Williston Observer

Williston Observer News, sports, and events in Williston, Vermont.

Long-time Town Manager Rick McGuire retiresBy Jason StarrObserver staffFor the first time in 22 years, the Town of Willi...

Long-time Town Manager Rick McGuire retires
By Jason Starr
Observer staff
For the first time in 22 years, the Town of Williston is without the calm, steady leadership of Rick McGuire.
The town manager retired Monday, and was celebrated Tuesday at a small gathering at the Isham Family Farm. It wasn’t the public celebration befitting two-plus decades of dedication to the town and relationships built with residents and co-workers, but it did allow town leaders to mark the occasion under pandemic health protocols. In lieu of a larger celebration, the town’s new town manager, Erik Wells, who worked for two years as McGuire’s top assistant, is asking community members to send in notes for McGuire to Town Hall at 7900 Williston Rd.
“Rick has been an incredible leader for Williston,” Wells said. “His professionalism, keen ability to solve problems, integrity and innovative thinking are some of the many attributes of his tremendous character that I have been fortunate to witness and learn from on a daily basis. Congratulations to Rick on his retirement and an outstanding career in public service.”
McGuire lives in town and plans to continue serving as a volunteer in civic organizations. He was a founding member of the Brick Church Music Series and is a member of the Williston-Richmond Rotary Club.
“In retirement, I plan on continuing to be a part of this wonderful community, but in a different role and with the knowledge that the community remains in good hands,” he said.
McGuire has been admired for his ability to guide the town through large projects, like the 2019 acquisition and protection of the Catamount Community Forest, as well as handle the day-to-day operations of a town of 9,000 residents no matter what challenges arise.
“He is very good at diffusing difficult situations,” said Town Clerk Sarah Mason. “He is always calm in the storm.”
Mason worked with McGuire for eight years.
“I have really enjoyed working with him. He is approachable all the time. He’s always very calm, supportive and helpful,” she said.
McGuire has helped the town manage significant land development and population growth of about 100 new residents a year, while prioritizing the acquisition and conservation of public land.
Under his leadership, the town constructed a new fire station, public works garage and water storage tank. He supported the expansion of the fire department and creation of an ambulance service, as well as creating a stormwater utility program to fund infrastructure to foster water quality improvement in the Allen Brook and Lake Champlain.
Selectboard chair Terry Macaig spoke at Tuesday’s celebration of McGuire’s retirement.
“We congratulate Rick on his 22 and a half years as town manager,” he said earlier in a town press release. “His vision for the town and innovative approach to solving problems has been recognized not only by our residents and selectboards, but also by his peers in Chittenden County and statewide. We will miss him and wish him the best in retirement.”
McGuire’s career in public administration started in Connecticut 44 years ago. He has served at both state and municipal levels. He had planned to retire at the end of June, but agreed to stay on as the town’s hiring process for his successor was slowed by the pandemic.
“It has been a tremendous honor for me to have served the Williston community for these past 22 and a half years,” McGuire said. “I am thankful I was given the opportunity to work with so many citizens, volunteers, elected officials and staff who all worked tirelessly to the benefit of our community. A manager accomplishes nothing without those efforts.
“Any accomplishments attributed to me belong to the community,” he added. “I am just happy to have been a part of it.”


Arrest made in Lake Iroquois manhunt

Hinesburg Police have arrested a New York man who allegedly led them on a high-speed vehicle chase from Interstate 89 to Lake Iroquois then attempted to flee on foot last Tuesday.
Gregory Rodgers of Holley, N.Y., has been charged with attempting to elude police, gross negligent operation of a vehicle and aggravated operating without owner’s consent. He is being held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton, according to Vermont State Police.
The chase led to a manhunt around Lake Iroquois last Tuesday morning involving the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department, Colchester Police Department, Hinesburg Police Department, Richmond Police Department, Vermont State Police, Williston Police Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to Vermont State Police, Rodgers was apprehended that evening when he emerged from the woods in Hinesburg.
A Chittenden County Sheriff’s deputy had attempted to stop the van Rodgers was reportedly driving on the interstate in Richmond, when he allegedly accelerated and initiated the chase.
Police questioned and released two other occupants of the vehicle.

Voters urged to vote by mail‘The polls will look very different this year’By Sarah MasonWilliston Town ClerkThe Vermont ...

Voters urged to vote by mail

‘The polls will look very different this year’

By Sarah Mason
Williston Town Clerk
The Vermont Secretary of State’s office has sent a postcard to residents with information about how to request an absentee ballot, if you would like one for the upcoming elections. Voters who have already requested an absentee ballot via a phone call, email, My Voter Page or a paper request can disregard the postcard.
To use the postcard, fill in your information, select which election(s) you would like an absentee ballot for and place it back in the mail.
Vermont has offered early vote, absentee vote and vote-by-mail for many years, whereas some states are just getting comfortable and up to speed with the process. Vermont is also what is called a “no excuse” absentee vote state: You do not need to be at work or out of town or ill to be able to vote early or by absentee (which is the same thing).
During this unsettling time, it is imperative to give voters a safe option to cast their vote. The Secretary of State’s office was quick to prepare and plan for the Aug. 11 primary and the Nov. 3 general election, and secured funds to get postage-paid envelopes in both directions for both elections. It has also secured a supply of personal protective equipment and surveyed every town clerk as to what their needs might be for August and November.
Everyone is encouraged to use the vote-by-mail option, even if you are young and healthy and able to come to the polls. The polls will look very different this year. We have been instructed to limit our poll workers and the number of voters in at any one time. You can expect to wait in a line, outside, 6 feet apart, and be allowed into the Armory as space becomes available.
Some other polling place guidelines this year: Wear your own mask. If you forget, you will be provided one. Bring your own pen. If you forget, you will be provided one. No groups. No kids. No dogs. No restrooms. There will be one direction flow of traffic from the front door to the back door of the Armory.
Already, more than 500 mail-in ballots have been cast, which is more than any election before. Ballots are separated from regular mail, marked with special election mail tags and never leave the Williston post office. The Post Office staff has been incredibly helpful to work with and are an important part of making this all work.
Voters must fill in and sign the certificate envelope for your voted ballot or it will not be counted. You must return two unvoted ballots in the other envelope as well, or your voted ballot will not be counted.
Online voter registration is available at www.olvr.vermont.gov. Ballots are available by calling the town clerk’s office at 878-5121 or emailing [email protected].

F-35 noise monitoring program to launchBy Jason StarrObserver staffThree noise monitors will be placed at Burlington Int...

F-35 noise monitoring program to launch

By Jason Starr
Observer staff
Three noise monitors will be placed at Burlington International Airport later this year to verify decibel levels associated with the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35 fighter jet program.
Airport Director of Aviation Gene Richards told Williston Selectboard members on Tuesday night that he had received tentative approval from the Federal Aviation Administration earlier in the day to initiate the noise monitoring program. One of the monitors will be placed at the southern end of the runway close to the Williston town line, Richards said.
Another will be placed at the north end of the airport, and another near South Burlington’s Chamberlin Elementary School.
The monitors will be used to verify a noise impact map airport officials published last year in anticipation of the arrival of the F-35s, which began flying out of Burlington last fall. The map, which is based on modeling rather than actual noise data, outlines land around the airport where noise from the F-35s averages greater than 65 decibels. It shows an oval-shaped area around the airport with a 65 decibel-level zone spreading into the western edge of Williston, including portions of Industrial Avenue and North Brownell Road.
The three noise monitors will be set up to verify the projections used to create the map and underpin claims homeowners will be able to make through the FAA’s Noise Compatibility Program for noise mitigation assistance. According to Deputy Aviation Director Nic Longo, affected homeowners will be eligible for help with selling a home — in some cases the airport would buy a home, install noise insulation, and resell it — or installing noise insulation.
The noise monitors won’t help Williston residents who live in other parts of town verify what they are hearing from the F-35s, which have replaced the F-16 fighter jets the Air Guard had been flying. The F-35s were billed as a louder aircraft, and several Williston residents from as far away from the airport as Lake Iroquois and East Hill Road have noticed the difference.
“I’m distressed by the noise, my animals are distressed, and the wildlife must be petrified,” said Terry Marron, who lives near Lake Iroquois.
Marron said she has used a phone app to measure decibel levels when F-35s are overhead, and has seen readings as high as 108 decibels.
“That’s in the dangerous range,” she said.
East Hill Road resident Art Cernosia said his phone app has also registered decibels as high as 108.
“I cannot carry on conversations inside my house when the planes go over,” he said.
Lake Iroquios-area resident Patrick Kelly said his phone app has registered a high of 90 decibels and an average of 75.
“We need to have monitoring here to know what the precise readings are and how it’s affecting the community,” Marron said.
Richards hopes the noise monitoring program can be expanded into Williston and Winooski, perhaps with funding from the Department of Defense.
“This isn’t enough,” Richards said. “We will have to continue to expand the program … I already know it’s loud at the airport. So I would prefer to move the (monitors) into the community, so when people have concerns there can be verification. That’s what the community is really asking for.”
Longo said the noise exposure map will be reworked next year, when the full complement of 20 F-35s are in place. The planes have been arriving sporadically since the fall, and are not yet all in Burlington.
Brig. Gen. Hank Harder, the assistant adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, joined Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting via videoconference and said that the Air Guard will do its own noise study in 2021 in an attempt to verify the noise assumptions that were incorporated into the Environmental Impact Statement the Air Force used in choosing Burlington as an F-35 base.

This week’s Observer features a 4th of July Memories Scrapbook -post your favorite photos here from past Williston celeb...

This week’s Observer features a 4th of July Memories Scrapbook -post your favorite photos here from past Williston celebrations for your chance to win a $25 gift card from Vermont Meat & Seafood Market! Please include the year and some details about the photo. We will publish some in this week’s paper.
Deadline for submission is this Tuesday, July 7 at 10am! (photo by Dave Schmidt)

Wells chosen for town managerIn two and a half years, Erik Wells has advanced from assistant to the town manager to assi...

Wells chosen for town manager

In two and a half years, Erik Wells has advanced from assistant to the town manager to assistant town manager and now to town manager.

Wells has accepted an offer from the Williston Selectboard to succeed Rick McGuire as Williston’s top town administrator. McGuire plans to retire in early August after 22 years as town manager. The board’s offer is conditional on a background check and negotiation of an employment contract.

“It is with a great deal of excitement and gratitude that I have accepted the conditional offer of employment to serve as Williston’s town manager,” Wells said.” I look forward to working with members of the town staff, town officials and the residents of Williston. It is a great community to be a part of.”

The board conducted a national search with the help of a New Hampshire-based contractor that yielded more than 30 candidates. The pool was whittled to five finalists — four from Vermont who were interviewed at the town offices in June and one from Colorado who was interviewed remotely. Three were invited back for second interviews.

Wells applied for the position when it was first advertised over the winter, after McGuire announced plans to retire. McGuire had hoped to retire at the end of June, but the board decided to extend the recruitment process due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kids Take Over The Observer! This week's ENTIRE issue features awesome stories, artwork, poetrry and photos by Willi...

The Kids Take Over The Observer! This week's ENTIRE issue features awesome stories, artwork, poetrry and photos by Williston students. Check it out at www.willistonobserver.com


UPDATE: With the assistance of the Vermont State Police Crime Scene Unit and the Vermont Medical Examiner’s Office, a body of an unknown person was retrieved from the back of the 1996 Dodge Ram van that was found in the Walmart parking lot (see previous post). Due to decomposition, positive identification will need to be made by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The investigation is continuing and Williston Police stated the vehicle was registered to a man, age 61, but are not sure if it is the deceased person. We will continue to post updates as we receive new information.


At 2 a.m., Williston Police responded to one of the parking lots of Walmart to investigate an odor coming from a parked vehicle. Police discovered a white 1996 Dodge Ram van with an Arizona registration. Officers observed what appeared to be that of a deceased person in the rear of the van.
This is still an active investigation and we will provide more information as it becomes available.


In the June 11, 2020 issue of the Williston Observer, in the caption for the photos entitled “Stepping out for peace,” it was stated that all Finney Crossing residents had been invited to participate in the nightly gatherings. The notice was posted at all Finney Crossing apartment buildings, but other Finney Crossing residences were not notified. The organizers welcome anyone from anywhere in Finney Crossing to participate. The Observer apologizes for this error.

New stories are now loaded on Williston Observer website! www.WillistonObserver.comPolice contract news, school opening ...

New stories are now loaded on Williston Observer website! www.WillistonObserver.com
Police contract news, school opening news, comfort dog news and more!

We got a very nice phone call from Mike Isham this week saying he wanted to support our community newspaper and wanted t...

We got a very nice phone call from Mike Isham this week saying he wanted to support our community newspaper and wanted to share a positive message with our readers. Thanks to the Isham Family Farms for this week's back page ad, and thanks to all our wonderful advertisers for supporting local journalism!


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It's a great source of info to keep up during these social distancing times of Covid19...thank you for all the news worth printing
Is there a memorial day parade tomorrow please lmk