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News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  
The state's five-year bond bill includes an $8.775 million earmark for a pilot project to beautify a section of the Hoosic River. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

HOOSIC RIVER REVIVAL IN LINE FOR MONEY FROM STATE (NA)

A group of local activists hopes that getting into the state's funding stream will help advance a project to beautify and utilize the Hoosic River. IBerkshires.com repost, the Hoosic River Revival Coalition this week is keeping an eye on Boston, where the Legislature will vote on the five-year Environmental Bond Bill, which includes $8.8 million for design and construction of Phase 1 of the river restoration project. With the project included in both the House and Senate versions of the legislation, inclusion in the final product is highly likely.



    Selectmen Chairman Ronald Turbin and Jane Patton review minutes from a prior meeting on Monday evening. Patton filled in the board on conversations about possibly moving the Fire District's annual meeting to the same day as town meeting. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

WILLIAMSTOWN TOWN, FIRE DISCUSS COORDINATING ANNUAL MEETINGS

There has been a lot of talk over the couple of years about getting Williamstown's two municipal entities on the same page. Part of the solution may lie in getting them on the same page of the calendar. Board of Selectmen Jane Patton Patton has been working directly with Prudential Committee Chairman John Notsley on the Public Safety Building Study Committee. Patton said Notsley supported the idea of coordinating the dates. Currently, the Fire District holds its annual meeting and district elections one week after Annual Town Meeting. The other big topic of discussion on Monday evening was a continuation of the board's dialogue about economic development.

STORMS WALLOP THE BERKSHIRES YET AGAIN

Berkshire County was hit with a triple does of severe thunderstorms yesterday. Wind gusts were as high as 60 mph and the downpours caused flooding in many parts of the county. Residents in Lenox, West Stockbridge and New Marlborough lost their power late in the day, according to the National Grid website. Western Massachusetts Electric Company reported about half of Dalton was without electricity service last night, but it apparently wasn't storm-related. There was an issue with a power substation that was resolved by about 10pm. An early morning thunder shower deposited nearly two inches of rain in the Pittsfield area yesterday. Another round of storms came in at around 2:30pm, downing tree limbs in parts of Central and South Berkshire. A slightly less severe storm made its way through the county shortly before 5pm. There was plenty of damage that resulted from the rain, high winds, and even some reported lightning strikes. There were several reports of downed tree branches, debris, and flash flooding in parts of the county. This latest round of storms came as crews were still cleaning up damage caused by the storm system that moved through on Sunday. The town of Dalton, which was hit hardest Sunday, had to declare a state of emergency in hopes of receiving state aid to help pay for the cleanup.

GAS PRICES DOWN 4 CENTS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Gas prices in Massachusetts have dropped another 4 cents in the past week. AAA Southern New England says the price for self-serve regular is currently averaging $3.58 cents per gallon and has fallen 12 cents in the past month. The state is 6 cents higher than the current national average of $3.52 per gallon. A year ago at this time, the average price was $3.71 per gallon in Massachusetts. According to the latest prices posted on MSN Auto's, the average price at the pump for regular unleaded in Pittsfield ranges between $3.49 and $3.61 per gallon. The price is actually much higher in the Great Barrington area, where the price per gallon ranges between $3.65 and $3.79. Prices are similar in other parts of the southern Berkshires. In the Adams/North Adams area prices are ranging between $3.62 and $3.65.

CONFIRMED TORNADO IN BOSTON

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-2 tornado touched down in suburban Boston yesterday. Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo says 65 homes and businesses were damaged and 13 are considered to be uninhabitable. The tornado touched down yesterday morning near the Chelsea-Revere line. Forecasters say it was on the ground about 4 minutes. No major injuries were reported.



    Carl Franceschi goes over the Taconic High School options prior to the School Building Needs Commission voting for a new school on Monday night. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

SCHOOL BUILDING PANEL OPTS FOR NEW HIGH SCHOOL

The City of Pittsfield will submit the option for a constructing a new $120 million Taconic High School to the Massachusetts School Building Authority next week. IBerkshires.com reports that the School Building Needs Commission on yesterday voted 16-1 for the new construction option after more than an hour of discussion - and years of debate. Ballpark figures for a new school range from $114 million to $125 million. The city will submit the option to the MSBA on August 7th along with responses to comments on previously submitted educational and space plans.

HILLCREST GETS $9 MILLION

Hillcrest Educational Centers has been issued $9 million in tax exempt and taxable bonds to expand and potentially increase enrollment at the South Street-based organization. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the bonds were issued by Mass-Development, the state's finance and development agency. According to Hillcrest's CFO Mark Placido, the center plans to use the bond proceeds to build a 5,000square- foot dormitory building, demolish an existing dorm, and build a 10,000 square-foot academic building.

LEONARD BERNSTEIN BUST UNVEILED AT TANGLEWOOD

As a tribute to one of Tanglewood's most prominent guiding spirits for 50 years, a bronze bust of the late composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein was unveiled last night at Tanglewood in Lenox. The Berkshire Eagle reports, Bernstein's association with Tanglewood began in 1940 when he attended the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home as a conducting student. He conducted his final concerts at Tanglewood shortly before his death in 1990. The bronze sculpture by sculptor Penelope Jencks was installed in the main entrance of Tanglewood's Highwood manor house, as part of the BSO's continuing plan to pay tribute to several of Tanglewood's most famed musical giants of the past 75 years through a series of sculptures.

Massachusetts News From The Associated Press

REVERE, Mass. (AP) - The cleanup continues from yesterday's tornado that damaged dozens of homes and businesses in Revere. Mayor Daniel Rizzo says it's a miracle nobody was seriously hurt in the twister. Displaced residents spent the night in a shelter and there is no word on when city workers will be able to return to the badly damaged city hall.

BOSTON (AP) - Divers this morning have been able to free a whale watch boat that got stuck yesterday about 15 miles offshore, forcing the 157 passengers on board to spend a night at sea. The vessel's propeller got caught in a lobster trap rope. Crews are now inspecting the ship and if all goes well it will be escorted back to Boston using its single working propeller.

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick says he's hearing mostly support backing his state offer to shelter unaccompanied immigrant children flooding across the country's southern border. Patrick says he's gotten no new information from federal officials on whether they will seek to house any children temporarily in Massachusetts.

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick today plans to sign a measure authorizing state borrowing for a $1 billion expansion of Boston's convention center to allow it to compete for larger conventions. The project would increase the center's operating space by more than 50 percent.

DUXBURY, Mass. (AP) - An autopsy is being done to determine what caused the death of a person whose remains turned up in a box at a Duxbury intersection over the weekend. The state medical examiner determined the remains were human but has not been able to identify them so far, with investigators hoping a tip might help them identify the person.




Monday, July 28, 2014

   
Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin, left, and Williams College's James Kolesar were among those who facilitated the collaboration. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)

OFFICIALS CELEBRATE PROGRESS ON WILLIAMSTOWN HOUSING PROJECT

There still is no date to start digging the actual foundation of Williamstown's new senior housing complex. IBerkshires.com reports however that the metaphorical foundation gathered in town's senior center on Friday to celebrate the project's progress. Many of the collaborators were on hand to mark the occasion. Developers are planning to bring the 40-unit apartment complex beside Proprietor's Field online by early 2016, in time to coincide with the final closure of the mobile home park.

     Little Carrick Wood is battling a rare form of leukemia; the community has rallied around his family with a number of fundraisers. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

NORTH COUNTY RESIDENTS RALLY AROUND ILL NEWBORN

Members of the North County community are drumming up support for local baby born with a rare form of leukemia. IBerkshires.com reports that Carrick Wood was born on July 4th to Pat and Crista Wood and rushed to Albany Medical Center's NICU where he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after two blood transfusions and chemotherapy. Currently Carrick and his parents have relocated to the Children's Hospital in Boston. A family friend, who is spearheading the fundraising, said Carrick suffers from a form of leukemia that is very rarely found in newborns.

$15 MILLION PROJECT EXPECTED TO BE DONE IN JUNE OF 2015

A $15 million renovation is underway on Bowman Hall at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, with officials expecting the building to be completed by June 2015. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the overhaul of the 60,000square- foot building, which opened in 1970, is being funded by the same $54 million construction bond which created the college's new Center for Science and Innovation. That 65,000 square-foot building opened last fall between Blackinton and Porter streets. The construction on Bowman began at the end of June, with Eastern General Constructors, Inc. of Springfield serving as the general contractor.

VIOLENT STORM RIPS THROUGH THE BERKSHIRES

A violent thunderstorm ripped through the Berkshires yesterday afternoon with the central and southern Berkshires getting the brunt of the storm. Thousands of homes and businesses were without power as a result. The National Weather Service office in Albany reported the storm hit the Massachusetts-New York state line in Hancock at about 5 p.m. and 30 minutes later it exited the county heading east, part of a frontal system that swept through from Ohio. The storm left behind numerous downed trees and power lines. The town of Dalton was hit hard. Fire Chief Jerry Cahalan said there six homes that sustained minor damage from 15 to 20 trees that were brought down by the storm. Town officials had declared a state of emergency by late last night in hopes of qualifying for state disaster relief funds. There were also downed power lines and tree damage reported in Otis, Becket, Lanesborough, Hinsdale and Pittsfield, with the debris temporarily blocking several roads. Western Massachusetts Electric Company more than 4,200 customers lost power during the height of the storm. WMECO worked through the overnight, and according to the utilities website, all power has been restored. National Grid, the other electric utility serving Berkshire County, was handling scattered power outages in Sheffield and other parts of South County.

HOUSE FIRE IN OTIS MAY HAVE RESULTED FROM STORM

A house fire in Otis may have been started as a result of yesterday's thunderstorm. Otis Fire Chief Sandy Pinkham told the Berkshire Eagle that an unconfirmed a lightning strike caused a fire just after 7pm at 61 Bliven Road, west of the Otis Ridge Ski Area along Route 23. With help from the Monterey, Becket and Sandisfield fire departments, Otis firefighters were able to confined put out the fire which they managed to confine to the homes basement. The house was unoccupied when the fire broke out. The home sustained heavy fire and smoke damage to the basement. An investigator from the State Fire Marshal's Office has been called in to determine the cause of the fire.

PITTSFIELD FIRE ALSO MAY HAVE BEEN STORM RELATED

Pittsfield fire officials suspect a residential fire was also storm related. Around 5pm, a 911 call brought firefighters to 30 Madison Place. Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cancilla said that firefighters arrived on the scene to find the smoke and flames confined to the basement. The fire was put out in about 30 minutes. The preliminary findings were that the wind snapped the electricity service wire to the house, triggering a possible short in the electrical system. No one was hurt, but the family living in the house had to seek temporary shelter overnight.

RESIDENTS SAY NO TO NEW ELM COURT HOTEL

Lenox Town leaders heard the message loud and clear from Old Stockbridge Road residents at a packed Select Board meeting -- they oppose a new 112-room hotel in their tranquil neighborhood along a bucolic country road. The Berkshire Eagle reports that more than 25 people filled the board's Town Hall meeting room, concerned over the proposed Elm Court resort, spa and 60-room public restaurant sought by Front Yard, LLC, a subsidiary of the Denver-based Amstar Group real estate investment company. Most of the Elm Court property is in Stockbridge, but the entrance and the road frontage are in Lenox. The Stockbridge Select Board will resume its public hearing on August 4th. Front Yard has been asked to submit expanded traffic studies.

MAYOR FIND WAY TO SUPERCEDE COUNCIL

Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi is moving ahead with plans to consolidate all city inspectors into a single office, despite rejection by the City Council of a $100,000 request for office renovation work. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the office space is located on the second floor at 100 North Street in the historic First Agricultural Bank building. The building, owned by Scarafoni Realty, has entrances on Fenn and North streets, and an elevator to the upper floors. Mayor Bianchi said he is utilizing existing funds in the city budget and won't have to put in another request for renovation funding. He said the changes won't have to go before the council for further approvals.

LOCAL LEGISLATORS SAY NO TO KINDER MORGAN PIPELINE PROJECT

A group of local and regional lawmakers has gone on record as formally opposing a proposed gas pipeline Kinder Morgan seeks to build across northern Massachusetts. In a statement released Friday, the lawmakers base their opposition on "environmental, economic, public safety and public health" concerns. It follows dozens of meetings around Massachusetts and in Boston -- with utility companies, Kinder Morgan representatives and constituents -- attended by each of these lawmakers. Four members of the Berkshire delegation and State Rep. Stephen Kulik, of Worthington, said in a written statement that the pipeline is not in the public interest and "we can and should do better." State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, of Pittsfield, was not named in the statement.

NORTH COUNTY RESIDENTS RALLY AROUND ILL NEWBORN

Members of the North County community are drumming up support for local baby born with a rare form of leukemia. IBerkshires.com reports that Carrick Wood was born on July 4th to Pat and Crista Wood and rushed to Albany Medical Center's NICU where he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after two blood transfusions and chemotherapy. Currently Carrick and his parents have relocated to the Children's Hospital in Boston. A family friend, who is spearheading the fundraising, said Carrick suffers from a form of leukemia that is very rarely found in newborns.

LANESBOROUGH TO CELEBRATE 250TH BIRTHDAY

Volunteers in the town of Lanesborough are organizing more than a half-dozen events to celebrate the town's 250th anniversary. In 2015 it will be 250 years since the town incorporated and a dozen or so volunteers are preparing to launch a series of events to celebrate the milestone.

HOUSE FIRE IN OTIS MAY HAVE RESULTED FROM STORM

A house fire in Otis may have been started as a result of yesterday's thunderstorm. Otis Fire Chief Sandy Pinkham told the Berkshire Eagle that an unconfirmed a lightning strike caused a fire just after 7pm at 61 Bliven Road, west of the Otis Ridge Ski Area along Route 23. With help from the Monterey, Becket and Sandisfield fire departments, Otis firefighters were able to confined put out the fire which they managed to confine to the homes basement. The house was unoccupied when the fire broke out. There home sustained heavy fire and smoke damage to the basement. An investigator from the State Fire Marshal's Office has been called in to determine the cause of the fire.

MAIN STREET RECONSTRUCTION UPDATE

The Main Street Construction Project in Great Barrington continues this week. The project will continue with drainage work in the Cottage Street intersection, moving south. This week work will begin to move into the center of the road. Traffic flow will shift to the east and west sides of Main Street. At times throughout the project construction and surveying crews may move ahead in small sections to prepare the areas for construction. Two-way traffic and access to businesses will be maintained at all times. Police officers will be present to direct traffic and ensure traffic flows smoothly in all directions. Maxymillian and the Mass DOT will be placing "Businesses Open" and "Parking" signs in the work areas to assist consumers. Work hours are between 6:00 AM and 2:30 PM Monday through Friday. Road conditions will return to normal after 2:30pm each day. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014


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

INTERIM TOWN ADMINISTRATOR NAMED IN ADAMS

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


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

STATE WORKING TO GET ROUTE 116 BACK OPEN

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


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

Clarksburg Offers Town Administrator Post to Former Selectman

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

SCHOLARSHIP MONEY STILL AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS AFFECTED BY NARH CLOSURE

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

NORTH ADAMS TO HOST ANNUAL FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON JULY 4TH

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

PITTSFIELD POLICE INVESTIGATING SHOOTINGS

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

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

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

GUILTY FINDING CONTINUED IN CASE OF STOLEN CITY-OWNED VAN

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

PITTSFIELD ATTORNEY NOMINATED FOR SOUTHERN BERKSHIRE JUDGESHIP

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

NEW POLICE CHIEF IN HINSDALE TO BE SWORN IN SUNDAY

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

THE MOUNT RECOVERING AFTER RAINS

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

NO BUS SERVICE ON 4TH OF JULY

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

GALVIN TO ANNOUNCE ORDER OF BALLOT QUESTIONS

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

EGREMONT BOARD VOWS TO KEEP SCHOOL OPEN

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

Massachusetts Working On Abortion Clinic Bill

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



Wednesday, July 02, 2014

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

NORTH COUNTY RESIDENTS STILL WANT LOCAL HOSPITAL

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

CLARKSBURG TO INTERVIEW TOWN ADMINISTRATOR CANDIDATES

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

STATE FUNDS COULD HELP ADAMS PROJECT

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

POWNAL WOMAN REPORTED MISSING SEEN IN NEW YORK

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

LAWMAKERS AGREE ON TAX HOLIDAY, DISAGREE ON DATE

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

RMV FEE INCREASES GO INTO EFFECT

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

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

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

NO JAIL FOR SUSPECT IN ARSON

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

THE PITTSFIELD CO-OP ANNOUNCES 14 AWARD RECIPIENTS

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


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

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

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

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




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

BIG Y DONATES $3,000 TO HILLSIDE CEMETERY RESTORATION

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

APARTMENTS SMOKE-FREE IN ADAMS

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

WILLIAMS COLLEGE ATHLETIC FIELD TO GET UPGRADE

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

CHANDLER MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN SEX CASE

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

CITY HALL MEDIA POLICY NOT MEANT TO STIFLE INFO FLOW

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

ICE PICK ASSAULT RESULTS IN 6-MONTH SENTENCE

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

PITTSFIELD MARIJUANA FACILITY NOT HAPPENING

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

FRESH AIR FUND KIDS ARRIVING TODAY

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

STATE GAS PRICES HIGHEST IN SIX YEARS HEADING INTO HOLIDAY

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

 

Massachusetts Lawmakers OK Final State Budget

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

Lawmakers Pass Compounding Pharmacy Oversight Bill

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




Monday, June 30, 2014

(Story And Photo Courtesy Media Partner IBerkshires.Com) 

COMMUNITY INVITED TO SPEAK TO HEALTH CARE CONSULTANTS

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



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

GOVERNOR HELPS THE CLARK OPEN ITS DOORS

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

Friday, July 18, 2014


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

CLARKSBURG ENTERS NEW FISCAL YEAR WITH OPTIMISM

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



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

HIGH BIDS BRING NEW LPN PROGRAM TO A HALT AT MCCANN

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




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

BOND BILL INCLUDES $5M FOR GREYLOCK GLEN EDUCATION CENTER

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

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT AT LOWEST LEVEL IN SIX YEARS

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

FATAL CRASH DETAILS RELEASED

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


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

DPW AND UTILITIES MANAGEMENT UNDER SCRUTINY

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

MILLWORK AND SEWER LINE WORK ON WENDELL AVENUE CONTINUES

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

NO MORE BUDGET REVIEWS ON SATURDAY IN PITTSFIELD

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

ROAD WORK BEGINS IN LENOX

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

AIR CONDITIONING APPROVED FOR MT. EVERETT SCHOOL

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

OFFICIALS TO EXAMINE EROSION OF LAKE MANSFIELD ROAD

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

Massachusetts Senate Approves Sweeping Gun Bill

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

Juvenile Parole Bill Heads To Gov. Deval Patrick

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






Thursday, July 17, 2014

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

HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE PLAN FINALIZED IN WILLIAMSTOWN

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

LISA CHAMBERLAIN APPOINTED TO MCLA BOARD OF TRUSTEES

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



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

WILLIAMSTOWN-LANESBOROUGH TRI-DISTRICT BACK ON TRACK

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

NOMINATION PAPER DEADLINE COMING UP FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE ELECTION

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



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

MASSDOT PURCHASES BERKSHIRE LINE FOR PASSENGER RAIL

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

1 INJURED AFTER CAR CRASHES INTO TREE

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

TWO KILLED IN HEAD-ON ROUTE 7 COLLISION

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

ALLEGED RAPIST FACING 50 YEARS

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

BREAK-IN SUSPECT HELD

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

MOSQUITO SPRAYING STARTS TODAY IN PITTSFIELD

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



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

LENOX SAYS GOOGLE AD CAMPAIGN IS GENERATING TOURISM

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

HOPKINTON REPUBLICAN MAKES CAMPAIGN STOP IN PITTSFIELD

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

GREAT BARRINGTON STRUCTURE FIRE TUESDAY

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

BECKET RESIDENT CAN VOICE CONCERNS OVER SPRAYING TONIGHT

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

Massachusetts Senate to debate sweeping gun bill

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

Senate Turns Down Charter School Expansion

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




Wednesday, July 16, 2014


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

NORTH ADAMS CLOSES FISCAL 2014; PREPARES FOR MUNICIPAL AID

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

HEROIN RAID AT WILLIAMSTOWN MOTEL

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



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

WILLIAMSTOWN SELECTMEN DECLINE TO DISCUSS LAND HEARING

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


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

Cheshire Residents Petition Against Dollar General Plans

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

PITTSFIELD MAN KILLED IN NORTH STREET MOTORCYCLE CRASH

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

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

BIANCHI, COUNCILORS IN STANDOFF OVER CAPITAL BUDGET

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

NY MAN ACCUSED OF ABUSING BOY IN BERKSHIRES HAS BAIL REDUCED

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

STOCKBRIDGE FILES DEFENSE IN SCOTT MUIR'S WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

   
    A group is working to redevelop the former Adams Theater on Park Street. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)

TOPIA ARTS CENTER GIVEN FUNDRAISING EXTENSION

The Topia Arts Center in Adams is getting a second chance at raising funds for a $44,000 match grant. IBerkshires.com reports today that the Massachusetts Cultural Council gave a year long extension to the grant after William Kolis, chairman of the Topia Arts Center's board wrote a letter describing the tremendous support for the project even with the financial difficulties in Adams. Kolis said his letter explained that Adams is a post-industrial town that has lost its economic base. He wrote Adams is struggling to create a more tourist-based economy - with the Topia Arts Center being a main piece of the puzzle.

CHESHIRE WOMAN TURNS 115; WORLD'S FIFTH-OLDEST PERSON

Bernice "Bennie" Madigan spent her 115th birthday in the hospital on yesterday, but she is expected to be released today -- in time to attend a party in her honor tomorrow afternoon. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the Cheshire resident, who is the fifth-oldest person in the world, will celebrate her birthday at her home on Rolling Acres Farm. Madigan has been in the hospital since Monday, but is expected to make a full recovery. Madigan was born in West Springfield in 1899, but moved to Cheshire as a young girl and graduated from Adams High School. She was married for 50 years -- her husband died in 1976.

BERKSHIRE JOBLESS RATE RISES SLIGHTLY IN JUNE TO 5.6%

Berkshire unemployment increased slightly in June after reaching its lowest point in six years in May. The local jobless rate remained less than 6 percent for the second straight month, but increased a tenth of a percentage point to 5.6 percent, according to figures released by the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The small increase was due mainly to a rise in the number of county residents receiving unemployment benefits, which rose by more than 300 workers in June to 4,100. Unemployment in the county's three labor market areas increased by a tenth of a percentage point in the Great Barrington and Pittsfield areas last month, but by almost half a percentage point to 7.2 percent in the North Adams area. State unemployment in June is at 5.6 percent.

TOWN ANSWERS CALL, POSTS MEETING MINUTES ON WEBSITE

Town officials in Cheshire have begun posting Select Board meeting minutes to the town's website in appeasement of requests from some residents. Visitors to the town's website will now find a bar labeled "Selectmen's Minutes" at the top of the page, which connects users to write-ups of the most recent five meetings. As of Wednesday, July 16, a total of about 300 people had clicked any of the five posts, as the website also registers hits. The Cheshire website can be found at www.cheshire-ma.com.



Committee members Robert Ericson, Jack Hickey and Gordon Zaks met with Donna French, Marie Johndro and Al King from Viridian on Wednesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

LANESBOROUGH REVIVING SOLAR ARRAY IDEA

A Lanesborough committee is trying to revive a plan to install a solar array on Prospect Street. IBerkshires.com reports that the town's Energy Futures Committee met with representatives from the power company Viridian, which has a partnership with Solar City, on Wednesday to discuss options for the property. Early last year, the committee requested proposals to develop a portion of the 19-acre parcel into a 1.5 megawatt system but the project fell flat.

MISSING PITTSFIELD MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS FOUND ON MOUNT GREYLOCK

Two Reid Middle School students have been found on Mount Greylock after being separated from their classmates during a group outing. According to the Massachusetts State Police, the students from Pittsfield were hiking as a part of a summer program yesterday when they went missing. The police were notified about 2 p.m. after the students went missing while descending the mountain. Both students were found near the peak of the mountain just after 4:30pm in good condition. As many as eight local and state agencies responded to assist in the search yesterday.



 Superintendent Jason McCandless said the school district spends less per student on transporation than comparable municipalities. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)

NEW BUSSES ARRIVE IN PITTSFIELD

The first of a newly purchased fleet of school buses arrived this week in the Coty of Pittsfield. Schools Superintendent Jake McCandless delivered the news to the city's Public School Committee on Wednesday. IBershires.com reports, the school bus purchase proved controversial this year, failing by one vote in the first of two votes and narrowly passing on the second, but McCandless defended the district's choice to maintain its own bus fleet amidst some level of public criticism.





 The Board of Health continued to support the Berkshire Mosquito Control Project despite opposition from some residents. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 

PITTSFIELD MOSQUITO CONTROL PROGRAM SEES OPPOSITION

The Pittsfield Board of Health has its scientific studies; residents have theirs. The Berkshire Eagle reports that either way, the city will continue to drive a truck spraying adulticide in targeted areas to kill mosquitoes. The city joined the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project in 2010 in an attempt to combat such disease as West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis. The Board of Health said it will continue to use the sprays to combat mosquitoes. The board expects to announce another round of overnight spraying in the coming weeks.

ETHNIC FAIR SLATED SUNDAY

The annual Pittsfield Ethnic Fair and Car Show will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday rain or shine, along North Street between Park Square and Maplewood Avenue. The free, family-friendly outdoor cultural street festival and car show will feature ethnic cuisine, vendors, entertainment, children's activities and more than 200 cars. The car show event is presented by the Pittsfield Piston Poppers Car Club and will be located on North Street from Columbus Avenue to Maplewood and Linden Street intersections.

LIGHTNING CAUSES HOUSE FIRE

A lightning strike on Wednesday night in Great Barrington sparked a house fire at 642 South Egremont Road. The fire burned a portion of the home on Route 23, which according to the Great Barrington Fire Department, was uninhabited. Fire Chief Charles Burger said the fire began at the rear of the house, which was fully involved upon the firefighter's arrival. The rest of the house was able to be saved, according to Burger. The home's owners are being contacted. Chief Burger said that Wednesday night was very busy. The department responded to six other calls including medical calls and a dumpster fire.

$150K OK'D FOR SECOND-FLOOR AIR CONDITIONING

The Board of Selectmen has approved a three- year loan package to pay for air conditioning of the second floor at Mount Everett Regional School. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the total package will cost about $150,000. District Superintendent David Hastings says, that sum would be split among the district's five towns. School Committee member Bonnie Silvers of Sheffield says that the school district's four other member towns of Monterey, Alford, New Marlborough and Egremont have already approved the plan. She told the board that classrooms on the second floor often topped 90 degrees, creating a stifling atmosphere. The district hoped to finish the work before students returned in the fall.

REVIEW OF ARTICLE 97 QUESTION BEGINS

The Conservation Commission in Williamstown began the process yesterday of forming an official opinion on the conservation status of town-owned land under its care, custody, management and control. IBerkshires.com reports that at issue is the status of the Lowry and Burbank properties and whether they are protected by Article 97 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Although the immediate controversy that swirled around the lands last year has died down, the uncertainty about their status has prompted the commission to study the matter further.

Massachusetts News From The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - A state official says it remains unclear how many unaccompanied children crossing the nation's southern border illegally will be temporarily detained in Massachusetts, and how many could stay in the state longer. Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz was among officials who briefed Republican legislators yesterday.

BOSTON (AP) - Former state probation commissioner John O'Brien has been convicted of federal racketeering and mail fraud in a case accusing him of rigging the department's hiring process to favor politically-connected applicants over more qualified ones. The verdict came after seven days of deliberations.

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick has received the resignation of state prison chief Luis Spencer. The Boston Globe reports the governor had asked for the resignation after Spencer delayed an internal investigation into the alleged physical abuse of a mental health patient at Bridgewater State Hospital.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Whole Foods Market is recalling tarts and squares made with stone fruit that could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Health officials say the items were made in Whole Foods stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill outlawing the possession or distribution of shark fins. Supporters of the ban say shark fins are often removed for use in soup while the rest of the shark is thrown back in the sea, still alive. They call the practice inhumane.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

  Town Administrator Carl McKinney updates the Selectmen. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)

NEW CLARKSBURG ADMINISTRATOR GETS TO WORK

The new town administrator in Clarksburg was all business last night, running the Selectmen through a list a backlog of items. IBerkshires.com reports, that is not surprising, since the town's new executive is Carl McKinney, a longtime former selectman and Finance Committee member. Expected to start in August, McKinney stepped into the post earlier at the urging of Chairman Jeffrey Levanos. The town has been without an administrator since February retirement of Thomas Webb.


