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Tree Kills Sudbury Man After Tanglewood Concert
Staff Reports On: 01:02PM / Thursday July 05, 2012
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LENOX, Mass. — A man was killed by a dead tree limb Wednesday night after attending the James Taylor's Fourth of July concert.

According to the Berkshire County District Attorney's office, Lester Holtzblatt, 61, of Sudbury was walking on Richmond Mountain Road after the concert at Tanglewood on Wednesday when a 20-foot section of a dead tree fell on him.

The incident was reported to Police at 10:25 p.m. He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield where he was pronounced dead on arrival.


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Smoke And Fire Destroys North Adams' Family Home
By Andy McKeever On: 10:58AM / Tuesday July 03, 2012
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The fire started in a closet on the first floor.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning blaze on East Quincy Street Tuesday left a family of four searching for a place to stay.

According to Fire Director Stephen Meranti, firefighters responded to a call at 1:21 a.m. to 70 East Quincy St. for a fire on the first floor. Upon arrival the fire was pinpointed to a closet in a downstairs bedroom and firefighters were quick to snuff it out. However, smoke filled the house and it is now unlivable.

"That's where the majority of the fire was contained," Meranti said. "It was knocked down fairly quick but we spent a lot of time ventilating it. It's a large house and the smoke went throughout."

The fire was detected by owner Michael Perras after the smoke had woke him up. The house did have working fire alarms but Perras discovered it first and got his wife, daughter and two pets outside. He then ran back into the single family home to get the phone to call 911.

Meranti said the fire was likely smoldering for a while and when Perras opened the closet door, that kicked up the flames.

"I smelled it. It woke me up... I grabbed the kid and the dogs and got out," Perras said. "That black [smoke] came quick."

While Meranti said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Perras said he thinks it may have been caused by a lightbulb. The closet is in the room of his oldest daughter, who was not home at the time.

The home is insured and an adjuster is expected to arrive soon. Perras' wife, Jane, said she is currently searching for a place to stay temporarily that is dog friendly.

"We're going to try and keep our routine up as much as possible," Jane Perras said, referring to keeping her 8-year-old in camp and getting through the holiday. "We're alive and we can replace what's lost."

Meranti said most of the personal items were damaged by the smoke.

Firefighters had the house on fire watch throughout the morning and were still on the scene at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday investigating the cause.

"It's not livable right now because of the smoke damage," Meranti said.

Michael Perras said the family purchased the home about two years ago.


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Superior Court Briefs: June 25 - June 28
Staff Reports On: 04:01PM / Monday July 02, 2012
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Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Monday, June 25.

Brian Podavini, 41, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

He was released on personal recognizance. Podavini allegedly conspired with others to sell cocaine in Pittsfield on April 3 and was in possession of the drug with the intent to sell on the same date.

Carey Pilot, 39, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on her behalf on a single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws. to wit: possession of cocaine.

She was released on personal recognizance. Pilot allegedly conspired with others to possess cocaine in Pittsfield on March 7.

Mario Babbs, 25, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail. Babbs allegedly stabbed a 27-year-old man in North Adams on June 2.

Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Tuesday, June 26.

J.C. Chadwell, 33, of Pittsfield was sentenced to three and a half to five and a half years in prison after pleading guilty on June 11 to gun charges.

Chadwell pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of a firearm with a prior conviction for a violent or drug crime and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.

He was sentenced to three and a half to five and a half years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the possession of a firearm charge and a concurrent sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the ammunition charge.

The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on August 22, 2009.

Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Wednesday, June 28.


Jermaine Eurquhart, 40, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws, to wit: distribution of cocaine.

He was released on $300 bail. Eurquhart allegedly conspired with others to sell cocaine in Pittsfield on March 4.


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Pittsfield Blogger Dan Valenti Cited For Harassment
Staff Reports On: 02:46PM / Wednesday June 27, 2012
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Updated on June 27, 2012 at 10:50 with a comment from Dan Valenti.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local blogger was ordered to remove all references to Meredith Nilan after being dealt a harassment prevention order.

The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Nilan, who was recently the subject of a highly publicized hit and run pedestrian accident, was granted the order in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday.

The order requires Valenti to remove any and all references to her as well as stay 100 yards away from her, stay away from her home and place of employment and refrain from any contact or abuse.

The order is effective until Monday, July 9, when a court hearing will take place.

Valenti, a former columnist for both The Berkshire Eagle and the Pittsfield Gazette, started his own blog, Planet Valenti, in 2010 and has made a name for himself with his brash criticism of local politics. Nilan, the daughter of Berkshire Superior Court Probation Chief Clifford Nilan, was the focus of numerous postings by Valenti. Those postings frequently speculated on her disposition, parentage, political pull and her actions before and after the incident.

On Wednesday, Valenti told iBerkshires via email that he had yet to see the judge's decision and he would have to see that before determining his next course of action.

"I found out about it while reading the comments on my blog, ironically," Valenti said. "I've never had any contact with Ms. Nilan nor do I intend that. I will also add that this case brings up an interesting First Amendment discussion."

Editor's note: The hit-and-run charge was dismissed. We have corrected the description.


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Hermann Alexander's Owner Pleads Not Guilty To Gambling Charge
Staff Reports On: 03:41PM / Monday June 25, 2012
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The owner of Herman Alexander's Restaurant pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday to illegal gambling charges.

Mitchell Grossjung, 25, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of keeping a place for registering bets. He was released by Judge Mary Lou Rup on $300 cash bail.

Grossjung allegedly provided illegal poker machines to his customers. The bar was raided on the night of April 27 because Police suspected the location was a "retail center of cocaine distribution."

The raid turned up little evidence of drug use except some corners of plastic bags that are used to hold small amount of cocaine, according to Police. The gambling charges stem from that raid.

Since the raid, Police have said that the homes of alleged cocaine dealers believed to be operating out of the bar have been raided and turned up more than 160 grams of cocaine. The Lyman Street bar's license was suspended for 60 day by the city's licensing board.


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News Headlines
"Muppets Most Wanted": More or Less
PERC Shares Stories of Business Success
Adams Selectmen Ask For Pole Relocation on Roundabout
Area Responders Tested on Emergency Preparedness
MCLA Christens New Veterans Resource Center
Historic Cheshire House To Be Leveled for Dollar General
Mount Greylock Enrollment Question Still at Issue
Mass MoCA Extending Hours for Packed 15th Season
PEDA Still Hopeful for Rail Project
North Adams Happenings April 16-22
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