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This fall, 70 area artists joined creative forces to make and sell 100 hand-crafted and hand-painted ceramic mugs, the proceeds of which benefit the Berkshire Immigrant Center.

Berkshires Beat: Vessels for Change Returns to Aid Immigrant Center

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Vessels for Change

This fall, 70 area artists joined creative forces to make and sell 100 hand-crafted and hand-painted ceramic mugs, the proceeds of which benefit the Berkshire Immigrant Center.Now in its second year, Vessels for Change culminates in a celebration at Bright Ideas Brewing on the Mass MOCA campus in North Adams on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. For a $100 donation to the Berkshire Immigrant Center, donors receive a one-of-a-kind handmade mug, locally brewed beer, and a celebration. To make a donation and reserve a mug, visit the website.

In September 2017, ceramic artist Stephanie Boyd, one of the event organizers, was inspired after a mini-fundraiser she held on Facebook shortly after the racially-motivated and deadly events in Charlottesville, Va. She made six mugs, posted them for $100 each with the intent of donating 100 percent to the Southern Poverty Law Center. She sold out within a few hours. The success of that project led her to create something larger to benefit a local organization. With the success of Vessels for Change 2017, artists are stepping up to do it again.

Several regional ceramic artists - Boyd, Ray Bub, Susan Nykiel, Suzy Konecky, Amrita Lash, Helen Olshever, Sandra Thomas, and Phil and Gail Sellers - made the mugs and artists including the likes of Laura Christensen, Jane Hudson, Amy Podmore, Zoe Doucette, Michael Oatman, Michael Glier and many more, painted the mugs in the potters' studios. Vessels for Change, to date, has raised over $10,000, equivalent to approximately 5 percent of the Berkshire Immigrant Center's annual budget.


RMV warning

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is cautioning customers to make sure that they are using the official MassDOT RMV website when they are trying to renew a license or registration, schedule a road test, or process any transaction online. Customers may inadvertently come across unofficial third-party websites or "mimic sites" that advertise similar services but have no affiliation with the RMV.

Customers can use the following helpful hints to determine whether the website they are using is the official site for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles: Massachusetts uses the abbreviation "RMV"; any website using the phrase "Department of Motor Vehicles" or "DMV" should be avoided. Make sure the commonwealth's seal is located somewhere on the page; if it cannot be found, customers should leave the site immediately. The Registry will never charge a customer to check the status of a license, registration, or title; if the site requires payment to access this information, it is an unsecured mimic site. At, a customer will never be charged to access Registry forms and information, but unofficial third-party sites may charge for this service. The Registry never charges for address changes; if a customer uses a mimic site, the change cannot be guaranteed to have actually gone through.


Dementia day program

Home Instead Senior Care has opened a supportive day program for people living with dementia and other mild cognitive impairments. The day program is called the "Friends Club" and is located at Home Instead, 66 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield. 

The Friends Club is a place for people living with dementia to remain socially engaged through a variety of diverse programs tailored to their strengths and interests - including art, music, volunteering in the community, intergenerational groups, current events, exercise and movement, cooking, and spirituality.

The Friends Club features a compassionate community space for care partners.  With a family room attached to the day program, care partners can stop in for a cup of coffee after dropping off their loved one, to meet and connect with others in similar situations. For more information, call Kaye Shaddock at 413-442-0907.


Library closure

The Milne Public Library will be closed to the public from Tuesday, Nov. 13, through Friday, Nov. 16, as part of a larger construction project. The library will reopen Saturday, Nov. 17, with normal hours, but the temporary entrances will be around back in the courtyard. There will be one for the Children's Room with an accessible ramp, and the main entrance will the side door in the middle. There will be extra lighting and signage.

During the entire two-month construction period, all items returned to the Milne Public Library will be checked in via amnesty mode. This means there will be no late fees for the entire months of construction. Inter-library loans may be delayed slightly during this period.


Pike lane restrictions

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division District 1 has announced lane restrictions for I-90 in Lee on Nov. 14 and 15. This is necessary so that utility crews can conduct necessary scheduled maintenance work on the Stockbridge Road Bridge, which is above I-90 eastbound and westbound at mile marker 8.8 in Lee.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, the right travel lane will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., on I-90 westbound at Mile Marker 8.8. On Thursday, Nov. 15, the right travel lane will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., on I-90 eastbound at Mile Marker 8.8.

