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Plastic Bag Ban One Step Closer to Passing
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:50AM / Tuesday, February 05, 2019
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee finally came to an agreement on a plastic bag ban.   A proposal to ban thin, single-use plastic bags, which are primarily used to bag groceries at the supermarket, has been working its way through the legislative process for nearly six years. It was proposed by attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo as a measure to reduce the amount of plastic bags causing damage to the environment.   On Monday, the Ordinance and Rules Committee finally agreed to the language of the ordinance and it will now go to the full council.   "The whole ordinance is banning the traditional single-use plastic bag," said Ward 3

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Big Y Plans to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Bags in 2020
Staff Reports,
05:32PM / Tuesday, January 08, 2019
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Both Berkshire County cities last year spent months, if not years, talking about banning single-use plastic bags but they might find business is moving ahead of them.    Big Y Foods Inc., one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, will eliminate its use of the bags from all 70 of its markets, specialty stores and Big Y Express Gas and Convenience locations in 2020.   That decision was prompted, in part, by local towns that have already prohibited the use of the bags. The 83-year-old company says it has been complying with bag bans in Adams (which launched a free bag initiative), Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee,

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Pittsfield Awards Wastewater Project Contract
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
07:09AM / Saturday, January 05, 2019
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant will cost $13 million less than expected.   The city awarded Methuen Construction a contract of $51,423,287 to make the upgrades required to comply with a U.S. EPA mandate to lower the levels of phosphorous and aluminum being discharged into the Housatonic River. It also includes adding a nitrogen optimization process. The City Council had previously authorized $74 million to complete the work.   "I think it shows our engineers and third-party review team did an amazing job at designing a system that could be constructed for a price below what we estimated. This is obviously good news for the city of

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Pittsfield Switching to LED Streetlights in Early 2019
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:33AM / Monday, December 24, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — New year, new streetlights.   After months of figuring out the logistics, the city will be rolling out the construction phase of converting more than 5,000 street lights to more efficient LED technology. The city signed contracts with Pine Ridge Technologies to replace all street lights, parking lot lights, and exterior school lights throughout the city.    "They have been in the city before. They just ended with our maintenance contract. A new contractor took the maintenance contract and they switched to the LED switch," said City Engineer Ricardo Morales.   The City Council had approved $3 million for the project in 2017 and 30

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South County's Becker Pond Dam Makes Priority Project List
04:22PM / Thursday, December 06, 2018
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MOUNT WASHINGTON, Mass. — Restoration of a mile of Schenob Brook and the removal of the Becker Pond Dam have been named as priority projects for the state.    The Baker-Polito administration made the designation on Thursday for Schenob Brook/Becker Pond Dam Removal Project along with 11 other river and wetland restoration projects across the commonwealth.   As priority projects through the Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration, they are now eligible for technical services, including data collection, engineering, design work, permitting, project management and grants.   "Ecological restoration is an important tool for local

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Solar Company Reassessing Array For Pontoosuc Lake Country Club
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:22AM / Friday, November 30, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nexamp believes there is still a path to getting a solar array at Pontoosuc Country Club.   The Boston-based company was just recently denied by the Conservation Commission because of the access road to the proposed 6.5-megawatt array infringed on wetlands. The array was hotly contested among the neighbors, who mounted a coordinated opposition to the project at Conservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals meetings on it.   In the wake of that denial, Nexamp's business development manager Joseph Fiori asked the Zoning Board of Appeals to hold off on voting for that permit in hopes to reassess the project.    "We have our work

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Good Science at Work Inside Butterfly Magical Wings
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
04:57PM / Sunday, November 25, 2018
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  I walked down the road on Mount Greylock that leads to a parking lot for trekkers who want to traverse trails through the deciduous woodlands where the manifold wonders of nature unfold.   All around me were untold numbers of buds about to burst from their winter dormancy. Trilliums at ground level were showing tiny green leaves, not yet revealing their triad flowers so deep red or white, remindful of the three-cornered hats worn during Colonial days. Spring beauties were carpeting the forest floor with their jolly pink and white blossoms. And perusing the naked branches before the buds leaf out, I found a Cecropia moth's silken cocoon spun on a low-lying

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Pittsfield ConCom Says No Deal on Berkshire Flower Shop Plan
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
07:09AM / Saturday, November 17, 2018
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Narain Schroeder of BNRC has been pushing for the land to be conserved. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission has denied a proposal from Mazzeo's restaurant to use the Berkshire Flower Shop property instead of having it turned into conservation land.   The city reached an agreement with the Gordon Rose family to conserve the property located at 910 South St. back in 1997. The deal called for the land on the city's southern entryway to eventually be converted into conservation space.    The building was once one of the city's earliest fast-food restaurants, The Quarry. It had been occupied by the late Bridget Brown since she opened her

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Lanesborough Couple's Efforts to Keep Family Farm Continues
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:59AM / Monday, November 12, 2018
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — About a month ago Kristen Tool returned home to find a for sale sign in the yard.   Tool and her husband, Chris Wheeler, are more than a year and a half into an effort to keep the Olsen Farm. Wheeler's great-grandfather had established the farm in 1938 and it has been passed down through the generations.   But when Wheeler's father, Thomas Olsen, died in January 2017 he left no will but rather about $100,000 worth of debt on the property.   Tool and Wheeler turned their attention on taking over and re-establishing the farm. They planted crops, trees, have bees, and chickens there but they still need to come up with the money to purchase the

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Pittsfield ConCom Continues Solar Array Hearing For Another Month
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:02AM / Friday, October 26, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission needs more time before rendering its decision on a hotly debated solar array at the Pontoosuc Country Club.   The Boston-based solar developer Nexamp Inc. is proposing a 6.5-megawatt solar array on 25 of the course's 131 acres of land. But neighbors have been fiercely opposed to it and have been fighting it at every turn. The Conservation Commission needs to give its approval on a portion of the work that is in the wetlands buffer zone.   Nexamp first took it to the Conservation Commission close to six weeks ago and the commission opted to perform a site visit. On Thursday, the commission again opted to continue the hearing

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