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News

Friday, October 24, 2014

    
Atlas President Gregory R. Britton has a room with a view in what will be his new office in North Adams. The financial management firm is moving its offices from Williamstown to North Adams. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)     

FINANCIAL FIRM MOVING TO NORTH ADAMS

One of the nation's fastest growing financial firms is shifting its base of operations from Williamstown to North Adams. IBerkshires.com reports that Atlas Wealth Management, formerly Dion Money Management, is moving its 20 employees to the third-floor of the former Wall-Streeter Shoe Company building on Union Street owned by David Moresi. Atlas is an independent wealth management firm and part of Focus Financial Partners LLC. It offers wealth and investment management, financial planning and some tax services. Financial Advisor magazine ranked it 15th in its fastest growing firms list.

HADLEY OVERPASS SURPASSES ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATES

The reconstruction of the Hadley Overpass in North Adams has exceeded its projected completion date as well as its initial cost estimate - by $6.8 million. Costs to repair to the span have surpassed the state's initial estimate of $28.1 million by $6.8 million. It was initially projected to be completed in 2012. But the overhaul which began in 2008, may have hit a final snag as it nears completion. The years of delay can largely be attributed to a bridge officials say was far worse than anticipated.



    The Selectmen are updated on the poor condition of the Visitors Center's geothermal system on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 

ADAMS SEEKS FIX TO VISITORS CENTER'S INEFFECTIVE GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM

The Adams Board of Selectmen is looking at a $22,800 interim solution to fix the Visitors Center's troublesome geothermal heating and cooling system. IBerkshires.com reports that the board met with interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan, the building Commissioner, the Council on Aging Director and the project engineers during Wednesday night's workshop meeting to discuss possible remedies for the notoriously difficult HVAC system. The board didn't vote on the matter, but Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said no matter what issues they find, they must make the building usable.

NORTH ADAMS TO WILLIAMSTOWN BIKE PATH PUBLIC MEETING SET

Plans are moving forward for a new bike path section between North Adams' center and the Williamstown town line. The city of North Adams and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will host a public meeting on Wednesday next week from 6 to 8pm at Greylock Elementary School to discuss a draft route. There will be a brief presentation at 6:30pm. Mohawk Bicycle Pedestrian Trail will be designed by the BRPC and a community outreach committee will be established to keep affected property owners and other interested parties informed. The eventual goal is to link the Berkshires from border to border.

MCLA DAY OF SERVICE SET FOR SATURDAY

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the City of North Adams will hold the "Day of Service - Fall Edition" Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., throughout the community. Service sites will include the Hillside Cemetery on Route 2 in North Adams, the North Adams Goodwill and various pocket parks. For more information, visit mcla.edu or contact Spencer Moser at spencer.moser@mcla.edu or (413) 662-5251.

DALTON MAN GETS MORE THAN 4 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CHILD PORN

A Dalton man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for downloading and sharing violent and sadistic child pornography. 27 year old Jared Sprague admitted amassing a collection of close to 100 child pornography images and videos and sharing them through a peer-to-peer computer file sharing program. Sprague appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield and was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison followed by a decade of post-release supervision. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

PAUL CAPITANIO'S LAWYER ASKS COURT TO TOSS OUT CHARGES

The lawyer for former city councilor Paul Capitanio, accused of tipping off a drug dealer about an upcoming raid, has asked the court to dismiss the charges against his client. Timothy J. Shugrue argued in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday 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 58 year-old former city councilman of those crimes. he got his drugs from Stegemann. However,Judge John Agostini seemed unconvinced. Capitanio remains free on $500 bail pending the outcome of his case.

PITTSFIELD HALLOWEEN PARADE TONIGHT

The 70th annual Pittsfield Halloween Parade is taking place tonight. The parade starts at 7 p.m. from the corner of Tyler and Smith streets and ends at Woodlawn Avenue. Pittsfield Community Television is scheduled to broadcast the event live on Time Warner Cable's Channel 16. Rebecca Manship, the city's recreational activities coordinator, says that the thousands of parade-goers can expect to see four floats,: three by Williams, Conte and Allendale elementary schools, the fourth courtesy of the Tyler Street Business Group. In addition, Morningside and Crosby elementary schools will be among the parade's 20 units.

LOCAL YOUTH SHINE IN NFL PUNT, PASS & KICK COMPETITION

The local NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition was held at Taconic High School on September 21st. There were six local winners who moved on to the sectional competition in Westfield on October 13th. In the Girls category: Finishing 1st in the 6 to 7 year old age group was Madysen Pelky of Washington. In the 12 to 13 year old age group, Kaitlyn Olds of Hinsdale finished 2nd. In the boy's category, the 1st place winners included: Brady Hebert of Pittsfield in the 6 to 7 year old group, Jaden Keefner of Pittsfield in the 10 to 11 year old group, Tanner Hill of Dalton in the 12 to 13 year old group, and Patrick Butler of Peru in the 14 to 15 year old age group. Of the 1st place winners, both Madison Pelky and Patrick Butler qualified to compete at the New England Patriots Team Championship at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots take on the Bears on Sunday. The other winners, at last check, were waiting to hear if they have qualified. Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi called it an exciting opportunity for the kids, and said that Pittsfield will be cheering for them on Sunday.

PITTSFIELD FARMERS MARKET COMES TO A CLOSE SATURDAY WITH LIVE MUSIC AND SPECIAL DEMONSTRATIONS

The Pittsfield Farmers Market's will end the season this weekend. Since May 10, about 20 vendors from around the Berkshires have set up shop in the First Street parking lot, across from The Common, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., selling and promoting local grown and produced goods. The market also features local artisans, live music and special demonstrations. Market Manager Jessica Conzo. Conzo praised volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield for spearheading the effort to deliver the donated food to local shelters and food pantries.

BALLOT QUESTION TV AD SPENDING NEARING $5.8M

Television ad spending on Massachusetts ballot questions has approached $5.8 million with Election Day less than two weeks away. Virtually all of that spending has come from two groups: The Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs, which is hoping to persuade voters to reject a ballot question that would repeal the state's casino law, and No on Question 2: Stop Forced Deposits, which opposes a question that would expand the state's bottle deposit law.

COAKLEY: BAKER SHOULD DISCLOSE INVESTMENT TIES

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley said Wednesday that Republican rival Charlie Baker should take steps before the November 4th election to disclose details of an investment made by the state of New Jersey in a venture capital firm with ties to Baker. Coakley, the state attorney general, said the case raised "public integrity" questions. Baker has repeatedly said there was no wrongdoing. Baker made a $10,000 donation to the New Jersey Republican Party in 2011, shortly before that state's pension fund invested in General Catalyst at a time when Baker was an executive-in-residence for the firm.

MILLER PROPOSING AMENDMENT

Republican candidate for Massachusetts Attorney General John Miller is proposing a constitutional amendment aimed at removing politics from the job he is seeking. The Winchester attorney says he filed an initiative petition on Thursday that would require nonpartisan elections Massachusetts attorney general.

WARREN CHANGES LANGUAGE

Senator Elizabeth Warren says she "doesn't think" she's running for president in in 2016, a shift from her usual script. The liberal favorite typically answers the question by saying, "I am not running for president." But when she was asked again by People magazine, she answered, "I don't think so."

TROOPER FACING ASSAULT CHARGES

A Massachusetts State Police trooper has been released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to sexually assaulting a woman he met on an online dating service. Christopher Kennedy, of West Springfield, was arraigned Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court on charges of indecent exposure, assault and battery, and indecent assault and battery. The alleged crimes occurred in July in Worthington. The 31-year-old Kennedy was also ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

    
The Airport Commission decided keep the name Harriman-West but add North Adams to it to indicate the location. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

NORTH ADAMS ADDED TO AIRPORT NAME

The North Adams Airport Commission has decided to keep Lottie Harriman and George West's names in the new airport title. IBerkshires.com reports that last month, Commissioner Trevor Gilman advocated changing the name to the North Adams Municipal Airport to better market the airport and make clearer its location. The commission tabled the motion to research the history of the airport's name before making a decision. After talking to the remaining family members of George West and researching the history, commissioners decided not to remove the names. The commission did decide to change the name to North Adams Harriman-West Airport and clean up confusion of the name in different sources.




    Regina DiLego updated the other members of the School Committee on the superintendent search process. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

TRI-DISTRICT SEARCH COMMITTEE ADVISES INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT

The school districts for Williamstown and Lanesborough won't have a permanent superintendent until at least July. The superintendent search committee decided last week to recommend the district forgo its search for a replacement by Jan.1 for the retiring Rose Ellis. The search committee was formed to sort applicants for recommendation after Ellis informed Mount Greylock Regional School District and Superintendency Union 71 she would retire at the end of the year.



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

BMC AWARDED $3M FOR HEALTH CARE CENTER IN NORTH ADAMS

Berkshire Medical Center will receive $3 million in state funding to create a "Patient Centered Medical Neighborhood" in North County. That's on top of the $6 million that BMC is planning to invest in upgrades and expanded services announced on Tuesday. The state award will help fund initiatives to align with the findings of the Stroudwater Associates' health needs report for North Berkshire.The Stroudwater report recommends collaborating with social and community services and organizations; expanding primary care; and providing prenatal care and education and access to transportation to BMC's maternity department.

WNAW’S MIKE GARLAND GIVEN RECOGNITION AWARD

The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition held its fall "Neighborlies" presentation last night in North Adams. Among the many Northern Berkshire residents receiving one of the twice-yearly Community Recognition Awards was WNAW's Mike Garland, who was nominated in the Community Health and Wellness category by Mass in Motion coordinator Amanda Chilson. Mike was cited "for partnering with the Mayor's Fitness Challenge and hosting a Mayor's Fitness Challenge radio contest, as well as promoting.

