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News

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Bright orange shirts have been designed to keep senior citizens who use the new Adams walking loop safe. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)

MASS IN MOTION, ADAMS COA CREATE WALKING LOOPS

The Adams Council on Aging is working to develop safe walking loops for the town's senior citizens. IBerkshires.com reports, Northern Berkshire Mass in Motion project coordinator Amanda Chilson and Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti have created a brochure that marks walking loops that focus on the older population but can be utilized by any generation. Girgenti said the paths focus on parks, attractions, safe low-traffic areas, well-lighted areas, flat areas, the rail-trail and bus stops. The city of North Adams has a similar program that was also developed by Chilson. The paths are designed to combine the two municipalities.

NORTH ADAMS TO HOST DOWNSTREET ART EVENT THURSDAY

Downstreet Art officially kicks off in North Adams today. The event's August installment starts at 3pm with some early opening receptions. It runs until 9pm. Among the highlights are a new "window exhibition" by Michael Chapman in the storefront next to the Mohawk Theater. A total of 11 new gallery openings will be featured, including a new exhibition at the Rudd Art Museum on upper Main Street, and at the Independent Artist Project at Building 13 at MASS MoCA. You can get more information about DownStreet Art by visiting www.downstreetart.org.

TOURISM GROWTH IN BERKSHIRES

Tourism in Berkshire County has shown significant growth this summer, partly due to the reopening and expansion of the Clark Art Institute. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Stephen Sheppard - a Williams College economics professor, said that since reopening July 4th after a $ 145 million expansion and renovation, the Clark has welcomed roughly 63,608 visitors. That's 19 percent higher than the museum's previous record during the Picasso Looks At Degas show in 2010. The bottom line, according to Sheppard, was $ 3 million in new economic impact and 32 additional jobs. Overall, he said, The Clark has an economic impact of $54 million per year, including 443 jobs in a variety of areas.

PITTSFIELD MAN FACING OF HEROIN CHARGES FREE AFTER BAIL REDUCED IN OTHER CASE

A Pittsfield man who had a trafficking case dismissed last month is free after having his bail reduced from $50,000 to $5,000 cash on another drug case. 54 year old Ronald King was arrested last March after a Pittsfield Police drug unit raid. 39-year-old Lynn Stracuzzi was also was arrested in the raid. Both defendants were charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Because the Cherry Street residence abuts the Morningside Community School, they were additionally charged with a drug offense within 300 feet of a school zone. Both defendants were later indicted on the charges. King must wear a GPS monitor and remain at his residence during an 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. His case is on the November trial list.

PITTSFIELD EATERY TO CLOSE DURING HOTEL CONSTRUCTION

Spice Dragon, the upscale Asian fusion eatery on North Street, will close its doors temporarily on Sunday as construction gets underway on a hotel upstairs. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the upscale 45-room "Hotel on North," to be located above Spice Dragon and the adjacent Mad Jack's restaurant is scheduled to open next spring. Spice Dragon opened during the summer of 2011 shortly after Jae's Spice closed in the same location. The first restaurant at that location, Spice, was open from 2006 through 2008.

LENOX WOMAN ACCUSED OF SCAMMING NEIGHBORS

A Lenox woman is facing three felony charges for allegedly scamming several elderly residents out of more than $11,000 over the past two months. According to Lenox Police, 33 year old Nicole Sacco, of Pittsfield Road, is accused of approaching residents in the vicinity of the Berkshire Mobile Home Park and borrowing money, which she had no intention of paying back. Sacco was charged with two counts of larceny over $250 involving two disabled people over 60, as well as larceny under $250 from a disabled person over 60, and released into her own custody. She is scheduled to be arraigned on September 8th in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington.

UP TO 6 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CARJACKING AND ASSAULT AT LEE TURNPIKE PLAZA

A Virginia man who allegedly went on a cross-country crime spree in 2013 and tweeted about it was sentenced to up to six years in state prison for a carjacking on the Massachusetts Turnpike. 24 year old Michael Tarpeh, of Stafford, Va., accosted a man in the parking lot of the eastbound travel plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Lee in February of last year. According to police, Tarpeh told the man to hand over his car keys and that he had a knife. The man tried to run, but slipped and fell. Tarpeh punched him in the face multiple times before taking $150 in cash and the man's car.

LOCAL: KINDER MORGAN PIPELINE VIEWS AIRED IN DALTON

Growing demand for natural gas in New England is the driving force behind a proposed new pipeline that would run through a number of Berkshire communities. The Berkshire Eagle reports, that was the message from a representative of Texas-based pipeline company Kinder Morgan last night before a skeptical crowd of more than 100 people at Nessacus Middle School in Dalton. During a special Select Board meeting, Kinder Morgan representatives gave presentations about the proposed pipeline project, followed by presentations from the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and "No Fracked Gas in Mass", both of which strongly oppose the project. The company hopes to install a 250-mile pipeline that would in part run through eight Berkshire communities. Opposition to the project has been mounting. Among the concerns are the environmental impact and safety of local communities that host the pipeline.

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES SAY THEY OPPOSE PIPELINE

All three Democratic candidates for governor say they oppose a plan to expand a natural gas pipeline through northwestern Massachusetts. Steve Grossman, Donald Berwick and Martha Coakley said they couldn't support Kinder Morgan's proposed $3.75 billion natural gas pipeline, which would run about 250-miles from upstate New York to the town of Dracut along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. The line would also run through several towns in the Berkshires. During a televised debate yesterday, the three candidates said they would push to expand the state's reliance on renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric power. The candidates took part in an hour long televised debate yesterday. The primary is September 9th.

HIGH SURF ADVISORY FOR MASSACHUSETTS, RHODE ISLAND

Hurricane Cristobal is moving far off the New England coast but its impact is expected on south-facing ocean beaches in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The National Weather Service has issued an advisory for high surf of 6 to 12 feet and rip currents on the southern coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the nearby islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

COAKLEY: I'LL SPEND $500M TO AID STATE'S ECONOMY

BOSTON (AP) - Democratic candidate for governor Martha Coakley is pledging to make $500 million in funding available over the next decade to help speed up economic growth across the state. Coakley said Wednesday that $400 million would be available for major infrastructure projects. Another $100 million would be used for grants to businesses and nonprofit groups to help identify economic development strategies. Coakley said the grants would be designed to promote collaborations between high schools, colleges, workforce development agencies and businesses. She said the grants would have specific goals such as the number of jobs created, workers trained, or revenue generated. Coakley said she modeled her proposal after Gov. Deval Patrick's 10-year, $1 billion life sciences initiative. She said she'd pay for the plan in part by "streamlining existing revenue streams and allocating new revenue where necessary."

AD WAR HEATING UP IN MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR'S RACE

BOSTON (AP) - The sharp elbows are coming out in the Massachusetts governor's race. On Wednesday, a super PAC supporting Republican candidate Charlie Baker unveiled a television ad targeting Democrat Martha Coakley. The 30-second spot faults Coakley for underestimating the state's gas tax during a television appearance while supporting last year's decision to hike the tax by 3 cents to 24 cents a gallon, the first increase since 1991. Coakley also opposes a ballot question which would repeal a law automatically linking future hikes in the tax to inflation. The Commonwealth Future Political Action Committee is funded largely by the Republican Governors Association. Coakley quickly posted a 30-second online video accusing Baker of being "at the center of one of the biggest boondoggles in history" referring to his time in state government during the Big Dig project.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

  
Police Director Michael Cozzaglio explains the reasoning behind adding the speed limit to ordinance. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

MOBILE HOME PARK SPEED LIMIT MULLED

Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park in North Adams will be cracking down on speeders. IBerkshires.com reports, the park has hired police to make patrols to ensure residents and visitors are sticking to the 15 mph limit. The limit is on signs in the park and is in the park's rules but the Wheel Estates Tenants Association said putting it in the city's ordinances will give the limit more teeth. The City Council yesterday referred the park's request to the city solicitor with the expectation of having an ordinance to vote on September 10th.

 

NWS WEATHER TRANSMITTER TO OPERATE ON MOUNT GREYLOCK

The National Weather Service is planning on having an operational weather transmitter on top of Mount Greylock by October 1st. IBerkshires.com reports that meteorologist in charge of the Weather Service's Albany, N.Y., office said on Monday that the federal agency is waiting for the go ahead from the commonwealth of Massachusetts to install its equipment on a tower located 100 yards from the site that previously housed the equipment. Raymond O'Keefe says the transmitter was placed out of service on May 30th when the contract expired with the private owner of the tower the transmitter previously called home. O'Keefe said the October 1st timetable for resumption of service is realistic. The Mount Greylock institution is part of a nationwide network of 1,000 transmitters covering all 50 states.

ASSISTANCE CENTER OPEND IN NORTH ADAMS TODAY

More help is on the way for workers who lost their jobs when North Adams Regional Hospital closed in March. State and local officials will be on hand at 10 a.m. today for a ribbon cutting and formal opening of the Work Assistance Center at North Adams City Hall. The center will be inside North Adams City Hall for local residents who lost their jobs when North Adams Regional Hospital and its affiliated services closed in March. The hospital closed abruptly on March 28th, leaving more than 500 workers jobless and Northern Berkshire without local emergency care. Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian, Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, State Senator Ben Downing, and State Representative Gail Cariddi are all expected to be in attendance.



   The Selectmen heard an update on a series of car break-ins and the opened bids for equipment and road work. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

CHESHIRE BREAK-IN INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE

Police in Cheshire continue to investigate a series of car break-ins on Furnace Hill and Cheshire Hill. IBerkshires.com reports that Police Chief Timothy Garner told the selectmen during last night's meeting that they may have a suspect. The police department put a picture on Facebook yesterday of the suspect using an ATM at the bank. Garner said that he unfortunately he had his face covered, but he did have some clothing on that may be identifiable. The information posted on the Cheshire Police Facebook page said the man was in a black VP Racing Fuels sweater and had green pants on. Garner said the break-ins happened early last Thursday. There was one break in on Furnace Hill and two on Cheshire Hill.

THIRD SUSPECT HELD IN GREAT BARRINGTON AMBUSH

The third suspect in an alleged armed ambush of two men in Great Barrington last week is being held on $5,000 cash bail after pleading not guilty to a charge of conspiracy. According to Great Barrington Police, 19 year old Louis Ely, of Pittsfield, was one of three people involved in an August 20th armed robbery of two Pittsfield men on Bridle Path Lane. The men were lured there at about 6 p.m. and met with 20 year old Theodore Labonte with the promise of being able to buy marijuana from him. Labonte allegedly led them to an area overgrown with bushes where 20 year old Andrew Dupont, wearing a mask and carrying a shotgun, jumped out and demanded money. Ely was held on bail and was still in custody as of yesterday afternoon. He is due back in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday. Labonte and Dupont, both of Egremont, were charged with one count each of armed robbery and various other charges. Both are being held on bail.

SANCTIONS ON PITTSFIELD BAR LIFTED

The city of Pittsfield's Licensing Board has voted 3-1 to lift sanctions for a Wahconah Street nightclub imposed after a mass disturbance that occurred there in March. Johnny's Beach Club will be allowed to resume a closing time of 2am despite some level of wariness expressed by members of the board on Monday. The board voted to allow the resumed early-morning closing following testimony from Sgt. Michael Grady, who said owner John Giardina had cooperated with Pittsfield Police to implement recommended changes and had been in good standing since a seven day suspension earlier in the year.

RUBERTO STEPS DOWN AS TRUSTEE

Former Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto has resigned from the Westfield State University board of trustees. According to a report in the Springfield Republican, Ruberto, who accompanied then-university President Evan Dobelle and 20 guests on a trip to Cuba last year, submitted a resignation letter to Governor Deval Patrick in May without stating a reason. Ruberto, who served four terms as Pittsfield's mayor, leaving office in 2011, joined the Westfield State board in June 2013.

BABY FORMULA THIEF HELD ON BAIL

An admitted drug addict accused of stealing thousands of dollars-worth of baby formula is being held on $1,000 bail after pleading not guilty to felony larceny charges. 28 year old Timothy Conn, of North Adams, was allegedly caught on tape stealing more than $500 worth of baby formula from the Great Barrington Price Chopper on August 15th. Following an investigation into that theft, an off-duty Great Barrington police officer saw Conn in the parking lot of the Lenox Price Chopper on August 25th and contacted police dispatch. According to a probable cause report, it turned out there was another $178 worth of baby formula in Conn's vehicle when he was pulled over by Lee Police.

GOP'S BAKER STOCKPILING MONEY IN RACE FOR GOVERNOR

Republican candidate for Governor, Charlie Baker, has been busy stockpiling money for the November general election. As of mid-August, Baker had nearly $1.2 million left in his campaign account. That's more than twice as much as the nearest Democrat, Martha Coakley, who had nearly $565,000 in her account. She was followed by fellow Democrats Don Berwick, who had about $527,000 left in cash, and Steve Grossman with about $222,000. Baker, who overwhelming won his party's endorsement, is also enjoying lopsided support from supporters in his own primary. His GOP rival, the tea party-affiliated Mark Fisher, had just $30,000 left in his account as of mid-August.

