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Pittsfield Refugee Resettlement Uncertain After Federal Changes

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President Donald Trump's push to halt refugee resettlement leaves a question mark about the future of such a program in Pittsfield. Jewish Family Services of Western Massachusetts is still planning to bring 50 refugees, likely from Syria, to the city this year. But, right now there is no timeline on when that will happen and a severe reduction in the number of refugees being taken in by the United States could mean none move to the city.

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Adams Officials Fight to Keep Plunkett School Open

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Adams officials spoke out forcefully on Thursday against the idea of closing C.T. Plunkett School, saying the struggling community simply could not take the hit. Selectmen Chairman Jeffrey Snoonian said closing Plunkett would be a bigger shock to Adams than the loss of a school would be to Cheshire. George Haddad, local businessman and former selectman, said it would "hasten the fall of the community."

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North Adams Misses Out on Downtown Funding

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Wednesday capped a monthslong effort by a local team headed by City Councilor Benjamin Lamb and Events Coordinator Suzy Helme that first nominated North Adams. The city joined seven other communities selected from 14,000 nominations as semifinalists last fall.

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Monster Snowstorm Headed for Berkshires; School Closings Coming

- 14 Comments

The National Weather Service is forecasting a double whammy starting mid-Sunday morning with sleet and freezing rain ending in the afternoon; a second wave will bring snowfall at rates of up to 4 inches an hour beginning Monday morning and ending sometime later that day.

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Adams Apartment House Destroyed in Blaze

- 10 Comments

At least a half-dozen people have lost everything after a fire ravaged a three-apartment home on Old Columbia Street early Saturday morning. Fire Chief Paul Goyette said some 45 firefighters from four towns battled the blaze for nearly five hours before it was finally extinguished.

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Pittsfield Officer to Carry Torch in Austria For Special Olympics World Games

- 9 Comments

The job of a police officer means dealing with people on their worst days, day after day. And it wears on the officers. Eight years ago Officer Darren Derby started getting involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics. He's raised more than a half million dollars in support of those athletes. And he does it because he feels those athletes do more for him than he could ever do for them.

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Mount Greylock Hires Architect to Look at Options for Capital Endowment

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The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee has decided to hire a Greenfield architect to help develop a plan to spend a $5 million capital endowment. The school district received the gift from Williams College last year to help cover improvements not included in the $65 million addition/renovation project at the junior/senior high school.

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Cheshire Not Confident School Will Be Chosen to Stay Open

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The Selectmen at Tuesday's meeting said they do not have high hopes that the School Committee will choose to keep the school open because the majority of the members are from Adams. Selectman Robert Ciskowski said losing the school would be a huge hit to the town and would upset much of the planning they had set down for the future.

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North Adams May Seek Funds For Library Repair

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The mayor told the library trustees last week that the city is aware of the public library's maintenance needs. Mayor Richard Alcombright and Building Inspector William Meranti attended the trustees meeting last Wednesday to quell concerns about deferred building maintenance.

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Williamstown to Propose Engineering Study to Look at Broadband

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Voters likely will be asked at May's annual town meeting to fund an engineering study to look options for providing broadband Internet access in the town. Board of Selectmen Chairman Andrew Hogeland presented his colleagues on Monday with the report of an ad hoc working group that spent the last year on "a conceptual analysis on costs, benefits, and options for deciding whether [the] town should pursue generally available broadband access."

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Town Officials Tour Adams-Cheshire Schools

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With the district pondering the likelihood of closing one of the schools, their condition, size and maintenance costs are expected to influence the debate. The guided tours also provided a chance for administrators to lay out the class configurations that will be part of the conversation.

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North Adams Preparing Former Plant as Public Services Center

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The 85,000 square-foot plant was put forward as a way to consolidate several buildings and facilities spread around the city. Of most import is the dilapitaded and overcrowded City Yard, last upgraded with the large shell building in the early 1970s. Approprate at the time it was built, the structure is no longer practical for the large trucks used for plowing and sanding, say city officials.

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Lanesborough-Williamstown School's Business Manager Departs

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For the second time in four months, the Lanesborough-Williamstown Tri-District is looking to fill one of its shared administrative positions. On Feb. 4, Business Manager Nancy Rauscher announced her intention to leave the central office in an email to the chairs of the school committees at Mount Greylock Regional, Williamstown Elementary and Lanesborough Elementary.

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Adams Selectman Wants to Look Into Splitting Adams-Cheshire District

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Selectman John Duval is advocating for splitting the troubled regional district so both Adams and Cheshire can keep their elementary schools open.

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School Assessment Hike Draws Concern at Williamstown Town Hall

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The town is projecting a 5.5 percent tax increase attributable entirely to its two largest cost centers: Williamstown Elementary School and Mount Greylock Regional High School. Town Manager Jason Hoch in separate meetings Wednesday presented a fiscal 2018 budget overview to the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee.

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Two Department Heads No Longer Work For Pittsfield

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Two department heads are no longer working for the city. Mayor Linda Tyer said Commissioner of Public Utilities Bruce Collingwood and Director of Community Development Janis Akerstrom are no longer working for the city but that plans are in place for continuity of service. The mayor said she would not comment any further because it is a personnel issue.

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Drive-Through Doughnut Shop Eyed For Pittsfield's Dalton Avenue

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A presumed Dunkin Donuts is now eyeing the Royal Cleaners property on Dalton Avenue for a drive-through restaurant. But, the City Council has ordered the company to pay for a third party to review the proposal for stormwater and traffic issues.

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Adams, North Adams Softball Leagues Partner Up

- 3 Comments

The Adams Lassie League and Northern Berkshire Softball will play games against one another this spring and form travel teams under Babe Ruth Softball.

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BMC Rebuilt Surgical Residency Program Earns New Accreditation

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"That was the year things changed radically around here. We had to regroup and rethink about surgical education. We had to develop a whole new process and whole new program," Dr. Michael DiSiena said.

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Pittsfield Welcomes Serviceman Back From 5th Deployment

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As soon as they saw the sirens coming down Wendell Avenue, the large crowd erupted in cheers: Tech Sgt Shane Willis is home safe. Willis returned to his hometown Friday night after his fifth deployment overseas. He was most recently stationed for seven months in Kuwait. He was previously deployed in Iraq three times and Afghanistan once. The 37-year-old Taconic High School graduate has been in the Air Force Reserve for 15 years now, joining when he was 22.

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Pittsfield's Finance Director Reports Strong Revenue Figures

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To date, the city is hitting its estimates for revenue. But, there are still some budget lines which are being continually monitored. Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood presented a report of the city's fiscal year 2017 to date. He said so far there are a few budget lines which look to go into deficit but revenues are trending upward.

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Electric Vehicles Discount Program Information Session Set

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Staff from the nonprofit Center for EcoTechnology will describe the Drive Green with Mass Energy program, which was launched in November by nonprofit Mass Energy Consumers Alliance (Mass Energy) and runs through Feb. 28. Drivers will be able to buy or lease cars at significant discounts below standard pricing.

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North Adams Approves 'Safe & Inclusive' Resolution

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The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution declaring North Adams a safe and inclusive community. The vote was greeted with applause by a crowded City Council chamber.

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Greylock Glen Resort Outdoor Center Receives 13 Design Bids

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Adams, the designated developer of the Greylock Glen, has received 13 proposals from architectural firms interested in designing the "Greylock Glen Resort Outdoor Center." "It's an excellent response," Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said. "It is for the design of the outdoor center so you'd expect many bidders but 13 gives us a great number of design options and price ranges to choose from."

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Holiday Hours: Presidents Day

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Washington's Birthday will be celebrated on Monday, Feb. 20.

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North Adams Looks at Shorter Bike Trail Project

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Williamstown's route is fairly set and a much easier one than North Adams. It runs largely on level terrain along the Hoosic River on land owned by the town and Williams College for about 2.5 miles. The money for that is set. North Adams, however, is in a use it or lose it proposition. Money set aside for the trail from federal Scenic Byway funds and a patchwork of other programs is still there but will disappear.

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Pittsfield's Newest Fire Truck Arrives

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The city's replacement ladder truck arrived Friday, being the latest capital investment the city has made in the Fire Department. The 2014 Pierce Arrow XT chassis with 100-foot aluminum ladder was delivered Friday afternoon. The truck had served as a demonstrator model for Pierce, traveling from trade show to trade show without ever seeing a fire, and was sold the city for $780,000. The ladder is the new Truck 2, replacing a 1993 Spartan Darley aerial truck with a 75-foot ladder.

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Adams-Cheshire Must Close $600K Gap to Apply Collins Options

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The School Committee's Audit and Evaluation subcommittee on Thursday found that between closing an elementary school, negotiating health insurance and other recommendations the district needs to find more than $500,000 to reach that figure.

