The council approved a budget for 2016, a compensation plan and a the pursuit of a state grant for a skateboard park. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Tammy Daniels)
ADAMSTOWN MEETING OKS BUDGETS, REJECTS PLASTIC BAG BAN
Adams Town meeting passed most of the 36 articles on the town warrant, which included the school budget and the creation of an economic development fund but shot down articles banning plastic bags and Styrofoam.
It took the 128 town meeting members present nearly three hours to run through the 36 articles Tuesday night.
Although most of the articles passed with little to no debate, Article 8 — the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District assessment of $5,521,469 — grabbed the attention of some members.
SEIU LOCAL 509 BRIEN CENTER EMPLOYEES ELECT TO STRIKE JULY 6 (NA, P)
Employees of the Brien Center who are members of workers union SEIU Local 509 have elected to go on strike beginning July 6th if contract talks remain stalled. The current contract expired in October 2014. An extension of the contract expired on January 1st. Negotiations started in September 2014. The main issue of the dispute is pay. The Brien Center is the largest supplier of services for those with mental health and addiction disorders in Berkshire County. In 2014, with 450 employees, it served about 10,000 people, including roughly 4,000 children.
people, including roughly 4,000 children.
NORTH ADAMS LOOKING AT 5-YEAR WEED PLAN FOR WINDSORLAKE
A five-year program to eradicate phragmites from Windsor Lake in North Adams is expected to begin this summer. IBerkshirs.com reports the invasive weeds have been proliferating around the edges of the pond, nearly obliterating the views of the campground beach from the main public area. ESS Group of Boston and Aquatic Control Technology of Sutton jointly bid on the project at $28,500. The bid includes progressive removal of the tenacious perennial grass and five years of maintenance. The project will still need to go before the Conservation Commission for review. Abuttors will be informed of the procedures, which will include herbicide.
Susan Gilman, center, was surprised Monday morning at BraytonElementary School with the Marion B. Kelley Teacher of the Year Award. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)
RETIRING BRAYTON EDUCATOR NAMED TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Each year, educators in the North Adam school system select one of their one for a singular honor: Marion B. Kelley Teacher of the Year Award. IBerkshires.com reports that Monday morning, it was Susan Gilman's turn to be surprised with the award named for the principal of the former Haskins and Johnson schools. The school district had received multiple nominations for Gilman; the final selection was made by Central Office.
OPIOD ABUSE ON WILLIAMSTOWN SELECTMEN'S RADAR
The Williamstown Board of Selectmen Monday began a conversation about its priorities for fiscal year 2016. The problem of Opioid addiction was at the top of the chairwoman's list of issues to address. IBerkshires.com reports that Selectwoman Jane Patton said both prevention and treatment should be topics on the board's radar over the next 12 months. On Monday night, the board settled on a Wednesday, July 8th, morning strategy session to create a list of issues it would like to tackle in the year ahead.
PITTSFIELD FIRES, BOTH ACCIDENTAL, DISPLACE 25 RESIDENTS
Two separate Pittsfield fires that struck within a two-hour period yesterday morning have left 25 people temporarily homeless, according to the Pittsfield Fire Department. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the first of the fires in a single-family rental home at 20 Larch Street around 8:30am did about $30,000 worth of damage. The renters there, a family of five, weren't home when the fire began. The Berkshire County Chapter of the American Red Cross was called in to help find temporary housing for the victims. Later in the morning, the agency's disaster relief volunteers would do the same for 20 people living just down the road from the Pittsfield Fire Department Headquarters on Columbus Avenue. Just before 11am firefighters were summoned to 297 Columbus Avenue, where they immediately helped evacuate the building's nine apartments. Ten of the 20 residents, who were home at the time escaped unharmed, according to the Pittsfield Fire Department. The smoke and flames were sparked by a kitchen grease fire that heavily damaged a third-floor apartment.
KING TRIAL GOES TO JURY
The jury in the rape trial of Justin King began deliberating yesterday afternoon hours after hearing him testify that he and his friends had consensual group sex with an 18-year-old University of Massachusetts Amherst student in her dorm room in 2012. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the 21 year old King, of Pittsfield, who has pleaded not guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to three counts of aggravated rape, is the second of four men to be tried on accusations that they gang-raped the woman when she was drunk and high on marijuana. 21 year old Emmanuel Bile Jr. of Pittsfield, the first to be tried, was convicted of two counts of aggravated rape in March and is serving an eight- to 10-year state prison sentence.
