Lanesborough parent Tammy Seaman, right, looks on as Williamstown parent Margaret McComish asks the School Committee to revisit the late bus issue. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
MOUNTGREYLOCK PARENTS AIR CONCERNS ABOUT LOSS OF LATE BUSES
The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee on Tuesday heard from parents concerned about the district's decision to cut down on the number of late buses for students participating in after-school activities. IBerkshires.com reports that more than a dozen residents attended the committee's regular monthly meeting, and five who identified themselves as parents of Mount Greylock students rose to ask the panel to reconsider the decision. Committee members sympathized with parents, explaining that the late bus was a difficult but necessary cost cut in the face of opposition to the district's proposed budget last spring and that efforts are under way to find alternative funding to return some of the service.
Advanced Placement students stand for applause at DruryHigh School. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
DRURY HIGH SEES AP SCORES, ENROLLMENT TAKE OFF
The number of students taking Advanced Placement classes at Drury High School has doubled in the past three years, and IBerkshires.com reports that even better, students scoring a 3.0 or better has nearly tripled. John Smolenski, a senior field director for Mass Insight Education, says that adds up to success. The Wednesday morning session was both a recognition of the hard work of the current students, and a primer for the incoming freshman class.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
First Congregational Church in Williamstown, one year short of its 250th anniversary, is getting a head start on the celebration by marking the centennial of its white clapboard church. Church Moderator Moira Jones said the 100th anniversary will be "low key," although the congregation marched in the July 4 parade to let the community know about the anniversary. A talk at the church has been scheduled and an exhibit at the Williamstown Historical Museum will be free and open to the public.
PROSECUTION RESTS IN MURDER TRIAL
The prosecution rested its case in the Caius Veiovis murder trial yesterday after a final witness testified that he overheard Caius Veiovis speaking to his co-defendant after the men’s arrests. Veiovis is accused in the killings of three Pittsfield men in August of 2011 with the help of Adam Lee Hall and David Chalue, who have both already been convicted and given consecutive life sentences. The defense is expected to begin its case this morning when the trial resumes in Hampden Superior Court. Veiovis’ girlfriend, Abigail Elwood, is expected to testify for the defense.
BIANCHI TO PROPOSE SMALLER CAPITAL BUDGET
Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi is looking for City Council support on a capital budget for only a few items. IBerkshires.com is reporting that the mayor said he will be putting together a request for $3 million in road improvements, $500,000 to implement some of the recommendations for the downtown parking study and $200,000 for engineering for the next phase of the downtown streetscape program. These items were in the mayor's first proposed capital budget that the council voted down. Four councilors voted against the budget, hoping the mayor would add a fire truck into the plan. However, Bianchi felt he had already compromised enough on a spending plan that had gone back and forth. The city’s mayor said he is now looking to present a smaller capital budget that focused on longer range infrastructure projects.
FARLEY BOUVIER STANDING WITH CITIZENS OPPOSED TO RAZING CHURCH
A large contingent of Pittsfield residents is making it clear that they don’t want St. Mary’s the Morning Star on Tyler Street torn down to make way for a new Dunkin Donuts drive-thru operation. Darcie Sosa is the head organizer of the “Save St. Mary’s” campaign that has sprung up in the wake of the proposal by Cafua Management to raze the church property and replace it with the new drive through equipped Dunkin Donuts. An on line petition in opposition is picking up steam. State Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier is supporting the local effort. She says that the move would not be a good one for Pittsfield.
CVS Caremark wanted to turn St. Francis Church in North Adams into a CVS pharmacy earlier this year. Residents halted that project with a similar effort.
KERRIGAN AND LOCAL LAWMAKERS VISIT PITTSFIELD
Lieutenant Governor candidate Steve Kerrigan was in the Berkshires with a stop in Pittsfield yesterday morning to walk North Street with state Sen. Benjamin Downing, and state Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Gailanne Cariddi. The local lawmakers explained the mixture of economic development projects — from the streetscape and the proposed Hotel on North to ideas on how to free additional commercial space. Kerrigan and gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley are pushing a plan to create 16 regional economic sectors and invest more than $500 million over the next decade into a mixture of projects such as are happening in downtown Pittsfield.
Superintendent Jason McCandless said declining interest and FCC regulations could be liabilities for the district. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
WTBR MAY GO SILENT
Pittsfield Schools Superintendent Jason Jake McCandless says the math may no longer make sense for the school department to continue to run the 40-year-old WTBR radio station. WTBR 89.7 FM, aka "The Brave FM," is an FCC-licensed nonprofit educational broadcasting service that has hosted a range of student and adult-run programs over the years. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the station has an annual budget of $6,000 for equipment, fees and other expenses, but McCandless is concerned its management could amount to much more liability for the district in its current state of operation.
WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES TONIGHT
Tonight’s Third Thursday in downtown Pittsfield will feature the fourth annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to raise funds and awareness about domestic violence and the need to stop abusers.
The event invites individuals and teams of men to turn out in women’s footwear and raise money as they strut down North Street, but the funds support programs, services and facilities maintained by the Freeman Center.
PLASTIC BAG BAN IN PITTSFIELD?
The Green Commission in Pittsfield has decided to draft a city ordinance to restrict the use of polystyrene food containers while seeking more input from local business owners on the costs to them. The commission has reached a general consensus in support of a proposed ban, members said, but they want to do more research on specific language options for an ordinance and get more information on the effects on small businesses.
PIPELINE PROJECT FLEXIBLE
A day after their first official filing with federal regulators, a team of Kinder Morgan officials told about 100 listeners during a public informational forum that the route of their proposed high-pressure gas pipeline could undergo significant change. The Berkshire Eagle reports that as panelists representing Lenox town government and three environmental groups critical of the project voiced their concerns, the energy company representatives emphasized that the 250-mile pipeline proposal from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, through parts of eight Berkshire County communities, faces multiple hurdles from state and federal regulators over the next two years.
EASTOVER TO GIVE WEEKEND PREVIEW
A new chapter of the Eastover Resort in Lenox is starting this weekend. IBerkshires.com reports that for the last four-plus years, Ying Wang has been overseeing the renovation of the 600-acre property, which she and her husband, in the form of HG October Mountain Estate LLC, bought in 2010 for $5.4 million. This weekend, the grounds will open to the public for a sneak peek at the multimillion dollar renovation.
According to Wang, the resort will permanently open next summer as a new destination for holistic, group and personal retreats.
CASINO GROUPS WILL DEBATE REPEALERS
A casino-funded group hoping to defeat November's ballot question to repeal the state casino law says it will debate its opponents. The Committee to Protect Mass Jobs is financed by MGM Resorts and Penn National Gaming. It says it's "committed to participating in a vigorous debate" on the question. Meanwhile, New England's only thoroughbred horse racing track says it will close by the end of the year because Mohegan Sun did not win a license for a resort casino at Suffolk Downs in Boston. This week, state gambling regulators picked Wynn Resorts' casino project for the Everett waterfront over Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun's proposal. The closing will affect hundreds of track-related workers.
BAKER UNVEILS ECONOMIC PLANS
Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker has unveiled an economic development plan he says will create jobs, strengthen communities and build better schools. The plan calls for using tax credits to offset the cost of minimum wage increases, and to reward businesses that hire welfare recipients and veterans. The election is November 4th.
RAPE PLEA REJECTED AND TRIAL WILL HAPPEN
A North Adams man was rebuffed yesterday in his attempt to enter a plea deal in the 2013 rape of a 17-year-old girl. The Berkshire Eagle reports, 26-year-old Brenton Rohane of Union Street was set to plead guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to charges related to the May 14, 2013, incident when he was asked by Judge John Agostini whether he raped the victim. An emotional Rohane responded with a clear “no,” prompting Agostini to throw out the plea and move the case to a trial.
SUFFOLKDOWNS NOTIFIES WORKERS IT WILL CLOSE
BOSTON (AP) — New England's only thoroughbred horse racing track has told its workers it will close by year's end because Mohegan Sun did not win a Massachusetts license for a resort casino at Suffolk Downs in Boston.
Suffolk Downs' chief operating officer Chip Tuttle says workers were told Wednesday that the live horse racing season that ends Sept. 29 will be the track's last. Suffolk Downs will continue to offer simulcast racing until November or December.
Tuttle says track owners Richard Fields and Joe O'Donnell have lost about $50 million to $60 million on the track over the last several years. The closing will affect hundreds of track-related workers.
Massachusetts gambling regulators this week picked Wynn Resorts' $1.1 billion casino project for the Everett waterfront over Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun's $1.1 billion proposal.
PRO-CASINO GROUP ACCEPTS CHALLENGE TO DEBATE
BOSTON (AP) — A casino-funded group hoping to defeat November's ballot question to repeal the state casino law says it will debate its opponents.
The Committee to Protect Mass Jobs, which is financed by MGM Resorts and Penn National Gaming, said Wednesday it is "committed to participating in a vigorous debate" on the question. But the political action committee stopped short of agreeing to the terms opponents propose.
Repeal the Casino Deal, an anti-casino group, earlier Wednesday called for a series of "independent, media-sponsored" debates between the group's chairman, leading state lawmakers and executives from Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming.
The challenge came hours after Wynn and state gambling regulators finalized a license for a $1.6 billion casino outside Boston.
GOP'S BAKER UNVEILS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN
BOSTON (AP) — Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker has unveiled an economic development plan he says will create jobs, strengthen communities and build better schools.
The plan calls for using tax credits to offset the cost of minimum wage increases, and to reward businesses that hire welfare recipients and veterans.
Baker said he would also reduce fees for starting a business; increase affordable housing; and give minority business owners better access to the bidding process for public projects.
Baker said his plan would cost the state up to $300 million in lost revenue out of $36 billion state budget.
Democrat Martha Coakley has already pledged to make $500 million in funding available over the next decade to help speed economic growth across the state if elected governor.
The election is Nov. 4.
CHANGES MADE IN LEADERSHIP OF SEX OFFENDER BOARD
BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick's administration has announced changes in the leadership of the state's Sex Offender Registry Board.
The administration confirmed on Wednesday that Saundra Edwards, the board's chairwoman, was relieved of duty on Wednesday and replaced by Anne Connors, an investigator with the state Department of Early Education and Care.
Meanwhile, the registry's executive director, Jeanne Holmes, was placed on administrative leave and Kevin Hayden, the agency's general counsel, will serve as interim executive director.
A spokesman for the state office of Public Safety, which oversees the board, declined to comment on the reasons for the shake-up, saying it was a personnel matter.
The registry maintains a data base of convicted sex offenders and classifies offenders by the danger they could pose to the public.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The ColegroveParkElementary School project is so far on time and nearly $3 million under budget. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
COLEGROVE PROJECT ON TIME AND UNDER BUDGET
The Colegrove Park Elementary School project in North Adams is so far on track and under budget. IBerkshires.com reports that Kenneth Guyette, senior project manager at Strategic Building Solutions, told the School Building Committee on Monday that the project is $2.8 million under budget, and that's also taking into consideration the contingency budget. He says that the building is essentially gutted so they can see where there would be a lot of unforeseen in the building. Mayor Richard Alcombright said any surprises would likely be in the roof.
The Zoning Board allowed City Cab to keep a second vehicle offsite within its home occupation permit for Houghton Street. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
NORTH ADAMS CAB COMPANY PLANS TO RELOCATE
The North Adams Zoning Board of Appeals continued a local taxi owner's home occupancy permit however, City Cab owner Michael McMillian indicated that he may move his office to Union Street.
IBerkshires.com reports that the board met with McMillian again Monday night to review the home occupancy permit he received in April. The permit allows him to operate his business from his home at 257 Houghton Street. With no major complaints from residents in the neighborhood, the board sustained the permit with the same conditions until further review or until McMillian secures a commercial office. McMillian said he should have an office at 176 Union Street, with parking, by Friday.
Park Street proprietors say business has dropped off dramatically because of the streetscape project construction. Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
MERCHANTS BLAME PARK STREET PROJECT
Park Street business owners say business has dramatically slowed since the streetscape construction began at the end of July. IBerkshires.com reports that residents and business owners met with interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan , representatives from contractor J.H. Maxymillian, and project engineer David Loring last night to discuss the current status of the street's overhaul.
ATTEMPTED MURDER OF ESTRANGED WIFE NETS 5 YEARS FOR ADAMS MAN
A former Adams resident has been sentenced to up to 5 years in state prison for the brutal kidnapping and attempted murder of his estranged wife. 40 year old David Faria, formerly of Allen Street, was scheduled to go on trial in Berkshire Court yesterday, but instead entered a plea agreement on the nine charges he was facing. Faria pleaded guilty to single counts of kidnapping, armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, intimidation of a witness, and several other charges.
CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST SAVOY MAN CHARGED WITH ANIMAL CRUELTY
A judge dismissed more than 30 counts of animal cruelty against a Savoy man yesterday, ruling that the authorities’ search of his properties violated his rights. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 31 felony charges of animal cruelty and 25 counts of rabies vaccine violations were dismissed from Northern Berkshire District Court upon the request of the defendant – 55 year old John D’Allessandro, Jr., of Griffin Hill Road. The judge ruled the initial application for a search warrant did not reach the threshold of probable cause, dismissing all evidence uncovered.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
BIANCHI TO PROPOSE CAPITAL BUDGET FOR ROADS, PARKING
Mayor Daniel Bianchi is looking for City Council support on a capital budget for only a few items. The mayor said he will be putting together a request for $3 million in road improvements, $500,000 to implement some of the recommendations for the downtown parking study and $200,000 for engineering for the next phase of the downtown streetscape program.
The items were in the mayor's first proposed capital budget that was shot down by the City Council. Four councilors voted against the budget, hoping the mayor would add a fire truck into the plan. However, Bianchi felt he had already compromised enough on a spending plan that had gone back and forth.
Bianchi said he is now looking to present a smaller capital budget that is "really focusing on longer range infrastructure projects."
The church falls two years short of the 75 that would bring it under Historical Commission review, but commissioners will likely make a recommendation. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Joe Durwin)
PITTSFIELD HISTORICAL COMMISSION INVITES INPUT ON ST. MARY'S DEMOLITION
The Pittsfield Historical Commission on Monday added to the influx of local voices who have expressed concerns about a proposal to raze the former St. Mary the Morning Star church property to develop a new drive-through Dunkin Donuts. Developer Cafua Management and the Springfield Diocese, as well as local business owners and members of the public – will all be invited to an upcoming meeting of the commission on Tuesday, October 7th, at 5:15pm in City Council Chambers to discuss the historic significance of the Tyler Street property. Meanwhile, over a thousand area residents have joined the chorus imploring developer Cafua Management to seek an alternate location for the proposed Dunkin Donuts drive through operation, other than the site of a beloved historic cathedral.
VOTE CLEARS WAY FOR CELL SERVICE IN STOCKBRIDGE
The town of Stockbridge will soon have reliable cellphone service, and it could be available all over town by next summer. Voters at a special town meeting have given authorization to the select board to issue a request for proposals from telecommunications firms to build a long-awaited antenna to plug widespread service gaps and sure up the service throughout the town. The 68-11 vote on Monday cleared the way for the project at the former town landfill in the village of Glendale. A second vote, also by a wide-majority, resolved a long time property line issue, giving the town unrestricted access to a right of way and approving $360,000 in temporary funding to extend utility lines to the site. Residents at the Annual Town Meeting approved the cell tower facility last May.
PITTSFIELD SEES BREAK INS
Pittsfield Police are investigating two break-ins, and an attempted break-in, that were reported within a 27 minute time span on Monday afternoon. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the incidents occurred on Thompson Place, Ontario Street and Henry Avenue, according to the Pittsfield Police log. The Thompson Place and Ontario Street break-ins were reported to police one minute apart, while the Henry Avenue incident was reported 25 minutes after the incident on Ontario Street.
DESIGN FIRM NEEDS EXTRA TIME TO SUBMIT TACONIC PLAN
The firm designing a new Taconic High School wants to take an extra six weeks before presenting a schematic design to state officials, who will then determine the level of reimbursement funding the city will receive. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that a rough estimate at this point in the planning process, is that Pittsfield would pay approximately 35 percent of the total cost -- now estimated at $118.6 million but subject to change depending on decisions made over the next few months.
BRPC HOLDING MEETING WITH KINDER MORGAN TOMORROW NIGHT
Kinder Morgan is seeking federal approvals for the natural gas pipeline in wants to build through northern Massachusetts. The company’s plans have already garnered significant local opposition. Houston-based Kinder Morgan filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week. Kinder Morgan says it's seeking to use the agency's "pre-filing procedures," a voluntary process that will help the firm identify and resolve environmental issues before a formal application is filed. Meanwhile, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will be hosting both Kinder Morgan representatives and a representative from the Conservation Law Foundation at a Commission meeting at Berkshire Community College Koussevitzky Auditorium tomorrow at 6pm. The public is welcome to attend and listen but this will not be a public hearing, but rather an opportunity for the Commission members to become more informed regarding Kinder Morgan’s plans.
COAKLEY, GOP EXCHANGE JABS ON EARLY ED COSTS
Democratic candidate for Governor, Martha Coakley says her plan to eliminate a waiting list of 17,000 children seeking state vouchers for pre-kindergarten would cost an estimated $150 million annually. Republicans say that plan falls short of Coakley's pledge to provide universal access to pre-kindergarten. They point to a study that says it would cost about $1.5 billion to cover the cost of expanding public schools to offer universal pre-kindergarten for the state's 105,000 three- and four-year-olds not currently in a subsidized pre-K program. Coakley's campaign said Republican candidate Charlie Baker is "intentionally misleading" voters about the cost of her proposal.
SHEFFIELD SELECTMEN SALUTE LONG TIME FIRE CHIEF
Selectmen in the town of Sheffield this week honored longtime fireman Richard Boardman who recently retired with 31 years of service as a fireman, deputy chief and chief. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Chairman David Smith read a proclamation from the state House of Representatives lauding Boardman for his three decades of service. Members of the Sheffield Fire Department attended Monday’s meeting in their dress uniforms and congratulated Boardman with handshakes and hugs for his service. Boardman’s family was also in attendance.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
AGGRESSIVE YOUTH BLAMED IN STABBING
A group of Pittsfield-area youths who refused to leave a party apparently were the cause of a fight that ended with the stabbing of two Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students, according to police. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that according to witnesses, at least 20 youths, thought to be from the Pittsfield area, showed up at a college party on Blackinton Street in North Adams early Saturday and became aggressive as the night went on. North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio says they were told to leave the house, but weren’t cooperative. Two MCLA students, both 22- year- old men, suffered stab wounds, but were gone by the time police arrived at the scene.
School Union 71 agreed to a salary of $145,000 to $160,000 for a new superintendent to be shared with MountGreylock. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
SU-71 OKS SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH
The Williamstown two-school Superintendency Union 71 on has approved the framework of the search for its next superintendent, even as town officials in Lanesborough prepare to study whether SU-71 should continue. IBerkshires.com reports that four of the six SU-71 committee members attended Friday's meeting at Williamstown Elementary School, where the committee endorsed, among other things, the salary range of $145,000 to $160,000 previously OK'd by the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee. SU-71, which consists of Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary schools, shares a superintendent with the junior-senior high school.
Developer Jeffrey Cohen goes over plans for the Waverly Mill with the Historic Commission last week. He hopes to renovate the mill into 150 affordable apartments. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)
LOCAL DEVELOPER HAS PLANS FOR FORMER ADAMS MILL
A local developer has big plans for the former Waverly Mill in Adams — once the tax credits he's hoping for line up. IBerkshires.com reports that Jeffery Cohen, owner of 7 Hoosac Street, has proposed turning the old mill into a 150 affordable apartment units for rent. He filled in the Board of Selectmen and the Historical Commission on the progress of the project at their meetings last week. Cohen said he has put together a team of architects, accountants, engineers and consultants and said construction could start as early as 2016.
TRIPLE MURDER TRIAL CONTINUES
The murder trial of Caius Veiovis continued yesterday in Hampden Superior Court. Veiovis apartment was described by investigating officers taking the stand yesterday. Massachusetts State Troopers described his bedroom as painted black, including the windows, and contained various implements from a whip to throwing stars. The Berkshire Eagle reports, Trooper Stephen Jones and other investigators found a display with a reproduction skull and crossbones flanked by two real hatchets, a collage of antique anatomy and surgical illustrations, and various weapons, including a machete and t
Thursday, September 11, 2014
13TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 9-11 TERROR ATTACKS TODAY
The nation will pause today to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Family members of those killed are gathering this morning to read the names of the deceased at ground zero in New York. They'll pause four times: when each plane struck the World Trade Center and when each tower fell. The National September 11 Museum will be open, but the memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day and only available to family members.
The park at the corner of Houghton and River streets in North Adams is one possible location for a skate park that is now in the planning stages. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Rebecca Dravis)
NORTH ADAMSSKATEPARK MOVING FORWARD
Five years ago, a group of teenagers participating in the UNITY youth leadership program at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition had an idea: They wanted to get a skate park built in the city. The iBerkshires.com reports, this fall, that idea is finally taking shape. A Community Development Block Grant has allowed the city's Office of Community Development, in conjunction with the NBCC, to commission a Los Angeles-based company to study and design a new skate/BMX park that eventually will be built in one of three locations – a section of Noel Field on State Street, Houghton (HOE-tin) Street Park, and the Holden Street parking lot behind the Big Y plaza. The community will get to hear about those pros and cons at a public discussion set for 5 to 7:30pm on September 25th at the North Adams Public Library.
DruryHigh School cafeteria manager Trinity Spencer shows how easy the school's new biometric system is. Some parents, however, are concerned about privacy issues. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
BIOMETRIC SCANNERS OF CONCERN TO PARENTS
The introduction of biometrics in the school lunch line in North Adams has a number of parents concerned about privacy and big-government intrusion into their children's lives. The school system is instituting the equipment at lunch lines this fall after more than a year of discussion about parents failing to pay delinquent lunch bills, the stigma surrounding free and reduced lunches and the need for student privacy.
The search committee has begun receiving applications for the town administrator post but so far half don't meet the criteria. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
Adams has received 22 town administrator applicants so far, the Town Administrator Search Committee reported on Tuesday. IBerkshires.com reports that committee member Carol Corrigan said that of the 22 applicants, so far 10 meet the minimum requirements. The applicants come from various parts of the country — Texas, Maryland, Minnesota, Colorado, California and Kansas. The committee also discussed how it would format the written essay questions for applicants. The four essays represent issues facing the town of Adams such as the Greylock Glen and the town’s elderly population.
MCLA RANKS HIGH ONCE AGAIN
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has been ranked as one of the top public liberal arts colleges in the country for the fourth consecutive year in a row. The designation of ninth — one higher than last year — comes from the U.S. News and World Report ranking released on Tuesday.
TESTEMONY IN MURDER TRIAL CONTINUES
The trial of Caius Veiovis continued yesterday in Hampden Superior Court. According to testimony - hours before three city men were killed in August 2011 Adam Lee Hall sat in the home of Caius Veiovis cleaning handguns he had brought over. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Allyson Scace took the stand for the prosecution and described how on August 27th, 2011, she and her friend Kayla Sewell were at the Pittsfield apartment of Veiovis drinking with David Chalue and the defendant when Hall showed up with a large bag of dog food from which he pulled several handguns.
INJURED HIKER RESCUED FROM APPALACHIAN TRAIL
A Connecticut woman was rescued from the Appalachian Trail yesterday morning, after breaking her hip while hiking with a friend. Local emergency officials say that the hiker, from Salisbury, Conn., suffered the injury Tuesday evening. The unidentified woman in her 60s, and her companion decided to seek refuge at a nearby trail shelter off West Branch Road in October Mountain State Forest. The hikers called 911 on a cellphone shortly after 7am yesterday and the Becket Fire Department and Becket Ambulance Department responded. About an hour later, the injured woman was carried out of the woods. She was being treated at Berkshire Medical Center.
UP TO 2 YEARS IN JAIL FOR MULTIPLE CHILD PORN CHARGES
A Becket man has been sentenced to up to 2 years in jail after pleading guilty to multiple child pornography charges. 42 year old James Bannister possessed and disseminated child pornography between December 2010 and March 2011. He was arrested following an investigation conducted by state troopers assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Bannister pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to five counts of dissemination of visual material of a child in a state of nudity or sexual conduct and 19 counts of knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct.
PITTSFIELD MAN GETS UP TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON FOR RAPE OF 6-YEAR-OLD GIRL
A Pittsfield man was sentenced yesterday to serve up to 12 years in state prison for the rape of a 6-year-old girl. 32 year old Erick Ruiz-Trujillo was convicted on Tuesday of raping the girl in November of 2012. He was sentenced yesterday to 8 to 12 years at MCI-Cedar Junction at Walpole state prison for one count of rape of a child with force, with 675 days credit for time served while awaiting trial. Ruiz-Trujillo, a native of El Salvador, will be deported at the end of his sentence.
Health Director Gina Armstrong and Parks and Open Space Director Jim McGrath are both pleased with the new regulation. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
SMOKE FREE PARKS IN PITTSFIELD
The air will be a little fresher in the Pittsfield’s 29 parks next week. City workers yesterday began the installation of no-smoking signs on all city parks and playground in anticipation for when new smoking rules go in effect. More than 1,000 acres of open space will now be smoke free as part of the Board and Health and the Parks Commission's new regulations.
PEDA's board of directors voted to give the BIC $250,000, matching the city, for start-up costs. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PEDA OKS FUNDSFORBERKSHIREINNOVATIONCENTER
The city has received final approval for $500,000 in startup costs associated with the construction of the Berkshire Innovation Center. The Berkshire Eagle reports, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority yesterday unanimously approved a $ 250,000 allocation from the quasi- public agency’s funds toward the center’s launch. The City Council on September 2nd approved allocating $250,000 from its GE Economic Development Fund.
