Better Living Audiology Opens in South Burlington

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Business

By Phyl Newbeck
Julie Bier is the owner of Better Living Audiology, a practice which opened in March in South Burlington.
Bier credits a college advisor with setting her on her career path. In high school, she studied American Sign Language and continued taking ASL courses in college while on a pre-med track. Her advisor suggested she take an introduction to audiology class and she was immediately hooked.
Bier received her doctorate from the University of California in San Francisco and stayed in California for several years after that. Her family was on the East Coast so she eventually relocated to New York, but as the grind of the city became a bit much, she began to look towards New England. Bier got a job at Fletcher Allen but she had always wanted to open her own practice and this spring she decided to make the move.
Better Living Audiology is a full-service practice, performing evaluations, hearing aid consultations and fittings, and repairs of most manufactured hearing aids. Bier specializes in tinnitus and hyperacusis. The former is a ringing of the ears and the latter is a sensitivity to loud noises; both of which can be linked to hearing loss. Bier has clients ranging in age from babies to 105. She finds it very rewarding to work with children and watch them hear things they’ve never experienced before, but she stresses that people of all ages should have their hearing checked. “It’s never too late to do something about hearing loss,” she said “but the sooner you do things, the better. The auditory part of the brain is a muscle just like any other part of the body and if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Bier said there are constant advances in the field of hearing aids. “Every six to 12 months there is something new coming out which makes my job exciting,” she said. “I see some patients with three-year-old hearing aids come in and try something new and they say it’s like night and day.” Many of the advances focus on background noises as well as size and visibility. “Hearing aids are much smaller than they used to be,” Bier said. “There are some nearly invisible devices which are semi-implanted by an audiologist or ear, nose and throat physician.”
The downside to those devices is they need to be replaced every few months by a physician. Other hearing aids sit deep in the hearing canal and can be removed by the patient when the battery goes down.
Bier said the most popular hearing aids are miniature devices which sit behind the ear and are connected with a wire. “They are very comfortable and almost invisible,” she said. The hearing aid cases are almost waterproof, although Bier doesn’t recommend using them for showering or swimming. One of her patients wore his while kayaking and capsized for the first time ever. He was able to retrieve the aid which fell out of his ear under water.  After drying out the battery over the weekend, it was as good as new. Some of the newer hearing aids have Blue Tooth connectivity and can be connected directly to an iPhone, iPad or television. “The sound is tailored to your hearing loss,” Bier said “and you can hear it in both ears. The audiology world is a lot of fun because everything is always changing.”
Bier loves having the opportunity to improve the quality of life of her patients. “On an almost daily basis when I’m fitting someone for hearing aids, I can see the change,” she said. Bier said often a son or daughter will accompany a parent to their first visit. “She’s yelling and repeating herself,” said Bier “and she’s getting frustrated. I see them two weeks later and they’re able to communicate without any of that.”
Bier said she is often told by a grateful son or daughter that his or her parent is now able to be part of the conversation at dinner and to hear what their grandchild is saying. One client told her he had no idea there were birds outside his home until his new hearing aid allowed him to hear them chirping. Another noted that he learned he had to fix a step in his house because he had just discovered that it creaked. “Reconnecting people with the world in that way and with their family and friends is really rewarding,” she said.
“Hearing loss is more common than people realize,” said Bier. “One out of every three people over the age of 60 has hearing loss and as general rule it takes a person about seven years before they accept that fact.”
Bier noted that treating physicians make referrals for a variety of issues, but only a small percentage check for hearing. “It’s more of an invisible impairment,” she said. “Making sure that’s on people’s radar is important.”

New Living Green Fair Welcomes All Ages on Sept. 27

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Grammy nominee Donald Knaack, aka The Junkman, will present two solo concerts during the Living Green Fair. These will be followed by interactive “Junk Jams” in which he invites children in the audience to play his “junk music” instruments, which are made of 100 percent recycled materials. (Courtesy photo)

Grammy nominee Donald Knaack, aka The Junkman, will present two solo concerts during the Living Green Fair. These will be followed by interactive “Junk Jams” in which he invites children in the audience to play his “junk music” instruments, which are made of 100 percent recycled materials. (Courtesy photo)

