Williston Observer 1/19/2023

Page 1

A reckoning for Redhawks basketball

CVU picks up the pieces after social media misstep

The Champlain Valley Union High School girls basketball team is piecing its season back together after a racially charged lapse in judgment by one of its players on social media made it a pariah in its league.

In December, a Redhawk captain made a video with a family member that followed a trend on Tik Tok, lip-syncing a mock advertisement that uses a racial slur. Within an hour of posting it, she heard from her teammates.

“‘We understand you think this is being funny but it’s not,’” she was told, according to CVU Principal Adam Bunting, who has a daughter on the team. “‘People

‘Back to the good old days’

Town Meeting will return to WCS auditorium

Williston residents will be invited back to an in-person Town Meeting on March 6, the first since 2020.

“Back to the good old days,” Town Manager Erik Wells quipped Tuesday after the selectboard finalized the Town Meeting Day ballot and annual budget proposal that will be up for voter consideration.

The Town Meeting will begin

at 6 p.m. in the Williston Central School auditorium, where town and school administrators will detail their budget proposals and voters will weigh in on four pro-forma questions. Voting on the budget will take place the following day at the National Guard Armory next to Town Hall on Williston Road. Voters wishing to vote early can request a ballot from the Town Clerk.

The ballot will have a $13.9 million budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year — a 6.3 percent increase (roughly $830,000) over the current year. The increase will result in an estimated 3.23 percent

increase in property taxes, according to Wells, which amounts to an additional $32 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

The budget includes the use of $493,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the purchase of a second sidewalk snowplow and the continuation of police officer retention incentives. The town will have about $1.8 million remaining in ARPA funds to be spent by the end of 2026.

Also on the ballot will be a question about whether the town should purchase the solar array on the roof of its public works

building for $125,000 using unexpected bond revenue from the construction of the facility, and a bond question on the funding of a new ambulance that Williston voters previously voted in favor of purchasing.

Three selectboard seats are also up for election, including the seat recently vacated by Gordon St. Hilaire. Petitions for a candidate to appear on the ballot are due to the Town Clerk’s office by Jan. 30.

Other available seats are Champlain Water District representative, library trustee, school board member, lister and town clerk.

are going to be hurt by this.’ She took a step back and realized the error she made in thinking that because a family member is a person of color that it made it OK. She took it down right away when she got that feedback from her team.”

But a social media wildfire was already ablaze — the video had been recorded and was circulating among her varsity peers around Division 1. Rice Memorial and Burlington High School both cancelled their games against CVU, and other teams were considering similar protests.

Then, last Thursday, Bunting wrote and distributed online an “Open Letter to Vermont Students.” The letter acknowledges the harm the video caused in the community, explains the punitive and restorative consequences the player is facing and asks the basketball community to trust CVU’s


The following positions are up for election at Town Meeting Day in March:

• Selectboard seats (3)

• School board seat

• Town clerk

• Lister

• Library trustee

• Champlain Water District rep

Petitions to run are due to the town clerk by Jan. 30

The CVU girls basketball team gathers before a game against South Burlington on Jan. 3 in Hinesburg. OBSERVER PHOTO BY AL FREY see REDHAWKS page
Town Meeting day will return to the WCS auditorium for an in-person meeting for the first time since 2020 on Monday, March 6.

School board, teachers agree on three-year contract

The union of Champlain Valley School District teachers — known formally as the Champlain Valley Education Association — and the Champlain Valley School Board have mutually agreed on a new three-year employment contract for teachers.

The new contract will expire in the spring of 2025.

gela Arsenault said. “We thank our teachers for their patience as the two parties worked through the scheduling challenges inherent in planning multiple meetings and — mostly and always — for their unwavering dedication to the students of CVSD.”

The contract installs pay raises for teachers of 5 percent this year, 6 percent next year and 4.75 percent in the final year of the contract. Teachers’ health insurance benefits are negotiated under a separate statewide contract.


As part of the contract, the board and teachers will create committees to explore issues related to safety and seniority, among other issues, according to a news release issued by the school district.

“Our board is grateful for the collaborative approach we were able to take with the union during the negotiation process,” board chair An-

The school board voted to approve the contract last Tuesday. The teachers’ union ratified it the following day. The previous contract expired last June.

“After working without a contract for six months, teachers represented by the Champlain Valley Education Association are relieved to finally settle and ratify a successor agreement,” said Lisa Bisbee, chief negotiator for the teachers. “This new contract will ensure that all teachers will see some increase, while also going a long way toward attracting and retaining teachers in our district given the very tight labor market for educators.”


An article in last week’s Observer headlined “Recreation Department Expands” listed an incorrect address for the department’s new program space. The correct address for the R.O.C. space is 94 Harvest Lane.


continued from page 1

response before considering cancelling games against the Redhawks.

“Students were fearful that they would be labeled as racist if they chose to play us, and they would face serious consequences on social media,” Bunting said in an interview Tuesday. “These players have worked for years to compete and play with one another so it would be a shame to stop that. But we also recognize that there is a dialogue happening here that is more important than basketball.”

That dialogue led to a joint statement read before CVU’s game Saturday against Burr and Burton Academy. Players from both teams locked arms before the game at center court as a Burr and Burton player read a statement disavowing racist and insensitive language and calling for solidarity in moving forward.

Three days later, after the Redhawks played St. Johnsbury, Bunting and CVU Athletic Di-

rector Ricky McCollum met with players and coaches in Essex to listen to their concerns and explain the administration’s response to the incident. The CVU game against Essex is scheduled for Monday. Since Bunting published his letter, Burlington and Rice have both rescheduled their games with CVU.

“Teams needed some time to think about how they process and work through some of the harm they felt,” Bunting said.

The player who posted the video was removed from her captainship with the team, suspended from playing and removed from leadership clubs at school. She has also experienced “significant consequences in her life outside of school,” Bunting wrote in his letter, without elaborating.

The administration, including the school district’s “diversity, equity and inclusion” staff, is undertaking a restorative process that they typically use in cases of bullying, harassment or hazing although in this case there was no individual target of the harm.

Bunting promised in his letter to review the school’s policies and consequences. Earlier this school year, CVU held an assembly and workshops with students about hurtful and discriminatory language. Ultimately, though, students are responsible for their own social media use.

“We can’t deny someone the right to an education based on social media use,” Bunting said, “unless they are violating our bullying, harassment and hazing policy.”

The rise of TikTok has had consequences for school communities in Vermont. The platform promotes mimicry, where users try their hand at recreating trending videos. Posts that mimic the trend the CVU player followed are still viewable on the site. Last year, schools were struck by TikTok trends inciting school vandalism and the infamous “slap a teacher challenge.”

“Tik Tok (is) problematic,” Bunting said. “This most recent TikTok trend is an example of some of the harm that’s perpetuated on social media.”

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“This new contract will ensure that all teachers will see some increase, while also going a long way toward attracting and retaining teachers…”
Lisa Bisbee
chief negotiator
The CVU and Burr and Burton girls basketball teams lock arms as a pregame statement is read Saturday in Hinesburg. TWITTER PHOTO @CVUHSREDHAWKS

WILLISTON: BUSINESS HUB OF VERMONT Comics and coffee come to Cottonwood

A former public defender is betting that comic books pair well with coffee.

Rory Malone left his job with the Vermont Office of the Defender General in October after 18 years, and in December opened the doors at Champion Comics and Coffee. The business is part of a blossoming retail mix at Cottonwood Crossing, a neighborhood of homes and businesses under construction in Taft Corners.

Shelves are lined with glossy titles from magazines to graphic novels, and a coffee bar stretches along the back end of the

1,900-square-foot space. Large tables welcome sipping and perusing, next to a forthcoming children’s art space. The tables are also the future site of game nights for Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering and other role-playing games —

something that several of the store’s first customers have requested.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the reception we’ve received,” Malone said. “We’re getting a lot of good word-ofmouth and repeat business, so that is promising to me … That tells me we’re doing something right.”

The store joins Burlington’s Earth Prime Comics as the area’s only comic shops. Malone believes greater Chittenden County can support both.

“If you build it, the comic book people will come, that’s what we are finding out,” he said.

January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 3
Rory Malone left a job as a public defender to open Champion Comics and Coffee at Cottonwood Crossing in December. OBSERVER PHOTO BY JASON STARR
“If you build it, the comic book people will come, that’s what we are finding out.”
see COMICS page 11
Rory Malone Champion Comics and Coffee

Polli Properties grows with addition of agent

Williston real estate brokerage Polli Properties has added Nina Mazuzan to its real estate team. Mazuzan lives in Burlington and had a career in education before entering real estate. She serves on the boards of two non-profits: the Cancer Patient Support Foundation and the Vermont Italian Cultural Association. She also regularly cooks and bakes for the Hope Lodge in Burlington, a place cancer patients call home when in town for treatments.

