Friday, November 14, 2014
The 1840 structure built by Benjamin Mather is slated to be relocated from Stetson Court on the southeast portion of the college's campus to 63 North St. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
WILLIAMSTOWN BUILDING MOVE TO DISRUPT ROADS, POWER
The relocation of Mather House Williamstown will require road closures on Monday. IBerkshires.com reports that the 1840 structure built by Benjamin Mather is slated to be relocated from Stetson Court on the southeast portion of the college's campus to 63 North Street, where Vincent Guntlow plans to use the building for a mixture of residential and office space. Williamstown Police plan to close Main Street to vehicles at about 8am on Monday when the house is scheduled to make a left-hand turn toward the Field Park rotary. Motorists traveling west on Main Street with plans to take Cold Spring Road should plan to take Water Street toward the Five Corners intersection. Motorists planning to take Main Street to North Street will be directed via Cole Avenue to North Hoosac Road. The same detours will be used in the reverse directions.
GOVERNOR IN NORTH ADAMS FOR MASS MOCA ANNOUNCEMENT MONDAY
MASS MoCA in North Adams will hold a special press conference on Monday at 11am to announce the Patrick Administration's recent execution of a capital infrastructure investment bill, which includes more than $25,000,000 for MASS MoCA's Phase III development. Governor Deval Patrick will remark about public funding for the arts and its relationship to economic and community development in general and North Adams specifically. Museum staff will outline programming plans and introduce long-term collaborators slated for the Phase III renovations. And an announcement will be made regarding private fund-raising related to Phase III programs and facility renovations.
CLARKSBURG OVERNIGHT PARKING BAN ALREADY IN EFFECT
The Clarksburg Board of Selectmen has placed an overnight parking ban on all town roads and streets effective immediately. The ban will stay in effect until April 15th. No overnight parking will be allowed between the hours of 10pm and 6am. Absolutely No Parking on town roads and streets during any snowstorms will be permitted. Offenders will be ticketed and the vehicle towed at the owner's expense. The Board and the Highway Department says that it appreciates citizen cooperation during the winter months.
NORTH ADAMS FIRE DEPARTMENT CHECK SENIORS' FIRE AND CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS
The North Adams Fire Department is working once again this year to ensure local seniors' homes are properly protected from fire and carbon monoxide. The Berkshire Eagle reports that for any senior in a single family home in the city, the department will come and inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, making sure they are functional and up to date. If the homeowner then wishes to update their alarms, the department can recommend a replacement and even install it free of charge. Department staff will also have a supply of batteries for any detectors that need a replacement. The program runs through the end of the year.
Former Councilor Lou Costi was one of several who chided the council for a perceived climate of hostility. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
MAYOR AND SUPPORTERS FIRE BACK AT COUNCIL
In the wake of several controversies in recent weeks, Mayor Dan Bianchi fired back at members of the City Council for what he termed political "mean-spiritedness." IBerkshires.com reports that the mayor addressed the council flanked by a crowd of supporters during a lengthy open microphone period at Wednesday night's council meeting. In an unusual twist, the open microphone portion accounted for more than half the total time of an otherwise sparse agenda. Bianchi, along with a variety of former political officials and other allies, defended the mayor's right to outside employment and denounced continued challenges from Bianchi's opponents on the Council on a variety of issues.
PROBATION FOR ASHLEY FALLS MAN
An Ashley Falls man has been sentenced to three years' probation and must register as a sex offender after admitting to possessing child pornography. According to the Berkshire District Attorney's Offices 62 year old Michael Agar attracted the attention of Homeland Security in 2012 after Australian police reported that he had been posting "child erotica" on a website there and discussing his interest in child pornography. On May 14, 2013, police raided Agar's New Ashford home and discovered hundreds of child pornography images and videos on his home computer and storage devices. Originally charged with 10 counts of child porn possession, seven of those counts were dismissed in the wake of a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling last month that now only allows prosecutors to charge a single count of possession for any single cache of images or videos found at the same time on a single device. Because of the ruling, the judge in the case was only able to go forward with three charges for the hundreds of images and videos found on three different devices. Agar pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday to three counts of knowingly possessing child pornography.
