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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Use 'Open Enrollment' to Help Improve Your Financial Outlook
11:51AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

It's Open Enrollment Season, so if you work for a medium- or large-sized company, you will need to make some choices regarding your employee benefits — and these choices can have a big impact on your financial situation.

Depending on your employer, your benefits package may include various types of insurance, plus access to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of these benefits:

* Health insurance: Companies regularly change plans and providers, so the coverage and premiums you had last year may not be the same this year. In any case, look at all aspects of your coverage options – premiums, deductibles, co-pays and total


Letter: One Real Option for State Senator
Letters to the Editor,
10:00AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

To the Editor:

There is only one real option for state senator.

Adam Hinds does not support the $15 an hour minimum wage. Although initially stating he did, when faced with opposition from the Berkshire County Farm Bureau, Hinds suddenly changed his position. Then at the North Adams debate, the candidates were asked directly whether they fully support the $15 an hour minimum wage. All raised their hands except Hinds.

This is deeply troubling. First, Hinds does not support a more livable minimum wage; he certainly does not support labor. But second, we can no longer believe anything Hinds says. Adam Hinds panders to his audience, telling them whatever they want to hear. As state senator,


MCLA Starts Off Semester With New Leader, More Students & $2M Grant
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
12:29AM / Wednesday, September 07, 2016

MCLA bow tie pins will be presented to individuals who exemplify the college's ideals and their names will be listed at the president's office.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is starting of the 2016 fall semester in a good place.

For the first time in two years, it has a permanent president at the helm, enrollment is up and it was just awarded $2 million to help it keep doing what it's been doing so well: retaining and graduating its low-income and students of color.

President James F. "Jaimie" Birge announced at Tuesday's traditional convocation breakfast that the college was told last week it would receive a $2.177 million


Senate Candidates Debate at UCP in North Adams
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:00PM / Sunday, September 04, 2016
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — In the seventh of eight debates in six days, the candidates for the Democratic nomination for the state Senate seat continued to show their differences.   United Cerebral Palsy held a nearly 3-hour forum Friday night with Executive Director Salvatore Garozzo moderating. The primary election is on Thursday and the winner will take on Republican Christine Canning-Wilson in the general election in November.    The three kicked off by telling a little bit about themselves. Adam Hinds grew up in Shelbourne Falls and was the son of a public school teacher and a part-time librarian. As a child, Hinds said his father tried to get an upholstery tool company


Local Environmentalist Updates Guide to Berkshire Trails
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
06:27AM / Sunday, September 04, 2016


NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Lauren R. Stevens has been traipsing through the Berkshire mountains for more than 40 years.

And he wants others to find the same joy has in exploring the trails that weave throughout the county.

"I want people to gain an appreciation of the beautiful place we live in," the retired Williams College professor said. "There are benefits to just walking — physical and psychological. It has a way refueling."

Stevens recently published "50 Hikes In The Berkshire Hills," an updated guide to some favorite hikes, walks and climbs throughout the county. The guide, published by W.W. Norton's Countryman Press, came out in


@theMarket: A Tale of Two Interest Rates
By Bill Schmick,
07:33AM / Saturday, September 03, 2016

Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, investors had little to do but bet on how strong or weak the unemployment number would be. It turned out to be weaker than expected and the markets rallied.

Yes, we are once again in a "bad news is good news environment." Weaker economic data means the chances of the Federal Reserve Bank raising interest rates at the September meeting is diminished. That means lower rates for longer, which equals higher prices for stocks, bonds, and commodities. None of the above disappointed on Friday.

Investors should take the action in the markets (both up and down) with a grain of salt. The real market moves normally begin after the unofficial end of summer,


The Independent Investor: The VA — Political Football
By Bill Schmick,
12:06PM / Friday, September 02, 2016

It is an election year and as such veterans are a voting block that neither side can resist. Both candidates are promising to overhaul Veterans Affairs once elected. The questions are whether to hand it over to the private sector or just try and fix the government organization's short-comings.

We all remember the terrible scandal back in 2014 when a whistle-blower revealed shocking inefficiencies, coverups and the deaths of some veterans within the Veterans Affairs. The then Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, along with a gaggle of bosses in various states, who were caught falsifying waiting time reports for vets, provided the obligatory resignation parade before the


Polling Stations in Berkshire County
12:54AM / Friday, September 02, 2016

Polls are open in Massachusetts from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for state & federal elections, including primaries; municipal election times vary.

Where to vote:

Adams: Department of Public Works garage, North Summer Street
Becket: Town Hall, Main Street
Cheshire: Community Senior Center, 119 School St.
Clarksburg: Senior Center, Cross Road
Dalton: Community Center, Main Street
Egremont: Fire station, Egremont Plain Road
Florida: Town Office, 379 Mohawk Trail
Great Barrington:

Precincts A, C, D: Fire Station, 37 State Road Precinct B: Housatonic Community Center, Main Street

Hancock: Hancock School, Route 43
Hinsdale: Town Hall, South Street
Lanesborough: Town Hall, 83 North Main

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Berkshire Mall Set to Be Sold
Staff Reports,
03:13PM / Thursday, September 01, 2016
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall is set to be sold to a New York investment firm which specializes in distressed malls.   Mehran Kohanseih, also known as Mike Kohan, said he will close on a sale of the mall Friday for $3.5 million. His goal is to be a "hands-on" owner and bring new tenants.   "It has a lot of challenges we are trying to overcome," Kohan said of the Berkshire Mall on Thursday.    His firm, Kohan Retail Investment Group of Great Neck, N.Y., owns more than a dozen malls. The firm will is purchasing The Berkshire Mall from Strategic Asset Services, which bought it in 2014 from Pyramid Companies. CBL & Associates


Campaign Finance Takes Center Stage In GMP Senate Debate
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
11:37AM / Thursday, September 01, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The morning after pre-primary reports were due to the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the three vying for the Democratic nomination for the state senate sparred on WTBR's "Good Morning, Pittsfield."   Leading off the debate, host John Krol tackled those reports posed pointed questions about the candidate's donors.   Adam Hinds, on leave as executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, nearly quadrupled the amount of fundraising of his closest competition by reeling in $75,000. The names on the donor list include city councilors, current and past presidents of the Chamber of Commerce, the head of


Pignatelli Kicks Off Re-election Campaign
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:11AM / Thursday, September 01, 2016

William 'Smitty' Pignatelli is embarking on his eighth campaign for House of Representatives. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In front of a crowd of who's who of the Berkshires, fifth-grader Jada McKie took to the microphone.   "Massachusetts has the greatest state representative of all and it is I, Smitty Pignatelli," McKie exclaimed, getting the crowd roaring with laughter at her impression of the 4th Berkshire District representative.   She read a birthday card she drew for William "Smitty" Pignatelli that  says, "You are the most kind person I have ever met. Massachusetts is very lucky to have a state representative like you. Love,

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Berkshire Healthcare Communities Earn 19 National Awards
03:37PM / Wednesday, August 31, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Of the few long-term care and senior living providers in Massachusetts recognized this year by National Research Corporation for exceptional customer and employee satisfaction, Berkshire Healthcare communities captured about 75 percent – 19 out of 25 - of the Massachusetts awards.

In the Berkshire region, Berkshire Healthcare's 2014-15 Excellence in Action award winners for customer satisfaction were Fairview Commons (Great Barrington), Kimball Farms Life Care (Lenox) and Williamstown Commons. For both customer and employee satisfaction, Kimball Farms Nursing Care (Lenox), Mount Greylock Extended Care Facility (Pittsfield), North Adams Commons and


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