Trick-or-Treat Hours for Halloween 2014
Trick-or-treaters around Berkshire County and beyond will be donning costumes and ringing doorbells in anticipation of treats on Halloween on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.
Below is a list of towns holding trick-or-treat hours on Halloween, unless otherwise noted. Those towns in orange have not been confirmed so check back. If you don't see your town listed and you know the hours, let us know at email@example.com or 413-663-3384, Ext. 29, or if your organization is holding something Halloween related.
Adams: 5:30 to 7; Adams Lions Club holds its annual Halloween Parade on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 4:30, beginning from Adams Community Bank and marching to the gazebo for judging and awards. Hot dogs and beverages will again be available. Participants are asked to arrive at 4 p.m. to line up.
Becket: 5 to 7
Cheshire: 5 to 7
Clarksburg: 5 to 7; annual Haunted Hayride sponsored by the Clarksburg School 8th Grade is Saturday, Oct. 18, from 6:30 to 10 at Clarksburg State Park.
Dalton: 5:30 to 7
Egremont: 6 to 8
Florida: 6 to 8
Great Barrington: 5:30 to 7:30
Hancock: 5 to 7
Hinsdale: 5:30 to 7
Lanesborough: 5 to 7; In addition, Berkshire Mall will host "Mall-O-Ween," on Sunday, Oct. 26, from noon to 2 for children up to age 12.
Lee: 5 to 7; Look for stores with Halloween signs in the windows at Prime Outlets' annual trick-or-treat event from 5 to 7, get a bag and treat at the information center.
Lenox & Lenox Dale: 5:30 to 7; Halloween parade is Saturday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. beginning from St. Vincent DePaul Church and ending at the Elm Street fire station for prizes and a party.
Monterey: 5:30 to 7
*Mount Washington: No designated times
New Ashford: 5:30 to 7
New Marlborough: 5 to 7:30
North Adams: 5:30 to 7; annual "Boo Bash" at MCLA is Monday, Oct. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berkshire Towers for children ages 6 to 11, accompanied by an adult.
*Peru: No posted hours
*Pownal, Vt.: No posted hours
Otis: 5 to 7
Pittsfield: 5:30 to 7:30; parade is Friday, Oct. 24, at 7 on Tyler Street.
Readsboro, Vt.: 6 to 8
Richmond: 5 to 7; stop by the library on Thursday, Oct. 30, in costume to get your picture taken and a treat.
Savoy: 5 to 8
Sheffield: 5:30 to 7:30
Stamford, Vt.: 6 to 7:30
Stockbridge: Halloween Parade begins at 6 p.m. at the corner of Main and Pine streets and marches to the Town Offices for cider and doughnuts.
Washington: annual Pumpkin Walk is Friday evening, Oct. 24, at Washington Town Park (Route 8) with trick-or-treating from 6:30 to 7:30, hayrides and bonfire.
West Stockbridge: 4 to 7
*Williamstown: 6 to 7:30
Windsor: 5 to 7
*Same time, day every year
Adams Civic Club Seeking Broader Membership
The Maple Grove Civic Club is accepting new members from surrounding communities to keep the club going.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Maple Grove Civic Club is casting a wider net to boost enrollment.
The civics association said it will welcome members from North Adams, Williamstown and other surrounding communities.
At one point, the Adams club regularly attracted more than 100 people at its monthly meetings at the Polish National Alliance Hall. But turnout has dipped dramatically, club President Stanley Cote noted at last month's meeting.
"We need to do something to keep this club going," Cote said. "We're down to like 35 members at a meeting."
The 76-year-old civic association brings in speakers to discuss topics of local interest. Last month, Richard Kleiner of the Adams Prudential Committee answered questions about the $2 million Commercial Street water main replacement. On Sunday, interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan was to speak on current projects in Adams.
It's also the only organization that still offers a candidates forum for the annual town election.
While the focus has been on Adams and, to a lesser extent, Cheshire, invited speakers have covered a wide range of topics suggested by members.
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing have appeared regularly; past guests have included a physical therapist, a senior planner with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and an executive with the former Northern Berkshire Healthcare.
"It's open to whoever wants to come," Cote said, who said he hopes to at least double the number of attending members.
Club officer Eugene Michalenko said the club began in 1938 as a voting bloc.
"People would get together and vote together for the candidate they selected," he said.
Voting for one or more selectmen was often influenced by who the group wanted on the police force — since the Board of Selectmen hired officers. The club grew as a way to keep members informed about what was happening in their town.
"The best thing about this club is you get to hear about things you don't see in the newspaper," Michalenko said. "You're a little bit more informed by being in this club."
Club members are brainstorming ways to get the word out about their activities and civic involvement, such as fliers and brochures, attendance at public events or even a civics project with the high school. In addition to informational speakers, they fund raise for youth sports, such as the Adams Police Athletic League and Dana Labbee basketball, and scholarships.
Cote said changes could be made to make attending meetings more attractive, such as changing the Sunday meeting times to 1 p.m. The club's had a beneficial association with the PNA but trustees acknowledged the Victory Street hall is difficult to get to and that a different location may make attending easier.
Dues are $25 a year; the dinners provided at each meeting and the all-you-can January roast beef dinner is $5. The club meets each third Sunday at 3 p.m. at the PNA from fall through spring.
"That's a real real good deal," Cote said.
"If we don't have the membership ... and then we have to close the doors. It would be a shame, it's been here since 1938."
Cariddi Hosting Information Forum on Ballot Questions
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — State Rep. Gailanne M. Cariddi of North Adams is hosting an informational forum this week on ballot questions.
The event will be held Thursday, Oct. 23, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the North Adams Public Library.
Cariddi will explain the four referundums being presented to voters in the Nov. 4 general election: eliminating gas tax indexing, expanding the bottle bill to cover noncarbonated beverages, prohibiting casinos and instituting earned sick time.
The forum will give the public an opportunity to learn about the questions and how residents and communities will be affected. Each of the questions will have a distinct impact on both public and private enterprises.
Cariddi welcomes 1st Berkshire District residents to attend. For questions, call 617-722-2450 or 413-664-6812. More information on the questions can also be found here.
Question 1: Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing
Do you approve of a law that would reverse a current law that funds road and bridge repairs?
This proposed law would eliminate the requirement that the state's gasoline tax, which was 24 cents per gallon as of September 2013, (1) be adjusted every year by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index over the preceding year, but (2) not be adjusted below 21.5 cents per gallon.
Question 2: Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law
Do you approve of a law that would include a deposit fee on non-carbonated beverage containers?
This proposed law would expand the state's beverage container deposit law, also known as the Bottle Bill, to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption, except beverages primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA-approved medicines. The proposed law would not cover containers made of paper-based biodegradable material and aseptic multimaterial packages such as juice boxes or pouches.
Question 3: Expanding Prohibitions on Gaming
Do you approve of a law that would reverse the law currently in effect on gaming?
This proposed law would (1) prohibit the Massachusetts Gaming Commission from issuing any license for a casino or other gaming establishment with table games and slot machines, or any license for a gaming establishment with slot machines; (2) prohibit any such casino or slots gaming under any such licenses that the Commission might have issued before the proposed law took effect; and (3) prohibit wagering on the simulcasting of live greyhound races.
Question 4: Earned Sick Time for Employees
Do you approve of a law that would allow employee to earn sick time?
This proposed law would entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use sick time according to certain conditions.
Lanesborough Committees to Discuss School Funding
The Finance Committee met on Wednesday to brainstorm topics that could be discussed at next Wednesday's meeting.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectmen and the Finance Committee hope to have a better understand of the elementary school's finances before a budget is even crafted.