TANGLEWOOD ANNOUNCED 2015 CONCERT SEASON
Tanglewood in Lenox is planning on a wide offering of music for its 2015 concert season which was announced yesterday. The Boston Symphony's new Music Director Andris Nelsons and a 75th anniversary celebration of the Tanglewood Music Center will highlight the season - and the Popular Artists Series will not disappoint either. 88 year old Tony Bennett and pop star Lady Gaga will be performing on June 30th in support of the album they recorded together entitled "Cheek to Cheek." Other performances announced so far in the Popular Artists series include the return of jazz-pop singer and pianist Diana Krall, in support of her upcoming album "Wallflower" on June 21st. And as part of their "While Were Young" tour, Huey Lewis and the News will make their Tanglewood debut on June 28th. If there are going to be any James Taylor performances, they haven't been announced as of yet - but there are still open dates throughout the concert season.
PITTSFIELD MAN HELD ON $25K BAIL; ALLEGEDLY HAD CRACK WORTH $11K
An alleged Pittsfield drug dealer who police say had thousands of dollars-worth of crack cocaine on him during a traffic stop remains held on $25,000 cash bail. 24 year old Jason Deines, of Orchard Street, was arrested October 21st by members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force after a traffic stop on West Housatonic Street. Deines pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to single counts of felony trafficking in cocaine and misdemeanor possession of heroin. The trafficking charge carries a minimum mandatory 3 1/2 year state prison sentence upon conviction with a maximum 20 year sentence. Deines was held on $25,000 cash or surety bail.
The Historical Commission is discussing ways to have a greater presence in preservation efforts. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
PITTSFIELD HISTORICAL COMMISSION CONSIDERS EXPANDED ROLE
The Pittsfield Historical Commission believes there are many ways, both small and large, that it can become more involved in preserving local heritage. But prioritizing which cases to devote limited time and resources to will require careful planning. IBerkshires.com reports that at its monthly meeting on Monday, members of the local advisory body discussed the implications of events, both local and statewide, driving interest in the invigoration of historical commission activity. The Historical Commission will meet again on December 8th to further finalize an agenda for the second preservation summit.
CRANE LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP TO PRINT MOROCCO BANK NOTES
Six months after selling its technical materials division, Crane's currency division has established a strategic printing partnership with a bank in Morocco. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the sole supplier of currency paper to the U.S. Government for the past 50 years, Crane has formed an agreement with Bank Al-Maghrib, the Central Bank of the Kingdom of Morocco, to manufacture bank notes for the international market. The agreement is expected to contribute to the global expansion of Crane's currency operations due to the production capability and modern equipment that are available at Bank Al-Maghrib's industrial facility in Dar-As-Sikkah, Morocco. Crane's currency division is based in Dalton.
GREAT BARRINGTON WINTER PARKING BAN BEGINS ON SATURDAY
The Great Barrington Police Department has announced that the town's all night parking ban will take effect tomorrow, November 15th and will run through April 1st.Police Chief Williams Walsh says that any vehicles parked on any town streets between 1am and 6 am will be ticketed. In case of snowfall, the vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense.
STATEWIDE FOOD WASTE BAN EVENT TODAY IN STOCKBRIDGE
The Patrick Administration recently celebrated the implementation of the Commonwealth's new commercial food waste ban - the first statewide ban in the nation. Under the ban, entities that produce at least one ton of food waste a week must recycle or reuse that material and not send it for disposal at landfills or incinerators. Instead, the materials must be re-purposed or donated to food banks, sent for composting or for animal-feed or utilized in anaerobic digestion facilities. The Patrick Administration will celebrate "America Recycles Day 2014" by featuring the recycling of food waste and organics at the Red Lion Inn, in Stockbridge this morning. The Food Waste Composting Program starts at 10am. MassDEP Commissioner David Cash will be in attendance, as will Red Lion Inn Managing Director Sarah Eustis and other dignitaries.
