Matthew F. Smith

Producer, Vermont Edition

Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as a producer for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined VPR in October 2017.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years in China and the U.S. before pursuing a career in journalism.

Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Roger Albee chronicles the national and local history around the founding of two dairy co-ops back in 1919. The co-ops are now celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Ric Cengeri / VPR file

Statistics surrounding Vermont's dairy industry over the last decade have been bleak: falling milk prices have shuttered many small dairy farms, which have dwindled from 27,000 farms a century ago to about 700 dairies today.

But there is some celebrating going on in 2019, as both the Cabot Creamery Cooperative and the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery mark their 100th anniversaries. Which made us wonder, what was going on in Vermont dairy back in 1919?

Lawmakers are drafting rules to regulate the cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis. But what Vermont's rules will be and if there's support to make them law remains an open question.
Seastock / iStock

Last year Vermont legalized the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana. Now Vermont lawmakers are drafting rules for a legal and regulated system to buy, sell and grow cannabis. We're looking at what's being proposed for commercial cannabis in Vermont.

Testimony is heard on the House floor.
Toby Talbot / AP

This week House lawmakers gave an extension to some—but not all—school districts that have yet to merge under Act 46, giving some districts as much as an additional year to comply with the state's school district merger mandate.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos discusses cybersecurity and priorities in the new legislative session on "Vermont Edition."
Matthew Smith / VPR

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos just returned from the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting in Washington, D.C. We're talking with Sec. Condos about what he learned at the NASS meeting about voting security and cyber threats facing states today, and discussing constitutional amendments in the legislature.

A lunch from Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury features whole-grain spaghetti with meat sauce, local apple, salad, broccoli, and a roll.
Vermont Agency of Education

Vermont schools offer free or reduced-cost meals to thousands of students every day. But how did schools become the venue to enact food policy? We're looking at school meal programs and the role they play in nutrition and education in school today.

The Beta Technologies prototype Ava XC lands during a test flight at the Plattsburgh International Airport.
Eric Adams / Beta Technologies

Electric transportation offers the promise of rapid travel and zero emissions, often seen in the increasingly sophisticated electric cars that can travel 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. But electric air travel poses unique challenges, not the least of which includes swapping a jet fuel-powered engine for a battery-powered aircraft.

Now the South Burlington- and Plattsburgh-based Beta Technologies is demoing an electric "air taxi" that the company says will be the electric aircraft at the center of planned cross-country flight this summer.

Col. Bill Wagner (center) and Col. Lawrence Seaberg (left) watch cyber defense tactics demonstrated by Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Cover (right) during a May 2014 exercise with the Vermont Army National Guard Computer Network Defense Team.
Capt. Kyle Key / DVIDS

Nine soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard are now stationed at Maryland's Fort Meade as part of a year-long deployment supporting U.S. Army Cyber Command. 

One guardsman on the deployment, Col. Bill Wagner, tells Vermont Edition that even after a month of training, it's unclear what the small Vermont contingent will do day-to-day during the year-long missions.

The Vermont Ethics Commission was formed in late 2017. Now the commission is seeking to expand its oversight and power to investigate complaints of misconduct.
MicroStockHub / iStock

Vermont's ethics commission is supposed to keep state government accountable. But the commission can't investigate complaints of misconduct, nor can it enforce any penalties. We're looking at ethics oversight in Vermont and whether the commission should be able to investigate complaints on its own.

"Meal kits" aim to make cooking meals at home easier and less time-consuming. We're looking at the promise and reality of meal kits and Vermont-grown alternatives.
Unsplash

"Meal kit" services are an increasingly popular way to put dinner on the table, delivering everything you need to prepare a meal in a single box of ready-to-cook ingredients.

But what about finding time to cook and confidence in the kitchen? Do meal kits really save time, and do they help you eat fresh and local? We're talking about meal kits and Vermont's home-grown alternatives.

Volunteers help block, split and stack firewood as part of the wood bank firewood program at the United Way of Lamoille County.
United Way of Lamoille County, courtesy

January's Brave Little State looks at the pros and cons of heating with wood. About 38 percent of Vermont homes burn wood for some kind of heat. Almost a fifth of all households rely on wood as their primary way of staying warm.

