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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

Guest Column: Massachusetts Can Help End Campus Violence
By Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Guest Column
01:25PM / Thursday, April 05, 2018
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Sexual assault on college campuses is a national public health crisis. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college nationally. During their time at college, 43 percent of women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors and 13 percent of women report being stalked.   To put things in perspective in our state, more than a half a million students are enrolled in a Massachusetts institution of higher education. In 2014, there were 283 reports

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State Senate Passes Short-Term Rental Bill
01:20PM / Thursday, April 05, 2018

BOSTON — State Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, said the state Senate on Wednesday passed S. 2381, An Act regulating and insuring short-term rentals. The bill expands the scope of the state's room occupancy excise tax and local option excise tax to include short-term transient accommodations.

"Short-term rentals have immense impact in the Berkshires and on cities and towns across the commonwealth," said Hinds. "I'm pleased that the Senate bill expands local control over short-term rental services and ensures that these services are competing in a fair and balanced hospitality market."

The legislation would generate an estimated $34.5 million and $25.5

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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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Pittsfield Health Complaint Raises Ire
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
11:53AM / Thursday, April 05, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Thelma Towne says one of her 87-year-old mother's few joys in life is to feed a few stray cats in the neighborhood.   But that came to a crashing halt on March 22 when Nuisance Control Officer Stephanie Provencher paid a visit to the Brown Street home. An anonymous complaint had been phoned into the Health Department that morning saying the food for the stray cats were starting to attract rats.   Provencher had been sent photos of a rat on the property and issued a cease-and-desist order on leaving cat food on the porch. Towne has never seen a rat on her property and said the order felt like an attack on her mother for feeding strays while others in

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Pittsfield Councilors Continue Efforts to Overhaul Trash Pickup
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:55AM / Thursday, April 05, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Health Department is recommending the city ramp up education and enforcement of the current waste removal laws.   In the wake of the City Council rejecting a plan to provider 45-gallon and 96-gallon toters to residents to limit trash disposal, the council is now continuing that conversation by looking at the current laws on the books. On Monday, the Ordinance and Rules Subcommittee heard from Health Director Gina Armstrong on the existing laws and ways to better seek compliance from residents.   "Based on the current situation, it would require additional staffing in the department," Armstrong of enforcing the current laws more

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Sonsini Asks For Judgement In Lawsuit Over Leadership
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:25AM / Thursday, April 05, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Friends of Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter is asking a judge to rule that some board members illegally attempted to oust the board president and the board treasurer.   That filing also flirts with accusations that Mayor Linda Tyer joined the effort to dislodge the leaders from the private non-profit. The mayor's office has denied comment on the matter, citing that being a legal issue, and Sonsini's attorney Stacey Elin Rossi declined to elaborate further.   Nonetheless, Rossi has filed in Westfield District to have a judge make a determination that on Nov. 3, 2017, Sonsini board members held an illegal meeting to vote out President Krista

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Berkshire County Sixth-Graders 'Go to College'
03:41PM / Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Williamstown Elementary sixth-graders listen to a presentation about the Finonacci sequence - using pine cones, which they got to mark to see the sequence for themselves - on Wednesday at Berkshire Community College during the Berkshire County Goes to College Day.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than 1,000 sixth-grade students from around Berkshire County are visiting college campuses this month for the 12th annual Berkshire County Goes to College Day, sponsored by the Berkshire Compact for Education and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

MCLA, Berkshire Community College, Williams College and Simon's Rock College of Bard all will host students for sessions on college life

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Wahconah to Present 'Mary Poppins'
02:34PM / Wednesday, April 04, 2018

DALTON, Mass. — The Wahconah Regional High School Apollonian Players will present the Broadway musical version of "Mary Poppins" on Friday, April 6, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 7, at 1 and 7 p.m.

This "practically perfect" musical is based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film.

The jack-of-all trades, Bert (Anthony Coviello), introduces us to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. George Banks (Joe Willson) and his wife Winnifred (Julia Drury) are at a loss as to how to properly raise their children in a society that expects them to live up to a particular status. Young Jane (Anna Duquette) and Michael (Aiden Betit) have sent

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Should You Make Extra Mortgage Payments or Boost Your Investments?
Submitted by Edward Jones,
01:36PM / Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Every month, you pay your mortgage. And, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to afford to put in additional payments – perhaps sizable ones. But should you? Or, if you really have the extra money, should you invest it?

Initially, you might think it would be quite nice to rid yourself of that mortgage sooner, rather than later. But is it really the burden it seems?

Actually, you get some real benefits from a mortgage. It certainly provides something of great value to you – your home. If you got your mortgage – or refinanced your home – within the past decade or so, you are borrowing money at a pretty favorable interest rate, by historical standards.

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Pittsfield's Finance Director Honored For Budget Presentation
Staff Reports,
01:00PM / Wednesday, April 04, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood's efforts to revamp the budget presentation hasn't gone unnoticed.    Last month, Kerwood was honored with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada and a letter of recognition for his work on the budget document itself.   The award is given for "the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting." The budget had to meet guidelines for "effective budget presentation" on how the city serves as a policy document.   The award comes for the 2018

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Pittsfield Councilors Look to Aid Homeless
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:38AM / Wednesday, April 04, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After a while of living on the street, homeless people get comfortable.   They're not going to walk into a local service agency and ask for help. They're going to struggle with health problems. And they're going to continue living wherever they can find a place to sleep.   Edward Carmel knows this because he's been there. He's been homeless and he says once you are homeless, you will always have that mentality.   "When you've been homeless for so long do you know what's in your mind? You don't want a home. You're comfortable where you are. It is like an addict, you are comfortable where you are. We need to

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Labor Board to Hear Complaints Against BMC
Staff Reports,
05:07PM / Tuesday, April 03, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The National Labor Relations Board will hear three cases against Berkshire Medical Center.   The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association had filed a handful of unfair labor relations complaints with the hospital over contract negotiations. The labor board has now determined that three of them have enough merit to be heard.   "We have been trying to negotiate a fair contract that ensures high-quality patient care since October 2016," said Alex Neary, co-chair of the nursing union's local bargaining committee.    "These National Labor Relations Board findings show that while we have been negotiating in good faith,

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BRTA Sets Hearings on Service and Fare Changes
02:53PM / Tuesday, April 03, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is planning to increase Charlie Card fares and reduce routes because of proposed budget cuts at the state level that has created a nearly $400,000 deficit.   The BRTA, the main public transportation unit serving the Berkshires, is facing an operational budget deficit of $378,400 for the upcoming fiscal year. Transit officials statewide say $88 million is needed to properly fund RTAs after four years of nearly level funding.   The proposed options for the Fixed Route bus service would be to: discontinue the 4:30 p.m. trip on Bus Route 21 Express; eliminate Bus Route 3S, adding demand stops on Bus Route 3 to

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