About this section

BRATTLEBORO — This Special Focus section was reported and written by MacLean Gander, with editing, design, and additional reporting by Jeff Potter.

Gander volunteers his time as an investigative reporter for The Commons and teaches journalism at Landmark College. Three of his students proved instrumental in the creation of this project: recent graduate Adam Sherman, who did in-depth research on the fentanyl angle; student Jack Belinski, who put in 90 hours providing research “instrumental to the story [that] will provide a model for future interns,” Gander says; and student Lucas Sillars, who provided reporting that Gander says “was central to every aspect of the story.”

The Commons is grateful to have worked with Landmark College and its students to make this complex and heartbreaking story a meaningful learning opportunity for the next generation of reporters.

By way of transparency, we note that in addition to their work in the newsroom, both Gander and Sillars serve as members of the board of directors of Vermont Independent Media, the nonprofit organization that publishes this newspaper.

This project relied deeply on the stories and candor of dozens of people in the region, many of whom spoke on background because of any number of concerns, ranging from fears of self-incrimination to fears of violence. Their candor and honest observations were essential and imbue this story with heartache.

Further discussion is welcome. Join the conversation at [email protected].

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