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





License readers aid police, raise privacy concerns

If you’ve driven anywhere around the region in the past year or so, chances are your license plate has been recorded by state or local police using an electronic reader. The readers are designed to record license-plate numbers faster than a police offi cer ever could with pen and paper. But where that information ends up, how long it’s stored and who has access to it depends on where you were driving when your plate was recorded. That worries privacy watchdogs. read more



EPA under fire from all sides on Housatonic cleanup

It’s no surprise that in its yet-to-be-released draft form, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup plan for the Housatonic River south of Pittsfi eld has been the subject of intense scrutiny and lobbying, especially from General Electric Co., the company that will foot the bill for the project. But some of the strongest criticism of the EPA’s draft has come from agency offi cials themselves. read more



Local meats, local butcher shop

The Meat Market, which opened a little over a year ago in Great Barrington, is a first for the region: a butcher shop dedicated to locally raised meats. The market’s owner, Jeremy Stanton, set out to create a central location in the southern Berkshires where consumers could buy meat and poultry from area farms. read more



Lecture to detail regionʼs forgotten role in slave trade

Most Northerners assume slavery was a Southern issue, and that the main role of people in upstate New York and New England was to help slaves fl ee to freedom in Canada and to muster troops to fi ght the Confederacy in the Civil War. But that widely accepted version of history isn’t true, says Ralph Brill, an artist with a gallery at the former Eclipse Mill in North Adams. The reality, he says, is that in the years leading up to the Civil War, the owners of cotton mills in the Berkshires controlled more than a quarter of the South’s 4 million slaves.read more






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