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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

BMC Cancer Center Looking for Berkshire Heroes
12:01PM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Cancer Center at Berkshire Medical Center is seeking nominations from the public for its annual Berkshire Heroes recognition program.

Berkshire Heroes are the people and organizations that have had a positive impact on the lives of those being treated for cancer. The public can nominate people or organizations in the following categories:

* Healthcare Providers at Berkshire Health Systems: who spend their days (and nights!) caring for the extraordinary people of the Berkshires.

* Patients: who have helped each other get through this difficult time.

* Caregivers: who provide incredible support for their friends and family.

* Members and Organizations of


Use 'Open Enrollment' to Help Improve Your Financial Outlook
11:51AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

It's Open Enrollment Season, so if you work for a medium- or large-sized company, you will need to make some choices regarding your employee benefits — and these choices can have a big impact on your financial situation.

Depending on your employer, your benefits package may include various types of insurance, plus access to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of these benefits:

* Health insurance: Companies regularly change plans and providers, so the coverage and premiums you had last year may not be the same this year. In any case, look at all aspects of your coverage options – premiums, deductibles, co-pays and total


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

Letter: One Real Option for State Senator
Letters to the Editor,
10:00AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

To the Editor:

There is only one real option for state senator.

Adam Hinds does not support the $15 an hour minimum wage. Although initially stating he did, when faced with opposition from the Berkshire County Farm Bureau, Hinds suddenly changed his position. Then at the North Adams debate, the candidates were asked directly whether they fully support the $15 an hour minimum wage. All raised their hands except Hinds.

This is deeply troubling. First, Hinds does not support a more livable minimum wage; he certainly does not support labor. But second, we can no longer believe anything Hinds says. Adam Hinds panders to his audience, telling them whatever they want to hear. As state senator,


Pittsfield Undecided On Residency Requirement Petition
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:36AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Former City Councilor Lou Costi would be one of the people to lose board appointments because he has since moved to Cheshire.  PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee remains torn on the concept of requiring those who serve on boards and commissions to be city residents.    In May, resident David Pill filed a petition calling for such a regulation. The subcommittee took it up for the third time on Tuesday night and opted to send it to the full council with a positive recommendation in a split vote.   However, even those in favor of approving such an ordinance believes there is still more work to be done.   "There is


MCLA Starts Off Semester With New Leader, More Students & $2M Grant
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
12:29AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

MCLA bow tie pins will be presented to individuals who exemplify the college's ideals and their names will be listed at the president's office.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is starting of the 2016 fall semester in a good place.

For the first time in two years, it has a permanent president at the helm, enrollment is up and it was just awarded $2 million to help it keep doing what it's been doing so well: retaining and graduating its low-income and students of color.

President James F. "Jaimie" Birge announced at Tuesday's traditional convocation breakfast that the college was told last week it would receive a $2.177 million


Redemption: Pittsfield Fire Department to Hire Ex-Con
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:05PM / Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Mayor Linda Tyer said Frederick Conyers' story is one of redemption.  PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Frederick Conyers Jr. had a choice: he could run and hide from his past or he could face it head on.   On Tuesday, he sat, flanked by the mayor and the fire chief and surrounded by microphones and cameras from a half-dozen local reporters, detailing his criminal history, incarceration and rise to redemption.   Conyers is set to be appointed as one of the city's newest firefighters despite opposition from members of the firefighters union and some in the general public.    "When I did move back to Pittsfield, that's when I started heading down the


Pittsfield Writers Residency Project Mixes Art, Architecture
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:57AM / Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The designs were inspired by five major authors who wrote in the city of Pittsfield. Once constructed, the studios will be large enough for a writer in residency to work out of during the month of July. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The pieces are all coming together for an art and architecture project that will bring writers to the city to work in mobile studios inspired by five major historical authors.   Architects Chris Parkinson and Tessa Kelly are launching an exhibit at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in September to show exactly how the project will work. The two have designed five portable structures that will be placed in various parts of the city and authors will take


Senate Candidates Debate at UCP in North Adams
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:00PM / Sunday, September 04, 2016
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — In the seventh of eight debates in six days, the candidates for the Democratic nomination for the state Senate seat continued to show their differences.   United Cerebral Palsy held a nearly 3-hour forum Friday night with Executive Director Salvatore Garozzo moderating. The primary election is on Thursday and the winner will take on Republican Christine Canning-Wilson in the general election in November.    The three kicked off by telling a little bit about themselves. Adam Hinds grew up in Shelbourne Falls and was the son of a public school teacher and a part-time librarian. As a child, Hinds said his father tried to get an upholstery tool company


Local Environmentalist Updates Guide to Berkshire Trails
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
06:27AM / Sunday, September 04, 2016


NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Lauren R. Stevens has been traipsing through the Berkshire mountains for more than 40 years.

And he wants others to find the same joy has in exploring the trails that weave throughout the county.

"I want people to gain an appreciation of the beautiful place we live in," the retired Williams College professor said. "There are benefits to just walking — physical and psychological. It has a way refueling."

Stevens recently published "50 Hikes In The Berkshire Hills," an updated guide to some favorite hikes, walks and climbs throughout the county. The guide, published by W.W. Norton's Countryman Press, came out in


@theMarket: A Tale of Two Interest Rates
By Bill Schmick,
07:33AM / Saturday, September 03, 2016

Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, investors had little to do but bet on how strong or weak the unemployment number would be. It turned out to be weaker than expected and the markets rallied.

Yes, we are once again in a "bad news is good news environment." Weaker economic data means the chances of the Federal Reserve Bank raising interest rates at the September meeting is diminished. That means lower rates for longer, which equals higher prices for stocks, bonds, and commodities. None of the above disappointed on Friday.

Investors should take the action in the markets (both up and down) with a grain of salt. The real market moves normally begin after the unofficial end of summer,


Superior Court Briefs: Aug. 29 - Aug. 31
Staff Reports,
12:36PM / Friday, September 02, 2016
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, August 29.   Rhianna Randall, 40, of Dalton pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery and a single count of disturbing the peace.   She was placed on two-years probation on the assault and battery charges. The other charge was placed on file.   Randall assaulted three youths - ages 17, 15, and 15, - on October 24, 2015.   Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, August 30.   Patrick Coyne, 34, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of armed career felon, illegal possession of a firearm - his second offense, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and discharging a


The Independent Investor: The VA Political Football
By Bill Schmick,
12:06PM / Friday, September 02, 2016

It is an election year and as such veterans are a voting block that neither side can resist. Both candidates are promising to overhaul Veterans Affairs once elected. The questions are whether to hand it over to the private sector or just try and fix the government organization's short-comings.

We all remember the terrible scandal back in 2014 when a whistle-blower revealed shocking inefficiencies, coverups and the deaths of some veterans within the Veterans Affairs. The then Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, along with a gaggle of bosses in various states, who were caught falsifying waiting time reports for vets, provided the obligatory resignation parade before the


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