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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

Pittsfield Schools Backs Indigenous Peoples Day
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:19AM / Friday, January 26, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Christopher Columbus wasn't just a poor explorer, but also a horrible human being who should never have been honored in the first place, according to School Committee member Daniel Elias.   Elias joined in a unanimous vote on Wednesday to delete Columbus' name from the school calendar on the second Monday of October and replace it with Indigenous People's Day. The public holiday known as Columbus Day is slowly being replaced throughout the nation as history has now shown that not only was Columbus not the first person to discover America but he was also responsible for committing atrocities against the people who were living here when he

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The Independent Investor: There's Nothing Sheepish About the Price of Wool
By Bill Schmick,
05:24PM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
We humans have been using wool for thousands of years. It was the primary clothing material of the middle ages. But even today, new uses for wool are cropping up, driving prices to record highs.   The primary use for wool continues to be in clothing production. The newest demand for this natural material is coming from sport's companies such Nike, Puma and Adidas that are weaving it into sneakers. It appears that a new generation of consumers prefer natural over synthetic fibers. They want to know where their products come from and where they are going.   Even old codgers like me are not immune to this trend. Six months ago, I purchased my first pair of wool shoes. Not only

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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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'Phantom Thread': When Love Is In Fashion
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires film critic
02:51PM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
Though perhaps deluded, I'd like to think I put as much effort into an essay as Daniel Day-Lewis' Reynolds Woodcock devotes to making a dress in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Phantom Thread."    This is the sort of person you want doing your heart operation, piloting the airplane you're on, or teaching your kid. He's the real deal, and suffers for it, too. The maladies of obsessive genius are many. But the inherent reward is matchless, with the added benefit, aside from financial remuneration, of almost having a right to the arrogance you exude, if so inclined.   Welcome to Mr. Woodcock's world, a special place of understated elegance based in a

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GIC to Reconsider Reduction to Health Insurance Portfolio
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:06PM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The GIC may reverse course on its decision to slash the number of health insurance companies in its portfolio in half.   Last Thursday, the Group Insurance Commission, which administers health insurance to more than 400,000 state, school, and municipal employees, voted to decrease its options from six to three for active employees. GIC leadership said the move would save some $20.8 million.   GIC Executive Director Roberta Herman said the commission performed a study that showed many of the companies were offering similar products and that membership would have similar coverage but at a lower cost.   But, it was faced with a fierce outcry from

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Tyer Holding Public Meetings On Toter Proposal
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
12:02PM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer is taking the toters to the street.   The mayor has scheduled four neighborhood meetings to further discuss the proposal to overhaul curbside trash pickup by implementing a toter program. The mayor feels that what has been lost during the most recent debate on the issue is the direct impacts the plan will have on residents' day to day lives.   "I feel what has gotten lost in the conversation is what does it mean for people in their everyday lives. That's what will be the primary focus of our neighborhood meetings," Tyer said on Thursday.   The Tyer administration provided plenty of information regarding the costs,

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Pittsfield Plastic Bag Ban Remains on Table, Mayor Asked to Repair Streetlights
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:38AM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — At this point, Rinaldo Del Gallo just wants a resolution to the plastic bag ban proposal.   The attorney filed a petition back in 2013 for the city to ban single-use plastic bags — especially at grocery stores. And yet, five years later the ban is still making its way through the City Council process.   "My goal is to have some final disposition by March or April this year, which will be the five-year mark," Del Gallo said. "I think it would be good if we had an up or down vote or a decision to let the people vote on it."   At the time, the city would have become the second Berkshire community to move in that direction.

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Hinds Appointed to Senate Ways And Means
Staff Reports,
07:57PM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Adam Hinds was appointed to the Senate Ways & Means Committee.   The Pittsfield Democrat was appointed to the committee by acting Senate President Harriette Chandler on Wednesday, the same day Gov. Charlie Baker put forth his $40.9 billion spending plan for fiscal 2019.   "I am honored to join this important committee," Hinds said in a prepared statement. "It provides an opportunity to give western Massachusetts a louder voice when the Senate is making key policy and spending decisions."   Hinds is still in his first term and the assignment is coveted by lawmakers. The group is charged with reviewing all financial

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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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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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