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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

MassDOT Moves Forward on All Electronic Tolling
05:18PM / Monday, August 22, 2016

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board decided Monday to move ahead with plans to completely demolish the Interstate 90 toll plazas by the end of 2017 as a milestone in the state's progress toward All Electronic Tolling along Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike), the Tobin Bridge and Boston tunnels.  

MassDOT said that AET will "go live" on Oct. 28. The board approved toll demolition contracts, reviewed data security and retention proposals and instructed MassDOT to proceed with public hearings on proposed toll rates designed to be revenue neutral and minimize changes in toll charges for current commuters.  

"The AET system

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Senator Warren Holding Presentation on 'America's Agenda'
02:23PM / Monday, August 22, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be at Berkshire Community College on Saturday for a public forum on "America's Agenda."

Based on the PowerPoint presentation she made at the Democratic Convention last month in Philadelphia, the senator will look at "how the playing field got tilted against America’s middle class – and what we can do to fight back."

The former professor and expert on bankruptcy law was instrumental in implementing the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and  the development of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She describes herself as a "data wonk" and has been studying the financial

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Women Team Up to Create Burial Gowns for Premature Babies
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:59PM / Sunday, August 21, 2016

The gowns are lovingly and delicately hand-stitched.  

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Jennifer Breen knows she’s one of the lucky ones.

The North Adams attorney was able to take her son home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baystate Medical Center, where he spent the first 10 weeks of his life after being born at 29 weeks’ gestation. She is now able to hug and hold her happy and healthy 15-month-old son Joey every day and put the terrifying ordeal behind them.   But not everyone is so fortunate, and as Breen stayed connected with the preemie community online, she realized there was one thing that made the trauma of losing a premature baby so much worse for

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Race Honors Memory of Drury Gradís Mother
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:50PM / Saturday, August 20, 2016

Drury High graduate Olivia Carlson talks to runners before Saturday's race.

STAMFORD, Vt. — Among Olivia Carlson’s many memories of her mother are the times the family would participate in 5-kilometer charity road races.

"Especially in the summers, we did 5Ks almost every weekend. I remember we would decide maybe Saturday morning, 'Oh, there's a 5K at 10,' and we’d run in, join the scramble, register day of and just hop in," Carlson said on Saturday morning outside Stamford Elementary School, site of the inaugural Train for Trish 5K Charity Run/Walk.

Reminded how much organizers of such events love a last-minute crush of entrants, Carlson

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@theMarket: Fedspeak Occupies A Dull Market
By Bill Schmick,
06:16PM / Friday, August 19, 2016

It is late summer and a time when the rumor mills work overtime. Financial news departments, confronted with a paucity of breaking news, are desperate to publish "informed opinions" and comments from any public or private sector big name they can find. This week a squad of Fed officials was happy to accommodate.

Never mind that after a week of speeches on "will they, or won’t they” hike rates in September (or December, or anytime in between), investors are no closer to the truth than they were last week. As long as raising-interest rate decisions continue to be data-dependent, the markets remain in nowhere land.

I am not going to add my two cents to the debate

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Harrington Supported by Social & Human Service Workers, Educators
01:05PM / Friday, August 19, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Andrea Harrington, a small-business owner and local attorney running in the Democratic primary for state Senate, has been endorsed by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-MA) and SEIU Local 509. These two organizations represent thousands of social workers, human service workers, and educators throughout Western Massachusetts.

The state Senate seat for the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden District soon to be vacated by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield.

"I am incredibly honored to have thousands of social workers, human-service workers, and educators supporting my campaign for state Senate. These hard-working men and women

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'Indignation': A Fine Sadness
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
11:46AM / Friday, August 19, 2016

If you need a very literate affirmation that life can sometimes be brutal, sad, mocking, unfair and heartrending, then director/screenwriter James Schamus' diligent adaptation of Philip Roth's "Indignation" awaits you at the Bijou. You can't help but be mesmerized by the searing, incisive realities Roth mines in his chronicle of a Jewish young man's experiences, circa early 1950s, at a small college in Ohio. The messages, either blatant or frighteningly violent in their subtlety, are delivered with righteous indignation, suggesting a modern addendum to the Greek tragedies.

If you're familiar with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's body of work,

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Adams Residents Brainstorm Fictional Wizardry School's Possibilities
By Jack Guerino,
03:46AM / Friday, August 19, 2016

The conservation group said trail safety was one of their main concerns.

ADAMS, Mass. – Adams residents are brainstorming ways to harness magic from the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to spark the local economy.

"We need to come up with as many ideas we can from the far out and the fun to the very probable, to the businesses, to people and to families and just weave this in as much as we can," Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said on Thursday night. "We can have as much fun with it as we want but there is an economic component to this as well.

A Harry Potter fan himself, Mazzucco was speaking to the "Ilvermorny Opportunities" meeting, a

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BRPC To Towns: Consider Long-term Sustainability of Broadband Choices
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:11AM / Friday, August 19, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is warning towns not to settle for internet which may not be fast enough in a few years.   The relaunching of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute comes with changes to the program which allows towns to craft individual plans for expanding broadband into unserved areas. That includes grants for cable companies to expand, such as Lanesborough, West Stockbridge, and Hinsdale opted to do, or expansion of a wireless system — like Middlefield is piloting — or running fiber cables to the homes like Mount Washington.    BRPC's Regional Issues Subcommittee believes that nothing less than fiber optic

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The Independent Investor: Health Savings Accounts a Good Idea
By Bill Schmick,
03:14PM / Thursday, August 18, 2016

Does your employer offer a health savings plan? Many do, especially if your company's health insurance has a high deductible. If you aren't taking advantage of it, you should and here's why.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) were created as a way to help control rising health care costs. An HSA is an account, similar to a personal savings account or an IRA that you can open at work or on your own. Employers consider it a supplement to their high deductible employee health insurance plan (HDHP).

How do you know if your health insurance plan qualifies as a high deductible? Usually, HDHPs won't start paying out until after you've spent at least $1,300 (individual) or $2,600

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Guest Column: Shared Services Are the Future
By Rep. William 'Smitty' Pignatelli, Guest Columnist
04:46PM / Wednesday, August 17, 2016

After nearly a year of preparation, and just a few short months since 17 South Berkshire communities came together in a historic Community Compact signing, we are starting to see the successful work of so many coming together.

As community leaders, we have to be willing to have a serious conversation about our region's financial stability, and sustainability, as well as how can we best streamline and enhance the services that our taxpayers have grown to expect with their hard earned dollars.

Collective action will provide collective success.

When this conversation started I had three goals in mind.

1: Maintain each towns' unique identity,

2: Enhance services for residents,

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Berkshire STEM Network Snags $65,000 State Grant
01:08PM / Wednesday, August 17, 2016

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Network has received $65,000 from the Massachusetts STEM Pipeline Fund to promote STEM education in the region.

The funding is part of more than $250,000 in recent grant awards to support the commonwealth's regional STEM networks. This regional award will support Berkshire County and the Pioneer Valley. As the lead partner of the Berkshire STEM Network, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will continue to collaborate with education, community and industry partners across the region.

MCLA Dean of Academic Affairs Monica Joslin, who serves on the STEM Advisory Council, said an investment

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