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Pittsfield Adds Eight Firefighters

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The Fire Department is now fully staffed with the help of a $1.1 million federal grant. On Tuesday the City Council confirmed the appointments of eight new firefighters. The hiring gives the department the full complement of close to 90 firefighters and was only possible because of a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant to the tune of $1,112,864.

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Adams-Cheshire Struggling With School Closure Decision

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Cheshire and Adams have long been tied together by history and familial bonds. For the last 50 years, that's been strengthened through a shared educational system. But dropping enrollment and the school district's struggle in the last years with ballooning budgets, has the two towns at odds over whose elementary school will close.

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Berkshire Scenic Releases Strong Ridership Numbers For Inaugural Year

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In the first year the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum gave rides to 9,600 passengers on the Hoosac Valley Service. The 8-mile ride from North Adams to Renfrew and back kicked off in October of 2015 with a few pilot rides. It returned for a few more in December and then went full speed ahead in April of 2016. The 9,600 passengers who took the trip is more than the first year the organization ran scenic rides in Lenox, according to President Jay Green.

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Cheshire Historical Commission Wants to Save Masonic Lodge

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The Historical Commission is hoping the town can save the Masonic Lodge on Church Street. Commission member Diane Hitter said the upper floors where the Mason lodge was housed is like a museum.

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Coalition Forum Focuses on Housing Insecurity in North County

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According to slides presented that were based on data from Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, for example, 33 percent of people in Berkshire County are renters; that number jumps to 48 percent in North Adams and 41 percent in Adams, while Williamstown numbers match the county average.

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Lanesborough Ambulance to Operate Under Review Period

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The town ambulance will continue to operate under a three-month review period and continue to implement changes to gain membership and financially stabilize the service. The Selectmen agreed Monday night to hold off on making any changes to town ambulance support and asked Lanesborough Ambulance to update the board with progress monthly.

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No Trial Date Set in 2015 Adams Terrorism Case

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It likely will be at least mid-June before there is any talk of a trial date in the case of the United States vs. Alexander Ciccolo. On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson set June 20 for the next hearing in the case, which has dragged on for more than 18 months while the Adams man accused of federal terrorism offenses is held in a Rhode Island detention facility.

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North Adams Third in Small Business Revolution Voting

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A third of the way through voting for a $500,000 downtown boost, North Adams is sitting right in the middle of the five final communities. The city was selected as a finalist last Thursday morning for a chance at the second season of Deluxe Corp.'s Small Business Revolution Main Street.

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Adams Visitors Center Parking Lot Eyed for Revamp

- 1 Comment

Community Development Director Donna Cesan said this year's Community Development Block Grant application reflects the strategic plan approved by the Selectmen in 2015 for community and downtown development. The maximum the town can apply for this year is $800,000 and the deadline is March 10. Adams should know by late summer if it is being awarded the money.

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Drury Students to Present Comedy to Grade-Schoolers

- 2 Comments

This groundbreaking ensemble is designed for a two- fold purpose: first, a reach out to our elementary school population, utilizing theater arts as both an educational tool for growth, and second, as a service troupe for the wider community.

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Building Project Drives 5 Percent Hike in Mount Greylock Budget

- 1 Comment

The Mount Greylock Regional School District is looking at a 5 percent budget increase despite cost-cutting moves that slightly reduce its regular operating costs from a year ago. On Wednesday morning, the School Committee's Finance Subcommittee took a look at a draft budget that will be reviewed by the full committee next week and presented to the public next month.

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Adams-Cheshire Panel Questions Collins Center Advice

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The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District was handed an ambitious set of guidelines last week to right its financial ship. Now school officials are looking to see if any of them can be put into action. The University of Massachusetts' Collins Center presented a number of options last week in a study commissioned by the town of Adams to review the regional school district's current and future status regarding finances and enrollment.

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What's Smarter: Paying Off Debts or Investing?

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Your decisions could make a real difference in your ability to achieve your important financial goals.

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Lanesborough Selectmen Ask Town Manager To Remove Salary Increases

- 1 Comment

The Selectmen have asked Town Manager Paul Sieloff to back out all salary increases in his preliminary budget. Sieloff walked the board through parts of his preliminary budget Monday night. The Selectmen asked him to take out all 2 percent increases for nonunion employees.

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