November 24, 2014

Savvy Senior: Help quitting smoking


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,
Can Medicare help me quit smoking? I just turned 65 and would like to quit but need some help.
—Coughing Connie

Dear Connie,
Yes, Medicare actually covers up to eight face-to-face counseling sessions a year to help beneficiaries quit smoking. And, if you have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, certain smoking-cessation medications are covered, too. Here are some other tips that can help you kick the habit.
Of the 46 million Americans who smoke, about 5.5 million are Medicare beneficiaries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50 percent of smokers, age 65 and older, indicate they would like to completely quit, but because of nicotine, which is considered to be more addictive than heroin, it’s very difficult to do.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness, responsible for an estimated one-fifth of deaths in the United States each year.
But research shows that quitting, even after age 65, greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and many other diseases. It also helps you breathe more easily, smell and taste food better, not to mention saving you quite a bit of money. A $5 pack-a-day smoker, for example, saves about $150 after one month without cigarettes and more than $1,800 after one year.
The first step is to set a “quit date,” but give yourself a few weeks to get ready. During that time you may want to start by reducing the number or the strength of cigarettes you smoke to begin weaning yourself. Also check out over-the-counter nicotine replacement products—patches, gum and lozenges—to help curb your cravings. And just prior to your quit day, get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and place of work and try to clean up and even spray air freshener. The smell of smoke can be a powerful trigger.
Studies have shown that you have a much better chance of quitting if you have help. So tell your friends, family and coworkers of your plan to quit. Others knowing can be a helpful reminder and motivator.
Then get some counseling. Don’t go it alone. Start by contacting your doctor about smoking cessation counseling covered by Medicare and find out about the prescription antismoking drugs that can help reduce your nicotine craving.
You can also get free one-on-one telephone counseling and referrals to local smoking cessation programs through your state quit line at 800-QUIT-NOW, or call the National Cancer Institute free smoking quit line at 877-44U-QUIT.
It’s also important to identify and write down the times and situations you’re most likely to smoke and make a list of things you can do to replace it or distract yourself. Some helpful suggestions are to call a friend or one of the free quit lines, keep your mouth occupied with some sugar-free gum, sunflower seeds, carrots, fruit or hard candy, go for a walk, read a magazine, listen to music or take a hot bath. The intense urge to smoke lasts about three to five minutes, so do what you can to wait it out. It’s also wise to avoid drinking alcohol and steer clear of other smokers while you’re trying to quit. Both can trigger powerful urges to smoke.
For more tips on how to quit, including managing your cravings, withdrawal symptoms and what to do if you relapse, visit and If you’re a smartphone user, there are also a number of apps that can help like LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach, Cessation Nation and Quit It Lite.

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

HUB Happenings


The Coburn Agency celebrates new leadership

Michael Coburn

Michael Coburn

Michael Coburn
Allstate Insurance Company announced that Michael Coburn has assumed ownership of The Coburn Agency of Williston. Coburn, son of original agency owner, John Coburn, has been working in the agency for more than eight years.
“The agency is owned and operated by a familyand customers tell us that we make them feel like family, too,” Coburn said.
Nicole Malon Joins KW Vermont Realty
Nicole Malon, who has more than 30 years of sales and marketing experience, recently joined KW Vermont Realty.
An active member of the Williston community, Malon currently serves as a physician outreach volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association and she volunteers for the Williston Food Shelf.

NEFCU donates to Children’s Miracle Network, others
CMN Donation 2014
NEFCU Senior Marketing Executive Cindy Morgan (center) presents a check to Jackie Woodwell (left) and Emily Wright of the Children’s Miracle Network.
On Nov. 6, New England Federal Credit Union presented a check for $4,383 to support Vermont Children’s Hospital, a member of the national Children’s Miracle Network group of hospitals. The funds were raised during “Shop For Miracles” day, Oct. 16, during which NEFCU donated 25 cents each time a member used his or her credit union-issued credit or debit card.
NEFCU also recently gave out other donations. Four times each year, New England Federal Credit Union selects four recipients at random to receive $625 each. This year, NEFCU selected the Vermont Police Canine Association, Milton Community Youth Coalition, Running of the Bells and “The Mountain Top,” which will be presented at FlynnSpace in Burlington in the spring.