STATE SUED OVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA PERMITTING

A company that lost its bid to open a medical marijuana dispensary wants a judge to overturn the state's decision. In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in Boston on Tuesday, Brighton Health Advocates argues that the state's June decision "was an abuse of discretion, was arbitrary and capricious, was not based on substantial evidence" and should be vacated. The company, which proposed a marijuana facility in Fairhaven, accuses the state Department of Public Health of making "increasingly onerous demands for information to search for a pretext" to reject its application.

GOP'S BAKER STOCKPILING MONEY IN RACE FOR GOVERNOR

Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker has been busy stockpiling money for the November general election. As of mid-August, Baker had nearly $1.2 million left in his campaign account. That's more than twice as much as the nearest Democrat, Martha Coakley, who had nearly $565,000 in her account. She was followed by fellow Democrats Don Berwick, who had about $527,000 left in cash, and Steve Grossman with about $222,000. Baker, who overwhelming won his party's endorsement, is also enjoying lopsided support from supporters in his own primary. His GOP rival, the tea party-affiliated Mark Fisher, had just $30,000 left in his account as of mid-August. Baker is also benefiting from the support of a super PAC and from the fundraising prowess of his hand-picked running mate, former Shrewsbury state Rep. Karyn Polito.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

   
Hoosac Valley High School has a new principal and the district has new goals going into the school year. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS-CHESHIRE HAS NEW ADMINISTRATORS, PROGRAMS

The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District is gearing up for the upcoming school year with new goals, new happenings and a new principal at Hoosac Valley High School. IBerkshires.com reports, Principal Jeremiah Ames was promoted from dean of students in July to replace departed Principal Vincent Regan. Ames was hired this past January as dean of students. He previously taught foreign language at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School and at the private Cushing Academy, and also served a short stint on the Lenox School Committee. 14 applicants for considered for the post.
 


   The interior has been refilled with gifts, crafts and antiques. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)   

WESTERN SUMMIT GIFT SHOP REOPENS ON MOHAWK TRAIL

A gift shop that opened for the debut of the Mohawk Trail has reopened in time for its centennial. IBerkshires.com reports that "West Summit Merchant", formerly known as the Wigwam, opened this past weekend at the popular overlook at the top of the Hairpin Turn. Keith Bona, who operates Berkshire Emporium and Antiques on Main Street, took on the task of reviving the gift shop at the request of owners Roger and Colleen Hurst.

PRICE AT THE PUMP DROPS ANOTHER 2 CENTS STATEWIDE

The price of a gallon of gasoline in Massachusetts has dropped another 2 cents, and has now fallen 13 cents in the past month. AAA Southern New England reports the average cost of a gallon of self-serve, regular in the Bay State is now $3.45. That's still a penny higher than the national average, but 17 cents lower than the Massachusetts price one year ago.



   Sieloff told the Board of Selectmen that he is looking for ways to allocate additional resources toward fixing drainage issues that is damaging roads. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

LANESBOROUGH ADMINISTRATOR WANTS MORE RESOURCES FOR ROAD DRAINAGE

Lanesborough Town Administrator Paul Sieloff is thinking about dedicating extra resources to alleviate drainage issues tearing up town roads.
On Monday, Sieloff said he's noticed the Highway Department has been putting in a large amount of work in cleaning up washouts and other drainage-related issues on the roads.
He told the Selectmen that in the next fiscal budget, he may be looking to allocate additional resources to fix the issue on some of the worst areas.
Sieloff said he wouldn't want to borrow for road repairs but drainage projects might make such a significant impact that it could be worth it.
In other business, the Selectmen appointed a new committee eyed to continue working on updating the dock bylaw. And the Selectmen approved five events in September.

PITTSFIELD VETERANS OFFICER ROSANNE FRIERI'S FIRING BY MAYOR IS CONFIRMED

Pittsfield Veterans Officer Rosanne Frieri has been fired by Mayor Dan Bianchi. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to her attorney, Albert Cimini of Pittsfield, the firing is "wrongful and actionable," - and he and Frieri are considering a lawsuit. Frieri has said she would not attend a meeting without an attorney or independent third party because of what she termed "badgering" by the mayor during a meeting in his office in March. She said there had been a series of disagreements in recent months with the mayor and other officials at City Hall over aspects of the operation of her department.

PITTSFIELD POLICE FIND SHELL CASINGS AT SITE OF SHOOTING, BUT NO VICTIMS

Several shell casings were recovered near the scene of a reported shooting in the city early Saturday, but no injuries have been reported. Police officers responded to a report of shots fired at about 1:47 a.m. on Richmond Avenue near Briggs Avenue. Shell casings were recovered by investigators in front of 21 Richmond Avenue while others were recovered further down the street near 69 Richmond Avenue, according to police. It's the 16th confirmed incident of gunfire in the city this year.

PITTSFIELD MAN ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC ABUSE FREE AFTER HEARING

A Pittsfield man facing domestic abuse charges has been released after being held for four days awaiting a dangerousness hearing. 45 year old Paul Phillips was released on Monday after a judge determined while there was evidence he was dangerous, the Berkshire District Attorney's Office hadn't proven there were less severe measures than holding the defendant without bail for 90 days. Phillips was arrested August 20th after Pittsfield Police responded to a First Street residence for a domestic dispute and learned that Philips allegedly threw a 40-year-old woman down, tied her up and had sex with her against her will. He was not charged with rape, but is charged with assault and battery on a family or household member. A pretrial hearing in the case is set for September 25th.



   The Pittsfield Suns have agreed to enter negotiations to stay at Wahconah Park. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

SUNS AND CITY DISCUSSING NEW LEASE

The city of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Suns have begun negotiations on a new lease for Wahconah Park. The team's current lease at the park has expired. IBerkshires.com reports that Mayor Dan Bianchi hopes to reach a multiyear agreement within the next couple of months. According to Bianchi, he and club owner Jeff Goldklang have signed a 90-day extension to negotiate the next lease. The mayor says that they hope to have a long-term agreement - three to five years - within the next couple of months. Pittsfield Suns General Manager Kevin McGuire also confirmed that the organization has started the process of negotiating a new lease.

TRACK UPGRADES WOULD BE MAJOR FOR BERKSHIRES

Upgrading the tracks for the Housatonic Railroad Company freight line, would be huge for the Berkshires. According to regional planners, even if the proposal for the Berkshire Line to offer service from Pittsfield and points south to New York City fails to gain traction, a $35 million investment will be money well spent. Executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Nat Karns tells the Berkshire Eagle that from an economic development and jobs perspective, simply modernizing the tracks would save close to 800 manufacturing jobs here and in northwest Connecticut. Sheffield Plastics would probably leave the county if the tracks are not upgraded, and five other manufacturers, including Onyx Specialty Papers in South Lee are dependent on rail.

STREETSCAPE PROJECT CONINUES

Phase 3 of the Pittsfield "Streetscape" project continues. Officials say that work will be taking place on North Street from Madison Avenue to Tyler Street through Friday. Contractors are working the eastern walks and on and installing new sidewalks - and installing pre-cast light pole bases. Pedestrian traffic will be disrupted on the Eastern side, and residents should follow signage and pay attention to on duty police officers while crossing the street. Northbound vehicular traffic will be down to one lane, while two lanes will be maintained on the southbound side. Officials say that all business will be accessible. Work also continues at the Persip and Sottile pedestrian plaza areas, and there should be no disruption to pedestrian or vehicular traffic there.

MOSQUITO SPRAYING SET FOR WEDNESDAY IN PITTSFIELD

Another round of Mosquito spraying is scheduled to take place in Pittsfield tomorrow. The Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project has scheduled a truck- mounted mosquito spray application in several locations throughout the city. A map of scheduled spray areas is available on the City of Pittsfield website at www.cityofpittsfield.org. All spray applications will take place between 10pm and 7am. The Spraying may be rescheduled for Thursday night if there is rain tomorrow. The Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project regularly monitors the larval and adult mosquito population and tests for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

CONN. MAN WHO RAN NAKED THROUGH PITTSFIELD HAS CASE CONTINUED

A Connecticut man allegedly seen running naked down a Pittsfield city street, followed by a naked woman -- both high on hallucinogens, had his case continued without a finding of guilt for 30 days. According to a report out of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, 25 year old Justin Veilleux, of Enfield, was seen running down Second Street naked at about 10:15pm on August 17th, followed by a woman yelling his name. Judge Fredric Rutberg continued the charges without a finding of guilt for 30 days and ordered the defendant to pay $250 in fines and fees. If Veilleux's stays out of trouble during the 30-day period, the charges will be dismissed.

CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR JOUST WITH PRIMARY LOOMING

Steve Grossman is sharpening his attack against fellow Democratic candidate for governor, Martha Coakley over her settlement of a case involving a prominent lobbyist. Grossman said Coakley, the state's attorney general, has shown "a pattern of bad judgment," including agreeing to a recent civil settlement with lobbyist John Brennan. Coakley said she struck the best deal she could under the circumstances. The two Republican candidates, Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher, participated in a Boston Globe debate yesterday. The State Primary is September 9th.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATES PREPARE FOR PRIMARY

Democratic attorney general candidate Maura Healey is highlighting her expertise in the courtroom and on the basketball court in her first television ad. The 30-second spot set to begin running Tuesday focuses on what Healey has portrayed as her fight to protect consumers against subprime mortgage lenders and to guarantee women's access to health care clinics during her seven years in the attorney general's office. Healey is planning to keep ads on the air through the Sept. 9 primary. Healey and former state Sen. Warren Tolman are vying for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. The winner will face off against Republican candidate John Miller in the November general election.

SCHOOL CHOICE IS KEY IN THE TOWN OF LENOX

As the school bell rings Thursday for close to 740 public school students in Lenox, members of a School Committee strategic planning group have completed crunching the numbers to begin work on ways to keep the local district on an even keel financially. The Berkshire Eagle reports that after a series of weekly meetings this summer, a summary document has been approved, 5-1, identifying the future of school choice as the key issue facing the district as local student enrollment continues to decline sharply. The report projects that over the next 10 years, total enrollment in the district, including choice students, would decline by an additional 22 percent.



Monday, August 25, 2014 

   
Two or three of the mill houses could be saved (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

NORTH ADAMS COMMISSION HOPES TO MAKE MUSEUM OUT OF MILL HOUSES

The North Adams Historic Commission is hoping to salvage a set of 170-year-old mill houses as museums. The properties on Houghton Street dating from between 1840 and 1870 were set for demolition, which the commission signed off on in April. Horbal said had carpenters check the first two "Hodge" buildings and found that "they're sounder than my house." The buildings have been vacant for some years and are part of an estate.

STUDY OF NORTHERN BERKSHIRE HEALTH CARE NEEDS NEARS COMPLETION

The consultant hired to report on the health care needs of the Northern Berkshires in the wake of North Adams Regional Hospital's closing says its work is nearing completion. Stroudwater Associates says that the report's summary and conclusions are being written. Once presented to the state, it will be a few days of study before being released to the public. North Adams Regional Hospital closed abruptly on March 28, leaving more than 500 workers jobless and Northern Berkshire without local emergency care.

MAN DRAGGED OUT OF HOME, ASSAULTED, ROBBED

Two men allegedly broke into a Walnut Street home in North Adams early last Tuesday, assaulting and robbing a resident. The resident, Richard Perkins III, told police that two men forced their way into his home looking for his friend. 22 year old Robert Hull III of Chase Avenue, and a juvenile, who Perkins described to police as friends, allegedly dragged Perkins out of the apartment by his ankles, assaulted him, and stole his phone before he could run away. The incident happened shortly after 4 a.m. on Tuesday. Hull pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to charges of felony breaking and entering in the daytime, assault and battery, and unarmed robbery.

PLAN TO REPAIR VETERANS WAR MEMORIAL TOWER DONE, BUT NEEDS FUNDS

Help could soon be on the way for the beleaguered, granite-sided Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit of Mount Greylock. The plan to fix moisture issues plaguing the tower has been completed, but funding is still being sought before the $1.8 million project can begin. The work includes repairing and upgrading the ventilation fans at the top of the tower, which haven't been functioning for some time, and the installation of a dehumidifier system. The tower was closed in the spring of 2013 when it was determined that water damage had caused parts of the interior to fall off, posing a potential hazard to visitors.

HEROIN DEALING NETS 2 YEARS FOR NORTH ADAMS MAN

A North Adams man has been sentenced to two years in jail after admitting to dealing heroin. 32 year old Michael Richard of Union Street, was arrested July 1st after being tracked through the West End by state police as he allegedly dealt heroin, Then, on July 10, he was one of three arrested during a Berkshire County Drug Task Force raid at the Willows Motel in Williamstown. Richard pleaded guilty on Friday in the first case to class A drug possession, possession to distribute a class A drug, and conspiracy to violate drug law. In the second case, Richard pleaded guilty to possession to distribute a Class A drug and conspiracy to violate drug law. He was sentenced to two years in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.

LOCAL 17-YEAR-OLD NOW IN STABLE CONDITION AFTER MONDAY'S SHOOTING

The 17-year-old who was shot last Monday morning in what police are now calling a gang-related incident remains hospitalized in stable condition. A 15-year-old was arrested on Monday and was charged in connection with the shooting. Because of his age, his name is not being released. According to Pittsfield Police, the incident is still under investigation and the department is looking to talk with any witnesses or anyone with information pertaining to the shooting. Mayor Dan Bianchi said those wishing to learn more about the issues of youth and gang violence in the city and how to help eradicate these issues are invited to attend a public community conversation to be held tonight from 6 to 7pm in the cafeteria at Morningside Community School at 100 Burbank Street.

