High-End Smaller Homes for Older Adults

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Home & Garden

Homebuilders should offer more than starter homes and condos

By Mark J. Donovan

As my wife and I were out walking today, we discussed our future home requirements and desires. With two out of three of our children out of college, we’re thinking of downsizing our home in the not-too-distant future. We’d like to buy something smaller than our existing home, but we don’t want to buy a starter home or a condo. Unfortunately, at least in our area of the country, those seem to be the only two options for empty nesters who are looking for new home construction.

As we commiserated on this fact, we came to the conclusion that there has to be a market for high-end smaller homes for older adults. With the population aging and the baby boomer generation just starting to get to retirement age, it seems inevitable that smaller homes will be in high demand. My wife and I are hard pressed to believe that most “under-70” baby boomers will seriously consider downsizing into small condo units, the equivalent of what we once called an apartment complex, or into smaller homes with contractor grade flooring, lighting, and appliances. Yet those seem to be the only two choices available today for older adults, unless they choose to buy a small home and completely remodel it themselves.

Homebuilders should seriously take note of the country’s aging population and begin to design and build more new high end smaller homes for this demographic. Effectively, this group of homebuyers will be looking for the “Porsche’d-out” home, both in size and features.

This market opportunity offers several benefits to the builder, real estate agent and municipality. First, it offers a high-margin product to a large population with deep pockets. Second, though I’m not a fan of cluster zoning, due to the smaller footprint associated with a compact home, more homes can be built per square acre. This translates into more revenue for the builder, real estate agent and even for the municipality. Most towns or cities would bend over backward to have more positive cash flow residential property within their borders. With today’s sky-high cost per pupil expenditures for public education, just one child in a home can easily create a negative tax cash flow to the municipality. As a result, just as municipalities have offered tax breaks to builders for constructing 50+ age condo unit complexes, they should do the same for builders constructing high-end smaller homes for older adults in 50-plus cluster zones.

With a housing market that has been in decline for about six years now, building higher-end smaller homes for older adults may be just the ticket for turning the market around. Another benefit to this concept is that the same smaller home designs and floor plans could also be used for the younger and/or less wealthy market segments. To lower the costs for these populations, some of the high-end internal features could be reduced to “builder’s-grade.” The only difference would be that these homes would not be eligible for tax breaks because of the fact that they would more than likely have children in them and as a result be negative tax flows for the community.

Building smaller homes also offers a couple of “green” advantages. Energy demands associated with smaller homes are less, and the effective “carbon footprint” for each occupant living in these smaller homes is reduced. Ultimately, this translates into annual energy cost savings for the occupants and a better environment for everyone.


Improve the Storage Capacity of Kitchen Cabinets

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Home & Garden

By Pat Logan


ear Pat: My house has just an average-size kitchen, and I am totally remodeling it. Do you have any guidelines for selecting or designing kitchen cabinets or counter areas for the most usable space?

— Jennifer F.

Dear Jennifer: Your question is an interesting one because the storage in 95 percent of new and remodeled kitchens is very poorly designed. The cabinets and drawers may be of high quality and well-made, but the storage basics are just not well-thought-out.

A typical example is having a knife drawer or a compartment in a kitchen drawer for knives, forks, spoons, etc. This might sound like a wise plan because you always know where the knives are, at least until your children put them in the wrong place.

Actually, a much better way to store cooking utensils is by their specific function and where they are used more often. If you use a paring knife most often by the sink and the bread knife on another countertop, store each closer to where it usually is used. The paring knife can be stored in a slot in the countertop, and the bread knife can be stored in the breadbox.

This one item might save only a few steps and a few extra motions, but when you add up all these extra motions for a large meal preparation, the time saved can be significant. It is not unlike how an industrial engineer lays out a workspace for a worker in a factory. The goal is to minimize the extra motions that just waste time.

Before you buy any of the base cabinets (under the countertop) and upper cabinets (on the walls over the countertop), make a list of the items you want to store in them. Categorize them by how often they are used and where they are used in the kitchen.

