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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Coalition Names Besaw Permanent Executive Director
By Rebecca Dravis, iberkshires Staff
12:48PM / Friday, December 23, 2016

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is currently focused on community pride, and there's no one more proud to lead that effort than Amber Besaw.

Besaw, who has been acting as interim executive director of NBCC since Adam Hinds stepped aside last spring to wage his successful campaign for a state Senate seat, has official been named permanent executive director.

Besaw has been with the Coalition for the past five years, holding positions of deputy director and program director for The Family Place. She brings her diverse background in medical social work, community mental health, clinical social work with children and families, program development, and

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Berkshires Beat: ABC Clothing Sale Donates $16,000 to Four Local Charities
12:28PM / Friday, December 23, 2016

Bettering the community: The ABC Clothing Sale Steering Committee has distributed $16,000 in unrestricted grants from the proceeds of its big annual Clothing Sale in September and the numerous specialty and pop-up sales it has held throughout the year. "ABC" stands for "A Better Community," echoing the sale's commitment to recycling clothing and household linens, and their mission to benefit local charitable organizations that serve at-risk families and youth and address hunger, poverty and inequality in Northern Berkshire communities.

This year the money was distributed between the following four organizations, to support their work in the communities of Northern

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'Manchester by the Sea': Set your Movie GPS
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
02:41PM / Wednesday, December 21, 2016

For those filmgoers who long for a movie with a beginning, middle and end, bereft of razzle-dazzle special effects and philosophy class mind benders, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's soulfully touching "Manchester by the Sea" is just the ticket. But beware oh ye to whom such traditional fair initially appeals, as the astutely filmed story about an uncle made the guardian of a teenage boy after the kid's father dies ultimately asks just how much reality are you willing to take?

While to a degree you may escape into the fine artistry of the saga, its authenticity poignantly and regularly, to coin a phrase, harks back to the human drama in which we are all cast members.

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Year-End Tax-smart Investing Ideas
11:27AM / Wednesday, December 21, 2016

As 2016 draws to a close and we move into the holiday season, you probably have a lot going on in your life. But it may be worth your while to take some time to explore a few year-end investment and financial moves that can potentially pay off for you when you file your taxes in April.

Here are a few such moves to consider:

* Boost your 401(k) contributions. Unless you have a Roth 401(k), your contributions are made with pretax dollars – so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. Ask your employer if you can increase your 401(k) contributions for the remainder of the year. (For 2016, you can contribute up to $18,000 to your 401(k), or $24,000 if you're 50 or older.)

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Berkshire Health Systems Expands Primary-Care Access Across County
07:53PM / Monday, December 19, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems has appointed five primary-care physicians, all accepting new patients throughout the Berkshires, from south to north. 

Drs. Judith Aldrich and Brynn Hancock have joined Berkshire Osteopathic Health of Berkshire Medical Center, which has offices in Adams and Pittsfield. Dr. Maxim Bitunov is now providing care at Hillcrest Family Health Center of BMC in Pittsfield, and Dr. Terra Lampiasi is at Lenox Family Health Center of BMC. Dr. John Paul Hickey is with Barrington Family Medicine in Great Barrington. 

The addition of these five physicians is a significant expansion of primary-care services in the Berkshires and Southern

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Educational Task Force 2/3 Way Through Presentations To Local Governments
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:45AM / Monday, December 19, 2016

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire County Educational Task Force has had a busy month presenting at 30 or so public meetings with still more than a dozen to go.

The task force is rolling out its plans for Phase 2 of a study looking at the future of Berkshire County's school systems. The next phase will dive deep into various options — from leaving things as they are to creating super-regional school districts — and is funded with $150,000 from the state.

The efforts are to explore ways to counter declining enrollment mixed with the rising costs of education and offer school districts recommendations on how they might address those vexing issues.

"The

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Cross, Carpenter Honored by Conferences
iBerkshires.com Sports,
12:29AM / Monday, December 19, 2016
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts junior Keiland Cross was named the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week and Player of the Week on Monday, Dec. 12.   Cross averaged 24.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and six assists in a 2-1 week for the Trailblazers. He was named MVP of the Tri-State Shootout after collecting 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the 82-79 win over Fisher College, notched 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the 71-67 win over RPI and added 19 points, six assists and five rebounds in setback to WPI.   For the year, Cross is averaging a team-high 16.9 ppg in 32 minutes per night for the 2-8 Trailblazers.   The rookie

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Berkshire Medical Group Joins Berkshire Health Systems
11:07AM / Friday, December 16, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In a move that will help to ensure continued and expanded access to primary care and infectious disease services in the Berkshires, the Berkshire Medical Group has joined the Berkshire Health Systems Physician Practice organization.

Berkshire Medical Group, an internal medicine and infectious disease practice, includes doctors Paula Aucoin, Rebecca Caine, Prakash Darji, Jason Kittler, Michael McInerney and Sharon Rawlings and Amy Cassotta, ANP-BC, Helen Majchrowski, FNP/C, and Wanda Torres, ANP-BC.

Effective Nov. 1, the practice will be renamed Berkshire Internists of BMC, and will remain at its existing location in the BMC Medical Arts Complex in Pittsfield,

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'Nocturnal Animals': Subspecies: Human
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
02:38PM / Thursday, December 15, 2016

Imagine you are driving late at night on a desolate country road, hardly a speck of civilization in sight save for an occasional utility pole. It's spooky to begin with, but nowhere near as scary as when a car suddenly appears in your rearview mirror. You make a turn, just to see. The car follows. You make a couple more, random turns. There it is, right behind you. What's the odds? Your paranoia concedes to one of your worst fears realized. Surely you are being followed by the most deplorable, inbred ne'er-do-wells in creation.

Good thing this is merely the fiction within a novel that Susan, the female lead in director Tom Ford's "Nocturnal Animals," is reading.

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Here's Your Retirement 'To Do' List
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:31AM / Wednesday, December 14, 2016

At this time of year, your life is probably more hectic than usual – so you may have assembled an impressive "to do" list. This can be a helpful tool for organizing your activities in the near future – but have you ever thought of developing a "to do" list for long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement?

If not, you may want to think about it – and here are a few list-worthy items to consider:

* Examine – and re-examine – your planned retirement age. You may have long counted on retiring at a certain age, but are you sure that this goal is the best one for your overall financial situation? Think about it: If you like your job, and

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Extreme Cold Weather Heading Our Way
11:20AM / Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bitter cold temperatures and dangerously cold wind chills are forecast for later this week. Forecasts from the National Weather Service for late Thursday night and early Friday morning include low temperatures between 10 degrees above zero and 5 degrees below zero and wind chill values expected to be cold as 15 to 25 degrees below zero.

While temperatures are expected to warm up by the weekend, extreme cold temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous.

"MEMA urges residents to take precautions during the upcoming extreme cold weather. If you must go outside, dress for the conditions by covering up as much as possible and wear warm layers," said Massachusetts Emergency

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Guest Column: Getting Smart About Art
Guest Column,
02:50PM / Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The North Adams Public School district boasts one of the finest art programs in the commonwealth.

Students of all grade levels participate in classes and field trips that nurture their creativity in a fun and hands-on way. Our elementary schools offer choral and instrumental programs during the school day and perform concerts throughout the academic year. They make frequent field trips to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Through a partnership with Berkshire Children and Families and Brayton Elementary School, students are introduced to classical music through the innovative Kids 4 Harmony program.

Arts programming at Drury High School has grown so much that the school has created

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