NEFCU gets high marks recently ranked New England Federal Credit Union number 43 out of 6,600 in its 2014 edition of the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America.
Locals among Vermont Business Magazine ‘Rising Stars’
Vermont Business Magazine presented awards to its the Rising Stars, Class of 2014 at a special reception and dinner on Nov. 6.
Among the 40 individuals honored for commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities were Heidi Auclair of Morway’s Moving & Storage in Williston and Elizabeth Stillwell of DEW Construction Corp. in Williston.

Briscoe, Cruse join Davis & Hodgdon

Wendy Briscoe

Wendy Briscoe

William Cruse

William Cruse

Wendy Briscoe recently joined Williston-based Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs as a receptionist. Briscoe joined the firm with 25 years of administrative and customer service experience, primarily within the medical and insurance industries, in positions from human resources to office management.
William Cruse has also joined Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs as an associate accountant. Cruse graduated from Champlain College with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, where he acted as the director of finance for the Champlain student government association.
Ninety Nine celebrates grand re-opening
Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub in Williston celebrated its grand reopening on Oct. 23 after revamping the restaurant’s décor and amenities. Prior to closing for renovations, the restaurant held a silent auction for the plaques and memorabilia that decorated the Ninety Nine’s walls. Ninety Nine’s celebration included a ribbon cutting ceremony and a donation to the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Vermont Unemployment Rate Rises to 4.4 percent in September
The Vermont Department of Labor announced recently that the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for September 2014 was 4.4 percent. This represents an increase of three-tenths of a percent from the revised August rate (4.1 percent). The equivalent national average was 5.9 percent, which decreased by two-tenths of a percent from the previous month’s estimate.

Kinney Pike Insurance Welcomes Three New Employees
Kinney Pike Insurance, Inc. has added three employees.
Gabrielle Sikora joined the Williston office as a personal lines customer service agent after graduating from Castleton State with a B.A. in Business Administration. Doug Allard joined the White River Junction team as a commercial lines sales executive. Connor Quigley joined the commercial lines team in Rutland.

Vermont Gas names Donald J. Rendall president and CEO
The Vermont Gas Board of Directors announced recently that Donald Gilbert will be retiring at the end of the year and Donald J. Rendall will become the new president and CEO of Vermont Gas, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Gilbert, a Hinesburg resident, has led Vermont Gas for more than 13 years.
Rendall is currently senior vice president of financial and strategic affairs at Green Mountain Power, where he has served as an executive since 2002. Before joining GMP, Rendall practiced law for 15 years as a partner in Burlington firm Sheehey Furlong & Behm.

Tibet Trading opens in Burlington
Tibet Trading of Vermont, LLC opened at the Burlington Town Center on Nov. 1. The local company, Tibetan-American owned, offers gifts from the Himalayan region. Many of its products are handmade by Tibetan refugees living in India and Nepal.

Greensea Wins 2014 Vermont Tech Jam Innovator Award
Greensea Systems, Inc. was awarded a ‘Jammy’ at the Vermont Tech Jam.
Greensea Systems, Inc., which specializes in control and navigation for unmanned underwater vehicles, was named Vermont Tech Jam’s 2014 Innovator Award winner. The company was acknowledged for its Bale fire and Endal products, which are based on its Open Software and Equipment Architecture (openSEA) used in hundreds of unmanned underwater vehicles. Greensea won amidst strong competition from technology giant IBM in Essex Junction and Stone Environmental, Inc. in Montpelier. Greensea’s win was announced Oct. 24, at the Tech Jam’s exhibitor mixer. Along with the title, Greensea took home a handcrafted “Jammy” robot statuette.

Schlom starts career advising business
Seasoned corporate recruiter Sue Schlom, with experience at Chicago based PepsiCo and Wrigley Gum, recently launched Campus to Career Solutions in Burlington. The venture offers career exploration, resume building, assistance with internships and more to college students, recent graduates and young professionals. Visit

Two new board members at Stern Center
The Stern Center for Language and Learning, a nonprofit learning center with locations in Williston and West Lebanon, N.H., elected two new members to its Board of Directors recently.
Pat Thornton of Williston heads Thornton Investment Management Registered Investment Advisory firm. He has served for the last four years as chairman of the finance committee at COTS. Bud Meyers of Colchester is the founding director of Lighthouse Evaluation.