On Wednesday, the Selectmen, Finance Committee and the School Committee are holding a joint meeting to discuss funding of the school.
In the past, the groups have had disputes over the final numbers. They hope to curb that by getting on the same page when it comes to sustainability.
"Go in with an open mind. Let's have an open conversation," Town Administrator Paul Sieloff told the Finance Committee on Wednesday when the group met to brainstorm topics for next Wednesday's meeting.
"Don't go in with a mindset other than just having three different groups working together for a good purpose."
Chairman Al Terranova said the Finance Committee's role is more to listen and understand the financial situation of the school.
The Finance Committee said they are looking to discuss longer-term issues with the budget and not crunch the numbers for the upcoming year. Last year the town approved a $2.5 million budget for the school, a growing number that the Finance Committee thinks is unsustainable in the future.
"I don't want to nitpick. ... We can't have as much expertise as they do," said member Gregory Wolf, adding that the committee won't have any numbers to even start with at this point of the year.
The Finance Committee brings a townwide perspective to the table and they hope the School Committee will gain a better understanding of their concerns as well. Between the elementary school and Mount Greylock, 71 percent of the town's $10 million budget goes to education.
"We always project one-third of the budget would be for the elementary school, one-third for the high school and one-third for all town government" said committee member Ronald Tinkham. "Up until eight years ago, that was the trend."
The new trend shows education taking up a larger portion of the pie.
"What has happened is that the schools have taken on more than the one-third and one-third. From an equity standpoint, it appears that the town has tightened its belt, has done away with a bunch of things," Tinkham said, adding that there is a shift of money to the schools.
Terranova said that isn't anything new. All three of the committees have talked about the expanding spending on education. Terranova says he doesn't want to get into having that same conversation over and over again.
"Our job is not to micromanage the School Committee," he said. "It is their responsibility to do what they've got to do. Our job is not to tell what roads to plow, or how many kids should be in each class, or how many paraprofessionals we should have."
But the committee can have input on future policy items like how tuition and school choice funds will be managed in the future. There could also be discussion of some larger changes such as reducing the number of staff and classes or keeping the middle school students in the Lanesborough facility.
They also want to know what the school committee thinks. And what any of it would mean with a vote for regionalization of the school with Williamstown Elementary School.
"We can go in there with the attitude that we are all on the same page and we are having a meeting of the minds," Wolf said.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the elementary school. The effort to bring the groups together was headed by Selectmen Henry Sayers.
Shakespeare & Company Head 'Excited' for Future
LENOX, Mass. — After a brief retreat, the new director of Shakespeare & Company is ready to move forward.
Five days after announcing the abrupt and unexplained departure of the company's artisitic director of five years, S&Co.'s recently appointed executive director and president said he is looking to the future.
And to help plan that future, Rick Dildine and about a dozen artists and administrators from the 36-year-old theater venue held a two-day staff retreat over Columbus Day weekend.
"It was a wonderful time away together," Dildine said in a telephone interview last week. "It was exciting. And it really got me excited about the future."
That immediate future likely will not include Tony Simotes, one of Shakespeare's co-founders, who returned to Lenox in 2009 to replace the company's 30-year artistic director Tina Packer.
On Friday, Oct. 10, Dildine sent out a late afternoon news release announcing "Simotes' term will end on Nov. 10."
While Dildine thanked Simotes for his service in the news release, he did not specify the reason for Simotes' departure. Subsequently, both Dildine and Simotes declined to discuss the reason when asked by the New York Times.
On Wednesday, Oct. 15, Dildine told iBerkshires.com that he is not sure whether S&Co. will hire a new artistic director, let alone when such a search may begin.
"Before I make a decision like that, I want to spend some time talking to my team members," Dildine said.
In the meantime, Dildine said work is under way planning the 2015 season at Shakespeare & Company, which in recent years has become more of a year-round venue. The comedy "Private Eyes" is on stage the second stage, weekends through Nov. 9. A staged version of the film classic "It's a Wonderful Life" runs in December.
In addition to a busy summer season featuring Shakespearean and contemporary works and autumn and holiday productions, the company has a broader reach into the community than most theater festivals of its size.
The venue offers summer camps for youngsters, workshops for teachers, a Fall Festival of Shakespeare for area high schools, a summer training institute for aspiring professional actors, a program for juvenile offenders in the Berkshire Juvenile Court program, a Northeast touring production of Shakespeare classics and more.
Dildine said he anticipates Shakespeare & Company's programs continuing to grow.
"We're going to constantly be assessing where we are and how we can do better — how we can evolve our creative practices, our business practices," he said. "And we're absolutely committed to extending the reach beyond 70 Kimble St. Shakespeare & Company's footprint is nationwide when you think of all the teachers and artists and students who have come here or we've gone to them.
"I only see that footprint getting bigger and extending around the world. I'm excited to now be a part of that."
Dildine in June was named the company's first executive director in 10 years. At that time, the chairwoman of the company's board of directors told the Berkshire Eagle that Dildine's arrival would "allow Tony's creativity to blossom."
Before coming to Lenox, Dildine was the the artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Company St. Louis. At the time of his appointment at Shakespeare & Company, the chairman of the St. Louis festival praised him in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"The organization's accomplishments are the result of his sound financial management and his ability to build upon incremental successes one innovative project at a time," Jessica Holzer told the Post-Dispatch. "Based on Rick's work here, this institution is strong financially and creatively."
McCann Manufacturing Students Tour Pittsfield's Starbase Technologies
Starbase owner Burton Francis showed the students around the shop, explaining what the company does.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — McCann Technical School students have gotten a glimpse into their own futures.
Students in McCann's manufacturing programs on Wednesday toured Pittsfield's Starbase Technologies, where they saw the same technology they learn on at school being used on a commercial scale.
"It is important for the students to see what they are learning in the shop looks like in a real world setting," said Principal Justin Kratz.
"In addition to that, it is important for them to see that these opportunities exist in Berkshire County. What they are learning at McCann can be used in careers right here in Berkshire County."
The trip is one small part of the state's push to increase manufacturing. Mass Development granted Berkshire Community College funds to promote the manufacturing field through the AMP It Up program.
BCC also sponsored Taconic students on a trip to Interprint. BCC has received $18,000 from the program over the last two years to promote manufacturing.
"We were able to use AMP It Up funds to pay for transportation and we have some take away items for the students. The Amp It Up grant is issued through Mass Development to promote manufacturing as a viable career pathway for young people," said Denise Johns, BCC's director of corporate training.
Starbase owner Burton Francis, who founded the molding company 26 years ago, said he has noticed a turnaround in the level of interest in manufacturing. Very few people wanted to go into the field just a few years ago.
Leading the student through the shop, Francis hopes the students see that manufacturing isn't like it used to be.
"This is much cleaner, more technical than your typical machine shop. With that approach, I think a lot more people will give it a try," Francis said.
The company specializes in making molds for such things as pens and laundry detergent caps to even airplane parts. The work requires a certain set of skills and Francis said experience means a lot.
"McCann Tech does a phenomenal job in introducing the people to the knowledge necessary to build machine parts. With that, it makes it a lot easier to bring kids in and have them get on a fast track," Francis said.
That is what BCC too is hoping to give prospective students. BCC's corporate training and workforce development tries to keep a close relationship with area employers so they can customize their classes to fit those needs.
Johns said through groups like the Berkshire Applied Technology Council, the school can boost their programming. Many of the employees at Starbase had gone through BCC's manufacturing tech program, Johns said.
McCann too has an advisory committee and connections with local businesses to help build the workforce of tomorrow.
"There is a ton of potential," Kratz said.
Egremont Hosts Final FireFighters' Steak Roast of the Year
The Egremont Fire Department is holding its annual Steak Roast on Sunday with help from local chefs Terry Moore and Dan Smith.
EGREMONT, Mass. — Fare at firefighter fundraising events range from pancake breakfasts to chicken barbecues and steak roasts.
Savoy used to do a lobster dinner and Lenox Dale has begun a kielbasa and shrimp boil. But the last firefighter's meal of the year this Sunday is prepared and cooked by chef-owners of local fine restaurants.
Every year since 1982, on the Sunday afternoon following the Columbus Day weekend, Terry Moore of The Old Mill creates the Egremont Volunteer Fire Department's steak roast.
He sources and orders and shops for the ingredients. Bakes the potatoes, Makes hot fudge sauce for 350, 450 sundaes and gets his friend Dan Smith, chef-owner of John Andrews Restaurant, to help with the grilling.
Volunteers prep the salad and decorate and set the fire station for the dinner.
"Fireman Bruce Turner flips the garlic bread. He's a master flipper," Assistant Fire Chief Jim Olmsted said. "And dessert is always a hot fudge sundae with Terry Moore's housemade hot fudge and SoCo ice cream."
Throughout the year, starting with Egremont's pancake breakfast on Palm Sunday, firefighters and their supporters in towns from tiny to merely small feed and entertain the public to raise the money to keep their volunteer departments going. Some have been doing so for 45 years or more.
Yes, town taxes pay day-to-day expenses but when a new truck — or a new fire house — is needed these classic, welcoming events bring in a few thousand extra dollars.
Moore uses his Old Mill restaurant in South Egremont to organize and prepare the finely made steak roast for the Egremont Fire Department. On the day of the dinner, Smith, from John Andrews Restaurant down the road in South Egremont, dons his chef's whites and grills the steaks.
Moore started doing steak roasts for the Fire Department in 1982 when the department needed a new fire truck.
"They came to me," he said. "I said, 'Let's get the community together and see what we can rustle up.'
"The dinner did not pay for the whole truck but it certainly was a help."
Seatings from 4 to 8 on Sunday at the fire station, 36 Main St.
► 14-ounce strip steak, mixed salad, baked potato, garlic bread, SoCo ice cream hot fudge sundae with Old Mill chocolate sauce, coffee, tea, soda. Diners may bring their own alcoholic beverages.
Tickets at the door: $22 adults, $11 children. Call 413-528-0971 for more information.
Acknowledging how much time has pass, Moore added with a laugh, "That fire truck has since been retired."
Moore came to the Berkshires after cooking on the old Queen Mary ocean liner and in New York City.
"I thought the Berkshires was a place needed a good little restaurant - this was '75, '76," he said. "The Berkshires are a great place. It's all to do with the people and, then, quality of life."
He came up with a really simple menu for that first dinner for the Fire Department.
"I grilled a 14 ounce strip steak. It's old fashioned," Moore said.
"I've been fortunate to be a very good supporter of the Egremont Fire Department. Really, it's for the lads of the company so they get some recognition from the community."
Smith said he's been involved with the annual fundraiser for the 24 years he's been in business.
"It's a volunteer department. They need funding to be sustainable for everything they do. That's why I support it. They volunteer their own time," he said. "The least I can do is volunteer my time for that one day.
"I go down there and grill steaks for them for the night. Terry orders the beef and cuts it and bakes all the potatoes and orders all the food for it. I've been, basically, the grunt man. I go down there and get burned," Smith said jokingly.
With the exception of the Berkshires' two cities, the county's fire departments are volunteer. A few towns, like Great Barrington and Lenox, have some paid staff.
And all the companies are looking for more volunteers.
"We could get more young people involved. We're open 24 hours, seven days a week — our doors are open," Olmsted said. "We're more than desperate. We're looking for help. There's all kinds of positions. You don't have to go into burning buildings. One of our female members has 16 years in the Army. We need pump operators, equipment handlers, safety personnel, all kinds of position are available. We all work as a team and we all do mutual aid for other towns."
"It's nice to have them given a little bit of recognition," Moore said about the dinner. "The highlight of the evening will be the ice cream sundae with our famous chocolate sauce."
Hundreds Watch Berkshire Battalion Drop Puck On Inaugural Season
Mayor Richard Alcombright dropped a ceremonial first puck.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The line to see the Berkshire Battalion was out the door.
More than 700 area residents packed the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Rink Friday night to root on the new Federal Hockey League semi-professional team for their inaugural season.
"The crowds are huge. I couldn't believe it when I came here. So many people are here to see this team. It is going to be an exciting season," State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, who alongside Mayor Richard Alcombright dropped an ceremonial first puck and cut a ribbon.
The team had just signed an agreement with the Department of Conservation and Recreation earlier this week for use of the rink.
With 26 home games scheduled for the season, the team hopes to draw crowds throughout the winter.
"The people here are really nice people. They love hockey. If you give them a good product at a fair price, they'll give you a chance. We're going to show them that if you work hard to listen to what they are saying, get good feedback and make this as good as we can," said General Manager Herm Sorcher.
And they are off to a good start. Friday's attendance exceeded Sorcher's expectations and the team gave the fans everything from skillful passes, dekes and a whole lot of goals to fisticuffs. The Berkshire Battalion won their first ever game in a blowout fashion - finishing at 10-2 - over Southwest Pennsylvania.
"You couldn't have drawn it up any better. We had a big win. We had a line out the door. We had the mayor on the ice, the state representative," Sorcher said. "We had a packed house. It is a great start."
Alcombright called Friday's crowd a "wild scene" and compared the Battalion to the North Adams SteepleCats baseball team. The team brings more activity to the city and instills pride, the mayor said.
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi pumped up the crowd before the start of the game.
"This is absolutely wonderful. We were waiting for DCR to sign off and waiting for this to come together. It was all coming together, coming together and it is just great to be here," Alcombright said.
Alcombright said he had been working with DCR Commissioner Jack Murray to finalize the agreement to bring the team in.
In the last few weeks the state and the team were going back and forth over language in the lease agreement.
"I think they struck a great agreement. We wanted to see them there. We wanted to see North Adams progress. We wanted to see all of these seats filled," Cariddi said.
The Battalion's arrival comes on the heels of a series of renovations to the building, dating back to 2007.
"Except for the fact that we don't have have really appropriate locker room facilities yet, everything else here is state of the art. Our ice is as good as anyone else's in the state. We've got beautiful lighting and beautiful sound," Alcombright said. "It is just a great facility."
The mayor hopes bringing in the high level of play will help the youth hockey leagues that have been growing in the renovated rink.
"They bring a new interest in hockey. We've had a growing hockey program in the last couple of years but this will be a new level," Alcombright said.
In the future, Sorcher said the lockers rooms could use renovations and he hopes they'll need to add more seating and food vendors. But now in the first stages of building a hockey franchise here, the space fits works perfectly for him.
"Overall it is a great place to watch a game. You are right on top of it," Sorcher said.
While the Battilion may have won their first game easily, Sorcher says they have a much tougher game on Oct. 25 when they face a veteran Danville franchise.
State and Town Officials Sign Master Lease For Greylock Glen
DCR Commissioner Jack Murray and Board of Selectmen Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington shake hands after signing the lease agreement.
ADAMS, Mass. — An array of elected officials gathered Friday to sign the Greylock Glen master lease and celebrate the beginning of the next phase of the project.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington shared some emotional statements about the Greylock Glen project thanked all of those involved in its 30-year legacy. He acknowledge former Selectmen, administrators, and the people of Adams.
“I would be remiss in not recognizing the importance of all the support for the project’s past, present and future. I am here not only as statutory signatory of the town of Adams but also as a staunch supporter of this project,” Harrington said.
