Don't Shoot Me!
Sen. Ben Downing reports that state offices including his own have been getting calls from constituents worried they will be forced to get a swine flu vaccine. Not so, says the senator. "These rumors appear to be part of a deliberate effort to misinform concerned citizens about state and national pandemic response efforts," he writes in his recent e-mail update.
The state's public health commissioner says the Department of Public Health will not call nor authorize mandatory vaccination against the H1N1 flu strain, nor are any other local, state or federal officials calling for it. Find out more at DPH.
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Will the Boys of Summer Return?
We're told the North Adams SteepleCats will return once more to Joe Wolfe Field come 2010.
But what about that other county team? The Pittsfield American Defenders' sister team in the Can-Am League lost the battle for Holman Stadium in Nashua last week when the city parked a bulldozer on the field and the changed locks.
Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau told the UnionLeader.com last week, "They have a responsibility and obligation to the city that hasn't been met."
The American Defenders of New Hampshire owe $45,000 in back rent and fees for police and fire details. The team was cleaning out its offices ahead of the Aug. 31 eviction and finishing up the season on the road.
We wonder what this means for the collegiate team here in Pittsfield, which had to cut its season short win Wahconah Park turned into Wahconah Lake.
Update: Sept. 11, 2009. The Eagle's reporting that the team has "cash flow" problems in Pittsfield, too, to the tune of $35,000 owed to the city. "There's no deadline but I expect it in the near future," Mayor James Ruberto told The Eagle.
The team signed a three-year contract for the use of Wahconah Park that includes a $13,500 license and $400 per game, along with other user fees. A concert planned to pump up revenues turned into a disaster when only 10 percent of the hoped-for 4,000 to 5,000 attendees showed up.
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A reader browsing through the just-published June edition of Yankee Magazine found North Adams mentioned twice in the top 10 attractions in New England.
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was rated best museum with Hudson's as best antiques shop. Not surprising for Mass MoCA to be listed; after all its the biggest contemporary art museum in the world and has been making waves with its massive, three-floor Sol LeWitt exhibit.
Hudson's is located right outside the Mass MoCA entryway (with another location on Main Street in the old Mohawk Gift Shop). Perhaps the editor of the piece decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
In any case, kudos are due to both establishments. The good press can't help but bring more tourists to the area. The listing can be found on Page 120 of Yankee Magazine.
We also note that Yankee named Williams College Museum of Art among the top five college art museums in New England back in February.
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Well, you can find out what's been happening in a couple weeks when the director of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, Sharon Gillett, and her staff comes to Great Barrington. The institute was created as part of the broadband measure to assess deficiencies in Internet access and develop a comprehensive plan for expanding broadband with private partners.
Reps. Denis E. Guyer and William "Smitty" Pignatelli, and Sen. Benjamin B. Downing will be on hand as well. The forum takes place from 3 to 4:30 on Friday, June 19, at Berkshire South Regional Community Center, 15 Crissey Road, Great Barrington.
Guyer also passes along the news that the funding for the broadband bill will likely come from federal stimulus funds. The act included a $25 million bond - the governor's favorite way to fund projects - to creative an incentive fund overseen by the institute.
According to Guyer's recent newsletter, "Governor Patrick filed a bill regarding the change which was heard last week by the Committee Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. Passage of this bill will better position Massachusetts to take full advantage funding through the American Recover and Reinvestment Act for broadband infrastructure. As a member of the committee, I was able to attend a hearing last week which included review of this bill and I will be working to get this passed."
If you're planning to attend the broadband forum, let them know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-870-0312, Ext. 1645.
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I first met Karen Gardner in the newsroom of the North Adams Transcript. We'd both been working for the New England Newspapers for years but our paths had never crossed.
We sat side by side, bonding over "Survivor," tales of children and family, the intricacies of entertainment pages, breaking news and the daily drudge. A year later, MCLA smartly plucked her from a ream of resumes to become its communication specialist.
I left the Transcript the following year; as often happens, we went along our separate ways, only occasionally meeting up. And she sent me lots of well-written press releases that saved me time and effort.
Life handed her a couple tough years, but through it all she maintained her composure, her good nature and professionalism. Now she's found a new - and well-deserved - love and is flying off to Texas to marry into a new family and find new adventures.
As her MCLA colleagues said earlier this week, "she always carries herself with such grace."
So for all we were happy for her newfound joy, there was sadness, too, at her going away party last week at MCLA's alumni office. Karen got plenty of reminders of her time at the college (including a towel) and well wishes from President Mary Grant and even Mayor John Barrett III.
She's left some tough shoes to fill.
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