Berkshires In Normal Drought Conditions

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BOSTON — While the Commonwealth experienced an increase in precipitation over the previous month, there are regions of the state that continue to be impacted by long term drought conditions.
 
Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Beth Card announced that Western Mass remains in a level 0 normal drought condition. 
 
Card also announced the following drought declarations: the Central and Southeast Regions have upgraded and will join the Western Region at Level 0-Normal Conditions; the Northeast and Cape Cod Regions have been upgraded and will join the Connecticut River Valley Region at Level 1-Mild Drought; and, the Islands Region will remain at Level 2-Significant Drought. Important to note, while the Northeast Region has been declared a Level 1-Mild Drought at a regional scale, the northern and coastal parts of the region, namely Essex County, which includes the Merrimack River, the Parker River, and Ipswich River basins, continues to be more severely impacted by long term drought conditions.
 
As outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, a Level 1-Mild Drought warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance to the affected municipalities. Additionally, a Level 2-Significant Drought calls for the convening of an interagency mission group, which is already meeting, to more closely coordinate on drought assessments, impacts, and responses within state government.
 
"With significant rainfall occurring throughout much of the state, many of the Commonwealth's water systems are starting to rebound from long term drought," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. "While this is largely good news, portions of the state, such as the Merrimack River, Parker, and Ipswich River basins and the Islands Region, continue to lag behind, so we ask that everyone continue to practice household water conservation as we move into the winter season."
 
The declarations are the result of recommendations made by the state's Drought Management Task Force, which is composed of state and federal officials, and other entities. The taskforce will continue to meet until water levels return to normal in all affected regions of the state. Significantly, the task force noted that in October, the state received 3 to 8 inches of rain. The highest precipitation amounts were observed across southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape Cod and Islands Regions, where 5 to 8 inches of rain fell (from 1 to 4 inches above normal for October). Tropical Storm Nicole brought varied showers across the state, helping alleviate drought conditions and delivering more water into ground water systems.

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Owner of Abandoned Cats Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A woman accused of abandoning more than a dozen cats during snowstorm a year ago has pleaded guilty. 
 
Kelly Hathaway of Pittsfield pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of animal cruelty in Central Berkshire District Court as part of a plea agreement. Following the plea agreement, she was ordered to have a mental health evaluation and follow any after care as instructed by the court.
 
She was placed on two years probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. She is not allowed to possess any animals and was ordered to surrender any she has in her care. She is also prohibited from volunteering with any animal groups.
 
Hathaway and another defendant were charged last March with abandoning 15 cats on back roads in Richmond and Lanesborough after an investigation by Lanesborough Police, Lanesborough Animal Control and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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