PITTSFIELD, Mass. — BRPC is hoping to kick off an effort to bolster mountain biking in the area.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is joining with two others Western Massachusetts planning organizations in a grant application to map, analyze, identify trail conditions, and lay the framework for a marketing effort to make Western Massachusetts known as a mountain biking hub.
"The senator is a strong advocate for mountain biking and in the environmental bond bill, he got some money to do some of this work to promote Western Massachusetts as a mountain biking destination," BRPC Executive Director Thomas Matuszko said. "This new grant program came up, this Mass Trails program and the senator thought this would be a good program to apply to, working with our neighboring planning agencies — the Franklin County Council of Governments and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission — for all of western Mass,"
BRPC's grant application is for a different, and a smaller, pool of money. Matuszko said he expects the application to be somewhere in the $150,000 range and each of the three areas will choose a piece of state property to do the analysis and mapping.
"We can scale up or down with the field work depending on the site we identify. I think we are thinking of Pittsfield State Forest right now as the pilot site for Berkshire County," Matuszko said.
BRPC is also looking for a grant to help North Adams become more efficient in purchasing. The executive committee gave Matuszko the OK to apply for an Efficient and Regionalization Grant to streamlining its purchasing and add such items as online ordering.
"There are ways to improve this program, possibly with some kind of online ordering form," Matuszko said.
He said the total budget for such a project hasn't been developed and the grant program doesn't open until Jan. 15. But he still received the approval to apply once the program opens.
BRPC is also preparing to back a piece of legislation to allow industrial hemp to be grown in lands under agricultural protection. Matuszko said the state law defines what can be done on agriculturally protected lands by referring to horticulture.
But "that definition of horticulture doesn't include industrial hemp. A relatively simple amendment is to have the definition of horticulture to include industrial hemp," Matuszko said.
BRPC is now waiting for the piece of legislation to be introduced and will be writing to state lawmakers in support of the passage.
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State Sen. Adam Hinds takes a photo of Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at the core bore site.
BLANDFORD, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, state Sen. Adam Hinds, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Blandford Select Board member Eric McVey and other local leaders observed a core bore drilling on Thursday afternoon to replace outdated utility poles and install broadband internet.
Blandford was awarded a Last Mile Infrastructure Grant worth $1.04 million in 2018 to deliver broadband access to residents. Following the demonstration, Baker announced $5 million supplemental funding for the Last Mile Program, which will cover roughly half the cost of connecting homeowners to newly installed networks in 21 eligible communities.
"Our administration has prioritized the Last Mile program because we recognize that access to broadband internet is critical for the success of families, businesses and communities in the 21st century economy," the governor said. "We are proud of our progress toward delivering broadband internet to every community in the commonwealth, including the progress we observed today in Blandford, and pleased to make an additional funding commitment to these communities."
The work in Blandford is being made possible by a $1.04 million Last Mile grant announced in 2018. More than 2,400 replacement utility poles will be installed as the result of these Last Mile efforts in Blandford alone and approximately 60,000 throughout all the Last Mile communities.
The international home decor company's new $5 million call center will employ upwards of 300 people in the coming months in a newly renovated section of the Clock Tower Building fully furnished, of course, with Wayfair products.
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Councilors spent about half of Tuesday's meeting debating a request from the city to allow unrestricted parking on South Church Street but determined they were not ready to make such a decision.
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After a brief executive session Tuesday, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority voted to support Berkshire Kind's intent to purchase land in the business park and erect a 20,000 square foot grow facility.
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Local President Robert Leary led a press conference Monday afternoon in front of the Fire Department's headquarters on Columbus Avenue to announce that the union had voted to endorse Tyer.
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The branch is set to open within a couple weeks but U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and CDFI Director Jodie Harris were invited to the facility last week to learn about what the CEC will mean for the area's underserved and underbanked communities.
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