PETERSBURGH, N.Y., WOMAN WAS PILOT IN FATAL PLANE CRASH
A Petersburgh, NY woman and a flight instructor from Delmar were identified as the two people killed Monday in the crash of a Cessna airplane on the CSX Railroad property in Selkirk. 61 year old Nancy Gertzberg was the plane’s pilot. 48 year old Allan Richter was co-pilot and flight instructor. Richter was found dead at the scene but police say Gertzberg was conscious when emergency responders arrived. She later died at Albany Medical Center Hospital.
STATE REPORTS 2ND WEST NILE VIRUS CASE OF 2014
The Massachusetts Department of Health says the state has confirmed its second human case of West Nile virus this year. Officials said Wednesday the case, like the first one, is from Middlesex County. The new case is a woman in her 40s who was hospitalized but has been released and is recovering. The first case announced August 22nd was a man in his 60s that officials had said was hospitalized but recovering. There were eight confirmed cases of West Nile in Massachusetts last year, none fatal. The symptoms include fever or flu-like illnesses.
PUBLIC TO MULL NEW ENGLAND ELECTRICITY FORECAST
New England's regional grid operator is inviting the public to review this year's forecast for the availability of electricity and demand over the coming decade. The 2014 regional system plan describes how transmission upgrades, power generation and reducing electricity with conservation and energy efficiency will help make enough electricity available. It's the 14th long-range plan developed with state regulators and policymakers, businesses, consumer groups and others.
NEIGHBORS WEIGH APPEAL OF STOCKBRIDGE ENDORSEMENT OF ELM COURT PROJECT
Although the town’s Select Board has unanimously endorsed the proposed $50 million, 112-room Elm Court resort, including a public restaurant and spa, the developers could face a potential legal challenge while seeking required approvals from Lenox. The residentially zoned property on Old Hawthorne Road has frontage and an entrance in that town, though nearly all of the 90acre Gilded Age-era site is in Stockbridge. The Berkshire Eagle reports, Travaasa Experiential Resorts, the Amstar Co. subsidiary, would operate Elm Court if its special permit application, yet to be submitted, is approved by the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals.
RICK CANTELE NAMED BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR
The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce has named Rick Cantele (the President and Chief Executive Officer of Salisbury Bank and Trust Company and Salisbury Bancorp) – its 2014 Business Person of the Year. Cantele was honored yesterday at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.
Southern Berkshire Chamber Nomination Committee member Kate McCormick says that Cantele's vision for the expansion and strong presence of Salisbury Bank in the Southern Berkshires coupled with the top-notch business team he has assembled to implement that vision makes him the ideal recipient.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Police Chief Kyle Johnson suggested larger signage at the accident-prone Five Corners intersection. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
SELECTMENT LOOK AT MAKING FIVE CORNERS SAFER
The Williamstown Board of Selectmen on Monday discussed how to make the Five Corners intersection in South Williamstown safer after a fatal accident at the site last month. IBerkshires.com reports that Police Chief Kyle Johnson advised the board about changes he would recommend to make signage more obvious to alert drivers to a reduced speed zone on that stretch of Route 7 and a stop for drivers on Route 43. He says he wants the signs to be oversized to get the attention of motorists. The board agreed and, at the same time, asked whether there was something that could be done to reduce the number of signs at the intersection.
The Board of Health on Monday voted to enact new tobacco regulations after a brief public hearing with little opposition. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
WILLIAMSTOWN TOUGHENS TOBACCO RULES
The Board of Health in Williamstown on Monday voted to enact new tobacco regulations aimed at cutting back on youth smoking and smoking in public places. IBerkshires.com reports, the board held a public hearing on the proposed regulations that drew comments from four members of the public — all in favor of the proposed regulations. Although no one rose in opposition to the changes, the board did receive written communication from a couple of New England retail merchants associations expressing concern about the rules. The board voted unanimously to put the new rules into effect on January 5th.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)/Staff
COAKLEY TO FACE BAKER FOR MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has won the Democratic primary for governor and she did so handily. The North Adams native garnered 42 percent of the overall vote. Coakley defeated state treasurer and former Democratic Party chairman Steven Grossman and former federal health care administrator Don Berwick in yesterday's voting. Locally, Coakley cruised with 501 votes in North Adams. Grossman received 140 votes and Berwick received 74 votes. Coakley will carry her party's nomination into the November general election against Republican Charlie Baker, who won the GOP primary against Mark Fisher. There also will be three independent candidates. Coakley is in her second term as attorney general.
KERRIGAN GETS DEMOCRATIC NOD FOR LT. GOVERNOR
Stephen Kerrigan has won the three-way Democratic primary for Massachusetts lieutenant governor. The former Lancaster selectman previously served as a top aide to the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, and later as chief of staff to former Attorney General Tom Reilly. He defeated Mike Lake and Leland Cheung. Kerrigan will team with Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the November election. Former state Rep. Karyn Polito was the only Republican candidate for the number two job and will be teamed with GOP gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker in November.
MAURA HEALEY WINS DEM NOD FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL (All)
Maura Healey has won the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts attorney general after a hard-fought primary race. Healey has been an assistant attorney general for seven years and led the office's civil rights division. She defeated former state Sen. Warren Tolman yesterday. Healey will face Republican John Miller in the November election.
GOLDBERG WINS PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS TREASURER (All)
Deb Goldberg has won a three-way Democratic primary for Massachusetts state treasurer. The former Brookline selectwoman defeated state Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover and state Rep. Tom Conroy of Wayland. Goldberg will face off with Republican nominee Michael Heffernan of Wellesley in the November election. Ian Jackson of the Green-Rainbow party will also be on the ballot. Goldberg ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006.
LOW VOTER TURNOUT
A Low voter turnout was expected for yesterday’s primary, despite contested races for governor and other statewide offices. Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin said yesterday he expected roughly 550,000 people to vote in the Democratic primary and up to 170,000 to cast Republican ballots. Those numbers were fairly close overall. City and town clerks in the Berkshires reported voter turnout in the primary ranging between 10 and 12 percent of registered voters.
One a week for the last eight years, a group of Vietnam veterans have been meeting for coffee at a local diner - something none of them would have fathomed when they first returned from the war. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
VIETNAM VETS FOCUSED ON HELPING RETURNING SOLDIERS
For more than a decade following their return, local Vietnam veterans just didn't talk about what they did overseas. IBerkshires.com reports however, that as time goes on, more and more are finding their old uniforms, marching in parades and getting involved with the local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 65. The chapter has seen a growth in recent years, with members attributing it to more retirements. And the organization that started with 35 members some 32 years ago has now surpassed 80. The chapter started in 1982 when the national organization expanded. The group alternated between South County and Pittsfield and, after a few years, moved its headquarters to Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD MAN CONVICTED IN RAPE OF GIRL, 6, IN 2012
A Pittsfield man was found guilty on Tuesday of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl in November 2012. A Berkshire Superior Court jury took a little more than two hours to convict Erick Ruiz-Trujillo on one count of rape of a child: with force. The 32 year old Ruiz-Trujillo was ordered held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without the right to bail. He is scheduled to be sentenced this afternoon.
PITTSFIELD MAN ACCUSED OF ASSAULTING HIS WIFE AND A NEIGHBOR
A Pittsfield man has been charged with assaulting his wife and a neighbor following an incident early Tuesday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 37 year old Mark Formel Jr., of Lakewood Circle, was drunk and had been screaming at his wife about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday when she decided called police. According to the police report, Formel allegedly threw his wife to the ground when she tried to go to a neighbor’s house to call police. When a neighbor tried to block Formel from entering the residence where his wife had gone to make the call, Formel also threw her to the ground. Formel left the scene, but later returned to his residence, where he was arrested. He pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to single counts of assault and battery on a family/household member and assault and battery.
STOCKBRIDGE BOARD ENDORSES PROJECT
Round One goes to the developers of the proposed $50 million, 112room Elm Court Resort on the residentially zoned Old Stockbridge Road. The Berkshire Eagle reports that by a resounding 3-0 vote, the Select Board in Stockbridge has endorsed the controversial project, much to the dismay of opponents from both Stockbridge and Lenox who attended the final, nearly three-hour public hearing that ended late Monday night. Supporters congratulated members of the Travaasa Experiential Resorts team that would operate the hotel owned by Amstar Co. subsidiary Front Yard LLC. At least 110 members of the public filled the gymnasium at the Town Offices to hear both sides present their final arguments before the Select Board on the special- permit application aimed at preserving the 1886 Elm Court mansion by building a connected 96- room addition, opening a 60-seat public restaurant and constructing a 15,000 plus-square-foot spa.
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
The Board of Health wants better communication with the Agricultural Fair Committee over vendor permitting. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
ADAMS BOARD WANTS AGGIE FAIR TO INFORM VENDORS OF PERMIT NEEDS
The Adams Board of Health wants the Agricultural Fair Committee to properly communicate permit specifications to its food vendors. IBerkshires.com reports that Code Enforcement Officer Scott Koczela told the board last week that the fair committee does not inform food vendors that rent at Bowe Field that they have get a permit from the town. He says this has been a continuing issue with the committee, and it has failed to communicate with the Board of Health. Chairman Allen Mendel said the board will send the committee another letter asking them to cooperate and what the consequences will be if it doesn't.
PLAN WOULD CREATE LOCAL HISTORICAL DISTRICTS
The North Adams could see the creation of local historic districts under a proposal submitted by Councilor Benjamin Lamb. The plan calls for the creation of a special committee to designate historic districts within the city. If passed into law, homes and businesses within these districts would be brought before a historic district commission prior to any major renovations or demolition, but would also be eligible to apply for historical grants that would aid them in the upkeep of their properties. The community development committee has recommended the council vote to take the first step in the process to create local historic districts.
Residents turned out to debate taxi rates at Monday's Public Safety Committee hearing. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
NORTH ADAMS COMMITTEE HEARS TAXI RATE COMPLAINTS
The North Adams Public Safety Committee has agreed to revisit taxi rates and discuss the use of meters after hearing from numerous residents — and getting an errant cab service to comply with the current fares.
The City Council raised the rates $2 per zone back in April at the recommendation of the Public Safety Committee. At the time, there was only one cab company left in the city after the abrupt closure of American Cab.
But complaints about the rate hike surfaced last week after the committee called Michael McMillian, proprietor of City Cab, on the carpet for allegations of smoking in the cabs (a state offense), using unlicensed drivers and taxis, and undercharging the city's set cab fares.
While the committee was satisfied McMillian was making progress on some of the issues, his admittance of undercharging left the committee mulling its options.
More than 30 people attended a hearing last week on the matter; nearly two dozen showed up for Monday's continuation.
McMillian, who started out a few months ago with one cab, now has two and is trying for a third, argued the authority of the committee to set any rates.
GAS UP A PENNY IN MASSACHUSETTS
After several consecutive weeks of declines, gasoline prices have ticked up in Massachusetts. AAA Southern New England reports that the cost of a gallon of self-serve, regular has gone up by a penny in the past week to an average of $3.45. The current price is still a nickel lower than it was a month ago and 21 cents lower than at this time last year. The Massachusetts price is a penny above the national average. AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $3.29 per gallon and as high as $3.89 per gallon in Massachusetts.
MASSACHUSETTS PRIMARY DAY TODAY
The Massachusetts Primary Election is taking place today with primary races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Treasurer, and Attorney General. The Democratic Gubernatorial primary is a three-way race between North Adams native Martha Coakley, current State Treasurer Steve Grossman and former Obama Administration official Don Berwick. The Republican primary is a two-way contest between Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher. The Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor – is being sought by Leland Cheung, Steve Kerrigan and Mike Lake. There is no primary contest for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican side with only Karyn Polito running. The Democratic candidates for treasurer are Tom Conroy, Steve Finegold, and Deb Goldberg. Only James Heffernan is on the Republican ballot. Battling for the Democratic nomination for Attorney general is Maura Healey – the long time administrator under current Attorney General Martha Coakley – and former state lawmaker Warren Tolman. John Miller is the lone Republican in the race. Polling places across the state are open until 8pm.
LOW VOTER TURNOUT EXPECTED TODAY
Low voter turnout is expected for today's primary, despite contested races for governor and other statewide offices. The state's top elections official, Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin, says he expects approximately 550,000 people to vote in the Democratic primary and up to 170,000 to cast Republican ballots.
TRIAL PUTS FOURTH MAN IN HOME OF MURDER VICTIMS
The murder trial of Caius Veiovis continued yesterday in Hampden Superior Court. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to testimony, a fourth man was present at the Pittsfield residence of two of the victims on the night they disappeared. Lisa Archambeault, who lived in the second floor apartment in Pittsfield as David Glasser and Edward Frampton, told the jury she saw four people there around 10:30pm on August 27th, 2011. She said the man, who appeared to be in conversation with the others, was not Veiovis. Under cross- examination by Veiovis’ attorney, Archambeault said she saw Glasser, Frampton, Robert Chadwell and another man she didn’t know. Archambeault did not mention a fourth man at the two previous trials that convicted Adam Lee Hall and David Chalue. The bodies of Glasser, Frampton and Chadwell were found almost two weeks later buried in a trench in Becket. The trial resumes today.
TWO SHOOTINGS SUNDAY MORNING
No one was hurt following a pair of shootings early Sunday morning within minutes of each other in Pittsfield. Police received a call of shots fired around 3:20am in the area of Francis and Madison avenues. Shell casings were discovered a block away at the corner of Daniels and Madison avenues. Police, just a few minutes later, responded to shots fired near Morningside Community School. No evidence of a shooting has been found by city detectives. No injuries or property damage was reported during either incident.
Police Chief Michael Wynn explained the space program architects developed for a new police station. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
FACILITY LIKELY TO BE ABOUT 3 TIMES LARGER
Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn says that a consulting firm that is considering options for replacing the city’s out dated police department is close to issuing a report. Wynn addressed the media before briefing the city’s Police Advisory Committee on the study. He said that the floor space drawings show that the department would ideally require up to 38,000 square feet of space — which would be nearly three times the space of the current building which opened in 1939.
PITTSFIELD SCHOOLS' WEBSITE REMAINS DOWN AMID CYBER ATTACK
Although most Internet services have been restored following an online attack that began on August 26th, the Pittsfield schools' website remains down. The Berkshire Eagle reports that personnel from the Internet provider and technology staff members from the school system worked out a defense on Friday against a "denial of service" attack from a source yet to be identified. Director of Technology James Schultz says however that the website, www.pittsfield.net which is hosted by a different service provider, still is being overwhelmed in the attack while a solution is sought. The site remains off-line.
TWO GROUPS TO SPLIT $ 150K OVER THREE YEARS
Two Berkshire County organizations have jointly received a $150,000 state grant to ensure Berkshire County residents in nine communities continue to benefit from health conscious restaurants, farmers markets, access to bike paths and other wellness initiatives. The Tri-Town Health Department and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition will equally share $50,000 for each of the next three fiscal years from the Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and L
Friday, September 05, 2014
CHURCH VANDELISM SUSPECTS ARRESTED The board heard updates on vandalism, the MemorialSchool and DPW projects. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)
The vandals who painted swastikas in First Baptist Church have been apprehended. IBerkshires.com reports that Police Chief Richard Tarsa told the Selectmen on Wednesday that two juveniles broke into the church and used spray paint to paint the symbols. They painted swastikas, pagan and anarchy symbols inside the Commercial Street church on August 16th. The organist had entered the church that night and heard voices, and saw two young men running out the back door. Both suspects have been arraigned in juvenile court.
MAYOR SUBMITS SOLAR PLANS
Mayor Richard Alcombright has introduced plans to build a solar array that could save the city up to $200,000 in energy costs annually. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the plans, submitted to the Conservation Commission and Planning Board for review, call for the city to lease the land at the former landfill on E Street to a private solar developer. According to Alcombright, the city will then buy back electricity generated by the solar array at a reduced rate. Construction is slated to begin this year and the system is expected to be fully operational in the summer of 2015.
Friends are raising funds for Becky Dix, who was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident last month. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)/Staff
COMMUNITY RAISING FUNDS FOR INJURED CLARKSBURG WOMAN
The Northern Berkshire community is showing their support for Becky Dix. A competitor in the Pat Torchia/North Adams Women's Softball League, Dix had her season came to an abrupt and tragic end. The Clarksburg native was severely injured when struck by a car during a scenic motorcycle ride through Southern Vermont on August 10th. Her friends and the local softball community are rallying around her to raise funds for her medical expenses with a softball tournament, motorcycle run and a Go Fund Me page that's nearly hit its goal.
WILLIAMSTOWN MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO KIDNAPPING AND OTHER CHARGES
A Williamstown man with a lengthy criminal record in two states was arraigned on firearm, kidnapping and assault charges on Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court. 38 year old Ernest Harvin of Henderson Road is accused of kidnapping and assaulting two men in Williamstown in January of last year. Harvin had threatened to kill the two men because they owed him money for drugs. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of kidnapping, one count of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, one count of assault and battery and one count of illegal ownership of a firearm, rifle or shotgun. Harvin was held on bail at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
NORTH ADAMS MAN HAS CASE CONTINUED WITHOUT A FINDING
A North Adams Man had his case continued without a finding until Dec. 17, 2014. 53-year-old Ronald Sherman, of Alan Drive, admitted to sufficient facts on charges of operating an uninsured motor vehicle and forging a Registry of Motor Vehicles document. His case was continued without a finding until Dec. 17. A charge of operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration was dismissed upon the request of the commonwealth. Sherman was fined $90.
INNOVATIONCENTER GETS ITS FUNDS
With all signs pointing to strong support, the Pittsfield City Council made it official this week by approving $250,000 in start-up funds for the Berkshire Innovation Center planned at the William Stanley Industrial Park. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Councilors OK’d the use of $ 250,000 from the GE Economic Development Fund to help cover startup costs for the 20,000-squarefoot facility, which will be constructed with $9.7 million in state funding through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
MCCANDLESS’ CONTRACT EXTENDED THROUGH 2020
School Superintendent Jake” McCandless has received a contract extension — in a unanimous vote by the School Committee. McCandless did not asking for more money. The revised contract, approved after a brief executive session Wednesday, extended the superintendent’s contract from five to six years, through June 2020.
Councilor at Large Barry Clairmont said there is a delay in the mayor's presentation on 100 North St. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PITTSFIELD WAITING TO SEE EXTENT OF COLUMBUS AVE GARAGE REPAIRS
The Pittsfield, City Council isn't authorizing any funds to fix the Columbus Avenue garage until councilors know if it is salvageable. IBerkshires.com reports that the city closed off the upper floor of the garage after finding the support beams compromised. In 2013, the city eyed spending $160,000 to reseal the upper floor to extend the life of the parking garage a little longer. The City Council tabled the request — opting not to send it to the committee level in hopes to expedite the process as more information comes in.
PITTSFIELD MAN GETS 2 1/2 YEARS FOR PLOT TO ROB BAR OWNER'S SON
A Pittsfield man has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for hatching a scheme to rob the son of a local bar owner in March 2013. 33 year old Dennis Hall, Jr. of Maple Street and 29 year old James Cantarella, also of Pittsfield, devised a plan to rob the son of the Johnny's Beach Club owner, who they believed brought the cash home after the Wahconah Street bar closed. Hall pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday to conspiracy to commit armed robbery and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. A second felony charge of attempted armed robbery had been dismissed earlier in the case. Cantarella was sentenced to two years in prison in August after pleading guilty to his role in the scheme.
EX-GIRLFRIEND: PITTSFIELD MAN SAID HE WOULD TELL POLICE SHE CONDONED GIRL'S RAPE
A Pittsfield man accused of raping a 6-year-old girl told his girlfriend that if he was arrested, he would tell police that she condoned his actions. The testimony came during the second day of the trial of 32 year old Erick Ruiz-Trujillo, who is charged with one count of rape of a child with force after an alleged sexual assault in November 2012. The woman's described waking up to the young girl's scream and seeing Ruiz-Trujillo, who is not related to the child, standing close to the girl's bed. The trial is expected to run through Tuesday, when the jury should begin deliberations.
PITTSFIELD MAN CLEARED OF CHILD MOLESTATION CHARES, DEAD AT 49
A Pittsfield man who spent 21 years in prison on child molestation charges that were overturned in 2006 has died. According to the Berkshire Eagle, 49-year-old Bernard Baran Jr. was living in Fitchburg with his partner at the time of his sudden death. The cause of death is unknown, but a state medical examiner plans to conduct an autopsy. Baran was convicted in 1985 of sexually abusing five children at the Early Childhood Development Center in Pittsfield, where he worked at the time. He was given three concurrent life sentences. His conviction came amid a wave of nationwide hysteria involving child care sex abuse cases. His sentence was overturned in 2006 by a judge who concluded that his original lawyer was incompetent.
JOSEPH BUFFIS REMAINS FREE AMID TRIAL
Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis remains free after pleading not guilty to a dozen charges in federal court. According to the Berkshire Eagle, Buffis pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to 12 charges; including multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, and a single count of extortion by wrongful use of fear and under color of official right. Buffis remains free on an uninsured bond of $100,000 set by the court at his original arraignment. He would be forced to pay that bond if he either fails to show up in court, or violates any of his pretrial conditions.
The executive committee approved filing to be an intervenor in the gas line permitting process. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
BRPC FILES TO BE INTERVENOR IN PIPELINE PROCESS
Kinder Morgan representatives will be at Berkshire Community College on September 18th, to present its proposed Northeast Expansion Project. The energy company is seeking to lay about 250 miles of pipe, including parts of Western Mass. The proposal raised opposition across the state. IBerkshires.com reports that the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has organized the 6 p.m. presentation that will feature Pittsfield Superintendent of Schools Jason McCandless as moderator. The company will have the first hour of the meeting to present its gas pipeline plans and then field questions from commission members. The Conservation Law Foundation will follow them and present information about the permitting process.
W MASS TECHNICAL RESCUE TEAM TRAINS IN PITTSFIELD
The newly formed Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team are at the ready for fire departments in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties that need extra manpower to make difficult rescues. The Berkshire Eagle reports the squad, comprised of 80 firefighters from 21 municipal fire departments including Pittsfield, North Adams, Great Barrington and Lenox, operates under the supervision of the Western Massachusetts Fire Chiefs Association. The regional rescue squad has $250,000 worth of equipment paid for by Homeland Security funds. 25 WMTRT members held a joint training session with Pittsfield’s veteran technical rescue team on Tuesday. The five-hour practice focused on mountain rescue. WMTRT members must devote at least 80 hours a year to the rescue unit, a commitment above and beyond their normal firefighting duties.
PERC OPENS GRANT APPLICATIONS TO SMALL BUSINESSES
The Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation received another round of funds that will be awarded to businesses in Berkshire County for technical assistance services. The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation awarded the $30,000 grant to PERC and marks the eighth round of funding PERC has received for this program. Jay Anderson, President of PERC, said the purpose of the technical assistance grant program is to help small businesses (with 20 or fewer employees) expand, grow, improve their operations and create jobs. In previous rounds, PERC provided $280,000 in technical assistance grants to 22 businesses that pledged to create 202 jobs and invest more than $22 million. Program eligibility guidelines are located on PERC-loans-dot-com.
PROVOCATIVE DANCING CANCELS HIGH SCHOOL HOMECOMING DANCE
Mount Anthony Union High School, located in Bennington VT, made a decision to cancel the school's homecoming dance due to sexually explicit dancing. The Berkshire Eagle reports the school’s faculty and administration made the decision to cancel the event, and perhaps future dances, due to safety and health concerns, as well as violations of consent. Several female students expressed discomfort about unwanted "grinding" from male students, to which administrators are now going to engage in conversations with students about how to be respectful to one another. Opponents likened the cancelation to the events from the movie “Footloose,” to which administrators responded dancing now is nothing like the moves seen in the 1984 classic.
COLD AIR TO KICK DOWN THE PROVERBIAL DOORS THIS WEEKEND
Hold off on those shorts and tank tops and get ready to grab the sweaters. According to AccuWeather, after one of the warmest weeks this summer, much cooler air will sweep across the area this weekend and spill into next. The front associated with the cool air will be preceded and accompanied by drenching showers and thunderstorms. Daytime temps will bobble between the 70’s and low 80’s while the nights can see temperatures as low as 40. The cool air will stick around into the first part of next week, before temperatures rebound once again in the Northeast.
INDEPENDANTS TO PICKET ON PRIMARY DAY
Independent voters, who make up 52% of the Massachusetts electorate, will conduct informational pickets on September 9th primary to inform voters of the barriers independents face. Dubbed “Voting Rights are Primary,” the campaign aims to dramatize the latest Gallup poll showing 42% of Americans are independent, yet are barred or restricted in nearly every state from full participation in the primary process. In Massachusetts independents – over 2.2 million voters – have to pick a party in order to participate in the elections. Tuesday’s primary is expected to see a very low voter turnout. Nationally, this election season has seen record low voter turnouts. The average turnout has been only 14.5%.
GOVERNOR PATRICK SETS OFF ON TRADE MISSION
Governor Deval Patrick is hitting the road again, this time for a trade mission to Denmark, the United Kingdom and France. Patrick says the goal of the six-day trip later this month is to expand opportunities between Massachusetts and the European countries in the innovation economy, clean tech, digital gambling, financial services and education sectors.
FIRE IN EGREMONT LEAVES CABIN MOSTLY GUTTED
A cabin was mostly gutted in a fire in Egremont. A call from the neighbor of the Lakeside Drive house was put in to Egremont police on Wednesday at 4:30pm. Firefighters arrived at 68 Lakeside Drive, a cabin owned by Carol Meringola. Egremont, Sheffield, and Great Barrington fire departments worked together to extinguish the blaze that police believe was electrical in nature. The fire was not deemed suspicious.
JOSEPH BUFFIS REMAINS FREE AMID TRIAL
Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis remains free after pleading not guilty to a dozen charges in federal court. According to the Berkshire Eagle, Buffis pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to 12 charges; including multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, and a single count of extortion by wrongful use of fear and under color of official right. Buffis remains free on an uninsured bond of $100,000 set by the court at his original arraignment. He would be forced to pay that bond if he either fails to show up in court, or violates any of his pretrial conditions.
TOWN OFFICES MOVING TO THE TOWN HALL
Beginning Thursday, September 11th, the Alford Town Hall will be closed to public access until the expansion of the school house is complete. The town offices will be temporarily relocated to the town hall while the school house is under construction, and the town hall will only be open during normal office hours. The duration of the construction project is unknown at this time. On Tuesday, September 9th, the wireless hot spot at the town hall will be reprogrammed. At that time, the existing wireless network will be password-protected and will be encrypted for town office use only. A secondary guest network will be created as the new free wireless hot spot for residential use from the parking lot.
TANGLEWOOD ATTENDANCE RISES
A mix of classical, rock and pop celebrity artists powered Tanglewood to an attendance uptick for the summer season that ended last Sunday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that in all, 332,536 patrons came through the gates at the Boston Symphony’s summer home, according to figures released by the BSO. For BSO and Tanglewood Music Center classical concerts in the Shed, the turnout was 1.8 percent higher than last summer.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
The board with interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan in her new position (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
ADAMS PROPERTY TAX RATES RISE FOR FISCAL 2015
The Adams Board of Selectmen voted on Wednesday to retain a dual property tax system that will shift 15 percent of the tax burden to the commercial side for fiscal 2015.
This is the same rate Adams has used for the past five years.
Tax rates will go up for both residential and commercial, with residential property being taxed at $21.36 per $1,000 valuation and commercial at $25.37. The increases are $1.41 and $1.68, respectively, over last year, or about 7 percent.
If the board had chosen a single rate, both commercial and residential would have been levied at $22.06 per $1,000.
The Selectmen made a site visit to the deteriorating Gates Avenue bridge on Wednesday night. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
CLARKSBURG SEEKS BRIDGE SOLUTION, CONSIDERS ROCK CRUSHER
The Clarksburg Board of Selectmen is planning field trip before it holds a public hearing on a gravel pit owner's request for a rock crusher.
Chairman Jeffrey Levanos made the suggestion to visit a rock crushing operation, possibly in Dalton, to get an idea of what most neighbors are concerned about: The noise.
The decision came during another field trip closer to home as the board reviewed the condition of the Gates Avenue bridge and a possible temporary roadway around it through property owned by gravel pit owner Michael Milazzo.
Milazzo is willing to work with the town to provide access to the dead-end Gates Avenue during reconstruction of the bridge just off North Houghton Street. He's also seeking a change in conditions to his gravel pit, located between Gates and Wheeler avenues, to open an hour earlier and install the rock crusher.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)
NORTH ADAMS WATER MAIN BREAK AFFECTS SERVICE ALONG MASS AVE.
Sections of Massachusetts Avenue were without water on Wednesday evening as the Department of Public Works dealt with another water main break.
Water was restored shortly before 8:30 p.m.; it was expected to take about an hour to bring it up to full pressure. Residents are advised to run their water to clear it.
The break turned out to be in the 24-inch main that runs down the center of Massachusetts Avenue. Installed around 1888, the pipe was designed to bring water from Broad Brook Reservoir but now directs the flow from the Mount Williams Reservoir toward Williamstown.
CLARKSBURG SEEKS TO FILL BOARD OPENINGS, SETS EVALUATION
Clarksburg is seeking applicants to fill a number of vacant positions on its boards and committees. These boards ensure that the town can fulfill its responsibilities to its citizens and allow local government to operate effectively.
The Board of Selectmen have posted a list of positions the town needs to fill, including a three-year term on the Finance Committee Anyone interested in filling any of the terms can contact Town Hall. Appointments are made by the Board of Selectmen.
(Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
ADAMS GROUP BEGINS CONVERSATION ON TOWN REVITALIZATION
A cluster of Adams proponents who have meeting occasionally at the Firehouse Cafe to discuss the town's potential are broadening their exposure.
On Friday, they gathered at the new 5 Hoosac St. Gallery with invited facilitator Nicholas Malnati. Malnati of Lenox, who owns Northstar Analytics, led the conversation about a grassroots approach of changing Adams and saving it from economic and population decline.
Using notes on wooden blocks, breakout groups, intermittently having people switch seats and reading off a lengthy scrolllike spreadsheet, Malnati propounded on the idea that Adams was special. It may not have large locations, but the locations are plentiful and less expensive.
Former Director of Veterans Services Larry Caprari is being asked to again run the Pittsfield office until a new veteran's agent is hired.
Mayor Daniel Bianchi said on Tuesday that he is working out a service agreement with Caprari in the wake of the firing of Rosanne Frieri. Since Frieri's suspension and subsequent firing the department's administrative assistant Catherine Huska has been filling in.
Bianchi has said Frieri, appointed by former Mayor James Ruberto, was fired for "work-related reasons"; Frieri believes she was targeted because of disagreements over programs and policies, including her appearance on a local radio show that angered the mayor.
MASS IN MOTION INITIATIVES TO EXPAND IN COUNTY
The Tri-Town Health Department is collaborating with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and has been awarded three more years of additional funding to promote interventions on healthy eating and active living efforts.
Both organizations will collaborate in unison in an effort to continue the health and wellness initiatives.
With the funding cuts to the Community Transformation grant, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released a new RFP that would support the Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership grant. This funding aims to support communities in an effort to address overweight and obesity through the implementation of policy, systems and environmental strategies to increase access to healthy eating and active living.Both organizations have an existing relationship on similar health and wellness
PITTSFIELD SCHOOLS' INTERNET SERVICE HOBBLED BY ONLINE ATTACK
Internet services at Pittsfield Public Schools have been disrupted for more than a week in an apparent online attack from an as-yet unidentified source.
Online communication between the schools and the outside world has been greatly slowed or halted at times, Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless said Wednesday, adding that officials first no ticed some "fairly significant problems" on Aug. 26. "We can't get messages out, and we are not getting messages in," McCandless said, adding that the system is being "bombarded by useless information."
PITTSFIELD MAN ON TRIAL IN 2012 SEXUAL ASSAULT OF GIRL, 6
A Pittsfield man on trial for raping a child has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ruiz-Trujillo, 32, of Pittsfield, is charged with one count of rape of a child with force for the alleged sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl in November 2012.
While Ruiz-Trujillo was not biologically related to the victim, Eramo said the girl considered him to be a father figure.
Ruiz-Trujillo was assisted by an interpreter and appeared in court wearing headphones. It took almost two full mornings to complete jury selection. Testimony before Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.
ALLEGED LATIN KINGS GANG MEMBER RELEASED AFTER PLEADING NOT GUILTY TO HEROIN trafficking
A Pittsfield man charged with having $25,000 worth of heroin during a traffic stop in July remains free on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to trafficking charges.Jose M. Rivera, 30, of Brown Street, was among two alleged members of the Latin Kings street gang arrested July 22 by members of the Berkshire County Anti-Crime Unit and Berkshire County Sheriff's Office.
Rivera pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday to trafficking heroin over 36 to 100 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. He was released on personal recognizance.
Rivera is due back in court for a pretrial hearing Dec. 17.
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR SPAR IN DEBATE
BOSTON (AP) — The three Democratic candidates for governor have sparred on everything from casinos and health care to President Obama's legacy in a televised debate.
During the hour-long face-off Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Treasurer Steve Grossman and former federal health care official Donald Berwick tried to sway voters with less than a week left to campaign before Primary Day.
In one of the sharper exchanges, Berwick asked Coakley how she'll avoid the mistakes that cost her the 2010 special U.S. Senate election against Republican Scott Brown. Coakley said she's had more time to put together a stronger political organization now.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face off against the victor of the Republican primary pitting Charlie Baker, the former Harvard Pilgrim CEO, against tea party-affiliated businessman Mark Fisher.
The primary elections are next Tuesday.
CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR AGREE TO LIMIT SPENDING
BOSTON (AP) — The three independent candidates for governor have agreed to limit their spending in the general election, making them eligible for a share of public matching funds.
Jeff McCormick, Evan Falchuk and Scott Lively have all filed the necessary signatures to appear on the November ballot. The state office of Campaign and Political Finance said Wednesday that all three agree to a $1.5 million expenditure limit.
Each are now eligible for a share of the approximately $620,000 in available public matching funds. The final allotment will be decided after next week's Democratic and Republican primaries.
Two Democratic candidates for governor, Martha Coakley and Don Berwick, earlier agreed to limit their spending. A third Democrat, Steven Grossman, didn't.
Republican Mark Fisher also agreed to the limits, but fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker declined.
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
BerkshireMedicalCenter is now the owner of the former North AdamsRegionalHospital and its campus. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
BMC CLOSES ON NARH
Berkshire Medical Center closed on the bankrupt properties of Northern Berkshire Healthcare on Friday. According to iBerkshires, BMC, as outlined in the bidding process through U.S. Bankruptcy Court two months ago, paid a total of $4 million for the hospital campus, NBH's fixed assets, and the Northern Berkshire Family Practice building. While North County residents advocate for the restoration of a full-service hospital, BMC officials have consistently stated that any further services are largely dependent on the results of a health-needs report.
The gates at MCLA opened to welcome the class of 2019 on Tuesday. More than 500 students are in this year's freshmen class, a 25 percent jump over last year. See more photos here. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
WELCOMES & FAREWELLS MARK MCLA 2014 CONVOCATION
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts In North Adams welcomed new students and said goodbye to President Mary Grant during the college's convocation ceremony Tuesday afternoon. More than 500 new students marched through the MCLA gates to hear a host of welcome speeches at the Church Street Center. Among the advice and guidance many of the speakers provided, one subject that weighed heavily in all their addresses was Grant's impact on the college and how much she will be missed Grant will remain at MCLA for one final semester and then take a new position as chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville
Attorney Fred Dupere, right, told School Committee members Regina DiLego and Robert Barton that the state has been delayed in rendering its opinion. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
LANESBOROUGH SCHOOL WAITING FOR STATE LEGAL OPINION ON SU71
The Lanesborough School Committee is still waiting for the state to weigh in on how it could dissolve Superintendency Union 71. School Committee member Robert Barton made an unsupported push for the school to join with another school district, ending the Supervisory Union 71 agreement with Williamstown. Ultimately, the School Committee slowed down the issue and agreed to look at alternatives. The committee, posed with different opinions, is now waiting for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to render its opinion. That will help dictate how the committee moves forward with weighing the options.
CAIUS VEIOVIS HEADS TO TRIAL
Three years after the disappearance and killings of three Pittsfield men, the last of three defendants who police say was responsible will be heading to trial. The Berkshire Eagle reports jury selection begins today in Hampden Superior Court for the trial of Caius Veiovis, whose mug shot went viral after his arrest in September 2011 due to his horn implants and facial tattoos. The defense will likely focus on the lack of forensic and other evidence directly linking Veiovis to the crimes while the prosecution may focus attention on that Veiovis had been seen with Hall and Chalue the night before the victims disappeared and the next morning. Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless will likely highlight what was described as a "dissection book" tied to Veiovis.
Former City Councilor Pete White, Pittsfield's Shannon Grant Coordinator Adam Hinds, lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan and Sheriff Thomas Bowler at a meet and greet at Mad Jack's last Tuesday. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
PITTSFIELD APPROVES $250K FOR BERKSHIRE INNOVATION CENTER
The Pittsfield City Council approved Tuesday using $250,000 from the General Electric Economic Development Fund to kick start the new innovation center at the William Stanley Business Park.The funds are hoped to be matched by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and begin the work of building the Berkshire Innovation Center on that land at 901 East St. The state has earmarked $9.7 million toward a building that will serve as a place for multiple companies to do research and development with shared equipment and space. The council accepted those funds last month.
TOBACCO RULES MAY AFFECT PLANNED PITTSFIELD BIG Y GAS STATION
There is a possibility that strict new tobacco use regulations could affect a planned convenience store and gas station adjacent Big Y market on West Street. A public hearing before the City Council focused on plans for the store on about a half acre just west of the Big Y market. Project designer James Scalice of S K Design Group said the site would have two entrance-exits on a lot with 140 feet of frontage at 202 West St. During the meeting, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell asked whether cigarettes would be sold at the store. Peter Smith, representing Big Y, said the company does plan tobacco sales and will submit an application for a sales license to the city health department. Connell asked if it might be "a deal breaker" if the Board of Health rejects a license for the store, Smith said "it could be."
SPRINGFIELD'S NEW BISHOP VENTURES TO BERKSHIRES
The new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield made his first trip to the Berkshires Sunday and promises he'll return. The 55-year-old Rozanski was auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore when Pope Francis appointed him bishop in June to lead Catholics in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties. After celebrating mass at St. Joseph's Church in Pittsfield o Sunday, Rozanski met with parishioners and members of other area Catholic churches at a reception. He was installed as bishop Aug. 12, succeeding the Rev. Timothy McDonnell, who had been bishop since April 2004. McDonnell announced his resignation as bishop on his 75th birthday in December 2012.
HEALTH CARE SPENDING IN MASSACHUSETTS ON THE RISE
A new report says health care spending in Massachusetts continues to grow faster than the rate of inflation. The report says higher spending was driven by the state's largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; and the biggest provider, Partners HealthCare. Both called the state's calculations inaccurate. More than $50 billion was spent on health care, an average of $7,550 per person. Sixty percent went to taxpayer-funded care.
MOST MASSACHUSETTS VOTERS REGISTER AS INDEPENDENT
The most recent party enrollment numbers show that despite Massachusetts' reputation as a Democratic state, the majority of voters have opted against either major party. According to numbers released by the state secretary's office, more than 53 percent of voters in Massachusetts have registered as independent. A little more than 35 percent of voters are registered as Democrats while fewer than 11 percent are registered Republicans. There are more than 4.2 million registered voters in the state. Suffolk County, which includes Boston, is one of the most heavily Democratic counties, with more than 53 percent of voters who are registered Democrats. Barnstable County has the highest concentration of Republicans, who make up nearly 16 percent of registered voters. The primary election is scheduled for Sept. 9. The general election is Nov. 4. Tried the Eagle again tonite with same password and login….and couldn't get in. I give up.
GREAT BARRINGTON CHASES $3 MILLION FOR BRIDGE STREET BRIDGE REPAIR
The town of Great Barrington is pursuing a $3 million grant through the state's MassWorks Infrastructure Program to repair the Bridge Street bridge. Built in 1951, the pony truss structure spans the Housatonic River. An inspection in 2012 indicated the structure "meets minimum tolerable limits to be left in place." An average of 8,200 vehicles pass over the bridge daily, according to the NBI. According to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin, MassWorks doesn't often hand out grants for bridge repair. But, she said, the positioning of the bridge is key to the town's plans to develop the New England Log Homes site. The grant will not require matching funds.
600K STATE GRANT WILL HELP FUND MAJOR DREDGING OPERATION OF STOCKBRIDGE BOWL
A $600,000 grant, just announced by the state, will help fund a major dredging operation to combat invasive Eurasian Milfoil, a growing nuisance for paddlers and boaters trying to navigate the lake. The multi-phase project, led by the 400-member Stockbridge Bowl Association (SBA) and the town, would cost up to $4 million once completed, said association President Richard Seltzer. The state grant-- combined with at least $1.3 million being raised privately by the association -- will be used to dredge a channel in the lake's outlet section and near the island at the southern end of the 372-acre lake heavily used by watercraft. phase. The proceeds of the campaign would be added to the $600,000 already set aside by the association, along with the $600,000 state grant.
US SEN. WARREN SUPPORTS REPEALING STATE CASINO LAW
Anti-gambling activists are touting a major political boost from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as their campaign to repeal the state's casino law heads into the final stretch. The first-term Democrat said Monday following the Boston Labor Council's Labor Day breakfast that she'll likely vote in favor of repealing the law that opened the door for Las Vegas-style gambling in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, Repeal the Casino Deal hiled the comments as a "bold stand" by one of the state's most prominent politicians. As a candidate in 2011, Warren opposed the decision to expand the state's gambling law to allow for up to three resort casinos and one slot parlor. Question 3 would repeal that law, effectively ending the state's licensing process before the first casino project can even open.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Northern Berkshire Pediatrics to open Williamstown office. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
It's is not quite a house call, but it may be a good call for families in Williamstown and Bennington County, Vt., who take their children to Northern Berkshire Pediatrics. Northern Berkshire Pediatric Opens a Williamstown Satellite Office today at 181 Main St. (Route 2), across from the Colonial Plaza shopping center in Williamstown. For more than a decade, the practice has seen patients afternoons at 19 Depot St. in Adams. The new office in Williamstown will be open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The practice's six physicians will rotate to cover the Williamstown office, similar to the way they rotate through the Adams satellite office.
MASSACHUSETTS LAUNCHES 2-MONTH TAX AMNESTY PROGRAM
Labor Day marked the launch of a two-month tax amnesty program in Massachusetts. The state Revenue Department says residents who owe taxes face no penalties if they pay during the period that began yesterday and ends Oct. 31 About 300,000 people will be receiving notices in September indicating they are eligible. The amnesty program covers all major tax categories - individual income tax, withholding tax, sales tax, meals tax and others.
CLARKSBURG WEIGHING BRIDGE PLANS, PREPARING SPECIAL TOWN MEETING
A Clarksburg Gates Avenue resident has raised concerns with Board of Selectmen over a preliminary proposal to reroute access over private property, a plan that seems to indicate approval of an expanded gravel operation. Because of the compromised culvert at the beginning of dead-end Gates Avenue, the town is looking for alternative ways to access the area. Resident Michael Milazzo has offered access through his property; he's also asking to use a rock crusher in his gravel operation and to open an hour earlier than currently allowed. Some residents say a rock crusher would be too loud for a residential area. McKinney assured her that neither he nor the board supports any solution yet, but they are open to possible options. Board members had made it clear they did not see the road and the rock crusher as a quid pro quo, but as two separate issues.
TWO PITTSFIELD WOMEN LEFT HOMELESS AFTER SECOND FIRE IN FOUR DAYS
A second fire within four days at the same house in Pittsfield, the latest deemed suspicious -- has left two women homeless. City fire officials on Sunday said someone may have deliberately set the blaze over the weekend that heavily damaged the home at the corner of Richmond and Briggs avenues. Thanks to working smoke detectors, the homeowner, Linda Chaloux, along with Robin Ditello and their dog escaped unharmed and are staying with friends or relatives. Pittsfield police, city and state fire investigators are jointly probing the cause of Saturday's fire. Anyone with information about the second fire is urged to call the state's toll-free, confidential arson hotline at 1-800-682-9229.
PITTSFIELD BOARD APPROVES EXPANSION FOR PEDIATRIC DEVLEOPMENT CENTER
The Pittsfield Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a structural expansion for the Pediatric Development Center, despite some concerns about increasing impact of commercial business on a once residential west side street. The center, located on Columbus Avenue Extension, plans to erect two additions, a one-story section on the side of the house and full two-story addition with an attic, along the rear of the property. While a preliminary site plan approval was granted by the Community Development Board earlier in July without objection, the proposal drew concerns from neighbors at last month's Zoning Board of Appeals. .
PROPERTY OWNER TAKES PITTSFIELD TO COURT OVER ONOTA DAM REPAIR EROSION ISSUES
A Pecks Road property owner in Pittsfield has filed suit against the city over long-standing erosion issues in his yard, which he contends date to reconstruction of the nearby Onota Lake dam during the 1990s. Chris J. Martini Jr., of 379 Pecks Road, and his wife, filed suit this month in Berkshire Superior Court against the city, Mayor Bianchi, Commissioner of Public Utilities Bruce Collingwood and Parks and Open Space and Natural Resources Manager James McGrath, who acts as harbormaster. City officials declined to comment on the suit.
PROJECT RECONNECT TAKES OVER PITTSFIELD DROP-OUT PROGRAM
Berkshire Community Action Council's Project Reconnect will partner with the Pittsfield school district to assume management of a drop-out prevention program that serves 30 to 40 at risk local students a year. Superintendent of Schools Jason McCandless said the BCAC initiative was the winner of a bid to find an organization to administrate this educational component of the former Juvenile Resource Center, the rest of which was recently reconfigured into the Student Resource Center that will operate this year out of the former Mildred Elley space at St Luke's Square.
STATE TO FUND UPGRADES FOR DAMS, SEAWALLS
Gov. Deval Patrick's administration says it will invest more than $13 million in shoring up many of the state's dams and coastal seawalls. The funding will be partly from an environmental bond bill passed by the Many of the state's nearly 3,000 dams have been labeled as aging and structurally deficient. Many no longer serve their original purpose.
Friday, August 29, 2014
The Housing Authority is discussing possible use of MCLA's social work program to help its residents. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
NORTH ADAMS COUNCIL UNHAPPY WITH HISTORIC HOUSES PLAN
The North Adams Historical Commission sees legacy homes worth preserving in the rundown units along Houghton Street - but the City Council just sees blight.
The council expressed its displeasure at the commission's decision last week to invoke a year's delay on the demolition of four long-vacant structures to explore ways to preserve at least one, if not two of the homes.
Councilors, however, want more information on funding, security, timelines and reasoning, asking Mayor Richard Alcombright to invite commission members to attend their next meeting. The commission may have a tough job persuading the City Council to let it move forward. According to city code, six of the councilors have to approve any acquisition and management of real property by the commission.
City officials met with Airport Commission to go over plans for the Saturday concert. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
NORTH ADAMS AIRPORT COMMISSION OKS CONCERT EVENT
It took two last-minute meetings to bring Hangar Hangout 2014 in for a landing yesterday, but not without local law enforcement clipping the 12-hour concert's wings. IBerkshires.com reports that tomorrow's event at Harriman-West Airport was originally scheduled to run until 11:30 p.m. with an encore. However, there were concerns over the level of volume from the nearly dozen bands and how it would affect the surrounding neighborhood. Chief of Police Michael Cozzaglio told the Airport Commission yesterday that he did not feel comfortable with the time and wanted everything wrapped up by 11 p.m. Airport Manager Bill Greenwald asked if the event could be shut down if here are too many noise complaints. Chief Cozzaglio said that the concert will be treated like a band in a bar.
HISTORICAL COMMISSION DELAYS WILLIAMS' PLAN FOR DEMOLITION
Williamstown Historical Commission on Wednesday voted to delay for three months removal of two houses owned by Williams College on land where it wants to build a new dormitory. Williams Executive Director of Design and Construction Rita Coppola-Wallace went before the board to discuss plans to move the Mather House at 66 Stetson Court and demolish the Harper House at 54 Stetson Court. The college has found a buyer for Mather House, which will be moved to another location in town.
MCLA MAY BE RESOURCE FOR NORTH ADAMS HOUSING AUTHORITY
The North Adams Housing Authority may utilize Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' social work program to help families and individuals in public housing who are in need of services. Executive Director Jennifer Hohn said she has again applied for a grant for a family self-sufficiency coordinator.
The funding would support a full-time position for someone who can work with a percentage of the families in public housing. But the authority has not been able to get the funding in the past. Hohn said the coordinator's goal is to help families and individuals transition out of public housing. Board member and MCLA instructor Ben Taylor said the college's student could be a resource if the funding is not awarded.
V&V BUYS A LIQUOR LICENSE
V & V Steeple City Liquors has reached an agreement to purchase the off-premise liquor license of River Street Package Store, according to its parent company, First Hartford Realty Corporation. Neil Ellis, president of First Hartford, says that the license will take officially change hands in November. V&V, currently operating as a beer and wine retailer, asked the City Council to delay its vote on a home rule petition on Tuesday.
LABOR DAY TRAVEL FROM NEW ENGLAND PROJECTED UP
AAA Southern New England projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over 2013. Nearly 86 percent of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close. The New England region is expected to slightly outpace the national projections. Total travel from New England is expected to be up 1.6 percent over last year. Auto travel from New England is expected to be up 1.7 percent over 2013.
BERKSHIRE DEMOCRATS SUPPORT GROSSMAN
There is just over a week to go before the state primary, and local democrats are throwing their support behind Steven Grossman. The candidate was in Pittsfield yesterday to announce the endorsements of Sheriff Thomas Bowler, City Council President Melissa Mazzeo and Mayor Daniel Bianchi in his bid for governor. All of the county's House delegates have also thrown their support behind the candidate - including Gailanne Cariddi, who is a high school classmate of front-runner and North Adams native Martha Coakley. Coakley, Grossman and Donald Berwick are vying for the Democratic nomination. Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher are looking to get the Republican nod.
REST OF RIVER COMMENTS SOUGHT AT SESSIONS
The city of Pittsfield hosted a public comment meeting last night on the federal EPA's Housatonic Rest of River Cleanup proposal. The meeting was held at Herberg Middle School last night with about 20 people in attendance. As per the plan, a total of 990,000 cubic yards of material would be removed over 13 years along the river in the county at an estimated to cost of $613 million. The Pittsfield clean-up would take considerably less time - about five years to complete. Another meeting will take place on September 4th. Residents also are encouraged to comment directly to the EPA by October 1st.
PITTSFIELD WOMAN WHO CRASHED WITH KIDS IN CAR ALLEGEDLY HIGH ON PCP
A Pittsfield woman who was allegedly high on PCP when she crashed her van with three children inside is free on her own recognizance after pleading not guilty to seven charges. According to police and prosecutors, 29 year old Tabatha Leggette of Cherry Street was traveling at a high rate of speed high on PCP at about 10:30am on July 29th, when she hit and uprooted a stop sign at the intersection of Elberon and Somerset avenues in Pittsfield. The vehicle kept going and smashed into an unoccupied Mercury Sable that was parked on Elberon Avenue. The three children were unharmed but according to police, appeared to be shaken up by the crash. Leggette was released on personal recognizance with conditions that include no alcohol or illegal drugs with random screens and that she continue drug treatment. She is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on October 21.
PITTSFIELD TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO ARREST OF FUGITIVE WANTED IN TEXAS
A routine traffic stop has led to the arrest of a fugitive from Texas who allegedly violated his probation for passing counterfeit money. 20 year old Nicholas Hadden, of Amarillo, was driving a moped in the area of Linden and Onota streets about 11pm Wednesday when he was pulled over for a broken headlight. According to police, the vehicle was lit only by a small LED pen light that had been taped to the scooter. After stopping the driver, it was discovered that Hadden was wanted by two jurisdictions in Texas on charges of forgery of a government document. According to various news agencies in Amarillo, he and another man passed forged $10 and $20 bills to several businesses last summer.
FORMER LEE CHIEF FACING NEW CHARGES
Former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis faces new charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering after his indictment in federal court on Thursday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that an investigation identified only one needy family who received assistance from the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund, while most of the more than $52,000 it accrued over five years ended up in Buffis' pockets, according to 12 charges handed up by a grand jury. The charges state that, despite collecting 706 checks from 343 donors, Buffis made a single $145 deposit into the account in November 2010. Buffis told state police that the fund annually supplied more than 100 needy children with gifts during the holidays.
NO BRTA BUS SERVICE MONDAY
The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority offices will be closed and there will be no regular bus service in observance of the Labor Day holiday on Monday. BRTA officials say that all bus services will resume on Tuesday at 5:45am, with the offices reopening at 8am Tuesday.
MASSACHUSETTS TO OFFER TWO-MONTH TAX AMNESTY
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has announced a two-month amnesty program designed to encourage the payment of delinquent taxes by individuals and businesses. The amnesty program will run from September 1st through October 31st. It applies to unpaid taxes billed on or before July 1st. About 300,000 taxpayers will receive a notice next month notifying them that they qualify for the tax amnesty program. The tax amnesty program was approved by state lawmakers and included in the fiscal year 2015 budget signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in July. Officials say the program is a good way to encourage delinquent taxpayers to pay up and avoid fines.
COMPANY WANTS TO BUILD STORAGE LOOP FOR CONN. CUSTOMERS
Dismissing environmental concerns by the state and town residents, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is seeking expedited federal review of its plan to install a 3.8-mile storage loop in the community. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that residents in Sandisfield are hopping mad about it. One part time resident of the town compared the company to spoiled adolescents, saying that they don't want to be held to the normal environmental standards of comparable projects. The company has filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to add a 3.8-mile, 36inch diameter storage loop to one of Sandisfield's two existing gas lines in order to supply its Connecticut markets. The loop is one part of an $81 million Connecticut Expansion Project totaling 13 miles of new line.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Bright orange shirts have been designed to keep senior citizens who use the new Adams walking loop safe. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Jack Guerino)
MASS IN MOTION, ADAMS COA CREATE WALKING LOOPS
The Adams Council on Aging is working to develop safe walking loops for the town's senior citizens. IBerkshires.com reports, Northern Berkshire Mass in Motion project coordinator Amanda Chilson and Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti have created a brochure that marks walking loops that focus on the older population but can be utilized by any generation. Girgenti said the paths focus on parks, attractions, safe low-traffic areas, well-lighted areas, flat areas, the rail-trail and bus stops. The city of North Adams has a similar program that was also developed by Chilson. The paths are designed to combine the two municipalities.
NORTH ADAMS TO HOST DOWNSTREET ART EVENT THURSDAY
Downstreet Art officially kicks off in North Adams today. The event's August installment starts at 3pm with some early opening receptions. It runs until 9pm. Among the highlights are a new "window exhibition" by Michael Chapman in the storefront next to the Mohawk Theater. A total of 11 new gallery openings will be featured, including a new exhibition at the Rudd Art Museum on upper Main Street, and at the Independent Artist Project at Building 13 at MASS MoCA. You can get more information about DownStreet Art by visiting www.downstreetart.org.
TOURISM GROWTH IN BERKSHIRES
Tourism in Berkshire County has shown significant growth this summer, partly due to the reopening and expansion of the Clark Art Institute. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Stephen Sheppard - a Williams College economics professor, said that since reopening July 4th after a $ 145 million expansion and renovation, the Clark has welcomed roughly 63,608 visitors. That's 19 percent higher than the museum's previous record during the Picasso Looks At Degas show in 2010. The bottom line, according to Sheppard, was $ 3 million in new economic impact and 32 additional jobs. Overall, he said, The Clark has an economic impact of $54 million per year, including 443 jobs in a variety of areas.
PITTSFIELD MAN FACING OF HEROIN CHARGES FREE AFTER BAIL REDUCED IN OTHER CASE
A Pittsfield man who had a trafficking case dismissed last month is free after having his bail reduced from $50,000 to $5,000 cash on another drug case. 54 year old Ronald King was arrested last March after a Pittsfield Police drug unit raid. 39-year-old Lynn Stracuzzi was also was arrested in the raid. Both defendants were charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Because the Cherry Street residence abuts the Morningside Community School, they were additionally charged with a drug offense within 300 feet of a school zone. Both defendants were later indicted on the charges. King must wear a GPS monitor and remain at his residence during an 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. His case is on the November trial list.
PITTSFIELD EATERY TO CLOSE DURING HOTEL CONSTRUCTION
Spice Dragon, the upscale Asian fusion eatery on North Street, will close its doors temporarily on Sunday as construction gets underway on a hotel upstairs. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the upscale 45-room "Hotel on North," to be located above Spice Dragon and the adjacent Mad Jack's restaurant is scheduled to open next spring. Spice Dragon opened during the summer of 2011 shortly after Jae's Spice closed in the same location. The first restaurant at that location, Spice, was open from 2006 through 2008.
LENOX WOMAN ACCUSED OF SCAMMING NEIGHBORS
A Lenox woman is facing three felony charges for allegedly scamming several elderly residents out of more than $11,000 over the past two months. According to Lenox Police, 33 year old Nicole Sacco, of Pittsfield Road, is accused of approaching residents in the vicinity of the Berkshire Mobile Home Park and borrowing money, which she had no intention of paying back. Sacco was charged with two counts of larceny over $250 involving two disabled people over 60, as well as larceny under $250 from a disabled person over 60, and released into her own custody. She is scheduled to be arraigned on September 8th in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington.
UP TO 6 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CARJACKING AND ASSAULT AT LEE TURNPIKE PLAZA
A Virginia man who allegedly went on a cross-country crime spree in 2013 and tweeted about it was sentenced to up to six years in state prison for a carjacking on the Massachusetts Turnpike. 24 year old Michael Tarpeh, of Stafford, Va., accosted a man in the parking lot of the eastbound travel plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Lee in February of last year. According to police, Tarpeh told the man to hand over his car keys and that he had a knife. The man tried to run, but slipped and fell. Tarpeh punched him in the face multiple times before taking $150 in cash and the man's car.
LOCAL: KINDER MORGAN PIPELINE VIEWS AIRED IN DALTON
Growing demand for natural gas in New England is the driving force behind a proposed new pipeline that would run through a number of Berkshire communities. The Berkshire Eagle reports, that was the message from a representative of Texas-based pipeline company Kinder Morgan last night before a skeptical crowd of more than 100 people at Nessacus Middle School in Dalton. During a special Select Board meeting, Kinder Morgan representatives gave presentations about the proposed pipeline project, followed by presentations from the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and "No Fracked Gas in Mass", both of which strongly oppose the project. The company hopes to install a 250-mile pipeline that would in part run through eight Berkshire communities. Opposition to the project has been mounting. Among the concerns are the environmental impact and safety of local communities that host the pipeline.
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES SAY THEY OPPOSE PIPELINE
All three Democratic candidates for governor say they oppose a plan to expand a natural gas pipeline through northwestern Massachusetts. Steve Grossman, Donald Berwick and Martha Coakley said they couldn't support Kinder Morgan's proposed $3.75 billion natural gas pipeline, which would run about 250-miles from upstate New York to the town of Dracut along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. The line would also run through several towns in the Berkshires. During a televised debate yesterday, the three candidates said they would push to expand the state's reliance on renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric power. The candidates took part in an hour long televised debate yesterday. The primary is September 9th.
HIGH SURF ADVISORY FOR MASSACHUSETTS, RHODE ISLAND
Hurricane Cristobal is moving far off the New England coast but its impact is expected on south-facing ocean beaches in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The National Weather Service has issued an advisory for high surf of 6 to 12 feet and rip currents on the southern coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the nearby islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
COAKLEY: I'LL SPEND $500M TO AID STATE'S ECONOMY
BOSTON (AP) - Democratic candidate for governor Martha Coakley is pledging to make $500 million in funding available over the next decade to help speed up economic growth across the state. Coakley said Wednesday that $400 million would be available for major infrastructure projects. Another $100 million would be used for grants to businesses and nonprofit groups to help identify economic development strategies. Coakley said the grants would be designed to promote collaborations between high schools, colleges, workforce development agencies and businesses. She said the grants would have specific goals such as the number of jobs created, workers trained, or revenue generated. Coakley said she modeled her proposal after Gov. Deval Patrick's 10-year, $1 billion life sciences initiative. She said she'd pay for the plan in part by "streamlining existing revenue streams and allocating new revenue where necessary."
AD WAR HEATING UP IN MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR'S RACE
BOSTON (AP) - The sharp elbows are coming out in the Massachusetts governor's race. On Wednesday, a super PAC supporting Republican candidate Charlie Baker unveiled a television ad targeting Democrat Martha Coakley. The 30-second spot faults Coakley for underestimating the state's gas tax during a television appearance while supporting last year's decision to hike the tax by 3 cents to 24 cents a gallon, the first increase since 1991. Coakley also opposes a ballot question which would repeal a law automatically linking future hikes in the tax to inflation. The Commonwealth Future Political Action Committee is funded largely by the Republican Governors Association. Coakley quickly posted a 30-second online video accusing Baker of being "at the center of one of the biggest boondoggles in history" referring to his time in state government during the Big Dig project.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Police Director Michael Cozzaglio explains the reasoning behind adding the speed limit to ordinance. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
MOBILE HOME PARK SPEED LIMIT MULLED
Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park in North Adams will be cracking down on speeders. IBerkshires.com reports, the park has hired police to make patrols to ensure residents and visitors are sticking to the 15 mph limit. The limit is on signs in the park and is in the park's rules but the Wheel Estates Tenants Association said putting it in the city's ordinances will give the limit more teeth. The City Council yesterday referred the park's request to the city solicitor with the expectation of having an ordinance to vote on September 10th.
NWS WEATHER TRANSMITTER TO OPERATE ON MOUNT GREYLOCK
The National Weather Service is planning on having an operational weather transmitter on top of Mount Greylock by October 1st. IBerkshires.com reports that meteorologist in charge of the Weather Service's Albany, N.Y., office said on Monday that the federal agency is waiting for the go ahead from the commonwealth of Massachusetts to install its equipment on a tower located 100 yards from the site that previously housed the equipment. Raymond O'Keefe says the transmitter was placed out of service on May 30th when the contract expired with the private owner of the tower the transmitter previously called home. O'Keefe said the October 1st timetable for resumption of service is realistic. The Mount Greylock institution is part of a nationwide network of 1,000 transmitters covering all 50 states.
ASSISTANCE CENTER OPEND IN NORTH ADAMS TODAY
More help is on the way for workers who lost their jobs when North Adams Regional Hospital closed in March. State and local officials will be on hand at 10 a.m. today for a ribbon cutting and formal opening of the Work Assistance Center at North Adams City Hall. The center will be inside North Adams City Hall for local residents who lost their jobs when North Adams Regional Hospital and its affiliated services closed in March. The hospital closed abruptly on March 28th, leaving more than 500 workers jobless and Northern Berkshire without local emergency care. Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian, Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, State Senator Ben Downing, and State Representative Gail Cariddi are all expected to be in attendance.
The Selectmen heard an update on a series of car break-ins and the opened bids for equipment and road work. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
CHESHIRE BREAK-IN INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE
Police in Cheshire continue to investigate a series of car break-ins on Furnace Hill and Cheshire Hill. IBerkshires.com reports that Police Chief Timothy Garner told the selectmen during last night's meeting that they may have a suspect. The police department put a picture on Facebook yesterday of the suspect using an ATM at the bank. Garner said that he unfortunately he had his face covered, but he did have some clothing on that may be identifiable. The information posted on the Cheshire Police Facebook page said the man was in a black VP Racing Fuels sweater and had green pants on. Garner said the break-ins happened early last Thursday. There was one break in on Furnace Hill and two on Cheshire Hill.
THIRD SUSPECT HELD IN GREAT BARRINGTON AMBUSH
The third suspect in an alleged armed ambush of two men in Great Barrington last week is being held on $5,000 cash bail after pleading not guilty to a charge of conspiracy. According to Great Barrington Police, 19 year old Louis Ely, of Pittsfield, was one of three people involved in an August 20th armed robbery of two Pittsfield men on Bridle Path Lane. The men were lured there at about 6 p.m. and met with 20 year old Theodore Labonte with the promise of being able to buy marijuana from him. Labonte allegedly led them to an area overgrown with bushes where 20 year old Andrew Dupont, wearing a mask and carrying a shotgun, jumped out and demanded money. Ely was held on bail and was still in custody as of yesterday afternoon. He is due back in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday. Labonte and Dupont, both of Egremont, were charged with one count each of armed robbery and various other charges. Both are being held on bail.