ECI employees donate $21,000 to local charities

Employees of Engineers Construction, Inc. (ECI) of Williston have collectively donated $21,483 to four local charities: the UVM Medical Cancer Foundation, Vermont Make-A-Wish, the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation and the Mike Loyer Foundation.

ECI added a corporate contribution to bring the total up to an even $25,000.

ECI employees traditionally make charitable contributions during the holiday season, and this is the largest collective contribution yet. The company employs about 180 operators, laborers, foremen, truck drivers, surveyors, estimators, engineers, administrative staff and specialty technicians.

DEW Construction VP takes helm at trade group board

Matt Wheaton, the executive vice president of Williston’s DEW Construction, has been named chair of the board of the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Hampshire/Vermont. Wheaton has been on the board since 2018.

“I am excited to lead the chapter this year,” said Wheaton, a veter-

an of residential construction who holds a master’s degree in architecture from Norwich University. “I believe the construction industry is the best place to find a career that provides for a family and helps make our community a better place. As part of our 2023 initiatives, the (organization) will help raise awareness of the career opportunities there are in our trades.”

The organization’s board consists of 19 people from across the construction industry. There are 270 companies within the organization.

“Our chapter is unique in that we span two states, so it is important to have a board that reflects the diversity of our membership in terms of disciplines and geographic location,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Josh Reap.

Williston wealth management

firm adds VP SilverLake Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm in Williston, has added former Morgan Stanley financial advisor Ryan Bergmann to its team.

Bergmann is a native of Shelburne and graduate of UVM. He currently lives in Burlington. He joins SliverLake as vice president, a registered investment advisor and a certified plan fiduciary advisor.

Trade show assistance grants available

The Vermont Agency of Ag-

riculture, Food & Markets is accepting applications for trade show assistance grants to help Vermont agricultural and forestry businesses with funding to attend national and international trade shows.

There is $50,000 available in the program, which reimburses businesses up to 50 percent for the cost of attending trade shows. To be eligible, a business must sell products that meet the definition of “local” as defined by Act 129. Applications will be reviewed through a competitive process. Eligibility does not guarantee funding.

Applications will be accepted through Jan. 31 at www.agriculture.vermont.gov/grants/tradeshow. To learn more, contact Kristen Brassard at (802) 522-3742 or kristen.brassard@vermont.gov.

Community Bank supports Burlington’s Hope Lodge

Community Bank’s Vermont branches recently donated $5,000 to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Burlington, which provides free, temporary lodging for caregivers and people with cancer who are receiving treatment away from home.

The Hope Lodge program reduces financial strain, makes treatment more accessible and improves quality of life for thousands of cancer patients every year.

“The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge … truly offers the greatest supportive environment for patients in cancer treatments and their caregivers,” Community Bank New England President Matthew Durkee said. “Their dedicated volunteers and staff go above and beyond for those in need, and this is just a small way we can help an incredible local organization right here at home.”

Unemployment rate holds at 2.5 percent

The statewide unemployment rate for November was 2.5 percent, according to the Vermont Department of Labor. That is an increase of less than one percent from October.

Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington called the unemployment rate “incredibly low.” Also, he noted, the number of available jobs remains high, with approximately three open jobs for every one jobseeker.

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Community Bank New England President Matthew Durkee (left), Community Outreach Manager Erinn Perry, center, and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Senior Manager Angela Putnam celebrate Community Bank’s donation to the Hope Lodge. OBSERVER COURTESY PHOTO Nina Mazuzan Matt Wheaton
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Vermont cannabis growers hope for direct-to-consumer sales

Vermont cannabis growers are hoping to legalize direct-to-consumer sales of their product.

At present, unless they buy a $10,000 retail license, growers must sell to an intermediary, such as a retail shop. Geoffrey Pizzutillo, executive director of the Vermont Growers Association, said members want to have more control over how much they can charge.

The growers appear to have the support of at least one key state lawmaker: Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, D-Brattleboro, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The committee’s longtime chair, Rep. Janet Ancel, D-Calais, did not run for reelection.

“It’s really, really, really important to me that all of our cannabis legislation supports small growers,” Kornheiser said. “I’m curious to see if in the next few years, the conversation winds up a lot like the raw-milk conversation.”

Vermont has allowed farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers from their farms since 2009. Since 2014, it has allowed them to deliver and sell at farmers markets.

Kornheiser said she is “quite open-minded” about allowing farmers to sell cannabis directly to consumers.

“One of the ways in which small farms survive is through direct marketing of their own products,” said Graham Unangst-Rufenacht, policy director at Rural Vermont. Unangst-Rufenacht, a grassfed-beef farmer who lives in Marshfield, said he could not survive without selling beef directly to consumers.

“When you can directly sell your own product, there’s no cut going to an intermediary,” said Unangst-Rufenacht. “Everybody who produces a product should have a right to sell that product directly themselves.”

Growers are allowed to sell cannabis to consumers, but they must get a retail license, said James Pepper, chair of the

state Cannabis Control Board.

“I know $10,000 for a retail license is out of reach for a lot of folks,” Pepper said, noting that such a cost can be prohibitive for the average small cultivator.

Direct-to-consumer sales of cannabis by growers are not allowed anywhere in the United States, Pepper said. “But I think in Vermont, we can all imagine a time that that would be allowed,” he said.

However, he pointed to several hurdles.

“This is a very expensive crop compared to a tomato,” Pepper said. “So we have some very intensive security and cash management requirements for retailers, which might be hard to pull off at a farmers’ market.”

Another obstacle: Under Vermont law, the mere display of cannabis constitutes an advertisement, and cannabis may not be advertised to the general public. That means farmers would have to find a way to sell their product at farm stands or farmers’ markets, for instance, without displaying it.

Pepper sees a possible solution in the creation of special-event cannabis retail licenses.

“You could have an over-21 farmers market that would not be visible to the general public,” Pepper said. “That’s a conversation that is going to happen this year.”

Pepper said he has heard a lot of interest from state senators in implementing a special-event license. He pointed out that if the Legislature authorizes such a license, it would take another nine months for the Cannabis Control Board to implement regulations.

“The downside to the system that we have set up is that the people who take the most care and put in the most work to growing this cannabis, generally speaking, just have to take whatever the price a wholesaler or retailer is willing to offer,” Pepper said.

The best way to allow small growers to succeed, Pepper said, is to allow them to bring their product to market themselves.

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“Everybody who produces a product should have a right to sell that product directly themselves.”
Graham UnangstRufenacht Policy director Rural Vermont
Wyeth Shamp, owner of Lost Lake Cannabis in Georgia, uses a jeweler’s loupe to check the trichomes on a cannabis bud for ripeness on a plant in Burlington in September. FILE PHOTO BY GLENN RUSSELL/VTDIGGER

Beware of hyper-urgency on climate policy

Disagreement about politics and policies is not disrespect. In fact disagreement — whether between members of the public and policymakers or between the legislative and executive branches of government — can spur healthy debate that illuminates problems and uncovers solutions.

Disagreements are often less about the problems facing Vermonters and more about the best solutions. Climate action, and specifically the Clean Heat Standard proposal in the Legislature, is a good example of this tension.

Scientists have established an irrefutable link between rising levels of greenhouse gases in the environment and increasingly erratic weather patterns. The July 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that we are facing “… increasingly severe, interconnected and often irreversible impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiver-

sity, and human systems.” Moreover, 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded not only that global warming is happening, but that it is primarily human-caused.

A February 2022 Vermont

Public poll found that 79 percent of Vermonters think climate change will impact life in Vermont the next 30 years. In other words, most climate scientists, Vermonters and Vermont public officials agree climate change is real and we need to act.

Although the climate problem is widely accepted, climate action remains enormously complex with many interconnected dilemmas. We know we need to decarbonize to reduce the inevitable impacts of a changing climate on the quality of life of future generations. Differences arise in the development and implementation of policies and programs that achieve this goal and strike the balance of successfully addressing climate change in a fair, efficient and cost-effective way.

While grateful that we agree on so much, I am worried that the building feelings of inevitability and despair are pushing some to act without deliberation. There are real uncertainties about how we should make the transition from today, when more than 70 percent of Vermonters rely on fossil fuels to heat their homes. Addressing whether the electrical grid can handle the increased load, how Vermonters stay warm when the power goes out and how we support low- and middle-income Vermonters in affording the transition

are vital parts of this dialogue as we work toward an all-renewable future.

I am concerned the desire to do something, anything, is causing some to overlook or ignore the unknowns related to the Clean Heat Standard. Hard questions can and must be asked without being viewed as opposition to progress.

The reality is, if difficult and expensive mandates are enacted without ensuring they will effectively and efficiently address the problem they purport to solve, we risk not only wasting resources but also squandering the support of those who are paying.

My agency is in the throes of the work to answer some hard questions about policy approaches that will support affordable, climate-friendly home heat alternatives. With the legislative session now underway and climate action front-of-mind for many, there will

be reluctance to wait for this work to be completed. A sense of urgency is amplifying calls to move swiftly to enact far-reaching policies and programs, without any real understanding of whether they are effective and how they will impact Vermonters.

We need to remain mindful that, even with a shared passion, there is a line between brave and imprudent in how we approach climate action, and that, even when there is broad agreement that something needs to happen, we should not settle for anything at any cost.

Good public policy requires hard conversations and difficult choices about how to achieve a decarbonized Vermont successfully, fairly and efficiently.

Julie Moore is secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Page 6 Williston Observer January 19, 2023 www.willistonobserver.com P.O. Box 1401, Williston, VT 05495 | 802-489-5499 B A NG Burlington Area Newspaper Group MEMBER: Williston’s Community Newspaper Since 1985 ADVERTISING Rick Cote, Associate Publisher rick@willistonobserver.com 802-373-2136 EDITOR Jason Starr editor@willistonobserver.com PRODUCTION & DESIGN Jan Kenney jan@willistonobserver.com PUBLISHER Susan T. Cote susan@willistonobserver.com BILLING INQUIRIES Michael McCaffrey office@willistonobserver.com A publication of Twin Ponds Publishing LLC The Williston Observer reserves the right to edit or refuse submissions or advertising. Opinions expressed in the paper are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the paper. ADVERTISING SPACE DEADLINE Friday at 5 p.m. for the next Thursday issue rick@willistonobserver.com, 802-373-2136 CLASSIFIED ADS Deadline is Friday 5 p.m. There is a fee for business, real estate, help wanted and legal ads. Free classi fieds must be 25 words or fewer and are printed on a space available basis. SUBMISSIONS & LETTERS Deadline is Monday noon for Thursday issue. News/ story tips are welcomed. Letters to the Editor must be 300 words or fewer and should include your name, address and a daytime phone
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There is a line between brave and imprudent in how we approach climate action.

A plan for housing diversity, availability

In the past year, local news outlets have covered recurring instances of essential housing projects being delayed by one person, or a few people. Stories from Jericho, South Burlington, Middlebury, Williston, Castleton, Waterbury, Morristown, Burlington, Winooski, Hartford, Putney, and others highlight how easy it is to obstruct housing progress in Vermont.

Legislators of all parties, businesses from all industries and communities across the state agree that housing is the foundational challenge for Vermont right now. We can no longer allow state and local regulatory processes to be weaponized to derail housing opportunities.

It has to stop.

Over 85 municipalities have adopted a Declaration of Inclusion with the intent to attract people with myriad skills and traditions to Vermont to live, work and raise families. But, when it comes to building housing for new community members, Vermonters in these same cities and towns are discouraging development.

For an economically secure, sustainable and equitable future, Vermont needs more people of diverse backgrounds to move here to live and work. However, recent graduates and seasoned professionals alike are deterred from living in Vermont due to the statewide supply shortage of suitable housing.

Additionally, we must better meet the needs of older Vermonters, who are essential members of our workforce and communities. There is a significant misalignment between the housing that is available and the type of housing Vermonters need and want. For older adults who want to downsize to modestly sized alternatives, the housing supply isn’t meeting their needs. Instead, downsizing often requires leaving their community altogether and parting with the place they’ve called home for years.

Seven years ago, the Vermont Futures Project set a target of bringing 5,000 new or retrofitted units online per year, to keep supply in line with demand. Since then, we have seen hundreds of millions of dollars invested in housing, but the crisis continues to worsen.

Since 2016, the annual average of new units permitted has been under 2,000. This means we are moving backwards rather than forwards. While statewide investments are still part of the equation, a singular focus on investing tax dollars into housing must be broadened to create long-term and sustainable solutions for housing people of all ages and economic backgrounds.

The Vermont housing crisis requires bold leadership at both the state and local levels to reduce barriers to the creation of housing. Communities must take a stand against instances of individuals derailing projects that are in the public interest. Where state tax dollars have funded roadways, water systems and public buildings and resources, the state has an obligation to maximize these investments and allow more people to live near these resources paid for with taxpayer dollars.

If housing is the top priority in the Legislature, we need to see the issue receive immediate and aggressive attention this legislative session. Legislation that makes real change to address our housing crisis should be the first bill on the Governor’s desk this session.

To address the housing shortage, we recommend the follow-

ing solutions:

• Break down regulatory barriers: Modernize Act 250 and remove its requirements for housing in areas with state designations, and restrict local zoning practices that inhibit the creation of housing options in smart growth areas. Exclusionary zoning and outdated land use regulations are adding prohibitive and often duplicative costs and delays. This hinders the ability of Vermont to welcome a new and diverse population to live and work here. It restricts the ability to build age-friendly homes for older Vermonters and to create more housing opportunities for Vermonters who want to remain here.

• Invest strategically: Increase the workforce housing supply with a dedicated strategy for middle-income earners to access a progression of housing, from tenancy to homeownership. Provide financial incentives to assist communities with the necessary infrastructure and planning resources to create housing opportunities for rural, aging and historically marginalized Vermonters.

• Build public-private partnerships: Bring employers, developers and government/ non-government stakeholders together to find and finance housing opportunities in employment hubs. We need more voices with new ideas at the table to find new solutions.

• Collect Data: Create a statewide registry of short-term rentals to understand how these operations are impacting the housing market for both rental and homeownership opportunities.

Megan Sullivan is vice president of government affairs for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Contributing to this article were Tino Rutanhira, cofounder and board chair for the Vermont Professionals of Color Network, and Kelly Stoddard Poor, director of advocacy and outreach for AARP VT.


January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 7
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We can no longer allow state and local regulatory processes to be weaponized to derail housing opportunities.


Good sports

CLOCKWISE (l to r from top): Sportsmanship is the name of the game as first- and secondgraders, above, congratulate each other at the end of their game on Saturday morning at Williston Central School. Williston 5/6 girls wait for their chance to play against a team from Colchester. First- and second-graders face off in the “new gym.” In a battle against Williston the Colchester fifth- and sixthgrade girls team attempts a short jump shot. Williston Recreation Director Todd Goodwin instructs first- and second- graders on some finer points of the game. A tip off starts the game for the first- and second-graders.

Page 8 Williston Observer January 19, 2023

Mat match

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CVU’s Thomas Murphy, above, works to roll his opponent from Spaulding onto his back, eventually winning the match, during the Redhawks’ tri-meet with Spaulding and MMU Jan. 11 in Hinesburg. Clockwise below (l to r): CVU’s wrestling head coach Scott Bissonette yells encouragement to his wrestlers. CVU’s Matt Smardon drives forward to take down his opponent from Spaulding emerging as victor of the encounter. The ref raises the arm of Camden Ayer acknowledging his wins in matches with both his Spaulding and MMU opponents. CVU’s Cassidy Fleming tries for a double leg take-down on her opponent.
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Lawmakers consider ending single-home zoning

In hopes of alleviating Vermont’s housing crisis, a tri-partisan group of state lawmakers has endorsed a slate of zoning reforms that would remove barriers to denser development, particularly in town centers and areas served by municipal water and sewer systems.

The reform contemplated in legislation crafted by Rep. Seth

Bongartz, D-Manchester, would effectively ban single-family zoning, a move that would make it legal to build at least a duplex anywhere a single-family home is allowed. In areas served by water and sewer, municipalities would have to also allow three- and fourunit homes.

“If you just think about it, from an environmental perspective — or from any perspective — it makes total sense. One foundation, one driveway, one set of

services. And so really you’re getting two houses for one, with no additional environmental impact,” said Bongartz, who plans to introduce his bill this week.

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency estimates that, if current trends hold, the state will need to build 40,000 new housing units by 2030 to meet demand and return to a healthy housing market. Bongartz, along with a growing coalition of planners, developers and housing experts, argues the state will have to significantly pare back its local regulatory landscape if it hopes to meet that goal — and incentivize more infill development to mitigate sprawl.

Bongartz’s bill comes at a turning point in the conversation about America’s sprawling housing crisis. Local zoning is increasingly taking center stage as academics and activists spotlight the way building regulations have been used to keep housing supply artificially low and certain communities out.

YIMBY — an acronym for “yes in my backyard” — groups have organized across the country, and a handful of large cities (like Minneapolis) and states (like California) have already moved to ban single-family zoning, among other reforms.

Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D/P-Chittenden Southeast, the new chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, said she’s keeping a copy of Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law,” a seminal book released in 2017 about housing policy and segregation, in her committee room, “prominently displayed and facing the witness.”

dwelling unit density standard of five dwelling units per acre in areas served by water and sewer.

The hope is that this will allow smaller, denser, and therefore cheaper and more accessible housing to be built in walkable areas closer to services and amenities, Bongartz said.

