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

November 2022Facebook linkHill Country Observer TwitterHill Country Instagram page NEWS ARCHIVE

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A pandemic dividend in fresh-baked, local breads

After the pandemic clobbered the restaurant business in the nation’s capital two years ago, Kean McIlvaine and her husband decided to leave Washington for a quieter lifestyle in upstate New York. They found a house in Washington County with a view of the Eagleville covered bridge along the Batten Kill, and McIlvaine began baking bread from home and selling it to her neighbors. It might seem like a fanciful business model, but McIlvaine isn’t the only one trying it. Across three counties in eastern New York, at least a half-dozen new micro-bakeries have sprung up in the past couple of years, and a similar number have emerged in the Berkshires.

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How dark Covid times nurtured bakers’ dreams

Dede Weber started her Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery at the height of the pandemic and soon built a following in the northern Berkshires. Now she’s preparing to open a new bakery cafe in North Adams.
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New York’s new ethics panel has a rocky start

When Kathy Hochul took over as New York’s governor last year after the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, one of her first promises was to strengthen the state’s system for policing the ethics of its top officials. The state’s ethics commission at the time had faced years of criticism for its dysfunction and secrecy -- and for its coziness with the elected officials it was supposed to monitor. Now the replacement panel, which held its first meeting in September, is already facing questions about its independence.
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Maker space with a green mission

Leni Fried and Mike Augspurger took over a former woolen mill in Adams in 2016, and they have repurposed it as a zero-waste maker space. In six years, they have collected 90 tons of cast-off sheets, blankets and shirts from a local linen service -- fabric that would have gone to an incinerator -- and are channeling it instead to local nonprofits and overseas communities. And they are finding new homes and purposes for old bicycles, paper goods and more.
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