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

April 2017   Facebook linkHill Country Observer TwitterHill Country Instagram page NEWS ARCHIVE



Free clinics try to fill region’s gaps in medical care

Although the number of people without health insurance in Vermont and New York has declined sharply under the federal Affordable Care Act, there are still plenty of uninsured or under-insured patients seeking care at free medical clinics in Bennington, Rutland, Middlebury and several other sites around Vermont. And in Massachusetts, a free clinic in Great Barrington has grown up over the past 15 years to become the largest and busiest such operation in the region -- even though Massachusetts now boasts nearly universal health insurance coverage.

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Rediscovering an ancient elixir

Couple’s health scare gives rise to kombucha-brewing business. From life’s lemons, brew kombucha.
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Efforts to shield immigrants move ahead in Vermont

Vermonters have lately been taking action at the state and local levels to push back against a federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Last month, the state attorney general advised all of Vermont’s cities and towns that local police should not be used for immigration enforcement. And in several communities around the state, including Bennington, voters at town meetings adopted resolutions declaring their communities safe for immigrants and refugees.

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In the blue Berkshires, election spurs new activism

Almost from the moment Donald Trump upended the predictions of pollsters and pundits by winning the November election, progressive activists in the Berkshires have been organizing the resistance. In the past few months, a series of new citizens groups have sprung up around Berkshire County to protest, petition, raise funds and work the phones in hopes of blocking parts of the president’s agenda. Some Democratic-leaning activists are even vowing to take their campaign across the border to New York -- by working to defeat freshman Republican U.S. Rep. John Faso in 2018.
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Romance fiction becomes focus for academic study

Sonali Dev’s writing has won her national acclaim, but she writes in a genre that still struggles for its reputation. Dev will speak at Williams College this month at a most unusual academic conference: “Reading for Pleasure” will offer three days of film, readings and discussions of romance fiction as an international phenomenon.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron