Safety Course

In conjunction with the Vermont State Police, we are offering a Boater Safety Course. Open to anyone 12 years of age and older, the course is eight hours and is offered over four days. Participants must be present at all classes to be eligible for certification. The course is mandatory for any person born after Jan. 1, 1974, who will be operating a motorboat on Vermont waters. Ages 12 and up, Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., May 4-May 13, $10 per person.

Around Town


CVU craft fair May 2

The annual AccessCVU Craft Fair is set for May 2 at Champlain Valley Union High, with more than 70 Vermont crafters. There is no cost for admission.

New this year, the CVU Sophomore Class Council will host the “For Kids-Make ‘n Take Craft Fair,” designed for children from preschool through fourth grade from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities will be set up in separate stations and include: decorate your own cookies; put together Perler bead items; create your own placemats; make bottlecap magnets; paint a pet rock; craft a suncatcher; Mother’s Day gift making. All stations will be supervised by CVU sophomores. Entry to the Make ‘n Take event is $5 per child and will go directly to supporting Class Council activities. Maximum cost per family is $10.

All Shook Up Variety Show returns

Francesca Blanchard is the featured artist in this year’s All Shook Up Variety Show, benefiting young people with special needs, set for May 16.

Blanchard will perform to benefit the The Joe Shook Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for differently-abled campers to attend Partners In Adventure’s summer day camp program. The Fund honors Joe Shook, beloved camper, Williston resident and CVU student, who passed away at the age of 20.

The show will be hosted by local comedian Maryanne Gatos and will include performances by Williston fiddler Duncan Yandell, a friend of Joe’s, guitarist Dylan Hudson and R&B artist Jamell Rogers.

The event will take place at the Williston Central School at 7 p.m. Tickets for adults are $25, $10 for children under 12.

Avoid muddy trails

The Green Mountain Club is reminding residents that hiking trails are vulnerable during the spring.

Higher elevation trails on state lands are closed from April 15 through Memorial Day weekend. Lower elevation state parks and forests have trails that are open.

Hikers walking on saturated soil or on the sides of trails cause irreversible erosion and vegetation damage. Green Mountain Club staff recommends that if the trail is so muddy you need to walk on the side, turn back and seek another area in which to hike.

For details on what trails are open, visit the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation website, fpr.vermont.gov.

Young Writers Project


Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages Vermont and New Hampshire students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences in newspapers, before live audiences and on websites youngwritersproject.org, vtdigger.org, vpr.net and cowbird.com. Young Writers Project also publishes a monthly digital magazine, The Voice. YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to donate to YWP, go to youngwritersproject.org/support.


General writing

I Am a Farmer

By Ben Boutin

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I am a farmer. I have a cow named Summit. I won her at a Summit in Derby. I had to write an essay on what I had learned from past Summits. I showed Summit and we got second place out of 25 so I have been working with her and walking her and washing her. I also have eight other cows back at my house. They are really big and they are going to be milkers.

I also have 12 turkeys and 40 chickens. I have been selling eggs like crazy, but my chickens are keeping up with the selling. It takes me forever to do all of my chores.

Some day I am going to have my own farm and milk my own cows.


Safe: Where do you feel comfortable and safe?

My Neighborhood

By Olivia Fransicso 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

My safe place during the day is outside anywhere in my neighborhood, for example, my backyard. In my backyard there is a lot of shade on a hot day. It’s always quiet so I have a place to draw or read. Another place that I feel safe during the day is walking around my neighborhood.



By Leigh Kerbough 

Grade 5, Williston Central School 

I feel comfortable at home, at school and at Cochran’s. I feel safe at Cochran’s because I have my brother and my friends there. A lot of people there make me laugh and I have fun with them. I know all the trails and I know where not to ski. So I am not afraid of getting lost because I know I wont. Also there is a safe lodge. I also know that there is basically nothing to be afraid of.



By Tiferes Simcoe 

Grade 6, Williston Central School 

Everybody has a place where they feel safe. For some people it’s their house. But maybe it’s outside like in a tree house or in your backyard. Maybe it’s somewhere like the water. I feel safe in a pool by myself because I feel so free and alive — and so calm.