The Living Green Fair will be held at the LEED-certified UVM Davis Center on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Presented in conjunction with the University of Vermont, this will be Vermont’s signature “green consumer event.”
The goal of the event is to encourage and help Vermonters of all ages to make more environmentally and socially conscious decisions in their everyday lives, as well as foster a sense of community cooperation and awareness in a welcoming environment.
Programming will include workshops and activities for adults and children. A variety of exhibitors – featuring local food, home improvement ideas, energy efficiency, gardening and much more – will interact with attendees in a fun, educational atmosphere.
Guests will receive take-away materials to encourage them to utilize the knowledge they gain at the fair, as well as remind them of the committed, local exhibitors present so they can patronize and support their businesses and organizations.
A highlight of the event will be two performances by Donald Knaack, aka The Junkman. The Grammy nominee is currently producing a children’s television show about music and the environment entitled, “Junk Music with the Junkman.” He will present two solo concerts followed by interactive “Junk Jams” in which he invites children in the audience to play his “junk music” instruments, which are made of 100 percent recycled materials.
Community sponsors/supporters include The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, The University of Vermont Environmental Studies Program, The Vermont Student Environmental Program (VSTEP), Go! Chittenden County, WCAX-TV, Green Living Journal, Efficiency Vermont, Chittenden Solid Waste District, VT Sustainable Jobs Fund (Farm to Plate), CCTA, Vermont Electric Co-op, VPIRG, VBSR and Localvore Today.
The UVM Davis Center is located at 590 Main St. in Burlington. The Living Green Fair offers free admission and free valet bike parking. Those who pre-register will be entered to win prizes from Gardner’s Supply, Windows & Doors by Brownell, Sweet Basil Cards and more.
For more information and to preregister, visit Phone: 872-9000 x18.

Vermont Fall Home Show Brings New Ideas to Burlington

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Todd Davis

Todd Davis

HGTV’s ‘Room Crashers’ star Todd Davis to present innovative design ideas
The Vermont Fall Home Show promises the most up-to-date information on products and services for your home. “You can learn about the latest design and remodeling trends from industry experts and explore innovative ideas for every area of your home,” said show producer Paul Apfelbaum.
In addition to a wide variety of exhibitors, HGTV star Todd Davis, host of the hit show “Room Crashers,” is flying in from California to present “Lifestyle/Design Style” workshops both Saturday and Sunday. The highly energetic designer will teach visitors how to add value and beauty to their homes and how to have fun doing it.
The Vermont Fall Home Show will be held Saturday, Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center in South Burlington. Admission is free courtesy of Floor Coverings International, with a suggested donation to benefit Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity.
For more information, visit

Coming to UVM’s Royall Tyler stage

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

The UVM Department of Theatre will celebrate 40 years of theater on the Royall Tyler stage with its 2014/2015 main stage season.
The season begins in October with “A Grand Night for Singing,” featuring the music of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It features songs from such shows as “State Fair,” “Carousel,” “Oklahoma,” “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music.” Directed by guest lecturer Craig Wells, the show runs from Oct. 2 through Oct. 12.
In November, the tiny town of Grover’s Corners comes to life on the Royall Tyler stage as UVM Theatre presents Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece “Our Town.” The play captures the universal experience of being alive by showing that life is both precious and ordinary, and that these two fundamental truths are intimately connected. Sarah Carleton directs this classic of the American theatre, which runs Nov. 6-16.
The “Toys Take Over Christmas” returns for the 25th year on Dec. 6. Children and adults alike will bask in the joys of the season in this holiday story “with a heart.” Performances are at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Dec. 6. General public tickets for this popular production go on sale on Oct. 21.
Honor and desire collide as the season concludes in February with William Shakespeare’s spirited comedy “Much Ado About Nothing.” This tale of the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a humorous, dark and at times hilariously absurd view of the intricate game that is love. Passionate, sexy and funny “Much Ado About Nothing” will make you laugh, break your heart – and then magically put it back together again. Reveling in joy and wallowing in despair, the bard’s timeless comedy will resonate with anyone who has been betrayed, deceived, maligned or in love. “Much Ado About Nothing” is directed by Mark Alan Gordon and runs Feb. 18-22.
The Royall Tyler theatre box office is open for single ticket sales. Box office hours are Tuesday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call the box office at 656-2094 or visit