PITTSFIELD STUDENTS BACK TO SCHOOL THIS WEEK

It's back to school time in the Pittsfield School District… and it's a week earlier this year. The school district recently took a look at what it could do to wrap up the school year on time, taking into consideration how late it got students out of school this past June due to snow days that had to be made up. Pittsfield Schools Superintendent Jake McCandless says that teachers are reporting back today and students will start heading back Wednesday. McCandless says that the idea is to try to ensure that students aren't in school for the entire month of June. In addition: Several Berkshire County public school calendars are experimenting with significant changes this year for a range of reasons, including students in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, who start back on Wednesday this week. Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School has pushed back its start until September, and students in North Adams return next week. Each district has its own reasons and strategy for configuring its calendar, factoring in elements like inclement weather, teachers contracts and training programs, and state and federal education reform mandates.

MAN ACCUSED OF LEWD ACTS TOWARD TEEN NEIGHBOR

A Pittsfield man who allegedly exposed himself to a 17-year-old neighbor and sent her lewd letters is free on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to two charges. 47 year old Richard Osgood allegedly walked into the apartment of a neighbor without knocking in April and told a 17-year-old girl as she packed up the apartment to move that she owed him a night in bed. According to the police report, Osgood had a previous charge of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14 for which he was given probation. Osgood appeared in Central Berkshire District Court on Friday and Judge Paul Vrabel released the defendant on personal recognizance. He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on October 14th.

LEE WOMAN CRITICAL AFTER SINGLE-CAR CRASH IN LENOX

A Lee resident is in critical condition in the wake of a single-car accident Wednesday on Walker Street in Lenox, according to Police Chief Stephen O'Brien. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to police, 63 year old Patricia Duval of High Street was a passenger in a 2003 Saturn driven by 54 year old Michelle Drew of Tempe, Arizona, which veered off the road and struck a guardrail east of the Route 7 and 20 bypass. Duval was trapped beneath the car's collapsed dashboard and it took the Fire Department 45 minutes to free her with an extrication device. She was taken by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center before being transferred to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield. Drew was treated and released from BMC. Both women were wearing seat belts. Drew was cited for negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stay within marked lanes. She will face the charges at a magistrate's hearing in Southern Berkshire District Court on a date to be scheduled.

LENOX LOOKS TO CONTINUE GOOGLE CAMPAIGN

The Board of Selectmen in Lenox will again be asked to spend $10,000 in an effort to market the town through Google. IBerkshires.com reports that in an attempt to increase tourism in the last two years, the town has hired the local marketing company Studio Two to run an advertising campaign through Google. While it is difficult to see if the marketing has directly translated to dollars in meals and rooms tax, the Selectmen feel the town has been a lot busier. Kevin Sprague, of Studio Two, has been heading the effort and is asking to board to again allocate $10,000 for it. Sprague says the town will embark on two campaigns, one in the fall and one in the spring.

MASSACHUSETTS COURT TO HEAR EYEWITNESS ID CASES INCLUDING A PITTSFIELD CASE

The highest court in Massachusetts is set to hear four cases - including one involving a Pittsfield slashing incident - that will challenge the way eyewitness identification evidence is presented to juries. The Supreme Judicial Court is being asked to adopt stronger instructions for judges to give to juries to advise them that eyewitness identifications aren't always reliable. The push comes as scientific studies show that human memory is easily influenced and that a large percentage of wrongful convictions were based at least in part on mistaken identifications by witnesses. Jeremy Gomes was convicted of slashing a stranger with a box cutter in Pittsfield. His lawyer is challenging his conviction based on what he says were unreliable eyewitness identifications. He wants judges to instruct juries that human memory isn't like a video recording.

PRO AND CON TO ARGUE MA NATURAL GAS PIPELINE

Representatives of Kinder Morgan are scheduled to visit western Massachusetts to present their side in a debate over a natural gas pipeline expansion. Dalton officials intend to organize a panel of residents to argue the other side. Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas, is expected to file a preliminary application for the 250-mile pipeline. It would begin in Wright, New York, west of Schenectady, and follow a route through eight Berkshire communities. It would end in Dracut, north of Lowell. The cost of the pipeline is estimated at nearly $4 billion, in addition to $2 billion for a route supplying natural gas. Opponents say the public will bear the cost of construction with higher electricity rates. Opponents in Dalton won a nonbinding resolution against the pipeline.

WARREN SAYS NO ATTACHMENT TO GROUP PUSHING HER WHITE HOUSE BID

Senator Elizabeth Warren ha

Friday, August 22, 2014

VICTIM IN FATAL WILLIAMSTOWN CRASH ID'D

The victim of Wednesday's fatal collision in Williamtown has been identified as Patrick Harrigan of Rensselaer, NY. According to the Williamstown Police Department, the 57 year old Harrigan was heading north on Hancock Road in a Mazda 3 about 4pm Wednesday when he failed to stop at the flashing red light at the intersection with Route 7. He was struck broadside by a Peter Pan bus heading south. First responders pronounced Harrigan dead at the scene. Williamstown firefighters used an extrication device to remove him from the vehicle. The operator of the bus, 62 year old Samuel Cabrera, of West Babylon, NY was not injured. The only passenger in the bus suffered minor bumps and bruises and was treated at Southern Vermont Medical Center.

JONATHAN BUTLER LAST OFFICIAL DAY AS ADAMS ADMINISTRATOR SATURDAY

Jonathan Butler is wrapping up his last official week as Adams Town Administrator tomorrow after holding the position over the last five years. The 32 year old Butler told the Adams Board of Selectman that he wouldn't seek re-appointment for a second three-year term as town administrator when his current contract expired on July 1st. Butler will be replacing Michael Supranowicz as President and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. Butler tells the Berkshire News Network he wouldn't trade the last five year for the world. Butlers' last official day in Adams is tomorrow. He starts his new job on Tuesday, September 2nd, the day after Labor Day.

   The Airport Commission was unhappy to learn that state and federal authorities are putting off marking the runway approaches until next year. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 

NORTH ADAMS AIRPORT FINISH HELD OFF

Finishing work on the runway approaches at Harriman-West Airport is being put off until next year for lack of funds. IBerkshires.cm reports that a planner with Gale Associates, the airport's engineer, told the Airport Commission on Tuesday that there's no money for paint and markings on the approaches. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration don't have the funds, he said, and the airport will have to wait to have this aspect included in the project. MassDOT and the FAA sees it as a 2015 project.

WILLIAMS COLLEGE WILL WELCOME STUDENTS MONDAY

The 274 women and 272 men who make up the Williams College Class of 2018 will arrive on campus on Monday for "First Days" - their official orientation to the college. The tradition of First Days introduces first-year students to the college and its resources. Students have the opportunity to meet their academic advisors, learn about academic departments, get to know the campus, and take placement exams and the mandatory swimming test. In between the scheduled events, students will settle in to their dorms and get to know their classmates.

ACCUSED KILLER'S LOOKS CONCERN ATTORNEY

The attorney for accused killer Caius Veiovis told a judge yesterday that he is concerned that his client's "unusual appearance" could make it hard for him to get a fair jury. Veiovis is the last of three men heading to trial in the slayings of three Pittsfield men in August 2011. Veiovis' attorney, James Reardon Jr. says that there will be a serious factor of curiosity and concern when the jury first sees him because of his horn implants and facial tattoos. The trial is scheduled to begin September 3rd. Berkshire District Attorney, David Capeless says the case will be much different than the first two.

   The mayor holds up the floor plan for the second floor of 100 North St. with offices designated to departments and their employees. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 

BIANCHI OUTLINES PLAN TO MOVE INSPECTORS TO 100 NORTH STREET

Mayor Daniel Bianchi is looking to move all of the city inspectors' offices - health, building, utilities, fire, a community development agent and a conservation agent - into leased offices across the street from City hall at 100 North Street this fall. The cost would be about $126,000 to rent the space, including utilities, custodial and maintenance, for the first year, with the price dropping in years two and three. A floor plan has already been mocked up to take up the building's second floor.

IRS CLOSING PITTSFIELD OFFICE

The Internal Revenue Service is closing its Pittsfield office at 78 Center Street effect August 26th. The closure is part of a nationwide cost-cutting measure that will allow the IRS to release more expensive leased space in favor of underutilized vacant space. Area taxpayers seeking face-to-face help and information on federal tax matters can visit the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center at the Albany IRS office located at 1 Clinton Avenue, at the corner of North Pearl. It is approximately 45 miles from the Pittsfield IRS office.


   The Board of Selectmen reversed their decision to deny Kinder Morgan the ability to survey town land for the proposed natural gas pipeline. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

LENOX OK'S PIPELINE SURVEY

The Lenox Board of Selectmen will allow Kinder Morgan to survey land for the proposed Tennessee Gas pipeline after the company complied with its requests for more information. IBerkshires.com reports that selectmen previously denied the request for additional survey work to be done near the Woolsy trail and the Arcadian Shop as well as Kennedy Park and the town's watershed areas. Town Manager Christopher Ketchen requested the denial because the developers of the natural gas line hadn't provided maps of the proposal on the east side of town. Ketchen said on Wednesday that the town has received those requests and the Board of Selectmen opted to allow the company to do the requested survey.

DOLLAR GENERAL GRAND OPENING SATURDAY

Dollar General will celebrate the opening of its new location at 2 Callahan Drive in Pittsfield tomorrow at 8am with free prizes and special deals. According to store officials, Dollar General will offer Pittsfield residents a convenient new place to shop for everyday essential at low prices. Dollar General offers a focused selection of national name brands and private brands of food, housewares, seasonal items, cleaning supplies, basic apparel and health/beauty products. A typical Dollar General store employs six to 10 people depending on the need, and apparently they are hiring. You can visit the career section at www.dollargeneral.com.

MINOR INJUIRES RESULT FROM THREE VEHICLE CRASH

Two people suffered minor injuries yesterday morning in a three-car accident on Route 41. Great Barrington Police say that 59 year old Gregory Steele, of Housatonic, was heading east on Division Street about 9am when he went through a flashing red light and stop sign and struck a vehicle driven by 54 year old Judith Wheeler, also of Housatonic. According to the report, wheeler's vehicle then struck a northbound vehicle driven by 52 year old Jenny Montague of New Lebanon, NY. Wheeler and Montague were transported to Fairview Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries. Steele was cited for failure to stop for a flashing red light and stop sign.

BRPC PLAN FOR RE-USE OF LEE MILLS

BRPC had just received a grant to plan out the possibilities for four vacant former paper mills when the properties all went into a whirlwind of activity. A report at IBerkshires.com says that the owner of the Eagle Mill announced a massive $60 million redevelopment there followed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granting $115,000 to see if the land is contaminated. Following that, Niagara Worldwide purchased the Greylock, Columbia and Niagara mills for $1.5 million. Because of those activities, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission says its two-year visioning project has now grown in importance as it help develop the "people's plan" for the massive properties.

SUMMERFEST IN GREAT BARRINGTON SATURDAY

"Summerfest" is taking place in Great Barrington tomorrow. The event which will line Main Street from 3pm to 9pm will feature musical performances throughout the day on several stages. Those in attendance can also expect a lot of great food, fun activities, and of course shopping in all the shops that are located along Main Street. It should be a good weather day, but just in case… the rain date is Sunday.

THE ICE BUCKET STOPS WITH OBAMA

The bucket stops with President Barack Obama. Instead of pouring cold water over his head, the President has poured it on the idea of becoming the highest-profile participant of the ice bucket challenge. The dare is sweeping the country and has raised more than $40 million for the ALS Association. The challenge of course asks people to post a video of themselves' being doused with cold water and publicly call on others to do the same within 24 hours, or donate $100 to the association. Ethel Kennedy, the 86-year-old Kennedy family matriarch, tagged Obama to participate after recently soaking herself at her family's Massachusetts compound, knowing the president was vacationing nearby at Martha's Vineyard. Obama participated financially by donating an undisclosed sum.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

   
The front end of a Peter Pan bus after colliding with a car Wednesday afternoon (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

MOTORIST KILLED IN BUS COLLISION IN WILLIAMSTOWN

The driver of a small sedan was killed yesterday afternoon after a collision with a bus in Williamstown. IBerkshires.com reports that the accident occurred at about 4:10pm at the Five Corners intersection, where Route 43 crosses Route 7. According to police, it appeared that the vehicle entered into the path of the bus. The name of the victim was being withheld at this time pending notification of kin. One person on the bus was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure but no one else was hurt in the incident. Traffic was detoured over Brodie Mountain Road for several hours. The state police accident reconstruction team was investigating the crash.

EX-ADAMS OFFICER CHARGED WITH ID FRAUD, PRESCRIPTION FORGERY

A former Adams Police officer has been charged with trying to get a prescription filled falsely by using another man's identity. According to a report on MassLive, 35-year-old Thomas Cook of Cheshire was charged in Westfield District Court for uttering a false prescription, identity fraud, and several other charges. According to the police report, Cook tried to pass himself off as Todd Syrett, whom he had arrested in 2012. He dropped off a prescription for a stimulant known as methylphenidate at Westfield CVS and showed the other man's driver's license to the pharmacist. When the real Syrett was texted that the prescription was ready, he contacted the pharmacy, which in turn contacted police. Cook was released on personal recognizance after being arraigned. Police Chief Richard Tarsa said last night that Cook was no longer in the town's employ.



   The License Board handed down two one-day suspensions to a package and a liquor store for failing a compliance check. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

NORTH ADAMS ESTABLISHMENTS HIT WITH DAY'S SUSPENSION

Two North Adams alcohol stores were each handed one-day suspensions after failing a recent compliance check. IBerkshires.com reports that V&V Steeple City Spirits and Draper's Wine & Spirits were allowed to select which day they would close. Both picked this Sunday. The compliance check on 15 establishments was done through a Northern Berkshire Community Coalition program. In the two violations, an underage individual purchased Mike's Hard Lemonade, a raspberry and a black cherry. V&V manager Louis Matney Jr. said he had hired a couple new employees. The worker responsible for the error had not completed TIP training - or Training for Intervention Procedure - but would be required to do so now.



   (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 

BUTLER BIDS FAREWELL TO ADAMS SELECTMEN, EMPLOYEES

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said his final goodbyes during his last Board of Selectmen's meeting on Wednesday night. He said Adams is in good shape for a transition into a new town administrator. Butler's final day is Saturday, Aug. 23, and he will then become the CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. "I wanted to thank the community; the last five years have been a tremendous experience for me personally working to try to improve the community I grew up in," Butler said. "I love Adams, and it has a place in my heart and it always will. I am not going to leave it behind in my next job; Adams will always be one of my major interests and one that I am always paying attention to." Butler, hired in 2009, thanked the selectmen and prior members of the board who "took a chance on a 27-year-old kid" and for always supporting him. He also thanked his department heads and town employees for all their efforts.

NORTH ADAMS MAN GETS PROBATION AFTER ADMITTING TO DRUG CHARGES

A North Adams man was placed on a year's probation on Tuesday after pleading guilty to several drug charges. 34 year old Jeffrey Burdick admitted to arranging for the sale of cocaine in North Adams on three occasions in March and April 2013. Burdick pleaded guilty to one count each of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws. The commonwealth dismissed three other charges as part of the plea deal. Burdick was ordered to remain drug free and fined him $240. He also will be subject to random drug testing.




   The search committee is developing questions for the candidates and seeking input the role of an administrator. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)

ADAMS TOWN ADMINISTRATORS SEARCH PANEL SEEKING INPUT

The Adams Town Administrator Search Committee members have been meeting separately with department heads and prominent workers in the town to find out what they would like to see in a town administrator. Committee members reported on some of their findings at Tuesday night's meeting. The committee also discussed written questions to give to applicants.





   Superintendent Jason McCandless clarified on Wednesday the reimbursement rates Pittsfield can expect for a new Taconic High School. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)

CONCERN OVER TAX REIMBURSEMENT RATE FOR NEW TACONIC

Pittsfield Superintendent of Schools Jason McCandless says the amount of reimbursement to the city for the costs of a new high school building is likely to be significantly less than anticipated by the general public. IBerkshires.com reports that in responding to recent feedback from upset residents, McCandless clarified to the School Committee yesterday that after adjusting for the Massachusetts School Building Authority's caps on construction costs, the total funding reimbursement from the state will actually be about 15 percent lower than has been commonly understood.

PITTSFIELD'S CLOCK TOWER BUILDING GOES ON THE MARKET

The Clock Tower Business Park in Pittsfield is on the market, along with 50 other properties nationwide that are owned by Digital First Media, parent company of The Berkshire Eagle. The 165,203-square-foot office building at 75 South Church Street is home to The Eagle and numerous other business tenants. The Eagle's parent company aims to sell the building and lease back space for its news, advertising, business and printing operations. The Clock Tower building is listed for sale at $2.5 million. The land is listed at $100,000.

DIVERS SEARCH FOR DISCARDED HANDGUN IN PITTSFIELD'S ONOTA LAKE

Law enforcement divers scoured Onota Lake in Pittsfield yesterday in search of a handgun discarded by a local veteran who pondered using it to take his own life. The Berkshire Eagle reports, four divers spent the afternoon combing the bottom of the lake, in an area up to 27 feet deep, for a Glock .45 that belonged to Jason Smith of Lenox. The divers gave up their search after more than three hours. An Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq between 2005 and 2007, Smith was at a low point in his life three years ago when he tossed the gun in the lake, moments after considering suicide.

NEW AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PLAN GIVEN GREEN LIGHT

Pittsfield's Affirmative Action Policy and Plan has been updated for the first time in two decades and is on its way to the desk of Mayor Dan Bianchi. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, a group created as part of the plan, approved the revised, 38- page document yesterday by unanimous vote. The group recommended that the plan be sent to the City Council for re- adoption. Bianchi, who in the past has said he would submit the finished policy to the council, was not reached for comment yesterday.

CASE RESCHEDULED FOR FACILITY INVESTIGATION

A Pittsfield man was sentenced to drug rehabilitation Tuesday after he admitted to a third offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of opioids. 29 year old James Mcrory had been charged in connection with an incident that occurred June 26th. His case had come up for disposition Tuesday, but Judge Fredric Rutberg agreed to reschedule that action until Wednesday to gain more information about the treatment center to which Mcrory would be released.

ECONOMIC GROWTH-NEW ENGLAND

New federal statistics show economic growth in New England has been slowest in Connecticut and Maine since the end of the Great Recession. The Commerce Department released statistics of quarterly gross domestic product - the measure of all goods and services - from 2005 to 2013. From the second quarter of 2009 until the end of 2013, the economies of Connecticut and Maine grew by 3 percent. In contrast, growth in the region's largest economy, Massachusetts, was 11 percent. Growth was greatest in Vermont, at 12 percent, though the state's $27.9 million economy last year was the smallest in New England.

NEW ENGLAND GOVS' REGIONAL ENERGY EFFORT IN DOUBT

A nearly yearlong effort by New England's governors to address the region's soaring energy costs has been put on hold. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has called for a delay as he and others express concerns over plans for importing hydropower from Canada and investing in new natural gas pipelines. The governors were expected to detail their proposal to impose tariffs on electric ratepayers to finance the energy infrastructure projects by early September. Maine Gov. Paul LePage's administration is "deeply concerned" and wants Patrick to reconsider his stance.

PARKS SERVICE BANS DRONES OVER APPALACHIAN TRAIL )

The National Park Service has banned drones from flying over the Appalachian Trail. The Park Service said yesterday the interim rule prohibits launching, landing or operating unmanned aircraft from or on Appalachian National Scenic Trail lands. The ban takes effect immediately and lasts until the Park Service can develop an appropriate policy. The Appalachian Trail goes through parts of 14 states, including Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

BAKER WOULD LOOK TO SAVE SPRINGFIELD CASINO

Republican Charlie Baker says if he wins the governor's office in November and voters also repeal the state's casino gambling law, he would then seek to save a proposed resort casino in Springfield. The state gambling commission has approved MGM Resort International's plan for an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield. But a question on the state ballot calls for repeal of the 2011 law - allowing for up to three resort casinos and one slots parlor in Massachusetts.

TOWN OF LEE UPGRADING WEBSITE

The town of Lee is upgrading its aging and "behind the times" website. The Berkshire Record reports that the town has selected a company that specializes in upgrading municipal websites. The town has selected Virtual Town Hall as its new website provider from a pool of three that it was considering. The Lee board of selectmen has recently given its approval. Town Manager Robert Nason says that Virtual Town Hall provides the search capabilities that the town is looking for, and on the operational side, they will be able to decentralize and allow each town department to handle their own sites.

LEE INN ON THE AUCTION BLOCK TODAY

The Inn at Laurel Lake, the historic lakeside lodge in Lee that is at the center of a scandal that took down former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis, goes on the public auction block today. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that a Springfield firm is auctioning off the 133-year-old inn on behalf of TD Bank, the mortgage holder of the two-acre property that overlooks Laurel Lake from Route 20. An attorney representing TD Bank on yesterday would only confirm that the on- site auction remains scheduled for 11am today.

CORNFEST TO BE HELD AT FARMERS MARKET

The third annual "CornFest! A Celebration of All Things Corny!" will be held during Sheffield Farmers Market tomorrow (Friday). In addition to the usual veggies, meat and cheeses, the market will feature corny jokes, Mexican-style corn, corn salads, and corn-silk tea, music provided by Oakes & Smith, and lots of fun for the kids. The free event will run from 3 to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the parking lot and lawn of the Old Parish Church at 125 South Main Street.

RIGID PLASTIC ITEMS MAY BE RECYCLED SATURDAY

The Southern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District member towns will be holding an inaugural rigid plastic recycling collection from 8 to 11am on Saturday at the Otis Recycling Center - located at 538 West Center Road. There is no charge for the collection but only residents from member towns are invited to participate and pre-registration is required by today. Member towns include Alford, Becket, Monterey, Mount Washington, Otis and Washington. For a full list of acceptable and unacceptable rigid plastics and to register, visit www.cetonline.org/events.

NEW ENGLAND GOVS' REGIONAL ENERGY EFFORT IN DOUBT

BOSTON (AP) - A nearly yearlong effort by New England's governors to address the region's soaring energy costs has been put on hold. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has called for a delay as he and others express concerns over plans for importing hydropower from Canada and investing in new natural gas pipelines. The governors were expected to detail their proposal to impose tariffs on electric ratepayers to finance the energy infrastructure projects by early September. Patrick's office says it wants more time to weigh its options. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan have also voiced concerns in recent months. Maine Gov. Paul LePage's administration is "deeply concerned" and wants Patrick to reconsider his stance. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee's administration says it's exploring other opportunities in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

   
Fewer people than last time attended Tuesday's hearing on a petition to expand the number of the city's all-alcohol licenses. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

HOME RULE PETITION FOR LIQUOR LICENSE OK'D

The Public Safety Committee voted yesterday to recommend the City Council move forward on a home-rule petition to the Legislature for a fifth all-alcohol license. IBerkshires.com reports, the vote was 2-1, ending three often contentious meetings as current license holders again argued passionately for the city to reject the idea. Steeple City Liquors, in the former Staples in the downtown plaza, has been attempting to expand its beer and wine business with an all-alcohol license.



     The Cemetery Commission is considering raising fees for grave lots and burials. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS CEMETERY COMMISSION SEEKING TO RAISE RATES

The Adams, Cemetery Commission is looking to raise grave lot fees to cover needed repairs to the town's cemeteries. IBerkshires.com is reporting that the commission compared current rates to those of surrounding municipalities to see where they fit in the spectrum. Currently, Adams has the highest rates compared to Williamstown, Cheshire and North Adams. The commission decided to revisit the fee increases during their next meeting, and would like to have new fees instituted by October.

NORTH ADAMS CAB COMPANY LIKELY WILL NEED TO FIND NEW HOME

With his company stretching the bounds of "home business," the owner of City Cab likely will have to find a new place to set up shop. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Michael McMillian, who has been accused violating several city regulations, is scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals next month to seek permission to store cars overnight in a lot at second residence on Houghton Street, about a mile from where he lives. The ZBA already has allowed him to park at an additional space at a driver's residence on Tyler Street, with the intention of reviewing at its September 15th meeting, the affect it has on neighbors. The board did however make it clear on Monday that it was unlikely he could retain his home business status if his cars are parked in a residential lot down the street.

  
ADAMS MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO MARIJUANA, AMMUNITION CHARGES

An Adams man has been released after pleading not guilty to charges that he had three pounds of marijuana and illegal ammunition at his First Street apartment. 58 year old Shaun Tassone was arrested Thursday of last week after members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force conducted a raid on his home. He pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court yesterday to possession of a class D drug with intent to distribute and possession of ammunition without an FID card. Tassone is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on October 22nd.



   Rose Ellis, who was hired as superintendent for Williamstown in 2000, and later for Mount Greylock and both Lanesborough and Williamstown school districts, will retire this year. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH SUPERINTENDENT RETIRING

The three school committees that make up the Williamstown-Lanesborough Tri-District met yesterday to discuss their search for a new superintendent. IBerkshires.com reports, the meeting took on a new sense of urgency on Monday when Superintendent Rose Ellis told the committees she will retire effective December 31st. Ellis' retirement was announced to the public via a news release distributed yesterday morning. She notified members of the Mount Greylock, Williamstown Elementary and Lanesborough Elementary school committees on Monday. Ellis has served the schools of the Tri-District for 15 years overall.

FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER PROGRAM HAS OPENING

The Family Resource Center, which operates out of North Adams, provides free support for families in the northern Berkshires. The organization's "Parent Child Home Program" - which is open to families with children ages 18 month to 3 years, has some openings. The center's program director, Amy Hall told tells us a bit about how the program Hall says there are some openings, but space is limited. You can find out more about this program and many others by call the Family Resource Center at 664-4821.