IMPROVEMENTSCOMMUNITY CENTER CELEBRATED
Scores of schoolchildren joined town leaders yesterday for a celebratory midday barbecue marking the end of a major project yielding a new look for the Lenox Community Center, its rebuilt basketball court and other outdoor recreation facilities. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the sequence of related projects to upgrade the center stretched over three years, Select Board Chairman Edward Lane said. Lane has been Town Hall's point person for the rebuild of the center's backyard, including safety fencing for the basketball court. Major infrastructure improvements to the 1923 Community Center building at 65 Walker St. included improved drainage, a new sewer pipe, new siding, and a paint job.
MASSACHUSETTS LAUNCHES ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION
Massachusetts residents can now register to vote online, Secretary of State William Galvin announced yesterday, unveiling a system built by his office that expands routes to the voter rolls. Galvin estimated 100,000 Bay Staters every four years are stymied in their attempts to register to vote for president, and he said putting registration online should make it easier for a number of circumstances. The first state to implement online voter registration was Arizona in 2002, according to Michelle Tassinari, the director of elections.
CHARGES AGAINST BERKSHIRE FAMILY SWELL TO OVER 100 IN BURGLARY RING
Members of a Berkshire family are now facing more than 100 charges for allegedly running a statewide burglary ring stretching from the Berkshires to Cape Cod between 2010 and 2015. The Berkshire Eagle reports that James and Nancy Tarjick and their sons, Aaron and James "Jamie" Tarjick Jr., all have pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges in Berkshire Superior Court in connection with the alleged scheme. The case has prompted repeated court appearances by the family members as investigators continue to connect them to evidence.
SMARTPHONE TRAINIGN FOR SENIORS
The Council on Aging in Lenox will be holding free smartphone tutoring for seniors at the Lenox Community Center. Half-hour appointments are available from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays - beginning this Monday. One-on-one instruction will help seniors learn how to navigate their smartphone to be able to get and receive calls; take, send and receive photos; type and receive emails; and use the Internet.
MASSACHUSETTS BILL WOULD LET OWNERS BE BURIED WITH THEIR PET
Pet owners who want to spend eternity next their beloved dog or cat could get that chance under a bill being considered by Massachusetts lawmakers. The bill would let cemeteries offer areas for the "co-internment of both human and animal remains," including cremated remains. The bill was the subject of a public hearing at the Statehouse yesterday before the Committee on Public Health.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
BrienCenter workers doing informational picketing in March in North Adams over contract negotiations. SEIU 509 has voted to strike on July 6. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/Staff)
BRIENCENTER UNION VOTES TO STRIKE ON JULY 6
Some 350 union workers at the Brien Center have voted to go on strike on July 6th if contract negotiations fail to resolve pay and benefits issues. IBerkshires.com reports that center officials say they will be meeting with a federal mediator on June 30th and plan to continue operations at the mental health and substance abuse agency should the strike occur. Service Employees International Union 509 and Brien Center management have been at a stand-off since last September. Workers held informational pickets outside the Brien Center's offices in North Adams and Pittsfield in March.
SEIU representatives say the strike could result in the closure of the nonprofit agency, affecting the health care of thousands of county residents.
ADAMS TO WEIGH $14.3 MILLION BUDGET, 6 PERCENT HIKE FOR SCHOOLS
Adams Officials hope to pass a $14.3 million budget, including the full funding requested by the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, at Tuesday's annual town meeting. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the town spending plan, an increase of about $323,000 over last year's budget, calls for the elimination of the town health inspector position and two additional staff reductions through attrition. The budget still includes a 6 percent increase in assessment to the school district, even after the Cheshire voters last week rejected a Proposition 2 1/2 override on the school funding.
NORTH ADAMS MAN ALLEGEDLY TOOK MEDS LEFT BEHIND AT BIG Y
A North Adams man has been accused of taking a bagful of prescription medications that were accidentally left behind at a Big Y checkout by the caretaker of a mentally ill man. The Berkshire Eagle reports that according to a probable cause report filed by North Adams Police Officer Brad Vivori,
28 year old Francis Albis Jr. was allegedly captured in store security footage looking into a bag of prescription medication left near the bagging station by a previous customer before adding it to his own groceries on June 8th. Albis was released on personal recognizance yesterday after his arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court on charges of class E drug possession and larceny over $250.
