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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Great Barrington Fire Wins Federal Grant To Replace Airpacks
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:17PM / Monday, July 18, 2016

Chief Charles Burger said the grant will purchase 28 new airpacks, replacing the 11-year-old ones the department currently uses. GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Fire Department is replacing its 11-year-old airpacks with more modern and safer ones.   U.S. Rep. Richard Neal announced a $160,477 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase the 28 new units. The packs are used more than two dozen times a year to help firefighters breathe in hazardous conditions.   "This grant is going toward replacing our self-contained breathing apparatus, or what most people know them as airpacks. They are the cylinders we wear on our backs in order to breath clean

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Berkshires Beat: Stockbridge Photo Contest Winners Announced
01:16PM / Monday, July 18, 2016

The winners are: Laurel Hill Association and Stockbridge Land Trust have selected five winning submissions to their first photo contest. The organizations are selling notecards, featuring the winning photos, in several local shops. All proceeds go to the two organizations.

The winning photos were taken by Dana Goedewaagen of Glendale; Stacy McMahon of Great Barrington; John R. Morse of Stockbridge; and Sharon Siter of South Egremont. The photos show the Mary Flynn Trail; the Housatonic River as it courses through Stockbridge; Konkapot Brook, with Ice Glen and Beartown Mountain in the background; the Children’s Chime Tower by the Congregational Church in Stockbridge; and the Cat and

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@theMarket: Markets Make Hay
By Bill Schmick,
11:27AM / Saturday, July 16, 2016

A series of new historical highs rewarded investors who remained patient this year and remained invested. Unless something changes in the world of central banking, there is a good chance that further gains are in store for the stock market.

There will be pullbacks from time to time as the markets digest their gains. We have enjoyed several back-to-back gains in the stock market. The S&P 500 Index, for example, has climbed over 100 points without one down day. That is not something that can continue unabated.

The key to all this upside momentum is, of course, the worldwide largesse of governments and central banks. Take, for example, the events in England this week. Although

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Election 2016: Harrington Endorsed by Mass Women's Political Caucus
Campaign Statement,
07:09PM / Friday, July 15, 2016

RICHMOND, Mass. — Andrea Harrington, a local attorney and small business owner running in the Democratic primary for state Senate, has been endorsed by the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus.

The non-partisan organization has a proven record of electoral success in Massachusetts, including its support of the campaigns of Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Auditor Suzanne Bump, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

This announcement follows recent endorsements from Western Massachusetts Carpenters Union Local 108 and SEIU Local 888.  Harrington is a Democrat running for state Senate for the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden District soon to be

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Election 2016: Del Gallo Throws Support to Clinton
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, Campaign Statement
06:55PM / Friday, July 15, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If one were to go to my Facebook page and read my post endorsing Hillary Clinton, it was met with criticism by some Bernie Sanders supporters and progressives. Apparently, my endorsement of Hillary Clinton is controversial in progressive circles. Nonetheless, I stand by my July 13 comments and press release endorsing Hillary Clinton.

I was not surprised — I have spoken to countless people in the district that I have indicated to me that they voted for Bernie Sanders but they will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she became the nominee. I believe not voting for Hillary Clinton is a mistake.

The simple reality is that because we do not have instant run-off

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'The Secret Life of Pets': Won't be Secret Fur Long
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
04:35PM / Friday, July 15, 2016

While "The Secret Life of Pets" isn't quite "Lady and the Tramp" (1955), I've no problem mentioning the two kiddy flicks in the same sentence. Both are proof positive that you can learn a lot from the animals, especially the cartoon variety if they're as lovable as Max, a Jack Russell terrier voiced here by Louis C.K.

A contemporary variation of the iconic Tramp, who resisted domestication until romance curtailed his wanderlust, this Manhattanite is dedicated to hearth, condo and his master, Katie (Ellie Kemper).

When asked one morning by Gidget, the white Pomeranian next door who secretly loves him, if he had plans today, Max informs: "Yes, big, big

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The Independent Investor: Tax Breaks For College Savings
By Bill Schmick,
02:21PM / Friday, July 15, 2016

As the cost of college continues to soar in America, more and more states are offering tax breaks to families who are trying to save as much as they can for their kid's educational future.

The state of Massachusetts is deciding whether or not they will join the list this week.

The most commonly used vehicle for that purpose is the "qualified tuition plan," more commonly known as a 529 Plan. These plans are sponsored by states, state agencies or educational institutions and were originally authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code. They are tax-free on a federal level and all but eight of the 42 states that have an income tax allow families and

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Superior Court Briefs: July 11 - July 14
Staff Reports,
12:54PM / Friday, July 15, 2016
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, July 11.   Juan Lopez-Lucas, 34, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of assault and battery on a disabled person and a single count of caretaker abuse on a disabled person.   He was released on personal recognizance. Lopez-Lucas is accused of assaulting a student while he was employed at Eagleton School on July 11, 2013.   Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, July 12.   Eric Cohen, 57, of New Marlborough was sentenced to concurrent 20 to 24 years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on four counts of rape and abuse of a child aggravated by an age

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BRPC: Airfield Ruling Has Deep Implications to Zoning Laws
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:41AM / Friday, July 15, 2016

Attorney and alternative BRPC member Alexandra Glover represented Hanlon during the case and updated BRPC about the implications of the outcome on the municipal level on Thursday. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A recent appeals court ruling against the town of Sheffield may have impacts on zoning throughout the state.   In May, the state court's decision sided with Sheffield resident John Hanlon in a battle over a private landing strip Hanlon built and registered.   The strip was just some 1,250 feet long in a field among some 38 acres of land he owns. It was registered with the state and sat in a mowed hayfield.    However, in 2011, the town of Sheffield ruled that

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Letter: Blue Star Parents Group Forming
Letters to the Editor,
07:00PM / Wednesday, July 13, 2016

To the Editor:

July 4th is when we celebrate our country's Independence. It's also a perfect opportunity to remind people that the freedom and independence we celebrate is not free.

Berkshire County has many residents serving in the military – active, Reserves and Guard. Each military individual represents an entire family who is also sacrificing and supporting them. To help these families, Berkshire County Chapter for Blue Star Parents will hold its first gathering, Thursday, July 14, at 7 p.m. at the North Adams American Legion.

The group is open to all military parents – Reserves, National Guard or Active Duty. The concerns, stress, and emotions that come with the

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Berkshire South Gala 'Celebrating a Hero' in Robin McGraw
04:50PM / Wednesday, July 13, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Berkshire South Regional Community Center is recognizing Robin McGraw at its "Celebrating a Hero" gala on Aug. 18.
 
Both McGraw and his wife, Elizabeth "Buzz" Hayes, continue to generously support many human services, health care, educational and medical research organizations and initiatives.

He serves on the board of trustees of Volunteers in Medicine, Berkshire Healthcare Systems, HospiceCare in the Berkshires, Mystic (Conn.) Seaport Museum and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that inducted him into its Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2015. Most recently, he has brought his energy and commitment to addressing the Berkshire

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Letter: Support a Pittsfield Ban on Exotic Circus Animals
Letters to the Editor,
04:00PM / Wednesday, July 13, 2016

To the Editor:

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen for the welfare of animals especially the exotic ones that could be used in circuses.

I realize that this puts all of you in a difficult spot trying to please both sides of an issue but I would encourage each one of you and take a step back and really to consider the issues at hand. I am not going to ask for all of you to take a look at gruesome pictures of what happens to these animals when training and I am not going to give you the details of what happens on the road or before and after shows.

Instead, I am going to ask you to remember back if any of you went to circuses as children or brought your children to them and the magic

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