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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

High School Athletes Learn Leadership Lessons
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Sports
12:23AM / Wednesday, December 07, 2016

John Martin, left, and Major League shortstop Nick Ahmed speak to Berkshire County high school athletes on Tuesday morning at the Boys & Girls Club in Pittsfield.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — One of the chief lessons of Tuesday's Berkshire County Student-Athlete Leadership Summit was that leaders serve those whom they lead.

But featured speaker John Martin gave the 130 high school students gathered in the Boys & Girls Club gym permission to be self-centered — if just for one day.

"When you have a chance to speak this morning in your breakout sessions, I want you to get a little bit selfish in your role as a leader," said Martin, a guidance counselor and coach


Biz Briefs: Downtown Window Decoration Contest Winners Announced
01:38PM / Monday, December 05, 2016

The winners are ...: The Berkshire Emporium was voted the winner of the Holiday Window Decorating Contest sponsored by the North Adams Chamber of Commerce for its multi-window display featuring various rooms throughout Santa's North Pole home. The Berkshire Emporium will receive a gift certificate with the Mohawk Soaring club for a one-month membership and flight with an instructor in the spring.

Of the six participating volunteer groups that decorate empty storefronts, there was a tie between the North Adams Farmers Market Committee windows at 87 Main St. and the St. Elizabeth's Youth Group windows at 107 Main St. Those groups will split the volunteer group cash prize of $100


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

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

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Norman Rockwell Museum Announces New Director of Curatorial Operations
12:34PM / Friday, December 02, 2016

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Norman Rockwell Museum has promoted Martin Mahoney to the museum's newly created position director of curatorial operations.
Mahoney has most recently served as director of collections and exhibitions at Norman Rockwell Museum, since joining the museum in 2005 as the museum’s registrar. Under the leadership of Deputy Director and Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett, he has been responsible for the museum’s far-reaching traveling exhibitions program, which has presented exhibitions in more than 150 museums across the United States and overseas. In addition, Mahoney has overseen the museum's registration and collections department and


Community Health Programs Names Permanent CEO
12:14PM / Friday, December 02, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The board of Community Health Program has named interim CEO Amelia "Lia" Spiliotes as its permanent CEO, following a national search for a long-term leader.

A federally qualified health center (FQHC), based in Great Barrington, CHP has eight practice sites countywide, and serves more than 22,000 area children and adults with medical care and family support services.

"We had excellent candidates for the permanent position, but Lia was by far the best and brightest to lead CHP," said Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, CHP board chair. "She has brought us stability, strong management and deep knowledge of how FQHCs operate. She has set CHP on a


Larkin Supporting Literacy Network After Ambassadorship Announcement
11:22AM / Friday, December 02, 2016

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Alison Larkin, the author, actress, stand-up comic and audiobook narrator who lives in southern Berkshire County, has just been named ambassador of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation in the United States.

Larkin's award-winning narration of the works of Jane Austen including Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Emma brought her to the attention of the Foundation creator Caroline Jane Knight, Austen's fifth great-niece, who conferred the ambassadorship. To mark her appointment, Larkin is donating $5 to the Foundation for every Jane Austen audiobook purchased through her website, Alison Larkin Presents…, during the month of December.

Money donated


BCF Names Acting Executive Director After CEO's Sudden Death
11:08AM / Friday, December 02, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Children and Families, a social services agency serving Berkshire County and the Pioneer Valley since 1887, has appointed Diane Robie to the position of acting executive director, filling the vacancy caused by the recent death of President and CEO Carolyn Mower Burns.

Robie, who was senior vice president at Berkshire Children and Families, came to BCF from Vermont in 2015, after 20 years of experience serving children, families and communities in programs that ranged from family support to child permanency.

"Carolyn had both a vision in identifying the needs of children and their families and the ability to create and administer programs committed


'Moonlight': Illuminating
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
05:22PM / Thursday, December 01, 2016

The DNA of everything that is wrong, sad and perplexing about race relations in the U.S. is poetically discerned and illuminated in filmmaker Barry Jenkins' Oscar-worthy "Moonlight." Jenkins ingeniously utilizes the low-budget, art house look of his sociologically profound film about a young black man's journey in ghettoized America to personalize the tale without the least bit of affectation. It is storytelling in our best, lyrical tradition, ripping open barely sealed wounds in its engrossing proof that there's nothing like the real truth to get your attention.

In the slums of Miami, in an indeterminate near-past that implies the infinite stagnancy of such


Seven Years In, Cop on Top Continues To Grow
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:13PM / Thursday, December 01, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's been seven years since the first Cop on Top set in motion a series of fundraisers, growing every year, that has raised more than $600,000 for Special Olympic athletes.   "We've made so much money in our county program that we help other programs in other counties," said Officer Darren Derby, who along with Investigator John Bassi, has been heading the local efforts for years.   The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a local program that has raised money to pay for local Special Olympic athletes to participate — whether it be for transportation, equipment, uniforms. Locally it started with a Tip a Cop fundraiser and seven years ago

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Great Barrington Police Gains Accreditation
01:48PM / Wednesday, November 30, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Great Barrington Police Department has met all necessary requirements for full state accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and will be the first department in Berkshire County to receive the award.

The department will receive its award at a ceremony, the date of which has not yet been determined.

"We are honored to be the first department in Berkshire County that will be recognized by the accreditation commission," Chief Police Chief William Walsh said. "I commend all of the officers and staff, as it is their day-to-day professionalism and hard work that made this achievement possible. This was a


Everyone Benefits When You Make Charitable Gifts
Submitted by Edward Jones,
11:27AM / Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Now that we are in the heart of the holiday season, you may be thinking about ways you can put your money where your heart is. Specifically, you might be pondering which groups you should support with charitable gifts. And as long as you choose groups that meet the right criteria, your generosity can also be rewarding to you, in the form of tax benefits.

To begin with, you'll want to make sure you are giving to a reputable charity. That means you'll need to ask some questions. How does a group measure its effectiveness? Is it devoting as much of its contributions as possible to the actual work of the organization, or is it spending too much money on administrative costs?


Ciccolo Adds Attorney With Experience Defending Terror Suspects
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:35PM / Tuesday, November 29, 2016
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Adams man facing federal terrorism charges has a new member of his legal team.   Alexander Ciccolo was back before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson on Tuesday for a procedural hearing in the case of U.S. v Ciccolo.   Northampton defense attorney David Hoose earlier informed the court that Ramzi Kassem, a professor at the City University of New York, has joined as co-counsel for Ciccolo, who was arrested on July 4, 2015, on a federal weapons charge. In August, a superseding indictment was handed down charging Ciccolo with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of attempting to use


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