Passenger Rail Commission Sets Public Meeting in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Western Massachusetts Passenger Rail Commission is holding a public meeting on Friday on plans for east/west passenger rail. 
The meeting is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 9, at 11 a.m. at the Berkshire Innovation Center on Woodlawn Avenue. It is open to the public and comments will be taken following the membership discussion. 
This is the first of six public meetings and likely the only one to be held in the Berkshires. 
The commission was established in Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2022 and is co-chaired by state Rep. William Straus and state Sen. Brendan Crighton. Members include Western Mass state Reps. Natalie Blais of Sunderland, Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton, Bud L. Williams of Springfield and Todd M. Smola of Warren, and state Sens. Jo Comerford of Northampton, Adam Gomez Sr. of Springfield and Eric P. Lesser of Longmeadow, whose term ends next month.
Nonlegislative members are MassDOT Secretary Jamey Tesler, MBTA general manager Steve Poftak, Rail and Transit Division Administrator Meredith Slesinger, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Kimberly Robinson, Franklin Regional Council of Governments member Linda Dunlavy, Central Mass Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Janet Pierce, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Thomas Matuszko , 495/MetroWest Partnership Executive Director Jason Palitsch and UMass Transportation Center Director Michael Knodler.
The Legislature established this commission to investigate and receive public testimony concerning potential public entities with the ability to design, permit, construct, operate and maintain passenger rail service proposals from the East-West Passenger Rail Study Final Report.
Members of the public wishing to view and participate in the meeting remotely may do so by accessing a livestream of the meeting by clicking on the Zoom webinar link here
A sign-in sheet at the hearing location will be made available for those persons who wish to address the commission in-person. Members of the public attending remotely may click on the "raise hand" icon during the public comment period of the hearing, which will signify to the commission that they wish to be heard virtually. 
To submit written testimony, email commission staff at:

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Owner of Abandoned Cats Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Staff Reports
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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