4 NEW ENGLAND STATES IN TOP 10 FOR EFFICIENCY

Four New England states have been ranked in the top 10 nationally for their energy efficiency efforts. Massachusetts led the way in the annual ranking by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, with Rhode Island and Vermont tied with Oregon in the No. 3 spot and Connecticut ranked No. 6. In the region, only New Hampshire and Maine were excluded from the top 10, with Maine ranked 16th and New Hampshire 22nd. The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard measures six policy areas — utility policies and programs, transportation initiatives, building energy codes, combined heat and power development, state government-led initiatives, and state-level appliance standards.

MAN CHARGED IN $11K DRUG BUST

A Pittsfield man who allegedly had $ 11,000 worth of crack cocaine on him during a traffic stop is being held on $25,000 bail on charges including felony drug trafficking. 24 year-old Jason Deines, of Orchard Street, was arrested about 6:30pm Tuesday on West Housatonic Street after being pulled over by police. Officers said they found about 78 grams of crack cocaine broken up into 234 $50 bags stashed between the defendant’s buttocks, as well as two small bags of heroin in his pocket. Members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force allege Deines is a local drug dealer who had just returned to Pittsfield from Newburgh, N.Y., where he had resupplied himself with crack cocaine.



     Morningside Principal Joseph Curtis explained the development of a teacher evaluation system to the School Committee on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
 

TEACHER EVALUATION PROCESS UNDER REVIEW

Morningside Community School Principal Joseph Curtis hailed a recently developed system for evaluating performance of educators in the district, in a presentation to the Public School Committee yesterday. IBerkshires.com reports that Curtis told the committee development of the evaluation process had begun several years ago, as he had worked with former Superintendent Howard Eberwein and teacher's union representative Scott Eldridge to establish a system that was palatable to both teachers and administrators. The process stresses candid observation, as well as self-assessment and documentation by teachers, with a focus on four core standards: curriculum planning and assessment; teaching to all students; reaching family and community; and professional culture.

DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF DIES OF CARDIAC ARREST

Pittsfield Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Kilmer has died of an apparent heart attack. Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski made the announcement yesterday that Kilmer experienced a cardiac arrest while off-duty. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time. A formal announcement of the arrangements and the fire department’s participation will be made. The news was posted on the Pittsfield Fire Department facebook page.

UNCLE BEAZLEY TO BERKSHIRE ATHENAEUM

The Berkshire Museum has loaned its famed Triceratops model, known as “Uncle Beazley”, to the Berkshire Athenaeum. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the approximately 11-foot-long Triceratops model was moved on a wheeled platform from the Berkshire Museum to a new home in the courtyard adjacent to the Children's Department of the Berkshire Athenaeum. Four smaller models are also going on display. Library Director, Ron Latham says that the Berkshire Museum was looking for a long-term loan arrangement for the models after dismantling its paleontology exhibit to make room for its new “Spark! Lab” installation – which opened October 11th.

FALCHUCK FILES LAW SUIT OVER DEBATE )

Independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the organizers of an October 27th NECN debate to include him.Falchuk is one of three independent candidates on the ballot. The other two are Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively. The two major party candidates are Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker.

JUDGE DISMISSES COAKLEY FEDERAL HOUSING LAWSUIT

A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley against the Federal Housing Finance Agency and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Coakley sued the agencies earlier this year for refusing to comply with a state law designed to stem the tide of foreclosures. Coakley said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac violated a 2012 Massachusetts law that allows the sale of homes in foreclosure to nonprofit organizations who intend to restructure the loan and sell the property back to the homeowner.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    
BHS is investing $6 million to expand services at BMC North. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)

BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS INVESTING $6M IN NORTH COUNTY

Berkshire Health Systems will invest $6 million in Northern Berkshire in the coming months. The significant investment will mean the expansion of outpatient and imaging services, as well as upgrades to the technology at the BMC North campus. IBerkshires.com reports that the funds were approved in the capital budget by the Berkshire Health Systems Board of Trustees in October and includes infrastructure improvements, building renovations, expanded services and equipment purchases. The expanded services will include mammography, for which BMC had been awaiting federal approval to resume. Also to be offered are outpatient endoscopy and outpatient orthopedic surgery, and expansion of outpatient imaging.



    Clarksburg students on 'Bike to School Day' last year. The town has received a MassWorks grant to reconstruct West Cross Road and make it safer for walking and biking. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

CLARKSBURG AWARDED $920K MASSWORKS GRANT FOR ROAD

Clarksburg was awarded a $920,000 MassWorks grant on Tuesday to address long-delayed roadwork along West Cross Road. IBerkshires.com reports that Town Administrator Carl McKinney's is new to the town administrator post but not to the efforts to obtain the grant. As a member of the Board of the Selectmen in the past, he'd advocated for the state help to address the worsening road structure. The town's been applying for the funding - then known as the Small Town Road Assistance Program, for the past seven or eight years.
 

COLEGROVE PARK SCHOOL PROJECT ON SCHEDULE

The elementary school project continues on time and under budget. The $29.7 million renovation of the former Conte Middle School into Colegrove Park Elementary School, is almost a quarter complete. The project had budgeted a contingency line item of 10 percent, or around $3 million. The somewhat high amount was to ensure that any issues discovered by tearing into the century-old building could be covered. Mayor Richard Alcombright said the change orders had run around $220,000 so far for items such extra cleaning of the brick facade and filling in some sinkholes.The School Building Committee, city councilors and other officials toured the construction site on Friday.



    V&V was approved locally for an all-alcohol license by the License Commission. Pending approval by the state, it may end discord amongst the city's alcohol purveyors. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

V & V LICENSE TRANSFER APPROVED

The North Adams License Commission yesterday approved a retail liquor license transfer to V&V, also known as Steeple City Spirits. Pending state approval, the transfer of the all-alcohol license from River Street Package Store brings to a close a contentious chapter in the city's business community.

LIHEAP FUNDS TO AID BERKSHIRE RESIDENTS

The recent release of nearly $132 million of federal heating assistance funds will help thousands of Berkshire residents, but it likely won't keep pace with their rising fuel and electricity bills. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Massachusetts will receive $8 million less than last year in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Overall, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released $3.05 billion in LIHEAP funding, compared to the total of $3.5 billion a year ago. Berkshire Community Action Council says that reduction, coupled with the anticipated 30 to 40 percent spike in utility rates and a likely increase in natural gas and oil prices, isn't nearly sufficient for those lining up for LIHEAP money.

CHESHIRE TOWN CLEAN-UP A SUCCESS

Volunteers with Saturday's town cleanup in Cheshire reported to the Selectmen that the day was a great success. Nearly 40 residents helped in the cleanup. The project was spearheaded by resident John Tremblay and the group cleaned areas such as Wells Road, Town Hall, Stafford Hill, the Community Center, and the elementary school.

LOCAL JOBLESS RATE TICKS UP

Berkshire County unemployment exceeded the 6 percent threshold in September for the first time in four months. The state Office of Labor and Workforce Development says the number of unemployed county workers increased slightly last month, but the county's total labor force decreased by more than 1,200 workers. According to the figures released yesterday, the local jobless rate ticked up from 5.7 percent in August to 6.1 percent in September. State unemployment is currently 6 percent, slightly higher than the national rate of 5.9 percent.



    PEDA hoped the company who chose to do the final assembly in Pittsfield would be chosen but they weren't. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)


PEDA CHIEF SAYS SPRINGFIELD RAIL CAR CONTRACT BENEFITS BERKSHIRES

While PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston is disappointed the William Stanley Business Park won't be the manufacturing site for the new Red and Orange Line cars, he says the plan to build them in Springfield will still be a benefit to the Berkshires. Governor Patrick announced this week that CNR Changchun was being recommended for the contract with the intentions to bring 250 jobs to a former Westinghouse plant. IBerkshires.com reports that CNR is proposing to build a brand-new 150,000 square-foot North American headquarters and make Springfield its permanent home. Thurston says it's a critical investment in the future of public transportation in Greater Boston and in the economic well-being of Western Massachusetts.



    North Street is in the tail end of a decadelong reconstruction. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 

PITTSFIELD GETS $4.5 MILLION TO FINISH NORTH STREET WORK

The city has the money to finish reconstructing North Street. IBerkshires.com is reporting that Gov. Deval Patrick has announced that $4.5 million in MassWorks grant funding will be awarded to complete the fourth and final phase of the project. Mayor Dan Bianchi says that with the money, the city should be able to finish the streetscape project. The Streetscape Project vision began in 2005 with the development of downtown master plan.

PITTSFIELD TEEN HELD AFTER CRACK BUST

A city teen accused of selling crack cocaine to a police informant is being held without bail. According to police, 19 year old James Pierson Jr., of Springside Avenue, was arrested by members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force about 5pm on Friday of last week, in the middle of a drug deal in a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up on Columbus Avenue extension near Onota Street. Investigators said when they approached the vehicle Pierson had a bag of cocaine weighing about 12 grams in his hand and there were several $10 bills sitting on the seat between Pierson and a woman in the truck's driver's seat. Pierson was arrested and when taken into custody allegedly had $181 in cash on his person.

COAKLEY AND BAKER DEBATE ISSUES LAST NIGHT

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley and her Republican challenger, Charlie Baker sparred on jobs, schools and services for families and children in a televised debate last night. Coakley says if elected, she would focus on building a sustainable economy from the ground up, while Baker says he would focus on strengthening local economies in struggling parts of the state. The Three independent candidates, Even Falchuck, Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively were not included in last night's debate.

