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Alcombright to Speak at Williamstown Chamber Breakfast

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Williamstown Chamber of Commerce is holding its first breakfast meeting of 2010 on Wednesday, Feb. 24, with featured speaker Mayor Richard Alcombright. Mayor Alcombright will be speaking about his vision for collaborative development and growth efforts here in Northern Berkshire County, along with what is happening in the business scene in North Adams.


The breakfast will be hosted by Lickety Split at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and includes coffee, tea, orange juice, breakfast breads and muffins, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and fresh fruit. The event will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Mass Moca will be offering free tours of the LeWitt exhibition and/or the galleries to anyone who can stay for a little bit after the breakfast.  No need to sign up in advance.

Cost for the breakfast is $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers. To reserve a place, call the Chamber office 413-458-9077, or email your reservation to info@williamstownchamber.com.

Update, Feb. 23.: Despite the snow, the breakfast is still on.  At 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, iBerkshires received an e-mail from the Chamber, stating "We have decided to have the breakfast no matter what tomorrow at 7:30 a.m."

(If you've already RSVP'd and want to cancel, kindly send the Chamber an email by 7 a.m.)

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Wal-Mart Discrimination Suit Plaintiff to Speak in Lenox

Staff reports

LENOX, Mass. — Cynthia Haddad, who won a gender discrimination lawsuit against Walmart, the world's largest retailer, will speak about her experiences Monday, March 1, at the monthly meeting of Berkshire Business and Professional Women.

A unanimous decision by the state Supreme Judical Court on Oct. 5, 2009, awarded Haddad, a former Pittsfield Walmart pharmacist, a judgment of at least $2 million in damages. That decision upheld a June 2007 Berkshire Superior Court ruling that awarded Haddad $1 million for compensatory damages and another $1 million for punitive damages after Haddad claimed she was fired for demanding the same compensation as her male colleagues.

According to a Berkshire Eagle story on Oct. 6, 2009, Haddad was fired in 2004 after working at Walmart for more than 10 years, seven of them at the Pittsfield store. The company claimed she was fired because she left the pharmacy unattended and allowed a technician to use her computer security code to issue prescriptions in her absence. Haddad and her legal team said Haddad was really fired because she demanded to be paid as well as her male counterparts, including a bonus given to pharmacy managers. The company paid the bonus, then fired her two weeks later.

"I think that the Supreme Judicial Court confirmed that outrageous gender discrimination may be punished by a jury," co-counsel David Belfort said in the Eagle story. "More broadly, this is hopefully going to encourage women to have the fortitude to speak out if they are discriminated against based on who they are."

Born and raised in Oswego, N.Y., Haddad was in the baccalaureate program at Oswego High School, attending the State University of New York at Oswego while in high school. After attending SUNY-Oswego for two years, she transferred into the pharmacy program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences in Boston, graduating in 1984. She also completed a certification program in nuclear medicine.

Other than clinical rotations, Haddad has worked in the retail pharmacy setting her whole career and has belonged to numerous professional organizations, such as the American Pharmacists Association, over the years.

Haddad is married to William Haddad and has four children, ages 14 to 23. Her oldest son has Asperger's Syndrome and she continues to teach him self-advocacy, something she learned as a child from her own mother.

The March 1 meeting will be held at Cranwell Resort in Lenox. Networking begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the speakers at 6 p.m. The cost is $28; reservations are required by Friday, Feb. 26. Info: mphillips@greylock.org.

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Beacon Offers Olympics on Big Screen

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The 2010 Winter Olympics are getting the big-screen treatment in Pittsfield.

The Beacon Cinema is dedicating one of its state-of-the-art digital screens for free showings of the action in widescreen beginning this Wednesday.

In a release, owner Richard Stanley said he was "looking for a way showcase the Beacon's all-digital projection system and give the audience an example of its unique capabilities." 

"Digital projection allows us to not just be in the movie business but truly in the entertainment business. What better way to share that with an audience than with a fun and free event like the Winter Olympics? Can you imagine downhill ski racing or snowboarding on a 40-foot screen? You just can't get that experience at home."

The Beacon opened last fall in the historic Kinnell-Kresge building with six screens in all-digital format with two able to handle three-dimensional films.

This isn't the first time the theater's opened its doors for free public events. Earlier this month it showed the Super Bowl. That only brought out about 25 people (but neither the Pats nor the New York teams were playing this year), but it was enough to encourage Stanley and manager John Valente into trying other events.

That will include XBox game tournaments, concerts and more 3-D films.

"The success of 'Avatar' in 3-D has shown that when given a choice, the audience clearly prefers the 3-D version of a film that is also being shown in regular 2-D," said Valente.

James Cameron's breakthrough film was drawing in record crowds weeks after its release, especially for theaters showing the 3-D version.

It's done so well at the Beacon, that a third 3-D screen is being added in anticipation of the opening of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" on March 5.

Meanwhile, you can settle in with a bucket of popcorn to watch the Olympics in HD each evening from Wednesday, Feb. 17, through Sunday, Feb. 28, from 8:30 to 11 p.m.

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Pittsfield Movie Gallery Closing

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city's losing one of its video rental stores with the closing of the Movie Gallery on Dalton Avenue.

Movie Gallery Inc. filed for reorganization of its American holdings under Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the beginning of February and announced the closure of nearly a third of its Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video and Game Crazy stores across the United States.

According the restructuring announcement on its Web Page, Movie Gallery said the liquidation and closures of 760 stores are "because they are not profitable and because funds from liquidating them can help us moving forward."

The Dalton Avenue store is selling off its inventory and should close within four to six weeks.

The closings do not affect the Hollywood Video on Merrill Road or the Movie Gallery in North Adams in the L-shaped mall. Also closing is the Movie Gallery at 68 Mohawk Trail, one of two Greenfield, and two stores in the Albany, N.Y., area.

Movie Gallery is the second-largest video and game renter after Blockbuster but it's been hammered by changes in rental services, particularly by upstarts like NetFlix and Redbox. This is the company's second bankruptcy in the past three years. The first shuttered at least 400 locations including the Movie Gallery in the Stop & Shop Plaza in North Adams.

The company, which once had more than 3,000 stores, expects to reduce to a stable "core" of 900, which means more closures are likely. The chain had $129 million in losses in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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Williamstown Chamber Nite Has Valentine's Theme

Staff Reports

The Store at Five Corners host its first Business After Hours social for the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 5 to 7:30. Bring your significant other because the theme is "Bring Your Valetine."

In addition to reintroducing members to The Store at Five Corners, will unveil their newest project: Mountain View Catering.

Appetizers will start the evening along with a wine sampling. The menu will consist of a chef-attended pasta station with bowties and a choice of local marinara, alfredo or pesto sauces with a wide variety of ingredients.
Beverages will include old-fahioned soda flavors, from birch beer to saspirella to pineapple. Each parting guest will also receive a Valentine's Day gift

The fee is $10 and advance registration is required by contacting the chamber at 413-458-9077 or info@williamstownchamber.com. The charity selected to benefit from this event is the South Williamstown Community Association.

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