Habitat ReStore expands

Observer file photo The ReStore is holding a grand opening for its newly expanded space on Saturday, April 25. The event will feature free balloons, door prizes, grilled food and more.

Observer file photo
The ReStore is holding a grand opening for its newly expanded space on Saturday, April 25. The event will feature free balloons, door prizes, grilled food and more.

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity ReStore is doubling in size.

The store, which sells new and gently used items, took over the space next door, knocking down interior walls, refurbishing the floors and ceilings and putting in new insulation.

The ReStore is holding a grand opening for its newly expanded space on Saturday, April 25. The event will feature free balloons, door prizes, grilled food and more.

“It’s really exciting to see just how much more space we have,” said Executive Director David Mullin. “It’s already chock full, even into the expanded space. We’re just waiting for Saturday to open the door.”

The store opened in 2012.

“At that time we were thinking that 7,000 square feet was going to be really hard to fill,” Mullin said. “We quickly found out that the response from the community, both from a donations standpoint and purchasing standpoint, was outstanding and we quickly realized that we needed more space.”

All money raised from sales of items at the Habitat ReStore goes toward building Habitat homes. Residents can also score deals.

“A lot of people don’t realize the extent of what we have,” Mullin said. “They think it’s just building materials. They get in here and they’re kind of surprised.”

While the store does stock building materials, it also has a wide variety of furniture, appliances and household goods. Most of the donations come from residents, but some businesses also donate new items. ReStore staff will also pick up large donations for free.

“The sole mission of the Habitat ReStore is to provide money to help us build houses locally,” Mullin said. “In addition, it does help us keep literally tons of material out of our Vermont landfills.”

Mullin said in the last 18 months, the store raised enough revenue to build a local Habitat house.

“That’s over and above what we had been doing,” Mullin said. “We’re so grateful to all of the local donors.”

Blue Cross pressures state on unpaid VHC premiums


By Morgan True

For Vermont Digger

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is prepared to bill the state for millions of dollars in past-due premiums, according to a letter the company sent to state officials last month.

In a March 5 letter to the state, which was provided to VTDigger, BCBS said it expects that $3 million to $5 million in past due premiums from 2014 “will never be collected,” and the company would be billing Vermont Health Connect for the final amount due at the end of March.

A BCBS spokesman said that while the company has not yet billed the state, its intention hasn’t changed. The situation could be avoided if BCBS and the state are able to reconcile their accounts, said Kevin Goddard, BCBS vice president for external affairs.

Read the full story at vtdigger.org.

New zoning district in the works


Gatewayl_West_Mar_2015_for paper

Public hearing May 4

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

The town is considering setting up a new zoning district on a portion of Williston Road.

The new district, called the Gateway West Zoning District, would allow limited commercial uses along Williston Road, near the intersection with North and South Brownell roads.

Residents can weigh in on the proposed changes during a public hearing, set for May 4 at 7:45 p.m. at the Town Hall.

Zoning Administrator Ken Belliveau said the Planning Commission has been looking at options to adjust the zoning regulations for years. The area was flagged in the town’s 2011-2016 Comprehensive Plan as an area for study and possible zoning changes.

“Easy solutions were elusive, to say the least,” Belliveau said.

Belliveau said residents had varying opinions. Many of those on South Brownell Road and Kirby Lane said they like the neighborhood the way it is. Those closer to Williston Road hoped for flexibility.

“We talked about a lot of different ideas, but eventually it seemed to focus on the properties that were right up on Williston Road,” Belliveau said. “They said ‘We have a hard time selling our houses. It’s not really a good residential neighborhood anymore.’”

Belliveau said the new zoning district struck a compromise.

“In the end, we tried to accomplish something that wouldn’t necessarily result in a wholesale change in the character of the neighborhood but would give property owners some additional options,” he said.

The new zoning district, as proposed, would allow some limited office use along Williston Road, as well as a greater density of residential units so someone could build a small, multi-unit dwelling.

“It would just give people more options with their land,” Belliveau said.

Two other public hearings are on the agenda for May 4. The first is a proposal to eliminate the second tier of the town-wide stormwater fee, meaning all single-family homeowners would pay the same rate. The second involves adjustments to the town’s sewer allocation ordinance.

