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Four Lincoln Essay Competition Winners

For more than a decade, Hildene has administered the Lincoln Essay Competition informed by its mission: Values into Action. With Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, it seeks to inspire Vermont’s eighth grade students statewide to tackle important issues, underscoring the responsibility each person has to help make the world a better place.

This year’s young essayists were reminded of the words of the nation’s founding fathers who in 1776 proclaimed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. While running for the US Senate in 1858, Lincoln implored listeners to return to the Declaration of Independence, noting that, “If you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty, let me entreat you to come back.”

Now, in 2021, 124 students from all over Vermont have turned their focus to “the unalienable rights” in the Declaration and answered this prompt: Choose one issue that you think demonstrates how our nation either is or is not honoring the ideal that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Give three examples to support your position. Finally suggest one step that could either further strengthen our course or get our nation back on track and explain why this step would be effective.

In addition to the quality of the writing of the 124 LEC participants overall, the judges were impressed not only by the range of examples chosen, but also by the thoughtfulness of the suggestions made to help the US align itself more closely to its ideals. Addressing systemic racism was the number one topic, with many students advocating for implicit bias training in all facets of society (K-12 education, workplaces, law enforcement agencies, state and local government) and an overhaul of the US justice system.

Students also suggested ways to promote justice, inclusion, and equity for the LGBTQ+ community, people struggling with mental illness, immigrants, migrants, and BIPOC. Some wrote about the need for environmental justice, while others wrote about the need for a $15 livable wage, high-speed internet for rural communities, and stronger firearms restrictions.

First Place Winner Sienna Halstead, a student at The Dorset School, outlined many steps that should be taken to address systemic racism. She wrote, “The wealth gap between Black and White Americans, police brutality targeted at Black people, and racial inequalities in the education systems all show how systemic racism still frustrates” American ideals.

Second Place Winner Erin Geisler, a student at Rutland Town School, chose to address the gender pay gap, writing, “We must make salary and job description reports mandatory for all businesses, especially in the private sector.”

There was a tie for third place. Josephine Monder, a student at Long Trail School in Dorset, wrote, “In the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, our country needs to recognize the inequality between rural and urban internet services. If rural communities can’t obtain high speed internet, they will be left behind in our modern world.” Middlebury Union Middle School student Margaret Orten addressed widespread systemic racism in the US, writing, “To some, America’s truths are that all are entitled to ‘life liberty, and the pursuit of whatever’s left.”

To find a complete list of the winners and learn more about the Lincoln Essay Competition, please visit:

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
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Four Lincoln Essay Competition Winners
 
For more than a decade, Hildene has administered the Lincoln Essay Competition informed by its mission:  Values into Action.  With Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, it seeks to inspire Vermont’s eighth grade students statewide to tackle important issues, underscoring the responsibility each person has to help make the world a better place. 
 
This year’s young essayists were reminded of the words of the nation’s founding fathers who in 1776 proclaimed:  We hold these truths to be self-evident:  that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. While running for the US Senate in 1858, Lincoln implored listeners to return to the Declaration of Independence, noting that, “If you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty, let me entreat you to come back.”
 
Now, in 2021, 124 students from all over Vermont have turned their focus to “the unalienable rights” in the Declaration and answered this prompt:  Choose one issue that you think demonstrates how our nation either is or is not honoring the ideal that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Give three examples to support your position. Finally suggest one step that could either further strengthen our course or get our nation back on track and explain why this step would be effective.

In addition to the quality of the writing of the 124 LEC participants overall, the judges were impressed not only by the range of examples chosen, but also by the thoughtfulness of the suggestions made to help the US align itself more closely to its ideals.  Addressing systemic racism was the number one topic, with many students advocating for implicit bias training in all facets of society (K-12 education, workplaces, law enforcement agencies, state and local government) and an overhaul of the US justice system. 

Students also suggested ways to promote justice, inclusion, and equity for the LGBTQ+ community, people struggling with mental illness, immigrants, migrants, and BIPOC.  Some wrote about the need for environmental justice, while others wrote about the need for a $15 livable wage, high-speed internet for rural communities, and stronger firearms restrictions.  

First Place Winner Sienna Halstead, a student at The Dorset School, outlined many steps that should be taken to address systemic racism.  She wrote, “The wealth gap between Black and White Americans, police brutality targeted at Black people, and racial inequalities in the education systems all show how systemic racism still frustrates” American ideals.  

Second Place Winner Erin Geisler, a student at Rutland Town School, chose to address the gender pay gap, writing, “We must make salary and job description reports mandatory for all businesses, especially in the private sector.”  