But when Vermonters who heat with wood face the choice of heating their home or putting food on the table, it often falls to donation-based and volunteer-staffed wood banks to offer enough wood to help out.

5G networks would require new antennas on existing telecommunication towers.
Emanuele D'Amico / iStock

The promises of 5G - the fifth-generation cellular technology - are incredibly fast speeds and the ability to connect thousands of devices at once. But according to the state's chief of telecommunications Vermonters hoping the technology will bring much-delayed broadband and cellular coverage to rural areas of the state will be disappointed.

Drag queens Nikki Champagne, left, Shani (center), and drag king Trey Goodlay are among a new generation of drag performers playing with gender in novel ways.
James Buck / Kristen Scott / Inner Beauty Photography

Vermont’s drag scene has been around for decades, but now a generation of drag queens and drag kings are breaking stereotypes and finding new ways to play with gender on stage. We're talking about how Vermont's drag scene is evolving with new kinds of drag performances.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Vermont's House of Representatives is one of the few House chambers in the country that doesn't use an electronic voting system to tally roll call.

Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison wants to change that and is sponsoring a bill to implement an electronic voting system as early as next year. 

Gabriel Sohier Chaput, known online as "Zeiger," was unmasked in a series of May articles from the Montreal Gazette. The stories came together from the research and reporting of two Concordia journalism students, Shannon Carranco and Jon Milton.
Southern Poverty Law Center

One of the most influential neo-Nazis in North America, responsible for recruiting a network of white supremacists online, was operating secretly in the city of Montreal. But the bombshell reporting published in May by the Montreal Gazette came to the paper by an unusual path: after months of research and reporting by a pair of journalism students at Concordia University, Shannon Carranco and Jon Milton.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins us to talk about her legislative agenda.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

One of the goals of House Speaker Mitzi Johnson is to create economic development programs that can revitalize rural parts of Vermont. We're talking with Speaker Johnson about her priorities for the coming legislative session.

The Spirit Sanctuary in Essex, New York hopes to preserve a wildlife corridor by turning it into a "green" burial ground.
The Spirit Sanctuary, courtest

To preserve a wildlife corridor between Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks that could help animals survive a changing climate, a new organization is taking a unique approach: the Spirit Sanctuary in Essex, New York is buying up land for people who want to be buried there.

The Monumental Arch in Palmyra, Syria in 2003, is one of the 100 photographs of pre-war Syria captured by Shaftsbury photographer Kevin Bubriski in "Legacy In Stone."
Kevin Bubriski

Syria—and its nearly decade-long civil war—has been the subject of countless news stories and foreign policy debates. Syrians fleeing violence from war and the Islamic State weigh heavily in the international conversation about refugees and migration.

In 2003, Shaftsbury photographer Kevin Bubriski started documenting what would become some of the final images of pre-war Syria. His stark black-and-white pictures of the architecture, places and people of Syria are collected in a new book called Legacy In Stone: Syria Before War.

Your car's "check engine" light can mean anything from mechanical issues to emissions concerns. We're looking at the end of the state's "conditional pass" and what it means for car inspections going forward.
baloon111 / iStock

This month the Vermont DMV sent out a postcard alerting motorists to the end of "conditional passes" for cars failing emissions tests during inspection, along with a list of ways to get a vehicle "ready" for inspection.

For many, the postcard led to confusion rather than clarity. We're looking at what's changed for Vermont's vehicle inspections and what you need to know about getting your car ready for inspection.

Gov. Phil Scott shares coffee with his legislative colleagues at the opening of the 2019 Vermont Legislature.
Matthew Smith / VPR

In his second inaugural address, Gov. Phil Scott outlined his priorities for dealing with the major challenges facing Vermont. We're talking with Gov. Scott about his agenda and what it means for the Vermont economy, property taxes, education spending and more.

Politico report on fresh allegations of sexual harassment within the the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Herb Swanson / VPR

The 2016 presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has faced accusations of "sexual violence and harassment" by staffers who worked on the campaign. Now new reporting from Politico identifies a senior campaign director who allegedly made inappropriate physical advances on a junior staffer in 2016.

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