“When you have towns still requiring low densities in their downtowns, large setbacks, a lot of parking — I know it is not intended to be discriminatory, and I’m always careful to say that, but

Act 250, Vermont’s landmark land-use law, the community appeals process which is notorious for sending developments into a protracted and expensive limbo.

“Our village downtowns are treated in a lot of ways the same way as open forest tracts,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. Our villages and downtowns are where we want development to occur.”

Gov. Phil Scott has long been beating the drum of regulatory reform as a way to mitigate the housing crisis, although he has largely focused his public advocacy on the need for an Act 250 overhaul. But administration officials have been at the table for months working with Bongartz, planners, affordable housing developers, and environmental groups to give input.

Josh Hanford, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, said the administration is generally in favor of what’s in the bill. Its only critique? What’s not.

“We’re supportive of this bill in its present form — with the caveat that we believe there’s some very small, targeted, appropriate Act 250 reforms that should be included,” Hanford said.

it has discriminatory impacts,” he said. “It makes it much more difficult for people of low and moderate incomes to be able to live in downtowns.”

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“I do highly encourage people who want to be part of this conversation to look at the history of how … everything from local regulation to federal loan programs have been used to keep the American dream out of the hands of people of color in this country, and particularly Black Americans,” she said. Vermont, she added, has the fifth-largest racial homeownership gap in the country.

Bongartz’s bill would also limit minimum parking requirements to no more than one space per dwelling or accessory dwelling unit. (Developers could include more parking if they wanted, but cities and towns could not require them.) And it would establish a

The housing bill takes direct aim at one of Vermont’s most sacred cows: local control. And Ted Brady, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, said that in a “normal world,” his organization would be dead set against it.

“That’s not where we’re starting from,” he said. But there’s a catch.

“I think our membership can all get together and say we understand that we need to give up some local control in order to solve this problem — if the state comes to the table and says, ‘We’re going to give up some of our control that is also part of the problem,’” he said.

Bongartz’s legislation would eliminate the duplicative need for a state permit for water and sewer connections if municipalities are already issuing one. But Brady has something much bigger in mind: He’d like to see the state exempt city and town centers from

Bongartz steered clear of Act 250 in his bill, preferring to sidestep the bitter debates that have engulfed a succession of legislatures that have thus far failed to broker a successful deal among environmentalists, developers and the state. But the reforms outlined in his bill will likely be debated in tandem with reforms to the 50-year-old state law.

Ram Hinsdale said she plans to lift the municipal zoning reform language written by Bongartz nearly verbatim into an omnibus housing bill led by her committee, which will also tackle changes in Act 250.

She said she’s not sold on exempting village centers outright, because that would allow any type of development to escape state review. But Ram Hinsdale does think the state should raise the thresholds at which the law is triggered for residential development, so that only larger developments would set the state review in motion.

“I think it’s entirely fair to say that where there is duplication, confusion or overreach, it is sometimes squarely the fault of Act 250,” she said.

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Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden Southeast, center, and Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden Southeast, right, listen to Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden Central, at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Tuesday.

Malone frequented his local comic book store as a kid growing up in Alaska, and he remains a reader and fan. He moved to Vermont in 2000 to attend Vermont Law School and joined the Office of the Defender General in 2004, providing legal defense to criminal defendants without another attorney in Franklin, Grand Isle and Lamoille counties.

The case backlog that the pandemic created in the courts made him start thinking about a career change. Last year, when it was time to restart cases and reconnect with defendants, Malone decided to step away.

“When courtrooms started reopening I thought, ‘This is a mess, and I am certainly partly responsible for creating this mess, but the court was also responsible for not coming up with a way to properly

address the backlog,” he said. “I just felt like, ‘I don’t want to deal with this. I want to find something else to do.’”

With his wife and co-owner Rachel, he looked at vacant retail spots in other Chittenden County towns, as well as other Williston locations. He was drawn to the new buildings at Cottonwood, where large windows bring in plenty of natural light — an improvement over the lingering reputation of comic book shops being dimly lit, cramped and unwelcoming.

Malone is also excited to be part of the evolution of Taft Corners.

“I looked at the rezoning Williston was doing and the plan that they have to make things walkable and put in bike paths and expand neighborhoods and I thought ‘we are going to be moving into an area where the town is trying to create a city center,’” he said. “‘We are going to be, maybe not in the middle of it, but in it.’”

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Ski area receives housing help from nearby college

Unable to find local housing for its international student workers this winter, Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Jeffersonville enlisted the help of Northern Vermont University-Johnson.

For years, Smugglers’ Notch has been hiring college students from other countries during their summer breaks. In the Vermont winter, the students come from the Southern Hemisphere and Costa Rica, which has a long college break that coincides with the Vermont ski season.

In winter, the students work in food and beverage, and as ski instructors, lift attendants and housekeeping. This winter,

the resort hired 75 international students. They make up about 10 percent of the total staff, said Sam McDowell, the resort’s human resources coordinator.

“This program for us solves a labor need for seasonal positions,” McDowell said. ”That’s hard to accomplish in a town like Jeffersonville, even branching out to other towns. It also adds a lot to the exchange.”

The program that brings in international students is, at its core, a cultural exchange, McDowell said. Smugglers’ is not just an employer, but a host, he said. The resort provides rides to work and must provide cultural outings, he said.

Except for the Chilean students, most of whom are ski


instructors, he said, most of the students have never skied, and most will learn to ski or snowboard while at Smugglers’. Like other employees, the students have free access to all the amenities at the resort, including free skiing, free equipment rentals, free lessons, and pool access.

This is Ariana Falconi’s first time in the United States. The student from Lima, Peru, said she wanted to travel. She studies translation and interpreting at the Peruvian University for Applied Sciences. Friends had worked at Smugglers’ Notch, she said, and recommended it.

“People are so nice here and it’s a great experience so far,” Falconi said.

Falconi serves lunch to the ski camp children and counselors. She also works as a hostess at the Morse Mountain Grille and scoops ice cream at the Ben & Jerry’s shop at the resort.

Recently, housing has been a big challenge for the international program, McDowell said. He said the resort used to be able to rent condominiums to house all the international students around Jeffersonville. But with the increase in short-term rentals, McDowell said, fewer condos and apartments became available for rent for an entire season.

Housing is a problem at other

ski resorts, too. Seven Days reported that Sugarbush Resort in Warren has applied for permits to build a four-story apartment building and three single-family homes to house its employees.

For its international students, Smugglers’ reached out to NVU-Johnson, which had a surplus of dorm rooms. The arrangement was first reported in the News & Citizen.

“We’ve seen a decline in college-age student enrollment that’s been happening for well over 10, 15 years,” said Michele Whitmore, dean of students at NVU-Johnson. “And certainly, Covid did not help with that.”

The students will stay at NVU-Johnson for Smugglers’ entire ski season, which ends in the beginning of April, McDowell said. Smugglers’ also employs two resident advisers on each of the three dorm floors it is renting to help with needs such as making medical appointments, setting up trips to Burlington outside of the regular shopping trips the resort offers, or if a student needs help with work schedules, McDowell said.

Students have access to all amenities on campus, including dining halls, the center for the arts, and the athletic facilities, McDowell said.

One advantage of being in Johnson, McDowell said, is that

students can walk to stores.

“Now that they have the college campus, they can meet tons of people their age that are studying in the U.S. and exchange ideas that way,” McDowell said.

Whitmore said it remains to be seen how well the international students integrate into the campus because NVU-Johnson students did not come back for the spring semester until this week. She said the university plans a number of activities to include the international students, including a talent show and a dinner that will include the foods of Costa Rica, Chile and Peru, the three countries from which the exchange students come.

“It’s exciting,” Whitmore said. “I hope we can continue the partnership.”

Each student pays Smugglers’ $125 a week for room and board, McDowell said. The resort pays the university around $3,000 per student for the entire season, said Whitmore.

The bus trip from the campus to the resort takes about half an hour.

Falconi said the university is a little far from Smugglers’, but she likes it there.

“I get to live the American college life,” she said. “People are super nice.”

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$189 charged, $15 collected: The life and death of a local independent drugstore

BRATTLEBORO — Eye all the photos, postcards and news clippings that paper Mary Giamartino’s office, and you’ll see how the Hotel Pharmacy opened at downtown’s Brooks House in 1940, then kept its name when it moved to the old fire station in 1978 and to the former Methodist church in 1993.

But just past the store shelves lit by century-and-ahalf-old stained-glass windows is a stack of bills that illuminates an even bigger contrast.

Take the prescription for the pain reliever hydromorphone.

The pharmacy bought it for a patient at $189.12. Yet, after the customer’s $10 copay, insurance reimbursed only another $15.21.

“I lost $163.91,” Giamartino said. “But do you not fill it? No, this woman was dying.”

And so, as a result, is the local independent drugstore — a shooting star outside a larger galaxy of corporate insurers, big-box pharmacies and generic manufacturers.

“Loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss ...” Giamartino said as she ran her finger down record after record calculating what’s charged versus what’s collected. “It just kept getting worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse. Like beyond worse.”

That’s why the Brattleboro mom-and-pop will close for good after 83 years, dispersing customers to one of the town’s four chain drugstores while dropping the number of Vermont independents from upward of 50 a decade ago to 16 today.

“Insurance company reimbursements to us are so low, we can’t make any money,” Giamartino said. “It just got to the point where there was nothing else I could do.”

The 67-year-old didn’t en -

vision her current predicament when she and her fellow pharmacist husband, Frank, bought the business in 1982. Working more collaboratively than competitively, the drugstore was one of three downtown seemingly founded by Mr. Gower in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Moving to the former Methodist church, the metropolitan New York family hung Mets baseball banners under the vaulted ceiling, rock-riffing stereo speakers where the choir once sang, and snapshots everywhere else of sons Vincent and Nicholas — the latter pictured on a school bus alongside classmate (and current state treasurer) Mike Pieciak.

Then came tragedy. In 2001, Nicholas died in his sleep from an infection at age 17. Five years later, in 2006, Frank was killed in a car crash at age 53.

“The only good thing about this,” the wife and mother told the local paper upon her husband’s death, “is that every day he won’t have to wake up and say, ‘I love you, Nick. I miss you.’”

Giamartino has run the business ever since, heading a team of 20 employees who offer 24-hour emergency service, local delivery and the ability to compound medication inhouse.

“They go out of their way to support the clientele,” said Karen Peterson, outgoing executive director of the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what your status is in the community. You feel cared for there. You are an individual, not a number.”

Hotel Pharmacy has stood alone after the closure of Brattleboro’s three other mom-andpop drugstores. Statewide, it has seen counterparts recently shuttered or sold to larger outfits in Bennington and Manchester; Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes; Rutland;

and Woodstock.

Independent drugstores hope a new Vermont law boosting state regulation of pharmacy benefit management will start to stem the losses.

“Pharmacies are not in control of their financials — we don’t control the cost of the medications, nor do we control the reimbursement,” said Jeff Hochberg, president of the Vermont Retail Druggists Association. “Every state in the country is feeling this, rural ones in particular. I think that pharmacy is a great bellwether for true reform of the health care system.”

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation is set to release a report on the issue this month. But it’s too little too late for Hotel Pharmacy, which has waded too many years in red ink.

Giamartino tried to cut costs by dropping advertising, then donations to community causes, then staff raises and bonuses. This past year she looked for someone to buy the business.

No one made an offer.

“A friend said, ‘Mary, it’s going to break your heart. Get

ready.’ And I said, ‘I bet everything I have that it won’t.’ I was wrong.”

And so Giamartino reached out to Brattleboro’s two chains, Rite Aid and Walgreens, before deciding to pass on her customer files to the latter upon the close of business Tuesday.

No one is happy with the ending, as seen on social media or heard through talk about town.

“We made sure our patients would be OK,” said Jodi Harrison, a pharmacy technician for three decades. “Now we’re not sure who’s going to make sure.”

Giamartino is set to sell the building, but not before gathering the photos, postcards and clippings that hold so many memories.

“I am going to remember working with a wonderful group of people that gave the best possible pharmacy care that anybody could,” she said. “There’s nothing like helping somebody, making them feel better, letting them die the way they want to die.”

Even if, as she understands firsthand, they ultimately don’t want to.

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January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 13
“I lost $163.91. But do you not fill (the prescription)? No, this woman was dying.”
Mary Giamartino Hotel Pharmacy
Brattleboro’s Hotel Pharmacy, above, has operated out of the town’s former Methodist church since 1993. In 1940 it was located downtown in the Brooks House
Speak up. Send your letters to email editor@ willistonobserver.com

Next Week: Our States: Delaware

Historic figures

Isn’t It Grand?

Has something in nature ever taken your breath away? For example, maybe a dramatic thunderstorm caught your attention, or a tiny ladybug surprised you when it spread its wings and flew away.

Many people feel awestruck when they first visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Mini Page visited the canyon last fall and learned about this vast geologic formation.


The canyon is formally called the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. The river, which starts in northern Colorado and flows more than 1,400 miles through Utah, Arizona and Nevada, empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico.

Scientists believe that over 2 billion years, the river’s water, working with uplift of the Colorado Plateau, has cut the deep canyon into the land. (Uplift is a result of tectonic plates moving and changing the Earth’s surface.)

Geologists are able to see different layers of rock in the canyon’s walls and tell how old those layers are.


There are three main layers of rock in the canyon.

Mini Fact: Grand Canyon National Park was established by Congress in 1919.

• Metamorphic rocks are the oldest and deepest layer. These rocks are called the Vishnu Basement rocks and have igneous rock, or granite, mixed in with them. They are roughly 1.7 billion years old.

• The next layer is called the Grand Canyon Supergroup, and it includes sandstone and mudstone, along with some igneous rock.

• The higher layers are made mostly of sandstone, which gives them their reddish color, and were formed just a few million years ago. These layers contain a lot of fossils, most from sea creatures who lived there when the land was covered by ocean.

More than just rocks

There’s more to the Grand Canyon than rivers and rocks. It’s home to a wide variety of plants and animals. The North Rim of the canyon is roughly 8,000 feet higher than its floor. As a result, widely different life-forms can exist there.

At the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, you’re likely to see a lot of squirrels, birds (including scrub jays and ravens), mule deer and elk. Farther down in the canyon, bighorn sheep scamper on the steep walls, and reptiles such as snakes and lizards are present from the canyon floor to the rim.

Several types of fir, pine and juniper trees live along the rim. Cactuses and wildflowers also thrive there.

Architect Mary Colter designed many buildings at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. She was unusual for her time; most architects were men in the early 20th century.

Colter designed the Desert View Watchtower, which lies at the east end of the park. It is 70 feet tall and was designed to look like an ancestral Puebloan watchtower.

John Wesley Powell was a geologist and explorer who was the first person to travel the Colorado River through the canyon. With a team of 10 men, Powell took three months to go from Green River, Wyoming, to Moab, Utah.

Powell designed his own wooden boats, which weren’t wellsuited to the rocky riverbeds. The part of the journey through the Grand Canyon was particularly difficult, with sections of rapids challenging the crew.

Page 14 Williston Observer January 19, 2023
An exotic bird thought to have gone extinct 140 years ago has been “rediscovered” by researchers on a tiny island The Mini Page® © 2023 Andrews McMeel Syndication
Issue 03, 2023 LAYERS, METAMORPHIC, MUDSTONE, PARK, PLANTS, PLATEAU, POWELL, REPTILES, RIVER, release dates: Jan. 21-27, 2023 03 (23) On the Web: • bit.ly/MPcanyon • bit.ly/MPcanyon2 At the library: • “Grand Canyon: The Complete Guide” by James Kaiser Resources O L I I G N E O U S V S S I T P P R E P R E P T I L E S B S M U T J C I H P R O M A T E M E T I N A R G G P L A T E A U Mini Page photos NPS photo Along
trail into the
hikers can see clearly the layers of rock that have formed the canyon walls over millions of years. A juniper tree John
Founded by Betty Debnam
the Bright Angel
Wesley Powell 1834-1902 The Desert View Watchtower opened in 1932.


main layers of rock in the canyon.

Try ’n’ Find

juniper trees live along the rim. Cactuses and wildflowers also thrive there.

Mini Jokes

Words that remind us of the Grand Canyon are hidden in this puzzle. Some words are hidden backward or diagonally, and some letters are used twice. See if you can find:


Cook’s Corner Nuts and Bolts

You’ll need:

• 1/2 cup butter, melted

• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

• 1 teaspoon seasoned salt

What to do:

• 2 cups pretzel bits

• 2 cups wheat cereal

• 2 cups corn cereal

• 1 cup mixed nuts

1. Combine melted butter, Worcestershire sauce and seasoned salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. Mix well. 2. Stir in pretzel bits and cereals. Mix well. 3. Microwave on high for 6 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking. 4. Add nuts and mix well.

5. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 7 cups.

7 Little Words for Kids

Melanie: What’s a donkey’s favorite party game?

Matt: Pin the Tail on the Human!

Eco Note

An exotic bird thought to have gone extinct 140 years ago has been “rediscovered” by researchers on a tiny island off Papua New Guinea. The black-naped pheasant pigeon was spotted in images from remote cameras on Fergusson Island. “It is the kind of moment you dream about your entire life as a conservationist and birdwatcher,” said expedition co-lead John Mittermeier. The team initially had help from one local who reported seeing the pheasantpigeon several times in an area with steep ridges and valleys, and described hearing the bird’s distinctive calls.

For later: Look in your newspaper for articles about national parks.

