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Weekend Report: No Snowstorm, But a Groundhog and a Game

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Does Punxsutawney Phil like football?

With the Super Bowl falling on Groundhog Day this year, we here at iBerkshires got to wondering if, instead of asking the animal to predict how much more winter we are in for, we ask him to predict who will win the big game?

Because, let's face it, winter officially remains through March 18 whether we like it or not - and sometimes in reality it drags on even longer in these parts, and we see snow on Mother's Day. While there was talk earlier this week of a big Nor'easter this weekend to make it a white Super Bowl, the storm appears to be going out to see, and we might only see some flurries this weekend, with temperatures right around freezing. A normal boring winter weekend, alas. But at least you shouldn't have any trouble getting to your favorite Super Bowl party or worry about losing reception when your satellite dish fills up with snow like in previous years.

But what's not normal this weekend is that on Sunday morning, Punxsutawney Phil will make his annual appearance (fending off calls from PETA to retire to rodent and instead employ an AI robot) and decide where winter will end soon or whether it will continue for six weeks, all based on whether he sees his shadow. Which may be how we got to the point where people don't believe in the science of climate change when they're used to getting weather reports from a furry little creature with no degree in meteorology or scientific prowess whatsoever. But we digress.

We just think that if they are going to bring Phil out on Sunday morning anyway, they should ask him for one more favor before he goes back to sleep: Let us know whether the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs end up champions of the National Football League this year. It's an intriguing matchup: Two young quarterbacks, one veteran coach and one son of a veteran coach, one team with five previous Super Bowl wins, one team with only one win. (For those disappointed Patriots fan, here's a fun fact: If the 49ers win, they will tie the Pats and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories in NFL history. Oh, and that young Niners quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo? He was Tom Brady's backup for a while. Good for him for finally getting his shot!)

We're just hoping for a good game and a mild remainder of the winter season, which has shown us an average amount of snow and temperatures mostly above average. Can you make that happen, Phil?


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North Adams Council Passes $41M Budget for Fiscal 2021

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council approved a $41 million budget for fiscal 2021 on Tuesday along with using close to $300,000 in reserve funds despite concerns expressed by several councilors.
The total amount to be raised is $40,939,756, up $134,218, or 0.33 percent, from last year. Some $11,369.776 has already been spent over the past three months through continuing appropriations caused by delays in the state budget because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 
"This is now coming on really six months of a budget process," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "We typically start talking about the budget with the Finance Committee in March, and this year we had our first conversation in late April because following the shutdown at the state and local levels, there was just so much uncertainty ... it made sense to pursue several months of continuation budgets, with the goal of bringing forward this budget now for you in October."
The budget on its own did not generate much discussion overall but the use of $320,427 in reserve funds to offset the amount to be raised by taxes did.
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