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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Seven Years In, Cop on Top Continues To Grow
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:13PM / Thursday, December 01, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's been seven years since the first Cop on Top set in motion a series of fundraisers, growing every year, that has raised more than $600,000 for Special Olympic athletes.   "We've made so much money in our county program that we help other programs in other counties," said Officer Darren Derby, who along with Investigator John Bassi, has been heading the local efforts for years.   The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a local program that has raised money to pay for local Special Olympic athletes to participate — whether it be for transportation, equipment, uniforms. Locally it started with a Tip a Cop fundraiser and seven years ago

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Great Barrington Police Gains Accreditation
01:48PM / Wednesday, November 30, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Great Barrington Police Department has met all necessary requirements for full state accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and will be the first department in Berkshire County to receive the award.

The department will receive its award at a ceremony, the date of which has not yet been determined.

"We are honored to be the first department in Berkshire County that will be recognized by the accreditation commission," Chief Police Chief William Walsh said. "I commend all of the officers and staff, as it is their day-to-day professionalism and hard work that made this achievement possible. This was a


Everyone Benefits When You Make Charitable Gifts
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:27AM / Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Now that we are in the heart of the holiday season, you may be thinking about ways you can put your money where your heart is. Specifically, you might be pondering which groups you should support with charitable gifts. And as long as you choose groups that meet the right criteria, your generosity can also be rewarding to you, in the form of tax benefits.

To begin with, you'll want to make sure you are giving to a reputable charity. That means you'll need to ask some questions. How does a group measure its effectiveness? Is it devoting as much of its contributions as possible to the actual work of the organization, or is it spending too much money on administrative costs?


Ciccolo Adds Attorney With Experience Defending Terror Suspects
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:35PM / Tuesday, November 29, 2016
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Adams man facing federal terrorism charges has a new member of his legal team.   Alexander Ciccolo was back before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson on Tuesday for a procedural hearing in the case of U.S. v Ciccolo.   Northampton defense attorney David Hoose earlier informed the court that Ramzi Kassem, a professor at the City University of New York, has joined as co-counsel for Ciccolo, who was arrested on July 4, 2015, on a federal weapons charge. In August, a superseding indictment was handed down charging Ciccolo with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of attempting to use


BArT Announces First Trimester Honor Roll
02:43PM / Monday, November 28, 2016

ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts & Technology (BArT) Charter Public School has announced the students who made honor roll for the first trimester of the 2016-2017 school year.

Students who earned 80 percent or above in all of their classes received the distinction of "Honors." Students who earned 90 percent or above in all of their classes received the distinction of "High Honors."

Academic courses at BART are aligned with the Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks for the appropriate grade level and include all standards deemed necessary for a complete, college-preparatory, middle and high school education.

Students in Grade 6 who earned High Honors are


Guest Column: Going to the Dogs
, Guest Column
02:06PM / Monday, November 28, 2016

To the Editor:

Hopefully, Berkshire County will be going to the dogs.

To the dog parks that is and here's why. As the population declines countywide, so does the number of children playing in the youth sports leagues. Participation in these leagues has dropped over 50 percent since they started and the future looks bleak for almost all of the leagues. Soon the question will be, what will the city do with all of those vacant fields and courts? Probably as little as possible as manpower usually shrinks in the Parks and Rec departments.

Years ago, cities and towns started eliminating the swimming pools and skating rinks and it's time to start eliminating or repurposing the dormant


Biz Briefs: More Than 100 Come for Seminar in Excellence
01:48PM / Monday, November 28, 2016

Excellent: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and Berkshire United Way co-hosted a "Seminar in Nonprofit Excellence" on Nov. 3 at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington. The seminar attracted over 100 nonprofit and business leaders from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York to learn about the collective impact model from John Kania and regional colleagues who are implementing the principles and practices inherent to this approach.

Collective impact is a methodology that brings people together from different sectors to develop a shared agenda for achieving social change. Kania and Mark Kramer, of nationally recognized consulting firm FSG, were first to articulate this powerful


'Giving Tuesday' Urges Donations to Local Charities
01:18PM / Monday, November 28, 2016

We have passed Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and are on to Cyber Monday, but soon it will be time for something more meaningful this holiday season.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, is "Giving Tuesday," and organizations and individuals throughout the community are encouraged to use the occasion to promote a cause or charity that is meaningful to them. Launched in 2012 and celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday's purpose is to inspire giving, resulting in greater financial donations, increased volunteer hours, and participation in activities that bring about real change in communities.

The Williamstown Community Chest will mark the day by distributing


Berkshires Beat: Mass MoCA Free for Berkshire Residents in December
11:54AM / Monday, November 28, 2016

Free for all: From Dec. 1-21, Mass MoCA opens its doors and waives admission to all Berkshire County residents with its first-ever Free Berkshire County program. Since Mass MoCa's inception, various campaigns have steered patrons to the galleries free of charge. Free Day, which typically falls during the winter season, waives admission to all museum-goers, attracting an influx of visitors. Free North Adams, a program designed specifically for Mass MoCA's neighbors, offers free admission several times a year to those residing within the 01247 zip code.

Expanding those previous plans that offered free admission, Mass MoCA — for the first time — extends free admission


'Poultry Plunge' Raises Money for Special Olympics
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
12:02AM / Monday, November 28, 2016

See more photos of Saturday's event here. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Forty hearty souls got a jump on "Giving Tuesday" by jumping into Onota Lake Saturday in order to give to a good cause.   Law enforcement officers from throughout Berkshire County sponsored a "Poultry Plunge" to benefit Special Olympics Massachusetts.   It is the fifth time the Pittsfield Police, Berkshire County sheriff's office and other agencies have combined to hold such an event but the first time it has taken place in November. The former "Polar Plunge" was moved from February to the fall and rebranded appropriately for the Thanksgiving holiday


'Bleed for This': Middleweight Contender
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
05:08PM / Saturday, November 26, 2016

To accent boxer Vinny Pazienza's close-knit family in director-writer Ben Younger's "Bleed for This," turning points in the pugilist's remarkable saga are inevitably marked by the clan crowded around the dinner table eating, with hardly room for a bread stick among them. There is a basic, anthropological purity in the devotion, an incontrovertible given, as each member, whether laughing, chiding or worrying out loud, plays out his or her supportive role in the dynamic. The conceptualization is as engaging as the accompanying tale of fisticuffs.

Based on a true story, the travail that was "The Pazmanian Devil's" career should please boxing fans who know


Cheshire Kindergarten: How To Cook A Turkey
03:24PM / Thursday, November 24, 2016
The kindergarteners at Cheshire Elementary School again share their ideas on how cook a turkey. Teachers Robin Poirot and Heather Emerson sent their amusing and informative essays to share with our readers, including tales of some fast-cooking turkeys. Happy Thanksgiving!
By Mrs. Poirot's Class
My great-gram will probably buy a 50-pound turkey at Big Y. You have to cut the head off and put it outside for bait for a bear, fisher cat, fox or coyote. Next you would stuff it with chicken and rice. The oven should be at 51 degrees for just a few minutes until you hear the ding.
Julius Valentine

My Thanksgiving will be at Gramís house. She will get the turkey at Walmart for about $21. It will be as


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