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**FALL IS HERE!!! . THE PITTSFIELD HALLOWEEN PARADE FRIDAY OCTOBER 24TH ON TYLER ST PITTSFIELD... SEE YOU THERE!...........******** ************.…………… WHOOPEE FM!*****
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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Oct. 24-30
    Friday: Arts Matter Day! We're celebrating Arts Matter Day at the Office of Cultural Development on Friday and we invite you to join us by sharing why art matters to you and should matter in the upcoming election! Take the Arts Matter pledge and share your Arts Matter story with a photo or video. Whenever you're enjoying some arts and culture, snap a photo, post it to social media and tag it #ArtsMatterDay.  In the next few weeks leading up to the general election on November 4th, the candidates for state office will continue to discuss the strengths and challenges of the Commonwealth and debate how to strengthen the economy, improve our schools, and make our communities healthier and safer. The non-partisan Create the Vote coalition have partnered with 250 organizations across the state to make sure that arts, culture, and creativity are a part of this important discussion.   Friday-Sunday: FINAL WEEKEND For Butterflies at Berkshire Museum This weekend is your last chance to get up close and personal with  the butterflies at the Berkshire Museum! Experience the live Butterfly Pavilion, filled with vibrant native and exotic species of butterflies, discover the fascinating and complex life cycle of butterflies including their remarkable metamorphosis, and learn what we can do to protect their place in the natural environment. The exhibition includes works by contemporary artists, as well as historic and cultural artifacts from around the world. Friday-Sunday, October 24-26 | Fri & Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm | Berkshire Museum | 39 South Street | 413-443-7171 | $13 adult; $6 child (under 18). Museum members & children 3 and under FREE   Friday: Preschool Videos At Berkshire Athenaeum Videos being watched include James Marshall's Cinderella, Giraffes Can't Dance and The Mysterious Tadpole. Video programs are approximately 20 - 30 minutes long. Groups are welcome, no registration required. Friday, October 24 | 10am | Berkshire Athenaeum | One Wendell Ave | 413-499-9480 | FREE   Friday: Benefits For Kids Place At Crowne Plaza This business casual event promises a captivating affair: music, dinner, mixing and mingling plus wine and spirits and a silent auction. All to benefit Berkshire County Kids' Place Advocacy Center. Friday, October 24 | 5pm-9:30pm | Crowne Plaza | 1 West Street | 413-499-2000 | $75   Friday-Thursday: Ghosts & Legends of Upstreet Pittsfield Based on the longtime local folklore project These Mysterious Hills, this colorful downtown walking tour will explore a lesser known, mysterious, and somewhat darker side of Pittsfield's historic and cultural center. Beginning in front of the Pittsfield Common, an early city graveyard, this approximately 1.5 hour walk will delve into ghost stories, legends, lore, and strange-but-true tales attached to many Upstreet locations, including several of the city's premiere cultural venues.  Rain will cancel the tours.  Click here for weather related updates.  Through October 30 | Fri 7pm Sat 1pm & 3:30pm Wed & Thurs 5:30pm | Upstreet Cultural District | 413-499-9348 | $5   Friday: Fright Hike At Arrowhead A night of fright and fun at the historic home of one of America's greatest authors! Join us in the Arrowhead barn for classic horror films and (FREE) candy before braving the haunted trail behind the property. Discover the darker side of this historic Pittsfield resident and help us in bringing back his spirit! But be warned, once the Ouija board comes out, there's no telling what may ensue... Friday, October 24 | 6:30pm-9pm | Arrowhead | 780 Holmes Road | 413-442-1793 | $3   Friday: Halloween Parade on Tyler Street! Bring family and friends to Tyler Street for the 70th annual Pittsfield Halloween Parade. Beginning at the corner of Tyler and Smith Streets and ending at Woodlawn Ave, spooky costumes and fun floats will flood the streets. All roads close at 6:30pm. A costume contest will be held prior to the parade at 6pm. Friday, October 24 | 7pm | Tyler Street | 413-499-9370 |FREE   Friday: Open Mic at Boys & Girls Club! Open Mic following the Halloween Parade to kick off the family film series. All ages are welcome; Elementary, Middle School and High School plus parents and grandparents too. Budding young Poets, Writers, Singers, Dancers, Actors, Comedians, Artists, etc are all invited. Friday, October 24 | 8pm-10pm | Boys and Girls Club | 16 Melville Street | 413-448-8258 | FREE   Friday-Monday: Last Days Of Vietnam At The Little Cinema During the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as South Vietnamese resistance crumbles. The United States has only a skeleton crew of diplomats and military operatives still in the country.  With the clock ticking and the city under fire, a number of heroic Americans take matters into their own hands, engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations in a desperate effort to save as many South Vietnamese lives as possible. Friday-Monday, October 24-27 | Fri-Mon 7pm Mon 3pm | Berkshire Museum | Little Cinema | 39 South Street |413-443-7171 | $5 Museum Members $7.50 Museum Non Members   Friday-Saturday: Romance, Soul & Rock 'N Roll presents: Stage and Screen At The Colonial Romance, Soul & Rock N' Roll is happy to be back at The Colonial Theatre performing in their 13th annual show. This year's show, Stage & Screen is full of familiar songs that audience members will want to sing along with, as well an exciting surprise or two! Director Ted Concepcion, Assistant Director Donna Vidoli and Musical Director David Pickard, along with an amazing cast promise to thoroughly entertain you!!  Friday-Saturday, October 24-25 | 7:30pm | Colonial Theatre | 111 South Street | 413-997-4444 | $20   Friday: Matt Cahill At Rainbow Restaurant Matt Cahill will perform a solo show at Rainbow Restaurant. He will be performing many of your favorite songs plus some original compositions. Friday, October 24 | 8pm-11pm | Rainbow Restaurant | 109 First Street | 413-443-0002 | NO COVER   Friday: Pin-Up And James Dean Birthday Bash At Flavours Celebrate the birthday of Flavours owner Sabrina Tan and friend Zena! Dress as pin-ups and James Dean, 50's style! (feel free, not obligated to.) This is the biggest party of the year at Flavours and is open to the public. Featuring live music from the Summit Hill band. 21+ Friday, October 24 | 9pm | Flavours of Malaysia | 75 North Street | 413-443-3188 | $5   Friday: Halloween Comes Early To The Underground Pub Endocloud Live alongside Louie-Muh-Killa and QeS are back at The Underground again for an early Halloween show. Costumes are definitely encouraged but not required. $5 pitchers all night and women in free before 11! Friday, October 24 | 9pm | The Underground Pub (inside the Crowne Plaza) | One West Street | 413-553-2257 | $5      Saturday: FINAL Pittsfield Farmers Market Of The Season Join the Pittsfield Farmers Market for the last market of the season.  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. Saturday, October 25 | 9am-1pm | First Street (across from the Common) | info@farmersmarketpittsfield.org | NO COVER   Saturday & Sunday: 3rd Annual Berkshire Orchid and Tropical Show At BCC A weekend celebrating orchids, succulents, bromeliads, bonsai and other tropicals! The event will showcase up to 20 unique exhibits and a variety of vendors selling plants, accessories, supplies and artwork. We are also featuring a number of educational talks and workshops on Saturday and Sunday. All to benefit the BCC Foundation's Annual Fund, the Hoffmann Environmental Center and Greenhouse. Saturday & Sunday, October 25 & 26| 10am-4pm | Berkshire Community College |  1350 West Street | 413-236-2188 | $5, kids 12 & under FREE   Saturday: Kitchen Ka-Boom At Berkshire Museum Sign up for Kitchen Ka-Boom and perform thrilling and fun science experiments in the Sabic Innovation Lab! All experiments are kid-safe and can be recreated using items found in almost any kitchen. Each session features a different experiment. Adult must accompany child.  Saturday, October 25 | 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 25 | 12:30pm-1pm |Berkshire Museum | 39 South Street | 413-443-7171 | FREE with Museum admission   Saturday: Shriners Autumn Fanfare Drum and Bugle Corps Show at Boys & Girls Club This event is produced by the Small Drum Corps Association and will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield and the Forth of July Parade Committee in Pittsfield. The show will feature a variety of groups from across New England. Spread the word and bring your family and friends to enjoy some amazing talent while supporting two wonderful organizations! Saturday, October 25 | 1pm-5pm | Boys and Girls Club | 16 Melville Street | 413-448-8258 | $20 advance, $22 door  
Atlas Private Wealth Management Moving to North Adams
Atlas President Gregory R. Britton has a room with a view in what will be his new office in North Adams. The financial management firm is moving its offices from Williamstown to North Adams. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — One of the nation's fastest growing financial firms is shifting its base of operations from Williamstown to North Adams. Atlas Private Wealth Management, formerly Dion Money Management, is moving its 20 employees to the third-floor of the former Wall-Streeter Shoe Co. building on Union Street owned by David Moresi. Atlas is an independent wealth management firm and part of Focus Financial Partners LLC. It offers wealth and investment management, financial planning and some tax services. Financial Advisor magazine ranked it 15th in fastest growing firms. Gregory R. Britton, president and CEO, said recently that the company was intrigued by the city's potential and its central location for employees. Finding the right office space was a big attraction as well. "I think our employees will love it," he said, sitting in the third-floor break room while work continued on the new offices. "We had difficulty finding that space at a reasonable cost in Williamstown." Atlas has operated out of the "Barn" on Route 2 at the Williamstown/North Adams line for some years; the old barn had originally hosted the Country Peddler antique store and then offices for Storey Communications. "It was picturesque Berkshires, but for the type of firm we are now, it just wasn't conducive to I think a proper work environment," Britton said. "Too many floors, too many levels." There was also the difficulty of making the historical building compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The new location is fully compliant, is in close proximity to eateries and shops downtown, and offers room to grow. That space is a necessity, Britton said, for a firm with more than 1,800 clients and managing more than $1 billion in assets. Quick Tips for Financial Security 1) Always pay yourself first Save 10 to 20 percent of every paycheck 2) Hire a professional Investing is easier than ever, but get a second, objective opinion            Advice from Gregory Britton The company changed its name in January with employee input to reflect its more national and international reach. The same day, it acquired Albany (N.Y.) Financial Planners, which managed $400 million. Atlas now employs 30 people, including in Albany, N.Y., Manchester, Vt., and one person in the state of Florida. "After acquiring most companies go through layoffs," Britton said. "We actually haven't laid anyone off and we've hired three people." With the economic climate improving, he sees opportunities for growth for both the firm and its clients. "As we continue to grow we have capital that allows us to merge with other firms," he said. "Right now we have a few nondisclosure agreements signed with a few other firms that we're looking to expand with as well.   "We're in growth mode, it does allow us to have more skills and add more to clients." People are moving away from the brokerage houses, he said, and more toward independent financial planners they know will be on their side.   "We're dealing with the regular people out there that saved correctly using their 401(k)s and 403(b)s and doing what they need to do. We're helping those people." Britton hopes to do more in training up future financial advisers by extending internships through Williams College to Massachachusetts College of Liberal Arts. "We want to be able to recruit and retain younger people ... usually after college they leave," he said. "If we can provide the jobs they'd get in New York City, Boston, San Francisco right here in the Berkshires. David Moresi is planning a new vestibule and parking lot improvements among other work at the Union Street building. "I think people would want to stay here if they can." Moresi said having Atlas relocate here was a boost for the city. "This is a good thing for North Adams," he said. "It's been great working with Greg on this. "Because of the fact we have more tenancy here, we are taking a step further by doing some improvements on the Willow Dell side." Moresi said he plans to fix the parking lot and add new lighting and fencing, and add a vestibule to the building. He's also taking on the demolition of the tiny two-story building at the bottom of the back driveway to the old Drury. The structure is part of the Romeo estate that includes five vacant buildings on Houghton Street. "The building is being gifted to us and we're going to tear it down and make green space," he said. Atlas expects to be into its new offices around mid-November. "The only concern I do have, is if we continue on the growth strategy we have, we'll run out of room," Britton said. "I hope it's a problem we have in a year."
Lanesborough Officials Debate School Spending
The Finance Committee, Selectmen and School Committee hold a joint meeting on Wednesday to discuss funding before the budget process starts. LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — How quickly should Lanesborough Elementary School shrink?   That was the main focus of Wednesday night's meeting between the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee.   The three boards gathered to talk finances prior to the start of the budget process in hopes to reach a common understanding.   Much of the conversation focused on the long-term enrollment numbers.   The Selectmen voiced concern with tuition and school-choice students, fearing that by accepting the additional students it is requiring the town to pay more in staffing than is needed.    "The concept of choice and tuition students. Maybe it would be better to consider the elementary school eliminate it," said Town Administrator Paul Sieloff.   "When you take choice students and tuition students to some degree you don't control what happens down the road."   The second grade this year emphasized the board's concern. There are 28 pupils, three of whom are from other towns. The School Committee earlier this year opted to keep two classes for that grade level instead of one. The Selectmen say the cost of a teacher and benefits could have been saved by going to one class of 25 students.   However, School Committee members say they opted for two classes to keep the number of students smaller in each.   "It is agreed nationally that smaller is better," said School Committee member Robert Barton of the class sizes.   The number of tuition and school choice slots is made by the School Committee each year. The goal of opening up school choice in certain grades is to fill a classroom the School Committee thinks is small. State reimbursements also follows the student.   "We see it as the same revenue stream. To give that up, the revenue stream disappears," said School Committee member Jim Moriarty.   School Committee Chairwoman Regina DiLego said there are 21 school-choice students and eight tuition students. Those account for $100,000 in revenue. If choice and tuition is eliminated, that revenue would be gone while not reducing anything on the spending side.    Selectman Robert Ericson, who sits on the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee, said once a student choices into Lanesborough or Williamstown Elementary, he or she has the right to stay in the district through the high school level. This creates a "bubble," Ericson said, forcing the high school to have extra staff for school-choice students from each elementary school.   "I think we need to look at the overall management of this," he said. "It can often be a two-times-the-size bubble because of what happened at the two elementary schools."   Barton said the population trends show the school shrinking on its own anyway. He said the school will eventually have one class per grade and the School Committee is "managing it down." Barton didn't see the need for a concentrated effort to reduce staffing or payroll to hasten that decline.   "We have excellent teachers and we don't want to lose them," Barton said, adding that there are other ways to reduce spending at the school.   Barton particularly sees savings in a potential changes to the shared administrative agreement with Williamstown. And he emphasized some changes the School Committee did make to lower the budget for this year.   "This year we reduced our transportation budget dramatically," Barton said. "That budget was cut. We now have three regular buses."   The School Committee has already been faced with complaints regarding the reduction of one bus because of the length of time the students are on the longest route. Barton said for short-term savings there could be the reduction of another bus.   School Committee member Jim Moriarty said it is really up to the taxpayers to determine what kind of school they want it to be. But, the reduction of yet another bus would require students living as far away as O'Connells Convenience Plus to have to walk up Summer Street to school. That was a proposal none of the committees wanted to seriously consider because of safety issues.   "If you want something, you have to give something up," Moriarty said.   Shrinking the school more quickly is one option.   But Finance Committee member Ronald Tinkham suggested looking at growing the school. Lanesborough Elementary School was built for some 350 students but is only half full right now.   Tinkham suggested filling the school by bringing the middle school students attending Mount Greylock back to town to become a K-8 school.    That would increase enrollment at both Williamstown and Lanesborough Elementary while reducing the size of the proposed new Mount Greylock Regional — and its cost to the two towns.   "We need to explore ways to fill this building," Tinkham said.   Other school districts have tried to increase tuition and choice students to fill their buildings and capitalize on the revenue stream. So ultimately, Lanesbough needs to decide if it wants to grow or shrink the school.   The Finance Committee did not want to make administrative decisions such as how many buses or how many school-choice students. Rather it had a simple message to convey: The money is running dry.    "You are going to get less money. You have to prepare for that. You have to plan for it," said Finance Committee member Al Terranova. "The town decides where to spend money. I think you are going to see recommendations across the board for less money for the schools."   The School Committee said the budget is tight as it is. Right now there is about $22,000 aside as a "cushion" in the budget in case utility bills come in high, students need extra services or teachers take college courses and up their position on the salary grid.   "The expectation is that we won't drown. But, we're not swimming in excess money," DiLego said.   Spending for schools has grown annually; about 71 percent of the town's budget goes to education. In this last fiscal year, the town had to reduce the number of roads it could pave. And the number of delayed infrastructure projects is growing, Sieloff said.   He added that the town's health insurance cost through Berkshire Health Insurance Group is going to go up significantly over the next few years - eating up more of both the school and town budgets.    "There is no opportunity in the town for overrides," Sieloff said.   With foreseeable increases in the next budget session, Sieloff said he hopes to come to terms with all departments so that they can speak with a unified voice at town meeting. Right before town meeting last year, there was some back and forth between the boards to come up with agreed-upon budgets.   "All we wanted to do is get together with the School and Finance to better understand the budget when it comes in," said Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers, who had the idea of Wednesday's meeting and is hoping to set up a similar one with the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee.    "Last year we got a little blindsided. It wasn't anybody's fault. It just came in late."
Adams Seeks Fix to Visitors Center's Ineffective Geothermal System
The Selectmen are updated on the poor condition of the Visitors Center's geothermal system on Wednesday. ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen is looking at a $22,800 interim solution to fix the Visitors Center’s troublesome geothermal heating and cooling system. The board met with interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan, building Commissioner Don Fitzgerald, Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti, and Mike Trzcinski with Hesnor Engineering during Wednesday night's workshop meeting to discuss possible remedies for the notoriously difficult HVAC system. The 10-year-old center, which also houses the Council on Aging, uses what was supposed to be an energy-efficient system. The building uses water from wells deep below the earth's surface. The water is naturally warm from heat retained within the earth and is pumped up into the structure for heating or cooling, depending on need. Cesan said there has been issues with the system since its installation in 2004. She said sometimes it is so cold, with temperatures below 50, in the winter the building has to shut down. Girgenti said it has been an ongoing problem "Seniors, who already have thinner blood and thinner skin, are having to eat in their jackets," Girgenti said. "We had to going out to purchase space heaters and use even more electricity. Your fingers cramp up because they are so cold and you can't type, and you can see your breath in the building. The other cold days our staff fought it out. They should not have had to, but they did." Because the geothermal system is an open-loop system it brings up sediment from the wells below, Trzcinski said. This sediment gets into the system and both clogs and damages its components. Trzcinski provided three remedies ranging in price and functionality. The preferred method would be to keep the geothermal wells and install a boiler and a heat exchanger to close the loop and keep debris out. The boiler will add heat to the loop, and the wells can still be used for cooling. He said this would cost nearly $60,000. This was the cheapest of the three options with less impact on the system. Fitzgerald suggested an interim solution costing $22,800 that would give the town up to 25 years to find money for the optimal fix. He suggested adding a valve and a filter to close the loop and keep sediment out of the mechanics. He added that there are also four compressors in the 19 zones that are damaged beyond repair. He said these will need to be replaced, and he expects some of the others will need to repair because of overwork. He said the system also needs to be flushed of sediments, but that would be included in the $22,800. "We can fix the problem that you have now, and get the system up and running where it will be workable," he said. "Then you have time to create a budget and a strategy for the long term fix, but this will be a short term fix that is manageable and that will fix two problems you have." Fitzgerald added that since 2013, the town has spent more than $18,000 on the system in maintenance, and he hopes this interim fix will "stop the bleeding." The $22,800 will come from existing funds from the Visitors Center budget. Fitzgerald added the system has a hard time keeping up with Berkshire County winters and a boiler should be installed to supplement the heating anyway. Selectman Joseph Nowak said he was a manager at the building when it first opened and took a great interest in the geothermal system. He said he spoke with the installers and was told the wrong components were installed in the system. He added that he originally suggested putting a filter in the system and to his knowledge it is installed. "There was a big upfront cost to put that thing in, and I'd hate to see all of that money squandered," Nowak said. "My feeling is to get a lot of heads in there and take a look at to see if the things that are in the system are right for the system." Nowak also said he never received any information on the system and was not informed about any past surveys or discussion on it. He said he would like further exploration. Selectman Jeffrey Snoonian told Nowak that they have to be able to trust professional opinions and should act on the suggested direction. "If you don't trust a professional mechanical engineer to go in and do the job he was contracted to do, to put the system temporally back online, then the answer you are looking for isn't out here," Snoonian said. "That means you don't trust anybody we have, and … if you don't trust these three people, who do you want to bring in to do the study?" Nowak responded that for the amount of money they are spending, he would have liked to have seen more information and run the plans by the original installers.   "I would have liked to have seen that study because I know a little bit about it, and I am just hearing 'this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong,' " he said, "... $23,000 on a building that was just opened a while ago is a lot of money to put into something, and … I am looking at possibilities of cheaper things that can be done to solve the same problem.” Although the board didn't vote on the matter, members decided that they would see if a filter was actually installed and run the proposal pass the original installers to Nowak's request. Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said no matter what issues they find, they must make the building usable. "I think we have to come to a consensus about resolving this issue for the time being," he said. "Otherwise our Council on Aging will be frozen in there, and it needs to be fixed, period. We need to make it livable."
Mount Greylock Committee Taking Up Delayed Superintendent Search
The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee will discuss options for recruiting a new superintendent at Thursday's meeting, which begins at 7. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The chairman of the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee said she plans to discuss at Thursday night’s committee meeting whether the district and its partners should hire a recruiter to help with the search for a new superintendent. Now that the Tri-District — a combination of Mount Greylock and Superintendency Union 71 — has decided to reopen its search in the spring, it may be time to bring in outside help to advertise the position to a broader pool of potential candidates, Carolyn Greene said on Thursday morning. "Mostly it would be a matter of getting the word out far and wide," Greene said. "It would be going more nationally. Anything that's posted is a national search, but I guess it would be a matter of being more aggressive." Since a lot of the foundation of the search has been laid by the Search Committee created by Mount Greylock and SU-71, Greene said the Tri-District would need a "limited contract" with a recruiter if it decides to go that way. The Search Committee includes school committee members, parents and faculty from Mount Greylock and the two elementary schools in SU-71, Lanesborough and Williamstown. Search Committee Chairwoman Regina DiLego, who also chairs the Lanesborough committee, said on Wednesday that the current Search Committee would reconvene in the spring to conduct the renewed search. DiLego also said she believes the current political situation in the two towns played a role in the smaller than expected applicant pool for the Tri-District superintendent position. Over the past year, officials in Lanesborough, including members of the three-person School Committee, have suggested that the town explore withdrawal from SU-71 — an eventuality that would change the job and likely the future compensation of any superintendent hired to replace outgoing Superintendent Rose Ellis. "Wouldn't you be scared off?" DiLego wrote in an email responding to questions. "I personally believe that the uncertainty around the Tri-District and the lack of a decision about regionalization greatly impacted our ability to attract candidates. If regionalization K-12 were a voted reality, I believe we would attract a much greater pool of applicants." Williamtown School Committee Chairwoman Valerie Hall agreed that the uncertainty about the future of the Tri-District may have been a factor. "I certainly think the publicity over the last year and the events in the Lanesborough School Committee did not help us," she said. Greene said those events could have been a factor, but there were other reasons. "Folks know about what's going on, and that’s good because no one should apply without their eyes being wide open," Greene said. "In speaking with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the candidate pools have been limited across the state. For some reason people are not applying in the fall. … People are nervous about letting their employers know they are looking elsewhere. It's not just Mount Greylock. It's statewide. "Another factor is the the complex bureaucratic structure [of the Tri-District] — not being streamlined, having all these committees and budgets and contracts to deal with." The complex nature of Ellis' job — serving three separate school districts — also makes it impractical to share superintendency services with another local district, as was suggested at Wednesday's LES Committee meeting, Greene said. "Shared services … makes a lot of sense once we're a [pre-K through 12] region," she said. "If we're talking about sharing services as a region with one budget, one school committee, then it's worth exploring. "But to ask a standing superintendent to take on this complex structure seems unreasonable to me, and I think to most of the [Mount Greylock] committee because it didn’t support that idea in the last meeting. I'm not speaking for the committee, but I think I'm reflecting their sentiment." Hall said she likely will discuss with her committee at some point the possibility of a recruiter to help with the superintendent search. But right now, the focus needs to be on finding an interim replacement for Ellis when she steps down on Jan. 1. The Administrative Review Subcommittee — a four-person panel that draws representation from each of the three districts — will conduct the search for an interim superintendent with input from other stakeholders, Greene said. "There likely will be an interview process done in joint committee," she said. "Everyone needs to feel comfortable with who that superintendent is. Principals need to feel comfortable. The community needs to be comfortable. Confidence is important."
North Adams to Williamstown Bike Path Public Meeting Set
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Plans are moving forward for a new bike path section between North Adams' center and the Williamstown town line. The city of North Adams and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will host a public meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 29, from from 6 to 8 p.m. at Greylock Elementary School to discuss a draft route. There will be a brief presentation at 6:30 p.m. Mohawk Bicycle Pedestrian Trail will be designed by BRPC; a community outreach committee will be established to keep affected property owners and other interested parties informed. The eventual goal is to link the Berkshires from border to border. The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams is being extended north first to Lime Street and then to Hodges Cross Road in North Adams. Further out, the trail is expected to run to Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, connecting it the Mohawk bike trail, and south from Lanesborough into Pittsfield. Farther south, a bike path is being developed to connect Lenox, Lee and Stockbridge. Residents are encouraged to attend to learn more about the project and to provide input. The route will also be presented at the North Adams City Council's Tuesday, Oct. 28 meeting, which is broadcast on local access television. "This is a very exciting time in the city of North Adams as we have many great projects moving forward," said Mayor Richard Alcombright. "We are very close to finalizing plans for a safe and viable biking solution between our downtown and Williamstown and the input of the community, most specifically  those in the West End of the city, is needed and welcomed."
Pittsfield Schools Review Teacher Evaluation Process
Morningside Principal Joseph Curtis explained the development of a teacher evaluation system to the School Committee on Wednesday. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Morningside Community School Principal Joseph Curtis hailed a recently developed system for evaluating performance of educators in the district, in a presentation to the Public School Committee on Wednesday.   Curtis told the committee development of the evaluation process had begun several years ago, as he had worked with former Superintendent Howard Eberwein and teacher's union representative Scott Eldridge to establish a system that was palatable to both teachers and administrators.   The process stresses candid observation, as well as self-assessment and documentation by teachers, with a focus on four core standards: curriculum planning and assessment; teaching to all students; reaching family and community; and professional culture.   A major part of this evaluation consists of an "evidence binder" in which teachers document their progress, and their accomplishment of these four standards.   "It's evaluation package that really brings some self assessment to the process," Curtis told the committee.   Another new precedent is the establishment of unannounced classroom observation periods.   "At any given time, an evaluator can go into a classroom and complete an observation," said Curtis. "The purpose of this is not to be punitive, but to establish a dialogue with the educator."   In addition to these observations, teachers are asked to assess themselves in both professional practice and student academic performance, and to set a measurable personal goal in each category.  Curtis said some teachers are evaluated on a one-year cycle while others are on a two-year cycle.   "This is a massive effort to organize all this information," said Curtis. "It has been very time consuming."   "I know of no other profession that undergoes this level of rigorous evaluation," said School Committee member Cynthia Taylor, who asked how much time teachers have to work together collaboratively on development toward these goals.   Curtis said there is time for this, but they are always looking for more ways to provide such opportunities.   "That has to be time above and beyond the usual preparation time," acknowledged Curtis.   "There is room for each teacher to pursue this as part of a group," agreed Superintendent Jason McCandless.   Principals of each school will be the primary final evaluator of educators, said Curtis, who has assisting in training principals throughout the district.
'North Adams' Added to Harriman-West Airport Name
The Airport Commission decided keep the name Harriman-West but add North Adams to it to indicate the location. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Airport Commission has decided to keep Lottie Harriman and George West's names in the new airport title.   Last month, Commissioner Trevor Gilman advocated changing the name to the North Adams Municipal Airport to better market the airport and make clearer its location. The commission tabled the motion to research the history of the airport's name before making a decision. After talking to the remaining family members of George West and researching the history, commissioners decided not to remove the names. "I tried to relay what the intent was ... however, while both of them said they would not be opposed to the name change, both of them said they would be disappointed if we took the name off the airport," Gilman said. "I respect their opinion, and I would like to back off that change to some point." The commission did decide to change the name to North Adams Harriman-West Airport and clean up confusion of the name in different sources. "It is more important for us to clean up the constantly changing use of the names throughout the different sources from the FAA to our signage to the city ordinances," he said. "They all use different names for the airport." Chairman Jeffrey Naughton agreed that the name change was a good compromise. "I think that is a good compromise," Naughton said. "I had a chance to do some research on Lottie and George, and in my opinion I think it is import they remain part of the name of the airport." The commission also met with a representative from Gale Associates, the airport's engineer, who told them the low bidder for the Phase 1 of the apron project, Tetra Tech, discontinued construction services and withdrew its bid. He said J.H. Maxymillian was the second lowest bidder, but its bid was $334,000 higher than Tetra Tech. Although this is in the 15 percent overage amount the Federal Aviation Administration allows in grant funded projects, the funds were already secured for the lower bid. Gale explained the original Maxymillian bid can not be changed because it is still within 180-day bid period. J.H. Maxymillian has indicated it will honor the original bid and is on board. Naughton said the FAA grant should be awarded this week. "Quite frankly, we are in limbo, and if we get the money within 180-day bid period then we can award it to Maxymillian," he said. "Then we are locked in." Also as part of the bid process, Tetra Tech submitted a bid bond for 5 percent which is $113,000. The commission can receive this amount because the project was not awarded. Commissioner Trevor Gilman said adding a terminal would be a two-year project of planning and construction. The Gale representative said the FAA would like to proceed with the grants with Tetra Tech's bid price and use the bid bond. He said the FAA would like to amend this grant when the project is completed and look for more funds if needed.   The commission could also rebid the project, but there is no guarantee the bids would come in the same. The Gale representative added that the airport is on the 2015 FAA list to receive funding for the construction of a terminal building. Gilman said the funding for this project will be easier to receive than the money for the approach. "Although it's a two-year project, design one year and construction the following year, the funding is all part of one piece," he said. The commissioners will hold a special meeting at which they will brainstorm ideas for the new building. Construction should begin in spring 2016. Gilman said he met with the FAA and the soonest they can get paint on the approach is this summer. "I asked them to think outside of their normal box and the process they follow to come up with way to paint these markings ... and though it was slow at first as the meeting went on, they started to bring out some other ideas." He said the original completion date of the apron was supposed to be in April, but there is no time to paint before winter comes. The commission could pay for the paint now and seek reimbursement after, however they decided to wait for full funding in the summer.
Tri-District Search Committee Advises Interim Superintendent
Regina DiLego updated the other members of the School Committee on the superintendent search process. LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The school districts for Williamstown and Lanesborough won't have a permanent superintendent until at least July.   The superintendent search committee decided last week to recommend the district forgo its search for a replacement by Jan.1 for the retiring Rose Ellis.   The search committee was formed to sort applicants for recommendation after Ellis informed Mount Greylock Regional School District and Superintendency Union 71 she would retire at the end of the year.   "The pool was not as deep as we hoped," Regina DiLego, who serves on the search committee, told the Lanesborough School Committee on Wednesday. "In the interest of having the best possible candidate pool we can get, we are recommending to close it and reopen in the spring. Then look for an interim."   The committee hadn't received the type of applicants they had hoped and the general consensus was that asking for a Jan. 1 start date wasn't conducive to most candidates. Instead, the committee will now find an interim administrator and reopen the application process in hopes for the new superintendent to start on July 1.   "We need to have something in place by Jan. 1," DiLego said.   Superintendency Union 71, made up of the Lanesborough and Williamstown elementary school districts, will ultimately make the decision with how to proceed and DiLego expects a meeting to be called for that purpose soon.    Lanesborough School Committee member Robert Barton said he wants the union to look at contracting a superintendent of another school to handle the administrative duties during the six months.    "I have suggested that I would prefer that we not look for an interim without also talking to nearby school districts about sharing their superintendent," Barton said. "I would like to have this committee vote on our preference with how to move forward."   Jim Moriarty agreed that option should be looked at. However, DiLego said SU71 will likely decide how to proceed before the School Committee meets ago. But, being on SU71 as well, DiLego said she will convey their desires to the committee.   "I think it is worth looking at and seeing where we go with it," Moriarty said. "It may go somewhere. It may not."   In other news, Business Director Lynn Bassett reported that the elementary school's finances are running tight to the budget. The fiscal year has been compromised because two staff positions were approved by town meeting but not funded in the budget.   An unexpected $22,000 grant and efficiencies have accounted for that $80,000 or so deficit. But, the School Committee is now concerned with what the winter will cost in utilities. The school has about a $20,000 "cushion" in case of overruns.   "We're close to the wire," DiLego said.
BMC Awarded $3M for Health Care Center in North Adams
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Medical Center will receive $3 million in state funding to create a "Patient Centered Medical Neighborhood" in North County. That's on top of the $6 million that BMC is planning to invest in upgrades and expanded services announced on Tuesday. The state award will help fund initiatives to align with the findings of the Stroudwater Associates' health needs report for North Berkshire. Dr. Marc Pettus, BMC's director of medical education and population health, told WAMC Northeast Public Radio on Wednesday that the funds would be used to create a multi-care center at the former North Adams Regional Hospital in early part of 2015. BMC was one of 28 community hospitals awarded $60 million in funding Wednesday by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission. The awards were part of Phase 2 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation (CHART) Investment Program designed to address community and behavioral health needs. The Stroudwater report recommends collaborating with social and community services and organizations; expanding primary care; and providing prenatal care and education and access to transportation to BMC's maternity department. It also recommends expanding outpatient and imaging services, disease management and wellness services. On Tuesday, BMC announced that it would invest $6 million in the former North Adams Regional Hospital campus to expand imaging and outpatient services, including some surgical procedures.   The Pittsfield hospital has been operating a satellite emergency facility at what is now the BMC Northern Berkshire Campus. It purchased the bankrupt property in August for $4 million.
Pittsfield Expecting Heavy Usage at Renovated Common
Most of Phase 3 is expected to be completed by November; finish work, such as lighting, and the new basketball court will be done in the spring. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The renovated Pittsfield Common will be substantially completed within the coming month, and city park officials are already anticipating a volume of special event requests for the refurbished site. Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath told the Parks Commission this week that the majority of the multimillion dollar redevelopment of the historic downtown gathering yard will be finished by mid-November, with the exception of a new enlarged basketball court that will need to be laid in the spring. "Every time I go by there, it looks like it's improving each day," said Chairman Dr. John Herman. The new construction includes a recently finished bathroom building, a gazebo, sprinkler spray ground, and a performance pavilion, along with additional lighting and some new trees, the latter also slated for next year. McGrath told the commission the principal reconstruct is on time, and within budget. Next week, a consultant from Minnesota will come to Pittsfield to demonstrate to city grounds staff how to maintain the splash ground area. "It's all coming together nicely," McGrath told the commissioners. Now that it has undergone so much improvement, the city is anticipating a wave of upcoming interest in hosting functions in the Common, which has been under extensive construction the past three Summer season. Even unfinished, the small park has already seen some interest, as the neighboring Zion's Lutheran Church relocated their annual picnic to the yard last month. "I think there's going to be a lot of demand for events there," said McGrath, noting such requests would go through the typical permitting process used for all special events. One of the principal activities that could be slated for the Common is Pittsfield's Shakespeare in the Park, which drew more than 1,500 attendees to its debut production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Springside Park in July. "There has been some talk of Shakespeare in the Park moving to the Common," McGrath said in response to questions from the commissioners, but no formal announcement or event permitting has begun for that at this time. Due to the anticipated demand for usage because of the new amenities like the stage and restroom facilities, the Parks Commission is encouraging those who wish to hold events in the coming year to submit their requests as soon as possible. On a smaller scale, some replacement of playground structures will take place at both Dorothy Amos Park and Raymond Crow Playground next week. These refurbishments are being paid for out of a $200,000 grant from the commonwealth combined with some federal Community Development Block Grant funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Other major park projects, such as revamping of the city's basketball courts and some infrastructure improvements at Springside Park, are on hold for the time being awaiting a future city allocation. Earlier this year, these projects had been included in the city's capital improvement budget, which died on the vine following a disagreement between Mayor Daniel Bianchi and several city councilors about including a new firetruck in the capital plan. It is thought these expenditures will likely be revisited in the fiscal 2016 budget planning.  Earlier this year, these projects had been included in the city's capital improvement budget, which died on the vine following a disagreement between Mayor Bianchi and several city councilors about including a new firetruck in the capital plan. It is thought these expenditures will likely be revisited in the fiscal 2016 budget planning.  
Williamstown Students Celebrate Power of Words
Above, the littlest students at Williamstown Elementary School led the Words are Wonderful costume parade on Wednesday. Even the school's principal, Joelle Brookner, got into the spirit with her costume inspired by Olivia the pig from the series of children's books written and illustrated by Ian Falconer. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Harry Potter and Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" made a surprise appearance at Williamstown Elementary School on Wednesday morning. Actually, multiple Harrys and Dorothys joined countless other characters from beloved books as part of the costume parade as part of the school's annual Words Are Wonderful celebration of the power and magic of words. The celebration kicked off last Friday with a school-wide trip to see Berkshire Theater Company's "Atlantis, Lost and Other Legends from the Strange Waves" at the '62 Center. It continued this week with community readers sharing stories with the students, as well as a special guest appearance by Amherst-based author Burleigh Muten, who wrote "Writing with Miss Emily," on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the costume parade marches along Church Street and through the neighboring Harper Center as a treat for local senior citizens, featuring kids from pre-K through sixth grade showing off their favorite characters from books or their favorite words. Throughout the week, each grade also is exploring words in different ways through field trips and other guest authors. The remainder of the celebration features some events open to the public, including the WES PTO Book Fair, which runs daily through from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday in the school's auditorium. On Thursday night, the book fair will be open until 7:30 p.m. to coincide with a pizza dinner and the annual Scrabble Night tournament in the library; the tournament is also open to the public. And wrapping up the week is an appearance of the Story Pirates on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Mass MoCA. Tickets are free but must be reserved and the public is welcome. Story Pirates is a nationally respected education and media organization founded in 2003 to celebrate the words and ideas of young people. By pairing world-class teachers with first-rate actors and comedians, the group offers a variety of tools to make learning more engaging and effective. The Story Pirates will perform some of their regular stories as well as stories created during workshops with the younger grades at WES on Thursday.   (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by iBerkshires.com.  
Former Senator Bill Bradley Shares Insights at Williams
Bill Bradley, past NBA star and presidential candidate, speaks the state of American politics Monday night at Williams College. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley came to the Village Beautiful on Monday with a message of hope — for everything from the future of American politics to the woeful NBA franchise he once led to a world championship. Bradley on Monday joined Williams College political science professor George Crane on the main stage of the '62 Center for an hourlong discussion that covered a wide range of topics and offered some anecdotes from the former senator and Rhodes Scholar's legendary careers in politics and sports. On the latter, he offered a brief thought on the state of the New York Knicks. Specifically, he thinks his former teammate Phil Jackson has a plan that will bring a contender to Madison Square Garden within three years. Most of the night was spent on much larger issues relevant to the Bradley's second career: as a three-time senator from New Jersey, an unsuccessful candidate for president and a best-selling author. His latest book, "We Can All Do Better," look at how the American political system — though imperfect — and be made better and how government can play a role in building a better future for the nation. "I think the problems of American democracy are structural," Bradley told the crowd on Monday night. "I don't think it's a matter of bad people or even extreme people, even though many people take extreme positions. I think it's structural. And you can can change money, you can change gerrymandering, and you have a major possibility of getting some better laws. "I've always said the problems of democracy are not solved by running away from democracy but by having more democracy and figuring out how to do it." Among the structural problems currently plaguing American democracy in Bradley's view: the unchecked influence of money in state and federal elections, gerrymandering that creates "safe" congressional districts for members of each of the two major parties and a media that feeds on and benefits from the "blue state/red state" and political extremism. Bradley admitted that he had no answer for the third concern. For the others, he offered solutions that are easy to understand, but which would take considerable effort to attain. He recognized that the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission is not likely to be overturned any time soon and therefore advocated for a constitutional amendment that would allow federal, state and local governments to limit the amount of money spent on campaigns. Gerrymandering - the practice of drawing congressional districts to preserve seats for whichever party controls a state legislature - has led to ludicrously shaped districts and, worse, representatives with no reason to consider voters from the other party, Bradley said. "If I'm a Democrat running in a 60/40 district, I'm not even going to listen to Republicans," he said. "But if I'm in a 52/48 district, I may need some of those votes. So I listen to them, and I find out what would appeal to them, and in the process of running, I establish a habit of listening that will serve me well if I'm in Congress and have to deal with Republicans." Bradley said the current system of state legislatures drawing districts should be replaced by one in which bipartisan commissions tackle the task with an eye toward making districts as contiguous and balanced as possible. Bradley shared a story from his days on Capitol Hill to illustrate how cooperation is supposed to work in the nation's capital. "[Wyoming Republican] Alan Simpson was the senator who led the effort for the last immigration bill we had [in 1984], and I remember going into his office a few weeks before the vote, and I had 22 questions on a legal pad," Bradley said. "I agreed with 16 of his answers. I didn't agree with six. At the end of the meeting, I said, 'Look, you have my vote,' and I didn't even know what the Democratic Party's position was. "That's what true legislating is. It's a matter of listening to the other person carefully and figuring out where there can be common ground. That's what we don't have now. We have a partisanship that's fanned by the media, where complex issues are oversimplified and sensationalized. And it's not serving the American people." In addition to his solutions for the the two-party system, Bradley — who ran in the Democratic primaries against Vice President Al Gore in 2000 — had some thoughts on how a legitimate third party could strengthen political dialogue. At the presidential level, he said third-party aspirants are hampered by a FEC rule that limits third-party participation in debates to candidates who are polling at 15 percent or higher. Bradley said that no third-party candidate had met that threshold in all the years we've had presidential debates. "You say, 'Ross Perot was there,' " Bradley said. "That's true, but he only had 6 to 10 percent of the people in 1992. It's not that the people wanted him. It's that [George H.W.] Bush and [Bill] Clinton both wanted him because they thought he would hurt the other guy." Bradley espoused abolishing the 15 percent rule and replacing it with the criteria that third-party candidates be eligible if they are on the ballot in enough states to give them 270 electoral votes, and the eligible third-party candidate with the best polling numbers as of April 30 be invited to the debate. "That would give that person from May 1 to November to get known," he said.
Cheshire Town Cleanup Deemed Success
The Selectmen were updated on the town cleanup and Dollar General's progress. CHESHIRE, Mass. – Volunteers with Saturday's town cleanup reported to the Selectmen that the day was a great success. Barry Emery and Eileen Quinn said Tuesday night that nearly 40 residents helped in the cleanup. "We had enough to cover all the areas we had designated and eventually we were able to pick up enough trash where we pretty much filled a dump truck," Emery said. "I am going to estimate maybe 40 bags." Emery said the project was spearheaded by resident John Tremblay and the group cleaned areas such as Wells Road, Town Hall, Stafford Hill, the Community Center and the elementary school. Quinn said she would like to see the event become a regular occurrence in Cheshire. "It was a really uplifting and positive and we got a lot of trash," Quinn said. "People had a really good time, and I think this is the beginning of something." Selectman Robert Ciskowski also attended the event and said many local business donated to the project and although Cheshire looks clean, there was still a lot of trash to clean up. "A lot of businesses in town came forth and donated things so we had a long list of things donated which was great so it went very well," he said. "Driving through Cheshire you don't see the stuff we picked up; a lot of it we found in the gutters." Emery said people who participated enjoyed lunch after with live music. Emery said state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi made a stop in Cheshire to help with some of the work. "She did a phenomenal job," he said. "In fact a couple of times she had wandered off, and she was still picking down near the reservoir. We had to yell at her it's time to get lunch." Town Administrator Mark Webber said he's been hearing warnings about road salt shortages and suggesting buying as much as possible now. Highway Superintendent Peter LeFebvre said the town has to order salt for the winter roads soon, but at a much higher price. He said salt prices went up 50 percent. "Prices went up quite a bit so if we use as much as last year we will be over budget by about $80,000," LeFebvre said "So we will see what we can do." Town Administrator Mark Webber said salt has to be imported into the country because of a shortage. "I am hearing warnings about shortages again this year ... so buy early and buy often," Webber said. "The suggestion is fill up the shed as soon as you can because it won't last long anyways." The selectmen also expressed confusion over recent dealings with Dollar General. The discount store wants to build at 12 South St. and is in the process of knocking down a 19th-century mansion. Although most townspeople are against the construction, there is little the town can do to halt construction. Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said the Dollar General architects came to all of the town's departments to get the proper permitting before they apply for a building permit. But she said the architects left Town Hall without meeting with the building inspector. "It makes no sense whatsoever," she said. "They didn't apply for a building permit; they got all of their papers signed and went home."