Fit to Eat: Don’t Cook for Two

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Food

By Dr. Stuart Offer
For many years, I have traveled to all corners of Vermont coaching and teaching people about nutrition. The area from which I get the most requests for help is meal planning.
I love cookbooks and over the last few years I have seen many new books appear with names such as “The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook” and “Cooking for Two.” Personally, I think these books are the worst idea when it comes to meal planning and cooking for busy people, and who these days is not busy?
Instead, let’s talk about the benefits of cooking for four, even six, (let’s call it “cooking large”) when there are only two of you, maybe only one of you.
I love to cook, but I don’t love cooking seven nights a week. I feel a better idea is cooking once, then using the food to create a few meals from the leftovers. This way, I don’t feel so much pressure when I want to make a masterpiece dinner because I know I will get more mileage out of it.
I often cook and prepare one or two big meals per week that will later need only small amounts of put-together time for the remaining meals that week.
My wife Leslie and I are Kansas City certified BBQ judges — we travel to judge-sanctioned BBQ competitions. That being said, I enjoy grilling and barbequing big time. I love to cook massive amounts of food on my grill that I can eat all week long.
One of the big advantages when I cook large is I can shop once, often taking advantage of sales and specials, and prep and clean up once instead of multiple times. Although there is nothing like meat on the grill, veggies and fruit are some of my favorite foods to grill at very high temperatures and eat as leftovers. High heat from the grill will carmelize the sugars in the fruits and veggies (yes, even veggies) and give it a very unique and delicious flavor compared to cooking at lower temperatures.
I come from the school of thought that any grilled veggie can benefit from some salt, pepper and granulated garlic. I also believe any fruit cooked on the grill is better with a little sugar and cinnamon. Below is my favorite ratio of salt, pepper and garlic for veggies, as well as cinnamon sugar.
What I love about grilling produce is it is so easy. There is really no recipe, just a procedure that works for everything. I preheat my grill until screaming hot, then I coat each side of the food with a favorite cooking oil, sprinkle with a light coat of seasoning and grill for two to three minutes per side – the length of time will vary based on whether you like things softer (cook longer) or crunchier (cook shorter). Usually everything is done when you get grill marks on each side.
My favorite things to cook: corn on the cob (husk the corn and grill it naked); zucchini; yellow squash and onions cut in ¼ inch slices. Other favorites are cauliflower cut into ½ inch “steaks,” tomatoes, peppers of any type from sweet to spicy (cut these into large pieces so they lay flat) and avocado (cut in half, remove pit and grill the cut side down with the skin on then spoon out the flesh). Fruits include any stone fruit (peaches are my favorite), fresh pineapple and banana (cut banana in half the long way, coat cut side with cinnamon sugar and grill on both side until grill marks form). These fruits make a wonderful dessert, with a little low fat ice cream or in any savory dishes.
Once you have a pile of these, they can be used either at room temperature or warmed up. For the follow-up meals, try putting them into a salad, fill a sandwich, or think tacos and egg dishes such as scrambles or frittatas —great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
As you know, I am always trying to get you to eat more fruits and veggies, so here is a great way to make that happen. By the way, this also works for meat, poultry and seafood.
Garlic Pepper Salt
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Cinnamon-Sugar Blend
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Below is an incredibly simple dish that can be made in minutes for breakfast, lunch or dinner
Dr. Stuart Offer is a Vermont health coach and educator currently traveling throughout North America.

Fall Foliage Events Calendar

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Things to do

Sept. 15 – Nov. 1
Vermont BackRd. Foliage Tours — For a special look at the Vermont fall foliage in its entire splendor, Vermont BackRd. Tours is accepting reservations. Admission fee. Daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Rutland.
Sept. 18 – 21
St. Albans Raid 150th Anniversary Events — Four days of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the northern-most land action of the Civil War. Main St., St. Albans.
Sept. 18 – Oct. 19
‘The 39 Steps’/’Comedy of Errors’ — The two comedies will be run in repertory with most actors in both shows – including fan favorites Eric Love and Christopher Scheer. Admission fee. City Hall Auditorium Arts Center, 39 Main St., Montpelier.
Sept. 19-21
British Invasion — The largest all-British motorcar show in the United States annually attracting over 600 British motorcars. The British Invasion is a British lifestyle event that includes “all things British,” with primary focus on classic British motorcars. Admission fee. Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p. m.; Sun. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stowe.
Sept. 19 – 21
Wine and Harvest Festival — Set in the backdrop of Vermont fall foliage, discover, savor and enjoy Vermont vintners, small specialty food producers, chefs, painters, publishers, cheese makers, potters, jewelers, photographers and farmers. Admission fees. Mount Snow Resort, Willmington.
Sept. 20
43rd Annual Women’s Barbershop Show — The Barre-Tones have become known for their highly entertaining annual musical variety show featuring a cappella barbershop music. 7 p.m. Admission fee. Barre Opera House, 6 North Main St., Barre
Sept. 20 & 21
VT Fall Home Show — Learn about all the latest home and design trends from local exhibitors and enjoy workshops including “Lifestyle/Design Style” by HGTV start Todd Davis, host of “Room Crashers.” Sat. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FREE. Sheraton Burlington, 870 Williston Rd.,
Sept.  21
Natural History Hike — Guided hike. 3 p.m. 4334 Route 7, Ferrisburgh.

The Alt Concert — The Alt with Irish musicians/singers John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary come to the After Dark Music Series. Admission fee. 7 p.m. South Pleasant St., Middlebury.

St. Albans Raid Half Marathon — Run part of the route followed by escaping Confederate bank robbers 150 years ago. Admission fee. Race starts at 9 a.m., St. Albans.
Sept. 25 – Oct. 5
Musical Comedy ‘The Music Man’ — The classic musical comedy ‘The Music Man’ Admission fee. Thurs.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun., 2 p.m. 85 Main St., Hyde Park.
Sept. 27
Burke Fall Foliage Festival — Parade, craft show, kids games, music, bbq, beer tent and more. ‘Chickweed’ featuring Linda Warnaar will perform at the gazebo from 1 – 3 p.m. Beer & wine tent will be open from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. featuring live music with ‘Tritium Well’ from 3 – 6 p.m. 368 Route 114, Burke.