For example, there really is no need to store all your spices in the same location. You may have some spices that you use almost every time you cook and others you seldom use. Store the frequently used ones near the front at eye level in prime storage area. The others can be put in a harder-to-reach location.

Many seldom-used items can be stored on top shelves in the backs of the cabinets to free up the more easily accessible areas. In most kitchens, the backs of many of the upper cabinets never are used, and the front areas are cluttered with these items.

Next, subcategorize the items by their height, because this will determine the required heights of the drawers and cabinet shelves. Some short items can be placed on tilted (staircase) racks inside a drawer to reduce the drawer height. One-inch clearance above the items is all that is required. With this planning, you can have the cabinets designed with drawers and shelves of proper heights.

Keep in mind that the easy-access zone for most people is a height from the floor of about 22 to 55 inches. This area is easy to reach and see without bending or stretching. For handicapped or elderly people in wheelchairs, the upper range for easy access is about 46 inches. Another storage tip to consider is to store larger plates vertically in racks in the upper cabinets. When they are stacked one on top of another, the top one may be difficult to reach.

Keeping the Heat In and the Energy Bills Out

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Home & Garden

Saving energy with low-E glass

By Mark J. Donovan

All window glass panes are not the same. Just because a new window is double-pane, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily buying the most energy-efficient window. Yes, because of increased insulation performance, a double-pane window is a step-up in saving energy and keeping your home more comfortable during the cold winter months. However, by itself, a double-pane window doesn’t help to keep your home cooler during the summer. By selecting windows with energy savings, such as low-E glass, which are also double-pane, you can ensure year-round energy-efficient windows.

Low-E glass, or low-emissivity glass, is a special type of glass that has spectrally selective coatings applied to it. The thin-film coating is specifically designed to allow only certain wavelengths of the solar spectrum to pass through the glass and enter the home, while restricting others. More specifically, it prevents solar ultraviolet wavelength energy from entering the home. The ultraviolet light is what actually warms the surface of the objects that it comes in contact with. Ultraviolet light also causes furniture fabric, carpeting and wood floors to fade over time.

Low-E glass is unlike the dark-shaded glass that was produced decades ago. The energy-saving low-E glass of today has so fine a film coating on it, that it is nearly imperceptible to the naked eye. It effectively appears clear, thus not reducing the amount of natural light into your home. Moreover, today’s low-E glass film coatings are specially designed and applied so they help keep homes cooler during the summer months and warmer during the winter months. As a result, when combined with double-pane window technology, it provides the maximum in energy savings.

When purchasing energy-saving low-E glass windows, make sure to select those appropriate for your climate region. Not all of them are the same. There are several types of spectrally selective low-E film coatings, and none are ideal for all climate regions. For example, there are some types that are more appropriate for the southwestern United States, while there are others that are more appropriate for the Northeast. As a matter of fact, the Energy Star program identifies four unique climate zones in the United States. With each climate zone, they recommend a specific type of low-E glass to be used in the windows. As a result, for those homeowners and builders participating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program to build energy-efficient rated homes, they must use the specific type for their region, as recommended by the government.

For example, the Energy Star program recommends homes built in the Northern and Central regions of the United States to use “Moderate Solar Gain Low-E Glass Windows.” These types of windows are specially designed to screen out a high percentage of the sun’s ultraviolet light during the summer months and a lower percentage during the winter months, when the added solar heating is desired. In the Southwest portion of the country, however, the government’s Energy Star program recommends using “Low Solar Gain Low-E Windows.” These windows let in even less ultraviolet sunlight and heat during the summer months.

To learn more about spectrally selective low-E glass and other ways to make your home more energy efficient, visit EnergyStar.gov.


The Big Con:Local Seniors Being Targeted by Scammers

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Money

By Luke Baynes


ou’re 80. You live alone. It gets lonely at times, but you manage. One day a nice young man knocks on the door. Over a cup of coffee he tells you about a new Medicare prescription drug plan that will save you money. You give him your name and your Medicare number.

