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News
Friday, January 30, 2015

    The Selectmen are pondering ways to bring in revenue without affecting the town's low-income or elderly population. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

ADAMS SELECTMEN REVIEW POTENTIAL TAX, FEE HIKES 
 
The Adams is looking at fee increases that will create revenue without altering the property tax rate. IBerkshires.com reports that town Administrator Anthony Mazzucco explained possible options to the Selectmen on Wednesday night that would allow the town to continue to pay for services and development. Among them was an option to adopt the Community Preservation Act, a state law that allows adopting communities to raise funds dedicated to preserving open space, recreation, housing and historic preservation. The Selectmen said they looked at this program in the past and felt it was not a good fit for Adams. Mazzucco said he shared the board's concerns and will seek out a representative from the program to present to the board.

SNOCROSS RACES TO RETURN TO NORTH ADAMS  
 
Snocross races are making their way back to North Adams. The Range on Curran Highway will be making snow in North Adams next month for the return of the East Coast Snowcross event, which will be held the weekend of February 14th and 15th. The races are expected to draw between 3,000 and 5,000 spectators, along with more than 200 racers and crew to the area for the weekend, resulting in roughly $350,000 of local economic activity.
 




  
 The Selectmen agreed to begin the process of selling off the old community center as soon as possible. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

COMMUNITY CENTER BUILDING TO BE SOLD IN ADAMS  
 
The Selectmen in Adams have agreed to begin drafting a request for proposals for the current Adams Youth Center property at 20 East Street. IBerkshires.com reports that the Youth Center hopes to move into the Memorial Middle School once the heating and ventilation system is has been replaced. The town determined several years ago to divest itself of the East Street Community Center. The Council on Aging, which had shared the building with the Youth Center, removed to the Visitors Center more than two years ago.
 
CITY MAN JAILED OVER STUN GUN THREATS  
 
A city man was sentenced to four months in jail on Monday for allegedly threatening patrons of a local bar with an electric stun gun. According to North Adams Police, 27 year old Jackee Daniels, of Crossey Place, was illegally carrying a stun gun outside the Crystal Hard Hat on Canal Street last October and threatened to use the weapon on people who were standing outside of the bar. The bar’s owner called police to report a man using the weapon on people outside. Officers later tracked down Daniels, who matched the description given by witnesses. During a pat-down, officers found a knife and stun gun. He said he had them for his own protection.

    The dam on Mill Street, next to the Hawthorne Mill, is slated to be removed next year. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 
MILL REMOVAL GOING FORWARD IN PITTSFIELD  
 
Plans to finally remove the Tel-Electric dam on Mill Street in Pittsfield are being crafted. IBerkshires.com reports that the city and the state have been looking to remove the century-old dam for a decade and now has the funding to do so. The state Department of Fish and Game won a $1 million federal grant through the U.S. Department of Interior's Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program for the demolition in 016.
 
DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT CHOSEN IN PITTSFIELD  
 
Joseph Curtis, the current Morningside Community School principal and a 20-year employee of the Pittsfield Public Schools, has been selected to become the new deputy superintendent. The Berkshire Eagle has reported that Curtis was recommended Wednesday by Superintendent Jake McCandless for the post from among three finalists who were interviewed two weeks ago by the School Committee.
Committee members praised all three finalists as strong candidates before unanimously approving McCandless's choice.  
 
PITTSFIELD LAW MAKER WANTS TO REVAMP TRAVEL BAN POLICY  
 
Responding to concerns voiced on social media sites during the recent snowstorm, Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said she wants to discuss with fellow lawmakers whether the statewide storm travel ban system needs tweaking. The Pittsfield Democrat said she noted concerns among workers having to choose between violating the ban or possibly disappointing their employer by staying home from work. She also posted a survey question on her Facebook page Tuesday evening to gather comments.
 
BERKSHIRE CLIMATE GROUP TO HOLD PIPELINE OPPOSITION FORUM
 
Opponents of Kinder Morgan's proposed $5 billion, 429-mile pipeline connecting natural gas supplies from southwestern Pennsylvania through New York state to eastern Massachusetts are gearing up to outline their viewpoints. The Berkshire Eagle reports today that the Berkshires chapter of 350MA, a statewide climate action network, is holding a free public forum from 9:30 to 12:30 tomorrow at the ITAM Lodge on Waubeek Road in Pittsfield. Meanwhile, opponents representing 24 organizations from Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire announced yesterday that they have formed the StopNED Coalition to coordinate anti-pipeline efforts.
 
PITTSFIELD MAYOR ENCOURAGED BY BAKER EFFORTS FOR CITIES AND TOWNS
 
Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi said he's encouraged by Gov. Charlie Baker's creation of a Community Compact Cabinet to work with leaders of Massachusetts cities and towns. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Baker announced last week that he wants to elevate the administration's partnerships with cities and towns. Chaired by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, he said the new Community Compact Cabinet will allow the governor's office to work more closely with leaders from Massachusetts communities. Banchi says he thinks the lieutenant governor is going to be very active in the Baker administration.  
 
CHAPTER 90 FUNDS WILL BENEFIT SOUTH COUNTY
 
The southern Berkshires will benefit from Governor Baker’s release of and additional $100,000 in Chapter 90 transportation funds. More than $1 Million of that will go toward road improvements in South County. Great Barrington will have the largest apportionment and will go from having $419,219 available to now having $628,828 to pull from. Sheffield will see a similar increase in available Chapter 90 funds. Each town in the southern Berkshires is receiving an apportionment based on a formula that considers things such as population, employment, and how many mile of road each particular town has.
 
MEETING ON ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESCHEDULED  
 
The meeting on Alternative Energy Sources that should have been this past Saturday (but was canceled because of the weather) has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 7th at 10 AM, at the North Egremont Firehouse. Representatives from three companies that provide energy from renewable resources will present their plans. The companies are Community Energy, Viridian, and NuWatt. Officials say that if you bring your own National Grid bill, they can show you the advantages of their plans. The meeting is especially for residents who wanted solar but couldn't have it for one reason or another.
 
PARCELS AUCTIONED IN GREAT BARRINGTON TODAY  
 
The town of Great Barrington will place up for auction today a total of 13 parcels, ranging in size from 6,500 square feet to 2.28 acres. The auction will begin at 1 pm, with a pre-registration is at 12:15. Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin told the Selectmen that many of the lots are not buildable. But, she said, abutting properties may wish to purchase them to use as buffer property. According to Tabakin, all of the properties are all abandoned. The auction will be run by Sullivan and Sullivan Auctioneers of Sandwich. Lots on Blue Hill Road, High Street, Pine Street and Fairview Terrace – among several others are being auctioned off today. Deposits on the properties will range from $2,500 to $5,000.
 
UMASS LOOKING TO AVOID SUPERBOWL MISHAPS  
 
The University of Massachusetts, which has been the scene of violent celebrations following championships by Boston sports teams, is taking measures to avoid trouble during the Super Bowl by barring dorm residents from hosting off-campus guests. From noon Sunday until noon Monday, students will only be allowed in dormitories in which they live. The New England Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's Super Bowl. The Amherst school is also holding school-sanctioned Super Bowl parties across campus in an effort to control mayhem. University officials say the measures are based on recommendations in a 65-page report released in September on how the school can better handle large-scale gatherings.
 
JOHN KERRY FINED $50 FOR FAILING TO SHOVEL SNOW OUTSIDE HOME  
 
John Kerry has many titles — secretary of state, former senator, one-time Democratic candidate for president. The globe-spanning diplomat can add one more: snow shoveling scofflaw. After a blizzard dumped two feet of snow on his city this week, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh vowed to crack down on anyone who left the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses buried in snow. He wasn't kidding. Officials tagged Kerry with a $50 fine yesterday morning for failing to clear the snow from the side of his Beacon Hill mansion. He was in Saudi Arabia attending the funeral of King Abdullah with President Obama. Kerry spokesman Glen Johnson told the Boston Globe Kerry will promptly pay the fine.
 
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE VOTES TO ELIMINATE SPEAKER TERM LIMITS
 
Massachusetts lawmakers have voted to eliminate term limits for state House speakers — a change pushed by Democratic Speaker Robert DeLeo, who supported term limits when he was first elected to the post in 2009. The 109-45 vote yesterday was largely on party lines, with Republicans favoring term limits and most Democrats siding with DeLeo. DeLeo defended his decision before the vote. He said his opinion has evolved since 2009. Democratic supporters said without the change, DeLeo would be viewed as a lame duck during negotiations on Beacon Hill.


 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

    
Clarksburg officials heard good news Wednesday on the road funds front. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 

CHAPTER 90 BOOST CLEARS WAY FOR BRIDGE

The town of Cheshire is getting a boost in highway funds this year. IBerkshires.com is reporting that the release by Gov. Charlie Baker of $100 million in state Chapter 90 funds has put some $37,000 into the town's coffers and relieved worries about the upcoming Gates Avenue bridge project. Officials had been considering asking for the extra funds - if needed - at town meeting or waiting to bid the project after the beginning of the fiscal year. The infusion of $37,000 brings the account to about $308,000. Minus $2,200 for a study with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and $26,000 for engineering on Gates Avenue, the account will be about $280,000, the high side of the construction estimate
 

TWO NORTHERN BERKSHIRE MEN HELD AS DANGEROUS IN ADAMS BEATING, STABBING

Two of three men accused of beating and stabbing an Adams resident in December were held without bail after a dangerousness hearing on Monday. Daniel Chao of Adams and Thomas Barrett of Savoy, both 24 years old, are accused of allegedly jumping and stabbing Joshua Deeley near his Temple Street residence on December 27th, leaving him hospitalized. A third alleged accomplice, Dean St. Jacques, was released on personal recognizance and a slew of conditions.



    The Selectmen felt the town would be unable to afford counsel from BRPC on the Kinder Morgan gas pipeline. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

CHESHIRE CONSIDERS JOINING BRPC PIPELINE GROUP

The town of Cheshire may not be able to afford commitment to a BRPC group that protects and provides information for municipalities about the Kinder Morgan pipeline. IBerkshires.com reports that Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Selectmen on Tuesday night that he will attend the upcoming Berkshire Regional Planning Committee meeting in regards to the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline that may pass through Cheshire. BRPC is asking that any of the 12 municipalities affected by the pipeline commit to the group for counsel and legal representation. Webber said only Pittsfield has committed and that if Cheshire were to join now with so few towns committed, it would have to pay in a much larger sum.



    Whalen continues to show up to calls including this early morning fire a V's Doghouse in September. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

PANCAKE BREAKFAST SLATED TO HELP LANESBOROUGH FIREFIGHTER BEAT CANCER

Proceeds from the Lanesborough fire department's Super Bowl breakfast won't go to the association this year. Instead, all of the funds raised are going to the family of Lt. Devon Whalen, who is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Whalen was diagnosed last year with the disease. He recently returned home after an extended stay in Boston for treatments. The breakfast starts at 7:30 on Sunday morning and continues until 11:30 a.m. But if there are still people wanting food and they still have it they'll go until as late in the day as needed.



    The group bought 25-30 items to leave in Park Square. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

PITTSFIELD GROUP LEAVES WARM CLOTHING OUT FOR THOSE IN THE COLD

Dozens of scarves, hats and gloves are scattered out on the benches in Park Square Pittsfield. But, those items aren't lost. They were placed there by a group of five area residents for anybody who is out in the cold. The items feature a note explaining why they are there. IBerkshires.com reports that almost immediately after sharing the idea on Facebook, others jumped on board. Items were pulled from closets - and hats, gloves and scarves were purchased at local discount stores. In total, 25 to 30 items were tied to the benches. Park Square was chosen because it was most central.

MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE TO DEBATE ENDING TERM LIMITS ON SPEAKER

Massachusetts House lawmakers are being asked to consider lifting the rule that limits House speakers to four two-year terms. A copy of the proposed rules to be debated by lawmakers today would eliminate an existing rule stating that "no member shall hold, for more than eight consecutive years, the office of Speaker of the House." The proposed changes were sent out to lawmakers yesterday. Under the existing rule, Democrat Robert DeLeo, elected speaker in 2009, would have to step down as speaker in 2017 after serving a final term. DeLeo had pushed for the term limit when he became speaker. The change would allow him to remain speaker as long as he continues to be elected by members of the chamber.

NEED TO BUY FARM PARCEL QUESTIONED

A plan to preserve a swath of open space has met resistance by members of the Lenox committee charged with deciding whether to move ahead with its request for taxpayer funding. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Berkshire Natural Resources Council is seeking $250,000 to help preserve 146 acres comprising the scenic vista at Undermountain Farm, owned by the Sprague family, from a possible one-acre high-density housing development. The application was the target of some barbed criticism, as well as strong support, from a sharply divided Community Preservation Committee at its Monday night meeting.

LONG TIME BUILDING INSPECTOR TO STEP DOWN

After 24 years as the part-time Lenox building inspector and zoning enforcement officer, 75 year old William Thornton will be leaving on June 30th, to be succeeded by his deputy, Don Fitzgerald, who will resign by mid-March as the full-time building inspector in Adams. Fitzgerald, who's also chairman of the Lenox School Committee, will be the town's first full-time inspector. He has worked with Thornton for the past eight years.

NORTH EGREMONT CHURCH CLOSED DOORS

After 200 plus years of caring for the spiritual and temporal needs of the Egremont community, the North Egremont Baptist Church in North Egremont held its final service this past Sunday. The Berkshire Record reports that the tiny church, for two centuries, has seen the comings and goings of its people. The church's only six active members just couldn't keep it going. The church building was erected in 1877. The church was founded in 1987 and originally located on Prospect Lake Road. The remaining members came to the decision last year by vote, to close the churches doors for good.

 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    The Board of Selectmen agreed to accept this as the town's flag. It will hang in the Hall of Flags at the State House. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN DECIDES ON FLAG, WEIGHS ITEMS  
 
After months of discussion, several meetings of the Board of Selectmen, two committees and one online survey – Williamstown has its own flag. IBerkshires.com reports that selectmen on Monday night voted to approve a design that was created by members of the first town flag committee in collaboration with one of the people who submitted an alternate vision after the original design failed to win the approval of the board last year. The board had other, arguably weightier topics on its agenda Monday, including the process for replacing the town's longtime town manager, an agreement to create a roughly two-megawatt solar installation on town land and a proposal from the town of Lanesborough to share its police force.
 
NORTH ADAMS POLICE SEEK SHOPLIFTER WHO PULLED KNIFE AT WALMART
 
North Adams Police are searching for a man who allegedly brandished a knife at a Walmart manager after shoplifting on Saturday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to police, two men were confronted by staff of the Walmart on Curran Highway, while allegedly attempting to steal from the store, when one of the men threatened a manager with a pocket knife. The two men, whose identities are unknown, were captured on photographs from Walmart security cameras and police are looking to speak with them. Both were wearing hoodies and baseball caps. The men were seen leaving in a grey four-door Saturn sedan, according to a Facebook post from the department.
 



     The Housing Authority is in talks with the Family Life Support Center on the use of the Flood House. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

 
NORTH ADAMS HOUSING AGENCY FINDS POTENTIAL BUYERS FOR PROPERTIES
 
A local housing nonprofit may have a buyer for one the properties it has left. 
Housing Opportunities Inc., which uses government funds to purchase and rehabilitate homes for qualified buyers, is in the process of dissolving and turning over all of its assets to North Adams. Its board, the same composition as the North Adams Housing Authority, met Monday night with Jennifer Hohn, the authority's executive director of the North Adams Housing Authority to discuss the potential sale of the River Street lot.
Hohn said the North Adams Ambulance Service showed interest in the property because it wanted to use it for parking. Hohn said it normally would not look good to sell assets for less than an appraised amount, however, she felt the ambulance service could get the most use out of it.
 
 BENNINGTON MUSEUM RECOGNIZED AS TOP US DESTINATION
 
 The Bennington Museum was recently named one of 2014's top destinations for art across the country by the Wall Street Journal. The museum was listed alongside such organizations as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Modern Art in Boston. Over the past several years, the museum has made an attempt to change its image to one that, while still being focused on art and history, also focuses on innovation, in an effort to attract a younger audience and foster their interest in the arts.
 




       Ron Tinkham told the Selectmen about the proposed school warrant article. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

LANESBOROUGH VOTERS WILL BE ASKED TO DECIDE SCHOOL AFFILIATIONS  
 
Voters in the town of Lanesborough are going to be asked if they want the final say in school affiliation. IBerkshires.com reports that the School Committee has the power to determine the school district's partnerships; it currently has an agreement with Williamstown for shared administration through Supervisory Union 71. That affiliation came under fire over the last year when one of the three School Committee members pushed for its dissolution. Just a vote of the School Committee can end the agreement.  A research committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen is crafting a warrant article to change that authority. The group wants a change of such magnitude be done through a town-wide vote instead.
 
PITTSFIELD MAN FACES 6 CHARGES IN ALLEGED DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE  
 
A Pittsfield man is facing six charges after allegedly threatening his young stepson, spitting on and pushing his wife and beating up her brother. 26 year old Jordan Sumner was arrested early Sunday after police were called to a Bay State Road residence for a reported domestic incident. Sumner was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court Monday, and pleaded not guilty to single counts of assault and battery, assaulting a juvenile, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest and two counts of assault and battery on a family member and released on personal recognizance and ordered not to abuse of any of the alleged victims. He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on March 10th.
 




       Some 200 people attended the ceremony. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

AREA RELIGIOUS GROUPS JOIN SOCIAL JUSTICE EFFORTS IN NEW ORGANIZATION
 
Area religious organizations are pooling their resources to help those in need.
Fourteen groups celebrated the new Berkshire Interfaith Organization on Sunday. The new coalition brings the organizations together for charity and advocacy efforts.
At St. Mark's School, the groups celebrated with songs and speeches the creation of the agency. And they received pledges from local legislators to support the work. Particularly, the organization if focusing on food insecurity and transportation.
The organization has been in the making for two years. The parishes were working independently of each other in most cases; formally collaborating is hoped to give the faith community a greater voice on issues.
 
PITTSFIELD WOMAN FACING CHARGES FOR ALLEGED MACHETE ASSAULT
 
A Pittsfield woman is facing assault charges after allegedly threatening her ex-boyfriend as he tried to leave town on a bus. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 25 year old Sonia Berroa, of Memorial Drive, pulled a large machete out of the trunk of her car Friday just before noon in front of the Intermodal Transportation Center on Columbus Avenue in Pittsfield, then threatened her ex-boyfriend as he waited to board a bus to Boston, where he is from. Berroa was arrested and charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon and disturbing the peace. She pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday and was released on her own recognizance. She is due back in court on March 10th for a pretrial hearing.
 

        Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, left, Councilor Lisa Tulley, Rep. Paul Mark and Councilor Kevin Morandi listen to residents. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

PITTSFIELD RESIDENTS WARY OF TACONIC HIGH SCHOOL COST
 
 How much and whether Pittsfield should invest in its educational system is the question looming over the proposed new Pittsfield Taconic High School. IBerkshires.com reports that the $115 million project — the city is responsible for about $40 million — is heading to a critical juncture this spring as the city and state determine whether to move forward with the project. But while residents agree something must be done for the 46-year-old school, the cost is weighing heavily.  
 
PITTSFIELD HOPES TO REPLACE COLUMBUS AVENUE PARKING GARAGE
 
The Pittsfield administration hopes to replace the aging two-deck Columbus Avenue parking garage with a new three-deck structure that would accommodate 97 more vehicles. The Berkshire Eagle reports that in a proposal that won unanimous support for design work funding from the City Council's Finance Committee, Mayor Dan Bianchi and Director of Maintenance Peter Sondrini said engineering assessments performed at the facility in 2014 led to the recommendation. The mayor currently is seeking authorization to borrow $160,000 that was authorized in 2013 for repair work at the facility and wants to appropriate an additional $240,000 to put the money toward design work for a new garage.
 
EAGLE MILL DEVELOPERS SEEKING TAX CREDITS
 
 Eagle Mill developers have taken the first step toward financing the estimated $70 million revitalization project. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Mill Renaissance LLC, led by Jeffrey Cohen of Great Barrington, has submitted an application for up to $5.4 million in historic state tax credits to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, supported by the Lee Historical Commission. Mill Renaissance also will be seeking $5.4 million in federal historic tax credits. If received, the $10.8 million would augment additional public/private investment for the reuse of the former paper-making factory.
 
ZBA ENCOURAGED TO PROTECT WATER SUPPLY  
 
The Great Barrington Planning Board last week voted unanimously to send a strong recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals to uphold a town code that protects a vital reservoir, and to support Building Inspector Edwin May’s most recent order on that basis to stop a Long Pond Road property owner from cutting trees close to what is the water source for the Village of Housatonic. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that a ZBA public hearing on the legality of Lynn Hutchinson’s new, state-sanctioned Forest Cutting Plan is scheduled for February 10th. Hutchinson appealed May’s order to stop clear-cutting within the town’s Water Quality Protection Overlay District Zone A, an area within about 500 feet of the Pond at 263 Long Pond Road.


 Tuesday, January 27, 2015
 
SNOW ENERGENCY IN NORTH ADAMS 
 
Mayor Dick Alcombright has issued a Snow Emergency for the City of North Adams that will remain in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday.  All residents are urged to NOT park vehicles on City streets and LIMIT their travel during this time to allow for the removal of snow and clearing of streets throughout this weather event.  The mayor reminds all that the overnight parking ban is in effect and will be enforced and that residents and businesses should clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of the storm as per city ordinance. In Addition…..All City Offices to include City Hall, the Transfer Station, the Public Library and Spitzer Senior Center are closed today. A snow emergency is also in effect in the town of Adams until 9am Wednesday. Keep in mind that we haven’t received official notices from every town in the county, and other towns may have similar rules in effect.
 
WINTER STORM AMOUNTS  
 
A winter storm warning remains in effect until 1am tomorrow as the winter storm continues to impa
Friday, January 23, 2015
 
    New Town Administrator Anthony Mazzucco has been getting know the area and gave his first report on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 
ADAMS TOWN ADMINISTRATOR SETTLES IN; TWO POLICE OFFICERS PROMOTED
 
New Adams Administrator Anthony Mazzucco said he has started reaching out to schools and departments. Mazzucco gave his first administrator report to the Selectmen at Wednesday's meeting. After thanking interim Town Administer Donna Cesan for "one of the easiest transitions he has seen," Mazzucco said he has been scheduling meetings with local education establishments including superintendents from McCann Technical School, Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, and the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District. Mazzucco said he has also attended meetings with the town's representatives and wants to eventually meet with all the business owners.
Mazzucco also said he has started holding budget meetings with staff and hopes to have the budget complete by mid-February.
 
NORTHEAST'S FIRST 'SIGNIFICANT' WINTER STORM EXPECTED  
 
The National Weather Service says the Northeast should expect the first "significant" winter storm of the season this weekend. Forecasters predict a messy mix of rain, snow and sleet starting late Friday night. The weather service says it's still too early to determine the exact track of the storm and the amount of snow expected. The storm should arrive in Philadelphia Friday night and dump several inches of snow before turning to rain as it travels up the Eastern seaboard. A meteorologist says parts of Connecticut could get half a foot of snow. Some counties in Massachusetts could see up to 7 inches along with heavy winds. As far as the Berkshires go, forecasters say that we could potentially see 2 to 5 inches of snow.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN MAN GETS PROBATION AFTER ADMITTING TO FONDLING WOMAN
 
A Williamstown man was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to undergo a sex offender evaluation after pleading guilty to four counts of indecent assault and battery. 50 year old Mark Winters admitted that on May 7th and 8th of 2012 he had inappropriate sexual contact with a then-21-year-old acquaintance who was staying at the home of Winters and his wife. Winters pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to four counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over. The prosecutor and Sheldon presented the court with an agreed plea of two years of probation during which time the defendant must stay away from and have no contact with the victim.
 



     Pages from the 1753 Proprietors' Meeting Book that the Williamstown Historical Museum hopes to conserve with funds from the Community Preservation Act. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Rebecca Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN CPC RECOMMENDS REQUESTS TO TOWN MEETING  
 
The Williamstown Community Preservation Committee on Tuesday approved three funding requests that will go to annual town meeting in May. IBerkshires.com reports that after the withdrawal of an application from the town's Conservation Commission, the committee faced just three applications totaling $45,542 for funds generated by the Community Preservation Act property tax surcharge adopted by town meeting in 2002. The largest request is from the Sand Springs Recreation Center, which is seeking $18,923 to install a heater and pool cover at the historic Sand Springs Pool.



     
     The Cemetery Commission is working on new signage for the city's two cemeteries. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
     
NORTH ADAMS CEMETERY COMMISSION SQUARES AWAY NEW SIGNAGE
 
The North Adams, Cemetery Commission made progress toward finalizing the approval of new signage for both Southview and Hillside cemeteries. Commissioner Roger Eurbin provided some sample renderings Tuesday afternoon during the panel's monthly meeting. He proposed a wooden sign for Hillside similar to the one at Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink. Eurbin said he wanted a sign that would reflect the age of the cemetery. The commission has reached out to two possible vendors and will make final decisions once they have prices.



    Williams College has installed a charging station on Spring Street for electric cars. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 
ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING STATION IN WILLIAMSTOWN
 
A new Charge-point electric car charging station has debuted in Williamstown. The facility, which was acquired by Williams College, is part of a network of more than 20,000 such Chargepoint stations throughout the United States and Canada. Williams Vice President for Finance and Administration Fred Puddester says the college wanted to put the first such station in town in a public location. The station, which can serve two cars simultaneously, is located near the entrance to the town lot on Spring Street. The Williamstown site joins existing Charge-point stations at the Fiegenbaum Center for Science and Innovation at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Johnson Nissan in Pittsfield and the Big Y in Lee.
  
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DISMISSES CASE AGAINST BIANCHI
 
The Pittsfield Human Rights Commission dismissed the accusations that Mayor Dan Bianchi engaged in racist actions against a Medford woman looking to open a business in the city. IBerkshires.com reports that the commission opened an investigation into claims from Doreen Wade that Bianchi was hostile and racist toward her last year. The complaints date back to 2013. But the investigation ran out of steam and Wade became uncommunicative with the commission.  
 
PITTSFIELD MAN GETS TIME SERVED AFTER ADMITTING ASSAULT ON GIRLFRIEND
 
An ex-con who slapped his girlfriend in front of the police and tried to force himself on a house guest while she slept was given time served — more than a year — for the charges. 50 year old Greg Meddaugh, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty to felony assault and battery on a disabled person and misdemeanor assault. Originally charged with felony assault to rape, Meddaugh was allowed to plead to the lesser charge as part of a sentencing agreement with the Berkshire District Attorney's Office. Judge John Agostini sentenced the defendant to 417 days at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction — the amount of time he has already spent in jail awaiting the outcome of the case and unable to make his $10,000 cash bail.
 
THE MOUNT TO CELEBRATE WHARTON’S BIRTHDAY  
 
Edith Wharton would have turned 153 years old this Saturday. Saturday also happens to be National Read-a-thon Day. The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Lenox, is joining with Lenox businesses and organizations in hosting a day of literary appreciation. The festivities will include dramatic readings, raffles and refreshments at three of Lenox's leading literary hubs: The Mount, the Lenox Library, and The Bookstore. Each location will celebrate the joy of reading and a love of books, two of Wharton's lifelong ruling passions.
 
RESIDENTS GET DETAILS ON SCHOOL PROJECT COST
 
Voters and town officials in Great Barrington got their first look Wednesday night at how much a $7.7 million renovation project at Mount Everett Regional School would cost taxpayers in the five towns that make up the Southern Berkshire Regional School District. The Berkshire Eagle reports that they also were presented with specific details on why the project, which calls for replacing the massive 4.3-acre roof as well as replacing the three boilers in the basement, was necessary. The project has already been approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority for 39 percent reimbursement. That will mean the district will be reimbursed a total of $2.74 million by the state. The measure must pass at a special town meeting that all five towns are expected to schedule. No date has been set for that meeting. 
 
MONTEREY COMMUNITY CENTER NEARS COMPLETION (GB)
 
After more than a decade of planning and building, the transformation of the historic Wilson McLaughlin House into a community center is nearly complete. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the cozy, two-story, mid-19th century structure, located on Route 23 just up the road from the Monterey General Store, now has four walls and new windows, according to Joe Baker, the chairman of the Friends of the Wilson McLaughlin House, a nonprofit organization set up to coordinate the planning, reconstruction and use for the building. But to get across the finish line, the group needs to raise as much as $60,000. Former owner Edith L. Wilson died in 1995 and left the house to the town.  
 
OPPONENT OF BOSTON'S 2024 OLYMPICS BID EYES BALLOT QUESTION
 
An opponent of Boston's 2024 Olympics bid has taken a first step toward putting a question before voters on next year's ballot. United Independent Party Chairman Evan Falchuk says that he's filed paperwork with the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance to form the People's Vote Olympics Committee. The failed 2014 gubernatorial candidate said key questions remain about Boston's pursuit of the games. Falchuk said the goal is to give Massachusetts voters the chance to decide in a binding referendum whether Boston should host the 2024 Olympics.
 
GOV. BAKER PRAISES SENATE EFFORT TO DIG INTO MARIJUANA ISSUE
 
 Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is praising Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg for trying to gather more information ahead of a potential effort to legalize marijuana. The Amherst Democrat has created a special Senate committee to study the issue. Pro-pot activists have vowed to put a question on the 2016 Massachusetts ballot that would legalize recreational use of the drug. Massachusetts voters in 2008 approved a question decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. In 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved a question legalizing up to 35 medical marijuana dispensaries statewide.
  
GOV. BAKER TO SUBMIT NEW PARDON GUIDELINES IN COMING WEEKS
 
 Gov. Charlie Baker says he's planning to submit new guidelines on pardon and commutation requests to the state board of pardons. Baker has ordered the withdrawal of guidelines put into effect last year by former Gov. Deval Patrick intended to make it easier to appeal for clemency. Baker told reporters that he viewed the decision as "standard operating procedure" for a new administration. He said the withdrawal of Patrick's guidelines wasn't meant to be a comment on the former governor's regulations or policies.
 
MAN WHO BOUGHT LOTTERY TICKETS TO BREAK $100 BILL WINS $10M  
 
A Massachusetts man who bought a pair of lottery tickets at a grocery shop to break a $100 bill for lunch has ended up winning $10 million. Lottery officials announced yesterday that Richard Noll and his wife claimed the prize at lottery headquarters in Braintree this week. He chose a one-time payment of $6.5 million after taxes. The shop that sold the ticket gets a $50,000 bonus.


Thursday, January 22, 2015


   Community Development Director Donna Cesan laid out the town's CDBG strategy for the Selectmen's approval. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 

 
ADAMS APPROVES GRANT STRATEGY
 
Adams Selectmen have endorsed a 2015 Community Development Block Grant Strategy that includes a new HVAC system for the Memorial School building. IBerkshires.com reports that Director of Community Development Donna Cesan met with Selectmen last night with the final draft of the town's block grant strategy. Out of the three projects outlined in the strategy, the new heating and cooling system received the largest amount of attention. Out of the $900,000 maximum amount the town could receive, Cesan said $325,000 would go toward construction and $34,325 to program delivery. 
 
NORTH ADAMS WOMAN FACES OUI CHARGE AFTER HITTING POLICE CRUISER
 
 A North Adams woman was allegedly drunk on Sunday morning when she crashed into a North Adams Police cruiser, according to police. 21 year old Jaime Marin, of North Street, allegedly failed to yield at a blinking red light as Officer Brad Vivori passed through the intersection of River Street and Marshall Street, striking his rear passenger door. No one was injured. Marin was arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on charges of operating under the influence and failure to yield. She was released by on personal recognizance and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on January 26th.
 
BENNINGTON CINEMA ROBBERY
 
A former Bennington Cinemas employee, who police say robbed the movie theater at gunpoint in June, has been arrested and a second suspect is in custody. Bennington Police say that 32 year old Chris Lyttle, a former cinema employee, was arrested in New York on Monday and is awaiting extradition to Vermont. Police reports indicate that 23 year old Star Crandall, of Bennington, and Lyttle robbed the Cinemas. Crandall, who is reported to be in police custody, was ordered held without bail in September.



     The co-workspace is on the second floor of 85 Main St. with view of the street. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 
CO-WORKING SPACE OPENS AT 85 MAIN IN NORTH ADAMS  
 
A room on the second floor of the New Kimball Building is poised to facilitate some big ideas. And maybe make some small ones come true. IBerkshires.com reports that some 1,370 square foot of old office space on the second floor of the century-old New Kimball Building at 85 Main St, in North Adams has been made over into a collaborative work zone for modern entrepreneurs. So-called "co-working" spaces have become increasingly popular in high-priced metro areas as low-cost communal options for startups and small business. The first tenant to sign on is the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and a second one is expected to be announced.
 
PITTSFIELD SEX OFFENDER ALLEGEDLY GRABBED CASH FROM STORE
 
  A convicted sex offender who allegedly stole close to $850 in cash from a Pittsfield store is being held on $10,000 bail after he was collared by a store employee. 43 year old Stanley Sumy III, of White Terrace in Pittsfield, allegedly swiped a pile of cash from the counter of Johnnie's Variety Store on Pecks Road just before 2 p.m. Tuesday as the cashier was counting the money from the register. Sumy pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday to single counts of felony larceny over $250 and larceny from a person. He is being held without bail. He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on February 11th.
 
PITTSFIELD WOMAN ALLEGEDLY ATTACKED, BIT MOTHER OVER LOUD MUSIC
 
A Pittsfield woman is facing assault charges after she allegedly bit her mother's finger to the bone for playing her music too loud. 21 year old Deanna Manns, of Clinton Avenue, was arrested after police arrived at the home about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and found her 44 year old mother sitting outside the residence covered in blood. Judge William Rota released Manns on her own recognizance and ordered her not to have any contact with, refrain from abuse of, and to stay 25 yards away from her mother.
She is due back in court March 12th for a pretrial hearing.



     Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath outlined the kick-off event with the Eagles Band. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 
CONCERT, BEER FEST, FIREWORKS LINED UP FOR PITTSFIELD COMMON  
 
The newly renovated First Street Common in Pittsfield is already in demand. IBerkshires.com reports that the Parks Commission has approved a series of requests to use the park that has been under construction since 2011. The city used state funds for a multi-phased $4.6 million reconstruction and now there is only a punch list of remaining work and some landscaping for spring. On May 23rd, the city will christen the new performance pavilion with the Eagles Band. The Parks Commission also approved the use of the common for a craft beer festival and 5K road race in June.
 
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE SPEAKER DELEO EYES STATEWIDE OLYMPICS
 
A top Beacon Hill lawmaker says he'd like to see the entire state take part in the Olympics if Boston is tapped to host the 2024 summer games. House Speaker Robert DeLeo said yesterday that while greater Boston should remain the focus of the games, he'd want cities like Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield and areas like the Berkshires and the South Coast to host some of the sporting events. The Winthrop Democrat also issued a note of caution, saying he doesn't want to see the state on the hook for millions of dollars. He said he also doesn't want state taxpayers paying for the games. DeLeo said the state should avoid building new sporting facilities for the games that end up being mothballed because they have no future use.
 
STATE OFFICIALS SWORN IN YESTERDAY
 
Attorney General Maura Healey has been sworn in as the state's 55th attorney general. Healey took her oath of office yesterday afternoon during a ceremony at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants administered the oath. The 43-year-old Democrat is the first openly gay candidate elected to the office. She succeeds former Attorney General and North Adams native, Martha Coakley. Other statewide officials sworn in Wednesday include Deborah Goldberg, elected state treasurer to replace fellow Democrat Steve Grossman – state auditor and Great Barrington resident, Suzanne Bump.



     The Board of Selectmen got their first look at the budget on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

 
LENOX TOWN MANAGER BUDGET PROPSAL
 
Town Manager Christopher Ketchen is crafting a $27.7 million fiscal 2016 budget, which he says provides "level service." IBerkshires.com reports that Ketchen presented the preliminary budget to the Board of Selectmen last night. He says the plan is for a 1.23 percent increase in total spending. The largest expenditure is the school system, which Ketchen estimates will have a budget of $11.7 million. It should be done at the end of the month. General government is budgeted at $3.6 million and enterprise funds are expected at $3.9 million.
 
STATES ELECTRIC GRID BRIEFING
                 
New England's power system is increasingly shifting from aging oil- and coal-fired plants and to natural gas that relies on pipelines experiencing bottlenecks that drive up prices, according to the region's electric grid operator. ISO-New England officials said yesterday, wind and solar resources are a small but growing part of the region's energy mix, though they are not always available when needed by the region's 14 million residents — peak demand for power in winter typically occurs after the sun has set.
In contrast to last winter's extended cold weather that pushed up energy demand and prices, a mild winter and falling oil prices this year have helped keep prices down. But winter has eight weeks to go and use could spike with a more traditional New England winter.
 
OFFICIALS MEET TO CONSIDER TAX REVENUES FOR STATE BUDGET
 
Even as they grapple with a shortfall in the state's current $36 billion budget, lawmakers and state officials are set to begin preliminary work on a spending plan for the next fiscal year. The first order of business is reaching agreement on how much tax revenue the state can expect to collect in the 12-month period beginning July 1st. That, in turn, helps determine how much money can be spent.
 
ROMNEY SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE PRESENTS A BIG CHALLENGE TO US
 
Mitt Romney says one of the biggest challenges facing the country is climate change and that global solutions are needed to combat it. In a speech to an investment management conference last night in Salt Lake City, the former Massachusetts Governor and Republican nominee for president in 2012 said that more needs to be done to deal with poverty in America. He told about 3,000 people that the education system needs help too, and that teacher pay should be higher. Romney said last week that he's seriously considering running a third time for president.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

   Mount
Greylock Regional School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Greene addresses Williamstown's Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 
WILLIAMSTOWN OFFICIALS DISCUSS MOUNT GREYLOCK EXPANSION PROPOSAL 
 
Williamstown officials had some tough questions about the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee's plan to seek expansion of the junior-senior high school district. IBerkshires.com reports that School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Greene appeared last week at a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee to discuss the proposal to ask Williamstown and Lanesborough to incorporate their elementary schools into the Mount Greylock district. The School Committee studied expansion in 2013, convening an ad hoc committee of representatives from both towns and all three schools. But Mount Greylock put the initiative on the backburner in fall '13 after the district was accepted into the Massachusetts School Building Authority's building program.
 
NORTHERN BERKSHIRE TRIO HELD WITHOUT BAIL IN ADAMS BEATING 
 
Three Northern Berkshire men were held without bail on Monday for their alleged role in the brutal beating and stabbing of man in Adams last month. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to witnesses, 38 year old Daniel Chao of Adams, 24 year old Thomas Barrett of Savoy, and 24 year old Dean St. Jacques of North Adams, allegedly waited for Joshua Deeley in a parked car near Temple Street and jumped him shortly after 2 a.m. on December 27th and beat him in the head with a tire iron. The suspects, who were arrested on Friday, pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court yesterday to multiple felony charges and held without the right to bail.  
 
NORTH COUNTY EATS IS BACK…YUM! 
 
North County Eats is back for a second year in the northern Berkshires… and after the success of last year’s event organizers expect this year will be just as successful.
The event is organized by the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, and the North Adams Office of Tourism – and it runs from this Friday January 23rd through February 1st. You can get more information at www.berkshirecountyeats.com.



   MCLA interim President Cynthia Brown leads the traditional opening semester breakfast on Tuesday morning. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 
MCLA CLOSING IN ON PRES CANDIDATES 
 
Former Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President, Mary Grant, after a dozen years leading MCLA, took up her new duties as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville two weeks ago. IBerkshires.com reports that a search committee that has since spent the last months seeking out a suitable candidate, conducted interviews over the weekend in Albany. Denise Marshall, a trustee and graduate of the college and executive vice president of Adams Community Bank, says that 13 viable candidates were interviewed over the weekend. Three to five candidates will be invited to tour the campus and meet with the college community. The final selection will be made by the board of trustees, likely in April, and submitted to the state Board of Higher Education.



   Selectman Robert Ciskowski believes the town will have to make a stand on the natural gas pipeline being proposed to run through its southern section. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

CHESHIRE SELECTMAN SAYS TOWN NEEDS TO TAKE STANCE ON PIPELINE 
 
Cheshire Selectman Robert Ciskowski warned his colleagues yesterday that the town will eventually have to take a position on the controversial Kinder Morgan gas pipeline. Ciskowski attended last Thursday's meeting in Lanesborough about the pipeline and shared his concerns with the rest of the board. The meeting was one of several being sponsored by groups opposed to the Northeast Energy Project line.
 
PITTSFIELD STUDY GROUP EXPRESSES CONCERNS OVER MOSQUITO SPRAYING  
 
A Pittsfield study group investigating possible alternatives to spraying for mosquitoes expressed strong concerns Monday for that aspect of the current Berkshire County Mosquito Control program. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the five-person group, led by city Director of Administrative Services Julia Sabourin, met for the first time at City Hall and plans at least one more session prior to issuing a report to the Board of Health in March. Residents Kathy Lloyd and James Wilusz, who is the Tri-Town Health Department director, said they are skeptical of the need and efficacy of spraying for adult mosquitoes as a method of controlling diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.



    The new playground on Winter Street was vandalized during the Christmas break. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 
NEWLY RENOVATED PARK VANALIZED  
 
Only one month after installing a brand new playground at Ray Crow Park, vandals have damaged the equipment. Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath told the Parks Commission yesterday that the park was defaced just a few days after Christmas. The Winter Street Park had been rebuilt just a month before. He said the playground was tagged heavily just after Christmas, and a fire was lit in the playgrounds brand-new tube slide. The slide will be replaced and city's maintenance department will clean up the graffiti.
 
SEPARATE TRIALS FOR FORMER LEE POLICE CHIEF  
 
There will be two trials for former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis (BOO-fiss) this May — for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from a holiday toy fund and for scamming the town of Lee into paying for his family's iPhones. The Berkshire Eagle reports that a U.S. District Court Judge ruled yesterday that the allegations connected with the phones encompassed in a single count of mail fraud warranted a separate trial because the evidence was substantially different from the other 11 charges the defendant is facing. Federal prosecutors allege that from January 1999 through December 2012, Buffis — facing "extreme debt" — diverted money from the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund for his personal use, totaling more than $120,000, and later lied to investigators about it.
 




   The large group of officials kicked around ideas at PEDA headquarters. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

SITE VISIT KICKS OFF TYLER STREET REDEVELOPMENT EFFORTS
 
A half-dozen MassDevelopment officials walked through the Morningside neighborhood Tuesday afternoon as they determine what could be done to jump-start Tyler Street.
The neighborhood is the next focus of redevelopment as the North Street project concludes. The city applied and was awarded the designation of Tyler Street as a Transformative Development Initiative District, a newly developed program for extra resources through the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency.
The city has already committed to putting in new lighting to brighten it up. Clark is also hoping to receive engineering money in the next capital plan to craft a 25 percent design of a streetscape renovation.The goal with the district designation is to follow similar plans as laid out for North Street of ushering in a project or two that will trigger more private investment. Those private investments hoped for are both commercial and residential.

GREAT BARRINGTON RESIDENT BUMP TAKES OATH TODAY  
 
Suzanne Bump will be inaugurated for her second term as Massachusetts State Auditor today. Bump, of Great Barrington, is the 25th Auditor of the Commonwealth – and is the first woman to hold the position. She was first elected in 2010. Governor Charlie Baker will administer the oath of office. The swearing-in event will also feature representatives from the Berkshire Legislative delegation, including State Rep. William Pignatelli and State Sen. Ben Downing. Musical performances are planned by students from the Conservatory Lab Charter School of Boston. The ceremony gets underway at 3pm in the Nurses Hall at the State House.
 
NEARLY $2,000 STOLEN FROM LENOX CONVENIENCE STORE  
 
Lenox Police are investigating a weekend break-in and theft of nearly $2,000 at O'Brien's Market, a popular Main Street convenience store. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Owner Daniel O'Brien discovered the money was missing when he opened the store early Sunday morning. According to the police report, the amount of cash missing totaled $1,856. The case is classified as a felony, breaking and entering in the nighttime and larceny over $250.
 
THREE TREATED AFTER CHLORINE OVERLOAD  
 
Three guests of a Lee resort — including two children — were transported to the hospital on Sunday after being overcome by too much chlorine while swimming in an indoor pool. According to Lee Fire Chief Alan Sparks, a circulation pump for the pool at Oak N’ Spruce Resort in South Lee apparently had a build-up of chlorine and inadvertently discharged more than the required amount of the chemical, which is regularly used to treat the water.
 
 GREAT BARRINGTON RESIDENT BUMP TAKES OATH TODAY
 
Suzanne Bump will be inaugurated for her second term as Massachusetts State Auditor today. Bump, of Great Barrington, is the 25th Auditor of the Commonwealth – and is the first woman to hold the position. She was first elected in 2010. Governor Charlie Baker will administer the oath of office. The swearing-in event will also feature representatives from the Berkshire Legislative delegation, including State Rep. William Pignatelli and State Sen. Ben Downing. Musical performances are planned by students from the Conservatory Lab Charter School of Boston. The ceremony gets underway at 3pm in the Nurses Hall at the State House.  
 
SOLAR PROJECT COULD NET SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS FOR GREAT BARRINGTON
 
Great Barrington and Berkshire Hills Regional School District are preparing to sign-off on a solar power purchasing agreement that will save thousands of dollars in yearly electricity costs by generating power from a solar array to be constructed on the old Rising Paper mill property off Park Street in Housatonic. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that the Housatonic Solar Project will also add the former brownfield to the tax rolls, among other benefits. Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin said she is pleased to support the generation of locally produced solar electricity, particularly on a former brownfield site. Tabakin says the project could save the town $70,000 to $80,000 per year, and generate $70,000 in new property tax revenues. Over the 20-year period of the agreement, that could amount to nearly $2 million.
 
BAKER CONFIRMS $765M SHORTFALL IN STATE FINANCES  
 
Gov. Charlie Baker says the state is facing a $765 million budget deficit in the fiscal year that runs through June 30th. The Republican governor made the projection yesterday after meeting his senior staff. Baker's predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, estimated in November the deficit to be $329 million. But the Baker administration projects that while state spending is expected to increase by more than 8 percent this fiscal year, tax revenues are only growing at 4.4 percent. The state has a $36 billion budget. The governor did not immediately spell out steps he hopes to take to address the deficit.
 
BILL SEEKS UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS  
 
A proposal filed on Beacon Hill calls for universal access to pre-kindergarten programs for all 3- and 4-year-olds in Massachusetts. Backers of the measure, unveiled yesterday, pointed to statistics showing that children enrolled in early education programs enjoy benefits both in public school and later in life.
The bill would allow school districts to develop universal pre-kindergarten programs and submit them to the state for funding under the state's Chapter 70 educational formula. The programs would be phased in over five years.
 
HEALEY TO TAKE OATH AS MASSACHUSETTS'S 55TH ATTORNEY GENERAL  
 
Attorney General-elect Maura Healey is vowing to use regular public meetings, online forums and social media to keep an open door with the public. Healey will unveil her plan for a new Division of Community Engagement when she takes her oath of office at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall today. The 43-year-old is the state's 55th attorney general and the state’s first openly gay candidate elected attorney general. Other statewide officials are being sworn in Wednesday, including Deborah Goldberg, elected state treasurer to replace fellow Democrat Steve Grossman. For the first time in Massachusetts history, the majority of the state's six constitutional offices will be held by women.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    The
Church Street Center at lunchtime. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 
 HUNDREDS VOLUNTEER FOR ANNUAL NORTH BERKSHIRE KING DAY  
 
More than 200 volunteers participated in 22nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Day of Service. IBerkshires.com reports that volunteers of all ages filled MCLA's Church Street Center in North Adams yesterday after a morning of cleaning, packing, winterizing, collecting and creating at Northern Berkshire YMCA, Goodwill, Louison House, local community centers and churches and the Friendship Center Food Pantry. The yearly event is a time to remember the calls for social justice by Dr. King and to keep his dream of equality alive. Those attending — ranging from children to the elderly, from local officials to Williams College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students — were encouraged to write down their solutions to creating better communities. 
 



    The Cemetery Commission is hoping to use some of the town's recently Chapter 90 funds to complete paving in Bellevue Cemetery. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 

ADAMS CEMETERY LOOKS TO USE CHAPTER 90 FUNDS  
 
The Cemetery Commission in Adams last week rounded up some last-minute projects they would like to see in the fiscal 2016 budget. IBerkshires.com reports that meeting on Thursday, Commissioner Bruce Shepley asked if the cemetery may be able to benefit from Adams' recent increase in Chapter 90 funds.
Gov. Charlie Baker's release of the remaining $100 million in Chapter 90 highway money will raise Adams' share from $291,820 to $437,729. Cemetery Supervisor David Nuvallie said some of the money may be able to be used to finish up the Bellevue Cemetery paving, of which 75 percent is done.
 
RICHMOND MAN KILLED IN CRASH A MILE FROM HOME  
 
A Richmond man was killed Sunday evening after his pickup truck rolled over — about a mile from his home. According to Massachusetts State Police, 50 year old Michael Renzi of Swamp Road was ejected from his Ford F-150 pickup about 7:30 p.m. Sunday near the Pittsfield city line. Renzi was the owner of a Pittsfield-based painting company. Emergency personnel performed CPR before transporting him to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he was pronounced dead. Although area roads were wet from a mix of snow and rain at the time of the crash, state police said the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
 
DAY OF SERVICE IN PITTSFIELD  
 
A few hours of donated time in the city put food on the table for many hungry people, created warm garments to see some neighbors through the winter and helped a family move that much closer to owning a home. The Berkshire Eagle reports, a few dozen volunteers rounded up in Pittsfield by Berkshire Community College joined the corps of an estimated hundreds of thousands of people across the country participating in the national “Day of Service,” now synonymous with the observation of Martin Luther King Day. Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi said yesterday during the event that King “raised a national consciousness” about social inequalities that existed in the United States of America.
 
NEW ENGLAND GETS WINDFALL FROM PLUMMETING HEATING OIL  
 
The region that relies most heavily on heating oil to stay warm is getting a windfall from the big drop in prices, which have plummeted to the lowest level in six years. Across New England, lower prices mean hundreds of millions of dollars in savings, putting more money in people's pockets and giving the region an economic boost. Families using oil to heat their homes can expect savings of $1,200 to $1,500 on average this year from lower heating oil and gasoline prices, officials said. Nationally, heating oil is down by at least a dollar a gallon.
 
FRIENDS OF SAINT MARY’S PLANS MEETING AND TOUR
 
A group hoping to preserve the former St. Mary the Morning Star church building plans a brainstorming session on marketing the structure regionally and a tour of another former church being restored for reuse in Great Barrington. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Darcie Sosa, a spokeswoman for the Friends of St. Mary's, said several local political leaders and leaders of cultural organizations or institutions in the Pittsfield area will be invited to a group meeting on Thursday. Among topics, she said, will be ways to advertise the availability of the former church throughout the r
Friday, January 16, 2015
 

    The board heard an appeal to hire a professional firm to do the town's revaluation and discussed a strategic plan. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
 
ADAMS MULLS HIRING FIRM FOR PROPERTY REVALUATION; GETS CHAPTER 90 BUMP
The Adams Selectmen were notified that the town will receive additional Chapter 90 funds and discussed hiring a firm to conduct property evaluations. IBerkshireshires.com reports that Chairman Arthur Harrington read a letter from the state Wednesday night at a board workshop meeting that stated that Gov. Charlie Baker will release the remaining Chapter 90 highway money. Baker had made a campaign promise to release $100 million in Chapter 90 held back by the last administration. Instead of receiving $291,820, Adams will receive $437,729 in its Chapter 90 account. Assessor Donna MacDonald went before the board and requested that it consider hiring an independent firm to conduct the town’s property re-evaluation instead of doing it in house.



    The library trustees rescinded a controversial policy and got an update on the library project. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)
 
ADAMS TRUSTEES OFFICIALLY RESCIND LIBRARY SERVICE ANIMAL POLICY
 
The Adams Free Library board of trustees officially rescinded its approval of a service animal policy. IBerkshires.com reports that the trustees met Monday afternoon to revoke the decision made in December. The policy was immediately attacked by people saying it discriminated against those in need of a service animal and was illegal. Library Director Deborah Bruneau suspended the policy soon after the approval. According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals do not have to be licensed or certified and cannot be prohibited or detained. If an animal is acting up, the owner can be asked to remove it.
 
CLOUD 85, A CO-WORK, PUBLIC OFFICE SPACE, TO OPEN IN NORTH ADAMS  
 
New office space is opening in downtown North Adams — and for a membership fee, anyone can work there. The Berkshire Eagle reports that, Called Cloud 85, the business is a new concept in office use; members can work there all week and have their own space, or they can use the space on a more sporadic basis. Jeffrey Thomas, a partner in the business and manager of Cloud 85, said he expects the space will appeal to "independent professionals - folks who he says are finding it difficult to be productive in a home office due to household distractions – or freelancers like writers, graphic designers, telecommuters or consultants. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Cloud 85, which is at 85 Main Street; the facility officially opens on Wednesday.
 



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

 MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY OF SERVICE
 
The Martin Luther King Day Committee is inviting everyone to join the Northern Berkshire community as they celebrate the life, principles, and ideals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a “Day of Service”. The celebration begins with registration at 9am Monday at MCLA Church Street Center. There will be plenty of coffee and pastries on hand. You can participate by providing service to the community at more than ten sites including: Louison House, North Adams Skating Rink, local churches, weatherization for homes, the YMCA, food collection sites, and projects onsite at the MCLA Church Street Center. After the morning service projects, all participants are invited to return to MCLA Church Street Center at 12:30pm for a free luncheon and community celebration including local entertainment and some uplifting words. The annual Peacemaker Award will be presented to Al and Cindi McLain during the celebration. The event is free and everyone in the community is encouraged to volunteer and celebrate.
 
BERKSHIRE FAMILY BURGLARY RING STRETCHED ACROSS STATE  
 
State police say they have broken up a family-run ring of thieves who were responsible for more than 130 break-ins stretching from the Berkshires to the Cape going back to 2010. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Nancy and James Tarjick, and their sons Aaron and James Jr., were arrested Wednesday after a multiple police agency raid on four properties in various locations in Berkshire County. They were held overnight pending their arraignment yesterday in Central Berkshire District Court. Judge William Rota released Nancy and James Tarjick Sr. on their own recognizance and held Jamie Tarjick on $10,000 cash or $100,000 surety bail. All three defendants are due back in court February 11th.  
 
CITY MAN CHARGED WITH CAUSING CRASH THAT INJURED HIMSELF AND TWO OTHERS
 
A Pittsfield man is facing felony charges for allegedly ripping the steering wheel away from his girlfriend during an argument at about 1:45 a.m. January 3rd, near the intersection of Dalton and Kensington Avenues causing the vehicle she was driving to flip over and injure the occupants. 21 year old Taylor Womble, of Crane Avenue, is free on $250 bail. Womble pleaded not guilty yesterday to single counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He is also facing a probation violation stemming from a misdemeanor assault and battery from September 2013. In that case, police say he punched his then-girlfriend during an argument. He pleaded to facts sufficient.
 
THIRD ANNUAL POLAR PLUNGE RETURNS TO ONOTA LAKE ON VALENTINE'S DAY
 
 Hundreds of area residents will brave icy waters this Valentine's Day with the return of the Polar Plunge at Onota Lake in Pittsfield. The Law Enforcement Torch run is putting on its third plunge after raising more than $53,000 for the Special Olympics last year. The hope is for more than 250 plungers to dive into frozen Onota Lake in Pittsfield to raise $60,000. Registration for the Onota Lake event on Saturday, February 14th, can be made here or at 9 a.m. that day. Plunging will start at 11.



    The task force held its first meeting on Thursday afternoon. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 
PANEL TO INVESTIGATE PRIVATIZING WATER/WASTE-WATER SYSTEMS  
 
A five-member task force has begun researching the possibility of privatizing the city's water and waste-water systems. IBerkshires.com reports that City Council Vice President Christopher Connell previously put forth a petition asking for the consideration. Mayor Daniel Bianchi obliged and put together the task force. Yesterday, the group consisting of former Commissioner of Public Utilities William Forestell, William Sturgeon, Robert Meyers, Director of Community Development Douglas Clark and Connell held its first meeting.  
 
OUTGOING AG MARTHA COAKLEY AMONG 5 NAMED TO HARVARD FELLOWSHIPS
 
Outgoing Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will be among five resident fellows at Harvard University's Institute of Politics in the spring. Coakley is leaving office next week after two terms as attorney general. The Democrat narrowly lost the governor's race to Republican Charlie Baker in November.
 
DEB IN BERKSHIRE MALL TO CLOSE
 
Deb Shops will close at the Berkshire Mall Lanesborough, after the national corporation filed bankruptcy.  The company will be closing about 300 of its stores across the country. Locally, Deb becomes the latest store in the Berkshire Mall to announce closures. Late in 2014, FYE announced the closure of their store and Radio Shack announced a closure early in 2015. Radio Shack is reportedly preparing to file bankruptcy as well.
 
GIRL SCOUTS GO DIGITAL
 
You’ll still them around the Berkshires, but for the first time in its history, Girl Scouts from local troops will be able to sell Girl Scout Cookies to customers through a brand new national Digital Cookie platform. The addition to the Girl Scout Cookie Program will enhance and expand the program’s ability to teach girls new skills for business and life. The new platform will expand the iconic cookie program by adding a digital layer that broadens and strengthens the essential five skills that girls learn in the traditional cookie program: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.
 
TROOP 23 CHRISTMAS TREE RECYCLING SATURDAY 
 
 If you haven’t disposed of your Christmas tree yet… you may want to take advantage of the Boy Scout Troop 23 Christmas Tree Recycling fundraiser this weekend. The second of two collection dates is taking place tomorrow from 10am-1pm at the Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe in Great Barrington. For a $5 donation, you can drop your tree off for recycling. When you do, you’ll get a free coffee and a donut from the doughnut Shoppe, located at 258 Stockbridge Road. If you would rather have your tree picked up, you can do that too for a $10 donation. Just call 329-7065 to schedule a pickup. Just remember to make sure your tree is free of any tinsel, nails or wires. Flocked trees are also not accepted. Checks can be made out to Boy Scout Troop 23. Just attach it to the bottom of your tree in a zip-lock bag to keep it dry. All the trees collected will be brought to a chipper location for mulching. 


