NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady attended last-minute settlement talks between the NFL and its players union Monday before a judge announced he would decide the dispute over deflated footballs with a ruling in a day or two. Everyone involved ''tried quite hard'' to reach a deal in the controversy that has hung over professional football since New England easily won the AFC title game in January, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said in federal court in Manhattan.
The Washington Redskins have made a quarterback change: Kirk Cousins will be the starter this season, not Robert Griffin III. ''We feel like at this time, Kirk Cousins gives us the best chance to win,'' coach Jay Gruden said, unseating Griffin, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Although Gruden said that it's Cousins' job for the season, not just the Sept. 13 opener against Miami, the quarterback is not overconfident.
The Buffalo Bills are turning their offense over to Tyrod Taylor, who has won the starting job after a three-way quarterback competition during the offseason. Coach Rex Ryan announced his decision following practice on Monday. Taylor won the job over former Bills starter and 2013 first-round draft pick EJ Manuel, and Matt Cassel, a 10-year journeyman who was acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota.
Best Buy In Berkshire Mall To Close At The End of October
Best Buy at the Berkshire Mall will close.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Best Buy at the Berkshire Mall will close at the end of October.
The retail company informed employees on Sunday that it will not renew the lease for the location, which will leave 63 employees jobless.
"The location lease was up for renewal and we made the business decision not to renew," said Best Buy Spokeswoman Carly Charlson on Monday morning.
Charlson said the company opts to close stores generally based on increasing lease costs, low sales or the strength of the retail center the store is located in. Charlson didn't specify what factors led to this particular store's decision.
"We don't take decisions like this lightly," Charlson said.
The Berkshire Mall location, which opened in August of 2002, employed 28 full-time employees and 35 part-timers. Charlson said employees will have an option to be hired at other stores such as ones in Albany or Holyoke and others will be eligible for severance packages. The store's last day will be on Oct. 31 and it hasn't been determined if there will be a close out sale or if the inventory will be moved to another store.
Charlson said there are no plans right now to open another location in the Berkshires.
The company closes or moves stores on an ongoing basis; in addition to the Berkshire Mall location, the store in Hadley is also slated to close. Customers can now either go to the other stores or receive service online. The closest stores to the Berkshires are in Holyoke as well as in Albany, N.Y., at Crossgates Mall.
The Lanesborough location was spared from closing just three years ago when the company closed some 50 stores nationally. The store is one of the largest in the Berkshire Mall so its closure leaves a hole. Representatives from the Berkshire Mall have not yet returned a request for comment about the store's impact on the mall.
Pittsfield Council Candidate Airs Her Side Of Legal Battle With City
Tammy Ives met with iBerkshires on Friday to discuss both her campaign and the status of a civil lawsuit between her and the city.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Tammy Ives is continuing to fight City Hall over a burned-down garage and scrap metal.
The Sadler Avenue resident aired her side of the story about ongoing litigation between her and the city on Friday as she embarks a campaign for City Council.
The city and Ives are battling in Berkshire Superior Court over the demolition of her condemned garage, which burned last March, as well as a cease and desist order stopping her from operating what they call a scrap yard and she calls a hobby.
"It is not like we are in a dispute with the city saying 'we're not taking this down.' It's ugly. It's burnt. We can't have access to it even if we needed access to it. It is condemned," Ives said on Friday about the garage that is still standing.
"We have no use for that garage and we'd like it to come down but it is the insurance company. They aren't releasing the funds and we don't have the funds to tear it down on our own."
The stone structure burned on March 23, 2014, and the next day the Fire Department ruled that it was unsafe because some of the support beams have been damaged. The building inspector then condemned the structure. Ives said her family has been working with their insurance company but the funds and contract to remove the structure hasn't been issued yet and she can't afford the demolition on her own.
During the process of the city condemning the garage, items she was taking to a scrap yard was added to the city's citations against her. The Board of Health and building inspector's departments both ruled that she is operating a scrap yard. She says she isn't.
"We work with the elderly and we have worked with Pittsfield schools. We work with Berkshire Housing and individual people. It is people who can't afford to bring their stuff to the dump. We go there and pick it up for free. We help them if they are moving and we clean out their houses. We bring their stuff to the dump," Ives said. "We have some stuff in our yard that we scrap."
Ives said she never has more than what her vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban, can fit at one time and the materials are never stored for more than a weekend - with most of the items going on and off the property in less than 24 hours.
"This whole production is behind our stockade fence," Ives said.
In June 2014, the building inspector's office issued a cease and desist order. By September, the Board of Health said it could see "trash and rubbish" on the property in violation of city codes and the garage was still standing. The Board of Heath, too, ruled that it was a scrap-metal operation.
"The city is trying to say that I am running a scrap yard like I have crushing machines on my property," Ives said. "I don't know where they are coming up with this. You can't see behind the fence. You don't know what I have behind there."