You’ve just been scammed.

As Patrice Thabault, owner of a Home Instead Senior Care franchise in South Burlington, described in a press release, seniors are being increasingly targeted by scammers.

“Scam artists are specifically targeting seniors because they are the fastest-growing segment of the population, which has led to increased demands on law enforcement agencies,” Thabault stated. “This scenario has the potential to put more local seniors than ever at risk of losing their life savings, their homes and their trust in others.”

Home Instead has teamed with the National Association of Triads to create a “Senior Fraud Protection Kit” as a resource to protect seniors and their families from fraud.

The kit identifies the most common types of senior scams, such as telemarketers promoting phony charities or fraudulent sweepstakes mailings that promise big paydays if the winner pays “processing fees.” It also provides tips to avoid being taken in by con artists.

Suggestions include signing up for the national Do-Not-Call Registry and researching sales offers through the Better Business Bureau and other consumer protection agencies.

Anita Hoy, director of the Vermont Senior Medicare Patrol, which is affiliated with the Community of Vermont Elders, explained that the SMP program protects seniors from more than just Medicare fraud.

“The Senior Medicare Patrol program is located in every state, and it’s part of a national effort,” Hoy said. “The idea behind it is we prevent and educate people on Medicare fraud and abuse, but the caveat to that is you can’t do Medicare fraud (protection) in isolation, because just by means of using somebody’s Social Security number as their (Medicare) account number, you run into ID theft and all kinds of things.”

Hoy noted that common forms of Medicare fraud include erroneous bills for services not rendered, inflated commissions on otherwise legitimate services or outright identity theft.

She recommended that seniors not buy products from door-to-door salespeople without first doing research or seeking the advice of friends or family members.

“We ask people not to talk to salespeople who knock on their doors, and if they want an insurance product, that they call the insurance company themselves,” Hoy said. “We also ask folks to have a friend or family member join them in these conversations.”

Above all, Hoy cautioned that seniors should protect their bank account numbers and their Social Security numbers—which often doubles as their Medicare numbers—at all costs.

“We have had, in the last few years, when Social Security wanted more people to be doing direct deposits, there were scams where the scam artist would call seniors and try to get their bank account numbers under the guise that they were having direct deposits made,” Hoy said.

“So with the Social Security number, bank account numbers usually follow. Once you have those two numbers, you kind of own a person.”

Autumn Is Ideal for Jasper Park Visit

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Travel

By Robert Selwitz

Anyone looking for the perfect early fall outdoor vacation could do no better than to head for Jasper National Park, the northernmost of four extraordinary preserves that are among the best reasons to visit Canada. There are actually four contiguous parks, all protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Jasper and Banff are in the province of Alberta, while Kootenay and Yoho are in next-door British Columbia.

Early through late September offers the best chance for encountering the bright blue skies that are perfect for seeing soaring mountaintops and fascinating wildlife. This is also a fine time for colorful fall foliage.

Picking the right time to visit is critical. While the parks are open year-round, wintertime driving can be quite challenging and outdoor activities largely limited to skiing. Later, even after lake ice starts breaking up during late spring, sightseeing is much less appealing because gray skies and rains often dominate the scene. At that time mountaintops are cloud-covered and animals generally stay deeper in the forest, away from easy viewing.

However you arrive at Jasper — by road (roughly 10 hours from Vancouver or four hours from Edmonton) or rail, the town of Jasper will almost certainly be your first stop. Contained within the park, the 4,000-plus population hamlet has many restaurants (most fairly pricey), a movie theater, some interesting century-old stone structures and accommodations at many price levels. This former fur-trading outpost was where the predecessor to Jasper National Park was established in 1907. It became a stop on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1911 and the Canadian Northern Railway in 1912.

The actual designation as Jasper National Park happened in 1930, when Canada passed the National Parks Act. Park rules severely restrict growth, both in the actual size of the town and in the height of its buildings. No structure can block views of the surrounding mountains.