There was a tie for third place.  Josephine Monder, a student at Long Trail School in Dorset, wrote, “In the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, our country needs to recognize the inequality between rural and urban internet services. If rural communities can’t obtain high speed internet, they will be left behind in our modern world.”  Middlebury Union Middle School student Margaret Orten addressed widespread systemic racism in the US, writing, “To some, America’s truths are that all are entitled to ‘life liberty, and the pursuit of whatever’s left.”
 
To find a complete list of the winners and learn more about the Lincoln Essay Competition, please visit: http://hildene.org/learning/lincoln_essay

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home

UNIVERSAL VOTE-BY-MAIL FOR VERMONTERS!

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval today to a sweeping package of new state election laws allowing for universal vote-by-mail in all future general elections.

This is an important bill to expand voter access and encourage increased participation in our democratic process. The roll call vote was 119 in favor, 30 against.

S.15 counters the prevailing trend across the U.S. where state legislatures are curtailing voter access with more restrictive election laws. According to the Brennan Center for Justice as of March 24, legislators had introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states.

In Vermont, vote-by-mail (with postage-paid return envelope) in the 2020 general election resulted in a 74% participation rate (from 68% in 2016), as well as a dramatic spike in early-voting to 75% (from 30% in 2016).

S.15 builds on the work that was done to help Vermonters vote safely during 2020 in several ways. It creates new provisions for town clerks to cure defective ballots, if for example, residents forget to sign the certificate envelope, or fail to return unvoted primary ballots along with the voted ballot of the party of their choice.

The legislation also provides for expanded access by providing secure ballot drop boxes that are accessible 24/7 for voters to return their ballots; it also limits the number of ballots someone can deliver on behalf of others.

You can read the full bill in today's House Calendar, starting on page 2235 at the link below. To put it all together, the Townsend amendment passed, the Toof amendment failed, and the McCarthy amendment — informed in part by valuable feedback from Manchester's own fantastic town clerk, Anita Sheldon, passed.

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/…
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UNIVERSAL VOTE-BY-MAIL FOR VERMONTERS!

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval today to a sweeping package of new state election laws allowing for universal vote-by-mail in all future general elections. 

This is an important bill to expand voter access and encourage increased participation in our democratic process. The roll call vote was 119 in favor, 30 against. 

S.15 counters the prevailing trend across the U.S. where state legislatures are curtailing voter access with more restrictive election laws. According to the Brennan Center for Justice as of March 24, legislators had introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states.

In Vermont, vote-by-mail (with postage-paid return envelope) in the 2020 general election resulted in a 74% participation rate (from 68% in 2016), as well as a dramatic spike in early-voting to 75% (from 30% in 2016).

S.15 builds on the work that was done to help Vermonters vote safely during 2020 in several ways. It creates new provisions for town clerks to cure defective ballots, if for example, residents forget to sign the certificate envelope, or fail to return unvoted primary ballots along with the voted ballot of the party of their choice.

The legislation also provides for expanded access by providing secure ballot drop boxes that are accessible 24/7 for voters to return their ballots; it also limits the number of ballots someone can deliver on behalf of others.

You can read the full bill in todays House Calendar, starting on page 2235 at the link below. To put it all together, the Townsend amendment passed, the Toof amendment failed, and the McCarthy amendment — informed in part by valuable feedback from Manchesters own fantastic town clerk, Anita Sheldon, passed.

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/CALENDAR/hc210511.pdf

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Oregon shows it is easy, saves money and more people vote!

LEGISLATURE DECLARES RACISM A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY 

J.R.H.6 was granted preliminary approval today by the Vermont House. It is a resolution that acknowledges and details with data the adverse impacts of systemic racism on People of Color in our state, specifically when it comes to the social determinants of individual and public health, economic well-being, employment, education, housing, justice, and health opportunities and outcomes.

This resolution is also unique in that it was crafted with the collaborative input of BIPOC advocates, capturing their areas of concern and laying out a scope of future work of sorts for the legislature.

Heres a snippet: 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That racism constitutes a public health emergency in Vermont, and be it further
Resolved: That this legislative body commits to the sustained and deep work of eradicating systemic racism throughout the State, actively fighting racist practices, and participating in the creation of more just and equitable systems, and be it further
Resolved: That this legislative body commits to coordinating work and participating in ongoing action, grounded in science and data, to eliminate race-based health disparities and eradicate systemic racism...

