ROSES to all the individuals and groups who participate in the Vermont annual tradition of Green Up Day on Saturday. More than 20,000 state residents are expected to take part in the annual collection of trash along area roads. However, if you don't make it out to pick up garbage along our roads on Saturday, don't fret -- you have 364 other chances in a year.

ROSES to the Cancer Center Community Crusaders, aka the "4Cs," who are raising funds that will benefit local families and current cancer patients and the families as well as regional trials and research done by Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center. The 4Cs have 17 crews who are holding fundraisers including raffles, tag sales and bake sales, and on May 31 they will host a Community Remembrance and Cupcake Crusade. This is a worthy cause to support. To learn how to contribute or to join a crew, call 802-447-5017 and ask for Erica Rogers or Joanne Holden, or visit their CCCCrusaders Facebook page.

ROSES to Bennington residents who get out and vote on Tuesday at the special meeting for the Bennington School District budget. This is the time to let your feelings be known whether the district's voters appropriate $13,007,574 for the schools for next year?

ROSES to World War II Army veteran Edward Gray, who on Saturday is scheduled to take an Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Gray, a resident of the Vermont Veterans' Home, said earlier this week that he was very excited to be making the trip.


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"All I want to do is go down and see how D.C. looks, and how that board looks with all the fallen World War II veterans on it," Gray told the Banner. The flight is offered to World War II veterans in appreciation on their service. We, too, thank Gray -- and all veterans -- for their service to our country.

ROSES to the Bennington Select Board for revisiting supporting a plan to build a multi-use path along Kocher Drive. The project received a near-$500,000 federal earmark in 2002, but currently has a $221,000 shortfall that will have to be filled. The path will enable many local students a safe place to walk and ride home after school as well as provide a much needed recreation path for the community.

ROSES to the 36th annual Steve Zemianek Bennington Road Race, to be held Sunday, which will raise scholarship funds. This year's race is being dedicated to local running enthusiast and educator Gail Harwood, who passed away this year after a battle with cancer.

THORNS to the reality that up to 45 percent of Vermont's children are deemed "not ready" for kindergarten. According to a report by Building Bright Futures, the state's early childhood education advisory council, two our of five Vermont children under age 6 live in low-income households and the number of children in state custody has increased 17 percent since 2002, according to a VTDigger.org report. The results of that study have been tied to income inequality, showing parents who struggle the most to make ends meet have less time to engage children before they are of school-age. Which leads us to ...

THORNS to legislators who failed to pass legislation what would lift the federal minimum wage above its current rate of $7.25 an hour. Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The debate is certainly not over at the federal or the state level. But I think we can all agree that just over seven dollars an hour is not a living wage for a full-time, 40-hour-a week worker.

~Michelle Karas