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BENNINGTON -- Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., toured the Energizer battery factory on Gage Street Thursday, and also made stops in Arlington to visit the federally qualified health center there.

The media was not invited inside the Energizer factory, but Leahy spoke to the press outside on Gage Street.

"I get a lot of money that I put through the appropriations committee, different contracts, and a lot of those come here, and I want to see how that money is being used, and that it's being used well, because when I go back into session I'm seeking further grants for manufacturing," Leahy said. "I want to be able to say, not only is it being used well, but I've actually gone there myself to see. I find it's a lot easier to get the money through the appropriations committee when I can tell them I've actually been there. Not that many senators get the chance because of the size of their state."

He said the Energizer plant in Bennington makes specialized batteries for hearing aids. The military also makes use of Energizer batteries, specifically ones designed to be light-weight. Troops, Leahy said, carry a great deal of gear on them, including body armor, weapons, communication devices, water, and food.

"Anywhere you can cut down the weight, it helps," he said. "Especially when we're facing so much non-traditional warfare."

After the tour, he said he was impressed by how long some employees at the plant have been there.

"I ran into one young man, his father and grandfather worked there," Leahy said. "A number of people told me they had 32 to 33 years at Energizer, and they said they have several employees celebrating their 40th."

In Arlington where a federally qualified health center hopes to open, Leahy offered some encouraging statements.

"Keep doing it, because you're going to make life better for your neighbors," he said to Battenkill Valley Health Center Board of Trustees.

"The resources that come to the health center, that doesn't just happen. It happens with great leadership," said Tess Kuenning, president and CEO of Bi-State Primary Care Association. "The boards don't even necessarily know that you're behind them, but you're behind them, so thank you."

Leahy also went to the Hill Farm Inn in Sunderland to talk about the Farm Bill and wetland preservation.


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