Vermont Tech in Williston helps workers and companies keep pace

CEWD creates customized curricula for businesses from its office in Blair Park. (Observer courtesy photo)

CEWD creates customized curricula for businesses from its office in Blair Park. (Observer courtesy photo)

Williston campus houses Workforce Development and Cont. Ed. office 

By Adam White

Observer correspondent

A stay-at-home parent decides to return to work, but needs vocational training to get caught up first. A seasoned professional wants to switch gears entirely, into a new field. A leader of an established workforce wants to ensure those workers’ training and certifications remain up-to-date in a rapidly changing vocational world.

Such diverse scenarios would seemingly require a number of separate solutions. But there is one place where all those challenges can be met, thanks to a wealth of resources under one roof: Vermont Technical College’s Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD).

“We believe that education is a lifelong experience,” said Teja Cooper, project manager at CEWD. “Individuals and companies come to us with all kinds of different needs and we try to provide as many tools for learning as we can.”

From electrical and plumbing apprenticeships to health care programs to green training such as wetlands and wastewater management, CEWD offers a wide array of training and certification routes. And with flexible class schedules, multiple classroom locations, online options and curriculum that can be customized to meet the exact demands of a particular scenario, Vermont Tech’s “entrepreneurial arm” boasts the kind of flexibility needed in today’s ever-changing and advancing business landscape.

“Our niche is having around-the-clock, around-the-state availability,” Cooper said. “We hold classes continually throughout the year, on a revolving calendar.

“That is important because a lot of people who come to us for learning already have jobs, so they’re able to fit our classes into their schedules.”

Diversity rules

The programs CEWD offers are broken down into eight categories, which highlight the wide range of offerings: Agriculture & Food Systems, Business, Career & Technical Teacher Education, Electrical and Plumbing, Engineering & Aviation, Green, Health Care and Human Resources.

While the programs at CEWD are non-degree (in contrast to the more traditional Vermont Tech curriculum), certification is available in a number of disciplines. Cooper said popular areas of study range from Geographical Information Systems — the latest cutting-edge technology for mapping — to Phlebotomy, the process of drawing blood.

“We try to hit as many sectors as we can, to provide learning opportunities for working individuals,” Cooper said.

For those whose current work schedules are prohibitive to taking courses, CEWD has partnered with a third-party vendor, ed2go.com, to create a program of online training courses. Those courses range in length from six weeks to six months, with every step of the process -— from registration through completion — available on the Internet, around the clock.

A custom fit

With many industries moving at the speed of the technology that drives them, employers’ training needs are constantly changing. CEWD has made itself indispensable to such businesses by offering made-to-order courses that address everything a client requires and nothing it doesn’t.

“We have companies that come to us and say ‘we have this need,’ and our training manager and trainers can create a customized curriculum for them,” Cooper said. “This is not something off-the-shelf; it’s put together exclusively for that client.”

One example is CEWD’s six-part leadership program, of which each building block can be shuffled in and out of the equation until a perfect fit is found.

“Maybe three or four of the six parts work for that client,” Cooper said. “We can take the rest out and there are other components that can be added.”

Proving ground

For professionals seeking a change of direction with their careers, CEWD is a logical place to start laying a foundation of training. But new beginnings aren’t limited only to the office’s clients.

Vermont Tech also uses its continuing education framework as a proving ground for new courses and disciplines. A fledgling subject that is met with interest and enthusiasm at the CEWD level then has a chance at being incorporated into the college’s degree curriculum.

“There are programs that we run to see how well they’ll work,” Cooper said. “A couple of years ago, we introduced a cheese making course and it absolutely took off. Now it’s offered within the college.”

As far as what the future holds, Cooper sees Green Training — areas such as Weatherization and Home Performance, Renewable Energy, Engineering, Municipal and Wetlands and Alternative Fuels — as a big-time draw for CEWD, given the attitudes toward those topics here in Vermont and growing nationwide.

“As our name gets out more and more, people will come to us to learn about those things,” Cooper said. “The demand is definitely there.”

For more information, visit www.vtc.edu.