Localfolks Smokehouse owner and now beer brewer John Morris cleans beer vats in the basement of his new brewing area in Waitsfield. Under the name Cousins Brewing, he is serving four house-brewed beers, with plans to start selling by the keg.

Localfolk is the latest to tap into Vermont’s craft beer culture

WAITSFIELD — There are five new beers in central Vermont and, for now, they are available only at Localfolk Smokehouse in Waitsfield. This spring, Localfolk owner and “pit boss” John Morris added four house-brewed beers to the 20 he had on hand — Tolerable Pale Ale, a four malt, seven hops beer; Big Brown & Down, a four malt, four hops, full-bodied malty brown ale; Giggles IPA, a light IPA brewed with four classic American hops; and Adequate Maple Amber, a beer made with Dark B maple syrup added to the boil kettle, which creates a full-bodied, mildly sweet, amber ale. Killer RyeLife, a session rye pale ale, brewed light and crisp, was added in July. Why add your own brews when, for the past 12 years, your bar and restaurant has been a hot spot for skiers, hikers, tourists and locals? The motive for Localfolk, Morris said, was “to brew really good beer” and see what happens next.

Bret Williamson, 13-year Killington Valley Real Estate employee, is in the process of purchasing the company with his wife, Kim. Williamson, 44, has worked at the Basin Ski Shop since he was a sophomore at Castleton where he raced on the Nordic team. A father of two, he's on the Pico Ski Club Board and is also active with the Killington Pico Cycling Club, Killington Chamber of Commerce, and Pine Hill Partnership.

Killington becoming hot real estate market

KILLINGTON — The Killington region real estate scene has picked up. Offering what many called the best prices for a major resort area, brokers said the region’s properties offer good values and some bargains. However, there are shortages of certain types of inventory, so prices are starting to rise. “We don’t see the usual slow period anymore. I think there was really only one slow week since the snow season ended, and we are all finding it very challenging to keep up,” said attorney Marylou Scofield, who is based in Killington and handles real estate closings in the region.

Visitors enjoy The Pumphouse Water Park at Jay Peak. Located a short drive from the northern border, the Jay resort relies on tourists from Canada.

Vermont sends a love note to Canadian tourists

On July 1, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing launched a welcome campaign to its northern neighbors. The communications campaign is intended as a heartfelt reminder to Canadians that Vermont greatly values their friendship, tourism and trade. The initiative launch coincided with Canada Day, and began with 15- and 30-second video spots that ran throughout Quebec in both English and French on social media, featuring Gov. Phil Scott inviting Canadians to visit. “The feedback we have already received through both email and social media has been incredibly positive,” said Steven Cook, deputy commissioner at Tourism and Marketing. “On Canada Day, we ran a one-day media blitz, and in that one day we received over 300,000 views.


‘Fully Connected’ won’t help cure information overload

“Fully Connected: Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Overload” by Julia Hobsbawm, 2017, Bloomsbury, $28, 256 pages
Your phone will not stop ringing. It chimes constantly, too, letting you know that you’ve got mail. Facebook announces itself with a “thwock,” and another noise works as a calendar notification. On one hand, it’s nice to be needed. On the other hand, you’d like to throw everything into a nearby river and walk away.

Chad Hollister performs at the Grooves & Brews Festival in Waterbury in late June.

Chad Hollister taps into ‘new shift’ in music

Central Vermont musician Chad Hollister has seen a lot of changes in the music business in his 20-plus years as a full-time professional musician. A South Burlington native who has lived in Worcester for a dozen years, Hollister, 49, has been playing his original roots-rock music in a variety of band formations since his first proper solo album, “Chad,” was released in 1998. Late last year, he was signed by San Diego-based label Pacific Records, and released his fifth album, “Stop the World,” in April. The album is the first to feature Hollister’s 10-piece band, which includes four horn players. The band celebrated the release of the album with a packed-house show at the Rusty Nail in Stowe, and has sold out the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe four years in a row.

In this provided photo, Josh and Andra Carter (center, rear) are shown with their employees. The couple hopes to sell their La Cosecha cafe to employees before moving back to Vermont.

Couple hopes to sell Ecuadoran café to employees

After six years making Otavalo, Ecuador, their home, the couple is returning to Josh’s home state of Vermont. But before they do, they have one last goal before they leave — sell their little café and bakery, La Cosecha. And the Carters are hoping — through a crowdfunding campaign — to be able to sell it to their seven employees. To do that, though, they need to raise $100,000 on IndieGoGo (igg.me/at/LaCosechaEcuador) by the end of the month. That’s just enough money to pay off what’s owed on the business.


Women struggle to balance student debt, life goals

After the grueling pace of graduate school, obtaining that advanced degree and finding a great professional career path, many women can finally turn their attention to other life choices. One choice they’ll be faced with is what to do with the substantial student loan debt. More importantly, how do they balance enjoyment of life while paying off those looming loans, as well as all the other pressures women face? Women hold nearly two-thirds of the current student loan debt in the United States, and “women working full-time with college degrees make 26 percent less than their male colleagues” according to a study by the American Association of University Women. That means that as a busy professional woman, you are not alone in feeling the challenge of trying to balance career, life and your loans.

Ana Araguas, left, owner of Just Dance, leads a Salsera  class  Tuesday night at her new Rutland dance studio. ROBERT LAYMAN / STAFF PHOTO

Passion and hard work: Just Dance ready to spread wings in larger facility

RUTLAND — Fourteen years ago, the owner of Just Dance Vermont Studio, Ana Araguas, moved to Rutland. A professional ballerina and off-Broadway dancer, she taught her first dance class for the Rutland Recreation Department at the former Dana School. “Now, things have come full circle for me, with the re-location of my dance studio, Just Dance Vermont, to the newly renovated Dana Center at 41 East Center Street,” Araguas said. “The studio I had before was too small for the expansion of classes I want to provide for young people and adults.”
The new studio consists of two rooms, each 840 square feet, one for dance and the other for fitness. Dance has been an integral part of Araguas’ life since she was a youngster growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

David Lahr is the new workforce development director for the Vermont Department of Labor.

Lahr: ‘Serve the employer and the employee’

MONTPELIER — David Lahr, Vermont’s new workforce development director, has seen unemployment rates rise and fall in Vermont in the 30 years since he first entered the field. The current Vermont rate of 3.1 percent is indisputably preferable to the 7 percent rate seen in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession, yet challenges remain. “We have a pretty good gauge on which industries will be expanding and hiring in the next 20 years,” Lahr said. “As the director of workforce development for the Vermont Department of Labor, I plan to focus on three broad priorities: One: serving employers and employees with equal energy. We need to make sure that business’ workforce needs are being met by providing timely and effective recruitment and training solutions that are relative to Vermont’s business environment.

Bikers take off from the foggy Killington peak Friday afternoon during a round of practice.

Enduro race boosts Killington region’s mountain biking mojo

KILLINGTON — The creation of mountain bike parks at seven Vermont ski resorts and the building of bike trail networks by dedicated enthusiasts and volunteers throughout Vermont attest to the sport’s growing popularity. Providing places to learn, ride and compete, the trails are becoming a significant source of summer business. Green Mountain Trails, a grassroots 25-mile hiking/biking trail network in Pittsfield, and Killington Resort’s Bike Park became the first Northeast venues to host a two-day Clif Enduro World Series Qualifier on July 1 and 2. The eight-stage race was also a Vittoria Eastern States Cup and Enduro East event. All welcomed male and female amateurs and pros.