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One camera works with iPhones and the other works with Android devices; both will be available to borrow for two weeks.

Berkshires Beat: Thermal Cameras Available at the Milne Library

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Picture perfect

The cameras show hot and cold spots in homes that are not visible to the naked eye.

Just in time for Earth Day, the Milne Public Library is making two thermal imaging cameras available for residents to check out. These cameras, which attach to a smartphone, show hot and cold spots in homes that aren’t visible to the naked eye, enabling homeowners to find air leaks and poor insulation. Common culprits for air leaks include doors, windows, exterior outlets, ducts and connections to the outside such as cables or plumbing fixtures. Areas that might need additional insulation include attics, walls, floors, foundations, crawl spaces and ducts.

The cameras were donated to the library by Williamstown Girl Scout Troop 12940 and the Williamstown COOL Committee. The Girl Scouts used some of the proceeds of recent cookie sales to make the donation because they want to help residents save money and energy. 

Both the Girl Scouts and members of the COOL Committee will be at the library on Wednesday, April 18, from 4 to 6 demonstrate how the cameras work and distribute information about home management assessments from MASS SAVE.

One camera works with iPhones and the other works with Android devices; both will be available to borrow for two weeks. Older homes that have not been well maintained can usually benefit the most from air sealing and adding insulation. Air leaks and insulation gaps are also often created during renovations, when contractors are drilling holes or moving insulation around. For more information, contact Pat McLeod at the library at 413-458-5369.


The winners are…

The Berkshire County Real Women Essay Contest Task Force has announced the winning essays written by area students for the 32nd Real Women Essay Contest. The contest was created to honor National Women’s History Month each March as an effort to increase awareness of contributions made by women to our society and used to promote student’s literacy and writing skills.

Founded in 1986, the Real Women Essay contest, invites Berkshire County Students K-12 to write an essay, poem, scripted conversation, first person monologue or journal recognizing a woman in their lives that has inspired them. Students can write about a role model or mentor, a woman on the national stage who has inspired them or an historical figure whose contributions have made a difference in their lives.

This year’s winners are:

* Kindergarten: Allendale Elementary School, Pittsfield, Caleb Koomson, Tyler LaCasse, Reese Moran; Egremont Elementary School, Pittsfield, Emma McCullough, Nathan Sykes.

* First Place honors: Grade 1, Reese Albano from Williams Elementary School, Pittsfield; Grade 2, Lucas Parise from Stearns Elementary School, Pittsfield; Grade 3/4, Maya Kee from Crosby Elementary School, Pittsfield; Grade 5/6, Christopher Lyon from Morris Elementary School, Lenox; Grade 7, Matt Lee from Reid Middle School, Pittsfield; Grades 9-12, Kacie Copeland from Drury High School, North Adams.

* Second Place honors: Grade 1, Liam McGrath from Allendale ES; Grade 2, Madilynn Breault from Stearns ES; Grade 3/4, Ava Boos from Stearns ES; Grade 5/6, Sophie Cohen from Morris Elementary School; Grade 7, Aniyah Moody from Reid Middle School; Grades 9-12, Cristina Cassidy from Drury High School.

* Honorable Mentions: Grade 1, Kristen Adjei and Edrisa Touray from Williams Elementary School; Grade 2, Olivia Monti and Kalvin Phillips from Stearns Elementary School; Grade 3/4, Alayna Osorio from Allendale Elementary School; Grades 5/6, Belen Gavez and Marlene Valero-Calderon from St. Agnes Academy; Grade 7, Jane Wong from Reid Middle School; Grades 9-2, Domenica Gomez from Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, Lenox, and Jade Saldo-Torres from Drury High School.


Women Build

For the 11th year, Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s are engaging women nationwide to work together to build Habitat homes during this year’s National Women Build Week from May 5-13 and also for an additional five weeks following the national event. On Sunday, April 29, local volunteers will start Women Build month by attending a hands on construction training workshop that will give them the necessary tools to build on the construction site.

Groups and individuals can register to participate in the Women Build dates May 5-June 16.  Register online.

National Women Build Week, a nationwide initiative created by Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s in 2008, has brought together more than 117,000 all-women construction volunteers to build or repair homes with nearly 5,000 families over the past 10 years. This year, Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to Habitat for Humanity to support the 2018 National Women Build Week, which is set to take place in 300 communities nationwide.

Habitat and Lowe’s encourage all women to volunteer—no construction skills or experience in Habitat builds necessary. To learn more about National Women Build Week, visit the website.


Girls Who Code

Miss Hall’s School is partnering with the nationally recognized organization Girls Who Code to host the two-week summer program called Girls Who Code Campus. This beginner to intermediate coding course for middle school girls will run from July 16 through July 27 on the Miss Hall’s School campus at 492 Holmes Road in Pittsfield. 

Girls Who Code Campus is open to girls entering grades six, seven or eight, and classes will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. No prior coding experience is needed, but students and their families are asked to commit to the full two-week program.

To register, go online. The enrollment deadline is May 1, and space is limited to 20 participants. The enrollment fee is $1,000, and need-based scholarships are available. For more information, please contact Dr. Christopher Himes, Director of Engineering & Technology Innovation/STEAM Coordinator at Miss Hall’s School, by email.


