THORNS to the abrupt closure of North Adams Regional Hospital on Friday, a move that shocked the North Adams, Mass., community and left hundreds of staff without jobs. ROSES to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center for preparing for an expected influx of patients from northern Berkshire County following the NARH closure.

ROSES to Fisher Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Michelle Tessier on her recent "Bright Spots in Education" award from Delta Kappa Gamma International. The award is given women educators in the initial three years of their teaching career who inspire others through creative projects and lessons. Fisher principal Deanne Lacoste, who nominated Tessier for the award, said Tessier is "a talented educator" and a "credit to her profession."

ROSES to area sugarhouses that participated in Vermont Maple Open House weekend last weekend. Maple tourism is alive and well in southern Vermont.

ROSES to Peru, Vt., native and Olympian Sophie Caldwell, who was honored in her hometown last week. Caldwell, who represents the third generation of her family to compete in the Olympics, took 6th place in the women's cross country spriny final in Sochi -- the best U.S. finish of all time by a female athlete in the event. ROSES also to Shaftsbury native and Olympian Andy Newell who recently worked with young Nordic skiers in the Bill Koch League at Prospect Mountain.

ROSES to Sen.


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Bernie Sanders for addressing the issue of income equality in Vermont by showing the documentary "Inequality for All" in four towns, including Bennington, on Sunday. "If tens of millions of people don't have disposable income, how can they be expected to purchase products that will keep corporations in business and grow the economy?" asked Sanders during an interview with the Banner earlier this week. The free film will be simulcast from the Mount Anthony Union High School auditorium at 10:30 a.m. Sunday as well as from locations in Middlebury, St. Johnsbury and Brattleboro. Following the film, Sanders will hold a "tele-town" meeting, encouraging discussion amongst audience members.

THORNS to the Internet scammers who targeted the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce and a local dentist's office recently. Both were victim to the "CryptoLocker" virus, transmitted through an innocuous-looking attachment, which demanded untraceable bitcoin payment of a ransom or threatened to lock files for good. In the end, the chamber lost most of its digital records and had to replace all of its computers, servers and back-up hard drives. Computer users beware.

ROSES to the 2014 All-Banner High School boys basketball first team picks (see the full list on page B1). Great work, boys!

ROSES to creative efforts to fund a new scholarship at Hoosick Falls Central School. About $400 was raised Thursday with a raffle offering students an opportunity to shave one of three teachers' overgrown beards. Bill Clairmont, Damien Bundrick and Robert Viera grew their beards out and submitted to some creative shaving at the hands their students. They had to sport the new stylings all day Friday, all for a good cause. Proceeds benefitted a scholarship in the name of HFCS teacher Isabel McGuire, who recently passed away after a battle with melanoma.

~Michelle Karas