Wind Ridge Books of VT now nonprofit
Formerly a department of Wind Ridge Publishing (Destination Vermont, Shelburne News, The Citizen and other publications), Wind Ridge Books of Vermont will now publish as a curatorial imprint of Voices of Vermonters Publishing Group, Inc., a newly-fledged, nonprofit organization with offices in Shelburne.
According to Executive Director Lin Stone, “as a curatorial literary publisher, Wind Ridge Books of Vermont is making common cause with independent bookstores, authors and readers of good books to create a new model for publishing.”
“Our goal is to contribute to a literary community that supports good reading and writing by being good literary citizens and linking arms with authors and writing teachers, colleges and literary publications, libraries, booksellers, literary festivals and discerning listeners and readers. We will take our lead from the curatorial manner of the visual arts and the performing arts to nurture the creation and availability of well-written and well-designed books.”

GMP president & CEO finalist for Power-Gen 2014 Woman of the Year Award
GMP announced on Nov. 13 that President & CEO Mary Powell was named one of three finalists nationally for the Power-Gen 2014 Women of the Year Award.
The Woman of the Year nominees were judged in three categories with the most weight being given to how she advanced the power generation industry. Judges also considered the impact that the nominees made on their communities and their ability to lead.
Green Mountain Power also recently announced that it donated $130,000 to WARMTH, a program that helps Vermonters with heating emergencies. The company urges others to get involved and support this program.

Vermont PBS’s Chuck Pizer receives national recognition

Chuck Pizer

Chuck Pizer

Vermont PBS, Vermont’s statewide public media organizationand its community engagement director, Chuck Pizer, were recently recognized for the station’s expanding educational and community engagement endeavors that serve schools and communities across the state.
The PBS member station was one of three recipients of a Collective Impact Achievement Award from the National Educational Television Association.
, an organization of 92 public television stations, committed to furthering the educational and public service mission of public media.
USA Today nominates Magic Hat Brewery as a top tour
The Magic Hat Brewery and Artifactory, located in South Burlington, has been nominated as one of the top twenty best brewery tours in America by USA Today.
From now until Dec. 1, readers can cast a vote for their favorite brewery tour once a day at
The top ten breweries will be named a USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice winner.

HowardCenter board selects Bob Bick as Executive Director
HowardCenter’s Board of Trustees recently announced the appointment of Bob Bick as executive director, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Bick has been the director of HowardCenter’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services since1994—when an organization that he led for 10 years merged with two others to form the current-day HowardCenter.
“Bob stood out in a national field that included other deeply qualified candidates with experience running organizations that are similar to, or even larger than, HowardCenter,” said HowardCenter Board President Mark Baglini.
Bick succeeds Todd Centybear, who has led HowardCenter for 13 years and has been at the organization since 1975. Centybear is retiring Jan. 15.

Dougherty to lead Women helping Battered Women
Women Helping Battered Women, a community nonprofit that has helped victims of domestic abuse in Vermont’s Chittenden County for over 40 years, announced earlier this month that Kelly Dougherty is joining the organization as its new executive director.
Dougherty comes to WHBW from Vermont Health Connect. Previously, she headed the Burlington Clinic of Planned Parenthood of New England.

Win, Leckey join Downs Rachlin Martin
Two Vermont Law School graduates have joined law firm Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC. Attorney J. Zaw Win has joined the Business Law Practice Group and will focus on serving the captive insurance industry. Attorney Joshua D. Leckey has joined the Energy and Telecommunications Group. Both will be based in DRM’s Burlington office.

Nominations sought for Vt. small business awards


The Small Business Administration Vermont District Office is accepting nominations for its annual small business awards. Previous Vermont winners include Ben and Jerry’s, Switchback Brewing Company and Vermont Teddy Bear Company. The categories are as follows:
Small Business Person of the Year
Individual or partners who own a small business which has increased sales, profits and employees and been in business for three years.
Exporting Small Business of the Year
Small business which has increased sales, profits and/or employees due to exporting and been in business for three years.
Family-Owned Small Business of the Year
Small business must be family-owned for at least 15 years and ownership has transitioned to another generation.
Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year
Small business at least 51 percent owned by a veteran of U.S. armed forces, which has been in business for three years.
Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year
Small business at least 51 percent owned by a woman, which has been in business for three years.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Individual or partners who own a small business, are under 35 and have been in business for three years.
Microenterprise of the Year
Individual or partners who own a microenterprise with five or less employees, received SBA assistance and have been in business for three years.
The nomination deadline is Dec. 9.
To nominate a Vermont small business, email [email protected] the company’s name, owner’s name and award category. Businesses may self-nominate.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 828-4422.

