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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

Ciccolo Case Still on Track for June Trial
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:23PM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Attorneys in the case of an Adams man accused of violating federal terrorism statutes say they are still communicating about a possible plea deal but told the judge to anticipate using the scheduled June 18 trial date.   Judge Mark G. Mastroianni on Wednesday held a brief status conference in the case of the United States v. Alexander Ciccolo, who was arrested on July 4, 2015, and subsequently indicted on one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of attempting to use of weapons of mass destruction.   On Wednesday, Ciccolo's attorney, David Hoose of Northampton, told Mastroianni that he

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Berkshire Workers Critical Of GIC Reducing Health Care Options
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:40PM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018

GIC Executive Director Roberta Herman said many of the companies currently in the program offered very similar options.  PITTSFIELD, Mass. — GIC Executive Director Roberta Herman asked how many people get their health insurance through Tufts.   And nearly all of the 50 or so state employees in the audience at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Wednesday morning raised their hands.   Tufts is one of three insurance companies planned to be eliminated as an option for hundreds of thousands of employees throughout the commonwealth.   The Group Insurance Commission, which administers health care coverage to nearly a half-million state and municipal workers, voted to cut

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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

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
by Soapbox 04:10PM / Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Questions to Ask Before Taking Social Security
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:38AM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Social Security can be an important part of your retirement income. So, before you start making decisions about your payments, you'll want to know what questions to ask.

Here are a few to consider:

How soon can I start collecting Social Security? You can begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62. However, your payments, as well as the survivor benefits payable to your spouse, will be significantly lower than if you wait until your full retirement age, which is likely to be between 66 and 67.

Can I wait until I’m past full retirement age to begin collecting payments? Yes. Your monthly benefits will continue to rise until you reach 70, at which point they will max

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Pittsfield Council Wants More Details on $74M Wastewater Project
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:01AM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council doesn't want to rush into making a $74 million decision.   Mayor Linda Tyer put forth a petition calling for the borrowing of $74 million for a massive project with the wastewater system. The city is under an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency holding the system to higher standards of phosphorus, aluminum treatment, and nitrogen removal. The project has been in design for about a year, coming after years of ultimately losing appeals in federal court.   "We did appeal several times and we lost every appeal so we are on the ropes here," Tyer told the City Council.   The mayor had asked the

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Sieloff Wants More Money Set Aside to Repair Lanesborough Roads
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:15AM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Town Manager Paul Sieloff wants to put more money toward road maintenance.   The town's budgeting process will start in earnest in two weeks with a meeting with the Police, Highway, and Fire department heads to discuss needs in the next budget. Sieloff said he is looking to double the amount the town spends on road repairs if possible.   "I am going to propose a substantial increase in the infrastructure line," Sieloff told the Board of Selectmen on Monday.   When Sieloff was first hired, the town hadn't set any money aside for road repairs. The work done each summer was limited to the amount of state Chapter 90 support —

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Baker Highlights Successes in Third State of Commonwealth
10:10PM / Tuesday, January 23, 2018
BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday night delivered his third State of the Commonwealth address from the House Chamber of the State House.   Remarks as prepared for delivery:   Mr. Speaker. Madame President. Congressman Neal. Fellow Constitutional Officers. Members of the Governor's Council. Mr. Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary. Members of the Cabinet and my Administration. Sheriffs. District Attorneys. Mayors. Local Officials. Reverend Clergy. Distinguished Guests.    Members of my family that are here this evening – Andy, Kristen and William.     My children, AJ and Caroline. And my wife Lauren. The love of my life for the

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Lanesborough Approves Plan to Hire EMTs in Highway Department
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:30AM / Tuesday, January 23, 2018
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen have given the OK for the town manager to hire two emergency medical technicians to work in the Highway Department.   Town Manager Paul Sieloff put forth a proposal to bring on two additional workers who will also be responsible for running the ambulance during the day. The proposal is a creative way to address a shortage of volunteers, that have led the volunteer ambulance service to miss out on calls.    "What it would essentially do would give us coverage during the busiest time for the ambulance," Sieloff said.   He put forth the idea two weeks ago and, on Monday, the Board of Selectmen authorized him

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Pittsfield Crowne Plaza To Become Holiday Inn
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:20PM / Monday, January 22, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Crowne Plaza will transition into a Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites.   General Manager Charles Burnick said the licensing agreement with Intercontinental Hotels Group to operate as a Crowne Plaza has expired and the decision was made to renovate the entire building to become a Holiday Inn. IHG operates both Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands.   Work on the $2 million to $3 million renovation project is expected to start this spring and conclude by late summer, early fall.   "I would say the actual work would start by March 1," Burnick said. "We'd like to be done before the summer season ends."   The renovation will

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Berkshire County Democrats Meeting to Choose Delegates
01:55PM / Monday, January 22, 2018

Berkshire County Democratic committees will be holding their caucuses in February. This year's Massachusetts Democratic Party Endorsing Convention will be held June 1-2 at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the state will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide offices, including constitutional officers and gubernatorial candidates. Committees can submit their information to by email to be included in this list. A complete list of caucuses across the state can be found here.

* Adams: The Adams Democratic Town Committee will hold its caucus at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Adams Free Library, Miller Annex, 92 Park Street,

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MCLA Adds New Minor in Entrepreneurship
01:21PM / Monday, January 22, 2018

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts recently approved a new minor in entrepreneurship within the Department of Business Administration and Economics. Although many of the classes required for this new minor already are offered at the college, new courses will be added when the program is officially offered in January 2018.

According to Dr. Thomas Whalen, associate professor of business, the entrepreneurship minor may be added to most – if not all – of the majors MCLA offers.

"I cannot think of a single major that cannot be brought into some sort of entrepreneurial endeavor," Whalen said. "For example, someone in education might

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Berkshires Beat: MCLA Recognized for 'Outstanding Energy and Environmental Efforts'
12:44PM / Monday, January 22, 2018
Doing right

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is a recipient of a 2017 Leading by Example Award from the commonwealth of Massachusetts for outstanding energy and environmental efforts in the Public Higher Education category. Lawrence R. Behan, MCLA's vice president of administration and finance, said the college is committed to reducing its energy and environmental impacts. The college has installed numerous clean energy technologies and has improved resiliency.

Over the past decade, MCLA's clean energy and sustainability initiatives resulted in a 19 percent reduction in campus greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of removing 232 cars from the road – despite a

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Steele-Knudslien Arraigned on Murder Charge in Superior Court
10:36AM / Monday, January 22, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A man accused of killing his wife was arraigned Monday morning in Berkshire Superior Court on a murder charge.    Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, 47, entered a plea of not guilty of one charge of murder in connection with the death of his wife, 42-year-old Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.   Steele-Knudslien allegedly beat his wife with a hammer and stabbed her on the evening of Jan. 5 in their Veazie Street home in North Adams. Police say they discovered her body, wrapped up in the basement, after her husband entered the Adams Police Station hours later to report the crime.   Judge John Agostini ordered Steele-Knudslien continued to be held without

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