The new cell tower in early February shortly after it was erected. It replaces to older ones that collapsed on March 30, 2014. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
SERVICE SWITCHING TO NEW TOWER
Verizon customers should be back to normal on Saturday morning once its service is switched to the new tower. Mayor Richard Alcombright, in a statement released on Facebook and to media, said customers will see a disruption in service beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday as the new antenna goes online. North County communications were disrupted just over a year ago when high winds took down two radio towers on top of the Western Summit.
THREE CAR ACCIDENT IN NORTH ADAMS, LITTLE DETAILS
There are little details available at this point, but there was a three car accident on Curran Highway last night just before 11pm in the area of Ocean States Job Lots. The North Adams Police Department, Fire Department and Ambulance Service were all dispatched to the scene. North Adam Police told the Berkshire News Network this morning that there were injuries, but they couldn’t give details on the nature of those injuries, other than to say that all parties were transported to Berkshire Medical Center. According to the police, Curran Memorial Highway was completely shut down from the Hodges Cross Road intersection to the Ocean State Job Lot/Tractor Supply entrance while the accident clean-up was taking place overnight, and the area was just finally cleared early this morning. The accident remains under investigation.
FIREFIGHTERS PREVENT WILLIAMSTOWN BLAZE FROM STRIKING GAS TANK
An afternoon blaze claimed a workshop garage structure on Hancock Road in Williamstown yesterday, but it could have been much worse. The Berkshire Eagle reports that when firefighters arrive at 1352 Hancock Road, the metal-frame garage was fully involved in flame, about 10 feet away from an adjacent 500-gallon propane tank. According to Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini, the first volley of water went right onto the propane tank to keep it from igniting. Pedercini called for mutual aid, and wound up with five tanker trucks from Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, and Vermont's Pownal and Pownal Valley fire departments. Five engines also responded to the scene. The garage was a total loss, including the workshop, tools, a couple of ATVs and lawn mowers that were inside. The cause of the blaze has not been determined and is under investigation by the state fire marshal.
LANESBOROUGH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TAPS HOOSAC ADMINISTRATOR AS NEW PRINCIPAL
Martin McEvoy will serve as the next principal of Lanesborough Elementary School. McEvoy, currently the assistant principal of Hoosac Valley Middle and High School in Cheshire, was selected for the job by a seven-member search committee, according to tri-district interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy." McEvoy will start on July 1st for the 2015-2016 school year. He will earn $91,100.
COLLEGE CELEBRATES BUILDING PROJECT
Williams College will be sort of a vortex of climate change awareness today and tomorrow. At 7 pm tonight, Class of 1959 alumnus William Moomaw, chief scientist at the Earthwatch Institute and professor emeritus of international environmental policy at Tufts University, will present his lecture, "Environmental Studies: The Essential Liberal Art for the 21st Century," in the college's Paresky Auditorium. The college will on Saturday celebrate the completion of the $5.2 million environmental renovation of the historic Kellogg House — now known as the Class of 1966 Environmental Center — which was redesigned to have close to a zero carbon footprint.
PITTSFIELD EYES RETURN OF 'REJUVENATED' THIRD THURSDAY
Pittsfield is asking residents to relax, play, and create once a month. IBerkshires.com reports that the monthly Third Thursday street fair is returning in May in a "rejuvenated" way, according to Director of Cultural Development Jennifer Glockner. The monthly summer street fair is entering its ninth year. Each third Thursday of the month brings out close to 200 vendors to North Street, which is shut down to traffic. Each month has a different theme. This year's themes are creative youth; healthy Pittsfield; arts matter; all the world's a stage; walk a mile in her shoes; and harvest fest. A section of North Street will be under construction as the last and final phase of the streetscape project comes to a conclusion but organizers say that will have limited impact on the fair.
PITTSFIELDRAILROADBRIDGE CONSTRUCTION SET TO BEGIN
Construction of the new Pittsfield Woodlawn Avenue railroad bridge spanning the Williams Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires is finally ready to begin. Crews from general contractor Northern Construction of Palmer have begun moving heavy equipment into the area. On Wednesday, Pittsfield Economic Development Authority Executive Director Corydon Thurston told PEDA's board that digging "could happen any day." Preliminary construction work on the $4 million project began in December, but the actual bridgework wasn't scheduled to start until the spring. The project, which also includes the reconstruction of the Kellogg Street-Woodlawn Avenue intersection, is still expected to be completed by the end of this year.
PITTSFIELD MAN FACES FELONY CHARGES IN CAR BREAK-INS, ATTEMPTS AT BIG Y
A Pittsfield man is facing multiple felony charges in connection with a number of car break-ins and attempts on Wednesday outside a supermarket. 22 year old Joshua Clemo, of Wendell Avenue, broke into eight cars in the parking lot of the Big Y supermarket on West Street and attempted to break into six others, according to Pittsfield police. He pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to eight counts of felony breaking and entering into a motor vehicle in the daytime, six counts of attempting to commit a crime and one count of larceny under $250. He is due back in court on May 22nd.
LENOX MAN CHARGED WITH OUI AFTER ALLEGEDLY SIDESWIPING CAR ON ROUTE 8
A Lenox man is facing OUI charges after narrowly avoiding a head-on collision Wednesday night and sideswiping an oncoming car. 21 year old Alec Vincent, of East Street, was heading south on Route 8 in a grey Subaru Impreza about 7:50pm when he allegedly struck another car in the northbound lane and kept going, according to a police report. He pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on yesterday to charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor and leaving the scene of property damage. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court May 8th.
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE TODAY IN LENOX
The Annual Town Meeting in the town of Lenox is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 7th, and the Annual Town Election will be held Monday, May 11th. For those residents not registered to vote, today is the last day to register. The town clerk’s office is open until 8 p.m. to accommodate last minute registrants.
INCUMBENTS UNCHALLENGED IN LEE
Incumbents in the town of Lee will have an easy path to re-election come the annual town election in May. The Berkshire Eagle reports that if there are no write in candidates, Selectman David Consolati and four other town officials that are seeking re-election, will not have challengers. Consolati is looking to be re-elected to a third three year term. Thomas Wickham will be looking for another five year term on the Lee Planning Board. School Committee member Kelly Koperak, Town Moderator Christopher Brittain, and Lee Housing Authority member Duane Shephardson are also running unopposed. The annual town election in Lee is scheduled for May 18th.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
NORTH ADAMS FIRES MANAGER WHO TOOK $2,200 FROM SKATING RINK
Darin Lane, who admitted to taking $2,200 from the North Adams skating rink that he managed, has been fired. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Lane, who told police he took the money from the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink in order to pay for heating oil at his home this winter, said he intended to replenish the funds when he got his tax refund. Lane admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilt on a charge of larceny over $250 in Northern Berkshire District Court on April 6th. The charges were continued without a finding and dismissed upon his payment of just over $2,200 in restitution the day of the disposition and $490 in court fees on the following day. He was initially placed on paid administrative leave in March.
MOUNTGREYLOCKREGIONALSCHOOL DISTRICT TO GATHER PUBLIC INPUT
Williamstown Residents of the Mount Greylock Regional School District will have their chance tonight to help shape the upcoming school building project. The district will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. at the high school to gather input as officials work to make a firm choice for the scope of the project. Among the issues to resolve: Whether to erect a new building or to renovate the existing high school at the Cold Spring Road campus. Residents of both towns have long sought solutions to the aging campus, built in 1960 and expanded in 1968. A feasibility study identified different paths the 550-student, Grade 7 to 12 district could take, from a renovation to a new building.
Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco is recommending a Proposition 2 1/2 override rather than cutting from the town side to fund the school budget. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
ADAMSTOWN MANAGER RECOMMENDS OVERRIDE
Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco yesterday explained the consequences of shifting funds from the municipal budget to support the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget. Mazzucco recommended a Proposition 2 1/2 override as the most feasible way to supply the additional $360,000 assessment voted by the School Committee two weeks ago.
EIGHT BERKSHIRE RESIDENTS FACE CHARGES TIED TO DRUG TRADE
Eight Berkshire County residents are facing conspiracy charges after wiretaps of their cellphones and other surveillance linked them to suspected drug dealers operating between the Berkshires and Springfield. According to police 46 year old Cornell Griffin, 36 year old Thomas Hurley, 25 year old Alicia Brett-Lucaroni, 26 year old Nicole Serra, 28 year old James Scace, 57 year old Robin Garzone, and 25 year old Jacqulene Garzone, all of Pittsfield, and 40 year old Michael St. John, of Lanesborough, were arrested on warrants between Monday and Tuesday. The arrests are the result of a complex investigation by the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force looking into the trafficking and sales of cocaine and heroin in the Berkshire and Springfield areas.
DALTON FIRE VICTIM STILL HOSPITALIZED; INVESTIGATION ONGOING
State and local fire investigators have yet to determine the cause of Sunday night's house fire in Dalton that seriously injured a woman who was rescued from the second floor. According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the cause of the fire at 62 Jennings Avenue remains under investigation. The woman, whose identity has not been released, was pulled to safety by Dalton firefighters and initially taken to Berkshire Medical Center. She was later transported to the burn unit of an undisclosed hospital. Her condition is unknown at this time.
