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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Here's Your Retirement 'To Do' List
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:31AM / Wednesday, December 14, 2016

At this time of year, your life is probably more hectic than usual – so you may have assembled an impressive "to do" list. This can be a helpful tool for organizing your activities in the near future – but have you ever thought of developing a "to do" list for long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement?

If not, you may want to think about it – and here are a few list-worthy items to consider:

* Examine – and re-examine – your planned retirement age. You may have long counted on retiring at a certain age, but are you sure that this goal is the best one for your overall financial situation? Think about it: If you like your job, and

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Extreme Cold Weather Heading Our Way
11:20AM / Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bitter cold temperatures and dangerously cold wind chills are forecast for later this week. Forecasts from the National Weather Service for late Thursday night and early Friday morning include low temperatures between 10 degrees above zero and 5 degrees below zero and wind chill values expected to be cold as 15 to 25 degrees below zero.

While temperatures are expected to warm up by the weekend, extreme cold temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous.

"MEMA urges residents to take precautions during the upcoming extreme cold weather. If you must go outside, dress for the conditions by covering up as much as possible and wear warm layers," said Massachusetts Emergency

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Guest Column: Getting Smart About Art
Guest Column,
02:50PM / Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The North Adams Public School district boasts one of the finest art programs in the commonwealth.

Students of all grade levels participate in classes and field trips that nurture their creativity in a fun and hands-on way. Our elementary schools offer choral and instrumental programs during the school day and perform concerts throughout the academic year. They make frequent field trips to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Through a partnership with Berkshire Children and Families and Brayton Elementary School, students are introduced to classical music through the innovative Kids 4 Harmony program.

Arts programming at Drury High School has grown so much that the school has created

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Guest Column: Education Task Force Misconceptions Clarified
Guest Column,
02:00PM / Tuesday, December 13, 2016

To the Editor:

The Berkshire Education Task Force and the University of Massachusetts' Donahue Institute recently have completed Phase One of a comprehensive look at the past, current and projected education landscape of the nineteen school districts in Berkshire County and 15,900 students (as of last count). The full Phase One report is online at www.berkshireeducation.org. The focus is on the challenges faced because of significant declining student enrollments, near stagnant financial resources and increasingly limited academic offerings.

Phase Two will explore ways to address these challenges through options of expanded shared services, partnering of neighboring school districts,

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Biz Briefs: Williamstown Natives Start Organic Beauty Company
03:18PM / Monday, December 12, 2016

Beauty is: Klo Organic Beauty is a 100 percent natural skin care company developed and hand crafted in small batches in Berkshire County,  co-owned by sisters, Nicole Anagnos and Megan Berube, who both attended The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC prior to the inception of their business. Their products are organic, non-toxic, vegan, and certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny. The Williamstown natives feature an anti-aging line using the highest quality oils. More information can be found on their website.

Launched in February of 2016 to rave reviews, Klo Organic Beauty has since been featured at the Indie Beauty Expo in New York City, on the popular website AHAlife, and

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Norman Rockwell Museum Offers Berkshire County Student Passport Program
02:51PM / Monday, December 12, 2016

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Norman Rockwell Museum has begun the Berkshire County Student Passport Program, part of a comprehensive effort to reach out and engage many more young people in the region with the museum, and to introduce them to Norman Rockwell, who lived the last 25 years of his life in Berkshire County.

The museum uses Rockwell's narrative images to support learning in the classroom in relation to history, language arts and art, and educators have also found meaningful connections with regard to social/emotional learning and ESL themes.

Supported by the contributions of friends of Norman Rockwell Museum, the Passport Program was created for students and families in

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Berkshires Beat: Williamstown Author Feted at State House Ceremony
01:52PM / Monday, December 12, 2016

Good job: The 16th annual Massachusetts Book Awards Ceremony took place at the State House on Tuesday, Dec. 6.  Among the honored authors was Ali Benjamin of Williamstown, who received the top award in the Young Adult/Middle Reader division for the New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist "The Thing About Jellyfish."

The award states: "In a remarkable debut novel, Ali Benjamin seamlessly infuses realistic fiction with well-researched factual information to produce a masterful and honest look at how one young person deals with the feelings of grief and guilt that follow a tragedy." Rep. Gailanne Cariddi presented the award to Benjamin, who spoke

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Great Barrington Fire Fights House Blaze Twice
Great Barrington Fire Department,
06:45PM / Sunday, December 11, 2016

The fire left the home's seven residents displaced.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Firefighters rescued an elderly man from a house fire Saturday afternoon from a two-alarm fire caused by cooking and had to return to the home on Sunday morning after a second fire ignited.

The home owned by Ruby Fuller for 50 years is a total loss. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the retired caretaker and foster parent, who had children living in the house with her. A total of seven people have been displaced.

According to Chief Charles Burger, the department responded on Saturday at 2:51 p.m. to 26 Dresser Ave. on a report of a kitchen stove fire at the two-story, wood frame, single-family

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@theMarket: Has Santa Claus Come & Gone?
By Bill Schmick,
02:02PM / Saturday, December 10, 2016

The rally continued in the stock market as investors abandoned bonds and bought stocks hand over fist. Many think the best is yet to come, since the traditional end-of-year Santa Claus rally is still ahead of us.

However, between now and then, we have the Federal Open Market Committee meeting next Wednesday. The bond market is betting on the following: that the Fed Funds rate is raised by one quarter of one percent, and the FOMC meeting minutes indicate that the Fed may raise rates two more times in 2017. Anything more than that would be hawkish and most likely cause the stock market to correct. That happened last year and cut short the Santa rally.

If the Fed's actions, on the other

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'Rules Don't Apply': The Politics of Entitlement
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
11:23AM / Friday, December 09, 2016

Maybe it's because I've recently had my fill of bragging billionaires that I was slow to build interest in director-writer-actor Warren Beatty's "Rules Don't Apply." The partially fantasized biographical sketch about the much mythologized Howard Hughes also starts off sluggishly and is a mite jagged. It isn't until about the midpoint, when Beatty's eccentric caricature begins to gel, that the mélange of loony and philosophical almost compensates for what then, alas, devolves into a run-of-the-mill romance.

In the opening scene we are welcomed into the opulently celebrated tarnish that is Hollywood just before the death knell sounds on the studio

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Time for a Year-end Investment Review
Submitted by Edward Jones,
08:40PM / Thursday, December 08, 2016

With the holiday season upon us, you may well be busier than usual. However, by spending a few minutes reviewing your investment scenario of this past year, you can see where you’ve been, where you might be going, and what you need to do to keep moving forward toward your long-term financial goals.

So, as you look back at 2016, pay close attention to these elements of your investment picture: 

Performance: Reviewing your investment performance over time is important in helping you determine if you’re on track to achieve your financial goals. So, in evaluating how your investments did in 2016, ask yourself some key questions: How did your investments do relative to their

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High School Athletes Learn Leadership Lessons
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Sports
12:23AM / Wednesday, December 07, 2016

John Martin, left, and Major League shortstop Nick Ahmed speak to Berkshire County high school athletes on Tuesday morning at the Boys & Girls Club in Pittsfield.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — One of the chief lessons of Tuesday's Berkshire County Student-Athlete Leadership Summit was that leaders serve those whom they lead.

But featured speaker John Martin gave the 130 high school students gathered in the Boys & Girls Club gym permission to be self-centered — if just for one day.

"When you have a chance to speak this morning in your breakout sessions, I want you to get a little bit selfish in your role as a leader," said Martin, a guidance counselor and coach

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