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SVMC Art Collection Coordinator Sarah Jolivette (left) and SVMC Director of Women's and Children's Services John Gottung, RT (center), accept the work from artist Susana Aldanondo (right).

Berkshires Beat: SVMC Women's and Children's Department Receives Donation of Art

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Art donation

The Women's and Children's Services Department at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, received a donation of four framed posters and one work on canvas from internationally recognized visual artist Susana Aldanondo.

Aldanondo creates abstract expressionist and conceptual art, along with art for children. She studied at The Art Students League of New York, Hunter College in New York City, and at Nord University. Her work has been featured by Art Market Magazine, Artbest/Artweek, Artscope Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, and SeeMe and has appeared in exhibits worldwide.

She believes in helping others and dedicates a portion of her work and time to help charitable organizations dedicated to the service of those in need. For more information, visit her website.


Bus route changes

The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has updated connections for some routes, edited the current schedules for easier customer use, and created a new circulator loop servicing Great Barrington with a starting date of Dec. 30.

With the underutilization of the 21X pilot evening service connecting Pittsfield to Great Barrington, BRTA reviewed the online survey responses and will implement the suggested circulator loop connecting Main Street, Simon's Rock, and Housatonic to the major employment/retail centers. This new service (BRTA Route 22) will repurpose the pilot funding of the two evening runs from the ITC in Pittsfield to the Big Y in Great Barrington. The latest survey data received suggested higher customer use of this new circulator loop (BRTA Route 22) within Great Barrington, rather than the connectivity between Pittsfield and Gt. Barrington. Customers will still be able to use the 5:30 p.m. express bus to Great Barrington and the 9:55 p.m. bus from Great Barrington to Pittsfield.

Both BRTA bus Route 11 and 15 will provide weekday service to Wayfair.

Again, in response to customer inquiries, Saturday service to BRTA Route 11 (BCC) will be added to the new schedule line up beginning on December 30, 2019. Saturday service with consistent 120 minute headways for BRTA Routes 4, 11, 15, and 16 are included within the service updates.

Edits to the current BRTA Route 5 were redesigned to travel in the same direction all day, rather than change direction midday. This change will alleviate the customer confusion caused when BRTA combined Routes 5 and 13 in 2018.


Impaired driving patrols

The Pittsfield Police have been awarded a grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Office of Grants and Research o increase the number of impaired driving patrols during the holiday season. Pittsfield Police will join other departments across the state and the State Police in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over  enforcement mobilization.

Massachusetts date from 2013 to 2017 finds that marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in drivers involved in fatal crashes. Also, 11 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes were found with both alcohol and drugs in their system; 78 percent of impaired drivers in fatal crashes were men; 35 percent of drunk drivers involved in a fatal crash were 21-29 years old; the number of drivers involved in a fatal crash who were alcohol-impaired (BAC .08+) and had drugs in their system increased by 63 percent (35 to 57); and from 2016 to 2017, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased by 19 percent (148 to 120).

In 2019 the Pittsfield Police Department responded to more than 1,800 motor vehicle crashes. These incidents ranged from minor fender benders to fatal crashes. Too many resulted in one of the operators being placed under arrest for operating while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, with drug impairment on the rise. With the holidays upon us, police ask that everyone make smart decisions and keep each other safe on our roadways so that we can all spend the holidays with our family and friends.


'Every Child Ready to Read'

South Berkshire Kids presents "Every Child Ready to Read" at the Lenox Library for four Tuesdays in January - Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28 - from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. This program is for parents/caregivers and their child(ren) ages birth through 5. Register by contacting Jessica at 413-464-5095 or
The programs aims to teach parents and caregivers how to help their children develop pre-reading skills that will help them be ready to read in school. This is a free four-week series for families with young children that includes a free literacy workshop, storytime and playgroup all in one. Each family will receive picture books, a book bag, and helpful information and resources.


Free mental illness course

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Berkshire County is offering Family-to-Family, a free course for family members, friends and caregivers of individuals over 18 living with a mental illness. The program is designed to help participants understand and support their loved one, while maintaining their own well-being.

Discussion includes current information on serious mental illnesses, including depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, borderline personality, post-traumatic stress disorder and co-occurring brain disorders. The program will be held Tuesdays beginning Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in Pittsfield and pre-registration is required at 413-443-1666.


BArT enrollment deadline

Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School is currently accepting applications for students in grades six through 10 for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. The next enrollment deadline for the 2019-20 school year and the first enrollment deadline for the 2020-21 school year is Thursday, Jan. 16, at noon.

Families of current fifth-graders should strongly consider submitting their application before the January deadline in order to best secure a seat in next year's sixth-grade class. More information on the school’s enrollment and lottery process can be found online. Interested families should contact the school at 413-743-7311.


Domestic violence awareness

The Berkshire Sexual and Domestic Violence Task Force's "One Book, One Community" project raised more than $2,000 for the Elizabeth Freeman Center. The Bookloft in Great Barrington donated a portion of all of its sales in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Bookstore in Lenox donated a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book "No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us" by Rachel Louise Snyder, and the Williams College Bookstore offered a "round up" promotion.

Williams College and the Bookstore in Lenox are extending its promotions until February, when Snyder will be speaking at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. Snyder’s speaking event on Feb. 6 is free and open to the public thanks to generous community donations totaling more than $20,000. The event will count as professional development credits for educators, health care workers, and first responders.

The project was launched in October as a public awareness campaign around issues of domestic and sexual violence. More than 30 community groups are reading the book and holding discussions about it with members of the Berkshire Sexual and Domestic Violence Task Force, and staff from the Elizabeth Freeman Center and Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. Greylock Federal Credit Union donated 100 books to give to community members, URJ Eisner Crane Lake Camp donated 50, and the Superintendents Roundtable purchased one for every county high school.

The Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force formed earlier this year under the auspices of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office. The task force is comprised of experts in various related fields – from health care to police to schools to government – representing the entire geographic span of Berkshire County focused on ending domestic and sexual violence in the Berkshires.

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Pittsfield Recognizes Boys Who Tried to Help Swimmer

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Fire Chief Sammons explains what happened at Silver Lake on June 23. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Christopher Daniels just kind of shrugged Thursday morning when asked about how he and his brother, Skylar, had rushed to find help when they saw a swimmer in trouble at Silver Lake. 
But first-responders said the 16-year-old was loud and clear on June 23 when he called 911 to report the emergency.
"They're the ones that initiated the 911 call, and they gave clear direction," said Fire Chief Thomas Sammons. "Their quick actions, and the conviction that was in Christian's voice — we knew that he was dead serious."
Both brothers were recognized by Mayor Linda Tyer and Sammons at a brief ceremony at the Columbus Avenue fire station on Thursday morning. 
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