Monday, February 27, 2017 08:18pm
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Community Helps Bounti-Fare During Storm
The storm that barreled through North County on Saturday night did more than snap a few trees and drop some powerlines. It peeled a roof of the Bounti-Fare Restaurant clear off the building.

McCann School Budget Reflects Hikes in Fixed Costs, Health Insurance
The McCann Technical School budget for fiscal 2018 is up 2.7 percent over this year, largely reflecting increasing fixed costs and level state funding. The school's budget is up about $250,000, from $9.09 million to $9,340,159, and includes $88,000 in cuts. Some $3.7 million of the spending plan will be covered by assessments to its nine districts for operations, transportation and capital projects. The total assessments are up less than one percent.

Cheshire Meets Housing Rehab Application Requirement
More than 50 residents have signed on to the Housing Rehabilitation Program, surpassing the recommended amount. Patricia Mullins from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, who is guiding the town through the Department of Housing and Community Development program that allows residents to use grant funds to make repairs to their homes, attended a public hearing last Tuesday and told the Selectmen the application will be ready for the March deadline.

Williamstown Fin Comm Combs Through FY18 Spending Plan
The Finance Committee last week dug into the details of the town's proposed fiscal 2018 operations budget, which calls for an aggregate 1.98 percent increase in costs across all non-school departments. The Police Department, Milne Public Library, Council on Aging, Community Development Office, and Assessor and Finance departments were among those who presented their spending plans to the Fin Comm.

Adams Arts Group Celebrates Award While Planning Future
The event was billed as a reception to celebrate the Arts Advisory Board recent recognition with an innovation award. But like so many gatherings of this local group of artists and entrepreneurs, the focus was less about past success and more about its future endeavors. The Kenneth E. Pickard Memorial Innovation Award was presented at the annual Massachusetts Municipal Association conference in January to acknowledge the town and the group's creative efforts.

Hundreds Rally In Pittsfield To Support ObamaCare
Congress will soon take up bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But, hundreds of local residents took to Park Square on Saturday to oppose those efforts. The act passed under former President Barack Obama expanded health care coverage across the country. New President Donald Trump, however, has called it too costly and vowed to repeal and replace it. The debate over the repeal is expected to unfold shortly in Washington D.C.

Hoosac Valley Athletes Dig Out Hydrants
Hoosac Valley High School athletes volunteered their time to shovel out fire hydrants throughout the community last weekend. They took to the streets, shovels in hand, to dig out hydrants to ensure firefighters could get to them.

Pittsfield Welcomes Serviceman Back From 5th Deployment
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.

Adams Sets Challenge to Make 8,400 Recycled Shopping Bags
The local BagShare Project uses recycled materials — mainly plastic woven feed bags and used irrigation tubing — to create free reusable bags for consumer use. Brought to North Berkshire by Leni Fried and Mike Augspurger of the Old Stone Mill, the town's taken up the challenge to create a sustainable bag for every resident in Adams ahead of the plastic bag ban that goes into effect on March 30 for larger retailers.

Lee Bank Donates $5K Toward Pittsfield's ShotSpotter Rollout
Lee Bank has joined in the support for the deployment of a gunshot detection system. Lee Bank is donating $5,000 toward the ShotSpotter contract. The technology is eyed to be installed this year and is used to detect and pinpoint the sound of gunshot, letting officers know on the spot when a weapon is fired on city streets.

Adams Officials Fight to Keep Plunkett School Open
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."

Progress Being Made on Pittsfield's Westside Riverway Project
The Westway River Park project is starting to come to fruition. Permitting Coordinator Nate Joyner told the Parks Commission on Tuesday that new park space should be opening this summer on Dewey Avenue. The city had acquired a number of parcels, mostly through tax title, and has been working to demolish existing buildings and clean contaminants from the soil.

Clarksburg Sets Special Town Meeting to Fix Budget Gap
The Select Board has set a special town meeting for Wednesday, March 15, to address a $250,000 budget gap for fiscal 2017. Voters will be asked to cut a total of $93,916 out of the town budget with four months left in the fiscal year. Another $71,000 will be taken from an line item approved last year to pay off the library construction loan and $85,000 will be taken from the stabilization account.

Pittsfield Awards Contract To Rehabilitate First Street Parking Lot
The First Street parking lot is set for a rehabilitation. The city awarded Maxymillian the contract to overhaul the 241-space municipal lot and in the end parking kiosks are planned to be installed. According to Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy, the construction is expected to start when weather allows this spring and conclude by June 30

Adams Visitors Center Parking Lot Eyed for Revamp
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.

Dissolving Adams-Cheshire May Not Be Financially Effective
The potential closure of an elementary school has had officials in Adams and Cheshire mulling the possibility of breaking up the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District. But the options for changing the 50-year-old agreement or dissolving it all appear cumbersome and financially ineffective.

Pittsfield's Finance Director Reports Strong Revenue Figures
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.

No Trial Date Set in 2015 Adams Terrorism Case
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.

North Adams Misses Out on Downtown Funding
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.

Cheshire Concerned About Share of School District Costs
The Selectmen are wondering about cost sharing between Cheshire and Adams with the expected closing of an elementary school. Of major concern is the town's responsibility for repairs to C.T. Plunkett School in Adams if Cheshire School should close.