IREDALE TAKES OVER SEARLES MIDDLE SCHOOL

Iredale Cosmetics, nearing completion of the makeover of the former Bryant Elementary School, has now completed a takeover of the adjacent former Searles Middle School. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Iredale COO Robert Montgomery confirmed that his company made a $640,000 payment to the town last week. That was the final payment that was supposed to be made by Camus Corporation, a New Jersey developer who submitted the initial request for proposal to the town in 2009. At that time, Camus unveiled an ambitious $19 million mixed-use proposal for the former school building that included affordable housing and retail space. That plan never came to fruition.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ALLEGED ASSAULT SUSPECT SOUGHT

A man wanted in connection with a machete attack in North Adams has been apprehended by New York State Police. North Adams Police reported shortly after 4 p.m. Monday that Joshua Allen, 27, had been taken into custody after a nearly three-day search. A Warrant for Allen was issued Saturday after Allen allegedly attacked his domestic partner in the early morning hours at their Montana Street residence and fled. The incident is under investigation by the North Adams Police Department and Berkshire County district attorney's office.

FALLEN TREE CUTS POWER TO 3,000

A late-night power outage on Sunday left roughly 3,000 customers in North Adams and Clarksburg in the dark until about 6am Monday, according to National Grid. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the outage occurred just after 11pm when a tree fell on a transmission line on Beaver Street in North Adams. Approximately 2,200 customers were affected right when the tree came down on the line. National Grid spokesman, Jake Navarro, said some additional customers lost power as repairs were being made during the restoration process. Power to all but 83 customers was restored by 1:15am by switching most customers to different circuits. According to Navarro, the remaining customers were without power until 6am as repairs were made throughout the night.

DAY OF SERVICE SET FOR SATURDAY

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the City of North Adams announce that a "Day of Service - Fall Edition" will take place on Saturday from 10am to 2pm, throughout the community. Service sites will include the Hillside Cemetery on Route 2 in North Adams, the North Adams Goodwill and various pocket parks. For more than 20 years, MCLA and local residents have come together to clean up and improve the community. The scope and type of projects have evolved over the years, and the number of volunteers has increased significantly.



   The Maple Grove Civic Club is accepting new members from surrounding communities to keep the club going. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 

ADAMS CIVIC CLUB SEEKING BROADER MEMBERSHIP

The Adams Maple Grove Civic Club is casting a wider net to boost enrollment. IBerkshires.com reports that the civics association said it will welcome members from North Adams, Williamstown and other surrounding communities. At one point, the Adams club regularly attracted more than 100 people at its monthly meetings at the Polish National Alliance Hall. But turnout has dipped dramatically, club President Stanley Cote noted at last month's meeting. The 76-year-old civic association brings in speakers to discuss topics of local interest. It's also the only organization that still offers a candidates forum for the annual town election.

GAS PRICES CONTINUE DECLINE IN MA

Massachusetts gas prices continued their downward spiral, dropping another 9 cents per gallon in the past week to an average of $3.17. AAA Southern New England says the cost of a gallon of self-serve, regular in the Bay State has now dropped 22 cents in the past month. Prices are 21 cents lower than at the same time a year ago, and are at their lowest level since February 2011.



      An artists illustration from PEDA's efforts to position Pittsfield and the Berkshires in the MBTA rail car bidding. The contract was awarded to a company that had already selected Springfield as its base. (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)

MBTA RAIL CARS TO BE BUILT IN SPRINGFIELD

Despite local efforts to land a contract to build MBTA rail cars, the city of Springfield will be the beneficiary of a half-billion dollar contract that's expected to generate anywhere between 150 to 300 jobs over the next decade. Governor Patrick was expected to announce today that CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles is the winner of a more than $566,000,000 contract to build Red and Orange Line cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority had worked with the city of Pittsfield and local lenders to induce one of the competing manufacturers for the $1.5 billion project to the Berkshires. Pittsfield and PEDA had earmarked up to $2 million incentives and several local banks had agreed to pool funding and incentives for a Berkshires location.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN LINE FOR STATE GRANT

Six local school districts could land a $300,000 state grant, funding they could use to better educate their students through shared services, programs and administrators. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Lee and Lenox public schools, Richmond Consolidated School and Berkshire Hills, Farmington River and Southern Berkshire regional school districts recently filed a joint application with the governor's Executive Office of Administrative and Finance. Officially, the Patrick administration is expected to rule on the request by year's end, but state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli is pushing for a quicker decision. If approved, the Community Innovative Challenge grant will fund the Southern Berkshire Shared Services Project aimed at increasing the financial and educational efficiency within the six school systems that collectively serving 4,000 students.

PITTSFIELD'S FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS: 77% PASS HEALTH

Diners ought to feel confident about the food they're served in the city - at least 77 percent of the time. A Berkshire Eagle review of 2014's Health Department inspections found most city food establishments were clean and ready to serve. But inspectors from the city's Health Department found at least one food-borne illness risk in the remaining 23 percent of eateries. Thus, 98 of 127 inspected food establishments were reported as performing admirably. All but two inspections were up to date, according to the Health Department's reports.

SCHOOL, CITY PREPARE FOR BIG DECISIONS

Soon enough, the Pittsfield City Council will be asked to authorize spending some $40 million of taxpayer money to build a new high school. IBerkshires.com reports that the School Building Needs Commission invited both the City Council and the School Committee to a joint meeting yesterday to detail the steps that have been taken in an effort to keep the boards up to date each step of the way. Building a new Taconic High School dates back about a decade, when concern for the facility was cited as lacking by the New England School Development Council.

COMMUNITIES RAISE CONCERNS OVER RIVER CLEAN-UP PLAN

The six communities that have banded together to alter the Environmental Protection Agency's current Housatonic River PCB removal plan are strongly urging the agency to protect Pittsfield and five towns downstream from any damage caused by the project. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that a firmly worded letter to the EPA, which awaits the signature of all six members of the Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee, lists four major concerns about the proposed permit for GE's cleanup. Topping those concerns, the plan fails to acknowledge the economic and social impact of the massive, 13-year, 613 million dollar project on Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and Sheffield that would be caused by excavation, dredging and toxic chemical removal activities and related truck traffic.

PITTSFIELD MAN HELD WITHOUT BAIL IN KNIFE THREAT

A Pittsfield man is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing for allegedly putting a knife to his girlfriend's throat early Saturday and threatening her. According to police, 38 year old Michael Eurquhart allegedly punched the 30-year-old woman in the face about 12:30am during an argument about her having gone to dinner with friends. Eurquhart was ordered the defendant held without the right to bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Friday. If he is found to be a danger to the public, he could be held without bail for up to 120 days. The woman, who suffered cuts, swelling, and contusions, was given a restraining order for a year.

WOMAN KICKED FOR NOT LIGHTING CIGARETTE

A New Jersey man is free on $250 bail after denying he pushed a stranger to the ground and kicked her when she refused to give him a light for his cigarette. 30 year old Ramel Ortiz, of Trenton, N. J., allegedly approached the woman outside the Cumberland Farms convenience store on First Street and asked to borrow a lighter to light his cigarette, but when she refused, police said, Ortiz became "assaultive," pushing the woman to the ground and kicking her. The 36 year old unidentified woman told Pittsfield police she was able to get up and get her phone out to call 911, but that Ortiz knocked it from her hand and smashed it. Police arrived and Ortiz ran off.

ELECTION MINI REPORT

With just two weeks until Election Day, Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker are set to square off tonight in a televised debate. The debate is sponsored by WGBH and The Boston Globe. Three independent candidates are also on the ballot, but were not included in the debate. The election is November 4th. Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of the four questions on the November 4th ballot are continuing to raise and spend millions as they try to sway Massachusetts voters. According to campaign finance reports, the groups have raised nearly $16.2 million, and have already spent $13.8 million of that.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN LINE FOR STATE GRANT

Six local school districts could land a $300,000 state grant, funding they could use to better educate their students through shared services, programs and administrators. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Lee and Lenox public schools, Richmond Consolidated School and Berkshire Hills, Farmington River and Southern Berkshire regional school districts recently filed a joint application with the governor's Executive Office of Administrative and Finance. Officially, the Patrick administration is expected to rule on the request by year's end, but state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli is pushing for a quicker decision. If approved, the Community Innovative Challenge grant will fund the Southern Berkshire Shared Services Project aimed at increasing the financial and educational efficiency within the six school systems that collectively serving 4,000 students.

REMINDER: SPECIAL TOWN MEETING ON ALFORD TONIGHT

The town of Alford is holding a special town meeting tonight at the Alford Fire Station. Town meeting voters will have their say on two articles. The first will see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to take all necessary and appropriate action to establish and to maintain a municipal lighting plant. The second will see if the Town will appropriate a sum of money to pay the costs of purchasing the land and building for that plant located at Seven Alford Center Road. The special meeting is slated for a 7pm start tonight.

FUND REACHES $1M IN SCHOLARSHIPS

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation says the McLaughlin-Wilson Scholarship Fund has given a total of $ 1 million since its 1994 inception. The fund, created by Edith Wilson in memory of her life partner Marjorie McLaughlin, is designed to help students pursue a college education. This year, $ 62,000 was awarded to 14 students from Monterey. The next round of applications is due April 1st, 2015.

BAKER, COAKLEY TO FACE EACH OTHER IN DEBATE

BOSTON (AP) - With just two weeks until Election Day, Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker are set to square off for a televised debate for governor minus the three independent candidates. Baker and Coakley are locked in a dead heat and each is hoping to reach out to potential supporters while avoiding any gaffes that could cost them the election. The debate is sponsored by WGBH and The Boston Globe. Coakley and Baker have stepped up their campaigning in recent weeks as they vie for an edge. Each candidate has also increased their advertising as they compete to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick in the state's top political office. Three independent candidates - Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick - also are on the ballot, but were not included in the debate. The election is Nov. 4.