WageWorks opens Williston office


Observer staff report
Dozens of employees have finished moving into their new office space in Maple Tree Place this week.
WageWorks, Inc., which administers consumer-directed benefits, relocated its Choice Strategies division from Waterbury Center to Williston. The company was set to host a ribbon cutting ceremony and luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the new office, located at 28 Walnut Street, Suite 250.
“Our organization has seen tremendous growth over the past five years and as a result, we have outgrown our Waterbury Center location,” WageWorks CEO Joe Jackson said. “The move to our new office at Maple Tree Place allows us to continue the expansion of our business, while providing best-in-class services to our clients and participants. We are also excited about the new location, as it will prominently position Choice Strategies to attract additional high caliber professionals to join our team.”
The company began moving in on Oct. 17, with approximately 120 employees, 85 of them on site.
The new office space is located above Maple Tree Place’s retail stores, and features 13,000 square feet of space. The company is also looking to hire approximately 20 more employees over the next few months, said Dewayne Nickerson, who does PR for WageWorks. The career section of its website,, currently lists openings for four client services representatives and six seasonal member services representatives.
Founded in 2001, Choice Strategies specializes in helping small to medium-sized businesses and their employees save money by administering pre-tax benefit plans, including Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts. Choice Strategies was acquired by WageWorks in 2012. The California-based company has 11 offices nationwide, including the new Williston location.

A food budget, stretched thin

Fran Stoddard prepares dinner in her home Monday night. She and her husband are participating in Hunger Free Vermont’s 3SquaresVT Challenge this week.

Fran Stoddard prepares dinner in her home Monday night. She and her husband are participating in Hunger Free Vermont’s 3SquaresVT Challenge this week.

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
Halfway through a week of sticking to the average benefit amount of a 3SquaresVT recipient, Williston resident Fran Stoddard is more tuned into the constant stress facing those who don’t always have enough good food to eat.
“I’ve been made more aware that I’m so blessed to not be burdened on a daily basis with having to make all of these tricky decisions about basically the essentials of life,” she said. “Food is our fuel. Good nutrition is so essential for health and wellbeing. Children who don’t have proper nutrition can’t learn, the elderly who don’t have proper nutrition get sick or sicker.”
Stoddard and her husband, Harry Grabenstein, are among the 115 Vermonters—ranging from business leaders to college students—taking Hunger Free Vermont’s 5th annual 3SquaresVT Challenge as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
Participants have been asked to spend the week eating on the average 3SquaresVT—Vermont’s food stamps program—budget, which clocks in at $36, or $1.72 per meal, for one person, $54 for two people, $82 for three and $95 for four.
Alida Duncan, development and marketing director with Hunger Free Vermont, said the challenge doesn’t exactly emulate the experience of a food insecure Vermonter, but it is a window into what they deal with.
“We want to draw attention to the experience of living on a really strict food budget and how that changes your daily life,” she said. “It makes you think about hunger throughout the day and how hungry you are what you’re going to eat next… When you’re on a strict budget it’s a different story and you have to make hard choices.”
When Stoddard and Grabenstein decided to take Hunger Free Vermont’s 3SquaresVT Challenge it was obvious that they would have to give up some things they were used to, like a weekly tradition of eating out.
“My husband said, ‘If we have $54, there’s no way we’re going out to eat unless we save up for a month,’” recalled Stoddard. “I said, ‘Yup, I think you’re right.’”
Meals out and indulgences would obviously be on the chopping block—but a grocery cart full of vegetables and healthy staples is also unfeasible.
Stoddard and her husband are packing lunches every day, eating all meals at home and making tough choices in the grocery store.
“This is all about awareness and empathy and really understanding that this is not a lot of money, and yet it is profoundly important for those families and those people who need it,” Stoddard said. “It’s so easy for us that are doing just fine to not think about that.”
Stoddard said it was interesting shopping for the challenge. They picked up eggs, peanut butter, pasta and tuna fish. The couple has Brussels sprouts and parsley left in their garden, as well as some tomatoes they froze—though Stoddard said that felt a little like cheating, since not everyone has the land or time to garden.
“We’ll see how much is left by the end of the week and see if we can get a $5 bottle of wine,” Stoddard said. “Though that’s a tenth of our whole budget, so maybe not.”
Skipping a bottle of nice wine and the luxury of going out is easy, but it’s less easy to make a choice when it comes to buying the healthy and often local and organic foods she and her husband normally buy.
“You really have to think twice about whether you can afford it,” she said.
Spend your limited means on the food you know is healthy and good, or the food that will fill your belly but may not provide the nutrition you need? It’s a choice that faces thousands of Vermonters each week.
Currently, more than 87,000 Vermonters—one in seven—receive 3SquaresVT.
“3SquaresVT makes a difference in the lives of thousands of Vermonters every day, but in many cases, the benefits are too low to allow households to purchase nutritious food and feed their families healthy meals on a consistent basis,” said Angela Smith-Dieng, 3SquaresVT advocacy manager at Hunger Free Vermont. “The challenge helps raise awareness about the program’s importance in alleviating hunger and then asks challenge participants to advocate for hungry Vermonters in their community.”
Stoddard said the challenge has made her realize what goes into tightening a food budget.
“It’s certainly possible to do, but boy it just takes more time, and who has that kind of extra time when there are so many other stresses when you’re living on the edge?” she said.
Earlier in the week, she didn’t have time to pack a lunch, and picked up a quick stop sandwich for $2.39. Though her coworkers gave her an apple, she found herself wondering whether her meeting that afternoon would have snacks.
“It’s just a very different awareness of where the next meal is coming from,” she said.
Stoddard said taking the challenge has allowed her to have conversations about hunger and food insecurity in Vermont.
“This is just an exercise really for those of us who are privileged, but it’s an important one and good one,” she said. “It makes one really appreciate how important food is, and how important good food and good nutrition is.”