Drivers who are traveling through the affected areas should expect delays, reduce speed, and use caution. All scheduled work is weather dependent and/or may be impacted due to an emergency situation.


Computer donation

This month, Roots Northern Berkshire Teen Center celebrates two years since opening their drop-in space at 43 Eagle St., where young people now have computer and printer access thanks to a recent donation from the North Adams Elks Lodge. The two new desktop computers and printer, purchased using donated funds from the North Adams Elks Lodge in September, are available for homework help, applying to jobs, research, games and have already been used regularly in the drop-in center.

To increase further understanding of the technology, Jonah McNair, a student at McCann Technical School, hosted free computer workshops at Roots. Participants met for six weeks to build their own computers using parts donated by community members, and were able to bring their finished products home with them.

Roots Teen Center is located at 43 Eagle St. and is open Wednesday through Friday 2:30 to 8 p.m. For more information visit the website.


CRA swimming lessons

The Dalton Community Recreation is registration for Session 2 Swimming Lessons. Lessons run from Nov. 12 to Jan. 26. A General CRA Jr. Membership ($40) is required and everyone must wear a swim cap. Register at the Dalton CRA. For more information and class schedule, call the CRA at 684-0260 or visit the website.

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 Beginner, Intermediate Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer. Cost for lessons is $65 (plus membership) for 10-week session or $58.50 (plus Membership) for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday classes (nine-week sessions). Parent-Toddler classes on Friday and Saturday are $35 (plus Membership). Class will not be held on Nov. 22 and 23 and Dec. 24 through Jan 1.


Festival of Trees

It’s a celebration of songs and lyrics when Festival of Trees 2018: Often Heard opens at the Berkshire Museum with the Festive Preview Party on Friday, Nov. 16. The Festival of Trees will be on view to the public from Saturday, Nov. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 6.

Festival of Trees 2018: Often Heard will challenge participants to interpret their favorite music in their tree decorations: this year's Festival will feature more than 100 dazzling, decorated holiday trees, each one depicting a popular song. From hip-hop to doo-wop, blues and jazz to pop, country, and rock, Museum visitors will try to guess the song titles from the decorations on each tree. All the trees festooned with musical themes are sponsored by businesses, schools, and community organizations in this beloved annual celebration of the holiday season.

The Festive Preview Party will be held Friday, Nov. 16, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children; children 3 and under free. Special sponsor tickets are also available. Call 413-443-7171, ext. 314, to reserve tickets. Tickets to the Festive Preview Party include an exclusive, after-hours concert with members of the Whisky Treaty Roadshow at 7:30 p.m. in the museum's theater.


Vegan Thanksgiving

The Berkshire Vegan Network's "Living Thanksgiving" will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, at the United Methodist Church of Lenox, 6 Holmes Road. All seats must have a reservation; call 413-442-3749.

Each person is asked to bring a dish that will serve eight hungry vegans. Please bring a vegan dish (free of all animal products, no soups or stews) and attach a recipe card with ingredients. Guests should bring own place setting and utensils. Hot and cold water will be available for drinks, teas and coffee should anyone want them. After the dinner there will be a voluntary share time for people to read a poem, tell a short story or tell why they are thankful.

The Berkshire Vegan Network is a nonprofit organization which strives to educate, inspire and empower people to move towards a plant-based diet, promote healthy people within a healthy planet and to take compassionate action for all life on earth.

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North Adams Releases Boil Water Notice

Crews spent long hours digging, filling and chasing down gates, leavened with a little levity.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city released a boil water notice for all residences and business that lost water service or experienced discolored water or lower pressure in connection to the River Street water main break.
The Department of Public Services released a statement at 2:30 p.m. on Friday urging residents and businesses whose water was affected to boil water before consumption. 
The statement reads:
"Due to the water main break on River Street, and as a precaution, all residences and business which lost water service, or experienced discolored water or lower pressure (below 35 psi at the water main/hydrant), advised to boil water for one minute prior to use for human consumption."
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