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

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



Wider pot legalization changes context for medical use

By the end of the year, a private company aims to open a medical marijuana dispensary somewhere in Bennington. Advocates say the dispensary will make the drug a lot more accessible to patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and 10 other conditions for which Vermont now allows access to marijuana. But medical pot remains tightly controlled in Vermont. With state legislators and Gov. Phil Scott actively discussing proposals for broader legalization -- and with Massachusetts set to allow retail sales of the drug to anyone over 21 -- some are beginning to question whether Vermont’s medical marijuana program, born in an era of prohibition, might soon become irrelevant without a serious overhaul.

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Bakery’s mission: Gluten-free that’s good

Quest for better bread gives rise to storefront, cafe.
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Berkshires community radio station seeks a reboot

For much of the first decade after it took to the airwaves in 2004, WBCR-LP in Great Barrington set an example of what a nonprofit local radio station could be. At its peak, it attracted dozens of volunteers and provided a diverse range of local programming -- giving airtime to music and viewpoints that might never be heard on commercial or even public radio. But over time, the pressures of sustaining an enterprise based entirely on donations and volunteer labor took a toll. In late 2015, the station closed its local offices and broadcast studio, shifting to a format of syndicated programming and automated music shows. Now, its supporters are working to reorganize and revitalize the station as a community resource for the southern Berkshires and beyond. read more



Election 2017: Who and what are on your ballot

A summary of ballot questions and candidates in major races around Massachusetts and New York.

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Visible world, refracted through an inner life

When someone sits in a simple chair today, Dona Mara might see ancient royalty on a throne. As a child munches on an apple, Mara could imagine a sumptuous feast. And if she were to drive by a weathered, collapsing country barn, Mara would dream of the day it was first raised -- bold and red above her beloved Green Mountains, with a sky so blue it would hurt to watch for too long. But then it would be time to paint.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron