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McCann Students Lauded for Leadership & Skill Building
SkillsUSA chapter officers include Samantha Dorwin, front left, Katie Gigliotti, Sophia Oliveri, Jordan Reinhardt, and, from back left, Laura Heritage, Andrew Corsi and Evan Delmolino. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School Committee members applauded students for their participation in the SkillsUSA and Business Professionals of America (BPA) programs during Thursday night's meeting. Students took the stage to outline in PowerPoint presentations the wide variety of activities and leadership opportunities they have taken advantage of since joining the programs. SkillsUSA chapter officer Samantha Dorwin (who also serves as the SkillsUSA Massachusetts state treasurer) said the program has given her opportunities to give back to the community; Laura Heritage, recently chosen as the Massachusetts Region III vice president, said she has been given chances to lead her peers and practice professionalism. School Committee member Gary Rivers, who chaired the meeting, congratulated the students and said he is "impressed with the in-depth participation of students and their community projects" and said "it speaks volumes about the kinds of individuals you are." Committee member James Gazzaniga agreed, noting that even at relatively young ages the students are "participating at this level and solving problems." Mayor Richard Alcombright, a McCann graduate, said the school's commitment to the programs is "a credit to the students and staff." Students regularly participate in district- and state-level competitions in their various areas of study or trade. Last year, McCann students brought home dozens of awards at the district and state levels, and student Ben Boisvert earned a gold medal at the SkillsUSA national competition for his work in sheet metal. "For SkillsUSA, the competitions are very trade-specific," said adviser Pamela Dorwin. "Each shop has students competing in one or more events that are related to their curriculum and each event has its own guidelines. Most involve creating a project of some sort, either individually or as part of a team. The completed projects are assessed against set criteria. "For BPA, competitions are divided into categories: Finance, Business Administration, Management Information Systems, Digital Communication & Design, and Management/Marketing/Communication. Some competitions (such as presentation management team) require students to prepare a project beforehand and present it to a panel of judges. Other competitions (such as Fundamental Word or PC Servicing & Troubleshooting) require students to complete a written test and/or a series of jobs to demonstrate their expertise of the subject." The students are long on praise for the programs as well. "Business Professionals of America has taught me people skills and helped me develop my own strengths," said Tessa Christman, a BPA chapter officer at McCann. Fellow chapter member Emma Andrews said students have gained "lots of opportunities" through the organization, and Amelia Renaud added that her experience has allowed her to meet new people and learn new things. In addition to competitions, students take on leadership roles at higher levels as well. Information technology student Liz Culpepper was elected as the Massachusetts BPA secretary at the state leadership conference in September. Andrea Leal (business technology) was elected national secretary of the BPA at the national leadership conference in Indianapolis. BPA is a career/technical student organization with 43,000 national members. They are students pursuing careers in business management, office administration, information technology and related career fields. BPA students Amelia Renaud, Emma Andrews and Tessa Christman presented their program to the School Committee. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA is a national organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health occupations and for further education. SkillsUSA chapter officers include Liz Culpepper (president), Andrew Corsi (vice president), Sophia Oliveri (secretary), and Jordan Reinhardt (treasurer). BPA chapter officers are Kevin Dowling, Tessa Christman, Lukas Yelle, and Olivia Zaleski. "We could talk for hours about how these programs help," McCann Principal Justin Kratz said. "They give students the opportunity to assume leadership roles in school, plan and complete community service projects, and they have great opportunities to network with other vocational school students across the state and even the country." Kratz added that students are better prepared to conduct themselves in a professional way when they enter the work force. "When our school competes with other schools at state and national levels, the positive environment is refreshing to see in teenagers. They have a mature sense of healthy competition." The programs, including travel to conferences, are funded through the school district, which Kratz says has made a strong commitment to both. All 505 McCann students are members of SkillsUSA and there are 11 chapter officers. Twenty students participate in BPA.
BU Looking For More Use of Tanglewood Campus
The campus on West Street is only used eight weeks each year. LENOX, Mass. — Boston University is working with local cultural institutions to find way to use its Tanglewood campus year round.   The Boston University Tanglewood Institute, a historic West Street estate bordering Tanglewood's campus, is used by the university throughout the summer but sits vacant during the other three seasons.   "Hilary Respass was appointed by Boston University to see if there is anything we can do to enhance the use of the property that they only have for eight weeks in the summer," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, on Friday.   Pignatelli has already brought together cultural and business leaders to start the brainstorming work.   On Friday, a site visit was held with an array of cultural officials ranging from The Mount to the Berkshire Film and Media Commission to Berkshire Community College's humanities department.   The university has been weighing the future of the nearly 50 year old institute. Some 350 teens and young adults attend the summer program each year and share performance space at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood campus next door. This past spring, the program was given a three-year reprieve based on the recommendations of a study done in fall 2013.   However, BU Today reported at the time that if the institute can't be put "on sound fiscal footing," it is likely to be closed.   Respass took over as executive director in August and finding ways to do more with the estate's 64 acres came out of conversations with Pignatelli.    "I just put together a welcome wagon with CEOs and business leaders to brainstorm and we all agreed we needed a site visit," Pignatelli said.   He characterized Friday's tour of the property as a "meet and greet" with business, town and cultural leaders. BU will continue to use the property during the summer but Friday's get-together started the process of exploring other options.    "This could be years from now," Pignatelli said, adding that the town needs to preserve the historic estate.   The public, however, was not welcomed on Friday. A "miscommunication" led to the tour being posted as a Planning Board site visit. But when the media, neighbors and even a member of the town's Community Preservation Committee arrived, they were told to leave by Respass.   "Today's tour is a private tour for people we've been talking with," Respass told iBerkshires and the other members of the public who were in attendance but directed to leave.    Pignatelli called Friday's situation "an unfortunate miscommunication." The tour did not include a quorum of Planning Board members and town Planner Gwen Miller said the posting was "retracted" Friday morning.   Nonetheless, getting more use out of the property is currently considered by town officials as an opportunity for economic growth. Last week, the Board of Selectmen praised the idea of year-round use of it.   "It is in the town's interest if we can get that campus working 12 months a year," board Chairman Channing Gibson said during last week's meeting. Gibson was also in attendance for Friday's tour.    Pignatelli suggested that the Community Preservation Act funds could be an avenue for any restoration work that could be needed.
Groundbreaking Ceremony Held at New Williamstown Senior Housing
Officials pose at the site of the Highland Woods senior housing project. From left are: Selectwoman Jane Patton, Higher Ground President David Mangun, MountainOne Vice President Tracy McConnell, Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein, Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. Executive Director Roger Herzog, Williams College President Adam Falk and Berkshire Housing Development Corp. President and CEO Elton Ogden. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — They did not break any ground at Friday's groundbreaking for the Highland Woods senior housing project. It was too cold, they decided, to have officials trying to plant gold shovels into frozen ground. But maybe they should have given it a try. The development has been all about accomplishing feats previously thought impossible. Officials from Williamstown, Pittsfield and Boston gathered on the site of the project on Friday morning to celebrate the start of the foundation that in a little over a year will support 40 units of low and moderate income housing for residents 55 and over. As often happens when the talk turns to Highland Woods, the focus was on the speed with which the project has come together. "It was only three years, three months ago that [Tropical Storm Irene happened]," recalled David Mangun, the president of Williamstown non-profit Higher Ground, which sprang up after Irene to serve the residents of the flooded Spruces Mobile Home Park. "Two years ago in December, the folks at Higher Ground and other people were looking at what we could do in a permanent way. "Two years ago in December, there was a vision, and the [Williams College] was asked to provide land. Just one year ago in 2013, the vision had been changed into a concept, an idea, a plan, that, with the work of Dietz Architect and the Women's Institute … and Berkshire Housing. That was just a year ago, so it is remarkable." Berkshire Housing CEO Elton Ogden, who served as master of ceremonies on Friday, said the real clock began when the college donated the land off Southworth Street behind the existing Proprietors Field senior housing development. "Just 18 months ago, this process started," Ogden said. "And there is building going on. Frankly, that is half the usual time." It seemingly takes more time for Ogden to rattle off the list of stakeholders who helped move the project so swiftly. Among them: Town Manager Peter Fohlin, who conceived the FEMA grant that funded most of the town's contribution (now at $2.85 million); Catherine Yamamoto, the passionate advocate for housing who tirelessly helped the town's Affordable Housing Committee and is an active member of Higher Ground; Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein; the Boston-based Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development, BHCD's partner on the development; Mountain One Bank, which Ogden said was an early and supportive partner in financing the project; and the various town boards and committees that helped approve the project. State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, used the occasion to do a little light-hearted bragging. "This is the way government and private partnerships should be," Cariddi said. "As I often say when I'm in Boston: The Berkshires do it better. We know how to work together and how to get it done." Ogden singled out local attorney Donald Dubendorf for developing a permit application that allowed Highland Woods to clear the Zoning Board of Appeals in one meeting. "For those of you who don't know, getting your 40B permit in one meeting is unheard of," Ogden said. Also unheard of is the speed with which Highland Woods received crucial state administered tax credits. In July, Gornstein announced that the project was fast-tracked for approval because of the pressing need to build replacement housing in time for the planned closure of the Spruces under terms of the FEMA grant. Gornstein was back in Williamstown on Friday. "In my two and a half years at DHCD, I've probably been to more than a hundred groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings … all around the commonwealth, and I would have to say there's nothing more special and there's no place I'd rather be for my last groundbreaking than right here in Williamstown at this particular development," Gornstein said. "You did it so quickly. I believe the application came in to DHCD in the spring of 2014. And to think that we're already in construction before the end of the year is probably a record for state government and for the commonwealth." Williams College President Adam Falk was on hand Friday to celebrate the important town-gown endeavor to respond to the crisis of Irene in August 2011. "I've been here for five years, and it's clear to me that the health of the college and the health of the community are one in the same," Falk said. "My sense that I lived in an extraordinary community was crystallized when so many people stepped forward [after Irene]. "Even though our part [the land] is small, we can be part of something so much larger. … And we benefit more than anyone because we're going to have 40 great new neighbors." There is good chance at least some of those neighbors will be former residents of the Spruces. Even though the state funding attached to the project does not allow for housing to be created for a specific group of people, current and former Spruces residents will receive "extra points" in a weighted lottery that will determine the first 40 residents of Highland Woods, Ogden said on Friday. Ogden said there already are about 30 people signed up for the lottery, and about half that number are former or current Spruces residents. He said he expects the lottery to take place about three months prior to occupancy, which is hoped to be January 2016, in time for the mobile home park's closure.   (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.  
Shakespeare In the Park Will Resume At Pittsfield Common
The new pavilion will be ready for outdoor performances this summer. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The popular Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park program will launch a second, expanded season in July, this time setting up shop around the new performance pavilion in the recently renovated Common.   This year's production will increased by one third in its number of performances, according to founder Enrico Spada, with three four-day weekends from July 16 to Aug. 2.   Logistical concerns surrounding the theater company's monthlong use of the newly completed downtown park were of keen interest, since Spada's proposal marks the first major event application to come before the city's Parks Commission for approval, but Commissioner Anthony DiMartino said he anticipates this will be the "first of many" elaborate functions which will have to be worked out.   "This is exactly the kind of event we envisioned for that park," said DiMartino at a meeting of the commission on Tuesday.   While the pavilion, specifically designed to accommodate a variety of performance types, offers ample power for the company's purposes, staff said safety and security of their ample equipment and staging construction will be more paramount in the new location than in the less trafficked section of Springside Park, where the troupe took up residence last year for a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."   "Most of your events will be one-day events. This is just a little bit different in the request of having it for a monthlong period," said Director of Building Maintenance Peter Sondrini. "The only issue I see is, you won't be able to attach your set to that building structure, so you'll have to make it secure."   "These are more accessible areas, and there's a lot more frequency of people than at Springside Park," Sondrini added.   The only other minor caveat presented was the possible conflict of park usage on Shakespeare's final performance date of Aug. 2, on which Downtown Inc has also expressed informal interest in the Common as a possible new site for its annual Ethnic Fair.     "I guess the only question would be how to transition between the two," said DiMartino, though Spada assured the commissioners that in the event of the Ethnic Fair plan coming to fruition it would be possible to coordinate so that the two uses did not interfere with one another.   "To my mind, this is a perfect event to have at the Common," said Commissioner Simon Muil.    Spada told iBerkshires that they have not yet made a final decision on which of the Bard's works will be performed this summer, but that elements such as its popular youth educational program will again be a part of the production.   The Common saw a ribbon cutting ceremony held earlier this week to officially celebrate the $4.6 million dollar overhaul of the small park over the past several summers, and is now "98% completed" according to Parks & Open Spaces Manager James McGrath.   In addition to Shakespeare and the possible Ethnic Fair festivities, the Common will also serve as the headquarters of the annual Pittsfield Garden Tour this summer, and the prominent Carol Gold sculpture donated by the PGT club will be receiving some additional landscaping.    "It's a great way to introduce the new park to the gardeners," said Ann Pasko, who unveiled the club's plans for plantings to further beautify the area where the statue resides.    "It's really a very well thought-out design," said Pasko of the proposed landscaping, which the commission approved unanimously.   "We certainly appreciate all the time and money that you have put into it," said Chairman John Herman. 