PITTSFIELD MAN GETS 18 MONTHS FOR DRUG POSSESSION, THEFT OF MOTHER'S RING
Lawrence Boos was sentenced to 18 months in jail Tuesday, after pleading guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to the theft of his mother’s ring and drug charges from a September 2014 traffic stop.
He pleaded guilty to charges of larceny over $250, possession of a Class A drug with the intent to distribute, possession of a Class B drug, being present where heroin is kept and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. He will serve his sentence at the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Agency is preparing to fight new requirements the federal EPA seeks to impose on the property's stormwater runoff. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PEDA FIGHTING NEW EPA REQUIREMENTS
The federal government is looking to raise the quality of the storm water running through the William Stanley Business Park, which is now PEDA's liability. IBerkshires.com reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a draft permit that calls for significant more water monitoring and efforts to improve the storm-water quality, which officials say could both hamper development of the property and cost the organization more money.
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE MOVES TO BREAK FROM HOUSE ON COMMITTEES
The Massachusetts Senate has raised the stakes in a power struggle with the House, voting unanimously to begin pulling out a system they say gives the House too much control over the fate of bills. The vote yesterday authorizes the Senate to come up with a plan to end the Legislature's long-standing joint committee structure. The plan would need final Senate approval. The Legislature's 25 joint committees have a big say over which bills live or die on Beacon Hill, but House members outnumber Senate members on each committee.
SENATE APPROVES VERSION OF EARLY RETIREMENT BILL
The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill that would offer early retirement incentives to thousands of state employees. The measure, which passed on a voice vote yesterday after nearly two hours of debate, differs in several ways from Gov. Charlie Baker's initial early retirement plan and a similar version passed by the House. The next step is likely to be a House-Senate conference committee to resolve the differences.
HOUSE RELEASES $38 BILLION BUDGET
With new revenues materializing for the first time from slot machine gambling, House Democratic leaders yesterday proposed a $38 billion budget for fiscal 2016 that Speaker Robert DeLeo said makes targeted new investments in early education, substance abuse prevention and behavioral health.
The spending plan developed by the House Ways and Means Committee and its chairman Rep. Brian Dempsey hews closely to the blueprint outlined in March by Gov. Charlie Baker, squeezing more than $700 million in savings from MassHealth in large part by pushing off expenses into the future.
RULES SET FOR BUDGET DEBATE
Along strict party-line votes, House Democrats granted the Ways and Means Committee the power to bundle budget amendments and gave House lawmakers a little more than 48 hours to file amendments to the $38 billion spending bill released yesterday. The order adopted on a 120 to 35 vote sets the stage for the budget debate that will start Monday, April 27th, when the 160 members of the House will be able to suggest changes and vote on various aspects of the bill drafted by House Ways and Means.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The meeting was well attended. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
NORTH ADAMS PLANNERS OK MOTOCROSS TRACK, SOLAR ARRAYS
The North Adams Planning Board on Monday approved the development of a motocross track at the Range on Curran Highway despite concerns from residents over noise.
Owner David Bond said the recent use of the property for snocross and declining interest in the driving range led to the decision. He initially plans a practice track that would be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays form 10 to 6. However, he is looking into hosting a a NESCMX, or New England Motocross racing for next year.
Several residents, however, were more concerned about the noise impact on Southview Cemetery across the Hoosic River from The Range.
In other business, planners approved three solar arrays on private property. The first, a 642-kilowatt array for Holland Co. would be located on South State Street; the company would own the system on its own land.
The Finance Committee recommended all aspects of the town budget except for the school district, voting not to recommend the Selectmen's proposed lower assessment. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
The Adams Finance Committee rejected the school budget laid out by the Selectmen by one vote on Monday. IBerkshires.com reports that the committee voted to recommend all items in the fiscal 2016 budget except from the Adams Cheshire Regional School District budget. The majority of the committee did not favor the Selectmen's original $4.7 million allocation that would keep the town budget under the levy capacity. The vote was 5-6, with the majority voting not to recommend.
NORTH ADAMS WOMAN, TEEN SON ALLEGEDLY RAN HEROIN DISTRIBUTION RING
A North Adams Drury High School student and his mother are facing charges for allegedly running a major heroin distribution ring from their Porter Street apartment. According to police, 32 year old Glendaliz Rios, of Porter Street, and her 16-year-old son were arrested on Monday at the culmination of a six-month investigation into the local drug trade. The heroin was allegedly kept in a shoe box inside the closet of the student's bedroom, which he shared with a 7-year-old boy. Rios pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court yesterday to charges of causing a minor to distribute a drug, being present where heroin is kept, and conspiracy to violate drug law with a minor.
CHESHIRE MAN FACING CHARGES AFTER NORTH ADAMS WRECK
A Cheshire man faces charges after crashing his truck into a pole on Ashland Street yesterday morning. 33 year old Keith Lang is expected to recover after his 1983 Mazda truck left the road about 2 a.m. and crashed head-on into a telephone pole, according to North Adams Police. No further information about the crash was available. Lang has been charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
The Mohawk is being updated and should reopen in the next couple months. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
NORTH ADAMS' MOHAWK BAR ON TRACK FOR REOPENING
Nearly two years after it closed, a newly refurbished Mohawk Tavern in North Adams is expected to open by late spring. IBerkshires.com reports that the tavern's new owner, Alexander Smith, also chef-owner of Gramercy Bistro, was approved on Monday night by the Planning Board. The business owner may be new but the name will remain the Mohawk as building owner David Moresi pledged last year. Work on the building began last year but it wasn't until a recent break in the frigid cold that crews could really begin serious construction.
MANAGER TO RETURN ON INTERIM BASIS
The Williamstown Board of Selectmen on Monday decided to hire retiring Town Manager Peter Fohlin to return to his post on an interim basis at the beginning of June. Monday marked the last Selectmen's meeting for Fohlin at Town Hall, where he has served the town for 15 years.
Superintendent Jason McCandless, School Committee member Daniel Elias, City Councilor Kathleen Amuso, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and School Committee member Pamela Farron hug after the funding was approved. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY BACKS $120.8 MILLION TACONIC HIGH SCHOOL
The Pittsfield City Council has unanimously backed the $120.8 million new Taconic High School, the single largest taxpayer funded project in Pittsfield's history. The Berkshire Eagle reports that by an 11-0 vote, the council supported building a state-of-the-art comprehensive secondary school to prepare students for college, the workplace, or both. Pittsfield is expected to fund about $45 million of the project; the balance paid for through a grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which could issue final project approvals at its June 3rd board meeting. An anticipated groundbreaking is targeted for March 2016.
FOUR PITTSFIELD RESIDENTS FACE CHARGES TIED TO DRUG TRADE
Four Pittsfield residents are facing conspiracy charges after wiretaps of their cellphones and other surveillance linked them to suspected drug dealers operating between the Berkshires and Springfield.
46 year old Cornell Griffin of Bradford Street, 36 year old Thomas Hurley of Springside Avenue, 57 year old Robin Garzone of Francis Avenue, and 25 year old Jacqulene Garzone also of Francis Avenue, were arrested on warrants between 12:15 and 3:40 pm on Sunday, according to Pittsfield Police. All were released on their own recognizance and are due back in court May 19th.
PITTSFIELD MAN ACCUSED OF ROBBING ACQUAINTANCE AT GUNPOINT
A Pittsfield man is facing felony charges for allegedly holding a pistol to another man's head early Monday and robbing him of $180. 35 year old Kevin Gandy, of Noble Avenue, however, says he was home with his family at the time of the alleged robbery, and his attorney noted no weapon had yet been found. Gandy pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to felony charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threatening to commit a crime (murder) and armed robbery.
He was ordered held on $1,000 bail and is due back in court on May 12th.
BROKEN SPRINKLER AT HOUSING COMPLEX
Several hundred thousand gallons of water poured out into East Street early yesterday after workers at a senior housing complex discovered a lingering late-season freeze. The water line that froze fed the sprinkler system and fire hydrants at the Pittsfield Housing Authority's five-story Providence Court facility at 379 East St. Maintenance employees discovered the problem around 6:15 a.m. during a regular test of the building's emergency sprinkler system.
EDUCATION LEADERS SEE LACK OF READINESS
The numbers are both encouraging and disturbing. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the number of state high school graduates rose 31 percent between 1997 and 2008, and the state's dropout rate is at its lowest point in 30 years. But the number of state high school graduates is projected to drop 9 percent annually between 2009 and 2020, which will lead to a drop in college enrollment. And, too many of state students who are graduating from high school now aren't academically ready for college. During an employer forum sponsored by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education on Monday, State Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester outlined the challenges the state faces. A total of 35 people attended the event at Interprint Inc. in Pittsfield.
PILGRIMAGE CALLS ATTENTION TO PIPELINE CRISIS
Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct gas pipeline has garnered widespread opposition locally and across the region. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that in response a group of young faith leaders and concerned citizens mobilized an effort to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and the need to refocus our attention away from destructive fossil fuel expansion and towards a more sustainable, cleaner energy future. The Pipeline Pilgrimage, a 12-day walking journey that concluded Sunday, April 12th, along the proposed pipeline route, kicked off on April 1 with a group of about 20 people walking from the South Congregational Church in Pittsfield to the First Congregational Church in Dalton.
MARCHERS IN BOSTON SEEK HIGHER WAGES
Backers of a drive to hike wages for the nation's lowest paid workers to at least $15 per hour are holding a series of events in Boston. Several hundred people, including college students, fast-food restaurant employees and other workers gathered for a rally yesterday afternoon near Northeastern University. The Massachusetts Legislature approved a law last year raising the state's minimum wage in three steps to a U.S.-leading $11 per hour by 2017.
TOP MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE, SENATE DEMOCRATS IN TUG-OF-WAR
Beacon Hill's two most powerful Democratic lawmakers are locked in an increasingly bitter tug-of-war over how bills live or die at the Statehouse. Senate President Stan Rosenberg has launched a public battle to try to change the system, which he said gives the Massachusetts House too much power to kill bills — including those that begin in the Senate. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has called Rosenberg's proposal ill-advised and disruptive. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has decided against choosing sides.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Waubeeka owner Michael Deep received permission for two other projects. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
WILLIAMSTOWN CON COMM BLASTS WAUBEEKA FOR TREE CUTTING The Williamstown Conservation Commission on Thursday night took to task the new owner of Waubeeka Golf Links, Michael Deep, for removing vegetation from the banks of a section of the Green River that flows through the course. IBerkshires.com reports that the panel had determined that the kind of work Deep wanted to do required a notice of intent and a more thorough examination by the commission. After all of the emphasis put on the need to have a plan approved, the commissioners appeared dismayed that vegetation was taken out of the natural resource area without its permission. The commission asked deep to come to its April 23rd meeting with a repair plan. After the panel reviews that proposal, it likely will issue an enforcement order in May.
NEW MCLA PRESIDENT LIKELY WON'T BE IN PLACE UNTIL SUMMER 2016
A new president of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts likely won't be in place until the summer of 2016. During a campus wide community meeting last Wednesday, board of trustees President Tyler Fairbank stressed the college "is in a position of strength" with an excellent interim president, and asked campus community members for patience. The college announced on March 31st that incoming president Greg Summers had withdrawn his acceptance of the position, citing a family health issue.
NORTH ADAMS CRASH VICTIM STILL HOSPITALIZED; CHARGES POSSIBLE
An Oak Hill resident remains in serious condition after a rollover accident on Daniels Road last week, but could face a slew of motor vehicle charges if recovers. 54 year old Michael Simard, of Oak Hill, remains at Albany Medical Center. Police have declined to list what charges Simard could face. No charges have been filed, and the investigation into the accident is on hold. Simard's Jeep flipped after he careened off of Daniels Road and struck a small boulder on the afternoon of April 3rd. Police say speed was certainly a contributing factor in the rollover, and alcohol may have played a role.
NORTH ADAMS 'SQUEEZED OUT' OF GARBAGE TRANSFERS
Just weeks after North Adams officials introduced a plan to restructure the city's transfer station, they've introduced version 2.0, which includes a ban on commercial haulers. The move comes after city officials learned last week that a new private transfer station is planned in Pownal, Vt., which will likely undercut the city transfer station's prices for commercial haulers. City Administrative Officer
Friday, April 10, 2015
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
ELEMENTARY COMMITTEE VOTES TO TAPBUILDING RENEWAL FUND
Hot new technology and hot water were on the agenda for the Williamstown Elementary School Committee on Wednesday night. IBerkshires.com reports that the panel decided to make two building upgrades recommended by the district's building renewal committee: the replacement of 32-inch televisions with high-tech projectors and the installation of new controls on the school's boilers. Both projects will be funded by the interest generated from a building renewal endowment created by Williams College at the time the school was built.
NORTH ADAMS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL REDISTRICTING COULD AFFECT UP TO 150 STUDENTS
Come September, somewhere between 85 and 150 North Adams elementary school students may be attending a different school under a redistricting plan favored by district officials. The Berkshire Eagle reports that in anticipation of the opening of Colegrove Park Elementary School and the closing of Sullivan Elementary School, administrators have been evaluating three options for new boundaries for the city's elementary schools. Of those three options, proposed by the Schenectady-based consultant firm Transfinder Corp., seems to have the least impact in terms of moving students to different schools, according to Superintendent James Montepare. The School Committee on Tuesday tentatively endorsed that plan.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
ADAMS COMMUNITY BANK ACQUIRING LENOX NATIONAL
Adams Community Bank will acquire Lenox National Bank before the end of the third quarter according to a statement issued by Adams Community yesterday. IBerkshires.com reports that the combined bank will have approximately $460 million in assets, $375 million in deposits, and a branch network of eight full-service offices throughout Berkshire County. Under the terms of the agreement, Adams Community will acquire Lenox National for $14.3 million in cash. Shareholders of the closely held Lenox National Bank will receive $1,388.35 in cash per share.
Fire District officials suggested the Selectmen enact a surtax to compensate the district for fire coverage of homes outside the district. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
ADAMS SELECTMAN REVISIT FIRE DISTRICT SERVICE AGREEMENT
The town of Adams may adopt a Fire District service agreement that would add half cent to the tax rate. Town selectmen met with Clerk and Treasurer of the Prudential Committee Richard Kleiner and Fire District attorney Jeffrey Grandchamp at Wednesday's workshop meeting to discuss a fee that would provide the district compensation for fire protection its offer outside of the district.
PITTSFIELD MAN WANTED IN CONNECTION WITH SEPTEMBER GUN THEFT NABBED IN NY
A Pittsfield man wanted in connection with a gun theft in Pittsfield last year is in custody after being captured by New York State Police in New Lebanon. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 31 year old William Morrison was spotted wandering around the parking lot area of a Family Dollar store on Route 20 looking into parked cars. Morrison was wanted on charges of two counts of larceny of a firearm, and breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony. He is being held in the Columbia County Jail on $10,000 bail and any rendition proceedings will be handled by the Columbia County District Attorney's Office.
CITY MAN JAILED IN DOMESTIC ASSAULT CASE AFTER COURTHOUSE INCIDENT
A Pittsfield man facing assault charges will spend a week in jail for violating a judge's orders before he even left the courthouse. 28 year old Michael McCoy had just been released yesterday on the condition that he have no contact with his alleged victim when he confronted her at the courthouse, where she was filing for a restraining order against him. McCoy was arrested after he allegedly attacked the woman yesterday, who had tried to end their relationship and began packing her things. That was enough for the judge to decide McCoy had violated the no-contact provision of his release and ordered him held without bail for seven days in the Berkshire Jail & House of correction.
PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL HAS NUMBERS TO CRUNCH AHEAD OF $45 MILLION TACONIC BOND
The Pittsfield City Council has some numbers to crunch before voting next week on a $45 million bond to pay Pittsfield's share of the proposed $120.8 million new Taconic High School. The Berkshire Eagle reports that councilors Tuesday night got a primer on how best to borrow the money to help finance the single largest municipal project in city history. If at least eight of the 11 councilors on April 14 support the project, the balance of the funding would come through the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The MSBA could issue final project approvals at its June 3rd board meeting. Preparation of construction designs would follow, leading to an anticipated ground-breaking in March 2016.
STATE LAWMAKERS AND LOCAL OFFICIALS RECOGNIZE CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
State lawmakers and other local officials are taking part in a ceremony this afternoon at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. 80 pairs of children’s shoes will be displayed on the MCLA Academic Quad main stairs. The shoes are representative of the number of children that are confirmed as abused or neglected every week in Berkshire County. Lawmakers who will be in attendance at the “Step Up for Kids” ceremony include: Mayor Richard Alcombright; State Senator Ben Downing; State Representatives Gailanne Cariddi, Trisha Farley-Bouvier and Paul Mark; and Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless. The ceremony is scheduled to run from 12:30pm to 1:15pm in the Academic Quad. The rain location will be inside the Amsler Campus Center Gymnasium.
DEVINE MERCY SUNDAY TO DRAW 20,000
More than 20,000 people from across the eastern United States and Canada are expected flock to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge this weekend for the annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebration. According to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, for the 25th consecutive year, the event will be broadcast live to millions more watching and listening in 140 countries. Divine Mercy Sunday is an international Catholic feast day promoting Jesus' message that he's merciful to everyone and that people should trust in his mercy and lead a compassionate life. The Friday through Sunday celebration, always held the weekend after Easter Sunday, culminates with the area's largest outdoor Catholic Mass starting at 1 p.m.
