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The new arts center will establish a permanent home for CATA and allow the organization to expand its innovative arts programs for people with disabilities.

Berkshires Beat: CATA to Break Ground on Future Home

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CATA groundbreaking

Community Access to the Arts will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the organization's future home at 420 Stockbridge Road on Monday, June 10, at 11 a.m. The new arts center will establish a permanent home for CATA and allow the organization to expand its innovative arts programs for people with disabilities.

"After 26 years of renting space, CATA will now have a true home--one that will double our existing space for artists with disabilities," said Margaret Keller, CATA's executive director. "With the growth we've achieved in recent years, we have been bursting at the seams. Now, after intensive planning, we are ready to take this pivotal step forward to give our CATA artists the space they deserve. We can't wait to share our plans with the wider community at the groundbreaking and in the months ahead."

The two-story, 6,400-square-foot facility will double the organization's existing studio space, with two new art studios— one for visual arts and writing, the other for dance and performing arts. CATA's new arts center will also embody the principles of Universal Design, making the facility accessible to every person. For the first time, the building will bring the organization’s studios and offices under the same roof.

Formerly the Renaissance Arts Center, the building will undergo an extensive renovation to prepare for its new life as the CATA Arts Center. Architects Clark & Green are leading the design of the renovation and Allegrone is managing construction. Construction is slated to begin in July, with the building opening in early 2020.

The June 10 event will include remarks from Sen. Adams Hinds and Rep. "Smitty" Pignatelli, who serve as honorary co-chairs of CATA's Capital Campaign Steering Committee, as well as a performance by The CATA Beat, CATA's drumming group. The event is open to the public.

 

Hazardous waste collection


Southwestern Vermont Health Care's Director of Planning James Trimarchi and volunteer Meghan Curran show the total amount of unwanted medications collected.

Residents of Bennington, Vt., and 13 surrounding towns cleaned up their homes and medicine cabinets on Saturday, May 18. For the first time, participants could dispose of unused or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications at hazardous waste disposal day. A total of 45 pounds of medications were collected for safe disposal. Drug collection efforts like this one make homes safer and keeps the medications out of drinking water and off the streets.

"We are grateful for the tremendous collaboration and the extra effort our community members made to get their unused medications to this event," said James Trimarchi, the director of planning at Southwestern Vermont Health Care, one of the event partners. "It was a great opportunity to share the news that drugs can be safely disposed any time right at the hospital."

Several companies and community agencies — including the Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance, the Bennington Police Department, Casella Waste Systems, Hannaford Supermarket of Bennington, which contributed refreshments for volunteers, and Southwestern Vermont Health Care — worked together to collect unused or unwanted medications in addition to the other household hazardous waste at the free event.


Those who missed the event can dispose of medications anytime in the lobby of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, where there is a secure box for safe disposal is available 24 hours every day. No questions are asked. For more information about disposing medications, contact Ginger Ritchie at 802-447-5006 or send an email.

 

Eureka! STEM Program

Girls Inc. of the Berkshires, a core program of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, is recruiting girls who will be entering eighth grade for the Eureka! Program that begins on Monday, July 10. The Eureka! program encourages girls to explore STEM-related subjects through a five-year program developed by the Girls Inc. national organization. Participation in the Eureka! Program is free of charge.

Eureka! engages girls entering eighth grade beginning with an intensive, four-week summer program where they explore a variety of hands-on activities in science, math and technology. Girls participate in exciting and compelling activities directed by college professors from BCC and MCLA and Girls Inc. staff. Girls take field trips to see STEM in action, including science centers and local businesses to see jobs in STEM-related fields first-hand, and take part in activities that promote healthy living and financial literacy. The summer program is the first step in a five-year program that continues throughout each school year and summers, including another four-week college campus experience, paid internships and support as girls decide to pursue further education or training.

Some openings remain for girls entering eighth grade and who have an interest in exploring science, technology and math to join the first group of girls who began the Eureka! program in 2018. The four-week program begins on Monday, July 10, and runs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 2. Transportation to and from the Gladys Brigham Center at 165 East St. in Pittsfield is included and lunch is provided through an arrangement with the Pittsfield Public Schools. For more information, call 413-442-5174, ext. 19, or send an email.

 

Bicycles Battling Cancer

Ned Moore of Lee will ride in his 10th Bicycles Battling Cancer on Sunday, June 9, and he will be doing the 100-mile course. Each year he writes on his jersey the names of people he is riding in memory of or in honor of. "Too many people close to me have passed away from this disease," said Moore, whose mother, Alicia, is a survivor.

Bicycles Battling Cancer, the only American Cancer Society event of its kind in New England, brings cyclists and volunteers together to honor cancer survivors, to increase awareness about reducing cancer risk and to raise money to lead the fight for a world without the disease. This one-day fully-supported, non-competitive ride offers 30-, 50-, 70- and 100-mile scenic loop routes through central Massachusetts. This is the 11th year for the event.

Courses begin and end at Hillside School, 404 Robin Hill St., Marlborough, Mass. There will be a post-ride celebration with food, beer and entertainment upon the return to Hillside School. Participants, family, friends and cancer survivors are invited to celebrate at the finish line to recognize and celebrate the riders' efforts to fight back against cancer.

 

Hazard Mitigation Plan

The community is invited to review the city of Pittsfield's draft Hazard Hazard Mitigation Plan Update, which is now available through June 17. A hard copy of the draft plan is available in the City Clerk's and Community Development offices at City Hall, 70 Allen St. The plan can also be accessed online.

The city, in collaboration with Jamie Caplan of Consulting LLC of Northampton, Mass., developed the Draft Hazard Mitigation Plan Update for approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The plan serves as an essential strategy for reducing current and future risks to natural hazards by identifying projects to minimize those risks. Projects include providing back-up power to all critical facilities, mitigating flood risk at Wahconah Park and implementing a floodplain education and awareness program. FEMA approval and city adoption of the Hazard Mitigation Plan Update allows Pittsfield to apply for pre- and post-disaster hazard mitigation grant funds.

The Draft Hazard Mitigation Plan Update was drafted in conjunction with the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness project which was recently completed and includes a Community Resilience Building Workshop Summary of Findings that details recommendations to improve resilience in the city of Pittsfield. For questions regarding the Hazard Mitigation Plan Update, contact Rebecca Manship, project coordinator, at 413-499-9371 or by email.

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Flu Shot: It's That Time Again

By Dr. Everett Lamm

With flu season around the corner, your health care providers, employers, pharmacists and others are sounding the annual reminder: "Get your annual flu shot." We encourage this for you — and for the people around you, too. We see evidence every year of the benefits of the flu vaccine, and we also see the risks of skipping it.

The flu vaccine has dramatic impacts on public health. However, since strains of the flu may vary from year to year, the vaccine must be received annually. Although the vaccine doesn't guarantee a flu-free winter and perfect health, medical research has convincingly shown that the flu shot reduces flu severity and reduces sick visits, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions. For infants and the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the flu shot is essential protection against serious illness.

Although Massachusetts has historically ranked high in its overall immunization rates —  50 percent of all residents received vaccines in 2015-16 flu season — that percentage dropped from 55 percent the year before. The lowest rates of vaccination are in residents 18-49 — 40 percent for the 2015-16 season, but vaccine rates for all age groups (except young children) dropped slightly as well.

Some people have medical reasons for being unable to have the shot, but others go without by choice. Why? They may feel confident in their own good health and their body's ability to ward off illness. They may be skeptical about vaccines in general. However, skipping the flu vaccine means taking an unnecessary risk – for yourself and others whom you care for or work with, or who may be more vulnerable than you to illness.

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