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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

Corner Office Briefs: Bianchi on Budget, Back Taxes, Roads
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:40PM / Wednesday, April 08, 2015
The mayor on Tuesday discussed some of the current projects the administration is working on. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Daniel Bianchi says the financial staff is now in the final stages in crafting what he believes will be a "level-service budget."   "It will be an increase of a couple percent," Bianchi said on Tuesday. "It will be pretty much a level-service budget."   Currently the city's financial staff is working on finalizing numbers for health and liability insurance as well as debt services. Bianchi expects the first draft of the budget to be completed in a "couple of weeks."   He expects an increase in the

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Pittsfield Council Looks At Bonding Impacts For New Taconic
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:14AM / Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Cinder McNerney from First Southwest Financial, presented models of tax impacts of the new project.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Should the proposed Taconic High School be approved, city officials will have to make some long-term financial decisions.

They could bond quickly to take advantage of lower interest rates and start paying principal earlier or push back the debt.

The city will also have to decide whether to bond for 20 years to save on the total amount of interest paid or 28 years to lower the annual payments.   Cinder McNerney, managing director of First Southwest, has seen cities and town employ the whole spectrum of options and said there are benefits to

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Inauguration 2016
by Soapbox 02:00PM / Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Kids 4 Harmony Provided The Music At The Inauguration Reception
by Soapbox 08:38PM / Monday, January 06, 2014

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by Soapbox 04:10PM / Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Haddad Subaru 'Shares the Love' with Berkshire Humane Society
02:13PM / Tuesday, April 07, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Humane Society has received a donation from Haddad Subaru as part of this year’s Subaru of America’s “Share the Love” Event.   

On Thursday, March 28, Michael Hutchings, the district sales manager of Subaru of New England, and Chris Kramek, the general sales manager at Haddad Subaru in Pittsfield, visited the shelter to present an $18,389 check to John Perreault, the executive director of BHS.

During this annual end-of-the-year event, Subaru of America contributes millions of dollars to charities. Customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru between late November and early January could choose one of five national

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2015 Pittsfield 4th of July Fund-Raising Drive Kicks Off
01:49PM / Tuesday, April 07, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield Parade Committee has announced the kickoff of its fundraising drive for the 2015 parade.

Those interested may contribute online via PayPal by visiting www.pittsfieldparade.com or by mailing contributions to Pittsfield Parade Committee Inc., P.O. Box 1738, Pittsfield, MA 01202.

 Parade Sponsorship options include:

$1,500 or more: Exclusive balloon/musical unit sponsorship banner displayed in parade - includes full page ad (7 ¼ x 9 ½) in parade souvenir booklet.

$1,000: Banner displayed in parade - includes full page ad (7 ¼ x 9 ½) in parade souvenir booklet.

$750: Banner displayed in parade - includes half page

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Pittsfield Schools Call For 3.5 percent Increase From City
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
09:40PM / Monday, April 06, 2015
Superintendent Jason McCandless outlined additional cuts beyond the reduction of 28 positions on Monday.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Department is asking for a 3.5 percent budget increase.

Superintendent Jason McCandless says the budget  won't "devastate" the school system but also won't allow growth.

McCandless said contractual obligations for fiscal 2016 went up by $1.4 million, payments on new buses added $370,000 to the budget, electricity is expected to rise $108,000 and gas $422,000, and another $1 million in special education tuition costs are expected to increase.    "These four items plus our contractual obligations are

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Letter: Increasing the Minimum Age to Purchase Tobacco
Letters to the Editor,
07:00PM / Monday, April 06, 2015

To the Editor:

A recent study by the Institute of Medicine looks at the public health implications of raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products. Thanks to this report, we can add another evidence-based strategy to the toolbox of strategies cities and towns in Massachusetts can use to prevent youth from becoming addicted to nicotine.

A committee of experts at the Institute of Medicine conducted a rigorous review, used mathematical modeling and concluded that increasing the minimum legal access age from 18 to 21 will have a positive impact on reducing youth initiation of tobacco use, particularly in adolescents aged 15 to 17. The report brief states, "Raising the MLA

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North Adams Holocaust Museum Closing This Month
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:43PM / Monday, April 06, 2015
The Holocaust museum on Eagle Street will close by April 24. Founder Darrell English is hoping to find another location.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — After three years, the New England Holocaust Institute has a critical decision to make: Move or close completely.

Darrell K. English, who's run the small museum on Eagle Street on a shoestring, said last week that he will have to pack up by the end of the month to make way for the adjacent Friendship Food Pantry, which needs bigger quarters.

"I will try to keep it here as long as I can," he said, but expected to vacate the premises by April 24. "I did the best I could."

Still, English is keeping hope that the museum

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Pittsfield Police Locate Missing Man
Staff Reports,
01:56PM / Monday, April 06, 2015
Police say they've located Fields in Springfield.   PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are searching for 62-year-old man, who was last seen in the middle of March.   Mark Fields of West Housatonic Street was reported missing on March 31, according to police. Fields does not drive and walks with a limp. He stands 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has brown eyes and gray hair.   Fields is known to visit area churches and food pantries. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact police at 413-448-9700.

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Senior Tax Work Off Program Under Way in Pittsfield
01:32PM / Monday, April 06, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Senior Tax Work Off Program is now opened for eligible senior citizens living in Pittsfield.

The program provides an opportunity for eligible seniors to contribute their knowledge to the community while also receiving a tax abatement on their property taxes. The program allows for up to a $1,000 abatement and can be combined with other tax exemptions.

Participants must be age 60 or over at the time of application. Income eligibility shall be determined by using the locally adopted income eligibility guidelines of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59, Section 5, clause 41C (plus an additional $5,000). If you are married, your yearly income cannot exceed

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Williamstown-Lanesborough Elementaries OK Superintendent Contract
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:24PM / Monday, April 06, 2015
The Superintendency Union 71 votes to accept a contract with incoming Superintendent Douglas Dias; Mount Greylock Regional School District is expected to follow suit on Wednesday. LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Two-thirds of the Lanesborough-Williamstown public school "Tri-District" has approved the contract for the towns' next school superintendent.   On Monday morning, the elementary school committee members who compose the joint Superintendency Union 71 committee met and unanimously approved a three-year deal for Douglas Dias.   The contract faces another vote for approval on Wednesday morning, when the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee meets at 9 a.m.

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Pittsfield Resident Craig Gaetani Launches Campaign For Mayor
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:19AM / Monday, April 06, 2015
Craig Gaetani says he is getting no traction trying to work with city officials so he is running for mayor. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Promising to be a man of action, West Street resident Craig Gaetani has launched a campaign for mayor.   The 67-year-old has been at odds with the City Council and mayor over the last several years, particularly over the water treatment plant. Gaetani is a former marketing director of Krofta Engineering and says the city could save upward of $150 million by using that technology.   Facing resistance from city officials, Gaetani is now looking to take over the corner office from which he promises to do the public's bidding.   "It

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Becket's Boulder Grange: From Mansion to Monastery to Macrobiotics
By Joe Durwin, iBerkshires Columnist
10:24PM / Sunday, April 05, 2015
Boulder Grange in Becket began is life as a pricey Berkshire 'cottage,' later becoming a monastery and then the Kushi Institute, a center for followers of macrobiotic diets.

BECKET, Mass. — December saw the passing of Michio Kushi, who founded the Becket-based Kushi Institute, and was largely responsible for bringing concepts of macrobiotic diet to the United States over the past half century.

"He lived a long and fulfilling life and dedicated himself to the realization of one healthy, peaceful world," said Alex Jack, general manager of the Kushi Institute, in a statement following Kushi's Dec. 28 death.

Since 1983, the nonprofit educational center has been

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