Stowe Foliage Artisan Market — Artisan Market with local art, music and food. Free. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Park St., Stowe.

Living Green Fair — Learn how to live a more sustainable lifestyle and have fun, too! A variety of workshops and exhibitors sharing information and helpful hints on things like composting and ways to save with energy efficient products for the home. Giveaways, activities for adults and children, fresh food from local eateries and live entertainment — including interactive Junk Jams by Grammy-nominated entertainer Donald “The Junkman” Knaack. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FREE. UVM Davis Center, Main St., Burlington.

Bristol Harvest Festival — annual festival. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Bristol.

Smithsonian Day at Participating Museums — Learn about local museums using the Smithsonian Day Pass. Free. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 196 Main St., Windsor.

Behind the Scenes Tour at the American Precision Museum — Tour the museum’s storage area to view rare machines not currently on display. Admission fee. 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. 196 Main St., Windsor.

Traditional Chicken Pie Supper — Enjoy a traditional chicken pie church supper with savory chicken, handmade biscuits and seasonal vegetables. Admission fee. 5:30 p.m. & 6:45 p.m. seatings, plus take out. Main St. Rte. 100, Waitsfield.
Sept. 27 – 28
11th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture, Woodworking & Forest Festival — From fine furniture to hardwood flooring to unique bowls. Admission fee. Sat. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 496 Woodstock Rd. (Route 4), Woodstock.
Sept. 27 – Oct. 27
Vermont Fall Foliage Sampler Tours — Experience the fall foliage in Vermont while exploring the region’s best-kept secrets. Editor Choice, Yankee Travel. Admission fee. Daily tours start at 1 p.m. and return at 4 p.m. Reservations required. 39 Bonnet St., Manchester.
Sept. 28 – Oct. 31
Revolutionary War & Fall Foliage Tour — Visit Revolutionary War sites in The Shires of Vermont while viewing the fall foliage. Admission fee. Daily, 9:30-11:45 a.m. starts at Manchester Visitor Ctr. Reservations required. Manchester Center.
Sept. 29 – Oct. 5
Vermont – Inn-to-Inn Group Bicycle Tour — Inn-to-inn group Rd. bicycle tour of northern Vermont. 295 miles in 6 riding days. For advanced intermediates. Burlington.
Oct. 1
Richmond Congregational Church Chicken Pie Supper — This traditional supper has been held for the last 66 years to celebrate the fall harvest and foliage season. Admission fee. 4:30, 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 p.m. 20 Church St, Richmond.
Oct. 3 – 5
The Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival — Classic art and craft festival kicks off foliage season off foliage season in Manchester Admission fee. 10-5 daily. Route 7A, Manchester.
Oct. 3 – 5
‘La Traviata’ by Verdi, a Staged Concert Version — Presented by the Opera Company of Middlebury in the style of OCM’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ of 2012. Tickets $40-$50. Fri., 8-11 p.m., Sun. 2-5 p.m. 68 South Pleasant St., Middlebury.
Oct. 3 – 12
Vermont Celebrates American Craft Week — Hundreds of artisans, festivals and events celebrate American Craft Week. Main St., Montpelier.
Oct. 4
Ben’s Mill Rubber Ducky Derby — Rubber Ducky Derby. Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Ben’s Mill, 2236 West Barnet Rd., Barnet.
Call Lois @ 748-8180
Oct. 4
OctoberFeast 3— The Magic Hat Artifactory is hosting this benefit for the Vermont Foodbank. Featuring Vermont food purveyors sampling and selling their goods in a farmer market setting. There will be a $5 entry fee that will benefit the Vermont Foodbank. Additional event features include live music, an outdoor beer garden and special cask releases.
