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Hoosac Valley Valedictorian Dies After Bicycling Accident

Staff Reports

Mary Wilk giving her valedictory address in 2012.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A Hoosac Valley High School valedictorian died Saturday, four days after being struck by an elderly driver while riding her bicycle in Rhode Island.

Mary E. Wilk, 22, was hit while riding along Route 1 near Jerry Brown Farm Road in South Kingstown, R.I., on July 26.  

According to South Kingstown Police, she was northbound on her bike when she was struck from behind by a car operated by 88-year-old Claire Archambault of South Kingstown.

She died at Rhode Island Hospital on Saturday, July 30, as the result of the injuries sustained from the crash.

Wilk, the daughter of Joseph and Nancy Wilk, was valedictorian of the Hoosac Valley class of 2012 and active in sports and clubs at the school. She was class president and member of the student council, and was involved in track, cross country and the Nordic ski teams, and basketball and soccer.

She graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor of science in microbiology and was currently a research assistant at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I.

Police say the accident is still under investigation and that drugs or alcohol were not a factor in the crash.

This is the second tragedy to strike Hoosac's class of 2012 in a week. Wilk's classmate Ethan Piaggi-Cornell was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Thursday on Route 8 in Adams.

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Multiple Berkshire County Schools Subject Of Bomb Threat

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Numerous schools were the target of bomb threats Thursday afternoon triggering responses from police and fire departments.
 
Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn said targets were identified in five communities but he did not reveal which ones. 
 
"There was a timeline given in the call and an indication that the caller would make another call," Wynn said.
 
However, the time elapsed without incident and the individual never called back. Wynn said the caller making the threat was "scratchy" and "difficult to hear."
 
"We're working it an as active case," he said.
 
At least two of those targets were schools. 
 
Both Lanesborough and Lenox have reported that just before 2 p.m. bomb threats were made on the schools. The call were made to Pittsfield Police dispatch.
 
"This afternoon at 1:49 p.m., Lanesborough Elementary School received a notice from the Lanesborough Police Department of a bomb threat identifying several targets throughout Berkshire County including Lanesborough Elementary School. School personnel conducted a thorough search of the building and its perimeter, joined by town police and fire officials. The chiefs of the Lanesborough Police and Fire Departments were on the scene immediately and determined that no students or students were in danger," wrote Lanesborough Principal Martin McEvoy.
 
Police Chief Timothy Sorrell said police and fire initiated its "bomb scare protocol" and ultimately found no threats. Lanesborough Police were notified of the threat around 1:45 and claimed the bomb would go off a half hour later.
 
Cheshire Elementary went into a "soft lockdown," according to a Facebook posting by the Cheshire Police Department because the threat mentioned the Cheshire post office, which is not far from the school.
 
"I want to reiterate that the Cheshire Elementary School was never mentioned in the bomb threat," state the post, presumably by Chief Timothy Garner. "Post office employees were notified and they made their contacts as well."
 
Once the time frame of the threat expired, the school went back to normal.
 
Two schools in Dalton were reportedly included in the threat but neither were evacuated unlike Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.
 
The Berkshire Eagle reported that Lenox Memorial Middle and High School was evacuated because of the threat. That too was found to be unsubstantiated by Lenox police and fire.
 
Principal Michael Knybel told the Berkshire Eagle: "In the interest of student and staff safety and security, we have sent students home early... Our first concern is the safety of our students and we will make every attempt to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated and safety is restored."
 
 
Updated with information from Cheshire Police.
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Collision Involving B Bus Closes Route 8 in Cheshire

Staff Reports

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Route 8 was closed to traffic in Cheshire early Thursday afternoon because of a major accident involving a bus and Ford Taurus. State police were reporting "multiple injuries, some serious."

According to scanner reports, three people were considered "critical" and four as minor injuries. The accident occurred just after noontime near the crosswalk just north of Lanesborough Road.

The southbound Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus veered off the road and into the front yard of a white house on the east side. Both vehicles sustained major front-end damage.

Cheshire Fire Assistant Chief Michael Biagini confirmed seven people total from both the Taurus and the bus were taken to the hospital. He did not know how many people were on the bus at the time and did not know if those in the car were wearing seat belts.

Berkshire Gas was contacted because the bus came to rest next to the gas meter on the house.

"The homeowner was home at the time in the house but was uninjured," Biagini said "They're building a temporary wall inside the house before we can remove the bus."

He referred further questions to the district attorney's office.

A motorist several cars behind the bus said he had come through the light at West Mountain Road and was at about Cheshire Liquor Center when the crash occurred.

"As we got by the driveway, there was a big poof of smoke ... The cars in front pulled over, I pulled over, and they got out and ran up," he said.

The driver said he did not see the accident occur because the bus had just pulled around the slight bend in the road toward the lake and the view was blocked.

Four or five ambulances responded to the scene, he said.

Traffic was beginning to move at about 1:23 p.m.

Village Truck Sales towing was on the scene, but the house had to be secured before the bus can be removed.

We have contacted BRTA for a statement on the incident.

 

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Cheshire Police Seeking Information on Playground Vandalism

By Jack Guerino

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Cheshire Police Department is asking for residents with any information to contact the station about vandalism at the school playground.

According to a post Monday afternoon on the department's Facebook page the new playground equipment at Cheshire Elementary school has been vandalized.

The post read:

"Someone has vandalized the new playground equipment that numerous volunteers spent countless hours erecting. Now those same volunteers are spending their Columbus Day scrubbing and cleaning the equipment."

The police are investigating and urge residents with any information call the cruiser cell phone at 413-446-3920 or the station at 413-743-1501 and leave a message.

"In such a close tight knit Community, we cannot allow for this to happen again," read the post. "Thanks for your help and a BIG thanks to the volunteers over there cleaning it up."

Last year the Cheshire Parent-Teacher Group inquired of the Selectmen about the possibility of replacing old equipment.

The playground committee needed to raise $12,000 for the equipment that would be matched by the playground developer.

After receiving a William and Margery Barrett Fund grant for $8,000, in addition to $4,000 of raised money, the playground committee was able to install the playground.

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Pittsfield Police Asking Residents To ID Stolen Property

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police have recovered hundreds of pieces of jewelry and other items that are not matching up with their records of items reported stolen in a recent rash of break-ins.

Anyone who has had their home broken into prior to March 22 is being asked to identify their possessions at an open house on Saturday, June 8, from 10 to 2 at the Police Department on Allen Street.

Police say the items either haven't been reported stolen or were stolen from homes outside of city. The investigation is being done by state, Cheshire, Lanesborough and Pittsfield police. Some of the recovered property has already be linked to break-ins in those communities and in Richmond.

Police have arrested Christopher Maschino Jr., 21, and Anne Haughey, 21, both of Pittsfield, in connection with the break-ins.

Even if the owners of the seized property can identify it, they cannot take possession of their items immediately because they are being held as evidence until released by the district attorney's office.

Attendees are required to bring a valid identification to the open house and are asked to bring any ownership documents.

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