Teachers: Follow and interact with The Mini Page on Facebook!

numbers in parentheses

number of letters in the solution. Each letter combination can be used only once, but all letter combinations will be necessary to complete the puzzle.

evening, gravy.

January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 15
are three
Several types of fir, pine and
The Mini Page® © 2023 Andrews McMeel Syndication The Mini Page® © 2023 Andrews McMeel Syndication
adapted with permission from Earthweek.com
need an adult’s help with this recipe.
©2023 Blue Ox Technologies Ltd Download the app on Apple and Amazon devices
contain (7)
computer in your pocket (10)
baby cow (4)
person guiding a team (5)
a year has 12 of these (6)
late part of the day (7)
brown sauce (5)
the letters in the boxes to make a word with the same meaning as the clue. The
represent the
Answers: include, smartphone, calf, coach, months,
At the library: • “Grand Canyon: The Complete Guide” by James Kaiser
see clearly the layers
rock that
A juniper tree
have formed the canyon walls over millions of years.

The best reacher-grabber tools of 2023

ries, arthritis or loss of mobility. get to. But with so many different types of reacher-grabbers on the market today, finding a good one that works well for you is not always easy. Here are some top-rated products to consider.

For retrieving small and medium-sized items, the “Ettore Grip’n Grab” is a top option that can handle most chores. This 34-inch-long tool has a soft, comfortable trigger handgrip and a rubberized jaw that’s strong enough to lift objects up to 5 pounds and up to 4 inches wide, yet sensitive enough to pick up something as small as a dime. The jaw also rotates and locks at 90 degrees for vertical or horizontal use to help you reach things in

If you want a reacher primarily for retrieving small, lightweight items around the house, the “RMS Featherweight the Original Reacher” is a top pick. Available in 32- and 26-inch lengths, it’s made from ultra-lightweight aluminum and has a trigger-style handgrip with a serrated jaw that provides a secure grip when lifting objects.

It also has a magnet built into the tip for picking up lightweight

metal objects like a paperclip, and a small hook (or horn) that aids in retrieving things like clothes, shoes or keys. It even has a built-in clip on the arm so you can attach it to canes, walkers and wheelchairs. But, because of its super-lightweight design, it doesn’t work well at retrieving heaver items like canned goods from shelves.

Foldable: For easier storage, the top-selling folding grabber is the “Zayad Reacher Grabber Tool,” which is 32 inches long and has a slip-joint in the arm that allows it to easily fold in half. It also has a soft, ergonomic grip with a rubberized, rotating jaw that can lift objects up to 3 pounds and up to 4 inches wide.

Heavy-duty: For heaver-lifting jobs or for outdoor use, the “Unger Nifty Nabber” is a top choice. Available in 36- and 48inch lengths, this sturdy tool has a rubber-coated, heavy-duty claw that grips small, large and oddshaped items with ease. It also has a built-in magnet for picking up small metal objects, an ergonomic squeeze-grip handle and can lift 8 pounds.


You can buy reacher-grabbers at many pharmacies, retail, medical equipment and home improvement stores. But, because it’s a specialty item, the selection is very limited. Your best bet is to buy one online at www.Amazon.com, which sells all of the top reacher-grabbers at prices ranging from $10 to $20. Just type the product name in the search bar to find it.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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Can you recommend some good
tools for seniors with
who need
I bought
that doesn’t work very well and would like to find one that does.
very practical and popular tool for anyone who struggles with inju
Dear Savvy Senior,
back or hip problems
help picking things up off the ground?
a cheap one a few months ago
Dear Betty,
good “reacher-grabber”


• In 1915, two German zeppelins dropped bombs on the towns of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn in England.

• In 1966, Indira Gandhi was elected as India’s prime minister, the first woman to hold this office.

• In 1977, snow fell in Miami for the only time in recorded history.

• In 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons space probe to study the dwarf planet Pluto.


• Dolly Parton holds three Guinness World Records: most decades on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart (female) (seven), most No. 1 hits on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart by a female artist (25) and most hits on the U.S. Hot Country songs chart by a female artist (109).

January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 17
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OBITUARIES Doran Gene Anderson

Doran Gene Anderson passed away peacefully Dec. 16, 2022 surrounded by loving family members after a brief illness.

Doran was born in Fort Madison, IA Dec. 10, 1927, the only child of Obadiah Eugene Snyder and Elizabeth Jane Snyder (Caswell). Doran grew up in Oak Park, Illinois and Fort Wayne, ID and attended public schools where she was recognized for her quick wit and aptitude for math. Doran attended Lawrence College and the University of Indiana. While on summer break during college she met her future husband on a blind date.

Doran married Harold W. Anderson, a graduate of Brown University, Jan. 12, 1952, and went on to raise a family in Cheshire, CT. As her children grew, Doran worked as a senior administrative assistant, took art and interior design classes and enjoyed beating

friends and family at various card games.

Doran was known for her independent spirit, determination, and financial acumen. An avid reader, she enjoyed taking her sons Brook and Bryan skiing any chance she could to enjoy quiet time relaxing in a ski lodge reading a collection of novels. She also loved spending time with family and friends at

the Old Lyme Beach Club and at Copper Valley Club in Cheshire, CT, where her sons learned to swim and play tennis. Taking a spin on the dance floor to tunes by her favorite jazz musician, Illinois Jacquet, or at her grandson’s wedding at the age of 93 was one of her favorite things to do. She was known for her no-nonsense attitude - “Say it like you see it” - often entertaining her grandchildren and friends.

She was an accomplished card player, learning to play poker at a very young age and mastering the games of pinochle and bridge.

Travel was one of Doran’s favorite activities, most notably her last trip to Peru at the age of 89.

Doran was a devout supporter for the humane treatment of animals also contributed to the arts.


— Town of Williston Assistant to the Assessor


The Town of Williston Assessor/Listers Office is hiring a part-time Assistant to the Assessor. This is a 16-hour per week position with the potential for flexible hours.

The candidate filling the position will have an opportunity for training in municipal property assessment and be considered to take on an expanded role in the coming years due to planned staff retirements. Prior real estate / assessment experience is desired, but not required.

The Assessor/Listers Office generates the annual Grand List and serves as E-911 coordinator for the Town. Duties of the position include responding to inquiries from the public regarding assessments, taxes, property files and related matters; and maintaining official records of all properties on the Grand List, property transfer tax records, property sales information and building permits. Please visit town.williston.vt.us to view the complete full job description.

Applicants should have an Associate’s degree, 2 to 3 years of related training and experience, or a combination of education and experience from which comparable knowledge and skills are acquired. This position has paid sick, vacation, personal and holiday time off. The starting wage will range between $21-22.50 per hour depending on the qualifications of the chosen candidate.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to: HR Coordinator / Assistant to the Town Manager Erin Dickinson at edickinson@willistonvt.org or mail to: Town of Williston, Attn: Erin Dickinson, 7900 Williston Road, Williston, VT 05495.

The preferred deadline for applications is Friday, February 3, 2023

The Town of Williston is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer. Applicants from all backgrounds, identities, and experiences are encouraged to apply.


After her husband passed away in 2015, Doran moved to Williston, VT to be closer to her two sons. She was not a fan of the Vermont winters, but she was able to get almost anywhere in her red Pontiac Vibe.

Doran is predeceased by her husband Harold W. Anderson and her youngest son Bryan H. Anderson who passed away Oct. 2022.

Doran leaves behind her son Brook D. Anderson and his wife Laura B. McNally of Essex, VT and five grandchildren: Taylor McNally-Anderson and wife Agne Rapkeviciute (Copenhagen, Denmark); Christopher McNally-Anderson and wife Lauren Neller (Long Beach, NY); Kyla McNally-Anderson and her fiancé Aaron Fish (Watertown, MA); Jared Anderson (East Northport, NY) and Teagan Anderson (South Burlington, VT); brother-in-law Michael Gluse (Chesapeake, VA), niece Shelly Brooks (Chesapeake, VA) and nephew Eric Gluse (Columbia, SC).

A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Society of Chittenden County, 142 Kindness Court, South Burlington, VT or the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, VT.

Please visit www.awrfh.com to share your memories and condolences.

Page 18 Williston Observer January 19, 2023

Dorothy Alling Memorial Library hours:

• Monday and Wednesday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

• Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

• Saturday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit www.damlvt.org to apply for a library card, renew materials, access digital offerings and register online for programs. Need help? Call 878-4918 or email daml@ damlvt.org.


Children in fourth grade and younger must be supervised by someone over 16 years of age.


Friday, Jan. 20, 5-6 p.m. Ages 12-plus. Read any historical fiction novel (or graphic novel) and share what you liked or disliked.


Monday, Jan. 23, 4-5 p.m. Learn to make soup and muffins from the comfort of your own kitchen with dietician Joanne Heidkamp. Please register ahead.