Oct. 4 – 5
Pumpkin & Apple Celebration at Billings Farm & Museum — Voted one of the Top 10 Fall Event for 2014. Admission fee. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. GPS: 69 Old River Rd., Woodstock.
Oct. 4 – 5
Fall Open Studio Weekend 2014 — Artists and craftspeople open their studios to the public for sales and conversation. Free. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day., Montpelier.
Oct. 10
Middlebury Arts Walk — Downtown Middlebury becomes a center for art, music, food and fun. Free. 5 to 7 p.m. Main St. & Merchants Row, Middlebury.
388-7951 X2
Oct. 10 – 12
The Stowe Foliage Arts Festival — Art and craft festival featuring 150 great talented artists, creative craftspeople, and unique specialty food makers at apex of fall foliage color. 10-5 daily. Admission fee. Mayo Farm, 80 Weeks Hill Rd., Stowe.
Oct. 11
Ethan and Ira Challenge — Historical scavenger hunt. Admission fee. Sat. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 1 Ethan Allen Homestead, Burlington.
Oct. 11 – 12
Harvest Weekend at Billings Farm & Museum — A traditional harvest celebration on the farm. Admission fee. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 69 Old River Rd., Woodstock.
Oct. 11 – 12
Newfane Heritage Festival — Amid the colorful fall foliage, 96 talented artists and craft people display their creative efforts on the village streets and surrounding hillsides. One of New England’s best fall festivals. Free. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Route 30, Newfane.
Oct. 12
Mad Dash — Mad Dash 5K, 10K and Kids’ Fun Run to benefit the Mad River Path trail system. Registration fee. 10 a.m., Waitsfield.
Oct. 12 – 13
History Happens at Old Constitution House — A demonstration of a variety of 18th century period activities: brewing, cooking, woodworking, and powder horn carving. Sat., Sun., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. 16 Main St., Windsor.
Oct. 15 – 19
Hooked in the Mountains XVII — An exhibition of hooked rugs and fiber arts. Vendors, demonstrations and more. Admission fee. Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 105 Pearl St, Essex Junction.
Oct. 18 – 19
Autumn Wagon Ride Weekend at Billings Farm & Museum — Narrated horse-drawn wagon rides around the Billings fields. Admission fee. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 69 Old River Rd., Woodstock.
Oct. 18 – 19
32nd Annual Champlain Valley Quilt Festival — Part of the first Fiber Arts Festival with Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild, Fiber Arts Co-Op and Alpaca Owners & Breeders. Admission fee. 105 Pearl St., Essex Junction.
Oct. 24 – Nov. 2
Vermont International Film Festival — Annual film festival of international and American films Admission fee. Fri 11th thru Sun 20th. 230 College St., Burlington.
Oct. 25
Fallapalooza! — It’s like Mayfest, Midnight Madness, Octoberfest, and the food festivals all wrapped up into one big celebration. Bring the kids for store-to-store trick-or-treating between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; farmers’ market 10-1; wagon rides; vendors; live entertainment. Free. Sat. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Bennington.
Oct. 25
15th annual Model Engineering Show — Visit with the best model makers in New England. Admission fee. Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 29 Union St., Windsor.
Oct. 25
Culinary Adventure: Root Vegetables — Learn to cook from the root cellar. Admission fee. Sat. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. 1342 Route 106, Perkinsville.

