Carolyn Pieciak is the retiring founding leader of St. Brigid’s soup kitchen in Brattleboro.
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Serving hungry people with kindness and empathy

Carolyn Pieciak, retiring as co-founder of Brigid’s Kitchen, says that the 200 or so people who visit on a given day are not who you’d think. ‘Probably the biggest misunderstanding is they’re all homeless,’ she says.

BRATTLEBORO-Carolyn Pieciak can tell you how she made peanut butter, jelly, and Fluff sandwiches for her son, State Treasurer Mike Pieciak, long before he sank his teeth into Vermont's financial ledgers.

But the 78-year-old Brattleboro resident would rather chew over the smorgasbord of meals she has coordinated as founding leader of St. Brigid's, one of the region's largest soup kitchens.

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The color of medicine

BRATTLEBORO-Medically, the only two ways in which white patients and Black patients differ are skin color and hair type. That's it. Everything else is a social, not a racial, construct. Yet it is not widely known, at least among the white population, that there is medicine for them and then there's medicine for African Americans and other people of color. The medical establishment has now acknowledged that there is a problem. And, in Windham County, both Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and...

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Clock ticks for weighing in on license renewals for hydro projects

BELLOWS FALLS-Three Vermont hydroelectric dams and generating stations on the Connecticut River in Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon, plus two in Massachusetts, are in the process of renewing their operating licenses - a process that has been extended for public comment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) until Wednesday, May 22. The operating license renewing process has been going on since 2012. The facilities were last issued licenses by FERC over 40 years ago and the licenses for the...

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A wealth-tax bill roared to victory in the House. Then it died in the Senate. What happened?

BRATTLEBORO-If there can be an obituary for a piece of legislation, then this is it: H.829, we hardly knew ye. H.829 was enthusiastically passed by the Vermont House of Representatives, 97–42 but was killed in the Senate. From the beginning of the legislative session, H.829 was spoken about reverently by its supporters in Windham County. Its intent was to increase affordable housing in a number of ways by investing $900 million over the next 10 years. But where would the...

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Winston Prouty seeks to build 300 affordable housing units

BRATTLEBORO-Chloe Learey, executive director of the Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development in West Brattleboro, has a vision to build 300 units of diverse housing on the center's 180-acre campus. Guided by the belief that an inclusive community is ultimately healthier for everyone, Learey's goal is to provide housing that is affordable to many people with different needs. "I imagine a neighborhood where you don't say, 'Oh, there's the poor people's building. There's the old people's building,'" Learey...

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Rockingham considers merging three fire departments

ROCKINGHAM-The study by a Wyoming EMS consulting firm has recommended that three fire departments - Bellows Falls, Saxtons River, and Rockingham - be consolidated into one with one town-wide fire district. AP Triton presented the results of a feasibility study of the three local fire departments at a special joint board meeting of the Selectboard and the village trustees of Bellows Falls and Saxtons River. The Bellows Falls Fire Department employs a fire chief and on-call firefighters, while both village...

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Longtime Brattleboro rep. won’t seek re-election

BRATTLEBORO-After serving 12 years in the Legislature, Rep. Tristan Toleno, D-Brattleboro, is retiring from state politics and ramping up his career as an organizational consultant. Toleno, 52, said he feels the need to return to full-time work and build up some wealth and stability before retirement. "It's a personal decision to prioritize my family and future security," he told The Commons. "I spent most of my whole adult working life in food service. I loved that career. But it wasn't...

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Goodnow eyes Toleno’s House seat

BRATTLEBORO-A former Selectboard member has announced that he will be running for state representative for District 9 (formerly District 3). Ian Goodnow will seek the Democratic Party nomination for the seat after after having served on the board for the past four years, the last two as chair. He stepped down from the board at the end of his term in March. He is a practicing attorney at Costello, Valente & Gentry P.C., also of Brattleboro. This week, incumbent Rep.

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Unearthing history

BELLOWS FALLS-In May, a community group will begin unveiling its work on a $37,000 study of the Native rock carvings next to the Vilas Bridge on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River. The Kchi Pôntegok Project (kit-see pohn-tuh-guk), named after the Abenaki expression for "at the Great Falls," which refers to the location of the petroglyphs. The group is at the point of wrapping up the project and members are planning public presentations of their findings. The group will...

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