BERKSHIRE COUNTY

Coverage of Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Pittsfield High School is designed to accomodate 1,600 students, but only had about 900 during the last school year.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

One school district for all 15,000 of Berkshire County's school children. That's what an advisory panel of educators, local officials and business leaders is recommending. They commissioned a new study that said this approach could solve a lot of the problems schools are facing.

For Shakespeare & Co., 40 Years Of Passion, 'Mistakes'

Jul 19, 2017
Bella Merlin and Deaon Griffin-Pressley, in  the production of Cymbeline.
Stratton McCrady / Shakespeare & Co.

With summer in full swing, one of the nation’s largest Shakespeare festivals is celebrating a big anniversary this year. And over its four decades in Lenox, Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company has seen its share of dramatics, both on- and off-stage.

The former toll booth at Exit 8 of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will study the possibility of putting a new exit on the Massachusetts Turnpike in the western part of the state.

Funding for the review is contained in the budget signed by Governor Charlie Baker Monday.

Sue Baxter owns land abutting where a New York-to-Connecticute pipeline is being constructed. She sits atop a lifeguard chair made for her by friends, as she keeps an eye on the project.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Construction continues on a New York-to-Connecticut natural gas pipeline, running through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Despite work being well underway, there are some who believe the project -- which has been the source of a legal and regulatory battle -- can still be halted. And a few still protest daily, on private land only yards from the construction site.

Nurses on the picket line at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Mass. during a one-day strike in June 2017.
Dave Roback / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Nurses and management at two western Mass hospitals are heading back to the bargaining table next week.

The sign outside St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

After holding classes 120 years, Berkshire County's lone Catholic high school, St. Joseph Central of Pittsfield, closed its doors last week.

The school's closure was announced last fall amid sagging enrollment. And as the process has begun to clean out the building, students and staff members have largely moved on.

State Representative Gailanne Cariddi died Saturday, June 17th. She  was in her 4th term representing northern Berkshire County , including North Adams and Williamstown
Massachusetts Legislature / malegislature.gov

Funeral plans are set for Thursday for Massachusetts state Representative Gailanne Cariddi. The 63-year-old North Adams Democrat died over the weekend. It's not yet clear when a special election will be held to fill her seat.

Marijuana.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The Massachusetts House had planned to vote last week on a bill making substantial changes to the voter-passed recreational marijuana law. But after quick objections to the bill -- and an issue with how it was written -- Speaker Bob Deleo delayed that vote.

A warning sign, that was posted in 2016, by opponents to a proposed toxic waste disposal site in the woods, near the Housatonic River in the village of Housatonic, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Environmental Protection Agency's Appeals Board hears arguments Thursday on the second phase of cleaning up the Housatonic River in Berkshire County.

North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright.
City of North Adams

The mayor of North Adams, Massachusetts, said he is not running for re-election in November.

Dick Alcombright, who has led Berkshire County's second-largest community for eight years, said Thursday it's time for new leadership and new energy for the city.

Alcombright said a bruising re-election campaign in 2015, which saw him recover from a primary night defeat to win the general election, was not a factor in his decision.

Employees at Tree House Brewing in Monson, Mass., fill beer growlers.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Craft beer enthusiasts in Massachusetts looking to take home growlers from their favorite breweries now won't have to rely just on glass jugs provided by the beer maker.

In an attempt to clarify regulations, the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission said that customers can get their own beer growlers filled, so long as there's nothing printed on the outside.

MASS MoCA's exhibition space is doubling.
Jeremy Goodwin / NEPR

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams was already one of the largest contemporary art museums in the country — before a huge expansion opening this weekend.

Berkshire Bank offices in downtown Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

News this week that Berkshire Bank plans to move its headquarters from Pittsfield to Boston caught some local officials by surprise. But they're hoping the bank's move could still end up being a positive for Berkshire County and its largest city.

