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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Baker Announces $49M in Small-Business Grants Awarded
Staff Reports,
04:37PM / Monday, December 21, 2020
BOSTON — State officials stressed the need to continue pandemic protocols over the holidays as they announced nearly $50 million in grants to help small businesses through the economic upheaval caused by COVID-19.   The surge in cases of the novel coronavirus after Thanksgiving has put the state's medical system under duress and threatens its ability to continue to operate. Public health officials are bracing for another surge following the Christmas and New Year's holidays.    "If the second holiday season produces a surge in infections that we saw similar to the one that came out of Thanksgiving, we'll be in serious danger of overwhelming, our

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Winterlights Makes Top 10 Holiday Light Show List
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:51AM / Saturday, December 19, 2020

Visitors can add their wishes to the wishing tree at Naumkeag.

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Naumkeag made national rankings when its annual Winterlights landed No. 6 on a list for top holiday light shows across America.

The Trustees of Reservations announced Friday that popular, immersive, holiday light display has been named a top 10 Public Holiday Light Displays in the country by USA TODAY's 10 Best Readers' Choice Awards.

Because of the overall success and demand for tickets, The Trustees will be extending Winterlights until mid-January with 3,000 additional tickets per location now on sale.

"That Winterlights is now recognized on a national level in addition to being so

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The Retired Investor: Oil's Comeback
By Bill Schmick,
01:55PM / Friday, December 18, 2020
Earlier this year, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil slumped into negative territory for the first time in history. Oil traded at a negative $37.63. Today, that same barrel of oil is changing hands at $47.48. What changed?   More than any other sector, the coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the global oil and gas industry. Declining consumer demand in the first quarter of the year in combination with high levels of energy production threatened to exceed worldwide oil storage capacity. OPEC plus, the oil cartel, took action on April 12 by cutting oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day, but by then it was too late. By April 20-22, you couldn't give away a

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End of Life Visitation Update for BMC
10:50AM / Friday, December 18, 2020
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Health Systems has announced it has revised its visitation guidance for families of patients with COVID-19 who are nearing end of life.   In order to help families and loved ones to be present when end of life is approaching, the following visitation guideline is now in effect:   COVID-19 positive patients nearing the end of life can have one loved one visit for a half hour. The visit should be arranged with patient's clinical provider and the BMC Patient Experience Department. The identified visitor will be informed of the risks of visitation and the need to quarantine afterward. They will be screened for symptoms of COVID upon entering the

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Zogics Offering Products at Cost to Berkshire Organizations
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
03:46PM / Thursday, December 17, 2020

Zogics headquarters in Lenox. LENOX, Mass. — Zogics knows cleaning. It's been helping keep everything from Navy ships to elementary schools safe and sanitary for more than a decade.   Now, after witnessing a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the cleaning and disinfectant retailer wants to give back to Berkshire County in a time where many businesses are struggling.   Zogics is offering its most popular novel coronavirus-combatting products to Berkshire businesses and nonprofits at cost and is making its facility experts available at no charge to help the community develop plans and protocols to operate as safely as possible during the pandemic.   "Our aim

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Rest of the River Cleanup Expected to Take 15 Years
12:03PM / Thursday, December 17, 2020
BOSTON — After years of studies and negotiations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to oversee a $576 million cleanup of the Housatonic River over the next 15 years.    A "Revised Final Permit" for the Rest of River cleanup plan has been issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act spells out the required cleanup measures to be followed by General Electric Co. to remove contamination caused by polychlorinated biphenyls used in the manufacture of transformers at its former Pittsfield plant.   The final permit updates EPA's 2016 cleanup plan for the river, its floodplains and other surrounding areas.   The permit requires GE to

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Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Begins Vaccinating Staff for COVID-19
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:24PM / Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Nurse Patricia Johnson receives the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.   BENNINGTON, Vt. — After getting her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday morning, Dr. Anne Marie Swann got a Band-Aid, a sticker, a round of applause and a place in local history.   The hospitalist from Williamstown, Mass., was the first member of the staff at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as the region officially began the next stage of society's battle against the global pandemic.   But moments later, Swann was quick to point out that the battle is far from over.   "Having this as a protective layer is encouraging and exciting

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Communities Issue Snow Emergencies as Storm Bears Down
01:03PM / Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Communities are calling pre-emptive snow emergencies throughout the county in preparation for a possible foot of snow to drop in the region.   The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., is now predicting a foot or more of snow to fall over the Berkshires and Southern Vermont overnight. A winter storm warning for the region is effect from 4 p.m. Wednesday until 1 p.m. on Thursday.    Snowfall is expected to start late Wednesday afternoon with rates of 1-2 inches per hour at times. Gusty winds will lead to blowing and drifting snow at times, especially from around the Capital District in New York and points south and east. Travel will become difficult to impossible,

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Mass General Nurse: 'We Are Still in the Tunnel'
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:52PM / Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Learn when you can expect to get the COVID-19 vaccine and more at https://t.co/YmWVsdnuW6. pic.twitter.com/BVmMGA4nyY

— Mass. Public Health (@MassDPH) December 15, 2020 BOSTON — The nursing director at Mass General Hospital on Tuesday expressed a holiday wish on behalf of her colleagues across the commonwealth.   "I do want to join with the governor in asking — even begging — each of you to follow the state guidelines, to refrain from gathering for the Christmas holidays," Melissa Jocelyn said during a midday appearance with Gov. Charlie Baker at the State House.   "We know this is a lot to ask, but this is a price to pay so you can

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Wednesday's Snowstorm Could Drop Up to a Foot
Staff Reports,
08:58AM / Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Sure, we've said it before, but the Berkshires may really get some snow this week.    The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., issued a storm watch beginning Wednesday afternoon and is forecasting accumulations in excess of 7 inches over the region.    Accuweather is describing it as "the most significant winter storm in several years" that could cause "near blizzard conditions" in parts of New York State and southern New England.    The storm will begin in the Ohio Valley and the southern Appalachians during Tuesday night and east through Wednesday.    Snow is expected to begin falling through Southern New England and the

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Ultra-Cold Freezer at BMC Ready for COVID-19 Vaccine
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:37PM / Monday, December 14, 2020

Ninety-six year old World War II Veteran Margaret Klessens is the first VA patient nationwide to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, at VA Bedford Healthcare System today at 12:07PM.

🙏

— Only In Boston (@OnlyInBOS) December 14, 2020 PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Medical Center was prepared Monday for the first delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19.   The vaccine, given emergency authorization for use last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, must be kept at super cold temperatures of at least minus-70 degree Celsius. It's being distributed in a packaging — the so-called "pizza box" — that will allow doses to be kept

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Veteran Spotlight: Staff Sgt. Andrea Esposito
By Wayne Soares, Special to iBerkshires
04:33PM / Sunday, December 13, 2020
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was an absolute pleasure to recently interview Andrea Esposito, who served 15 years in the Army and retired with the rank of staff sergeant. She was welcoming, outgoing and provided an excellent overview on her extraordinary military service as we met at Soldier On.   Her career is impressive as she had to overcome a great many obstacles in her life and used those experiences to excel as a leader in the Army.    Esposito grew up in North Haven, Conn., and enlisted in May 1985. Her basic training was at the famed Fort Dix in New Jersey, where she was in one of the first female companies at Fort Dix.   "I used humor and laughter to get

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