Chris Morrell and Buck Have Made Their Final Patrol

September 18, 2014  
Filed under News

Shelburne Police Department’s Chris Morrell, at 72-years-old, along with his 12-year-old canine partner Buck, has retired—after achieving recognition as the oldest police dog handler in the United States. (Courtesy photo)

Shelburne Police Department’s Chris Morrell, at 72-years-old, along with his 12-year-old canine partner Buck, has retired—after achieving recognition as the oldest police dog handler in the United States.
(Courtesy photo)

By Phyl Newbeck
On July 24, the Shelburne Police Department held a ceremony to honor Chris Morrell, the oldest police dog handler in the United States. Not to be neglected in the festivities, 72-year-old Morrell’s 12-year-old canine partner Buck was also recognized. The reception came a month after the retiring pair was honored by the Shelburne Police Department with a plaque, a certificate and a bag of bones.
Lynn Gardner was Chair of the Hinesburg Selectboard when the town decided to start a police department in 1994. “Chris really, really stood out as the best candidate,” he said, “but we never thought he’d sign with us because we had a shoestring budget and he was coming from a place where he had over 60 officers working for him.”
Gardner said local opposition to the idea of a police department changed when Morrell was hired. “He was a perfect fit,” Gardner said. “He was low-key and mellow and he believed in community policing. Everybody liked him. It’s amazing how well he fit into the community so quickly.”
Morrell started his police career in March 1973 in Saratoga County, New York. Ten years later, he was Chief Deputy with 68 people reporting to him. After two decades, he resigned from his position and began looking for a new beat. When several Vermont acquaintances sent him a notice that Hinesburg was looking to start a police department, Morrell decided to apply for the job. He spent 16 years in Hinesburg before bringing Buck to Shelburne in 2010.
Four-legged partners
In 1980, Morrell got his first police dog and he happily brought Thatch with him to Hinesburg. Thatch was followed by Doc, who was named after the physician/philanthropist Dr. Wainer, who helped make his purchase possible. Despite the vast difference in department size, Morrell had no trouble adjusting to Hinesburg. “It wasn’t culture shock,” he said. “Even though I had been a supervisor, I always spent a lot of time on the road. I believed in leading from in front rather than an office.”
Paul Bohne was the Shelburne Town Manager when Morrell was hired. Bohne’s only concern at the time was that Shelburne didn’t have a dog handler and he thought adding one might put a strain on a small department, but he never regretted his decision. “Chris was a gentle soul,” he said. “He could deal with people and he was a dogged investigator.”
Bohne remembers viewing a traffic stop made by Morrell that he thinks should be used as a training video for how to deal with a difficult driver. “He was always calm,” he said. “I don’t know if you could ruffle the man.”
Joe Colangelo was hired as Shelburne’s Town Manager in 2014 and very quickly grew to respect Morrell. “He’s everything that’s right about police officers,” Colangelo said. “He’s gracious, kind and really professional.”
Colangelo was impressed Morrell wasn’t bothered by the fact that after being the chief in Hinesburg he was now one of the patrol officers. “He was a mentor and provided good guidance,” Colangelo said. “He was always a gentleman and great with everyone on staff and the public.”
Shelburne Police Chief James Warden knew Morrell when he was working in Saratoga and became friends with him after his move to Hinesburg. “If he had a fault,” Warden said “it might have been that he was too nice a guy.”
Warden praised Morrell’s work ethic. “He worked out in the gym every day and was in terrific shape,” he said. “He’s done a good job and age never entered into it. The younger guys really respected him. Here’s a guy twice their age doing as much work as them or more.”
Morrell’s retirement hasn’t been very restful. For more than two decades, he rented out his house in Malta, New York and he is now in the process of having portions of it rebuilt. His Hinesburg house sold quickly, so he has been renting an apartment in town. Morrell has written a number of magazine articles over the years and his wife wants him to write a book about policing. He promised her he’ll give it a shot.
Gardner isn’t surprised that Morrell kept working into his 70s. “Chris has a trainer,” he said. “He takes good care of himself.”
Gardner challenged the idea that Morrell is really retiring. “He’s just changing careers,” he said. “He’s been a great public servant all his life. That’s what he lived for. He’s too motivated to just sit around and not do anything.”
Morrell has spoken to the Executive Director of the U.S. Police Canine Association, who believes he is the oldest canine handler in the nation, but he is unimpressed with that distinction. “I happen to like police work,” he said. “My attitude stayed good until the end.”
Nevertheless, Morrell believes the time had come for both him and Buck to retire. “I’m happy with my decision,” he said. “You should go before it becomes obvious you need to.”
“He’s a good, kind person who appreciates the idea of community policing,” said Colangelo. “Watching the way he handled both the ups and downs in his career and the way he conducted himself is something I respected and I learned a lot from him. He was really well liked and Buck was kind of an iconic figure here, too. We miss them.”

Modern Education for Lifelong Learners

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Feature Stories, Things to do

