Issue #597

Chamber gives collective kudos

Person of the Year award goes to all of Brattleboro for helping the town get through COVID-19 pandemic

It was one of the mantras of 2020 - “We are all in this together.”

The COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed everything in Vermont, and the nation, last year. But the ethos of community and cooperation, the hallmark of how the people of this state always respond to big challenges, stood out above all else.

That spirit was honored by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting on Jan. 21, when it gave a collective Person of the Year award to what outgoing president Tracey John called “all of the unsung heroes in our corner of southern Vermont who rose up to support their neighbors and keep our community moving forward” in 2020.

Interim Executive Director Greg Lesch told The Commons that “we tossed around so many names - all worthy!”...

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Vaccine begins making its way to the public

More than 21,000 Vermonters 75 and older sign up for protection from coronavirus on first day

The next big push to get Vermonters vaccinated against COVID-19 began this week, with those age 75 and older now getting vaccines. Vermonters age 75 and older began booking appointments for their COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 25. According to the Health Department, more than 21,100 appointments were scheduled for...

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Obituaries • Marlene Ola Bills, 81, of West Wardsboro. Died peacefully on Jan. 18, 2021 at her home. She was born at home in Londonderry on Oct. 19, 1939 to Roland Westine and Ola (Robbins) Westine. She grew up between Londonderry and Dummerston, where she attended local schools. She...

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Our collective trauma response

We keep hearing a recurring refrain these days: How can people not accept facts? How can people believe that the government is lying about the election being fair? Why can't people just accept reality? Why indeed? While the current crop of “denied truths” seem incomprehensible to most Americans, it is just the latest preferred fiction that we use to guide our conduct and social organization. Let's start at the beginning and close to home. When predominantly British settlers expanded inland...

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Credit unions complete their merger

On Oct. 19 and 21, respectively, the membership of both Members Advantage Community Credit Union and River Valley Credit Union overwhelmingly approved the merger of the two credit unions. The merger was also approved by the state of Vermont and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). According to a news release, the newly-combined credit union will serve the entire state of Vermont as well as Grafton, Sullivan, and Cheshire counties in New Hampshire. It is now a $320-million-plus financial institution,

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Too many of us fall prey to our magical thinking

As I write this, it is the first day of a new year, and I, along with many others, ponder the mostly dreadful year that can't get into the rear view mirror fast enough. So long, 2020 - don't let the door hit you on the way out! There is a sense of relief as I anticipate positive changes on the horizon. I look forward to an administration that at least has the intention of focusing on things like racial...

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Northern Roots music festival returns

The annual Northern Roots Traditional Music Festival (NRF) will return - virtually - for its 14th year on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30 and 31. The event once again will showcase northern musical traditions, including Irish, Scottish, French Canadian, New England and, this year, Swedish and Shetland. A series of Saturday daytime workshops will be followed by an evening concert while Sunday's schedule wraps up the weekend with three popular sessions. The festival will feature both returning and new performers,

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Foodworks returns to pre-pandemic hours

Foodworks, the food shelf program of Groundworks Collaborative, has resumed its pre-COVID-19 hours of operation. The program is open to anyone with any level of need in the greater Brattleboro area. People wishing to pick up a free two-week supply of groceries can drive or walk to 141 Canal St. and choose from items on a grocery list. A volunteer will pack the order and bring it out to the vehicle. Foodworks' hours for curbside pickup are Mondays and Fridays,

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Theatre Adventure receives grant from Robin Foundation

Theatre Adventure, Inc., an inclusive nonprofit organization for youth and adult actors with developmental disabilities, has been awarded “a substantial grant” from the Robin Foundation. According to a news release from the nonprofit's board of directors, the funds will be used to retain professional staff and contractor services, including bookkeeping, grant writing, marketing, and web development. Theatre Adventure provides opportunities for people with disabilities to learn and grow while cultivating their imaginations, problem-solving capabilities, and social skills. Participants in the...

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Art in the Neighborhood receives COVID-19 funding

Art in the Neighborhood, an organization that provides tuition-free art classes to children in low-income housing communities in town, has been operating since the onset of the pandemic with the assistance of a COVID-19 relief grant from the Vermont Arts Council. Early on in the pandemic, federal funding from the CARES Act came to the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities to provide rapid-response funding to arts and humanities organizations whose operations faced financial hardship, loss of venue, or other...

