ROSES to Shaftsbury native and disciplined athlete Andy Newell for making it to the Olympic team for cross country skiing for the third consecutive Olympic games. The 29-year-old Stratton Mountain School graduate is the only male athlete from Vermont on the U.S. team. He has had several strong finishes on the World Cup circuit recently. We are rooting for Andy in Sochi! ROSES to all those who responded with offers of help and donations to the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless following our Thursday article "Homeless group grapples with demand during extreme cold." Stacey New, president of the coalition's board of directors, told the Banner Friday, "The article struck a chord because our phones have not stopped ringing today. Several people have already dropped off donations, others are calling to ask where to send money, and one lady even called to offer an apartment at a reduced rent to a family in need." Help is always needed and appreciated. If you can donate or volunteer your time, please call the coalition's North Street shelter at 802-442-2424.

THORNS to those who were allegedly selling a significant amount of heroin from a Bennington residence on a busy stretch of North Street. Four people were arrested Jan. 17 who were said to have played a large role in the distribution of the drug in town. This wasn't a dark, secluded alley in an unsavory area. It was an apartment on a well-lit, well-traveled street just a block or two from two elementary schools in a neighborhood near several busy businesses. This problem is not in our "back yard" -- it's right in front of us.

ROSES to Mount Anthony Union High School boys swim team for clinching their second consecutive Northern Division championship with their 90-60 win over Waconah on Tuesday.

ROSES to those who participated in the candlelight vigil in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday and gathered for a public forum on poverty at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse. The vigil commenced from the Four Corners and participants sang "All we are saying is give peace a chance" as they proceeded down Main Street toward the meetinghouse on that cold night. It was a beautiful sight -- and sound. The forum which brought together people of many faiths was funded by the Greater Bennington Peace and Justice Center and the Bennington Interfaith Council and included several speakers on topics including fighting poverty, striving for equality in access to higher education, and economic injustice.