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





Fast track to a smart grid

Supporters say it’s a big step forward for energy conservation in Vermont: Over the next few months, utility customers across the state are set to receive new, wireless electric meters. Power companies say the new “msart meters” will save money, both for customers and utilities, and will help cut down on pollution and power outages. But just as the installation is about to begin, some people are starting to question whether the meters might pose health risks or privacy concerns. read more



Mass. pushes to limit scope of Housatonic cleanup

Top state environmental officials in Massachusetts are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit the scope of a PCB cleanup along the Housatonic River south of Pittsfield, saying the environment along the winding river is too fragile to survive the disruption of full-scale dredging. But critics say the state may be relying too heavily on data provided by General Electric, the company that caused the PCB pollution in the first place. read more



College plans Vermont’s first polling center

When news organizations have tried to assess public support for various state and federal candidates in Vermont, they’ve always had to rely on the work of out-of-state polling firms. But that could soon change, as officials at Castleton State College are in the process of setting up the state’s first public opinion polling institute. read more



A grand old church, saved by the arts

When the grand old church on Washington Street was condemned by Saratoga Springs city officials in 2000, it could easily have wound up falling to the wrecking ball. But a group of local preservationists -- as well as its longtime occupants, the Universal Baptist Church, saw the potential for revival. Today, Universal Preservation Hall still provides space for the Baptist congregation’s Sunday services, but it also functions as a secular performance space and community center.read more



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