“Thank you for your patience, trust and encouragement throughout this journey, and we will need your continued support as we move to our next very important phase of the project, implementation."
Harrington said the Glen is a critical aspect of bringing new and needed economic development to Adams.
The latest plan calls for campgrounds, hiking trails, conference center, education center and amphitheater on the 50-acre parcel. The glen has a storied history dating back 30 years of attempted redevelopment and is eyed to be the cornerstone of economic development.
The lease between the state and the town is the next step to move forward in building the campground and first phase of the trail network. The Selectmen approved the lease Wednesday night.
"Adams remains one of the poorest communities in the commonwealth. I am sure most of you are familiar with the old adage necessity is the mother of change, well this project is a necessity for Adams and for the Berkshires. We need this project now, and it is as important as it was 30 years ago," Harrington said.
State Sen. Benjamin Downing said the glen is an important aspect that will add to the already vibrant town and Berkshire County. He pledged to continue working with the town to develop the Greylock Glen.
"We need to make sure this entire region is what we know it can and should be, which is a community where everyone that grows up here gets the opportunity to make the most of their talents that have been given to them," he said. "We make sure as they do that they have the opportunity to do that right in their own back yard."
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi said the Greylock Glen will be the perfect complement to Adams.
"I think that Adams has chosen the right path, the hub of recreation, and how could it be any better this," Cariddi said. "This is really going to put the town of Adams on the map not just at the monument, but at the downtown too."
Tad Ames, president of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, praised the beauty of the Glen and the importance of protecting it.
“Discussion of the Glen was often marked by frustration on both sides and to this date a deep sense of loss, mistrust, and unease prevails,” he said. But still, the Greylock glen largely endures and the 1007 acres will be given deserving to the care and control of our states department of conservation and recreation. This is a day to mark indeed.”
Downing Sponsors Holiday Greeting Card Design Contest
State Sen. Benjamin Downing at last year's Toys for Tots reception.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Benjamin Downing wants to show off the talents of a local school child through his annual Christmas cards.
The senator mails out some 3,500 greeting cards each year to friends, family, supporters and colleagues across Massachusetts. This year he is asking local youth to design his card for him. The senator will choose the submission he thinks is the best and the artwork will be the cover for all of this year's greeting cards.
“This year I am sponsoring a holiday greeting card contest for students in grades three through eight,” Downing said. “I thought it would be fun to spread holiday cheer by using a truly unique card designed by a young constituent.”
The winning design will be chosen by Downing. His printed holiday card will credit the student artist by listing their name, age, grade, school and hometown.
Usually he selects an image that relates to his Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden Senate District. In 2007 and 2008, he used winter scenes captured by local photographer Bill Tague; since 2009, he has chosen holiday images by Norman Rockwell.
But always had the contest idea is his head. State Sen. Steven Brewer had been running a similar contest in his district for years.
While only one student will be selected for the cards, all of the submissions will be on display in his Pittsfield office. Each year he holds a Toys For Tots reception and he'll be coupling the contest with that, when he will announce the winner.
"All of the submissions will be on display," he said.
Students in grades three through eight who live in the senator’s district are encouraged to participate. Entry forms can be printed from www.SenatorDowning.com or picked up in Downing’s District Office, located at 7 North St., Suite 307 in Pittsfield.
All submissions must be returned to the District Office by 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13. They can be dropped off Monday through Friday during business hours, sent via US Mail or scanned and emailed to Benjamin.Downing@masenate.gov. If entire school classes participate, Downing said he or his staff will pick the submissions up.
"We've started to reach out to the superintendents of schools," Downing said. ""This is just a fun, community event."
The Senator said he isn't sure what to expect in the inaugural year but he hopes to grow this into an annual event.
Pittsfield Teen Follows Her Passion for Skating
Michaela Grady poses with coaches Vladimir Petrenko and Emilie Nussear.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Michaela Grady grew a passion for skating at a very young age.
After she decided soccer, tennis and ballet were not a good fit, the young Grady was put on the ice, where she found love for a sport that shapes who she is today.
Now she is a competitive skater who will be competing in her first qualifying competition this weekend at the New England Regionals in Burlington, Vt.
At the age of 4, after leaving Pittsfield and moving to Pennsylvania with her parents Kimberley Grady and Christopher Sposato, a friend of Grady’s mother who was a former figure skater suggested they put her in a “Learn to Skate” program.
“When I was really little my mom put me into a bunch of different sports to see what I liked,” Grady said.
“None of them worked out until my mom’s friend suggested figure skating, and it was the only thing that I loved.”
Grady, who is now 15, has been skating competitively for seven years. She started to really get into figure skating in the fourth grade after moving back to Pittsfield.
The 15-year-old dedicates a big portion of her time to the sport, which has her traveling to Simsbury, Conn., three to four times a week to train with her coaches Emilie Nussear and Vladimir Petrenko at their International Skating Center.
Because of the commitment Grady has put into her skating, she is on an accelerated path for schooling. She is considered to be a junior in high school and does all her work online.
“I have real teachers that I can call if I need help,” Grady said. “It’s really convenient because I train in Connecticut three times a week, so the school allows me to do my work early in the morning or late at night, allowing me to skate as much as I need to.”
Nussear, who has been coaching Grady for four years after Grady’s mother reached out to her, speaks highly of her dedication to her skating.
“She’s grown so much as a skater, really over the fact that it’s not an easy training situation with traveling,” Nussear said. “She is able to dedicate all this time and still stay focused.”
Nussear explained that in order to participate in the regionals this weekend, Grady was required to pass an “Intermediate Free Style Test,” which consisted of a series of elements: completing a program to music and landing two double jumps as well as other spins and jumping requirements.
“One of my most exciting experiences thus far as her coach has been her passing the Intermediate freestyle test,” Nussear said. “She’s really become such a strong overall skater; developing from a competitive skater into a qualifying skater.”
Grady is in the intermediate level for freestyle and senior level for moves in the field. This is her first season doing IJS at the intermediate level, which means the level of difficulty is much more advanced and requires her to do all double jumps.
“They judge you a lot more specifically on everything,” Grady explained. “You can get deductions just by only holding a position in your spin for one- and three-quarter’s rotation rather than two rotations.”
Aside from the time Grady spends on the ice training and competing she likes to dedicate time to volunteering. She’s participated in the Buddy Walk and Polar Plunge and has also helped with the Special Olympics.
With the talk of Special Olympics, Grady also mentioned her experiences she has had at the rink in Connecticut working with Olympic skaters and coaches such as Ekaterina Gordeeva and Alena Leonova.
“Some of the Olympic coaches bring their skaters to the rink and train there,” Grady said. “It’s really cool because I’ve got to watch some skaters who compete at Worlds and the Grand Prix Series.”
Although Grady has had the opportunity to experience times like that at the rink, most of her time there is spent training. For a teenager, her schedule is not like that of many other kids her age. She wakes up every morning around 5 or 6 to do school work; from there she heads to the rink in Connecticut around 7:30 a.m. Upon arriving at the rink she warms up, and then it’s off to the ice. Grady skates around three to four hours a day and has an hour of off-ice where she stretches and works out.
Going into the New England Regionals this weekend, Grady and Nussear hope to skate a clean program, which means she doesn’t want to pop any jumps or fall on any of her moves. Grady is also hoping to get her highest score this season.
“What I want to take away from it is a positive experience, I don’t want to get all freaked out and nervous” Grady said. “I want to go out and have fun because I’ve worked really hard to make it here this season.”
Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Oct. 17-23
Friday: 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off At Berkshire Hills Country Club
Get your taste buds flowing during the 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off presented by the Real Estate Agents Charitable Task Force (REACT). Participating restaurants include Samel's Deli & Catering, The Olde Heritage Tavern, Patrick's Pub, Brenda's Catering, Frankie's Ristorante Italiano, The Marketplace Cafe, On A Roll, Chez Nous Bistro, Berkshire Organics, Ottos Breakfast and Deli, and 1896 House Inn & Country Lodgings.This year the beneficiary of all proceeds raised will be the Berkshire County Kids' Place.
Friday, October 17 | 5pm-7:30pm | Berkshire Hills Country Club | 500 Benedict Road | 413-442-8049 | Adults $10 Children $5
Friday-Monday: Advanced Style At The Little Cinema
Street style photographer Ari Seth Cohen and director Lina Plioplyte dive into the personal lives of New York City's most fashionable seniors. In an industry obsessed with youth, these older women dispel conventional ideas about beauty and aging and prove that with age comes grace, confidence, boldness, flair and new, unimagined opportunities for fame and fortune.
Friday-Monday, October 17-20 | Fri-Mon 7pm Mon 3pm | Berkshire Museum | Little Cinema | 39 South Street |413-443-7171 | $5 Museum Members $7.50 Museum Non Members
Friday: Coffee House Concert Series At South Congregational Church
South Church Mission Board is pleased to announce their Coffee House Concert Series is continuing on Friday. David Grover and Linda Worster will be on hand to entertain for the evening joined by those who would like to participate in an open mic segment.
Friday, October 17 | 7pm | South Congregational Church | 110 South Street| FREE
Friday: Stephanie Nakasian At Baba Louie's
Part of the 10th annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, the remarkable vocalist Stephanie Nakasian makes her Pittsfield debut with the Hod O'Brien trio, featuring Jeff Link (bass) and Jeremy Vinette (drums). Baba Louie's Backroom, limited seating.
Friday, October 17 | 8pm | Baba Louie's | 34 Depot Street | $20 in advance $25 at the door
Friday: Joy Behar At The Colonial
Comedian/talk show host, Joy Behar brings her stand-up tour to The Colonial Theatre. With more than 30 years on stage and screen, Behar's one-woman show takes us on a journey from her rollicking childhood in Brooklyn to center stage as one of America's most notable talk show hosts and comedians. Behar commented, "It's a good time to take stock of my shenanigans."
Friday, October 17 | 8pm | Colonial Theatre | 111 South Street | 413-997-4444 | $35-$65
Friday-Sunday: FINAL WEEKEND For An Enemy Of The People At Barrington Stage
This powerful drama explores the impact of polluted waters in a small town and the consequences of uncovering the truth. Follow the story of one man's brave struggle to do the right thing in the face of extreme social intolerance. Arthur Miller adapted Ibsen's classic play in response to the political climate fostered by McCarthyism in 1950, but the play is still shockingly relevant today.
Friday-Sunday, October 17-19 | Fri/Sat 8pm Sat/Sun 3pm | Barrington Stage Company | Boyd-Quinson Mainstage | 30 Union Street | 413-236-8888 | $20+
Friday: Old School Vs. New School At Fairways
The Fairway's present Old School Vs, New School featuring the SHUTDOWNTEAM'S own DJ B and DJ Marc the Don. Spinning the best new and old school, hip hop, RnB, reggae, reggaeton, Top 40 and more. Ladies free before 11pm.
Friday, October 17 | 9pm| Fairways at the A | 303 Crane Ave | 413-442-3585| $5
Saturday: 2014 Berkshire Healthcare Harvest Run At BCC
5K Trail Run and 1 Mile Kids Race on the scenic cross-country trails at BCC to benefit BCC's nursing program. Cash Prizes to the top three male and female overall 5K finishers. Great post-race refreshments and an apple-inspired dish competition among the affiliates of Berkshire Healthcare Systems.
Saturday, October 18| 8:30am | Berkshire Community College | 1350 West Street | 413-236-2122 | $25
Saturday+: Pittsfield Farmers Market
Farmers, food producers and artisans bring locally grown and raised food and products into the heart of the community. Weekly market features fresh, locally grown food, local artisans, food trucks and much more. This week is Customer Appreciation Day.
Saturdays Through October 25 | 9am-1pm | First Street (across from the Common) | firstname.lastname@example.org | NO COVER
Saturday: Bizarre Bazaar At The Gladys Allen Brigham Center
This community craft fair is one of Berkshire County's favorite autumn traditions! Handmade crafts, fine arts, gifts and great food make this our biggest fundraiser. All proceeds support Brigham Center programs and services.
Saturday, October 18 | 9am-4pm | Gladys Allen Brigham Center | 165 East Street | 413-442-5174 | $2/Children FREE
Saturday: Ski Sale at Bousquet
The folks at Bousquet are thinking snow this weeked for the annual Ski Sale. The sale features great deals on new and used equipment! They will also be doing season pass pictures!
Saturday & Sunday, October 18 & 19 | Sat 9am-4pm Sun 10am | Bousquet Ski Area | 101 Dan Fox Drive | 413-442-8316 | NO COVER
Saturday: Fall Into Autumn At Berkshire Athenaeum
Head to the library for a Fall Fun Extravaganza! Come for a reading, craft, a short video and snacks of course! For toddlers and preschoolers; free and no registration required.
Saturday, October 18 | 10:30am-12pm | Berkshire Athenaeum | One Wendell Ave | 413-499-9480 | FREE
Saturday: Learners Lab: All About Fire Cider At Berkshire Museum
Amy Huebner of Fire Cider will explain using Fire Cider or apple cider vinegar in health-boosting recipes. She will make and offer samples of salad dressing and tea, while discussing the benefits of regular apple cider vinegar consumption.
Saturday, October 18 | 11am-12pm | Berkshire Museum | 39 South Street | 413-443-7171 x 10 | FREE with admission
Saturday: Chow Time At Berkshire Museum
Join the staff in the aquarium for an interactive look at what it takes to feed some of Berkshire Museum's most interesting residents. Prepare some heaping salads for some of our largest reptiles as we discuss what the aquarium animals eat here in the museum and what they would find in the wild.
Saturday, October 18 | 12:30pm-1pm |Berkshire Museum | 39 South Street | 413-443-7171 | FREE with Museum admission
Saturday: The Met Live in HD at the Beacon
Met Music Director James Levine conducts a spirited new production of Mozart's masterpiece, Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Richard Eyre, who sets the action of this classic domestic comedy in an 18th-century manor house in Seville during the 1930s. Dashing bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov leads the cast in the title role of the clever servant, opposite Marlis Petersen as his bride, Susanna, Peter Mattei as the philandering Count they work for, Amanda Majeski as the long-suffering Countess, and Isabel Leonard as the libidinous pageboy Cherubino.
Saturday, October 18 | 12:55pm | The Beacon Cinema | 57 North Street | 413-358-4780 | $25
Saturday: Final Repair Café at St. Stephens
Do you have a couch cushion with a broken zipper? Or a bike that needs maintenance? A broken lamp? Take it to the Repair Cafe and get it fixed for free! Anyone with a repairable broken item, such as small appliances, clothing, toys, small furniture items, and so on may bring it to the Repair Cafe, but guests are asked not to bring shoes, watches, or CRT TVs or monitors. Volunteers will fix as many articles as possible. The Repair Cafe is a project of the Pittsfield Resilience Circle.
Saturday, October 18 | 1pm-5pm | St. Stephen's Church Basement | 67 East Street | 413-212-8589 | FREE
Saturday: Caterpillar Chat At Berkshire Museum
Take a close look at the caterpillars in the Butterflies exhibition and learn just how important this stage of life is for each species. False eyes, beautiful camouflage patterns, and mouths specially developed to be eating machines are just a few of their fascinating adaptations!
Saturday, October 18 | 2pm-3pm |Berkshire Museum | 39 South Street | 413-443-7171 | FREE with Museum admission
Saturday: 5th Annual Zombie Pub Crawl
Upstreet Pittsfield will once more swell with the ranks of the decomposing for the Zombie Pub Crawl. As in years past, Zombies may congregate and seek libations in any combination of upstreet venues in any order they chose. Makeup stations will be available at Thistle & Mirth beginning at 6pm. Get ready, this year will be the biggest yet!
Saturday, October 18 | 7pm | Upstreet Pittsfield | 413-358-5782| NO COVER
Saturday: Entre Mundos At Whitney Center For The Arts
An evening of contemporary, classical and South American folk music with the Alturas Duo and flutist Minta White. The program will include the premiere of Arthur Hernandez's "Three Meditations for Flute and Guitar". Seating begins at 6:45 pm. Reservations strongly recommended. To reserve tickets, email: email@example.com or call 413-443-0289. Bistro setting with Tapas, Wine, Champagne & Beer available to order!
Saturday, October 18 | 7:30pm | Whitney Center For The Arts | 42 Wendell Ave| $20
Saturday: Kevin William Cahill At The Elk's
Originally from Boston, Eddie Dillon of Fairhaven, Massachusetts is a well-known entertainer and songwriter who has performed many years in Irish folk clubs and festivals throughout the Northeast. A multi-instrumentalist, Dillon plays the guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass. With over thirty five years of entertaining audiences in every venue—mostly in the Irish music world, Dillon is the only American to have toured with the Clancy Brothers and was a member of the Clancy family reunion performance a the worlds largest Irish festival in Milwaukee, WI.
Saturday, October 18 | 7:30 | Elks Club | 27 Union St | 413-770-7512 | $15
Saturday: Berkshire Drum & Dance Fest At BCC
This year's drum and dance fest theme will be: Carnivale! and will highlight celebratory music from around the world! The fest is a fundraiser for the Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center's "Raise the Roof” fund. Bring your drum!
Saturday, October 18| 7:30pm | Berkshire Community College | 1350 West Street | 413-236-2122 | Suggested donation $10-$20
Saturday: Pittsfield City Jazz Festival: The Empire Jazz Orchestra At The Colonial
The Empire Jazz Orchestra is the reigning big band in the northeast, performing ensemble music from all eras of jazz. This special event, organized for the 10th annual Pittsfield City Jazz Festival, features three female guest saxophonists: Claire Daly (baritone), Ada Rovatti (alto), and Sharel Cassity (tenor). Also appearing: alumni of the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble.
Saturday, October 18 | 8pm | Colonial Theatre | 111 South Street | 413-997-4444 | $20-$35
Saturday: Live Music at Flavours
Dance the night away with WYKYD, a high-energy, female-fronted party band that plays dance hits from all genres. 21+
Saturday, October 18 | 10pm | Flavours | 75 North Street | 413-443-3188 | $5
Saturday: Madison Avenue At Casey's
Come out for some rockin' cover tunes of the 80s, 90s, and today! New songs to perform, and a few birthdays of friends to celebrate! See you all there!
Saturday, October 18 | 10pm-1am | Casey's | 501 Dalton Ave | 413-997-2255 | $5
North Adams' Eclipse Mill Opening Studios For Weekend
The Eclipse Mill's annual open studio weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Eclipse Mill artists will open their doors to the public this weekend.
The Eclipse Mill artist lofts will host their annual open studio weekend where the public can see firsthand how the artists live and create
Resident artist Debi Pendell said there are 40 units in the old mill, and more than 25 artists spanning from potters to painters will have their doors open.
"Although we have work in the hallway we don’t invite the public in to our homes," Pendell said. "Once a year we welcome people into our work space, which actually happen to be for all of us our homes as well."
Pendell said normally the studios are not open to the public and people don’t have the option to actually discuss the art with those who made it.
"I exhibit my work in a gallery, but I am not there all the time," she said. "Here I can hear the response people have to my art, I can answer question and find out what they are thinking, and meet the community. There is definitely a back and forth."
Pendell said the event gives people a chance to expose themselves to art even if they are unfamiliar with it.
I think sometimes people are shy about art and feel like they don’t know enough or they are unfamiliar so they feel a little intimidated,” she said. “I would encourage people to come; we are all very friendly and open and we love to talk and introduce people to art.”
She said people can buy the art, but the open studios are more focused on showing people what the artists do.
"It gives people a chance to meet artists who do tend to be invisible in the world and view a wide variety of art in a no pressure situation,” she said. " It gives people the chance to be curious about art, the artist, and the building."
She said the event has changed every year since its inception in 2006, and this year there is a new interactive map that can be found on the open studios website.
The Eclipse Mill is on 243 Union St. and the galleries are open Saturday, Oct. 18, from 10 to 6 and Sunday, Oct. 19, from 10 to 4.
Smithsonian Leaders Hail Berkshire Museum SparkLab Partnership
The SparkLab space intends to teach concepts of innovation and invention in youth.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Executives of the Smithsonian praised Berkshire Museum's new interactive SparkLab as part of the beginning of a new national initiative it hopes to spread around the country.
The new SparkLab exhibit area, which opened to the public on Saturday, is one of the first three of its kind, emphasizing an interactive environment aimed at instilling concepts of innovation and invention in youth.
“We think that real innovation will happen in this space,” according to Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary of Education & Access at the Smithsonian. “Every SparkLab is different, and this one is architecturally beautiful.”
Berkshire Museum is one of 192 affiliate museums to the Smithsonian, and is among the first four satellite locations worldwide for the SparkLab exhibit program, which is also now in Reno, Kansas City, and India. Two more are currently in development in Alaska and Michigan.
“It is one of those museums that is an exemplar of the museums that we work with,” Brown said of the Berkshire Museum.
Jeffrey Brody, deputy director of the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, said that the original SparkLab at the Lemelson Center served over 600,000 youth within its first three years. Early successes, he said, prompted the museum to open the program up as a national network.
“It is spectacular to have SparkLab at the Berkshire Museum,” Brody said.
SparkLab is a “multi-disciplinary experience” whose mission is to document and interpret invention, cultivate innovation, and promote education about the role of creativity and invention, he said.
“Our collective efforts to bring SparkLab here is a milestone in our common pursuit to share and instill in the next generation of young people, the knowledge and skills and tools that they're going to need to change the society around them."
Maria Mingalone, Berkshire Museum's Director of Interpretation, said that SparkLab is a crucial opportunity for children to have opportunities for unstructured play which cultivate creative learning.
“Play is really a child's work,” according to Mingalone. “It's so important to have a creative laboratory space that is child-directed, and allows visitors to gravitate toward the activities that they have a genuine interest in, and allows for open ended play and exploration."
“It's a reminder to us adults, too, to stay creative,” Mingalone said.
The unique space for the Berkshire Museum's SparkLab was designed by architects Tessa Kelly and Chris Parkinson of CPTK Architects, both Berkshire natives with an interest on educational and cultural projects.
The museum says the new exhibit will remain in action for at least the next two years.
Berkshire Battalion Ready for Opener
The Berkshire Battalion opens the inaugural season Friday night at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Rink.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire Battalion won't play its first game until Friday evening, but head coach Dan Farrell already feels like a winner.
"It's almost like hitting the coaching lottery at this level," Farrell says when asked about how the Battalion roster was compiled for its inaugural season in the Federal Hockey League.