 Thursday, January 15, 2015

    The Planning Board had a fairly lengthy meeting Tuesday (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN PLANNING BOARD DEBATES ZONING EXPANSION FOR NEW INN
 
The Williamstown Planning Board on Tuesday narrowed down its choices for a proposed expansion of the Village Business District.
The expansion is being considered in light of a proposal from Williams College to build a new inn near the bottom of Spring Street. The proposal has been met with enthusiasm from downtown merchants, and the Planning Board is aiming to get the expansion question before the voters in time for May's annual town meeting.
At issue now is how much of expansion the board prefers.
On Tuesday night, the board directed Town Planner Andrew Groff to come back to its Feb. 10 meeting with two proposals — one with a larger expansion than the other. The board hopes to pick one and send it on to the Board of Selectmen to begin the process of getting it on the town meeting warrant.
 
 
NORTH ADAMS FOOD SERVICES DIRECTOR OBTAINS $20,000 GRANT  
 
North Adams Public Schools Food Services Director Cory Nicholas has been awarded a $20,000 School Nutrition Equipment Assistance for High Need Districts Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. The purpose of the School Nutrition Equipment Assistance Grant for High Need Districts is to encourage eligible schools to increase their capacity to serve healthier meals that meet the 2014-2015 USDA meal standards, as part of participating in the National School Lunch Program. The grant will be used to purchase a new Energy Star Certified commercial dishwasher. The new purchase will replace Greylock Elementary School’s 40 year old, highly inefficient dishwasher which requires constant repairs. 
 
ANNUAL ADAMS CENSUS UNDERWAY  
 
The 2015 annual town census is underway in Adams. The census, mandated by the Massachusetts General Law, is very important. The residential count has a direct impact on how much the town receives each year in state aid and grant money. Residents are encouraged to fill out the form when they received it in the mail and to return it even if there are no changes. It can be returned by mail or it can be dropped off at the Adams town hall where a drop-off box has been provided. Failure to respond could potentially result in removal from the active voters list. If you do not receive the form with your mail you can call the town clerk between the hours of 8:30am and 4pm, Monday through Friday.



    Community Development Director Donna Cesan explained possible projects for which Community Development Block Grants can be used. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 
 
ADAMS LOOKING AT CDBG FUNDS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL, NORTHERN GATEWAY   
 

The former Adams Memorial Middle School will continue to be a major focus as the town develops its Community Development Block Grant strategy. IBerkshires.com reports that the procurement of funds for the vacant building was a hot topic at Tuesday night's public meeting on possible applications of federal CDBG money. Director of Community Development Donna Cesan said the town will continue to focus on keeping the project revenue neutral. Some residents felt it was contradictory to hear that the building was structurally sound after the middle school left because school officials claimed the building was deteriorating.  
 



    Clarksburg Elementary School has been invited to enter the MSBA's eligibility phase. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/staff)

CLARKSBURG SCHOOL INVITED INTO MSBA ELIGIBILITY PHASE  
 
After years of applying, Clarksburg has been invited to begin the process of renovating or of building a new school. The Massachusetts School Building Authority Board of Directors yesterday morning voted to invite the school district into the eligibility stage. The school district will have 270 days, or about nine months, to determine its financial capability and the community's support for continuing the process. Once the school district gets approval and appoints a school building committee, it will become eligible for the feasibility study phase, subject to a vote of the board of directors. The MSBA will determine the state and town's financial responsibilities for the study and construction.



    City Councilor Lisa Blackmer is sworn in as president by City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
 
OFFICERS ELECTED IN NORTH ADAMS  
 
The North Adams City Council in its first meeting of the year on Tuesday re-elected officers. Lisa Blackmer was re-elected as president and Nancy Bullett as vice president, unanimously. Councilor Jennifer Breen was absent. Councilor’s Wayne Wilkinson and Keith Bona drew the names and seats for the 2015 term. The council also reappointed Justyna Carlson to the Historical Commission for a term expiring in 2018 but postponed reappointing William Mahoney until his residence could be confirmed.
 
SCAMMERS TARGET CUSTOMERS OF BERKSHIRE POWER COMPANIES
 
Consumers are being warned about similar payment scams targeting customers of two electricity utilities serving the Berkshires. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that the Western Massachusetts Electric Co. and the Better Business Bureau of Central New England, which covers Berkshire County, have both recently issued consumer advisories on these tactics. The Worcester-based Better Business Bureau's advisory warns consumers about a scam that has been targeting National Grid customers. WMECo says the scam involves impersonators trying to obtain account information and entry into customers' homes, while other include scammers who falsely tell residents and businesses their utility company will shut off the power unless payment is made immediately.
 
PITTSFIELD MAN GET UP TO 8 YEARS FOR STABBING  
 
Calling the stabbing of a 29-year-old man "a very serious matter," a judge yesterday sentenced 26 year old Tony "Chris" Babcock to serve up to eight years in state prison. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Berkshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini told Babcock that the charge of armed assault to murder — one of the crimes Babcock was convicted of last week — was among the most serious charges a person could get. Babcock, of Pittsfield, stabbed Casey Trumbull seven times just after midnight on October 24th, 2013, in the backyard of a house where Trumbull had been hiding after an earlier clash with Babcock, a jury found after trial.




    Glass will be a major feature to a new Taconic High School (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
 
DEBATE ON SHAPE OF NEW TACONIC HIGH ROOF CONTINUES  
 
The details of the roof for a new Taconic High School continue to be a focus of city officials during the design phase. IBerkshires.com reports that architects are still advocating designing the building for a flat roof but some officials say they want them to be sloped.  On Monday, architect Carl Franceschi of Drumney Rosane & Anderson Architects Inc. said he will design an option that includes a pitched roof but still says flat roofs fit the project better.  
 
 
PITTSFIELD COUNCIL APPROVES PERMIT AND INSPECTION INCREASES  
 
The Pittsfield City Council approved an increase in building permit and inspection fees on Tuesday. Building Commissioner Gerald Garner proposed raising an array of fees, which he called "modest increases."  The increases on building, plumbing, gas and electrical departments, – as well as the removal of caps from some permits is eyed to raise nearly $200,000 in revenue and align the city with similar communities.  The removal of caps was of particular interest to the City Council. The caps often reduced the cost for large projects.
 
MINOR PITTSFIELD HOUSE FIRE SPARKED BY LIGHT FIXTURE  
 
A light fixture sparked a minor house fire that briefly chased two Pittsfield residents into the bitter cold late Tuesday night. The Berkshire Eagle that the Pittsfield Fire Department responded shortly after 11pm to the Whalen home at 14 Dexter Street, off Elm Street, where fire broke out on the second floor, according to city fire officials. Heat from a ceiling light fixture ignited a wooden ceiling joist, producing smoke and some flames. Homeowner Tony Whalen called 911 after smelling the smoke before he and his daughter escaped outside unharmed. Deputy Fire Chief Keith Phillips said the Whalens were allowed back into their home 90 minutes later. He added the second floor sustained smoke and some water damage and the single-family home is insured.
 
PITTSFIELD PHARMACY VAN FLIPS IN N.Y., DRAWING HAZMAT RESPONSE
 
 A Pittsfield man escaped injury on Monday when the truck he was driving flipped on its side, causing leaks in three oxygen tanks he was delivering. According to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office 55 year old Clifton Stillman, of Pittsfield, an employee of Flynn's Pharmacy in Pittsfield, was heading south on state Route 22 in a Ford box truck shortly after noon when the vehicle crossed the center line and struck a guard rail in the northbound lane. The truck then veered back into the southbound lane, struck another guardrail, and tipped over on the driver's side. Stillman wasn't hurt in the wreck, but deputies discovered that three of the 950-pound home oxygen tanks aboard the vehicle were leaking. The Columbia County Hazmat Team and Columbia County Emergency Management responded to the scene to help with the cleanup. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
 
LEE, LENOX TO COMPARE NOTES ON POTENTIAL SHARED SERVICES, ADMINISTRATORS  
 
The Lee and Lenox school committees plan to come up with a laundry list of needs that could lead to shared services, programs and/or administrators — including a superintendent. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the pair of seven-member boards gathered in the Lee Elementary School cafeteria earlier this week for the first of a series of meetings to determine how best to jointly deliver quality education while maintaining separate school districts. To that end, the committees will ask their interim superintendents to compile a list of the most pressing and long-term needs facing the school systems.  
 
MASSACHUSETTS LABOR GROUPS PLAN TO OUTLINE PRIORITIES  
 
Labor groups are planning to converge on Beacon Hill to outline their goals for the new two-year legislative session. Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, said those priorities include better protections for vulnerable employees like temporary workers and day laborers. She said labor groups, including the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, want to make 2015 a banner year for halting workplace deaths and injuries. Also Wednesday, supporters of a $15 minimum wage in Massachusetts are planning to launch the first of what they say will be a series of protests on the 15th of every month to press for what they call a living wage.
 
 
LEE, LENOX TO COMPARE NOTES ON POTENTIAL SHARED SERVICES, ADMINISTRATORS  
 
The Lee and Lenox school committees plan to come up with a laundry list of needs that could lead to shared services, programs and/or administrators — including a superintendent. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the pair of seven-member boards gathered in the Lee Elementary School cafeteria earlier this week for the first of a series of meetings to determine how best to jointly deliver quality education while maintaining separate school districts. To that end, the committees will ask their interim superintendents to compile a list of the most pressing and long-term needs facing the school systems. Part-time Lee Superintendent Alfred Skrocki and interim Lenox Superintendent Timothy Lee, are expected to present those lists at another meeting next month.
 
REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS COULD SUE STATE  
 
Regional school districts could possibly sue the state of Massachusetts over cuts to transportation funds. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that back in November, a projected $325 million budget shortfall had prompted outgoing Governor Deval Patrick to make what are known as 9C cuts to the state’s $36.5 billion budget, slashing funds that do not require the legislature’s approval. Included in Patrick’s revisions is an $18.7 million cut to regional school transportation — the biggest hit of all — striking a blow to rural districts that spend a fortune on bussing. Not only are regional school districts alarmed, but they say that cut is illegal, and will collectively take their case to the Attorney General and newly inaugurated Gov. Charlie Baker.
 
LIBRARY ANNOUNCES COMMUNITY BOOK READ  
 
Lenox Reads Together, a project to read a novel that is not about Lenox in order to spark discussion about Lenox issues, is returning to The Lenox Library with "Flight Behavior," Barbara Kingsolver's novel about the beauty and exploitation of nature. The book can be read in January in preparation for book discussions and other activities to be offered beginning January 24th. Copies of the novel may be purchased at The Bookstore or borrowed at the main desk of the library. Cardholders may reserve a free ebook copy through the Overdrive catalog on the library's website. Hard copies are also available for community members without a library card.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    Shira Wohlberg, left, and Anne O'Connor encouraged the Board of Selectmen to attend an anti-gas pipeline meeting and adopt a resolution opposing the pipeline. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

WILLIAMSTOWN URGED TO OPPOSE PIPELINE; ACTIVISTS SET INFO MEETINGS

A group of residents came to Monday's Williamstown’s Board of Selectmen meeting to ask town officials to endorse a resolution opposing a proposed gas pipeline that would run through Northern Berkshire County. Iberkshires.com reports that according to activists, although no part of the route would go through the town itself, the threat it poses to the county is everyone's problem. And two of those activists were at Town Hall on Monday night to encourage the selectmen to attend one of five upcoming informational sessions about Kinder Morgan's Northeast Energy Direct project. The first is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Lanesborough Town Hall. Another is even closer to home for Williamstown residents: at Williams College's Dodd Dining Hall at noon on Friday, January 23rd.
 
CLARKSBURG ELEMENTARY UPGRADE CONSIDERED BY SBA
 
For years, Clarksburg Elementary School has struggled with insufficient space. Built in 1952 and twice expanded, the school still is about 5,500 square feet smaller than the state recommends for its enrollment. And technologically, it's well behind the times. The Berkshire Eagle report that the Massachusetts School Building Authority will decide today whether to begin the process of working with the district to renovate or replace the school. Northern Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jon Lev, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, and members of the School Committee, will attend the 10 a.m. meeting in Boston. Officials have submitted a comprehensive "statement of interest" to the MSBA multiple times over the past decade, but the district has never been accepted.




    The board reviewed the fiscal 2016 budget and approved a hazardous waste collection in May. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino) 

NORTH COUNTY HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION SET FOR SPRING 
 
The Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District will hold a hazardous waste collection in the spring. Program Coordinator Sandy Totter told the district's board on Thursday that there were enough funds to hold the collection May 30th. Totter said the collection will be at Adams' Department of Public Works garage on Summer Street. It will be open to residents of the 12 towns that make up the district. Totter said normally people should call and register ahead during the collection to better manage what comes in The district has not had a collection since October 2012.

OPEN BURNING SEASON BEGINS THURSDAY 
 
Opening burning of agricultural debris, excluding leaves, grass, stumps, and demolition debris, will begin tomorrow and end April 30 at 4 p.m. Burning is permitted between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Outdoor fires must be at least 75 feet from any building, attended to and under control at all times. A burning permit must be obtained before any burning can be done. Permits may be obtained by calling Forest Warden Dick Kleiner. Violations can be punishable by a fine of $100.





    The former McBride Funeral Home closed in 2011. It will soon host 'haunted artifacts' from Zaffis' collection. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

HAUNTED COLLECTOR' HOST TO HOUSE ARTIFACTS IN ADAMS
 
Paranormal researcher John Zaffis received approval from the Adams Zoning Board of Appeals to use McBride Funeral home as a museum to house his haunted artifacts.
The Connecticut native has been collecting so-called "haunted artifacts" for 40 years. He also runs the Paranormal and Demonology Research Society of New England, which he founded in 1998. Zaffis' show "Haunted Collector" aired for three seasons on the Syfy channel, from 2011 to 2013. On the show, Zaffis and his crew investigated haunted areas and searched for an item linked to the haunting.
Zaffis said these are the items he would like to display in the former funeral home.
McBride's closed nearly three years ago with the retirement of funeral director Anthony McBride, ending three generations of a family business.
 
EASIER TO POSTPONE TOWN MEETINGS
 
Town meeting moderators across the state have been given broader powers to postpone gatherings such as town meetings, because of severe weather or other public safety emergencies. The new law is of particular significance here in the Berkshires because every community here, with the exception of Pittsfield and North Adams, has a town meeting structure. A new law passed in the closing days of last year's legislative session allows moderators, in consultation with selectmen and other town officials, to reschedule town meetings without having to first call the meeting to order. Under the old law, moderators would have to convene the meeting — regardless of weather or other circumstances — before declaring a recess. 
 
CAPELESS TAKES OATH FOR THIRD FULL TERM AS DA

 
District Attorney David Capeless pointed to his 54 employees sitting in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday as to why, after 11 years, he still has a passion for his job. Iberkshires.com reports that Capeless was sworn in by Judge Joan McMenemy, Juvenile Court justice, for his third four-year term as the county's district attorney. The Pittsfield native was appointed by then Gov. Mitt Romney in 2004 to succeed Gerard D. Downing, who died while in office, and won election later that year to complete Downing's term. He went on to win three more consecutive elections, two of which were unopposed.
 
TWO MORE MAJOR BRIDGE JOBS FOR UNISTRESS
 
Unistress Corp. has followed the largest bridge replacement contract in the company's 47-year history by landing two more multimillion dollar projects — creating dozens of new jobs. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Cheshire Road firm has received an $11 million contract to provide pre-stressed concrete to replace the Goethals Bridge between Staten Island, N.Y., and New Jersey. A separate $15 million contract will provide concrete panels for the new Sara Mildred Long Bridge, which spans the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine. Work on the Goethals Bridge is scheduled to start in March, while the Sara Mildred bridge project is expected to begin in either May or June, according to Unistress President Perri Petricca.
 
BODY SLAMMING CASE CONTINUES WITHOUT GUILT FINDING
 
A city man police alleged body slammed a 12-year-old girl in December had his case continued without a finding of guilt for three months. Pittsfield police say 33 year old Zechariah Shuler pulled his girlfriend's daughter down to the floor by her hair and then picked her up and body-slammed her when she tried to fight back during an argument on December 7th. His lawyer, William Barry, said a state Department of Children & Families investigation showed this was untrue. His client did admit to forcefully pushing the girl down onto a couch after she hit him. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Andrew Giarolo said the argument began over the girl not following the house rules and got out of control. Shuler lives at the residence with his girlfriend and six children, according to Barry. Shuler pleaded to facts sufficient for a finding of guilt on a single charge of assault and battery yesterday in Central Berkshire District Court.
 
PERMIT FEE WAIVED FOR MINISTRY
 
No one asked Pastor Sharon Johnson to rally together barbers and give dozens of city children free haircuts for school. And no one asked her to find new furniture for the victims of a fire on Francis Avenue. But she helped anyway. Iberkshires.com reports that yesterday, Johnson found herself in a unique position — asking the city for help. Johnson is building her own parish — City Impact Global Ministries — and she was given a waiver for $1,805 in permit fees.
 
PATRICKS SIGNS ON AS VISITING FELLOW AT MIT
 
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed on to be a visiting fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The school announced on Tuesday that Patrick, who left office last week after two terms, will participate in MIT's Innovation Initiative. The role will include appearances at seminars and other campus events, and Patrick will have office hours at the school, though he will not be teaching classes. Patrick confirmed before leaving office that he had been in discussions about what he called a "loose affiliation" with MIT. The Democrat has not revealed any other plans beyond his intention to return to the private sector. MIT said in a statement the former governor would focus on "issues at the intersection of policymaking, entrepreneurship, and innovation-based growth."
 
RAILROAD STREET AND BCC OFFERING YOUTH BUSINESS TRAINING
 
The Railroad Street Youth Project, BerkShares, Inc., the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, and Berkshire Community College are partnering to offer an Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship to South County youth this winter. The Berkshire Edge.com reports that Berkshire Community College’s South County Center is hosting the eight-week long course, which began this week, in one of its state-of-the-art classrooms. In mid-March, the program will culminate with a public event where participants will present their business plans and each will receive an award of 200 BerkShares. One of the most common complaints heard in the Berkshires is that young Berkshire county residents have few opportunities to stay here after high school and make a good living.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
 
   Town Manager Peter Fohlin has announced he will retire in April. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Rebecca Dravis)
 
WILLIAMSTOWN TOWN MANAGER FOHLIN ANNOUNCES APRIL RETIREMENT
 
Peter Fohlin, who has served as the town manager for nearly 15 years in Williamstown, has notified the board of selectmen there of his plans to retire effective April 26th. IBerkshires.com reports that Chairman Ronald Turbin made the announcement at the beginning of yesterday’s meeting. Turbin and his colleagues were notified by letter in advance of the meeting. Turbin told the board he would poll his colleagues today about dates for a retreat to begin discussing the search process for the town's first new town manager in a decade and a half.
 
ANNUAL CENSUS FORMS DUE IN NORTH ADAMS
 
If you live in North Adams and haven’t yet returned your annual census form, you need to do so. Mayor Richard Alcombright tells the Berkshire News Network that North Adams, as the rest of the county, is steadily losing population, and filling out the census is vitally important. Residents should make every effort to return a completed form within ten days or so of receiving it.



    Nancy English, left, and Thomas Bernard were recognized for their volunteer efforts at the veterans services office at City Hall. Tina Samson is behind English. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

 
NORTH ADAMS VETERANS OFFICE VOLUNTEERS RECOGNIZED
 
Two volunteers who have been working in the North Adams veteran’s services office at City Hall for several years were recognized yesterday for their efforts. IBerkshires.com reports that Nancy English, widow of a Korean War veteran, and Thomas Bernard, a former educator and Korean War veteran, were presented with proclamations from Mayor Richard Alcombright and a cake with an American flag on it. Alcombright said many people had helped in building up the veteran’s office as it has come to represent a number of North County towns over the past few years, particularly Veterans Agent Stephen Roy and his assistant Tina Samson, but English and Bernard also have been instrumental in its success.
 
BERKSHIRE YMCAS SH
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