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

December 2021- January 2022Facebook linkHill Country Observer TwitterHill Country Instagram page NEWS ARCHIVE

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In battle to save bees, a push to ban certain pesticides

New York lawmakers are expected to vote in the new year on whether to ban a class of pesticides that have been blamed for massive die-offs of honeybees over the past decade and a half. Conservation groups and many beekeepers around the region say banning seeds treated with neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” is the key to curbing the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, in which worker bees leave their hives and never return. But may farmers and local legislators oppose the ban, saying neonics protect crops and are better for the environment than older, less targeted chemicals.
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Comfort and luxury, born of necessity

Essential oils, scented pillows power a one-woman micro-business.
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Zombie candidates set off calls for change

After Republican operatives effectively hijacked the Working Families Party ballot line and fielded a slates of “ghost candidates” in Saratoga Springs, Rensselaer County and elsewhere around New York, leaders of the left-leaning party are vowing to take steps to prevent similar mischief in the future. But others say the episode reveals fundamental flaws in the practice of “fusion voting,” a once-common system that only a handful of states still allow.

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Election 2021: Results from local races

A roundup of key races from local and state contests in N.Y. and Mass.

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For winter, art inspired by snow and ice

In a new show at the Bennington Museum, ice crystals are echoing in translucent glazes, quartz and silver, abstraction and calligraphy. The group exhibit “Transient Beauty,” which runs through Dec. 31, draws its inspiration from a Vermont artist who became known around the world: the photographer William Bentley, who captured more than 5,000 detailed images of snowflakes beginning in 1885.

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Belcher Hollow Forge, Handforged iron