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

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Click the cover for the full issueHill Country Observer September 2020 issue


Region braces for surge of mail-in and early ballots

Elections officials across the region are scrambling to prepare for a deluge of mail-in or drop-off ballots this fall as one of the most heated presidential campaigns in memory unfolds amid the lingering danger of the Covid-19 pandemic. Massachusetts, New York and Vermont have all moved to encourage more mail-in and early voting this year, and all three states saw huge increases in the use of absentee ballots in primary elections this summer. The November election, with much higher participation expected, will pose an even bigger challenge.
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A farm, tables and a taste of empowerment

Family’s restaurant operation aids immigrants, refugees.
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In pandemic’s wake, some see a changing population

Ever since Covid-19 arrived in March, gripping metropolitan New York City hardest in its first wave of illness and death, there have been reports of cars with out-of-state plates pouring into resort towns across New England as people from the big cities of the Northeast sought refuge at their seasonal homes. In Vermont and eastern New York, some local officials at first pleaded with these urban refugees to stay home, fearing they might bring the virus with them and overwhelm local hospitals. But now some wonder whether these temporary visitors might opt to stay for the longer term, working remotely and transforming the region’s economy.

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Dancing amid the gardens and fields

Growing up in South Egremont, Moscelyne ParkeHarrison knew Daniel Chester French’s sculpture at Chesterwood, his historic home in Stockbridge. Returning to the Berkshires now after years of studying and performing in New York City, she is drawing on “Andromeda” for inspiration. This month, ParkeHarrison and her collective of emerging artists, BodySonnet, will perform at Chesterwood and at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron