Friday, October 24, 2014
Atlas President Gregory R. Britton has a room with a view in what will be his new office in North Adams. The financial management firm is moving its offices from Williamstown to North Adams. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
FINANCIAL FIRM MOVING TO NORTH ADAMS
One of the nation's fastest growing financial firms is shifting its base of operations from Williamstown to North Adams. IBerkshires.com reports that Atlas Wealth Management, formerly Dion Money Management, is moving its 20 employees to the third-floor of the former Wall-Streeter Shoe Company building on Union Street owned by David Moresi. Atlas is an independent wealth management firm and part of Focus Financial Partners LLC. It offers wealth and investment management, financial planning and some tax services. Financial Advisor magazine ranked it 15th in its fastest growing firms list.
HADLEY OVERPASS SURPASSES ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATES
The reconstruction of the Hadley Overpass in North Adams has exceeded its projected completion date as well as its initial cost estimate. Costs to repair to the span have surpassed the state's initial estimate of $28.1 million by $6.8 million. It was initially projected to be completed in 2012. The overhaul began in 2008.
The Selectmen are updated on the poor condition of the Visitors Center's geothermal system on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
ADAMS SEEKS FIX TO VISITORS CENTER'S INEFFECTIVE GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM
The Adams Board of Selectmen is looking at a $22,800 interim solution to fix the Visitors Center's troublesome geothermal heating and cooling system. IBerkshires.com reports that the board met with interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan, the building Commissioner, the Council on Aging Director and the project engineers during Wednesday night's workshop meeting to discuss possible remedies for the notoriously difficult HVAC system. The board didn't vote on the matter, but Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said no matter what issues they find, they must make the building usable.
NORTH ADAMS TO WILLIAMSTOWN BIKE PATH PUBLIC MEETING SET
Plans are moving forward for a new bike path section between North Adams' center and the Williamstown town line. The city of North Adams and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will host a public meeting on Wednesday next week from 6 to 8pm at Greylock Elementary School to discuss a draft route. There will be a brief presentation at 6:30pm. Mohawk Bicycle Pedestrian Trail will be designed by the BRPC and a community outreach committee will be established to keep affected property owners and other interested parties informed. The eventual goal is to link the Berkshires from border to border.
MCLA DAY OF SERVICE SET FOR SATURDAY
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the City of North Adams will hold the "Day of Service - Fall Edition" Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., throughout the community. Service sites will include the Hillside Cemetery on Route 2 in North Adams, the North Adams Goodwill and various pocket parks. For more information, visit mcla.edu or contact Spencer Moser at email@example.com or (413) 662-5251.
DALTON MAN GETS MORE THAN 4 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CHILD PORN
A Dalton man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for downloading and sharing violent and sadistic child pornography. 27 year old Jared Sprague admitted amassing a collection of close to 100 child pornography images and videos and sharing them through a peer-to-peer computer file sharing program. Sprague appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield and was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison followed by a decade of post-release supervision. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
PAUL CAPITANIO'S LAWYER ASKS COURT TO TOSS OUT CHARGES
The lawyer for former city councilor Paul Capitanio, accused of tipping off a drug dealer about an upcoming raid, has asked the court to dismiss the charges against his client. Timothy J. Shugrue argued in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday that the charges against his client - conspiracy to possess oxycodone and accessory after the fact to distribute oxycodone - should be dismissed because the grand jury hadn't been given enough information to indict the 58 year-old former city councilman of those crimes. he got his drugs from Stegemann. However,Judge John Agostini seemed unconvinced. Capitanio remains free on $500 bail pending the outcome of his case.
PITTSFIELD HALLOWEEN PARADE TONIGHT
The 70th annual Pittsfield Halloween Parade is taking place tonight. The parade starts at 7 p.m. from the corner of Tyler and Smith streets and ends at Woodlawn Avenue. Pittsfield Community Television is scheduled to broadcast the event live on Time Warner Cable's Channel 16. Rebecca Manship, the city's recreational activities coordinator, says that the thousands of parade-goers can expect to see four floats,: three by Williams, Conte and Allendale elementary schools, the fourth courtesy of the Tyler Street Business Group. In addition, Morningside and Crosby elementary schools will be among the parade's 20 units.