North Adams License Commission OKs Transfer to V&V
V&V was approved locally for an all-alcohol license by the License Commission. Pending approval by the state, it may end discord amongst the city's alcohol purveyors. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The License Commission on Tuesday approved a retail liquor license transfer to V&V, also known as Steeple City Spirits. Pending state approval, the transfer of the all-alcohol license from River Street Package Store brings to a close a contentious chapter in the city's business community. V&V's manager, Louis Matney Jr., and owner Neil Ellis (who also owns the plaza where the beer and wine shop is located) had sought a home-rule petition allowing the city another all-alcohol package store license. Proprietors of the city's existing liquor stores loudly objected to what they perceived as an end run around the law. State law sets the number of licenses to one for every 5,000 in population. With four, North Adams was already over the limit. The Public Safety Committee in August recommended 2-1 the City Council submit a home-petition to the Legislature on V&V's behalf. The council delayed its decision at the request of V&V, though not unanimously. V&V had hoped for time to come to an agreement with River Street Package, owned by Joseph Lora Jr. Lora had moved his business to the former Lopardo's, which held an all-alcohol license, after selling his building on the corner of Houghton Street. In conjunction with that transfer, the board also approved a new beer and wine license for the package store. "Historically, he has had a beer and wine license," attorney Stephen Pagnotta, representing Lora, said. "His skill sets are better suited to beer and wine than selling hard liquor." River Street had sold very little liquor since taking over the Lopardo license, he said. Pagnotta said he hoped the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission would consider the two licenses together. "Both are going in together so they'll be handled by the same investigator," said Commissioner Rosemari Dickinson. "I see it as that." Chairman Jeffrey Polluci joked "you're an optimist." But both said the businesses had their paperwork in order and they saw no difficulties. Polluci noted that River Street Package Store had a good track record. Both stores must continue to operate as they are until the ABCC approves the licenses. In other business, DeFazio's Italian Bistro & Bar at 139 Ashland St. was approved for an all-alcohol restaurant license for the hours of 11 a.m. to midnight Owners Anthony Donovan II and Timothy Lanfair said the license was necessary to the success of their business. "Wine and Italian are sort of a marriage together," Lanfair said. The partners said they had operated TaBella's on Main Street with an option to buy until a falling out with the owner. Polluci asked if they could transfer the license from TaBellas but Lanfair said they were only employees and the license belonged to Fahri Karakaya. "We have our own LLC. We started from the ground up," Lanfair said. "We did try to work things out on Main Street because we liked the location but it just didn't work." Since then, he said they have put $5,000 into the kitchen and done other upgrades at the former Red Sauce Ristorante. The building is owned by Scott Avery. Donovan said he had completed TIPs, or Training for Intervention Procedures, required for alcohol servers and had bartended for seven years at the '6 House Pub in Williamstown. Lanfair said third name on the license would be the manager, who had a decade of experience tending bar at Key West. The license approval will also be submitted to the ABCC for state approval. Commissioners also approved the 10 a.m. openings on Sunday for Ed's Variety and Whitney's Beverages. State law was recently changed to allow early Sunday openings with the approval of the local license commission
Pittsfield Granted $4.5 Million To Finish North Street Reconstruction
North Street is in the tail end of a decadelong reconstruction. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city has the money to finish reconstructing North Street.   Gov. Deval Patrick announced Tuesday that $4.5 million in MassWorks grant funding will be awarded to complete the fourth and final phase of the project.    "We believe we should be able to finish the streetscape project. We are happy about that," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi of Tuesday's announcement.   "We're very pleased. This is going to go a long way in allowing us to fulfill the vision of a revitalized downtown."   That vision began in 2005 with the development of downtown master plan. The streetscape started at Park Square and headed south to Housatonic Street for $1.8 million. Some of that work was done at the same time as the redevelopment of the Colonial Theater.    Park Square was completely renovated — eliminating the rotary — for $3.4 million. More than a mile of South Street from Housatonic Street, heading further south was renovated at $6 million. New traffic signals were installed at the Housatonic Street intersection for $1.5 million.   Phase 2 of the streetscape went from Park Square and headed North to Columbus Avenue. That went in front of the redeveloped Beacon Cinema and was completed in 2012 for $3.8 million.    Phase 3 is currently under construction and is coupled with Berkshire Medical Center. That costs $2 million and is expected to be completed this month, with final touch ups in the spring.   "We should finish up everything except the planting before we shut down for the winter," said Director of Community Development Douglas Clark.    Meanwhile, the two pocket parks — Sottile and Persip — at the intersection of Columbus Avenue are being reconstructed for about $900,000.    The $4.5 million announced Tuesday will connect Madison Avenue, where Phase 3 left off, to Columbus Avenue, where Phase 2 left off. Clark said Phase 3 was designed up to Linden Street so much of the planning is already done. Engineers Fuss & O'Neil have been designing the phases.   "We hope to to get continued public investment that will go hand and hand with private investment," said Clark of the revitalization efforts. "This is not just an infrastructure grant program. They look at economic development."   North Street used to be the hub of activity for the city but over years more and more storefronts have become vacant. The infrastructure work is focused on attracting more activity downtown to reverse the skid. Combined, the city and state have invested more than $22 million to redevelop North Street.   That has leveraged private investment as well. Berkshire Medical Center has grown its campus size, both the Beacon Cinema and Colonial Theatre were renovated and in the area of the last phase is the planned Hotel on North.   "There has been a record of the city investing in streetscape and that's led to private investment," Bianchi said.   City officials, however, were surprised Tuesday by the amount of the grant. Bianchi had previously said the remainder of the project could end up being in two separate phases.    "We applied for it. But in the past we applied for a larger number and received only half of it," Bianchi said.    Next the city hopes to widen the scope. Clark said to couple with the recent parking management plan, which the city had to develop because of a $6.5 million state investment in the McKay Street garage, he would like some of the pedestrian walkways connecting the side roads to North Street to be renovated.    From there, more infrastructure work on the side roads could also be helpful, he said.   Off North Street, the state is renovating the First Street Common, which is expected to be completed in November. The city launched a farmer's market in the First Street parking lot. Developer David Carver renovated the former Notre Dame School into apartments and Allegrone is finishing a complete renovation of the Howard Block at First and Fenn Street.   The former Plunkett School has been torn down, also at the intersection of First and Fenn, to make way for a new Dunkin' Donuts restaurant. However, that is being battled in court right now because the city denied the company a permit for a drive-thru window. A community greenhouse project is also eyed for First Street.   Bianchi said with the completion of North Street, the city can now look at investing in other major thoroughfares such as Elm, Wahconah and Tyler streets.
Clarksburg Awarded $920K MassWorks Grant for Road
Clarksburg students on 'Bike to School Day' last year. The town has received a MassWorks grant to reconstruct West Cross Road and make it safer for walking and biking. CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Clarksburg was awarded a $920,000 MassWorks grant on Tuesday to address long-delayed roadwork along West Cross Road. "I am ecstatic," said Town Administrator Carl McKinney. "My first month, it's what I worked on almost exclusively." McKinney is new to the town administrator post but not to the efforts to obtain the grant. As a member of the Board of the Selectmen in the past, he had advocated for the state help to address the deteriorating road structure. The town's been applying for the funding, then known as the Small Town Road Assistance Program or STRAP, for the past seven or eight years. In 2010, town meeting authorized borrowing in anticipation of the grant, which didn't come through.  Two years later, $10,000 was spent to do preliminary engineering in hopes of advancing the town's application. McKinney said he built on applications made by the former town administrators — Thomas Webb and Michael Canales —and updated the data. He also extensively documented areas of concern, including the 12 failing culverts, four of which are expensive open-bottom styles. Nearly 100 pictures were sent to the state Department of Transportation to illustrate the problems, including one of car trying to get around pedestrians who had no choice but to walk along the edge of the road. One piece of data confirmed what McKinney's said for years: The small town's roads are heavily trafficked. "In one day, we recorded 2,164 cars [on West Cross Road]," he said. "That is almost as much traffic as Route 8." In addition to the state highway [River Road], West Cross and Middle Road in particular are transportation corridors used to reach Southern Vermont. The town's roads took a beating in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene because the major road damage throughout Vermont. "When you look at the numbers of the traffic, it blew my mind," McKinney said. "[Residents] are concerned about the speed and the safety. We can't let our roads get any worse, we have to be on top of this." The Cross Town Corridor Project will include repaving 3,600 linear feet of West Cross Road and replacing all 12 culverts to meet Safe Stream Crossing Standards. The roadway will be stripped, ground and relaid, with a new 1 1/2 coat of pavement on top. Pedestrian and bikeways will be added to the sides along with rumble strips for safety. "This is the core of the town's geographic center," said McKinney. "Now we can build out from the center. It will be safer for the bicyclists and safer for pedestrians." McKinney said the application was significantly helped by letters of support submitted by state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and Amanda Chilson, the local coordinator for the state's Mass in Motion program. Mass in Motion is promoting healthy lifestyles, especially through walking and biking, but the town's roads aren't very safe for those activities. "They all wrote really nice letters in support of this so that obviously that helped," he said. The selectmen and other officials have been apprised of the grant being awarded. McKinney said the next step will design and full engineering. "I'm so excited. I'm just tickled pink," he said. "We needed this badly."
PEDA: Springfield Rail Car Contract Benefits Berkshires
PEDA hoped the company who chose to do the final assembly in Pittsfield would be chosen but they weren't. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — While PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston is disappointed the William Stanley Business Park won't be the manufacturing site for the new Red and Orange Line cars, he says the plan to build them in Springfield will still be a benefit to the Berkshires.   "Obviously I am disappointed the company that was leaning toward Pittsfield didn't get selected," Thurston said on Tuesday, around the same time Gov. Deval Patrick was in Springfield announcing CNR Changchun is being recommended for the contract with the intentions to bring 250 jobs to a former Westinghouse plant.   CNR is proposing to build a brand-new 150,000 square-foot North American headquarters and make Springfield its permanent home. The $550 million contract is to build 152 new Orange Line and 132 new Red Line train cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The MBTA's board of directors is expected to award CNR the contract on Wednesday.   "This is a critical investment in the future of public transportation in Greater Boston and in the economic well-being of Western Massachusetts," said Patrick in a prepared statement on Tuesday. "It will open up opportunities for the residents of the Pioneer Valley by creating quality construction and manufacturing jobs that will propel growth in the region for years to come."   The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and the city of Pittsfield put up $2 million for incentives in hopes to attract one of the six companies bidding on the contract to choose Pittsfield as the location to build the rail cars. One company did list a Pittsfield site but ultimately was not awarded the contract.   Thurston said CNR did tour not just the business park but all over the Berkshires. However, CNR officials were unable to find a Berkshires location that fit their needs.   "We didn't have a site large enough to accommodate the size facility they wanted to build," Thurston said.   In the process, PEDA introduced CNR officials to local companies that produce supplies they will need to complete the contract. And the company is looking to have a presence beyond the length of the contract, which is expected to be complete in 2021.    "This company is looking at it over the long haul and beyond this MBTA contract," Thurston said. "In Springfield, they are close in a lot of regards."   Thurston said beyond trying to win the "big prize" of being the host site for the contract, PEDA had been connecting local suppliers with companies. Thurston said CNR is the "next best" to win the contract besides the one company that listed Pittsfield.    "We are going to get serious with every company in the Berkshire who could help CNR succeed," Thurston said.   Mayor Daniel Bianchi said CNR has already talked with some local suppliers. However, at this point it isn't known if the company will contract with any Berkshire companies.   "There are a lot of companies in the Western Mass area that supply the transportation industry, including the rail industry. So there will be a huge benefit to companies in this area," Bianchi said.   Further, Thurston said the city and PEDA's effort sent a message. Both put up $1 million in incentive funds to attract the companies, which was more than any other municipality did.   "We got in the race and people paid attention to Berkshire County," Thurston said. "This was probably a historic show of support to develop business and it got people's attention."   Thurston said maybe a supplier that works with CNR will now look at PEDA. Or even just looking to move to Massachusetts and needs space.   "It is still a possibility that there are companies that want to be close," he said. "The word is out that we have spots and we have incentives."   The incentives won't be distributed so PEDA can offer their $1 million to someone else. The city's incentive won't be distributed and will remain in the General Electric Economic Development Fund where it came from.   Thurston said ultimately CNR winning the contract is "right choice" for the entire region for the long term. The company that listed Pittsfield would have brought about 100 jobs to do one step of the manufacturing, while CNR is planning 250 jobs to do all of it and is looking to stay into the future.   "It will impact us in a positive way," Thurston said. "I don't see any negatives ... the economic impact on this region will be huge."
Williams Chapin Library Seeking Volunteers
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The newly reopened Chapin Library at Williams College is seeking volunteers to aid staff and visitors.   Chapin Library and Archives & Special Collections volunteers share information about the facilities and assist staff in maintaining a presence in the galleries in the new Sawyer Library, which contains both permanent and changing exhibitions and collections. A monitor's desk is located in the grand Chapin Gallery, with two other galleries nearby and contiguous. Each volunteer will receive training in duties, procedures and other information he or she will need to know. Volunteers are needed Mondays and Fridays from 10 to 1:30 and from 1:30 to 5. A minimum commitment of one calendar year is preferred. Responsibilities: • Share information with visitors about the Chapin Library and Archives & Special Collections and their exhibitions • Report feedback to the librarians and archivists and identify potential areas of improvement • Maintain a physical security presence within the Archives/Chapin galleries • Answer or direct general visitor questions about the Chapin Library and Archives & Special Collections floor plan, exhibitions and collections • Ensure visitor observance of Chapin Library and Archives & Special Collections rules • Assist staff in maintaining the overall condition of the galleries Qualifications: • Enjoys interacting with people, with clear and friendly conversation skills • Able to speak comfortably to groups • Personable and outgoing • Enjoys learning new subjects, reflecting Archives/Chapin collections and exhibitions • Able to learn new material rapidly, willing to spend time and effort to do so • Able to work independently, but also to accept supervision • Reliable and responsible Please submit a statement of interest to Wayne Hammond, assistant chapin librarian, at whammond@williams.edu.
Berkshire Health Systems Investing $6M in North County
BHS is investing $6 million to expand services at BMC North. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems will invest $6 million in Northern Berkshire in the coming months. The significant investment will mean the expansion of outpatient and imaging services, as well as upgrades to the technology at the BMC North campus. The funds were approved in the capital budget by the Berkshire Health Systems Board of Trustees in October and includes infrastructure improvements, building renovations, expanded services and equipment purchases.   "This is the next phase in Berkshire Health Systems' ongoing commitment to provide enhanced health-care services to the Northern Berkshire community," said David Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems, in a statement. "This represents a major commitment in providing expanded and sustainable care, close to home for Northern Berkshire residents." Residents in North County have been closely watching for BHS' plans for the former North Adams Regional Hospital campus. The former Northern Berkshire Healthcare declared bankruptcy in March and abruptly closed the hospital, leaving a health-care vacuum in the region. Berkshire Medical Center, part of BHS, purchased the campus and the Northern Berkshire Family Practice building for $4 million in August. It had already reopened the emergency room and some imaging services in cooperation with the state and U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and took over operations of the visiting nurse association and the family practice. The expanded services will include mammography, for which BMC had been awaiting federal approval to resume. Also to be offered are outpatient endoscopy and outpatient orthopedic surgery, and expansion of outpatient imaging. Berkshire Health Systems will also be upgrading the electronic health record system to match the system used by BMC, while continuing the archiving of patient medical records from the former NARH, which will allow permanent access to records for Northern Berkshire patients and their providers. State officials had requested that BHS retain and maintain those archived patient records. Berkshire Health Systems is in the process of purchasing new technology for endoscopy and mammography services. In addition, technology that had been under lease by NARH, including a large-bore magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and high-speed computed tomography (CT) scanner, will be purchased by BHS in a buy-out of the leases. Infrastructure improvements will include renovations to the cardiology, urology and oncology physician offices and other clinical spaces, and general building repairs and enhancements. The total investment is $6 million, with the service expansions to take place over the next several weeks, while renovations and other improvements will take place over several months. NBH's closure directly affected 500 jobs in the area. Since then, BHS said it has hired 214 former NARH employees in Northern Berkshire and at the main campus of BMC in Pittsfield.
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