BAKER NAMES Transition TEAM MEMBERS
Massachusetts Gov.-elect Charlie Baker has announced leaders of his transition team as he prepares to take the reins of state government from outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick. Among those tapped by Baker is Martin Meehan, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The former Democratic congressman will team with Beth Anderson, CEO for the Phoenix Charter Academy Network, to lead Baker's advisory committee on schools. Others chosen by Baker to help lead the transition include former Massachusetts Department of Social Services Commissioner Linda Carlisle, Executive Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School Steve Poftack, and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company CEO Roger Crandall. Baker said his running mate, Lt. Gov.-elect Karyn Polito, will head up the transition team.
WARREN TAPPED FOR TOP POST
Senator Elizabeth Warren has been tapped for a top Democratic leadership post. Warren has been picked by Nevada Senator Harry Reid to serve as strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Warren first won election to the Senate just two years ago.
EX-MASSACHUSETTS PROBATION OFFICIAL GETS 18 MONTHS
A former Massachusetts probation commissioner convicted of rigging the agency's hiring process to favor politically connected candidates has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. U.S. O'Brien's deputy Elizabeth Tavares was sentenced to three months in prison and deputy, William Burke to a year of probation. O'Brien and Tavares were convicted by a jury of racketeering and mail fraud this summer. Burke was convicted of the lesser charge of racketeering conspiracy.
FLORIDA COURT TO REHEAR EX-FBI AGENT'S MURDER CASE
A Florida appeals court in February will reconsider its decision to toss the murder conviction and prison sentence for a former FBI agent in a mob-style killing linked to jailed Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger. The 3rd District Court of Appeal set oral arguments February 12th in the case of ex-agent John Connolly. A three-judge panel of the court ruled in May that Connolly's second-degree murder conviction was barred by the statute of limitations because a firearms enhancement was improperly applied. Connolly is serving 40 years in the 1982 slaying of Miami gambling executive John Callahan
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Cable Mills project is expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of next year. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
CABLE MILLS DEVELOPER PUSHING FOR DECEMBER 2015 OCCUPANCY
The developer of the Williamstown Cable Mills housing project said Wednesday that it hopes to have 61 units ready for occupancy by the end of 2015.
David Traggorth of Boston's Mitchell Properties told the Board of Selectmen that contractors will be working in the former mill buildings throughout the winter to maintain an aggressive construction schedule and that the apartments will be marketed as early as spring 2015. A significant change since the original plan is a switch from condominium sales to rentals for at least five years. Traggorth and Town Manager Peter Fohlin explained to the board that because of the $27 million project's reliance on federal historic preservation grants, 160 Water Street cannot sell the units as condos for at least five years after occupancy begins.
NORTH ADAMS SEEKS CONTRACTOR FOR RENOVATION
The City of North Adams is seeking a contractor for $750,000 in state-funded renovations to the Western Gateway Heritage State Park. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the city announced an invitation to bid this month on infrastructure improvements in the park while it continues to work to sign a lease with the Greylock Market LLC development group, which plans to revitalize its buildings into a business district. The privatization of the park, situated adjacent to State Street in North Adams, requires approval from the state and city, both of whom have a stake in the park. Bids are due on November 24th, and officials hope to begin demolition of the current pathways before snow falls this winter. They aim to have to entire project completed next summer.
WORKER WHO FELL AT MCLA EXPECTED TO RECOVER
A construction worker who fell at a work site on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus is expected to recover. The man's name or age is still not being releases because of the ongoing investigation. The man fell 20 to 25 feet Monday afternoon while working on Bowman (BO-min) Hall. One of the campus's main academic buildings, Bowman Hall, is undergoing a $15 million renovation slated to be completed by June 2015. The North Adams Fire Department was called to secure a helicopter landing zone at Berkshire Medical Center's Northern Berkshire Campus before the man was taken by helicopter to Albany Medical Center.