By Robin Reid

As summer fades, students organize themselves to head back to school. Many of us remember the days when we hopped on the school bus and sat in a classroom for mandatory lessons. We recall fellow students who finished the requirements as soon as possible, while others continued on to college and university, some earning multiple degrees. There was a pervasive attitude that once you stopped taking courses, your institutional learning days were over.
Today however, even those who have passed traditional school age have many avenues open to them to pursue additional education and there are multiple and diverse reasons for individuals to make that choice.
Lisa Kiley, who is “pushing 70,” has added to her BS degree from the UVM College of Education and Social Services by taking classes she wasn’t able to sign up for while fulfilling required coursework. She says, “I like to pursue my special interests, but not because I want a credential or to make a career change.”
She has enjoyed auditing and taking classes for credit in mathematics and sciences. “Some people seek entertainment by going out to bars or sporting events, but I prefer to read and study for enjoyment.”
Kiley noted that there are many educational resources including at local senior centers and many volunteer opportunities where new skills can be obtained.
Indeed, lifelong learning comes in many packages. There are programs for people who seek to learn new or career skills, enhance job performance, earn a half-finished degree, earn a higher degree or simply learn for fun and interest’s sake. The University of Vermont, Champlain College and the Vermont State Colleges all provide some great options for seniors who wish to enroll in their program offerings.
The process of selecting the right continuing education path depends mostly on what you want to learn and why. If you are seeking to change or enhance your career, then you should explore specific options relating to your career goals. Courses in accounting, medicine, technology, education, engineering and the environment—to name a few—are available for the taking.
University of Vermont
UVM offers over 400 for-credit courses to non-degree students. The careful selection of several such courses can provide the student with advanced knowledge that may directly improve their job performance and subsequent earning capacity. Older students are also encouraged to pursue a degree if that is their desire.
Continuing Education at UVM ( provides assistance for seniors in choosing a curriculum. Prospective students may schedule an appointment with an advisor.
A recent UVM graduate, senior Jessie Bradley, attended college as a young student until 1976, but never finished her degree. She was inspired to graduate from UVM along with her youngest daughter. Although she had to retake several required courses, Bradley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science. A sought-after garden designer, Bradley says, “finishing my degree did not change my career path, but it enhanced it.”
Recently, she attended her first alumnae event on campus. “It was so much fun,” she said. “I’m proud of my education and never thought I’d have the chance to enjoy a University alumnae event.”
Vermont seniors may enroll in an unlimited number of classes at UVM for credit or audit on a space available basis. The university will pick up the tab for students who are 65 years or older who wish to audit a class. The student must live in Vermont for at least one year prior to enrollment. Be aware that tuition waivers at UVM are considered scholarships and may be taxable.
UVM is also home to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The program is touted for its diverse offerings that include lectures, travel, film and discussion. The classes are typically just four weeks long, designed for affordability and fun. Updated information on OLLI Travel and other offerings can be found at
Similar tuition waivers for seniors are also available at all Vermont State Colleges ( These include Castleton State, Johnson State, Lyndon State and Vermont Technical colleges. Vermont State Colleges offer a vibrant campus life for those who wish to learn alongside younger students. While a senior may enjoy free tuition, they must not displace a paying student in any particular class. Also stipulated for a Vermont State College tuition waiver is that a senior student is not seeking a degree. Another branch of the Vermont State College system is Community College of Vermont ( CCV has a vibrant senior program with more than a dozen locations statewide.
Champlain College
Champlain College is strikingly career-oriented compared to liberal arts institutions, with a highly successful job placement rate. Continuing education programs in computer science, cybersecurity, health care and professional certificates in accounting, human resource management and entrepreneurship are designed for serious students on a career track. The college also developed The Center for Financial Literacy that is geared toward students of all ages. More information is available at
Other simple, fun learning experiences are offered through ACCESS at CVU (, MMU After Dark ( or Burlington Continuing Education ( While you won’t earn a degree taking these courses, it’s a great way to learn more about computer technology and software applications, receive instrumental instruction, take dance, art, and language classes, beekeeping and much more. It’s also an opportunity to offer your particular expertise or share your knowledge by making a course offering.
There are other ways for lifelong learners to pursue education without enrolling in a college or university. Try Googling “online continuing education courses” and many different options come up. offers a wide range of courses and degree programs from many renowned colleges and universities all over the world. Even if you don’t know what you want to study, there will be something of interest on this website. allows for browsing through an extensive selection of course offerings. Information about the instructor, a syllabus, requirements and reviews are provided. You can also explore any college or university of interest and examine their continuing education departments. Steer clear of online sites that request your personal information before allowing you to browse their offerings.
In this age of computer technology, it’s natural for people to pursue continuing education through online courses, but specialized forums and websites can be useful for busy professionals and entrepreneurs. Senior Melissa Mendelsohn owns Orchard Road Computers in Charlotte. She keeps herself current by joining forums such as Computer Troubleshooters and the Computer Repair Marketing Group and she follows websites such as and Pick your interest and there will be a forum or blog out there to increase your knowledge on that subject. Mendelsohn says “keeping up with technology is very time-consuming. I read through the forums every day and learn a great deal.”
Local libraries offer various programs that are open to the public. Check your town newspapers for such listings. Free lecture series are also scheduled through various organizations. These can provide lots of information on a wide range of subjects. For example, Elder Education Enrichment ( offers a series on foreign affairs, Vermont history, issues and news.
It is never too late to learn and there is always something new to examine. The Internet opens many doors for lifelong learning, and if you want to meet people while enjoying a common learning experience, the Champlain Valley is not short on options.

Looking for Lady Luck

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Feature Stories

Akwesasne Mowhawk Casino’s gaming floor.  (Photo by Matt Weeks courtesty of Akwsasne Mohawk Casino)

Akwesasne Mowhawk Casino’s gaming floor.
(Photo by Matt Weeks courtesty of Akwsasne Mohawk Casino)