"I didn't know a lot about any of them, really, before they got here. But it's like I said the other day, it's almost like the stars are aligned perfectly."
The North Adams affiliate in the semi-pro hockey league hits the ice for the first time on Friday at 7 p.m. against Southwest Pennsylvania, the first of three home games this month for the Battalion.
Farrell's troops did not arrive at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Rink until late last week, seven days before the season opener. That did not allow much time for players and coach to get to know one another or for Farrell to figure out what kind of hand the hockey gods dealt him.
But on Thursday morning, he was sounding like a guy holding a winning ticket -- maybe not Megabucks big, but a nice little payout nevertheless.
"I'm pretty confident with this group," Farrell said. "If I wasn't, they wouldn't be here. It's a business. It's pro sports."
And it was enough to entice defenseman Jeffrey Sanders out of the German Oberliga, the third-tier league where he was skating Lowen Frankfort.
"I got a message from my friend [forward Matt Hamilton] saying, 'Berkshire's looking for another defenseman, so if you want to come back to the States and play in your home country, that would be great,' "Sanders said before Thursday's morning skate.
For Farrell, it was like making the score on the free ticket you get off that scratch ticket you bought.
"I said, 'Sure, we might be short bodies. Bring him out,' " Farrell said. "And now he's going to be one of our core guys."
Understandably, Farrell is still figuring out exactly what that core is going to look like.
Unlike the established clubs in the FHL, the Battalion has been saddled with a shorter training camp (one week as opposed to two or three) and, of course, no returning players who were familiar with one another.
Farrell probably could have used more time in camp, but he wasn't complaining about the other disadvantage.
"Sometimes it helps," he said. "If everyone is a fresh face, you don't have any animosities or preconceived ideas. Everyone is starting fresh."
Coach Dan Farrell feels good about the team he's assembled.
Sanders said the team is making the most of the little time it has to prepare for Friday.
"It's actually been really good," he said. "We were just saying the other night at a meeting that it feels like like we already put together a pretty strong team bond in just this last week.
"Guys are starting to figure out each others' tendencies on the ice. We're starting to know what each other's voices sound like so when we call for the puck, we'll get it."
Farrell said he knows what kind of style he thinks he can play with the roster he's assembled, but he is not saying.
"I'm not showing my cards right now, but I do know," he said.
One thing local fans can expect to see on Friday night is a familiar face - either on the Battalion's bench or behind it. Peter W. Foote Rink manager Darin Lane is an assistant coach and is listed on the roster as a forward.
Lane said on Friday that he likely will skate some for the team this season but would not say for sure whether he will suit up for the opener.
One of his teammates, Michael Kaselouskas of East Longmeadow, does expect to be in the lineup. Kaselouskas, who said he has a large contingent of family members making the drive up for his pro hockey debut, was one of the first to arrive to the rink on Thursday morning.
"I can't wait for tomorrow night," he said. "I'm psyched."
Events to Raise Funds, Awareness of Kids Place
Above, a homemade sign tells the story of what an important role Berkshire County Kids Place plays in the community. Left, the organization is set in a pretty building in Pittsfield that aims to be warm and welcoming to the children and families who need its services.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On one of Laura Baran's first days working at Berkshire County Kids Place last year, she encountered a little girl carrying a spray bottle filled with glitter.
The girl told her the bottle was a a special spray to "keep the monsters away."
Baran said she went home and cried, second-guessing her decision to leave the American Cancer Society to go to work at Kids Place, a 21-year-old nonprofit that offers free assistance to children subjected to violence as victims or as witnesses and to their non-offending family members.
"It was like, holy moly," Baran said, recalling the feeling of knowing that little girl had been victimized and needed the comfort of "monster spray."
But now, a year into her job as development and special events coordinator for Kids Place, Baran knows her job of helping to plan events and raise money for the organization helps keep it a place where children and families can go to heal.
Two of those events are happening in the next week.
First is a chili cook-off this Friday, Oct. 17, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield. This is an annual event put on by a group of Berkshire County Realtors called "REACT," the Real Estate Agents Charitable Taskforce; they pick a recipient of the funds raised at the event, and this year they chose Kids Place. The event features chili made by more than a dozen local restaurants, and the public gets to decide the winner. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
Then next Friday, Oct. 24, is the organization's annual gala, dubbed "Music and Memories," from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. The event, which aims to be "business casual," features music by Berkshire County native Matt Cusson, dinner, a silent auction, awards and more. Information and tickets to both events are available online.
"We're kind of a gala without the really expensive gala," Baran said. Tickets are $75 each of $525 for a table of eight.
One of the aspects of the gala Baran said she is most excited about is display of quotes from some of the more than 350 children that Kids Place helped in the past year.
"We're really excited to have that for people to view," Baran said. "This will be a way for us to tell our story and touch these people."
And what is the story of Kids Place? Twenty-one years ago, the organization was created in the model of a similar one in Alabama, which had been started by a man who had seen how child victims were constantly "re-traumatized" by having to tell their story to police and lawyers and psychologists, over and over again.
"It was just so difficult," Baran said. "They would finally get the guts to tell somebody, then they would have to go and tell that story over and over."
Under this model, a child is interviewed once by a specially trained investigator.
"Now all the components come to the Kids Place," she said. "It's very comfortable."
They organization has five therapists and works very closely with the Berkshire County District Attorney's office, the Elizabeth Freeman Center and others to determine services to "get right on the path for healing." While intake is done in Pittsfield, therapy is offered in both North Adams and Great Barrington.
"The children and their families have been through enough," she said. "We don't want to make it harder on them."
And all of that costs money for the organization, which gets some state and federal funding as well as grants to continue to offer its services for free but is not an agency of the government. Fully one-third of its budget comes from fundraising and special events, like the two upcoming ones as well as other ones throughout the year, including two golf tournaments in September, a pasta dinner, road race and color fun run in the spring, and the Jimmy Bernardo Motorcycle Run in the July.
But in addition to making money, a main goal with these events is to let the general public know what Kids Place is - and that it's not a day care or children's art center or clothing store.
"Child abuse is a very real problem in Berkshire County," said Baran, who said Berkshire County has the highest reported rate of child abuse in any county in Massachusetts. "A lot of people don't know what the Kids Place is or what we do. We're really working hard to get the word out."
State Health Connector Launching Open Enrollment, New Website
Health Connector Executive Director Jean Yang is confident that this year's enrollment period will be different from last year.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State officials are confident that enrolling residents in health care programs will be a lot smoother this year.
On Nov. 15, the state will again start an open enrollment with a newly built health connector website in hopes to sign some 400,000 residents to health insurance programs.
Last year the website was fraught with errors, leaving many unable to purchase insurance.
On Thursday, Heath Connector Executive Director Jean Yang said she is confident with the state's effort to not only rebuild the website and but also to roll out a successful open enrollment.
"There were just tremendous lessons learned from last year's challenge. There were many areas where we stumbled and we made sure to rectify," Yang said at Berkshire Medical Center's Cancer Center on Thursday.
"The project was very different project in a number of different ways. Last year we had a very ambitious goal of building something from scratch, all custom made. That was, frankly, just too big to pull off by all objective standards. This time we started with an off-the-shelf product. It required some configuration and customization but it is really a project that is much more manageable from a scope perspective."
The state shed the vendor, whom many state officials have placed the bulk of the blame on, and hired a new one. A new governance structure was created to increase accountability and more time for testing was built into the schedule.
"It is not going to be flawless. I don't want to say it is going to be perfect. An IT project of this size and complexity and this timeline is a challenge. We anticipate work will continue after the launch," Yang said.
A total of $254 million of federal and state resources have been put toward improving the information technology and website. Most of the funds came from federal sources.