He is due to reappear in court on July 3 for a pretrial hearing.
The new owner of Colonial Pizza is hoping the restaurant will be able to reopen soon. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
WILLIAMSTOWN PIZZA SHOP CLOSED BY DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
The new proprietor of Colonial Pizza in Williamstown said on Friday that he is not sure when the business will be able to reopen. IBerkshires.com reports that according to Steven Peltier, the pizza shop in Main Street's Colonial Plaza was closed last Thursday when its equipment was seized by the state Department of Revenue because taxes not paid by the shop's former proprietor, Constantine Anagnos.
A member of the Anagnos family said over the weekend that the family is working to get a payment plan in place with the state.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS CONSIDER CONSOLIDATIONS
This year more than 60 teachers countywide could lose their jobs because of budget cuts. IBerkshires.com reports that school districts from Great Barrington to North Adams are struggling to support the ever-growing costs of public education. With high school enrollment decreasing to what is eyed to be about just below 4,700 in just 10 years, school committee members across the county are wondering if it’s time to consolidate the county’s high schools. A coalition of school committees met with state legislators yesterday at Lee Middle and High School in a forum about what needs to be done to curb the cost of education spending.
CITY WOMAN DISPLACED AFTER HOUSE FIRE
A city woman is temporarily living with relatives after being burned out of her home on Monday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the fire at 15 Miller Street was reported about 11:30am by a neighbor who noticed smoke and flames at the rear of the wood-frame structure. According to Pittsfield Deputy Fire Chief Steven Peaslee, the fire spread to the attic, before firefighters brought it under control. No injuries were reported. The homeowner, Margaret Anne Miller, was not at home at the time. An investigator with the State Fire Marshal's office was called in to help determine the exact cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $75,000 to $100,000 worth of damage.
BIG Y RECALLS BOTTLED SPRING WATER FOLLOWING POSSIBLE E. COLI CONTAMINATION
Big Y is one of several companies voluntarily recalling bottled spring water products produced by Niagara Bottled Water at its Pennsylvania manufacturing facilities between June 10th and 18th.
According to the recall notice issued by Big Y, the recall is due to the possible presence of E. coli. No complaints of injury or illness have been associated with this recall at this time.
ACTION AMBULANCE DONATES AED TO PITTSFIELD INSPECTION OFFICES
Pittsfield City workers now at 100 North Street have quick and easy access to an AED thanks to Action Ambulance. IBerkshires.com reports that the ambulance company donated a wall-mounted automated external defibrillator unit to the city's Health Department yesterday and has trained about 10 employees how to operate it. The machine is now easily accessible instead of asking an employee to bring one from nearby City Hall in an emergency.
NO BAIL FOR PITTSFIELD MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY STABBED MOTHER'S BOYFRIEND
A Pittsfield man is facing assault charges after allegedly stabbing his mother's boyfriend during a dispute early Saturday. According to police, 28 year old Michael Laforest is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for next week. He told police he and the victim had gotten into an argument and punches were thrown by both of them before he retrieved a knife from the kitchen and started to cut him. Laforest pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to two counts each of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and armed assault to murder.
He is due back in court June 29th.
RIDE TO RAISE FUNDS FOR RESEARCH
The 2015 Charley Ride to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy research is slated for 9 am on Saturday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that cyclists will choose the 30 or 62 mile route, both starting and ending at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds on Main Street. Charley's Fund was founded in 2004 by a Berkshire County family on a mission to save their son Charley. To date, the fund has directed more than $34 million to accelerating life-saving treatments for DMD. Registration for the ride is free and all riders who raise $350 receive a free custom Charley's Fund jersey. To register, visit charleysfund.org.
POLITOS STOPS AT IREDALE DURING SWING THROUGH WESTERN MASS
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito made a stop Iredale Mineral Cosmetics when she was in the Berkshires on June 18th. The visit was part of her “Building Stronger Communities” listening tour aimed at finding out what the Berkshires economy needs to tick a little faster, with a focus on the needs of small businesses.
Polito’s Great Barrington stop was for a tour of the company’s new headquarters at the former Bryant School with seven small business owners and State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli. The tour was followed by a roundtable discussion and lunch before Polito was whisked off to stops in Pittsfield and North Adams.
