Oak Meadow announces
new staff members

BRATTLEBORO -- Oak Meadow recently announced two additions to its staff at its offices in Brattleboro: Steve Lorenz as School Liaison and Ben Mitchell as Director of Admission.

Lorenz is the former head of The Grammar School in Putney and a member of the Oak Meadow Advisory Board. In the newly created School Liaison position, Lorenz will work to establish relationships with public, independent, and charter schools to inform students and teachers of Oak Meadow’s unique homeschooling program and options for dual enrollment. Earlier in his career, Lorenz served as Vermont Superintendent of Schools; elementary school principal and secondary, elementary, and early childhood teacher. He has been involved with independent and public educational institutions, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and community service projects in Vermont for over 30 years.

Mitchell, former Director of Admission at Landmark College, is leading Oak Meadow’s admissions team. Also a new position at Oak Meadow, the Director of Admission will help guide families through the admission process and extend Oak Meadow’s reach by visiting schools and conferences around the country. While at Landmark College, Mitchell presented nationally and internationally on topics of alternative education. He has taught writing and English Literature at the high school and college level, and he’s published over 50 poems and stories.

Oak Meadow provides homeschooling curriculum for students in grades K-12. It enrolls over 600 students from around the country and the world and can be used independently or through its fully-accredited distance learning school. Visit oakmeadow.com for more information.

Blake Hill Preserves recognized at Good Food Awards

GRAFTON -- Blake Hill Preserves Moroccan-inspired Plum & Fennel Chutney was the first-ever chutney to win a Good Food Award in San Francisco on Jan. 16. In addition, for the first time in the organization’s history, all three of Blake Hill Preserves’ entries in the Preserves Category have received accolades.

"We feel truly honored to have one of each of our products recognized as winners and finalists by the Good Food Awards organization," said Vicky Allard, Blake Hill Preserves’ co-founder and executive chef.

The Plum & Fennel Chutney was inspired by a love of Moroccan cooking. A tagine-in-a-jar, it is packed with plums, prunes, heirloom apples, red peppers, and Allard’s unique Ras El Hanout spice blend.

"Our passion is to create our own little piece of art in the humble world of preserve making," said Allard. We want to create something that is delicious, authentic and unique -- something that represents what we love to eat."

Allard and Joe Hanglin founded Blake Hill Preserves in 2009. They are third-generation English preserve makers creating award-winning chutneys, jams and marmalades in Vermont’s Green Mountains using top quality fruits sourced from local farms when in season. Blake Hill Preserves products are made from all-natural, non-GMO ingredients without the use of artificial colorings, preservatives, thickeners or fillers.

To learn more about Blake Hill Preserves or to purchase product online, visit www.BlakeHillPreserves.com or look for them on Facebook.

Valente elected president of Costello, Valente & Gentry

BRATTLEBORO -- Thomas W. Costello recently announced the election of James A. Valente to the office of presidency of Costello, Valente & Gentry.

Valente resides in Brattleboro with his wife, Jayinee, and two daughters. He is the chairman of the Brattleboro Planning Commission, Brattleboro Town Democratic Committee, and the River Valley Credit Union Supervisory Committee. He is also a member of the Brattleboro Developmental Review Board. He has served as member and as vice chairman of the State Democratic Party.

The firm has been engaged in the general practice of law in Brattleboro for more than 30 years. The practice includes business law, estate planning, family law, criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury and professional malpractice. The practice is throughout the State of Vermont and the firm also practices in New Hampshire and Massachusetts courts and in the Federal Courts.

Valente is a graduate of Brattleboro Union High School and Drew University. He clerked in the firm from 2006 to 2010 and passed the Vermont Bar Examination and was admitted to the Vermont Bar Association in 2011. He is also admitted in the Federal District and Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The other lawyers in the firm are Sharon J. Gentry, George Anthes, and Thomas W. Costello.

Sciacca joins Chamber board

BRATTLEBORO -- John Sciacca, General Manager of Brattleboro Subaru/Ford, is the newest addition to the Brattleboro Chambers of Commerce Board of Directors. Over the years, Sciacca has been a huge part of many of the areas community events and has always been happy to help sponsor them. He is excited to be able to use his community ties in a larger capacity to sit on the board with other like minded individuals. He looks forward to serving the Chamber and its members.