BRONX DRUG DEALER GETS UP TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON IN NORTH ADAMS OPERATION
A New York man who was dealing drugs in North County last year was sentenced to up to four years in state prison after pleading guilty to cocaine trafficking and other charges. 26 year old Johnte Smith, of the Bronx, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to felony cocaine trafficking and three counts of distribution, possession of heroin and cocaine with the intent to distribute, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Judge John Agostini sentenced him to serve a minimum of 3 1/2 years and no more than four years in state prison.
A number of the hospital advocates from the Tuesday group attended the meeting. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
COUNCIL INVITING BHS OFFICIALS TO SPEAK
The North Adams City Council will invite Berkshire Health Systems officials to attend a public forum to discuss progress made restoring services at the former North Adams Regional Hospital. IBerkshires.com reports that the decision to proffer the invitation came after nearly an hour of debate at yesterday's meeting as councilors questioned the city government's role and determined a compromise solution through the mayor's office wasn't enough. The "Tuesday night group" - a mix of residents, community leaders and members of NARH's former union locals - has been meeting weekly since the hospital's closure in March to share information. Members have been advocating for some time for Berkshire Medical Center leadership to address them.
GOVERNOR OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NEW HEALTH INSURANCE WEBSITE
Governor Deval Patrick says he's cautiously optimistic about the state's revamped health insurance website. Patrick says the team charged with fixing the website has been "testing and retesting" the new website, which he says has a "98 percent passage rate." The new system will go live at 8 a.m. Saturday, the start of the new open enrollment period.
The research committee held its second meeting on Tuesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
LANESBOROUGH SCHOOL RESEARCH COMMITTEE MAKES PROGRESS DESPITE DISPUTES
The Lanesborough research committee formed to look at school affiliations made progress in sorting out research topics Tuesday. But continued bad blood between two members could threaten the committee's existence. IBerkshires.com reports, Town Administrator Paul Sieloff forewarned the nine members that if they did not cooperate, the Selectmen would disband the panel. The committee, appointed by the Selectmen, first met last week. Tuesday's meeting kicked off with an argument between Robert Barton and Rich Cohen. Barton threatened to resign and request the Selectmen disband the committee if Cohen wouldn't "back off."
SEEKING LOWER POWER RATES THROUGH CONSORTIUM
A plan that could provide electricity at reduced rates to Great Barrington is moving forward, though not quickly enough to ease an anticipated spike in power costs in the coming months. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that an energy consortium, of which the town is a member, hopes to have a Request For Proposals ready within the next few months to begin bulk electrical purchase. The town is one of 35 communities that have joined the Hampshire Council of Governments' Municipal Aggregation program. Great Barrington is the only Berkshire County community in the Municipal Aggregation program. But ten other Berkshire County towns, known as the Berkshire 10, have banded together for a similar purpose, also working with the Hampshire Council of Governments. These include Lenox, Dalton, Williamstown, Adams, Tyringham, Sheffield, West Stockbridge, North Adams, New Marlborough and Clarksburg.
PITTSFIELD MAN ALLEGEDLY FLED ACCIDENT SCENE, DUMPED POT AT DAY CARE
A Pittsfield man who allegedly fled the scene of a traffic accident then dumped marijuana in the yard of a day care center was held on bail after pleading not guilty to eight charges. 32 year old Timothy Bragan Jr., of North Street, pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to single counts of felony carrying a dangerous weapon, a switchblade knife, drug violation in a school zone and possession of chemical Mace without a license and misdemeanor possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, driving with a revoked license, leaving the scene of a property damage accident and possession of a class B drug. Bragan was ordered held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on $1,000 cash or $10,000 surety bail. The defendant is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on December 10th.
