Step It Up Rally

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Williamstown - A rally for action on climate change will be held on Sat., April 14 from noon to 2 p.m., on the front steps of First Congregational Church in Williamstown. This event is part of a Step It Up national day of action, organized by climate change scholar and activist Bill McKibben. Local events will be held in iconic places such as levees in New Orleans, melting glaciers on Mt. Rainier, underwater on Key West's endangered coral reefs, and in town on the steps of a New England church. Over 1,100 events like these will send the message “Step it up Congress, cut carbon 80% by 2050". At least six of these events are scheduled to be held in Berkshire County. According to event orgainizers, climate change is a moral issue as the world is faced with human-initiated changes that will harm millions, especially the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Rev. Carrie Bail, Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, and Chaplain Rick Spalding will speak during the Williamstown event. Additional speakers include state Sen. Ben Downing D-Pittsfield, Jiminy Peak CEO Brian Fairbank, town Selectwoman Jane Allen, Mount Greylock Regional High School senior Rachel Payne, Tufts University Professor Bill Moomaw, and Chuck MacNeil from the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. The church façade will be used to host a graph illustration of the dramatic spike in carbon emissions in the last hundred years— with the final point extending 60 feet to the church’s steeple. The event will feature music by student performers from Williams College and Mount Greylock Regional High School, and opportunities for people to take action to reduce climate change. Actions include the purchase of compact fluorescent light bulbs, signing up for green energy, an opportunity to pledge to reduce carbon emissions, and signing up to participate with climate change study groups sponsored by the Northwest Earth Institute. The meetings will begin during the final week of this month and will cover a four-week span. The Water Street Books retail store will host a book table to sell books about climate change and other relevent topics. Food will be sold by a Spring Street business, Ephorium. People are encouraged to bike, carpool, or take the bus to the event. The BRTA has agreed to provide round-trip free bus service will be available from North Adams to and from the rally. You may contact First Congregational Church in North Adams at 663-9940 to arrange for passes for yourself or your organization. Rally parking will be permitted at the lower Stetson lot at Williams College or at the Williamstown Elementary School lot. Those who park in those locations are encouraged to walk the remaining distnce to the rally. In case of rain, the event will take place inside the church.
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Berkshire Health Group to See 8 Percent Rate Hike in FY23

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Berkshire Health Group Board of Directors on Monday voted to raise health insurance premiums by 8 percent for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 while offering a one-month "premium holiday" in FY23.
 
By a vote of 6-2 with one member abstaining, the board decided to raise rates for the 31 municipal entities served by the group. The 11 voting members of the group include the towns of Adams, Great Barrington, Lanesborough, Lenox and six regional school districts, Berkshire Hills, Central Berkshire, Hoosac Valley, Mount Greylock, Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational (McCann Tech) and Southern Berkshire; BHG also serves 20 smaller municipal entities who are affiliated with the joint purchasing group.
 
The board was advised by a representative from Gallagher Benefit Services that a rate hike was prudent to account for inflated health costs and a rise in claims after a fall-off in people accessing providers for non-emergency services during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The board's consultant recommended four possible courses of action: an 8 percent increase with no premium holiday, an 8 percent increase with a premium holiday, a 4 percent increase with the FY23 funding shortfall partially offset by the group's reserve or no premium increase with the increased FY23 costs entirely offset by reserves.
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