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Landmark College receives Fair Trade designation

Landmark College has been officially designated a Fair Trade College, joining a national initiative by Fair Trade Campaigns to engage students in issues related to global poverty. The liberal arts college that exclusively serves students with learning differences becomes just the third college in Vermont to receive fair trade status. Nationwide, the Fair Trade Campaigns organization has enlisted nearly 300 schools and communities to its cause of educating students about the issues of fair trade and sourcing fair-trade products. Victor...

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Around the Towns

Everyone Eats! resumes in BrattleboroBRATTLEBORO - Operations have resumed for Everyone Eats!, a program that distributes free meals from Brattleboro restaurants to anyone in need who lives in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Putney, or Vernon. Approximately 850 meals per day are available Monday through Thursday between 4 and 6 p.m., or until supplies run out, to serve these communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pickup for individuals will be at the C.F. Church Building at 80 Flat St., and group/institution orders can...

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To support and to be supportive

I have long been an admirer of the Groundworks Collaborative - but never more than during this debilitating COVID-19 pandemic. Groundworks was established in 2015 following the merger of two well-established organizations: the Brattleboro Area Drop-in Center and Morningside Shelter (the two having previously been in existence for 27 and 36 years, respectively). It now provides ongoing support to families and individuals facing the full continuum of housing and food insecurities in the greater Brattleboro area. The Reformer and The...

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Can Vermont change the way it funds education?

In its draft report to the Legislature this month, the Vermont Tax Structure Commission recommended shifting the education tax from a property tax to an income tax. The commission isn't the first to suggest this change: The Public Assets Institute, a Montpelier-based think tank, agrees with this concept. Last week, Rights & Democracy Vermont held a meeting for parents interested in school funding. Stephanie Yu, deputy director with the Public Assets Institute, outlined how an income tax would benefit Vermont's...

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Goodnow, Quipp will run for re-election to Selectboard

Incumbent Selectboard members Ian Goodnow and Daniel Quipp have decided to run again in town elections on March 2. Goodnow is running for a three-year term; Quipp, for a one-year seat, according to paperwork filed with the Brattleboro Town Clerk's office. Currently, both are completing one-year terms. The five-member Selectboard is comprised of two members serving three-year terms and three members serving one-year terms. Quipp and Goodnow will vie for their respective seats against six candidates, some who have never...

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Amid deep fear, glimmers of hope

How can we find hope in these difficult times? It's a really interesting time right now in the pandemic, especially because there's a glimmer of hope with vaccines rolling out. But there's also fear of mutations to the virus and of other coronaviruses on the horizon. Another area of concern is the insidious attack on the Capitol and the realization that it was very possibly an inside job. All of this weighs heavily on anyone in the United States who...

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A wave of adulation for an inaugural poem

Amanda Gorman's performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” stole the show during the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. Her grace and beauty, the eloquence of her voice and gestures, and the power of her words captured an audience that had already witnessed many powerful moments that day. It was a wondrous experience to watch her, and she quickly became a media darling, with CNN's Anderson Cooper almost at a loss for words as he interviewed her. “Seeing how...

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Board accepts Community Safety Review findings

The Selectboard voted unanimously on Jan. 19 to formally accept the Community Safety Review Process report and recommendations. Board members directed town staff to read through the report and return with additional information. “We will be bringing back to the Selectboard additional information to help [members] decide how to move forward with the work,” Town Manager Peter Elwell said. The report outlines the often negative experiences that marginalized townspeople report having had with law enforcement, the mental health system, and...

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Towns embrace exit path from merged school districts

Members of the unified board of Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) have approved a ballot question that asks voters in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney whether they want to dissolve the not-even-2-year-old unified school district formed under the state's eduction-reform law, Act 46. If voters in the four towns pass the measure during Annual Town Meeting in March, the school district would be no more. Instead, communities would have to establish one or more new districts and elect new school...

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It will be hard to clean up the mess

Finally, Donald Trump is gone from the White House. The time to hope that democracy can prevail is back, however challenging, in view of the shocking events that took place at the Capitol. As we begin the hard work of moving forward and restoring faith in America, we can work toward a hopeful and secure future despite the continuing pandemic and a plethora of political travesties, including possible widespread collusion that runs deep and wide. The task of undoing the...

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