NEW VETERANS OFFICER CONFIRMED
A retired army lieutenant colonel and Taconic High School and West Point graduate has been named the city's new veterans service officer. James Clark, of Pittsfield, was confirmed unanimously yesterday by the City Council, after his name was submitted by Mayor Dan Bianchi. The 54 year old Clark fills a city department head vacancy created after Bianchi fired former Veterans Service Officer Rosanne Frieri in August. Frieri has since filed a complaint over the dismissal with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which is pending.
TOWN OF LENOX SETS TAX RATES
Selectmen in Lenox opted to stay with a split tax rate for 2015, which will cause a 1.07 percent increase on the average residential tax bill and a 3.76 percent increase for commercial. The Board of Selectmen held its annual tax classification hearing Wednesday and opted to stay with the split rate. To fund the 2015 budget, the town needs to raise more than $14.2 Million in tax levy, which is 1.87 percent more than last year. To do so, the average residential home assessed at about $372,000 will see a 1 percent increase - based on a $12.33 rate. The average business valued at $961,395 will see a 3.76 percent increase. Last year's residential and commercial rates were $12.07 and $14.91, respectively.
LEE MAN AND WOMAN SENTENCES FOR COPPER THEFT
A man and a woman, both from Lee, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to several charges in relation to the theft of copper from Iberdrola Renewables last year. 34 year old Eli Waters pleaded guilty to twelve counts of receiving stolen property over $250 and several other charges including wanton destruction of property, larceny, trespassing, and being present where heroin is kept. Waters was ordered to serve concurrent 2 to 4 year state prison sentences at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the charges of receiving stolen property and larceny. He was given concurrent house of correction sentences on the other charges. 33 year old Gina Arnold pleaded guilty to four counts of receiving stolen property and several other charges as well. Arnold was ordered to serve 6 months of an 18 month sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction and was given two years of probation. Both Waters and Arnold sold copper that belonged to Iberdrola Renewables Florida, Massachusetts location between October 19th and November 12th of last year.
MEETING ON TOBACCO BAN BREAKS UP EARLY
A public meeting on a central Massachusetts town's proposed first-in-the-nation ban on tobacco and nicotine sales has ended early. Officials say the crowd of hundreds last night was getting too unruly to continue. The three-member Westminster Board of Health, which proposed the ban, had to be escorted out by police.
PATRICK HOPES TO AVOID CUTS IN EDUCATION AID
Governor Deval Patrick is hoping to avoid cuts in education aid to cities and towns as he drafts a plan to close an anticipated $325 million budget gap. Patrick says everything else is on the table. He said his plan wouldn't dip into the state's rainy day fund. Administration officials announced the budget hole last week. They said they would unveil their plan to close the gap within two weeks.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
(Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)
VETERANS DAY OBSERVANCES YESTERDAY
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams - and the town of Adams were among communities that observed Veteran' Day with parades and ceremonies yesterday. The City of Pittsfield's Parade led to the Peace Memorial on Veteran's Way where a ceremony was held. Opening remarks were given by Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi and Cpl. Michael Ancora from the Marine Corps League Detachment #137 was the guest speaker. The City of North Adams held its ceremony at the Veterans Memorial at the conclusion of its parade. Marine Col. Allan M. Faxon Jr., chief operating officer of the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington, was the guest speaker. And the Adams American Legion Post 160 held a ceremony at the Adams Town Hall yesterday.
The Affordable Housing Committee is redefining its mission statement. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
WILLIAMSTOWN HOUSING COMMITTEE REWRITING MISSION STATEMENT
The Williamstown Affordable Housing Committee is in the process of redefining its mission in light of an eventful year for the committee and the issue it addresses. IBerkshires.com reports that the committee and the board of the Affordable Housing Trust met in late October in separate meetings. The latter voted to release funds it promised earlier this year to the Highland Woods senior housing project off Southworth Street on land being donated by Williams College. The committee will take up the draft mission statement at its next meeting tomorrow.