LOCAL YOUTH SHINE IN NFL PUNT, PASS & KICK COMPETITION
The local NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition was held at Taconic High School on September 21st. There were six local winners who moved on to the sectional competition in Westfield on October 13th. In the Girls category: Finishing 1st in the 6 to 7 year old age group was Madysen Pelky of Washington. In the 12 to 13 year old age group, Kaitlyn Olds of Hinsdale finished 2nd. In the boy's category, the 1st place winners included: Brady Hebert of Pittsfield in the 6 to 7 year old group, Jaden Keefner of Pittsfield in the 10 to 11 year old group, Tanner Hill of Dalton in the 12 to 13 year old group, and Patrick Butler of Peru in the 14 to 15 year old age group. Of the 1st place winners, both Madison Pelky and Patrick Butler qualified to compete at the New England Patriots Team Championship at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots take on the Bears on Sunday. The other winners, at last check, were waiting to hear if they have qualified. Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi called it an exciting opportunity for the kids, and said that Pittsfield will be cheering for them on Sunday.
PITTSFIELD FARMERS MARKET COMES TO A CLOSE SATURDAY WITH LIVE MUSIC AND SPECIAL DEMONSTRATIONS
The Pittsfield Farmers Market's will end the season this weekend. Since May 10, about 20 vendors from around the Berkshires have set up shop in the First Street parking lot, across from The Common, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., selling and promoting local grown and produced goods. The market also features local artisans, live music and special demonstrations. Market Manager Jessica Conzo. Conzo praised volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield for spearheading the effort to deliver the donated food to local shelters and food pantries.
BALLOT QUESTION TV AD SPENDING NEARING $5.8M
Television ad spending on Massachusetts ballot questions has approached $5.8 million with Election Day less than two weeks away. Virtually all of that spending has come from two groups: The Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs, which is hoping to persuade voters to reject a ballot question that would repeal the state's casino law, and No on Question 2: Stop Forced Deposits, which opposes a question that would expand the state's bottle deposit law.
COAKLEY: BAKER SHOULD DISCLOSE INVESTMENT TIES
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley said Wednesday that Republican rival Charlie Baker should take steps before the November 4th election to disclose details of an investment made by the state of New Jersey in a venture capital firm with ties to Baker. Coakley, the state attorney general, said the case raised "public integrity" questions. Baker has repeatedly said there was no wrongdoing. Baker made a $10,000 donation to the New Jersey Republican Party in 2011, shortly before that state's pension fund invested in General Catalyst at a time when Baker was an executive-in-residence for the firm.
MILLER PROPOSING AMENDMENT
Republican candidate for Massachusetts Attorney General John Miller is proposing a constitutional amendment aimed at removing politics from the job he is seeking. The Winchester attorney says he filed an initiative petition on Thursday that would require nonpartisan elections Massachusetts attorney general.
WARREN CHANGES LANGUAGE
Senator Elizabeth Warren says she "doesn't think" she's running for president in in 2016, a shift from her usual script. The liberal favorite typically answers the question by saying, "I am not running for president." But when she was asked again by People magazine, she answered, "I don't think so."
TROOPER FACING ASSAULT CHARGES
A Massachusetts State Police trooper has been released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to sexually assaulting a woman he met on an online dating service. Christopher Kennedy, of West Springfield, was arraigned Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court on charges of indecent exposure, assault and battery, and indecent assault and battery. The alleged crimes occurred in July in Worthington. The 31-year-old Kennedy was also ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
The Airport Commission decided keep the name Harriman-West but add North Adams to it to indicate the location. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
NORTH ADAMS ADDED TO AIRPORT NAME
The North Adams Airport Commission has decided to keep Lottie Harriman and George West's names in the new airport title. IBerkshires.com reports that last month, Commissioner Trevor Gilman advocated changing the name to the North Adams Municipal Airport to better market the airport and make clearer its location. The commission tabled the motion to research the history of the airport's name before making a decision. After talking to the remaining family members of George West and researching the history, commissioners decided not to remove the names. The commission did decide to change the name to North Adams Harriman-West Airport and clean up confusion of the name in different sources.
Regina DiLego updated the other members of the School Committee on the superintendent search process. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
TRI-DISTRICT SEARCH COMMITTEE ADVISES INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT
The school districts for Williamstown and Lanesborough won't have a permanent superintendent until at least July. The superintendent search committee decided last week to recommend the district forgo its search for a replacement by Jan.1 for the retiring Rose Ellis. The search committee was formed to sort applicants for recommendation after Ellis informed Mount Greylock Regional School District and Superintendency Union 71 she would retire at the end of the year.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)/Staff
BMC AWARDED $3M FOR HEALTH CARE CENTER IN NORTH ADAMS
Berkshire Medical Center will receive $3 million in state funding to create a "Patient Centered Medical Neighborhood" in North County. That's on top of the $6 million that BMC is planning to invest in upgrades and expanded services announced on Tuesday. The state award will help fund initiatives to align with the findings of the Stroudwater Associates' health needs report for North Berkshire.The Stroudwater report recommends collaborating with social and community services and organizations; expanding primary care; and providing prenatal care and education and access to transportation to BMC's maternity department.
WNAW’S MIKE GARLAND GIVEN RECOGNITION AWARD
The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition held its fall "Neighborlies" presentation last night in North Adams. Among the many Northern Berkshire residents receiving one of the twice-yearly Community Recognition Awards was WNAW's Mike Garland, who was nominated in the Community Health and Wellness category by Mass in Motion coordinator Amanda Chilson. Mike was cited "for partnering with the Mayor's Fitness Challenge and hosting a Mayor's Fitness Challenge radio contest, as well as promoting.
4 NEW ENGLAND STATES IN TOP 10 FOR EFFICIENCY
Four New England states have been ranked in the top 10 nationally for their energy efficiency efforts. Massachusetts led the way in the annual ranking by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, with Rhode Island and Vermont tied with Oregon in the No. 3 spot and Connecticut ranked No. 6. In the region, only New Hampshire and Maine were excluded from the top 10, with Maine ranked 16th and New Hampshire 22nd. The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard measures six policy areas — utility policies and programs, transportation initiatives, building energy codes, combined heat and power development, state government-led initiatives, and state-level appliance standards.
MAN CHARGED IN $11K DRUG BUST
A Pittsfield man who allegedly had $ 11,000 worth of crack cocaine on him during a traffic stop is being held on $25,000 bail on charges including felony drug trafficking. 24 year-old Jason Deines, of Orchard Street, was arrested about 6:30pm Tuesday on West Housatonic Street after being pulled over by police. Officers said they found about 78 grams of crack cocaine broken up into 234 $50 bags stashed between the defendant’s buttocks, as well as two small bags of heroin in his pocket. Members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force allege Deines is a local drug dealer who had just returned to Pittsfield from Newburgh, N.Y., where he had resupplied himself with crack cocaine.
Morningside Principal Joseph Curtis explained the development of a teacher evaluation system to the School Committee on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
TEACHER EVALUATION PROCESS UNDER REVIEW
Morningside Community School Principal Joseph Curtis hailed a recently developed system for evaluating performance of educators in the district, in a presentation to the Public School Committee yesterday. IBerkshires.com reports that Curtis told the committee development of the evaluation process had begun several years ago, as he had worked with former Superintendent Howard Eberwein and teacher's union representative Scott Eldridge to establish a system that was palatable to both teachers and administrators. The process stresses candid observation, as well as self-assessment and documentation by teachers, with a focus on four core standards: curriculum planning and assessment; teaching to all students; reaching family and community; and professional culture.
DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF DIES OF CARDIAC ARREST
Pittsfield Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Kilmer has died of an apparent heart attack. Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski made the announcement yesterday that Kilmer experienced a cardiac arrest while off-duty. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time. A formal announcement of the arrangements and the fire department’s participation will be made. The news was posted on the Pittsfield Fire Department facebook page.
UNCLE BEAZLEY TO BERKSHIRE ATHENAEUM
The Berkshire Museum has loaned its famed Triceratops model, known as “Uncle Beazley”, to the Berkshire Athenaeum. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the approximately 11-foot-long Triceratops model was moved on a wheeled platform from the Berkshire Museum to a new home in the courtyard adjacent to the Children's Department of the Berkshire Athenaeum. Four smaller models are also going on display. Library Director, Ron Latham says that the Berkshire Museum was looking for a long-term loan arrangement for the models after dismantling its paleontology exhibit to make room for its new “Spark! Lab” installation – which opened October 11th.
FALCHUCK FILES LAW SUIT OVER DEBATE )
Independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the organizers of an October 27th NECN debate to include him.Falchuk is one of three independent candidates on the ballot. The other two are Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively. The two major party candidates are Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker.