Monday, June 22, 2015,
ADAMS ANNUAL TOWN MEETING WILL HAVE 36 WARRANT ARTICLES
The Adams meeting members will decide 36 warrant articles at Tuesday's annual town meeting at C.T. Plunkett School.
iBerkshures.com reports the Finance Committee recommended all of thee articles.
Town meeting starts at 7 p.m.in the Plunkett School auditorium.
The town warrant in full can be found on the town website.
PAVING ON TWO NORTH ADAMS STREETS TODAY
Motorists in North Adams should be aware of a paving project taking place beginning today. North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright says that paving of both Brown Street and Demond Avenue tarts this morning and should be completed by the end of the week. There may be possible road closures on the two streets until 4:30pm for the duration of the project. People are encouraged to find alternate routes of travel during the work hours throughout the week.
NORTH ADAMS CITY COUNCILOR RAISING LOCAL AWARENESS OF APPALACHIAN TRAIL
Hundreds of hikers pass through the city of North Adams while hiking the Appalachian Trail every year, but many residents don't even realize it's here. The Berkshire Eagle reports that City Councilor Joshua Moran is hoping to increase awareness of the historic trail, promote its use and foster a more welcoming community for hikers. He has spearheaded an initiative to have the city recognized as an Appalachian Trail Community, a status from nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the 2,180-mile trail. Great Barrington has held the status since 2010. Some 90 miles of the trail pass through Berkshire County, entering the state in Sheffield and ultimately passing over Mount Greylock. About five miles pass through North Adams.
WORK SET TO BEGIN ON BERKSHIRE SCENIC RAILWAY IN NORTHERN BERKSHIRE
Work on the Berkshire Scenic Railway is set to begin. All that is need now is permission to begin the work on rehabilitation of the railroad. And that word is expected any day now. The Berkshire Eagle reports that purchase agreements are expected to be finalized any time now that will transfer ownership from Pan Am Railways to the state Department of Transportation. The money for the purchase of the rail line and the work — $4.5 million — was released in late March. The Berkshire Scenic Railway will run an 8-mile round trip from just behind the Brien Center on American Legion Drive in North Adams to the old Renfrew Station in Adams. Estimates show that the scenic rail line could initially attract as many as 10,000 riders annually.
NORTH ADAMS KICKS OFF ANNUAL FIREWORKS DONATION DRIVE
The city of North Adams is calling on local businesses and members of the community to help support this year’s fireworks display, which is again scheduled to take place at Noel Filed Athletic Complex after the SteepleCats’ home game on Saturday, July 4th. The show in North Adams is one of the largest in Berkshire County, drawing thousands of viewers from the capital region of New York State, southern Vermont and all of Berkshire County. Contributions are tax-deductible and all donors – large and small – will be acknowledged by iBerkshires.com and The Berkshire Eagle.
POWNAL SCHOOL BOARD DISCUSSES SUMMER MAINTENANCE PROJECTS
Pownal Elementary School's maintenance director, Kevin Davis, on Wednesday outlined several maintenance projects he hoped the board would fund over the summer. The Bennington Banner reports that Davis said the first project on his list was a blacktopping project, which would cost about $12,000. However, he said, it could be done in two sections, to space out the expense, but doing it all at once would save the school about $850.
RESTORED AND RENOVATED MOHAWK TAVERN OPENING RIGHT ON TIME
After nearly a year of restoration and renovation, the Mohawk Tavern is set to open — just days before thousands of music fans flood North Adams for Solid Sound 2015. The Berkshire Eagle reports that first established in North Adams in the 1930s and shut down in 2013, the Mohawk Tavern was purchased by developer Moresi and Associates in 2014 along with the rest of the Mulcare Block at 30 Marshall St. The Tavern is set to begin business on Monday, while adjacent Italian restaurant Grazie and six residential rental units upstairs will open in the fall.
WEEKEND BREAK-IN AT WAHCONAGPARK
Pittsfield Suns player items, souvenirs and dozens of frozen hamburgers were among the items stolen from Wahconah Park over the weekend. The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that according to Pittsfield police and Suns officials, the break-in at the historic ballpark happened between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sunday. Team Vice President/General Manager Kevin McGuire said Sunday evening the team returned to Wahconah overnight Saturday after a road game in New Hampshire. Everything was fine before the last Suns official left by 2 a.m. Seven hours later, the team's food and beverage manager discovered the break-in, with minimal damage done to the park. McGuire told The Eagle roughly $400 worth of goods was taken including suns merchandise. 100 frozen hamburger patties and buns were also swiped from the concession stand, according to police.
BERKSHIRE LEGISLATORS GATHER TONIGHT FOR EDUCATION FORUM
The Annual MASC Berkshire County Legislator Forum is being held tonight at Lee Middle & High School. The forum will include discussion and conversation focused on the future of education in the Berkshires, as well as FY16 legislation having critical impacts on Berkshire school districts. More specific topics to be discussed include: Sustaining strong educational opportunities in light of constantly increasing costs, low-state reimbursement for school choice, transportation funding and declining school age population. Members of the Berkshire Legislative Delegation will be on hand including Senator Ben Downing, and State Representatives Gailanne Cariddi, Paul Mark, Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Smitty Pignatelli. The forum begins at 6pm.
BAKER RESTORES PITTSFIELD'S SHANNON GRANT FUNDING
Governor Charlie Baker, on Thursday of last week, announced the restoration of funds for The Pittsfield Community Connection, so the Pittsfield Community Connection can now run the program it wanted. Baker released $1.25 million statewide for the Charles E. Shannon Grant program, with $44,808 coming to Pittsfield. IBerkshires.com reports that forty young people are eyed to be involved with the Pittsfield Community Connection and now about a third of them will be placed in summer jobs. Shannon Grant Coordinator Adam Hinds says the announcement came at the perfect time because with the summer, the Pittsfield Community Connection will be taking off.
PITTSFIELD AWARDED GRANT TO ASSESS STETSON DRY CLEANERS POLLUTION
A $350,000 federal grant came at a good time for the Pittsfield: It will enable a full assessment of pollution left behind by a former Federal Street dry cleaners as well as the development of a remediation plan. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the 83-year-old structure at 35-41 Federal Street has been a thorn in the side of city planners for years: not only blight but polluted, with an absentee owner who was not paying taxes. The city used roughly $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to demolish the structure, work performed in April.
MISS HALL'S SCHOOL TO ADD RESIDENCE AND ACADEMICBUILDINGS
A century-old girls' school in Western Massachusetts is updating its campus through a $10 million tax-exempt bond issued by MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency. Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield is an independent school for girls in grades nine through 12. It will use the funding to build a student residence hall and an academic building with a high-tech lab for animation, robotics and innovation. NBT Bank purchased the bond through a private placement. The school expects the project will create seven jobs and support 100 construction jobs.
ONOTALAKE TO BE TREATED TODAY
Onota Lake in Pittsfield is being chemically treated with aquatic herbicides today in order to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and other nuisance aquatic vegetation. The lake will be closed to all water uses including, swimming, fishing, and boating throughout the day today, and will re-open to those uses tomorrow morning. Use of the lake water for irrigation (watering lawns, gardens or plants of any kind) is prohibited for 14 days post treatment.
FLUSHING OF THE CITY WATER SYSTEM TO BEGIN TODAY
The Department of Public Utilities of the City of Pittsfield begins its annual flushing of the City water system today. Water mains throughout the City will be flushed through hydrants over the next three weeks to remove accumulations of pipeline corrosion products. The mains will be flushed Monday through Friday each week between the hours of 7:30am and 3:45pm. Although flushing may cause localized dirty water and reduced service pressure conditions in and around the immediate area of flushing, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that proper levels of treatment and disinfections are maintained in the system at all times. Should dirty water be experienced, customers may wish to let the water run for a short period to clear prior to use.
STOCKBRIDGE FIRE CHIEF, SELECTMAN VOWS 'FIGHT' TO KEEP DUAL POSTS (GB)
Newly released public documents and e-mails from the State Ethics Commission's top attorney and town counsel of Stockbridge reaffirm their findings that state law requires newly elected Selectman Ernest Cardillo to resign — pending a new special election — or give up reappointment to his nearly $58,000 post as fire chief. The Berkshire Eagle reports however that Cardillo says that he plans to "fight to the end” to stay in both jobs. Cardillo says he believes the town counsel and other selectmen are wrong.
