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Are We There Yet?: Stay Empowered This Weekend

By Rebecca Dravis
IBerkshires Staff

So now that we have power up here in the Northern Berkshires — for now — let's take a look at this weekend.

Actually, let's start with Friday, July 11, and if the power goes out on this event, who cares? I'm talking about Eagle Street Beach Party in North Adams, and a lack of electricity might actually enhance this event by removing the music that's always way too loud on one end of the street.

But I digress. From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., kids are invited to come play in the more than 250,000 pounds of sand dumped on the street. There are games and contests, and the Eagle Street merchants always get in on the fun, too. The event is only held if there is no threat of rain; after all, who wants 250,000 pounds of mud? As of this writing in Thursday, Friday looks good to go, so head north and prepare to play!

On Saturday, July 12, get thee to a library ... where electricity is always helpful. In Otis, the library fair will be held from 10 to 3:30 (OK, it's actually NOT in the library, but on the church green, but this is Otis and it's all right there anyway). This event will feature more than 50 unique artists, craftsmen and clothes vendors selling their products. There will also be a book sale, bake sale, cookout and raffle prizes. All proceeds go toward new library computers, books, videos, and expanded library operating hours.

Staying in South County, the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic will hold a program called "Robots on the Run" from 2 to 4 p.m., presented by the Rhode Island Computer Museum. This workshop aims to explain basic circuits and instructions on how to build a simple robot. Kids 10 and up Will learn programmable electronics including how to make lights blink, motors run, sounds and more.

Back to North County, the Milne Library in Williamstown will host a program on Saturday called "Fire and Ice" at 1 p.m. As party of the "Fizz Boom Read" Summer Reading Program. Mad Science of New England will present this interactive science program about states of matter. Library programs are free.

Sunday, July 13, brings another fun outdoor activity: An Appalachian Trail Family Hike from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Great Barrington. This a special kid-friendly hike is geared at helping families enjoy hiking the Appalachian Trail. The 2-mile hike (round-trip) through ice gulch to the Tom Leonard Shelter will take families into one of Berkshire County’s most interesting trail sections. Kids will be able to explore a thru-hiker shelter, eat their lunch with an awesome view, and play games that help develop good trail skills. Parents will learn great tips for successful family trail days. For more information and to register, email info@gbtrails.org. Registration is required, group size is limited.

Power or no power, our beautiful Berkshire Hills can still be hiked. Maybe next time the power goes out we all need to remember that there are plenty of ways to have downtime when you can't power up.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires.com. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

     

Are We There Yet?: Ramble Weekend

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Columnist
As I sit here writing this, I am in the throes of a nasty fall cold. My brain is muddled (that's a fair warning to my editor) but somewhere in the back of my head I seem to remember being sick last year right around Columbus Day Weekend. Is it something about the change of the seasons? The fact that my daughter is back in school surrounded by germs — or that I recently chaperoned a school field trip to Jaeschke's Orchard in Adams with 60-plus of the little germ carriers themselves? Or is it just my body's way of saying slow down, as fall is an extremely busy time of year for me in my "day job"?
 
Maybe it's all of the above, but I do hope I'm feeling up to some fun fall activities this Columbus Day Weekend. And since I was already speaking of Adams, let's start there, because, as the Facebook page flier says, "Adams is Columbus Day Weekend."

On Sunday, Oct. 13, Ramblefest kicks off with a party from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Adams Visitors' Center on Hoosac Street. There will be food, vendors, music, games and activities for the kids, and more — all to gear folks up for main event. And what's that? The Ramble itself, when thousands of people climb Mount Greylock via the Cheshire Harbor Trail all at once — well, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here's the scoop on that: There will be a free shuttle from the Adams Free Library to the trailhead from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with return shuttles running through 4 p.m. The first 2,000 hikers will receive certificates of accomplishment, and there will be awards for the first, the youngest and the oldest hiker to reach the summit, and to the hiker who has traveled the greatest distance to participate. Leashed pets permitted. The walk, by the way, is about 6.6 miles, takes about four to five hours and is considered moderately strenuous — but the views at the top will be worth it!
 
(And while you're in Adams, do try to visit Jaeschke's. Four-foot-tall germ-carriers aside, I had a lot of fun, and the orchard is teeming with delicious, juicy apples, and apple-picking is one of the best ways I know how to spend the holiday weekend! There are other places to pick; visit www.pickyourown.org/massveg.htm for some other local options.)
 
There are other things to do this weekend that aren't in Adams. On Saturday, kids can decorate pumpkins at the Berkshire Co-Op Market in Great Barrington. Kids should dress to get messy as they will be using acrylic paints to decorate the pumpkins. To sign up or for more information, call 413-528-9697, ext. 10, or visit berkshire.coop. And on Monday, a free Public Safety Day will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dower Square Community Center at 253 Wahconah St. There will be a display of an array of the police's and fire department's vehicles. For more information, call 413-499-9367.
 
Whatever you do this long holiday weekend, stay healthy. Believe me ... you don't want what I have!
 
Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.
     

Sandy Cancels Governor's Visit to Florida Turbines

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

Massachusetts is cut off on this graphic but it looks like rain for sure is headed our way.
Fourteen months after Irene deluged the region, another hurricane is headed our way. The sweetly named Sandy (now dubbed "Frankenstorm") is expected to arrive early next week just in time for Halloween.

We'll be meeting with North Adams officials this afternoon about emergency preparations and checking in with other towns. We'll do our best to keep everyone as up-to-date as possible on cancellations and closures around the county.


Sandy could did dampen the opening of the Hoosac Wind Project, which has had its own stormy path to completion over the past decade.

Gov. Deval Patrick and EOEEA Secretary Richard Sullivan Jr. were scheduled to arrive on Florida mountain with other state and local officials on Monday morning to celebrate with turbine-developer Iberdrola the near completion of the state's largest utility-scale wind power project. We learned Friday morning shortly after posting this that the press conference has been been canceled and will be rescheduled at a later date.


Meanwhile, the governor is warning state utiltities to have their ducks in row for this storm after complaints during last year's disasters of delays and poor communication with local officials. He's holding a press avail at noon to talk about the storm but no word yet on whether we'll be able to listen in.


Berkshire Orthopaedic Associates has informed its patients some of the medications it has used were made at the Framingham facility now under investigation after two dozen deaths and more than 300 reported cases from fungal meningitis, reports The Eagle.

None of the contaminated steroids linked to the outbreak are known to have been used in the area, Berkshire Medical Center and North Adams Regional Hospital told us several weeks ago; since then, all products from the New England Compounding Center (now under criminal investigation) have been removed from their stock.


Remember Tom Finneran, once the most powerful man in the state? He's not getting that taxpayer-funded pension.


Oops. Gene Shalit's being charged after hitting a pole in Lenox on Wednesday and ending up  in someone's front yard. Shalit, 86, reportedly told police he dozed off. No one was hurt.


Diana Bonneville of Becket is the new principal of South Hadley High School.


A reminder that tonight is the Halloween parade in Pittsfield; road closures can be found here. If you're looking for a scare, try the North Adams Movieplex, which is offering a raft of horror movies and two Halloween-themed comedies.
     

Governor in Pittsfield For Rice Silk Mill Ribbon Cutting

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
Gov. Deval Patrick stops by the Rice Silk Mill in Pittsfield this afternoon for a ribbon-cutting and a message about Gateway Cities (of which Pittsfield is one). We were at the mill 10 months ago when developers were getting ready to turn the derelict building into sweet apartments. Can't wait to see the changes.


The Berkshire Eagle reports that at least two instances of alleged sexual abuse by Boy Scout leaders in the Berkshires were found in the thousands of pages of confidential files ordered open by the Oregon Supreme Court.


Looking for some bargains? The state's auctioning off some $435,000 in unclaimed property on eBay beginning Saturday and running through Dec. 22. Some of the items, including a diamond ring worth $17,000 and a 300-year-old brandy snifter were on display in Springfield. You can catch them today in Worcester (from noon to 5) or wait until they show up on eBay.


There's still time to nominate someone for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's Fall Neighborly awards. Call Annie at 413-663-7588 to nominate someone; the awards will be presented next Wednesday, Oct. 24.


The Boston Business Journal has a pretty "hot" map: it shows where in the state the millionaires cluster. Dark red indicates fewer than 100 residents per million-dollar earner. Not surprisingly, the Berkshire millionaires are cluster in South County and Williamstown.

What they're up to: North Adams City Councilor John Barrett III, former longtime mayor of the city, has been in Virginia with two Mass mayors campaigning against his least favorite governer, Mitt Romney.  Diana Bonneville, a social studies teacher in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District in 1990s and a master's graduate of MCLA, is in the running for principal of the South Hadley High School.
     
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