To hear a bevy of interesting tales and lore, join one of the free two-hour evening walks that start at — and are sponsored by — Jasper’s Tourist Information Center. A terrific overview can also be seen by taking the Jasper Tramway to its observation deck. Every nine minutes a seven-minute ride climbs to the peak of 7,424-foot-high Whistlers Mountain. While weather rarely halts the ride, on clear days the mountain vistas are absolutely stunning.

Jasper provides great opportunities for hikers at every skill level. For almost everyone, a 10-minute ride from town is Lake Beauvert, adjacent to Jasper Park Lodge. Guests and non-guests are welcome to stroll around the lake, take in spectacular views of a snow-capped Whistlers Mountain and hopefully spot some photogenic animals. Jasper also boasts some 200 miles of bike-friendly trails that reach deeply into some of the park’s most scenic areas.

While Jasper visitors soak up the scenery, they are also advised to be aware of the diverse creatures that call the park home. In mountains and meadows these include the Rocky Mountain goat, bighorn sheep and the hoary marmot that communicates by intense whistling. According to locals, it’s their whistle that gives mountains in Jasper (and even Whistler, British Columbia) their names.

In forested areas, mammals include moose; white-tailed, red and mule deer; caribou; and red squirrel. Also present are the gray wolf, grizzly and black bears, wolverine, lynx and puma. Guides note that Jasper is home to some 280 bird species.

The 144-mile-long Icefields Highway, stretching from the town of Jasper to the Jasper-Banff park border, should not be missed. Open year-around, it provides major-league challenges to wintertime drivers. Between late spring and early fall, however, this excellent road offers seemingly endless incredible views and stopovers.

For example, 18 miles south of Jasper is Athabasca Falls. Here, mists caused by the Athabasca River crashing into the canyon below spray visitors, and numerous trails here can easily tempt visitors to extend their stay. Some six miles farther south is Sunwapta Falls, quite close to the highway, where another impressive waterfall that plunges 60 feet is viewable.

The best of ice fields occurs around midpoint, some 60 miles south of Jasper, at the Athabasca Glacier. Here many travelers stop to take a ride on a motorized vehicle with oversized wheels that regularly ventures onto a portion of the actual glacier.

This excursion, which runs almost continuously during warm-weather daylight hours, provides safe access to those who want to stroll on a real glacier without worrying about the potential deadly accidents that can occur by stepping into crevices hidden by recent snows. Tour passengers who ride contraptions that combine bus cabins with oversized wheels are taken to a strictly controlled, constantly examined area. There they can walk on what is essentially a sizable icy parking lot with clearly marked boundaries.

For many, an even more fascinating experience is a guided hike that skirts the glacier’s front and perimeter. During much of the two-hour walks, visitors cross terrain the glacier itself used to cover. Indeed, the whole experience of encountering areas from which the glacier has retreated during the 160 years since explorers first encountered it is truly amazing.

The Icefield Center, directly across the highway from the glacier, is the starting point for glacier vehicle tours. It is also home to the Glacier View Inn, which occupies its top floor. This is essentially the only place between Jasper and Lake Louise available for a meal or overnight stay.


The nearest major airport is in Calgary, some 80 miles east of the town of Banff.

Travel Alberta is a great source for everything you’d want to know about anything you’d want to do in the province: www.travelalberta.com.


Swimwear Reinvented

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Blogs

This is for you if you’ve ever cringed at the thought of having to wear a swimsuit — wearing so little and showing so much skin makes many women feel self-conscious. Thanks to a Cleveland designer who is the brains behind “girltrunks,” women young and old can feel comfortable and confident while at the pool, beach or on a cruise.

girltrunks are stylish halter/tank tops and shorts that are waterproof and provide more coverage than a standard suit. When Debbie Kuhn of Cleveland launched the girltrunks line, she set out to re-invent swimwear for women in search of coverage and comfort.

girltrunks tops are made of Lycra and bottoms are made of fast-drying polyamide fabric with a mesh lining. They are machine washable and dryable and, for the best fit, tops and trunks are sold separately

For more information, visit www.mygirltrunks.com.