MAIN STREET RECONSTRUCTION CONTINUES
The Main Street Reconstruction project continues in Great Barrington. Construction crews will be pouring new sidewalks and setting curbing on the west side of Main Street. Official’s says that all business will have to clear access during the work hours. Granite wall foundation work will also begin on the west side of Main Street from Railroad Street to Castle Street.
Friday, June 19, 2015
$38.59 MILLION NORTH ADAMS BUDGET CLEARS FINANCE COMMITTEE
The North Adams Finance Committee has voted unanimously to recommend Mayor Richard Alcombright's proposed roughly $38.6 million city budget to the full City Council. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the proposed fiscal 2016 budget, an increase of 2.23 percent from last year's plan, avoids utilizing reserves but includes the reduction of a part-time employee at city hall and limits the North Adams Public Schools to a 2 percent increase. The new plan will close a gap of more than $300,000 in the mayor's preliminary fiscal 2016 plan, which was introduced in May.
PAVING ON TWO NORTH ADAMS STREETS MONDAY
Motorists in North Adams should be aware of a paving project taking place on Monday. North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright says that paving of both Brown Street and Demond Avenue will be done beginning at 7:00am on Monday and should be completed by the end of the week. There may be possible road closures on the two streets until 4:30pm. People are encouraged to find alternate routes of travel during the work hours throughout the week.
TOWN OF FLORIDAANNUALTOWN MEETING TONIGHT
Voters at the annual town meeting in the town of Florida tonight will be asked to approve a $1.87 million town budget for fiscal 2016, with a $106,132 increase in spending on fees, insurance, supplies and salaries of town employees. The Berkshire Eagle reports that there are also provisions authorizing a tax agreement with the developer solar installation and a conservation agreement to protect the endangered broadleaf goldenrod on a nearby property. Warrants also provide $1.4 million for Hancock School, a $69,000 increase over the current year, and $184,058 for McCann Technical School, an increase of $8,000. The meeting will begin at 7pm at the Florida Senior/Community Center.
BATTALION TO REMAIN IN NORTH ADAMS
After posting on Facebook last week that he was thinking about moving his team to New Jersey, Berkshire Battalion owner William Dadds is now saying that the hockey team will stay in North Adams for at least another year. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Dadds' public comments were the result of his disagreements with city officials on scheduling for the 2015-16 season and outstanding payments to vendors from the Battalion's first season last year. The Battalion will only play three Friday night home games this season, which is down from more than 10 last year — and possibly one Friday afternoon matinee game.
POLITO BRINGS 'STRONGER COMMUNITIES TOUR' TO BERKSHIRES
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito made a visit to the Berkshires yesterday, spending nearly two hours with a group of Pittsfield government and business leaders to understand how the state can best partner with the local communities. IBerkshires.com reports that – in what has been dubbed the "Building Stronger Communities Tour," Polito has been making her way around the state to hash out "community contracts." Also yesterday, the lieutenant governor spent about 45 minutes with a diverse group of stakeholders at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, including state Sen. Ben Downing, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, Mayor Dick Alcombright, City Council President Lisa Blackmer, other city officials, and representatives from MCLA and Williams College.
GOVERNOR BAKER GRANTS $1.25M TO COMBAT YOUTH VIOLENCE AND GANG ACTIVITY
Governor Charlie Baker has announced a $1.25 million funding increase for the Shannon Grant program to support regional and multi-disciplinary approaches to combat gang and youth violence. Communities and organizations from Pittsfield to Boston will see a funding boost to combat youth violence this summer. The Shannon Community Safety Initiative provides funding to communities that demonstrate high levels of youth violence and gang problems, a comprehensive plan to work with multi-disciplinary partners, and a commitment to coordinated prevention and intervention strategies. The city of Pittsfield is slated to receive supplemental funding in the amount of just over $44,800.
MAN ALLEGEDLY DEFECATED NEAR PITTSFIELDCHRISTIANCENTER
A Pittsfield man, 59 year old Paul Kwasniowski ,with a history of lewdness was arrested after allegedly defecating outside the Christian Center on Robbins Avenue in Pittsfield on Wednesday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that 59 year old Paul Kwasniowski was allegedly spotted by staff at the center about 12:25pm relieving himself outside the rear of the building, according to police. Kwasniowski was arrested on charges of open and gross lewdness and disturbing the peace. He was ordered held on $1,000 bail and scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.
