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First prize winner Kaitlyn Pierce holds her prize along with her daughters as contest Judge Linda Dulye, left, looks on. (Photo by John Dolan)

Biz Briefs: 'Binka Bear' Wins All-Ideas Pitch Contest

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Entrepreneurship for All

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County ran their first All-Ideas Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum, awarding a first prize of $1,000 to Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear, a product that helps wean children off pacifiers. She also won the "Fan Favorite" award of $500.

Second place prize of $750 went to Michelle Latimer and Leia Miller for their idea "413 Bubbly," a mobile prosecco/Champagne business. Third place went to Erin Laundry of Bottomless Bricks, a building-block birthday party business with a storefront in Adams. More than hundred members of the community came to support the new business ideas:  11 individuals were invited to showcase and eight pitched their ideas.

The Pitch Contest judges were Evan Valenti of Steven Valenti Clothing, Jodi Rathbun-Briggs of Greylock Federal Credit Union, John Lewis of Sp3ak Easy Studios, Laurie Mick of PERC and the City of Pittsfield, Linda Dulye of Dulye & Co. and Lindsey Schmid of 1Berkshire.

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) is a nonprofit organization that partners with communities nationwide to help under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow a business through intensive business training, mentorship and an extended professional support network.


$150 donations

In honor of celebrating their 150th year of service, Adams Community Bank donated gift certificates in the amount of $150 to each grade in the elementary schools where they have branch locations. Eighty grades from pre-K through eighth received a $150 gift certificate to purchase necessary school supplies for their classrooms.

The gift certificates are redeemable at a local vendor, Cascade School Supplies. The 11 public schools that benefited from this $12,000 donation are in Adams, Cheshire, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, North Adams and Williamstown.


BuzzFeed series filming

From left, Phil Sellers, Rebecca Pinsonnault, Gail Sellers and Evan Michael Pinsonnault are seen in the Sellers' River Hill Pottery studio in North Adams, where Rebecca and Evan were filmed for the BuzzFeed/Chevrolet 'Bring Me: Home' series.

As part of BuzzFeed's social media series "Bring Me: Home" (in partnership with Chevrolet), Evan Michael Pinsonnault of Adams shared his experiences growing up in The Berkshires with his wife, Rebecca, ahead of their first anniversary later this month. Pinsonnault is the son of Bernie Pinsonnault and Dianne Cutillo of Adams and Jan Charbonneau and Stan Spencer of Lenox.

The visit to Adams earlier in October was filmed by a 10-person professional crew -- some traveling from Los Angeles, where the Pinsonnaults now reside – others from New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., for the third installment in the popular online series. "Bring Me: Home" showcases visits home, such as a spouse bringing a partner home or high-school friends returning to their hometown.

The Pinsonnaults enjoyed chili cheese dogs at Jack's in North Adams, making baskets at River Hill Pottery in the Eclipse Mill, climbing across the Ramblewild adventure course, a cloudy walk around Mount Greylock's summit and driving around the Berkshires in a 2020 Equinox for the filming. The first "Bring Me: Home" clips featuring Evan and Rebecca Pinsonnault will air in late October on the BuzzFeed and Chevy websites.

Pinsonnault, a 2001 graduate of Hoosac Valley High School, is writing a candlepin bowling documentary based on his childhood. "It's more a mockumentary, like 'Best In Show' or 'A Mighty Wind.' But there’s a lot of truth in comedy, so perhaps we'll 'strike' the perfect balance. I just need to find the funding first," he said.


Tanglewood award

MassEcon, the state's private sector partner in promoting business growth in Massachusetts, has announced that Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox, Mass., will receive its 2019 Community Impact Award. Employing more than 1,100 in a typical year, including full-time, part-time, and seasonal staff, orchestra members and extra players, Tanglewood brings more than $100 million in economic activity to the Berkshires annually.  The $33 million Linde Center for Music and Learning, Tanglewood's first year-round facility, opened in June of 2019.

Tanglewood will receive the Community Impact Award as part of the 16th annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards Luncheon on Nov. 26 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.