By Matt Sutkoski

As investment strategies go, gambling might not be the most reliable choice for increasing your wealth, but it could well be the most fun.
While Vermont is by no stretch of the imagination a gambling haven, people from the Green Mountain State have enough nearby options to try their luck.
The Akewsasne Mohawk Casino in Hogensburg, New York is perhaps the most accessible gambling center, but it’s also easy to (maybe) win your fortune up in Montreal, or, to paraphrase the Springsteen song, fix your hair up pretty and head down to Atlantic City.
More modest gambling opportunities are as close as the convenience store down the street. Vermont offers an ever changing, big selection of lottery tickets that could instantly make you a millionaire, or more likely, just put an extra few bucks in your pocket, or even more likely, lose a dollar or two but have an instant of fun in the process.
Probably the easiest major casino to reach from Vermont is the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, about a two and a half hour drive from Burlington.
It’s got all that a gambler needs, including the obligatory round the clock gaming, four restaurants, a bingo palace, a spa, a hotel and an RV park next door.
Akwasasne also has a number of special events, such as an autumn wine tasting event during summer, the North Country Concert Series. The 2014 series featured intimate concerts with country stars such as Darryl Worley, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye.
You don’t even have to gas up your car to get there. Vermont’s Green Mountain Tours offers weekly trips to Akwasasne. As of this writing, the buses rolled every Tuesday, but that might get switched to Saturday, said Keith Neal, sales director for the tour company.
Most of the Akwasasne clientele comes from central Vermont, because Green Mountain Tours is the only company that swings through the Barre and Montpelier areas to bring them to the Hogensburg casino. Akwasasne averages about 1.2 million visitors per year, and roughly 7 percent of them are from Vermont.
The majority of people in the Akwasasne tours are seniors, though participants in the weekly trips to Akwasasne are sometimes as young as 25 or so, Neal said.
He said people living in senior centers welcome the chance to get out and try their luck at Akwasasne. They typically don’t gamble away much money. What helps is the price is affordable. The bus trip to Akwasasne costs $48 per person, which is about the break even point for Green Mountain Tours, Neal said.
Atlantic City
Green Mountain Tours also has occasional trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The next one is in October.
Atlantic City is still a lot of fun, Neal said, noting that reports of Atlantic City’s demise are premature. At least he thinks so. Still, resort developers who gambled with new casinos are on a losing streak. According to the Associated Press, four of Atlantic City’s 12 major casinos will have closed by this autumn,victims of overbuilding just before the recession hit in 2008.
That’s actually good news for Vermonters thinking of heading to Atlantic City, Neal said. The remaining resorts are offering deals to lure customers, so gaming might not cost as much money and prices might be good on hotel rooms, restaurants and attractions.
The Bally Main Tower Hotel, the destination for the Green Mountain Tours trip to Atlantic City in October, is not among the casinos closing, so it’s a safe bet to sign up for the excursion.
The tour costs $584 for singles and $422 for doubles.
Reassuringly, Neal tells would-be gamblers headed to Atlantic City to not expect wreckage. Neal thinks part of Atlantic City’s problem is the public perceived the resort was devastated, and has not recovered from, Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
However, he noted only a small part of the famed Atlantic City boardwalk was destroyed in that storm, and that section was nowhere near the casinos and tourist attractions.
Overall, gambling trips represent about 10 percent of Green Mountain Tours overall business. Neal said there is not much of a discernible trend in the numbers of people signing up for gambling trips, though the Akwasasne buses aren’t as full as they used to be. He said the casino has tightened its belt on giveaways and deals, and that might have hurt business.
Another major option for Vermont gamblers is not much more than an hour north of the Canadian border. That, of course is Montreal.
Probably the principal casino in the Montreal area is Casino de Montreal. It has all the stuff you need for a day, weekend or week of gambling: poker, slot machines, table games and keno, plus lots of live entertainment, restaurants, hotel rooms, spas and, of course, the city of Montreal, which has one of the strongest European vibes of any North American city.
There’s only one potential drawback: You have to cross an international border to get there.
Usually, that’s not a problem. But sometimes, it is, said Neal, the sales director at Vermont’s Green Mountain Tours. Once, one of their tour buses was detained at the border for two hours on its way to the Montreal casino. That kept people away from the slot machines for too long, angering pretty much everybody on the bus.
“Gamblers are a unique breed. They are determined to get to the casino,” he said.
Largely for that reason, Green Mountain Tours no longer goes to Montreal for casino excursions.
If you go to the Montreal casino, remember to have your passport, or a specialized Vermont driver’s license that works as a border identification card to get into Canada.
You might also need identification to get into the Casino de Montreal, especially if there is a question of whether any member of your group is under 18. It’s also worth it to read the resort’s rules before entering. They’re not onerous, but there are rules such as no smart phones at many of the gaming tables.
Homegrown gambling
For those who don’t want to travel, Vermont has gambling in the form of lottery tickets.
Instant winning scratch tickets are more popular lately than tickets like Powerball or MegaMillions that promise the chance, however slim, of a multi-million dollar pay off said Gregory Smith, Executive Director of the Vermont Lottery.
The odds of winning are better with scratch tickets, Smith said. “You hear about the jackpots going really high, but that doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
Scratch off tickets offer the chance of much more instant, if small scale, gratification.
“You will spend a dollar or two and get the value of thinking, ‘What will I do if I win,” he said.
“You stand a very good chance of getting your money back,” he said.
The highest percentage of lottery players in Vermont are in the 40- to 50-year-old demographic, Smith said. He thinks younger people aren’t as aware of the lottery and become more cognizant of it as they age.
Most of the lottery proceeds go the Vermont Education Fund. Also, the Vermont Lottery budgets about $150,000 annually toward programs that help people beset with problem gambling, Smith said.
problem gambling
Which brings us to that very problem of gambling too much.
It’s a lot of fun for most of us, but if you do things like gamble until your last dollar is gone, you’ve used income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid, or you’ve made repeated, unsuccessful tries at stopping the gambling, you might need help.
Vermonters who think they, or a family member, may have a gambling problem, can get help via a Vermont nonprofit. The Vermont Council for Problem Gambling recently turned over the reins of its services to the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery in Montpelier. It can be reached at (802) 223-6263 or visit