MAYORS LEAD THE WAY AT THIRD THURSDAY
Setting an example for their communities, Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi and North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright donned running shoes, shorts and shirts during Third Thursday in Pittsfield yesterday. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the two municipal chief executives were among the roughly 260 men, women and children from around the county who signed up for the Green Mile Road Race. Proceeds from the Green Mile entry fee benefit Pittsfield Community Connection, a city-sponsored program aimed at addressing youth and gang violence.
ONOTALAKE TO BE TREATED ON MONDAY
Onota Lake in Pittsfield will be chemically treated with aquatic herbicides on Monday in order to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and other nuisance aquatic vegetation. The lake will be closed to all water uses including, swimming, fishing, and boating on Monday, and will re-open to those uses on Tuesday morning. Use of the lake water for irrigation (watering lawns, gardens or plants of any kind) is prohibited for 14 days post treatment.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS TO 4.6 PERCENT – STATE ADDS 7,400 JOBS
The state’s total unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent in May, a 0.1 percentage point decrease from the previous month, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in the state since December 2007. The new preliminary job estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate Massachusetts gained 7,400 jobs in May, marking the ninth consecutive month of jobs gains. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 1.2 percent from 5.8 percent in May 2014. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts peaked in September 2009 at 8.8 percent.
FLUSHING OF THE CITY WATER SYSTEM TO BEGIN MONDAY
The Department of Public Utilities of the City of Pittsfield will begin to conduct its annual flushing of the City water system will begin Monday. Water mains throughout the City will be flushed through hydrants over the next three weeks to remove accumulations of pipeline corrosion products. Mains will be flushed Monday through Friday each week between the hours of 7:30am and 3:45pm. Although flushing may cause localized dirty water and reduced service pressure conditions in and around the immediate area of flushing, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that proper levels of treatment and disinfections are maintained in the system at all times. Should dirty water be experienced, customers may wish to let the water run for a short period to clear prior to use.
LENOX ZBA MEMBERS LOCK HORNS OVER RESORT CONDITIONS
The fate of the Elm Court project in Lenox appears to be hanging in the balance following a grueling and combative Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Wednesday night. The Berkshire Eagle reports that after committee members failed to forge a consensus on stringent restrictions to be attached to their special permit for the project, a visibly upset Acting Chairwoman Shawn Leary Considine shut down the meeting at 10:45pm. Front Yard LCC is seeking a special permit for a $50 million hotel, spa and public restaurant for Travaasa Experiential Resorts on the 90-acre acre parcel straddling the Lenox/Stockbridge town line.
BALL USED IN 2ND HALF OF 'DEFLATEGATE' GAME AUCTIONED
A properly inflated ball from the game in which Tom Brady used underinflated footballs is up for auction. The auction is being run by a fan that was handed the ball after a Patriots touchdown during the infamous game which started the deflate-gate scandal. Bidding starts at $25,000 in the auction running through July 17. Meanwhile, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks as punishment for the ball deflating offense. A hearing before Commissioner Roger Goodell on Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension is scheduled for Tuesday.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
The Berkshire Battalion will be back on the ice for the 2015-16 season. (Story and Photo Courtesy of Media Partner iBerkshires.com/ Stephen Dravis)
BATTALION HOCKEY PRIMED FOR RETURN TO NORTH ADAMS
The owner of the Berkshire Battalion says the team is ready to come back for the 2015-16 Federal Hockey League season. IBerkshires.com reports that Bill Dadds, who purchased the franchise at the end of last season, said on Tuesday that he accepts the city of North Adams' restrictions on the number of Friday night games that will be available to the second-year semi-pro hockey franchise. The Battalion also has an opening for a Friday matinee on November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving. Some of the Battalion's fans took to social media to accuse the city of pushing the team out of the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Rink.
ECU-HEALTH CARE CHIEF STEPPING DOWN IN SEPTEMBER
Charles Joffe-Halpern, executive director that Ecu-Health Care, is stepping down on September 1st. The Berkshire Eagle reports that he will be succeeded by Karen Baumbach, who is currently Ecu-Health Care's director of programs. The 65 year old Joffe-Halpern said he is leaving the company to explore other options. He says that after what he called an exciting 20 years, it was time for a transition and a fresh look. Joffe-Halpern has been the executive director of Ecu-HealthCare since the organization began in 1995. Ecu-Health Ca