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Homeless Day Center to Open Next Month
By: By Nichole Dupont On: 06:53PM / Monday January 24, 2011
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Co-Act and other area human service organizations are moving forward with a plan to open a day center for the homeless at the United Methodist Church on Fenn Street. According to Co-Act Director Paul Deslaurier, the day center will open on February 3 and will be open from roughly 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. two days a week.

"There's a lot happening in terms of the day center," he said in a phone interview. "Anyone who needs support can come during the day and use the resources there. We're having a training for intakers and greeters on February 1 and then on the third, that will be our dry run. We're trying to coordinate with other facilities and existing organizations which offer meals and services and shelter. We're trying to find the best way to address and support the needs that people have."

These needs have increased as the temperature drops to brutal lows and the state unemployment rate stays steady.

"There are about 20 people here who are chronically homeless and who, for one reason or another, have been blackballed from the shelters here. Sometimes they can hang out at Dunkin' Donuts or the library, or maybe the hospital corridors," Deslaurier said. "This number does not include people who are in shelters and trying to stay clean, people who are couch hopping or living four to six families to an apartment and people who are living in their cars."
 
The day center will offer basic literacy and computer support and training as well as access to other support services in the area. It will be staffed by trained volunteers including retired social workers, college students studying social services as well as an intake clinician. Yet even in its intitial phases, he said that he knows that more is needed, especially from the city itself.

"We have 14 organizations that are participating in this effort. We're really drawing on the support of the faith-based community," he said. "This kind of collaboration has been uplifting. Unfortunately, I've been very disappointed in my city. In September I asked if there were some place they could propose that we could have a shelter. The mayor pointed me to the old prison on Second Street where we could only use the cell blocks in the basement. This was unacceptable. Where we are located is right across the street from City Hall. We're practically right in their face and there has been no support from the backdoor politicians. I've petitioned the city to pay for the utilities on the building, so far I haven't gotten a good response."

Utilities are not the only necessity required by the center, which Deslaurier and others had hoped to turn into an emergency night shelter as well. In addition to heating costs, the center (and possibly the shelter) also requires more volunteers, furniture, computers, printers and, of course, money.
 
"We are definitely going to need more staff and we need to be prepared for it to evolve," he said. "We have no funding and so we are reaching out to the community for help."
 



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Ask Not What Your State Can Do for You
By: Nichole Dupont On: 04:37PM / Saturday January 22, 2011
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Not happy with what's going on in your state government? Well, now's your chance to do something about it, and win a little cash (actually a lot of cash — $10,000 to be exact).

The Boston-based Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research is sponsoring its 20th annual Better Government Competition.

The competition is open to all U.S. citizens, including students, nonprofits, entrepreneurs and muncipal officials, but the winning proposal will be developed and implemented in Massachusetts. This year's theme is "budget busters," and according to BCG director Shawni Littlehale, couldn't have come at a better time.
 
"We're always cajoling and looking for new ideas," she said in a phone interview. "It's a great opportunity for citizens to have their voices heard."

Of the roughly 250 proposals she receives every year, Littlehale said at least 50 percent are from officials in state or municipal governments. In fact, last year's winner was the mayor of Sandy Springs, Ga. His proposal, under the theme of "budget management," focused on the reduction or containment of Medicaid costs by providing housing for the homeless. The crux of his argument was that housing is a "medical intervention" and that homelessness is very expensive for everyone.

You don't have to be a mayor or a retired CIA agent to participate in the competition. Littlehale said the institute is ready to bring good ideas to fruition by providing the resources that a winner or runner-up will need to bring the proposal to completion.

"We will help them with resources for research and writing and databases," she said. "What I want is something really innovative and interesting."

She's not the only one pushing citizens to dig deep into their civic awareness and lend an idea or two. State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, is also encouraging citizens to consider sending in "smart government reform initiative."

"I urge my constituents to participate in this year's competition by suggesting new and efficient ways for public programs to operate," he said in a press relase.

Still skeptical? That's fine, according to Littlehale, but skeptical does not mean unconcerned, at least not for previous applicants.

"A lot of these bureaucracies have stayed the same. They need an injection of something new," she said. "The people who submit proposals genuinely care about the way government works. Many feel that it's not working correctly and really believe that they can change that."

