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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Berkshires Beat: Bad Weather Doesn't Stop Lenox Robotics Team
09:37AM / Monday, February 20, 2017

Way to go: When Lenox High School's robotics team, Team Enginuity, canceled its field trip to the First Technology Challenge qualifier in Dedham, Mass., on Feb. 11 because of bad weather, two students persevered.

Ella King, senior and founder of Team Enginuity, received a group text between runs at a FIS Giant Slalom Race at Sugarbush Mountain in Vermont that her team was not going to the robotics meet. She knew this qualifier was the last one before the state championship and it would be critical for the team to attend. She called her dad, who was still in Lenox, and asked him to pick up the robot from school. The family's plan was to meet on the eastern side of the state

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Berkshire Scenic Releases Strong Ridership Numbers For Inaugural Year
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:16AM / Monday, February 20, 2017

The railway is a volunteer-run organization that offers rides through the summer and fall in North Adams. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Some 9,600 passengers rode the rails between North Adams and Adams during the Hoosac Valley Service's freshman year.

The 8-mile ride from the city to Renfrew and back in a restored 1955 Budd car kicked off in October 2015 with a few pilot rides. It returned for a few more in December and then went full speed ahead on Memorial Day weekend last year. The nearly 10,000 passengers is more than the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum carried during its first year in its old home of Lenox, according to President Jay Green.

"Berkshire Scenic is back on

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BMC Rebuilt Surgical Residency Program Earns New Accreditation
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:36AM / Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dr. Michael DiSiena worked to revamp the residency program, which received a new accreditation last month. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was 2014 when news came down that Berkshire Medical Center was losing most of its surgical residency program.   The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education pulled its accreditation and with it, a large part of the surgical unit's identity was going to change. The pool of residents shipped off to other hospitals and universities, dropping the total number of residents from around 15 to just two. The program head resigned.   Things were looking bleak and no matter what, the hospital had to find a way to

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Pittsfield Officer to Carry Torch in Austria For Special Olympics World Games
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:39AM / Saturday, February 18, 2017
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The job of a police officer means dealing with people on their worst days, day after day.   And it wears on the officers. Eight years ago, Officer Darren Derby started getting involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics. He's raised more than a half-million dollars in support of those athletes.   He does it because he feels those athletes do more for him than he could ever do for them. They give him a joy that gets torn away from officers on a daily basis dealing with the worst of the worst.   "The job itself brings a tremendous amount of stress. A lot us wonder 'is this the right job for us,

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'The Oscar Picks: Betrayed': The Great Goldberger Squirrel Conspiracy of 2017
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
05:20PM / Friday, February 17, 2017

OK, maybe the Academy Award leak previously alleged to exist, the one the squirrels in my back yard either engineered or facilitated and which allowed me to successfully predict a good percentage of last year's Oscar winners, indeed exists. But first a little backstory for those unfamiliar with the bushy-tailed adventures of the Goldberger Squirrels.

Thankful for the assorted nuts I've occasionally thrown on the lawn to ensure their strength and safety against neighboring squirrels and other varmints who would illegally cross property lines to take what is rightfully theirs, last year the Goldberger Squirrels showed their loyalty with a bold act. Braving the gridlock caused by the

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@theMarket: Danger Zone
By Bill Schmick,
04:06PM / Friday, February 17, 2017



Something new is happening to the stock market, it has actually had two negative days in a row. That doesn't mean much after weeks of gains, but it just may signal a temporary halt to the Trump Rally.

My short-term target in this Trump-inspired rally was achieved this week. The benchmark index, the S&P 500, not only reached 2,330 (my target) this week, but went beyond it. The S&P 500 kept on climbing, reaching an intra-day, record-setting high of 2,351.31 on both Wednesday and Thursday. The index has subsequently fallen back but not by much.

The Dow, NASDAQ, the small-cap Russell 2000 Index, plus a slew of other averages also reached record highs. Make no mistake,

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Jacob's Pillow Dance Announces New Board of Trustees Members
01:44PM / Friday, February 17, 2017

BECKET, Mass. — Jacob's Pillow Dance has appointed four new members to its Board of Trustees: MacArthur Genius Fellow and Jacob's Pillow Dance Award recipient Kyle Abraham; former New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan; lawyer, teacher and active member of the Massachusetts community Diane Patrick; and Berkshires-based gallerist Sienna Patti.

Jacob’s Pillow, located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, is a National Historic Landmark, National Medal of Arts recipient, and home to America's longest running dance festival.

"Bringing these esteemed individuals onto the Pillow's board shows the intent of our future as an organization,"

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Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 14 - Feb. 16
Staff Reports,
01:36PM / Friday, February 17, 2017
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, Feb. 14.   George Chapman, 31, of Springfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws.   He was ordered to serve concurrent two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at 66 Angeli Street in North Adams on August 6, 2015.   Derrick King, 39, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of improper storage of a firearm, three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, three counts of illegal ownership of a firearm, two

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Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School Announces First Grade Teacher
01:06PM / Friday, February 17, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School welcomes Tracy Fernbacher as first grade class teacher for the 2017-18 school year.

Fernbacher was selected from a pool of applicants after a national search. She earned her master of education in Waldorf Elementary Education from Antioch University (Keene, N.H.). She also holds a bachelor of business administration in International Management from Pace University (New York) and a vocational teacher's license from the New York State Department of Education.

Fernbacher brings broad Waldorf teaching experience to her new position, including teaching at every grade level. The GBRSS Board of Trustees and Council of

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Berkshire Delegation Gets Committee Assignments
Staff Reports, iBerkshires Staff
01:22AM / Friday, February 17, 2017
BOSTON — State House leaders have released committee assignments for this session, with the Berkshire delegation picking up two chairmanships in the House and one in the Senate.   Newly elected State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, was named Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, as well as Senate vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.    He is also a member of the Joint Committees on Higher Education; Housing; Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery; Municipalities and Regional Government; and Intergovernmental Affairs. Hinds is also the Senate co-chair of the Rural Caucus

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Polito Announces South County Bridge Funding, Tours Pittsfield
Staff Reports,
08:11PM / Thursday, February 16, 2017
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito toured the downtown Thursday afternoon before announcing grant funding for two southwestern Massachusetts bridges.   Polito had spent the morning signing a Community Compact agreement with Lanesborough and Windsor. She later joined Mayor Linda Tyer for a brief private meeting at City Hall. She left the offices and proceeded to the Onota Building with the mayor, City Council President Peter Marchetti 1Berkshire CEO Jonathan Butler, Downtown Pittsfield Inc. President Jesse Cook-Dubin, and Alfred "A.J" Enchill Jr. from state Sen. Adam Hinds' office.   At the Onota building, she met with Louis Allegrone, of Allegrone

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The Independent Investor: 'Watch the Gap Please'
By Bill Schmick,
05:13PM / Thursday, February 16, 2017

If you haven't realized it by now, Medicare has a lot of "gaps" in its coverage. In order to close that gap, various private insurance companies offer plans that cover a lot of out-of-pocket costs — for a price.

Bare-bones Medicare coverage can leave you with some steep medical bills. As we discussed in our last column, if you are admitted to the hospital, for example, your first bill will tally $1,216 or more, which is the deductible you pay just for being admitted. After that, you pay 20 percent of the fee for every doctor visit, lab test, MRI, X-Ray and on and on. Remember, too, that there is no yearly limit for what you may have to pay beyond your basic Medicare

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