Staff Reports On: 11:03AM / Monday November 25, 2013
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A Pownal, Vt., man was killed Sunday morning in a head-on accident on Route 7 near Mount Greylock Regional High School.
Lawrence George, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene after a Ford Explorer collided with his Hyundai Electra at about 10:40 a.m. on Cold Spring Road.
According to police, the Explorer was northbound on the highway when the driver, driven by William Lowe, 34, of Pawtucket, R.I., lost control of the vehicle just north of the school and veered into the southbound lane, striking the Hyundai head on.
A woman who was a passenger in the Ford was trapped in the wreckage and freed by firefighters. She and Lowe were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with non-life-threatening injuries.
Both vehicles were totaled and Cold Spring Road closed until 3 p.m. until the state police accident reconstruction and Crime Scene Services teams released the scene. State police from the Cheshire Barracks also assisted with the closure and traffic.
Williamstown Police and Fire departments and Village Ambulance Service responded to the scene. The accident remains under investigation; police said no further information would be immediately available.
Businesses Warned of Utility Scam
Staff Reports On: 01:24PM / Tuesday October 01, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Area businesses are being warned not for fall for a scam targeting their electricity accounts.
At least one business owner fell for the con in which someone calls up claiming to be from National Grid and threatens to turn off the electricity unless the victim pays through GreenDot MoneyPak payment cards.
Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson said four business owners have already contacted him about the scam, which has been floating around at least since this past April.
National Grid, in a press release, said it has "received numerous calls from electric customers saying they have been contacted by phone by individuals claiming to be from National Grid and advising the customers they have a past due balance on their utility bill."
The utility notes that is does contact customers with overdue accounts to offer payment options, "but never demands direct payment over the telephone."
Colleen Taylor of the Freight Yard Pub was contacted by the scammers on Tuesday morning and immediately brought it to the attention of Johnson and iBerkshires and gave us the scammer's number at 801-850-6225 in Provo, Utah. The number appears to be routed through Ymax Communications Corp., purveyors of the magicJack phone service.
We called and spoke first with a man named Mike Wallace who sent us to his "supervisor" Jason Roberts.
Roberts informed us that we needed to purchase those GreenDot cards to pay our bill because the technicians "have a van with every single customer's information, credit card, Social Security, checking routing number, so on and so forth" and if it got stolen, the thief would have all our information.
That's why if there's an hour cancelation they won't accept a check or cash payment.
No, that doesn't make any sense, but the scammers do talk a good line trying to make it sound reasonable. Really, if your utility asks you to go buy some money card at Cumberland Farms — hang up.
National Grid says to call its Customer Contact Center at 1-800-322-3223 if you receive any suspicious calls demanding account information or immediate payment. Western Massachusetts Electric Co. is also aware of the scam, which hit the Springfield area in July. WMECo customers can call 1-877-OK- WMECo.
After getting off the phone with Mr. Roberts, Charles Anderson of the "National Grid Disconnect Department" called us back, saying a technician would arrive at 2 p.m. to disconnect us. We can't wait.
Mount Greylock High Searched After Threat Rumor
Staff Reports On: 11:37PM / Sunday September 08, 2013
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Police and school officials searched Mount Greylock Regional High School on Thursday night after a rumored threat.
In two messages to the Mount Greylock community, Principal Mary A. MacDonald said the search for unidentified "contraband" on the school grounds came after a consultation with Department of Children and Families "that an at-risk student might pose a threat."
Police Chief Kyle Johnson, reached Friday night, said an officer assisted school officials in the search along with a state police K-9 unit. Johnson said nothing was found and no one was charged "as the rumor was unfounded."
He said the search had nothing to do with the pursuit of a suspected drug dealer that also occurred on Thursday night.
MacDonald's message late Friday afternoon provided few details, such as when the search occurred. The search did include the fact that the school's crisis management team was assembled.
"We are not at liberty to provide further details, however, we remain vigilant and will communicate with you as the need arises," the principal wrote in Friday's message.
In a message Sunday night, MacDonald clarified that the search had been Thursday night and that there were no students in the building.
"If there was any validity to the allegation, students would not have been allowed to re-enter on Friday, September 6th," she wrote.
The district had done "extensive groundwork" over the summer refining emergency planning, she said, incluidng an all-school evacuation drill with the Fire Department there to observe on Thursday.
"As part of our crisis management planning efforts, we will be sharing aspects of our plan with parents and guardians in the next few weeks."
State K-9 Unit Aids in Capture of Suspected Drug Dealer
Staff Reports On: 06:57PM / Friday September 06, 2013
Good dog: K-9 Hieko with the gun, heroin and U.S. currency found in the subject's possession.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A state police K-9 unit aided in the capture Thursday night of a suspected drug dealer who fled into the woods after crashing his vehicle.
The suspect, who was not named in the press statement, was reportedly fleeing Berkshire County narcotics detectives. The police were trying to stop the subject's vehicle at about 10 p.m. for illegal narcotics violations when the individual fled on foot.
Sgt. Gene Baker and K-9 Hieko assisted with a search, with Hieko tracking the suspect by using the car's floor mat as a scent article.
Hieko tracked for approximately one mile through back yards, fields and woods, finally locating the suspect hiding behind a tree. Troopers from the Cheshire barracks and narcotics detectives took the person into custody.
Troopers located 280 bags of heroin along the path of the subject's escape route. They also located a loaded 9 mm Glock handgun in the vehicle.
Williamstown Police Say Murder Rumors Are Untrue
Staff Reports On: 12:07PM / Thursday July 18, 2013
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Police say if someone was recently raped, murdered and then left on the side of the road, nobody told them.
iBerkshires has fielded inquiries from multiple people over the last two days about a heinous crime. We were asked if about a 12-year-old girl being raped and murdered or if there were two people murdered — both stories ended with the body(s) being left on the side of a Williamstown road. We contacted Williamstown Police and they said that nothing was reported to them.
"If it happened in Williamstown, Mass., then it has not yet been reported to us," Police Chief Kyle Johnson said.
The stories we heard involved Vermont State Police and New York as though the culprits had taken off north after dumping the body(s). We were told traffic had to be rerouted for an investigation.
iBerkshires is betting that with something like this, the Police would hear about it.
We googled Williamstown, murder, bodies, rape, etc. in various combination in hopes to find where the rumor originated.
In Williamstown, N.J., there was a murder last month. But, other than it being a murder, the rest of the details didn't fit. A body found in Williamstown, N.J. in 2005 made news recently because a new reward was offered. But that didn't really match the stories we heard here either.
We also know locally state Police are searching for the body of James "Jamie" Lusher in a pond in Becket. Lusher was killed 21 years ago when he was 16 at the time. Lewis Lent confessed to that murder and he had previously confessed to killing a 12-year-old girl. So... maybe people are conflating those?
But that is about as far iBerkshires went with investigating the rumor because, frankly, we've seen these things before and if there was a murder, we would have heard of a lot more about it. So would the Police. At this point, we're thinking that it unlikely that it happened in Williamstown.