State, Federal Officials to Showcase Housatonic River Projects

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A file photo of the Housatonic River that has been undergoing restorations through the GE consent decree.
LENOX, Mass. — State and federal environmental officials will host an open house on May 1 to showcase restoration projects funded as a part of the first three rounds of the Massachusetts Housatonic River Watershed Restoration Program. 
The open house will also include a discussion of the anticipated fourth and final round of funding for restoration projects to compensate for natural resources that were injured or lost as a result of the release of hazardous materials from the General Electric facility in Pittsfield into the Massachusetts portion of the Housatonic River watershed. 
The Massachusetts Subcouncil of the Housatonic River Natural Resource Trustees will host the open house on Tuesday, May 1, at 5 p.m. at Lenox Town Hall, 6 Walker St. 
The restoration program was funded through a $15 million natural resource damages (NRD) settlement as a part of the GE/Housatonic River Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration case. The settlement, originally filed as a consent decree in 2000, provided funding to compensate Massachusetts and Connecticut for natural resource damages caused by the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from GE's former facility in Pittsfield. PCB pollution affected aquatic wildlife and habitats, as well as waterfowl and predators that consume contaminated organisms.
In Round 1, approximately $4 million was awarded for 10 restoration projects addressing habitat connectivity, rare species recovery, habitat enhancement and protection, floodplain restoration, recreational access, and environmental literacy. In Round 2, more than $1 million was awarded to four projects addressing invasive species control, stream connectivity and floodplain habitat restoration, and educational programming. In Round 3, $2.4 million was awarded for six land protection and habitat conservation projects, conserving of more than 650 acres of wetland, stream, riparian and upland habitat.
Approximately $1 million is available for the fourth and final round of funding for restoration projects in the Housatonic River watershed. It is anticipated that Round 4 will solicit project proposals in all four priority restoration categories: Aquatic Biological Resources and Habitat; Wildlife Resources and Habitat; Recreational Uses; and Environmental Education and Outreach. More information on the priority restoration categories, as described in the Restoration Project Selection Procedure, can be found here.
The Massachusetts SubCouncil is responsible for administering the commonwealth's portion of the settlement and is composed of trustees from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, represented by the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
Information about the Housatonic River Watershed Restoration Program in Massachusetts is available here.

Tags: EPA,   GE,   Housatonic,   river restoration,   

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Pittsfield Hoop Club Awards Five Scholarships

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Hoop Club continues its long-standing tradition of supporting local student-athletes and celebrating the city’s rich sports tradition with the announcement of the Class of 2019 Scholarship Award Recipients.
Since 1998, The Pittsfield Hoop Club has contributed more than $85,000 to local student-athletes through their scholarship program. In addition to investing in the future of local student-athletes, the organization is also devoted to recognizing former players, coaches, and contributors to the game. Five senior basketball players, who are set to graduate this month from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School, are being recognized by the Pittsfield Hoop Club – with each student receiving a $500 scholarship to be allocated to their post-secondary education.
“We are pleased to award these scholarships," club president John McLaughlin said. "The scholarship program has been a core part of our mission since The Pittsfield Hoop Club was founded close to 20 years ago. It’s gratifying to support these particular students in such a direct way.”
The Pittsfield Hoop Club scholarships are awarded at a time when the average annual college tuition hovers around $10,000 at public universities and $35,000 at private colleges, which does not include room, board, and other expenses. Kevin Codey and Tim Carroll, the Pittsfield Hoop Club Scholarship Committee co-chairs, noted the body of work that the annual scholarship recipients possess. 
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