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





Movie theatersʼ choice: Go digital or die

By the end of the year, the major Hollywood studios will stop producing the 35-millimeter fi lm reels that have been the standard operating equipment for movie theaters since the early 20th century, changing instead to an all-digital format. But the equipment needed to screen the new digital movies -- starting with projectors that cost at least $70,000 apiece -- has the owners of some smaller theaters in the region scrambling to raise money. read more



Mercury threat persists, despite emissions cuts

Despite tougher pollution standards that have led to a sharp reduction nationally in emissions of airborne mercury, several new studies suggest that high concentrations of the toxic heavy metal are persisting in the environment and continuing to pose a health threat to people in the Northeast. read more



Group aims to preserve grasslands, bird habitat

After several years of raising public awareness about the birds and landscapes of the Washington County grasslands, a local conservation group says it wants to move beyond education to actually buying and preserving some of the open land. At issue is about 13,000 acres of farm fi elds, including about 2,000 acres in Fort Edward, Argyle and Kingsbury that have been designated by the National Audubon Society as an “important bird area.” read more



Beef farmers band together for a grass-fed future

At fi rst glance, Sarah Teale seems an unlikely person to organize an agricultural cooperative for small-scale producers of grass-fed beef. She lives in Manhattan, where she has a successful documentary fi lmmaking career and her own production company. But her connections to both city and upstate have given her a vital role in the new Adirondack Grazers Cooperative.read more



Local airwaves, local voices

The motto for WGXC-90.7 FM, the local radio station that started broadcasting to Columbia and Greene counties just over two years ago, is “hands-on radio.” The phrase sums up why the station stands out against the background of chain-owned commercial stations whose programming is produced in studios far removed from their listeners.read more



Town green for a localvore era - Owners aim to turn old fairgrounds into center for local agriculture

At the town’s southern gateway on U.S. Route 7 lies the derelict Great Barrington Fairgrounds, a complex of ramshackle stables and barns, an overgrown racetrack with vine-shrouded stewards’ towers, a crumbling grandstand, and ticket booths encased in an impenetrable web of bittersweet. read more