The Board of Health issued a cease and desist letter that October. By November, a neighbor complained to the building department that Ives continued to operate a scrap yard.
In Berkshire Superior Court documents, the city included letters from both Ives and her father showing the family had intentions of running a recycling business. Those letters are addressed to the building department. Ives, however, says that it isn't a business right now.
"It is like a community service. I don't charge anybody anything," Ives said, adding that some of the items brought back to her home are donated if they work and her only payment is that she keeps any money on the items that need to be scrapped.
Nonetheless, the city continues to fine the family for failing to comply with orders - fines the family refuses to pay. That led the city to ultimately take Ives to court, filing the suit in December.
The current case isn't the first foray into Superior Court for Ives; she's been listed as the plaintiff in at least three other cases. She's also filed no-trespass orders and harassment accusations against the city and inspectors.
She initially took the city to court over issues relating to the inspections. Those cases have all been closed while the city's lawsuit against her is still active. The next court date is in the end of September.
Ives says the issues all stem from a neighborhood dispute over no-parking signs. Ives said she was concerned with the neighbor across the street parking directly behind her driveway. The narrow road made it difficult for her to navigate out of her driveway. After talking led to no resolution, she petitioned the city to put up no-parking signs on the side of the street. The Traffic Commission at the time felt it was warranted for public safety.
Those signs triggered a neighborhood dispute that eventually led to her spray painting "FU" followed by the house numbers of neighbors she believes have wronged her.
After the signs were installed, the neighbors snapped photos of items she was holding on her property to take to the scrap yard and submitted them to Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully, Ives contends. Ives says Tully then ushered in the first inspections and fines for operating a scrap metal business. The fire and delay in removal of the garage then linked the two disparate complaints into one case.
That started the court case and on the home front, Ives said there are some neighbors who have threatened her and her children, made sexual gestures toward her, and swears at her family.
"My fence, on the front, does have a large FU. It does have house numbers on it," Ives said. "Each house number represents a person who did something to us."
She said she painted that on the fence after being given so much grief from the neighbors.
"All we want to do is be left alone," Ives said.
All of that happened between the time Ives first tried to run for City Council. She's kept up with the city's issues since then and is launching another campaign. However, she hopes to clear up any confusion about the cases as the campaign begins to ramp up. iBerkshires.com will have more about her bid for public office in the coming days.
Protesters Bring Pipeline Picket to Kinder Morgan Offices
Protesters marched back and forth on Friday in front the building in which Kinder Morgan has an office.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than a dozen picketers paced back in forth in front of the Crawford Square building on North Street midday on Friday to send the message that they don't want the proposed natural gas pipeline.
Kinder Morgan, which has an office in that building, is proposing a $3.3 billion project to transport gas from the Marcellus Shale in Western New York through the Berkshires and off to Maine.
The proposed path includes Lanesborough, into Cheshire, Dalton, Hinsdale, Windsor, and Peru as well as many other towns in Massachusetts and New York.
The project to install the 30-inch diameter pressurized line is currently in the federal permitting process and proponents say the natural gas is needed to offset the loss of nuclear and coal plants that have shut down in the Northeast. The extra gas is thought by those in favor of the project to lower utility costs.
Opponents, however, have been out in full force with an array of concerns. Whether it is the drinking water supply and watersheds being threatened by the path, or impacts of the expansion of renewable energy sources, health concerns from the chemicals, to noise and pollution, opposition has been fierce in places in the Berkshires.
"We're here to protest the pipeline and to push for renewable energy policies in Massachusetts," said Judy Eddy, of 350 Mass Berkshire, just one of the groups formed to fight the proposal.
"We're opposed to it. It is not needed. We don't need this gas in Massachusetts. We don't need it in the region. We need to get off of dirty energy and get to clean energy,"
Eddy was joined with others in an effort to raise awareness among residents about the issues. She contested the idea that the proposal will lower the cost of gas and that it is needed.
"There are so many gas leaks that are not being fixed. If we fixed those gas leaks, we certainly would not need this. All of that gas is being wasted," Eddy said.
Cheryl Rose is especially concerned with the environmental impacts the project poses. She said compression stations release toxic levels of carcinogenic gases, the burning of fracked gas pollutes the environmental, and the plan would destroy all the efforts and monetary sacrifice the state put toward protecting Article 97 land.
"Pipelines like this are killing the green energy economy of Massachusetts. This is one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy and a job creating economy that we need to support and not squelch by taking rate-payers money for things like this," Rose added.
Eddy said the groups are also planning to protest outside of Berkshire Gas, a company that has been supportive of the project.
In all, Rose says she wants more people to be active in the process.
"We're hoping to get more people inspired to step up and contact their legislators, contact the governor, because the big money influences have tremendous power," she said.