UNEMPLOYMENT SLIGHTLY UP IN THE BERKSHIRES

Unemployment figures for July are up slightly in Berkshire County, while the statewide unemployment rate also ticked up a bit during the same period. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has released its' latest numbers. Pittsfield's unemployment rate hit 6 percent in July, up from 5.8 percent in June. In North Adams, the unemployment rate now sits at 7.5 percent, up from a June rate of 7.2 percent. In Great Barrington, the unemployment rate is also up slightly. The July unemployment rate of 3.8 percent was up from 3.7 percent in June. The statewide unemployment rate in July was 6.1 percent, up from 5.6 percent in June. The statewide rate is below the 6.2 percent national unemployment rate.



   The vacant lot behind Big Y is proposed to the be home of a new Big Y gas station. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

PITTSFIELD BIG Y PLANS TO ADD GAS STATION, CONVENIENCE STORE

The Big Y Supermarket is looking to build a gas station in the rear of its West Street grocery store in Pittsfield. IBerkshires.com reports that the company was given site-plan approval from the Community Development Board yesterday and will have to receive City Council approval later for a special permit. The plan is to install a half-dozen gas pumps and a small store on land that formerly housed the Goodwill store. The site is currently vacant and owned by Big Y. The parcel is in commercial zoning but because it proposes to be a gas station, needs additional permitting.

NYC WOMAN GETS 2 ½ YEARS ON DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGE (GB, P)

A New York City woman with ties to the Berkshires has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in state prison for her role in a drug trafficking ring. According to the Berkshire District Attorney's office, 44 year old Delilah Saunders of the Bronx helped negotiate a deal to purchase drugs in New York City. The incidents occurred in Pittsfield and Richmond between April 1st, 2013 and July 20th, 2013. One of the principals in the deal was Saunders' brother, Andrew Saunders, who also was part of the trafficking group. He was sentenced to two years in state prison last month as part of a negotiated agreement with the Berkshire District Attorney's office. Delilah Saunders pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and one count of trafficking in oxycodone. She was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, and fined $240.

PITTSFIELD MAN GETS 90 DAYS IN JAIL FOR STEALING BICYCLE

A Pittsfield man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after he admitted to stealing a bicycle from a neighbor's garage 36 year old Horace Spratling reportedly broke into a garage on July 19th and took the bicycle. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the owner reported it missing that same day. Several hours later, police spotted Spratling riding a bicycle that fit the description of the stolen two-wheeler. He pleaded guilty to one count each of breaking and entering and larceny under $100, and was sentenced to 90 days in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. Spratling was given credit for 27 days already served.

ONOTA LAKE TAKING PRECAUTIONS AGAINST INVASIVE MUSSELS

Onota Lake in Pittsfield is taking precautions against the invasive form of mussel that has been a major concern to the protection of waterways throughout the county over the last several years. Zebra Mussels are small freshwater mollusks - typically less than an inch in size - that grow in clusters and attach themselves to the bottom of boats and other water-craft. Lake officials are now requiring anyone who puts a boat in the water, to sign and display a "clean boat certification" form. The form explains in detail the required process that lake users must follow each and every time they launch their watercraft. The same form is required at all lake, ponds and rivers in Berkshire County.

DEADLINE APPROACHING TO REGISTER FOR STATE PRIMARY IS TODAY

The deadline to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the Tuesday, September 9th, state primary is tonight at 8pm. City and town clerks are holding special and later hours for registration. If you are not sure what the hours are at your local town or city hall, you should call your town or city clerk, or visit your municipality's website to find out.

FLASH BANGS AND OTHE LOUD TRAINING ON NORTH STREET TODAY

The Berkshire County Special Response Team is holding training today at 1392 North Street in Pittsfield, the site of a condemned house that is set for demolition. The team will be smashing doors, breaking windows, and porting exterior walls during the training. Flash bangs, which are loud diversionary devices, will be used throughout the day today. The training is taking place between the hours of 8am and 3pm. The site has also been used over the last month by the Pittsfield Fore Department for training.

NONPROFIT SEMINAR SERIES BEGINS SEPTEMBER 17

Nonprofit executives and board leaders throughout the region are encouraged to participate in Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's annual "Seminars in Nonprofit Excellence" series, which provides training and professional development to leaders from nonprofits of all sizes in Berkshire County, Columbia County, northeast Dutchess County, and northwest Litchfield County. This year's series, which brings national experts to the region for exclusive appearances, aims to help nonprofits strengthen three of their most important resources: their donors, boards and staffs. The series begins on September 17th, and registration is available at www.berkshiretaconic.org.

TYRINGHAM ROAD DETOUR CONTINUES

The around-the-clock detour of Tyringham Road in Lee continues and will keep thru-traffic closed for roughly a month allowing workers to building a retaining wall in order to shore up a crumbling riverbank between the road and the Housatonic River. The roadblock between Cone Avenue and Meadow Street won't affect residents living on either side of the affected area as they will still be allowed to travel to and from their homes during the temporary road closure. The retaining wall is part of the $5.5 million reconstruction of the 2-mile main link between Lee and Tyringham.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

     Community Development Committee member Eric Buddington questions fellow member Benjamin Lamb about his Local Historic District proposal. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)          


NORTH ADAMS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PANEL BACKS HISTORIC DISTRICTS

The North Adams Community Development Committee last night voted unanimously to suggest the City Council consider the adoption of Local Historic Districts. IBerkshires.com reports that such districts under Mass General Law 40C would allow review of alterations or demolition of properties within their boundaries. The city currently has six unofficial historic districts and more than 400 documented historic properties. The concept was brought forward last week by City Councilor Benjamin Lamb, who also sits on the Community Development Committee.

ADAMS POLICE SEEK TEEN VANDALS WHO PAINTED SWASTIKA

Adams Police are searching for two suspects who vandalized the First Baptist Church on Commercial Street on Saturday. Two unidentified males apparently forced entry into the rear of the church and spray-painted a swastika, anarchy symbol, satanic symbols, and more on its walls. Adams Police Chief Richard Tarsa said the department is actively investigating the vandalism, given where it occurred and the nature of the symbols sprayed on the wall. Tarsa says the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

 

   The Zoning Board of Appeals took no action on a request to expand a home occupation and approved the renovation of a River Street building. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 

BOARD HOLDS OFF ON CAB REQUEST

The North Adams Zoning Board of Appeals took no action last night on City Cab's request to alter its permit to allowing the parking of taxis on other properties. Owner Michael McMillian submitted a letter to the board asking to alter his home occupancy permit for his taxi service to allow him to park vehicles at 183 Houghton Street.




   Police were outside of duplex on Stoddard Avenue on Monday morning. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

1 TEEN SHOT, ANOTHER IN CUSTODY IN PITTSFIELD

One teenager is in custody and a second is in the hospital after a shooting in the city of Pittsfield. Police responded to gunfire in the vicinity of Tyler and First streets just before 9am yesterday. Witnesses told police they heard gunshots and saw people flee the area. A juvenile male is in custody and is believed to be the shooter. He has been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. According to Pittsfield Police, a second suspect is still being sought in the case. The unidentified 17 year old victim underwent surgery at Berkshire Medical Center yesterday and was last noted to be in intensive care. Police have not released the name of the suspects or the victim.

GAS PRICES FALL IN MA

Massachusetts motorists are getting good news as the price of gas continues to fall. AAA Southern New England reports that self-serve regular has dropped another 3 cents in the past week to an average of $3.47 per gallon, and is now down 15 cents in the past month.

SECOND INMATE ARRAIGNED IN KILLING OF DALTON MAN IN PRISON

A second inmate charged with the brutal beating death

Friday, August 15, 2014

   The Selectmen are still working on a job description for the town administrator. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

SELECTMEN CONFIDENT IN SEARCH COMMITTEE ABILITY

Five applicants have already applied for the town administrator position in Adams. IBerkshires.com reports that town selectmen, meanwhile, are still reviewing the criteria and attributes for the search committee in charge of finding a new town administrator to replace Jonathan Butler, who will head the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. The search committee will eventually narrow the applicants down to three.

PROPOSED TOBACCO CONTROL REGULATIONS

The Board of Health in Williamstown is holding a public hearing on Monday, September 8th in the town's municipal building to take testimony on proposed tobacco control regulations. Primary proposed changes include no longer allowing smoking in outside dining areas; no further sale of flavored tobacco products other than menthol, mint or wintergreen; limiting single cigar sales; and no longer allowing pharmacies to sell tobacco products. Town residents can review a copy of the regulations in the Community Development Department Municipal Building, at 31 North Street, Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

RESTAURANT WEEK TO RAISE MONEY FOR FALL FOLIAGE PARADE STARTS TODAY

The Fall Foliage Parade Committee will be holding "restaurant week" at several Northern Berkshire restaurants today through next Saturday, August 23rd. It's being held to raise money for this year's parade, which takes place on Sunday, October 5th. The committee has set a fundraising goal of $40,000 and is hoping to raise $10,000 from the private sector. The six participating restaurants in Adams, North Adams and Williamstown will donate 10 percent of each diner's check to the Fall Foliage Parade. The participating restaurants include BountiFare in Adams; Desperados Mexican Restaurant, Freight Yard Pub, The Hub, and Supreme Pizza in North Adams; and Waubeeka Pub & Grill in Williamstown.



 
    Michael Milazzo is suggesting a road across his property - seen in white - could be used instead of installing temporary bridge. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

CLARKSBURG RESIDENT OFFERS OPTION TO CUT BRIDGE COSTS

Clarksburg Town officials are hoping there's a detour around the expensive $650,000 fix the state is forcing for the Gates Avenue culvert. IBerkshires.com reports that Michael Milazzo is offering the possibility of access across his and his mother's property off Wheeler Avenue to reach the dead-ended street to cut the cost of a temporary bridge. Milazzo had approached Town Administrator Carl McKinney about changing the permit for his gravel operation and McKinney asked him about the roadway during conversations. The road would still require some work to make it passable and the proposal would have to go to a special town meeting.

TAX EVADERS BEING SOUGHT BY THE TOWN OF CLARKSBURG

Town officials in Clarksburg plan to start cracking down on residents who evade excise taxes by registering their vehicles in Vermont. Town Administrator Carl McKinney said yesterday that the town of on the Vermont border is potentially losing thousands of dollars every year. Officials are referring residents to the Registry of Motor Vehicles' I-PAY-TAX form. The form, available at town hall, is meant to be submitted to the state anonymously. McKinney was unsure how many vehicles of Clarksburg residents are registered out of state, but he pointed to the town's limited tax base - some $880,000 in property taxes are raised every year.

TURN OUT GOOD FOR ANNUAL CELEBRATION

Hundreds turned out last night for the Annual North Adam Downtown Celebration. More than 100 participants, including local merchants, vendors, restaurants and community organizations took part in the festival. The event was moved from Wednesday because of the heavy rains and thunderstorms that were forecast. Last night's mild temperatures helped to provide good attendance and a successful event.

MASSACHUSETTS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CREEPS UP

The Massachusetts unemployment rate crept up to 5.6 percent last month even though the state added almost 14,000 new jobs. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday that with July's job additions, the state has added more than 67,000 jobs since July 2013. The state unemployment rate ticked up from the 5.5 percent in June, and remained well below that national rate of 6.2 percent. The professional, scientific and business services as well as the education and health services sectors added the most jobs. The only sector that lost jobs was government.

RURAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS SHARE IN GRANT MONEY

The State Department of Conservation has awarded some $7,000 in grants to five rural volunteer fire departments to help them protect thousands of acres of state owned forestland. The town of Windsor has received a little more than $1,000 to purchase new helmets, hand tools, a hose and adapters. The town of Becket has received a $2,000 grant that will be used to fix fire hydrants. The town often has to resort to pulling water from lakes and ponds but that can't be done in the winter. The town of Adams will use its grant of $1,000 to purchase 1,100 feet of new hose and nozzles. Also receiving funding are the towns of Williamstown and Otis.

PITTSFIELD MAN ACCUSED OF CHOKING GIRLFRIEND CHARGED UNDER NEW LAW

A Pittsfield man prosecutors say has a history of domestic violence is being held without bail on charges that he choked his girlfriend. 39 year old Charles Wilson is facing charges under an expanded domestic abuse law signed into law last week by Gov. Deval Patrick. Pittsfield Police responded to a Tyler Street address at about 12:34am Thursday after the man's girlfriend alleged he had choked her during an argument. Wilson was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and disturbing the peace. He was held without bail for up to 90 days at the request of the DA's Office. Wilson is also set to go to trial next month for allegedly threatening a woman who was a witness in another case.

EX-PITTSFIELD WORKER ACCUSED OF STEALING FUEL PAYS FEES, RESTITUTION

The second of three men accused of stealing diesel fuel from the Pittsfield maintenance garage has had his case dismissed after paying restitution and court fees. According to Pittsfield Police, 54 year old Richard Bator of Cheshire, along with two others, stole diesel fuel belonging to the city in November. He was originally charged with felony larceny from a building, but was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor charge.

POLICE SEARCHING FOR MAN IN CONNECTION WITH BREAKING AND ENTERING

Pittsfield police say they are on the lookout for a 30-year-old man in connection with a recent breaking and entering case. On its Facebook page, The Pittsfield Police Department posted photos of William Morrison and his distinct tattoos. Police say warrants are out for his arrest in the case and that he may be a suspect in others.

PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS IN CITY SCAM RELEASED

Police say a 78- year- old woman was scammed out of jewelry worth thousands of dollars late last month. The Pittsfield Police Department has released photos on its Facebook page of the two women suspected of carrying out the scam as well as the vehicle they were driving in hopes of finding the suspects. The victim told police she was approached by two women outside Hubbard Avenue's Price Chopper Supermarket on July 29th who asked if she had dropped something because they had found a bag of money.

CITY YOUTH TO TAKE PART IN CITY GOVERNMENT

The Pittsfield City Council on Tuesday approved appointments by Mayor Dan Bianchi for one of the largest bodies in local government, the Pittsfield Youth Commission. IBerkshires.com reports that the reactivation of the dormant advisory committee has been hailed as a much-needed opportunity to give local youth a voice in their community and local government. The Pittsfield Youth Commission will act in a manner similar to other advisory public boards and committees, but with more teenagers.

TAX FREE WEEKEND

Massachusetts shoppers hoping to shave a little off their shopping spree should plan to hit the stores this weekend. Lawmakers have selected this Saturday and Sunday to suspend the state's sales tax for many purchases. Tax-free holidays have been held several times in recent years. Retailers welcome them as an opportunity to lure shoppers into stores to jump-start a typically slow time of year. State officials have expressed concern, however, about the loss of an estimated $20 million in sales tax revenue during the weekend.

TWO MEDICAL MARIJUANA LICENSES HALTED

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has put a hold on one company's bid to open two medical marijuana dispensaries in the state while it investigates allegations that a company executive lied by claiming he was a college graduate. New England Treatment Access Inc. has applied to operate dispensaries in Brookline and Northampton. The Boston Globe reported that executive director Kevin Fisher said in the application he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Youngstown State University on Ohio. The school said although he attended the university, it has no record he graduated.

MASSACHUSETTS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CREEPS UP

The Massachusetts unemployment rate crept up to 5.6 percent last month even though the state added almost 14,000 new jobs. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday that with July's job additions, the state has added more than 67,000 jobs since July 2013. The state unemployment rate ticked up from the 5.5 percent in June, and remained well below that national rate of 6.2 percent. The professional, scientific and business services as well as the education and health services sectors added the most jobs. The only sector that lost jobs was government. The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households. The job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers. As a result, the two statistics may exhibit different monthly trends.

ANIMAL ABUSE BILL HEADING TO GOV. PATRICK'S DESK

Massachusetts lawmakers have given final passage to a bill that would toughen penalties for animal abuse. The House and Senate gave final approval to the so-called PAWS bill - short for Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety - during the legislature's informal session. The bill would raise the maximum prison time from five to seven years for a first offense and up to 10 years for subsequent offenses. It would also increase the possible fine for committing animal abuse from $2,500 to $5,000 for a first offense, and up to $10,000 for subsequent offenses. The bill now heads to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk. The bill's sponsor, Gloucester Republican Sen. Bruce Tarr, has cited the case of "Puppy Doe," a dog that was euthanized after being found allegedly beaten and tortured in Quincy last year.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

   Planners Carol Stein-Payne, left, Ann McCallum and Amy Jeschawitz. Jeschawitz is pushing the board to overhaul the 2002 Master Plan. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

MASTER PLAN REVISION DISCUSSED IN WILLIAMSTOWN

The newest member of the Williamstown Planning Board on Tuesday pushed the panel to take up some old business. IBerkshires.com reports that Amy Jeschawitz, who was elected to the board in May, advocated for a major overhaul of the town's Master Plan, which was drafted in 2002. The document came up in the context of the board's review of "Sustainable Berkshires," the recent report issued this spring by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. Board member Carol Stein-Payne suggested that some of the issues in the BRPC report could be addressed through modifications to the town's subdivison zoning regulations. The planning board began that discussion in March.

 RUNAWAY TRUCK CRASH IN NORTH ADAMS

A local construction company has been cited for numerous safety violations after an unattended dump truck rolled into the woods near Millard Avenue last weekend. The Berkshire Eagle reports, The Clarksburg Construction Company's 10-wheeled dump truck, also towing a flatbed construction trailer, was improperly secured on Southernview Drive on Saturday before it rolled down the street. It crossed Millard Avenue before crashing into trees. The crew had been unloading an excavator off the of the flatbed trailer. There were no injuries in the accident.

HOOSIC RIVER REVIVAL GETS $8.8M BOOST

Efforts to bring new life to the Hoosic River have taken a major step forward. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday signed into law the $2.2 billion environmental bond bill, which authorizes spending of $8.8 million to fund the first phase of the Hoosic River Revival project - an effort to restore the river to a more natural state while maintaining flood control. Also included in the bill is some $1.1 million for the completion of a multipurpose turf facility at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield.



   The culverts and berm being installed on the Spruces property is to alleviate flooding on the other side of Route 2, not in the mobile home park. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

Route 2 Drainage Project Won't Change Flooding at Spruces

The state Department of Transportation project under way on the Spruces Mobile Home Park property is going to provide flooding relief for the neighborhood across the road but do nothing to solve the problems at the park itself. Erik Bilik of MassDOT has discussed the project at Town Hall meetings on a couple of occasions dating back to last September, but some residents may have been confused when they saw contractors installing 3-foot culverts and digging a long trench or swale through the flood-prone park this summer. On Wednesday, Williamstown Public Works Director Tim Kaiser explained once again that the new culverts are being installed to alleviate flooding on the south side of Main Street (Route 2). But it does nothing for the real flooding threat, which comes from the river.

ANNUAL DOWNTOWN CELEBRATION TONIGHT

The Annual North Adam Downtown Celebration is scheduled to take place tonight from 5:30 to 9pm. More than 100 participants, including local merchants, vendors, restaurants and community organizations are expected to take part in the festival. The event was moved from yesterday because of the heavy rains and thunderstorms that were forecast. Director of Tourism & Community Events, Veronica Bosley says the street fair tonight will encompass pretty much the entire downtown.. The downtown celebration was first held in 1996 to celebrate the completion of the city's first phase of beautification projects.



       A number of areas are already designated historic neighborhoods but create districts would add another layer of review to any changes. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

NORTH ADAMS CONSIDERING CREATION OF LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICTS

North Adams is looking into the development of Local Historic Districts. IBerkshires.com reports, the idea was brought forward by City Councilor Benjamin Lamb at Tuesday's council meeting after discussions with the North Adams Historical Society. Lamb said the city already has the option in ordinance to create a district and that there are more than 200 of them in Massachusetts already. The district would be categorized as an area worth preserving for its architectural and historic significance. The creation of a district requires the establishment of a Local Historic District Study Commission of three to seven people appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

CHESHIRE HIRES CONTRACTOR TO REPLACE GUARD-RAILS

The town of Cheshire was disappointed last week when a bid solicitation to replace guard rails on Windsor Road, damaged by June's heavy rainstorm, did not garner a response. If the Selectmen could not find someone to do the job, the town could possibly lose the state funds given to them to replace the rails. IBerkshires.com reports that there actually was a bid… but there was no one to accept it. Chairwoman Carol Francesconi said that Federal Express attempted to deliver the bid, but no one was there to receive it at Town Hall. Because there was an attempted delivery before the bid openings occurred, Cheshire was able to consider the bid. Aldo Bartlett Consolidated from Plymouth was awarded the job for $44,710.



   Members of the new Youth Commission were confirmed by the City Council on Tuesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
 

Pittsfield Youth Commission Brings Teens Into Local Government

The Pittsfield City Council on Tuesday approved appointments by Mayor Daniel Bianchi for one of the largest bodies in local government, the Pittsfield Youth Commission. The reactivation of the dormant advisory committee has been hailed as a much-needed opportunity to give local youth a voice in their community and local government. The Pittsfield Youth Commission will act in a manner similar to other advisory public boards and committees, but with more teenagers. This 25-member commission (including four non-voting members) will meet regularly to address youth related issues and provide direct input from local youth to city government on a range of concerns, in keeping with guidelines set forth for it in both the city code and state law.

INMATE CONVICTED OF PITTSFIELD MURDER BEATEN TO DEATH IN PRISON

Worcester County prosecutors say a 72-year-old inmate serving a life sentence for murder has been beaten to death in prison. District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. says William Sires was found badly beaten and near death in a cell on Tuesday in the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley. He was declared dead in an ambulance headed to Leominster Hospital. Sires had been convicted of murdering his mother in her Dalton home in 1973. His death is under investigation.

REST OF RIVER LOOKING FOR HELP FROM FEDS

Six municipalities expected to be affected by the cleanup of the Housatonic River are looking to the federal government for some backup. The "Rest of the River" municipal group is a coalition sharing resources to negotiate a settlement with General Electric for the impacts the cleanup will have on the county. Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi yesterday told representatives from the Berkshire's federal delegation that their support and horsepower would be needed at some point. Bianchi was addressing Amaad Rivera, from U.S. Sen. Edward Markey's office, Everett Handford from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's office and Dan Johnson from U.S. Rep. Richard Neal's office. The three joined Wednesday's meeting to get a handle on the issues and their roles in the process moving forward.

PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL CALLS ON MAYOR TO ADDRESS OFFICE MOVE QUERIES

Pittsfield City councilors want Mayor Dan Bianchi to appear before them September 2nd to answer questions on his plan to move city inspection services to rented office space at 100 North Street. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Councilor at large Barry Clairmont filed a council petition with the request, listing a number of questions he has about the proposal. Clairmont also has requested a subsequent nonbinding vote of the council to support or oppose the plan, which Bianchi has said does not require council approval.

FALLEN TREE BLOCK ROUTE 7 WEDNESDAY

A large tree fell across South Street - Route 7, near the Berkshire Life building yesterday morning. The tree initially backed up traffic and then forced the road's closing until it could be removed. Police reported the tree down around 7:30 yesterday morning. At the time the tree fell, Pittsfield Police estimated that it would take at least two to three hours to remove it, and drivers were advised at the time to find alternative routes to avoid the area. Detour points north and south of the area were set up to keep traffic moving.



   Stetson Dry Cleaners, built in 1948, will be razed and eventually used for parking. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
 

PITTSFIELD TO DEMO DRY CLEANERS FOR CITY HALL PARKING

The city will soon demolish a longtime dry cleaning business adjacent to Pittsfield City Hall whose building has fallen into disrepair and been abandoned by its owner. The Berkshire Eagle reports, City Planner Cornelius Hoss told the Pittsfield Historical Commission on Monday that the former Stetson's Dry Cleaning on Federal Street will be torn down within the next two months. The notice was advisory, as the property is not old enough to come up for review and approval by the commission under the criteria of the city's Demolition Delay ordinance. The city will now take ownership of the property, but that process will take time due to the environmental issues.

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES SET IN WINDSOR

The town clerk in Windsor has announced voter registration deadlines for the August 25th Special Town Meeting and the September 9th state primary. The last day to register to vote for the Special Town Meeting is Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. at the Town Offices. The meeting is to close the general ledger accounts of 2014 before the 2015 tax rate can be set. The warrant is posted at the Town Office, Town Hall, Friendly Fred's and Sangar's General Store. The last day to register to vote for the state primary is Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 8 p. m.

OFFICIALS TO ENSURE SAFETY BEFORE JOSH

Before Josh Billings Runaground competitors bike through the heart of Great Barrington next month, town officials will inspect the road to ensure conditions are safe. The great Barrington Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved a request by race director Patty Spector to use town roads on race day, which has been set for September 14th. Race officials have raised some concerns about the safety of participants with the reconstruction project which is currently underway on Main Street in Great Barrington.

GARDEN CLUB ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR MOUNT GARDENS

The Lenox Garden Club, last week, visited the gardens at The Mount - Edith Wharton's country estate, to celebrate the completion of work that was funded by the club in 2012 for the restoration of The Mount's Rock Garden. The club awarded a $4,000 grant to The Mount in 2012 to restore the overgrown Rock Garden. During the visit, club President Ginger Schwartz announced that the club had approved $2,000 in funding toward the repairs to the French Flower Gardens which suffered severe damage from June's record-breaking storm.

WAIVER ALLOWS RUNNER TO RUN CROSS COUNTRY

Long-distance running is nothing new to Monument Mountain's Weyessa McAlister. He's run his whole life. He won a Central-Western Mass. championship this spring in the two-mile run. The Berkshire Eagle reports that he's just never done it competitively in the fall -- until now. McAlister plans to join the Spartans' cross country team when it begins practice next Thursday, having been approved for an eligibility waiver by the MIAA in July. He will be in his fifth year of school this fall at Monument. He came to the U.S. four years ago from Ethiopia and is on track to graduate in the spring of 2015. McAlister was granted an extra semester of athletic eligibility for a sport in which he had never participated. He had previously played soccer for the Spartans in the fall.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014


   Crews have been replacing natural gas lines along
State Road and Franklin Street. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

NATURAL GAS LINES BEING REPLACED IN NORTH ADAMS

Crews have been replacing natural gas lines in North Adams. IBerkshires.com reports that crews have been digging up and laying pipe along State Road and Franklin Street over the past few weeks. It's all been part of a project to upgrade natural gas lines in the city. Berkshire Gas spokesman, Christopher Farrell, said most of the projects should be complete within the month of September. Farrell said there will be another infrastructure upgrade on Ashland Street starting the week of September 8th.

