ROSES to the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce's annual "Day Under the Dome" trip on Tuesday for which some residents paid $30 to sponsored a local student to experience the Vermont Statehouse, sit in on the House of Representatives and have an audience with the governor. This year group of students from the Hiland Hall School in Bennington attended as well as a teacher, chamber members, several community members ... and a Banner reporter and photographer.

ROSES to 11-year-old wrestler Christian Burdick, a student at Molly Stark Elementary School, who is competing in the state championships this weekend and is featured in an A1 story today about his exceptional attitude and abilities.

ROSES to the ongoing discussion about bringing passenger rail service back to southern Vermont. The state Agency of Transportation detailed its latest study for extending passenger rail service to Bennington County at a recent public meeting in Arlington. The study recommended connecting a station in North Bennington to Albany, N.Y. The project's $138 million price tag is worth the benefits of a viable transportation network. As Costa Pappis, VTrans planning coordinator, said at the meeting, "Investment is destiny."

ROSES to the Shaftsbury Historical Society's newly-created tradition of honoring ordinary heroes in the community each year. On Sunday the society will present "Ordinary Heroes Day Festival" beginning at 2 p.


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m. at the Governor Galusha Homestead -- an event which will culminated in the naming of this year's ordinary hero, someone "who personifies Shaftsbury's civic pride through their passion for our communal history, shared values and personal efforts to enhance the well-being of Shaftsbury residents, according to a release from the society.

ROSES to all those who participated in the fun "Bowl for Kids' Sake" fundraiser for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. The program which pairs a caring adult with a child in need of mentoring will benefit from more than $5,000 raised at the April 5 event held at Bennington Lanes and sponsored by Bank of Bennington. BBBS Bennington currently has about 60 mentor-mentee matches but is always looking for more volunteers. To learn about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, or enrolling your child age 5-14 in the program, visit www.ucsvt.org/programs/big-brothers-big-sisters.

ROSES to the recent deaf panel held at the Bennington Center for the Arts that raised money for Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans. Kudos to "Eyes Wide Open," a group of three deaf Mount Anthony Union High School students who got together with Luke Adams from "Amazing Race," Sean Forbes from the band Deaf and Loud, and others to form a panel discussion that touched on topics like going through school as a deaf student and connecting with a hearing community.

THORNS to the financial dire straits and declining enrollment that contributed to Friday's announcement that the Austine School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Williams Center in Brattleboro will close this June. These institutions were revered for their teaching methods and for their results. At least 50 employeeswill lose jobs and students will have no choice but to find other schools.

~Michelle Karas