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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

'Phantom Thread': When Love Is In Fashion
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires film critic
02:51PM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
Though perhaps deluded, I'd like to think I put as much effort into an essay as Daniel Day-Lewis' Reynolds Woodcock devotes to making a dress in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Phantom Thread."    This is the sort of person you want doing your heart operation, piloting the airplane you're on, or teaching your kid. He's the real deal, and suffers for it, too. The maladies of obsessive genius are many. But the inherent reward is matchless, with the added benefit, aside from financial remuneration, of almost having a right to the arrogance you exude, if so inclined.   Welcome to Mr. Woodcock's world, a special place of understated elegance based in a

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GIC to Reconsider Reduction to Health Insurance Portfolio
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:06PM / Thursday, January 25, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The GIC may reverse course on its decision to slash the number of health insurance companies in its portfolio in half.   Last Thursday, the Group Insurance Commission, which administers health insurance to more than 400,000 state, school, and municipal employees, voted to decrease its options from six to three for active employees. GIC leadership said the move would save some $20.8 million.   GIC Executive Director Roberta Herman said the commission performed a study that showed many of the companies were offering similar products and that membership would have similar coverage but at a lower cost.   But, it was faced with a fierce outcry from

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Hinds Appointed to Senate Ways And Means
Staff Reports,
07:57PM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Adam Hinds was appointed to the Senate Ways & Means Committee.   The Pittsfield Democrat was appointed to the committee by acting Senate President Harriette Chandler on Wednesday, the same day Gov. Charlie Baker put forth his $40.9 billion spending plan for fiscal 2019.   "I am honored to join this important committee," Hinds said in a prepared statement. "It provides an opportunity to give western Massachusetts a louder voice when the Senate is making key policy and spending decisions."   Hinds is still in his first term and the assignment is coveted by lawmakers. The group is charged with reviewing all financial

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Ciccolo Case Still on Track for June Trial
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:23PM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Attorneys in the case of an Adams man accused of violating federal terrorism statutes say they are still communicating about a possible plea deal but told the judge to anticipate using the scheduled June 18 trial date.   Judge Mark G. Mastroianni on Wednesday held a brief status conference in the case of the United States v. Alexander Ciccolo, who was arrested on July 4, 2015, and subsequently indicted on one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of attempting to use of weapons of mass destruction.   On Wednesday, Ciccolo's attorney, David Hoose of Northampton, told Mastroianni that he

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Berkshire Workers Critical Of GIC Reducing Health Care Options
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:40PM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018

GIC Executive Director Roberta Herman said many of the companies currently in the program offered very similar options.  PITTSFIELD, Mass. — GIC Executive Director Roberta Herman asked how many people get their health insurance through Tufts.   And nearly all of the 50 or so state employees in the audience at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Wednesday morning raised their hands.   Tufts is one of three insurance companies planned to be eliminated as an option for hundreds of thousands of employees throughout the commonwealth.   The Group Insurance Commission, which administers health care coverage to nearly a half-million state and municipal workers, voted to cut

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Questions to Ask Before Taking Social Security
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:38AM / Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Social Security can be an important part of your retirement income. So, before you start making decisions about your payments, you'll want to know what questions to ask.

Here are a few to consider:

How soon can I start collecting Social Security? You can begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62. However, your payments, as well as the survivor benefits payable to your spouse, will be significantly lower than if you wait until your full retirement age, which is likely to be between 66 and 67.

Can I wait until I’m past full retirement age to begin collecting payments? Yes. Your monthly benefits will continue to rise until you reach 70, at which point they will max

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Baker Highlights Successes in Third State of Commonwealth
10:10PM / Tuesday, January 23, 2018
BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday night delivered his third State of the Commonwealth address from the House Chamber of the State House.   Remarks as prepared for delivery:   Mr. Speaker. Madame President. Congressman Neal. Fellow Constitutional Officers. Members of the Governor's Council. Mr. Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary. Members of the Cabinet and my Administration. Sheriffs. District Attorneys. Mayors. Local Officials. Reverend Clergy. Distinguished Guests.    Members of my family that are here this evening – Andy, Kristen and William.     My children, AJ and Caroline. And my wife Lauren. The love of my life for the

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Berkshire County Democrats Meeting to Choose Delegates
01:55PM / Monday, January 22, 2018

Berkshire County Democratic committees will be holding their caucuses in February. This year's Massachusetts Democratic Party Endorsing Convention will be held June 1-2 at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the state will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide offices, including constitutional officers and gubernatorial candidates. Committees can submit their information to by email to be included in this list. A complete list of caucuses across the state can be found here.

* Adams: The Adams Democratic Town Committee will hold its caucus at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Adams Free Library, Miller Annex, 92 Park Street,

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MCLA Adds New Minor in Entrepreneurship
01:21PM / Monday, January 22, 2018

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts recently approved a new minor in entrepreneurship within the Department of Business Administration and Economics. Although many of the classes required for this new minor already are offered at the college, new courses will be added when the program is officially offered in January 2018.

According to Dr. Thomas Whalen, associate professor of business, the entrepreneurship minor may be added to most – if not all – of the majors MCLA offers.

"I cannot think of a single major that cannot be brought into some sort of entrepreneurial endeavor," Whalen said. "For example, someone in education might

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Berkshires Beat: MCLA Recognized for 'Outstanding Energy and Environmental Efforts'
12:44PM / Monday, January 22, 2018
Doing right

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is a recipient of a 2017 Leading by Example Award from the commonwealth of Massachusetts for outstanding energy and environmental efforts in the Public Higher Education category. Lawrence R. Behan, MCLA's vice president of administration and finance, said the college is committed to reducing its energy and environmental impacts. The college has installed numerous clean energy technologies and has improved resiliency.

Over the past decade, MCLA's clean energy and sustainability initiatives resulted in a 19 percent reduction in campus greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of removing 232 cars from the road – despite a

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Berkshire Groups Use Women's March Anniversary to Talk Next Steps
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:37PM / Sunday, January 21, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local civic and advocacy groups are looking at how to build on the progressive movement launched by the massive Women's Marches last year.    The fight to raise people up from poverty, provide economic equity, health care and education, and ensure safe and welcoming communities, has to start at the grassroots level and include the voices of those most affected. That was the takeaway from Saturday's forum sponsored by Indivisible Pittsfield.    "We need to have everyone at the table," Shirley Edgerton of the Four Freedoms Coalition said. "Everyone needs to be making decisions about their own lives."   As millions

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1Berkshire President Discusses Economic Development With BRPC
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
07:29AM / Sunday, January 21, 2018

Butler outlined a number of programs his organization has to address economic development on a regional level. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It would be difficult for a Berkshire town to recruit a large biotech company on its own.   1Berkshire President Jonathan Butler knows that because he was a town administrator. Now his focus is on countywide efforts to build the Berkshire economy by heading the region's designated economic development agency and tourism council.   What he would suggest to towns is to get all of the little things in place to seize an opportunity should it arise.   "The first step is to identify the most high-value work you can do," Butler

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