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News

Friday, December 19, 2014

    
Project engineer David Loring of Tighe & Bond provided an update on the Park Street reconstruction project. Final elements of the plan will be completed in the spring. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 

PARK STREET RECONSTRUCTION TO BE FINISHED IN SPRING

The Park Street Improvement Project is largely complete and will be completely finished in the spring. IBerkshires.com reports that the town of Adams held its third and final public meeting last night with representatives from contractor J.H. Maxymillian, and project engineer David Loring. In contrast to previous meetings however, there was barely an audience. Loring said last night that there is still some "clean up" work to be done - such as adding in another bench, new signage, new parking meters, and some line work.

NYC MAN GETS TWO-YEARS FOR HOME INVASION

A New York City man has been sentenced to two years in jail for his role in a 2013 home invasion and assault in North Adams. 22 year old Daivon Henry, of the Bronx, and another man - 24 year old Richard Smith - also of the Bronx, were accused of invading a Brayton Hill Terrace residence on July 2nd of last year, in an effort to recoup drug debts. During the break-in the pair assaulted three victims - all of whom said a gun was present - and stole $14 in cash from one, according to police. According to police, upon the pair's arrest no gun was present, but the victims showed clear signs of suffering an assault. Smith and Henry also had been accused of raping one of the complaining witnesses in a separate incident.

WILLIAMSTOWN COMMITTEE TO FOSTER ECONOMIC GROWTH

A new committee formed by the Selectmen aims to rev up a conversation on making the business climate stronger. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Economic Development Committee, consisting of local business people and community members, ultimately will be responsible for creating a plan to sustain existing local businesses and encourage growth. The 11-person committee will meet for the first time in January, according to Selectman Hugh Daley.

NORTH ADAMS BOUTIQUE CLOSING STORE-FRONT

Shima Boutique - an infant and toddler clothing and toys shop on Eagle Street in North Adams - will shift to an online-only store after the holiday shopping season, according to a message posted yesterday on the store's Facebook page. Co-owners Libbie Pike and Suzy Helme attributed the closure in part to an inability to compete with the discounts and lower prices offered by major online shopping sites.

VETERANS HOME TO CUT STAFFING AND BEDS

Faced with a deficit and a decline in patients, the Vermont Veterans Home's board of trustees has voted to reduce its patient volume from 171 beds to 130. The only no vote came from H. Jamie Percey, the Vermont State Employees Association representative on the board. Veterans Home CEO Melissa Jackson said the average patient census has 121 in the past year. The home has 13 openings, which it will now not fill. That alone would save the Veterans Home more than $764,000 per year. With other savings from fewer licensed beds, the cost is expected to drop $1 million annually.



     A tour of the under construction hotel included a stop in lounge area that will include a two-story skylight (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

HOTEL ON NORTH A THIRD OF WAY COMPLETE

Construction on Hotel on North is a third complete and on pace for a May opening. IBerkshires.com reports that the owners of the North Street building, David and Laurie Tierney, led a tour yesterday afternoon of the site that will soon become a boutique hotel. Most of the work is being done with local contractors, Tierney said, as they try to support the community. As many as 80 workers have been on site at a time working from the fourth floor down.

PITTSFIELD MAN ACCUSED OF RAMMING CAR

A city man is being held on $10,000 bail after he deliberately rammed a vehicle with his snow plow and threatened the driver, according to Pittsfield Police. 31 year old Christopher Davis allegedly drove his 2001 Chevy pick-up, with mounted snow plow, into a 2009 Mercedes operated by 32 year old Derrick LaForest about 11:30am yesterday in a Fenn Street parking lot across from the Pittsfield post office. Davis reportedly displayed a handgun and a knife during the altercation, according to police. Neither weapon was recovered. It was not clear what provoked the attack, which remains under investigation.

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK TO RESUME

The popular Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park program will launch a second, expanded season in July, this time setting up shop around the new performance pavilion in the recently renovated Common. This year's production will increased by one third in its number of performances, according to founder Enrico Spada, with three four-day weekends from July 16th to Aug. 2nd.

BRTA GIVES DONATED GOODS TO SOLDIER ON

The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has once again this year given donated goods to 'Soldier On' in Pittsfield. All the items were donated by BRTA bus riders in support of the homeless veterans at Soldier On, on West Housatonic Street. The conference room at the BRTA had three, 8-foot tables filled - at times double-stacked - with canned/boxed food, beverages, toiletries, clothing and even a jigsaw puzzle. On Wednesday morning, several 'Soldier On' staff members and veterans arrived at BRTA headquarters in the Downing Industrial Park to collect the charitable goods. This was the fourth year the BRTA has sponsored the two-week charitable drive. From December 1st through December 15th, riders boarded the "B" buses for free if they donated a nonperishable food, personal care item or clothing.

MASSACHUSETTS GAINS JOBS, UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DOWN

Massachusetts gained an estimated 13,500 jobs in November while the unemployment rate stood at 5.8 percent, down from 6 percent in the previous month. The office of Labor and Workforce Development said yesterday the state's total workforce increased by 17,600 in November, with 3,400 fewer residents unemployed during the month. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics also made a slight revision in employment growth for October, saying Massachusetts gained 1,600 jobs, up from the earlier estimate of 1,200. The state has gained a net of nearly 60,000 jobs in the past 12 months.

BERKSHIRE MUSEUM BEGINS TRADING IN BERKSHARES

BerkShares, Inc. is pleased to announce that the Berkshire Museum, among the region's oldest cultural institutions, has begun using the region's newest currency, BerkShares. Berkshire Museum will now accept BerkShares as payment for museum admission, movie tickets at the Little Cinema, and purchases in its gift shop. Executive Director Van Shields says the museum is committed to recirculating BerkShares that visitors spend there. BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region. Citizens can exchange federal dollars for BerkShares at participating bank branches from Lenox to Sheffield at a rate of 95 cents per BerkShare. They can be spent at the 400 participating businesses as if they were dollars.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

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

BOSTON TRANSIT CAMPAIGN TOUTS NORTH ADAMS GETAWAYS

Riders on the T are getting an eyeful of North Adams. The Berkshire Visitors Bureau is running the transit campaign through the end of February to induce Bostonians to consider the Steeple City as a weekend getaway. The campaign is being funded by a $41,000 grant from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, provided from its stabilization fund for distressed communities.The mayor said there was a tendency in Berkshire County to think north and south, but the focus should shift east and west.

NORTH ADAMS TAPS NEW INTERIM DIRECTOR OF TOURISM, EVENTS

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright has tapped Wendy DeSanty as his choice for interim director of tourism and events. DeSanty, who is expected to be formally appointed later this week, will be the second temporary employee to fill that position this year. She will replace interim director Roz Cummings, who stepped in for former director Veronica Bosley when she left the post in September. According to Alcombright, the interim director is a 20-hour a week position, paid at an hourly wage based on the starting salary for the full-time position.



    Volunteers tackle the task of assembling Christmas food baskets for families who are assisted by the Williamstown Food Pantry on Wednesday morning at Sts. Patrick and Raphael Parish. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Rebecca Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN FOOD PANTRY READIES CHRISTMAS DONATIONS

The parish center of Saint's Patrick and Raphael was busy yesterday with volunteers of all ages. The Williamstown Food Pantry was preparing to give out food baskets, clothing and other items to families in need. Volunteers ranging from young home schooled children to retired church volunteers helped sort through canned food, fresh fruit and vegetables, clothing and more in preparation for the families coming through the parish center that afternoon. The pantry has been helping the community for more than 28 years and is run by volunteers who help collect donations of items and money.



    Police Chief Richard Tarsa informed the board that the police force should be fully staffed by next month. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS POLICES FORESEE FULL STAFFING

The Police Department in Adams may have a full staff by next month. IBerkshires.com reports that Police Chief Richard Tarsa asked the Selectmen last night to allow the transfer of North Adams Police Officer Gregory Onorato. Tarsa said Onorato has been a full-time officer in North Adams for almost five years and took interest in an open position left by a resignation because he has moved to Adams with his wife. Tarsa said Onorato is known for his involvement in the North Adams community and will be a good addition to the Adams Police Department.



    Selectmen approved the tree warden removing the large tree that fell on town property for firewood. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

FALLEN TREE WILL BE FIREWOOD

The giant tree that fell down next to the Town Hall in Clarksburg will be turned into firewood. The Selectmen on Wednesday agreed to a plan that would have the tree warden remove the tree and keep the wood. Town Administrator Carl McKinney said the decision will save the town about $500.

UPS EMPLOYEE STRUCK BY PICKUP IN NORTH ADAMS

A United Parcel Service employee was injured yesterday when he was struck by a vehicle on Beaver Street in North Adams. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the victim, whom police did not immediately identify, was taken by North Adams Ambulance Service to BMC in Pittsfield. His injuries did not appear to be life threatening, according to North Adams Ambulance Service. The UPS truck was pulled over to the side of the southbound lane of Beaver Street about 11:40 a.m. when the employee apparently walked out in front of the vehicle and was struck by a pickup truck, also headed south. The employee was a seasonal worker for UPS and not the driver of the delivery vehicle.

FORMER PITTSFIELD COUNCILOR COULD TAKE PLEA DEAL

Lawyers representing a former Pittsfield city councilor accused of warning a drug dealer about a police raid are working toward resolving the case short of trial. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Timothy Shugrue, who represents Paul Capitanio, said he is in continuing discussions with the Berkshire District Attorney's Office to craft a plea deal in the case. The 58 year old Capitanio, of Parkside Avenue, is facing single counts of conspiracy to possess oxycodone and accessory after the fact to distribute oxycodone.

BERKSHIRE CHAMBERS CALLS ALBANY AREA CASINO AN OPPORTUNITY

The site chosen for a casino in New York's Capital Region came as a surprise to some in the Berkshires, but it still presents an opportunity, according to the head of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. The Berkshire Eagle reports that new president and CEO of the chamber and chief operating officer of 1Berkshire, Jonathan Butler, said yesterday that the selection of Schenectady was unexpected. New York officials chose the site along the Mohawk River, northwest of Albany, over three other potential sites in the region. MGM Resorts International, which is developing a casino in Springfield, signed a letter of agreement with the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce last year. Butler says he is hoping the Chamber and 1Berkshire also can develop a relationship with the Schenectady casino's developer, which he said would benefit both sides.

PITTSFIELD AWARDED THIRD CONSECUTIVE GRANT TO COMBAT YOUTH VIOLENCE

Pittsfield has once again received a state grant to combat youth violence. The city has been awarded a $133,000 Senator Charles E. Shannon Jr. Community Safety Initiative grant. The funds will continue the city's efforts to reduce youth and gang violence. This is the third year the city has reeled in the grant. It started with a $60,000 grant in which the city opened community centers and organized programming at Dower Square and Francis Plaza. Last year, the city was awarded $100,000, which brought on Adam Hinds as a coordinator. The Police Department has also received some of the funds from the grant for the anti-crime unit.

PITTSFIELD WOMAN WHO RAMMED RIVAL'S CAR AVOIDS JAIL

A Pittsfield woman who police say rammed another car during a chase on the streets of Pittsfield had her case continued without a finding of guilt yesterday. 20 year old Harmony Edwards-Persip drove her vehicle into the back of a 19-year-old's Hyundai Accent about 9:45pm on July 18th as the woman was traveling down Merrill Road in Pittsfield. The defendant is due back in court January 29th.



    Christina Barrett and Michael Wynn gave up a few hours of their Wednesday night to help Santa Claus get in touch with local children. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 

SANTA CLAUS CALLS PITTSFIELD CHILDREN

Jolly old Saint Nick made phone calls to 80 Pittsfield area children last night in preparation for his overnight journey next week. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Santa and Mrs. Claus will make more than 156 phone calls this year - enlisting volunteers from the city to help out. Eleven volunteers joined him last night and another 10 from the Knights of Columbus will join him on Thursday. The city has recruited the Wednesday night group for the last four years after the Elks Club had to stop the program. Each year, parents have an opportunity to sign their kids up to receive the call and share some information about the child's wants or ask Santa to give them a message. Last year, 184 children were called.

SHEFFIELD MAN PARDONED

A Sheffield man has secured a pardon for a marijuana conviction dating to his teenage years at Monument Mountain Regional High School during the late 1980s. The Governor's Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve favorable recommendations from Gov. Deval Patrick and the state Advisory Board of Pardons that Jeffrey Snyder, now 43 and a cancer survivor, be granted a pardon. He had been convicted of selling marijuana at the school less than a year after the Legislature had passed a provision that called for a mandatory sentence for drug offences within a school zone. Snyder, who was a senior at Monument Mountain when arrested in 1989, served a mandatory two-year term in the Berkshire Jail & House of Correction.

MONUMENT MOUNTAIN REPAIRS UPWARDS UP $26 Million

The committee tasked with assessing the needs of Monument Mountain Regional High School's physical plant met last week and emerged with a written overview and list of "immediate" and "near future" needs of the deteriorating high school which if undertaken are estimated to cost between $26 million to $34 million. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that the Berkshire Hills Regional School District's Buildings and Grounds subcommittee did not include in the estimate other notable costs such as insurance, permits, legal, contingency, hazardous waste abatement, demolition or bonds. The estimates were drawn from schematic design estimates that were part of the Monument High renovation project which Great Barrington voters foiled in November.

GROUP SAYS MASSACHUSETTS FACES $1B DEFICIT

An independent analysis pegs the state budget deficit at $1 billion in the current fiscal year - more than three times the previous estimate of state officials. The analysis released by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation forecasts a $288 million shortfall in revenue and $525 million in spending obligations not included in the budget which runs through June 30th. The organization also said the state faces at least $180 million in temporary Medicaid costs resulting from a breakdown of the state's health insurance exchange. Gov. Deval Patrick's administration estimates the deficit is $329 million and disputes the foundation's analysis.

UMASS PRESIDENT LEAVING FOR POST IN MARYLAND

University of Massachusetts president Robert Caret is leaving to become the chancellor of the University System of Maryland. The announcement was made yesterday by James Shea, chairman of the USM Board of Regents. Caret will begin his new post on July 1st. Caret has served as president of the five-member UMass system since January 2011.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    
Code Enforcement Officer Scott Koczela told the board that it is difficult to do a proper inspection once people move their things into an apartment. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS BOARD OF HEALTH REVISITING RENTAL INSPECTION FEES

The Adams Board of Health may add a late fee for landlords delinquent in getting their rental properties inspected. IBerkshires.com reports that Code Enforcement Officer Scott Koczela told the Board of Health that he often gets called to do an inspection after people are already living in an apartment. Koczela said normally the fee is $25 and many landlords think nothing of moving people in without an inspection. He would like to raise the fee to $50 if renters are moved in too early. Koczela said there are many repeat offenders and even some of the town's better landlords allow people to move in prior to inspection.



    Kit & Kaboodle held its grand opening on Friday night. The craft and artisan store reopened on Holden Street last month. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

CRAFTS & ARTISAN STORE KIT & KABOODLE REOPENS IN NORTH ADAMS

Crafts store Kit & Kaboodle has changed its location but not its commitment to showcasing local talent. IBerkshires.com reports that the store's new space at 26 Holden Street North Adams displays a wide range of local and regionally made items, from scarves and handmade soaps and scented candles to paintings, carvings and many other items. And owner Carolyn Albert's own crocheted items. Albert opened last year in the Carlow Building in Adams but was forced to move early this fall when the building was sold. She decided to move north in hope of picking up more foot traffic.





    The Windsor Lake Recreation Commission voted for a rate increase of 10 percent for seasonal campers. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

CAMPGROUND SEASONAL RATES HIKED 

Seasonal campers will have to spend more this coming summer to stay at Historic Valley Park Campground. The Windsor Lake Recreation Commission voted to raise seasonal fees 10 percent, or an extra $180, for campers who spend the entire summer at Windsor Lake. Chairman George Forgea says that the rates have not been raised since the 2012 season. Forgea said he had discussed the rate hike with North Adams Mayor Richard Alchombright, and also suggested raising the monthly camping rate by 10 percent.



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

CLARK ART TO CHARGE ADMISSION STARTING JANUARY 1st

The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown will start charging admission on January 1st. The museum officially posted its new admission policy yesterday, ending a long-standing practice of free admission November through May. According to the museum's website adult admission to the galleries will be $20. Admission will continue to be free for members, children under 18 and students with valid identification. Through the end of December, admission is free in the main galleries. However, the Monet - - Kelly exhibition has a $10 admission charge through December 31st.

BARTON RESIGNS FROM LANESBOROUGH SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Citing distrust of the committee's chairman, a member of the Lanesborough School Committee tendered his resignation yesterday. Robert Barton emailed Chairwoman Regina DiLego and town officials to announce that he plans to leave the three-person body and would try to serve until May 5th.

MAN WHO CRASHED STOLEN CAR IN PITTSFIELD HAD STOLEN DIAPERS

A Pittsfield man who allegedly stole diapers to support his cocaine habit is being held on $5,000 bail after he crashed a stolen car while trying to elude police. After a brief pursuit, 38 year old Tony Audet crashed the car into a delivery truck at the intersection of West Housatonic and Hawthorne Avenue. According to police, four large boxes of Pampers were found in the trunk. He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center for a reported head injury and was later booked at the city police station. He pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to single counts of felony, receiving stolen property, misdemeanor third offense shoplifting and other charges.

PITTSFIELD MAN COULD FACE MAY TRIAL IN ARMED ROBBERY OF GAS STATION

A Pittsfield man accused of robbing an Elm Street gas station in 2011 is scheduled to go to trial on the charges in May. 30 year old Erich Rawlins of Deming Street was in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday for a pretrial hearing. Second Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Robert Kinzer III told the court prosecutors would try the case in May unless a plea deal can be worked out. Rawlins remains held on $52,100 bail. He is due back in court in April for a final pretrial hearing.

WOMAN CHARGED IN LENOX DALE HOME INVASION

A woman accused of a Lenox Dale home invasion is being held without bail on a probation violation in connection with a 2013 beating of another woman. 20 year old Walezka Carmona, of Pittsfield, pleaded to sufficient facts for a finding of guilt in August on two charges of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and a single count of witness intimidation and two charges of misdemeanor assault and battery. Judge Fredric Rutberg continued the charges without a finding of guilt for six months. Carmona was ordered held without bail pending a final violation hearing scheduled for January 14th.

LENOX CHAMBER UNVEILS NEW APP

The Chamber of Commerce in Lenox has launched a Lenox-specific mobile app designed to keep visitors and residents in the loop about local events, deals at local businesses and loyalty-card promotions. The "Lenox in the Berkshires" app was unveiled during the Chamber's annual meeting and holiday dinner at Jae's Asian Bistro on Monday. Key features include a complete events calendar, updated frequently, as well as information on lodging, dining and shopping destinations.

VICTIM IN SYDNEY SIEGE FORMER EMPLOYEE

The manager of a Sydney cafe, who spent time as an employee of a Lenox resort, is being lauded for sacrificing his life to save the lives of fellow hostages during a 15-hour siege at the eatery. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 34 year old Tori Johnson reportedly disarmed the gunman by grabbing his shotgun, an act that reportedly helped bring the standoff to an end early Tuesday. Johnson and Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old mother-of-three, were killed. Another 15 hostages were released or escaped. The hostage-taker was killed as police stormed the cafe to end the siege. Johnson served as the general manager of Wheatleigh in Lenox from 1994-2005.

BAKER IS A FAN OF JEB BUSH

Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker says he's "certainly a fan" of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has announced plans to actively explore a possible GOP bid for the White House. Baker stopped well short yesterday of declaring support for a prospective Bush candidacy, saying he's focused on getting his own administration off the ground.

BAKER SAYS HEROIN CRISIS IS AMONG EARLY PRIORITIES

Gov.-elect Charlie Baker says tackling heroin and opiate addiction would be an early focus of his administration, as state police reported dozens of suspected overdose deaths around Massachusetts in recent weeks. Baker said during a visit to the Statehouse yesterday that the addiction crisis cuts across everything, including geography and class.

STATEHOUSE MENORAH LIT TO MARK START OF HANUKKAH

An 18-foot menorah has been lit at the Massachusetts Statehouse to mark the beginning of the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah. A large crowd watched yesterday as Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rabbi Rachmiel Liberman were lifted in a small crane to light the first candle on the menorah near the Grand Staircase. Hanukkhah began at sundown on Tuesday. The Statehouse ceremony was one of several being held around the state, including the lighting of a 22-foot menorah on Boston Common.

CLIFFORD CREATOR DIES

Norman Bridwell, creator of the popular "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series of children's books turned into a PBS TV show, has died. Scholastic, his longtime publisher, says Birdwell died Friday in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. He lived in Edgartown, Massachusetts. More than 120 million copies of his books have sold worldwide, along with cartoons, a feature film, a musical, stuffed animals, key chains, posters and stickers.




Tuesday, December 16, 2014



    
The Adams Free Library, currently undergoing renovations that will make it more handicapped accessible, is reviewing a policy on service animals to ensure it's not discriminatory. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS LIBRARY PULLS SERVICE ANIMAL POLICY AFTER OUTCRY

A policy on how to regulate certain animals within the Adams library has stirred up a firestorm of angry emails and posts questioning its legality and potential discrimination. IBerkshires.com reports that Library Director Deborah Bruneau said yesterday that there was never an intent to discriminate against anyone. Many of the responses questioned the library's right to ask that a service animal owner present any certification or to detain the owner at the front desk while other patrons are informed of the animal's presence. Bruneau said the only goal of the policy was to make sure the animals are kept under control and clean. The policy has been sent to town counsel for review and the trustees have been contacted about tabling the vote taken at last week's meeting.




    The Maple Grove Civic Club decided the president of the club can appoint a chairman to revive the Adams Taxpayers Association. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 

MAPLE GROVE CIVIC CLUB WILL REACTIVATE TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION

The Adams Taxpayers Association will be revived by the Maple Grove Civic Club despite objections by some members that it doesn't comply with the bylaws. The membership voted 15-6 at Sunday's meeting against a full club vote on the issue, leaving the details for the group's resurrection in the hands of the board of directors. Vice President Jeffrey Lefebvre said the club's bylaws allow for the appointment of a chairman of a special committee who then can create his own board. He said this board will be separate from the club and can be deactivated or asked to leave at any time.

WINDSOR LAKE WEED PROBLEM NEEDS SOLUTION

After years of rapid growth, the invasive weeds in Windsor Lake are targeted for elimination next year. The Berkshire Eagle reports that a weed management plan for the picturesque Windsor Lake off Bradley Street is included in a lengthy list capital expenditures the city will make from the state's $750,000 emergency aid package. The city of North Adams is looking to advertise for a weed management study in early 2015 with the goal of having results in the spring. Treatment to rid the lake of the tall weeds is expected to begin in the late summer of 2015.



     The new retaining wall on the west side of the building, completed last month (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

WORK CONTINUES AT COLGROVE SCHOOL

The roof on Colegrove Park School should be completed in 12 to 15 days - if the weather holds out. IBerkshires.com reports that roofing materials had arrived by the end of November but the weather hasn't been cooperative. Mayor Richard Alcombright said demolition is essentially completed and no surprises are expected as roof work continues. The roof on the 100-year-old structure is being redone as part of the $30 million renovation of the former Conte Middle School into a kindergarten-through-Grade 8 facility. The School Building Committee was given a brief update yesterday on progress so far.

GROUP OF TENANTS FILE LAWSUIT IN CHESHIRE

A group of tenants in Cheshire has filed a lawsuit against Morgan Management, claiming the landlord waited years to fix septic troubles at the mobile home park it owns off Wells Road and charged residents to pay for overdue repairs. The Berkshire Eagle reports that tenants living in Pine Valley's 95 units lived with "noxious odors" and in "unhealthy and unsanitary" conditions for more than a decade, the town's Rent Control Board found. Now the tenants are seeking more than $200,000 in repayments on rent from Morgan via a class action lawsuit. The group claims they were forced to live in those conditions during which time they thought they were collectively paying toward an eventual repair of the park's septic system.




    The Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Commission is hoping to hold a hazardous waste collection in the spring. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

SOLID WASTE DISTRICT EYES HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION

The Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District may hold a hazardous waste collection in May. Program Coordinator Sandy Totter tells IBerkhsires.com that the state-contracted collection service penciled the district in, but she was not sure if there would be enough money in the budget. Totter said the district has not held collection in two years and she has received many phone calls requesting one. She said the collection is an important service because people could have some dangerous items in their homes.

PATRICK UNCERTAIN ON FUTURE PLANS

Gov. Deval Patrick says he still has made no decisions about his future after leaving office. Patrick indicated yesterday that he had received feelers about a "range of things" but had no plans beyond vacationing with his wife, Diane, after his final day as governor on January 8th. Possible opportunities included what he termed a "loose affiliation" with an initiative planned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

HEALTH INSURANCE DEADLINE LATER IN MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts residents seeking health insurance beginning January 1st have a little more time to sign up through the state's health connector. State officials yesterday sought to clear up confusion about the enrollment deadline, which is Monday for people in many other states but not until December 23rd in Massachusetts.

GAS PRICES CONTINUE DOWNWARD TREND

Massachusetts drivers continue to benefit from tumbling prices at the pump. AAA Southern New England reports that the cost of a gallon of self-serve, regular dropped a dime in the past week to an average of $2.68. The current Bay State average is a quarter lower than a month ago and 75 cents lower than at this time last year, but still 13 cents per gallon above the national average.



    The Lanesborough School Committee has been divided over budgets and the school's administrative affiliations. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

LANESBOROUGH SCHOOL COMMITTEE CHAIR REJECTS CALL TO RESIGN

The chairman of the Lanesborough School Committee on Monday refused to resign either her position or her seat on the elected body in response to a complaint from another member of the committee. Committee member Robert Barton sent Chairwoman Regina DiLego a two-page letter dated Nov. 15 in which he outlined several alleged "inappropriate actions and erroneous public statements" over the past six months. DiLego read into the record a point-by-point rebuttal of Barton's specific charges and concluded by saying that she would not resign her current positions. The three-person committee has been at odds over the past year about budgets and the school's administration.

SON INJURES HEAD DURING ALTERCATION WITH FATHER AT FIRST

A Br

Friday, December 12, 2014

    
There were no flames but lots of heat and smoke when firefighters arrived at a mobile home fire at about 4:30 on Friday afternoon. (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)

WHEEL ESTATES FIRE DESTROYS MOBILE HOME
 
A mobile home situated on Alan Drive between Comanche and Cherokee drives at Wheel Estates in North Adams is considered a total loss after being engulfed in smoke and heat late Friday afternoon, leaving its owners homeless.
Fire Director Stephen Meranti said the fire appears to have begun in the kitchen/dining area of the home but the cause has not yet been determined. 
The owners, an adult couple, came home to discover the fire. The Red Cross had been informed of their situation.

    The library trustees discuss ways to expand staffing with limited options. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 

NORTH ADAMS LIBRARY IN TROUBLE

The North Adams Public Library faces a lack of city support in funding for staffing and maintenance. According to iBerkshires, library staff has steadily dropped through the years because the library can only offer minimal services. Librarian Mindy Hackner said the library's salary and expense budget is down nearly $50,000 from four years ago. She was told by Mayor Alcombright there are few options because of lack of funding in general. The library is looking at training volunteers and possibly teaming up with MCLA and other public schools to see what they could offer in an emergency situation.

SOLAR ARRAY COULD SAVE NORTH ADAMS ABOUT $80K ANNUALLY

The North Adams city government is poised to purchase all of its power from solar sources by fiscal 2016. The Berkshire Eagle reports the City Council this week authorized Mayor Richard Alcombright to enter into two 20-year deals to purchase solar energy credits, which city officials estimate will save the city about $80,000 annually. Should the agreement be made, the city will be locked into a rate of $11.25 per kilowatt-hour, well-below last year's rate of about $16 per hour.



   Improvements to the War Memorial will include replacing six metal halide lamps with 12 LED clusters, which need less frequent replacement. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Paul Hopkins)

DCR DETAILS $2M FIX FOR MOUNT GREYLOCK MEMORIAL TOWER

The $2 million renovation of the War Memorial Tower at the summit of Mount Greylock in Adams will include an untested fix for water infiltration problems, but one that state officials seemed confident would work for at least 10 years. Officials with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, along with a chief architect on the project, detailed the two-year project at DCR's West Regional Office on Thursday night. DCR Preservation Planner Jeffrey Harris said despite a reconstruction of the tower in the early 1970s and major repairs in the late 1990s, the tower still suffers from chronic problems with moisture. Harris was quick to point out that the summit experiences "extreme climatic conditions" and that the tower itself can be subjected to freeze/thaw cycles in less than 24 hours.



    The Selectmen are developing subcommittees to explore finances, the Greylock Glen and the Memorial School. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 

ADAMS SELECTMEN EXPANDING SUBCOMMITTEES

The Adams Board of Selectmen created two new subcommittees focused on finances and the Greylock Glen. Selectmen John Duval recommended that the board expand on its subcommittees during the workshop meeting Wednesday night to help relay information to the board and create more transparency and more efficiency. The first new committee focused on the town's finances. Duval said it would focus on the budget, the tax rate and assessing. Duval said the tax rate branch of the subcommittee would focus on educating the public on the process. The third aspect of the subcommittee would deal with making recommendations for any assessments of the community.

NORTH ADAMS PAIR GET PROBATION ON DRUG CHARGES; WERE CAUGHT IN 'MAJOR' BUST

Two North Adams residents who were ensnared in a 'major' drug bust in February have pleaded guilty to drug charges and sentenced to probation. Kassidy Lemire, 20, and Jordan Moon, 27, were arrested on Route 2 in North Adams on Feb. 27 after police discovered more than 150 bags of heroin and a small amount of cocaine in the car they were riding in. Lemire and Moon pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday to felony possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the drug laws and misdemeanor possession of cocaine.

ACTOR TO SUPPORT LOCAL YOUTH

Wayne Soares actor, comedian, entertainer, and professional emcee will perform at Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 125 on Saturday to support North Adams youth. iBerkshires.com reports proceeds from his performance will raise money for children and youth programs of the American Legion and the State Street Neighborhood Kids. Soares has been a regular in North Adams since he graduated from what was then North Adams State College. He said he considers the city his second home. The show starts at 7 with local comic Dan Schilling opening. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance through the American Legion or State Street Tavern.

WOMAN FACES OUI CHARGE AFTER DRIVING ON FLAT TIRE IN LANESBOROUGH

A Holyoke woman is facing drunken driving charges after being pulled over in Lanesborough while driving on a flat tire. Carla L. Judd, 35, was stopped by Lanesborough police about 10 p.m. Wednesday night on South Main Street after officers observed her driving erratically. She was speeding, driving on a flat tire and weaving so far over into the next lane that she was in the breakdown lane on the other side of the road before veering back to her own side of the road..Police said she failed the field sobriety tests she was administered and had a 0.24 breath alcohol content - three times the legal limit. She pleaded not Thursday to drunken driving, possessing an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and a marked lanes violation. She was released her on her own recognizance. She is due back in court on Dec. 30.

LENOX DALE HOME INVASION: PITTSFIELD WOMAN HELD ON $3,000 BAIL

A Pittsfield woman who was one of four people allegedly involved in an armed home invasion in Lenox Dale last month is being held on $3,000 bail after vigorously denying the charges. Walezka E. Carmona, 20, through her attorney, said she wasn't involved in and didn't know the people accusing her of being involved in the incident just before 10 p.m. on Nov. 26, at an apartment on Crystal Street. According to the Lenox police, the investigation is continuing and they are still looking for three other suspects.

GREAT BARRINGTON CHOPS DOWN TREE FOR FOOD PANTRY

Acting on advice from the town of Great Barrington's Tree Committee, the Board of Selectmen this week approved a request to remove two trees that are on town property on the south side of the former St. James Episcopal Church. The Eagle reports a group restoring the building requested the removal of the trees to allow for the addition of a food pantry in the basement of the building. The People's Pantry, a nonprofit food distribution organization, that will be in the building.

LENOX HOLIDAY STROLL HOPES TO ENCOURAGE LOCAL SHOPPING

The Lenox Merchants Group, representing about 25 downtown business owners, is hoping to lure Christmas and Hanukkah shoppers into the historic village by staging a Holiday Stroll this Saturday. According to the Berkshire Eagle, the promotional event is designed to encourage residents and visitors to "shop local." The Holiday Stroll includes snacks and libations, sales, trunk shows, a photo booth and live theater performances by actors from Shakespeare & Company. Nineteen merchants are participating with special events and promotions planned for the day. The Holiday Stroll runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow.

LENOX SCHOOL COMMITTEE OPEN TO SHARED SERVICES

 The Lenox School Committee responded favorably to an invitation from the town of Lee to explore the possibility of sharing a district superintendent. The Berkshire Eagle reports that at a Monday night meeting, the town's school board urged that talks also include a wider range of potential shared services, such as a special education director. Following a lively discussion, the Lenox committee voted 5-1 to officially accept the written invitation from Lee School Committee Chairwoman Susan Harding. Currently, Alfred Skrocki is serving his second year as temporary superintendent for the Lee district, while interim Superintendent Timothy Lee is in a one-year term through June for Lenox.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

    The nurses marched outside of Berkshire Medical Center Wednesday afternoon. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

BMC NURSES PICKET FOR INCREASED STAFFING

The nursing union at Berkshire Medical Center says the administration hasn't hired enough staff to meet patient demands caused by the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Nursing Association held an "informational picket" outside of the Pittsfield campus. They hope to convince the hospital's administration to hire more full-time staff to handle the additional load.The MNA says there has been a 20 percent increase in patients, which includes more than 300 additional deliveries in the maternity ward. Instead of hiring adequate full-time employees, the nurses say the hospital has hired per diem staff and that is not enough. Hospital spokesman Michael Leary, however, says the MNA's report of a 20 percent increase is false. Since the closure, Leary says there has been a 10 percent rise in patients and the hospital has hired accordingly.



    The council tried a new table configuration with the mayor moved to the middle. The mayor said he did not like the new layout. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

NORTH ADAMS TAX RATE UP 5 PERCENT FOR FISCAL 2015

The North Adams City Council on Tuesday approved 8-1 a tax shift differential of 1.71, the same as last year, for fiscal 2016. That sets the residential tax rate at $16.71 per $1,000, up 79 cents from $15.92. The tax bill for the average single-family home will rise about $114. Commercial, industrial and personal property will rise from $34.54 to $36.07, up a $1.53 per $1,000. Property taxes will account for about $15 million of the city's $37.7 million budget for fiscal 2015. A single tax rate would be $21.09 per $1,000.



    The Finance Committee discussed changes in town's levy limit and how it might affect the special town meeting on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

CLARKSBURG FINANCE COMMITTEE LEERY OF SPENDING ITEMS

The Clarksburg Finance Committee is leery of the town's ability cover funding items in Wednesday's special town meeting warrant. Voters are expected to decide on a number of items in the 12-article warrant, including raising and appropriating for several outstanding bills and a $7,400 increase in town's electrical bill. The special town meeting was set on the assumption the town was well under its levy limit and had recently certified free cash that could be used from the Sewer Enterprise Fund. However, committee Chairman Mark Denault said he had received an email from Town Administrator Carl McKinney stating that the town was only $1,900 under levy limit, rather than $35,000. Denault said he understood the sewer funds for Articles 8 and 9 had to be used by the end of the year and noted those had been built into the 2015 budget. But he did not think the town could pay the old bills out of this year's budget. And raising more than $1,900 could trigger the need for a Proposition 2 1/2 override.



    Mass MoCA Executive Director Joseph Thompson talks about upcoming big events at the museum, including the return of the Solid Sound Festival. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Rebecca Dravis)
 

MASS MOCA ANNOUNCES PACKED SEASON & MAJOR RENOVATION

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts has some big things in store. iBerkshires.com reports Executive Director Joseph Thompson announced a packed winter and spring season on Wednesday and led a tour of "Building 6," which is slated to be renovated into usable gallery space. The renovation, which will nearly double the exhibit space, is happening thanks to a $25.4 million state grant announced in November and private donations that MoCA hopes will total $30 million. Building 6 will also help create a smoother flow through the museum because some parts of the building are still not connected. Thompson described the renovation as a "typical Mass MoCA rehab project" and in response to a question about historic preservation, said the museum follows Chapter 8 of the building code in its renovations.

TRACTOR TRAILER GETS HUNG UP ON WIRES, STOPPING ROUTE 9 TRAFFIC

State Police closed Route 9 between Bennington and Wilmington Tuesday evening when a tractor trailer got hung up on wires and brought down a utility pole. A mix of snow and sleet on Route 9 led to reports of numerous vehicles, including tractor trailers, off the road or stuck. Vehicles from the Vermont Agency of Transportation arrived and worked to improve road conditions. Repair crews from Green Mountain Power and FairPoint were summoned and the wires were moved temporarily to allow small vehicle traffic. Power in nearby Stamford Vt that was out most of the night was restored Wednesday morning.

MARCH TRIAL DATE SET IN PITTSFIELD CRASH THAT KILLED MOTORCYCLIST

A New York state woman accused of causing a crash that killed a motorcyclist this past summer is scheduled to go to trial in March. Shannon Curtiss, 31, of Stephentown, was in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday for a pretrial hearing in the case. Curtiss was trying to make a left turn from North Street onto Springside Avenue about 1 p.m. July 15 when her 2004 Ford Focus was struck by a motorcycle driven by 49 year old John J. Kenney of Norman Avenue, Pittsfield. Police said a video recording of the accident, taken by a Berkshire County CRT van that was behind Curtiss, showed that she failed to yield and that her signal was solid green, meaning the motorcycle had the right of way. Curtiss remains free on personal recognizance.

PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL FORMALLY ADOPTS REVISED AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICY

The Pittsfield City Council has unanimously accepted a revised and expanded Affirmative Action Policy and Plan, expressing hopes that it will help to build a public workforce more reflective of Pittsfield. The policy calls for the personnel departments in the city and school system to encourage wider recruitment of job candidates, especially where minority applicants might be found, and the keeping of statistics on applicants. Enhanced minority presence on hiring committees and in developing municipal and school job descriptions also is encouraged in the 38-page document, which was approved at Tuesday's council meeting. Councilor Churchill Cotton said oversight and implementation of strategies laid out in the document will be paramount in creating meaningful change.

FINALISTS PICKED FOR PITTS. DEPUTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

The Pittsfield School Committee has narrowed down the three to replace its outgoing deputy school superintendent. iBerkshires.com reports the finalists will be undergo final interviews before the School Committee next month. Pittsfield Superintendent Jake McCandless said two local principals along with one out-of-state administrator emerged from an initial pool of 28 applicants for the position. Finalists include Sophia Redman-Jones, director of special services for the Harvey, Ill., public school district; Joseph Curtis, principal of Morningside Community School, and Jonathan Vosburg, principal of Taconic High School. The new deputy superintendent will replace N. Tracy Crowe, who was hired in May 2012 to replace previous deputy Barbara Malkas, who became superintendent for the Webster school district.

PITTSFIELD COUNCIL ASKS MAYOR TO HIRE EFFICIENCY CONSULTANT

The Pittsfield City Council is asking the mayor to hire an outside consultant to find ways to cut operating costs. The City Council voted 7-4 Tuesday to send a request to the mayor to hire a "Lean Six Sigma" consultant. The concept combines business methodologies of Lean (often used in manufacturing processes) and Six Sigma to streamline processes, reduce waste and improve customer service. The effort was headed by Councilor at Large Kathleen Amuso, who said the consultants will be able to look at purchasing and processes to find ways to be more efficient with the tax dollars.The council also approved changing the zoning on Center Street to make way for a parking lot for the proposed Hotel on North.

CONSTRUCTION SET TO BEGIN ON BRIDGE OVER CSX TRACKS AT PEDA SITE

Construction is finally ready to begin on a new bridge over CSX railroad tracks through the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires in Pittsfield . Pittsfield Economic Development Authority Executive Director Corey Thurston said on Wednesday that construction of the span, which has been discussed for at least three years, should begin by the end of December. The bridge will reconnect Woodlawn Avenue as it crosses the 52-acre business park. PEDA is charged with overseeing redevelopment of the site.

WOMAN ESCAPES SERIOUS INJURY FOLLOWING CAR-TRAIN CRASH IN GREAT BARRINGTON

An unidentified 42 year-old West Stockbridge woman escaped serious injury after a freight train crashed into her car on North Plain Road, late Wednesday afternoon. around 4:20 p.m. The impact spun the car around with it coming to rest on the side of the freight cars operated by the Housatonic Railroad Co. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Police noted it had started snowing heavily at the time of the incident, which occurred at an unsignalized crossing.

NEW STOCKBRIDGE COMMITTEE TO REVIEW SIGN REGULATIONS

Although the town of Stockbridge has a compact business district free of neon signs and banners, town leaders want to keep it that way by reviewing and possibly revamping current regulations. With a goal of balancing the community's Norman Rockwell image with the needs of businesses and nonprofits, the recently formed Sign Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Town Offices to brainstorm with the public. Jack Spencer, the committee's founder and chairman, organized the six-member group last summer as suggested by the Select Board and the Planning Board.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    
Adams Scholars from Berkshire County high schools pose with state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 

MCLA HONORS LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS ACHIEVEMENTS

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts acknowledged Berkshire County seniors who received state scholarships on Monday. iBerkshires.com reports 45 students from Drury, McCann, Berkshire Arts and Technology, Lee, Mount Greylock, Pittsfield High, Taconic, and Wahconah were recognized for qualifying for a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to students who scored in the top 25 percent of their district on their 10th grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests. It provides free tuition to any state school in the commonwealth.




    Planning Board Chairwoman Elizabeth McGowan conducts Tuesday's meeting as Amy Jeschawitz looks on. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

WILLIAMS COLLEGE ASKS BOARD OF SELECTMEN TO HOLD OFF ON HOTEL PLANS

Williams College on Tuesday asked the Planning Board to hold off on redrawing the Village Business district to accommodate a new hotel at the bottom of Spring Street. According to iBerkshires, Attorney Jamie Art appeared before the Williamstown board on Tuesday to explain that the college has gone back to the drawing board to see how it will configure the planned hotel in light of recent wetlands delineation by the Conservation Commission. A proposal still could be drawn up in time for May's annual town meeting, but, at the moment, Art had no specific request for an expansion of the district. The board continued to generally discuss the Village Business and plans to gather information on where the college wants to build a replacement for the Williams Inn.



    The Selectmen review the latest route proposed for Kinder Morgan's natural gas pipeline that will take it through the south end of town. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

NATURAL GAS PIPELINE ROUTE TO DIRECTLY IMPACT SIX CHESHIRE RESIDENTS

Kinder Morgan's proposed natural gas pipeline could run 1.9 miles through the town of Cheshire. iBerkshires.com reports the proposal would run the line under Cheshire Reservoir and cross the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Town Administrator Mark Webber spoke with Kinder Morgan Officials and found that, if implemented, the pipeline would impact six landowners. One landowner is the state because the line would cross the rail trail. Webber said because it is a federally licensed project the state and town have little say in what happens with the pipeline. Webber said Kinder Morgan would have to negotiate with the land owners.

LANESBOROUGH SETS 2015 TAX RATE

The tax rate in Lanesborough is increasing by 46 cents to pay for the fiscal 2015 budget. The Board of Selectmen chose to keep a flat tax rate Monday night, which means all types of property will be taxed at $18.98 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate is up 46 cents, a similar increase to last year's increase of 45 cents. The rate hike mostly stems from the increase in the budget. The town has a total of $10,997,749.98 in expenses. Other revenues will pay $3.3 million and the rest comes from taxes.



    The Taconic High project is now in the schematic design phase. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 

ARCHITECTS DIVE INTO DETAILED DESIGNS FOR NEW TACONIC SCHOOL

Architects for the new Pittsfield Taconic High School are "in a very exciting part of the project." Drumney Rosane & Anderson Architects Inc.are starting to dig into the details of design - from the electrical infrastructure to the amount of glass used in the entrance. The Massachusetts School Building Authority approved last month of the preliminary designs, studies and educational plan - moving onto to the schematic design phase.

PITTSFIELD MAN CAUGHT IN NYC WITH GUN, DRUGS, AND STOLEN CAR

A Pittsfield man and three New York City teens are being held without bail after police in New Lebanon, N.Y., allegedly found a loaded gun and crack cocaine in the stolen car they were driving. was pulled over by State Police who soon discovered his license was suspended. A search of the stolen vehicle yielded an undisclosed amount of crack cocaine and a loaded semi-automatic handgun. Police say 33-year-old Keith Robinson of Pittsfield and the other passengers were charged in New York State with criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a weapon. They being held without bail at the Colombia County Jail in New York. The investigation is continuing regarding possible charges in Massachusetts for the stolen vehicle, that was reported missing from a Pittsfield resident.

DALTON MAN MAY TAKE PLEA DEAL IN ROBBERY CASE

A Dalton man accused in the knifepoint robbery of an elderly couple in their car faces the maximum sentence of life in prison. Police say 24-year-old Shane Hamilton, an admitted heroin addict, may take a plea deal in the case. He may not go to trial if he does. Hamilton appeared before Judge Daniel Ford for a final pretrial hearing on Tuesday and the prosecutor said he made Hamilton an offer. The prosecutor was not specific as to the details. Hamilton is facing a maximum life sentence and a minimum mandatory five years in prison.

PITTSFIELD UPSTREET HOLIDAY FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND

 The Upstreet Holiday Festival is coming to Pittsfield this weekend. The Berkshire Eagle reports cookie decorating, train rides, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus will highlight the inaugural event. The event is a collaboration between Downtown Pittsfield Inc. and the city's Office of Cultural Development. The festival will debut on consecutive Saturdays - Dec. 13 and 20 - in Palace Park on North Street. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014



    
NBCC Executive Director Alan Bashevkin addresses the Planning Board on Monday night about plans to develop a neighborhood center on River Street. /(Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)

NORTH ADAMS PLANNERS OK NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER, NEW SHOPS

Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is opening a neighborhood community center on River Street. The North Adams Planning Board on Monday night approved plans to reconstruct the former Homestead Bar into a place where residents of the Houghton, River and Bracewell Avenue area can gather. Further plans for the structure are scheduled to be discussed at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, but Mayor Richard Alcombright provided the board with some background in how the concept came about. Alan Bashevkin, NBCC Executive Director hoped the United Neighborhood Organization center will have lots of traffic of the pedestrian kind since its purpose is to offer a place for nearby residents. The construction is expected to take four months. The board approved the permit with Paul Hopkins abstaining because of his service on the NBCC board of directors.

NORTH ADAMS MAN HELD WITHOUT BAIL IN RECENT BREAK-INS

A North Adams man who allegedly broke into several homes in recent weeks is being held without bail pending an evaluation. According to North Adams Police Brett McConnell, 18, of B Street, allegedly walked into several city homes uninvited in recent weeks, in some cases asking for work or offering to sell stolen item., McConnell was arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday in three different cases. He was ordered to undergo a competency and criminal responsibility evaluation and ordered held without bail.

WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ELUDING VERMONT STATE POLICE

 A Williamstown woman who police say relied on others to help her escape them after she refused to pull over on Route 7 in Pownal for speeding. Sabrina Robillard, 21, of Williamstown pleaded guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to misdemeanor counts of attempting to elude police, and negligent vehicle operation. She was given a six- to nine-month suspended sentence and must attend a driver safety course.

NORTH ADAMS: NBCC FORUM TO FOCUS ON HEALTH CARE SERVICES

The new model of health care delivery in North Berkshire will be discussed at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's December forum. "The Changing Paradigm of Health Care" will be presented from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Dec. 12, at First Baptist Church; Attendees are asked to donate a healthy non-perishable food item to the Friendship Center Food Pantry. Information: Al Bashevkin at (413) 663-7588 or e-mail abashevkin@nbccoalition.org.



    The H

Friday, December 05, 2014

 

    National Grid customers being switched over to new supplier Hampshire Power will see a 'transition' price in this month's bill of the new and old rates. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

RATE CONFUSION WITH ELECTRICAL SUPPLIER SWITCH

National Grid customers being switched over to new supplier Hampshire Power will see a 'transition' price in this month's bill of the new and old rates. IBerkshires.com reports that November's electric bills had a lot of residents scratching their heads. The city joined with nine other communities in an electrical aggregation program this fall to purchase power from a different, and lower cost, supplier. Hampshire Power offered a set rate of $0.12191 per kilowatt hour compared to National Grid's raised rate of $0.16273 per kWh. The switch was set for November 1st - the same day National Grid's rate increase went into effect. But what ratepayers saw on their bills was $0.13341 - which didn't correlate to any of the stated rates. Administrative Officer Michael Canales said he's been fielding calls from confused residents since they received their bills.
 

WILLIAMS COLLEGE JOINS WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON COLLEGE ACCESS

Williams College President Adam Falk yesterday joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. The White House College Opportunity Day of Action was held to support the President's commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment. Williams submitted to the initiative a dozen new efforts to expand student preparedness for college and persistence to graduation.





    Mark Maloy of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission explains the area being designated as blight. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS SELECTMEN APPOINT TOWN ADMINISTRATOR, DESIGNATE BLIGHT

Selectmen in Adams officially appointed a new town administrator and designated a new blight area in town. Pending a physical and his signing of the contract, Tony Mazzucco will start January 12th. IBerkshires.com reports that he has agreed to a three-year contract with a starting salary of $81,000. The board voted unanimously to hire Mazzucco, the assistant city manager of Caribou Maine, after his interview November 22nd. The board also accepted a resolution that will designate a new slums and blight area and make it available for Community Development Block Grants.

INTERIM SCHOOL CHIEF VOTE TODAY IN WILLIAMSTOWN

School officials in Williamstown are poised to vote on a contract today for Gordon Noseworthy to serve as interim superintendent of Williamstown-Lanesborough Public Schools. Noseworthy, of Northampton, served as interim superintendent in Pittsfield in 2012-13 and also held that position in North Brookfield in 2010-11. According to Mount Greylock Regional School Committee Chairwoman Carrie Greene, he was selected for the position after interviews in open session on November 21st.




    The popular Reindog Parade draws dozens of holiday dressed canines — and sometimes goats and other four-footed creatures. All local dogs are invited to attend, but their owners must be leashed. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

WILLIAMSTOWN HOLIDAY WALK RETURNS

Williamstown history will be on display tomorrow when the 31st edition of Holiday Walk kicks off in the Village Beautiful. The annual celebration includes a free film at Images Cinema, the annual Reindog Parade, the Penny Social fundraiser, the tree lighting and, this year, a chance to see a 19th-century fire hose cart that is undergoing restoration at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Holiday Walk weekend gets under way on Friday night with carols and cocoa on the Clark's Fernandez Terrace, where acapella singers from Williams College will entertain as the crowd dines on s'mores and hot chocolate from 5 to 7 p.m. The weekend concludes on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. with a tea in the lobby of the Williams Inn.

CHALLENGE TO HOUSATONIC RIVER CLEANUP LIKELY TO SPARK PROLONGED LEGAL DISPUTE

A challenge to the Housatonic River clean-up could lead to a long legal dispute. An official with the EPA has confirmed that General Electric's wide-ranging, strongly worded rejection of the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Rest of River PCB cleanup remedy for the Housatonic increases the prospect of a prolonged legal confrontation. Jim Murphy, the EPA's Region 1 Boston-based spokesman, said the federal agency will study the company's formal comment before issuing a response next spring. He says that other public comments are also being evaluated.

PITTSFIELD MARCH PLANNED TO PROTEST RECENT POLICE SLAYINGS

Outrage over recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and in New York City has reached Pittsfield, where dozens of protesters are planning to hold a peaceful march on Sunday afternoon. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the march, organized by the local NAACP, churches and other service organizations, will begin at 3 p.m. in Pitt Park and continue to the Pittsfield Common. Will Singleton, president of the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP, made it clear that it would be a peaceful march - but he says that the local African-American community is "disgusted" with recent national events.




    The executive committee met on Thursday to discuss an array of issues. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

COUNTY TRANSPORTATION PLAN IN THE WORKS

BRPC is looking for input on a plan for the county's transportation system. IBerkshires.com reports that the plan will guide where county officials will spend state, federal and local dollars on the system. The plan will include ways to reduce congestion, ease commutes, improve safety - and enhance sidewalks, bike lanes and trails. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is looking for public input on the system and will be holding an input session on Tuesday, December 16th at 5:30pm at the Berkshire Regional Transit's Intermodal Center.

PITTSFIELD POLICE ISSUE ALERT FOR JAMES PURCELL, MISSING SINCE NOVEMBER 14

 Pittsfield Police are seeking the public's help in locating a 30-year-old city man missing since mid-November. James Purcell disappeared November 14th after last being seen in his gray, 2008 Toyota Rav 4, license plate 828-EN8. Pittsfield Police Capt. John Mullin released information yesterday afternoon that identified Purcell as "missing and endangered." According to Mullin's press release, Purcell stands 5 foot, 10 inches and weighs 165 lbs. He is African-American and has brown eyes. Anyone with information about Purcell's disappearance or whereabouts is asked to call the Pittsfield Police Department Detective Bureau at 448-9705.

BERKSHIRE CAROUSEL TO BE HOUSED AT ORIGINAL PITTSFIELD LOCATION 

The Berkshire Carousel has come full circle. After attempts to locate the carousel in Lanesborough and Dalton, the amusement ride will land at its original destination: the vacant lot next to the CVS on Center Street in Pittsfield, organizers say. Organizers hope to have it up and running by the end of next year. The yet-to-be-assembled merry-go-round is currently stored at the former Crane stationery factory in Dalton, where work continues on the attraction. The carousel, its building and amenities are expected to cost more than $2 million.

LANESBOROUGH MAN GETS 18 MONTHS IN JAIL FOR BEATING GIRLFRIEND 

A Lanesborough man with a history of domestic violence was sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to beating his girlfriend in October. 32 year old Terrance Jones, of South Main Street, attacked his girlfriend in the early morning hours of October 4th, after becoming angry over some texts he saw on her cellphone. During a later court hearing Jones was determined to be a danger and held without bail. Jones pleaded guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor assault and battery on a family or household member.

SMOKESHOP DENIED LICENSE

A downtown Pittsfield smoke shop has had to remove half its inventory after the city's Health Department became aware that it had been operating for several months without sufficient permitting. According to Director Gina Armstrong, the department became aware of the establishment, Shire City Glass and Fine Tobacco, and a visit by an inspector in early November confirmed the presence of tobacco products at the new North Street store, which opened in June.




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

PITTSFIELD PLAYGROUND REPLACED THROUGH STATE GRANT 

One new Pittsfield playground is complete, and another slated for spring, through an initiative by Gov. Deval Patrick aimed at improving recreational access in low-income neighborhoods. IBerkshires.com reports that just before the first snowstorm of the season, contractors completed the installation of all new equipment at Raymond Crow Playground on Winter Street in the Morningside neighborhood, and work on the Westside's Dorothy Amos Park will begin sometime in April. The grant for $200,000 came out of $10.3 million allocated by the Patrick administration.

CITY OF PITTSFIELD TREE CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING TONIGHT

The City of Pittsfield will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting tonight at Park Square. The tree will be lit at 6pm. Caroling will take place prior to the tree lighting at 5:30. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive following the tree lighting, fresh of their stop in North Adams on Wednesday night. Free hot chocolate will be available courtesy of Patrick's Pub. Those who attend are requested to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the Christian Center's food pantry.

LENOX DALE SETS TREE LIGHTING EVENT

The annual Christmas tree lighting in Lenox Dale will be held at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Santa will arrive by fire engine at Veterans Memorial Park at the intersection of Walker and Crystal streets to light the tree. Following the lighting, Santa will greet the children at the Fire Station on Elm Street, where gifts and refreshments will be distributed. Santa will also pose for photos with the children. The event is sponsored by the Lenox Dale Fire Company.

SECOND IN TALKING BOOKS SERIES TAKES PLACE SATURDAY

The second in the "Talking Books at The Whit," series of up-close-and-personal encounters with authors is scheduled to take place at 2pm tomorrow in Pittsfield. The event is being presented by nationally syndicated radio talk show host Stephanie Abrams in a cooperative effort with Ghazi Kazmi, co-owner of The Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield. Abrams will moderate the event and will read a portion of her novel, Rumors. The event will include both local and internationally known authors present at The Whit plus an interactive Skype visit with globally renowned executive chef Maria Loi, who has written over 30 cookbooks including the 2004 Official Cookbook of the Olympics in Greece.

BAKER WHITE HOUSE TRIP

Massachusetts Gov.-elect Charlie Baker is gearing up for a daylong trip to the White House where he's scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama. Baker told The Associated Press on Thursday that he first thought all 50 governors would be invited, but later realized it included only five or six newly elected governors. Baker said he expects to discuss a range of issues Friday, from federal and state relations to national security.

PROTESTERS ARRESTED ON MASS PIKE

State police say they've arrested a small number of protesters who blocked traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike and demonstrated at the State House over a grand jury's decision to not charge a white police officer in the videotaped chokehold death of an unarmed black man in New York City.

MARKY-MARK LOOKS FOR FORGIVNESS

Actor Mark Wahlberg is asking Massachusetts for a pardon for an assault he committed in 1988 when he was a troubled teenager in Boston. Wahlberg's application with the Massachusetts Parole Board says he isn't the same person he was 26 years ago and his past convictions are still affecting his life.

FUND FOR OUTBREAK VICTIMS INCREASED

A proposed fund to compensate victims of a nationwide meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people has been increased by about $35 million. The outbreak was blamed on a tainted steroid produced by Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center. It sickened more than 750 people in 20 states.

UNEMPLOYMENT MASSACHUSETTS

Federal labor economists say Rhode Island was the only New England state to post a significant change in the unemployment rate in October, dropping to 7.4 percent from 7.6 percent in September. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the region's unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in October from 6 percent in September. The Massachusetts rate remains unchanged at 6 percent.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

NURSES TO PICKET STAFFING LEVELS; BMC DISPUTES UNION'S STATISTICS

The Nurses union will picket outside Berkshire Medical Center next week over what they call "dangerous staffing levels," - a claim the hospital flatly contested. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that in a news release issued yesterday, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said next week's protest is the nurses' way to "protest what they believe are dangerous staffing levels, excessive patient assignments for nurses and other health care workers, and a punitive work environment that is compromising the quality and safety of patient care for patients they serve throughout Berkshire County." BMC fired back at the MNA's claims, asserting that staffing levels are appropriate for the hospital's patient count and are adjusted as volume rises and falls. Mike Leary, spokesman for BMC, said 650 union nurses are employed by BMC and a vote of 80 doesn't necessarily reflect the opinion of the entire nursing staff. The picket will take place from 2-5 p.m. on Wednesday next week.

NORTH ADAMS HISTORICAL COMMISSION HOLDS FIRM

The North Adams Historical Commission has affirmed its decision to keep the wrecking ball away from an abandoned house at 11-15 Furnace Street, despite requests from city officials for its demolition. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the commission agreed at its Monday meeting to uphold its August 21st decision to block the demolition on the property, which is part of the Western Gateway Heritage State Park. Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie had asked the commission to reconsider, but its four present members agreed their order should remain in place.

ADAMS NETS 90K ON PROPERTY AUCTIONS

The town of Adams has netted nearly $90,000 through the auction of five distressed properties - all of them seized for back taxes. Five other properties didn't generate bids high enough to sell on Monday at the Adams Visitors Center. The sale of the three properties with houses and two parcels without any buildings netted the town a total of $89,500, said town Treasurer Kelly Rice. The taxes owed on the five properties totaled roughly $55,000.

NORTH ADAMS TREE LIGHTING WELL ATTENDED

The City of North Adams, despite the rain, held its annual Christmas Tree Lighting last night. Hundreds of people attend the lighting, which included singing, hot cocoa and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, who handed out small gifts from a North Adams Fire Department engine. Trees at both ends of Main Street were lit during the 6pm gathering. The First Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir performed a series of holiday melodies and Christmas carols.

PITTSFIELD MAN ADMITS 2012 RAPE AND FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON

A Pittsfield man is facing up to 10 years in prison after admitting to raping a Pittsfield woman in her home during a November 2012 break-in. 43 year old Christopher Peterson entered into a guilty plea in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday as part of a joint recommendation reached between his attorney and the Berkshire District Attorney's office. Peterson was arrested in December of 2012, and has since been held on $100,000 bail at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. He pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to aggravated rape and breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE STUDY REQUESTED BY MAYOR

Mayor Dan Bianchi is still hoping the City Council will approve purchasing "rapid response" sport utility vehicles for the fire department to respond to medical calls. IBerkshires.com reports that the mayor has asked the Ambulance Review Committee to study service call data and how ambulance companies and the fire department are being used. Bianchi says he is looking for recommendations based on that information on the most efficient way to handle the services.



    The boutique hotel is expected to open next May. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)

HOTEL ON NORTH PAVES WAY FOR MORE PITTSFIELD PARKING

A revision of downtown Pittsfield zoning districts that would allow Main Street Hospitality to develop additional parking area for a planned boutique hotel sailed easily through its first hurdle to approval on Tuesday. IBerkshires.com reports that in a public hearing that lasted less than three minutes, the Community Development Board looked favorably on the proposed amendment to city zoning, which would expand the Downtown Business District to include three parcels on the east side of Center Street and south side of Union Street. Two of these parcels are currently split zoned business and residential, while another is entirely in the high density residential zone.