NORTH ADAMS DOWNTOWN CELEBRATION MOVED TO THURSDAY

The streak of Wednesday rainstorms this summer has caused the annual Downtown Celebration to be moved to tomorrow night. Director of Tourism & Community Events, Veronica Bosley says the street fair will now run tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m. on Main, Eagle and Holden streets with food, shopping, entertainment and conversation. More than 100 participants, including local merchants, vendors, restaurants and organizations are expected this year, offering refreshments, games, crafts, raffles and information. 



   (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

NA COUNCIL DIVIDED ON TAXI LICENSES

Routine end-of-meeting approvals for taxi drivers, turned into a lengthy debate at last night's City Council meeting. At issue were two applications, from Erik Shields and Brandon Hurst, to drive for Michael McMillian of City Cab. Such applications rarely raise an eyebrow until Councilor Keith Bona requested the approvals be postponed until a later date.




   Chairman Todd Shafer suggested school officials speak with the leagues about sharing the field. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

HEAVY FIELD USAGE LEAVES CHARTER SCHOOL ON SIDELINES

Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School in Adams was denied field usage by the Parks Commission because of scheduling conflicts. IBerkshires.com reports that BART Principal April West asked the commission if the Valley Street field could be used for its expanding after-school athletics program. The school will join the River Valley Athletic League, comprised of 10 private and charter schools. Although the league contains a small amount of children, both the Adams Soccer Club and the Adams Cheshire Savoy Soccer Association use the field during the week and the weekend. Commission member James Fassell said the commission has to give priority to the town leagues because they have already been given the right to use the field and service more kids.




   Pittsfield Approves New Management Pay Scale, Evaluations (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 

RAISES APPROVED FOR DEPT. HEADS

A new pay schedule for Pittsfield department heads, which includes raises as well as performance requirements for future pay hikes, was approved last night by the Pittsfield City Council. The council voted 9 to 2 to accept a modified salary schedule from the one submitted by Mayor Dan Bianchi in the spring. The raises will bring the position salaries up to market rate - a consultant study showed the city paid about 12 percent less for managers than comparable management structures. The process of subcommittee review leading to the vote also followed a consultant's study that showed city pay levels were below average for similar communities and positions.

PITTSFIELD MAN ALLEGEDLY EXPOSES HIMSELF TO WOMAN

A Pittsfield man is facing charges for allegedly exposing himself to a woman after she caught him urinating on her barbecue grill. 36 year old Kristopher Demary of West Street pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of felony open and gross lewdness and misdemeanor disturbing the peace as a subsequent offense. He was released on personal recognizance with the condition that he remains in the halfway house and abides by that facility's rules. Demary is due back in court September 25th.

PITTSFIELD WOMAN ADMITS EGGING VEHICLE

A Pittsfield woman who threw eggs at a car she thought belonged to a police investigator could see her charges dismissed if she pays restitution and stays out of trouble for six months. According to Pittsfield Police, 51 year old Cynthia Palma of Pecks Road lobbed three eggs at a passing SUV at about 8pm on April 13th. One of the eggs hit the car, chipping off paint and splattering across the side of the Dodge Journey, which was driven by a 27-year-old woman. Palma was given a six-month continuation without a finding of guilt, ordered to have no contact with the victim and to pay restitution. If the defendant stays out of trouble for six months the charge will be dismissed.

SECOND VICTIM OF PITTSFIELD SHOOTING RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL

The second of two victims from this past weekend's shooting on Second Street in Pittsfield has been released from the hospital. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the 23-year-old man shot in the neck by gunfire was released from BMC after being treated for his wounds. A juvenile who was grazed in the head in the shooting was released shortly after being admitted. Both victims are Pittsfield residents. Police are continuing to i

Friday, August 08, 2014
 
  Town Administrator Jonathan Butler updated the Selectmen on several ongoing projects on Wednesday night. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)

ADAMS SELECTMEN TOLD PROJECTS ON TRACK
 
Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler reported on that the roof project on the old middle school is 90 percent done.
Butler added that the $5 million from the state that will be used to build a welcome and education center at the Greylock Glen has passed through the House and Senate and is sitting on the governor’s desk.  On the progress of the Park Street construction Butler said at this point they are where they expected to be, and … the public has been very cooperative,"
 

 
   Police Chief Richard Tarsa has donated 50 bicycle helmets for the Police Department to distribute. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)


POLICE CHIEF DONATES BIKE HELMETS IN AUNT’S MEMORY
 
In memory of his aunt, Police Chief Richard Tarsa has donated 50 bicycle helmets to the Police Department for local kids.  According to iBerkshires, Tarsa advocated bicycle safety before Adams selectmen last night, saying it was incredibly important to his aunt Helen.  According to Tarsa, there are no grants available to resupply the helmets officers give out to local children. He said this will allow police to keep providing them while he searches for possible grants.  Any child interested a helmet should stop at the Adams Police Department.
 
 
WILLIAMS COLLEGE RANKED #1 BY FORBES
 
For the first time in three years, Williams is officially No. 1.  Forbes has ranked Williams College the number one overall college and received an A+ financial grade rating among national institutions.  Forbes used five categories to accumulate scores this year, which were student satisfaction, postgraduate success, student debt load, four-year graduation rates, and alumni academic success.   Overall, Massachusetts did well, touted having the most colleges out of any state appearing in the top 10.  MIT came in 5th, Harvard in 7th, and Amherst in 10th.  Tufts came in 25th.
 
CHARGES PENDING ON MOHAWK TRAIL CRASH
 
City Police say charges are pending for a local man following a late Tuesday night accident on the Mohawk Trail. Police say 51-year-old Paul Dugal Jr of Florida was traveling eastbound on Route 2 near the Western Summit when his 2000 Volvo S40 went off of the road, hit a guard rail and went into a ditch.  A police blotter narrative states a caller reporting the incident described Dugal as "driving all over the road” before the crash. The vehicle was totaled and towed from the scene. Dugal was taken to and released from the Berkshire Medical Center Satellite Office in North Adams for his injuries. The crash remains under investigation.
 
 
HEAD ON COLLISION HAS ONE VICTIM IN SERIOUS CONDITION
 
An area resident in serious condition was rushed to Berkshire Medical Center after causing a head-on collision on Route 7 last night.  According to Pittsfield Police believe the motorist swerved from the southbound into the northbound lane and crashed head-on into a second driver at around 10:40 a.m. in the area of 1451 North St.  Police believe the accident was triggered by the motorist suffering a medical condition.  The second driver was unhurt.  Both vehicles involved in the crash were towed from the scene and likely totaled.  An investigation into the accident is ongoing and additional witnesses can contact Pittsfield Police Officer Michael Silver at 448-9700.



 
  BRPC Executive Director Nathaniel Karns said the organization is still working out the details of the presentation. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 


BRPC TO MEET WITH PIPELINE OFFICIALS
 
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is inviting Kinder Morgan to answer concerned residents’ questions.  According to iBerkshires, the company has agreed to make a presentation on Sept. 18 possibly at Berkshire Community College.  As of right now, BRPC Director Nathaniel Karns and the BRPC are hammering out details so Kinder Morgan can provide information and keep the meeting civil.   BRPC stressed this will not be an open public hearing and to keep the presentation simple, written questions will be gathered from attendees to be passed onto company representatives for answering at a later time.  Karns said this is an opportunity for the company to provide more details on their plans.
 
 
FORMER WESTFIELD STATE PRESIDENT EVAN DOBELLE SUED FOR ALLEGED MISUSE OF SCHOOL FUNDS
 
Former Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle has been sued by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office for allegedly using school-issued credit cards and school funds, to make personal purchases and take vacations costing nearly $100,000. The complaint also alleges Dobelle made at least $39,000 worth of travel requests, falsely stating those trips were for official university business.
The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties, costs and attorney's fees associated with the ongoing investigation, and the costs of the OIG's investigation.
 
Damaged Water Line Serving Pittsfield, Dalton Is Repaired
 
The water transmission line serving Dalton and Pittsfield is permanently repaired,
The broken section of 24-inch concrete pipeline on Housatonic Street between South Carson Avenue and Depot Street was repaired and back online early yesterday morning,.
A contractor Monday morning accidentally drilled into the water main, located on the side of the road, rather than in the middle, which was indicated in the 40-year old plans the workers were using.
 
PITTSFIELD VETERANS' AGENT ROSANNE FRIERI IS SUSPENDED
UPDATED:  
 
Pittsfield’s veterans' agent, Rosanne Frieri, has been suspended without pay for an unspecified period by Mayor Dan Bianchi.
The mayor termed the cause "work-related" issues, while Frieri said the suspension followed her refusal to meet with Bianchi in his office.
She went on to say her suspension followed a series of disagreements with the mayor or administration officials over details of the programs her office oversees.
The mayor declined further comment about the situation, calling it a personnel matter he could not discuss.



Thursday, August 07, 2014

  
  Town Administrator Jonathan Butler updated the Selectmen on several ongoing projects on Wednesday night. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 

ADAMS SELECTMEN TOLD PROJECTS ON TRACK

Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler reported on Wednesday night that the roof project on the old middle school is 90 percent done. The contractor is just finishing up small parts of the project. Butler also had news about the proposed $5 million from the state that will be used to build a welcome and education center at the Greylock Glen. He said the money has passed through the House and Senate and is sitting on the governor's desk. Butler also spoke about the progress of the Park Street construction. "At this point they are where they expected to be, and … the public has been very cooperative,"

NORTH ADAMS RESIDENTS TO RECEIVE CREDIT TO RESOLVE WATER, SEWER BILLING ERROR

North Adams Residents recently overcharged for water and sewer usage will be compensated through a future credit, according to Mayor Richard Alcombright. And residents receiving bills in August and September, who also would have been overcharged, will see a credit applied on their bill, the mayor said. The City Council voted in June to raise the city's water rate by 10 percent and sewer fee by 8 percent for fiscal 2015, effective July 1. But the city's July 15 water and sewer bill, which included usage as far back as April 15, used only the increased rate.

WILLIAMSTOWN MAN FACES FOURTH OUI AFTER CRASHING INTO STORE WINDOW

A Williamstown man facing his fourth OUI charge is being held without bail after he allegedly crashed into the Label Shopper building. Brian Foley, 32, of Stratton Road, was arrested after officers found him trying to back his vehicle out of the window he had crashed though shortly after midnight on Friday. He has pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court to charges of operating while under the influence, fourth offense, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and operating a motor vehicle with a revoked license. In a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Laurie MacLeod declared Foley as dangerous and ordered him to be held 90 days at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction. A pretrial hearing date has been set for Sept. 26 in the case.

NORTH ADAMS: MUSEUM EXHIBITING 'FAMOUS FORMER RESIDENTS'

The North Adams Museum of History and Science's exhibit, "Famous Former Residents," will remain on display through Labor Day when it will be replaced by an exhibit honoring the 100th anniversary of the Mohawk Trail. The summer exhibit can be viewed in the temporary gallery on the first floor of Building 5A at Western Gateway Heritage State Park. Admission is free.

CHESHIRE: ANNUAL CRUZ NIGHT, FIREWORKS SLATED SATURDAY

The Cheshire Fire Department will host its annual Cruz Night and fireworks show from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Cheshire Elementary School. The Berkshire County Nite-Cruzers will provide music from the '50s, '60s and beyond throughout the day. Other highlights include a display of custom cars, antique cars and street rods; a professional bicycle stunt show at 4 and 6 p.m.; Shut Up and Dance performance at 7 p.m., and food.



   (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)

PITTSFIELD POLICE RELEASE CAUSE OF FATAL CRASH AT PHS

Pittsfield Police say the driver of the car that slammed into the front of Pittsfield High School in January was high on PCP. The January crash killed Tariq Sally, 34, and Ernest Duck Jr., 37. The two were in a white 2013 Nassan Altima, owned by Hertz Corp., that was traveling more than 100 mph through the Second Street intersection when it slammed into the wall outside of the school. Police on Wednesday said toxicology showed the driver, Duck, was found to have PCP and marijuana in his system. PCP is commonly mixed with marijuana and has hallucinogenic properties.




   Town Manager Christopher Ketchen told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday that the town is keeping a close eye on the development. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 


LENOX DENIES PIPELINE SURVEY WORK

Kinder Morgan, the company proposing to expand a natural gas pipeline through the Berkshires, has asked Lenox to allow it do more survey work. The Board of Selectmen agreed with member David Roche's response. "Tell them to go to hell," Roche said on Wednesday. The Selectmen denied the request. According to Town Manager Chris Ketchen, the company has asked to do more surveying near the Arcadian Shop and Kennedy Park. Ketchen says the company is doing most of its work along the AT&T right of way - as he had predicted. But, then it looks like the company is planning to veer off that right of way, follow hiking trails near the Arcadian Shop to Route 7. That route will affect the town's watershed and Kennedy Park.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014


WILLIAMS COLLEGE CONTRACTS WITH VILLAGE AMBULANCE TO TRANSPORT STUDENTS

Village Ambulance in Williamstown --, which has struggled with increased costs and decreased revenue since the closing of the North Adams Regional Hospital in March, has a new line of business that could help stabilize the emergency transportation operation. The nonprofit ambulance service has agreed to provide transportation for non-emergency medical care for students at Williams College while school is in session, with the college paying for the operational cost of doing so. After operating the service for a while, Village Ambulance officials intend to make it a fee-based service available to residents of Williamstown, New Ashford and Hancock,

POWNAL MAN ACCUSED OF ASSAULT

A Pownal man is accused of slapping another, then giving false information to police about his identity. Christopher M. Myers, 34, of Alta Gardens Mobile Home Park, pleaded not guilty to felony second degree unlawful restraint, a misdemeanor count of aggravated disorderly conduct, simple assault, and false information to a police officer. Myers is scheduled for a weight of the evidence hearing on Aug. 14 as well as a competency hearing.