Monday, Jan. 23, 5-6 p.m. Ages 12-plus. Join our January campaign.


Tuesdays, Jan. 24 and 31, 10:30-11 a.m. Join Danielle for stories and fun.


Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2-3 p.m. Stop by the library after school to make some felt crafts.


Thursdays, Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Enjoy music, then stay to play.


Thursday, Jan. 26, 3-4 p.m. Make something exciting with the library’s LEGO collection.


Monday, Jan. 30, 5-6 p.m. Make your own solar-powered bug. Sponsored by the Rotary Club.


Tuesday, Jan. 31, 3-4 p.m. Learn a new sea shanty or two and

share your favorites.


Wednesday, Feb. 1, 10:30-11 a.m. Socialize with your baby and others during these gentle activities.


Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2-3 p.m. Enjoy the library’s game and LEGO collections.



Stop by to pick up a copy of“The Most Costly Journey” by Marek Bennett et al. and keep an eye out for upcoming Vermont Reads events. Email bonnie@ damlvt.org if you are interested in recording a short personal story for the Vermont Reads podcast (a collaboration with Brownell Library). Vermont Reads is presented in partnership with The National Endowment for the Humanities.


Thursday, Feb. 2, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Call to schedule a timeslot to read to therapy cat, Oscar!


To join a book club or for Zoom link, email programs@ damlvt.org.


Through Feb. 28. Pick up a Bingo card at the front desk and read your way to Bingo! Return completed card for a chance to win prizes.


Fridays, Jan. 20 and 27, 1212:30 p.m. Reconnect to your peaceful body and breathe.


Friday, Jan. 20, 1-3 p.m. Drop in to play this popular tile game.


Jan. 23-31. Drop a puzzle off and take one home.


Tuesday, Jan. 24, 12:30 p.m. “When All is Said” by Anne Griffin.


Wednesday, Jan. 25, 10:30

a.m.-12 p.m. Drop by for a discussion of newsworthy topics.


Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2-3:30 p.m. Maryellen Crangle will provide a prompt to guide the group in choosing a story to share.


Wednesday, Jan. 25, 6-8 p.m. Watch a film based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby.”


Thursday, Jan. 26, 12-1 p.m. Learn how to access the Library’s eBooks and more. Bring lunch – desserts and drinks provided! Please register ahead.


Choose a book from our February display of covered books with only the first sentence to guide you.


Wednesday, Feb. 1, 5-6 p.m. Practice Spanish conversation.

ADULT CRAFTERNOON: VELVET BOOKMARKS Thursday, Feb. 2, 2-3 p.m. Make a special bookmark. Please register ahead.


Assessing & Finance

Administrative Assistant

The Town of Shelburne seeks a full-time Administrative Assistant to support the Assessing Office and provide customer service for the Finance Department. Responsibilities include maintaining the Grand List, providing support for the Town reappraisal, assisting the public with property tax and utility questions and receiving/ processing tax and utility payments.

A complete job description and list of qualifications can be found on the Town’s website: https://www.shelburnevt.org/237/Human-Resources.

Submit letter of interest and resume to: scannizzaro@shelburnevt.org. Resumes accepted until the position is filled.



A busy newspaper office producing award winning weekly newspapers is hiring. We are looking for help with AD


Part-time & Full-Time options

Ad Traffic/General Office Support

• ad booking/data entry (display ads & line classifieds)

• liaison between sales and production departments


• running reports for sales reps to keep them on task

• processing tear sheets for advertisers

• general office support & customer service

• attention to detail is a MUST

• general computer skills - Microsoft Office: Word & Excel

• willingness to tackle tedious tasks when appropriate

• a team player with a positive attitude


• creating advertisements for print and web

• newspaper page layout

• loading web & social media content

• design/layout software (Adobe Creative Suite, Quark)

• attention to detail is a MUST

• willingness to tackle tedious tasks when appropriate

• a team player with a positive attitude

If one or both of these positions appeal to you, we want to hear from you.

Send a resume and cover letter to: Stowe Reporter, POB 489, Stowe VT 05672; katerina@stowereporter.com. No phone calls please.

January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 19
EMAILED ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISING INSERTION ORDER Thomas Hirchak Company FROM: Dakota Ward Phone: 802-888-4662 Email:
To: Rick & Susan Cote Paper: Williston Observer Max Length 12.5 TODAY’S DATE: 01/16/2023 NAME OF FILE: 01192023_WO DATE(S) TO RUN: 01/19/2023 SIZE OF AD: 1/16 page (2” x 5”) EMAILED TO: Rick@Willistonobserver.com Publishes in Williston Observer SECTION: Auctions PO# 01202023 THCAuction.com  800-474-6132 Bid Online or In Person 298 J. Brown Drive, Williston, VT P U B L I C A U T O A U C T I O N FRI., JAN. 20 @ 9AM

‘Maybe the whole state needs to reappraise’

Assessment experts in short supply

Two-thirds of Vermont’s 254 municipalities can expect a reappraisal order this year, according to the state’s Department of Taxes. And with so many townwide re-

appraisals in order, the state faces another issue: a lack of resources to handle the demand.

“There’re not enough firms to go around to do this; that’s a huge

problem,” Jill Remick, the tax department’s director of property valuation and review, told the House Ways and Means Committee last Thursday.

Even towns with full-time assessors almost always contract with a company to perform townwide appraisals, which estimate the value of each property. Those valuations form the basis of property tax bills.

In Vermont, where there have been an average of 16 reappraisals a year over the last decade, there simply aren’t enough appraisers to handle 165 towns.

Unlike many states, Vermont does not mandate that towns update their property values on a regular basis. With the real estate market ballooning in the last two years, towns’ grand lists no longer reflect reality. Now, municipalities up and down the state will have to find contractors to perform reappraisals, fighting over a dwindling pool of expert assessors.

“Since Covid, we’ve seen a gangbusters real estate market,” Jake Feldman, a senior fiscal analyst in the department, said in the presentation to lawmakers last week. Feldman, along with Remick, delivered a presentation on the Common Level of Appraisal, or CLA — a percentage applied to a town’s education property tax rate, which serves to correct the town’s grand list property values.

If a town has a low CLA, it means houses are selling for more than their grand list value.

If a town’s CLA dips to 85 percent or rises above 115 percent — signaling a significant change in property values — it triggers a mandatory reappraisal. And according to the state’s 2022 equalization study, 137 municipalities have fallen below the 85 percent threshold, though they still have the opportunity to appeal their CLA before this spring.

Even the statewide CLA — a metric the tax department calculated to emphasize its point — fell to 83.1 percent.

“That’s like saying, maybe the whole state needs to reappraise,” Feldman said.

But Vermont lacks the experts required for the statewide demand.

“Not only are there limited numbers of contract reappraisal firms, but many towns have already and are about to transition from elected boards of listers to appointed contract assessors,”

Lisa Wright, president of the Vermont Assessors and Listers Association, told VTDigger, “and there is a very limited pool of qualified individuals for that role as well.”

With few firms to choose from, towns risk sacrificing quality, she suggested, by working with people who lack sufficient experience for the job.

According to Wright, the field suffers from “graying,” and many qualified assessors are on their way toward retirement. Part of her job is figuring out how to recruit more people to the profession.

Ed Clodfelter, a senior appraiser with the Franklin County-based firm New England Municipal Resource Center, says the firm has already hired extra staff and is continuing to hire to meet the increased demand.

“This is a niche employment career that many do not know about,” he said. “We are always looking for qualified staff,” adding that the company is currently booked through 2025 for projects.

Many states require towns to reappraise on a regular basis, Remick, the property valuation director, told lawmakers last Thursday, calling a four-to-six-year schedule a “national standard.” In Vermont, some towns haven’t reappraised since 2005. More than 100 of the towns that need reappraisals haven’t done so for more than eight years, according to the tax department’s data.

In all likelihood, towns triggered for reappraisal might not be able to book a contractor for several years. The tax department has never punished a municipality for failing to perform a reappraisal fast enough, Remick said. But every year, towns are required to submit a plan regarding their ordered reappraisal.

Financially, reappraisals shouldn’t burden towns, but that’s not always the case. According to Remick, the projects typically cost about $100 per parcel. Each year, towns receive $8.50 per parcel from the state that they’re supposed to save toward hiring an appraisal firm, but the legislation does allow leeway, and some towns spend the money elsewhere, she said. Plus, with reappraisal firms in hot demand, some towns prove less desirable customers than others.

“There are smaller towns that can’t even get a contractor to re-

Page 20 Williston Observer January 19, 2023
see ASSESSMENT page 21

Report takes stock of Vermont’s youngest

A newly released report from Building Bright Futures and Vermont’s Early Childhood Data and Policy Center titled “The State of Vermont’s Children: 2022 Year in Review,” provides an assessment of the well-being of young children and families in Vermont.