Enjoy Taste of Vermont on New Burlington Food Tour

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Food

One of the special things about Vermont is all there is to taste—at the many wonderful restaurants, the food shops and the Burlington Farmer’s Market. Now there is a unique way to learn firsthand about the area’s food culture and enjoy some of these delicious experiences—The Burlington Food Tour.

The regularly scheduled walking tours start every Saturday, through October, at 12:30 p.m. at the East Shore Vineyard’s Tasting Room on Church Street. Private tours can be arranged for groups of four or more at any time throughout the year.

After tastings of Vermont wine and cheese, the tour heads to the Farmer’s Market for local freshly created food products including granola, bitters, fresh juice, Crispy Crickets for the brave and depending on availability—local cranberry specialties, cheeses and hummus. At each stop on the tour, members get to meet the chefs and food entrepreneurs and hear what goes into the creation of their specialties.

After the market, the tour heads to Pistou, a local haute cuisine French restaurant where the owner, Max, prepares something special for the group—usually from the days fresh produce. Then it’s back to Church Street where the group gets to taste olive oils, exotic balsamic vinegars and finishes up with a chocolate tasting from Lake Champlain Chocolate. Along the way they will hear stories about the food culture of the area and learn what makes Vermont so special and delicious.

Cost of the tour is $45, which includes all tastings. The tours last about 2 ½ hours and covers about a mile of walking. Info: www.burlingtonfoodtours.com, call 802-448-2379 or email burlingtonfoodtours@gmail.com

Food as Medicine

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Food

By Dr. Stuart Offer

We often talk about food as it relates to losing or gaining weight. In addition, there is discussion of foods for energy and foods for pleasure and entertainment. One area not often spoken about is food as medicine.

Cancer is the nation’s second leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. Experts blame a third of all cancers on diet and lifestyle choices. From all the media attention, we should know by now that many lifestyle and diet choices can actually contribute to and increase our vulnerability to cancer. However, emerging research suggests that some foods may actually help to prevent cancer.

Amazingly, in spite of tobacco causing 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States, one in five adults still chooses to smoke. What are they thinking? According to the American Cancer Society, an additional 30 percent or more of cancer deaths are caused by diet and lifestyle choices, such as lack of physical activity and the foods that we choose to eat. According to the ACS, for those of us who do not smoke, nutrition and lifestyle choices are the most important factors affecting cancer risk.

In the past, research has been very effective at determining foods that appear to increase our risks of cancer. However, flurries of recent studies have suggested that some foods may actually be cancer fighters. Although this research is not 100 percent definitive, these foods offer many other health benefits. It is a good idea to add them to your diet, even without the potential benefit of actually fighting cancer.

First things first, eat more fruits and vegetables. It seems like I am always saying this. Besides being cancer fighters, these babies are good for you in just about every way. For instance, lycopene in tomatoes have been shown to fight pancreatic cancer in men. A diet high in cruciferous vegetables—such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower—has been found to benefit people with genetic predisposition to lung cancer. Many studies have suggested that berries and red grapes may have cancer-preventive properties. It is so wonderful that onions and garlic are linked to significant reductions in risk for colorectal, ovarian, prostate, breast, renal, esophageal, oral cavity and throat cancer. One study found that the risk of kidney cancer went down by 55 percent when men ate six servings of fruits and vegetables per day, compared to those who only ate three servings per day. Green leafy vegetables and root vegetables were seen to significantly reduce the risks of stomach cancer. I only have one thing to say: “Bring on the salad!”

Second in line is calcium. We all should know that increased levels of calcium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Now, research is telling us that higher levels of calcium will help to reduce the risks of colorectal cancer. Here, you might want to bump up your calcium intake with a supplement. The recommended daily intake from the research is 1,200 milligrams per day.

