8 Berkshire Women Selected for Leadership Institute

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EASTHAMPTON, Mass. — Eight Berkshire County women have been selected by The Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts as members of the 2010-11 Leadership Institute for Political Impact.

A new initiative of the Women's Fund, the 10-month curriculum is designed to create a cadre of effective and powerful women leaders in the region and to train local women to run for elected office.

Focusing on areas such as community organizing, the legislative process and policy-making, fundraising and campaigning for office, LIPI is designed to give women the tools — but more importantly the confidence — they need to become political leaders.

"We believe that a critical way to address the problems facing our communities is to engage the talents and the input of women at all levels and in all sectors of decision making," said Carla Oleska, chief executive chairman of the Fund. "With this project we will create wave after wave of confident, skilled, politically savvy women leaders who will be at the forefront of strengthening our communities."

The women:

Nakeida Bethel-Smith, an outreach educator at the Elizabeth Freeman Center

Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, co-founder and director of Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education, or BRIDGE

Ariane C.Blanchard, Great Barrington Housing Authority Commission member and volunteer BRIDGE Youth Corps coordinator

Eliza Crescentini, executive director of  Berkshire South Regional Community Center

Tanya A. Hills, director of CHP-South Berkshire Youth Coalition

Susan Olshuff, fundraising consultant in Lenox

Marla N. Robertson, mentoring program director for Railroad Street Youth Project

Becky Schirber, an acupuncturist and chef in Lenox

They were publicly recognized as new Leadership Institute members on May 6 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Their yearlong participation in the institute begins in June.
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State Announces Final Order on Eversource Gas Rates

BOSTON — The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has issued a final Order in a rate case for NSTAR Gas Company, doing business as Eversource Energy, that will lead to investments in clean energy technologies, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements in infrastructure safety and service reliability, while significantly reducing the total rate increase request of Eversource. 
 
The action by the DPU follows a year-long investigation that included four public hearings across Eversource Energy's service territory, 12 days of virtual evidentiary hearings, and a review of approximately 1,800 exhibits. The Order applies only to customers who are provided gas service in NSTAR's territory in 51 towns in Eastern and Central Massachusetts and does not impact customers in the former Columbia Gas of Massachusetts gas service territory.
 
The DPU's Order reduced Eversource's base revenue request by approximately $12.2 million – decreasing Eversource's original requested increase of $34,970,916 by 35 percent. Today's decision marks the first time that Eversource's gas base distribution rates have changed since 2016.
 
"Today's Order will ensure Massachusetts continues to lead the way by investing and providing affordable, clean, and reliable energy solutions to ratepayers," DPU Chairman Matthew Nelson said. "Building on the Department's investigation into the future of natural gas in the Commonwealth's energy portfolio, the Order will also result in new clean energy options for residents to help Massachusetts achieve its aggressive emissions reduction goals."
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