Pittsfield's Newest Fire Truck Arrives
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.

Adams-Cheshire Struggling With School Closure Decision
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.

$30 Million Expansion Project Planned for Tanglewood
The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced the investment Tuesday night. The four-building complex is being designed to support the performance and rehearsal activities of the Tanglewood Music Center and will be the focus point of the new Tanglewood Learning Institute

State Officials Still Awaiting BMC Intersection Area Redesign
The project to re-do the intersections around Berkshire Medical Center has been pushed back yet again, as the design has not progressed enough. The $7.1 million project for the Berkshire Medical Center area has been ranked as a top priority by Berkshire Regional Planning Commission but the design is too far behind to go to bid in 2018. The project has been 11 years in the making, after a 2006 circulation study identified it as a focus for improving traffic in downtown Pittsfield.

Clarksburg School Project Can Keep Original Well
The state Department of Environmental Protection says Clarksburg School can continue to use its original well as long as its meet specifications during any renovation. Officials have been unsure about the continued use of the well since an initial school survey done a decade ago.

North Adams Looks at Shorter Bike Trail Project
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.

Cheshire Historical Commission Wants to Save Masonic Lodge
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.

Town Officials Tour Adams-Cheshire Schools
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.

Berkshire Scenic Releases Strong Ridership Numbers For Inaugural Year
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.

Adams Selectman Wants to Look Into Splitting Adams-Cheshire District
Selectman John Duval is advocating for splitting the troubled regional district so both Adams and Cheshire can keep their elementary schools open.

BMC Rebuilt Surgical Residency Program Earns New Accreditation
"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.

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

Waste District Passes Budget, Welcomes New Program Coordinator
The 13-member Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District passed a fiscal 2018 budget that will see an increase of 4 percent in each town's assessment.

Mount Greylock Hires Architect to Look at Options for Capital Endowment
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.

North Adams Will Know Small Business Voting Results Next Week
It's all over but the counting for five communities hoping to become this year's Small Business Revolution - Main Street winner. The city's weeklong push to collect as many votes as possible toward the $500,000 economic development boost ended at midnight on Thursday.

Lanesborough Selectmen Ask Town Manager To Remove Salary Increases
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.

Berkshire Delegation Gets Committee Assignments
State House leaders have released committee assignments for this session, with the Berkshire delegation picking up two chairmanships in the House and one in the Senate.

Polito Announces South County Bridge Funding, Tours Pittsfield
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito toured the downtown Thursday afternoon before announcing grant funding for two Southwestern Massachusetts bridges. Polito had spent the morning signing a Community Compact agreement with Lanesborough and Windsor. She later joined Mayor Linda Tyer for a brief private meeting at city hall. She left the offices and proceeded to the Onota Building with the mayor, City Council President Peter Marchetti 1Berkshire CEO Jonathan Butler, Downtown Pittsfield Inc. President Jesse C

Downtown Pittsfield Gives Council Annual Report
Dropping the speed limit on North Street to 25 miles-per-hour may not seem like a big deal on its own. But, that is just one of many initiatives Downtown Pittsfield Inc. has taken on to improve the downtown. The speed reduction was approved by the City Council Tuesday night in an effort to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety. But Tuesday was also the same night Downtown Pittsfield Inc. provided an annual report, outlining its initiatives.

Polito Signs Community Compacts With Lanesborough, Windsor
For small towns it is difficult to bring in special expertise so the state is stepping in to help. Lanesborough wants to focus more on economic development and that long-range planning is significantly helped along by a professional economic development planner. In Windsor, town officials want to secure long-term financial stability but doesn't have the professional expertise and time to craft a careful long-term plan.

School Assessment Hike Draws Concern at Williamstown Town Hall
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.

Greylock Glen Resort Outdoor Center Receives 13 Design Bids
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."

Williamstown to Propose Engineering Study to Look at Broadband
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."

Pittsfield's Paintbox Public Art Program Returns
Last year the seemingly ordinary utility boxes throughout the downtown was transformed into colorful and vibrant pieces of art. Now, it is time to do some more. The Artscape Committee announced the return of the paintbox program, which is an art competition with eight winners decorating the utility boxes on North Street. The project takes the boring, gray utility boxes and turns them into public art.

North Adams May Seek Funds For Library Repair
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.

Pittsfield Adds Eight Firefighters
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.

Pittsfield Schools Decreasing Number of Suspensions
The School Department is taking a fresh look at discipline and so far that has led to 155 fewer days of out of school suspension. Superintendent Jason McCandless presented the numbers to the School Committee on Wednesday. With a bolstering of the number of school adjustment councilors and registered behavior technicians, the district has been implementing new practices to improve behavior - that includes the creation of a restorative justice program but also rethinking the way principals hand

Lanesborough-Williamstown Superintendent: Districts 'Not Dysfunctional'
The interim superintendent of the Lanesborough-Williamstown public schools sought Tuesday evening to allay concerns about the stability of the central administration. Kim Grady said that despite the appearance of uncertainty at the top of the administration, the Tri-District is on solid ground.

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

Cheshire Not Confident School Will Be Chosen to Stay Open
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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