Swimming lessons

The Dalton Community Recreation is taking registration for Session 4 Swimming Lessons. Lessons run from April 23-June 23. A General CRA Jr. Membership ($40) is required and everyone must wear a swim cap.

The Dalton CRA offers a full range of swimming lessons including: Parent-Toddler (6 months to 3 years, parent needs to be in the pool with toddler); Pre-School (3-5 years, not in Kindergarten); Beginners (5 years and up); Beginners Deep End (5 years and up - no bubble); Advanced Beginners (Saturday morning class now offered), Intermediate Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer. Cost for lessons is $58.50 (plus Membership) for nine-week session, $52 for Saturday and Monday eight-week session as there will be no classes Saturday, May 26 and Monday, May 28. Parent-Toddler classes for Friday are $31.50 and for Saturday are $28 plus CRA Membership.

Register at the Dalton CRA. For more information and class schedule, call the CRA at 684-0260 or visit the website.


Redfield Transition

Berkshire Children and Families, Berkshire Housing Development Corporation and Berkshire Fund are announcing the transition of Redfield House in Pittsfield from a supported housing environment to independent living as of September 30, 2018. With the decrease in the teen pregnancy rates in the Berkshires, funding has shifted, and the program has undergone substantial changes over the last five years moving the focus from young teen parents to young adult parents. With this change, the programmatic aspects of Redfield House are not as relevant for the young women currently being served.

In 1990, Berkshire Children and Families, then Berkshire Center for Families and Children, chaired a task force comprised of representatives from community agencies, local schools, the medical community, public agencies, funding sources, and volunteers who forged a vision and developed a plan to create a supportive living program for young parents.  Berkshire Housing Development Corporation served as the developer for the project and together with BCF identified the site, assembled financing and oversaw the design and reconstruction of the former Redfield School into 24 apartments, meeting rooms, offices and a daycare. The vision and collaborative spirit of the founders of Redfield House provided a safe and supportive environment for hundreds of young families over the past 26 years.

Redfield House will continue to serve as home for 24 families, including current residents. After the transition from supportive housing to independent living, the mix of households living there will broaden to include anyone interested in renting a modern apartment, in an historic schoolhouse, located in a walkable, downtown neighborhood. Information about renting an apartment at Redfield House can be obtained by contacting Berkshire Housing Services, by phone at 413-499-1630, ext. 105, or online.


BArT Scholarhsip

Graduates of Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School who have completed their first or second year of college are invited to apply for the Julia Bowen Bridge to College Scholarship. The Bowen Scholarship fund was established in 2017 to honor Julia Bowen, BArT's founding executive director.  Through her service to the School, Bowen demonstrated her commitment to supporting all students’ successful path to and through college. In this spirit, the Scholarship was created by and is managed by the BART Foundation to provide financial assistance to select BArT alumni through their college careers.

A Bowen Scholarship of up to $1,000 will be awarded to a BArT alumnus or alumna who has successfully completed year one or year two of college. Assuming successful completion of the school year, the award will be continued through years two, three and four, and, if need be, year five. The award does not need to be used for tuition.

Applications may be accessed online. The application process includes a narrative about the applicant, how the successful applicant plans to use the Bowen Scholarship to increase the likelihood of college success, and how the applicant has or will support the BArT Alumni Network or college office. The application deadline is May 11, 2018.


Voter registration

The Williamstown Board of Registrars will hold a special voter registration session on Wednesday, April 18, which is the deadline for register to vote for the annual Town Election and Town Meeting.  The Town Clerk’s office will remain open until 8 p.m. on that date for new registrations.

Absentee ballots are currently available for the annual Town Election that will be held on Tuesday, May 8. Residents who will be absent from the community or physically unable to go to the polls on election day may request in writing to have an absentee ballot sent to them or they may come to the Town Clerk’s office to cast their ballots.  All absentee ballot requests and applications must be received no later than noon on Monday, May 7.

The annual Town Election will take place in the gymnasium of the Williamstown Elementary School.  The annual Town Meeting will also be in the gymnasium of the Williamstown Elementary School on Tuesday, May 15,at 7 p.m. Residents who have any questions regarding the absentee ballot process or voter registration process should call the Town Clerk’s office at 413-458-9341 or by email.   

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Flag Meant to Represent Inclusion Sparks Debate in Williamstown

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — One of the authors of a proposed bylaw amendment to allow the display of the Progress Pride on town flag poles said he welcomes more dialogue about the proposal.
"It's been a good learning experience through all of this," Mount Greylock Regional School sophomore Jack Uhas said last week.
"Any attempt to hinder a conversation in our community would be disappointing to me. I'm excited to hear what people have to say."
Uhas is the vice president of the middle-high school's Gender Sexuality Alliance, which developed the bylaw proposal that will be before Thursday's annual town meeting at Mount Greylock.
The advocacy group has been talking for some time about how to foster a public display of support for the LGBTQ-plus community.
"Last [school] year, we started thinking of ways we could make an impact in the wider community beyond Mount Greylock," Uhas said. "We talked about doing something like painting a crosswalk like they do in other communities.
"[Select Board member Randal Fippinger], who was the father of the GSA president last year, came in and talked to us. And, apparently, there were some Department of Transportation regulations that meant it wasn't feasible [to paint a crosswalk]. We pivoted to other strategies."
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