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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Berkshires Beat: Honoring Downing On His Way Out
02:31PM / Monday, May 23, 2016

More praise: State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) received awards from advocates for the Massachusetts tourism industry and advocates for clean energy in two ceremonies at the State House earlier this month.

Downing, a former chair and current vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, was presented with a Champion of Tourism award at Massachusetts Tourism Day. The annual event is sponsored by the Regional Tourism Councils and the Mass Office of Travel and Tourism. Tourism is the third-largest industry in Massachusetts, supporting over 132,000 jobs and generating $19.5 billion annually in visitor spending.

Downing also was honored by the


Biz Briefs: Lee Outlets Give Veterans Reserved Parking
01:34PM / Monday, May 23, 2016

Park place: In honor of National Military Appreciation Month in May, Lee Premium Outlets unveiled two reserved Veteran/Military parking spaces with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 20.

U.S. Army Recruitment Officers Staff Sgt. Aaron Pierce and Sgt. First Class Kenneth Rosado were in attendance along with representatives from various local veterans’ organizations, including American Legion Post 68 and the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 65, both of Pittsfield.

Other business and civic leaders in attendance included State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Lee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Colleen Henry and Lee Chamber of Commerce Board President Franck Tessier.

Find a


Berkshire Scenic Begins Summer Season Memorial Weekend
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
01:15AM / Monday, May 23, 2016

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — With several blasts of the train whistle, the Hoosac Valley Service's Budd Car 6126 moved along the backways of the city at a dignified 10 mph.

The ride from North Adams to Adams on Friday night was a precursor of the scenic rail line's first full summer season in North County — and a sneak peak for North Adams Chamber of Commerce members.

Jay Green, the nonprofit organization's rail director, acknowledged that some were dubious about the "scenic" part of the railroad in this very industrial area. But he promised the ride would be eye-opening.

"I challenge you to tell me after the ride that you didn't learn something or see


United Way Ends 'Day of Caring' With Dance Party
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:14PM / Saturday, May 21, 2016

A total of 50 book houses have been installed throughout Berkshire County. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hundreds of people shook it up on the dance floor at Hancock Shaker Village on Friday night.   The dance party Friday night capped of the Berkshire United Way's Day of Caring during which dozens go businesses found ways to donated to the organization's childhood literacy efforts. Further, 50 book houses were installed all over the county as a mini-lending library, part of the Little Free Library movement.   "The Day of Caring was a way for folks who couldn't participate in the book houses — restaurants and stores for example — who wanted to be


Bay State Games Girls Basketball Tryouts Set
02:31PM / Friday, May 20, 2016
WESTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Tryouts for the Bay State Games Western Massachusetts girls basketball team will begin on Thursday, May 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hampshire Regional High School.   The tryouts will be held over four dates, which include one at North Adams’ McCann Tech on Wednesday, June 22, from 6 to 8 p.m.   Interested players must participate in at least one tryout to be considered for the team, which will compete at the Bay State Games July 15-17 at the Reggie Lewis Center in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury Crossing.   The team is open to all girls in ninth through 12th grades (2016 graduates welcome) who either live in Massachusetts or attend a Massachusetts


'The Meddler': Mommy Nosiest
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
06:34PM / Thursday, May 19, 2016

If you believe that contemporary movies are too full of gratuitous violence, non-stop action and inundating special effects, then you might call director-writer Lorene Scafaria's "The Meddler" the exception that proves the rule.

Starring Susan Sarandon as Marnie Minervini, the loving helicopter mom who just can't keep out of her thirty-something daughter's business, it is a sweet cupcake of a movie, drizzled with just enough sour strife to make it satisfyingly real. We all know these characters. Some of them are us, and happy to indulgently play out our anxieties.

Act 1, scene 1, Mrs. Minervini, an attractive, recently widowed woman in her 60s, has jettisoned her


Hinds Tours Local Businesses, Stumps On Economic Development
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:59AM / Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fire Cider owner Dana St. Pierre said his company is in the market for a commercial kitchen in Pittsfield but the available real estate is making it difficult. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Seth Nash initially scoffed at the idea of paying a consultant to come in and look at his business operations to find more efficiencies.   The owner of Blue Q, which occupies most of a large warehouse on West Housatonic Street, was presented with the idea of hiring a lean consultant, a business process eyed to eliminate wasted time, space, and capacity.   He said no because of the cost. His wife, however, is a grant writer and — with his approval — submitted an application to the

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Berkshire Tidbits: Farmers Markets Opening
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
01:33PM / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! Thursday dining, cooking demo, wine pairing series at Chez Nous Bistro, 150 Main St. in Lee, 413 243-6397, is ending its run until the end of October and it is going out with a bang!

This last evening, chef-owners Franck Tessier and Rachel Portnoy are taking their guests on a culinary journey to New Caledonia, a French outpost in the South Pacific.

Dinner will start with coconut-marinated fish as an appetizer followed by pork with caramel and spring rolls. Franck will demonstrate these courses and Rachel will make a Pavlova/crisp meringue cake filled with housemade lychee sorbet for dessert and will create the recipe sheets for diners to take home. And, as


Fairview Commons Hosts Dementia Education Series for Caregivers
01:04PM / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Fairview Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, will offer a dementia education series for caregivers in May and June.

The three-part program is free of charge and includes light lunches. Pre-registration is requested by calling 413-528-7120.

The series, presented by Marcia McKenzie of the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, will be held on Tuesdays, May 24, May 31 and June 7, from 10:30 a.m. to noon each day at Fairview Commons, 151 Christian Hill Road, Great Barrington. Subjects include effective communication strategies,


A 529 Plan Can Help with Those College Bills
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:25AM / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

We’re near the end of another school year. If you have younger kids, you might be thinking about summer camps and other activities.

But in the not-too-distant future, your children will be facing a bigger transition as they head off to college. Will you be financially prepared for that day?

A college education is a good investment – college graduates earn, on average, $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school graduates, according to a study by Georgetown University. But a bachelor’s degree doesn’t come cheap. For the 2015–2016 school year, the average expense – tuition, fees, room and board – was $19,548 at a public four-year school


Berkshires Beat: Seeing the Signs in North Adams
02:39PM / Monday, May 16, 2016

Signs of the time: MountainOne Bank has given $10,000 to North Adams Partnership in support of new welcome and wayfinding signage throughout North Adams.

“The North Adams Partnership has undertaken the responsibility of developing a new branding campaign for North Adams as part of its economic development program. MountainOne Bank is committed to supporting this initiative, especially given that we are headquartered in North Adams," said Robert Fraser, president and CEO of MountainOne Bank. "We are dedicated to the communities we serve through robust lending and community banking programs, further enhanced by our Community Dividend grant program and volunteer leadership

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Biz Briefs: Nonprofit Leaders Participate in Training
12:54PM / Monday, May 16, 2016

Leading the way: Four Berkshire County nonprofit leaders participated in Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s 2016 Nonprofit Leadership Institute, a collaborative and peer-learning program for executive directors across the region to strengthen their leadership and management skills.

Facilitated by veteran consultant Janet André Block, the program includes small group meetings for five full days, followed by two full days of personalized coaching and consulting for each participant.

The Nonprofit Leadership Institute is made possible through the generosity of individual donors and four Berkshire Taconic area funds.

Participating were Nick Pohl, Housatonic Youth Service


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