 

NORTH ADAMS MAN GETS UP TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR STABBING

A North Adams man has been sentenced to up to five years in state prison for stabbing an acquaintance nine times. According to police and prosecutors, 27 year old Mario Babbs stabbed Cole DeSanty in Babbs' Brook Terrace apartment on the morning of June 2nd, 2012, after accusing DeSanty of stealing $600 from his wallet. The maximum sentence for the assault to murder charge is 20 years in prison; the maximum for the other charge is a decade. The prosecutor said the victim was in agreement with the resolution. The case was set for trial this month.

INJURED BEAR WANDERING NORTH ADAMS IN SEARCH OF FOOD

An adolescent black bear is apparently wandering the city of North Adams searching for food. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the bear, nicknamed "Bo," walks with a limp, and is not considered dangerous, but officials say it's still best not to approach him. Bo has been munching on garbage and bird seed in the Windsor Lake area this week, resulting in around a dozen calls to Animal Control. The male bear, approximately 2 years old, appears indifferent to humans, according to North Adams Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt. It's unclear how it was injured, but the bear has been limping into backyards and campsites in search of a good meal.



 Steve Miller is running for a four-year seat on the Mount Greylock School Committee. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
 

MOUNT GREYLOCK SCHOOL COMMITTEE TO FEATURE ONE NOVEMBER RACE

There will be one race for the five Mount Greylock Regional School Committee seats on the November ballot. IBerkshires.com reports, there are two seats for Lanesborough residents and three for Williamstown residents to be decided when voters of the two towns go to the polls on November 4th. The town of Williamstown has two four-year seats on the ballot: those currently held by Chairwoman Carolyn Greene and David Langston. Greene is standing for re-election, but Langston decided not to try for another term on the committee. Voters will pick two names from among the threesome of Greene, Wendy Penner and Steve Miller for the four-year seats.

COLD CASE ARREST

Authorities say the case of two murder victims who went unidentified for 19 years has been cracked with the arrest of a 70-year-old Ohio man accused of killing his wife. Robert Honsch of Dalton was charged with murder yesterday. Authorities said he shot his 53-year-old wife Marcia in the head. Her body was found by a hiker in October 1995 near an entrance to Tolland State Forest located in East Otis. A week earlier, the body of a young female, also shot in the head, had been found in a parking area behind a strip mall in New Britain, Connecticut. The New Britain police and Massachusetts State Police have separate arrest warrants charging Honsch with murder.



  The Board of Health approved the regulations Wednesday night. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)

PITTSFIELD PASSES REVAMPED SMOKING LAWS

The Pittsfield Board of Health adopted new regulations aimed to reduce smoking prevalence in youth. The board held a public hearing yesterday and then approved the new tobacco regulations. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the regulations include cutting the number of tobacco retail permits in half, banning any new vendor from opening within 500 feet of a school and mandating that cigar be sold in packages of at least two and cost no less than $5. The board also adopted a ban on smoking in city-owned parks.

PITTSFIELD TRAFFIC STOP NETS $25K IN HEROIN, 2 ALLEGED GANG MEMBERS

Two men who police say are street gang members are facing drug dealing charges after officers allegedly found $25,000 worth of heroin during a traffic stop. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 36 year old Angel Lamboy of Lincoln Street, and 30 year old Jose Rivera who is reportedly homeless, were stopped at about 5:15 p.m. yesterday in the area of White Terrace in Pittsfield by members of the Berkshire County Anti-Gang Unit. Police allegedly discovered two large bags of bulk heroin weighing about 47 grams on him along with two knives and $56 in cash. Rivera was allegedly found with 10 bags of heroin, three cellphones and $192 in cash. According to Police, they recovered a total of about 50 grams of heroin, the equivalent of 2,500 individual bags worth about $25,000 on the street. Both defendants are "validated members" of the Latin Kings. Both defendants are due back in court on August 20th, but the case will likely be going to the grand jury because of the severity charges.

NO FINDING OF GUILT FOR PITTSFIELD MAN IN ALLEGED DRUNKEN ATTACK

A Pittsfield man police say drunkenly attacked his family and threatened them with a knife had his charges continued without a finding of guilt. 27 year old Collin Gardner of Daniels Avenue, was arrested just after midnight July 5th after police found him sitting on top of his 51-year-old stepfather with a knife in his hand while Gardner's 55 year old mother struggled to hold on to her son's arm, according to Pittsfield Police. He also pushed his mother into a bathtub, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her, police said. He was taken into custody without incident. According to the report, all three family members had been drinking that night. Gardner pleaded to facts sufficient for a finding of guilt on four charges related to that case, including two charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery and witness intimidation. Judge Margaret Guzman gave Gardner a continuation without a finding of guilt for six months on one count of assault with a dangerous weapon during which time he must refrain from drinking alcohol and attend the Community Corrections program. The other charges were continued without a finding of guilt for three months.


