1Berkshire Launches Facade Improvement Micro-Grant Program

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — 1Berkshire announced the launch of a pilot micro-grant program to support downtown business facade improvements throughout the region going into the summer season of 2022. 
Funded through a one-time grant received by 1Berkshire, at least 30 micro-grants ranging from between $500 and $1,000 will be made available to small for-profit and non-profit businesses and organizations located in downtown business districts across the Berkshires. 
"When we think of ways to help our small business community shine, and how to make our downtowns more attractive to the thousands of visitors coming to the region, these types of micro-capital injections can really go a long way," Benjamin Lamb, 1Berkshire Director of Economic Development said. "We are ecstatic to be able to invest directly into the businesses and organizations that are the lifeblood of our downtown corridors, and can't wait to begin awarding these grants to many hard-working businesses and organizations that call our region home."
Funding is focused on providing these businesses and organizations small injections of capital that will help them execute non-construction facade improvements, such as awning repairs, updated signage, trim painting, window washing, power washing of entryways, hanging plants, outdoor seating, and window lighting. Collaborative applications are strongly encouraged in cases where multiple businesses can leverage the joint contracting of a single service provider together, such as for window cleaning or power washing services. 
Applications for microgrants are open now, and will be reviewed by a committee on a first-come, first-served basis. Grants will be awarded until the $30,000 has been exhausted, and no more than $5,000 will be awarded within any single municipality. 
For small businesses and organizations located in Berkshire County downtowns, the application to apply for micro grants can be found at https://1berkshire.com/1berkshire-programs/best-foot-forward-facade-improvement-grant-program/ .

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Pittsfield Police Advisory Board Wants Voice in Use of Body Cameras

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Following the City Council's endorsement of dashboard and body cameras on Pittsfield Police, the Police Advisory Review Board would like to review the equipment's policy before anything is implemented.

Chair Ellen Maxon this week asked the board members if they would like to take a vote to support body cameras but some were unsure of their stance. Instead, the panel motioned Tuesday to request that in the event that the Police Department adopts such a program, PARB reviews the governing policies before implementation.

The conversation is in response to the death of Miguel Estrella at the hands of a police officer in late March, which has sparked a significant community response along with conversations about police accountability and the lack of mental health support.

"I still have a pretty mixed opinion because I feel like something like body cameras, people think that's going to be the end all, be all and we don't have to do any more work," board member Erin Sullivan said, adding that there is a bigger problem beyond video surveillance.

Board member Dennis Powell, who is also president of the Berkshire NAACP, wished not to share his thoughts on body cameras at the moment.  

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