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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 29 - March 11
Staff Reports,
11:04AM / Friday, March 11, 2016
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, Feb. 29.   Bruce Daniels, 47, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of rape of a child with force.   He was released on personal recognizance. Daniels is accused of sexually assaulting a boy who is now age 17 between October 1, 2012 and October 31, 2012.   Heidi Bliss, 35, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of accessory after the fact to wit: armed robbery while masked, and misleading a police officer or other person.   The charges are in connection with a robbery in Pittsfield on January 24, 2016. She was released on $1,000 bail.   Cases


The Independent Investor: The Rise of the Robots in Banking
By Bill Schmick,
07:14PM / Thursday, March 10, 2016

If you think the human factor is rapidly disappearing from the workplace, you may be surprised to know that Skynet has arrived and even C-3PO and R2-D2 are being left behind.

Nowhere is this change more apparent than in the nation's banking system.   

Automation, robots and artificial intelligence is on the rise. At the forefront of this change is the nation's banking system. One of the reasons I know this is because my sister, Cassie, is in the banking industry. No, she is not in the corner office or hanging out in the executive suites.

Since 1965, she has worked as a teller and other front office jobs in her bank's branch offices.

She knows the business from


Women May Need Extra Steps on the Road to Financial Security
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:07AM / Wednesday, March 09, 2016

International Women’s Day is observed on March 8. Around the world, thousands of events will honor women’s achievements. Yet, women still face challenges in many areas of life – such as their financial situations. So if you’re a woman, you may want to use this occasion to consider steps you can take to help move toward your important financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement.

First of all, be aware of the potential obstacles facing women: lower earnings than men, longer lifespans than men and more time out of the workforce than men. This last element is particularly important, because when women leave the workforce for extended periods, typically to care


Harrington Kicks Off State Senate Campaign
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
05:50PM / Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Harrington says her experience as small-business owner and attorney can help her advocate for the district.

WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Andrea Harrington says she goes to work every day fighting for those struggling with substance abuse or mental health.

She runs a small business and knows what it takes for a local family to make a living.

And now, she's looking to take those experiences to Beacon Hill as the Berkshire's state senator.

"It is something I've thought about for a long time. I was really focused on my practice but when Sen. [Benjamin] Downing announced that he would not be seeking another term, immediately I knew I wanted to pursue this


Program Aims to Make Berkshires 'Age-Friendly'
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:06AM / Tuesday, March 08, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Between 40 percent and 50 percent of the population in most towns in Berkshire County is older than the age of 50.

And if 50 is the new 30, and middle age is now considered 60, then half of the population has a lot of living left to do.

That's why the Berkshires have joined an effort to be an "Age-Friendly Community," defined as "a way to help older adults remain healthy, active and engaged in their community as long as possible." Internationally, the World Health Organization defines and supports age-friendly communities, while in the United States the AARP fills that role.

Locally, the Berkshires have Celeste Harp, an energetic and


@theMarket: Markets Need a Break
By Bill Schmick,
09:20AM / Saturday, March 05, 2016

The stock market has climbed 10 percent in the last three weeks from its February lows. That is a substantial gain, over a year's worth of historical performance for the S&P 500 index. And as such, it's time for a break.

That doesn't mean a sell-off will happen, but it never hurts to prepare one's mind set for a bout of profit-taking. The worst that can happen is that I'm wrong. If it doesn't occur, you can remain relieved (and possibly pleasantly surprised) that your portfolio is recovering the losses it incurred over the first two months of the year.

About the only investors that would be disgruntled by this turn of events, would be those who disregarded my


Chamber Sees Increased Number of Employers at Annual Career Fair
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:47PM / Friday, March 04, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce is hoping to connect those seeking jobs with employers seeking workers.   One tool is the annual career fair, which on Thursday saw an increased number of employers than in recent years.   "It's larger than we've had in the last three years," June Roy-Martin, vice president of member services for the chamber, said. "We are hoping with some of the layoffs and closures we can match the employees with employers."   The chamber has been holding the job fair for a number of years at the Berkshire Hills Country Club. This year, Roy-Martin said there are 52 employers looking for workers with an

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'Eddie the Eagle': Doesn't Soar
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
01:33PM / Friday, March 04, 2016

I didn't mind too terribly the obviousness and predictability of director Dexter Fletcher's "Eddie the Eagle," a biopic about the underdog (and lone) British ski jumper who charmed everyone at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Rather, I let its goodwill and well-meaning parable about determination in the face of overwhelming odds wash over me, giving the movie points for its unpretentious, Disney-like sincerity. Such basic, filmic oases far from the cynicism of cutting edge this, hi-tech that and metaphor-loaded obscurities are nature's way of rebooting our brains.

You get what you see, and nothing much more: a pleasant ride through the sweet and polite, Golden

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Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School Hires New First Grade Teacher
12:39PM / Friday, March 04, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School welcomes Renée Far as first grade teacher for the 2016-2017 school year.

At the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, as at many Waldorf schools all over the world, the class teacher stays with students from first through eighth grade. The class grows academically, artistically and socially in a progressively deepening relationship that builds on each child’s natural curiosity and the unfolding of each child’s capacities.

The Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School is now accepting applications for fall, and will hold a “Meet the Teacher” event Saturday, March 12, from 10:30 a.m. to


Should You Retire in 'Stages'?
Submitted by Edward Jones,
09:48AM / Friday, March 04, 2016

For many people, the concept of retirement can be scary, both emotionally and financially. If you, too, feel somewhat anxious about what awaits you, you might feel more comfortable in knowing that, depending on where you work, you might be able to retire in stages.

As its name suggests, retiring in stages typically involves reducing one’s work hours from full-time to part-time, and then, eventually, to complete retirement. If you enjoy the social relationships of work, and you define part of your identity with what you do at your job, this type of gradual transition may be easier for you to accommodate than the abrupt transition from “worker” to


Arrowhead Opens Baseball Exhibit on Friday
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:34AM / Friday, March 04, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Jeff Bagwell may be the best player of his generation not yet to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

The career .297 hitter retired after 15 Major League seasons, all with the same club, in which he hit 449 home runs, earned a National League MVP trophy, garnered three Silver Slugger awards and was named the NL Rookie of the Year

"What's interesting is Jeff Bagwell is labeled a singles hitter who all of a sudden started to show power, and what did they think? That he was taking something," said Larry Moore, one of the curators of "Baseball and the Berkshires," which opens on Friday at Herman Melville's Arrowhead.

What is more interesting


The Independent Investor: Why Wall Street Is Worried About Trump
By Bill Schmick,
03:10PM / Thursday, March 03, 2016

Normally, Wall Street loves GOP presidential candidates. Historically, Republican presidents have been good for business, tend to cut taxes, and slow the rate of government spending. So why does Donald Trump give them the willies?

For starters, the investment community worries that Trump is an unpredictable wild card. Remember, that investors can accommodate the good or the bad, as long as the future is articulated in clear terms. For example, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is going after predatory pricing in the biotech sector. That's bad for biotech so Wall Street sells or shorts biotech stocks until that risk factor is resolved. Another politician says we need a


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