"We're doing this in a very careful way because last year there were some issues. We were caught off guard because here we are, Massachusetts, the leader in access in health care, and we had a glitch," state State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.
But, Farley-Bouvier too said she is confident with the rollout this year because the state "took it head on. We said, we've got a problem and we need to fix it."
Yang said the organization is continually working on the website to ensure a smooth open enrollment period in November.
"We've seen enough to feel this will be a successful rollout," Yang said.
The state has hired and trained hundreds of customer service representatives. There will be mailings, phone calls and workers knocking on doors of targeted residents.
"There is a lot of complex information that we have to convey. We do that through a number of ways. Individualized mailings are important. We are putting people in waves to make the back office workflow more manageable and spread out the volume. It is really important for people to pay attention to their individualized mailings," Yang said.
Now the organization is gearing up to make the massive push to find residents to sign up for insurance so that some 400,000 residents statewide won't lose their coverage if they don't sign up.
Chip Joffe-Halpern, executive director of Ecu-Health Care, said the challenge will be to find everybody who needs to reapply for coverage.
Massachusetts Health Connector is looking to the local organizations - Ecu-Health Care, Advocacy for Access and Community Health Programs - to help.
"Our challenge now with the upcoming enrollment period is that we need to make sure all of these individuals reapply for coverage. Everyone has to reapply. Nobody wants to see anyone experience any problems with health insurance," said Ecu-Health Care Executive Director Chip Joffe-Halpern.
"I think in Berkshire County we are well-equipped to help resident complete the application process."
The organizations are specifically focused on helping residents who need the state plans fill out the proper forms and have an insurance plan.
"It is really important that people work with people that they trust, that they know," Yang said. "There is a comfort level. It is pretty daunting stuff that we are putting out there."
Ecu-Health Care is primarily North County; Advocacy for Access is primarily in Central County; and Community Health Programs are primarily in South County.
Octavio Hernandez, program coordinator at Community Health Programs, said the local organizations will serve a big roll in the program because they have updated records of the local people who need to enroll. Their organization understands people's needs, he said.
"A lot of professionals are looking to be enrolled. We need to keep an eye on the fact that these are our friends, neighbors, the people who live next door and people who live across town. All people need health insurance," Farley-Bouvier said.
According to Advocacy for Access Director Pat Duma, her organization enrolled more than 10,000 out of the Pittsfield office alone. The organization provide a high level of customer service to make resident feel comfortable with the process, she said.
"There are so many ways for the access to happen. Respect is the key word. This program is only successful because of the respect. It was well known 20 years ago that if you went to any public health agency, you were treated as 'why are you here?' and it was rude and wrong. Ecu-Health Care and ourselves were the original programs where when people came to the door we said, 'Come on in," Duma said.
"That is the key to success."
Pittsfield Council Looks At Civil Service Report
The City Council opted to have their subcommittee review the recommendations proposed by the Civil Service Task Force.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council will further review recommendations that the city replace Civil Service with an alternate system for its police and fire chiefs.
The council voted on Tuesday to have its Committee on Public Health and Safety take up an examination of a series of recommendations put forth this by a task force put together by the mayor.
The task force has been looking at the issues surrounding the role civil service in the appointment of public safety department heads over several months.
"We did a lot of hard work, and we looked at a lot of issues," said Michael McCarthy, who served on the nine member committee.
McCarthy said that the committee had ultimately been somewhat divided on the question of whether to remove the position of these chiefs from the civil service system, but had been unanimous on several key principles about their appointment, an issue which has proved controversial for the city for years.
While the task force voted 6-3 in favor of opting out of civil service, with representatives from the fire and police unions opposed, the committee was unanimous in stating that whatever method is used should be objective, transparent, and based in merit.
"Whether we come out of civil service or not, we want those principles to be included," McCarthy told the council.
Pittsfield Civil Service Task Force Agrees to Disagree
Pittsfield Committee Divided on Chiefs in Civil Service
Pittsfield Committee Concludes Research on Civil Service
Pittsfield Civil Service Task Force Hears From Fire Chief
Pittsfield Task Force Narrows Civil Service Research
The city has been without a duly appointed police or fire chief for a number of years, with the current heads of those departments serving as chiefs in an "acting" capacity, a source of concern for many in local government.
The issue sparked considerable debate among the committee who forged the city's new charter, who ultimately found it too big a question to be settled under their auspices, asking the mayor to assemble a special group to study the problem more thoroughly.
"The civil service system is well-intended, but it's broken," said Councilor Christopher Connell, who thanked the committee for providing some direction on how to proceed.
The council decided it was not yet ready to make a decision on the committee's recommendations, which were generated in May and forwarded to the council by Mayor Bianchi this week.
"The conclusion was that unfortunately civil service is a system that appears to be dying on the vine," said Bianchi, echoing contentions heard by experts throughout the committee's tenure, that the Depression-era bureaucracy was crumbling and in disarray.
Bianchi said the governor and legislature have allowed it to go under funded "because they know there's other options."
In the sole public commentary heard on the issue at Tuesday's council meeting, former School Committee member Terry Kinnas adamantly opposed removing the hiring of chiefs from the longtime evaluation system.
"The further we keep it away from political influence, the better off we are," said Kinnas.
Assistant City Solicitor Darren Lee said the recommended course of action is to hire a consultant to help draft a new ordinance that will set out the terms governing the selection of the heads of these departments.
The council voted unanimously to refer the matter to its Public Health and Safety Committee in order to hear more information and testimony on the proposed changes.
Adams Gallery Putting On Play Based On Local Mill Workers
The gallery in the former Waverly Mill will be putting on the 2004 play based on local history.
ADAMS, Mass. – The 5 Hoosac Street Gallery will feature the play “Maids in the Mills” this weekend.
Author Peter Bergman said the play, originally showed in 2004 in Pittsfield, is based on the history of women immigrants who worked in Pittsfield's woolen mills.
“The stories are all real with people who actually worked in the mills; the names are changed, but the people actually lived,” Bergman said.
The play follows the lives and mistreatment of Polish and Irish immigrant women in the mills and spans from 1870 to 1912. It depicts the oppressive conditions immigrant women faced under mill owners, men, and other women who demanded total obedience.
Bergman said it focuses on both the creation of the Industrial Workers of the World and the unions in Massachusetts in 1912.
He said this production marks the tenth anniversary of the play and the production will feature some of the original actors and actresses.
Bergman said the play has been very well received and is excited to bring it to the 5 Hoosac Street Gallery, which formerly was the Waverly Mill. Currently the gallery is displaying the “Mill Children” exhibit which shows both art and historical photos representing the oppressive conditions children faced in the mills.
“I am excited about having it in Adams,” he said. “The mill is a wonderful the setting and it just resonates.”
Bergman said Adams’s mill stories may differ than the ones in Pittsfield but they are both connected
“Adams had a cotton industry which helped downplay and diminish the wool mills in Southern Berkshire and of course the mistreatment of workers is shared,” he said.
Bergman said the play is ever-changing and new parts will be added to this showing.
Bergman said even though the play takes place over 100 years ago, it still resonates in today.
“When we did the play we still discovered poor treatment of immigrant workers in the mills in Boston,” Bergman said. “Since then we have found similar cases all over, and it is as if even though it is 117 years later the issues the play discloses are still happening. We are looking at history from a new perspective of a world that hasn’t altered much.”
The one act play will show Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18. Both shows start at 7:30 and run one hour and twenty minutes. Tickets are limited to 50 seats. Tickets bought in advance cost $10 and tickets bout the night of the show cost $15.
For more information call the Gallery at 413-776-7487.