CHESHIRE ACCEPTS BANK DONATION FOR BUS SHELTER

Cheshire will receive $4,370 from Adams Community Bank to construct a bus shelter for students waiting to catch the school bus. The bank's donation will cover the purchase and delivery of the shelter that will be placed on the Richmond Street corner. The shelter will have clear, tempered safety glass to maximize visibility. The board also approved the transport of two 60-kilowatt, trailer-mounted generators for the Fire Department and emergency services. Because the Fire Department will receive the units the generators are free. The portable units can only be given to fire departments.

    The state will not review an open meeting law complaint against the Board of Selectmen. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 

STATE WON'T REVIEW OPEN MEETING COMPLAINT AGAINST LANESBOROUGH

The state will not review the open meeting law complaint lodged against the Lanesborough Board of Selectmen. The complaint was filed by resident Richard Cohen, who has filed multiple open meeting law complaints, but was made too long after the alleged violation. At issue with the Board of Selectmen is a letter current School Committee member Robert Barton wrote expressing opinions regarding school issues while a member of the Board of Selectmen. Cohen claimed the email addressed to the entire board and the School Committee was a deliberation.

LANESBOROUGH POLICE WARN OF HOME BREAKS

Lanesborough Police are asking residents to report anything suspicious as they try to halt a rash of home break ins. Police posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon asking residents to call them at 443-4107 if they see anything suspicious. Police say most of the break in occurred during the work day hours. The homes have most often been left unlocked.

LIGHTNING STRIKE CAUSES FIRE IN PITTSFIELD HOME

A 2 family home on Onota Street was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm that rolled through Berkshire County, and caught on fire. According to the Pittsfield Fire Department, firefighters responded to the call at 9:28PM last night and arrived to find the homeowner's son using a garden hose to contain the fire on the rear exterior of the home. The home suffered damage to the exterior siding and the interior utilities were damaged. The Building Inspector, WMECO, and Berkshire Gas Company also responded. No one was injured.



   A condominium building on Daniels Avenue suffered extensive damage after a fire on Monday night. (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
 

TWO-ALARM FIRE BREAKS OUT ON DANIELS AVE. IN PITTSFIELD; 3 FAMILIES DISPLACED

A 2-alarm fire tore through a three-story apartment building at the corner of Daniels and Madison avenues in Pittsfield late Monday night, displacing three families with children, and injuring two city firefighters. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Two Pittsfield fire investigators were at the scene and the state fire marshal's office had been called to send an investigation team.

PITTSFIELD MAN CHARGED WITH LEWDNESS FOR ALLEGEDLY BEING NUDE IN YARD

A Pittsfield-man police say stood in his yard naked staring at his neighbor while she was gardening remains free after denying two felony charges. James M. Barthe, 54, of Howe Road, came out into his backyard that adjoins his neighbors completely nude. The 52 year-old woman said she believed Barthe wanted her to look at him. Police said Barthe has had several other court cases involving similar charges. On Tuesday in Central Berkshire District Court, Barthe denied two counts of open and gross lewdness and was released on his own recognizance with the condition he have no intentional contact with the complaining witness.

PITTSFIELD CONSIDERS INCENTIVE TO COLLECT BACK TAXES

The city of Pittsfield wants to offer a lower-interest incentive to property owners with back taxes owed who enter a repayment plan agreement. City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan and Finance Director/Treasurer Susan Carmel described the proposed new ordinance this week, prior to its unanimous approval by the City council's Ordinance and Rules Committee. The incentive, which will go before the full council on Aug. 12, provides for a 50 percent reduction in interest owed on back taxes, and it allows the city to enter into five-year payback agreements with property owners -- up from the current three years. Tax Collector Marilyn Sheehan said she turned $1.5 million in overdue bills for fiscal 2014 over to the finance director's office in June. Interest on bills overdue during the current fiscal year are charged 14 percent interest, while those still overdue at the end of the fiscal year -- and entering the tax title process -- are assessed 16 percent interest.

SECOND LEVEL OF COLUMBUS STREET PARKING GARAGE TEMPORARILY CLOSED

An inspection of the Pittsfield Columbus Street parking garage has led to the temporary closure of the top level of the facility. Mayor Bianchi said the ramp area and top level of the two-level garage were closed off as a precaution. The Mayor said the engineering consultants did not state why the reason for the ramp and top level closure, and added it is important for us to err on the side of safety rather than expose citizens to undo risk. The bottom level of the Columbus Street garage will be open and is considered safe to use.

MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE MARTHA COAKLEY AND HUSBAND GROSSED

Attorney General Martha Coakley and her husband reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $215,000 in 2013, consisting almost entirely of Coakley's salary of about $130,000 and her husband's pension of more than $83,000. Coakley is the latest of a series of candidates for governor to release at least three years of tax returns. Republican Charlie Baker, fellow Democrats Steve Grossman and Don Berwick, and independent candidate Evan Falchuk have also released tax returns.

CANDIDATE FOR STATE TREASURER MAKES PIT STOP IN THE BERKSHIRES

Tom Conroy, one of three democrats vying for state treasurer, visited the Berkshires over the weekend. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Conroy, should he be elected, plans to expand the commonwealth covenant fund, which provides grants to public university and college students who study in Science, Technology, engineering, and Math. His says that would bring more students into Massachusetts and entice them to remain in the state for employment. He also has a goal to boost investment in local banks and plans to study the impacts of casino gambling on Lottery income. The two other Democrats running for treasurer are Deborah Goldberg of Brookline and state Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover.




Tuesday, August 05, 2014

NORTH ADAMS: NORTHERN BERKSHIRE TO CELEBRATE 'NATIONAL NIGHT OUT'

Neighborhoods throughout North Adams and Adams are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the 31st annual National Night Out crime and drug prevention event on Tuesday, Aug. 5. National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored by Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's programs, Northern Berkshire Neighbors and nb21. On Aug. 5, residents in local neighborhoods in North Adams and Adams are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors, police, fire and ambulance squads. Seven neighborhoods throughout North Berkshire will be hosting a variety of special events such as cookouts, games, contests, music and more. Information: Annie Rodgers, NBCC, (413) 663-7588.

   Members of the Conservation Commission, the  Historical Museum and the Rural Lands Foundation christen the new bath house at Margaret Lindley Park on Cold Spring Road on Monday morning. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

 

MARGARET LINDLEY PARK RENOVATION CELEBRATED

What started as an effort to return the bare minimum of services has ended with a project that maximizes the potential of a town-owned park. Margaret Lindley Park on Cold Spring Road (Route 7), just south of the junction with Route 2, long has been a popular swimming hole for local families looking for a clear, cool, natural break from the summer's heat. Thanks to the work begun two years ago by the town's Conservation Commission, the park this summer has new signage, new recreational opportunities and, most importantly, a new well to provide potable water to the park's bath house. The Con Comm this year completed a well project that was funded with $65,000 in Community Preservation Act funds at the May 2013 Annual Town Meeting. Williamstown acquired Margaret Lindley Park in 1967, long before the Community Preservation Act was signed into law in 2000.

NORTH ADAMS MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY STOLE BEER ARRESTED AMID EMPTY CANS

A North Adams man is facing felony charges for allegedly using a bat to break into Ed's Variety on Union Street early Sunday morning. Brandon Smith, 18, of Hall Street, allegedly used a bat to break into Ed's Variety on Union Street early Sunday morning. When police arrived a short while later, they found a number of empty beer cans scattered in the area and Smith standing in the road near the store. Smith pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday to charges of felony breaking and entering, malicious destruction of property over $250, larceny from a building, and larceny under $250. He was held on $1,000 cash bail and remanded to Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. He is due back in court on Sept. 3
 

LANESBOROUGH DIPS INTO RESERVES TO PAY INSURANCE BILLS

Lanesborough is already dipping into its reserves after insurance bills came in $10,800 more than anticipated. On Monday, the Finance Committee approved transferring the $10,800 from the reserve account, which opened the fiscal year in July at $40,000. The transfer pays the last insurance bill, which is for police and fire accident insurance. According to Town Administrator Paul Sieloff, the town hadn't received "firm numbers" from the insurance company until after the budget was crafted. Sieloff estimated nearly $100,000 in insurance costs but that was ultimately short.


   Bill Laston Memorial Park was constructed in a way that cut off Virginia Mach from a portion of her land. Now, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council is buying that land. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 

BNRC LAND PURCHASE SAVES LANESBOROUGH TAXPAYERS $52K

Berkshire Natural Resources Council has finalized the purchase of 52 acres of land behind Laston Park In Lanesborough, alleviating taxpayers from a $52,000 burden. BNRC purchased the land owned by Virgina Mach that was part of a lawsuit the town lost last year. The town was expected to pay Mach just short of $100,000 and voted to do so at the annual town meeting. Part of that settlement included the town owning the land since it wasn't accessible to Mach. Then BNRC told the Board of Selectmen that it would be interested in buying the land to add onto Constitution Hill Reserve. In a three-way agreement, BNRC paid Mach the assessed price for the land while the town paid some $45,000 to Mach for lost logging revenue, attorney fees and tax abatements.




    Dalton and Pittsfield residents are being asked to conserve water after a water main break on Housatonic Street in Dalton, seen in this photo taken by Mayor Daniel Bianchi. (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
 

PITTSFIELD, DALTON WATER EMERGENCY STILL IN EFFECT

Permanent repairs to the water transmission line serving Dalton and Pittsfield could begin as early as Tuesday evening, after the pipeline was accidentally breached Monday morning, according to municipal officials in both communities. A temporary repair was planned for tonight that would allow the Cleveland Water On Monday evening, Dalton officials declared a water emergency until Thursday to ensure the town's water system has fully recovered from the water main break. Emergency Management Director Dan Filiault said home and business owners are to refrain from washing cars, clothing, watering lawns and gardens and other uses that can be put off during the emergency. Pittsfield officials have also advised city water users to conserve water and that there might be a disruption of service or dirty water until the repair can be made.

NO RESOLUTION ON PITTSFIELD PAY RAISES

The politically charged topic of pay raises for Pittsfield department heads shows no sign of a resolution, after the City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee voted 2-2 Monday on the proposal. First proposed by Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi in early May as a way to bring salaries for city managers more in line with other communities in the state, the new salary schedule has been debated during two meetings of the committee, which was asked by the council for a recommendation. Committee Chairman Christopher Connell, the Ward 4 councilor, and Council President Melissa Mazzeo said they met twice with the consultant who helped prepare the new pay schedule for supervisors, and a number of reductions in the salary plan were agreed upon. The council next meets on Aug. 12.

PITTSFIELD WOMAN CHARGED WITH BREAKING INTO EX-BOYFRIEND'S HOME

A Pittsfield woman who allegedly broke into her ex-boyfriend's home remains free after denying a felony charge. Ashlie Lee Haskell, 29, broke into the Scammel Avenue residence she used to live in just after 1 a.m. Sunday by pushing an air conditioner to the floor and crawling through the window while her ex hid inside a closet to avoid a confrontation with her Haskell pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday to a single count of felony breaking and entering. She was released on personal recognizance. She is due back in court on Aug. 25.

AMERICAN RED CROSS ENCOURAGES BLOOD DONATIONS

The American Red Cross urgently needs blood donors of all blood types to give before the Labor Day holiday. iBerkshires says donors with O negative, B negativem and A negative are especially needed. Blood donations typically decline during the summer months and especially around the holidays. The Red Cross says that in order to entice donors around the statistically slowest time for donations, they will give all who donate between August 30 through September 1 a Red Cross mason jar tumbler. The next chance to donate will be at the Berkshire Mall on August 16th between 10am and 3pm. For a full list of dates and times, visit redcrossblood.org

LEE MILLS SOLD TO MIDWEST COMPANY; TENANTS COURTED

Three vacant paper mills in Lee and Lenox Dale have been sold. Niagara Worldwide of St. Louis and Niagara, Wis., has purchased the Columbia and Greylock mills in Lee and Niagara Mill in Lenox Dale. The sale price was not disclosed. Niagara is currently working on an overall plan for all three mills and intends to seek out public input on their reuse.

GREAT BARRINGTON MAN VICTIM OF FATAL MOTORCYCLE CRASH IN HINSDALE

The motorcyclist killed on Route 8 late Sunday afternoon has been identified as Aaron Barnes, 24, of Great Barrington by state police. Barnes was traveling southbound on Route 8 about 5:30 p.m., when he suddenly left the paved road surface as he was passing another vehicle on the left-hand side. Barnes was transported to BMC in Pittsfield, where he died from his injuries. The incident remains under investigation. It was the second fatal accident on Berkshire roads over the weekend - and the second in three week

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