The full copy of the resolution is here: https://bit.ly/3faUlDR

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Congratulations to all! Wonderful artwork.

Laurie LaChant

Looking for a job in the economy of the future? REVs Clean Energy Resume Bank connects people who want to join Vermont’s energy revolution and climate economy with employers looking to hire.

https://www.revermont.org/jobs/
Join Seth and I tomorrow at 9 am (Saturday, May 8) for our regular constituent coffee hour! Email me at least 30 minutes prior for the Zoom link: KJames@leg.state.vt.us. See you there!
MyFutureVT is here! Explore Vermont’s new free, online one-stop shop for your education and training journey. Check it out today https://www.myfuturevt.org/ Advance Vermont

ENSURING EQUITABLE, INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS

S.16 received preliminary approval by the Vermont House of Representatives today. It creates a "Task Force on Equitable and Inclusive School Environments" to provide recommendations on how to end suspensions and expulsions for all but the most serious student behaviors.
The task force will also compile data from all Vermont schools to measure the effectiveness of current disciplinary policies and practices.

The House Education Committee received extensive testimony indicating that:

- nationally, students of certain racial and ethnic groups and those with disabilities are disciplined at higher rates than their peers

- nationally, students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer face disproportionately high rates of school discipline

- in Vermont, students who are non-Caucasian, participate in the free and reduced lunch programs, have Section 504 or Individualized Learning Plans, are male, or are English-language learners are over-represented in the number of incidents resulting in exclusion

Long-term, exclusionary discipline leads to poorer health outcomes, higher school drop-out rates, increased likelihood of living in poverty as an adult, and higher incarceration rates.

S.16 is an important first step in making our schools more equitable and inclusive of all students. The task force will look at maximizing research-based strategies to support all students’ academic, social and emotional needs in a comprehensive way.
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ENSURING EQUITABLE, INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS

S.16 received preliminary approval by the Vermont House of Representatives today. It creates a Task Force on Equitable and Inclusive School Environments to provide recommendations on how to end suspensions and expulsions for all but the most serious student behaviors. 
The task force will also compile data from all Vermont schools to measure the effectiveness of current disciplinary policies and practices.

The House Education Committee received extensive testimony indicating that:

- nationally, students of certain racial and ethnic groups and those with disabilities are disciplined at higher rates than their peers

- nationally, students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer face disproportionately high rates of school discipline  

- in Vermont, students who are non-Caucasian, participate in the free and reduced lunch programs, have Section 504 or Individualized Learning Plans, are male, or are English-language learners are over-represented in the number of incidents resulting in exclusion

Long-term, exclusionary discipline leads to poorer health outcomes, higher school drop-out rates, increased likelihood of living in poverty as an adult, and higher incarceration rates.  

S.16 is an important first step in making our schools more equitable and inclusive of all students. The task force will look at maximizing research-based strategies to support all students’ academic, social and emotional needs in a comprehensive way.

PROTECTING OUR PRISTINE GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE

On a unanimous roll call vote 145-0, the Vermont House gave preliminary approval to a comprehensive legislative package banning PFAS or “forever chemicals” in numerous consumer products, including rugs, carpets and waterproofing treatments.

Vermont is also set to become the first state in the nation to ban fluorine-based waxes used in Nordic ski racing; and follows Maine and New York in prohibiting food packaging with any PFAS-presence in direct food contact.

S.20 also does the following:

• Prohibits orthophthalates in food packaging.

• Gives the VT Department of Health rule-making authority to limit bisphenols in food packaging.

• Adds PFAS chemicals to the list of 86 “Chemicals of High Concern for Children.”

• Prohibits the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam in all training or testing statewide.

• Prohibits the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam with staggered deadlines based on facilities and airports transitioning to PFAS-free foam.

• Requires written disclosure of PFAS within firefighting Personal Protection Equipment.

• Allows Attorney General to seek remedies through the Consumer Protection Act if a manufacturer not in compliance.

There are more than 9,000 chemicals within the PFAS class. These “forever chemicals” do not biodegrade and some of them “bioaccumulate” in your body. They are associated with increased risks of cancer, as well as adverse health effects on the liver, endocrine system, immune system, and fetal development.

PFAS is found in groundwater and drinking water across the country; it is found in the runoff (or leachate) from active and abandoned landfills in Vermont as well as in every wastewater treatment facility in Vermont. Perhaps most concerning, PFAS can be found within the blood of almost everyone in the United States.
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PROTECTING OUR PRISTINE GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE

On a unanimous roll call vote 145-0, the Vermont House gave preliminary approval to a comprehensive legislative package banning PFAS or “forever chemicals” in numerous consumer products, including rugs, carpets and waterproofing treatments. 