SANCTIONS ON PITTSFIELD BAR LIFTED
The city of Pittsfield's Licensing Board has voted 3-1 to lift sanctions for a Wahconah Street nightclub imposed after a mass disturbance that occurred there in March. Johnny's Beach Club will be allowed to resume a closing time of 2am despite some level of wariness expressed by members of the board on Monday. The board voted to allow the resumed early-morning closing following testimony from Sgt. Michael Grady, who said owner John Giardina had cooperated with Pittsfield Police to implement recommended changes and had been in good standing since a seven day suspension earlier in the year.
RUBERTO STEPS DOWN AS TRUSTEE
Former Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto has resigned from the Westfield State University board of trustees. According to a report in the Springfield Republican, Ruberto, who accompanied then-university President Evan Dobelle and 20 guests on a trip to Cuba last year, submitted a resignation letter to Governor Deval Patrick in May without stating a reason. Ruberto, who served four terms as Pittsfield's mayor, leaving office in 2011, joined the Westfield State board in June 2013.
BABY FORMULA THIEF HELD ON BAIL
An admitted drug addict accused of stealing thousands of dollars-worth of baby formula is being held on $1,000 bail after pleading not guilty to felony larceny charges. 28 year old Timothy Conn, of North Adams, was allegedly caught on tape stealing more than $500 worth of baby formula from the Great Barrington Price Chopper on August 15th. Following an investigation into that theft, an off-duty Great Barrington police officer saw Conn in the parking lot of the Lenox Price Chopper on August 25th and contacted police dispatch. According to a probable cause report, it turned out there was another $178 worth of baby formula in Conn's vehicle when he was pulled over by Lee Police.
GOP'S BAKER STOCKPILING MONEY IN RACE FOR GOVERNOR
Republican candidate for Governor, Charlie Baker, has been busy stockpiling money for the November general election. As of mid-August, Baker had nearly $1.2 million left in his campaign account. That's more than twice as much as the nearest Democrat, Martha Coakley, who had nearly $565,000 in her account. She was followed by fellow Democrats Don Berwick, who had about $527,000 left in cash, and Steve Grossman with about $222,000. Baker, who overwhelming won his party's endorsement, is also enjoying lopsided support from supporters in his own primary. His GOP rival, the tea party-affiliated Mark Fisher, had just $30,000 left in his account as of mid-August.
STATE SUED OVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA PERMITTING
A company that lost its bid to open a medical marijuana dispensary wants a judge to overturn the state's decision. In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in Boston on Tuesday, Brighton Health Advocates argues that the state's June decision "was an abuse of discretion, was arbitrary and capricious, was not based on substantial evidence" and should be vacated. The company, which proposed a marijuana facility in Fairhaven, accuses the state Department of Public Health of making "increasingly onerous demands for information to search for a pretext" to reject its application.
GOP'S BAKER STOCKPILING MONEY IN RACE FOR GOVERNOR
Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker has been busy stockpiling money for the November general election. As of mid-August, Baker had nearly $1.2 million left in his campaign account. That's more than twice as much as the nearest Democrat, Martha Coakley, who had nearly $565,000 in her account. She was followed by fellow Democrats Don Berwick, who had about $527,000 left in cash, and Steve Grossman with about $222,000. Baker, who overwhelming won his party's endorsement, is also enjoying lopsided support from supporters in his own primary. His GOP rival, the tea party-affiliated Mark Fisher, had just $30,000 left in his account as of mid-August. Baker is also benefiting from the support of a super PAC and from the fundraising prowess of his hand-picked running mate, former Shrewsbury state Rep. Karyn Polito.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
HoosacValleyHigh School has a new principal and the district has new goals going into the school year. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com)Jack Guerino)
ADAMS-CHESHIRE HAS NEW ADMINISTRATORS, PROGRAMS
The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District is gearing up for the upcoming school year with new goals, new happenings and a new principal at Hoosac Valley High School. IBerkshires.com reports, Principal Jeremiah Ames was promoted from dean of students in July to replace departed Principal Vincent Regan. Ames was hired this past January as dean of students. He previously taught foreign language at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School and at the private Cushing Academy, and also served a short stint on the Lenox School Committee. 14 applicants for considered for the post.
The interior has been refilled with gifts, crafts and antiques. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
WESTERN SUMMIT GIFT SHOP REOPENS ON MOHAWK TRAIL
A gift shop that opened for the debut of the Mohawk Trail has reopened in time for its centennial. IBerkshires.com reports that "West Summit Merchant", formerly known as the Wigwam, opened this past weekend at the popular overlook at the top of the Hairpin Turn. Keith Bona, who operates Berkshire Emporium and Antiques on Main Street, took on the task of reviving the gift shop at the request of owners Roger and Colleen Hurst.
PRICE AT THE PUMP DROPS ANOTHER 2 CENTS STATEWIDE
The price of a gallon of gasoline in Massachusetts has dropped another 2 cents, and has now fallen 13 cents in the past month. AAA Southern New England reports the average cost of a gallon of self-serve, regular in the Bay State is now $3.45. That's still a penny higher than the national average, but 17 cents lower than the Massachusetts price one year ago.
Sieloff told the Board of Selectmen that he is looking for ways to allocate additional resources toward fixing drainage issues that is damaging roads. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
LANESBOROUGH ADMINISTRATOR WANTS MORE RESOURCES FOR ROAD DRAINAGE
Lanesborough Town Administrator Paul Sieloff is thinking about dedicating extra resources to alleviate drainage issues tearing up town roads.
On Monday, Sieloff said he's noticed the Highway Department has been putting in a large amount of work in cleaning up washouts and other drainage-related issues on the roads.
He told the Selectmen that in the next fiscal budget, he may be looking to allocate additional resources to fix the issue on some of the worst areas.
Sieloff said he wouldn't want to borrow for road repairs but drainage projects might make such a significant impact that it could be worth it.
In other business, the Selectmen appointed a new committee eyed to continue working on updating the dock bylaw. And the Selectmen approved five events in September.
PITTSFIELD VETERANS OFFICER ROSANNE FRIERI'S FIRING BY MAYOR IS CONFIRMED
Pittsfield Veterans Officer Rosanne Frieri has been fired by Mayor Dan Bianchi. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to her attorney, Albert Cimini of Pittsfield, the firing is "wrongful and actionable," - and he and Frieri are considering a lawsuit. Frieri has said she would not attend a meeting without an attorney or independent third party because of what she termed "badgering" by the mayor during a meeting in his office in March. She said there had been a series of disagreements in recent months with the mayor and other officials at City Hall over aspects of the operation of her department.
PITTSFIELD POLICE FIND SHELL CASINGS AT SITE OF SHOOTING, BUT NO VICTIMS
Several shell casings were recovered near the scene of a reported shooting in the city early Saturday, but no injuries have been reported. Police officers responded to a report of shots fired at about 1:47 a.m. on Richmond Avenue near Briggs Avenue. Shell casings were recovered by investigators in front of 21 Richmond Avenue while others were recovered further down the street near 69 Richmond Avenue, according to police. It's the 16th confirmed incident of gunfire in the city this year.
PITTSFIELD MAN ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC ABUSE FREE AFTER HEARING
A Pittsfield man facing domestic abuse charges has been released after being held for four days awaiting a dangerousness hearing. 45 year old Paul Phillips was released on Monday after a judge determined while there was evidence he was dangerous, the Berkshire District Attorney's Office hadn't proven there were less severe measures than holding the defendant without bail for 90 days. Phillips was arrested August 20th after Pittsfield Police responded to a First Street residence for a domestic dispute and learned that Philips allegedly threw a 40-year-old woman down, tied her up and had sex with her against her will. He was not charged with rape, but is charged with assault and battery on a family or household member. A pretrial hearing in the case is set for September 25th.
The Pittsfield Suns have agreed to enter negotiations to stay at WahconahPark. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Andy McKeever)
SUNS AND CITY DISCUSSING NEW LEASE
The city of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Suns have begun negotiations on a new lease for Wahconah Park. The team's current lease at the park has expired. IBerkshires.com reports that Mayor Dan Bianchi hopes to reach a multiyear agreement within the next couple of months. According to Bianchi, he and club owner Jeff Goldklang have signed a 90-day extension to negotiate the next lease. The mayor says that they hope to have a long-term agreement - three to five years - within the next couple of months. Pittsfield Suns General Manager Kevin McGuire also confirmed that the organization has started the process of negotiating a new lease.
TRACK UPGRADES WOULD BE MAJOR FOR BERKSHIRES
Upgrading the tracks for the Housatonic Railroad Company freight line, would be huge for the Berkshires. According to regional planners, even if the proposal for the Berkshire Line to offer service from Pittsfield and points south to New York City fails to gain traction, a $35 million investment will be money well spent. Executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Nat Karns tells the Berkshire Eagle that from an economic development and jobs perspective, simply modernizing the tracks would save close to 800 manufacturing jobs here and in northwest Connecticut. Sheffield Plastics would probably leave the county if the tracks are not upgraded, and five other manufacturers, including Onyx Specialty Papers in South Lee are dependent on rail.
STREETSCAPE PROJECT CONINUES
Phase 3 of the Pittsfield "Streetscape" project continues. Officials say that work will be taking place on North Street from Madison Avenue to Tyler Street through Friday. Contractors are working the eastern walks and on and installing new sidewalks - and installing pre-cast light pole bases. Pedestrian traffic will be disrupted on the Eastern side, and residents should follow signage and pay attention to on duty police officers while crossing the street. Northbound vehicular traffic will be down to one lane, while two lanes will be maintained on the southbound side. Officials say that all business will be accessible. Work also continues at the Persip and Sottile pedestrian plaza areas, and there should be no disruption to pedestrian or vehicular traffic there.
MOSQUITO SPRAYING SET FOR WEDNESDAY IN PITTSFIELD
Another round of Mosquito spraying is scheduled to take place in Pittsfield tomorrow. The Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project has scheduled a truck- mounted mosquito spray application in several locations throughout the city. A map of scheduled spray areas is available on the City of Pittsfield website at www.cityofpittsfield.org. All spray applications will take place between 10pm and 7am. The Spraying may be rescheduled for Thursday night if there is rain tomorrow. The Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project regularly monitors the larval and adult mosquito population and tests for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.
CONN. MAN WHO RAN NAKED THROUGH PITTSFIELD HAS CASE CONTINUED
A Connecticut man allegedly seen running naked down a Pittsfield city street, followed by a naked woman -- both high on hallucinogens, had his case continued without a finding of guilt for 30 days. According to a report out of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, 25 year old Justin Veilleux, of Enfield, was seen running down Second Street naked at about 10:15pm on August 17th, followed by a woman yelling his name. Judge Fredric Rutberg continued the charges without a finding of guilt for 30 days and ordered the defendant to pay $250 in fines and fees. If Veilleux's stays out of trouble during the 30-day period, the charges will be dismissed.
CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR JOUST WITH PRIMARY LOOMING
Steve Grossman is sharpening his attack against fellow Democratic candidate for governor, Martha Coakley over her settlement of a case involving a prominent lobbyist. Grossman said Coakley, the state's attorney general, has shown "a pattern of bad judgment," including agreeing to a recent civil settlement with lobbyist John Brennan. Coakley said she struck the best deal she could under the circumstances. The two Republican candidates, Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher, participated in a Boston Globe debate yesterday. The State Primary is September 9th.
ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATES PREPARE FOR PRIMARY
Democratic attorney general candidate Maura Healey is highlighting her expertise in the courtroom and on the basketball court in her first television ad. The 30-second spot set to begin running Tuesday focuses on what Healey has portrayed as her fight to protect consumers against subprime mortgage lenders and to guarantee women's access to health care clinics during her seven years in the attorney general's office. Healey is planning to keep ads on the air through the Sept. 9 primary. Healey and former state Sen. Warren Tolman are vying for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. The winner will face off against Republican candidate John Miller in the November general election.
SCHOOL CHOICE IS KEY IN THE TOWN OF LENOX
As the school bell rings Thursday for close to 740 public school students in Lenox, members of a School Committee strategic planning group have completed crunching the numbers to begin work on ways to keep the local district on an even keel financially. The Berkshire Eagle reports that after a series of weekly meetings this summer, a summary document has been approved, 5-1, identifying the future of school choice as the key issue facing the district as local student enrollment continues to decline sharply. The report projects that over the next 10 years, total enrollment in the district, including choice students, would decline by an additional 22 percent.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Two or three of the mill houses could be saved (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
NORTH ADAMS COMMISSION HOPES TO MAKE MUSEUM OUT OF MILL HOUSES
The North Adams Historic Commission is hoping to salvage a set of 170-year-old mill houses as museums. The properties on Houghton Street dating from between 1840 and 1870 were set for demolition, which the commission signed off on in A