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The Houghton Mansion in North Adams has become a regular stop on the paranormal circuit.

'Spooky Berkshires' TV Show Features Local Sites

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Joe Durwin, left, and Jeff Belanger share a pint and talk ghost stories in 'The Spooky Berkshires' being aired on Halloween night.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshires and several local writers are featured in the premiere of "New England Legends," a new television series that follows adventurer and author Jeff Belanger as he explores tales from around New England.

The show featuring the Houghton Mansion and October Mountain State Forest, "The Spooky Berkshires," is scheduled on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 10 p.m. on WGBY, the PBS station based in Springfield and carried on Time Warner. It will be followed by a second episode on "Mysteries in Stone," set in the eastern end of the state.

"The Spooky Berkshires" examines the tragic history of the Houghton Mansion in North Adams and its century-old reports of hauntings, then heads up to October Mountain to chase down stories of Bigfoot sightings, UFOs, and the ghost of a young girl said to haunt an abandoned cemetery somewhere deep in the woods.

Belanger speaks with local historian Paul Marino and Jennifer Huberdeau, a North Adams Transcript reporter, both of whom have written extensively about the Houghton Mansion. The Church Street landmark was the home of the city's first mayor and is purportedly haunted by his daughter Mary, who was killed in a traffic accident, and his chauffeur, who was so distraught he killed himself.

Now a Masonic Temple, the house has become a regular stop on the paranormal circuit and has been featured prominently in several other "ghostly" series.

Joe Durwin, who writes the blog These Mysterious Hills and is a Pittsfield correspondent for iBerkshires, takes up the matter of oddities on October Mountain in South County.

"New England Legends promises to be something a bit different than the kind of ghost-hunting, unexplained mystery shows that are currently all over TV," he said. "This show is less about trying to chase or solve the enigmas of life, as exploring the social fabric of what these things mean to us."

Belanger, in a press statement, said the show is about legends, not ghost-hunting.



"Legends are living, breathing things. They define our communities as much as the buildings or the people who came before us," he said. "New England Legends will explore those tales from the fringe that make living in New England that much more interesting."

Belanger is founder of Ghostvillage.com and is the author of such books as "Weird Massachusetts" and "The World's Most Haunted Places."

Executive producer is Tony Dunne, who wrote and produced "Things That Go Bump in the Night: Tales of Haunted New England" for PBS in 2009.

"We're taking a snapshot of these stories and showing believers and skeptics alike how these legends help define what it means to be from New England," said Dunne in a statement. A native of Massachusetts, he lives in Western Mass.

Durwin said he enjoyed working on the project, filmed earlier this year.

"It was a great project to work on. Anthony Dunne has a lot of skill and experience with this kind of material, and Jeff Belanger is of course one of the true rock stars of New England folklore," he said.


Tags: houghton mansion,   legendary,   paranormal,   public television,   state forest,   

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Great Barrington Appoints Permanent Police Chief

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Acting Police Chief Paul Storti, a 26-year veteran of the Great Barrington Police Department, has been appointed as the town's next chief of police.

Storti, 53, was among 30-plus candidates screened by a Police Chief Search Committee, comprised of town residents and led by the recruiting firm Community Paradigm Associates LLC, headquartered in Plymouth. Storti was the only internal job candidate.
 
"After interviewing three finalists for the position, Paul Storti emerged easily as the very best candidate to build on the progressive groundwork laid by Chief Walsh," said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski, referring to retired Chief William R. Walsh Jr.
 
Pruhenski said that during his 10 years as a sergeant, and in a few weeks as acting chief, Storti has earned the respect of other officers and has been a leader in advocating for a department open to change and 21st century policing practices.
 
Storti has been serving as acting chief since Dec. 23, when  Chief William R. Walsh Jr. retired after 40 years in the job. He joined the Police Department in 1995 as a full-time officer after working part-time in neighboring towns. In the community, he's also been a volunteer coach and referee for community and school sports teams.
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