BERKSHIRE COUNTY

Coverage of Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

The Williamsburg Market has had twice the amount of business than usual. Sean Mallari and Steve Smith, who just bought the business this month, unpack a recent delivery that was much bigger than usual.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

While the goal of closing schools and businesses is to slow the spread of COVID-19, the impact on employment has been swift in Massachusetts.  

Some of the Tiffany windows inside the First Congregational Church in Pittsfield, Mass. The 22,176-square-foot building is for sale.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The oldest church congregation in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is selling its building.

In this file photo from 2014, thousands gather for Mercy Sunday Mass at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Berkshire Eagle / berkshireeagle.com

With new cases of COVID-19 announced every day in New England, many events, meetings and conferences are being postponed or canceled. Among them is an annual Catholic gathering, in April this year, that attracts 15,000 faithful from around the world to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  

The Clarksburg Senior Center in Clarksburg, Massachusetts, in 2019.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The number of confirmed or presumed positive cases of the new coronavirus has grown to five in western Massachusetts — all in Berkshire County, according to numbers the state public health department released on Monday.

The Housatonic River.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Some Berkshire County residents say they should have more of a say in whether PCBs will be buried in a disposal site in the region. 

The Berkshire Innovation Center was built on part of the site of the former General Electric plant in Pittsfield, Mass.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Berkshire Innovation Center opens officially on Friday morning. One of its goals is to help companies keep pace with changing technology. An even bigger goal is to attract and retain talented workers to the area. 

A stretch of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Public meetings on a new toxic waste cleanup plan for the Housatonic River are being held in two Berkshire County towns this week. The first meeting was organized in Lee by a group that opposes the plan.

The Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 2009 after a GE/EPA cleanup.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

General Electric and several stakeholders reached a deal this week on the next phase of cleaning up toxic waste from the Housatonic River.

A voting sign.
Keith Ivey / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/kcivey

The voter registration deadline for the March 3rd Massachusetts presidential primary is this Wednesday. And a new state law is causing some people to be registered more than once. 

A stretch of the Housatonic River.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Updated at 11:00 p.m.

After more than a year and a half of mediation, the U.S. EPA New England office, General Electric and cities and towns along the Housatonic River have agreed to dispose some toxic PCB sediment at a site near the Lee-Lenox line, about 1,000 feet from the river. But not all participants in the mediated settlement agree with the decision. 

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

Berkshire County municipal officials are discussing the details of a possible mediated agreement with General Electric on the cleanup of the Housatonic River.

The Housatonic River.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Massachusetts has allocated the last of a pot of money designated to compensate for the damage to the environment caused by General Electric's Pittsfield plant. 

A courthouse in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Berkshire District Attorney's Office / Facebook

A top lawyer in the Berkshire County District Attorney's office resigned this week after a dispute involving the release of public documents.

Elizabeth Freeman is buried in the Sedgwick family plot in the Stockbridge, Massachusetts, cemetery.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Nearly 250 years ago this month, 11 men gathered in a house on the Housatonic River to draft a document on equality and independence aimed at the British crown. A woman who was enslaved in the house overheard the discussion, and determined the words applied to her, too.

A stretch of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

A citizens group focused on the cleanup of the Housatonic River is meeting in Lenox, Massachusetts, Wednesday night, but a key issue will not be discussed.

Recreational Marijuana Sales Help Pittsfield Save For Rainy Day

Jan 10, 2020
Marijuana at Temescal Wellness in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Aviva Luttrell / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Recreational marijuana sales have been a boon to Pittsfield's ability to stash money away in case of an emergency or downturn, a strategy that a Massachusetts official said Thursday could be useful in other communities.

Single-use plastic bags.
MTSOFAN / CREATIVE COMMONS / FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/MTSOFAN

A plastic bag ban takes effect in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on January 1. Beacon Hill lawmakers are considering a statewide ban — but more and more communities aren't waiting.

The Benjamin Osborne House in Mount Washington, Massachusetts, was destroyed by fire.
Magicpiano / Creative Commons

Authorities are investigating a series of suspicious fires over the weekend in one of the smallest communities in Massachusetts.

Volunteers Tom Andros, left, Mark Castro, top, and Luke Wing sort boxes of incoming food at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Food pantries in western Massachusettts are expecting an influx of clients as a result of the Trump Administraton's latest cuts to the federal food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

When one thinks of grief and mourning, one often imagines it on an intimate scale. A flower placed on a grave. A photograph on a fireplace mantle. A charitable contribution made in honor of a deceased loved one.

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

A recent report from the Berkshire Museum’s attorneys to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office outlines how the museum is using money from its controversial art sale.

Ryan King and his daughter Evora, 4, sculpt a snowman in Florence, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The winter storm that came through much of New England early this week may have made travel less than pleasant — but it was well-received by school children who got a snow day.

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, at left, and City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo at right.
Tyer: Rosanne Frieri / Tyer for Mayor Facebook / Melissa Mazzeo for Mayor Facebook

Updated 2:00 p.m.

The city clerk in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, said a recount of the mayoral race will take place starting Monday at 8:30 a.m.

Rep. Neal: East-West Rail Should Be 'Price' Of Boston-Area Rail Investments

Nov 7, 2019
Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

If Massachusetts is going to invest in fixing the Boston-area MBTA transit agency, as it appears leading lawmakers intend to, then state officials also need to invest in an east-west rail connection, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal told business leaders in Boston. 

A polling place sign in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Updated at 1:25 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2019

Election results are in for the six western Massachusetts cities with a mayoral contest this year.

American Black Bear #391, also named "Fitz," in Hatfield, Massachusetts, with her cubs in the summer of 2019.
Jesse St. Andre / MassWildlife

Black bears are adapting their behavior in New England to meet seasonal food needs — they’re becoming more suburbanized.

A collection of a few hundred-dollar bills.
frankieleon / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/armydre2008

Pittsfield is the most expensive contested mayoral race in western Massachusetts this year. That's according to recent campaign finance reports that show just how much it costs to become — or remain — a mayor.

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, at left, and City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo at right.
Tyer: Rosanne Frieri / Tyer for Mayor Facebook / Melissa Mazzeo for Mayor Facebook

With election day next Tuesday, the mayor's race in Pittsfield is proving to be the most expensive of a half-dozen contests across western Massachusetts.

Rachel Branch, at left, is challenging incumbent Tom Bernard, at right, for the mayoral seat in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Mayor Tom Bernard in North Adams, Massachusetts, is running for re-election for the first time since taking office in 2018. He's opposed by Rachel Branch, who sits on a vocational school committee. And the challenger is trying to keep the campaign trail clean.

Homes in Holyoke, Massachusetts, including a for-sale sign.
Simtropolitan / Creative Commons / creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

Home sale prices across Massachusetts are up this year. And two of the counties with the biggest jump were in the western part of the state.

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