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

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In Pittsfield, restoring an American giant

The decline of the American chestnut has been described as one of the largest ecological disasters in history: Nearly 4 billion of the majestic trees were wiped out by a fungal disease in the early decades of the 20th century. But in recent years a broad effort has been under way to restore the American chestnut to its place in the landscape, and an orchard in Pittsfield’s Springside Park is now an integral part of the effort to develop disease-resistant chestnut trees

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A farm transformed by and for artists

At Salem Art Works, the attractions evolve with the growing creative cast.
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Sheriff faces criticism as county joins forces with ICE

Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick A. Russo has signed up for a program that deputizes workers at the county jail to review inmates’ immigration status. The sheriff says it’s all about improving public safety, but critics say the program is discriminatory and would wrongly use county resources to boost a controversial federal immigration crackdown.

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Primary results: It’s Delgado vs. Faso, Cobb vs. Stefanik

Democratic voters have chosen Antonio Delgado and Tedra L. Cobb to challenge Republican incumbents John Faso and Elise Stefanik this fall in New York’s 19th and 21st congressional districts.

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Bennington distillery aims to bottle revolutionary spirits

No less an authority than Gen. George Washington once insisted that distilleries and breweries provided an essential performance enhancer for the troops fighting for American independence. Spirits of Old Bennington doesn’t make quite such a bold claim, but the local distillery does stress its connection to the area’s rich local history.

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The Paris of Impressionism, as illuminated by women

Though women artists in the late 19th century still had few rights and little recognition, they came to Paris to paint. “Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900,” which runs through Labor Day at the Clark Art Institute, brings together more than 80 paintings by 37 women from the period.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron