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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

Pittsfield Welcomes Serviceman Back From 5th Deployment
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
07:45AM / Saturday, February 25, 2017

During a short ceremony, Here At Home Committee Chairwoman Kathy Mickle presented Tech. Sgt. Shane Willis with a plaque honoring his service. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As soon as they saw the sirens coming down Wendell Avenue, the large crowd erupted in cheers: Tech. Sgt. Shane Willis is home safe.   Willis returned to his hometown Friday night, with an escort from state, local, and auxiliary police, after his fifth deployment overseas. He was most recently stationed for seven months in Kuwait with the Air Force.   He had been previously deployed to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once. The 37-year-old Taconic High School graduate has been in the Air Force Reserve for 15

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@theMarket: Market Stalls at Record Highs
By Bill Schmick,
07:02PM / Friday, February 24, 2017

Stock market averages made another batch of new highs this week only to fall back in what may be buyer exhaustion. If the trend continues, investors may be looking at a 4-5 percent decline from here.

It is too early to tell, because one day does not make a trend. We could easily experience a rebound next week, but I would still consider the present levels of most indexes ripe for a fall. My column last week pointed out that we are now in a "danger zone." Sure, the markets could continue to grind higher but every additional point just sets us up for an overdue correction.

Since all eyes and ears are on Washington, progress on President Trump's agenda is dictating where the

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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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The Independent Investor: What Happens to Your Pet After Your Death?
By Bill Schmick,
04:52PM / Friday, February 24, 2017

If you are one of the 70 percent of the population that considers their pet a member of the family, you should review your estate planning documents. Otherwise, there is a good chance your pet will either end up in the pound, or worse.

This hits close to home for many of us. If my wife and I were to die, for example, who would take care of our chocolate Lab, Titus?

There are few people who we would trust to take care of him. Compounding the problem is the fact that he is 8 years old and suffers from arthritis. I discovered that simply putting some instructions in a will was neither legally binding nor particularly useful. Unless we do something different, Titus could be condemned to

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'Lion': A Prince of the Jungle
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
04:33PM / Friday, February 24, 2017

Watching Garth Davis' "Lion," about a 5-year-old Indian boy who gets lost thousands of miles from his home, the innate humanitarian in you wonders just how many years of do-gooding it might take to put a dent in the horrific squalor the tale depicts. The poverty, the social equivalent of that stench-filled restaurant bathroom that has never left your psyche, is overwhelming. Shocked by the no-holds barred expose of how 80 percent of the world lives in destitution, you are humbled by your good fortune.

Granted, scripture reads that "The poor will always be with you," and there has never been any shortage of those wicked sorts who have seized that phrase as

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Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 22 - Feb. 23
Staff Reports,
01:34PM / Friday, February 24, 2017
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Feb. 22.   Damien Armstrong, 18, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of home invasion, and assault in a dwelling house with a dangerous weapon.   He was released on $5,000 bail. Armstrong is accused of breaking into a house on Onota Street in Pittsfield on December 16, 2016 and assaulting a 27-year-old man inside.   Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, Feb. 23.   Riley Nolan, 22, of Clarksburg had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws, possession of cocaine, and

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MCLA Professor Begins 'The 50 Card Project'
12:12PM / Friday, February 24, 2017

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Every week since Inauguration Day and continuing through the end of 2017, Melanie Mowinski, an associate professor of visual arts at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will print a new letterpress card in a limited edition of 100, using vintage letterpress type, cuts and other printing matrixes.

After making a card of FDR's Four Freedoms on Inauguration day, Mowinski decided to make a card every week for the entire 2017 year. She calls this mission "The 50 Card Project." In total, she will create 50 different cards or 5,000 individual cards. As they are completed each week, she will send 15 to 20 to key players in Washington, D.C.

"The

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Lee Bank Donates $5K Toward Pittsfield's ShotSpotter Rollout
Staff Reports,
11:45AM / Friday, February 24, 2017
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lee Bank has joined in the support for the deployment of a gunshot detection system.   Lee Bank is donating $5,000 toward the ShotSpotter contract. The technology is eyed to be installed this year and is used to detect and pinpoint the sound of gunshot, letting officers know on the spot when a weapon is fired on city streets.   "Pittsfield is important to all of Lee Bank's stakeholders and is crucial to the success and stability of Berkshire County overall," wrote Lee Bank President Chuck Leach in a letter to Mayor Linda Tyer.   "We are pleased to support this program because I strongly believe it will help to improve the quality

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Feb. 24-March 2
11:38AM / Friday, February 24, 2017

  VIEW DAY-BY-DAY CALENDAR       February 24 - March 2,

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Progress Being Made on Pittsfield's Westside Riverway Project
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:19AM / Friday, February 24, 2017
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Westway River Park project is starting to come to fruition.   Permitting Coordinator Nate Joyner told the Parks Commission on Tuesday that new park space should be opening this summer on Dewey Avenue. The city had acquired a number of parcels, mostly through tax title, and has been working to demolish existing buildings and clean contaminants from the soil.   That work is 75 percent complete, Joyner said, with the final touches being done this spring. There is also one final building remaining in area which is also scheduled to be razed this year. Then the new open space are will available for public use.   "It was heavily overgrown with a

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Pittsfield Awards Contract To Rehabilitate First Street Parking Lot
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:56PM / Thursday, February 23, 2017

The project includes underground stormwater chambers to eliminate the standing water problems which exist in the lot now. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The First Street parking lot is set for a rehabilitation.   The city awarded Maxymillian Construction the contract to overhaul the 241-space municipal lot. Parking kiosks are planned to be installed.   According to Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy, the construction is expected to start when weather allows this spring and conclude by June 30.   "We expect the project to be done in two phases, roughly the equivalent number of parking spaces in each, to allow some continued use of the parking lot during

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Pittsfield's Finance Director Reports Strong Revenue Figures
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:17AM / Thursday, February 23, 2017

Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood presented an update on the current year.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — To date, the city is hitting its estimates for revenue.

But there are still some budget lines that are being monitored.

Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood presented a report of the city's fiscal 2017 expenditures to date. He said so far there are a few budget lines that look to go into deficit but revenues are trending upward.   The city receives its local revenue from just two sources: tax collections and local receipts. The city has a strong collection rate of 96 percent historically when it comes to collecting property and personal property taxes and that trend is

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No Trial Date Set in 2015 Adams Terrorism Case
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:46PM / Wednesday, February 22, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It likely will be at least mid-June before there is any talk of a trial date in the case of the United States vs. Alexander Ciccolo.

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson set June 20 for the next hearing in the case, which has dragged on for more than 18 months while the Adams man accused of federal terrorism offenses is held in a Rhode Island detention facility.

Robertson also ordered the exclusion of the time between Wednesday and June 20 from the speedy trial rules while Ciccolo's counsel and the U.S. Attorney's Office continue to discuss what evidence needs to be turned over to the defense.

On Wednesday, Assistant U.S.

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