ROSES to the innovative summer programs for kids at Bennington Free Library. This week there was a toy hacking workshop that allowed the young attendees to learn about circuitry and how small electronics work by giving them the chance to take apart and put back together old toys. The workshop was made possible through a funding from the Vermont Community Foundation Innovations and Collaborations Grant. The next cool program for kids at the library will be "E-textiles" on August 5.

ROSES to the inaugural Southwest Vermont Beer and Spirits Forum hosted by the Town of Bennington, Bennington County Industrial Corp., Better Bennington Corp., Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Bennington County Regional Commission and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on Wednesday in Colgate Park. Organized by Michael Harrington, Bennington's economic and community development director, and Peter Odierna, executive director of BCIC, the forum was intended to get the conversation going about how to turn Bennington into a destination for microbreweries. "Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state. Think of what you could do in the southwestern part of the state," said speaker Janice St. Onge, deputy director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. Complementing the great beer already brewed locally by Madison's Brewing Co.


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and Northshire Brewery and nearby Brown's Brewing can only be a good thing. And a spirits distillery would be good for the local economy, too!

THORNS to the arrest of retired Navy officer Andrew Shoerke, a Shaftsbury resident, during a peaceful protest of the military's use of drones in anti-terror operations at a New York Air Force base in April. Schoerke, 80, who is facing possible prison time as one of 31 arrested during that protest and is set to go to trial on related charges next month, shared his story with The Banner this week. He says drones were "first promoted by the Bush administration as being precise, surgical attacks to take out al-Qaida, but it didn't take long for people to discover they were neither surgical or precise" and have struck and killed civilians at times. We applaud Mr. Shoerke for standing up for what he believes in.

ROSES to Southern Vermont College faculty member Jeb Gorham, who was recently recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for his outstanding work as the Faculty Athletics Representative on campus. This entails serving as liaison between the athletic department and faculty at SVC. Gorham, an assistant professor with the McCormick Division of Business and head of SVC's sports management program, will serve as the NCAA conference Faculty Athletics Representative for the upcoming school year and will attend the 2014 Division III FAR Fellow Institute conference in Indianapolis in October.

ROSES to the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce's Midsummer Night's Catamount Prowl and Auction last Saturday at Colgate Park, which raised about $60,000 before expenses. "I am pleased the project is over, the cats have a lot of good homes and I hope we are going to see many of them around Bennington," said Lindy Lynch, chamber member and event organizer.

ROSES to Hubbard Hall's energetic performances of "Romeo and Juliet" at various outdoor locales this week. The well-acted production, which was part of the organization's 20th annual Summer Shakespeare Theater Tour, included area students Sebastian Durfee, a rising MAU junior, and Virginia May Edinger of Cambridge, New York, in the role of the star-crossed, ill-fated lovers.

ROSES to the Southern Vermont Bat Brats U12 softball team on winning their first tournament in Dalton, Massachusetts, last weekend.

ROSES to the Bennington Cycle Club for making a $1,000 donation to kick off the extension of the Walloomsac Pathway known as the "Ninja Bike Trail." A project of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, the trail will eventually connect areas in Bennington including the Walmart and Hannaford plazas so bicyclists may utilize the path rather than the roads. Joe Hurley, president of the Cycle Club, said "I think it is very good to have a place for people to ride that don't necessarily want to ride on the road all the time."

~Michelle Karas