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Berkshires Beat: Rockwell Museum Hosts Student Exhibit 'Reimagining The Four Freedoms'
02:14PM / Monday, March 12, 2018
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Niskayuna High School ninth-grader Tasneem Abdalla's work titled 'Freedom of Creativity' is part of the 'Reimagining The Four Freedoms' exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Freedom rings

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms," set to embark on an international tour, Norman Rockwell Museum is once again teaming up with New York's Capital Area Art Supervisors to present an exhibit of student artwork, exploring what freedom means for a new generation. "Reimagining The Four Freedoms" is on view at the museum from March 16 through April 8.

"Reimagining The Four Freedoms" will display original artworks, created in a variety of mediums, by high school students from the Capital District of New York State. Works from students enrolled in Studio in Art classes in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady County will be on view. Each work will relate to a freedom most important to the individual student. Participating school districts include Bethlehem, East Greenbush, Guilderland, Mohonasen, Niskayuna, Rensselaer, and Scotia-Glenville.

A special closing reception for the artists and public will be held on Sunday, April 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. Norman Rockwell’s original "Four Freedoms" paintings will be on view at the museum through April. The mission of the Capital Area Arts Supervisors is to ensure that all regional K-12 students experience creative and critical thinking for life-long learning through visual arts education as a means to fostering personal growth, community involvement, and social and career development.


Feel the energy

More than 50 state and municipal officials, academics, business leaders and community leaders gathered at Berkshire Community College earlier this month to discuss how the Berkshires can move to 100 percent renewable energy from sources like solar and wind. Local and state leaders like Pittsfield Mayor Tyer and state Sen. Adam Hinds addressed the Berkshires 100% Renewable Energy Summit. Speakers also included state leaders from the DOER and the Baker administration and businesses leaders from Berkshire East Mountain Resort, Origin Solar, Berkshire Photovoltaic Services, and Alpine Solar Heat and Hot Water.
A central message of the summit was driving more progress toward a clean energy future via regional collaboration, local leadership, and a state-level commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. Western Massachusetts has been building significant momentum for 100 percent renewables. The city of North Adams is powered by 100 percent solar power as of 2015. In 2016, Jiminy Peak hit a major milestone by reaching net annual 100 percent renewable power using a wind turbine and solar array. Another nearby ski resort, Berkshire East Mountain Resort, is the only ski area in the world to generate 100 percent of their electricity from onsite renewable energy.

The summit came as officials consider whether to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to commit to a goal of 100 percent clean, renewable energy economy-wide. The 100% Renewable Energy Act, filed by Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Sean Garballey, and Representative Marjorie Decker, would power Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and 100 percent renewable heating and transportation by 2050.


Nominations sought

The Scarborough Salomon Flynt Community Service Award Committee is accepting nominations for its third annual award. The Scarborough Salomon Flynt Award is a result of the merger of the Faith R. Scarborough Award and the Williamstown Community Chest Volunteer of the Year Award. The award honors Faith Scarborough and her dedication and efforts to the town as an active volunteer and as the first woman to chair the Board of Selectmen; Edith and Adolph Salomon, who came to Williamstown in 1939 after having fled Nazi Germany and the gratitude they exhibited to the community that provided them refuge and a home for more than 50 years; and Hank and Mary Flynt, whose numerous contributions to the town, both as volunteers and their generous bequests, helped make Williamstown the special place that it is.

The Scarborough Salomon Flynt Award recognizes a person's, persons' or civic group's demonstrated dedication, excellence and integrity to community service in order to make Williamstown a better place. Nominators should provide a narrative of accomplishments in support of their nominee. With many wonderful people nominated in a given year, much of the committee's decision making is based on the substance of the reasons given for the nomination and provides the content of the award recipient's certificate. The committee will select a citizen who has demonstrated integrity, excellence and dedication to community service.

