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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

'Ugh': Lanesborough Wants Postal Service to Add 3 Letters
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
09:28AM / Friday, May 01, 2015
Lanesborough officials want the U.S. Postal Service to stop shortening the town's name. LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The UGH debate is over.   The Board of Selectmen are petitioning the U.S. Postal Service to officially change the town's name from Lanesboro to Lanesborough. The Postal Service is the only entity in town to use the shortened version.   "I like the formal spelling better myself," said Town Administrator Paul Sieloff.   The town was incorporated with the "ugh" on the end of its name but sometime in the 1890s, residents got lazy and started to cut it off.   The name's been used with and without the "ugh" since

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Kimball Farms Puts Evacuation Plans To The Test In Mock Event
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:43AM / Friday, May 01, 2015
Kimball Farms administrators and staff, Russell Phillips & Associates, and local police, fire, and emergency medical services practiced the evacuation plan to iron out the details. 

LENOX, Mass. — Should Kimball Farms need to evacuate its residents, administrators have plans to get them somewhere safe.

That is if they can find a pen to write down the phone number for the other facility.

A minor detail, but one of a number of critical minutiae that the assisted living community's leaders discovered was lacking from their emergency response plan during Thursday morning's drill.   The facility partnered with local law enforcement and consultants Russell

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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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Pittsfield Council Weighing First Allocation To OPEB Trust Fund
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:28AM / Friday, May 01, 2015
The City Council sent the order to the Finance Subcommittee on Tuesday. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is making its first allocation of funds into the other post employees benefits trust fund the City Council established last year.   The OPEB, or other postemployment benefits, trust is designed to start addressing the city's liability for the benefits of future retirees. The trust fund intends to put aside money to pay for current employees' benefits once they retire.   In 2008, an auditor performed an actuary study suggesting the city will pay out some $250 million over the lifetimes of the current employees.    On Tuesday, an order to make the first

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Lenox Planners Debate Specificity of New Parking Regs
By Stephanie Salvini, iBerkshires Staff
10:34PM / Thursday, April 30, 2015
Kate McNaulty-Vaughn reviews maps of the Lenox Historical District.

LENOX, Mass. — Planners on Wednesday tweaked the new parking bylaw for historical and commercial districts as business owners voiced concerns over the repercussions of the anticipated changes.

"We're not the first town to eliminate our minimum parking standards in our downtown area," said Town Planner Gwen Miller. "It's been done in many communities in Massachusetts."

The Planning Board is proposing 45 new parking spaces (both on- and off-street), a more refined regulation bylaw, and better signage to direct people to municipal parking. While the proposed changes seem straightforward

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Bike Path Projects For North Adams, Pittsfield Pushed Back
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:32PM / Thursday, April 30, 2015
The Metropolitan Planning Organization was informed about the readiness of projects on Tuesday. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Expanding the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail into North Adams or Pittsfield is going to have to wait an extra year.   According to state Department of Transportation, the design and permitting process is not close enough to completion for the 2016 and 2017 construction seasons.   Expanding into Pittsfield's Crane Avenue was eyed for 2016 and an extension from Lime Street in Adams to North Adams was penned in for 2017. Both projects are now being pushed back a year.   "It is based on the status of where the current projects are. They were all

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The Independent Investor: Does Another Trade Pact Make Sense?
By Bill Schmick,
03:30PM / Thursday, April 30, 2015

As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the United States winds down, politicians in both houses of Congress need to decide whether the proposed Trans-Pacific, 12-nation trade pact makes economic sense. It does and we should jump on it.

Through the years I have been in favor of more trade, rather than less. At the same time, I recognize that trade agreements, by their nature, means that in every country some sectors win and some lose. If you can produce something better than I and at a lower price, why shouldn't I take advantage of that?

Yet, there is always vocal opposition from those who perceive their position will be threatened. Those who stand to gain usually keep a

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'Ex Machina': It's Alive! It's Alive! Maybe
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
03:18PM / Thursday, April 30, 2015
Popcorn Column
by Michael S. Goldberger  
Ava ponders being — or is it just programming — in Alex Garland's thoughtful take on artificial intelligence.

It was in a diner late at night in a time long, long ago, after the bars had closed, when, opining about current events and the perceived circumstances of my reality, a waitress pressed her hands onto the counter, peered deep into my eyes and asked, "Who's to say what's real?"

Oddly, while he was doubtfully privy to said event, writer-director Alex Garland nonetheless expounds on the waitress' provocative query in "Ex Machina," his

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Pittsfield School Committee Approves $59 Million Budget
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:19AM / Thursday, April 30, 2015
The School Committee approved the fiscal 2016 budget Wednesday night. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee approved a $59.2 million budget for fiscal 2016 on Wednesday.   The 6-1 vote came after little discussion and calls for the city to appropriate $58.5 million to the schools, which is $1.9 million more than last year. The appropriation represents a 3.5 percent increase over last year.   Even with the increase, the budget includes reductions of close to $2 million from various areas. The process started with the need for $4 million to maintain service because of a number of increases.   "This has been a difficult process," Superintendent

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Youth Baseball Leagues Plan Opening Ceremonies This Weekend
08:56PM / Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Youth baseball fields will be humming around the county this weekend.   On Saturday morning, season-opening ceremonies are planned in North Adams, Williamstown and Lanesborough.   The North Adams Little League will hold its ceremonies at Fallon Field (near Greylock Elementary School) on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Mayor Richard Alcombright is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial firs pitch.   In Williamstown, the Cal Ripken League will hold its annual parade from the elementary school to Bud Anderson Field a 9 a.m. with a brief ceremony and flag raising beginning at 9:25.   Lanesborough's Cal Ripken gets going at 10:30 with a parade to Bill Laston Field. Lanesborough

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Berkshires Wake Up With Busy Spring Weekend
02:16PM / Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The Dancing in the Street Zumba party benefit for Relay for Life comes back to downtown North Adams this Sunday, May 3, bigger and better than before.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire residents are invited to — finally — emerge from their winter hybernation and enjoy the first busy weekend of warm temperatures and outdoor events across the region.

This Saturday, May 2, will see many annual favorites on what looks to be a perfect spring day:

* Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the city of North Adams will hold their annual Day of Service, when students as well as community members pitch in to clean up around the city. The event starts at 9:30 a.m. at MCLA's

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Berkshire Bank Recognized Lender of Quarter by SBA
12:47PM / Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Bank has been named the Small Business Lender of the Quarter by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2015.  

This recognition comes on the heels of Berkshire being named “Western Massachusetts Lender of the Year by Volume” for fiscal year 2014.

The award was presented to Berkshire Bank for their excellent SBA activity for the quarter by executives from the U.S. Small Business Administration on April 21. The event welcomed Hampden Bank business customers to Berkshire Bank as part of the bank’s acquisition. During the SBA’s first quarter — Oct. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2014

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Downing Honored By School Committee Association
12:33PM / Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Sen. Benjamin B. Downing has been honored as the 2014 Legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees - for the second time.

The MASC mission is to achieve excellence in school committee leadership through advocacy, training and service.

“It is rare for a legislator to receive this honor more than once,” said Stephen J. Finnegan, MASC general counsel. “MASC members, especially those who live in western Massachusetts, know they can count on Senator Downing’s support and aggressive advocacy for our annual budget priorities, such as regional school transportation, Chapter 70 funding and the special education

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