JUDGE DISMISSES COAKLEY FEDERAL HOUSING LAWSUIT
A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley against the Federal Housing Finance Agency and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Coakley sued the agencies earlier this year for refusing to comply with a state law designed to stem the tide of foreclosures. Coakley said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac violated a 2012 Massachusetts law that allows the sale of homes in foreclosure to nonprofit organizations who intend to restructure the loan and sell the property back to the homeowner.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BHS is investing $6 million to expand services at BMC North. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS INVESTING $6M IN NORTH COUNTY
Berkshire Health Systems will invest $6 million in Northern Berkshire in the coming months. The significant investment will mean the expansion of outpatient and imaging services, as well as upgrades to the technology at the BMC North campus. IBerkshires.com reports that the funds were approved in the capital budget by the Berkshire Health Systems Board of Trustees in October and includes infrastructure improvements, building renovations, expanded services and equipment purchases. The expanded services will include mammography, for which BMC had been awaiting federal approval to resume. Also to be offered are outpatient endoscopy and outpatient orthopedic surgery, and expansion of outpatient imaging.
Clarksburg students on 'Bike to School Day' last year. The town has received a MassWorks grant to reconstruct West Cross Road and make it safer for walking and biking. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
CLARKSBURG AWARDED $920K MASSWORKS GRANT FOR ROAD
Clarksburg was awarded a $920,000 MassWorks grant on Tuesday to address long-delayed roadwork along West Cross Road. IBerkshires.com reports that Town Administrator Carl McKinney's is new to the town administrator post but not to the efforts to obtain the grant. As a member of the Board of the Selectmen in the past, he'd advocated for the state help to address the worsening road structure. The town's been applying for the funding - then known as the Small Town Road Assistance Program, for the past seven or eight years.
COLEGROVE PARK SCHOOL PROJECT ON SCHEDULE
The elementary school project continues on time and under budget. The $29.7 million renovation of the former Conte Middle School into Colegrove Park Elementary School, is almost a quarter complete. The project had budgeted a contingency line item of 10 percent, or around $3 million. The somewhat high amount was to ensure that any issues discovered by tearing into the century-old building could be covered. Mayor Richard Alcombright said the change orders had run around $220,000 so far for items such extra cleaning of the brick facade and filling in some sinkholes.The School Building Committee, city councilors and other officials toured the construction site on Friday.
V&V was approved locally for an all-alcohol license by the License Commission. Pending approval by the state, it may end discord amongst the city's alcohol purveyors. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
V & V LICENSE TRANSFER APPROVED
The North Adams License Commission yesterday approved a retail liquor license transfer to V&V, also known as Steeple City Spirits. Pending state approval, the transfer of the all-alcohol license from River Street Package Store brings to a close a contentious chapter in the city's business community.
LIHEAP FUNDS TO AID BERKSHIRE RESIDENTS
The recent release of nearly $132 million of federal heating assistance funds will help thousands of Berkshire residents, but it likely won't keep pace with their rising fuel and electricity bills. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Massachusetts will receive $8 million less than last year in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Overall, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released $3.05 billion in LIHEAP funding, compared to the total of $3.5 billion a year ago. Berkshire Community Action Council says that reduction, coupled with the anticipated 30 to 40 percent spike in utility rates and a likely increase in natural gas and oil prices, isn't nearly sufficient for those lining up for LIHEAP money.
CHESHIRE TOWN CLEAN-UP A SUCCESS
Volunteers with Saturday's town cleanup in Cheshire reported to the Selectmen that the day was a great success. Nearly 40 residents helped in the cleanup. The project was spearheaded by resident John Tremblay and the group cleaned areas such as Wells Road, Town Hall, Stafford Hill, the Community Center, and the elementary school.
LOCAL JOBLESS RATE TICKS UP
Berkshire County unemployment exceeded the 6 percent threshold in September for the first time in four months. The state Office of Labor and Workforce Development says the number of unemployed county workers increased slightly last month, but the county's total labor force decreased by more than 1,200 workers. According to the figures released yesterday, the local jobless rate ticked up from 5.7 percent in August to 6.1 percent in September. State unemployment is currently 6 percent, slightly higher than the national rate of 5.9 percent.
PEDA hoped the company who chose to do the final assembly in Pittsfield would be chosen but they weren't. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PEDA CHIEF SAYS SPRINGFIELD RAIL CAR CONTRACT BENEFITS BERKSHIRES
While PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston is disappointed the William Stanley Business Park won't be the manufacturing site for the new Red and Orange Line cars, he says the plan to build them in Springfield will still be a benefit to the Berkshires. Governor Patrick announced this week that CNR Changchun was being recommended for the contract with the intentions to bring 250 jobs to a former Westinghouse plant. IBerkshires.com reports that CNR is proposing to build a brand-new 150,000 square-foot North American headquarters and make Springfield its permanent home. Thurston says it's a critical investment in the future of public transportation in Greater Boston and in the economic well-being of Western Massachusetts.
