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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Lawmakers Discuss Balancing Budget Priorities At Pittsfield Senior Center
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
05:34AM / Saturday, February 13, 2016

Council on Aging Director Vin Marinaro presented Downing with a certificate that reads 'you were on the hill and now you are over the hill' and other gifts in honor of Downing's 10 years in the state Senate. Downing is not running for re-election. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire delegation said Friday that the decrease in state income tax will make it difficult to fully fund programs.   Massachusetts voters approved in 2000 a formula that reduces the income tax if state revenues hit certain targets.   The state income tax has dropped from 5.85 percent to now, in 2016, 5.1. The decrease translates to less revenue going to state coffers with this year's


Red Cross Offers Tips for Keeping Safe in Frigid Weather
11:59AM / Friday, February 12, 2016

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — As frigid temperatures move in and blanket the region this weekend, the Red Cross warns of dangers to pets and frozen pipes in homes.

During cold weather, take preventative action in your home

Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children. When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing. Keep the thermostat


'Hail, Caesar!': I Come to Criticize, and Praise a Little, Too
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
05:51PM / Thursday, February 11, 2016

While love has been a major theme of motion pictures since the medium's inception, Hollywood hath no greater love than that of itself. Thus it was only a matter of time before the filmmakers Coen, les frères Ethan and Joel, would sing a paean to the industry where they've so consummately plied their artistry. Set in the 1950s, the last, so-called glory days of the studio system, the deliciously parodic "Hail, Caesar!" starring Josh Brolin as fixer Eddie Mannix, is both adoring homage and acerbic satire.

Movie buffs will have a field day identifying the characters both scandalous and heroically upright, even if the Coens themselves claim no direct allusions, but


Berkshire Tidbits: Valentine's Delights
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
04:52PM / Thursday, February 11, 2016

This week's Tidbits has to start with the first Throwback Thursday social media postings on Feb. 11 to begin Mezze Bistro & Bar's 20th anniversary, 413-458-0123, 777 Cold Spring Road/Route 7 in Williamstown. Friday evening, Feb. 12, will feature a 1996 throwback dance party and celebration after dinner at 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13 and 14, Valentine's Day weekend dining and drinking plays right into the celebratory atmosphere.

Since the summer of 2010, Mezze has been in the renovated lovely building and grounds that still housed the county-popular, longtime Le Jardin traditional French restaurant when owner — originally chef/owner — Nancy Thomas first


Grazie Italian Restaurant Opens in North Adams
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:46AM / Thursday, February 11, 2016

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — David Moresi had a vision when he bought the Mulcare Block nearly two years ago: Restore his grandfather's tavern, the Mohawk, and open an Italian eatery.

The Mohawk reopened last year, but the restaurant has taken a little longer and required just the right ingredient.

Moresi found it in another North Adams native who had recently returned to the area with his growing family.

"We hit it off, we both had the same vision of what we wanted," said Matt Tatro last week in the newly furnished dining room of Grazie on Marshall Street. "We're both hard working guys, family oriented."

Moresi said it was the right partnership, with each


Stockbridge Police Chief Taking Townsend Job Offer
Staff Reports,
03:27PM / Wednesday, February 10, 2016

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Police Chief Robert M. Eaton Jr. is leaving the town after two years for a position in northeastern Massachusetts.

In an statement released on Wednesday, Eaton said he has been offered a similar post in Townsend in Middlesex County.

"While the process is still not complete, and details have to be worked out, it does appear that I will be accepting the offer," he said.

"I understand that word of my candidacy for this position may have made its way to the media before I was prepared, and while I am excited and motivated for this new challenge in my career, I will be leaving Stockbridge on the best of terms. I could not be more appreciative of the


Think About Sending Financial Valentines to Loved Ones
Submitted by Edward Jones,
10:55AM / Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Americans spent nearly $19 billion in Valentine’s Day gifts last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Much of this money went for gifts with short shelf lives, such as candy, flowers and restaurant meals (and about $700 million was spent on gifts for pets).

There’s certainly nothing wrong with giving chocolates or roses. But this year, think about going beyond the classic gifts. Instead, use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to determine how you can make gifts with long-lasting impact to your circle of loved ones.

Here are some suggestions:

* For your spouse or significant other: As long as your spouse or significant other has earned income, he or she may


Bay State Winter Games Return to Berkshires This Weekend
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:16AM / Wednesday, February 10, 2016
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Kevin Cummings knows how quickly a good idea can snowball.   The executive director of the Bay State Games is excited to see games offer two new events when it returned to the Berkshires for its 31st season.   "I started with the organization in 1984, and I remember '85 was the first figure skating competition," Cummings said. "We had under 50 skaters."   This year, there will be hundreds of skaters descending on Williams College's Lansing Chapman Rink for three days of competition that run from 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 12, through 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.   But the big news in the Bay State Winter Games is the addition of


USDA Conservation Stewardship Program Accepting Applications
02:10PM / Tuesday, February 09, 2016

AMHERST, Mass. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has $150 million in funding available for agricultural producers across the country through the Conservation Stewardship Program, a federal conservation program that helps farmers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to add an estimated 10 million acres to the rolls of CSP during fiscal 2016.

"The Conservation Stewardship Program helps farmers boost soil and air quality, conserve clean water and enhance wildlife habitat," said Christine Clarke, NRCS state conservationist. "With this investment, we'll enable


Grant Opens Workforce Training Opportunities in North Adams, Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:15PM / Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mayor Linda Tyer said the program will address the changes to the local labor market. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There are currently 127 available manufacturing jobs in Berkshire County averaging annual salaries of more than $55,000, according to Interprint CEO Peter Stasiowski.   But there aren't enough workers in the area with the skills needed to fill those vacancies. The state has now allocated $138,000 to the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board to train workers to fill those jobs.   "We know the importance of growing our own," Stasiowski said.   See application and information below.   According to Stasiowski, manufacturing makes up 8


Berkshire Tidbits: Chinese New Year Banquet, Food Events
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
07:51PM / Monday, February 08, 2016

It's midwinter and full of food delights! Events, holidays and special deals on delicious foods.

Yogurt-marinated wings at Bombay Grill in Lee.

For football fans, Sunday is Super Bowl in more ways than running through a stadium field with a pointy-ended ball. It's super bowls and bowls and platters and pans of gooey and rich, crunchy and spicy, salty, smoky, savory and sweet everything comfort foods. I'll go into local wings later.

Monday, Feb. 8, is the beginning of the 15-day Chinese Spring Festival or Chinese New Year when food offers symbolic help for health, prosperity and overall good fortune in the coming year. I arranged to have a banquet with friends at Panda House


@theMarket: Stocks at Bottom of Trading Range
By Bill Schmick,
08:29AM / Saturday, February 06, 2016

This week was a little more promising. At least it was better than going down almost every day, as we did last month. Is this a pause or can we expect something more?

Something more is my bet, but whether it is up or down largely depends on the direction of oil. I did notice, however, that there were days this week that the oil price was not in lockstep with the markets. There was even talk that stocks and energy prices might decouple in the weeks ahead. Whether that is wishful thinking or a possibility will take more than a day or two of evidence.

I have insisted that no one knows where the bottom is in oil. Yet, a consensus seems to be forming that $30 a barrel, (give or take a few


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