GROUPS SPENDING MILLIONS ON BALLOT QUESTIONS

BOSTON (AP) - Supporters and opponents of the four questions on the Nov. 4 ballot are continuing to raise and spend millions as they try to sway Massachusetts voters. The groups have raised nearly $16.2 million - and have already spent $13.8 million of that - according to campaign finance reports. The biggest spender has

Friday, October 17, 2014
 
STATE HEALTH CONNECTOR LAUNCHING OPEN ENROLLMENT, NEW WEBSITE  
 
State officials are confident that enrolling residents in health care programs will be a lot smoother this year. IBerkshires.com reports that on November 15th, the state will again start an open enrollment with a newly built health connector website in hopes to sign some 400,000 residents to health insurance programs. Last year the website was fraught with errors, leaving many unable to purchase insurance. Heath Connector Executive Director Jean Yang said yesterday that she is confident with the state's effort to not only rebuild the website and but also to roll out a successful open enrollment.
 
NORTH ADAMS COUNCIL OPPOSES TENNESSEE GAS PIPELINE  
 
The North Adams City Council has joined a growing group of municipalities opposing the proposed $4 billion Tennessee Gas Pipeline through the state. IBerkshires.com reports that a cautious City Council previously delayed a resolution against the controversial Tennessee Gas Pipeline. However, after the Public Services Committee discussed the issue and unanimously agreed with the resolution the council followed suit.
 
CHESHIRE WOMAN ALLEGEDLY STOLE $80K FROM FAMILY MEMBER'S SAFE
 
A Cheshire woman accused of stealing about $80,000 from a family member remains free after pleading not guilty to four felonies. According to Dalton Police, 35 year old Kelly O'Laughlin, of Willow Cove, allegedly broke into the Dalton home of a family member on September 4th and stole the cash from a safe located inside the house. O'Laughlin pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday to two counts of felony receiving stolen property over $250 and single counts of breaking and entering in the daytime for a felony and larceny from a building. She was released on personal recognizance with the condition she have no contact with the alleged victims. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for January 20th.  
 
ADAMS GALLERY PUTTING ON PLAY BASED ON LOCAL MILL WORKERS  
 
The 5 Hoosac Street gallery in Adams will feature the play “Maids in the Mills” this weekend. Author Peter Bergman said the play, originally showed in 2004 in Pittsfield, is based on the history of women immigrants who worked in Pittsfield's woolen mills. It follows the lives and mistreatment of Polish and Irish immigrant women in the mills and spans from 1870 to 1912. The one act play will show tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30.  
 
SCARECROWS ON THE MOHAWK TRAIL  
 
More than 120 scarecrows will be popping up all along the 63 miles of Mohawk Trail from Williamstown east to Athol this weekend. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Chambers of commerce all along the trail have been collaborating on the Scarecrow Project to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Mohawk Trail to motorists. Workshops have been set up to help folks make their scarecrows. Dozens of businesses have been making scarecrows to highlight their locations on or near the Mohawk Trail, and even some families are getting in on the fun. Nearly 130 businesses, clubs, or individuals have registered to make scarecrows and more are coming. 
 
NORTH ADAMS LIBRARY AWARDED FEDERAL GRANT  
 
The North Adams Public Library has won a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The North Adams Public Library has received a $7,500 federal grant to be used for the library’s proposed “Science is Everywhere” project that will serve all North Adams students in grades 3, 4 and 5. The grant will finance materials, programs, and activities related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
 
BERKSHIRE BATTALION KICK OFF SEASON TONIGHT
 
Berkshire Battalion, the Berkshires new professional hockey team based in North Adams, will get its inaugural season underway tonight. The team will take the ice at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink for its first-ever game against the Southwest Pennsylvania Magic at 7:30.
 
TRAINING FOR EBOLA IN THE BERKSHIRES  
 
With the Ebola scare echoing around the globe, local health officials are well on their way to getting ready for such an occurrence in the Berkshires. The Berkshire Eagle reports that while no one has come down with the virus in Western Massachusetts, local preparedness training for treatment of patients who are found to have Ebola began in September and continues on a daily basis, according to Berkshire Medical Center officials. According to a spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, BMC is ahead of most other hospitals in acquiring equipment and training its employees for such a scenario.
 
PITTSFIELD MAN ADMITS VIDEOTAPING HIMSELF RAPING CHILDREN
 
A convicted child pornographer is facing decades in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted three young girls on video. 35 year old Jason Gendron, of Pittsfield, filmed himself abusing three children, then aged 3, 7, and 13. Federal prosecutors ended up charging Gendron with the child pornography, while the Berkshire District Attorney's Office handled the child sex assault charges. Gendron pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to 10 charges, including multiple counts of child rape aggravated by an age difference and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He is currently being held on $100,000 cash or $1 million surety bail. A federal detainer has also been placed on the defendant, meaning even if he were to make bail, he would still be held at the federal level.
 
PITTSFIELD COUNCIL LOOKS AT CIVIL SERVICE REPORT  
 
The Pittsfield City Council will further review recommendations that the city replace Civil Service with an alternate system for its police and fire chiefs. The council voted on Tuesday to have its Committee on Public Health and Safety take up an examination of a series of recommendations put forth by a task force put together by the mayor. IBerkshires.com reports that the task force has been looking at the issues surrounding the role of civil service in the appointment of public safety department heads over several months. The council decided it was not yet ready to make a decision on the committee's recommendations, which were generated in May and forwarded to the council by Mayor Bianchi this week.
 
 FINAL THIRD THURSDAY LAST NIGHT  
 
The final Third-Thursday celebration of the season was held last night on North Street in Pittsfield. Although the day brought downpours and darkened skies threatened to dampen the downtown festival, the rain held up and there warmer-than-usual October temperatures last night. The event’s footprint was truncated -- between Columbus Avenue and Park Square -- but that didn’t stop people, princesses and superheroes from roaming North Street to take advantage of all the fun and treats sponsored by local businesses, organizations and vendors.
 
GREAT BARRINGTON SELECTMEN ENDORSE PROPOSED $51M SCHOOL UPGRADE
 
All three member towns of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District have formally endorsed a $51.2 million plan to renovate Monument Mountain Regional High School. The Great Barrington select board voted 4-1 in favor of the plan this past Tuesday night. The Stockbridge and West Stockbridge boards of selectmen had previously voted unanimously to support the project. Voters from all three member towns will get their say on Election Day in a little more than three weeks.
 
SPECIAL TOWN MEETING ON ALFORD TUESDAY  
 
The town of Alford will hold a special town meeting on Tuesday night at the Alford Fire Station. Town meeting voters will have their say on two articles. The first will see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to take all necessary and appropriate action to establish and to maintain a municipal lighting plant. The second will see if the Town will appropriate a sum of money to pay the costs of purchasing the land and building for that plant located at Seven Alford Center Road. The special meeting is scheduled to begin at 7pm on Tuesday.
 
SHEFFIELD: BTCF AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS
 
The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has awarded more than $439,000 in scholarships to 207 students in its tri-state coverage area for the 2014-15 academic year. Of that sum, nearly $234,000 was awarded to 152 Berkshire County students from 34 of the foundation’s scholarship funds. That amount includes almost $81,000 that was awarded to 79 students from the Crane Fund for Student Aid and the Winthrop Crane Fund for Graduate Student Aid, two funds that offer Central Berkshire Regional School District students a future of learning opportunities and chances to excel. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

 
 
ECU-HEALTH CARE MOVING BACK TO FORMER NORTH ADAMS HOSPITAL SITE
 
Ecu-Health Care, a nonprofit community organization that provides Northern Berkshire residents with information and application assistance to access state health insurance programs, has announced that it will relocate to the Northern Berkshire Campus of Berkshire Medical Center, effective October 24th. IBerkshires.com reports that Ecu-Health Care will occupy the second floor office it had used for many years prior to the closing of the former North Adams Regional Hospital at 71 Hospital Ave. The office is in the former Doctor’s Building, located between the Ambulatory Care Center and the Clark House. Ecu-Health Care is currently located at 26 Union Street in North Adams. The office will be closed on October 23rd for the move and reopening on October 24th.
 
DISCUSSION SET ON NARH CLOSURE
 
Williams College students are hosting a community discussion on the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital at 7:30 tonight at the school’s Dodd House at 64 Mission Park Drive. The event will include five speakers including a former nurse, doctor, an ambulance driver, the Williams College chaplain, and an economics professor. Community members will be invited to share their stories during an open mic.



 
     The Board of Selectmen approved the lease agreement that will allow the long-awaited Greylock Glen project to move forward. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 
ADAMS SIGNS LEASE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH GREYLOCK GLEN
 
The Adams Board of Selectmen has signed a lease agreement to make the Greylock Glen “shovel ready.” Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan said yesterday that the complicated agreement with the state is a critical step in the project which is believed to revitalize Adams as well as add a new destination to the Northern Berkshires. The latest plan calls for campgrounds, hiking trails, conference center and an amphitheater. The town has already built utility infrastructure up to the property and is looking to build out the campgrounds next.
 
BERKSHIRE BATTALION READY TO HIT THE ICE
 
Berkshire Battalion, the Berkshires new professional hockey team based in North Adams, will start its inaugural season tomorrow night. The team will take the ice at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink for its first-ever game against the Southwest Pennsylvania Magic. Dan Farrell has been with the club as its head coach and director of hockey operations for about a month. He’s making final preparations and getting his lines set for the team’s debut tomorrow night at 7:30.





    The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority is optimistic that the rail car contract will be awarded to a company looking to build in the Berkshires. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)  
 
PEDA HOPEFUL FOR LOCAL RAIL CAR JOBS
 
With an announcement expected from the state next month, local economic development officials remain optimistic a new rail car assembly plant could be located in the Berkshires. IBerkshires.com reports that the $1.5 billion dollar state contract to build new cars for the MBTA's Red and Orange lines has been the subject of vigorous competition by several Massachusetts communities, who see the decade long project as a significant source of new manufacturing jobs. The exact date by which the state will award one bidder the lucrative contract is uncertain, but an announcement is expected to happen sometime in November.






