State Board of Education Chair Krista Huling looks over a school district map during a meeting to review Act 46 mergers. A judge has denied a request from more than 30 school districts to temporarily halt the Act 46 merger process.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR file

A Franklin County judge has dealt a setback to the dozens of Vermont school districts contesting an order that could force them into involuntarily mergers as early as this July.

An Italian-inspired cascade on the campus of Southern Vermont College. Greenery in the background.
Ric Cengeri / VPR File

Southern Vermont College, in Bennington, announced Monday that it will be closing at the end of the spring semester. The college's president, David Evans, made the announcement in a press release sent out Monday morning.

Underhill residents gather at Town Meeting Day in 2018. "Vermont Edition" looks at how access to voting has changed in Vermont over time and how the question of "who gets to vote" continues to broaden.
Jim Beebe-Woodard

Live call-in discussion: Town Meeting Day reminds Vermonters of how we vote in our unique form of local democracy, but the question of who gets to vote — in elections and at Town Meetings — continues to change. We're talking about how.

A group of fifth- and sixth-grade students, some standing some sitting on a couch, and looking at the camera
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Mars is a very different place from Earth. But for Liam and his friend Phoebe, the main characters in the science fiction novel Last Day on Mars, the Earth colony on Mars is the only home they have ever known.

The sign on I-89 on a November snowy day that says Welcome To Montpelier Capital of Vermont and a second sign that says Bienvenue.
Meg Malone / VPR

Montpelier voters will consider a charter change on Town Meeting Day that would allow the city to set minimum efficiency standards for commercial and residential properties.

Vermont's selection of grocery stores and their offerings are now coming in many shapes, sizes and colors.
Ric Cengeri / VPR FILE

The Vermont grocery store landscape has seen a lot of changes over the last few years. From new players entering the market, to new stores from some familiar stalwarts and new services to entice shoppers. We'll look at how and why the supermarket scene is changing in Vermont.

Former Gov. Jim Douglas at the GOP's Election Night results event at the Doubletree, standing in front of a VT GOP banner.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Moderators are gearing up to facilitate Town Meeting Day gatherings across the state. In Middlebury, longtime town moderator — and former Vermont governor — Jim Douglas is preparing to do it for the last time.

Downtown Winooski. Residents in Winooski will vote on Town Meeting Day for a bond to build a new parking garage. City officials says current parking is near capacity and more is needed as more development comes to downtown.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

At a time when many communities in Vermont worry about declining populations and losing young people, Winooski bucks that trend. The population is growing and the city’s median age is about 31.

On Town Meeting Day, residents will vote on building a new parking garage in Winooski’s burgeoning downtown. The proposed garage and the hotel that’s expected to follow are just the latest signs of Winooski’s upward trajectory.

Town Meeting Day is the time when school budgets are debated and voted on.

But the resistance across Vermont to the forced mergers brought on by Act 46 means many votes will not take place in early March.

Marijuana plants.
Labuda / iStock

By a vote of 23 to 5, the Vermont Senate gave its preliminary approval to a so-called tax-and-regulate marijuana bill Thursday. Under the bill, pot could be legally sold in retail outlets beginning in 2021.

Alyssa and Rob Black, whose 23-year-old son died by suicide in December, asked lawmakers Thursday to create a waiting period for gun purchases in Vermont.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The parents of a 23-year-old man who committed suicide last December are asking lawmakers to create a waiting period for gun purchases in Vermont.

A honeybee sits in the center of a purple flower.
DanielPrudek / iStock

Pollinators are creating a buzz in Cabot in the lead up to Town Meeting Day. This year, Cabot voters will consider officially becoming a "Pollinator Friendly Community."

Rep. Peter Welch is a member of the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees, both of which heard testimony from President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Emam Mohammed / VPR FILE

Rep. Peter Welch is a member of both the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees And this week both committees questioned President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen. Congressman Welch joins Vermont Edition to discuss what his committees learned in these hearings.

John Dillon / VPR

Town meeting debate in several towns next week may turn to trash talk. Trash, that is, in the form of single-use plastic bags. Communities from Manchester to Burlington are considering measures that could lead to local bag bans.

Rebecca Byars, left, and Peter Pardoe of Valley Improv perform at the Woolen Mill Comedy Club in Bridgewater. The ideas of improv are increasingly leaving the stage and being applied at work and with other large groups.
Collen Doyle / Woolen Mills Comedy Club

Improvisational comedy is about making it up as you go along, but the ideas of improv are increasingly finding their way to workplaces and other groups to increase teamwork, foster collaboration and spark new ideas. We're looking at improv in Vermont and how its ideas apply at work and in daily life.

A Morristown banner hangs outside the Morrisville Food Co-Op; the banner bears the town's name, the co-op the name of the village.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

There’s a nonbinding question on the town meeting ballot in Morristown that’s revealing something of an identity crisis in town.

With temperatures bobbing and weaving above and below freezing, Vermont's backyard sugaring is going strong.
Bakinbitz / iStock

This program originally aired on Feb. 22, 2018.

Vermonters catch a fever at this time of year. And it isn't necessarily the flu bug. It's the hankering to get outside and start hauling buckets full of sap to the sugarhouse or to wherever they do their boiling. It's backyard sugaring time. 

Students seated in the gym of Jamaica Elementary School.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Debates about school district consolidations elicit strong feelings, on every side of the issue.

Opponents of Act 46 say it is destroying small communities. Supporters say it’s the only way to address declining enrollment and cut costs.

But for smaller schools in newly merged districts, the reality is often more nuanced.

Headshot of Mayor Miro Weinberger at the VPR studios
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

Earlier this month, Chittenden County government and public health leaders celebrated report that said the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the county dropped by 50 percent in 2018. Statewide, overdose deaths rose two percent last year. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger spoke with VPR about the county’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.  

Michael Cohen speaks into a microphone
Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen appeared Wednesday on Capitol Hill before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform to be questioned about alleged wrongdoing by the president.