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Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath announces the arts festival will focus on outdoor recreation this year.
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Director of Cultural Development Jen Glockner says the decision was to organize 11 special events instead of the typical 10.
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Even though it was a bit blustery, Becky Cushing of Mass Audubon asks attendees to take a stroll through Canoe Meadows.

10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival Returns in February

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Mayor Linda Tyer tells how she used to tend a community garden at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The expanded 9th annual 10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival returns to cure those winter blues this February with a new emphasis on outdoor recreation.
 
Mayor Linda Tyer announced this year's festival events Thursday at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary along side Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath, Director of Cultural Development Jen Glockner, and Becky Cushing of Mass Audubon as a way to recommit to the city's efforts to capitalize on its recreational economy. 
 
"The art festival has amazing events and programs that give us something to look forward to in the winter months," Tyer said. "This year's festival will feature a brand-new outdoor recreation experience for residents and visitors. This will be between our thriving art and culture scene and our magnificent natural resources. It truly is the best of both worlds." 
 
The festival, which is organized by the Office of Cultural Development and Barrington Stage Company, is sponsored this year by Milltown Capital, which kicked in $6,000 to help fund the 65 events throughout the city.
 
Tyer said outdoor recreation and its relation to the city's economy will be a main focus in her new term and she hopes to "elevate" what resources already exist in the city.
 
McGrath said joining outdoor recreation with the festival is the perfect way to drive this focus and vision.
 
"All of this is being done as part of a larger plan and blueprint for how the city will accommodate outdoor recreation in the future as part of our larger economy," he said. "We recognize that outdoor recreation promotes healthy lifestyles, contributes to a high quality of life for our residents, and perhaps most importantly attracts and sustains employers and families in our city."
 
He said 59 percent of state residents participate in outdoor recreation and that it generates more than $16 billion in consumer spending, more than $6 billion in salaries, and creates 120,000 jobs.
 
He said this foundation along with different partnerships will help guide the city's own plan that is based on a list of principles: aligning the city's natural resources and assets with the regional and state outdoor economy, supporting and enhancing opportunities for new and existing businesses, and ensuring that natural resources are accessible to all members of the community.
 
The events kick of Feb. 13 with the opening reception for the "Ten Spot Sculpture Show" at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and the "Getting to Yes: Women's Suffrage in the Berkshires and Beyond" exhibit at the Berkshire Athenaeum.
 
The Mastheads Lit Party at Methuselah Bar & Lounge on North Street will take place that night and Barrington Stage's 10X10 New Play Festival also will host the first show of the festival.
 
"There is truly something for everyone and we encourage you to join us," Glockner said. "Last year over 10,000 people came to the events so we are hoping to up that number ... this is evidence that people do come out during the winter."
 
Other events include ice sculpture at the Berkshire Museum, a dance workshop hosted by Jacob's Pillow, fireworks at the Common and much more.
 
A more comprehensive list is posted on the city's website.
 
Glockner said instead of only organizing 10 outdoor recreation featured events this year, they did 11, which are as listed:
 
Thursday, Feb. 13
  • A $10 tubing night at Bousquet.
  • Berkshire Natural Resource Council walk at Fred Garner Park at 4 to search for animal tracks and identify trees.
Friday, Feb. 14
  • Valentine's Day one-mile owl watch walk at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. Event starts at 6:30; register here
"We are encouraging people to go out at night in the winter. So two things people may not have done before," Cushing said. "To look for owls because this is the time they are out mating and having babies in the dead of winter." 
 
Saturday, Feb. 15
  • Fat-tire bike race at Springside Park. Registration opens at 9 a.m.
  • Free skating at the Boys & Girls Club from 3:30 to 5.
Sunday, Feb. 16
  • Ice fishing derby starting at 6 a.m. at the Controy Pavilion at Burbank Park.
Tuesday, Feb. 18
  • Free skating at Boys & Girls club starting at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 20
  • Berkshire Environmental Action Team hosts an introduction to "Winter Woodland Botany" in Springside Park from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 21
  • Berkshire Environmental Action Team hosts an invasive hardy kiwi eradication at 10 a.m. at Burbank Park.
  • BEAT also hosts an "Introduction to Wildlife Tracking" in Burbank Park from 4 to 5:30.
Saturday, Feb. 22  
  • "Discover Curling" at the Boys & Girls Club starting at 5:30 p.m.
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Pittsfield Gets 475K for Second Installment of Block Grant Funds

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield received its second allocation of Community Development Block Grants in the amount of $475,103.00.

The federally funded program is designed to help small cities and towns meet a broad range of community development needs.

In total, the city has received $1,264,444. The first allocation was accepted by the City Council on April 28, 2020. These two allocations are separate and in addition to the city's annual entitlement allocation.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Linda Tyer submitted an order to amend the CDBG annual Action Plan for the program year 2019-2020 to provide a special allocation of CDBG funds in the amount of $475,103.00.
This $475,103 allocation is proposed to be spent as follows:

  • $325,000 for small business assistance
  • $50,000 for human services
  • $129,000 for rental assistance
  • $50,103 for administration

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell questioned the $50,103 that is purposed to be spent in administration. The conversation got slightly heated as Connell questioned Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer on where the administrative costs go.

Connell asked Director of Finance & Administration/Treasurer Matthew Kerwood why salary line items remain the same come budget time when they received CDBG funding, wanting to know where that extra money goes.

He said this has troubled him for some time and that it seems like a black hole that some of these funds are going into. There has to be some decrease in line items for these positions if they receive these administrative costs from the grant, Connell added, because he knows that half of Ruffer and Program Manager Justine Dodds' salaries come from it.

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