    The City Council opted to delay casting a vote on whether or not they support the Tennessee Gas Pipeline project. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)


PITTSFIELD COUNCIL POSTPONES VOTE ON GAS PIPELINE  

The Pittsfield City Council is waiting a little bit longer before taking a stand on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline project. The controversial Tennessee Gas Pipeline project looks to build out a new pipeline to carry natural gas from New York State, through the Berkshires and most of Massachusetts, and up to Maine. Nearly five months ago Berkshire towns began to publicly oppose the project. IBerkshires.com reports that the City Council on Tuesday was asked to follow suit, but they instead delayed taking a vote on whether or not to oppose the project. The delay came after Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Jonathan Butler implored the council to do so until more information can be gathered from the business community.
 
THIRD THURSDAY SHIFTS EVENTS TONIGHT
 
The map and schedule for Third Thursday events in Pittsfield tonight have been modified to account for soggy weather and heavy visitation traffic for former mayor, Anne Wojtkowski. The final celebration of the year will be run from 5 to 7 p.m. according to the Office of Cultural Development. North Street will only be closed from Park Square to Columbus Avenue. The rest of North Street, from Columbus Avenue to Maplewood Avenue, will remain open out of respect for visitors attending calling hours for Mayor Wojtkowski, which will be from 3 to 7 p.m. at Dery Funeral Home on Bradford Street.





    Timothy Mulcahy of the University of Albany and BCC President Ellen Kennedy signed an articulation agreement to link their atmospheric science programs. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 
BCC PARTNERS WITH UALBANY'S ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE PROGRAM
 
Berkshire Community College has partnered with the University of Albany to support student wishing to study atmospheric science. College President Ellen Kennedy has signed an articulation agreement with U-Albany to create a seamless transition for students from the two-year atmospheric science study at BCC to finishing off a Bachelor's Degree at the Albany school. Previously, those from Berkshire County who knew they could pursue a career in atmospheric studies had to go to four-year institutions out of town.
 
BRPC ANNUAL DINNER AND MEETING TONGHT
 
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is holding its 48th annual Meeting and Dinner tonight at the Pittsfield Country Club. This year’s dinner will provide an opportunity to learn about legislative priorities from our Berkshire state legislators and to discuss key issues with them in a legislative round table. The Berkshires five state legislators: State Senator Ben Downing, Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Representative Gailanne Cariddi and Representative Paul Mark will all be in attendance for an evening of informative discussion. It gets underway at 5:30 with a social hour before the dinner begins at 6:30.
 
 LAWMAKERS TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON EBOLA RESPONSE
 
A legislative panel is trying to determine if Massachusetts is ready to deal with Ebola. The Legislature's Public Health Committee has scheduled an oversight hearing today to review response plans by the state should any cases be reported in Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick has tried to reassure the public, noting that there have been no cases of Ebola in Massachusetts and the likelihood of the disease reaching the state is low. But he added the state's health care system was gearing up, just in case.
 
HEALEY, MILLER VIE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
 
With weeks to go before Election Day, the two candidates for Massachusetts attorney general are scrambling to reach out to new voters and maintain enthusiasm among core supporters while offering competing visions for the state's top law enforcement office. For Republican candidate John Miller, the job may be tougher as he races to introduce himself to voters. Unlike Democratic candidate Maura Healey, Miller faced no primary opponents, and only recently began airing television ads. Both candidates are hoping to fill the seat left open by Attorney General Martha Coakley's decision to run for governor.
 
GREAT BARRINGTON: $170K RAISED AT GALA
 
Fairview Hospital raised more than $170,000 at its 2014 “Second Century of Caring” gala in September. The event was a grand celebration for Berkshire Health Systems’ 25-bed critical access hospital in Great Barrington. The funding will be used to invest in new anesthesiology technology. Community and business leader Cheryl Raifstanger was also honored for her dedication to Fairview. A silent auction, organized by committee member Frani Rothman, included more than 20 items that together raised more than $23,000.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


    (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
 
COUNCIL TO DECIDE SOLAR LEASE  
 
The North Adams City Council will be asked tonight to approve a lease agreement that will clear the way for a 3.5 megawatt solar array at the former landfill. The council will also decide resolutions to for a full-service hospital and against a controversial natural gas transmission line. IBerkshires.com reports that the contracts with Borrego Solar Systems also include a negotiated power-purchase agreement expected to save the city more than $200,000 a year in energy costs. The solar company will lease the capped landfill for $12,000 a year over 20 years and be responsible for installation, operation and removal.




    The Firehouse Cafe on Park Street has closed but owner William Kolis hopes it can still play a part in community gatherings and possibly be resurrected in the future (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 
FIRE HOUSE CAFÉ CLOSES IN ADAMS  
 
Barely nine months after it opened, the Firehouse Cafe in Adams has closed its doors but the eatery’s owner says it will continue to live on in "spirit." IBerkshires.com reports that William Kolis said although the cafe will no longer operate as a restaurant, he would still like it to be used by the town. He says he is closing it down with the thought of using it for other purposes in the interim, but eventually reopening it sometime in the future. The eatery announced on its closing on September 22nd on its now-deleted Facebook page.
 
TIMES COLUMNIST TO SPEAK AT MCLA
 
First-year students at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have been delving into the international struggles of women through a community-wide read of the 2010 best-selling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Nicholas Kristof, and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, both New York Times journalists. Tomorrow night, students will have the opportunity to meet Kristof, as he visits the campus to deliver this fall’s Hardman Lecture, at 7 p.m., in MCLA’s Amsler Campus Center gymnasium. This program is free and open to the public through the Hardman Family Endowment.
 
GAS PRICES CONTINUE TO DECLINE NATIONALLY AND IN MASSACHUSETTS
 
A national survey of gas prices reports that Americans are paying 12 cents on average less than they were three weeks ago. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says that the average for regular grade gas is $3.26 per gallon. Lundberg says the price has decreased for 16 weeks, crediting lower crude oil prices. The price at the pump in Massachusetts is down six cents from last week, according to AAA Southern New England, and that mirrors the national downward trend. AAA’s August 12th survey of prices in Massachusetts found self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $3.50 per gallon, down six cents from last week. Prices locally are 17 cents lower than a month ago.
 
BULLET GRAZES PITTSFUIELD MAN  
 
A city man suffered minor injuries early Saturday after being grazed by a bullet while walking with friends on Danforth Avenue. According to police, just before 12:30 a.m. Saturday, police responded to Friends Grille, at 117 Seymour Street, for a disturbance in the parking lot. Police Capt. John Mullin told The Berkshire Eagle that a short time after breaking up the disturbance, a 31-year-old city man reported to a police officer that he and several of his friends were walking on Danforth Avenue after leaving the incident at the restaurant when they were shot at by unidentified suspects.
 
$200K AWARDED IN CRASH
 
The family of a victim involved in a 2012 crash in Lenox has been awarded nearly $200,000 in a civil case brought against one of the drivers in the four-vehicle wreck. A Berkshire Superior Court jury last week ruled in favor of a claim made by the estate of Linwood Dodge that the driver, 33 year old Chad Lemaire, of Pittsfield, was negligent in the October 4th, 2012, crash. Dodge, a Stockbridge resident, died of a heart attack about 2 1/2 months later.
 
SHAKESPEARE AND CO ARTISTIC DIRECTOR LEAVING  
 
Shakespeare & Company founding member, Tony Simotes, announced yesterday that he is stepping down from his position as artistic director. The announcement comes after a nearly six-year run as artistic director. His final day with the Lenox acting company will be November 10th, well before his contract is due to expire in May. The reason for his sudden departure was not made evident. The 63 year old Simotes is credited with saving the theater from financial ruin as it faced $10 million in debts in 2009. He was named to the position in January of that year after company founder and longtime artistic director Tina Packer stepped aside from her management role.  
  
BOSTON OFFICIALS OUTLINE EBOLA PRECAUTIONS
 
Boston's top health official said the city has seen three to four possible cases of Ebola since the latest outbreak began ravaging West Africa but no confirmed cases. Dr. Anita Barry, head of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission, said all possible cases of the deadly virus turned out to be other illnesses, including malaria and typhoid fever. Barry's comments focused on the city's system to identify and manage suspected cases of Ebola as well as steps the city has taken to educate and protect residents.
 
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE WEDNSDAY
 
Tomorrow is the deadline to register to vote or change party affiliation for the November 4th state election. Voters may check their voter registration status or download an absentee ballot application on the Secretary of Commonwealth website. Absentee ballot applications are also available at City and Town Halls throughout the county. Residents can vote absentee if they will be absent from their city or town on Election Day, have a physical disability that prevents them from voting at the polling place, or cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs. Applications for absentee ballots must be made in writing no later than noon Monday, November 3rd.
 
COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT MEETING TONIGHT  
 
A fourth in a series of informational meetings on the Community Preservation Act will be held at Egremont’s Town Hall at 6pm tonight. Ria Knapp from the Community Preservation Coalition and Jack Spencer, a member of the CPA Committee of Stockbridge answered questions last April before Town Meeting. The session was so successful that they have agreed to come back. Frederick Keator, the Chair of the CPA Committee in Lenox, will join them and add his perspective on the promise and perils of CPA as Lenox has experienced it. The Community Preservation Act is on the ballot November 4th.


Monday, October 13, 2014
 
COUNCIL WEIGHS RESOLUTION IN NORTH ADAMS  
 
The North Adams City Council will weigh a resolution tomorrow that calls on Berkshire Medical Center to expand services at its North Adams campus. IBerkshires.com reports that although the council doesn’t have any legal weight in what services BMC ultimately chooses to bring to North Adams, the proposal would represent the first time it has formally weighed in on the issue. Berkshire Health Systems, the parent of Berkshire Medical Center, acquired North Adams Regional Hospital earlier this year and has since opened an emergency department and outpatient diagnostic imaging center. North Adams Regional Hospital closed on March 28th and declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy shortly thereafter. 
 
