Strip Mall Rebirth?

One of the busiest roads in Brattleboro will get sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks. The 1.2 mile section of Putney Road that is between the West River bridge and the traffic circle at exit 3 on Interstate 91, will get the upgrades four to six years from now, Chris Cole told the Valley Post on February 1. He is a spokesman for the Vermont transportation agency. Putney Road is also Route 5.

Health Care Activists Arrested

On January 15 at the Vermont statehouse, 29 people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. They were calling for universal health care. Ellen Schwartz lives in Brattleboro and is a member of the Vermont Workers Center, which organized the rally. She was one of the people who were arrested. “Health care is a human right,” she told the Valley Post.

Also arrested were Sheila Linton, Philip Strickland and Skyler Wind, all of whom live in Brattleboro.

1,700 Workers Strike

Telephone and internet workers are on strike. They are asking the public to join their picket lines in Brattleboro and Keene. More than 1,700 workers at Fairpoint Corporation are on strike in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The company is the monopoly provider of landline telephone and DSL internet in those states.

Fairpoint is based in North Carolina. It wants to cut wages for workers it hires in the future by 40 percent.

Workers Strike

On August 4, striking workers held a rally outside the Market Basket grocery store about two miles from Keene in Swanzey, New Hampshire. About 10,000 people attended a rally for the striking Market Basket workers near Boston on August 5. Market Basket has about 25,000 workers at its grocery stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Victory for Grocery Workers

"It was essential that we get a union contract," Joe Crompton told the Valley Post. He has worked at the Brattleboro Food Co-op for more two decades. On July 9, workers at the co-op voted to approve their first union contract. About 160 people work at the store.

On average, union workers in the United States earn approximately 27 percent higher wages than non-union workers.

In recent decades, the rich have gotten richer, the middle class has gotten smaller, and the ranks of the poor have swelled.

Victory for Grocery Workers

About 160 grocery workers in Brattleboro have a tentative first union contract. Within the next week, the workers at the Brattleboro Food Co-op will vote on whether to accept the contract. It was negotiated by a committee that was elected by the workers, and by management. “The contract includes raises and better benefits,” union official Jeff Jones told the Valley Post on April 9. The workers recently voted to join his union, which has a web site: www.ufcw1459.org.

Rally for Peace

There will be a rally for peace in Brattleboro on April 15 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., outside the main post office. “There will be live music,” organizer Daniel Sicken (pronounced SEE-kin) told the Valley Post. For more information, contact him at dhsicken@yahoo.com or by phone at (802) 387-2798. The event is sponsored by www.nwtrcc.org.

Environmental Victories

People in Northampton, Brattleboro, and Keene have recently reduced pollution and saved money by investing in better insulation and air sealing for buildings, and in other energy efficiency measures. “We're saving around $400,000 a year,” Chris Mason told the Valley Post. He works for the city of Northampton, which undertook a major energy efficiency project in 2010 in schools, the public library, and other city-owned buildings. “We reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Photo: Waterfall

This photo was taken on October 24 in Dummerston, Vermont, near Brattleboro. It shows a small waterfall in a forest. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." photo by Eesha Williams

Activist Teachers

Three famous activists will give free or low-cost public speeches, with question-and-answer sessions, in the Valley. In a profile published last month, the Los Angeles Times newspaper called Cindy Sheehan an “anti-war activist who rose to national prominence after her son was killed in the Iraq war in 2005.” She lives in California and is a war tax resistor. More information about war tax resistance is at www.nwtrcc.org.