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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

The Independent Investor: Budget Deal Craters Social Security Strategies
By Bill Schmick,
06:14PM / Friday, October 30, 2015

The congressional budget deal that was passed last night will have a dramatic impact on several Social Security strategies. If you have been using, or considering using, the file and suspend clause to increase your Social Security payments, think again.

Back in February of this year, I wrote a column on "How to make the most out of Social Security." I explained that you could improve your total social security benefits, as well as your spouse's, by almost 13 percent by the time you both reach the age of 70. It's called "file and suspend" and occurs when the Social Security claimant files for benefits and then suspends receiving them, while collecting benefits

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'Steve Jobs': Doesn't Get to the Core of the Apple
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
09:14AM / Friday, October 30, 2015

Whether meant to be a metaphor, simile, allegory or any of those other words describing an indirect representation of something or another, director Danny Boyle's eponymously titled "Steve Jobs" uses not a plot, but rather, an operating system to tell its tale. This latest attempt to nail down just who this enigmatic genius behind the PC revolution was is told via the events surrounding three major product launches. Each is a grand, staged event attended by adoring devotees and the press, where cataclysmic push comes to shove each time.

While I'd bet a gaggle of gigabytes that the grandiloquent speeches and pontifications serving as backstage dialogue at each of the

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MassDOT's Hearing Procedures Anger Berkshire Residents
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:10AM / Friday, October 30, 2015
MassDOT Aeronautics Division Administrator Jeffrey DeCarlo refused to change format despite many in the crowd calling for public conversation. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire County's feeling that the state doesn't listen to them when it comes to transportation needs was further exasperated Thursday night.   The Massachusetts Department of Transportation held what was billed as a "community conversation" in City Hall and attracted more than two dozen residents and town officials.   But, instead of holding a "capital conversation," MassDOT officials shuttled people to take online surveys and to have private conversations with

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Berkshire Taconic Announces New President
12:34PM / Wednesday, October 28, 2015

SHEFFIELD, Mass.— The board of directors of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation have appointed Peter Taylor as president.

Taylor, who was selected after a national search, will be the fourth president in the foundation’s nearly 30-year history.

Taylor comes to Berkshire Taconic from the Maine Community Foundation, a statewide community foundation with $400 million in assets and 1,500 funds, where he currently serves as vice president of program development and grantmaking services.

“We are thrilled that Peter Taylor will join us to lead Berkshire Taconic into the future,” said Bill Dunlaevy, chair of the board of directors. “His track record of fostering

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Beware of Scary Inhabitants of the Investment World
10:47AM / Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In just a few days, witches, zombies and vampires will be converging on your house, asking for candy. As is the case every Halloween, you likely will be merely amused over the sight of these costumed characters.

But in other areas of life, such as the investment world, you may need to watch out for some seemingly scary entities. Here are a few of them:

* The Horrendous Headline: Big, glaring headlines rarely offer any comfort to investors. Whether it’s political squabbles at home, conflicts in the Middle East or the debt crisis in the eurozone, there’s always something happening that’s perceived as jeopardizing the stability of the financial markets. Yet these threats

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Berkshire Tidbits: Spooky, Spirited & DeButchery
By Judith Lerner, iBerkshires Columnist
11:41AM / Monday, October 26, 2015
Hancock Shaker Village's autumn dinners will offer a Latino twist this month.

CHP in Great Barrington Celebrating Mass 2015 Food Day

Although Massachusetts Food Day nationally is — sort of, technically, officially — on Oct. 24, communities all over the commonwealth are staging their events on days convenient for them.

Great Barringon's Community Health Programs/CHP, 442 Stockbridge Road/Route 7, is hosting a "Spooktacular" of morning events for kids on Thursday, Oct. 29, and a pumpkin walk on Friday, Oct. 30.

Thursday there will be a cooking class from 10:45 to noon, Halloween pumpkin painting from noon to 1 and a reading of Julia Donaldson's book

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Sagas of the Shire: The Mystery of the Gentleman Burglar
By Joe Durwin, iBerkshires Columnist
07:43PM / Sunday, October 25, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — It began as an isolated incident — a widow on the outskirts of town, robbed at gunpoint by a masked intruder who slipped in quietly, in broad daylight one warm afternoon that October.

She had just recently withdrawn $100 from the bank, which the masked man demanded. The witness said she was terrified until the robber spoke, which he did in such "soothing tones" that it calmed her considerably for the duration of the heist.

So began what The New York Times would refer to as "a reign of terror" for the town of Stockbridge, lasting from late 1892 through 1893, and give birth to the "Gentleman Burglar," a criminal of folkloric

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@theMarket: Regaining the High Ground
By Bill Schmick,
10:44AM / Saturday, October 24, 2015

As of today, the S&P 500 Index is in the plus column for the year. That seemed impossible to most investors just a month ago. And I expect more gains to come over the next two months.

In last week's column, I predicted the worst was over and the price action this week confirms that. This will be the fourth week in a row that U.S. markets have generated positive returns. The engine of growth behind these further gains this week came as no surprise to me.

I have argued repeatedly that the monetary stimulus programs underway by central banks across the globe would keep stock markets climbing. Last week I wrote that "The ECB launched a stimulus program at the beginning of the

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The Independent Investor: Water Scarcity Not Only California's Problem
By Bill Schmick,
06:39PM / Friday, October 23, 2015

Just about everyone is aware of the California water crisis. You may be tempted to simply dismiss this on-going event as a local problem, but it isn't. Our world is running out of water and we are on the brink of a freshwater shortage.

At least that is the conclusion of NASA, in a recent report that argues that even giant lakes are disappearing. The agency believes that sometime within the next 35 years the globe will be facing a long and protracted drought of epic proportions.

You might say, "So what? We have plenty of time to come up with solutions. Besides, the 'authorities' will handle it." A look at what is happening in California might dissuade you of that

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Berkshire Bank Foundation Awards More Than $200,000 To County Nonprofits
11:01AM / Friday, October 23, 2015

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Berkshire Bank Foundation has awarded $202,416 in grants and pledges to 41 non-profit organizations in Berkshire County during its third quarter grants cycle.  

Some of the organizations receiving support include the Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Innovation Center, Pittsfield Public Schools, Literacy Network of Southern Berkshire, The Christian Center, Elder Services of Berkshire County, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Railroad Street Youth Project, the Dalton CRA and Construct Inc.

·  Berkshire Museum based in Pittsfield received a grant to support their educational programs for local schools.

·  Berkshire Innovation Center based in

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