If you have a good idea for fixing programs that are draining the already-sparse budget, put in your two cents. It may end up being worth $10,000 for you and millions for the state.



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Adams Woman Wins $1M on Holiday Card
By: Mass Lottery On: 04:07PM / Thursday December 30, 2010
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The Massachusetts Lottery posted the winner of the Wonderland Game of Dough on its site on Dec. 13, 2010. If iBerkshires had known there was a winner, she wouldn't have wasted 20 bucks on those holiday scratch tickets.
Winner Lisa Nardin

Lisa I. Nardin of Adams took home $1 million for the holidays when she won a grand prize on the new Wonderland of Dough game from the Massachusetts State Lottery. Nardin, who selected the cash option on her prize, received a check for $650,000 before taxes today, Dec. 13,  at Lottery headquarters in Braintree.

She bought the lucky ticket at the Cumberland Farms on Ashland Street in North Adams. The store will receive a $10,000 commission on the sale.

Wonderland of Dough, one of four Holiday-themed games from the Massachusetts State Lottery, features five grand prizes of $1 million. Overall, there are more than 3.1million winning tickets in the game.

Nardin was the second Berkshire County million-winner in past five months. In August, Mark E. Feder struck green in another scratch ticket game, as posted on the Lottery site:

winner Mark Feder

Mark E. Feder of North Adams became the latest instant lottery millionaire when he won a $1 million grand prize in the 10X The Cash game from the Massachusetts State Lottery. The $5 instant game features six grand prizes of $1 million and more than 134,000 prizes from $100 to $10,000.

Feder selected the cash option on his prize and received a check for $650,000 before taxes today, Aug. 11, at Lottery headquarters in Braintree.

Feder selected the cash option on his prize and received a check for $650,000 before taxes today at Lottery headquarters in Braintree.



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Adams Lights Christmas Tree
By: Andy McKeever On: 05:29PM / Sunday November 28, 2010
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ADAMS, Mass. — With Thanksgiving tables now cleared, the Christmas season is here.

Hundreds of people gathered at the town common on Sunday to usher the season in with caroling, carriage rides and a visit from Santa Claus, who lit the town's tree.

Girl Scouts caroling and lines for the horse-drawn carriage (only one carriage this year) began to form at 2 p.m. At 3:30, the Fire Fepartment escorted Santa Claus, who had a long line of children waiting. Led by Santa, the crowd counted down and the town's was lit with thousands of multicolored bulbs. Santa also lit a second tree on Summer Street.

Photos clockwise from top: People pose in front of the tree; Santa arrives; the wagon ride was popular; the tree.

 



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Pittsfield Trys To Turn Black Friday Plaid
By: Andy McKeever On: 06:34PM / Wednesday November 24, 2010
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Cultural Pittsfield is hoping those long lines outside of major retail stores on Friday will be just a little shorter and instead of rushing around and fighting angry mobs, the group wants people to stroll down Main Street dressed in plaid and buy locally.

The city has joined the Plaid Friday movement that began last year in Oakland, Cali. and has spread thoughout cities across the nation. The movement promotes shopping at independently and locally owned stores, restaurants and cafes to invest in the local economy. Supporters will be wearing some sort of visible plaid and enjoying downtown as an alternative to the hussle and bussle of Black Friday.

Local businesses Carr Hardware, Chapters Bookstore, The Emporium and Dottie's Coffee Lounge are recognizing the day with special deals.

Cultural Pittsfield is promoting to "the diversity and creativity of independent businesses" and is joined by another Massachusetts city: Somerville. As a long-term goal, the nationwide movement hopes to become a resource to link shoppers with local businesses in every city.
 



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Page 14 of 30... 9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 ... 30  
News Headlines
Pittsfield To Examine Privatizing Water Treatment
Clarksburg Planners Advise 'Stop Work' on Golf Course
Electric Rate Increase Tamed By Lenox's Group Purchasing
Cheshire Asks for Verizon Pole Cleanup, Hears Park Update
North Adams Vigil Celebrates Addiction Recovery, Mourns Loss
Longtime MCLA Staffer Degen Retiring
Does Your Plan Need A Makeover?
Girl Scouts to Host 'Geek Is Glam' STEM Expo
Williamstown Elementary Clothing Sale Benefits Classrooms
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