North Street is in the tail end of a decadelong reconstruction. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PITTSFIELD GETS $4.5 MILLION TO FINISH NORTH STREET WORK
The city has the money to finish reconstructing North Street. IBerkshires.com is reporting that Gov. Deval Patrick has announced that $4.5 million in MassWorks grant funding will be awarded to complete the fourth and final phase of the project. Mayor Dan Bianchi says that with the money, the city should be able to finish the streetscape project. The Streetscape Project vision began in 2005 with the development of downtown master plan.
PITTSFIELD TEEN HELD AFTER CRACK BUST
A city teen accused of selling crack cocaine to a police informant is being held without bail. According to police, 19 year old James Pierson Jr., of Springside Avenue, was arrested by members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force about 5pm on Friday of last week, in the middle of a drug deal in a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up on Columbus Avenue extension near Onota Street. Investigators said when they approached the vehicle Pierson had a bag of cocaine weighing about 12 grams in his hand and there were several $10 bills sitting on the seat between Pierson and a woman in the truck's driver's seat. Pierson was arrested and when taken into custody allegedly had $181 in cash on his person.
COAKLEY AND BAKER DEBATE ISSUES LAST NIGHT
Democrat gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley and her Republican challenger, Charlie Baker sparred on jobs, schools and services for families and children in a televised debate last night. Coakley says if elected, she would focus on building a sustainable economy from the ground up, while Baker says he would focus on strengthening local economies in struggling parts of the state. The Three independent candidates, Even Falchuck, Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively were not included in last night's debate.
IREDALE TAKES OVER SEARLES MIDDLE SCHOOL
Iredale Cosmetics, nearing completion of the makeover of the former Bryant Elementary School, has now completed a takeover of the adjacent former Searles Middle School. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Iredale COO Robert Montgomery confirmed that his company made a $640,000 payment to the town last week. That was the final payment that was supposed to be made by Camus Corporation, a New Jersey developer who submitted the initial request for proposal to the town in 2009. At that time, Camus unveiled an ambitious $19 million mixed-use proposal for the former school building that included affordable housing and retail space. That plan never came to fruition.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
ALLEGED ASSAULT SUSPECT SOUGHT
A man wanted in connection with a machete attack in North Adams has been apprehended by New York State Police. North Adams Police reported shortly after 4 p.m. Monday that Joshua Allen, 27, had been taken into custody after a nearly three-day search. A Warrant for Allen was issued Saturday after Allen allegedly attacked his domestic partner in the early morning hours at their Montana Street residence and fled. The incident is under investigation by the North Adams Police Department and Berkshire County district attorney's office.
FALLEN TREE CUTS POWER TO 3,000
A late-night power outage on Sunday left roughly 3,000 customers in North Adams and Clarksburg in the dark until about 6am Monday, according to National Grid. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the outage occurred just after 11pm when a tree fell on a transmission line on Beaver Street in North Adams. Approximately 2,200 customers were affected right when the tree came down on the line. National Grid spokesman, Jake Navarro, said some additional customers lost power as repairs were being made during the restoration process. Power to all but 83 customers was restored by 1:15am by switching most customers to different circuits. According to Navarro, the remaining customers were without power until 6am as repairs were made throughout the night.
DAY OF SERVICE SET FOR SATURDAY
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the City of North Adams announce that a "Day of Service - Fall Edition" will take place on Saturday from 10am to 2pm, throughout the community. Service sites will include the Hillside Cemetery on Route 2 in North Adams, the North Adams Goodwill and various pocket parks. For more than 20 years, MCLA and local residents have come together to clean up and improve the community. The scope and type of projects have evolved over the years, and the number of volunteers has increased significantly.
The Maple Grove Civic Club is accepting new members from surrounding communities to keep the club going. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
ADAMS CIVIC CLUB SEEKING BROADER MEMBERSHIP
The Adams Maple Grove Civic Club is casting a wider net to boost enrollment. IBerkshires.com reports that the civics association said it will welcome members from North Adams, Williamstown and other surrounding communities. At one point, the