The School Committee held the public hearing on the proposed budget on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PITTSFIELD ADULT LEARNING CENTER STAFF DECRY PROPOSED SCHOOL FUNDING CUT
Employees of the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center said during a public hearing on the fiscal 2016 school budget that proposed funding cuts will have a significant, negative impact on adults striving for a better life. IBerkshires.com reports that Claudine Chavanne, community planner with the center, and longtime teacher Dianne Shewcraft told School Committee members that a proposed reduction of $106,000 from the center's funding allocation will harm programs that "really focus on adults who missed out on a K through 12 educations.
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Douglas Dias has been confirmed as the next superintendent for the Williamstown-Lanesborough schools. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH INK DEAL WITH NEW SUPERINTENDENT
Douglas Dias will serve as the next superintendent of Williamstown-Lanesborough Public Schools. Dias confirmed yesterday afternoon that he has accepted the offer and will sign the contract that tri-district officials voted on this week. He's begun looking for housing, he said, and plans to be in the area before his July 1st start date. The three-year contract states he will make $150,000 in his first year. Raises will be negotiated in succeeding years. In addition, he will receive $100 per month for a cellphone plan, $1,000 per year travel stipend, and $2,500 to cover relocation expenses.
ADAMS POLICE SEARCH FOR SUSPECT IN WEEKEND STABBING OUTSIDE BAR
Adams Police are looking for a suspect who they say repeatedly stabbed a North Adams man outside Rascal's Lounge early Saturday morning. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 23 year old Michael Fillion suffered heavy lacerations to his upper body in the attack, which occurred around 1:47 a.m. outside the still-packed Summer Street bar. The assailant was leaving the bar in a light-colored pickup truck when he nearly struck Fillion and another person while they were crossing Summer Street, according to Adams Police Chief Richard Tarsa Jr. The man then got out of the vehicle and confronted Fillion and the other person before attacking Fillion with a knife-like object. Fillion was transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he underwent a surgical procedure and has since been released.
Drury has seen graduation rates rise in its low income and SPED populations. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
DRURY HIGH RAISING GRADUATION RATES, CAREER READINESS
Drury High School in North Adams is graduating more students, and more who are better prepared for college and career.
Between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2014, the school has seen an overall uptick to 80 percent of all students graduating; but rates for disadvantaged populations have jumped 13 percent to 18 percent. Jean Bacon, administrator of teaching and learning, says especially for the low-income and special-education population, graduation rates have grown dramatically ... triple or double what the state achieved over the same period.
Bacon, Principal Amy Meehan and Assistant Principal Timothy Callahan reviewed some of programs used during the past six years to grow graduation rates and some of the initiatives in place to continue on efforts to reduce dropouts and engage students. Some of these efforts are being showcased by the state Department of Education.
PROPOSED POWNAL SOLAR PROJECT DRAWS CRITICISM FROM RESIDENTS
A proposed Pownal Vt. solar project has drawn criticism from residents whose concerns include the safety of a local water supply and the project's affect on property values.
About 20 people identifying as abutters or town residents on Monday visited the site where the Pownal Fire District No. 2 has proposed a 500-kilowatt solar array on land that's home to its pump and well head.
No action was taken at Monday's site visit or a meeting immediately following at the Solomon Wright Public Library. Members of the district's Prudential Committee, who contend the project along Route 346 would support the water system's operating cost, indicated they were open to other ideas for the 5,4 acre site.
BERKSHIRE MAN FACING THIRD TRIAL IN SLAYING OF HILLSDALE, N.Y., MAN
Opening arguments in the third murder trial of a Berkshire County man are expected to begin this morning at the Columbia County Courthouse in Hudson. 31 year old William Demagall is charged with second-degree murder in the February 2006 slaying of 56 year old George Mancini of Hillsdale, N.Y.
Demagall has twice been convicted of the murder — and an appeals court has twice struck down those convictions. Demagall remains in lock-up at the Green Meadows Correction Facility in Comestock, N.Y.
SECURITY AT LENOX MEMORIAL RAMPED UP
Police are stepping up their presence inside and around Lenox Memorial Middle and High School following Tuesday’s arrest of a 14-year-old student on multiple felony charges of phoning in threats in recent days. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to Chief Stephen O’Brien, Officer William Colvin, the department’s 8-hour-a-week School Resource Officer, will handle that assignment full-time until further notice. In addition, patrols will increase in the area around the East Street facility housing about 420 students as well as faculty, staff and administrators.
More than 100 local first responders attended the training session. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
FIRST RESPONDERS TAKE PART IN TERROR EXERCISE
U.S. Homeland Security wants to make sure that if a terrorist attack happens in Western Massachusetts, first responders know what to do. IBerkshires.com reports that officials spanning from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to local fire, police, and boards of health, sat down yesterday to discuss the various roles each will play in a scenario in what of the largest training exercises in recent years. The scenario pretended that an unidentified package, possibly a bomb, was reported at a rail yard. Other packages eventually are found and one explodes in a different part of the county. Local responders — police, fire, emergency medical services — from Great Barrington to North Adams attended the session. They were joined by representatives from the FBI, Homeland Security, the National Guard and the federal Department of Transportation.
PITTSFIELD MAN FACING ASSAULT, DRUG CHARGES AFTER DOMESTIC BRAWL
A Pittsfield man is free without bail after pleading not guilty to drug and assault charges stemming from a violent dispute with his girlfriend. 28 year old Michael Reyes became embroiled in an argument with his live-in girlfriend, 22 year old Alicia Welch, on February 18th when Welch accused him of being unfaithful, according to a police report. Welch allegedly punched Reyes, threw him on the floor and kicked him in the groin. She pleaded not guilty on February 19th and was scheduled to return to court on June 9th. Reyes pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to charges of assault and battery on a household member, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a Class D drug and two counts of possession of a Class B drug with intent to distribute. He was released on personal recognizance.
PITTSFIELD WOMAN, TIED TO SUSPECTED DEALER, ALSO FACING DRUG CHARGES
A Pittsfield woman who was sharing a motel room with a suspected drug dealer now is facing narcotics charges of her own. 21 year old Gabrielle Garzone, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of manufacturing cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws and one count each of possession of heroin, possession of suboxone and possession of trazadone. Garzone allegedly told police all of the drug manufacturing paraphernalia found in the motel room belonged to the suspected dealer, 28 year old Daniel Grimes, of Springfield. Garzone was released on $2,500 bail. Grimes was arraigned in Superior Court on March 31 on charges of cocaine trafficking, possession of heroin with intent to distribute (second offense) and conspiracy to violate drug laws and is being held on $25,000 bail.
PITTSFIELD BOARD OF HEALTH REVISES MOSQUITO SPRAYING POLICIES
The Pittsfield Board of Health has approved a mosquito control program for 2015 after making some revisions in light of both opposition and advocacy relative to insecticide spraying. The board agreed to launch more educational outreach efforts and post more detailed information on decisions regarding spraying for adult mosquitoes, which has been the most controversial aspect of the control program — considered primarily a response to the threat of diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
LENOX LIBRARY COLLECTION JOINS STATEWIDE DIGITAL ARCHIVE
The town of Lenox’s library's repository of a vast, visual historical archive has gone digital. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the library, along with the Lenox Historical Society, has joined a statewide online resource organized by the Boston Public Library to make a treasure trove of images available to the general public for the first time. The project, which took two years to complete, involved 2,277 images — plus about 400 from the Historical Society — consisting of photos, negatives, postcards, posters and early maps chronicling the town's history as it approaches its 250th anniversary celebrations in 2017.
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
The commission meets with Jana Linhart, right, of Safe Routes to School. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
TRAFFIC COMMISSION ADVISES CROSS-WALK REMOVAL The North Adams Traffic Commission will be partnering with Massachusetts Safe Routes to School to develop an advisory plan for the new Colegrove Park Elementary School. The newly constituted commission first met last month with public safety officials and representatives from Fuss & O'Neill, the engineering firm that did the traffic study for the East Main Street school, to investigate areas of concern around the school. On Monday, they continued that conversation and reviewed several traffic complaints.
SCHOOL BUDGET PROCESS CAUSING CONFUSION
Adams officials' rejection of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District's assessment has pushed the budgeting process into uncharted waters. IBerkshires.com reports that Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Cheshire Selectmen on Tuesday night that he contacted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education because of confusion over the school budget. The School Committee approved a budget a $19 million budget but the Adams Selectmen have placed an assessment that's $300,000 less on the town meeting warrant. Adams' share of the school budget can only be changed on the town meeting floor.
PARKING BAN TO BE LIFTED IN NORTH ADAMS
The winter parking ban in North Adams will be lifted now that the chances of a major snow storm are highly diminished. Mayor Richard Alcombright is lifting the ban effective tomorrow. Mayor Alcombright is reminding motorists that while the ban is lifted, parking on sidewalks is not permitted and enforcement regarding that will continue. The mayor also wanted to thank the residents of North Adams for their cooperation during the very cold, snowy and difficult winter.
Mayor Richard Alcombright reads off the city's response to an Open Meeting complaint on Tuesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
NORTH ADAM RESPONDS TO OPEN MEETING COMPLAINT
An Open Meeting complaint filed by a reporter from The Berkshire Eagle over a non-descriptive posted executive session by the North Adams School Committee in December may be closed for not being submitted within the law's 30-day window. IBerkshires.com reports that the attorney general's office in a letter dated March 24, 2015, found that the complaint may have been filed with the public body outside of the 30-day window in which to file a complaint. The Berkshire Eagle was given until Monday, April 6th, to respond with a statement as to why the complaint is not untimely or the matter would be closed.
STUDENT ARRESTED IN THREATS AGAINST LENOX MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL
A student at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School has been arrested on numerous charges, including three felonies, for allegedly making telephone threats that forced a school shutdown and early dismissal last Thursday, and a brief evacuation on Monday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the suspect was arrested after Lenox Police and members of the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's office executed a search warrant at a local residence around 6:30 a.m. yesterday, according to Lenox Police Chief Stephen O'Brien. O'Brien said the incidents remain under investigation. The 14-year-old, whose name has not been released because he is a juvenile, was scheduled to be arraigned at Berkshire Juvenile Court in Pittsfield yesterday afternoon, facing three felony counts of making false bomb threats, which carry a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
MORE CANDIDATES TAKE OUT NOMINATION PAPERS
City election contests continue to take shape in Pittsfield with more candidates taking out nomination papers. Former City Clerk Jody Phillips took out nomination papers to run again for the post, which she left in 2008 to take a job in the private sector. Current Clerk Linda Tyer is not seeking re-election, as she is mounting a campaign for mayor. Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and a potential challenger, Michael Merriam of Allengate Avenue took out papers on Monday.
LOCAL JUDGE LOSES BID FOR DISTRICT COURT JUDGESHIP
Local attorney Michael J. McCarthy has lost his bid to become a district court judge after a two-plus year process that included an appeal to the state's highest court. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the state Supreme Judicial Court this week upheld a prior decision by a single justice to reject McCarthy's arguments. He contended that his 2012 nomination by the governor to a Southern Berkshire District Court judgeship had been confirmed by the Governor's Council, despite unusual circumstances surrounding the council vote. McCarthy had filed suit in July 2013 against then-Gov. Deval Patrick and Secretary of State William Galvin, seeking to affirm his nomination to the bench.
PARKING FINE INCREASES TWEAKED IN PITTSFIELD
Upon further review, overtime parking fines should remain unchanged until the city adopts a metered parking system. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the City Council Committee on Ordinance and Rules making that recommendation last night to the entire council as part of the overall revised plan to increase fines for some 30 parking violations. All 11 councilors will take up the latest version of the ordinance at its April 14th meeting. If approved, the new fine schedule would take effect July 1st. The committee's original recommendation was sent back to them a month ago, in part, after some councilors raised objections at their March 10 meeting to the size of some of the increases.
MAIN STREET RECONSTRUCTION CONTINUES
Work continues on the Main Street reconstruction project in Great Barrington with the focus now shifting from trees to sidewalks this week as construction continues on the Main Street corridor. Workers from Maxymilian Construction Corp. are removing sections of sidewalk closest to buildings on the east and west side of Main Street this week. Access to the businesses will be maintained throughout this portion of the project, according to DPW Superintendent Joseph Sokul. The work is part of a $6.2 million project that began last spring.
BERKSHIRE CO-OP MARKET GENERAL MANAGER TO STEP DOWN
Art Ames, the General Manager of Berkshire Co-op Market, has announced that he will be leaving the organization he has led for the last thirteen years when his current contract ends on May 31st. Under Ames’ leadership the cooperatively owned natural foods store has gone from under $2 million in annual sales to $8.7 million last year. The store has successfully expanded twice and consists of approximately 3,000 total community owners and is in the planning stages of a relocation/expansion project.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
The School Committee was told that affected faculty and staff had been informed they would not be returning next school year if the proposed budget does not pass. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
STAFF CUTS BEGIN AT ADAMS-CHESHIRE
The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District began preparing for staff reductions to accommodate its reduced budget. IBerkshires.com reports that Superintendent Kristen Gordon informed the School Committee last night that the 28 individuals who may be cut have been notified. The School Committee last week passed a $19.4 million budget that increased Adams and Cheshire's regional assessments by $800,000. Adams Board of Selectmen did not approve increasing the assessment budget at its last meeting, instead voting to keep the town administrator's proposed budget that would force the district to cut up to 28 positions. With Adams' levy capacity nearly breached, any movement to increase the district's budget at town meeting would trigger a Proposition 2 1/2 override.
NORTH ADAMS RINK MANAGER ADMITS STEALING FROM FACILITY, AVOIDS CONVICTION
The manager of the North Adams skating rink admitted yesterday to stealing more than $2,200 from its coffers, according to court documents. Darin Lane admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court to a charge of larceny over $250. The charge was continued without a finding until April 13 and will be dismissed upon his payment of $2,205.36 in restitution and $490 in court fees. Lane told police that he had taken the money from the safe at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink, where he is the only manager, in order to pay for heating oil in his home. It is unclear what effect yesterday’s disposition — in which Lane avoided a conviction — will have on his future employment with the city of North Adams, which oversees the rink.
WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH ELEMENTARIES OK SUPERINTENDENT CONTRACT
Two-thirds of the Lanesborough-Williamstown public school "Tri-District" has approved the contract for the towns' next school superintendent. Yesterday morning, the elementary school committee members who compose the joint Superintendency Union 71 committee met and unanimously approved a three-year deal for Douglas Dias. The contract faces another vote for approval on Wednesday morning, when the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee meets at 9 a.m. at the junior-senior high school. Dias would be paid $150,000 in the first year of the contract with increases to be negotiated by him and the school districts in succeeding years.
The Holocaust museum on Eagle Street will close by April 24. Founder Darrell English is hoping to find another location. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
NORTH ADAMSHOLOCAUSTMUSEUM CLOSING THIS MONTH
After three years, the New England Holocaust Institute has a critical decision to make: Move or close completely. IBerkshires.com reports that Darrell English, who's run the small museum on Eagle Street on a shoestring, said last week that he will have to pack up by the end of the month to make way for the adjacent Friendship Food Pantry, which needs bigger quarters. Still, English is keeping hope that the museum can find a new home: He is still in talks with Worcester State University to mount some kind of exhibit, possibly permanent, from his massive collection and planned to
Friday, April 03, 2015
Suzy Helme is the new events coordinator for the city and will focus more on economic development. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
NEW EVENTS COORDINATOR IN NORTH ADAMS
The City of North Adams is switching up the tourism director post to focus on economic and cultural development. IBerkshires.com reports that the revamped job is being filled part time by Suzy Helme, who operated the Shima baby goods store on Main and Eagle streets. Helme and a co-owner ran the downtown storefront for nearly seven years before recently closing; the company is still online. She has been highly involved in the community through the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and organizing the Main Street merchants during past Solid Sound Festivals. Mayor Richard Alcombright said Helme is familiar with the city and its marketing needs.
NORTH ADAMS CRASH SENDS FOUR TO HOSPITALS
Four people were taken to the hospital following a two-car crash at the intersection of Hodges Cross Road and Curran Memorial Highway (Route 8) yesterday afternoon. Shortly before 3 p.m., a Ford Focus hatchback with New York license plates traveling northbound on Route 8 near Walmart collided with a Chrysler 200 sedan that was turning from Hodges Cross Road. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to North Adam Police, it looked as if one of the cars did not stop for a red light. One of the Ford's three occupants was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield for injuries. Two other passengers and the Chrysler's single occupant were taken to BMC Northern Berkshire Campus in North Adams. The identities of both vehicles' occupants, along with extent of their injuries, were not available.
WILLIAMSTOWN HOUSING TRUST LOOKING TO ACQUIRE LAND
The Williamstown Affordable Housing Trust is waiting for proposals to sell the town land for the development of subsidized housing. IBerkshires.com reports that in February, the trust issued a request for proposals for the purchase of vacant land and/or improved land in Williamstown. In the past, the trustees have discussed either rehabilitating existing single or two-family homes or building new housing in partnership with a non-profit like Habitat for Humanity. The goal is to create deed-restricted owner-occupied housing to complement some of the town's current and planned rental developments. Landowners interested in selling to the town have until 4 p.m. on April 17 to submit their proposals.
Douglas Dias withdrew his candidacy for superintendent in West Springfield to negotiate with Williamstown and Lanesborough. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
DIAS CHOOSES LANESBOROUGH-WILLIAMSTOWN
It appears the Lanesborough-Williamstown schools' new superintendent will be current Medway High School Principal Douglas Dias. According to West Springfield Mayor Edward Sullivan, Dias withdrew his name yesterday from consideration for the superintendent position in West Springfield. MassLive.com reports that the West Springfield School Committee, which Sullivan chairs, reportedly offered its job to its interim Superintendent Michael Richard. Dias interviewed for the West Springfield post on Tuesday. He gave his notice to the Medway School District before interviewing for the Lanesborough-Williamstown post.
