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The sign for the new Mount Greylock Regional School on Cold Spring Road (Route 7).
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The entrance of the new Mount Greylock Regional School with the three-story academic wing at right.

Mount Greylock Building Committee Notes Excitement for New School

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Part of the newly reconstructed and reconfigured parking lot. The final plan was OK'd recently by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With the new school building and parking lot projects wrapping up, the old school coming down, the 12-month staff scattered and the negotiation with its unions ongoing, it has been a busy and, at times, stressful summer for the administration and governing bodies of the Mount Greylock Regional School District.
But in just a couple of weeks, the district gets back to business: educating the children from its member towns plus New Ashford and Hancock.
And for the middle and high school students, that means a whole new experience, which the School Building Committee took a few moments to celebrate at its Thursday meeting.
"There is a lot of excitement in town," Transition and School Building committees member Carolyn Greene told her colleagues. "I hope it's a great start to the year."
Several of the School Building Committee members took advantage of the respite from the committee's business to express their own excitement about the opening of the expanded and renovated middle-high school.
"I worked hard to convince people in Lanesborough to dig deep to fund this building, and I'm proud of the result we've had, and I think we've been respectful of the concerns of the community and come up with a plan that we could all feel good about — those concerned about cost and all of us who are concerned about education," Richard Cohen said. "But I think, throughout, we've always had as the biggest priority the educational priorities.
"The building looks great. [Principal Mary MacDonald] and others have done a great job making sure it does, and, more importantly, Mary and others have made sure it meets the educational purpose."
Cohen also praised the project's aesthetics.
"When I think of the Mount Greylock design, it looks modest to me," he said. "I like that we have a mature tree out front, which brings the scale down. It makes the experience better for the kids, so it's not this overwhelming monumental structure. It's really their school that they can feel at home at."
SBC Chair Mark Schiek pointed out all the sacrifices of the faculty and staff who dealt with the inconvenience of packing up the old school and soon will be setting up classrooms in the new three-story academic wing.
"It has been crunch time this summer, and so many people have stepped up to make sure this comes together," Schiek said. "There are still a few things to kind of tidy up and bundle up at the end, but I think there's light there at the end of the tunnel.
"This committee has to thank everyone who was there on the site — nights, weekends, etc. You guys are all putting in your time and more than earning your keep."
The committee emphasized that as good as the school looks, the decisions about it were made with the bottom line in mind.
"I was in the foyer last week or the week before, and it's stunning," Greene said. "My reaction was: Is this going to get us in trouble with people?"
MacDonald replied that while the finishing touches were chosen thoughtfully, they were not more expensive than alternatives.
"You're probably delighted by the aesthetic elements you see, which aren't necessarily the costly things," MacDonald said. "You walk in and see a large foyer with windows punched in. … It seems like that's expensive, but that's just sunlight coming in.
"And [the foyer] is a learning space, too. It's not just an empty foyer. It's set up so students can congregate. They can meet with teachers.
"It's a thoughtful, forward-thinking design that's going to carry us into decades."
"We're building something that's going to be here for 60 years," committee member Al Terranova added.
"Sixty? I'm going for 100," MacDonald replied.
Committee member Hugh Daley added that the committee went through a value engineering process to make sure that the $65 million building project kept costs contained.
"This committee should take pride in this building," Daley said. "I hope when members of the community go out and first see it, they see the value that's been delivered as opposed to just the cost.
"We've made value engineering decisions none of us wanted to make but had to make to bring this project in on budget or under budget. The design has led to an economical use of space. … But we've been able to add a couple of flourishes that will allow the students and the community to enjoy this building that they're going to be spending a lot of time in."
Elmore informed the committee on Thursday that the project continues to track well with its budget, and with the first day of classes looming on Sept. 6, Mike Ziobrowski of Turner Construction told the panel that the project is doing well with its timeline.
"Today was a scheduled walk-through with the town to go through the building as a whole," Ziobrowski said. "We developed a list of items that need to be addressed. There aren't any show-stoppers [on that list]."
"These are items that can be done by next Thursday," Schiek asked, referring to the next scheduled walk-through to obtain the district's temporary certificate of occupancy for the school.
"If not by the end of this week," Ziobrowski said.

Tags: MGRHS school project,   

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Butterflies Like it Hot at Mountain Meadow

By Tor HanseniBerkshires columnist

Likely northern broken dash skipper imbibing nectar at Deptford pink.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Adventuresome butterflies highlight the widespread nectar oases in a special habitat teaming with nectar to meet their spurious flight demands. 
Thanks to lucid awareness of the ecological value of so many concurrent species — upwards to 30 — the Trustees of Reservations has saved these 20 acres called Mountain Meadow Preserve. Although seldom seen altogether since they have different flight periods, and separate nectar preferences, a surprising assortment of butterflies can be seen imbibing at the same plant. 
What a potpourri! Hardly a dull moment in July.
Milkweed reached peak bloom by July 1 with signs of withering postbloom flowers and butterflies are abounding. Skippers display their acrobatic skills dashing about, glad to find pink clover serving the thirsty. Toads were tiny. Tiger swallowtails in their abundance were fulfilling my vision of halcyon grandeur. Great spangled fritillaries are having a light bonanza as they zip about in spurious search for nectar. Brief encounters yield a spontaneous aerial dance as males test for territory, and hopeful honeymooners find each other. Then their harmonious spiraling ballet may take upwards 10 to 50 feet encircling like the double helix. 
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