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.

The Jericho town meeting in 2017. We're talking about whether town meeting still make sense in the modern era.
Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Town Meeting Day is almost here, and every year the question gets raised: does town meeting still make sense in the modern era? We're looking at how this tradition has changed over time and how it fits with Vermont's democracy today.

Vermont's attendant services program, or ASP, is up for elimination in Governor Scott's budget.
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / iStock

Vermont's attendant services program — or ASP — directs $1.38 million in state funds to help Vermonters with permanent and severe disabilities. It’s been targeted for elimination by Gov. Scott’s latest budget.

We're talking with Vermont gun owners about how their use of firearms informs their views on gun laws and gun control.
artas / iStock

Conversations about firearms and gun control are often dominated by extreme views, leaving many in the middle whose voices aren't heard. That includes voices informed by their own gun ownership. We're talking with Vermont gun owners about recent shifts in the discussion around guns and our gun laws. 

Medication-assisted treatment is one of the most effective ways to combat opioid addiction, but access to MAT in Vermont prisons can be limited.
Instants / iStock

Dealing with addiction in prison is complicated. For some, it helps them get away from the drugs and into treatment. But treatment while incarcerated can be limited, and those leaving prison often face the greatest risk of a relapse.

Sec. of State Jim Condos discusses how states like Vermont could be vulnerable to election meddling, and what's needed to secure future elections.
Toby Talbot / AP File

Thirteen Russians face indictments for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security identified more than 20 states whose voting systems were compromised by Russian hackers. As they face concerns over election integrity both inside and outside the ballot box, how are Vermont officials keeping future elections secure?

The average smart phone is replaced roughly every 22 months, spurring calls across the country to protect customers' "right to repair" their electronics.
Bru-nO / Pexels

Have you ever tried fixing one of your electric gadgets? Even simply replacing the battery in your cell phone can require special skills or tools. You may not be allowed to do more advanced repairs without potentially voiding a warranty. That's led to demands across the country, including here in Vermont, for the "right to repair," the ability to perform basic repairs on items like smart phones, other electronics and more.

According to the Vermont Commission on Women, 75 percent of women who report sexual harassment in the workplace say they've experienced retaliation for speaking up.
Kameleon007 / iStock

Sixty percent of women say they've experienced sexual harassment at work, according to the Vermont Commission on Women, and three out of four of those women report experiencing retaliation for speaking up. Now House lawmakers are updating Vermont's sexual harassment laws to protect victims' rights and ban settlements that can silence victims and favor employers.

Climate researchers say a changing climate could mean, among other changes, more extremes of heat and cold for Vermont.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Vermont's climate is already changing, and experts say that could mean rising temperatures, wetter weather and more extremes for both heat and cold. But are there also opportunities to be seized as those changes unfold? 

Winter can be a time of hearty stew, spicy chili and other dishes that leave you feeling warm. What recipes do you turn to during cold winter months?
Pexels

The snow and cold of February in Vermont can make winter feel endless. When the temperature drops and you need a hearty meal, what foods and recipes do you rely on to make this time of year feel just a bit warmer?

Kevin Daignault (center) and his team at Mass General. Daignault's operation was the hospital's 500th heart transplant.
Massachusetts General Hospital, courtesy

Massachusetts General Hospital performed its first heart transplant in 1985, and in late December, a Swanton man became the hospital's 500th heart transplant patient.

The report from Vermont's Opioid Coordination Council highlights some successes in the state's response to the opioid crisis, but stresses the need to increase prevention and do more for Vermonters in recovery.
Moussa81 / iStock

Thousands of Vermonters have been treated for opioid addiction, and prescriptions for addictive painkillers are down. Vermont's Opioid Coordination Council says that these are signs of progress, but more still needs to be done to create a "firewall of resilience" to the deadly opioid crisis in Vermont. 

Isidro Rodriguez, left, is joining with Red Kite Candy's Mike McCabe to raise money for Food 4 Kids through the company’s Candy Lab program.
Isidro Rodriguez, courtesy

A New Hampshire man who's made it his mission to pay off lunch debt at his local schools is joining with a Bradford candy company for a candy-making partnership to raise money for his cause.

As Vermont's workforce ages, the state's labor force is losing workers. Changing that trend, economists and elected officials say, is key to Vermont's future.
Peter Hirschfeld (far left), Ric Cengeri (left center), VPR File / Pexels

Facing an aging population and a shrinking labor pool, the need for Vermont's workforce to change trajectory has been a problem for years.

Vermont Edition looks at what's being proposed by Gov. Phil Scott's administration to realize that change, and the larger trends shaping that struggle.

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation voted for the January 2018 federal government shutdown, citing concerns over DACA recipients, the so-called "dreamers" of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Scott Kirkwood / National Parks Conservation Association

Elizabeth Hewitt covers Washington, D.C. politics for VTDigger. She was covering the Capitol as Vermont's Congressional delegation voted for what ultimately became a three-day shutdown of the federal government.

A Vermont State Police cruiser watches for speeding drivers on I-89 in September 2015.
Steve Zind / VPR

Vermont lawmakers are taking up a new highway safety bill that could make failure to wear a seat belt a "stoppable offense," as well as introduce tougher penalties for young motorists using cell phones while driving.

The push comes after a third of victims in Vermont's fatal crashes last year weren't wearing seat belts, in what was the deadliest year on Vermont roads in four years.

Gov. Scott delivered his 2018 budget address before a joint session of the Vermont Legislature.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR/file

Calling for consensus to avoid a property tax increase, Gov. Phil Scott's budget address outlined his spending priorities and principles for the coming year.

Vermont Edition digs into the details of just what the governor is proposing with his new budget, and how the math works out to pay for it without raising taxes or fees.

More than 100,000 Vermont workers don't have a workplace reitrement plan, according to AARP estimates.
USA-Reiseblogger / Pixabay

As many as 45 percent of Vermont private-sector workers don't have a retirement plan through their employer. To help Vermonters save — and to reduce reliance on public services when Vermonters go to retire — State Treasurer Beth Pearce is in the final phases of launching a new retirement plan aimed at Vermont's self-employed and those working for small businesses.

In addition to “widespread” flu outbreaks across the country this winter, the flu vaccine is only about 30 percent effective this year, according to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
Toby Talbot / AP

Vermont and nearly every other state in the U.S. is experiencing "widespread" flu outbreaks this winter, and the state health commissioner says the peak of flu season is still to come.

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has joined a lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission's rollback of so-called “net neutrality” regulations. 

A new report finds enforcement of health and safety standards lacking in Vermont's rental homes.
Creative Commons / Pixabay

A third of Vermonters rent their homes, but a new report on substandard housing shows Vermont's aging rental stock and tight rental market can lead to poor health and few options for those facing health or safety violations in their rentals.

Vermont Edition looks at what happens when a rental problem becomes a health hazard, and why it can be so difficult to get it fixed.

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