Third are fish and omega-3 fatty acids. I know—all we ever hear about is heart disease and fish and omega-3. Well, that is not the whole story. Newer research is now touting the benefits of fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids in reducing our risks for colorectal cancer as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the lymphatic system. Rejoice fish foes, because you can get similar benefits from a fish-oil supplement.

Olive oil comes in as number four. Studies have shown that people from Mediterranean countries where higher levels of olive oil are consumed are less prone to breast, colon and prostate cancers compared to those folks in northern Europe.

Number five is tea. It does not matter if it is green or black tea. Studies suggest that both varieties of tea have anti-carcinogenic potential. Polyphenols in tea have been found to decrease breast, colon, prostate and liver cancer cells.

Although more research needs to be done to better define and explain these findings there is no doubt that all of these foods have many benefits above and beyond cancer. So, what do you have to lose? Go for it and indulge, for your good health!

Dr. Stuart Offer is a wellness educator, lifestyle coach and personal trainer who lives in Williston.

Vermont Showcases Food and Farm Experiences with DigInVermont.com

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Food

The State of Vermont, the Vermont Agriculture and Culinary Tourism Council and Vermont Fresh Network recently launched DigInVT.com, an interactive website that connects visitors and Vermonters to nearly 400 authentic Vermont food experiences around the state.

Designed to promote agriculture and tourism, DigInVT.com responds to the public’s growing interest in Vermont as a leader in culinary tourism and the development of a local food system that satiates people’s cravings for authentic food experiences statewide. Visitors to DigInVT.com will find it easier to learn about locally grown Vermont products, as well as the farmers, producers and chefs behind the food

DigInVT.com is the first project developed by the Vermont Agriculture and Culinary Tourism Council, a consortium of 13 food producer groups, nonprofit associations, tourism organizations and state agencies who share the goal of promoting tourism that emphasizes experiencing culture through its food and drink.

“Prior to creation of the DigInVT website, no single source and centralized hub existed where food enthusiasts interested in local food could find information about Vermont’s robust cultural tourism opportunities,” Megan Smith, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing said. “DigInVT.com is that one stop, comprehensive resource and it is poised to bring new visitors to the state’s delectable food experiences, events and establishments that are integral to rural economic development.”

The site was designed and developed with funds from the Vermont Agriculture Innovation Center and John Merck Fund, secured by Vermont Fresh Network. “As a funder and a lead organization, we are proud of what this group has accomplished. This website will position and serve Vermont to attract some of the estimated 160 million Americans whose travel includes cooking classes, food and wine tours, or farm visits; supporting our farms and food establishments that maintain our cherished working lands,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross.

Onion City Resurgence: One Square Mile of Recreation, Culture and a Thriving Senior Community

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Art lovers mingle at a pop-up art gallery created when Opportunities Credit Union leased two downtown spaces which they combined to create a unique gallery space. (Photo by Ric Kadour)

By Phyl Newbeck

The Onion City is having a major resurgence. New restaurants, pop-up art galleries and the River Walk all make Winooski a wonderful place for young professionals to live. However, Winooski also has a thriving senior community with a vibrant senior center, four separate senior housing complexes and one assisted living community, all within walking distance of each other and the newly vibrant downtown. “It’s a good community for seniors,” said Mayor Michael O’Brien, “because it’s compact, we have a lot of services, we’re centrally located and we have a lot to offer.”

One advantage to Winooski is the transit system. CCTA buses run every half hour into Burlington from several locations with one stop directly in front of one senior housing complex and another close by. The SSTA hub is at the senior center. “Winooski is small enough to be close-knit,” said Ed Willenbaker, Executive Director of the Winooski Housing Authority, “but large and diverse enough for a variety of services and both an urban and rural experience. For those on a limited income, Winooski housing is a relative bargain.”

Winooski Senior Center Interim Director Blanche Boissy said approximately 20 seniors use the center on a daily basis, depending on the schedule. Bingo attracts the largest daily crowd, but the center offers exercise classes, medical clinics, monthly lunchtime speakers, AARP classes, and bus tours including trips to casinos and the Saratoga Race Track. Seniors interested in volunteer work can sign up at the center to help out at area schools and community centers. Organized volunteer activities include flower arranging and pumpkin carving for local events.

