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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

United Way Installing 50 Bookhouses Across County to Improve Literacy
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:52PM / Monday, March 28, 2016

Kristine Hazzard said this year the United Way is "going bigger and we're going better." PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Half the county's third-graders are not proficient at reading.   The Berkshire United Way is continuing its efforts to change that percentage.   For the last five or so years, the organization has run a number of programs and projects aimed to bring that percentage close to 90 percent proficient by 2020 and this year the efforts are ramping up even more.    "This year, because that is how we are, we are going bigger and we're going better," CEO Kristine Hazzard said on Monday when the organization announced details on

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The Independent Investor: Are Negative Interest Rates the Answer?
By Bill Schmick,
05:47PM / Friday, March 25, 2016

You may have heard of the newest wrinkle among central bankers. It's called "NIRP," which stands for negative interest rate policy. Several countries have already implemented this policy and are hoping their actions will stem the tide of deflation and low economic growth.

Although NIRP by its nature seems complicated, it really isn't. All you need know is that just about every bank in the world is required to keep a percentage of its customer's bank deposits in reserve in case their depositors want their money bank.  In our country, banks are required to keep 10 percent of those funds "in reserve" at the 12 Federal Reserve banks around the country. Now

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Arbor Day Poetry Contest Open to Berkshire County Students
02:53PM / Friday, March 25, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Conservation District is hosting a poetry contest in honor of National Arbor Day with the theme “We All Need Trees” open to students in Berkshire County in grades K through 12.

Poems should be no longer than one page and can be printed or hand written (if legible). Include the student’s name, school name, grade, mailing address, and phone number on the back of the poem.

Entries must be received by Friday, April 8. Mail or drop off at the office: Berkshire Conservation District, 78 Center St., Ste. 206, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

Winners will receive a free gift on Seedling Sale Day, Saturay, May 7, at Springside Park in Pittsfield. For

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Holiday Events: Grab Your Easter Baskets!
12:13PM / Friday, March 25, 2016

It's time for the kiddos to break out their baskets and spy some Easter goodies around the county this weekend.

Saturday, March 26

• Stockbridge Library Train Station, 2 Depot St., Stockbridge, 11 a.m.: A special storytime and Easter Egg Hunt will be held. Have fun searching for eggs and hearing an Easter story. Info at 413-298-5501.

• Peter Cook VFW Post 9144, Clarksburg, 10 a.m.: Annual egg hunt will be held in the town field. All children up to age 12 are welcome.

• Blue Rider Stables, 15 Farm Lane, South Egremont, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.: A candy free egg hunt  will be held for free. Other activities include hay bale maze, $1; pony rides, $5, face painting and

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'Miracles from Heaven': Friendly Persuasion
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
04:27PM / Thursday, March 24, 2016

I think it was St. Augustine, if I may paraphrase a saint, who stated that one cannot prove God's existence through logic, but rather, only through one's faith. It is in this theological vein, whether consciously referencing the early Christian thinker or not, that director Patricia Riggen weaves her tear-jerking, often compelling "Miracles from Heaven."

The film is based on the true-life travail of Anna Beam, a terribly sick little girl superbly portrayed by Kylie Rogers.

The open-minded as well as the ever curious will find much to chaw on here, whereas devout atheists may view this faith-based exercise in religious conviction with the same disapproval a vegetarian

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BCC, Chimney Corners Eyed as Regional Emergency Shelter Sites
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:12PM / Thursday, March 24, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If an emergency event is so large that local shelters are overwhelmed, Berkshire Community College and Chimney Corners are both eyed to be hosts of massive regional shelters.   Eammon Coughlin of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has been working on specific plans for those situations. Now, he is in the process of crafting memorandum of agreements with the college and the Chimney Corners Camp in Becket establishing those as the regional sites.   He's also working out a cost-sharing agreement among the 12 central Berkshire County towns to pay for the operations.   "They are only intended to be used as a last resort," Coughlin

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Ciccolo Judge OKs Prosecutor's Request for Delay
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:57PM / Wednesday, March 23, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It could be up to two more months before the U.S. Attorney's Office is ready to file additional charges against an Adams man suspected of sympathizing with the so-called Islamic State in Syria, or ISIS.

