Mike, Bennington is less like southern Vermont and more like "East New York" or "North Mass", but welcome back anyhow. Congrats on the new gig, I'm always stealing copies of Hemmings from my dad when I go to visit.
He asks about what to buy for a 'winter beater'....first rule, the price must have no more than 3 digits. Second, smaller, lighter cars are easier to push out of the snowbanks.
If you choose something more 'capable', just remember: Four wheel drive is for getting out of trouble, not for staying out of trouble.