Selectboard supports school tax resolution


Measure seeks two-year freeze on education taxes
By Greg Elias
Observer correspondent
The Selectboard on Monday dove into the school funding debate, agreeing to send a resolution urging state lawmakers to halt rising property taxes that fund education.
The board had previously considered resolutions approved by neighboring towns and a model produced by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. With three of its five members present on Monday, the Selectboard by consensus decided to use a customized version of the VLCT resolution that requests a two-year freeze on property taxes. Town Manager Rick McGuire will bring the modified resolution back to the board for a vote at its next meeting.
Monday’s session featured a lengthy debate about education funding that included comments from Williston School Board members Kevin Mara and Josh Diamond. That board was unable to reach a consensus and decided not to sign a resolution.
“The School Board felt that its core issue really is to ensure our children receive a quality education and value for our local taxpayers,” Diamond said. “We will remain focused on that issue and I think at this stage the board officially really does not want to enter the political fray as to potential solutions.”
Diamond, emphasizing that he was not speaking for the board, outlined his opinion on the issue. The state has nearly reached the limit of reliance on property taxes, he said, and some think the education formula is overly complex. But he noted the formula aims for fairness by limiting total taxes based on household income.
A two-year cap on property taxes could have negative consequences on students by forcing drastic school budget cuts, Diamond said. “There’s a lot of folks looking for a quick fix, and I don’t think that exists.”
Selectboard Chairman Terry Macaig, who also represents Williston in the Vermont House, said most of the town resolutions ask lawmakers to use other taxes to fund education. Doing so won’t be easy, he noted, because increasing sales or income taxes will just cause other problems.
Selectboard member Debbie Ingram said controlling education spending needs to be part of the solution. She said the Williston School District did well to produce a level-funded budget this year, but education expenses in Vermont as a whole are too high.
“School spending has gone up astronomically throughout the state,” she said. “I certainly think it’s time to send a signal, along with the other towns, that something needs to be done, the red flag needs to be waved, somebody’s got to work on this very seriously.”
Board member Jeff Fehrs said he agreed with the principle behind Acts 60 and 68, laws that aim to equalize education funding among towns with wildly varying tax bases. He wondered if the state was contributing enough general fund revenue to supplement money generated by local property taxes.
The VCLT resolution calls for a two-year cap on education property taxes. It states that lawmakers should plug the budget gap using other revenue while they create a system that relies less on property taxes.
A two-year cap on the education property taxes would cause a $42 million funding shortfall, according to a report from the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office.
Selectboard members expressed reservations about a straight-out cap, presumably because of that shortfall. Fehrs said “freeze” better described the board’s position on what should happen to education taxes.
Like many other states, Vermont has long wrestled with school funding. Legal battles have driven major changes to the formula as the state tried to tweak laws to meet court mandates for educational equity.
The debate has intensified in recent years as enrollment dropped but local property taxes that comprise the majority of school funding kept rising. The VCLT resolution notes that enrollment has dropped by 10 percent over the past decade while education spending increased by 33 percent.
Local school officials assert that they have at least kept expenses level in recent years. For example, the Williston School Board last year approved a level-funded budget and Champlain Valley Union High School increased spending by just 1.7 percent.
Property taxes still increased. Williston’s homestead property tax rate jumped 4.7 percent. That works out to an additional $360 a year for the owner of a $300,000 home.
The Selectboard will further discuss and possibly vote on a finalized school funding resolution at its Dec. 1 meeting.