The award will be presented at town meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, at 7 p.m., at Williamstown Elementary School. The deadline for nominations is April 19. Nominations should be submitted via the nomination form on the Williamstown Community Chest's website. Nomination forms will also be available on the table in the Town Hall lobby and can be emailed to the town moderator, or submitted in a sealed envelope to the town manager's office.


Health care advocacy

Jessa Barnard, the executive director of Vermont Medical Society, and Dr. Trey Dobson, president of the Vermont Medical Society president, were able to meet with U.S. Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont about health care advocacy in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, February 14. In addition to his role at the Vermont Medical Society, Dobson is a physician in the Emergency Department and the chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Health Care and the medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians in Bennington.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), which includes 19 primary and specialty care practices.


Rotary assistance

The Rotary Club of Pittsfield distributed $11,000 to local food pantries and kitchens, including the First Baptist Church, St. Mark's Food Pantry, First United Methodist Church, the Christian Center, St. Stephen's Table, Christian Assembly Church, Reigning Love Church, St. Agnes Church in Dalton, Salvation Army,  St. Joseph's Kitchen, St. Joseph's Church. Each group received a $1,000 grant to support their efforts.

The club raised funds through their Rotary Auction, golf tournament and through a food drive held last fall that was chaired by long time Rotarians H. Jay Bailly, vice president/senior business banking officer at Berkshire Bank, and Shaun Heimann, first vice president at Francis Investment Consulting Group. Collections were held at WalMart and Stop & Shop during October and November. In addition Rotarians worked with Pittsfield elementary schools, General Dynamics and the Berkshire Athenaeum, who organized in-house collections of non-perishable food items. The group collected $4,218 in cash and 5,400 pounds of food during the Food Drive.


Records destroyed

North Adams Public Schools will be destroying special education records of students who withdrew, graduated, transferred or were released from special education services during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 school years. 

Records will be destroyed on June 22, 2018. Students interested in retrieving their records should call Student Support Services at 413-776-1670, ext. 5 or 7. Two days advanced notice for pickup of records is appreciated.


Community expos

The Berkshire Athenaeum will kick off its series of monthly community expos to expand the public's awareness of service and resource organizations throughout the city and Berkshire County. On Monday, March 19, the library will host the "Job Resources and Soft Skills Training" expo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the library's reading room on the main floor. The event is free and no registration is required.

The March event will include representatives from BerkshireWorks, Pittsfield Adult Learning Center, Berkshire Community College’s College and Career Navigator, Goodwill’s Job Readiness Program and Community Legal Aid. The expo will also allow participants to meet with job training professionals, learn how to search for job listings, write resumes, and build interview skills, egister for job training classes, learn about new career opportunities, sign up for free college and career preparation sessions, and learn how to receive free legal representation (for under-resourced and elderly persons in western Massachusetts).

Dates and topics for the remaining expo events are as follows: April 24, "The Environment and Land Stewardship," and May 15, "Food Access."


New 'Slipper'

Who doesn't know the story of Cinderella? In "Slipper," her first novel for adults, Hester Velmans of Sheffield turns the tale on its head, imagining the trials and tribulations of the all-too-real model for the beloved fairy tale character. The initial setup is reminiscent of the fairytale's beginnings -- Lucinda is a poor orphaned stepchild treated cruelly by the family that takes her in. From there, however, the stories’ paths diverge as Velmans imagines a life rife with the hardships and dangers facing an unattached, penniless young girl in 17th century England. Filled with wry echoes of fairy tale themes, Slipper shines a fresh light on the predicaments we still wrestle with today.

Velmans is a novelist and translator of literary fiction. Born in Amsterdam, she had a nomadic childhood, moving from Holland to Paris, Geneva, London and New York. After a hectic career in international TV news, she moved to Sheffield to devote herself to writing. Hester's first book for middle-grade readers, "Isabel of the Whales," was a national bestseller, and she wrote a follow up, "Jessaloup’s Song," at the urging of her fans. She is a recipient of the Vondel Prize for Translation and a National Endowment of the Arts Translation Fellowship.

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