SCHOOL EVACUATED AFTER 'SERIOUS' PHONE THREAT
Police are continuing their investigation of a telephoned threat that forced the evacuation of Lenox Memorial Middle and High School shortly after the start of classes yesterday morning. The Berkshire Eagle reports that a state police K-9 unit completed a "sniff" inspection of the school building without turning up anything, according to Police Chief Stephen O'Brien. Because of the ongoing investigation, O'Brien declined to go into specifics on what he called "a bunch of credible threats" contained in a voicemail message heard by an executive assistant after the school day began. After a brief lockdown, a "shelter in place" order directed all students — more than 400 — out of their classrooms, escorted by teachers and police, to the Duffin Theater to await pickup by school buses and parents, said School Superintendent Timothy Lee.
PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT AIMS TO CURB MEETING DISRUPTIONS
A recent disruption that prompted a short recess during a Pittsfield City Council session has led council President Melissa Mazzeo to propose more specific rules governing the public comment segment of meetings. The Berkshire Eagle reports that she also plans to ask that a police officer be present during every council meeting. The council's March 24th meeting was recessed for about five minutes by Mazzeo after she unsuccessfully attempted to get resident Craig Gaetani to yield the floor after he had spoken for the maximum three minutes allowed for public comments. Gaetani, a frequent critic of Mazzeo, Mayor Dan Bianchi and others in city government, had attempted to speak longer than that. Gaetani said yesterday that he intends to hold a press conference to announce a run for mayor.
FLURRY OF PITTSFIELD CANDIDATES TAKE OUT ELECTION PAPERS
The Pittsfield city clerk's office saw a flurry of activity yesterday, as at least a dozen citizens took out nomination papers to run for city offices. Among those were two former City Council presidents seeking a return to that body and two well-known candidates for mayor who had previously announced they would seek the office. Mayor Dan Bianchi and City Clerk Linda Tyer both took out papers on the first day they were available to run for mayor in the fall elections. Joining them in seeking the mayor's office is political newcomer Eric Bassett, of Harryel Street, who also picked up nomination papers. Among others that took out papers: Peter Marchetti and Rick Scapin (skuh-PEEN), both former council presidents, took out papers to return to the council. Marchetti, who narrowly lost a contest for mayor against Bianchi in 2011 is seeking an at large seat, and Scapin took papers for the Ward 5 council seat.
PITTSFIELD FOURTH OF JULY PARADE FUNDRAISING DRIVE BEGINS
The Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade Committee has launched its annual campaign, again hoping to raise $85,000 toward celebrating America's birthday. The committee on Wednesday officially kicked off efforts to fund the event, which draws tens of thousands of people who line the downtown parade route. This year's theme is "Celebrating Our Independence."
PITTSFIELD RAING AUTISM AWARENESS
Park Square in Pittsfield will be lit up with blue lights throughout the month of April to help raise awareness of autism. Hillcrest Educational Centers, Limelight Productions, and the city have teamed up to install blue lights in both Park Square and at City Hall to remind people when they drive by about the impacts and prevalence of autism. Mayor Dan Bianchi dedicated a proclamation yesterday honoring the money to Cory Carlotto, a city resident with Autism.
MIDDLE SCHOOLS SEND STUDENTS TO YOUTH CONFERENCE
Nineteen public and private Berkshire County middle schools will send students to the Crowne Plaza, in Pittsfield, on Thursday, April 9th. The fourth annual STRIVE (Students Teaching Respect Integrity Values and Equality) Youth Leadership Conference, which is hosted by the District Attorney’s Office Youth Advisory Board, will run from 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. The day-long conference is created by the high school Youth Advisory Board to educate their younger peers on social issues impacting teens. Featured presentations include: Growing Strong Roots for Leadership, Drug Awareness, LGBT Allyship, and Planting Seeds for Success in High School.
DALTON MAN GUILTY OF EMBEZZLING THOUSANDS FROM GRANDMOTHER
A Dalton man was convicted yesterday of embezzling thousands of dollars from his elderly grandmother over a four-month period. 61 year old William Belcher was found guilty in Berkshire Superior Court of four counts of larceny over $250 from a person over 60. His sentencing was scheduled for this morning. Belcher maintained any money he drew from his grandmother's account was with her knowledge and permission and was used to help cover household expenses and bills while she was in a nursing home. Belcher had been granted power of attorney by his grandmother in 2009 and the two shared the same home. A conviction on a charge of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in state prison.
HUNDREDS OF NEW CITIZENS SWORN IN AT BOSTON'S FANEUIL HALL
Nearly 400 immigrants have officially become new U.S. citizens following a swearing-in ceremony inside Faneuil Hall in Boston. A federal magistrate judge led the packed house in reciting the oath of allegiance yesterday afternoon. He said the historic meeting space, which played a critical role in America's march to independence, was an appropriate venue for the ceremony. The new citizens represented dozens of countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe. A federal immigration spokeswoman says Faneuil Hall is among a number of Massachusetts locations used for naturalization ceremonies that are held almost every week and draw large crowds. She says some 20,000 citizens are naturalized annually in Massachusetts.
BAKER HEARS EMOTIONAL STORIES AT MEETING ON ADDICTION
Gov. Charlie Baker and other top state officials heard emotional stories from recovering heroin addicts, relatives of overdose victims and treatment specialists at a meeting to discuss the state's heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis. Baker joined members of the Opioid Crisis Working Group for yesterday’s public session at the Statehouse. The governor has asked the panel to make recommendations by the fall. State police reported Wednesday that 217 people have died from suspected heroin overdoses so far this year, and those figures do not include the state's three largest cities.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Superintendent Kristen Gordon explains what budget reductions would do to the school district's educational program. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
ADAMS APPROVES $19 MILLION BUDGET The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee on Tuesday night approved 6-1 a budget of $19,416,521 for fiscal 2016. IBerkshires.com reports that the spending plan includes an $800,000 increase in assessments to the regional school district's two towns and the vote places the district's educational future squarely in voters' hands. Joshua DeMarsico-Birkland was the lone protest vote against the total budget, afterward saying that it's still not what’s needed for the school system. School officials say up to 25 positions would be eliminated, including 10 teachers. The budget has already been trimmed as much as possible, they said, including cutting paraprofessionals, supplies, professional development and building maintenance.
MCLA PRESIDENTIAL PICK STAYING IN WISCONSIN
MCLA's choice for its 12th president will not be accepting the position. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced yesterday that Greg Summers has bowed out because of personal issues. Summers was the unanimous choice of the trustees on March 5th. Summers was one of three finalists selected from an initial 59 candidates after about a five-month search. Cynthia Farr Brown will continue as interim president, a post she's held since the departure of President Mary Grant last fall to her new job as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
POWNAL WOMAN ACCUSED OF MEDICAL CHILD ABUSE AND MORE
A Pownal woman is accused of having her child subjected to dozens of invasive, unwarranted medical tests, and lying about the child's health on Social Security Disability applications. 33 year old Tina Sbrega pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to two misdemeanor counts of welfare fraud, two felony counts of false swearing, two misdemeanor counts of false pretenses or false tokens, cruelty to a child under 10, and reckless endangerment. She was released under the condition she abide by all Family Court orders in effect.
WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH HOPEFUL OF SCHOOL LEADER
Williamstown-Lanesborough school officials are optimistic about having a contract for their next superintendent in place by next week, even though their chosen candidate was interviewing in another district as well. IBerkshires.com reports that as scheduled, Medway High School Principal Douglas Dias reported to the West Springfield School District yesterday morning to take tours of the district's schools, and Dias was scheduled to be interviewed by the West Springfield School Committee last night, according to West Springfield Mayor Edward Sulivan.
PETER WHITE SEEKS RETURN TO PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL
After a four-year absence, Peter White seeks a return engagement on the Pittsfield City Council. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the former Ward 2 councilor has announced he will make a bid for one of the four at large council seats up for grabs in the 2015 city election. White's latest political aspiration is, in part, due to Councilor at large Barry Clairmont's decision not to seek another term.
CHARTRAND GETS TWO YEARS
Paul Shartrand was sentenced to two years in jail yesterday, a day after he was convicted of one count each of caretaker abuse of a disabled person and assault and battery of a disabled person. The 48 year old Shartrand had been accused of trying to forcefully elicit oral sex from a 55-year-old bedridden Huntington's disease patient in Lee. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Rachael Eramo, who prosecuted the case, asked Judge John Agostini to consider a 2 to 2 1/2 year state prison sentence.
ENTERTAINMENT PERMITS GRANTED TO PITTSFIELD ESTABLISHMENTS
A couple well-established businesses received their first entertainment licenses on Monday, after operating without one for years. The operators of the Beacon Cinema and the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield were both granted entertainment permits from the Licensing Board after both said they were unaware they needed one. The city informed the owners of the need for the permit earlier this year. The Beacon Cinema opened in 2009 and the Colonial reopened in 2006, after a massive renovation. The board also granted an entertainment license to the owners of Hotel On North, a new boutique hotel under construction on North Street.
GREAT BARRINGTON MAN SENT TO PRISON FOR FAKE EMERGENCY CALLS TO DISPATCHERS
A Great Barrington man has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for making several false emergency calls to Connecticut dispatchers. Thirty-six-year-old Adam Perrelli pleaded guilty to falsely reporting an incident and tampering with evidence. At the sentencing hearing on Monday Perrelli, said he was sorry for making the fake radio transmissions that were routed to Litchfield County Dispatch in December 2013 and January 2014. His calls interfered with the work of firefighters and caused ambulances to be sent out for emergencies that did not exist.
NEW BOARD LEADERSHIP NAMED AT SHAKESPEAR AND CO
Following a series of top-level executive reshuffles, Shakespeare & Company has announced two new leaders of the board of trustees ahead of a search for an executive director to replace Rick Dildine, who resigned suddenly last month. The Berkshire Eagle reports that succeeding Sarah Hancock as board chairman is Kenneth Werner, a board member since 2010 after two years on the theater troupe's advisory board. Werner, of West Stockbridge, said that he has been attending performances by the company for 25 years. He also will serve as treasurer. Also appointed on Monday as the board vice chairman and clerk is Jeffrey Konowitch, a trustee for eight years who previously worked in several management positions with the theater company.
BERKSHARES EXCHANGE SERVICE BEGINS AT SALISBURY BANK
Starting today, participants in the local economy can exchange their dollars for BerkShares at the Great Barrington branch of Salisbury Bank and Trust Company. Salisbury Bank and Trust Company has been a long-time partner of BerkShares, Inc., and its Sheffield and South Egremont branches were among the first banks to start offering BerkShares exchange services in September of 2006. Branch manager, Georgann Farnum, said they have been looking forward to this day since opening the Great Barrington branch last year. Farnum oversaw the implementation of BerkShares exchange services in the Sheffield and Egremont branches in 2006.
SPLIT TAX RATE COULD BENEFIT HOME OWNERS IN GB
In relation to income, property taxes in Great Barrington are higher than elsewhere in Berkshire County. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that incomes in Great Barrington appear to be in the mid-range among its Berkshire County peers and neighbors, about equal to the state average and above the Berkshire County average. Eighty percent of Great Barrington home owners would see their property taxes decrease. For the median home, valued at $294,400, the residential exemption would cut the tax bill 11 percent. Benefits would be concentrated in Housatonic village and Risingdale, where most tax bills would drop at least 20 percent.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
BrienCenter employees stand outside the North Adams location on Monday demanding more pay in contract negotiations. The 90-year-old agency provides mental health and other support services to county residents. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
BRIENCENTER EMPLOYEES PROTEST CONTRACT WAGE OFFER
Brien Center employees held information picketing yesterday against management negotiations they say call for minimal salary and health care increases. IBerkshires.com reports that clinicians and direct care staff, who provide mental health services for children and adults throughout Berkshire County, assembled outside of the Brien Center locations in Pittsfield and North Adams to advocate for better wage. Local 509 Service Employees International Union representative John Grossman said the Brien Center workers play a vital role in the community and many of them, who hold bachelor's and master's degrees, make an average of $13 an hour.
ADAMS-CHESHIRE SCHOOL OFFICIALS POISED TO VOTE ON 'CRISIS' BUDGET
As the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District School Committee readies to vote on a proposed budget Tuesday night, most members have already made their position clear: they need more funding. The Berkshire Eagle reports that in a series of public meetings this month, School Committee members have advocated for the administration's proposed school budget, which exceeds limitations set by the already-approved Adams town budget. Parents also are joining the fight to better-fund the Adams Cheshire Regional School District with a letter-writing campaign to state and local officials.
A conceptual design by Sasaki Associates creates 'engineered meanderings' to naturalize the river and paths for walking. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Rebecca Dravis)
HOOSIC RIVER REVIVAL GROUP PRESENTS OPTIONS TO 'STAKEHOLDERS'
There are a lot of ladders to climb before the city's flood chutes are reimagined, but the process moved forward with a conversation on Thursday morning at North Adams City Hall.The non-profit Hoosic River Revival hosted a presentation by its consultants to discuss some of the possibilities to take advantage of the stretch of river that runs through the Steeple City. The meeting was attended by invited "stakeholders," including abutters to the river, representatives of local non-profits and members of the HRR's board and advisory panel. Mayor Richard Alcombright also attended and noted that the proposals for the river are part of a larger downtown revitalization effort.
OAKLEY TAPPED AS INTERIM PRESIDENT
A former president of Williams College has been named as interim director of The Clark Art Institute. Francis Oakley will lead the Clark following the August 31st retirement of current director Michael Conforti. Oakley will remain in the position until a new director comes on board.
UMASS RAPIST EMMANUEL BILE FOUND GUILTY ON TWO OF THREE COUNTS
A jury found Emmanuel Bile Jr. guilty yesterday of two counts of aggravated rape and acquitted him of a third count in connection with the 2012 rape of an 18-year-old student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The 21 year old Bile, of Pittsfield, was the first of four men to be tried in Hampshire Superior Court for allegedly gang-raping the woman while she was incapacitated by alcohol in her dorm room on October 13th, 2012. Bile's attorney said he would appeal the guilty verdicts.
BENNINGTON CAR SHOW CANCELED
There will be no Bennington Car Show this year. The car show has been held for the past 48 years, but in the past 10 years its popularity has waned. Joann Erenhouse, executive director of the Bennington Chamber of Commerce said that in 2013 the chamber netted a little over $13,000 from the event, despite claims made on Facebook by others after news of the cancelling spread. The chamber intends to spend this year planning on how to move ahead with the car show, and that may involve handing it off to another organization while moving into a more supportive role.
SHARTRAND FOUND GUILTY ON TWO CHARGES, ACQUITTED OF MOST SERIOUS CHARGE
Paul Shartrand avoided conviction on the most serious charge he faced, but according to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, the 48 year old Shartrand was found guilty yesterday of assault and battery on a disabled person and caretaker abuse of a disabled person in Berkshire Superior Court. He had been accused of trying to forcefully elicit oral sex from a 55-year-old bedridden Huntington's disease patient. Shartrand's bail was revoked and he was transported to the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction pending his sentencing hearing which is scheduled for 2 o’clock this afternoon.
PITTSFIELDCITY CLERK LINDA TYER TO ANNOUNCE MAYORAL RUN
Pittsfield City Clerk Linda Tyer has decided to run for Mayor. The former city councilor and now City Clerk, has scheduled a news conference for 5:30 this afternoon on the steps of City Hall to formally announce a run for mayor of Pittsfield. Tyer is a former Ward 3 city councilor who was appointed clerk in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of former Clerk Jody Phillips, who left for a job in the private sector. Tyer has twice won election to new two-year terms. If elected mayor, Tyer would be the third woman to hold the office.
PITTSFIELDCITY COUNCILOR JONATHAN LOTHROP WON'T SEEK 7TH TERM
The longest tenured member of the Pittsfield City Council won't be on the ballot come November. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop has announced he won't seek a seventh term in this fall's election, ending a 12-year run on the 11-person council. He's the second councilor to bow out of the 2015 campaign
PITTSFIELD JEWELER GETS UP TO 5 YEARS FOR BILKING CUSTOMERS
A Pittsfield jeweler accused of stealing approximately $350,000 from over a dozen clients said he was driven by his gambling and drug problem, but the judge was not moved by his explanation. 32 year old Mark Yannone was sentenced to two to five years in state prison on yesterday after pleading guilty to 16 counts of larceny and fraud. Berkshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini said he had sympathy for the victims and the defendant's family for having been put through the ordeal. Yannone will serve his sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.
The Selectmen gave a final review of the budget and town meeting warrant. They are expected to vote on the warrant on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephanie Salvini)
LENOX SELECTMEN REVIEW FY16 BUDGET & TOWN WARRANT
Selectmen in Lenox reviewed the basically level-funded $27.7 million budget for fiscal 2016 and the town warrant on Friday. IBerkshires.com reports that Town Manager Christopher Ketchen suggested that there may be a 1.5 percent tax increase in fiscal 2016 and even a two-percent increase by fiscal 2017, but that was a rough estimate and still a "conservative approach." Thinking ahead to fiscal 2018, however, there is looking to be about a $350,000 deficit as the school project reimbursement bond comes off the books. Lenox spending would stay at a normal rate, but revenue would decrease, leaving the town facing tax rate increases. LEE GRADUATION TO REMAIN AT TANGLWEWOOD
The Class of 2015 at Lee Middle and High School will receive their diplomas on stage at Tanglewood. IBerkshires.com reports that Principal Gregg Brighenti announced recently that he was no longer considering plans to shift the annual June graduation ceremony back onto the school's Greylock campus. The first-year principal's decision followed concerns by the senior class, parents of future alumni and past Lee High graduates. Nearly all 51 seniors had petitioned Brighenti to drop talk of ending a nearly 40-year-old tradition. The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox has hosted Lee High's commencement exercise since the early 1970s.
