hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires





Utility pushes to make Rutland a solar power center

The 3-acre lot at the end of Cleveland Avenue in Rutland was until recently considered unsuitable for development. The property at the western edge of the city was a brownfield, its soil contaminated by a coal gasification plant that occupied the site decades ago. But in November, a local developer began setting up a 150-kilowatt solar power installation on the property. The project is just one part of an ambitious effort by Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, to transform Rutland into the solar generation capital of the Northeast. read more



Local foods niche, supersized store

Construction workers were busy inside Wilton Mall last month preparing the space that will soon house the region’s largest natural foods and organic supermarket. New flooring had been installed, refrigeration equipment had begun to arrive, and workers were hoisting metal studs to frame the interior walls of what will become the Healthy Living Market and Cafe. The store, in a 35,000-square-foot anchor space formerly occupied by J.C. Penney, will put to the test whether the region’s local and organic foods movement has grown to the point that it can sustain a supermarket-scale retail enterprise. read more



Election results roundup from across the region

See local and statewide results from the presidential race as well as a complete table of vote tallies from area congressional and legislative races. read more



Owner works to keep ambience of ‘70s music hangout

When Daniel Osman bought The Dream Away Lodge in 1997, he became the caretaker of a special corner of Berkshire County lore. The Dream Away is a 110- seat restaurant, lounge and music venue that has been operating since the early 1940s in an old farmhouse on a 47-acre wooded property in Becket, but that thumbnail description doesn’t do justice to the lodge’s colorful history. Although it’s well off the beaten path, the Dream Away has long attracted an eclectic mix of local people, artists, performers and free spirits.read more



A taste for the tart

Berries, fruits inspire a food products business

Steven McKay looked out over a patch of elderberry bushes, dormant for the season, on a cold and sunny November day. His sprawling Hudson Valley property is home to many things: dozens of berry bushes and a few grape arbors, a small flock of wandering hens, a family of outdoor cats, and the headquarters of Micosta Enterprises, McKay's brainchild. It’s a business he conceived more than a decade ago, born of his love of berry cultivation.read more






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