NEW TOWER ON TRACK IN NORTH ADAMS
 
A new communications tower on the Western Summit is on track to being completed in early November and cell service providers should be on the new structure in the following months. North Adams Tower president Cory Thurston said this week that the company is finalizing building permits for the 195-foot tower. The tower will replace two communications towers along the Mohawk Trail that collapsed in a windstorm last spring. 
 
NORTH ADAMS CEMETERY COMMISSION RAISES BURIAL FEES
 
The North Adams Cemetery Commission has agreed to interment fee increases that will be effective the first of the year. Most of the fees were raised by $100, however, the commission decided to double the price of a removal of body from $250 to $500. In addition to the new interment fees, the commission went over new signage for Southview Cemetery. The commission favored black lettering on a white background and discusses posting new rules and regulations somewhere on the sign. These updated rules will be discussed during the next commission meeting.  
 
MCCANN RECOGNIZES CLASS OF 2015 RPI SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT  
 
McCann Technical School senior Andrew Corsi has been awarded the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Scholarship Award during last week’s McCann School Committee meeting. IBerkshires.com reports that like many other schools, McCann has a relationship with RPI. Every year, one student who has excelled in math and science at the school is selected by a screening process conducted by the guidance department and the principal. If Corsi decides to apply to RPI and is accepted, he will receive, at a minimum, $15,000 a year for four years.
 
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE LOOMING
 
The registration deadline for voters in Massachusetts is fast approaching. Wednesday is the final day to register to vote or change one's voting address or party affiliation for the November 4th state election. Absentee ballots are already available.
 
GAS TAX BALLOT QUESTION ARGUMENTS
If approved, Question 1 on the November ballot wouldn't lower the state's gas tax, but it could stop future increases that would otherwise occur automatically and without any say by lawmakers. Supporters of the initiative view that as a clear-cut case of "taxation without representation." Those urging a no vote on the question warn that passage would seriously undermine progress in fixing crumbling state infrastructure. 
 
PITTSFIELD MAN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED KOTO BURGLARY  
 
A homeless city man acquitted five months ago of a string of break-ins in downtown Lenox, faces charges he allegedly stole cash from a Coltsvile restaurant early Sunday morning. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 45 year old Timothy Welch is accused of burglarizing the Koto Hibachi Steakhouse on Dalton Avenue around 4:20am by smashing the front door with large rocks. According to police, Welch was arrested about 90 minutes after Koto's alarm sounded alerting police to the break-in. Officers found the suspect on Benedict Road near the Gerald S. Doyle Sr. Softball Complex with the undetermined amount of money they believe was taken from the restaurant. Welch has been charged with breaking and entering into a building at night with intent to commit a felony, larceny from a building and vandalism in connection with the break-in. He is being held in the Berkshire County House of Correction on $20,000 cash bail pending arraignment tomorrow morning in Central Berkshire District Court. 
 
ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS IN 10 BERKSHIRE TOWNS SEEING GROUP BENEFITS
 
Customers of National Grid and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. in Clarksburg, Florida, Dalton, Lenox, New Marlborough, North Adams, Sheffield, Tyringham, Williamstown and West Stockbridge will automatically be given a nearly 12.2 per kilowatt hour rate on their electric bills. The towns joined together this year for the group purchasing option that runs from November to November. This is the first year the 10 municipalities have done the program.
  
PITTSFIELD YOUTH COMMISSION ADVISES CITY ON OUTREACH
 
Pittsfield’s new Youth Commission got down to business at its recent second regular meeting, electing officers and weighing in on the need to bring young people into an ongoing “community conversation” on youth, gangs, and violence. IBerkshires.com reports that Adam Hinds, the city's Shannon Grant coordinator, said there have been six recent meetings in total, beginning with a large community summit that drew more than 250 residents to Morningside Community School last month. That meeting promulgated a "community action plan" that was developed "to identify what it is the city is doing wrong for local youth."
 
CULTURAL OFFICE EXPLORING CHANGES
 
As it approaches 10 years old, the city's Cultural Development Department is looking to refine some of key components of its operations. IBerkshires.com reports that a subcommittee of the Community Development Board has begun the process of assessing the current and potential usages of the department's Renne (REN-ee) Avenue home, the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. Among the issues to be considered is the nature of tenancy for artists, some of whom have utilized studio spaces in its upper floors for many years.
 
TWO HURT IN THREE CAR ACCIDENT
 
Two women were hospitalized with serious injuries following a three-car accident that happened last Wednesday night on Stockbridge Road. According to police, a 2006 Audi, driven by 71 year old Carolyn Jeffrey, of Cottage Street, was heading southbound on Stockbridge Road at about 4:20pm when it crossed over both northbound lanes and struck head-on a 2011 Lexus SUV driven by 61 year old Donna McKenna, of Wilton, Connecticut.  A third vehicle, a 2007 Nissan driven by 29 year old Caitlin Harrison, of Lenox, also heading southbound, rear-ended the Lexus.  Airbags deployed on all three vehicles, and all three drivers were wearing seatbelts. The Jaws of Life were used to extract Jeffrey and McKenna from their vehicles. Both women were transported to Berkshire Medical Center with "serious" injuries, according to police. All three vehicles were badly damaged and had to be towed from the scene. The accident remains under investigation.
 
LENOX APPEALS TO WASHINGTON  
 
Town leaders are ramping up efforts to alter the proposed route of the Tennessee Gas Co. pipeline project in order to protect the watershed on Lenox Mountain as well as Kennedy Park. The Berkshire Eagle reports that a strongly worded letter approved by the Select Board and Town Manager Christopher Ketchen was sent to the state’s federal delegation in Washington, D.C., this week, asserting that the town lacks the authority to protect itself against predation by a large corporation with federally granted powers of eminent domain. The appeal, written by Select Board Chairman Channing Gibson, urged Democratic U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to ensure that the town does not become the victim of misinformation, a poor federal permitting process, or any unwarranted harm to its public and private lands.
 
 
IS MASS READY FOR EBOLA?  
 
A legislative panel wants to find out if Massachusetts is ready to deal with Ebola. The public health committee has scheduled an oversight hearing for Thursday to review response plans by the state should any cases be reported in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Boston public health officials say a patient who had been to Liberia and whose symptoms forced a brief shutdown of a Braintree medical center was not a high risk for Ebola. The patient arrived at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Braintree yesterday. 
 
CLINTON IN MASSACHUSETTS THIS WEEK TO SUPPORT COAKLEY  
 
Former President Bill Clinton is heading to Massachusetts this week to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley. Clinton is scheduled to be at Clark University in Worcester on Thursday. The event is open to the public, although tickets will be required.
 
 
 
 
MASS ECONOMY SHOWING SOME GROWTH
 
Economists are expressing cautious optimism that the Massachusetts economy will continue to show moderate growth through the rest of the year and first quarter of 2015. However, a recent report from the editorial board of MassBenchmarks cites some serious challenges. The board notes that many parts of the state have yet to benefit from growth in the technology sector that has been largely focused on greater Boston.
 
YOUNG VICTIMS OF NEW YORK QUADRUPLE KILLING NAMED
 
Two young brothers found slain with their parents last week in a suburban Albany home are being described by their principal as "kind, gentle and joyful" boys. The bodies of 10-year-old Anthony Chen and his 7-year-old brother Eddy were found Wednesday with their parents. School officials named the boys Saturday. The bodies of 39-year-old Jin Feng Chen and his 38-year-old wife Hai Yan Li were also found in the home along a busy road west of Albany. Police identified them last week but declined to identify the children because of their age. Authorities have not released details.
Friday, October 10, 2014

    The superintendency committee for Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary schools heard an update on the superintendent search committee and elected Valerie Hall, left, as its chairman. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

 
WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH PROGRESSING  

The search committee for the next superintendent of Williamstown's and Lanesborough's schools is staying on track with its timetable to replace the retiring Rose Ellis. IBerkshires.com reports that the chairman of the Lanesborough School Committee on Tuesday reported to her colleagues at a meeting of Superintendency Union 71 that the search committee is scheduled to meet on October 15th to review applications for the post.  SU-71, a union of Williamstown Elementary and Lanesborough Elementary schools, shares central administration staff, including the superintendent, with Mount Greylock Regional School in an arrangement referred to as the Tri-District. The deadline for applications is today.



     The School Committee was informed about strategies to raise the school's MCAS levels. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)
 
MCCANN LOOKS TO BETTER MCAS SCORES  
 
McCann Technical School is focusing on how to reach the top tier in MCAS scores. The McCann School Committee last night reviewed new strategies the school will adopt to better its chances of closing a proficiency gap and earning a Level 1 school status. Principal Justin Kratz said McCann is already a high-scoring school and it becomes increasingly difficult to score higher because it has already made large accomplishments.
 
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE LOOMING
 
The deadline to register to vote in the Tuesday, November 4th, state election is Wednesday October 15th, for residents here in the Berkshires and for all municipalities in the state. City and town clerks' offices will be open until 8 p.m. on that day. Some of the smaller towns in the Berkshires have varying hours. You should call ahead to your town hall or check your town’s website.  Voters can check their voter registration status on the secretary of commonwealth's website or contact their town or city clerk. Absentee ballots are also available in your local town clerks’ office and on the secretary’s website.
 
BCC BUDGET, A GOOD STORY OVERALL  
 
Berkshire Community College has a tight budget for the current school year, but one that presents "a good story" overall, according to college Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer John Law. Presenting the now-final budget figures for fiscal 2015 to college trustees on Tuesday, Law said a decline in enrollment -- a trend for community colleges statewide -- resulted in less revenue for BCC, but that it has been more than made up for through increases in state funding. He said an expected decrease in revenue from student fees of just more than $400,000 from last year was offset by a more than $876,000 increase in the state appropriation.
 