Vermont is also set to become the first state in the nation to ban fluorine-based waxes used in Nordic ski racing; and follows Maine and New York in prohibiting food packaging with any PFAS-presence in direct food contact. 

S.20 also does the following:

• Prohibits orthophthalates in food packaging.

• Gives the VT Department of Health rule-making authority to limit bisphenols in food packaging.

• Adds PFAS chemicals to the list of 86 “Chemicals of High Concern for Children.”

• Prohibits the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam in all training or testing statewide.

• Prohibits the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam with staggered deadlines based on facilities and airports transitioning to PFAS-free foam.

• Requires written disclosure of PFAS within firefighting Personal Protection Equipment.

• Allows Attorney General to seek remedies through the Consumer Protection Act if a manufacturer not in compliance.

There are more than 9,000 chemicals within the PFAS class. These “forever chemicals” do not biodegrade and some of them “bioaccumulate” in your body. They are associated with increased risks of cancer, as well as adverse health effects on the liver, endocrine system, immune system, and fetal development. 

PFAS is found in groundwater and drinking water across the country; it is found in the runoff (or leachate) from active and abandoned landfills in Vermont as well as in every wastewater treatment facility in Vermont. Perhaps most concerning, PFAS can be found within the blood of almost everyone in the United States.

Comment on Facebook

How about Round up???

Awesome work -- thank you!!!

Sharing from Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR):

ACCD RECOVERY GRANT GUIDELINES RELEASED:

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) released guidelines for the Economic Recovery Bridge Grants this week. The guidelines provide information about eligibility criteria and the application process for the Bridge Grants.

The Bridge Grants were funded under H.315 (Act 9), the mini COVID relief bill. The bill allocated $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to ACCD to provide priority funding to businesses that have not received prior State or Federal financial assistance. To the extent that funds remain available, the program is also intended to provide funding to businesses that have suffered a tax loss even after receiving State or Federal aid. H.315 was enacted on April 17th and ACCD was required to post guidance for the program 10 days after enactment. That public guidance is now available at the ACCD COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center.

Additional guidance and information regarding the launch date for the program, application portal, FAQs, and translated versions of materials will be posted soon on the ACCD website. ACCD has 45 days from the release of the guidance to open the window for first priority grant applications and has said that the application portal will be live in early June.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) released guidelines for the Economic Recovery Bridge Grants this week. The guidelines provide information about eligibility criteria and the application process for the Bridge Grants.

The Bridge Grants were funded by the Vermont legislature under H.315 (Act 9), the mini COVID relief bill. The bill allocated $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to ACCD to provide priority funding to businesses that have not received prior State or Federal financial assistance. To the extent that funds remain available, the program is also intended to provide funding to businesses that have suffered a tax loss even after receiving State or Federal aid. H.315 was enacted on April 17th and ACCD was required to post guidance for the program 10 days after enactment. That public guidance is now available at the ACCD COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center.

Additional guidance and information regarding the launch date for the program, application portal, FAQs, and translated versions of materials will be posted soon on the ACCD website. ACCD has 45 days from the release of the guidance to open the window for first priority grant applications and has said that the application portal will be live in early June.

https://accd.vermont.gov/sites/accdnew/…
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Sharing from Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR):

ACCD RECOVERY GRANT GUIDELINES RELEASED:

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) released guidelines for the Economic Recovery Bridge Grants this week. The guidelines provide information about eligibility criteria and the application process for the Bridge Grants.

The Bridge Grants were funded under H.315 (Act 9), the mini COVID relief bill.  The bill allocated $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to ACCD to provide priority funding to businesses that have not received prior State or Federal financial assistance. To the extent that funds remain available, the program is also intended to provide funding to businesses that have suffered a tax loss even after receiving State or Federal aid. H.315 was enacted on April 17th and ACCD was required to post guidance for the program 10 days after enactment. That public guidance is now available at the ACCD COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center.

Additional guidance and information regarding the launch date for the program, application portal, FAQs, and translated versions of materials will be posted soon on the ACCD website. ACCD has 45 days from the release of the guidance to open the window for first priority grant applications and has said that the application portal will be live in early June.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) released guidelines for the Economic Recovery Bridge Grants this week. The guidelines provide information about eligibility criteria and the application process for the Bridge Grants.

