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Live From Bennington

The Southwestern corner of Vermont is geographically closer to Albany, Concord, Hartford than it is to Montpelier, but many of the challenges facing Bennington are familiar to the rest of the state. We talked with community leaders about Bennington's challenges and opportunities in front of a live audience at Madison Brewing Company on Main Street.

We heard from Peg Gregory, of United Counseling Services, John Shannahan, of the Better Bennington Corporation, and Robert Wolterstorff, of the Bennington Museum, about how they’re dealing with the opiate crisis, how the economy is faring, and how Bennington thinks of itself in relation to the rest of the state.

Peg Gregory, Director of Northshire United Counseling Services

The plan to have Bennington folks who needed methadone taken care of at the Rutland hub has not worked out as had been envisioned. The original plan was for 400 people to be treated out of that hub, and the expectation was that slightly less than half of those folks would come from Bennington. But because it’s a significant commute and a very significant commitment to people to get there daily, it turns out that less than 10 people using the hub services in Rutland are from Bennington county.

John Shannahan, Executive Director of the Better Bennington Corporation

We love our downtowns – that’s very obvious and very evident in everything everybody says and does. We need to support the downtowns. When you have online purchasing that you can easily do, you have big box stores that are offering lower-quality products, you have to make a decision: Where do you want to spend your money and who do you want to support? For little businesses to ever stay open and for downtowns to look they way they do now five and ten years down the road, it’s up to every person to make that decision.

Robert Wolterstorff, Executive Director of the Bennington Museum

The moment when Vermont truly led the nation in the visual arts was in the 1960s and early '70s and it was centered here in Bennington. There was a group kind of focused on Bennington College, but it wasn’t just at Bennington College.
I would say that there’s truly a vibrant art scene here today. And I want to say that I haven’t been here that long – I’ve just been here two years … I wouldn’t have come to Bennington if I didn’t see huge potential here.

We also heard about some students from Mount Anthony Union High School who have taken on the New York Times with a rap song.

Broadcast live on Monday, July 14 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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