ROSES to the two Army veterans -- Capt. Sean Niquette, 27, and Sgt. First Class Eric Bourquin, 34 -- who stopped in Bennington on Wednesday during their quest to complete the Appalachian Trail while raising awareness of post traumatic stress disorder. Niquette and Bourquin, both diagnosed with PTSD and both recently retired from service, are more than 600 miles into their hike from Maine to Georgia they hope will help them to "walk off the war." Niquette said, "Having both been diagnosed with PTSD, it serves as a therapeutic event for us." Learn more about these veterans and their current mission at hikingheroes.com. ROSES to the 18th Annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Fest happening this weekend in Bennington. The aromatic event is expected to draw more than 15,000 visitors to the area to sample garlic concoctions of all kinds at Camelot Village. Not only is it a boon to the local economy, it’s a signature event that leaves a pleasant, lingering memory of Bennington in the mouths and minds of all who attend. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. To learn more, visit www.lovegarlic.com.

ROSES to Southern Vermont College student Tara Dee and her horse Lavendel, who won the Adult Marshall and Sterling Classic August 4 at Horse Shows in The Sun in Saugerties, N.Y. With this win, Bennington resident Dee, who has competed in the jumper circuit for six years, is eligible to represent Vermont at the HITS jumper championship beginning Sept.


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THORNS to the sequester cuts that have forced Head Start programs throughout Vermont to reduce services this year. The seven Head Start Programs in the state -- including Bennington County Head Start -- will receive $800,000 less this year, resulting in the elimination of 15 teaching and seven home visit positions. Head Start will serve 199 fewer needy children with services that include health and dental care referrals in Vermont. We agree with Paul Behrman, chairman of the Vermont Head Start Association, who told the Associated Press this week, "The whole notion we are scaling back these programs is just lunacy."

ROSES to Leone Dusablon, owner of Country Corner Daycare in North Bennington, who retired and closed the longtime business’ doors this week. Dusablon, 78, has touched the lives of hundreds of local children through her daycare over the past three decades. Now she’s on to her next chapter: Volunteering for the Vermont Welcome Center this fall.

ROSES to the Better Bennington Corporation, the Town of Bennington and the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce for working together to reach out to students of the area’s five colleges. The organizations put together 450 "swag bags" welcoming students to town and enticing them to visit downtown merchants through coupons, discounts and freebies. The bags were marked with tags that read "We love that you are here." What a great way to get the students familiar with what downtown Bennington has to offer. It’s a smart move that makes good business sense. P.S. Students: the Banner has subscription deals for print, online and mobile! Call 800-245-0254 for details.

~Michelle Karas