Willenbaker raves about Winooski as a “funky, cool, eclectic place to work and live.” One advantage to the Onion City is the scale. “Winooski is one square mile,” he said “and in that square mile you can pretty much get anything anyone would desire. You can have hustle and bustle, if you like, but you can also have solitude.”

Willenbaker noted that someone looking for the former can go downtown during one of the many street fairs that take place in spring, summer and fall, while those looking for peace and quiet only have to travel a little bit further down the road to experience the beauty of nature on the River Walk. “In one square mile,” he said “we’ve got a critical mass with lively entertainment and a great service network for seniors.” A farmers’ market which is held on Sundays adds to the attraction.

Cultural diversity

Willenbaker also praised Winooski’s diversity. Historically, the city was populated by French Canadian and Irish immigrants who worked in the mills, but now there are immigrants and refugees of all ages from countries all over the world. To cater to those cultures, and to those with inquisitive palates, there are restaurants serving a variety of cuisine. In Winooski, one can find restaurants serving Irish, Italian, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food. A popular brunch spot is Sneakers Bistro & Cafe, while Our House Bistro specializes in what they refer to as “twisted comfort food.” Two coffee houses, one of which doubles as a bakery, round out the selection.

Despite the differing backgrounds of Winooski citizens, Willenbaker described the city as close-knit and inclusive. Rita Martel, President of the Winooski Historical Society, concurs with Willenbaker’s assessment. A life-long resident of the Onion City, Martel said Winooski’s previous immigrant population had large families, strong morals, and respect for one another. She is counting on the new generation of immigrant families to do the same thing. “We’ll depend on them to continue our reputation for caring for our elders,” she said.

The Art Scene

A large amount of credit for the burgeoning art scene in Winooski goes to former city councilor Jodi Harrington, who has lived in town for the last two decades. Harrington was working as a marketing manager for Opportunities Credit Union and was frustrated by the empty retail space in the city. She teamed up with Ric Kadour of Burlington to turn the empty spaces into galleries. Opportunities Credit Union provided sponsorship and donated Harrington’s time, and eventually they were able to lease two downtown spaces which they combined to create a pop-up gallery. In 2011, a holiday art market attracted 26 artists and netted over $14,000. Martel is pleased to see the changes in downtown Winooski. “I went to the opening and was quite impressed with the attendance,” she said. “Anything to fill those empty spots downtown is a plus.”

This year, another pop-up gallery filled the space and Harrington is hoping this will lead to an artist enterprise zone. So far, at least 2,000 people have visited the gallery in the span of one year. Other sponsors have signed on, and Harrington has procured a five-year lease so she believes the art scene in Winooski will be permanent. “Hopefully, the legacy I can leave is that there will always be art in downtown Winooski,” she said.


For recreation, Winooski has the newly developed River Walk along the flowing water from which the city gets its name. The six-tenths of a mile path is partly packed dirt and gravel but also has a pavement and boardwalk section and travels past the historic Champlain Mill and Woolen Mill, as well as the Winooski falls. The local YMCA also has a variety of recreational facilities including a swimming pool. In addition, there is good fishing (both regular and the ice variety) on the portion of the river known as the Flats.

“Winooski is great for seniors,” said Harrington. “We’re providing a wonderful form of recreation and culture in a city where driving is either not needed or minimal. There’s enough happening here that people don’t have to go to other places. This is a city where you can live, work and play without owning a car.”

At this point, the only drawback to living in Winooski is the lack of a grocery store, but Mayor Michael O’Brien said the city is working to remedy that.

“The cool thing about our city is that all ages can mingle,” said City Manager Katherine “Deac” Decarreau. “Where this happens, you can be any age you feel, simply by having friends, neighbors, and acquaintances that come from all over the age spectrum and all over the world.”

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