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The Bidwell House Museum has decided not to open for guided tours of the house in 2020.

Berkshires Beat: Bidwell House Museum Cancels House Tours for 2020

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Bidwell House update

The Bidwell House Museum has decided not to open for guided tours of the house in 2020. The staff and trustees feel that leading groups through the confined spaces of the house, even later this summer, may not be safe or comfortable for visitors. 

In addition, the museum has also decided to cancel the opening concert with Diane Taraz that was scheduled for May 24 and the Bidwell Country Fair that was to take place on July 12. Both programs are community events that draw hundreds of people, young and old, to the museum each year.

The Bidwell House Museum staff will continue to monitor the situation in Berkshire County and around the world and will make a decision at a later date about other events and programs scheduled for August and September. If the situation allows, the museum may consider tours by appointment later in the year. In the meantime, the staff is working remotely on new programming and lectures that can be experienced online. One new initiative is the weekly email newsletter Bidwell Lore that comes out on Tuesday afternoons and tells the many stories of the Bidwell family.  Those stories can also be viewed on the museum’s blog. 

The museum also is expanding their outdoor offerings, with new self-guided interpretive tours of the Bidwell gardens and grounds that will open later this month. Finally, the museum's four miles of hiking trails remain open every day, free of charge. Staff asks that people observe social distancing on the trails. For more information, visit the website.


MCLA innovation challenge

This year, The MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge is going virtual, and the MCLA community is invited to serve as one of the judges. Beginning at 5 p.m. on May 4, the three finalists’ pitches will be available to watch and review online. Voting will be open until 9 a.m. on May 8. Any member of the MCLA community (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) will be eligible to vote once during this period. Details are on Facebook.

The three students who will be pitching their business ideas are seniors David Flight: "Settling the States"; Kimberly Granito: "Detailing Dream"; and Sierra Lamonde: "Pyrography Crafts."

The students were coached through a series of deliverables — determining the solution to the problem, developing a budget and business plan as the roadmap for the project or business, and presenting before a panel of judges. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 8. The first-place project will be awarded $7,500, second place $5,000, and third place $2,500 toward start-up funding to cover inventory, equipment, and marketing for their business.


Candidate forum

The Williamstown Town Election will be held on June 23.  There is one contest on the ballot, for Planning Board, between Alex Carlisle (incumbent) and Peter Beck.  As town officials are encouraging early voting by mail, the Williamstown League of Women Voters is also going to hold an early candidate forum, by Zoom. The forum will be taped on May 13.  

The league cannot invite public participation on the date, so they are asking that those with questions for the candidates send them to via email by Monday, May 11. Questions must be addressed to both candidates.  The forum will be available on WilliNet shortly after the taping.


Free facemasks

Free surgical facemasks will be available to everyone while supplies last this Friday, May 8, in Great Barrington and Pittsfield. Wheeler & Taylor Insurance will hand out 1,000 facemasks at its Great Barrington office at 333 Main St. and its Pittsfield office at 402 East St. from 10 a.m. until supplies are gone. People should pull up in your car for the drive-through.

The community service is designed to help local residents comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s order to wear masks in public both indoors and outdoors, according to J. Scott Rote, president of Wheeler & Taylor, an independent insurance agency with several offices in Berkshire County.

This is the first of a series of community services planned by Wheeler & Taylor to help people stay safe during this pandemic.


Pittsfield flushing

Monday, May 11, marks the start of week two for the flushing of the city of Pittsfield’s water system. Water mains throughout the city will be flushed through hydrants over the next three weeks to remove accumulations of pipeline corrosion products. Mains will be flushed Monday through Friday each week, except holidays, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Although flushing may cause localized discolored water and reduced service pressure conditions in and around the immediate area of flushing, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that proper levels of treatment and disinfections are maintained in the system at all times. If customers experience discolored water, they should let the water run for a short period to clear it prior to use. If discolored water or low pressure conditions persist, please contact the Water Department at 413-499-9339. 

The upcoming flushing for this week may be expected to affect the following areas: 

• Starting at Unkamet Park Drive heading west up to North Street working north to the Broadway and Lake streets neighborhood.

• Starting at Plastics Avenue moving west on Dalton Avenue including the Allendale and Allengate neighborhoods. Then moving west onto Tyler Street into the Morningside neighborhood, including Springside Avenue, pushing west to North Street.

• Lincoln and Fenn streets, Silver Lake, Wendell Avenue and the surrounding vicinity, pushing west to North Street.

• South Mountain and Tamarack roads, Dan Fox Drive, and south to the Pittsfield-Lenox line.


WIC available

The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) is committed to providing families with continued support now and in the days ahead. WIC is able to provide all services by phone, in keeping with the social distancing efforts.  

The organization offers free nutritious supplemental foods, nutrition counseling, and referrals to other local service programs, as well as breastfeeding support, for families of pregnant and postpartum women, and children up to 5 years of age, to those who are income eligible. They can be reached at 413-447-3495.


BArT deadline

Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School is currently accepting applications for students in grades six through 10 for the 2020-21 school year. The next enrollment deadline for the 2020-21 school year will be Thursday, May 7, at noon. More information on the school’s enrollment and lottery process can be found online. Interested families should contact the school at 413-743-7311 or via email.

Despite COVID-19 closures, teaching and learning continues at BART and enrollment is moving forward as usual. Please reach out to the Enrollment Team via email with any questions.

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Marie's North Street Eatery Cuts Ribbon in Pittsfield

By Brittany
The owners of Marie’s North Street Eatery and Gallery hold a ribbon cutting recently.

PITTSFIELD, Mass.- Marie’s North Street Eatery and Gallery brings grab-and-go offerings to North Street in a revamped storefront.  White it has been open since December, a ribbon cutting was held last week as a formal debut. 

Owner Neil Davis wanted a place to “put my foot down in the community” while making social connections. Partner Ashley Marie handles the kitchen and menu curating, focusing on breakfast and lunch favorites.

“We want to have grab-and-go availability for the downtown worker crowd but also we have a made to order lunch menu,” she said.

This includes sandwiches, soups, a salad bar, a rotating hot or cold dip, and future made to order breakfast items. The turkey avocado on farmer's bread has been a customer favorite.

Former tenant Maria Sekowski won’t be found singing karaoke regularly, but the legacy of Maria’s European Delights is honored with her well-known kielbasa on the menu. There is also a “Maria’s Pantry” section with favorites like her packaged pierogis.

The new name pays homage to its predecessor.

“The last week before she closed the business, I sat here with her every day all day and learned her customers,” Marie said.

“I do have a lot of returning customers that came back so I learned what people come in here and look for and mainly we found that it was the kielbasa and the frozen pierogis so they could take home and cook later.”

She added that her and Sekowski spent “a lot of time” talking about recipes for soup and kapusta, a Polished cabbage dish, and she will always be there to lend a helping hand while enjoying her retirement.

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