The Bridge Grants were funded by the Vermont legislature under H.315 (Act 9), the mini COVID relief bill.  The bill allocated $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to ACCD to provide priority funding to businesses that have not received prior State or Federal financial assistance. To the extent that funds remain available, the program is also intended to provide funding to businesses that have suffered a tax loss even after receiving State or Federal aid. H.315 was enacted on April 17th and ACCD was required to post guidance for the program 10 days after enactment. That public guidance is now available at the ACCD COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center.

Additional guidance and information regarding the launch date for the program, application portal, FAQs, and translated versions of materials will be posted soon on the ACCD website. ACCD has 45 days from the release of the guidance to open the window for first priority grant applications and has said that the application portal will be live in early June.

https://accd.vermont.gov/sites/accdnew/files/documents/ACCD%20Economic%20Recovery%20Bridge%20Grants%20Guidelines%20-%2020210427.pdf

Fantastic news for Northshire Bookstore and for the Northshire!Northshire's Next Chapter

It is with excitement, confidence and sadness that I announce that the Northshire Bookstores are passing out of Morrow ownership.

I started the process of selling the stores before Covid, but the pandemic reinforced that the time was right for me to move onto other things. When thinking about selling, my main worry was always finding someone (or two) who had the right sensibilities as well as the chops; someone who appreciated The Book, the art of bookselling and our amazing staff and who also had the background, energy, vision and resources to carry the bookstores into future decades. Amazingly, my first conversation led to today’s announcement. Clark and Lu French of Manchester, VT are the new owners of Northshire Bookstores.

My parents started the original store in September of 1976. We lived in a dark apartment underneath the bookstore. I was 9. While the ladder leading to the trap door in the floor of the service desk area was very cool, I was not coaxed into bookselling full time until 1998. It was just for a couple of years to help my parents with an expansion… And here we are 23 years later.

Perhaps it is fitting that I am at a loss for words, given how many words we have shepherded from soul to soul over the decades. What is bookselling without paradox, irony, humor, hope and fear, and a whole lotta hard work? The books that have lived in the stores are so varied and numerous, like a beach with each grain of sand a different color. But, as I sit here letting memories flow over me, it is the people I am most grateful for - the amazing colleagues who have worked at the bookstores, the inspirational authors who have convened with us in Manchester and Saratoga, the kindred souls at other bookstores and at publishing houses, and the generations of guests who have made all this possible for us. What a beautiful adventure! I am grateful to all of you - thank you!

In the midst of Covid last summer I received a letter from a customer which started, “Over the last 45 years your bookstore has been both a salvation and inspiration for our family.” We have tried our best to live up to the highest standards of independent bookselling and to serve the communities that have supported our mission. It has been an honor.

My last request is that you welcome Clark and Lu into the Northshire family and support them as they make the bookstores even better in the coming years.

With gratitude,

Chris Morrow

Founder's Note

When we opened the doors of the Northshire Bookstore on Main Street, in September of 1976, we couldn’t have imagined that it would become one of the many institutions that distinguish this corner of Vermont. We have gone through countless transitions and challenges to arrive at this point. And now, our family is transitioning again.

This is a bittersweet watershed event for us to be sure, but one we are confident will be seamless and beneficial to the welfare of the bookstore and its service to the several marvelous communities it serves…the communities of Manchester and Saratoga, the community of book-loving visitors who continue to support us from their homes, near and far away, the community of publishers with whom we labor to connect author and reader, and our vast community of authors, who provide us with the riches we endeavor to share. Without the support of these various communities the Northshire Bookstore would not have prospered and grown to its current place in the world of books.

We feel confident that we are passing the store’s stewardship into good and competent hands. Clark and Lu have been longtime patrons and supporters of the Northshire. They are book-knowledgeable, community-oriented, long-time residents, and have proven business and leadership acumen. Most importantly to us, they have a deep appreciation for the existing team of booksellers whose experience and institutional knowledge is irreplaceable, and who are well prepared to see the bookstore through its next few decades of growth and service to the community we love.

We are eminently grateful to all of you for your support and caring these many years and to know that all your book needs will continue to be met in this wonderful community.

Gratefully,

Ed & Barbara Morrow

New Owner's Note

Since 1976 the Northshire Bookstore has been one of our community’s most important cultural and business institutions. It has fostered a love of reading, knowledge and discourse while offering the area’s finest retail shopping experiences, both in Manchester and in Saratoga Springs.