Eastbound state route 57 entering Sandisfield, Mass.
John Phelan / Creative Commons

Federal regulators have brushed off a request by both Massachusetts U.S. senators to delay construction of a natural gas pipeline running through Otis State Forest in southern Berkshire County.

Berkshire Bank offices in downtown Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Berkshire Bank says its planned move to Boston will have little impact on workers at its current headquarters in Pittsfield.

The move to Boston is largely driven by Berkshire's planned acquisition of Commerce Bank, which has 19 branches in central and eastern Massachusetts.

Sean Gray, chief operating officer of Berkshire Bank, said there will be no job losses in Pittsfield and the city will remain an operational center for the bank.

He said moving its headquarters to Boston will get executives closer to regulators, lawmakers and the financial hub of the region.

Scene from a 2011 performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus.
anjanettew / Creative Commons

This weekend on Long Island, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will perform its final show, ending a 146 year run.  

The circus is also at the center of Dave Fromm's book, "The Duration."  It's based in the Berkshires in a fictional town called "Gable" -- modeled on Lenox, Massachusetts -- where the author grew up.  Fromm told us he remembers visiting a traveling circus as a kid.

    

Governor Baker gets an update on the Springfield Empowerment Zone at Forest Park Middle School.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Governor Charlie Baker was in Springfield to hear the latest on the Springfield "Empowerment Zone, which consists of six middle schools and a high school.

In an "Empowerment Zone," principals and teachers have broad autonomy over everything from the curriculum to the budget. The results after the first year were mixed, with some test results up and some down.

Pipeline protesters and their supporters outside of Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington, Mass. after a hearing on May 11, 2017.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Seventeen protesters arrested at the construction site of a natural gas pipeline in southern Berkshire county appeared in court Thursday in Great Barrington. And prosecutors tossed them a curveball.

Eastbound state route 57 entering Sandisfield, Mass.
John Phelan / Creative Commons

With work underway on a controversial natural gas pipeline in southern Berkshire County, activists are planning to protest at the site Friday.

A spokesperson for the company Kinder Morgan said crews are setting up erosion protection devices along the pipeline route in Otis State Forest, and tree cutting won't begin until that's complete.

Eastbound state route 57 entering Sandisfield, Mass.
John Phelan / Creative Commons

Both Massachusetts U.S. senators are calling on federal regulators to halt a natural gas pipeline project in southern Berkshire County.

The former Clinton AME Zion Church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

A church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois attended as a young man may have a new lease on life. 

The Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church is on the National Register of Historic Places, but has been closed for a few years and has fallen into disrepair. Now community members are buying the 130-year-old structure, with hopes of renovating it.

A warning sign, that was posted in 2016, by opponents to a proposed toxic waste disposal site in the woods, near the Housatonic River in the village of Housatonic, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

General Electric and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are battling over the last stretch of the PCB clean-up of the Housatonic River in Massachusetts from Pittsfield through Great Barrington.

GE is appealing the government’s clean-up plan, which is estimated to cost $613 million over 15 years. One big issue is where to put the toxic PCBs that are dug up from the river.

The spread at a gathering of the cookbook club at the Stockbridge, Mass., public library.
Carrie Healy / NEPR

Reading groups, or book clubs, are a long-standing tradition at many local libraries. But there’s a new variety: cookbook clubs.

They're part book clubs, and part pot luck gatherings. Members pick one cookbook a month, claim recipes, and make the dishes. That’s all we needed to know, before deciding to visit a meeting of the Library Cookbook Club in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Two people enjoy a ski outing.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com

With one to two feet of fresh snow on the ground after this week’s winter storm, Berkshire County ski areas say they’ll be able to do something they couldn’t do this time last winter: stay open. While there has been more snow this ski season, business on the slopes has still been something of a mixed bag.

At Bousquet Mountain in Pittsfield, Sherry Roberts said they haven’t set any records, but business has been steady this season. And boy did they need it. 

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