Federal Magistrate Judge Katherine A. Robertson has granted a request from the government to continue a status hearing in the case of the United States vs. Alexander Ciccolo scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz filed a motion asking for the delay citing "multiple levels of review both locally in the United States Attorney's Office in Massachusetts and at additional levels within the Department of Justice."

The

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Tony Stewart to Bring His Tour to Lebanon Valley in August
03:31PM / Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WEST LEBANON, N.Y. - For more than 30 years, fans have seen some of the best 410 Sprint Car drivers race around the high banks of Lebanon Valley Speedway with blistering speeds. In 2016, fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early to witness the first ever appearance of Tony Stewart’s All-Star Circuit Of Champions on Aug. 21.


Lebanon Valley Speedway has offered race fans a major 410 sprint car race each year going back many years. Typically, those events ran under the (World Of Outlaws) Sprint banner. In the summer of 2016, sanction names may change for the event, but action will remain red hot with a breath of fresh air courtesy of the Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit Of

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Berkshire Tidbits: Easter Specials
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
02:15PM / Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Cornell Inn in Lenox offers a Sunday breakfast buffet by chef Karen Saunders. Reservations are encouraged a few days before.

Looking for a place to dine on Easter Sunday, March 27?

Here are some restaurants I know of that are serving special Easter brunches or dinners or are open for a festive meal, but there are still more. Some have given me more information than others. All the meals are plus tax and gratuity unless otherwise noted.

Aegean Breeze, 327 Stockbridge Road/Route 7 in Great Barrington, 413-528-4001, the traditional Greek restaurant, will be open their regular hours, 11 to 9, serving their regular menus with specials of lamb soup, ham and stuffed sole.

Barrington

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Berkshire Tidbits: Greek Pastry & Wine Dinners
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
04:21PM / Monday, March 21, 2016

The menu for the Haven Cafe Supper Club for the week of March 21 will be as follows:

• Herb roasted rack of lamb with couscous and roasted asparagus
• Rosemary, lemon and balsamic marinated chicken with saffron rice and grilled zucchini
• Grilled shrimp over spinach and scallion pancakes with lime butter

Entrées come with soup or salad and cost $22 for one to three dinners ordered, $75 for four dinners ordered, $110 for six dinners, $200 for 12 dinners. They can be any of the dinners.

Order by Wednesday, pick up at the bakery in Lenox on Friday. The staff suggests people can order for different meals and can choose among that week's options. Contact Haven at

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Lola Greene Legacy Scholarship Applications Being Accepted
01:44PM / Monday, March 21, 2016

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Applications are now being accepted for the Lola Greene Legacy Scholarship.

A one-time grant of $250 to $500 will be awarded to a graduating high school senior from Berkshire County who is planning to continue to study Latin and/or the Classics in college. The scholarship will be awarded based on scholastic achievement with emphasis on Latin study and related activities, future plans to continue Latin and Classics studies, and demonstrated leadership and good moral character.

Lola Greene taught at Mount Greylock Regional High School from 1984 through 2000. During this time she developed the school’s Latin program and Junior Classical League into one of

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Berkshire Planners Object to Transportation, Development Cuts
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
05:23PM / Friday, March 18, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is taking aim at Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed fiscal 2017 budget.

The commission on Thursday approved sending a letter to state lawmakers outlining its opposition to cuts that will affect transportation and development issues in the region. Executive Director Nathaniel Karns took aim at four areas of the budget: public transportation, environmental protection, brownfields funding, and money for economic development organizations.

The governor has proposed cuts to public transportation outside of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to the tune of $2 million, Karns said, which could even further hinder the

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