A number of very poignant and sensitive issues have made their way into the limelight over the past few weeks, including the closure announcement by Plasan Carbon, the continued focus on the drug epidemic across the entire state, and most recently, the announcement in one of our neighboring communities regarding the possible closure of North Adams Regional Hospital.

Each of these issues has sparked a flurry of conversations and pose their own unique conundrum and it is likely that they will each require a similarly unique solution. That said, as a collective they speak to how fragile our current economic environment is, and the need to stay ever-vigilant in ensuring that we do our best to support our community and the businesses that operate in it. While we might feel a desire to look to someone or something to blame for these happenings, or choose to put the blame on ourselves, let’s not lose sight of those attributes that make Bennington exceptional. We put our neighbors first. We see the importance in small, locally-owned businesses, and we are proactive in our desire to make Bennington better.

It would be easy for someone to get mired down with all the negativity that has occurred as of late, if not for the numerous positive things that have been happening all around us. The Select Board has taken a renewed interest in building strategic partnerships with businesses and our educational system, the downtown continues to thrive with a net gain occupancy rate over the past three years, there’s new development scheduled for Northside Drive, and there are constant efforts being made to make sure Bennington is a great place to do business.

Unfortunately, as with most things, there are those few apples that do their best to sour the entire bunch, but remember, if we allow that sour to spread, we’re left with nothing but mush. Every community has its challenges, and Bennington is not immune to that, but the way I see it, we have two options: We can do what is easy, which is to sit back and point out all the problems and mistakes that others are making, or we can do what requires a little more effort. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal. We all want to see Bennington thrive. We want to see existing businesses grow, we want to see new businesses develop, and we want our community to be a place that is safe, healthy and full of life.

As we look to the months ahead, know that the Town, Select Board and the Office of Economic and Community Development will continue its work to achieve the above goal, and the most important thing each community member can do is to see this as a team effort. We must all have our hands in the pie if we desire to make this a place we can all be proud of.

MICHAEL HARRINGTON

Economic and Community Development Director

Town of Bennington

Bennington Veterans’ Home did right by his father

For the past three years my father had the privilege of residing at the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington. In that time, he not only received the utmost of health care, but was treated with dignity, compassion and, yes, affection by the entire staff. We are from New York State and cannot imagine a facility any better in our own region.

My father, Vincent L. Rossi, a Korean War veteran, completed his journey on this earth on March 29 of this year. Our family will be forever grateful to everyone at the Vermont Veterans’ Home, an institution of pride for all vets, their families and the State of Vermont.

VINCENT J. ROSSI

Clifton Park, N.Y.

Vermont needs to thank Senator Sears

Vermont residents want clean soil and water and air and safe food. We want to know what foods have been tampered with genetically. We want our children and grandchildren to have safe food to eat rather than food that may disrupt their immune system. We want to be able to read labels on our food and choose what to buy.

The Vermont House of Representatives, and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Judiciary has passed Bill H.112 to have all foods labeled so we can determine what food products have been genetically engineered. Our courageous Senator from Bennington County, Dick Sears led the efforts every step of the way through to a successful and overwhelming vote in favor of Vermonter’s Right to Know -- the Bill H.112 to label GMOs. Representatives and senators in Vermont are among the most fearless and bold in the United States. If Vermont ratifies passage of H.122 it will be the first state in the union to do so and we’ll have Senator Sears to thank.

I am proud that Vermont is taking the lead in making a stand in what will be among the greatest issues of our century in the USA -- the right of citizens, rather than corporations, to control our lives and destiny. I believe that the label GMO’s Bill H.112 is but the one in a long list of citizen’s rights that we need to claim in order to protect our democracy.

Please tell our friends Senator Dick Sears (802-828-223, RSEARS@leg.state.vt.us) and Senator Bob Hartwell (rhartwell@leg.state.vt.us) that you appreciate their support of H.112 and that you want to make Vermont safe from corporate incursions.

STEVEN BERRY

Manchester