Throughout our many years as Manchester residents, we have been loyal patrons of the bookstore and admirers of its founders, the Morrow family. As this beloved family-owned business approaches its 45th Anniversary, we are thrilled and honored to become its next stewards. Along with our ownership team members Jon & Tom West, we are committed to continuing the legacy and high standards the Morrows have cultivated over their long tenure.

Our family has been fortunate over the years to be involved in many exciting area ventures, including the Taconic Hotel and the recent restoration of the former Mark Skinner Library building. We have experienced the value of community engagement first hand by serving as board members of local institutions, such as the Manchester Community Library, Taconic Music and Burr and Burton Academy.

The Northshire Bookstore is a significant local landmark and a vital community center. This conviction and our life-long love of reading and book collecting are what drew us to this endeavor. Equally important to us is the bookstore’s dedicated staff. We value their decades of expertise in creating an unparalleled retail experience and are grateful for their guidance as we begin this exciting new chapter.

The Northshire is more than a bookstore to us. It’s a vibrant gathering and shopping venue where memories are made and discovery is encouraged. Supporting and nurturing this enriching experience is our highest priority. We are sincerely grateful to the Morrow family for trusting us with their life’s work and welcome the opportunity to continue their legacy for many years to come.

Clark & Lu French
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Fantastic news for Northshire Bookstore and for the Northshire!

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One of my very favorite VT bookstores!

Vermont’s COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program re-opens May 3, 2021

On May 3, 2021, Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) began accepting applications from Vermont homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded through the Federal CARES Act, the Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program was first available in July through December 2020. This latest round of program funding provides grants for up to 12 months of past-due mortgage and property tax payments for eligible Vermont homeowners. Homeowners with a mortgage originated no later than March 2020 and who have missed at least one payment since that date are eligible (other requirements apply). If applicants are approved, payments will be made directly to your mortgage servicer or to the town, if property taxes are past due and are not escrowed with the mortgage. Read more and apply at www.vhfa.org/map or call (888) 714-2260.

https://www.vhfa.org/map/

Today the House approved a charter change that will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local Brattleboro elections, following a 2019 vote by the town's residents to allow this. (Municipal charter changes must be approved first by local voters and then by the legislature.) I spoke in favor of H.361 on the floor, and here's what I said:

"Madame Speaker: I rise in support of H.361.

In the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, about 66 percent of eligible Americans voted, the highest turnout since at least 1980. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, according to the Pew Research Center: The U.S. still lags behind our peers — other highly developed, democratic nations — when it comes to electoral participation. Out of 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, U.S. turnout ranked an underwhelming 24th.

Voting is central to democracy and to civic engagement. Research indicates that voting is a habit — and that 16 is a better time in life to establish that positive habit than age 18. Students of this age are often studying democracy, history and politics in school, and their education can reinforce and inform their political engagement — and vice-versa. From Maryland to California to Norway, municipalities or nations that allow 16-year-olds to vote show promisingly high turnout. What’s more, these younger voters are more likely to continue to vote as they get older, and to engage in civic life. This is especially useful in local elections — the context we’re considering today — where turnout is often depressingly low.

By supporting this bill — and supporting the Brattleboro voters who turned out in a local election to support it, too — we take a small but positive step to engage and enfranchise the leaders and lifelong voters of tomorrow, starting today."
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Today the House approved a charter change that will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local Brattleboro elections, following a 2019 vote by the towns residents to allow this. (Municipal charter changes must be approved first by local voters and then by the legislature.) I spoke in favor of H.361 on the floor, and heres what I said:

Madame Speaker: I rise in support of H.361.

In the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, about 66 percent of eligible Americans voted, the highest turnout since at least 1980. That’s the good news. 

The bad news is that, according to the Pew Research Center:  The U.S. still lags behind our peers — other highly developed, democratic nations — when it comes to electoral participation. Out of 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, U.S. turnout ranked an underwhelming 24th.

Voting is central to democracy and to civic engagement. Research indicates that voting is a habit — and that 16 is a better time in life to establish that positive habit than age 18. Students of this age are often studying democracy, history and politics in school, and their education can reinforce and inform their political engagement — and vice-versa. From Maryland to California to Norway, municipalities or nations that allow 16-year-olds to vote show promisingly high turnout. What’s more, these younger voters are more likely to continue to vote as they get older, and to engage in civic life. This is especially useful in local elections — the context we’re considering today — where turnout is often depressingly low.

By supporting this bill — and supporting the Brattleboro voters who turned out in a local election to support it, too — we take a small but positive step to engage and enfranchise the leaders and lifelong voters of tomorrow, starting today.

Comment on Facebook

Yay, youth rights!