Coverage of Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

With Massachusetts poised for reopening over the weekend, what does it mean for small businesses, those in the Arts, and for colleges that have had to adjust their commencement and fall enrollment plans?

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Jonathan Butler, CEO of Ecomonic Development Organization 1Berkshire on the region's strategy for reopening.

Can your boss force you to come back to work? Can they require you to receive the COVID vaccine? Springfield employment lawyer Meaghan Murphy has answers.

Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops at Tanglewood in 2018, when crowds were not a threat to public health.
Hillary Scott / BSO Press Office

People are dreaming of a less sequestered summer, and with COVID-19 restrictions easing, the Berkshires will be a destination for many.

Business owners count on tourists coming to this relatively small region, rich in live music, theater and museums. For them, last summer was brutal. This year, it could almost feel like the old days.

Berkshire Superior Court in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / Masslive /

Shortly after taking office, Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington announced a policy shift. Prosecutors would stop requesting bail in most nonviolent cases. Now, a couple of years later, only a few defendants are held on bail. But there’s been a sharp increase in the use of another legal maneuver to keep people behind bars before trial.

Fire crews from 19 departments in Massachusetts and Vermont have assisted in fighting an 800-acre fire in northern Berkshire County.
Facebook / Savoy Fire Rescue

Updated at 5:33 p.m. 

A 964-acre brush fire in western Massachusetts is now 90% contained, according to the state.

A consumption advisory posted on the Housatonic River in Massachusetts in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

General Electric and the EPA have responded to an appeal of the agency's plan to clean up the rest of the Housatonic River.

Officials across the country closed many outdoor basketball courts due to COVID-19 concerns.
Guettarda / Creative Commons

Springfield, Massachusetts, officials continue to field suggestions on reopening many of the city's basketball courts. They were closed at the beginning of the pandemic last year to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

A view of MASS MoCA in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts.
Shannon Young / The Republican /

Employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams have voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

At Berkshire Vaccination Site, Further Reopening Not Top-Of-Mind For Gov. Baker

Apr 22, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito look on as state Sen. Adam Hinds receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at the Berkshire Community College vaccination site in Pittsfield.
Stephanie Zollshan / The Berkshire Eagle / Pool / State House News Service

With states around Massachusetts beginning to loosen some of their personal and economic COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday that the state's vaccination program remains his top priority. But he said he'll likely have more to say about reopening by the end of the month.

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts, School Committee meets April 14, 2021, on Zoom, to select a new superintendent.
Screen shot / Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

A Pittsfield, Massachusetts, school committee member resigned during a meeting Wednesday night when the committee cast their votes on candidates for a new superintendent. Dennis Powell, who is also the president of the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP, said his voice is not being heard.

Josh Vallieres, 21, of North Adams, Massachusetts, is running for mayor.
Paula Evans / courtesy Josh Vallieres

A North Adams, Massachusetts, college student who grew up in the city has taken out nomination papers to run for mayor.

A view of MASS MoCA in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts.
Shannon Young / The Republican /

About 100 eligible employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams can now begin to cast mail-in ballots, voting on whether to form a union.

Nurses talk to a patient at the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

New numbers from the state show Hampden County now trails all other Massachusetts counties in the percentage of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A lawn sign in Lee, Massachusetts, designed by Reed Anderson of Great Barrington, calls for no local dumps for PCB waste from General Electric.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

The federal government’s plan to clean up toxic PCBs from the Housatonic River faces a new legal challenge.

A sign inside the Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield, Mass., from a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Learning remotely for many students has been tough this year. For English learners, many of whom live in communities with higher COVID-19 rates, it's been even harder. Some educators are calling for skipping the standardized test this year that’s given to multilingual students.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra, which owns and operates Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, has announced it will hold live in-person concerts this summer, for the first time since COVID-19 shut down arts events and venues worldwide.
BSO Press Office

The Boston Symphony Orchestra, which owns and operates Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, has announced it will hold live in-person concerts this summer. The BSO hasn't performed a live concert since March 2020, when COVID-19 triggered cancellations of arts events worldwide. 

The great seal of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, from a gravestone in the Stockbridge Cemetery.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

When Stockbridge, Massachusetts, residents hold their annual Town Meeting this spring, they'll vote on whether to take steps to return centuries-old documents to the indigenous tribe that once helped govern the town.

An archival photo of Conrad Mainwaring coaching at Camp Greylock for Boys in Becket, Massachusetts.
Courtesy of ESPN / via WBUR

Decades-old allegations of assault at a youth summer camp in the Berkshires are at the center of new criminal charges filed against a former Olympian.

A section of the William Stanley Business Park, part of the former General Electric property, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

The Baker administration announced funding on Tuesday to prepare sites for industrial and commercial development. Nearly two-thirds of the $3,184,000 from MassDevelopment's Site Readiness Program is going to communities in western Massachusetts.

A dose of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A spokesperson for Berkshire County's two hospitals said the region's success in COVID-19 vaccination has been all about collaboration.

A view of MASS MoCA in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts.
Shannon Young / The Republican /

Updated at 11:43 a.m. on March 9 

Staff at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts, announced Monday they're taking steps toward forming a union, citing reasons like inequitable working conditions and low salaries.

The race for governor of Massachusetts has begun — even though Election Day is still more than a year and a half away. The incumbent, Republican Charlie Baker, hasn’t said if he’ll seek a third term, but Democrat Ben Downing is already running.

The 39-year-old former state senator, who announced his candidacy in the 2022 gubernatorial race last month, has defied the political odds once before, and is hoping that his early start can help him do it again.

The Housatonic Rest of River Municipal Committee met behind closed doors in Lee, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Massachusetts Attorney General's office says by meeting in closed sessions last year, officials in five Berkshire towns did not violate the open meeting law. But the AG's office did rebuke several of the towns over related issues.

Parts of the Housatonic River are contaminated with PCBs, which the EPA considers a probable carcinogen.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Two groups are appealing the Environmental Protection Agency's permit to clean up the Housatonic River.

Former State Sen. Ben Downing Launching Campaign For Massachusetts Governor

Feb 8, 2021
Former Massachusetts state Sen. Ben Downing.
Facebook / Downing campaign

Democrat Ben Downing, a former Massachusetts state senator who went on to work in solar energy, is announcing Monday that he'll run for governor in 2022, mounting a campaign he said will aim to infuse state government with a sense of urgency.

A PCB disposal site that was allowed under the consent decree to clean up the Housatonic River abuts the Allendale Elementary School playground in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Officials in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, are asking the state Department of Public Health to do a cancer study in a neighborhood near two General Electric toxic waste disposal sites. 

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons /

For Efrem Sigel, serving on a jury was life-changing — and eye-opening. Sigel was one of 12 who sat in the jury box in 2017 and ultimately convicted Abraham Cucuta.

The great seal of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, from a gravestone in the Stockbridge Cemetery.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Updated Feb. 4, 2021  

Williams College and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians are launching a new collaboration focused on historic preservation. The school is providing a three-room office for the tribe in downtown Williamstown, Massachusetts, and funding student interns.

A PVTA rider waits at the Amherst College stop on Boltwood Avenue in 2019.
Staff photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

A new survey shows that COVID-19 is keeping people from riding public transportation in Massachusetts.

The main entrance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 2017.
Shannon Young / The Republican /

A rehab and nursing facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has had one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in Berkshire County, according to the city health department.

Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts
Don Treeger / The Republican / Masslive

The top doctor at a Springfield, Massachusetts, medical facility said the region has enough capacity to treat patients for COVID-19 and other illnesses — at least for now.