   Putnam Road will be closed for five or six weeks. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever) 
 

LANESBOROUGH'S PUTNAM ROAD CULVERT BEING RECONSTRUCTED

The culvert on Putnam Road in Lanesborough is finally being replaced. On Monday, workers closed the road for the five- to six-week project. IBerkshires.com reports that the project was scheduled to be completed last year but was pushed back because the state requested additional environmental testing. The additional study forced the town to hire a new engineer for the project. The culvert spans the town brook, which weaves its way along the western side of Route 7.

NEW ENGLAND LOG HOMES SITE MAY BE READY FOR USE BY FALL

The New England Log Homes site on Bridge Street in Great Barrington may finally be getting a makeover. State and local officials are hopeful that the site, with the help of a fairly new bioremediation process, could be cleaned up by the fall and ready for development. The project at the once seven-acre blight in town would need the approval of the proper town boards before that could happen, according to Timothy Geller, executive director of the Community Development Corporation of Southern Berkshire.

WILLOW STREET SPAN REPAIR PROJECT COMES UP $ 55K SHORT

The cost of a crucial bridge repair project has hit a $55,000 bump in the road. The Berkshire Eagle reports today, that's how much more it's going to cost to complete the project in light of an unexpected switch to another contractor, according to town officials. L B Corp. of Lee was hired on July 1st at the low bid of $460,500 to furbish the Willow Street span over the Housatonic River that links Onyx Specialty Papers and Route 102 in South Lee. The company has however recently notified the town in writing it couldn't accept the job because it was unable to find a state-approved painting subcontractor for the project. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation requires a contractor with the ability to remove lead paint from the bridge according to state environmental regulations. The board has now voted to go with the other, more qualified bidder, Northern Construction Service of Weymouth, at a cost of $515,000.

THE SIXTH ANNUAL CRICKETS GALA SATURDAY NIGHT

Mass Audubon's sixth annual midsummer Crickets Gala, a major fundraiser for the organization has been set for 6:30 Saturday evening at the 1,300-acre Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary on West Mountain Road in Lee. The new Berkshire Sanctuaries director, Becky Cushing, says the event will feature four food trucks from area purveyors and live music. The 30 year old Cushing succeeded Rene Laubach when he retired at the end of May after 29 years in the position. He is expected to be in attendance at the gala.

SANDY BEACH ONCE AGAIN WELCOMING VISITORS

Through the ongoing generosity of High Lawn Farm, Laurel Lake Water Power and Tom & Katie Scheurer, Lee residents and their guests are able to enjoy Sandy Beach at Laurel Lake once again this summer. According to information on the town of Lee's website, access to the beach parking area will be open 10am to 8pm through September 1st, but a beach parking pass will be required. Beach parking passes are restricted to Lee residents, their guests, and paying guests of motels, Bed & Breakfasts, Inns, and October Mountain State Park campground. The beach parking passes are free of charge and may be obtained from the dispatchers at the Lee Communications Center in the Lee Town Hall.

Massachusetts News From The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick says he agrees with police chiefs and gun safety activists who support giving the chiefs discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed to buy rifles or shotguns. Patrick did not say yesterday whether he would sign a pending gun bill if it reached his desk without the provision, which was approved in the House but removed from the Senate version.

BOSTON (AP) - The state House has approved a bill designed to tighten security around abortion clinics. The measure would allow police to disperse groups substantially impeding access to abortion clinics. After a dispersal order is issued in writing, those individuals would have to stay at least 25 feet from the clinic's entrances for up to eight hours.

BOSTON (AP) - Governor Deval Patrick says there remains considerable misunderstanding about the state's offer to shelter unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the nation's southern border. Patrick's comments to reporters yesterday came after many town officials and residents in Bourne objected to children being housed at the Camp Edwards military base on Cape Cod.

BOSTON (AP) - The state Senate has approved a bill designed to tighten reporting requirements for independent political expenditures, including those made by political action committees known as super PACs. Under the measure, corporations, labor unions and political committees would be required to file a report within seven days of making an independent expenditure - or within 24 hours if the expenditure is made within 10 days of an election.

BOSTON (AP) - The state Legislature has given final approval to a proposed $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It now heads to Governor Deval Patrick, who says he supports expanding the South Boston facility, but adds his administration is still reviewing the measure.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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

ADAMS BUSINESS OWNERS AIR CONCERNS

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

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

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

YEAR IN JAIL FOR CRACK DEALER

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

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT IN ADAMS ADMINISTRATOR SEARCH

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

BERKSHIRE RAILROAD STUDY SEES FOUR COMMUNITIES AS BEST DEPOT SITES

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



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

Lanesborough Moving Forward With PCTV Running Station

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



NY WOMAN CHARGED WITH MOTOR VEHICLE HOMICIDE

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

LENOX PROPERTY SPARED

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

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