Workforce Board awards

The MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board held its quarterly meeting in September at their offices in Pittsfield. As a state certified High Performing Workforce Board, the BWB highlighted several accomplishments including the college & career readiness programming, training in healthcare & manufacturing, employer outreach and engagement, rapid response services to assist those impacted by company closings, and more collaborative efforts in meeting the demand for more highly skilled workers.

The BWB recognized three outstanding leaders for their efforts: Melissa O’Brien, HR Generalist at Interprint, received the Employer of the Year award for her longstanding support of the region’s career readiness programming, STEM engagement, hosting teacher externships, and participation in the region’s Advanced Manufacturing training programs; Joshua Mendel, director of Recruitment and Outreach for MCLA's Graduate and Continuing Education Division received the Workforce Professional Award; and Erik Ungewitter is a licensed insurance broker at Scarafoni Financial and received the Workforce Ambassador Award.

During FY2019 the BWB leveraged over $2.8 million which convened 46 companies for human resource networking; evaluated 18 programs impacting 150 people; trained 50 individuals; placed 389 high school students in internships, assisted more than 3,174 students in college and career readiness activities; provided data to 120 organizations which generated $1.6M in new resources; convened the Berkshire Skills Cabinet generating $1.5M; assisted 3 companies in transition impacting 150 workers; and the MassHire Career Center provided employment services to 3,900 job seekers and 321 employers. This investment of public funds is a critical piece of the economic and workforce development strategy of Berkshire County.


Calendar Photos

After receiving more than 1,000 image submissions, Qualprint has selected its top three grand-prize winners for its iconic 36th annual "A Closer Look at the Berkshires" calendar photo contest. Qualprint has also selected nine runners-up and 12 honorable mentions. All 12 winning images, along with the honorable mentions and Berkshire Bank's Pick of the Year, will be published in Qualprint's 2020 "A Closer Look at the Berkshires" calendar. This is the calendar’s 36th year in production.

The first-place prize of $250 was awarded to Jane McWhorter of Great Barrington for her May image of a barnyard goose in Egremont. Jared Thomson of Monterey received the second-place prize of $200 for his October image of resting kayaks in Lee. Terri Thorne of Lee received the third-place prize of $150 for her January image of an icy Belmont Reservoir in Hinsdale. Hope Young of Pittsfield and Robert Watroba of Becket received $50 runner-up awards for two of their images. Jennifer Richard, Dan Morgan, Joshua Mantello, all of North Adams; Cindy Mathias and David Jakacky of Lee; and Michael Arace and Bruce Carnevale, both of Pittsfield, also received runner-up awards.

Another 12 contestants received honorable mention: Scott Plantier of Pittsfield; Marisa Burntitus of Great Barrington; Cheri Allison of Becket; Richard Hoebel of Lenox Dale; Robert Kudlate Jr. of Pittsfield; Debbie Storie of Lanesborough; Ruth Pierce of Cheshire; Alexander Giesser of North Adams; Jennifer Radwich of Peru; James Smith of Adams; Michelle Gage of Adams; and Lynne Anstett of Winchester Center, Conn. Sharon Siter of South Egremont was awarded Berkshire Bank’s Pick of the Year.

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Q&A: Pothier Tickled Pink To Still Be Wearing Blue

By Stephen Sports
DALTON, Mass. — After 3,000 games and tens of thousands of judgment calls, Rich Pothier is a fixture on Berkshire County baseball diamonds and a walking advertisement for the recruitment of young umpires.
Moments before stepping behind the plate for his milestone 3,000th career game on Saturday, Pothier sounded as enthusiastic as ever and not the least surprised that career has lasted this long.
"Strangely enough, yes," Pothier said when asked whether he thought he would be umpiring well into his fifth decade. "Because I've loved it right from the first day I did it. I could envision myself doing it.
"I didn't have any talent as a baseball player, but I loved being out on the baseball field, and I found that I have an aptitude for doing this. I love doing it. So, it's the best of both worlds.
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