Both Bacom Lodge, on the left, and the War Memorial Tower are being renovated. (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)
MOUNT GREYLOCK TOWER TO UNDERGO $2 MILLION RENOVATION
The War Memorial Tower at the top of Mount Greylock will receive a $2 million upgrade. Gov. Deval Patrick announced yesterday the release of $1.2 million from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which will be matched with an $800,000 federal earmark. The tower has been closed to the public since August of 2013. The tower was constructed in 1931 and now the mortar joints are deteriorated, and the interior finishes and utilities were damaged by water. The water damage ultimately led to the closing of the tower. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation will also spend $300,000 in making repairs to Bascom Lodge.
MOUNT GREYLOCK REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT FEASIBILITY STUDY
School officials are making progress in carrying out a feasibility study that will determine the future of Mount Greylock Regional High School. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the School Building Committee last week met for the first time with representatives from Dore and Whittier Management Partners of Newburyport, which will serve as project manager and provide oversight during the feasibility study. Voters in Lanesborough and Williamstown, towns making up the grades 7-12 regional school district, voted to fund $850,000 for a feasibility study at separate town meetings this spring. Building inadequacies of concern to school officials include energy inefficiencies, non-ADA compliant spaces, and a sprawling campus designed to serve a population twice the size of its current enrollment.
North Adams Ambulance Service has added a fifth ambulance to its fleet. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
NORTH ADAMS AMBULANCE GETS NEW VEHICLE
The North Adams Ambulance Service has welcomed a new ambulance to the fleet. IBerkshires.com reports that according to General Manager John Meaney Jr., the new unit has been on the road since early October and has taken a lot of stress off the other units. The 2014 Chevy C3500 Series made by McCoy Miller and purchased from Yankee Fire and Rescue cost $122,000 and will be the non-profit organization's fifth ambulance. Meaney said the service was due for a new ambulance and this one was purchased before North Adams Regional Hospital closed.
EXTENDED HOURS AR ADAMS TAX COLLECTORS OFFICE
The Tax Collectors office in Adams will be holding extended hours at town hall today, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday and Monday - so that residents can pay their real estate taxes which are due on Monday. Special hours today through Friday will be held from 7:30am to 6pm. On Saturday, the hours will be 9am to noon, and on Monday from 7:30am to 6pm.
PRICE CHOPPER CHAIN CHANGING NAME TO MARKET 32
The Price Chopper supermarket chain plans to change the name of its 135 stores in six states to Market 32 in a $300 million rebranding move. Schenectady-based parent company Golub Corp. made the announcement yesterday that the change will begin in the spring as the chain modernizes its stores and offers new services and products. The first conversions will be made at New York Price Chopper stores in Saratoga County's Clifton Park and Wilton and a third in Pittsfield. A second round will begin over the next 18 months at 10 to 15 stores. More than half of the company's stores will be converted within five years.
JUDGE DENIES MOTION TO DISMISS CHARGES AGAINST FORMER PITTSFIELD COUNCILMAN
The criminal case against a former Pittsfield city councilor accused of warning a drug dealer about a police raid is moving ahead after a judge denied a motion to dismiss the charges. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Paul Capitanio's attorney, Timothy Shugrue, had argued that the charges against his client - conspiracy to possess oxycodone and accessory after the fact to distribute oxycodone - should be dismissed because the grand jury hadn't been given enough information to indict the former city councilman of those crimes. In a written decision, Berkshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini said there was enough evidence presented to the grand jury to indict Capitanio of the charges.
NEW LEADER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TO BE ELECTED
The city's Human Rights Commission, reconstituted in April after being dormant since the late 1990s, is losing two of its members, faces a high-profile complaint and has struggled to adopt policies on how to conduct its investigations. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Chairman Josh Cutler is resigning from the nine-member commission, citing time constraints, and the Rev. Alfred Johnson has resigned because he is leaving the area. The commission, which will meet tomorrow for first time since a raucous, truncated session in July, is expected to elect a new leader and discuss a formal set of operating procedures.
