ROSES to the Plein Air Vermont 2013 competition wrapping up in Bennington, North Bennington, and Manchester. The yearly event drew about 40 artists, who put up mobile easels outdoors and paint the splendid views they find. On Friday, the artists painted in downtown Bennington during the First Friday activities. On Saturday starting at 1 p.m. the artists will gather in Manchester for a "Quick-Draw Competition" to complete a painting in about two hours. The Plein Air opening reception and pre-sale party will be held Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Bennington Center for the Arts. The free event will give the public the opportunity to meet the artists, enjoy food and drink, view and perhaps purchase one of nearly 100 paintings produced during the competition. More information is at www.pleinair-vermont.com

THORNS to anyone who missed out on the 18th Annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival, held last weekend in Camelot Village. The pungent, fun, family-friendly event was well done and quite well-attended despite some rain showers. Live entertainment throughout both days of the festival, energetic emceeing by Bennington Economic and Community Development Director Michael Harrington and his brother Matt Harrington, and a host of friendly volunteers throughout (including Banner Publisher Ed Woods) made this local event a ringing success. ROSES to the next fun-filled community event, the 47th annual Bennington Car Show, coming up next weekend at Willow Park. If you’re a car buff, you don’t want to miss it. ROSES to students, teachers, faculty and staff of our area schools and colleges that are now in session. The slight chill in the air means fall has arrived and it’s time to get back to the books. Mount Anthony Union Middle School Principal Tim Payne told the Banner there was "lots of positive energy" among the students on the first day of school, Tuesday. Here’s to a school year that’s full of that. ROSES also to local middle, high school and collegiate athletes who, with school now in session, are working to balance academics and sports.

THORNS to the shenanigans in Pownal regarding alleged misuse of public funds by town officials. The Pownal Select Board voted Thursday to suspend monthly meetings with the Board of Auditors after the two boards clashed regarding an alleged $43,000 in town payroll errors that the auditors claim occurred between 2009 and 2012. Meanwhile, auditors Ray Shields and Betty Baker have thus far refused to release those findings to the Select Board. Shields told the board last month that he gave the information to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, who referred it to the State Police. Police apparently found no such wrongdoing in the town’s books. Now the Select Board doesn’t want to meet with the auditors until they receive that publically unreported report that the auditors don’t wish to turn over. It makes you wonder what really happened.

ROSES to the new college in town, Northeastern Baptist College, now engaging students at 104 Kocher Drive. The college -- the sixth institution of higher learning in the Bennington area -- has started with 16 students and aspires to grow to more than 100 in the coming years. NEBC offers bachelor of arts degrees in biblical studies -- with concentrations in pastoral work, church planning, entreprenuerial leadership and creative writing -- and music, with a concentration in worship leadership. A future bachelor’s degree option in biblical education is planned. Find more information at nebcvt.org.

~Michelle Karas