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





Massachusetts debates next steps for health care

From his second-floor office on the campus of North Adams Regional
Hospital, Chip Joffe-Halpern has seen the changes brought by health care
reform in Massachusetts. Before the state’s seminal health care law passed in 2006, 40 percent of the people who contacted Joffe-Halpern’s agency, Ecu-Health Care, were unable to find health insurance they could afford. Today,only 4 percent are unable to find coverage. With nearly everyone now in thesystem, the state is turning its attention to cost containment and preventativemedicine.. read more



Activists push new strategy on biotech crops

On an April weeknight in Montpelier, the Vermont House Agriculture
Committee held a public hearing on a bill to require labeling of foods
containing genetically engineered ingredients. To the surprise of even
the bill’s supporters, more than 400 people showed up. In a new wave of
activism around the nation, Vermont was one of as many as 20 states in whichcitizens pushed for labeling legislation this year. read more



From roadside vegetable stand to full-time farm

Butternut Ridge Farm got its start 38 years ago when Bill Stevens, a longtime
horticulture teacher, set up a vegetable stand at the foot of his driveway in Argyle, N.Y. Today, Stevens is 83, and a fourth generation of his family is helping out with the produce, hanging plants and bedding flowers the farm sells at five area farmers markets. read more



Artist confronts painful past, tackles sex trafficking

It’s a long way from Jeanet Ingalls’ early experiences of poverty, violence and
sexual abuse as a “street kid” in the Philippines 40 years ago to her current
life as a mother, fitness trainer and artist in the comparatively peaceful and
affluent Berkshires. But Ingalls says the scars of her early youth have never
gone away, and now she’s actively confronting her past. Two years ago, she
began recruiting friends and community leaders to help her set up Shout
Out Loud Productions, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about
sex trafficking and the abuse of women and children..read more



Extravagant structure, uncertain future

The Park-McCullough House, one of Vermont’s architectural treasures, has fallen on hard times. The 35-room, Second-Empire-style mansion, set on 200 acres near the center of North Bennington, has in recent decades operated as a museum and served as a popular location for weddings and special events. But this summer, the grand old house is open only by appointment while the association that owns it tries to settle on a new, economically sustainable course for the property. read more



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