PITTSFIELD MAN HELD ON DAYTIME ARMED ROBBERY
 
 A 28-year-old Pittsfield- man, Joseph Lamb, accused of the brazen daylight armed robbery last month at Harte’s Package & Variety at 47 Dalton Ave package store is being held on $50,000 bail after denying a felony charge. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Lamb appeared Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court and pleaded not guilty to a single count of armed robbery. The maximum sentence for the crime is life in prison. Lamb remains at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on bail. If he makes bail he must stay away from the package store. He is due back in court on May 13th for a pretrial hearing.
 
FORMER ACES MANAGER GETS 4 YEARS
 
The former general manager of a now-defunct semi-pro football team was sentenced to up to four years in state prison Thursday on drug-dealing charges. The Berkshire Eagle broke the news this morning that 37 year old Lawrence Posey, of Pittsfield, won't be headed to state prison here just yet, as he will first have to serve a 4 1/2-year prison sentence in New York State. In June 2010, Posey sold cocaine to an undercover state police officer in various locations around the county, including New Ashford, where Posey was living at the time. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Richard Locke said he was arrested after seven buys. While out on bail in connection with drug charges in Massachusetts, Posey was arrested just across the border in Columbia County, N.Y., in February 2011. In that case, state police discovered more than four ounces of cocaine in the car in which Posey was a passenger.

    The School Committee has held off on closing WTBR until two required boards overseeing the station can be revived and provide recommendations. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
 
BROAD SUPPORT HEARD FOR KEEPING TACONIC HIGH'S WTBR-FM
 
 The Pittsfield School Committee has held off on closing WTBR until two required boards overseeing the station can be revived and provide recommendations. IBerkshires.com reports that Pittsfield Superintendent Jake McCandless said the School Department will soon begin a three-month process of evaluating WTBR-FM, following an outpouring of public support for the station. In a report presented to the School Committee on Wednesday, McCandless quantified a series of concerns and the next steps he intends to take in examining the school district's operation of the 40-year-old radio station operated out of Taconic High School. McCandless said if the School Department cannot find a way to manage the station internally it can also pursue the potential of partnerships with other commercial or community organizations.


    BRPC's executive committee approved the draft letter to the EPA about the Rest of the River project. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 
BRPC WANTS LANGUAGE HOLDING GE RESPONSIBLE
 
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission wants to make sure General Electric is responsible for all of the pollutants it left behind. IBerkshires.com reports, that hasn't been the case in the past. According to Executive Director Nathaniel Karns, PCBs were found in recent years in the storm-water system near the original Pittsfield plant in an area that was supposedly cleaned up. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding the Pittsfield Economic Development Agency, which now owns the land, responsible for bringing the water system up to its standards.  
 
THIRD, FIFTH GRADERS TOPS IN STATE
 
It’s celebration time at the 145-student Richmond Consolidated School where the third and fifth grades soared into first place statewide on the spring 2014 MCAS math tests. The Berkshire Eagle reports that it was the only Berkshire County school to make the state’s top 10 list in its category, ranking third overall in math and English language arts achievement at the elementary level. Principal Monica Zanin says that since not many K-8 schools remain in Massachusetts, the state categorizes Richmond as an elementary school when it compiles MCAS test results.
 
GREAT BARRINGTON: BSRCC GETS $30K AWARD
 
The Berkshire South Regional Community Center has received a $30,000 award from The Green Foundation to help fund operating expenses. The Green Foundation, founded in 1989, primarily focuses on the arts, education and human services. The foundation’s mission is to uncover new opportunities, encourage growth and ultimately effect positive change within those institutions that best reflect its core focus areas and the communities they serve.
 
ECO CRIME’ AT COVE
 
A Stockbridge attorney is petitioning the town Conservation Commission to symbolically revoke a decision that led to what his client calls an “ecological crime” at Buckley Dunton Pond. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that according to Carl Rosenstein, who owns a home on the 161-acre pond, two herbicide applications this July in a cove at the pond “sterilized” life there. The attorney he retained claims the treatments violated the Wetlands Protection Act, the Clean Water Act, state hazardous waste regulations and even the order of conditions granted by the commission. The town’s Conservation Commission on June 23rd gave its blessing to treat the 8-acre cove in order to manage native aquatic plants bladderwort and floating leaf water shield, which residents said choked the area and made boating and other recreational activities difficult.
 
 TASK FORCE SEEKS GENDER EQUALITY IN WORKFORCE
 
BOSTON (AP) — A state task force is recommending strategies for eliminating wage inequality and creating leadership opportunities for women in the corporate world.
The "Successful Women, Successful Families" task force is releasing its report today at Bentley University.
The report finds that women make up less than 14 percent of the directors at the state's 100 largest companies. And despite recent gains, women still only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a male worker.
Among the task force's recommendations is making sure that girls are selecting the right courses they need in high school to prepare for higher-paying jobs.
Patrick will also announce that 14 large Massachusetts companies have signed on to a corporate challenge to increase the percentages of women in their workforces and serving on their boards.
 


Thursday, October 09, 2014

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

 
NORTH ADAMS SCHOOLS UNVEIL NEW WEBSITE
 
North Adams public schools unveiled a new website on Tuesday that's designed to be informative and user friendly. IBerkshires.com reports that the older site was limited and difficult to update, so the school district has been researching for a suitable vendor for several years. In other business, the school committee heard an update on Colegrove Park School. Paving of the grounds should be done by the end of the week, the roof will be done in November and windows have been ordered. A walk-through for committee members and others is planned for next Friday.




    Town Administrator Carl McKinney reads a letter of apology for comments about town employees made a Selectmen's meeting. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 
CLARKSBURG RAISES SEWER RATES; APOLOGIZES TO EMPLOYEES
 
The Clarksburg Board of Selectmen has approved a three-percent hike in sewer rates. The new rates will go into effective immediately. The average home will see an increase of $17 to $20 a year. Another three-percent increase could come by next June. The action will raise about $7,720 more per year in the sewer enterprise account. The account currently has between $80,000 and $95,000 in it — pending state certification — but town officials are concerned about future depletion.





     Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan said the Memorial School could be repaired enough to be used for some events. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 
ADAMS HOPING TO USE SCHOOL FOR HOLIDAY MARKET
 
The Memorial School building may be used for a holiday market in November. Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan and Tourism Director Samantha Talora met with the Selectmen during a workshop meeting Wednesday to discuss what it would take to have a holiday farmers market in the former middle school.
 
CHESHIRE GETTING BUS REFUND; UPDATED ON PLAYGROUND EFFORTS
The town of Cheshire will receive $37,000 from the Dufour Bus Company because of overbilling last year. IBerksires.com reports that town administrator Mark Webber told the selectmen last night that he spoke to Dufour officials and resolved a billing issue for the transportation of Cheshire's McCann Technical School students to North Adams. Webber said Dufour will pay the town back in four installments before June 30th. 

CITY MAN HELD IN STRING OF BREAK-INS
 
A Pittsfield man wanted for three years on more than 100 charges is being held in jail on $50,000 cash bail in connection with 43 break-in’s from 2011. 37 year old Jason Fuller is facing a minimum of three years in prison on a charge of armed career felon – just one of 110 charges against him in connection with two series of break-ins. Fuller is the last of three men who were charged in the crimes. One of his co- defendants, Daniel Knight, is serving a 10- to 12-year prison sentence for similar charges while a second man, Joseph Berry, was sentenced in February 2013 to 18 months in jail after testifying against Knight.
 
LENOX SCHOOLS EYEING TIGHTER SECURITY
 
The town’s school district is doubling down on consideration of enhanced emergency security and safety precautions, reflecting close ties with local police. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the current priority involves enhanced lockdown and evacuation scenarios at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, as outlined by Assistant Principal Brian Cogswell and Chief Stephen O’Brien during a School Committee presentation on Monday night. Lockdown procedures at the Middle and High School, as well as Morris Elementary School, already include PA system announcements, classroom doors that lock from the inside and related precautions. Cogswell proposed the addition of exterior cameras as well as four interior cameras in hallways of the Middle and High School.




    The Community Development Board gave the OK to Darlene Berryman to expand the office building she owns. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 
PITTSFIELD BOARD APPROVES EXPANSION OF THERAPIST OFFICE BUILDING
 
A shared therapist office building on Gordon Street in Pittsfield was given the Community Development Board's approval to expand.  The Berkshire Eagle reports that Darlene Berryman, who owns the property at 20-22 Gordon Street, was given approval to add offices without expanding the number of parking spaces. She now needs approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to amend the special permit previously granted to her. The offices are shared by at least six doctors but not all of them use it at the same time. Because of that, she had an exemption from the commercial parking requirements. Since then, a 2 1/2 car garage was demolished, expanding number of spaces.




   Student Scott Langlois, Erin Reed of MassDOT, John Pierce of MassDOT, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Principal Kerry Light, student Taibat Ahmed, student Sean Harrigan, MassDOT Chief (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 
MASS-DOT CUTS RIBBON IN PITTSFIELD  
 
Children in the neighborhoods around Silvo O. Conte Community School can now walk safely. In August, the state completed a $400,000 project to build sidewalks around the neighborhood and convert South Atlantic Street into a one-way, which is intended to create traffic flow for drop off and pick up that will limit the number of potential accidents involving vehicles and children. State Department of Transportation officials cut the ribbon on the project yesterday in connection with it being National Walk and Bike to School Day.
 
EASTHAMPTON STORM TOPPLES TREES  
 
The Berkshires came away unscathed, but not every community was spared from yesterday’s forecasted thunderstorms. The National Weather Service says a severe storm that flattened hundreds of trees, brought down power lines and even injured some residents in Easthampton, appears to have been a microburst and not a tornado. The storm hit the rural western Massachusetts town before dawn yesterday and prompted the city’s Mayor Karen to declare a state of emergency. The weather service is sending a team to survey the damage, but based on the way the trees fell, it appears it haven been a microburst.  
 
