hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires

July 2015Facebook linkHill Country Observer TwitterHill Country Instagram page NEWS ARCHIVE



Saratoga Springs Greenbelt

New York pushes to upgrade public-defender system

Michael Mercure took over as Washington County’s public defender in 2009 after his predecessor was accused of forging a judge’s signature on court documents. That lawyer was one of two successive public defenders in the county who wound up being disbarred. Now Mercure is working with the state Office of Indigent Legal Services to carry out the terms of a settlement in a long-running court case that accused Washington and four other counties around the state of failing to provide adequate legal representation to the poor. The class-action suit, brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and a private law firm in 2007 and settled late last year, claimed public defenders in the five counties were so overworked and poorly prepared that they effectively provided no real legal defense to many of their clients.
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A toddler as muse

Bennington artist blends family, creative lives in works that challenge.
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Artist Tony Conner

In Rutland, preparing for solar power’s next step

The local utility company’s effort to transform Rutland into the solar-power capital of the Northeast will take a technological leap forward this fall with the introduction of a new home battery for storing solar energy. Green Mountain Power is partnering with Tesla Motors Inc., a Silicon Valley company known for its premium electric vehicles, to introduce Tesla’s new solar home storage battery, beginning in Rutland. GMP is the first utility company in the nation to work with Tesla on the project.

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New downtown hotel raises hopes in Pittsfield

When Hotel on North celebrating its grand opening last month, some hailed its arrival as a major milestone in the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield. The $14 million boutique hotel offers 45 rooms and a farm-to-table restaurant and lounge in two 19th century buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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A museum seeks help amid struggle with mold

An infestation of mold has forced the Georgi Museum to close and relocate much of its collection while it tries to raise funds to repair its building and restore some damaged artwork. More than 60 vulnerable works of art on wood, fabric and paper have been loaned out or transferred to climate-controlled storage until the building can reopen.

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