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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Berkshire Tidbits: Christmas Goodies, Year's End Events
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
12:48PM / Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Charles H. Baldwin & Sons
Has Extracts Galore & Plenty More

When you are on tiny Center Street in tiny West Stockbridge, you cannot miss noticing that Charles H. Baldwin & Sons, aka Baldwin's Extracts, isdressed for Christmas. Even from outside.

Giant handmade pink and blue wreaths of oversize shiny-wrapped candies, ornaments, ribbons and flowers surround the two front windows, making spirits bright as soon as you see them. If you fade the nicely paved street and overhead wires, you could be back in the 19th century when Charles Baldwin opened.

After three previous generations had made extracts before them, Charles H. Baldwin and his father, H. M. Baldwin, started the

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Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 15
Staff Reports,
02:31PM / Monday, December 21, 2015
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, Dec. 15.   Kevin Fowler, 45, of Rocky Hill, Conn. pleaded guilty to 11 counts of larceny over $250, 11 counts of uttering, and 11 counts of forgery.   He was ordered to serve two to three years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. Fowler admitted to creating false checks and cashing them in Berkshire County between June 4, 2015 and June 6, 2015. The checks totaled $27,967.

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The Independent Investor: How Rising Interest Rates Will Change Your Life
By Bill Schmick,
07:11PM / Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's official: Wednesday afternoon the Federal Reserve bank hiked the short-term interest rate, called the Fed Funds rate, for the first time in 9 1/2 years. It is the beginning of a new financial era for all of us and it behooves you to understand its implications.

Let me first assuage any concerns you may have that this single 0.25 percentage point increase will impact your life anytime soon. Instead, simply view this event as the beginning of a progression to gradually higher interest rates that will ultimately impact everything from car loans to retirement savings accounts.

The mechanism by which the Fed raises rates is complicated. Just know that overtime there is a domino

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'Trumbo': Write and Wrong
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
03:34PM / Thursday, December 17, 2015

Both fortunately and unfortunately, movies about bigotry and fearmongering in America always seem to be timely and appropriate. Hence, while director Jay Roach's engaging, wittily realized biopic about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo isn't especially artistic or cutting edge, it's dutiful, ultimately patriotic meditations in the cause of the First Amendment please our sense of justice.

Watching "Trumbo," we can't help but mull the current crop of political bloodsuckers looking to make hay of our worries. Is it just us smart people who know history repeats itself?

A reputedly accurate screenplay by John McNamara, based on Bruce Cook's biography,

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Holiday Spending Can Help Teach Children About Money
Submitted by Edward Jones,
10:42AM / Wednesday, December 16, 2015

During this holiday season, you likely will be spending money, in various amounts and in various ways. And you can use this experience to teach your children about money management.

Here are a few ideas for doing just that:

* Stick to a budget. Tell your children you have set aside a certain amount of money for gifts and holiday events, such as hosting parties, and that you won’t exceed it. And if you have saved money throughout the year in a special holiday fund, let your kids know about that, too. This information should help impress upon them the importance of sticking with a budget and saving for a goal.

* Discuss credit and debt. Ideally, you won’t have to use your

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Berkshire Tidbits: Berkshires Featured on Barefoot Contessa
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
02:24PM / Monday, December 14, 2015
The Barefoot Contessa Episode
Featuring Berkshire Food Shops

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten and her husband, Jeffrey, came to the Berkshires with friends. They shopped, they filmed and the Barefoot Holiday episode that aired starting this past weekend.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery, the actual bakery in Housatonic, behind the scenes where all the work gets done, made the cut. And baker-owner Richard Bourdon offering his Bread & Chocolate bread.

Robin's Candy and Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers in Great Barrington are in the episode as is The Southfield Store.

Robin Helfand, owner of Robin's Candy, said they will be prominently featured. Her next-door neighbor Tune

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@theMarket: Where Oil Goes, So Goes the Market
By Bill Schmick,
09:34AM / Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stocks had a tough week. All averages are now negative for the year once again and will continue to go lower until oil finds a bottom or the market disconnects from energy prices. The problem with that scenario is that no one knows if and when that will occur.

The price of crude is down 14 percent since December 1 and 35 percent since May. Controversy rages over whether the precipitous decline in oil over the last year from $114 a barrel to $36 a barrel is a supply or demand imbalance. New technology in the form of hydraulic fracking has unearthed a huge new supply of natural gas and oil worldwide. So much so that consuming these new sources of energy will require decades. At the same

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The Independent Investor: Did the Digital Grinch Steal Christmas?
By Bill Schmick,
05:27PM / Friday, December 11, 2015

Ever notice that however hard you try, the Christmas season is simply not what it once was? The routines and traditions you remember so fondly from your youth have somehow faded away. The digital age has transformed the holidays, and for some of us, the experience has been a mixed blessing.

When I was a kid, we left cookies and milk for Santa (no never mind that we lacked a fireplace for him to come down). Building on that tradition, I engineered faint footprints of ash the night before Christmas for my own child (Santa's, I swore solemnly the next morning) leading from the fireplace to the Christmas tree. Fast forward to today, kids can now call the North American Aerospace Defense

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'Brooklyn': A Movie Destination
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
05:20PM / Friday, December 11, 2015

Once upon a time, there were many more movies made like "Brooklyn" ... films that had a beginning, middle and end, and told a good story with a philosophical lesson or two to take home.

Oh, they weren't always as well realized as this coming-of-age saga about a young woman who emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn in search of better opportunity. But they managed to engage us without a bunch of characters from alternate worlds, unending monster battles and a shameful body count ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Understand, I don't want trouble from either the laser-makers union or the special-effects people who pile up the combat casualties for those short

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Berkshire Chamber Calls To 'Change Narrative' of Berkshire Economy
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:00AM / Thursday, December 10, 2015
LENOX, Mass. — It is easy to point to the headlines proclaiming the loss of 300 jobs impacting the Berkshire economy as examples of the county's decline.   But if the county wants to grow its economy, it needs to "change the narrative" and recognize and build on its strengths.   That's the message Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Jonathan Butler delivered to nearly 100 people gathered at the annual meeting at Cranwell on Wednesday night.   In October, Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp. announced it would depart Pittsfield, taking 300 jobs and leaving two empty facilities.    "This news that broke in October is certainly

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Check Out These End-of-Year Investment Tips
Submitted by Edward Jones,
10:49AM / Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Who knows where the time goes? Although 2015 is almost in the books, you can still make some year-end investment and financial moves that may help you get off to a good start in 2016. Here are a few suggestions.

* Boost your 401(k) contributions. Ask your employer if you still have time to add more to your 401(k) before the year ends. If not, at least increase your contributions in 2016, especially if your salary goes up.

* Consider “tax-loss” selling. We experienced considerable turbulence in the financial markets this past year, so you may own some investments that have lost value. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to hold these investments if they still meet your

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High School Student-Athletes Attend Leadership Summit
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
11:53AM / Tuesday, December 08, 2015
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Before they could learn to stand up as leaders, 10 dozen local high school students had to lie down on the floor of the Boys and Girls Club gymnasium.   Tuesday's fourth annual Berkshire County Leadership Summit began with a brief yoga session led by Kripalu instructor Iona Smith, who reminded boys and girls from throughout the county of the importance of breathing, focus and listening.   "A lot of yoga is about listening," Smith said.   And after leading the group through a series of breathing and stretching exercises, Smith had them pair up and practice active listening with a boy or girl whom they had never met.   "We want

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