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Wendy Provencher of the Central Berkshire Regional School District and Nena Kingsley, Victoria Bleier and Lori Becker, family leaders with Families First, at Pinegrove Park.
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Cutting the ribbon on the new Born Learning Trail.
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Dalton Welcomes Born Learning Trail at Pinegrove Park

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Suggestions on how to use the Born Learning Trail. 

DALTON, Mass. — Pinegrove Park now has a Born Learning trail that provokes new ways of play for children.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was on Friday held for the trail that is part of a national campaign by United Way. Accompanying 10 stations with suggestions for interacting are sidewalk illustrations by Dee Sabean and Gary Davis that were colored in by volunteers.

The addition was originally proposed by Wendy Provencher, Central Berkshire Regional School District's family and community engagement coordinator.

"We hope that they have a lot of fun, first of all," she said.

"We've put letters and numbers so not only is it fun but it's literacy. It's early literacy. It's counting and reading the signs, imagination, looking around the world at you, which a lot of us don't do anymore because we're so engrossed in our media."

The goal is to spark fun and creative learning experiences while allowing the child to guide a parent or caregiver in play. Started in 2005, there are Born Learning trails across the United States and in a number of countries. 

While traveling down the path, they will encounter signs with activities such as "Pretend to move like an animal," "Walk like a duck or jump like a frog," and "Make up silly stories or songs."

"We have about four of these trails in the Berkshires and we were excited that they wanted to integrate this with this project," Berkshire United Way's Director of Volunteer Engagement Brenda Petell said.

"It was a great way to partner and really bring the two ideas together and I just think this is one of the most interactive trails that we've seen."

Pittsfield has two trails, one in Durant Park and one in Springside Park, and North Adams has a trail at Joe Wolfe Field.

Lori Becker, Victoria Bleier and Nena Kingsley have done playgroups with Provencher through the school district and were among the volunteers who completed the project.

"She had us to training as family leaders with Families First and they asked us to do a community impact project and this is the project we chose," Kingsley explained.

Provencher also reported that they have been able to secure the necessary $5,000 for permanent story walk boards along the pathway. The Friends of the Dalton Library will be assisting with the purchase and preparation work needed to make the books into a story walk.

"And what is a story walk you might ask?" she said. "A story walk is a book that has been broken up in order and left out for families or children to walk along and read and normally we just have them on posts."

The Born Learning trail was made possible by a collaboration between school district, Berkshire United Way, the town of Dalton, L.P. Adams, Dalton CRA, Dalton Benefit Association and Families First. 

The Department of Public Works installed the path and posts, which were provided by L.P. Adams, and Berkshire United Way provided the signs with money from the Todd Walton Memorial Fund honoring a member of the L.P. Adams family. 

Berkshire United Way CEO Thomas Bernard said the organization was honored to receive the funding and use it to give back to the community.

There was also funding used from the Families First program, which is funded through the state Department of Early Education and Care.

Tags: early childhood education,   

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Man Charged With Child Porn Posts $100K Bail

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Cheshire man charged with numerous counts of child pornography and sexual assault was released on $100,000 cash bail on Tuesday. 
Brian Warner, 37, was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device and to have no contact with the victim or their family, residence or school and no contact with anyone under the age of 18. 
Warner was arraigned on April 11 in Berkshire Superior Court on 51 counts of child abuse after being indicted by a grand jury in March. He has pleaded not guilty. 
At the arraignment, the commonwealth moved for a dangerousness hearing and also cash bail in the amount of $100,000 with the following conditions: GPS monitoring, no contact with the victim or their (singular victim-pronoun withheld) family, residence or school and no contact with anyone under the age of 18. 
Warner had initially been arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court in July 21, 2023, and held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing. The dangerousness hearing was held on July 26, at which time he was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail; that was later reduced to $25,000 after a petition to review the bail was filed by the defendant in the Berkshire Superior Court on July 28, 2023.  
Warner was able to post said bail and then lived in Cheshire with his father. His last known address prior to arraignment was in Adams.  
He was charged with counts of aggravated rape of a child with force, indecent assault and aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 years, rape and abuse, posing or exhibiting a child in a sexual act and in the nude or a lascivious act, and possession of child pornography. 
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