Local dancers bring ‘The Nutcracker’ to life

Williston dancers (from left) Isabella Nash, Cassidy Frost and Emma Richling will peform in ‘The Nutcracker’ Thanksgiving weekend at the Flynn Theatre.

Williston dancers (from left) Isabella Nash, Cassidy Frost and Emma Richling will peform in ‘The Nutcracker’ Thanksgiving weekend at the Flynn Theatre.

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
The classic holiday tale of dancing mice and the sugar plum fairy will have a local spin on Thanksgiving weekend.
Thirteen-year-old Williston ballerina Cassidy Frost will perform as Clara in the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s presentation of the “The Nutcracker,” backed up by several Williston dancers.
The production comes to the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 29-30, featuring more than 120 local dancers from 33 Vermont towns.
“It’s a good way to get into the holiday spirit,” Frost said.
Frost, a seventh-grader at Williston Central School, is one of three students who will take the stage as Clara. Her turn comes on Sunday at 1 p.m. Frost has taken part in “The Nutcracker” for several years—both with the Albany Berkshire Ballet and Vermont Ballet Theater and School, where she takes classes.
“It was surreal,” Frost said of getting the part. “I didn’t really think I got it.”
Helena Sullivan, rehearsal mistress of the performance and director of the Stowe Dance Academy and Mad River Dance Academy, said Frost stood out among the girls auditioning for the part.
“She has good ballet technique and beautiful facial expressions and arms,” she said. “She’s a beautiful dancer and has a really great personality, very nice and respectful.”
Four other Williston dancers—Charlotte DeSantos, Bella Margi, Isabella Nash and Emma Richling—will take part in the production.
Sullivan said the performance is a Vermont tradition, suited to everyone from young kids to grandparents.
“It starts off the Christmas season on a really nice note,” she said. “Usually it’s the first weekend Church Street is decorated. There’s nothing like going to the Flynn with your kids all dressed up, then walking down Church Street…. It’s kind of magical.”
Students in the “Nutcracker” also get a taste of the professional ballerina life, since they perform alongside professional dancers under the guidance of Artistic Director Madeline Cantarella Culpo.
The Frosts are hosting two of the dancers in their home this year, as they have in past years. They’ve hosted professional dancers from the U.S., Brazil and Spain.
“That’s been very fun, to get to know a professional ballet dancer and have them stay with us,” said Christine Frost, Cassidy’s mother.
Frost began dancing when she was 3 years old.
“It’s a good way to express yourself, and it sort of just helps you feel better about yourself,” she said.
It also teaches her time management skills, said Christine Frost.
Between “Nutcracker” rehearsals and classes at the Vermont Ballet Theater and School, Frost spends nearly a dozen hours spread over six days each week  dancing.
She said she’s a little nervous for the performance, but also looking forward to it.
“I’m excited, but I don’t want to get too anxious for it because I know it goes by so fast,” she said.
She’ll take the stage for the iconic performance again—this time as a Chinese dancer, Spanish dancer and candy cane—when the Vermont Ballet Theater presents its version of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 20 and 21.
Watching her older counterparts, both in the performances and at her ballet school, makes her want to keep going with her studies.
“You can see all older girls doing bigger parts, and that makes you want to be able to do them someday,” she said.
Performances of “The Nutcracker” are set for Nov. 29 at 3 and 7 p.m. and Nov. 30 at 1 p.m. Tickets are available at or by calling 863-5966.