ROSES to the annual Midnight Madness event in Bennington on Thursday. It was great to see crowds patronizing downtown businesses and enjoying music performances well past dark.

THORNS to the four people who disrupted the fun others were having at Midnight Madness. According to Bennington Police, three teens let an altercation get out of hand and a fourth man was cited for and driving unsafely with a toddler in the vehicle at the time during the downtown event.

ROSES to Mount Anthony High School junior Sebastian Durfee and Cambridge teen Virginia Edinger on landing the leads in Hubbard Hall's performance of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" in the 20th annual Free Outdoor Shakespeare tour this weekend. See their performance in the free production this Sunday at Park-McCullough House in North Bennington at 7 p.m.

ROSES to the official kickoff of the Town of Bennington's Wi-Fi on Thursday, celebrated at the Town Office with live music and cake. The network, which has actually been up and running since May, will make downtown more inviting and accessible to visitors and residents alike. Learn more on the Wi-Fi landing page www.BenningtonVermont.org.

ROSES to students in Kathy Slade's Medical Professions program at the Career Development Center who recently were awarded gold medals at the SkillsUSA state competition in Kansas City earlier this year.


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"I felt like a mother, I was so proud of them," Slade told the Banner.

ROSES to the inaugural Southwest Vermont Beer and Spirits Forum, planned for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23, in Colgate Park in Bennington. Organizers say there is potential for Bennington to become a "craft beer cluster" and that there is interest in starting craft breweries and spirit distilleries in the area. The forum is being put on by the Bennington County Industrial Corporation, the Better Bennington Corporation, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bennington County Regional Commission, and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development as part of the Town of Bennington's ongoing efforts to become more of a destination.

ROSES to area athletes named to the Banner's 2014 High School Softball All-Star Team, including Kate Goodell, a Mount Anthony Union High School senior, as Most Valuable Player. Other All-Stars were catcher Julie Elwell, a Burr and Burton Academy Junior; Makayla Farrara, an MAU senior third baseman; Baylee Ports, an MAU junior pitcher; Keira Goodell, an MAU junior first baseman; Chelsea Stevens, a Hoosick Falls Central School sophomore at second base; Liz Ryan, and HFCS freshman at shortstop; outfielder Rachel Senecal, a BBA sophomore; centerfielder Autumn Clifton, a Cambridge Central School junior; outfielder Kori Bow, an MAU sophomore; Morgan Hewitt, an MAU junior; and Caitlyn Arellano, a BBA senior. Congratulations to all these young women on a stellar season.

ROSES to Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition" broadcast from Madison Brewing Co. in Bennington Monday. The show, entitled "Live From Bennington," helped to shine a spotlight on our town and continue discussion on many local issues including the arts and cultural scene, heroin abuse and treatment and recent plant closures.

ROSES to a large donation to the Vermont Veterans' Home Namaste Program from the Manchester Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6471. The $40,000 gift has enabled the expansion of the program and the purchase of furnishings for the Namaste room at the Home.

~Michelle Karas