11th ANNUAL WOMEN IN BUSINESS DAY YESTERDAY
 
Kate Maguire was the keynote speaker during the Berkshire Chamber’s 11th annual Women in Business Day event at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield yesterday. Maguire took the helm at Berkshire Theatre Festival as its CEO in 1994 and presided over its merger with the Colonial Theatre in 2010. Yesterday’s event encouraged growth and leadership. The county’s premier women’s event for professionals expanded from a luncheon to a full day of activities. The morning offered seminars on health, money management, leadership and stress management.
 
CENTRAL BERKSHIRE FUND APPLICATIONS DUE FRIDAY  
 
Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has announced that the Central Berkshire Fund is accepting grant applications through tomorrow (Friday). Applicants must be nonprofit, public agencies or community organizations that provide services to the residents of Becket, Cummington, Dalton, Hinsdale, Peru, Washington, and Windsor. Grants range between $1,000 and $3,000. To apply, go to www.berkshiretaconic.org.  
 
ANTI-CASINO GROUP: CASINOS WILL HURT TOWN BUDGETS  
 
Anti-gambling activists are warning of devastating impacts it says new casinos will have on police, fire and other municipal government services. The Repeal the Casino Deal Campaign, which is behind this November's ballot question to repeal the state's casino law, released a study yesterday detailing how casinos are expected to hurt state lottery revenues that go directly into city and town budgets. The study suggests local aid will drop by about $103 million across the state's 351 municipalities as casinos pull customers and revenue away from lottery games.
 
LEE MEN ARRESTED IN RELATION TO LYNN BREAK-IN
 
Two men arrested on warrants in Lee are being held without bail in connection with a Lynn break-in and gun theft. 42 year old Patrick Geary, of Common Street in Lynn, and 23-year-old Steven Piazzo, of Franklin Street in Lee, were arrested without incident by Lee Police on Tuesday at about 11 p.m., at Piazzo’s residence. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the men were wanted in connection with a break-in and gun theft in Lynn on Monday. Officers, acting on information from Lynn Police, located the suspects’ vehicle in a Lee apartment complex and arrested the men. They were held overnight on $10,000 bail pending their arraignment. Both defendants are facing charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony and receiving stolen firearms.
 
EASTHAMPTON STORM FOUND TO BE MICROBURST
 
EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — The National Weather Service says damage in a severe storm that flattened hundreds of trees and brought down power lines in Easthampton was from a microburst with straight line wind up to 100 mph.
 
The weather service said the storm hit just before 5 a.m. Wednesday. The microburst began on the west side of Mount Tom and moved from southwest to northeast along the edge of the range. It toppled a large number of trees, which covered Route 141 and trapped several cars. Its path was about a mile long and a quarter-mile wide. 
Mayor Karen Cadieux declared a state of emergency. Several homes lost power and were damaged. Fire Chief David Mottor said several residents had minor injuries that did not require hospitalization. 
Police said two motorists were rescued after their vehicles became trapped by fallen wires.
 
KERRY TO WARN OF GLOBAL THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
 
BOSTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to discuss the global threat of climate change after touring a Boston wind technology testing center with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond.
Kerry also plans to deliver remarks Thursday on the importance of investing in renewable energy sources.
The Wind Technology Testing Center on the city's waterfront is the first facility in the country capable of testing large-scale wind turbine blades up to 90 meters in length.
The facility acts as independent certifier of wind blade designs, with the goal of helping the industry bring down the costs of wind blade technologies.
Massachusetts is also home to what could be the nation's first large scale offshore wind farm. The Cape Wind project is a planned 130-turbine facility off the coast of Cape Cod.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014
 
    (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/)
 
SUSPECT CHARGED IN MCLA BOMB THREAT
 
A 21-year-old North Adams man has been charged in Monday's bomb threat that caused a mass evacuation at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. IBerkshires.com is reporting that that Jarrett Ferriter, who resides at the college's Berkshire Towers dormitory on Church Street, was arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court yesterday. He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of willful communication of a bomb threat and willful and malicious communication of false information to a public safety department. Ferriter was released on $1,000 bail on the condition that he abide by a 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew and stay away from the college campus until further notice from MCLA officials. The case is due back in court for a bind-over hearing on November 17th.
 
 WARRANT LEADS TO ARREST OF TWO MCLA STUDENTS ON DRUG CHARGES 
 
Two Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students are facing charges after police seized marijuana, hash oil, and LSD from the student townhouse they shared. The Berkshire Eagle reports that William Boos and Korey Scott, both 20, were arrested after the Berkshire County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant in a room at MCLA's Flagg Townhouses about 8:25 a.m.  The seized drugs were valued at $3,250. Boos pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court yesterday to a charge of class D drug possession with intent to distribute. Scott pleaded not guilty to one count each of manufacturing a class C drug, hash oil, and class B drug possession. Both men were released on personal recognizance.
 
NORTH ADAMS MAN HELD WITHOUT BAIL FOR TRYING TO TORCH HOUSE
 
 A North Adams man is being held without bail after allegedly attempting to set fire to his house after an apparent dispute with his girlfriend. 34 year old Alan Taylor allegedly poured gasoline on his Bradley Street home and charred an area of vinyl siding. Taylor pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to one count each of malicious destruction of property over $250 and arson of a dwelling. A dangerousness hearing will be held Friday to determine whether Taylor should be granted bail in the case.



     An initiative to reduce texting and social media distraction at Mount Greylock Regional School uses bracelets to remind students. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)/Staff
 
MOUNT GREYLOCK STUDENTS ENCOURAGED TO TEXT LESS  
 
Students at Mount Greylock Regional School in Williamstown are being encouraged to spend less time texting. Organizers of the school's inaugural “Text-Less Live-More” event hope yesterday’s kickoff will help students at the junior-senior high school realize that there is more to life than what fits in the palms of their hands. IBerksires.com reports that students Ian Brink and Lucy Barrett organized a preschool rally on Monday where they challenged students in grades 7 to 12 to go a whole day with their cell phones turned off. Students who took the pledge were given light blue silicon bracelets with the Text-Less Live-More slogan stamped on them.
 
SOLAR ARRAY DECISION DELAYED
 
The North Adams Planning Board yesterday continued a proposal on a private solar array to allow more time for answers and comments. Borrego Solar Systems Inc., which is also proposing a 3.5 megawatt array on the cities closed landfill, had been planning two 650-kilowatt arrays on private land. IBerkshires.com reports that the applicant asked to withdraw without prejudice the array proposed for West Shaft Road, which the board approved, and presented the one for Reservoir Road. The 121 5-by-6-foot panels would be installed on 3 acres of a 26-acre wooded property off Reservoir Road.
 
MCLA STUDENT AFFAIRS VP SET TO RETIRE (
 
A long-time member of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts administration has announced her retirement. Charlotte Degen, vice president of student affairs, will retire this month after 40 years of service to the college. The administration has applauded Degen’s dedication to the college, noting her involvement in numerous initiatives throughout the years, including the Susan B. Anthony Women’s Center and the Multicultural Resource Center.
 
NEW ENGLAND SCHOOLS FACING A RASH OF BOMB THREATS
 
 School and law enforcement officials in New England say they are dealing with an unusually high number of bomb threats that have forced the cancellation of classes only weeks into the new academic year. Nearly a dozen schools and colleges in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut have received the threats, forcing evacuations and cancellations in many of the schools this past week. Local school and law enforcement officials say they aren’t sure if they’re dealing with a coordinated effort or a number of copycats. But they say the sheer number of threats in such a short amount of time is concerning.
 
FORMER SIMON'S ROCK STUDENT AVOIDS JAIL ON DRUG CHARGES  
 
A former Bard College at Simon's Rock student accused in 2012 of allegedly selling a variety of illegal drugs to his classmates will have his charges dismissed if he stays out of trouble for three years. 20 year old Mehran Jahedi, of Newton, had his case continued without a finding of guilt yesterday on 12 drug-related charges. Jahedi must perform 300 hours of community service, stay drug- and alcohol-free with random testing and speak to "underprivileged youth" four times a year.
 
COCAINE MANUFACTURING CASE AGAINST PITTSFIELD MAN ENDS IN MISTRIAL  
 
A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case of a Pittsfield man who was facing cocaine manufacturing charges stemming from a 2013 arrest. The Superior Court case against 35 year old Teddy Cepeda has fallen apart after two deliberating jurors in two days were dismissed for personal reasons. An alternate juror had been excused on Friday, meaning there were only 11 jurors left. Judge John Agostini called a mistrial and the case was put on the November list for a possible retrial. Cepeda, who had been out on personal recognizance while awaiting trial, remains free.


 
    The Ordinance and Rules Committee is recommending a raise for the office of mayor and stipends for the School Committee. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)  

PITTSFIELD COUNCIL MOVING FORWARD WITH RAISE FOR MAYOR
 
Having recently completed a controversial process of approving increases for managers and department heads, the Pittsfield City Council is now tackling the separate issue of compensation for elected officials. IBerkshires.com reports that at meeting of its Ordinance & Rules Committee yesterday, Councilor Jonathan Lothrop reopened the issues of raising the salary for mayor and creating a small annual stipend for the School Committee, which had previously been tabled while the council deliberated the raises for other managerial employees separately. Lothrop said that since any changes would not take place until after the next local election, now was a good time for the council to look at these proposed amendments to the city code.  


 
     The Board of Selectmen are keeping a close eye on an array of infrastructure projects. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

LANESBOROUGH WEIGHS PROPANE VS. OIL FOR HEATING  
 
The Lanesborough Selectmen still aren't sure if they want to switch the heating at the police station from oil to propane. The town is moving forward on multiple projects at the station as they set their sights on a full renovation. First up the town is putting on a new roof and replacing the heating system, along with installing new gas pumps.




    St. Mary of Morning Star was offered to the city by Cafua Management. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKe
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