BENNINGTON — U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is scheduled to appear in Southern Vermont on Wednesday, with stops in Bennington and Brattleboro highlighting upcoming legislative actions he’s supporting on behalf of the region.
Leahy’s office said the senator will appear at Southwestern Vermont Health Care at 11:30 a.m. with hospital leaders and members of Let’s Grow Kids, a child care advocacy group, on the region’s need for additional child care.
The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy “will announce his inclusion of resource support funding for the hospital’s early plans to expand their child care center, in an annual appropriations bill,” according to the announcement.
According to SVHC’s website, the Learning Tree Early Education Program, which is based on campus, is an accredited 5-star program through Vermont’s STARS program. In April of 2020, the center received a $60,000 grant from Let’s Grow Kids which paid for two new fully equipped classrooms, expanding program capacity by 17 children.
Leahy’s role as Senate Appropriations chairman will also figure in a visit scheduled for 2 p.m. at Retreat Farm in Brattleboro and the adjacent Grafton Village Cheese Co. factory.
According to a statement from Leahy’s office, Leahy is seeking $3 million for the Retreat Farm to convert the 34,000-square-foot facility into a visitor-friendly multi-enterprise food center “that will strengthen the regional food system and help catalyze economic growth in the wake of the COVID pandemic.”
Leahy is scheduled to meet with the Retreat Farm’s leadership and project partners during his visit.
The Retreat Farm began studying potential ownership of the adjacent Grafton Village facility last year, when the cheesemaker consolidated operations amid a downturn in demand brought on by the pandemic.
Attention has focused on Leahy and whether he will seek another six-year term representing Vermont in the U.S. Senate. Leahy, who was first elected in 1974, has not indicated whether he intends to seek a ninth term.
At the time he was elected, Leahy was the first Democrat to represent Vermont in the U.S. Senate.
According to Banner files, Leahy’s most recent public appearance in Bennington was in the fall of 2018, when he toured the Putnam Block project.