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.

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.

The Project ECHO telemedicine program lets teams of specialists work with primary care physicians to bring their expertise to patients in rural areas.
Intel Free Press / Wikimedia

Patients in rural Vermont seeking treatment for pain often face time-consuming travel to large regional hospitals and long wait times to see specialists. Now UVM's medical school is using a new telemedicine program to connect those specialists with primary care practitioners in rural areas to help patients get better care more quickly.

Marijuana seeds (left), a young marijuana plant (center), and a mature flowering marijuana plant. Cultivating a limited number of mature plants will be legal in Vermont on July 1, but getting started raises legal questions.
Wikimedia

Starting July 1, Vermonters 21 and older can legally posses an ounce of marijuana and cultivate a small number of the plants. But marijuana sales and distribution remain illegal under state law, so if you're interested, how can you get the seeds to get started? We're talking about how to legally start growing under Vermont's marijuana laws.

Newly exiled Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Kazakhstan in 1953 (left); Solzhenitsyn  with his sons in Cavendish in August 1976; Solzhenitsyn at his self-made writing table in Cavendish during the 1980s.
Cavendish Historical Society, courtesy

His novels earned him the 1970 Nobel Prize in literature and exile from the Soviet Union, but in Vermont Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is also know for the nearly 20 years he lived and worked in the town of Cavendish. We're looking at the Russian writer's works, his time in the state and what his novels say to readers in 2018.

Facing a $58 million funding gap, Vermont lawmakers and the governor have competing proposals to pay for Vermont's schools in the final weeks of the legislative session.
Miatagirl / iStock

How will Vermont fund its schools? Gov. Scott's new plan would use nearly $60 million dollars in one-time funds to keep property taxes down, but Democrats in the legislature balked at a plan they say has a number of problems. 

A family photo of Suzanne Bombardier, the 14-year-old victim of a 1980 cold case murder.
Antioch Police Department

People around the country have been fascinated by the story of the Golden State Killer, the research by the late true-crime writer Michelle McNamara, and the arrest of a suspect in the decades-long mystery back in April. But one Vermont College of Fine Arts student's writing about a different California cold case generated interest of its own that caught investigator's attention and eventually an arrest.

LGBTQ Vermonters can face unique challenges and needs in rural areas.
ukayacan / iStock

Vermont has been seen as a leader in equal rights for LGBTQ people, but queer Vermonters living in rural areas can face unique challenges, from accessing healthcare to aging well as a queer senior to finding support networks. We're talking about the needs and experiences of LGBTQ Vermonters in rural communities. 

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

As Vermont's sole statesman in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Peter Welch deals with consequential issues that affect his home state and the country.

Gov. Phil Scott and legislative leaders are still at odds over key budget issues, including an estimated $58 million needed for education funding.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

Lawmakers are working on finalizing a budget in the closing weeks of the legislative session, but key disagreements on school funding and other programs have yet to be resolved. We're looking at how the state budget is taking shape and where lawmakers and Gov. Scott's administration disagree.

State and Essex Police at Essex High School during an April 2017 school lockdown.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

School shootings across the country—and a potentially averted shooting in Vermont—spurred Gov. Phil Scott to call for a security review for all Vermont schools. We're looking at the assessment's results and the holes it identified in school safety. 

A bill proposing new regulations on toxic substances was vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott, but lawmakers are voting again and could override the veto.
Antoine2K / iStock

A bill that could change how Vermont regulates toxic substances was vetoed by Gov. Scott. Now lawmakers are working on a possible veto override. We're looking at what the bill could mean for Vermont, the reasons behind the governor's veto and the prospect of a possible override. 

Vermont State trooper cars parked.
Steve Zind / VPR file

Vermont State Police are emphasizing less-lethal weapons and tactics as they review their use-of-force procedures, as well as the policies that dictate when and how officers return to the job after critical incidents. But while some new weapons, tools and administrative changes have already been adopted, the policies surrounding use of force are still being reviewed.

What can state agencies like DAIL, the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, do to help Vermonters age well?
AleksandarNakic / iStock

The coming decades will bring pivotal demographic changes to Vermont as baby boomers retire in greater numbers and continue to get older. We're talking with DAIL—the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living—about their plans to help Vermonters "age well."

Rotor rust, tire tread, and other common issues could be eligible for advisory warnings under the DMV's updated vehicle inspection manual.
PxHere (left), Pixabay (middle), MeganLynnette via Flickr (right)

Vermont vehicle inspections went electronic last year, and while the rules for road-worthiness never changed, many reported headaches and failed inspections. Now the DMV's rules are getting an update. We're talking about the new inspection rules and what it means for Vermont drivers.

Opponents and supporters of Vermont's new gun laws made thier voices heard at Gov. Scott's public signing of the bills into law.
Chip Allen / Times Argus

Gov. Phil Scott has signed three gun control measures into law, the first such rules for Vermont. We want to hear your thoughts on these laws and how you think they'll shape Vermont. 

From 1854 to 1929, poor and homeless orphans and foundlings from major U.S. cities were trained to rural parts of the country.
Kansas State Historical Society, courtesy

How did you or your family first come to Vermont? Maybe your family traces its history beyond memory. Perhaps you’re a transplant who remembers the first footstep in the Green Mountain State. St. Michael's College professor emeritus Daniel Bean has researched the unique history of a small group of Vermonters: orphans and foundlings rounded up in major cities and brought here on what he calls "orphan trains."

What's blockchain? The unqiue computer network is a new piece of financial technology that Vermont lawmakers believe offers big opportunities for the state.
MF3d / iStock

Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency. These and other buzzwords make headlines in the world of finance, but underlying it all is a new piece of financial technology called blockchain. And state lawmakers are betting this new technology could be Vermont's next moneymaker, much like the state's captive insurance market.

Two cranes lift the 14-foot statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, from the capitol dome as part of $2 million rennovation project.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

The golden dome that crowns Vermont's capitol building is undergoing a $2 million renovation. We're looking at what the project will accomplish with Statehouse Curator David Schutz.

Greg Sharrow, right, interviews Burmese weaving instructor True Tender Htun as she demonstrators the use of homemade looms she used in Burma and now in Vermont.
Vermont Folklife Center, courtesy

The idea of “folklore” may conjure stories we tell children about mythical creatures, explanations of unique family traditions, or even mysteries of the natural world. But for Greg Sharrow, folklore was how people forged a sense of who they are. 

Sharrow dedicated three decades of work with the Vermont Folklife Center to documenting, celebrating, and illuminating folklore and folk arts in Vermont. He died Monday, April 2.

Washington County Sen. Anthony Pollina discusses the Progressive agenda in Montpelier.
AP/Toby Talbot

Progressive leaders in Montpelier began the legislative session with a plan for Vermonters to pay their school taxes based on their income, rather than the value of their property. The plan failed to gain traction in both the House and Senate. We're talking with Progressive leaders about how their agenda has been received in the Statehouse this year.

Vermont's small colleges and universities face growing challenges as enrollment drops across the state and region.
Photobuay / iStock

College enrollment is down across New England. We're looking at how Vermont's small private and state colleges are adjusting to fewer students, rising costs, and growing competition for tuition dollars.

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