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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

The Independent Investor: Will the Lights Go Out?
By Bill Schmick,
09:53PM / Thursday, December 07, 2017
The deadline looms. There is no deal in sight. Various political factions are jockeying to get their demands met. It is all part of an annual compromise to fund the government for another year.   So what else is new?   If the government does shut down on Saturday morning, it will be the 18th such occurrence in U.S. history. In every case, the nation has survived, although at times the cost has been great. There was, for example, a 16-day shutdown back in 2013 that resulted in a $24 billion hit to economic output and caused 850,000 workers to be laid off.   We all know it costs the American people more to shut down the government than it does to keep it open. In this age of

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Can You Afford to Retire Early?
Submitted by Edward Jones,
01:24PM / Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Some people dream of retiring early. Are you one of them? If so, you'll need to plan ahead – because a successful early retirement can't be achieved through last-minute moves.

So, if you're determined to retire early, consider taking the following steps:

Pick a date. Early retirement means different things to different people. But it's important to pick an exact age, whether it is 60, 62, 64, or whatever, so you can build an appropriate retirement income strategy.

Think about your retirement lifestyle. You may know that you want to retire early – but have you thought about what you want to do with your newfound time? Will you simply stay close to home and

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MCLA Recognizes Adams Scholarship Recipients
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
03:55AM / Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Tessa Langsdale, class of 2021, tells the students how she had been in their seats just last year.  See more photos from the event here.  NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 50 Berkshire students were recognized at the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship reception at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.   "I am really quite pleased to be able to welcome you and to be able to congratulate you on earning this scholarship," MCLA President James Birge told the recipients Tuesday at the Church Street Center. "It is a rigorous award to win and you have demonstrated your abilities to do that through your grades, standardized test performances ... and all

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Biz Briefs: BCC Offers Micro-Grants to Help Students Get Out of Debt
02:38PM / Monday, December 04, 2017
Helping hand

Berkshire Community College, with sponsorship from Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, is offering select students micro-grants to help them pay their past-due debts and stay on track to graduate. The program is called the "Guardian Value Scholarship," which identifies students who are in good academic standing but unable to re-enroll due to college debt.

The scholarship can help reduce or remove a student's debt to the college which in turn allows them to register for upcoming spring 2018 classes at BCC. The maximum value of the scholarship is $1,500. If a student owes more than $1,500, they are expected to pay down the remaining balance of their debt

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Total Access Computers Serves Adams' Tech Needs
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
06:35AM / Saturday, December 02, 2017

ADAMS, Mass. — Dan and Andrew Maynard, owners of Total Access Computers, on 16 Hoosac St., want to be your friendly neighborhood tech experts.

The Maynards have one mission: to help people navigate the often-confusing waters of an ever-changing tech world.

"We like to help people, and we don't just fix your computer and send you on your way," Dan Maynard said. "We show you how to keep it clean and running properly because it is the right thing to do."

He started the business in the early 2000s in North Adams and it has been growing ever since.

"I put together a business plan, went in a with a few other people, started a little company and was doing sales

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The Independent Investor: The Bots Are Coming
By Bill Schmick,
04:43PM / Friday, December 01, 2017
One no longer needs to imagine a post-apocalyptic world where humans are hunted into extinction by intelligent robots. While a shooting war may not break out between the two sides before 2030, a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that as many as 375 million human workers will be replaced by automation.   Most readers are already aware that companies using high degrees of automation, such as Amazon, are decimating the brick and mortar method of selling products. Most analysts believe it is inevitable that this trend will extend to all kinds of products. Pharmaceuticals and food are just the most recent items to be transitioned over to the internet. While this will add

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Wahconah Regional Earns MIAA Sportsmanship Award
05:42PM / Thursday, November 30, 2017
DALTON, Mass. — Wahconah Regional High School's student-athletes have been presented with the Sportsmanship Award for District G from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.   The award was made at the MIAA's annual Sportsmanship Summit, held this year on Nov. 17, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. It was presented in conjunction with Friendly's Restaurants, which partnered with the student sports association as its official "family restaurant."   Awards are presented to one school chosen by member school athletic directors in each of MIAA's eight athletic districts. Wahconah was also named to the Sportsmanship Honor Roll for 2016-17

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'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri': Signs of the Times
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires film critic
03:12PM / Thursday, November 30, 2017
Director Martin McDonagh's compelling "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" features, among other things, misogyny, police brutality, racism, rape, child molestation, white supremacy, unrestricted gun possession, and anti-gay sentiments.    But no, it's not about Roy Moore's quest to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Rather, equally provocative and similarly chilling, the superbly acted film details a mother's rage over her daughter's unsolved murder to the backdrop of a small town rendered dysfunctional by the above-listed disgraces.   Frances McDormand, playing Mildred Hayes, the infuriated mom, is the beleaguered face of survival in

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Harvest Run Raises $15,000 for BCC nursing program
02:10PM / Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More than 170 runners took part in the annual Berkshire Healthcare Harvest Run to benefit the Berkshire Community College nursing program.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Healthcare Harvest Run raised more than $15,000 for the Berkshire Community College nursing program scholarship on Oct. 21 during the annual trail run and cook-off. More than 170 runners, including adults, students and children, participated in the trail run, relay and kids race.

"This was our most successful Harvest Run. We are very grateful to all the participants and the Berkshire Healthcare affiliates for their energy and enthusiasm," said Ellen Kennedy, president of Berkshire Community College.

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Consider These Year-End Tax-Smart Financial Moves
Submitted by Edward Jones,
12:31PM / Wednesday, November 29, 2017

With the holiday season upon us, you may be getting pretty busy. But once the holidays are over, you will enter into a new season – tax season. The filing deadline for the 2017 tax year is April 17, 2018, but until that date – and especially before the end of the calendar year – you may want to explore some tax-smart financial moves.

Here are a few to consider:

Boost your 401(k) contributions. If you're like most people, you probably don't usually contribute the maximum amount to your 401(k), which, in 2017, is $18,000, or $24,000 if you're 50 or older. Unless you have a Roth 401(k), your contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, so the more you put in,

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SteepleCats Reveal New Look, New Logo
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
10:20AM / Tuesday, November 28, 2017
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The SteepleCats are relaunching with a new look, a new attitude and new leadership.   "We're changing the brand, and we're changing the look, and we're changing the feel," says new President Allen Hall. "A lot of things are going to change this year to be more North Adams-centered and focused in terms of its approach, its affordability, and our marketing and corporate packages."    The New England Collegiate Baseball League team is switching out its friendly fuzzy black and yellow cat for a leaner, meaner blue panther. The Drury blue logo and uniforms, with black, white and gray, is meant to evoke a more assertive,

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TEDx North Adams Features 11 Speakers at Mohawk Theater
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
01:37AM / Monday, November 27, 2017
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The environment will be spare but the organizers of the first-ever TEDx North Adams are sure that the ideas shared will be illuminating.    Eleven speakers will be featured at the Mohawk Theater in January for a full afternoon of talks and videos around the basic TED theme of "Ideas Worth Sharing."    Organizers announced on Sunday that the empty Mohawk on Main Street would be the venue for the event.   "We knew it would be bare bones and continue to be bare bones," said Benjamin Lamb, one of the organizers and president of the City Council. "We thought it was a good way to activate the space in a different

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