SHEFFIELD MAN PARDONED BY GOVERNOR PATRICK
A Sheffield man who served time on a marijuana charge during the 1990s is among those issued pardons this week by Gov. Deval Patrick. Jeffrey Snyder, then 18, was a student at Monument Mountain High School in 1990 when he and a 20-year-old man were charged with distributing marijuana at the school. According to Berkshire Eagle files, the charges carried a mandatory jail sentence of up to two years because the distribution was within 1,000 feet of a school - a provision added the year before by the Legislature. Patrick made his first four pardons as he prepares to leave office in January, and he commuted a prison sentence for a nonviolent drug offender - the first commutation by a governor in 17 years.
BAKER SELECTS HOUSING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CHIEF
Republican Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker has reached across party lines to tap Chelsea city manager Jay Ash as his pick to lead the housing and economic development agency. The agency says its goal is to help create homes and jobs in the state in part by making sure Massachusetts maintains its global competitive edge. Baker takes office in January.
BERKSHIRE CO-OP MARKET DOING ITS PART
Berkshire Co-op Market owners have voted and the results will help 12 local organizations with their work towards a stronger, healthier and more sustainable community. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Co-op, located on Bridge Street in Great Barrington, donates 1 percent of its Wednesday sales to a different local community organization each month. The recipients are selected as part of the Co-op's annual Board of Directors election which concluded on Saturday, November 1st. The program was started last year and has generated more than $10,000 to-date. Last month's beneficiary, The People's Pantry, received $1,120.41. The Pantry provides emergency groceries for community members in need. November's recipient will be Community Health Programs which aims to improve the health of Berkshire County residents.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, left, Sen. Benjamin B. downing, Hoosic River Revival's Judith Grinnell, Fish & Game Commissioner Mary Griffin, Director of the Division of Ecological Restoration Tim Purinton, and Mayor Richard Alcombright. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
HOOSIC RIVER REVIVAL GETS $500K TO BEGIN SOUTH BRANCH WORK
The Hoosic River Revival has secured $500,000 to move forward with planning the revitalization of the South Branch of the Hoosic River. IBerkshires.com reports that the funding is part of an $8.7 million earmark in a state environmental bond for the organization's ambitious plans to restore and capitalize on the natural look of the river that cuts through the city while maintaining its flood control attributes. The long simmering project is expected to have an economic impact of nearly $14 million, the bulk of that in North Adams its surrounding communities, and create more than 100 jobs.
CONSTRUCTION WORKER INJURED IN FALL AT MCLA CAMPUS
A construction worker was seriously injured yesterday when he fell from the third floor of a building on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that an unidentified male worker fell between 20 and 25 feet from the Bowman Hall construction site just after 1pm. MCLA Public Safety, the agency in charge, had requested medical transport and the victim was to be taken to an urgent care hospital by helicopter. The man's identity or the extent of his injuries could not be learned. Bowman Hall, one of the campus's main academic buildings, is currently undergoing a $15 million renovation slated to be completed by June 2015.
The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District is hoping to explain the the difficult budget process to the community. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)
ADAMS-CHESHIRE LOOKING AT TOUGH BUDGET YEAR
The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District is preparing for another tough budget year. IBerkshires reports that business manager David Hinkell told the School Committee last night that he anticipates another difficult budget cycle. Hinkell has been working through preliminary fiscal 2016 budget and, at the moment, there is an anticipated 4.7 percent increase. This includes the foundation budget and transportation budget. Although this is an increase, he said it is below other school districts.
STRONG SEASON FOR HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The hospitality industry posted a banner summer and fall season, with lodging occupancy rates scoring gains over last summer as visitors flocked to the reopened Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, performances and exhibits at Mass MoCA in North Adams, and concerts at Tanglewood. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to Smith Travel Research, which tracks trends at Berkshire County's 25 larger properties, after a slight decline during a record-breaking rainy June, occupancy was up nearly 12 percent in July, 14 percent in August, and 10 percent in September, compared to last summer. The peak was in August, when 75 percent of the available rooms were rented. Smith Travel says that for the entire year through September, countywide room occupancy gained 8 percent over last year.
AVERAGE MA GAS PRICE FALLS BELOW $3.00
The average cost of a gallon of gas in Massachusetts has fallen below the $3 threshold for the first time in almost four years. AAA Southern New England reports that the price of a gallon of self-serve, regular fell 8 cents in the past week to an average of $2.96. The last time gas was lower than $3 was in December 2010.
VETERANS DAY HISTORICAL AND CLOSINGS
It's Veteran's day today. The federal holiday is to commemorate the service of the nation's military veterans. Veteran's Day was first known as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In recognition of the efforts of World War II veterans, President Eisenhower in 1954 signed legislation creating Veterans Day with the goal of honoring all American veterans. Federal, state and local offices are closed today and there will be no mail delivery. Banks are all closed today - as are Public colleges and schools, most private schools, Public libraries - as well as most offices and businesses. Finally, BRTA buses are not running today. Services will resume tomorrow morning.
The Board of Selectmen will be provide more insight on how to go about hiring a new police chief. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
Lanesborough Looking To Replace Outgoing Police Chief
Lanesborough Police Chief Mark Bashara is retiring and the town is now deciding how to go about replacing him. The Selectmen are considering how to find a new chief - including reaching out to neighboring towns to consider sharing the position. Police Commission member Marvin Michalak asked the Selectmen on Monday for some guidance in crafting another search. Michalak told the Selectmen that the last search focused mostly in Western Massachusetts, with candidates being interviewed from as far away as the Springfield area. The Selectmen, at this point, said one requirement would be that the new chief live or relocate to the Berkshires. The Selectmen added that requirement because of the time factor - the chief needs to be in town during an emergency.
PITTSFIELD EXPERIENCES MOST VIOLENT AUGUST IN YEARS
This August was the most violent August in the last five years in Pittsfield. IBerkshires.com reports that while violent crime is still overall down trending compared to other years, August showed a massive upswing of 27 violent crimes - 69 percent more than the five-year average. The upswing is reversing a trend the Police Department saw with violent crime down and property crime up. Aggravated assault topped the list of the most committed crime in Pittsfield with 20. There were also three arsons, two robberies and two rapes in August. Year to date, there have been 100 violent crimes committed in Pittsfield, which is 27 percent higher than this time last year.
PITTSFIELD MAN ALLEGEDLY CHOKED MOTHER'S BOYFRIEND
A Pittsfield man is facing felony charges for allegedly choking his mother's boyfriend and attempting to pull the man's tongue from his mouth during a heated argument. 31 year old Robert Giroux, of Linden Street, was arrested Saturday after police responded to a report of a disturbance at a home Edward Avenue, where they found a 57-year-old man lying on the ground with a bloody mouth. He was breathing heavily and appeared shaky. Giroux was later arrested at Walmart in Pittsfield. He pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to felony strangulation and misdemeanor assault and battery. He was ordered held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on $500 cash or $5,000 surety bail.
DRUNKEN ATTACK ON STRANGERS LEADS TO YEAR SENTENCE FOR PITTSFIELD WOMAN
A Pittsfield woman has been sentenced to a year in jail for drunkenly attacking two strangers, including an 84-year-old woman, after they refused to give her a ride. 29 year old Stacey White pleaded guilty in Central Berkshire District Court last week to five charges, including single counts of felony assault and battery on a person over 60 and misdemeanor resisting arrest, assault and battery and two counts of assault and battery on a police officer. She was ordered to serve a year at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Corrections. A charge of disorderly conduct was continued without a finding of guilt and then dismissed.
Mayor Daniel Bianchi, seen here at City Council meeting earlier this year, has rejected claims he might profit from Kinder Morgan's pipeline. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
PITTSFIELD MAYOR DENIES CONFLICT OF INTERE