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Berkshires Beat: Young Democrats Mobilize in Western Massachusetts
01:28PM / Monday, December 05, 2016
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Young Democrats from Western Massachusetts are mobilizing.

Rallying together: Young Democrats from across Western Massachusetts gathered Dec. 1 in Amherst, Mass., to formally establish a regional chapter of the party's youth organization, motivated, in part, by last month's election results. Representing three of Western Massachusetts four counties, energized activists crowded a coffee shop to select officers and discuss how to advance the agenda important to younger Bay State voters.

The meeting attracted high schoolers from Northampton and West Springfield, college students from various campuses and young professionals eager to encourage a rising generation of citizens to participate in public policy and run for office. Led informally by state Rep.-elect Solomon Goldstein-Rose and Kevin Towle of Lanesborough, the former chair of the predecessor Young Dems group for the Pioneer Valley, the group laid out priorities for young people and Democrats and sketched out some early strategies to achieve them.

Young people aged 14-35 from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties are eligible to participate in Western Mass Young Democrats meetings. The group's next meeting will be announced upon scheduling; email

Bus changes: The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA)'s Route 7 will be terminating in January due to low ridership and loss of dedicated funding. BRTA no longer receives the federally funded grant that had operated this pilot bus route.

There will be limited service over Route 7: BRTA Route 34 goes north on Route 7 from Downing Parkway at 5:25 a.m. Monday through Friday and 6:25 a.m. Saturday and south on Route 7 from Williams Inn at 6:55 p.m. Monday through Saturday. And BRTA Route 3 goes north on Route 7 from Downing Parkway at 6:20 a.m. Monday through Saturday and south on Route 7 from Williams Inn at 6:40 p.m. Monday through Saturday

BRTA’s Friday evening bus from Berkshire Mall to Downtown Pittsfield will also terminate in January due to low ridership. BRTA is accepting public comments for 30 days from Dec. 3 to Jan. 3 through the mail to BRTA, 1 Columbus Avenue, Suite 201 Pittsfield, MA 01201; email at, or by phone at 1-800-292-BRTA extension 1.

Army in need: The Salvation Army in Pittsfield is seeking food donations and help with its annual Angel Tree that provides gifts for children in need. Desired food supplies include turkeys, ham, corn, peas, green beans, gravy, stuffing and instant mashed potatoes. Other food items and monetary donations are also we welcome.  

In addition to food, The Salvation Army in Pittsfield is looking to make the holiday season brighter for almost 300 local children and teenagers through its annual Angel Tree program. Angel Tree tags, which will provide clothing and toys for 183 children and 100 teenagers, are available at the Big Lots in Pittsfield, the Town of Richmond Post Office and at the Salvation Army Pittsfield Corps on 298 West Street in Pittsfield. For more information, visit or contact Captain Darlene Higgins at 413-442-0624.

Can't park there: The Pittsfield Police Department reminds all city residents and visitors that winter overnight parking restrictions took effect on Dec. 1. Parking will be prohibited on any city street, sidewalk, or tree-line from the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.  The fine for violating the restriction is $50.

In the event that a snow emergency is declared, any vehicles obstructing snowplowing operations will be towed at the owners' expense. During a snow emergency, vehicles may be parked in the three-hour public parking areas of the Summer Street and McKay Street parking garages between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. No vehicles will be permitted to park in any open, municipal parking lot between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., so that the lots may be properly plowed and sanded.

Looking better: For women who have escaped domestic violence, rediscovering their inner strength is crucial for them to move forward. To help them gain confidence by putting their best face forward, skincare expert Dr. Susanne Harrison is volunteering her services at the Elizabeth Freeman Center, providing clients with free facials and skin care advice.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Elizabeth Freeman Center in Great Barrington will use the clinic as the basis for an entire support group session about self-care. The group generally meets once a month. After an assessment by Dr. Harrison, the women will be treated to a 30-minute facial. Depending on their individual skin type, they will receive one of three treatments; oily/acne prone, exfoliating pumpkin, and moisturizing honey oat. Dr. Harrison will also teach the women how to properly care for their skin.

Dr. Harrison has already helped other women on Nov. 16 at the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, which serves the Connecticut towns of Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman and Waterbridge. She also hosted a second session on Nov. 19 at the Interval House in Hartford, which serves the towns of Andover, Avon, Bloomfield, Bolton, Canton, Danbury, East Granby, East Hartford, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Simsbury, Tolland, Vernon and West Hartford.

Hot news: The Berkshire Athenaeum now offers patrons the opportunity to borrow Verizon Jetpack 4G mobile hotspots for personal use. Each hotspot can connect up to 15 Wi-Fi enabled devices (tablets, laptops, smart phones) to the internet.

Hotspots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and can be checked out at the Reference Desk for a one-week loan, from Wednesday through Tuesday. Patrons planning community events, family gatherings or meetings where internet access would be valuable are encouraged to reserve a hotspot in advance.

The hotspots are among the latest additions to the library's Technology Lending Program (TLP), an initiative fully funded since 2010 by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum. The program makes technology available for patron learning, enrichment and entertainment in both the Adult and Children's libraries.

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