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People will once again sport women's footwear in an effort to stamp out sexual assault and gender violence.

Berkshires Beat: Final 3rd Thursday of Season Features Walk a Mile Event

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Walk a Mile

Upstreet Pittsfield's award-winning street festival, 3rd Thursdays, returns for the final event of the season on Thursday, Sept. 19, with the ninth annual Elizabeth Freeman Center Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. The largest free outdoor event series in the Berkshires, 3rd Thursdays are family friendly and open to all. North Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from West Street to Linden Street and will be filled with music, performance, food and community activities.

The annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" will be the main attraction at September's Third Thursday festivities. People will once again sport women's footwear in an effort to stamp out sexual assault and gender violence. The event steps off at the main stage at Persip Park at the corner of Columbus Avenue and North Street. Registration begins at 5 pm and following opening remarks, the walk starts at 6 pm. The participants will don women's shoes, or decorate their own and will take donations before, during and after the event.

Proceeds benefit the Elizabeth Freeman Center in Pittsfield, Berkshire County's domestic violence/rape crisis center. Advance registration is encouraged online. The Hoping Machine will be performing at Persip Park following the start of the walk.

In addition, 3rd Thursday will feature Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, a collaborative band that brings together five Massachusetts singer-songwriters in the vein of Americana, rock and roots-folk music, from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m., the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Zone near St. Joseph’s Church, which will feature the Barkha Dance Company (BDC), more than 100 vendors, miniature train rides and more.


Smoke alarm installations

The city of North Adams will partner with the Western Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross and the national Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to install smoke alarms in city residences on Oct. 8. Teams consisting of a North Adams firefighter Red Cross volunteer will visit pre-registered homes in North Adams to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well as to educate homeowners on fire safety and personal preparedness.

The campaign will kick off at the North Adams Fire Department at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8. The goal of this campaign in North Adams and across the country is to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires. North Adams residents who wish to participate in the Home Fire Preparedness program should contact the North Adams Fire Department at 413-664-4923 by Oct. 1 to register for an appointment. Registration is open to North Adams residents only. There are no age or income restrictions.

All residents are reminded that smoke alarms over 10 years old should be replaced.


Credit card payments

The City of Pittsfield's Tax Office now accepts credit cards for transactions, including payments for parking tickets and excise tax, made in person at the office. Accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard and Discover. While credit card payments are currently available via the city's website through the Tax Collector's Office, it was not established for in-person payments.


Flynt grants

The Williamstown Community Chest is accepting applications for its 2019 Mary and Henry Flynt Grants.  The application deadline is Oct. 7. An application form for the Mary and Henry Flynt Grant is available on the Williamstown Community Chest’s website, or by contacting the Community Chest office at 413-458-2443.

The bequest that established the grant program specifies that grants will be made annually, based on a competitive process to "persons or entities (including the town of Williamstown) that provide services to the town or its residents (although not necessarily exclusively)." The criteria for reviewing applications will "relate to the maintenance or improvement of the quality of life of the residents of Williamstown, defined broadly."

The third round of grants, made in 2018, funded one-time projects and innovative programs provided by nine local organizations: Berkshire Immigrant Center, Child Care of the Berkshires, Friends of Linear Park, Friends of the Milne Library, Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, Louison House, ROOTS Northern Berkshire Teen Center, Williamstown Farmers Market, and WilliNet.


MedSafe collection

In the two years since its installation in the main lobby of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, the MedSafe collection box has facilitated retrieval of 1,000 pounds of unwanted medications from homes and the street. The specialized box is available to the public 24 hours each day.

The box looks like a mailbox, featuring a one-way medicine drop. It can be used to dispose of unused or expired controlled substances, non-controlled substances, and even over-the-counter medications. Several features ensure security, including a double-locked front panel. Medications can be removed for disposal only when both a member of the Bennington Police Department and a member of the hospital staff are present. In addition, the box will be monitored by video.

Disposing of unused and expired medications at a drug take-back location prevents the drugs from being abused or sold. In the past, people often flushed medications down a toilet or drain, which can cause pharmaceutical contamination of the water supply. In addition, the box is continuously monitored by video surveillance to prevent tampering.

The program was made possible through The Collaborative; Regional Prevention Partnership, a grant from the Vermont Department of Health; and cooperation from the Bennington Police Department, notably Chief of Police Paul J. Doucette and Lieutenant David Dutcher.


Musicians sought

Sage City Symphony, founded in 1972 as a community and college orchestra with close ties to Bennington College and led by music director Michael Finckel for the past 25 years, is seeking to grow its string instrument sections in anticipation of its rapidly approaching 2019-20 concert and special events season. No audition is required, but musicians should be able to play works of moderate difficulty. Academic credit is available for Bennington College students who participate. There is a need for select brasses for the Fall Concert on November 17, especially trumpet and French horn (auditions may be requested for brasses). A very limited number of opportunities for brasses, woodwinds, percussion, and other instruments may possibly be available for some upcoming concerts.

