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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Are You a Snowbird? Protect Your Finances While You're Gone
Submitted by Edward Jones,
12:47PM / Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Winter is (just about) officially here – but you may soon be leaving it behind if you're a snowbird. When you go, though, you’ll want to keep your financial situation from getting caught out in the cold.

These are a few suggestions you may want to consider:

Protect your home. If you're like many people, your home is your biggest investment, so you'll want to protect it while you're away. You’re probably already familiar with the steps you should take, such as informing your neighbors that you'll be gone, stopping your newspapers, forwarding your mail, using a timer to turn lights on and off, and so on. And these days, with smart phones and advanced

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Holiday Hours: Christmas & New Year's
09:02AM / Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Businesses, schools and government offices will be taking breaks over the next week as the nation celebrates Christmas and New Year's. Christmas falls on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, and New Year's on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. 

Christmas is now a state holiday but it wasn't always. The General Court under the control of the Puritans outlawed the holiday in 1659.

There was too much eating, drinking, wassailing and other festiveness for the colony's righteous rulers. Even after the ban was lifted, Christmas was treated as a regular day until its popularization during the Victorian era. Thank goodness. Can you imagine Norman Rockwell not painting Stockbridge at Christmas?

The

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Williamstown, Williams College to Fund Ambulance Service Merger
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:37AM / Wednesday, December 20, 2017
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Finance Committee on Tuesday committed to spend up to $75,000 to help defray the cost of Village Ambulance Service’s merger with North Adams Ambulance Service.   The actual cost of that move may end up being north of $200,000, and the town and Williams College are committed to sharing the cost of the merger, which a yearlong town-gown study found to be the best option available for maintaining ambulance service in the Village Beautiful.   In 2016, the non-profit went public with financial woes that were threatening the viability of the service. In January, a task force began looking at long-term solutions, a road that eventually led to the

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Reid Students Make Sacrifices to Give to Berkshire Children and Families
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
05:16PM / Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jacklyn Drozd said $2,200 worth of gift cards and cash donations were collected. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Reid Middle School student Maya Duhamel had an early basketball game and hadn't had a chance to get dinner.   On her way to the game, she stopped at Dunkin' Donuts intent to buy hash browns.   But at the last minute, she changed her mind.   "Instead of buying hash browns, I bought four gift cards with it," Duhamel said.   Those gift cards have since been donated to Berkshire Children and Families to give out to teens in the city who may not be able to go to Dunkin' Donuts whenever they please.   The student council had organized what

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Biz Briefs: Berkshires-Based Pungl Ready to Expand Nationwide
03:06PM / Monday, December 18, 2017
Gifts that give back

Just in time for holiday gifting, Pungl has launched the world's first marketplace for unique, meaningful gifts that give back. Through the Pungl marketplace, anyone in the country can shop by location or charitable cause, and then make a donation to that cause in their own name or in the name of a loved one. The organization will follow up with a personalized thank-you, to show how those dollars are making a difference.

Pungl connects donors with worthy organizations, whether in their backyard or halfway across the world. Donors can use the Pungl marketplace to search for a variety of fundraising opportunities, from arts and culture programming to projects that

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Berkshires Beat: BArT Students Help Puerto Rico, Local Community
01:30PM / Monday, December 18, 2017

BArT Student Ambassadors read to children at the Berkshire Museum literacy night as part of their community service efforts. Helping out

Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School ninth-graders recently decided that they wanted to raise $1,000 to help with the devastation in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. The students put on a dance and hosted a "Penny Wars" event to reach their fundraising goal. The $1,000-plus donation was proudly sent to United for Puerto Rico last week.

In addition, the BArT Student Ambassadors have visited with the seniors at the Adams Council on Aging, read to children at the Berkshire Museum Literacy Night, and collected

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Solid Waste District to Undergo Review
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
12:28AM / Monday, December 18, 2017
ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management is applying for state technical assistance grant to help it find more ways to obtain more funds.    Although no official vote was taken Thursday because of a lack of quorum, commissioners present agreed it would be a good idea to apply for a grant that would allow Veronique Blanchard, municipal assistance coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Protection, to survey all towns in the district in hopes of finding ways to increase the district's funding through the Recycling Dividends Program.   "You get the idea sort of what you want me to work on and then you fill out the application,

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Ice Safety Tips From MEMA
Staff Reports,
12:03PM / Sunday, December 17, 2017

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The cold weather often means it is time to get out on the lake for some ice fishing, or skating, or any number of outdoor recreational activities.

But, before someone goes out on the ice, they should familiarize themselves with safety precautions because falling through the ice could be deadly.

According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, ice on moving water is never safe. And ponds and lakes thaw at different rates depending on the water currents, springs, depth, and natural objects in the water. The ice can be a foot thick in some places and only a few inches in others. The daily temperature also plays a role.

MEMA has issued the following tips in

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@theMarket: Here Comes Santa
By Bill Schmick,
11:12AM / Saturday, December 16, 2017
With less than two weeks until Santa Claus shimmies down your chimney, investors are betting that what the Big Man has in his sack is lots and lots of gains to finish out 2017.   Now some might say that the signing of a massive tax cut is all the present investors need. After all, despite the rhetoric, we all know that the Republican tax cut is solely directed toward the wealthy, big business, and the stock market. As such, the indexes should continue to levitate between now and the New Year.   Investors are stocking up on the shares of those companies that will benefit most from the windfall profits they will receive as part of the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35

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'The Disaster Artist': No Soap, Radio
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires film critic
04:25PM / Friday, December 15, 2017
Director James Franco's "The Disaster Artist" reminded me of a non-joke that popularly circulated when I was a kid. It goes like this: Two elephants are in a bathtub and, when one says to the other, "Pass the soap," the other elephant informs, "No soap, radio."   You tell it and then you laugh, intentionally flummoxing your little friend who, afraid he'll look stupid if he doesn't laugh, chortles despite wondering why it's funny. Several decades since, I question, just a little, if the joke was actually on the jester ... that somewhere there was humor in the put-on.   Such, more or less, is the territory into which "The Disaster

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The Independent Investor: Should You Roll Your 401(k) Into an IRA?
By Bill Schmick,
03:40PM / Friday, December 15, 2017
Some retiring workers roll their 401(k) tax-deferred savings account into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). There are good reasons to do so. But for those who are not retiring, the decision is not so clear cut. Here are some pros and cons to ponder.   In my neighborhood, for example, a local company with more than 300 employees is being acquired by another company from Chicago. As a result, the employees of the acquired company are being offered a choice: they can roll over their existing 401(k) into a new plan offered by the Chicago company, roll their 401(k) into an IRA, or just take the money out, pay taxes and spend it.   Obviously, the last option is the worst choice.

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New Associate Joins Donovan O’Connor & Dodig
01:20PM / Friday, December 15, 2017

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Kelsey Bain has joined Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, as an associate.  

Bain received both her J.D. and Master of Environmental Law & Policy from Vermont Law School in 2017. While at Vermont Law School she worked as a Dean’s Fellow and an editor on Law Review. She has been published in the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law ("Planning for the Sun to Come Up") and the Idaho Law Review ("Undamming the Federal Production Tax Credit").

Prior to law school, she graduated from Tulane University in 2012 with a B.S. in Evolutionary Biology.  While developing her legal skills, attorney Bain worked as a legal

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