June 30, 2016

Williston ReStore robbed at gunpoint Friday

By

Observer photo by Jess Wisloski This photo was shot by a bystander and shows the man who robbed the Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Friday. The suspect is shown facing the cashier with his back to the camera.

Observer photo by Jess Wisloski
This photo was shot by a bystander and shows the man who robbed the Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Friday. The suspect is shown facing the cashier with his back to the camera.

Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

Williston saw its first gunpoint robbery of the year Friday afternoon, when a man between 25 to 30 years of age held up the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Essex Road.

The man, who is still at large, walked into the secondhand store, and then stood in line with customers behind him before he approached the cashier and displayed a handgun at 3:45 p.m., workers and police said.

In a bystander cell phone photo, cashier Phyllis Etheridge is facing the man, who is wearing a green golf shirt and has a white cloth wrapped around his head draped down his back, similar to a desert-style headdress. Police said he was also wearing jeans and white sneakers, and that he had brown hair, brown eyes and a pointy nose.

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director David Mullin said the staff was able to usher customers and uninvolved staff out the back door while the holdup took place, and said several witnesses were helpful in giving police identifying information.

“We are upgrading our facilities with surveillance cameras, and we had prepared for this in trainings, but we’ll be doing more of them,” said Mullin. No workers or customers were injured, he said, and said that Etheridge told him she wasn’t frightened by the incident.

“She told him, ‘Get a job,’” Mullin said. She told Mullin that she had experienced a holdup once before and wasn’t too ruffled.

Etheridge got the suspect the money he demanded with the help of the assistant manager, Mullin said. It was just about $500, and the suspect took off before police arrived, Williston Police said.

“It’s pretty sad, stealing from a small nonprofit like ours,” said Mullin. The offender is believed to have left the scene in a black GMC extended cab pickup truck, police said.

Though the store at 528 Essex Road first opened in 2012, it has doubled in size since then after an expansion last year.

Police Chief Todd Shepard said this was the first holdup at gunpoint in the town since the start of 2016, and is only the third in the past two years. Last year, a cashier at O’Brien’s Town and Country convenience store, part of a Shell station at 5085 Williston Road near North Brownell Road, was held up at gunpoint at around 7:30 p.m. The robber, who flashed a handgun and made off with an unidentified amount of cash in the Dec. 14 robbery, allegedly drove away in an older model red Chevrolet pickup truck, police said. He was described as having light eyes, and a white male in his early 20s, about 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds.

The last holdup prior to December was in March of 2014, at a GameStop video game retailer in Maple Tree Place. “All still remain unsolved,” said Shepard, who added that no leads have emerged in either of the older cases, and no arrests were made.

“We are fortunate that we haven’t had any other incidents such as this in Williston,” he said.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Williston Police Department at 878-6611.

Soulful sounds of summer

Theo Wren opens the Thursday night concert series at Maple Tree Place. (l to r) Jon McBride - Sax, Cynthia Braren - Vocals

Theo Wren opens the Thursday night concert series at Maple Tree Place. (l to r) Jon McBride – Sax, Cynthia Braren – Vocals

Sadie Short (7) dances to Theo Wren who opened the Thursday night concert series at Maple Tree Place on June 16th.

Sadie Short (7) dances to Theo Wren who opened the Thursday night concert series at Maple Tree Place on June 16th.

[Read more…]

Vermont Gas pipeline costs jump yet again

Don Rendall, president and CEO for Vermont Gas, announced a cost increase to build a natural gas through Addison County at the company’s South Burlington headquarters in December 2014. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

Don Rendall, president and CEO for Vermont Gas, announced a cost increase to build a natural gas through Addison County at the company’s South Burlington headquarters in December 2014. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

By Anne Galloway

For Vermont Digger

Vermont Gas announced this week that a 41-mile natural gas pipeline extension through Addison County will cost an additional $12 million, or 7.8 percent more, than anticipated. The latest estimate pegs the total cost at $165.6 million, or nearly double the original expected cost.

It’s the fourth time Vermont Gas has upped the price tag. The company, a subsidiary of Montreal-based Gaz Metro, originally told state regulators that the cost of the project would be $87 million. [Read more…]

Laying a new foundation at Mud Pond Conservation Area

Observer photos by Jess Wisloski  Jeffrey Davis, 16, carries lumber into the woods followed by site helper Derek Proulx.

Observer photos by Jess Wisloski
Jeffrey Davis, 16, carries lumber into the woods followed by site helper Derek Proulx.

Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

AmeriCorps volunteers in an alternative high school completion program helped Williston establish a new path at the Mud Pond Conservation Area last week— while setting down a stronger basis for their own futures, as well.

The half-dozen or so helpers came from YouthBuild, a program for 16 to 24-year-olds that allows students that left traditional high school to complete their graduation requirements and get a regular diploma over the course of a year. They converged at the town-owned hiking trail Friday to help replace a 150-foot section of wooden raised walkway. [Read more…]

Town’s longtime finance director to retire

Susan Lamb

Susan Lamb

Susan Lamb leaving
after 20 years

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

A longtime member of the Williston administrative leadership announced her planned departure this week, according to a release from Town Manager Richard McGuire’s office.

Finance Director Susan Lamb will be retiring after more than 20 years of service to the community, the release stated, and will be leaving her role near the end of September. [Read more…]

What happened to the Farmers’ Market?

farmers-market

Observer photos by Jess Wisloski
Adams Farm Market, 986 Old Stage Rd.

DSC_0756

Observer phtos by Jess Wisloski
Foley Fontaine Farm Stand, 2660 North Williston Rd.

Observer photo by Jess Wisloski Scratch N’ Earth Farm, 3267 Oak Hill Rd.

Observer photo by Jess Wisloski
Scratch N’ Earth Farm, 3267 Oak Hill Rd.

Red Barn Gardens, 8939 Williston Rd.

Red Barn Gardens, 8939 Williston Rd.

[Read more…]

State buys up Route 2A land for Circ alternative

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

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

Construction start still in the air

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

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

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

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

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