The report includes policy recommendations from Vermont’s Early Childhood State Advisory Council Network on how best to improve outcomes for children in the prenatal period to age 8 and their families.

The report is published online at https://buildingbrightfutures. org/state-of-vermonts-children. This is the 10th annual edition. The report is released each January to advise lawmakers about early childhood data, said Morgan Crossman, executive director of Building Bright Futures, a Williston-based non-profit.

Some conclusions from this year’s edition are:

• There has been a 60 percent increase in the proportion of children in Vermont ages 3 to 8 with an emotional or mental health condition, while at the

same time there was no change for the U.S. as a whole.

• Vermont currently has the lowest number in over two decades of out-of-home residential treatment beds for children.

• There were 16,381 children enrolled in child care in 2021, but 76 percent of infants, 54 percent of toddlers and 52 percent of preschoolers likely to need care still do not have access to high-quality programs.

• Students eligible for free and reduced lunch make up 35 percent of the student population but account for 72 percent of suspensions.

• Children receiving special education services make up 15 percent of the student population but account for 36 percent of suspensions.

• A family of four needs almost $110,000 annually to meet its basic needs.

• There has been an increase in the number of homeless children under 9 enrolled in school, from 268 during the 2020-2021 school year to 398 in the 2021-2022 school year.

Students encouraged to apply for Governor’s Institutes

The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (GIV) has opened applications for this year’s summer offerings. Vermont students in grades 9-11 are invited to apply at www.giv.org/apply.

The Governor’s Institutes take place on Vermont college campuses and give attendees the opportunity to dive deep into a topic of interest for one to two weeks. Each Institute is focused around a career-oriented topic including arts, engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental science and technology, global issues and ac-

tivism, among others.

Students learn from industry professionals, participate in hands-on projects, and explore career options with peers. Scholarships are available to help with tuition.

About 500 students from 72 high schools participated last year. This year, for its 40th anniversary, the organization plans to have spots available for more students.

More information is available at https://giv.org or email hello@ giv.org with any questions. The deadline to apply is March 31.


continued from page 20

ply” to their request for proposals, Remick said. She also pointed out that multiple municipalities can band together to hire a firm, which

can solve the conundrum for small towns.

In theory, reappraisals don’t significantly impact the tax burden on homeowners despite the widespread undervaluing of property. If a property rises in value similarly to other properties in

town, there should be little effect on an individual’s taxes. Next year, Vermonters can expect to pay 3.7 percent more in property taxes, even though the statewide CLA dropped more than 8 percent, according to the tax department.

January 19, 2023 Williston Observer Page 21
Get the week ' s news stories and community happenings delivered to your inbox every Friday morning ! Sign up for the Observer’s weekly newsletter at https://www.willistonobserver.com/tncms/block/1418728/



Tuesday, January 24, 2023 – 7:00 PM

Police Station Meeting Room (7928 Williston Road) or Zoom Meeting ID 846 5863 3532 on zoom. us/join or call 1-646-558-8656

DP 20-18.1 Ethan Allen Homes c/o Chris Senesac requests a discretionary permit to designate 2022 Growth Management allocation (16 DUe) as Phase 2 on the phasing plan and change the overall dwelling unit type and mix (122 DUe as 138 dwellings increasing to 123 DUe as 139 dwellings) at Summer Field subdivision (fka Catamount Country Club) on a 30± parcel located at 1400 Mountain View Rd. in the RZD.

DP 23-12 Pre-App U-Haul Moving & Storage c/o Jeffery Vaine requests pre-

application review for their proposed 17,780 SF warehouse facility and associated parking at Robear Lot 2 on the South side of Williston Rd. in the IZDW.

Project details and site plans are available on the website, town.williston.vt.us, under “Public Records and Documents”, then “Agendas & Minutes”, and “Development Review Board”. Contact Planning & Zoning Office for more information: 802878-6704 or email planning@willistonvt. org




Tuesday, February 7, 2023 7:30 PM

The Williston Selectboard will hold a public hearing to receive comments on proposed changes to the Williston Motor Vehicle and Traffic Ordinance.

The public hearing will take place on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 7:30 PM in the Beckett/McGuire Meeting Room


at Williston Town Hall located at 7900 Williston Road with remote participation available using the online platform zoom with access information listed at the bottom of this hearing notice.

The purpose of this public hearing is to receive public comment on proposed changes to Article X and Appendices A, B, C & D of the Ordinance.

The proposed changes include the following:

Article X: Additions to general parking rules.

Appendix A: Global changes to beginning and end points, and formatting.

Appendix B: Stop sign additions.

Appendix C: Traffic signal additions

Appendix D: Additions of no parking areas on Avenue A, Avenue B, Governor Chittenden Road, and Zephyr Road.

If adopted, the amendments may become effective 60 days after the public hearing and vote by the Selectboard.

Notice is hereby given that any ordinance or amendment thereto adopted by the Town of Williston

may be disapproved by a vote of a majority of the qualified voters at an annual or special meeting as provided in 24 V.S.A. §1973.

The above is a summary. Copies of the text of the proposed amendment are available at the Town Manager’s Office in the Williston Town Hall, 7900 Williston Road, Williston, VT. The text of the proposed amendment is also available on the Town’s Website http://town.williston. vt.us (Public Records-Ordinances-Pending Ordinances). If you have any questions, please contact Town Manager Erik Wells at ewells@willistonvt.org or (802) 8761168.

Dated at the Town of Williston, Vermont, this 13th day of January, 2023.

Erik Wells, Town Manager Zoom Participation: https://us02web. zoom.us/j/81884077742 (web link)

Phone: 1-646-558-8656; Meeting ID: 8188407-7742#

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Hinesburg residents, officials frustrated by mail delivery delays

Hinesburg resident Michael Sorce has not gotten any mail in the past two weeks.

“We’re not getting our bills. We’re not getting our payments, and we’re not getting our medication,” said Sorce, whose business, Dark Star Productions, is minutes from the post office on Commerce Street.

Selectboard Chair Merrily Lovell said the situation in Hinesburg is the worst it’s been since the pandemic, and she is expecting to discuss the issue at this week’s selectboard meeting.

“There are people in Hinesburg who depend on the daily mail for prescriptions, and they’re not getting them,” she said. “And we, as a municipal organization, depend on the mail.”

“It’s just totally undependable,” said Lovell, who has been receiving her own mail once a week. “And you can’t depend that the outgoing mail will be picked up either.”

She is particularly concerned about whether residents will get the annual town report

and mail-in ballots on time. “So to me, it’s a really big issue that needs to be addressed.”

The Hinesburg post office was open but quiet Tuesday morning, where at least two residents said they were facing delays and had come to pick up their mail. Post office staff deferred questions to Steve Doherty, the regional U.S. Postal Service spokesperson.

“I’m not aware of any address that would have gone for two weeks without mail,” Doherty said. “A customer experiencing that length of a delay should reach out to our Customer Service Center at 800-275-8777 so they can identify the cause.”

From sporadic delivery around the holidays to politicians calling out the postmaster general, postal problems have plagued Vermont since the pandemic.

Like many other industries, the postal service continues to face a major shortage of postal workers nationwide. The situation is no different in Vermont. A search for available jobs online shows 82 vacancies today, including a rural carrier position in Hinesburg.

“While we are aggressively hiring across Vermont, with the unemployment rate in the

state currently at 2.5 percent, we’re not seeing the numbers we’d like to at our hiring events,” Doherty said.

Despite the problems, the postal service is working to make sure all communities can be serviced equally, according to Doherty, who said this includes authorizing overtime, realigning personnel, and delivering before or after regular hours and on Sundays as needed.

“We’re typically able to move personnel from a neighboring community to backfill a temporary absence due to vacation or illness,” he said. “However, with the same hiring difficulties occurring across the state, that flexibility has been stretched to its limit.”

The situation seems particularly bad in Hinesburg, said Lovell, who has spoken with postal workers who are burned out from working long hours.

Other residents acknowledged the recent delays in mail delivery but seemed to be understanding.

“It’s a staffing issue and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” said Brian

McLaggan, a local resident who spoke highly about the postal workers. “It’s a difficult time and it’s hard to find qualified people,” he said.

The mail service has been “extremely erratic” at the local library, according to Beth Royer, library director.

Mail delivery has been particularly patchy in the last six months, though it hasn’t affected library services, said Royer, whose father was a postal worker and who is sympathetic to the plight of the stretched postal service.

Delivery to the town hall has been “fairly normal with an occasional missed day here and there,” said Melissa Ross, town clerk and treasurer. “There has been no noticeable impact on town business other than us not getting mail on a daily basis.”

Meanwhile, complaints abound on Hinesburg’s Front Porch Forum, according to Lovell, who has written a memo to the selectboard to reach out to the state’s congressional delegation for help.

“It’s the basis of our democracy that we have daily mail services. All my life that has been taken for granted so yes, I’m pretty upset,” she said.

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