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

February - March 2018Facebook linkHill Country Observer TwitterHill Country Instagram page NEWS ARCHIVE



For mental health crisis, an alternative model for care

For many people in the grip of an emotional or mental health crisis, the local hospital emergency room has become the first stop in the quest for help. But the typical hospital emergency room doesn’t offer the comforting setting needed by people battling demons in their head or feeling that there’s no longer a reason to live. In the past few years, the search for more appropriate settings for people in crisis has led to the development of an alternative known as “peer-respite” care in home-like settings that don’t operate under a medical model. Locally, Vermont, western Massachusetts and eastern New York now all have small peer-respite houses where people in crisis can stay as an alternative to hospitalization.

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From life’s apples, gourmet vinegars

Fruit reductions highlight flavors as orchard-based distillery branches out.
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State, activists push for more cleanup of Hudson PCBs

A series of new federal and state reports are bolstering environmentalists’ claims that the Hudson River remains heavily contaminated with PCBs, despite the efforts of a seven-year dredging project that cost $1.7 billion to complete. The federal Superfund cleanup was carried out by General Electric Co., whose factories dumped PCBs into the river decades ago. The company says it has met the requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cleaning up the river, but other federal agencies, the state government and environmental groups say the work is by no means done. read more



Spreading solar power by the share

A new concept that could give many more electricity customers a direct stake in solar power has just made its Columbia County debut, with a new 214-kilowatt “community solar” installation in the town of Clermont that went online in December. The community-solar concept is similar to the practice of community-supported agriculture, in which a farm’s customers pay in advance to buy a share of each season’s produce. In community solar, consumers pay for shares of a solar installation -- and effectively receive a share of the project’s power generation as a credit on their home utility bills.

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Artist finds inspiration through roles as teacher

For an artist, inspiration in teaching.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron