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News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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

ADAMS BUSINESS OWNERS AIR CONCERNS

The long-planned project to renovate Park Street into a safer and more pedestrian-friendly roadway is expected to begin next week. IBerkshires.com reports however that local business owners are worried the three-month enterprise will disrupt business and deter patrons. Nearly 50 residents and business owners yesterday attended the first of three public hearings on the construction phase of the project, held at the Adams Visitors Center.

A NORTH ADAMS MAN FACES 2ND DRUG CHARGE IN A MONTH

A North Adams man is facing drug possession charges for the second time in a month. According to North Adams Police, 52 year old John Casuscelli, Sr. of Washington Avenue was allegedly found to have two bundles of heroin inside his vehicle on Thursday last week after he was pulled over near his home for driving with a suspended license. Casuscelli pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court yesterday to charges of heroin possession and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, subsequent offense. He was released on personal recognizance.

YEAR IN JAIL FOR CRACK DEALER

A North Adams woman who admitted selling crack for a drug ring of New York men is serving a year in jail. The Berkshire Eagle reports, 23 year old Catherine Brackett sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant last year for a group of 30 to 40 drug dealers from New York City. According to the Berkshire District Attorney's office, the mostly male dealers would "make a circuit" between North Adams and New York, selling drugs in the Berkshires and replenishing their supply in New York City. The incidents involving Brackett occurred in North Adams between January 1st and November 26th of last year. Brackett pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday to a single count of cocaine distribution and two counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. She also pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a police officer. Judge John Agostini sentenced Brackett to a total of 2 1 / 2 years at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction with one year to be served and the rest of the time suspended for a year.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT IN ADAMS ADMINISTRATOR SEARCH

The Town Administrator Search Committee met last night to organize its goals and procedures. Ahead of last night's session though, town selectmen have already been discussing what the successful candidate should have - and an Adams address is among their top wishes. Board members last week agreed they would rather have a town leader living in town but weren't ready to commit to advertising the post with a residential requirement since some members were open to residence in a nearby community. The board agreed to send out the advertisement with a residency requirement, but they would be willing to change it if there was a lack of candidates.

BERKSHIRE RAILROAD STUDY SEES FOUR COMMUNITIES AS BEST DEPOT SITES

Pittsfield, Lee, Great Barrington and Sheffield have been identified as the best places to host rail depots if passenger service to New York City is restored. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the four communities were chosen based, in part, on being at least 10 miles apart, according to Brian Domina, senior planner with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. The sites also have the advantage of being centrally located within each community, with the exception of Sheffield. The first of two public meetings will be held tonight to discuss the preliminary findings of the $240,000 federally funded study to recommend the optimum sites for the depots. Tonight's meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Great Barrington Fire Station. The second meeting will be in Pittsfield, 6 p.m. on August 6th at the Intermodal Transportation Center.



  Harbormaster Lee Hauge asked the Selectmen to insert requirements into lake-use permits that all watercraft be cleaned before entering the lake. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

Lanesborough Moving Forward With PCTV Running Station

Lanesborough is asking Pittsfield Community Television for a formal proposal to take over Lanesborough's broadcasts.
The town is looking to keep Selectmen and School Committee meetings on the air. Resident Ronald Tinkham has been running the town's community television station for years and now wants to step down. With no other residents stepping up to fill his shoes, the town is asking Pittsfield to take over.
Town Administrator Paul Sieloff has been meeting with PCTV representatives. To keep the Selectmen and School Committee televised, it will cost the town about $8,000 a year, he said. That will be covered through the franchise agreement the town has with Charter Communications, wherein the cable company pays a portion of its profits to support the community television station.
That proposal will get the town someone to run and maintain the equipment in town for two hours, two days a week. It will also pay another person for 10 hours a month to do the filming.
Sieloff said the amount would be budgeted by month.



NY WOMAN CHARGED WITH MOTOR VEHICLE HOMICIDE

A New York woman is facing charges, including motor vehicle homicide, in connection with the death of a Pittsfield motorcyclist last week. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting, 31 year old Shannon Curtiss of Stephentown, was trying to make a left turn from North Street onto Springside Avenue about 1 p.m. July 15th when her 2004 Ford Focus was struck by a motorcycle driven by 49 year old John Kenny of Norman Avenue. Curtiss also faces a charge of failure to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic. She will answer to the charges at a later date in Central Berkshire District Court, according to Investigating Officer Jeffrey Coco.

LENOX PROPERTY SPARED

One of South Berkshire's most iconic, scenic properties has been spared from potential high- density development. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting today that under a $700,000 agreement announced yesterday between the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and the Sprague family, owners of Undermountain Farm and Stables since 1973, 83 acres of farmland and the 63 acre northern end of Parson's Marsh will be protected for all time as agricultural and open space. It comes following nearly a year of negotiations between the nonprofit land-conservation organization and the family. The deal gives the Berkshire Natural Resources Council an option to complete the agreement for the two parcels totaling 146 acres by October 31st, 2015.

DOLLAR GENERAL GETS GREEN LIGHT

A ruling in Massachusetts Land Court has cleared the way for Dollar General to build a store in the town of Sheffield. A judge has vacated a 2013 action by the town's Zoning Board of Appeals to repeal the building permit for the store. The building permit had been issued by the building inspector in March of that year. The select board announced the ruling on Monday. The ruling ends a yearlong dispute over the store that has divided the community.

STATE WARNS ABOUT TAX TELEPHONE SCAM

State authorities are warning Massachusetts residents about a nationwide phone scam that aggressively targets taxpayers. The state attorney's general's office says it has received several complaints about the scam. The scammer usually claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service or another government agency, and tells the target they will be arrested because they did not pay or did not correctly file state or federal taxes. Victims are told they must settle the debt over the phone by providing a debit or credit card number or by wiring funds, to avoid arrest. If the victim refuses, the caller becomes hostile and abusive and threatens the victim with arrest or deportation. The Better Business Bureau says thousands of calls have been made across the country with total losses around $1 million.

EZ PASS SCAM MAKING THE ROUNDS

Are you using E-Z Pass this summer? If you are you'll want to be aware of another scam that's making the rounds. Scammers are apparently posing as E-Z Pass in emails and claiming to be collecting unpaid tolls. The emails carry viruses that infect your computer and can open you up to identity theft. The email appears to be from E-Z Pass, as it uses the correct colors and logo. The message says you have ignored previous bills and urges you to pay immediately by downloading an attached "invoice." When you download the attachment, you are actually downloading a virus to your computer. These viruses scan your machine for personal and banking information, which opens you up to the threat of identity theft. If you see one of these emails, you should delete it immediately.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION MEETING DISRUPTED

The Human Rights Commission in Pittsfield had to abruptly close its meeting in an ongoing inquiry last night after a city resident stormed the podium and refused to recognize meeting rules of order. IBerkshires.com reports the commission was in the midst of a continued investigation into a complaint lodged by Medford resident Doreen Wade against Mayor Daniel Bianchi, when Pittsfield resident Craig Gaetani approached the podium suddenly to address them, claiming that he was a party to the ongoing investigation, and accusing Mayor Bianchi of "bullying" him also (His words). Gaetani has been vocal at City Hall and with local media this year regarding a grievance with local government's disinclination to implement his water treatment ideas.

DOLLAR GENERAL GETS GREEN LIGHT

A ruling in Massachusetts Land Court has cleared the way for Dollar General to build a store in the town of Sheffield. A judge has vacated a 2013 action by the town's Zoning Board of Appeals to repeal the building permit for the store. The building permit had been issued by the building inspector in March of that year. The select board announced the ruling on Monday. The ruling ends a yearlong dispute over the store that has divided the community.
Massachusetts News From The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - A man believed to have provided the gun used by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects to kill a college police officer has been arrested on drug and weapon charges. Stephen Silva made an initial appearance in federal court yesterday on charges related to heroin trafficking and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts health officials say a pair of seemingly contradictory federal appeals court rulings on a key element of President Barack Obama's health care law is reinforcing their commitment to remain a state-based marketplace. An appeals court has ruled the Affordable Care Act only allows insurance subsidies in states with their own exchanges. Another court has found consumers in all 50 states can buy subsidized coverage.

BOSTON (AP) - Police chiefs and gun safety activists are pressing state lawmakers to give the chiefs discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed to buy rifles or shotguns. Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis spoke at the Statehouse rally yesterday and recalled an incident where a man killed an 80-year-old and then held police hostage using a shotgun after Davis had issued him an FID card.

LYNN, Mass. (AP) - The debate over unaccompanied Central American young people entering the country illegally is roiling at least one community in the state. Officials in the town of Lynn complain their schools are being overwhelmed. They even say some students are older than they say and shouldn't be in school. Students and immigrant advocates say the claims are baseless.

BOSTON (AP) - The state Senate is scheduled to debate a bill today requiring that political action committees reveal donors in a timely manner. A version of the bill approved last month by House lawmakers would require so-called super PACs disclose their contributors within seven days of running an ad. The Senate version would also require disclosure of contributors within seven days.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  Scaffolding covers the north end of what will be the Colegrove Park Elementary School. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

Major Demolition Nearly Complete for North Adams School Project

The North Adams Conte School gymnasium will come down this week as demolition continues on the renovation of the former middle school. Crews have removed most of the windows, dug up the ground floor for piping and are nearly completed with asbestos abatement. The steel roof of the gym was removed last week and the old oil tank taken out. So far, few surprises have popped up during demolition, a concern for the School Building Committee overseeing the $30 million project to turn the century-old building into Colegrove Park Elementary School. The next meeting of the committee will be Aug. 18.The North Adams Conte School gymnasium will come down this week as demolition continues on the renovation of the former middle school. Crews have removed most of the windows, dug up the ground floor for piping and are nearly completed with asbestos abatement. The steel roof of the gym was removed last week and the old oil tank taken out. So far, few surprises have popped up during demolition, a concern for the School Building Committee overseeing the $30 million project to turn the century-old building into Colegrove Park Elementary School. The next meeting of the committee will be Aug. 18.

NORTH ADAMS SEES CAPITAL PURCHASES AS BEST USE OF STATE AID FUNDS

Officials in North Adams can use $750,000 in emergency state aid as they see fit, but Mayor Richard Alcombright cautioned that the best use of the funding will likely be on capital expenditures rather than new employees. He says hiring additional employees could become a "sustainability issue." The Berkshire Eagle reports that officials are looking at the capital needs of the city, including several new vehicles and potential upgrades at the water treatment plant. Earlier this month, the governor signed off on a fiscal 2015 budget that included a $750,000 aid package to North Adams in the wake of North Adams Regional Hospital's closure.

MAN ALLEGEDLY SMASHED PACKAGE STORE WINDOW, STOLE LIQUOR

A Hall Street North Adams man is facing felony charges for allegedly smashing his way into the River Street Package Store early Sunday and stealing several bottles of liquor. According to North Adams Police, 30 year old Jeffrey Patten, Sr. was captured on the store's surveillance system throwing a cement brick through its door and stealing bottles. The broken glass was discovered during a routine patrol early Sunday morning. Patten admitted to stealing six or seven bottles of vodka, saying he was drunk at the time. He pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday on charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony, malicious destruction of property over $250, and larceny over $250. He was released on personal recognizance. The case was continued to September 15th for a pretrial conference.

   EMTs, firefighters and police officers worked with the second-graders on how to do in an emergency. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

NORTH ADAMS SECOND-GRADERS DRILLED IN EMERGENCY SKILLS

A visitor to Northern Berkshire YMCA on Monday morning might have been alarmed to see young children wrapped in bandages behind the building, but it was all part of a drill teaching North Adams second graders emergency skills. IBershires.com reports, the children were taking turns on how to react to a real crisis - such as falling off their bikes. The second-graders were participating in the school district's 21st Century Community Learning Center Summer Science Camp. And they loaded classmates, bandaged and bloodied, onto stretchers as a culminating lesson in the "Kids on the Move" themed program. Officials at North Adams Ambulance said the mock drill was designed to show kids the importance of safety.

BERKSHIRE INMATE ALLEGEDLY BEAT ANOTHER INMATE OVER DRUG FIND

A jail inmate is facing a felony charge after severely beating another inmate. According to a probable cause report by the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, 29 year old Timothy Domina II (a sex offender currently serving time for breaking and entering and other charges) attacked Sadowell Hudson as the man exited the shower room at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on July 15th. According to the report, Hudson suffered contusions to the face and head and a broken dental plate, among other injuries. Domina pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to a single count of felony aggravated assault and battery. He is due back in court September 2nd.

BERKSHIRE DELEGATION SEEING LACK OF OPPOSITION IN RECENT YEARS

With the November election now about three months away, all five member of the Berkshire legislative delegation can rest easy, knowing they will be back again for another term. The counties four state representatives Paul mark, Smitty Pignatelli, Gailanne Cariddi, and Tricia Farley Bouvier - as well as State Senator Ben Downing are all running without opposition. 3rd Berkshire State Rep.

LEE MAN GETS PROBATION FOR POSSESSION OF CHILD PORN

A Lee man has been sentenced to two years of probation after admitting to possessing child pornography. According to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, 44 year old Michael Cahalan was charged in February of last year after members of the state police executed a search warrant at his home and found videos involving preteen boys and girls in sexual conduct. Cahalan pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on yesterday to three counts of knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct. A charge of dissemination of child pornography was dismissed at the request of the DA's Office as part of the plea deal. Both parties asked the court to sentence the defendant to two years of conditional probation. Among the conditions: Cahalan will wear a GPS monitor, continue counseling, and have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.

  New construction wouldn't cause the students to be educated off site. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

CRITERIA FOR BUILDING NEW HIGH SCHOOL LAYED OUT

Space use is the top priority in weighting the criteria comparing building options for Taconic High School. IBerkshires.com reports that Drumney Rosane & Anderson Architects Inc., designing the new or renovated school, has crafted 25 criteria to decide whether to build a brand-new school, renovate the current one or a mixture. The School Building Needs Commission is now weighting the criteria so that space considerations are the most important. The top criteria as rated by the commission members is space compatible with educational goals, appropriate space use, operating and maintenance costs, overall cost, value - and then safety and security.

LENOX TRAFFIC STOP: PITTSFIELD MAN FACES DRUG AND WEAPONS CHARGES

A Pittsfield man is due in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday following a weekend arrest on drug, weapon and motor vehicle charges. According to Lenox police, 22 year old Joseph Tulgan of Holmes Road was pulled over on Crystal Street in Lenox Dale on Saturday afternoon for having an expired registration. He was handcuffed after officers suspected that he had a loaded handgun in a bag in the rear seat, which he in fact did. He did produce a license to carry. Tulgan also had in his possession marijuana, digital scales, Percoset, more than $1,000, and a large knife. Tulgan, who is co-owner of Berkshire General Store at 75 North Street, was charged with having a loaded .38 caliber handgun in his vehicle not under his direct control, which is a felony. He also was charged with possessing a class B narcotic and possession with intent to distribute a class D drug - and driving with a suspended license. He was released on personal recognizance and is due in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday.

POSITIVE TEST FOR TRIPLE-E IN MASSACHUSETTS

For the first time this year mosquitoes in Massachusetts have tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis, or triple E. The Massachusetts Department of Health has confirmed that a July 15th laboratory test in Plymouth County has tested positive for EEE, a dangerous virus that can cause inflammation of the brain and in one third of cases, death. Even though the only reported case of EEE in Massachusetts was more than 80 miles to our east, our chances in western Massachusetts of getting it just went up. Birds are typically the long-range carrier of EEE, taking the disease over many miles. The best defense against EEE is avoiding a mosquito bite. Health officials suggest wearing long clothes, avoiding wooded or wet areas and wearing bug spray with DEET.




Monday, July 21, 2014

   Selectmen Chairman Arthur 'Skip' Harrington recommended the board replace a member of the Town Administrator Search Committee for what he said was going behind the board's back. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

SEARCH COMMITTEE MEMBER REPLACED

The Board of Selectmen in Adams last week replaced a member of the Town Administrator Search Committee before it even started. IBerkshires.com reports that the board voted to replace Jeffrey Lefebvre with Stephen Melito , the runner up, after Lefebvre supposedly did an end run around the committee to check the legality of a meeting posting. For his part, Lefebvre said on Friday he was nervous because he had read Hinsdale recently got in trouble for not posting a search committee meeting.

NFORMATION SESSION SET FOR TUESDAY IN ADAMS

Town officials will hold a public information session tomorrow to answer questions about the upcoming renovations to Park Street, which are set to begin on Wednesday. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the $875,000 project, originally slated to begin earlier this summer, will at times close down parts of Park Street. After three months of construction, the result will be a newly paved road; modified sidewalks and crosswalks aimed at improving pedestrian safety; and a renewed "beautification" effort. Town Administrator Jonathan Butler will join the project's engineering firm and contractor to provide an overview of the project and its impact on the town at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Berkshire Visitors Bureau building in Adams.

ONE YEAR IN JAIL FOR NORTH ADAMS MAN

A North Adams man has been given a one-year jail term after a spree of destruction with a baseball bat. According to police, 25 year old Christopher Jelley of Mohawk Forest Boulevard, swung a bat and damaged the inside of a Crossey Place home when its occupants tried to separate him from a man he wanted to fight outside. He was soon tracked down and arrested near Brown Street with the help of Adams Police Officer Curtis Crane and K-9 Kumar shortly after midnight on June 19th. Jelley and his attorney reached a deal on Friday with prosecutors in Northern Berkshire District Court, for a six-month jail sentence and to enter guilty findings on charges of malicious destruction of property over $250 and disturbing the peace. Judge Fredric Rutberg sentenced Jelley to a full year in Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, with 30 days of credit for time already served.

GALLERY COULD BE CATALYST FOR ARTS

The "5 Hoosac St. Gallery" looks to be a catalyst for arts and culture in Adams with its grand opening of "The Mill Children" exhibit in early August. Gallery coordinator Gail Sellers tells IBerkshires.com that the newly renovated gallery, formerly the Waverly Mill, could be the start of many new things. Seller's says it's the first big art space that Adams has ever had and it is in a huge mill - roughly 4,500 square feet. The gallery will open with the exhibit based on Lewis Hine's photographs of children mill workers from around 1911. The photographs were taken to bring awareness to the issue of child labor.

THREE LOCAL TOWNS LEAD THE WAY IN LATEST ROUND OF SOLARIZE MASS

Great Barrington, Egremont, Adams and four other Western Massachusetts communities led the way in the latest round of Solarize Mass, designed to reduce area residents' electric bills. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, at the June 30th enrollment deadline, the three Berkshire towns, along with Amherst, Whately, Williamsburg and Chesterfield accounted - for the second consecutive year - nearly 40 percent of the home and small business owners who signed up for the state-sponsored program. MassCEC officials report of the 932 solar projects in 15 cities and towns across Massachusetts, 84 property owners enrolled in the Great Barrington/ Egremont collaboration, 18 in Adams, the Whatley/ Williamsburg/ Chesterfield partnership with 85 and Amherst topped the list with a record 174 enrolled. In 2013, Williamstown, Lee and Northampton had 40 percent share of the market of the 10 communities who participated in the program.

OPPOSITION PREPARES TO FIGHT RESORT

Residents of Old Stockbridge Road are ramping up efforts to block the proposed 112-room Elm Court resort ahead of a ruling by the Stockbridge Select Board. Most of the historic property is in Stockbridge, but the entrance and the frontage along the hilly, winding road are within Lenox. The Berkshire Eagle reported over the weekend that several Elm Court neighbors residing in Stockbridge and Lenox plan to appear before the Lenox Selectmen during Wednesday's 7 p.m. meeting at the Lenox Town Hall to voice their concerns over the potential traffic impact and disruption to their tranquil environment. An increase in traffic seems to be a main concern among the residents. Meanwhile, the Stockbridge Select Board - which has the authority to grant a special permit for the project that would create a Travaasa Experiential Resort, is slated to resume its discussion at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 4th.

MORRIS ELEMENTARY CLOSES IN ON NEW PRINCIPAL

Morris Elementary School is expected to announce a new principal over the next few days. A thirteen- member screening committee sifted through 15 applications for the position - and has trimmed the list down to five semifinalists, according to interim Superintendent Timothy Lee. The position became vacant after Lee, who had been principal of Morris for six years, was appointed last month to the superintendency for one year, effective July 1st, following the retirement of Superintendent Edward Costa II. Lee was part of the initial 13-member screening committee that produced the five semifinalists. The finalists are Carolyn Boyce, a former elementary school principal in the Orange Township Public School District, and Julie Vincentsen, principal since 2011 of the Helen Keller Elementary School in Franklin.

SERVICE APPRECIATED IN WASHINGTON

When Iraq or Afghanistan war veterans drive over one of the Berkshires' most scenic roads, they'll know their service was appreciated. Town and State officials on Saturday dedicated Washington Mountain Road to the veterans of those wars. A sign is now hanging at each of the town's borders dedicating the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Scenic Byway. The state recently finished putting a new coating of blacktop on Washington Mountain Road and the state Department of Transportation has promised to completely renovate the road - a project estimated to cost some $10 million.

PUBLIC HEARING TODAY FOR PITTSFIELD ATTORNEY

A public testimony hearing is being held today regarding the nomination of William A. Rota to the position of Associate Justice of the Southern Berkshire District Court by Governor Deval Patrick. The event is from 4:30 to 6 p.m., on the first floor at the Berkshire Superior Courthouse. It is being presented by Michael J. Albano, who represents the Eighth District of the Massachusetts Governor's Council, in partnership with the Berkshire County Bar Association. The public is invited to attend and offer testimony in favor or in opposition to Rota's nomination.

$75K GRANT FOR RESIDENCY PROGRAM

American literary giants with ties to Pittsfield are the inspiration behind the city's literature on wheels. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the local Office of Cultural Development has received a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to design mobile "pop-up" writers' studios, each based on the careers of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes. All five mid-19th century authors lived and/or produced work in Pittsfield. The NEA award is being matched by in- kind services and money from Pittsfield, Word X Word Festival, the Berkshire Historical Society and other local funding sources.

SHEFFIELD AWARDED $803K IN BLOCK GRANTS

Great Barrington and Sheffield will share $803,000 in Community Development Block Grants to upgrade housing and fund infrastructure and accessibility issues. Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal made the announcement on Friday outside the Housatonic Community Center. The funding is part of the awarding of $27.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to municipalities across the state. Sean Stanton, vice chairman of the Great Barrington Board of Selectmen, said the application partnership between Great Barrington and Sheffield, facilitated by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, is the culmination of several years of master planning efforts.

DOCUMENT TO BE DISPLAYED

A rare document from the town of Great Barrington's pre-Revolutionary past has been purchased by the Great Barrington Historical Society. Plans are for the administration plans to put the document on public display. According to Deborah Opperman, executive director of the Historical Society, fundraising for a bill of sale for Pompi, a slave of about eight years (written in about 1765) was recently completed. The organization raised about $1,400 in roughly 2 ½ months to purchase the document from a local antiques dealer. Opperman says the Historical Society also acquired several pages of an 18th-century ledger, one of which mentions the transaction.

HADDAD OPENS NEW SOUTH COUNTY LOCATION

The Haddad Auto Group has expanded again - this time into Southern Berkshire County - with the recent opening of their used car store in Great Barrington. Named Haddad of South County, the latest addition to the Haddad brand is located at 974 South Main Street, the former Art Davis Auto Sales. For anyone who's gone car shopping in Great Barrington before, the location won't be the only thing that looks familiar - former owner Art Davis is now the manager of Haddads' new location. Davis says he is pleased to be part of the Haddad Auto Group - and even more pleased for his customers in the community because a used car store of this one's size hasn't been here for years. In addition to the dozens of used cars right on the lot, buyers will have access to Haddad's inventory of over 250 pre-owned vehicles on the Haddad of South County website, www.haddadusedcars.com.

Friday, July 18, 2014


  
The Finance Committee and Selectmen met Tuesday to sign off on end-of-year transfers. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

CLARKSBURG ENTERS NEW FISCAL YEAR WITH OPTIMISM

Clarksburg Town officials are hoping that the coming year will find their fiscal house in order. IBerkshires.com reports that after a rocky period that's seen budget cuts, penalties on its free cash and fluctuating figures, the Selectmen and Finance Committee are moving into fiscal 2015 with greater confidence in the town's financial numbers. Clarksburg has been working to get procedures in place to better track revenue and bills using new software, and in reconciling the town's books between the treasurer/tax collector and accountant. The addition of new Town Accountant David Fierro Jr. and the hiring of new town administrator in Carl McKinney has also brought new optimism. McKinney takes over next month.



  McCann school officials are seeking a new venue for the licensed nursing program after bids for an addition came in at more than $700,000. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

HIGH BIDS BRING NEW LPN PROGRAM TO A HALT AT MCCANN

McCann Technical School's plans to build an addition for the licensed practical nursing program have come to a halt. According to Superintendent James Brosnan, all three bidders in combination with sub-bidders came in well over budget. Brosnan delivered the news to the School Committee last night. The school was approved on Monday to construct a 2,700 square foot addition with utilities connected to the main building, but with all three bids coming in at more than $700,000, the building process has essentially halted. With the closing of the North Adams Regional Hospital, the LPN program does not have a place to hold classes.




   Town Administrator Jonathan Butler is working to get major projects under way before he leaves his post in August to become president of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

BOND BILL INCLUDES $5M FOR GREYLOCK GLEN EDUCATION CENTER

Adams is in line for $5 million for the construction of a long-planned educational center at the Greylock Glen. Town Administrator Jonathan Butler told the Selectmen on Wednesday that state Sen. Benjamin Downing is looking to sustain the funding in the Environmental Bond Bill. IBerkshires.com reports that the bill also includes $8,775,000 for the design and construction of Phase 1 of the Hoosic River Restoration Project in North Adams; a $1,100,000 grant to the city of Pittsfield towards the completion of the multipurpose turf facility at Berkshire Community College; $125,000 for the final phase restoration of Baker's Pond at Kennedy Park in Lenox; and approval to spend funds on the improvement and expansion of historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield.

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT AT LOWEST LEVEL IN SIX YEARS

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent in June, the lowest level in nearly six years. The state office of Labor and Workforce Development released its latest report yesterday. Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Massachusetts picked up 3,700 jobs last month, according to officials. The bureau also revised upward its May estimate, saying the state gained 10,300 jobs in that month rather than the previously reported increase of 9,100 jobs.

FATAL CRASH DETAILS RELEASED

There is more information this morning on a one-vehicle fatal crash on Tamarack Road in Pittsfield on Wednesday afternoon. The accident, which occurred shortly after 1:30pm involved a 2005 Honda Civic operated by 88 year old William Anderson of Williamstown. Anderson was head east on Tamarack Road when he suffered an apparent medical condition, causing him to veer off the roadway and into a tree. The Pittsfield Fire Department and Action Ambulance Service were dispatched to the scene. Anderson was treated at the crash site and transported to BMC in Pittsfield where he died a short time after arrival. A passenger in the vehicle, 87 year old Lila Anderson, suffered serious injuries in the crash and remains hospitalized.


  The City Council debated the opinion of the city solicitor on a question of appointments. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

DPW AND UTILITIES MANAGEMENT UNDER SCRUTINY

The management structure of the Department of Public Works in Pittsfield is being debated among city officials. IBerkshires.com is reporting that Councilor at Large Barry Clairmont wants Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi to appoint two positions - one to oversee utilities and the other the public works department. As it currently stands, Bruce Collingwood oversees both departments. In 2011, the City Council approved a change proposed by then Mayor James Ruberto that split the one position into two to spread out responsibilities. Appointments to the two positions were apparently never made, so the separation of management exists on the books only.

MILLWORK AND SEWER LINE WORK ON WENDELL AVENUE CONTINUES

Construction crews in Pittsfield have begun doing millwork and a sewer line replacement on Wendell Avenue. J.H. Maxymillian will be undertaking the project for a period of roughly two weeks. Wendell Avenue from Taconic Street to East Housatonic Street will be shut down to through traffic between the hours of 7am and 3:30pm for the duration of the construction. Officials ask that motorists take precautions and any necessary actions to accommodate the situation.

NO MORE BUDGET REVIEWS ON SATURDAY IN PITTSFIELD

Marathon city budget reviews on Saturday are, as of now, a thing of the past. With Councilor at large Churchill Cotton absent, the City Council has adopted, by a 6-4 vote, a new rule limiting their budget hearings to Monday through Thursday nights. The first hearing being held seven days after the mayor submits a new spending plan to the municipal legislative body. Councilors Barry Clairmont and Kevin Morandi co-sponsored the proposal claiming the June 7th session to review the fiscal 2015 spending plan was too long and counterproductive. Clairmont also says that having the budget reviews on Saturday is unfair to city taxpayers.

ROAD WORK BEGINS IN LENOX

The Lenox Department of Public Works has begun road work on several streets in town in including Dunmore, Galway, Hubbard (from Main to 7 and 20), Ash, Taconic, Reynolds, Maple, Frothingham, and Walker. The schedule is weather dependent and work is expected to continue through October. Officials say there will be some traffic delays, and motorists are being asked to be safe and pay attention to the traffic officers that are on duty.

AIR CONDITIONING APPROVED FOR MT. EVERETT SCHOOL

The Board of Selectmen in Sheffield has approved a three-year loan package to pay for air conditioning of the second floor at Mount Everett Regional School. The Berkshire Eagle reports today that the total package will cost about $150,000. Superintendent David Hastings says that the cost would be split among the district's five towns. The school district's four other member towns of Monterey, Alford, New Marlborough and Egremont have already approved the plan. The district is hopeful to finish the work before students return in the fall. Chairman David Smith wondered why it took so long for the district to come before the board, saying had the conversation been held a few weeks ago, the process would have moved along faster.

OFFICIALS TO EXAMINE EROSION OF LAKE MANSFIELD ROAD

With Lake Mansfield Road in Great Barrington beginning to crumble into Lake Mansfield itself, town selectmen have agreed to convene a "summit meeting" of several boards to discuss options for repairing the byway. The Berkshire Eagle reports that no date was set during Monday's meeting, but the summit will likely occur in late August or early September. Lake Mansfield Road is a connector between Castle Hill Road and Christian Hill Road which runs around the eastern shore of the lake. The lake has been slowly eroding the small buffer between the water and the road. There have been no accidents so far this year, but board members expressed fears of the potential for one.

Massachusetts Senate Approves Sweeping Gun Bill

BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts Senate approved a sweeping overhaul of the state's gun laws Thursday, but not before stripping out a key element of a similar bill approved by the House. The Senate bill had included the measure, which would have given police chiefs more discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed to purchase rifles or shotguns. During Thursday's debate, that element of the bill was eliminated. The bill would maintain current law which limits chiefs to conducting background checks.Gun rights activists hailed the change. Critics say the switch waters down the bill, which was approved on a voice vote.Both bills would create a web-based portal to allow real-time background checks in private gun sales and mandate the state join the National Instant Background Check System.

Juvenile Parole Bill Heads To Gov. Deval Patrick

BOSTON (AP) - A compromise version of a bill that would allow parole for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder has reached Gov. Deval Patrick's desk. The bill would make juveniles convicted of first-degree murder eligible for parole after serving prison sentences of 20 to 30 years. The bill sets a range of 25 to 30 years for convictions involving premeditation and a minimum of 30 years for convictions involving extreme atrocity or cruelty. The legislation also prohibits the Department of Correction from limiting treatment including education, substance abuse, anger management and vocational training programs. The bill comes in response to recent judicial decisions that ruled that juvenile sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional. The bill won final approval by the Legislature on Thursday and needs Patrick's signature before becoming law.






Thursday, July 17, 2014

  Affordable Housing Committee Chairman Van Ellet addresses the board of the town's Affordable Housing Trust.(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE PLAN FINALIZED IN WILLIAMSTOWN

For people of modest means, it can be difficult to chart a path to home ownership. Williamstown is offering a MAP. IBerkshires.com reports, the board of the town's Affordable Housing Trust yesterday approved the town's first-ever mortgage assistance program. The initiative is modeled after a similar program in Lenox. It will offer grants of up to $15,000 to first-time homeowners with households earning up to 80 percent of the area mean income.

LISA CHAMBERLAIN APPOINTED TO MCLA BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has announced that Gov. Deval Patrick has appointed Lisa Chamberlain, managing partner of The Chamberlain Group, based in Great Barrington, as the newest member of the MCLA Board of Trustees. According to Tyler Fairbank, chair of MCLA's Board of Trustees, the Chamberlain Group is an integral part of the innovation economy in the Berkshires, and Lisa Chamberlain brings with her specialized experience and management skills that blend artistry with technology.



  Mount Greylock School Committee members Robert Ericson and Chris Dodig. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH TRI-DISTRICT BACK ON TRACK

The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee has decided to move forward with a search for a Tri-District superintendent. IBerkshires.com reports that the move Tuesday comes after learning that the Lanesborough Elementary School Committee has decided to maintain the current structure. The town is part of Union 71, a superintendency union with Williamstown Elementary. Union 71, in turn, shares a superintendent with the regional junior-senior high school.

NOMINATION PAPER DEADLINE COMING UP FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE ELECTION

The deadline to file nomination papers in Williamstown to be certified for the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee election is next Tuesday, July 22nd. Town Clerk Mary Kennedy says there will be two four-year seats and one two-year seat on the ballot for Williamstown representatives. Nomination papers can be obtained from the District office of the Mount Greylock Regional School District or in the Town Clerk's office. The seats will be voted on during the November 4th State Election.



  The Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center is being considered as a rail station once passenger service between Pittsfield and New York resumes. (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)

MASSDOT PURCHASES BERKSHIRE LINE FOR PASSENGER RAIL

The state has finalized an agreement to purchase 37 miles of rail line between Pittsfield and the Connecticut border to advance passenger rail between the Berkshires and New York City. IBerkshires reports that the agreement includes just over $12 million to acquire the line and an estimated $35 million for initial track improvements, funded by the 2014 Transportation Bond Bill approved by the Legislature. The Line runs through Sheffield, Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lee and Lenox to Pittsfield, where it joins the CSXT Railroad main line. The state Department of Transportation authorized the purchase yesterday.

1 INJURED AFTER CAR CRASHES INTO TREE

Pittsfield Police say one person suffered serious injuries following a one-vehicle crash yesterday just west of Bousquet Ski Area. Police and rescuers responded to a report of a car into a tree in front of 591 Tamarack Road shortly after 1:30pm. According to police, the unidentified driver was pulled from the wreckage and taken to Berkshire Medical Center. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. A section of Tamarack Road had to be closed down for more than an hour due to the crash.

TWO KILLED IN HEAD-ON ROUTE 7 COLLISION

Two people were killed and one airlifted to Albany Medical Center Monday when a vehicle tried to pass a tractor trailer on Route 7 and collided with an oncoming car around 10pm. According to Bennington Police a 2002 Oldsmobile being driven by 36 year old Jamie Sorel of Bennington was headed north on Route 7 and attempted to pass a 2006 Freightliner tractor trailer being driven by 57 year old Steven Klatt of Weare, New Hampshire. It is believed Sorel was traveling at an excessive speed and attempted to pass the truck in a no-passing zone. Sorel collided head-on with a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta being driven by 26 year old Danny Thomas of Pownal. Sorel and Thomas were killed, while Klatt was not injured. A 19 year old passenger in Thomas' vehicle, Tori Green of Pownal, suffered significant injuries and was airlifted to Albany Medical Center. According to police Sorel, Thomas, and Green were not wearing seatbelts. Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the crash which remains under investigation.

ALLEGED RAPIST FACING 50 YEARS

A Pittsfield man set to plead guilty to federal child pornography charges later this month is expected to get up to 50 years in prison in a case that doesn't include the child rape charges he is facing locally. The Berkshire eagle reports that according to state and federal law enforcement officials, 35 year old Jason Gendron, coerced a young girl into sexually explicit behavior in order to film her and recorded other young girls in various states of undress between May 2011 and July 16th of last year and then distributed the material. He also possessed other child pornography, including images of children as young as 2 years old.

BREAK-IN SUSPECT HELD

A Dalton man accused of a brazen daytime break-in of a city home is being held on $2,000 bail after denying the charges. According to police, a 36-year-old woman returned to her Cecelia Terrace home at about 4 p.m. Tuesday to find 31 year old Daniel Moore inside, apparently trying to steal a large screen television. When police arrived, the woman had locked herself and her two children inside her car. A search of the house didn't turn up the intruder, but police said they found a black backpack nearby containing items stolen from the home. Police officers stopped Moore a few blocks from the crime scene. Moore denied four felony charges yesterday, including breaking and entering in the daytime for a felony, larceny from a building, vandalizing property and possession of burglary tools.

MOSQUITO SPRAYING STARTS TODAY IN PITTSFIELD

Mosquito spraying begins today in the city of Pittsfield. Several neighborhoods will be sprayed in order to reduce the number of swarming summer insects. Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project will conduct truck-mounted mosquito spray application starting tonight from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. in Springside Park, outer West Street beyond Berkshire Community College, Woodland Drive area and Lillybrook Road. The spraying schedule is dependent on the weather.



  Kevin Sprague of Studio Two updated the board on the advertising efforts last week. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

LENOX SAYS GOOGLE AD CAMPAIGN IS GENERATING TOURISM

The Lenox Board of Selectmen believes the town's Internet advertising campaign is increasing tourism. IBerkshires.com reports today that the town has spent $3,731 over the last three months with Google to display ads on an array of websites. The advertising campaign for the website is also coupled with the Berkshire Visitors Bureau. The visitor's bureau website sends the second most amount of traffic to Lenox.org, behind the Google ads. The ads are particularly generating traffic from New York, which accounted for about 20 percent of the total traffic.

HOPKINTON REPUBLICAN MAKES CAMPAIGN STOP IN PITTSFIELD

Republican Senate candidate Brian Herr made a campaign stop in the Berkshires Tuesday to speak with local Republicans. Herr is challenging Democrat Edward Markey, who won the U.S. Senate seat in a special election last year to replace now Secretary of State John Kerry. The Hopkinton Republican met with constituents at Zucco's Restaurant in Pittsfield on Tuesday

GREAT BARRINGTON STRUCTURE FIRE TUESDAY

The Great Barrington Fire Department responded to a house fire on Tuesday afternoon. Units were alerted to a structure fire at 4 Brook Lane shortly before 2:30pm. Smoke was coming from the one and a half story single family dwelling when firefighters arrived on the scene. The fire was quickly located in the kitchen and extinguished. A dog was able to escape when the fire department made entry. While the fire was contained to the kitchen, the home is uninhabitable due to smoke damage. Most of the family's belongs were salvageable and the house itself was insured. The Great Barrington Fire Department responded with nineteen firefighters, assisted by Great Barrington Police and Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad. Lenox RIT also responded and Sheffield and Stockbridge supplied station coverage. There were no injuries as a result of the fire.

BECKET RESIDENT CAN VOICE CONCERNS OVER SPRAYING TONIGHT

Residents upset over the recent use of herbicides at Buckley Dunton Lake can voice their concerns tonight before town officials. The Becket Conservation Commission has scheduled some time at the end of their regular scheduled monthly meeting tonight for residents that would like to express concerns or apprehension regarding the state chemically treating an eight-acre section of the 161-acre body of water within October Mountain State Forest. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Becket Town Hall.

Massachusetts Senate to debate sweeping gun bill

BOSTON (AP) The Massachusetts Senate is planning to debate a sweeping overhaul of the state's gun laws.Like a similar bill approved by the House, the Senate proposal would create a web-based portal to allow for real-time background checks in private gun sales and would stiffen penalties for some gun-based crimes. It would also create a firearms trafficking unit within the State Police.Both bills would strengthen local police chiefs' discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed to purchase rifles or shotguns, much like the discretion they currently have over issuing licenses to carry concealed weapons.The bills would also require police chiefs to give written reasons for any applications they deny. Those decisions would have to be based on public safety concerns and could be appealed in court.The Senate will debate the bill Thursday.

Senate Turns Down Charter School Expansion

BOSTON (AP) The state Senate has rejected a bill that would have allowed for an expansion of charter schools in Boston and several other urban communities.The House-passed bill was rejected on a 30-9 vote Wednesday. Senators had defeated a proposed compromise that would have linked charter school growth to state reimbursements to school districts for their costs when students leave traditional schools for charter schools.The bill approved by the House in May called for a gradual increase in the existing cap on charter school spending in underperforming school districts until it reached 23 percent in 2022.Backers of charter schools say they are laboratories for educational innovation, but critics say they drain financial resources from conventional public schools and often provide fewer opportunities for special education students.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014


   
Mayor Richard Alcombright said he would be speaking with the Department of Revenue on the $750,000 in municipal relief for the city in the state's 2015 budget. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

NORTH ADAMS CLOSES FISCAL 2014; PREPARES FOR MUNICIPAL AID

North dams City officials will be determining this week what strings may be attached to the state's gift of $750,000. IBerkhsires.com reports that the funding entered into the state's fiscal 2015 budget by state Sen. Ben Downing is a one-time payout for emergency municipal relief following the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital and its more than 500 jobs. Before the council made any decisions on the money's use, Mayor Richard Alcombright said he wanted to be certain what was required and will be conferring with the DOR's Bureau of Accounts on that and other financial matters tomorrow. The city has depleted its reserves and is facing a more than $700,000 deficit in fiscal 2016. This year's budget was balanced by more than $600,000 in cuts and revenue package estimated to bring in about $400,000.

HEROIN RAID AT WILLIAMSTOWN MOTEL

Three people police believe were operating as a "heroin-dealing team" are facing charges following a recent raid by the Berkshire County Drug Task Force. According to police, 32 year old Michael Richard of Union Street in North Adams; 23 year old Luis Silva of Willow Dell in North Adams; and 22 year old Brittany Gadek of Holyoke, were allegedly selling heroin from a Main Street motel room. The Berkshire Eagle reports that after witnessing what appeared to be "at least three" heroin deals in the motel room, police executed a search warrant on July 10th and seized 60 bags of heroin, packaging material, and cash. All three were arrested and arraigned the next day in Northern Berkshire District Court. Richard was arrested less than a week earlier allegedly in possession of 20 bags of heroin. He was free on personal recognizance, but his bail status was revoked after the new charges. Gadek and Richard each had bail set at $1,500 cash, while Silva was released on personal recognizance.



  The Selectmen have shied away from further debate on the future of the so-called Lowry and Burbank properties. A hearing on the conservation status of the lands is set for July 24. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN SELECTMEN DECLINE TO DISCUSS LAND HEARING

The Williamstown Board of Selectmen on Monday declined to inject itself into the coming discussion of the status of town-owned land currently under the auspices of the town's Conservation Commission. The Conservation Commission has set Thursday, July 24th, for a public hearing to discuss whether either the Lowry or Burbank properties should be protected under Article 97 of the commonwealth's constitution.


   The Board of Selectmen have passed on a query on property lines from Dollar General to town counsel. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)

Cheshire Residents Petition Against Dollar General Plans

The Cheshire Selectmen have received a letter from a lawyers representing Dollar General asking to resolve property borders on the proposed building area.The letter stated that the surveyor could not determine the northern property line that goes along West Mountain Road and asks what actions need to be taken to get the item on the warrant for a special or an annual town meeting so a parameter can be established. A number of Cheshire citizens have been compiling a petition aimed to show their concern about traffic safety of the proposed design of the Dollar General parking lot. An unknown person has been placing signs protesting the Dollar General throughout Cheshire.

PITTSFIELD MAN KILLED IN NORTH STREET MOTORCYCLE CRASH

A Pittsfield man was killed on Tuesday when his motorcycle crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of North Street and Springside Avenue. According to Pittsfield police, 49 year old John Kenney of Norman Avenue, was operating a 2002 Suzuki motorcycle when he struck a sedan whose operator was trying to make a left turn from North Street onto Springside Avenue around 1 p.m. Kenney was treated at the scene before being transported to Berkshire Medical Center. According to Pittsfield Police, Kenney died a short time arriving at BMC. The driver of the vehicle that Kenney struck, 31 year old Shannon Curtiss of Stephentown, was driving south on North Street prior to the accident. The crash remains under investigation.

  The mayor has twice brought his capital budget proposal to the City Council to no avail. Now, he says he isn't revising it again. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

BIANCHI, COUNCILORS IN STANDOFF OVER CAPITAL BUDGET

Four city councilors in Pittsfield and the Mayor Dan Bianchi are in a political standoff over putting a fire truck in the capital budget. IBerkshires.com reports, three weeks ago the City Council rejected the mayor's revised capital plan. And now, the mayor says he has no plans to change it again and is prepared to go this year without the borrowing authority - delaying capital projects. During budget hearings, the City Council rejected a third of Bianchi's $10.8 million request. Complying with councilors concerns, the mayor removed $3 million for a new highway garage, $100,000 for an inspector's office build out and $270,000 for emergency management services rapid-response vehicles. The mayor also bumped his original request for road improvements up to $3 million from the proposed $1 million, also in response to the council's concerns. Bianchi returned to the council with the changes only to again be rebuffed.

NY MAN ACCUSED OF ABUSING BOY IN BERKSHIRES HAS BAIL REDUCED

A New York man accused of sexually abusing a boy nearly 20 years ago had his bail reduced following a hearing yesterday. 40 year old Nathan Milette of Brooklyn is accused of sexually abusing a young boy (now a now 22-year-old man) in the Berkshires, beginning when the alleged victim was about 4 years old. The abuse allegedly continued until he was roughly 16 years of age. Milette is denying 13 charges against him, including multiple counts of rape of a child with force and indecent assault and battery. He was picked up on a warrant in New York City and was arraigned in Berkshire County. Milette remains in custody at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. He has been in jail for more than two months unable to make bail. No trial date has been set as of yet in the case.

STOCKBRIDGE FILES DEFENSE IN SCOTT MUIR'S WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT

An attorney representing the town of Stockbridge has filed the town's defense of a wrongful termination lawsuit and has demanded a jury trial in the case against former Stockbridge town employee Scott Muir. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to the town's attorney, Muir was an "at-will employee" and was not entitled to any process prior to termination. Muir's termination followed his January 28th acquittal by a Berkshire

Thursday, July 10, 2014



  Motorists try to maneuver the intersection on Main Street on Wednesday after a power loss knocked out the traffic lights. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner iBerkshires.Com/ Staff)

EQUIPMENT FAILURE KNOCKS OUT POWER TO NORTH COUNTY

For the third day in a row, North County has had to deal with bad weather or no power. IBerkshires.com reports that what appeared to a be rolling brownout cut electrical power to sections of Williamstown, Adams and North Adams, as well as Stamford and isolated sections of southern Vermont, for about an hour yesterday afternoon. National Grid spokesman Jake Navarro said about 6,100 customers were affected by the brownout, which occurred shortly after 4 p.m. On Tuesday afternoon, power was lost to more than 18,000 customers for about 3 1/2 hours, after a transformer fire at the Adams substation on Zylonite Station Road. It took three tries before the utility could sustain power throughout the region. The power came back a lot quicker on Wednesday. Navarro said a separate equipment failure required switching over to a new circuit.



  The Parks Commission is seeking ways to better communicate with the rest of town government after a project they had not recommended as a top priority was funded at town meeting. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner Iberkshires.Com/ Jack Guerino)

ADAMS PARKS COMMISSION BAFFLED BY FIELD FUNDING

The Adams Parks Commission said the $10,000 Renfrew Field infield renovation written into this year's town budget is not their No. 1 priority. IBerkshires.com reports that although the budget item passed town meeting and was introduced as the Parks Commission's main goal, Chairman Todd Shafer said it was actually No. 7 on the list of priorities. Shafer said the commissioners voted that the study and plan of expanding Russell Field was their main goal. Although the Parks Commission is only an advisory board, Shafer believes the Selectmen and town administrator were not made aware of their priority list.

SUMMER CONCERTS IN FULL SWING

The first LIVE 95.9 "Live on the Lake" concert was well attended yesterday afternoon, as Who Are You, Berkshire County's local "Who" tribute band took the stage to a crowd both on land at Burbank Park and in the water of Onota Lake. The concert series runs through August 27th. Meanwhile, WUPE FM's "Party in the Park" concert series will kick off tonight at Noel Field in North Adams with "Loose Change" taking the stage at 6pm. The WUPE series of concerts runs through August 28th. Great Barrington's WSBS kicked off its "Sounds of Summer" concert series with "Greyock" this past Tuesday. The "Sounds of Summer" series of free concerts will run on Tuesday nights this summer through August 26th.

WEST NILE VIRUS FOUND IN MASSACHUSETTS

West Nile Virus has been found in a mosquito located in Clinton, Mass. - the first confirmed case by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health this year. The State Laboratory Institute collected a sample in Clinton on July 3rd.




    (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com)

PEDA BOARD MULLS INNOVATION CENTER OPTIONS

Planning continues for establishing the organizational framework for an innovation center to be built at the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield. IBerkshires.com reports however that what shape that institution will take is still in discussion, according to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority. PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston said at a meeting of the board's Special Projects Committee on Tuesday that they are trying to get the best advice possible so that they don't make mistakes going in that would delay the process. The eventual corporation that emerges could be one of two kinds of nonprofit, a 501(c)3 charitable entity, a 501(c)6 business league, or even potentially some combination of both that would include two different boards of directors.

BMC LOSES BID TO REINSTATE GENERAL SURGERY RESIDENCY PROGRAM

Berkshire Medical Center has lost a bid to reinstate a surgery residency program, which was de-authorized last November due to administrative concerns. The Berkshire Eagle reports today that according to hospital officials, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, based in Chicago, has denied BMC's appeal and upheld a ruling it issued late last year to withdraw accreditation to the program, hospital officials confirmed. Diane Kelly, BMC's chief operating officer, said she was "disappointed" that the appeal was denied. According to Kelly, BMC has corrected the flawed documentation procedures that led to the loss of accreditation, and officials plan to submit a new application next month. If re-accredited, the program could resume by next July.

NYC MAN GETS UP TO 10 YEARS FOR ROBBING PITTSFIELD PAIR AT GUNPOINT

A New York City man has been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison after admitting to robbing two Pittsfield residents at gunpoint last year. 37 year old Jeffrey Mable and 23 year old Sarina Sweeney of Pittsfield robbed a 31-year-old woman and 36-year-old man at gunpoint as the victims exited a vehicle at the rear of their Bradford Street apartment. Mable was ordered to serve at least eight and no more than 10 years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. He was credited with 528 days he has been held in jail awaiting the outcome of his case and unable to make his $200,000 bail. Sweeney has denied the charges and remains free on personal recognizance.

PITTSFIELD CONSTRUCTION TO RESUME ON NORTH STREET

Construction work will begin this month throughout multiple locations in downtown Pittsfield as the city begins to implement renovation plans for two pedestrian plazas as well as the third phase of its streetscape reconstruction. Streetscape construction began on Monday and will include the stretch of North Street between Madison Avenue and Wahconah Street. The third stage of the streetscape will continue the improvements seen in Phase 2 renovations from Park Square to Columbus Avenue, completed in 2012.

PRICE CHOPPER RECALLING APPLE PIES

Price Chopper Supermarkets is issuing a voluntary recall on its eight inch Double Crust Apple Pies sold in the bakery department beginning June 26th. The product is being recalled due to the possible presence of a blue plastic wrap in the pie. Customers who purchased the product have been notified using Price Chopper's Sound-Bite notification program, which uses purchase data and consumer phone numbers on file in connection with the company's Advant-Edge card to alert those households that may have purchased the product in question. Customers with the affected product should return it to their local Price Chopper for a full refund. In Berkshire County, Price Chopper has stores in Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Pittsfield, and North Adams.

CATA TO EXHIBIT AT BERKSHIRE MUSEUM THIS SUMMER

Community Access to the Arts will be presenting "I Am a Part of Art," a celebration of CATA's visual artists and writers on July 24th. The month-long exhibit at Berkshire Museum features over 100 works of art created by artists with disabilities from Berkshire County. A poetry reading on opening night includes selected works from CATA's Writers Workshop. The opening reception, which is free and open to the public runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in The Crane Room at Berkshire Museum. CATA Executive Director Margaret Keller says the art show is the culmination of the program year for CATA's many visual artists, who have been developing their artistry in workshops in painting, drawing, and sculpture all year long.

BERKSHIRE BANK SUPPORTS MEALS ON WHEELS

Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc. has received $7,500 from Berkshire Bank to support the Elder Nutrition/Meals on Wheels program in Berkshire County. Each weekday over 900 seniors receive hot, nourishing, noontime meals through this critical community resource, whether delivered directly to their homes or enjoyed at one of Elder Services 14 Senior Meal sites, located throughout the county. Elder Services' Meals on Wheels program provides more than enhanced nutrition in the form of a hot meal. The social component is perhaps equally important. Elder Services serves over 225,000 meals to Berkshire seniors each year, helping them maintain independence and remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

Massachusetts News From The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick is planning to sign a bill into law today that will overhaul the oversight of compounding pharmacies. The legislation stems from a nationwide meningitis outbreak blamed on a tainted steroid produced by the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Framingham. The outbreak resulted in 64 deaths and hundreds of illnesses.

BOSTON (AP) - The House has approved a sweeping bill designed to tighten the state's gun laws. The measure would strengthen local police chiefs' discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed for the purchase of rifles or shotguns. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

BOSTON (AP) - A new political committee has formed to oppose a ballot question that would repeal state's 2011 casino law. The Committee to Preserve Jobs Associated with Casino Gaming Law filed papers yesterday with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. The committee's goal is to protect the estimated 10,000 jobs associated with the construction and operation of casinos.

BOSTON (AP) - The Boston City Council is considering an ordinance backed by Mayor Martin Walsh that would bar police from detaining people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, unless they're wanted for serious crimes. The proposal is similar to measures filed in other states and cities.

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots say they will turn over hundreds of pages of medical and other records to lawyers for former tight end Aaron Hernandez, but object to producing scouting reports and a psychological profile. An attorney for the Patriots says scouting reports are proprietary and irrelevant. The attorney also says the team has offered lawyers the option of reviewing the psychological assessment at its office.



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

   The original issue in Adams (Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)


TRANSFORMER FIRE KNOCKS OUT POWER AGAIN IN NORTH BERKSHIRE

A problem at the Adams substation once again knocked out power yesterday across northern Berkshire County. National Grid confirmed that 18,700 customers lost their power yesterday around 11:30am. The power was restored by 1:30, but after a few minutes went out once again. National Grid spokesman Jake Navarro said the power outage affected customers in Adams, North Adams, Williamstown, Hancock, Florida, Cheshire and Clarksburg. Green Mountain Power reported that there were also roughly 600 customers that were affected across the state border in Stamford, Vermont. Power was restored for most customers in North Adams by 3pm, but other areas of North Berkshire County were still out, according National Grid's outage map. The map currently shows that all power has been restored.



HOSPITAL SERVICES IN NORTH COUNTY EXPANDING

Medical services are slowly coming together in the Northern Berkshires, as the suite of medical services available at the former North Adams Regional Hospital is expanding. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Berkshire Medical Center has announced the opening of an outpatient diagnostic imaging center, which will complement its satellite emergency facility at the site. The imaging center, which opened Monday, is open weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. BMC is also working through a federal permitting process in order to restore mammography services to the North Adams site in the future. North Adams Regional Hospital closed in March.

NEW LEADER TAKES REINS AT NORTH ADAMS CHAMBER

There's a new face at the North Adams Chamber of Commerce office at 107 Main Street. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Ricco Fruscio, a longtime local businessman, has been appointed to serve as the program coordinator. He becomes only the second person to hold the position, which was created last year. Fruscio replaces Catie McDonough, the former program coordinator who relocated with her husband at the end of May.

PITTSFIELD MAN ALLEGEDLY ASSAULTS GIRLFRIEND WITH COOKIE SHEET

A Pittsfield man is facing felony assault charges for allegedly hitting his girlfriend in the face with a cookie sheet. 42 year old Jonathan Baehr of Dexter Street was arrested just before 7 a.m. Sunday after making a well-being check at the home he shares with his girlfriend. Baehr pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday to felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was released on personal recognizance. He is due back in court on July 21st.

PITTSFIELD COUNCIL WEIGHS NEW BUDGET MEETING RULES

A Pittsfield City Council subcommittee is divided on the issue of putting new rules in place following some dissatisfaction with this year's recent all-day Saturday budget hearing. IBerkshires.com reports, by a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Ordinance and Rules Committee opted not to recommend a petition from Councilors Barry Clairmont and Kevin Morandi to move the council's end-of-fiscal-year budgetary hearing process to a series of weeknight meetings. The 3-2 recommendation from the subcommittee will now be passed on to the full council to vote upon at its next meeting.

MASSACHUSETTS OFFICIALS WARN OF PHONY EMAIL

Massachusetts transportation officials are warning E-ZPass customers about a suspicious email some have reported getting. The Department of Transportation says people should not open or respond to an email that says it's from "E-ZPass Customer Service Center" with the subject, "Payment for driving on toll road." Officials say it's not from E-ZPass and is likely a phishing scam. Some customers in Massachusetts and other states have received the email.


    Peru resident Dana DiSantis' recipe is in the running to be the next Fenway Frank. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

PERU WOMAN FINALIST IN FENWAY FRANK CONTEST

A Peru woman is hoping the Berkshires will rally 'round her recipe for the ultimate Fenway dog. IBerkshires.com reports, Dana DiSantis is a semi-finalist in this year's Kayem Fenway Frank Contest for her "Monstah" hot dog recipe. DiSantis said she entered the contest on a whim after seeing it online. However, out of hundreds of contestants, the "Monstah" made it into the top five. Her hot dog is a tribute to the Boston Red Sox's "Green Monster" and all things New England.

CHESTERWOOD TO HOST CHESTERFEST

A wide range of contemporary American musicians, from folk, alt-country and rockabilly to garage, punk and psych-folk bands, are scheduled to perform this summer at Chester-fest, a new Americana music series presented by Chesterwood, which is a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the town of Stockbridge. Chester-fest will kick off on July 11th at 6:30 p.m. with singer-songwriter Mikey Sweet, who is returning to Chester-fest for the second year. Local sponsors of Chester-fest include Tune Street, Toole Insurance and Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club. The concerts will be held at Chesterwood on Friday evenings, rain or shine, from July 11th through August 29th. Tickets are $10 per person, with children under 18 being admitted for free.

STRUCTURE FIRE LITTLE DETAILS

There was a structure fire yesterday afternoon on Maple Street near the Risingdale Cafe in Great Barrington. Smoke was reported to be coming from the building. The Great Barrington fire and police departments, as well as ambulance services responded to the scene. No further details were immediately made available.

DAYLONG EVENT WILL CELEBRATE W.E.B. DU BOIS

A lawmaker steeped in African-American history will be the keynote speaker at this weekend's daylong observance of the life of W.E.B. Du Bois. "In The Footsteps of Du Bois," will be a free and open to the public event that will be held in several locations throughout Great Barrington on Saturday. The day-long event will begin at 10 a.m., with a walking tour of downtown Great Barrington, led by local historian Bernard Drew. The tour, which will highlight key buildings and places important to Du Bois, will begin at the Du Bois birth site at the end of Church Street in the downtown. The public is then invited to attend a headstone dedication to commemorate the final resting place of Du Bois' daughter, Yolanda Du Bois Williams, at the Mahaiwe Cemetery on Main Street.

Massachusetts News From The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - The state House is scheduled to debate a bill today that's intended to tighten gun laws. The measure would require police chiefs to give reasons for denying gun licenses to individuals seeking them. Those denials would have to be based on public safety and could be appealed.

BOSTON (AP) - The state Senate has approved a bill that would make juveniles convicted of first-degree murder eligible for parole after serving between 20 and 30 years in prison. Amendments that would have raised the minimum threshold for parole to 35 years or to 25 years were defeated.

BOSTON (AP) - The state is working with Boston Medical Center to establish a new free assistance center for people affected by last year's Boston Marathon bombings. Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance and Boston Medical Center officials are formally announcing the new facility today.

BOSTON (AP) - A jail spokesman says former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be transferred today from a Bristol County jail to a facility in Boston. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to three murder charges. A judge ruled Monday that Hernandez can move closer to his Boston-based lawyers.

BOSTON (AP) - The state Senate has backed a bill designating volleyball as the state's official "recreational and team sport." Volleyball was invented in 1895 at a YMCA in the city of Holyoke. The state House still needs to approve the measure. Basketball already has the distinction of being the state's official sport, having been invented by James Naismith in nearby Springfield just a few years before volleyball.



Tuesday, July 08, 2014


    The parking lot closest to the pub is fenced off in 2010.
Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)


Judge Upholds Damage Award of $300K to Freight Yard Pub

 
The Freight Yard Pub in North Adams is owed in excess of $200,000 in damages from the city of North Adams, a judge has confirmed.
Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini on June 30 upheld a jury award of $300,000 for the North Adams pub for loss of revenue during reconstruction of the Hadley Overpass. Read the decision here.
The 13-member jury last November also found that the restaurant owed some $83,000 in back rent that would be deducted from the award, which Agostini also upheld.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said last week he was aware of the judge's decision but declined to comment pending negotiations over the settlement.
The restaurant, operating as Bay State Hospitality Group, sued the North Adams Redevelopment Authority and state Department of Transportation in 2011, three years after an adjacent parking area in Western Gateway Heritage State Park was fenced off for construction purposes.
 



      A tree knocked down in Keith Bona's yard on North Street by a suspected microburst on Monday afternoon. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

SUSPECTED MICROBURST TOPPLES TREES IN NORTH ADAMS

The severe storm that blew into the Berkshires yesterday toppled trees in the North Street area of North Adams with what some residents suspect was a microburst. IBerkshires.com reports, the storm was accompanied by some flooding and downed wires and trees around the county, but perhaps the most dramatic effect was a path cut through Keith Bona's yard. Bona, a local businessman and city councilor, said much of his back yard on North Street is at the base of the mountain and he suspects whatever caused the damage came down from that direction. A microburst is a localized column of air caused by a strong downdraft. Damage is usually contained to a defined area.

THOUSANDS DEAL WITH OUTAGES AFTER STORM

Thousands of homes and businesses in the Berkshires were left without power for several hours yesterday after a volatile Thunderstorm made its way through the area. The first line of storms started in the northern Berkshires right around 2:30pm. According to National Grid, the heavy downpours and strong gusty winds caused about 2,000 power outages in North Adams and sections of Williamstown. According to National Grid's website, all customers were restored by the evening. Nearby, southern Vermont also sustained several power outages. The storms reached the Pittsfield area shortly after 7pm. Approximately 800 customers of Western Massachusetts Electric Company in Pittsfield lost power. The towns of Hinsdale, Lanesborough and Cheshire also had several outages, according to the utilities website. WMECO expected all of its customer's power to be restored overnight. The northern and central Berkshires took the brunt of the storm sustaining multiple downed trees and power lines, while the impact on the southern Berkshires was not quite as severe.



   Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein said the state would continue to work closely with Williamstown on the Highland Woods project. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

WILLIAMSTOWN AMONG TOWNS GETTING PART OF HOUSING MONEY

Two dozen affordable housing projects across Massachusetts will receive nearly $84 million from the state. Williamstown is the only town in the Berkshires that will receive a share. Gov. Deval Patrick said the money will help build or preserve more than 1,300 units of affordable housing while creating 2,000 construction jobs. The projects include new housing in Boston, Cambridge, Dartmouth, Duxbury, Greenfield, Haverhill, Lunenberg, Northampton, Revere, Provincetown, Springfield and Williamstown. In December there were about 2,000 families finding temporary housing in dozens of hotels and motels in the state, with about an equal number in family shelters.

SAVOY FIREFIGHTERS LAND GRANT TO REPLACE TANKERS

Few vehicles from 1973 are still on the road. In Savoy, the Volunteer Fire Department's 41-year-old tanker is still answering calls alongside one built in 1987. IBerkshires.com reports that with a $190,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security grant, Savoy Volunteer Fire Department will now replace both of its aging tankers with a brand new model. The funding comes through the 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Program and will be boosted with $15,000 from the town of Savoy and $15,000 from the fire department to purchase what is estimated to be a $210,000 to $225,000 truck.
 


   Two engine companies and a ladder company responded to the scene. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

TRUCK FIRE CLOSES PITTSFIELD'S WEST HOUSATONIC STREET

West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield was closed for about 45 minutes yesterday morning after a tractor-trailer burst into flames. IBerkshires.com reports, According to Deputy Chief Bruce Kilmer, the driver of the semi suddenly lost power while eastbound near Clapp Park. He pulled over and noticed a leak before the flames burst out of the engine compartment and engulfed the front of the truck. The driver was from Albany and the truck was owned by a Glenmont company. The driver was the only one in the vehicle at the time and was unhurt in the fire. Lt. Tim Bartini said the truck was hauling lumber and wooden ladders, so there was no risk of any hazardous materials entering the environment.



      The Ordinance and Rules Committee opted not to recommend a petition setting times and dates of budget hearings as too restrictive. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)


Pittsfield Council Weighs New Budget Meeting Rules
 
A Pittsfield City Council subcommittee is divided on the issue of putting new rules in place following some dissatisfaction with this year's recent all-day Saturday budget hearing. By a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Ordinance and Rules Committee opted not to recommend a petition from Councilors Barry Clairmont and Kevin Morandi to move the council's end-of-fiscal-year budgetary hearing process to a series of weeknight meetings.
The 3-2 recommendations from the subcommittee will now be passed on to the full council to vote upon at its next meeting.
 

PERSONAL CARE ATTENDANT ACCUSED OF SCUFFLE WITH CLIENT

A personal care attendant who allegedly attacked the 49-year-old man he was supposed to be caring for is being held on $500 cash bail. Pittsfield Police say that just before 2 a.m. Monday, 28 year old Matthew Bouchard of Pittsfield, came home drunk to the Linden Street apartment he shares with the man for whom he cares and woke him for a cigarette. According to a police report when Bouchard was told he wasn't supposed to stay there if he was drunk, he jumped on the man and began punching him in the head. In Central Berkshire District Court yesterday, Bouchard was ordered held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on bail. He is due back in court on August 6th.

GOVERNOR INKS NEW LAW IN SPRINGFIELD

Governor Patrick was in nearby Springfield yesterday putting pen to paper. A new state law signed by the Governor would now require Massachusetts utilities to pay close attention to natural gas leaks. The law for the first time creates a uniform, three- tiered classification system for gas leaks. Those classified as Grade 1 leaks would be considered the most dangerous and gas companies would have to fix them immediately. Gov. Deval Patrick held a ceremonial bill signing yesterday in Springfield, the site of a November 2012 natural gas explosion that leveled one building and damaged dozens of others. Eighteen people were hurt in that blast.

SWIMMERS BODY FOUND IN QUARRY

The death of a Rhode Island teenager while swimming in a Massachusetts quarry appears to be a tragic accident, according to officials. Divers found the body of 18 year old Nentor Dahn of Providence, in Fletcher Quarry in Milford at about 10:15 yesterday morning in about 60 to 70 feet of water and roughly 10 feet from the quarry wall. Deputy Police Chief James Heron said it appeared to be an accidental drowning. Alcohol didn't appear to be involved, and an autopsy was scheduled. Dahn and several friends went to the quarry Sunday afternoon to swim.

STATE LANDS $14.6M MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE SETTLEMENT

State Attorney General Martha Coakley says thousands of Massachusetts motorcycle owners will receive insurance refunds from the state's largest automobile insurer for overcharges on their policies. The Berkshire County native's office announced on Monday a $14.6 million settlement with Commerce Insurance Co., the largest such agreement in the agency's four-year motorcycle insurance investigation. Nineteen companies have settled with the state, totaling $57.4 million in refunds for more than 150,000 Massachusetts policies. Coakley's office says Commerce Insurance will issue refunds averaging about $360 to more than 40,000 policyholders.



   The local recipients of the grants joined Patrick for a photo. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

GOV. PATRICK ANNOUNCES CULTURAL FACILITIES GRANTS IN PITTSFIELD

Governor Deval Patrick has announced $14 million in grants for organizations across the state. The Massachusetts Cultural Council's Facilities Fund will support renovation costs of buildings for some 127 organizations statewide, including $180,000 for Barrington Stage. The Cultural Facilities Fund grant helped bring the former VFW into compliance with fire regulations by installing a sprinkler system. Another theater space on the main floor of the building wil

Thursday, July 03, 2014


    Outgoing Town Administrator Jonathan Butler recommended Donna Cesan step into his post until his replacement could be found. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner Iberkshires.Com/ Jack Guerino)

INTERIM TOWN ADMINISTRATOR NAMED IN ADAMS

Adams Director of Community Development Donna Cesan will serve as the interim town administrator when Jonathan Butler leaves to become chief executive officer of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce in September. IBerkshires.com reports, the Board of Selectmen approved Butler's recommendation of Cesan during its meeting last night. Cesan will begin to shadow Butler on July 28th so she will be ready for the position while the town searches for a new town administrator. She will continue her role as director of community development and will receive an extra $350 a week for her added responsibilities.


    The state has been working through the night to get Route 116 reopened by the holiday weekend. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner Iberkshires.Com/ Jack Guerino)

STATE WORKING TO GET ROUTE 116 BACK OPEN

With aid from the state, both Windsor Road and Route 116 may be reopened by the 4th of July. IBerkshires.com reports, the Board of Selectmen reported during their meeting Tuesday night that the state is repairing the near one million dollars' worth of damage that Route 116 sustained during last week's torrential rainstorm. Cheshire is still responsible for about $20,000 in damage on Windsor Road, where rains washed out both lanes in one spot. Highway Superintendent Peter LeFevbre says he is focusing on saving money wherever he can in the repair work, but the biggest expense was the gravel needed to fill the massive hole. The hole, which LeFabvre said is 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep, takes about 1,200 yards of gravel to fill.


    The board interviews Carl McKinney, one of two candidates for the town administrator post (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner Iberkshires.Com /Tammy Daniels)

Clarksburg Offers Town Administrator Post to Former Selectman

The Clarksburg Board of Selectmen has finally chosen a new town administrator in Carl McKinney. The board voted 2-1 on Wednesday night to offer the post to McKinney, who just a few months ago was chairman of the board. McKinney was one of two candidates for the post interviewed on Wednesday night, the other being North Adams City Auditor David A. Fierro Jr. The town's been without a leader since February, and personnel and operational issues have been festering in Town Hall since even before that.

SCHOLARSHIP MONEY STILL AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS AFFECTED BY NARH CLOSURE

This spring, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced that Mountain-One Financial donated $25,000 to establish a scholarship aid fund at the college to assist students whose family's financial resources have been negatively affected by the recent closure of North Adams Regional Hospital. MCLA announced on Wednesday that $15,000 in scholarship funds are still available. Students who have been impacted and are attending MCLA in the fall are eligible to receive a $2,500 scholarship. To qualify, an applicant must attend MCLA full time, be in good academic standing, be enrolled in a bachelor's degree program, and be able to demonstrate unmet financial need due to the hospital closing. Applications are available through the MCLA Financial Aid Office, or can be completed online at www.mcla.edu/aid.

NORTH ADAMS TO HOST ANNUAL FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON JULY 4TH

Fireworks are an integral part of America's Fourth of July celebrations all over the country, and the local show in North Adams is one of the most prestigious in Western Massachusetts. Tomorrow night's display is expected to draw thousands of viewers from the Capital region of New York State, Southern Vermont and all of Berkshire County. For an evening of all-American fun, grab some tickets to the annual 4th of July Steeplecats game, and stick around for the fireworks, which start immediately afterward, around 9:30 PM. In the case of rain, the fireworks will be held on Saturday, July 5th.

PITTSFIELD POLICE INVESTIGATING SHOOTINGS

Pittsfield police are investigating two early morning shootings that happened in the same neighborhood a day apart from each other. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Tuesday morning at about 3:50, someone shot a gun four times into a single-family home on Orchard Street between First and Second streets. No one was injured. Less than 24 hours later and just around the corner, a woman was sleeping in her bedroom when she was startled awake by a gun shot at about 12:35 a.m. Wednesday. A bullet hole was found in the ceiling of the bedroom. Wednesday's shooting marked the 11th confirmed incident of gunfire in the city this year.

PITTSFIELD MAN HELD WITHOUT BAIL AFTER PUTTING GUN TO NEIGHBOR'S HEAD

A Pittsfield man accused of assaulting his son and then putting a loaded gun to the head of a neighbor who intervened is being held without bail. 48 year old Alfred Roy III, of Francis Avenue, is being held on four felonies, including a kidnapping charge that carries a minimum mandatory 10-year prison sentence. Pittsfield Police said the incident began Tuesday night when a drunken Roy slapped his juvenile son across the face during an argument.

GUILTY FINDING CONTINUED IN CASE OF STOLEN CITY-OWNED VAN

An 18-year-old who was caught driving without a license in a stolen city-owned maintenance vehicle was given a continuation without a finding of guilt. Pittsfield Police officer stopped a van belonging to the city Building Maintenance Department after it nearly hit a parked car in mid-March. The two occupants in the van fled on foot. A few minutes later, the officer arrested Ernest Ferry, 18, of Seymour Street, and a 17-year-old juvenile, a few blocks away. Ferry told police he and his friend found the van in Springside Park with the keys inside and the lights on and drove off with it. The van had last been seen the previous Friday at the Building Maintenance Department office on Hawthorne Avenue. According to the police report, it was believed the keys were left in the van.

PITTSFIELD ATTORNEY NOMINATED FOR SOUTHERN BERKSHIRE JUDGESHIP

Gov. Deval Patrick has nominated Pittsfield attorney William Rota to become an associate justice of the Southern Berkshire District Court. Rota has 30 years of private practice experience in civil and criminal litigation. He has practiced law in Pittsfield since 2000 - and from 1986 to 2000 he worked in the Pittsfield firm of Cain, Hibbard, Myers, & Cook. According to a press release, Rota also served as an assistant district attorney in Berkshire County for three years during the 1980s.

NEW POLICE CHIEF IN HINSDALE TO BE SWORN IN SUNDAY

A new police chief will be sworn in on Sunday in the town of Hinsdale - shortly after community members have an opportunity to meet the longtime officer and instructor. The Berkshire Eagle reports, Mark Smith, a veteran of the Granby Police Department, received high marks from the Hinsdale Police Chief Search Committee chosen to review candidates for the position. The committee interviewed six candidates, and sent three forward to be interviewed by the Select Board, which was unanimous in choosing Smith.

THE MOUNT RECOVERING AFTER RAINS

The Mount has significantly recovered from flash flooding on the Friday before last that devastated parts of the well- landscaped tourist attraction. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the grounds crews at the Edith Wharton Restoration and workers from Webster Landscaping Inc. (a landscape design company in Sheffield), have spent the past seven days removing several tons of gravel from The Mount's French flower garden and other sections of the estate that was washed out by 5 inches of rain during heavy rains last week. The rain fell within a few hours from severe thunderstorms on June 25. The Mount's executive director, Susan Wissler, said she was amazed very few perennials were destroyed by the deluge and debris.

NO BUS SERVICE ON 4TH OF JULY

The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority will be closed and regular bus service will not be provided on the July 4th observance of Independence Day tomorrow. All regularly scheduled bus services will resume on a normal schedule at 7am Saturday. You can get specific schedule or route information by calling the BRTA's Operations Department at 1-800-292-BRTA, extension-one.

GALVIN TO ANNOUNCE ORDER OF BALLOT QUESTIONS

Massachusetts State Secretary William Galvin is preparing to announce the order of questions on the November ballot. Galvin will announce the order at the Statehouse on Thursday. Wednesday was the last day for supporters to deliver a second batch of more than 11,000 certified voter signatures to his office. The questions would repeal the state's casino gambling law, mandate earned sick time for Massachusetts workers, expand the bottle deposit law to include sports drinks and other beverages, and repeal a new law linking future hikes in the gas tax to the rate of inflation. Three other questions have been withdrawn after lawmakers took action on the issues. Those withdrawn questions include a proposed hike in the minimum wage. Supporters pulled the question after lawmakers passed and Gov. Deval Patrick signed a minimum wage hike.

EGREMONT BOARD VOWS TO KEEP SCHOOL OPEN

The Selectmen are reiterating their stance that the South Egremont School won't be closing. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the board has held that position ever since talks began over the continued use of the small community school in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District. The school district will be hosting several meetings over the next month to discuss the potential fate of the district's three outlying community schools in South Egremont, Monterey and New Marlborough. The district has been wrestling with the issue for decades. The three elementary schools typically have low enrollments and all three are several decades old and in need of repair.

Massachusetts Working On Abortion Clinic Bill

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says he expects to have a bill on his desk by the end of the month to strengthen security around abortion clinics in Massachusetts.The legislation is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous decision last week striking down the state's 35-foot buffer zone law. Attorney General Martha Coakley says she's working with lawmakers to draft legislation that will help protect women entering the clinics while also respecting the free speech right of protesters. She pointed to a number of possible options, including giving police more power to disperse protesters and adopting on a state level some existing federal protections around health clinics. Abortion opponents say they're not a threat. They say they're just trying to counsel women entering clinics by giving them information about alternatives to abortion.



Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Laura Vankin talked about her family's experience with the former hospital and the need for more medical services at Tuesday's comment session for a health-care needs survey for North Berkshire. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Tammy Daniels)
 

NORTH COUNTY RESIDENTS STILL WANT LOCAL HOSPITAL

Area residents and health-care workers in the Northern Berkshires lined up yesterday to testify to the critical need for a hospital in North County. Many spoke out at the weekly meeting at the American Legion Hall in North Adams. IBerkshires.com reports, one local resident said the hospital is not just a hospital, it's a community center, calling it the heart and lungs of the community, and saying to suggest that suddenly it is not needed is absurd. Her comment was applauded by the more than 150 gathered to give input into the medical needs of the community. The state has commissioned Stroudwater Associates, a Maine-based health-consulting firm, to do a survey of health care needs following the bankruptcy closure of North Adams Regional Hospital in March.

CLARKSBURG TO INTERVIEW TOWN ADMINISTRATOR CANDIDATES

Clarksburg Selectmen will interview two candidates tonight for the town administrator post, including a returning applicant. IBerkshires.com reports, the board will interview David Fierro Jr. at 6:05 p.m. and Carl McKinney at 6:45 p.m. The board will meet at 5:30. The town has been without an administrator for nearly five months after the retirement of Thomas Webb in early February. Fierro is the newest applicant for the job. Currently auditor for the city of North Adams, he is the town's accountant, and has a bachelor's degree in accounting. The town administrator post has been advertised at $38,000 to $41,000 a year.

STATE FUNDS COULD HELP ADAMS PROJECT

Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler is proposing to use about $200,000 in Chapter 90 state highway aid to kick-start renovations to Park Street. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Butler will ask the Board of Selectmen tonight for approval to use the Chapter 90 money, which the state grants every municipality annually for highway and infrastructure upgrades, for the $875,000 project. The additional $700,000 will be paid for through a state Community Development Block Grant fund. The redesign, which will see a complete repaving of Park Street and sidewalk improvements, was originally expected to begin earlier this summer.

POWNAL WOMAN REPORTED MISSING SEEN IN NEW YORK

A 71-year-old local Pownal, Vt. woman reported missing since Monday morning has been found. IBerkshires.com reports that Rita Sweet was found at about 7 p.m. walking out of a wooded area on Route 346, about 200 feet over the state line in New York, by state police. Sweet verified her identity with state police and told troopers that she left her home after a money-related argument with family members. She said she had intended to walk to Petersburg, N.Y., to meet unspecified friends and family. Sweet was showing signs of dehydration and had several blisters on her feet but was in otherwise good health. She was brought to Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington for medical evaluation.

LAWMAKERS AGREE ON TAX HOLIDAY, DISAGREE ON DATE

House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to give Massachusetts shoppers another sales tax holiday this summer. They just haven't agreed on when. The Massachusetts Senate passed an amendment to an economic development bill yesterday that would set the tax holiday for August 9th and 10th. That's the weekend before the House-proposed tax holiday of August 16th and 17th. Retailers welcome them as an opportunity to lure shoppers into stores to jump-start a typically slow time of year. State officials have expressed concern, however, about the loss of an estimated $20 million in sales tax revenue during the weekend. The question of which weekend will have to be hashed out when a conference committee meets to reconcile both economic development bills into a single piece of legislation.

RMV FEE INCREASES GO INTO EFFECT

The cost of registering a non-commercial vehicle, getting a vehicle inspected and also fees for road tests in Massachusetts have increased. Effective yesterday, registration fees have increased from $50 to $60; annual inspections increased from $29 to $35, while the one-time driving test fee has risen from $20 to $35. Registration fees for commercial vehicles are not increasing. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) board of directors approved the fee increases in March. MassDOT says the increased fee structure will allow the department to close a projected $55 million budget gap in Fiscal Year 2015, make customer improvements, and invest in the Commonwealth's transportation system.

PITTSFIELD MAN GETS 60 DAYS IN ASSAULT OF HIS EX- GIRLFRIEND

A Pittsfield man was sentenced to 60 days in jail after admitting he punched his ex-girlfriend in the face. 22year old Steven Tremble of Winesap Road was being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing when he instead decided to plead out to the charges. According to police and prosecutors, Tremble attacked the 24-year-old woman outside of a Dalton residence just before 11 p. m. on June 24th. He slapped her twice before hitting her in the face with a closed fist, knocking her to the ground.

NO JAIL FOR SUSPECT IN ARSON

A man who set fire to a Pittsfield rooming house where he lived had his case continued without a finding for a year. According to Pittsfield Police, 40 year old Brian Zerbato set fire to his room inside a boarding house at 82 West Housatonic Street in October of 2009. The Berkshire Eagle reports, city firefighters had to make their ways into a smoke-filled building to fight the blaze on the building's third floor. The fire forced 20 residents to seek temporary shelter. The room's contents were destroyed and the unit gutted. No injuries were reported in connection with the blaze. Zerbato was charged with arson of a dwelling house. In March 2011, he was found to be incompetent to stand trial and ordered committed to Worcester State Hospital.

THE PITTSFIELD CO-OP ANNOUNCES 14 AWARD RECIPIENTS

The Pittsfield Cooperative Bank has announced that 14 area students have received awards from the Bank's Centennial Scholarship Fund which was created in 1989 to recognize The Co-op's 100th anniversary. The winners - who hail from eight different local schools - are now part of a prestigious group so honored since the Fund was established 25 years ago. This year each recipient received $500. The 2014 Centennial Scholarship Fund award recipients in the central Berkshires are: Tierney Crocker and Michelle Pierce from Taconic High School; Adrian Kolodziej and Meghan Driscoll from Pittsfield High School; Tyler Ellsworth and Michael Garrity from St. Joseph's Central High School; and - Austin Cooney, Patrick Jamross, and Kevin Kowalczyk from Wahconah Regional High School. There were three recipients from southern Berkshire schools: Rachana Lingutla from Lenox Memorial High School; Lindsey Getchell from Mount Everett Regional School; and - Hannah Miller from Lee High School. Since its inception, the program has provided $272,000 in aid to local kids seeking to further their education.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The House of Representatives and the Senate have approved a $36.6 billion plan, which includes $750,000 for the city of North Adams.Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner iBerkshires.Com/ Staff)

STATE LEGISLATURE PASSES FY15 BUDGET; INCLUDES 750K FOR NORTH ADAMS

Emergency one-time funds to help the city of North Adams is included the final version of the state's budget, which now sits on Governor Patrick's desk. Both the House and Senate have come to terms on an FY15 operating budget and have sent the $36.6 billion plan to the governor. The budget was adopted Friday afternoon and sent to the governor yesterday - the day before the fiscal year began today. The proposal includes a $750,000 one-time emergency payment to the city. It also includes $460,000 for Berkshire-Rides, $100,000 for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and $75,000 for Gallery 51. Those funds were part of state Sen. Benjamin Downing's initiatives proposal to help the city in the wake of the former North Adams Regional Hospital closure.




Roger Eurbin, left, accepts a check from North Adams Big Y Store Director Casey Cusson while North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright looks on Monday morning. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Rebecca Dravis)

BIG Y DONATES $3,000 TO HILLSIDE CEMETERY RESTORATION

The efforts of one man to repair Hillside Cemetery in North Adams got a boost yesterday when Big Y donated $3,000 to the cause. IBerkshires.com reports, Roger Eurbin (YUR-bin) accepted the check from Store Director Casey Cusson in the North Adams' store's produce department while Mayor Richard Alcombright looked on. Eurbin says the check will go a long way. Eurbin himself has come a long way since taking on the cause, spending most of 2012 researching and meticulously recording the names, placement and condition of the markers, creating a grid and spreadsheet to work off.

APARTMENTS SMOKE-FREE IN ADAMS

The 98-unit Millhouses of Adams apartment complex on Commercial Street has joined a growing movement in Berkshire County by going "smoke-free." The Berkshire Eagle reports today that the complex's management worked with the Berkshire Area Health Education Center's Tobacco-Free Community Partnership over several months to transition into a smokeless environment. The effort begins today, while trying to respect the needs of those who already smoke, according to Millhouses Regional Manager Bonnie Senecal.

WILLIAMS COLLEGE ATHLETIC FIELD TO GET UPGRADE

The playing field is about to change for Williams College athletics. The Berkshire Eagle reports that a more than $22 million project is transforming Williams' Weston Field into a modern and more user-friendly athletic complex that will house the football, lacrosse, track, and field hockey teams. The work will include two new fields with artificial turf, grandstands, a track around one of the fields, and a building dedicated to team support. The team support facility finally brings locker rooms, equipment storage, team meeting spaces and sports training capabilities field-side.

CHANDLER MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN SEX CASE

An Arizona man accused of luring a 14-year-old Pittsfield boy to have sex has pleaded not guilty in the case. Maricopa County prosecutors say 47-year-old Brad David Cooper entered his plea yesterday. His next scheduled court date is an August 12th initial pretrial conference. Cooper was arrested June 11 at his Chandler home on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor, molestation of a child and sexual exploitation. Police say the teen was reported as kidnapped from his home in Pittsfield. The boy told police he met Cooper online in April. Cooper allegedly picked up the teen June 6th and they left by car for Arizona.

CITY HALL MEDIA POLICY NOT MEANT TO STIFLE INFO FLOW

A new policy covering Pittsfield City Hall employee interactions with the news media is not an attempt to stifle the flow of information but to expand it, according to city officials. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting today that Mayor Dan Bianchi and Director of Administrative Services Julia Sabourin said the written policy was prompted by a number of inquiries from employees unsure how or when to answer reporters' questions on a variety of topics. The two-page policy statement, dated June 24th, was distributed to department heads last week. The memo was obtained last week by blogger and local cable TV show host Dan Valenti, who termed the policy an attack on free access by the press to city employees. Mayor Bianchi said in a statement to department heads that he was hoping that by establishing a more formal press protocol within City Hall, the city could streamline its process and become more efficient about reaching residents using the press and social media.

ICE PICK ASSAULT RESULTS IN 6-MONTH SENTENCE

A Pittsfield man who stabbed his nephew with an ice pick during an argument is serving six months in jail. According to investigators, 54 year old Frank Messer was in a drunken brawl with his relative just before midnight on February 13th after an argument turned violent. According to the police report, when other family members separated the men, Messer grabbed an old-fashioned ice pick with a wooden handle and stabbed the 24-year-old in the forearm and back. Messer was sentenced to six months at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction to run concurrently with an 18-month sentence he's already serving.

PITTSFIELD MARIJUANA FACILITY NOT HAPPENING

Pittsfield was close to securing the first medical marijuana dispensary in Berkshire County, but that plan was rejected by the state Department of Public Health. Pittsfield is not alone. There were 20 initial medical marijuana facility approvals issued on January 31st, and nine of them have now been rejected after further scrutiny. None of the five facilities proposed in Berkshire County was selected in January from among 100 proposals submitted for the first Massachusetts licenses to be issued. However, six nonprofit groups were invited to submit proposals for facilities in the areas left unserved - including Berkshire and Franklin counties. The Department of Public health announced on Friday last week that The Greeneway Foundation, which had been approved for a facility in Cambridge was now among those rejected for a license. Greenway does plan to appeal the ruling.

FRESH AIR FUND KIDS ARRIVING TODAY

The Fresh Air Fund Berkshire County Committee will be welcoming two groups of New York City children as they arrive in Lanesboro and Great Barrington today. Volunteer host families will be sharing their summer for up to two weeks with Fresh Air children, ages six to 18. One group is scheduled to arrive at the Berkshire Mall at 3:30 this afternoon. Those children will be staying with families in Pittsfield, Williamstown, North Adams, Lanesboro, and Stamford, Vermont. Another group is scheduled to arrive an hour earlier at 2:30pm at Muddy Brook Elementary School in Great Barrington. They will be staying with families in Great Barrington, Lee, Pittsfield, Sheffield, Lenox, Housatonic, and New Marlborough. Some of the children are leaving home for the first time, while others are returning to visit the same host families for consecutive summers.

STATE GAS PRICES HIGHEST IN SIX YEARS HEADING INTO HOLIDAY

Massachusetts gas prices are the highest they have been approaching the Fourth of July holiday in six years. AAA Southern New England reports that the price of self-serve regular has risen 2 cents per gallon the past week to an average of $3.70, and is now 6 cents higher than a month ago. The in-state price is 2 cents more than the national average, and a full quarter higher than the Massachusetts price at the same time last year.

 

Massachusetts Lawmakers OK Final State Budget

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers have approved a compromise $36.5 billion state budget. The House voted 144-7 vote in favor of the spending plan. The Senate later gave final approval to the budget on a 38-1 vote.The budget rejected an effort to expand the state's bottle deposit law to include sports drinks and other beverages. A question that would expand the law is heading to the November ballot. The budget also includes about $73 million in casino licensing and slot parlor revenues despite a separate ballot question that could repeal the 2011 casino law. Monday is the last day of the fiscal year, although a bill has already passed to continue the operations of state government. Gov. Deval Patrick has up to 10 days to review and sign the budget, and make any vetoes to the plan.

Lawmakers Pass Compounding Pharmacy Oversight Bill

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers have given final approval to a bill overhauling the oversight of compounding pharmacies. The bill stemmed from a nationwide meningitis outbreak that authorities blamed on a tainted steroid produced by the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Framingham. The outbreak resulted in 64 deaths and hundreds of illnesses. The bill reorganizes the board that oversees the pharmacies and requires it to participate in any national reporting systems on pharmacies, pharmacists and technicians. It also requires board inspectors be trained in sterile compounding and non-sterile compounding practices. The legislation authorizes the board to levy fines against a pharmacy of up to $25,000 per violation, and up to $1,000 for each day that a violation continues after the date it should have been corrected. The bill now heads to Gov. Deval Patrick for his signature.




Monday, June 30, 2014

(Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com) 

COMMUNITY INVITED TO SPEAK TO HEALTH CARE CONSULTANTS

Members of the northern Berkshire community will have an opportunity to provide their perspective on the medical needs of the community tomorrow. Representatives from Stroudwater Associates will attend the weekly meeting at the American Legion in North Adams tomorrow beginning at 6 p.m. Community members interested in commenting should arrive early and sign in to speak. Officials also say that comments should be in writing and be limited to two minutes. The public is invited to attend. The health care consulting firm has been commissioned by the state to assess the health care needs and access for Northern Berkshire following the abrupt closure of Northern Berkshire Healthcare.



Clark Art Institute Director Michael Conforti introduces Gov. Deval Patrick, who stands with the chairman of the Clark's Board of Trustees, Peter Willmott. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Stephen Dravis)

GOVERNOR HELPS THE CLARK OPEN ITS DOORS

Governor Deval Patrick was in Williamstown on Saturday to help the Clark Art Institute celebrate the birth of its visitor and exhibition center and the rebirth of the institution's original 1955 museum building. IBerkshires.com reports, the muse



Wednesday, June 25, 2014
 
 

The City Council on Tuesday night approved a $37.7 million budget with little discussion. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Tammy Daniels)

NORTH ADAMS COUNCIL ADOPTS $37.7M BUDGET FOR 2015
 
The North Adams City Council last night approved a $37,729,404 total budget for fiscal 2015. IBerkshires reports, the budget includes some $600,000 in cuts, including some 20 positions, and is made possible on a revenue package passed two weeks ago that is expected to raise more than $400,000. The budget sections were read out by members of the Finance Committee and adopted by roll call vote. All passed unanimously except for Councilor Jennifer Breen voting naye on General Government and Councilor Wayne Wilkinson on Public Services. The classification and compensation plans were also adopted unanimously.
 

GRANT TRANSFER DELAYED BY BOARD

 

 

Housing Opportunities Inc. is delaying the transfer of its grant assets to the city of North Adams until full documentation has been provided. IBerkshires.com reports that the nonprofit agency, which functions as an arm of the Housing Authority to promote home ownership, was asked to amend its articles so an asset transfer could be made to the city from leftover block grants dating back 30 years. Board members, who are also Housing Authority commissioners, met Monday night. They say they have yet to see the recapture agreement that would support the transfer and felt it was important to receive the information before making the asset transfer.


 Williamstown Selectwoman Jane Patton thought the board was 'overcomplicating' the senior tax work-off program. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN SELECTMEN APPROVE SENIOR TAX WORK-OFF
 
The Williamstown Board of Selectmen has put the finishing touches on a senior tax work-off program authorized by town meeting last month. The town will offer three positions that will be eligible for a $1,000 credit on property taxes during the first year of the program. The positions are slotted in three of the town's service centers: the elementary school, the senior center and the public library. The board agreed with the town manager's argument that the tax work-off program not be a "make work" program.
 
COUNTY UNEMPLOYMENT CONTINUES TO DROP
 
Berkshire County’s unemployment rate continued to drop in May, descending almost a full percentage point to 5.4 percent. That’s according to state figures released yesterday. It is the lowest Berkshire unemployment has been in at least 13 months, and follows a slight drop in the rate in April. Berkshire employment is also more than a point lower than it was in May 2013, when the rate hit 6.8 percent. Less than 4,000 Berkshire residents are collecting jobless benefits. That’s the lowest total in at least thirteen months. 


MASSACHUSETTS HOME SALES DOWN, MEDIAN PRICES UP
 


Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts fell in May when compared to the same month a year ago, but median prices continue to soar. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors yesterday reported a nearly 10 percent drop in sales when compared to May 2013, but a 7 percent increase in the median price to nearly $348,000. The Warren Group, a publisher of business data, reported a 7 percent year-over-year decrease in sales but a jump in median prices of almost 5 percent to $340,000. Realtors’ President Peter Ruffini says rising prices are being caused by qualified buyers taking advantage of low interest rates to buy a limited supply of homes. Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren Jr. says rising prices are a sign of recovery. 
 
 
 
BERKSHIRE TOWNS EYED FOR RAIL STATIONS 
 
Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Lee and maybe Sheffield are being looked at as potential hosts of passenger rail stations for those traveling to or from New York City. IBerkshires.com reports, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is three months away from finalizing its report on feasible locations for the stations in the Berkshires. Brian Domina, who is heading the research, says of the six towns the line will run through, those four make the most sense to have stations. He says the most logical spot in Pittsfield is the already existing Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Center, although some modifications would have to be made to accommodate passenger rail but those are significantly less than building a new station.
 
PITTSFIELD MAN SENTENCED FOR BEATING WOMAN 

A Pittsfield man with "a history of violence" is serving 20 months in jail after admitting to twice beating a woman and threatening her on Facebook. 29 year old James Killins pleaded guilty to two counts of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and single counts of threat to commit murder and assault and battery. Killins was credited with 39 days he has already served in jail awaiting the outcome of his case because he was unable to make $50,000 cash bail.
 
 LICENSING BOARD EASES CLOSING TIME CONSTRAINTS FOR CLUB 

The Pittsfield Licensing Board is giving a Wahconah Street bar a bit more rope after mandating a midnight closing time for 60 days following a seven-day liquor license suspension issued in April. The Berkshire Eagle reports, owner John Giardina and Johnny’s Beach Club were slapped with the penalties in the wake of a melee outside the bar March 15 that resulted in two officers being assaulted and required summoning all on-duty police officers in the city and officers from other jurisdictions as well. Giardina told board members on Monday that he has taken steps to screen who is allowed to enter the bar late at night, and he blamed the incident on "a bad crowd in the city," which he said the bar has tried to keep out.





Tuesday, June 24, 2014



 Some 30 people attended Monday's meeting to discuss whether the city should support a home-rule petition for a fifth retail liquor license. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Tammy Daniels)

North Adams Liquor Store Owners Slam License Request 
 
A new package store's pursuit of an all-alcohol license was denounced at last night's North Adams Public Safety Committee meeting by potential competitors and community members. Steeple City Liquors has asked that the city support a home-rule petition to the Legislature to procure a liquor license after its application was rejected 2-1 by the License Commission because the city is already over its state quota. More than 30 people attended the meeting to offer their opinions to the Public Safety Committee, which is expected to give a recommendation to the full City Council in July. The matter was referred to the committee in May.

North Adam Meeting On Hospital Report Tonight
 
The analyst hired to study Berkshire County’s health care needs in the wake of North Adams Regional Hospital’s closing has scheduled its first community meeting. Stroudwater Associates, based in Portland, Maine, is focused on identifying the health care necessities of the northern Berkshires and also on determining what kind of health care services will meet those needs in a financial sustainable business model. A community meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, at the American Legion on American Legion Drive in North Adams. Officials say that other community meetings will follow. City, state, union and BMC officials are awaiting the firms findings so work can begin on determining how best to re-deploy the hospital facility and increase employment from the pool of more than 500 workers displaced when NARH closed.

City To Vote On Budget Today 

The city council in North Adams will vote today on Mayor Richard Alcombright’s proposed 37.7 million dollar budget for fiscal 2015, which includes cuts to city hall, the department of public works and police.
Mayor Alcombright says that the spending plan includes an increase of $1.2 million from fiscal 2014, with rising costs attributed largely to veteran’s benefits, health insurance and pension obligations. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the city council approved a $420,000 revenue package, which raises water and sewer rates by 10 percent, earlier this month. A remaining $200,000 budget gap is closed under the mayor’s budget by cuts through attrition to the DPW and police department, as well as a reduction in staff at city hall. The proposal falls within the tax levy limits under Proposition 2 1 ⁄2, though Alcombright has said he plans to campaign for an override prior to the fiscal 2016 budget. 



Selectman Thomas Sheldon, left, and Chairman Ronald Turbin sign the grant agreement. (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Stephen Dravis)

Williamstown Selectmen Grant Deal With Highland Woods
 

The Williamstown Board of Selectmen has finalized the $2.6 million town grant to fund the Highland Woods senior housing project. IBerkshires.com reports, the board decided last year to commit the town to that dollar figure, which the town anticipates having at its disposal after it has met its obligations under the terms of a federal Hazard Mitigation Grant. Last week, one of the project's lead developers and its counsel appeared before the board to discuss the final grant agreement. After a lengthy discussion that aired two concerns from Selectman Andrew Hogeland, the board voted 4 to 0 to approve the grant agreement. Hogeland did not vote.

 Summer Sundays At 6 Is Back In Williamstown  

Summer Sundays at 6 is back in Williamstown for another season of fun activities for the entire family. The family geared fun event takes place each Sunday in July from 5pm to 8pm. If you go, you can expect lots of music, street performers, and food this year. Williamstown Chamber of Commerce executive director, Jennifer Civello, says new this year will be what’s being called a “mobile mural”.
The Sundays at 6 wraps up each Sunday night in July leading up to the popular “Family Flick’s Under the Stars.”  


Criteria Developed To Compare Taconic Project Options (Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com /Andy McKeever)

Criteria Developed To Compare Taconic Project Options 
 
The Pittsfield School Building Needs Commission will need to decide at the end of July on a preferred option for Taconic High School — to renovate, build brand new or a mix of both. IBerkshires.com reports, Drumney Rosane & Anderson Architects Inc., which is consulting on the project, has developed a matrix to compare the options. The consultants will also have professional estimators narrow the costs for each option in the coming weeks. The consultants will make a recommendation at the end of July and then the commission will render a decision. 

Spot For Off-Leash Dogs At Kennedy Park
 
A proposed, fenced-in dog park has moved one step closer to reality at Kennedy Park in Lenox. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Kennedy Park Committee, which advises the Select Board on issues relating to the town-owned property, unanimously voted yes on the plan. Selectman Kenneth Fowler proposed consideration of a one-acre, currently unused, 23-acre wooded portion of the 180-acre Kennedy Park along West Dugway Road. Fowler says that if the project is approved by the full Select Board, funding would be raised privately.

 Mass. Minimum Wage Hike Off Ballot  

A group that supports a higher state minimum wage has ended its bid for a November ballot question, saying Monday it was no longer necessary now that lawmakers had approved a bill that would give Massachusetts the highest minimum wage among states by 2017. Raise Up Massachusetts announced it was withdrawing its initiative petition after collecting more than 350,000 signatures over the past two years. The Legislature gave final approval last week to a bill raising the state’s current $8 per hour minimum wage to $11 per hour in three annual increments beginning January 1st 2015, while also offering a raise to workers who receive tips, such as restaurant servers. Governor Patrick is expected to sign the measure within days.
 
Abutters Rattle Off Concerns On Special Permit  

Scale and traffic were the two negative factors emphasized by a majority of abutters last night as the select board in Stockbridge considered a special permit request by a Denver-based developer to renovate the famed Elm Court estate and add a spa, restaurant and 112-room hotel wing. The Berkshire Eagle reports that balancing those two factors was at issue when it came to how to otherwise preserve the crumbling 50,000-square foot building complex. Attorney David Hellman, representing Amstar, the Denver- based developer seeking the special permit, brought several experts before the board. The basic premise was that several attempts have been made in the decades since Elm Court closed in 1957 to reopen it. None have succeeded. Hellman’s point was that his client had the resources to make it work.

Fairgrounds Permit Hearing Continued 

Great Barrington Selectmen have once again continued a special permit hearing in connection with the development of the Great Barrington Fairgrounds. The hearing was continued until July 1st. The developers are seeking a special permit to perform work in a wetland area and to change the use of the grounds to that of community center. Plans at the long vacant fairgrounds call for renovations of several buildings on the site, creation of a community garden, and a solar array. 

Local Students Receive Environmental ‘Green Team’ Awards 

Students in 78 classes from 67 schools across the Commonwealth have received special recognition for their outstanding environmental actions as members of the “Green Team,” a statewide environmental education program promoted by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Two students in the southern Berkshires were recognized: Paula Duhon of Lee Elementary School and Danielle Melino of Mount Everett Regional High School. Students of any age can participate in the Green Team program, an initiative comprised of students who share the goals of reducing pollution and protecting the environment. Nearly 60,000 students in more than 280 classes at 234 schools joined the Green Team this school year.

Boston, Casino Companies Extend Impact Aid Talks

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has asked for more time in the city's negotiations with Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts on financial compensation for the potential impact of nearby proposed casinos.
The casino giants are competing for the lone gambling license in the Boston area. The two sides had set a Monday deadline to reach a deal.
Walsh spokeswoman Kate Norton said Monday the city and Mohegan Sun, which proposes a $1.3 billion casino in Revere, have agreed to extend negotiations to Friday. She said the city and Wynn, which proposes a $1.6 billion casino in Everett, have agreed to extend talks to Wednesday.
If a deal isn't reached, the sides go to arbitration.
Public hearings on the proposals are Tuesday in Revere and Wednesday in Everett. State regulators are expected to award the license by early September.

Hernandez Due In Court In 2012 Boston Murder Case

BOSTON (AP) — Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez is due in court for a hearing in a Boston case accusing him of the 2012 drive-by slayings of two men.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after a casual nightclub encounter.
Prosecutors say a one of the men accidentally bumped Hernandez, spilling his drink. They say Hernandez went to another club, then drove around until he found the men and pulled alongside their car at a red light. Prosecutors say he fatally shot the two men and wounded a third.
Hernandez's hearing is Tuesday. His lawyers say he's looking forward to proving his innocence.
He also has pleaded not guilty to killing Odin Lloyd, found shot at an industrial park in North Attleborough in 2013.

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