PRICE AT THE PUMP REMAINS STEADY
Massachusetts gas prices remained steady in the past week, according to the latest AAA Northeast survey. The latest survey found self-serve, regular selling for an average of $2.32 per gallon, the same as last week. That price is a nickel lower than a month ago, a dime lower than the national average and a full $1.19 lower than the in-state price at the same time a year ago.
Monday, March 30, 2015
A hypothetical cluster of classrooms illustrates how building design can lend itself to 21st Century education techniques. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
ARCHITECTS MAKE PRESENTATION TO MOUNT GREYLOCK BUILDING COMMITTEE
Representatives from architecture firm Design Partnership reviewed aspects of the current Mount Greylock Regional School on Thursday. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The architects hired to find solutions for Mount Greylock Regional School say any plan would leave the district prepared for the future without neglecting the present.
The design firm gave a PowerPoint presentation for the Mount Greylock Building Committee and the public, outlining the issues the company will study during the Massachusetts School Building Authority-mandated feasibility study.
The study is designed to develop options to address issues at the 60-year-old junior-senior high school, which school officials say is too large and too costly to operate.
Design Partnership supported the latter point on Thursday night.
To keep that process on track, the Building Committee will meet twice in April, once in May, once in June, and twice in July, unless other meetings need to be added to the schedule. The April 16 meeting at 5:30 p.m. will be followed by a 7 p.m. public hearing to collect input from residents about educational goals in a new or renovated school.
OFFICIALS LOOK TO CLOSE BUDGET GAP
City officials are exploring new ways to close a nearly $500,000 budget gap before entering fiscal 2016. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Administrative Officer Michael Canales introduced a plan Friday to restructure how residents and commercial haulers pay to dispose of trash at the city’s Transfer Station, potentially saving more than $300,000 in the city budget per year by increasing bag fees. The proposal was made Friday before the city council’s finance committee, which is holding a series of public meetings on the proposed fiscal 2016 budget. The spending plan, as introduced, leaves the city with a nearly $500,000 gap that needs to be filled, even as the fiscal 2015 budget is now projecting to finish nearly $150,000 in the red.
A coalition advocating for the restoration of the hospital in North Adams traveled to BerkshireMedicalCenter in a show of solidarity. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
A group of dedicated community and union members continued to call for expanded medical services to mark the one-year anniversary of the abrupt closure of North Adams Regional Hospital. IBerkshires.com reports that the North County Cares Coalition urged local and state officials — and the facility's new owner Berkshire Medical Center — to reopen the facility as a full-service hospital. The group called on Attorney General Maura Healey to hold public hearings on an investigation started by her predecessor, Martha Coakley, into the circumstances leading up to Northern Berkshire Healthcare's bankruptcy.
Educators and community members attended a joint meeting of school and Adams town officials to discuss a school budget that could trigger Proposition 2 1/2 overrides — or cut 25 positions and academic programming. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
FINANCE COMMITTEE, SELECTMEN SEE ACRSD PROPOSED BUDGET
Adams Cheshire School officials laid out their case for a $19 million budget at a joint meeting of the Finance Committee and Selectmen on Thursday night last week. Teachers, School Committee members, parents and administrators packed into the Hoosac Valley High School library to discuss the consequences of draconian cuts if the budget fails to pass. The administration of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District has proposed a budget that — although nearly leveled funded — asks for an $800,000 assessment increase between the two towns to save 25 positions that would be otherwise cut.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION UPHOLDS FIRING OF NORTH ADAMS POLICE SGT. FOLEY
The state Civil Service Commission has upheld the city's decision to terminate North Adams Police Department Sgt. James Foley, who was accused of coaching a criminal defendant before trial in 2013.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that Foley's excuses for providing Joseph Pini two and a half pages of notes before he went to trial on breaking and entering charges were "illogical," Civil Service Commission Chairman Christopher Bowman ruled in a March 19th decision. Foley was officially fired by North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright on January 31st, 2014, prompting a lengthy appeals process. His alleged transgressions were heard before the commission in a two-day private hearing at North Adams City Hall in November 2014, where Foley represented himself without a union attorney.
Many residents voiced the desire to cut more from the school budget. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
LANESBOROUGHSCHOOL APPROVES $182K BUDGET CUT
A $123,000 cut to the elementary school budget wasn't enough for several townspeople at Thursday's public hearing in Lanesborough, which led the School Committee to cut an additional $60,000. The School Committee approved by a 2-1 vote Thursday an appropriated school budget of $2,399,709, which is $182,823 less than this year. The vote was taken after the public hearing on a budget $60,000 higher than what was ultimately approved. IBerkshires.com reports that the largest area of reductions came from the elimination of about seven positions in the Special Education Department and the loss of a teacher, which accounted for nearly $180,000 in savings.
The Selectmen will host an informational meeting next month on the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline, with or without the company's participation. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Jack Guerino)
CHESHIRE WATER PROTECTION BYLAWS SAVED (NA)
Cheshire will not lose its water protection zoning bylaws. Selectwoman Carol Francesconi told her colleagues last week that Attorney General Maura Healey had accepted water protection bylaws needed to protect an Adams drinking water supply that is located in Cheshire. The Selectmen were told in January that the expansion of the Zone II area had been on hold since 2006 because of incomplete information. There was concern the AG would not accept the amended information. Town Administrator Mark Webber received a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation requesting that the town immediately close the bridge on Sand Mill Road because of its deteriorating condition.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com /Andy McKeever) eever)
MAN CITED FOR RUNNING RED LIGHT IN CRASH INTO PITTSFIELD STOREFRONT
Police have cited the driver of the van than ran into a second street building for running a red light. A Ford van driven by John Eckert crashed into J.M.S. Industrial Supply Wednesday morning after narrowly missing a collision with a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus. The BRTA van was heading east at the intersection when Eckert ran the red light as he was heading northbound. The two never collided but Eckert's effort to avoid that led to the crash.
DUPLEX EVACUATED AFTER CHILD PLAYING WITH LIGHTER SPARKS FIRE
Three children playing with a lighter sparked a fire that forced the evacuation of a Pittsfield duplex at 117 Parker Street Saturday at around 6:46 p.m. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Pittsfield Fire Department responded and found two mattresses burning in a second floor bedroom in one of the units. The two adults, two 8-year-olds and a 5-year-old inside escaped unharmed, except for one adult who was treated at the scene for minor injuries to his face and smoke inhalation. The other half of the duplex was also evacuated; none of those occupants were hurt. All duplex residents were able to return to their home by 8 p.m. The smoke and fire damage estimated at $2,500 was limited to the children's bedroom.
CIRCUS ANIMAL BAN PROPOSED IN DALTON
In May, Dalton, town meeting voters will be asked to decide if circus animals should ever be allowed in town again. The Berkshire Eagle reports that if voters OK it, the proposed bylaw would mean "no living non-domesticated animal shall be displayed for public entertainment or amusement in circuses, carnivals, traveling events or other similar entities on property owned by Dalton, or private property." Drafted pro bono by Pittsfield attorney Holly Rogers, the bylaw made it onto the warrant after a citizens petition. The obvious target is the Kelly Miller Circus, which brings to town elephants, tigers, zebras and camels when visiting Dalton American Legion Field for its annual shows, set to hit town this year on July 7th and 8th.
GREAT BARRINGTON SELECTMEN APPROVE $27.3 MILLION BUDGET
The Great Barrington Selectmen unanimously approved a $27.3 million municipal and school spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year last week. The budget represents an overall increase of 3.95 percent, or 61 cents per thousand dollars, on the tax rate, according to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin. The town's tax rate is $13.72 this year and could go to $14.33.
MILL DEVELOPERS GIVE TOUR
Eagle Mill developers expect to revise the historical preservation aspect of their $70 million revitalization proposal, hoping to convince state and federal agencies which buildings should be saved — crucial to keeping the project alive. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Mill Renaissance LLC will likely update its proposal based on a face-to-face meeting they had with two representatives of the Massachusetts Historical Commission. On Friday, the MHC officials toured the vacant paper-making factory with several members of the development team, town officials, state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and state Sen. Ben Downing.
STUDENTS URGING GREATER INVESTMENT IN STATE UNIVERSITIES
Public university students will gather in Boston this week to press lawmakers for a greater investment in Massachusetts' nine state universities. Students plan to converge at the Statehouse for an "advocacy day" aimed at persuading legislators to increase long-term funding. Their call comes as all nine state university campuses increase enrollment amid growing demand. Organizers say recent studies have shown the system needs to graduate more students if Massachusetts is to remain competitive.
UMASS PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE TO HOLD 2ND MEETING (ALL)
The University of Massachusetts Presidential Search Committee will hold its second meeting tomorrow to discuss the next steps in the search process. UMass President Robert Caret announced his resignation