ROSES to Gov. Peter Shumlin for calling for action on the statewide problem of addiction in his State of the State speech to the Legislature Wednesday. Gov. Shumlin said increased treatment, law enforcement and education programs are needed to keep Vermonters from becoming addicted to drugs including heroin. Here in Bennington County we've seen two major drug enforcement actions in the last 12 months resulting in dozens of arrests. The problem is here, and it's time to find more effective ways to fight addiction. ROSES also to Amelia Silver, development director of Sunrise Family Resource Center, whose input on the issue was sought by the governor for his speech. Silver told The Banner that the number of children in Bennington County born with an opiate dependence is on the rise as are the number of area families facing drug addiction, yet Bennington has no residential or intensive treatment options. We need to find a way to get local access to treatment.

ROSES to Sen. Bernie Sanders for fighting for a three-month extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. On Tuesday the Senate voted 60-37 to keep alive consideration of legislation to restore jobless benefits to those who were cut off when the program expired Dec. 28. "At a time of growing wealth and income inequality, we cannot turn our backs on 1.3 million people who would be left out in the cold without this help," said Sanders.


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THORNS to the person or persons who broke into Mahican Moccasin Shop in Pownal between 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 and 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 and stole more than $400 from the registers. State police believe the thieves fled on snowmobiles or ATVs and are asking anyone who may have additional information to call 802-442-5421 or text 274637 (CRIMES) the keyword "VTIPS" followed by the information. If you wish to share information but remain anonymous, visit www.vtips.com.

ROSES to Hoosick Falls Central School and Cambridge Central School football players who were named to New York's all-state teams in Class C and D this week. Twelve players total from the two New York schools were named to at least the honorable mention lists.

THORNS to Michael W. Heller, who, in his position of Readsboro Elementary School principal allegedly misappropriated more than $4,000 in grant funding and took $200 in children's lunch money and used it for hotel stays, meals and other items. Heller, 40, is facing embezzlement and fraud charges after a State Police investigation following a financial audit at the school. Heller is also accused of creating false records to cover his alleged activities.

THORNS to the Bennington man who police say texted 5 to 15 photos of his genitals to a pair of teenagers who had been crank texting him. Jeremy Mertz, 39, of Pleasant Street, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of sending indecent material to a minor. While he admitted to sending the photos, Mertz told police said he did so because he believed a female was interested in him.