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Pet Food Pantry Seeks Donations

Staff Reports

The cupboard is bare again at the Adams Friends of Animals' Pet Food Pantry. The year-old group of volunteers has been providing pet food to families in distress in cooperation with the Berkshire Humane Society.

Board member Roy Thompson said the pantry serves up to a dozen pet owners each week, helping them ensure the four-legged members of their families are fed properly.

But the donations have dropped off even as the need has increased; people on fixed incomes or those out of work are having trouble caring for their pets.

"We run out every week now and when we get it, we get it in small doses," said Thompson of food donations. "We use to give it out every 30 days, now we're considering 60 days."

People can drop off food at 64 Summer St., the Berkshire Visitors Center or at the transfer station, where Thompson works part time.

"What we're finding out from the Berkshire Humane Society is a lot of people are turning in their animals because they don't have the money for food," he said. "They say they don't have time but it comes down to money."

Too often, people don't realize the costs associated with having a pet, said Thompson, especially dogs. "I have a TV show (on Northern Berkshire Community Television) and I tell them, 'don't take an animal unless you can do it.'  It's sad, it really is."

Those in need of food can pick it up at 64 Summer St. or at the Berkshire Humane Society on Barker Road in Pittsfield.

For more information about the Adams Friends of Animals can be found here.

Tags: pantry, Adams      

Be on the Lookout for Invasive Species

Staff Reports

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), wants boaters to know that they should "check to be sure they aren't giving a free ride to non-native aquatic plants or animals." According to MassWildlife's June newsletter, boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, anchors, bait buckets, live wells, swimming and diving gear, and other aquatic equipment can transport aquatic, exotic invasive species between water bodies.

Once established, invasive species can choke waterways, foul intake and discharge structures, lower lakefront property values, impede boating, swimming and fishing, and reduce biodiversity by crowding out native fish, insects, other animals and plants. After they've settled in their new homes, it's nearly impossible to eradicate them.

Last July, invasive zebra mussels were discovered in in Laurel Lake in Lee and Lenox, prompting the City of Pittsfield to coordinate a boat-ramp monitoring program, in an effort to prevent the spread of zebra mussels into its water bodies.

Zebra mussels are small 1-2" D-shaped mussels with alternating light and dark bands. They have a microscopic larval stage and can travel undetected in bait buckets, live wells and cooling water. According to Mass Wildlife, there are no known methods of control for zebra mussels once they've invaded a water body. To prevent an introduction of zebra mussels, boaters must empty all bait buckets, live wells and cooling water on dry land away from the shore.

This year, the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) wants to make boaters aware of new procedures that must be followed for any watercraft to be launched at Berkshire waterbodies determined to be at high or moderate risk for zebra mussel colonization. Anyone launching watercraft at Ashmere Lake, Cheshire Reservoir, Housatonic River, Lake Buel, Lake Garfield, Lake Mansfield, Laurel Lake, Onota Lake, Plunkett Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Prospect Lake, Richmond Pond, Shaw Pond, and Stockbridge Bowl must fill out a Clean Boat Certification Form. The form is available at the boat ramp kiosks, or you can find it here.

For more information on preventing the spread of invasive non-native plants and other organisms, click here.

If you see a zebra mussel in a Massachusetts waterway, report it to Tom Flannery at tom.flannery@state.ma.us, call 617- 626-1250 or visit www.mass.gov/lakesandponds for fact sheets. DCR is seeking volunteers for its Weed Watchers Program; more information can be found here.

(Launching requirements are different in central Massachusetts; click here to find out more  or call the Quabbin Visitors Center at 413- 323-7221).

Tags: invasive species, zebra mussels      

Stockbridge Slams Hood on Car Club

Staff Reports

We received an interesting e-mail last night pointing us to a blog that details "a car club massacre in 3 parts." According to the writer, a friend and longtime mechanic in Stockbridge has been told he can't fix his friends' cars for free anymore.

Apparently his neighbors are upset with the number of "high end" cars making their way to Jeff, who built a garage at his home to work on his collection of classic cars — and help out any of the many friends he's made who share the same passion. The not-so-friendly neighbors thought the retired mechanic was running a commercial operation and called the building inspector.

Jeff got a cease-and-desist order. The blogger, "Just A Car Geek," accompanied Jeff to the ZBA meeting this past Tuesday along with a bunch of others in their informal car club. The ZBA, he writes, couldn't find anything wrong but still voted to order Jeff to stop doing what he wasn't doing.

While they agreed that everything was on the up and up, they seemed to feel, like the neighbors, that Jeff has too many friends with nice cars. We, the half dozen or so "club members," were too many acquaintances for Jeff to have. By a vote of 4 to 1, the ZBA upheld the cease and desist order. If anyone stops by Jeff's house, they had better not pop the hood on their car for any reason. (Including a jump start, which could be a problem for those with British cars, I suppose.) The city will impose a hefty fine on Jeff if we do.

Jeff, he wrote, is taking the issue to court. Read the whole story, starting with Post 1.

Now, we don't have the neighbors' side of this thing. Maybe there was too much noise, too much traffic. But we'll be first to admit that we've had our cars worked on by friends — in their yards or garages — and been thankful. When your engine starts making some weird noise it's nice to have a friend who'll say, "stop by and I'll take a look at it."

Says "Just A Car Geek":

If this decision is upheld, it's possible you'll see towns trying to pass ordinances and/or bylaws saying that you can't fix or restore your own car in your home garage, let alone help a friend or family member. ... The thought of what the outcome of this case could have on car geeks, collectors, hobbyists, amateur racers, etc., is chilling.

 

Tags: Stockbridge, cars      

Northern Berkshire Relay Raises $125K

Staff Reports

The fifth annual Northern Berkshire Relay for Life turned out a record crowd on Friday night, May 21. More than 200 cancer survivors walked the red carpet for the traditional Survivors' Lap at Noel Field in North Adams.

Relay organizers said this was the biggest event yet, with more than 1,000 team members, friends and family raising $125,000 to date - up $1,000 just since Sunday. Donations can still be made by contacting Laura.Baran@cancer.org.

The top team so far is Everday Heroes with $3,900; top individual fundraiser is Joan Bator of the Hike to Strike team with $1,386.

The weather was beautiful for this year's event, after last spring's rainy night. Still, the 2009 Relay raised more than $124,000 for cancer research and patient and family support.

Photos of this year's event will be posted later Tuesday.

Tags: Relay for Life      

Letter Carrier Food Drive Collects Donations

Staff Reports

 

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Volunteers boxed up hundreds of pounds of food for the spring Letter Carriers Food Drive.

Residents could leave non-perishable food items next to their mailbox for the postal carrier to pick up during his or her rounds. The donations were taken to 107 Main St., where they were boxed and up

The spring event is sponsored by National Association of Letter Carriers Local 286 and coordinated with Berkshire Community Action Council  North.

Marie Harpin of BCAC North said the group had to scramble to find new place to package the food because work is being done at the North Adams Armory, the usual location. David Carver donated use of 107 Main (which is getting a lot of use as a community site lately) and Big Y donated cardboard boxes for packaging.

Donations will be taken to community food pantries.

Update: Harpin told us Monday that the final tally was 7,000 pounds, a good number although not as much as the more recent record of 8,100. Harpin put it down to the lingering fiscal troubles that are forcing so many to pinch pennies.

Volunteers and postal workers haul food donations from a mail truck to the packaging site at 107 Main. An errant Toyota parked in the 'no parking' spot messed up the delivery somewhat, forcing the mail trucks to double park.

 

     
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