Park Street Reconstruction Will Be Completed In Spring
Project engineer David Loring of Tighe & Bond provided an update on the Park Street reconstruction project. Final elements of the plan will be completed in the spring. ADAMS, Mass. — The Park Street Improvement Project is largely complete and will be completely finished in the spring. The town of Adams held its third and final public meeting Thursday night with representatives from contractor J.H. Maxymillian, and project engineer David Loring of Tighe & Bond. But in contrast to previous meetings, there was barely an audience. Loring said there is still some "clean up" work such as adding in another bench, new signage, new parking meters, and some line work. "It's been an interesting project. It has been a long path to get here, and the project is substantially complete," Loring said. "We are looking to wrap up final construction in the spring." Loring said much of this work could not be finished because of delays in the project, such as the many shifting roles and unforeseen issues in the underground infrastructure. "We did some sewer work, some public water work, as well as drainage work and in the course of making those improvements there were a lot of surprises under the street as well things we couldn't see prior to construction," he said. Loring said some of the project's goals were to better parking, make the street safer for pedestrians, and cut down on speeding. He said much of this was achieved by narrowing the street and adding a bike lane. He said the sidewalks and road were also rehabilitated and landscape improvements to help appearances. "With the lights and the Christmas decorations it really does look beautiful," he said. "It's nice to be able to walk down the sidewalk and see the lines nice and clean so I am pleased with what I have seen." Resident Peter Coussoule said he liked the project, but wished more could be done about the loss of 12 parking spaces. Coussoule said he specifically did not like the bump outs. "I think we lost too much parking and I think we should have went with at least diagonal parking in front of city hall," Coussoule said. "I think if people realized how much they were going to lose they would have made a different decision because with what little business we have on the street it's not good to lose parking." The project included safety bumpouts, new lighting, benches and pavers. Loring said many of the parking spots had to be removed because of regulations and safety improvements. "A lot of those were the result of safety improvements to proper offsets to hydrants, to intersection, to driveways," Loring said. "As it was originally marked out on the street it did not conform to any published or traditional standard." Loring said the design of the street allows for diagonal parking and it is always an option if the town decides to switch. Selectmen Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said he would like to see diagonal parking in the future and is pleased with how the street looks. "I am very pleased as a citizen with how quickly it was done and what a great job was done," Harrington said. "I am sure once the temporary lines become permanent in the spring and everything is all finished, I think people will really appreciate it."
Hotel on North Construction Third Complete
A tour of the under construction hotel included a stop in lounge area that will include a two-story skylight. See more photos here. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Construction on Hotel on North is a third complete and on pace for a May opening.   Owners of the North Street building, David and Laurie Tierney, led a tour Thursday afternoon of the site that will soon become a boutique hotel.    "There is some major work to come ...  But the major surprises are out of the way," said David Tierney III after showing the site to elected and business leaders.   Most of the work is being done with local contractors, Tierney said, as they try to support the community. As many as 80 workers have been on site at a time working from the fourth floor down.    "We really try to make this a lot about community," Laurie Tierney said.    Not only are contractors being sought locally, David Tierney said materials are being sourced from local companies as well. He also pointed out that the Tierneys are also local — the company was founded in Pittsfield by his father in 1959. The hotel is a bit of a family affair since Karen Tierney Hunt, his sister, is the architect. Daughter Meghan also joined her parents on the tour.   The first floor will feature a restaurant — the Tierneys declined to say more about it — that is expected to open first. The space where Spice Dragon once operated will stay a restaurant and bar space. The other side, where Mad Jack's used to be, will feature the entrance and lobby area featuring a revolving door and the works of local artists.   "Obviously, we had to close these restaurants because it is a mess," Laurie Tierney said, adding that the noise, dust and construction dangers posed hazards to the two restaurants. "It really was for the best."   The new restaurant is eyed to open in March to work out the kinks before the hotel guests arrive.    The upper floors will feature guest rooms around the interior perimeter of the buildings and the central areas will be "social spaces." The owners say they want every room to have windows with a view.   "We've got square buildings so there is a whole lot of space in the middle ... we decided to makes them into social spaces," David Tierney said. A centerpiece will be a massive skylight in over one of the social areas.   The ballroom on the second floor will remain, a decision that reduced the number of rooms from the original 50 to 45. The ballroom will be used for events such as weddings and parties.   The second floor will have 14 rooms; the third will have 20 and the fourth floor will have 11. Three of the rooms will be "extended stay" rooms with kitchenettes for those staying a week or longer.   "They are all good sized and they are all going to be unique," Tierney said.    Overall, Laurie Tierney characterizes the plans as "old meets new." ​"All the imperfections in the building, we're embracing," she said.   In the end, the hotel expects to employ 50 to 70 people depending on the season and even more will be hired for the restaurant and bar.    The hotel will be operated by Main Street Hospitality, the management group of the Red Lion Inn and Porches.
Adams Police Foresees Full Staffing, Adds North Adams Officer
Police Chief Richard Tarsa informed the board that the police force should be fully staffed by next month. ADAMS, Mass. – The Police Department may have a full staff by next month. Police Chief Richard Tarsa asked the Selectmen on Wednesday night to allow the transfer of North Adams Police Officer Gregory Onorato. Tarsa said Onorato has been a full-time officer in North Adams for almost five years and took interest in an open position left by a resignation because he has moved to Adams with his wife. Tarsa said Onorato is known for his involvement in the North Adams community and will be a good addition to the Adams Police Department. "Officer Onorato is very community orientated, and he does a lot of activities with youth organizations currently in North Adams," Tarsa said. Onorato was honored at a City Council meeting last year for his courage and poise in dealing with a fight outside a local bar and the mob that gathered. Tarsa added he will also save the town nearly $20,000 since he has already gone through the academy. In the past year, many officers had to work overtime to fill in the void left by a partially staffed department, he said. "For the past year the department has been down, at one point or the other, four officers," Tarsa said. "Just the resignation alone created such a void that I had to shuffle manpower around to other shifts in order to accommodate part of it." Tarsa said with the resignation, two officers are still in the academy and three were injured in the line of duty this year. After picking up Onorato and the two officers who will graduate from the academy, the department will be at full staff by next month. Tarsa said much of this staffing problem comes from Civil Service requirements from the state such as residency. "It is very frustrating to have your hands tied by an organization that operates at the other end of the state that does not know what our needs are or abilities are far as staffing goes," he said. Tarsa said he had to turn down 11 potential officers this year because of Civil Service and residency requirements. The board ratified Onorato pending a physical and clearing all Civil Service requirements. He is scheduled to start Jan. 12. In other business, the board also approved no-parking signs on the north and south side of Thompson Street. Tarsa said there used to be signs there and asked that the town write it into the traffic regulations. "It's a small little hill. It's not very big at all," Tarsa said. "It is at the right angle where cars coming in opposite directions have to come into the opposite lane and if you can't see what is coming over the crest of the hill you, are going to have ahead on." Tarsa said the idea was brought to the Traffic Commission with a petition with signatures form 98 percent of the area's residents. Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington also responded to the Adams Free Library's revoking of its service/animal policy because of public outcry. He said town counsel is now working on a policy for all town-owned properties that is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. "We are on top of it now," Harrington said. "We did not know anything about that policy that was put in over there until it was in the news."
Clarksburg Selectmen OK Tree Removal, Sign Gates Ave Deed
Selectmen approved the tree warden removing the large tree that fell on town property for firewood. CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The giant tree that fell down next to Town Hall will be turned into firewood. The Selectmen on Wednesday agreed to a plan that would have the tree warden remove the tree and keep the wood. On Wednesday night, Town Administrator Carl McKinney said the decision will save the town about $500. However, the town's attorney has advised that officials also file proper forms with the Ethics Commission, he said, because Tree Warden Ernest Dix is considered a town employee. "Then we can get rid of it and not cost the town anything," McKinney said. The tree came down on the north side of Town Hall, falling along the edge of the driveway, sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend.  "We didn't even have that much rain or wind or ice and I drove by the next day and it was toppled over," McKinney said. Repairs will have to be done to the sidewalk and the granite catch basin in the roadway that broke in half. McKinney believes the roots ran under the basin and broke it when the tree fell. In other business, the board also signed the deed taking possession of the 35 foot by 522 foot easement next to the Gates Avenue bridge, he said. A special town meeting on Dec. 10 approved the purchase of the property from Ron and Mary Krutiak for $1. McKinney said the purchase will be recorded with the Registry of Deeds on Thursday and the engineering proposal sent to the state Department of Transportation for approval. Once that's done, the project can go out to bid. The town has been discussing how to replace the bridge for at least six years. The town's engineers with Foresight Land Services are estimating a cost of $260,000 to $280,000 to install a new open bottom culvert, as required by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The town had been looking a total bill of more than $600,000 because it would have to install a temporary bridge while the original was reconstructed. Instead, a new culvert will be placed on the easement and the old culvert — an old boiler — removed. McKinney said the town had $270,000 in its Chapter 90 funds. There is also the anticipation that Gov.-elect Charlie Baker will go through with his promise to release $100 million in Chapter 90 funds held back by the Patrick administration over funding issues. "We will get Gates Avenue done this year," he said. McKinney said the board also accepted Michael Milazzo's request to withdraw without prejudice his application for a permit to operate a gravel bank. Milazzo had hoped to install a rock crusher but the validity of his gravel permit had come into question. The Selectmen are not expected to meet again until after the New Year.
Boston Transit Campaign Touts North Adams Getaways
Using the tagline 'Uncover the unexpected,' the transit campaign focuses on the city's arts scene, history, culture and natural resources. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Riders on the T are getting an eyeful of North Adams. The Berkshire Visitors Bureau is running the transit campaign through the end of February to induce Bostonians to consider the Steeple City as a weekend getaway. The campaign is being funded by a $41,000 grant from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, provided from its stabilization fund for distressed communities. The BVB applied for the grant citing the impact of the North Adams Regional Hospital closure and the loss of jobs. Another $5,000 grant will be used for direct email marketing through Boston Traveler. Joshua Field, who designed the oversize graphic posters adorning stations throughout the Hub, explained the campaign to the North Adams Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday night at the Freight Yard Pub. "The notion was to try to focus on a younger, Boston-based demographic," he said. "To try to reach people who would not necessarily be coming here during the winter — we all know that winter is a tough time for us economically — so to try to drive traffic here that wouldn't come here otherwise." Input from Mayor Richard Alcombright, the city's Office of Tourism, the chamber and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art led to an advertising scheme describing a duality of experiences: Art & Adventure, Culture & Nature, Creativity & History. The idea, said Field, was to get away from being known as just "a city with a big museum." Not that the big museum isn't featured prominently in the ad campaign — but as a complementary feature to the city's other aspects, such as this winter's major snocross racing. The target audience is young, possibly families with children, professional, affluent and able to get away for an overnight trip a few hours away. They're fashion conscious, attracted to brands and looking for an alternative to skiing, said Field. "It was funny, I was at Mass MoCA recently and I saw these people," he said. "We're trying to reach these folks who are affluent." The campaign will include graphics that local businesses can use on their websites and Facebook pages, to promote branding, and a website that will link with local calendars and sites to engage people. "It's really wonderful," said Alcombright. "We've been involved in this from the beginning." The mayor said there was a tendency in Berkshire County to think north and south, but the focus should shift east and west. You're not going to be able avoid seeing these.                   — Joshua Field "We need start focusing on the Boston market, the Albany market to try to bring people here." He pointed to the recent $145 million renovation of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and the upcoming $60 million investment in Mass MoCA. "We are way more than that little city to visit to drive through to get somewhere else ... we are clearly a destination now." It's also critical to get those people arriving at the destination to stay overnight, which cultural leaders says magnifies their spending more. To help in that regard, the chamber is holding a weekend getaway drawing. Chamber coordinator Ricco Fruscio said the winning couple will get two nights at the Porches, dinner at Freight Yard Pub and Desperados, and a weekend pass at MoCA. "Local businesses are really stepping up," he said, soliciting proprietors at the presentation to consider coupons or other inducements for a gift basket. "Something that might get them to walk around town a little bit more." Field said the Boston campaign should leave a lasting impression. "You're not going to be able avoid seeing these," he said of the wall-size posters. "When somebody sees that image repeatedly ... they're going to start to formulate an idea about North Adams so even if we don't get them over the course of the winter when summer rolls around... they're going to remember that North Adams has all these interesting aspects."
Santa Claus Calls Pittsfield Children
Christina Barrett and Michael Wynn gave up a few hours of their Wednesday night to help Santa Claus get in touch with local children. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Jolly old Saint Nick made phone calls to 80 local children Wednesday night in preparation for his overnight journey next week.   Santa and Mrs. Claus will make more than 156 phone calls this year — enlisting volunteers from the city to help out. Eleven volunteers joined him Wednesday night and another 10 from the Knights of Columbus will join him on Thursday.   "It is city worker volunteers and community volunteers," said Becky Manship, recreation activities coordinator. "It is one of the fun programs."   Wednesday's group of volunteers were a mix of people who've participated before along with some new elves.   The city has recruited the Wednesday night group for the last four years after the Elks Club had to stop the program. The Elks still helped out on Wednesday nights and the Knights of Columbus will be there on Thursday night.   Each year, parents have an opportunity to sign their kids up to receive the call and share some information about the child's wants or ask Santa to give them a message. Last year, 184 children were called.   "We send it home through Pittsfield Public Schools. And the forms are available online or in the clerk's office," Manship said.
Itís Time for This Family Discussion
If the prospect of asking your aging parents about the way they handle their household finances — or how they would feel about moving to a nursing home — fills you with apprehension, you are not alone. However, it’s the kind of conversation you can’t afford to delay indefinitely. As your parents get older, it’s critical to sit down with them and talk about their health and financial well-being — before urgent decisions are forced on you. “The consequence of not having these discussions is that you aren’t prepared to make sound medical and financial choices when Mom or Dad has an emergency,” says Deborah Eickhoff, Vice President of Wells Fargo Advisors’ high-net-worth planning group. Fortunately, there are ways to make this process easier. The most important is to plan ahead. Starting these discussions early and revisiting them regularly will help you and your family handle lifestyle-changing issues concerning your parents.   How to start the conversation If only there was a uniformly effortless way to speak to Mom and Dad about their health and finances. No such protocol exists, but you might broach the topic around the time the older parent turns 70, Eickhoff recommends. “Once you’ve started the dialogue, you’ll have laid the groundwork to continue it in the future,” she says, “And 70 is still a relatively young age to begin having these talks.” On the medical side, you might ask your parents what they would like to happen if their health starts to fail. Do they want to stay in their home, or are they open to moving to an assisted living or long-term care facility? If acute care becomes necessary, is there a hospital they prefer? How much medical intervention do they want if their condition becomes dire? How would they like to handle end-of-life issues? The answers to these questions will play a critical role in helping you create a realistic and well-thought-out plan. Conversations about finances can be just as challenging, especially for families not used to discussing money. At some point, parents may need help with day-to-day financial tasks such as paying bills and balancing the checkbook, or with larger issues like investing. It’s important to clearly understand your parents’ goals for their wealth, from being able to afford the retirement lifestyle they envision to supporting charities they care about. Having these discussions as early as possible helps establish the rationale for estate planning decisions, Eickhoff notes.  For example, if the parents have spent more on one child’s education or provided funds to help start a business, they might decide to compensate the other siblings later on with larger shares of the estate. “This is a hard discussion for parents to have with their kids,” says Eickhoff. “But if they don’t have it while they’re alive, they risk having their children always wonder why they made certain decisions about their assets.” What to look for Parents are not likely to volunteer that they need help, so it’s up to their children to watch for red flags—uncharacteristic difficulty performing daily chores or keeping track of household finances, for example. Discreetness and sensitivity are essential. One way to monitor your parents’ approach to the household finances is to suggest going through a routine chore together during one of your regular visits. “You might say, ‘Mom, I’ll be over next Saturday. Let’s just pay the bills together,’” Eickhoff suggests. “If your mother appears to be struggling to manage that process, offer to take it off her hands.” If you have siblings, open communication can foster cohesion and make handling the issues a lot easier, even if you live in different parts of the country. Since the burden of care can easily land on the shoulders of the child who lives closest to the parents, it’s important that the others pitch in. This might mean picking up the bill for housecleaning or in-home medical care, or making regular weekend visits to look after Mom or Dad and give the caretaker sibling a break. Addressing medical and financial issues early can forestall problems later on as well as help maintain family harmony. “If you’re trying to start those conversations while your parents’ health is fragile, that’s a real challenge for everybody,” says Eickhoff. “But knowing what to expect from each other can give everyone in the family better knowledge of expectations.” This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Jonathan Buoni in Northampton, MA at 413-585-1432. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. ©2013 Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.  All rights reserved.
Williamstown Food Pantry Readies Christmas Donations
Volunteers tackle the task of assembling Christmas food baskets for families who are assisted by the Williamstown Food Pantry on Wednesday morning at Sts. Patrick and Raphael Parish. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — It wasn't a Sunday, but the parish center of Sts. Patrick and Raphael was bustling Wednesday with volunteers of all ages carrying out the work of God this holiday season. Under the direction of Carol DeMayo, the Williamstown Food Pantry was preparing to give out food baskets, clothing and other items to families in need. Volunteers ranging from young homeschooled children to retired church volunteers helped sort through canned food, fresh fruit and vegetables, clothing and more on Wednesday morning in preparation for the families coming through the parish center that afternoon. Items purchased at Price Chopper to fill the baskets were delivered by the Village Ambulance crew. The pantry has been helping the community for more than 28 years, DeMayo said, and is run by volunteers who help collect donations of items and money. "Every penny that comes in goes to help families, mostly in food, once in a while in a few other areas," DeMayo said. Just like the families it serves, the food pantry has volunteers from all walks of life, from all religions. Organizations, stores and students all donate to the food pantry, but most of the donations come from families wanting to help families less fortunate. "Our basic families help other families," DeMayo said. The Christmas baskets were filled with everyday canned goods like tuna fish and peanut butter, and families would also be able to take some fresh produce and a turkey or ham for Christmas dinner. Anything left over from the thousands of items that filled the parish center on Wednesday would be stored in the small pantry for emergencies and to start off next year's bi-weekly distributions. And that's why although the pantry is happy to get donations around the holidays, they do continue to serve people year-round. "They can be very small, or they can be quite large, and we appreciate everything," DeMayo said. "We always put things to use. If we can't use it for whatever reason, we find where it can go. We try to find a home." DeMayo has an analogy she likes to use for the relationship between the community and the families the food pantry serves. "I think of it as a giant wagon wheel," she said. "We're all running around on the outside and then we shoot down the slopes with macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, extra clothing, appliances, linens for somebody who lost their home in a fire ... and it goes to the cog of the wheel, and that's our families."
Pittsfield Awarded Third Consecutive Grant To Combat Youth Violence
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city has once again received a state grant to combat youth violence.   The city has been awarded an $133,000 Senator Charles E. Shannon Jr. Community Safety Initiative grant. The funds will continue the city's efforts to reduce youth and gang violence.   "The Shannon Grant is making a huge difference in our community. It has allowed us to coordinate community conversation and develop programs to reach out to young people who might otherwise choose a less desirable path. Last year we took on two mentors who have been in our schools, on our playgrounds, and have had meaningful connections with young people in the city. The process of affecting change in the lives of children that might be considered ‘at-risk’ is one that takes time and commitment. The Shannon Grant is allowing us to do that and we are appreciative of the State’s initiative," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi in a press release on Wednesday.   "We are fortunate to have been able to recruit Adam Hinds to coordinate these efforts. In years to come we will recognize the establishment of a Shannon Grant program in the city as having been a significant milestone for us."   This is the third year the city has reeled in the grant. It started with a $60,000 grant in which the city opened community centers and organized programming at Dower Square and Francis Plaza. Last year, the city was awarded $100,000, which brought on Adam Hinds as a coordinator. The Police Department has also received some of the funds from the grant for the anti-crime unit.   "The allocation is one-third larger than last year, reflecting continued growth. In fact, our program is expanding to such a degree that we continue to look for partnerships in the community. During 2014 we witnessed several violent events involving youth that drove elevated community involvement. Our work in 2015 will utilize that strong community involvement to directly lift youth and caregivers facing difficult circumstances," Hinds said.   The additional funds are eyed to be used to continue the Pittsfield Community Connection program. That includes working with outreach workers to mentor high-risk youth and neighborhood programs - such as mothers support groups.
North Adams Commission Hikes Campground Seasonal Rates
The Windsor Lake Recreation Commission voted for a rate increase of 10 percent for seasonal campers. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Seasonal campers will have a spend more this coming summer to stay at Historic Valley Park Campground. The Windsor Lake Recreation Commission voted to raise seasonal fees 10 percent, or an extra $180, for campers who spend the entire summer at Windsor Lake. "We haven't raised the seasonal rates since the 2012 season," said Chairman George Forgea at Tuesday's meeting. Forgea said he had discussed the rate hike with the mayor. He also suggested raising the monthly camping rate by 10 percent. The seasonal rate was raised to $1,600 in 2010 and $1,800 in 2012. Forgea passed out a rate sheet of comparable campgrounds that showed Historic Valley with lower rates overall. "If you take a look at all the other campgrounds, we're the only that doesn't have metered electric. Our electric bills have gone up as everybody knows, and they continue to rise," he said. "Everybody else charges more and meters their sites.   "Until we have metered sites, we're going to have to entertain this increase to keep us in the black." There are about 46 seasonal campers, which would mean about $8,280 more a year.   Forgea pointed out the hike is about a $1 a day, raising the daily rate for a seasonal from $12.16 to $13.20. Those paying daily are being charged $35 to $40 a day. "I think the issue with the increase is it's going to appear to be a lot but when you break down by the day, that's important for people to understand," said Commissioner Nancy Bullett. "It's not so much we're gaining profit but more to accommodate the increase in our costs." Forgea said the campground also has to show it can make money to justify requests for more improvements. People that were grandfathered in with the senior discount will continue to receive that. Forgea suggested the daily rates not change because they have risen incrementally over the past few years. The commissioners determined to do away with monthly rates all together after hearing from campground manager Cindy Rosenburg. The city was charging $700 a month; that would have jumped to $770. Rosenburg said monthly rentals aren't common; no one reserved a monthlong spot last year and only one this coming year. But renting for a month would also ensure that a site is occupied, she said. "You'll make more renting that one month than leaving it open," she said, referring to one of the popular and higher-priced "lakeside" sites that Forgea thought should not be "locked up" for a month. A couple who frequently camped at the lake had already requested that site for a month next summer. The commission decided to grandfather them in for the 2015 season but not take anymore reservations at a monthly rate. Commissioner Paul Corriveau was also concerned that nearly half the 100-site campground was being used by seasonal campers, limiting vacancies. Rosenburg said there is usually a spot for anyone driving in. Holiday weekends and music festivals like Wilco's Solid Sound are the only times, she said, she'd turned anyone away. "There's always a site for someone." The manager said she's been tracking occupancy and revenue from each site and would bring her data in for the commission to review. In other business, the commission: • Discussed the trail network at the lake and needed signage. Bullett referred to a presentation done by Williams College students (presented at last week's City Council meeting) on signage and parking for the city's trail systems. She volunteered to walk the trails and take photos to document where signs could go. Forgea said he would speak with Public Services about who would be responsible for signs, including "no hunting" ones. He was concerned over reports that hunters had been seen leaving the lake area, which is a wildlife sanctuary. • Approved the NAmazing Initiative's request to use the park for a snowshoe/community event, with the caveat that it may be asked to roll its event into the Winterfest one on Feb. 21. Forgea said he would speak to another commissioner on whether NAmazing could be accommodated separately. • Heard about vandalism over the weekend in the small park area where the lake's sign is located. A truck apparently got stuck near the boat ramp and two others pulled it out, leaving ruts and tire tracks. Commissioners are asking residents of the area to contact police if they see or hear anything unusual. • Was informed the new playground equipment should be completed by the end of the month despite the uncooperative weather. "It's a unique playground," Forgea said. "They really had their back against the wall  ... it's been a Herculean effort."