MADD VIGIL SET FOR SUNDAY IN PITTSFIELD

The Berkshire District Attorney's Office in cooperation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving is sponsor a 'Vigil of Remembrance' on Sunday. The candle lighting ceremony, to remember those lost as a result of a drunk-driving crash, will be held at St. Stephen's Church on East Street in Pittsfield. District Attorney David Capeless will be the main speaker. Members of the District Attorney's Youth Advisory Board will participate in the ceremony as will the Grace Notes, vocalists from Miss Halls School, and members of the Massachusetts State Police. A reception will follow the ceremony at 3pm. The public is invited to attend.



    New brick pathways at Persip (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)  

DOWNTOWN PITTSFIELD CONSTRUCTION WRAPS UP FOR YEAR

A variety of Pittsfield, construction initiatives in the city's downtown have culminated with the onset of the winter season, but work will resume in several areas over the coming spring and summer. Continued streetscape development, along with renovations of pedestrian plazas and an elaborate redesign of the Pittsfield Common are among the projects that lie in various stages of completion, according to the city's Office of Community Development. Community Development Specialist Laurie Mick.said"Anything that doesn't get completed by the end of this year will resume in the spring."  



    The Finance Subcommittee met on Wednesday night.  (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

PITTSFIELD FINCOM APPROVES POLICE CONTRACT, WASTEWATER PLANT UPGRADES

The Pittsfield City Council's Finance Subcommittee is recommending the approval of a long-awaited new contract for police patrol officers. IBerkshires.com reports that the three-year contract is retroactive 2 1/2 years, meaning the administration and the patrol union will be going right into negotiating the next. Because of the lengthy negotiations during which the patrol union was operating under a previous contract, the city is paying about $403,000 for the retro-pay. A rejection by the Finance Subcommittee and subsequent City Council would have led to an arbitration process. The subcommittee approved it but urged both sides to come to agreement earlier.

LEE PROPERTY TAXES RISE

Home and business owners likely will pay more in property taxes in 2015, due in part to a rise in housing values to the highest level in four years. The Berkshire Eagle reports that while the new tax rate is 7 cents lower than in 2014, the owners of an average single-family home will see an increase of about $72 in their real estate tax bills. The assessed value of an average single-family home climbed above the $250,000 mark for the first time since 2011. Annual growth, however, remained steady at about $11.6 million for the second straight fiscal year, causing an increase in the tax burden among property owners.

WATSON FUND STARTS LONG PATH TOWARD $25K GOAL

The John S. Watson Christmas Fund is accepting donations once again this year. The fund was founded in 1936 by local newsman John S. Watson. Last year the fund was able to serve 831 people with food and clothing certificates in 2013. Both clothing and food certificates are mailed out in December, so that the families have time to redeem the certificates in time for Christmas. The fund, now in its 78th year, is looking to raise $25,000 for needy families in the southern Berkshires. Donations to the fund can be made through Berkshire Bank south county offices, and checks should be payable to the Watson Fund. The fund has so far collected $740 in donations. Those wishing to make their donations "in memory of" or "in lieu of holiday cards" should include their requests with their check.

MA TAX PAYERS TO PAY LOWER RATE

Massachusetts taxpayers will start paying a lower state income tax rate beginning in January. Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter confirmed Wednesday that all the requirements needed to automatically lower the personal income tax rate from 5.2 percent to 5.15 percent beginning on January 1st have been met.

MASS LAGGING BEHIND IN EXPORT GROWTH

Economists say Massachusetts has been lagging behind the nation as a whole in one key area of international trade. Mass-Benchmarks, a journal of the state's economy says in a report that Massachusetts ranked 49th out of the 50 states in export growth between 2009 and 2013.

DEATH PENALTY NOT FORCED FOR CONFESSED KILLER

Lawyers for a man who confessed to carjacking and killing two men in Massachusetts and killing a third man in New Hampshire have argued that the federal government should not force the death penalty on Massachusetts, a state that has rejected capital punishment. Gary Lee Sampson was sentenced to death in 2003 by a federal jury in Boston, but that sentence was overturned eight years later by a judge.



Wednesday, December 03, 2014

    
School Committee members Larry Taft, left, Mark Moulton and John Hockridge consider the proposal. Superintendent James Montepare is at front right. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Paul Hopkins)

SCHOOL COMMITTEE DELAYS REDUCING ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS

The North Adams School Committee was split last night on the notion of reducing academic requirements for students participating in sports programs. IBerkshires.com reports that on a 4-2 vote, the committee decided to table the matter for further investigation. The proposal from school administrators would require students to pass only four - instead of five - core courses to keep playing sports. The change would keep the school system in line with Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association standards.

CHESHIRE: TOWN AWARDED $5K FOR SAFETY TRAILER

As part of its commitment to safety and controlling costs, the town of Cheshire was awarded a $5,000 loss control grant to purchase a safety equipment trailer for use by the local Fire, Police and Public Works Departments. The Berkshire eagle reports that the trailer will provide public safety employees with one portable location for all needed traffic and work zone safety equipment, enabling fast response to infrastructure repairs and emergencies, as well as clear delineation of construction and accident zones to promote safety. Cheshire received the grant from the Massachusetts Inter-local Insurance Association, which provides property and casualty insurance to the town.



    The Police Advisory Commission met on Monday to finalize the advertisement and salary range. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

LANESBOROUGH CONSIDERS SHARING POLICE CHIEF

The town of Lanesborough is sending out an invitation to four nearby communities to discuss sharing police services. IBerkshires.com reports that Police Chief Mark Bashara and K9 Officer James Rathbun are both retiring next year and the town is eyeing a chance to save money. While the search for a new chief is ongoing, the Finance Committee and the Selectmen are considering other ways to organize the department. Possible options could include replacing the two retiring officers with part-timers to reduce benefits, contracting with other departments for patrol - such as the state police or Pittsfield - or even sharing a chief as the town selectmen had previously suggested.



    The Selectmen approved a peer review of Dollar General's traffic study if doesn't cost the town anything. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

DOLLAR GENERAL TRAFFIC STUDY TO BE REVIEWED

The Cheshire Board of Selectmen has voted to request an independent peer review of the Dollar General Traffic study. After postponing a decision last week, the board met yesterday and discussed their opinions of the study after reading it. Last week, residents Richard Scholz and John Tremblay approached the board with a letter requesting a peer review of the traffic study for the proposed discount chain store by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. They said they believe this study to be free of charge. One of the concerns Scholz brought up was whether or not the study represented peak traffic situations.

DRUGGED DRIVER RELEASED

A city man who was allegedly high on heroin when he caused a multi-vehicle crash that nearly electrocuted another man is free on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to several charges. 32 year old Peter Matthews, of Parkside Avenue, was had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf in Central Berkshire District Court on misdemeanor charges of drugged driving, possession of heroin and a marked lanes violation. According to Pittsfield police, Matthews was high on heroin Monday morning when his vehicle veered into oncoming traffic near the Lipton Mart at 460 South Street, snapped a utility pole and crashed into a fence. The pole and primary electric lines carrying 13,000 volts of electricity landed on a minivan. The driver of that mini-van was taken to BMC with minor injuries.

ARRESTED AFTER VIDEOTAPING OFFICER, PITTSFIELD MAN TO FIGHT CHARGE AT TRIAL

A Pittsfield man who was arrested after videotaping a police officer during a traffic stop is heading to trial in March to fight the charges. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 44 year old Keith Stringer, of Pittsfield, was videotaping Pittsfield Police Officer Dale Eason while he conducted a traffic-stop on First Street on August 20th. Officer Eason ordered Stringer to stop recording him and to move on, but when the defendant allegedly refused, the officer seized his phone and arrested him on a charge of disorderly conduct as a subsequent offense. According to court documents, Stringer refused to give Eason his name prior to being arrested.

THREE PITTSFIELD RESIDENTS, INCLUDING HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR, FACE DRUG CHARGES

Three Pittsfield residents, including a Pittsfield High school senior, are being held on bail following a police raid on a city residence that allegedly turned up cocaine, marijuana and ammunition. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 24 year old Adam Pettijohn, his 18-year-old brother, Michael Preston, and Pettijohn's girlfriend, Nycole Kiley, were arrested about 5:30 a.m. yesterday after members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force executed a "no-knock" search warrant on a South Atlantic Avenue residence. Kiley, 18, is a senior at Pittsfield High School. They are all due back in court December 30th.

PRESS PROTOCOL DISCUSSED

The Police Advisory Committee has agreed to a press protocol similar to one put in place for city government earlier this year. The Berkshire Eagle reports however, that Charles Smith Jr. said he thought it "unfair to put everything on the chairman," and said that a policy "shouldn't limit" an individual member from talking to the press if giving their own opinion, as long as it was not said to represent the entire board. Chairman Alan Righi agreed that committee members should be free to speak but said they should clarify to the media that they are not speaking for the committee, and that statements for the group should come through the chairman.

FORMER LENOX SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER PROBED

A former Lenox School Committee member is under investigation for the alleged theft of funds from the Morris Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Jennifer Reinholt, who also was treasurer of the PTO until her one-year term expired in September, is the focus of a probe into the disappearance of funds from PTO coffers. Reinholt resigned from the School Com

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