Resolutions Found for Pittsfield Municipal Airport Solar Panel Project

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Airport Commission was informed by Oak Leaf Energy Partners that the Earhart solar project along South Mountain Road is still on its way. 
Oak Leaf worked with electric utility Eversource's engineers to come to a resolution regarding the interconnection issues has been resolved. 
"Eversource is that they're going to bring their line in onto our property a little bit more. And Oak Leaf is going to develop this portion of the line," Airport Manager Dan Shearer told the commission on Tuesday. 
"So, it's kind of a it's kind of a give and take. But it helped resolve some of the issues with Eversource."
Half of the project will be underground, which will be more convenient because it means there will be less overhead in that area. Eversource's three poles will be above ground. 
They were able to lower the cost of the project from the projected $1.5 million to $200,000 to $300,000 which is slightly overbudget but is closer to the original estimate than before.
Construction should start in late August or early September but may change based on the equipment. They are also working on the environmental study.  
Approval is also required from Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for that interconnection route.
The Doolittle solar project is still in interconnection study with an update expected by the end of the year. 
Gale Associate's Jackie Marks gave an update on the avigation easement project, telling the commission that they are is still coordinating with property owners and that she would give a more detailed update during the executive session. 
Gale Associates also gave an update on the tree-clearing project, explaining that the rare plant surveying is scheduled for June 13 until June 15.  It is still negotiating with property owners regarding property access. 
The grants were submitted April 7 and officials are waiting to hear back. There will also be a bill funding meeting on Monday to discuss the expansion of the utilities at the airport. 
Shearer said they are in good standing with this year's budget as they are only on average 75 percent through it and they are 92 percent through the fiscal year. 
There has been a lot of purchases of equipment and tools to get the stock back to normal but Shearer said he applied for funds. 
Currently the revenue is at $222,996 but a couple more final payments are expected. When looking at the year-over-year total, this year looks higher than previous years but will normalize when they get their grant reimbursements. When looking at the budget with the grant reimbursements they are about net ever or positive $2,000. 
In other news:
The airport has $59,000 left in its American Rescue Plan funds and truck has been delivered and Shearer is working on the reimbursement grant. 

Tags: pittsfield airport,   solar project,   

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Toys For Tots Providing for Thousands of Berkshire County Kids

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Piles of toys being sorted for age and gender in the Toys for Tots drive. More than 3,500 children are expected to receive toys through the program this year. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Thousands of local kids will have presents to open this holiday season thanks to the Marine Corps' annual Toys For Tots collection.

The Berkshire County House of Correction's storage building looked more like Santa's workshop as a dozen volunteers sorted mountains of toys for ages newborn to 14.  

"Everything's going great," Berkshire County coordinator Christopher Keegan said. "How could it not?"

Last year, about 3,500 kids received toys and Keegan expects that number to be surpassed this year. The state Department of Children and Families, one of more than 20 participating agencies, has more than a thousand sign-ups alone.  

Individuals also register with Keegan directly and online.

For nearly a decade, he has seen more and more tots needing toys during the holiday season. Between 2021 and 2022, the receiving list increased by around 800 kids.

Unwrapped toys are collected through boxes placed in businesses, schools, and other public spaces. There were more than 240 boxes this year and they were collected on Tuesday to be sorted by gender and age groups.

The drive sees everything from dolls and toy trucks to a Little Tikes basketball hoop and donations are still coming in. Shoppers fill any gaps with funds that are raised through events like the Toys For Tots musical bingo, which was a great success this year.

Keegan's yearly goal is to honor every request for toys. There are many returning volunteers who collect, pack, shop for, and deliver the presents — sometimes up until Christmas Eve.

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