As a community orchestra, Sage City Symphony welcomes new players - particularly violinists, violists, and cellists - who share a love for the orchestral repertoire. The symphony attracts a high caliber of dedicated amateur as well as professional musicians who travel from throughout Vermont, New York and Massachusetts for weekly rehearsals during the concert season (rides or carpooling may be available).

Rehearsals for the fall concert begin on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 5:45 p.m. in Greenwall Auditorium in the VAPA Building at Bennington College. The concert season runs from September through May. Commitment to all concerts throughout the entire season is not required; however, it is expected that players will participate in all rehearsals scheduled for each concert to which they do commit unless notification of anticipated absence from rehearsals is communicated in advance to the symphony manager.

Rehearsals are normally held in Greenwall Auditorium in the VAPA Building at Bennington College, usually on Sunday evenings from 5:45 to 8:30 p.m. On occasion, rehearsal days, times, and/or locations may change due to conflicts with College activities, or if split rehearsals are needed. Performances are at 4 p.m. on a Sunday (following a 2 PM warmup), and there is an additional Saturday rehearsal ahead of each performance. Any questions may be directed to Symphony Manager Gail Smith via email.


Lenox Library renovation

The Lenox Library will be closed for construction starting on Tuesday, Sept. 24. and will open again on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The library is installing a new, first floor information desk in the current New Materials Area. Attractive built-in shelving for the library's new materials will flank the fireplace, taking cues from the classic details of the existing trim work.

This room, on the first floor of the library building, once housed the Registry of Deeds when Lenox was county seat for Berkshire County. In 1903, the library appropriated this space from the recently vacated Lenox National Bank, after alterations by James Clifford's Sons.

The renovation is funded by a generous gift of the late William W. Goessel. Bill wanted to honor his wife Nancy, who was an ardent supporter of the Lenox Library.


Benefit golf tournament

Hillcrest Educational Centers' 18th annual Fall Classic Golf benefit will be held on Friday, Sept. 27, at Wahconah Country Club in Dalton, Mass. The proceeds from this tournament help the children at Hillcrest overcome the tremendous obstacles they face. These children have histories of severe abuse, neglect, autism disorders and a variety of other life altering challenges and oftentimes their needs outweigh the financial resources available to help them heal, learn and thrive.

The tournament will have a morning and afternoon shotgun start and scramble format. Individual and partial teams are welcome. A silent auction and raffle will be held in addition to many contests including longest drive for men and women, closest to pin on par threes and a free skins pool. Participation fee is $175 per player and includes golf cart, green fees, breakfast, lunch, premium player gift and festive dinner. Register electronically here.


Tour of historic estates

Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum invites travelers to join its exclusive one-day tour of two historic country estates overlooking the majestic Hudson River near Rhinebeck, N.Y., on Friday, September 27.

The first country estate will be Wilderstein located just south of Rhinebeck. Built in 1888 in the Queen Anne style for Robert Bowne Suckley and his wife Elizabeth Philips, the house greatly enlarged an Italianate house constructed in 1852. One could refer to the somewhat similar history of Ventfort, the Italianate Lenox "cottage" built in the 1850s for Ogden Haggerty and his family, and replaced by Ventfort Hall in 1893.
Edgewater at nearby Barrytown dates from 1825 and combines classical architecture with a dramatic setting, built on a small peninsula facing the Hudson and the Catskill Mountains beyond. With its Doric columns, high ceilings and tall windows, the mansion seems more suited to a Southern climate than the Hudson Valley. Early owners included a Livingston, a name that resonates with many country houses lining the river. After sitting empty for several decades, Edgewater was purchased in 1950 by the writer Gore Vidal, who found inspiration there by writing such best sellers as "The Judgment of Paris" (the proceeds of which paid for improvements to the house) and "Myra Breckenridge."

Ventfort Hall has made arrangements for the excursion with a private motor coach leaving from the mansion, 104 Walker St. in Lenox, at 9 a.m. and returning by 5:30 p.m. All-day parking at Ventfort Hall is arranged. The cost of the tour is $165 and includes comfortable transportation, private tour admissions and a $50 fully tax-deducible donation to Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum. Lunch provided by The Tavern at the Beekman Arms, Rhinebeck, is separate. Reservations are required as motor coach seating is limited; call Ventfort Hall at 413-637-3206.

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Pittsfield Votes Hybrid Education Model, Considers Remote Start

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee has voted to go forward with a hybrid education model with the possibility of a fully remote beginning to the school year.
During the second half Thursday's meeting, the committee directed the administration to go forward with a morning/afternoon hybrid education model with the option to begin the school year remote.
"Today we are attempting to thread a needle of being respectful of the negotiation we are doing with our teachers and be respectful of the community that has weighed in in large numbers to say that they want to see some sort of version of in-person school," Superintendent Jason McCandless said. 
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