Lanesborough School Committee's Barton Resigns
The division between Chairwoman Regina DiLego and School Committee member Robert Barton came to a head on Tuesday morning with Barton's resignation. LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Citing distrust of the committee's chairman, a member of the Lanesborough School Committee on Tuesday morning tendered his resignation. Robert Barton emailed Chairwoman Regina DiLego and town officials on Tuesday to announce that he plans to leave the three-person body and would "try to serve until May 5." "Regina, last night's School Committee meeting was profoundly disturbing," Barton wrote, referring to the Monday meeting attended by just him and DiLego. "I have decided to resign as a member, rather than try to serve with members who are either not truthful or not reliable." Reached at his home late Tuesday evening, Barton clarified that he did not mean to impugn the character of committee member James Moriarty, who had to miss Monday's meeting to take care of his daughter, who was ill. "I don't have any problem with Jim Moriarty's integrity," Barton said. "I have zero problem with that. The concern there — and it's not just mine but Jim's as well — is that he's a single parent and doesn't have the time to devote to the extracurriculars that come with School Committee membership. "Maybe if things were calm — if we weren't going through all the changes, whether the superintendent search or considering what to do with the region — it would be different. He gives the priority I think he should — to his daughter." Barton said there was no one new issue that has come up in recent days to push him to resign. Rather, it was a "cumulative process of loss of confidence in Regina." DiLego on Tuesday night said she was surprised by Barton's email and had no hint that it was coming — either at Monday's open meeting or in the executive session that followed. "We didn't carry the conversation into there," she said. "We just dealt with the things on the agenda for the executive session." On Monday evening, DiLego refused to resign from the chairmanship as Barton had asked and refuted specific accusations he made about her truthfulness. He raised one of those accusations in his resignation letter and brought up another that arose from an unrelated piece of business from Monday night. Director of Pupil Services Kim Grady attended Monday's meeting to report to the committee on an audit of the elementary school's coordinated program. On Monday, Barton asked when the School Committee had authorized such an audit, which Grady said was paid for out of her operating budget. DiLego told Barton on Monday that the audit had been discussed at a Sept. 24 meeting that he did not attend. He said right out that he doesn't want to work with Jim or I. How can you expect us to work together?                            — Regina DiLego "Last night I accepted your statement," Barton wrote on Tuesday, "but when I checked the agenda for that meeting, I found no mention of the audit. It looks as though you launched this project without Committee approval." DiLego did not reiterate her responses to Barton's other accusations, but on the new point of contention, she attached to her reply a copy of the Sept. 24 meeting, attended by Moriarty and herself. "Grady stated that she would follow up on arranging an independent assessment at the request of the committee," the minutes read. DiLego wrote that it was clear from Barton's conduct that he knew about the audit: "Since, however, it was you who requested that the discussion of the special education audit and the possible reductions to the special education staff be palced [sic] on last night's agenda (I have the email), you have been fully aware of this audit for some time." DiLego in her letter also suggested that Barton consider making his resignation effective Jan. 31, 2015, instead of May 5. She cited the advantage of allowing the remaining School Committee members and Board of Selectmen to name a replacement who could fill out Barton's term and then run in his or her own right at June's annual town election. Barton on Tuesday night said he plans to continue serving on the School Committee through the upcoming fiscal 2016 budget process. "I promised the Selectmen and the Finance Committee when I ran for School Committee that I would work to improve the budgeting, which has been poorly done," Barton said. "Regina's sat in on a lot of those poorly done budgets. I need to stay the course until we get this budget done, and I think that's some time in April or early May. "I'm not ready to do nasty battle for five months to just try to help the town or school, but if it's reasonably businesslike, I feel like I should." DiLego said Tuesday night that she does not see how the committee can work effectively with Barton's resignation letter hanging out there.  It would be underlying everything we did. If he's not happy, then he shouldn't stay until May." Not surprisingly, Barton disagreed. "Time will tell," he said when asked if the committee could be productive. "I think it probably will be." Below is Barton's emailed resignation letter and DiLego's response. We have redacted the email addresses because they were sent to both governmental and personal emails, including to the town clerk, administrators in the school system and Moriarty. Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:16:18 -0500 Subject: Resignation Regina, last night's School Committee meeting was profoundly disturbing. I have decided to resign as a member, rather than try to serve with members who are either not truthful or not reliable. I will try to serve until May 5 to help get through budgeting for 2016 and planning for administrative transition. After last night, I am even more convinced you have been purposefully misleading townspeople about LES business. The easiest example is point 1. in my complaint letter. This relates to 2014 Annual Town Meeting and the LES budget.  In your 12/15 reply memo you don't even try to deny misleading the voters about our transportation plan. You do try to defend your statement "the budget has no reserves" by saying the funds in question were "earmarked" (therefore not really reserves?). This is like saying the savings I set aside for my grand-daughter's education are not really savings because they are earmarked. What if she doesn't go to college, do the savings disappear? Minutes for the LESC meeting two days after the ATM, which you approved, confirm the existence of reserves totaling about $30,000. And, this didn't include the $5,000 cushion Lynn Bassett repeatedly acknowledged was in the Cafe line, nor any of the $35,000 rebate we were close to finalizing with Dufour. Speaking of mis-statements, I should include your comment at last night's meeting that the School Committee had approved the ongoing Special Education audit at its Sept. 24 meeting. Last night I accepted your statement, but when I checked the agenda for that meeting, I found no mention of the audit.  It looks as though you launched this project without Committee approval.   Ughh--life is too short.    Bob Subject: RE: Resignation Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2014 22:42:34 +0000 Bob- I acknowledge receipt of your resignation to take affect no later than May 5, 2015. I would suggest, however, that you consider tendering this resignation effective Jan 31st, 2014 instead. This would allow you to complete your pending charges against the superintendent, and allow you to enjoy life sooner. While I acknowledge your offer to help with the FY16 budget, I also must acknowledge your distaste for working with myself and apparently Jim (as you say "rather than try to serve with members" in your email) going forward. It is not necessary for you to subject yourself to that which disturbs you so. We have a superintendent, business manager, administrative team and the remaining members of the School Committee who can handle this task. In actuality, Jim has been forthright in stating that he has no desire to continue on after this year. He has said this since his first year in office. Were you to wait until May and Jim choose to not run for re-election, that would leave the committee with two new members at the same time. Your resignation on Jan 31st would allow the Commtitees (Selectmen and School) to advertise for your replacement and allow for that replacement to have some time acquainting themselves with the demands and role of the school committee member prior to another new person coming on board. It would also afford your replacement valuable insight into the budget which he/she would be overseeing in FY16. It would also relieve you of that which you find so distasteful. I will not respond to your continued allegations against me in the rest of your letter. You have your opinion of me and I have my opinion of you. I will, however, direct you to the minutes of Sept 24, 2014 wherein you will find the discussion which occurred leading to the special education audit. I never said it was on the agenda for Sept 24th. Had you attended the meeting, you would have known what went on that night and would have had your opportunity for input. Since, however, it was you who requested that the discussion of the special education audit and the possible reductions to the special education staff be palced on last night's agenda (I have the email), you have been fully aware of this audit for some time. In fact, you received and were present at the meeting where the Sept 24th minutes were approved. This knowledge was in your possession even as you accuse me of lying about it. Regina  
Clark Art to Charge Admission Starting Jan. 1
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Clark Art Institute on Tuesday officially posted its new admission policy, ending a long-standing practice of free admission November through May.   Beginning Jan. 1, adult admission to the galleries will be $20, according to the museum's website.   Admission will continue to be free for members, children under 18 and students with valid identification.   "We are also very happy to announce that we are instituting a new program of free admission on the first Sunday of each month from October through May," Clark Director of Communications Victoria Saltzman said in an email on Tuesday.   "In addition, we will continue to offer free admission for several family-themed days throughout the year, including a free day on Jan. 18 for a Monet|Kelly drawing day and a free winter celebration day on Feb. 15."   There had been some speculation that Clark would begin charging admission in the winter months after its reopening on July 4 and the conclusion of a $145 million renovation and addition. The nearly 60-year-old museum has been categorized as a "Bilbao of the Berkshires" and is expected to draw another 30,000 visitors a year.   Through the end of December, admission is free in the main galleries. However, the Monet|Kelly exhibition has a $10 admission charge through Dec. 31.
BRNC Wins Open Country Award From Outdoor Life
  A photo posted by @berkshirenaturalresources on Jan 1, 2014 at 8:05pm PST PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Outdoor Life magazine has named Berkshire Natural Resources Council as one of its four 2014 Open Country Award winners in honor of the conservation group's work to conserve land and keep it open to the public for recreation. In addition to BNRC, three other winners were announced: Powderhook, a Nebraska company that matches sportsmen with open land via an online application; Idaho Fish and Game, for its "Access Yes!" program; and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, for her legislative advocacy on behalf of conservation. It was BNRC's work along the Clam River in Sandisfield that drew the attention of the magazine's editors.  In 2012, BNRC and its supporters conserved a 55-acre tract that completed a two-mile, 548-acre linear greenway along the Clam, all of which is open to the public. "Our supporters care about scenery and farms and clean water and wildlife," said Tad Ames, BNRC president, "and they want to be sure that future generations have the chance to get out to feel and smell and hear the outdoors with the same excitement we've enjoyed." In 2014, BNRC started work on a 2.5-mile trail through the Clam River Reserve. This trail will be supported by an Open Country grant, and is also the subject of an Indiegogo campaign launched by Outdoor Life. Open Country Award winners were announced in Outdoor Life's December 2014-January 2015 issue.  The citation for BNRC reads, "The goal of the scrappy, influential Berkshire Natural Resources Council, based in Pittsfield, Mass., is to preserve the open, rustic landscape of the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. But the BNRC is also committed to keeping land open to hunting, fishing, and other public recreation. The group owns nearly 9,000 acres and oversees conservation easements on another 10,000 acres."
Adams Board of Health Revisiting Rental Inspection Fees
Code Enforcement Officer Scott Koczela told the board that it is difficult to do a proper inspection once people move their things into an apartment. ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health may add a late fee for landlords delinquent in getting their rental properties inspected. Code Enforcement Officer Scott Koczela told the Board of Health on Wednesday afternoon that he often gets called to do an inspection after people are already living in an apartment. "I am forced to move dressers, move things off of counters, and climb over stuff to get to windows," Koczela said. "I can't really do a good comprehensive inspection, and it puts us at liability because, heaven forbid, I knock something over." Koczela said normally the fee is $25 and many landlords think nothing of moving people in without an inspection. He would like to raise the fee to $50 if renters are moved in too early. Koczela said there are many repeat offenders and even some of the town's better landlords allow people to move in prior to inspection. Chairman Allen Mendel said he would like to add an enforcement fee in attempt to stop the problem completely. "If they were fined $50 and they had to go court there would be more incentive not to do it again," Mendel said. "You say it's repetitive and the same people do it over and over again? At some point, we have to make a stand." Koczela agreed with Mendel but said bringing people to court will just cost the town more money. "It is very difficult with the amount of paperwork we have to fill out, the time we have to wait, and the time that we have to spend down there to collect that money," he said. "It would be worth more than $50 in time." Koczela said the fee has not been looked at in a long time and it would be worth re-evaluating it. The board agreed to look at the rental fee next meeting and possibly overhaul it to find a better way to stop repeat offenders. 
Tree Lightings & Holiday Events 2014
North Adams' tree lighting is Nov. 26. Holiday Events The list for Christmas Masses in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield can be found on the diocese website or at iobserver.org. The Christmas Eve liturgy from St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield will be rebroadcast Christmas morning at 11 a.m. on "Chalice of Salvation" on WWLP TV-22. CHESHIRE • Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.; Hoosac Valley Middle and High School Performing Arts Department presents a holiday concert in the school auditorium featuring the jazz ensemble, chorus and middle school and high school bands. Ensembles are under the direction of Jacob Keplinger and Tim Rougeau. Admission is free. LANESBOROUGH • Sunday, Dec. 21, 4-7 p.m.: A Chanukah celebration for the whole family including a public menorah kindling ceremony will be held at the Berkshire Mall. Local families will assist in kindling the giant "menorah of freedom." Enjoy live music, face painting, dancing, hot potato latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts), chocolate gelt, a grand raffle, dreidels and a spectacular show. This program is free and open to the public, sponsored by Chabad of the Berkshires in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires. NORTH ADAMS • Free Holiday Movies: North Adams Movieplex is hosting free screenings of Christmas classics on a first-come, first-served basis: "It's A Wonderful Life," 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 17; "A Christmas Story," noon on Saturday, Dec. 20;  "Home Alone," noon on Sunday, Dec. 21. • Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 20-21, 1 to 4; Santa, Mrs. Claus & one of their elves will be at Kit & Kaboodle, 26 Holden St. Take your own photo or have a professional print done; 5x7 are $12 each. • Sunday, Dec. 21, 10:30 a.m.: First Baptist Church hosts an original contata composed by Matthew McConnell with dramatic readings, handbells and solos, both vocal and instrumental. The concert is free. LENOX • Saturday, Dec. 27, at 3:30 p.m.: "Wassail, Wassail, All Over the Town!" at Ventfort Hall. Storyteller Tom Hooker Hanford will present ancient Christmas and winter solstice traditions of the British Isles and the United States with singalongs and audience role-playing with colorful masks and props. Admission is $15 adults, $7 children 5 to 17 and free for children 4 and under. Reservations are highly recommended. PITTSFIELD • Friday, Dec. 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m.: The Berkshire Dream Center will host its fourth annual "Cherry Street Lights the Night" at 41 Cherry St. There will be hot chocolate, cookies, music, children's choir, a carving of an ice sculpture, performance from youth alive, the telling of the Christmas story and a visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus with gifts for all the children. This event is free and open to the community. • Saturday, Dec. 20, from 10  to 2; Upstreet Holiday Festival in the Palace Park parking lot across from the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts at 28 Renne Ave. A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus; free train rides from Roaming Railroad; live music; a cookie decorating station by Madeleine's Patisserie and Café; the Berkshire Eagle Holiday Photo Booth; the Jingle Bell Run to benefit the Eagle Santa Fund and the Boys and Girls Club Keystone group selling pretzels, popcorn, and chestnuts with a game zone as well. Free and open to the public. • Sunday, Dec. 21, at 4 p.m.: The choirs of Zion Lutheran Church and the Berkshire Concert Choir will join their voices for a community carol sing at the church, 74 First St. Donations will go to the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations Emergency Fuel Fund to help those in need be warm this winter. POWNAL • Sunday, Dec. 21,  at 7 p.m.: A Christmas Candlelight Service will be held at Pownal United Methodist Church at the corner of Route 346 and Church Street. The bell choir from the Parish of Sts. Patrick & Raphael will perform. All are welcome. Information: Mary Louise at 802-823-7769. WILLIAMSTOWN • Sunday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m.: The 1753 House Committee hosts its  41st annual Carol Sing, a free, ecumenical event for all ages, at 1753 House at Field Park. Parking is available at the inn and the library. Deborah Burns and members of her OK Chorale will lead the a cappella singing beside a roaring blaze in the fireplace. Carol books and hot mulled cider are provided. There is no heat or electricity in the 1753 House, so dress warmly and bring a candle to see by. •Sunday, Dec. 21, at 5 p.m.: New Hope United Methodist Churchwww.new-hopeumc.org, 4 Water St., hosts a Blue Christmas Service for those who have experienced loss, grief and loneliness as a way to give a voice to the hope in the midst of difficulty. • Wednesday, Dec. 24, 3 p.m. : Christmas Eve service at White Oaks Congregational Church at 480 White Oaks Road, including carol singing. Pastor Sue Stewart will lead the service. Send information on your holiday events to info@iberkshires.com. This is list will be updated as new events are received.   ADAMS: Sunday, Nov. 30, 2 p.m., festivities at the Town Common start at 2 with music, free hayrides and hot cocoa and other refreshments provided by the Adams Lion and Elks clubs; Santa arrives at 3:30 and, after lighting the Common tree, travels to Summer Street to light the tree at the corner of Victory Street. CLARKSBURG: Sunday, Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m. at Town Field. Sponsored by the Peter A. Cook VFW Post, which will present donations to local groups and provide hot cocoa. Santa Claus will be lighting the tree and the Elementary School band will be playing songs. NORTH ADAMS: Wednesday, Dec. 3, 6 p.m. at Monument Square. Caroling with the First Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir and Drury Band, hot chocolate and the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus will arrive on the Fire Department's antique Mack Fire Engine with treats. Kicks off the annual Hometown Holiday CHESHIRE: Sunday, Dec. 7, hayrides from the Senior Center at 5:30 to Town Hall for the lighting, then back to the center to visit with Santa. GREAT BARRINGTON: Saturday, Dec. 6, 7:15 p.m. and followed by fireworks; annual Holiday Stroll runs from 4 to 9 with giveaways, coupons, tastings and store specials. See more here. DALTON: Annual Light Up The Holidays is Saturday, Dec. 6, from 4:30 to 8. The parade begins on Depot Street and proceeds down Main Street to the CRA for the tree lighting. Businesses and churches along the route will be open and serving holiday treats and music. Admission is free. LANESBOROUGH: St. Luke's Episcopal Church will hold a tree lighting on Dec. 7 at 4:30 p.m. The event will feature caroling and the church will be accepting non-perishable foods to donate to the VFW food pantry. LEE: A Christmas tree lighting and remembrance ceremony will be held in Church Park at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5. Buy a Remembrance Angel to have your loved ones listed during the ceremony. Angels available at the Chamber Information Booth or call 413.243.1705 for additional information. LENOX: Friday, Dec. 5, 6 p.m. at  Lilac Park; Santa will be there and afterward at the Lenox Community Center with holiday goodies. LENOX DALE: Sunday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m., Santa arrives by fire engine at Veterans Memorial Park to light the tree and then will greet children at the Fire Station on Elm Street, where gifts and refreshments will be distributed. Sponsored by the Lenox Dale Fire Company. PITTSFIELD: Friday, Dec.5, at 6 p.m. at Park Square. Caroling begins at 5:30, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive following the tree lighting, and free hot chocolate will be available, courtesy of Patrick's Pub. Bring a non-perishable food item for the Christian Center food pantry. WILLIAMSTOWN: Saturday, Dec. 6, at the bottom of Spring Street at the conclusion of the Holiday Walk around 5:30. More on the Walk here. s downtown shopping. (Note: postponed from Nov. 26)
Crafts & Artisan Store Kit & Kaboodle Reopens in North Adams
Kit & Kaboodle held its grand opening on Friday night. The craft and artisan store reopened on Holden Street last month. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Crafts store Kit & Kaboodle has changed its location but not its commitment to showcasing local talent. The store's new space at 26 Holden St. displays a wide range of local and regionally made items, from scarves and handmade soaps and scented candles to paintings, carvings and tchotchkes. And owner Carolyn Albert's own crocheted items, including heavy, warm afghans. "There are a lot of people out there that really love the handmade items," Albert said. "They last longer and they're quality items." Albert opened last year in the Carlow Building in Adams but was forced to move early this fall when the building was sold. She decided to move north in hope of picking up more foot traffic. Now she's trying to get the word out that's the store is open and she's still in business — especially some former customers. "They figured I closed because I'd been closed for two months," she said. "They didn't know I was open." Kit & Kaboodle reopened in mid-November and held its grand opening on Friday night. Albert spoke during a lull that evening as customers sipped wine as they perused the offerings. Musicians played guitar in the corner. She said new vendors have joined some her original ones in displaying their wares. "I have some amazing vendors in here," she said. "If there's anything you're looking for, I'll try to find the vendor that has it." She also will place orders for customers looking for specific scents in soap or candles, or the right color or size. The crafts store also offers layaway and club plans, and gift certificates. Albert has enough vendors keep the shelves stocked but is on the lookout for more merchandise. "It's comfortable now but I always need more," she said, adding she's open to hosting more Christmas items. "It's still early enough." Kit & Kaboodle hosts Mr. and Mrs. Santa and an elf on Sunday, Dec. 21, from 1 to 4, with photography services available.
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