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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Authorities Investigating 3 Suspicious Fire on Mount Washington
09:26PM / Sunday, December 15, 2019
MOUNT WASHINGTON, Mass. — Authorities are investigating arson in the case of three houses that burned on West Road early Sunday morning.    Two were owned by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and one was privately owned.    The Egremont Fire Department was dispatched at 1:15 a.m. for a report of a fire in the area of 25 West St. Both the DCR structures were fully involved and a single-family home across the street was also on fire, according to Chief Joseph Schnieder.   The first alarm with a tanker task force was requested, bringing in mutual aid from Great Barrington and Sheffield and Copake, Hillsdale, and Craryville, N.Y.,

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North Adams Remembers Its 3,400 Fallen Veterans
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:06PM / Saturday, December 14, 2019

Staff Sgt. Louis Beveraggi of North Adams speaks at the ceremony at the American Legion. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 3,400 wreaths were laid at the gravestones of the city's veterans on Saturday to honor their memory.    Dozens of volunteers at Southview Cemetery braved the rainy day to set wreaths and speak the names of the veterans interred there or to simply say, "Thank you for your service."   Staff Sgt. Louis Beveraggi, keynote speaker for the event, said he participated in last year's Wreaths Across America and recalled the emotions he had felt.    "I had that feeling like, as I'm passing wreaths, and I'm not

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Supplemental Bill Has $1M for Rural Schools, $200K for Barton's Crossing
03:03PM / Saturday, December 14, 2019
BOSTON — The Legislature's recently passed $541 million closeout supplemental budget for fiscal 2019 includes another $1 million rural school aid, for in fiscal 2020, for a total of $3.5 million in rural school aid this fiscal year.    "I'm happy to see this bill make those investments in public education, regional school transportation, public transportation, among many other areas " said state Sen. Adam Hinds, who has been a strong proponent of increasing aid to the schools in his largely rural district. "It is my hope that, in providing this additional investment, we can expand this program and make meaningful investments in more school

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@theMarket: The 'Apprentice' Manages the Markets
By Bill Schmick,
04:02PM / Friday, December 13, 2019
Where to begin? The China trade deal, the UK elections, the impeachment of the president? Let's not forget the agreement on a new North American trade deal as well. It was a heck of a week and Donald Trump flawlessly controlled the news flow.   Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party leader and prime minister of England, won the greatest majority since Margaret Thatcher on Thursday evening. That is good news for the United Kingdom. His victory also supercharges hopes that a Brexit deal can finally be accomplished in 2020. The British pound skyrocketed over 3 percent on the news, and the London stock market was up 2 percent as well. Good news.   The replacement for NAFTA, called

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Rain, Rain and Then ... Snow? Wet Weekend Ahead
02:48PM / Friday, December 13, 2019

Next week will bring a cross-country storm, but the path it takes will determine what parts of the Northeast and Midwest see snow: https://t.co/WIKUKRfH3B pic.twitter.com/LqPeheYGdF

— AccuWeather (@breakingweather) December 13, 2019 This weekend is starting off with icy rain that will switch to drenching, and then the beginning of the week could start with a foot of snow depending on which path a cross-country storm takes over the next couple days   The National Weather Service has a winter weather advisory in effect from Friday afternoon until 10 p.m. as light, freezing rain enters the region. The Albany, N.Y., office is warning there could be very slippery roads, sidewalks

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State Income Tax to Drop for Sixth Time This Decade
11:31AM / Friday, December 13, 2019
BOSTON — Massachusetts residents are getting some income tax relief in the new year with individual rate dropping to its lowest in years thanks to a state law passed nearly two decades ago.    Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday said the state's Part B individual income tax rate will be reduced from 5.05 percent to 5 percent effective Jan. 1, 2020. This upcoming tax cut represents the conclusion of the statutory process laid out in a 2002 state law to lower the income tax rate to 5 percent based on certain state revenue milestones, and will return $88 million in fiscal 2020 and approximately $185 million in fiscal 2021 to taxpayers.   "Starting in January, the income

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The Independent Investor: False Promises Hit Farmers, Manufacturers
By Bill Schmick,
05:31PM / Thursday, December 12, 2019
The very people who were supposed to benefit from making America great again have become victims of the man who promised them so much but has delivered so little.   While the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania teeter on the edge of recession, those in the agricultural sector (also Wisconsin, as well as Georgia, Nebraska and Kansas) are already facing an increasing number of bankruptcies. These are the swing states that carried Donald Trump to a win three years ago. They are now feeling the brunt of his trade, tariff, and wholesale rejection of climate change.   Farm bankruptcies through September 2019 are up 24 percent versus last

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BCC's Nursing Program Restored to Full Approval
03:48PM / Thursday, December 12, 2019

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College's Associate Degree in Nursing program is once again in full compliance with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing requirements and will start accepting students again in the fall of 2020.

This news was announced at the Board of Registration in Nursing's Dec. 11 board meeting. A site survey was completed by board designees in October 2019 and the positive results of that visit were shared this week. In that site survey, board personnel reviewed documentation, met with students, faculty and staff, toured the facilities, and carefully examined both current data and plans for future data collection.

The college's

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'Dark Waters': 'They Were All My Sons'
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
03:34PM / Thursday, December 12, 2019
"They were all my sons." — Joe, in Arthur Miller's "All My Sons"   Pogo's Walt Kelly capsulized man's inhumanity to man when he coined a cynical variation on U.S. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's 1813 missive to Army General William Henry Harrison, informing, after the victory at Lake Erie, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." Kelly's version, written on the occasion of the infamous McCarthy hearings, and since employed in anti-pollution demonstrations, reads, "We have met the enemy and he is us."   So, what do we do? A closing statement in Todd Haynes' beyond disturbing "Dark Waters," about one

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'It's A Wonderful Life' Radio Play Being Staged in Cheshire
02:28PM / Thursday, December 12, 2019

This particular production is intended to be "script-in-hand," a full reading/performance of a play where the actors are allowed to have their scripts in their hands so lines need not be memorized.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Cheshire Community Association will present a community production of the Frank Capra family classic "It’s a Wonderful Life," adapted by Tony Palermo, at Tuesday, December 17, at 7 p.m. in the Parish Hall of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish at 159 Church St.

Brought to the stage as a 1940s radio broadcast in front of a studio audience, a dozen actors play radio dramatists, who, in turn, portray 30 characters from the heart-warming holiday

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Second Victim in Great Barrington Fire Dies
05:10PM / Wednesday, December 11, 2019

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Monday's structure fire in Great Barrington has claimed a second victim. 

Susan Romano, 67, died at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center on Tuesday night. Her husband, Michael Romano, died Monday night.    "On behalf of the town of Great Barrington, I offer our heartfelt condolences to their family. Every fire death is tragic, but the loss cuts deeper during the holidays," Great Barrington Fire Chief Charles Burger said.   The couple were pulled from their 24 Silver St. home by firefighters on at about 7:40 p.m. on Monday night. Both were unresponsive and Michael Romano died shortly after at Fairview Hospital.    The fire

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Use Year-end Bonus (Or Gift) Wisely
01:01PM / Tuesday, December 10, 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, you may be anticipating – or have already received – a year-end bonus from your employer. Or you might be receiving a substantial cash gift for the holidays. (If you're really lucky, you might get both.)

You can doubtlessly think of many ways to spend this money right now, but how can you use it to help yourself in the long run?

Here are a few suggestions:

* Pay off some debts. Virtually all of us carry some type of debt, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. For example, your mortgage not only gives you a place to live and a chance to build equity in your home, but the interest payments are typically tax deductible. Other debts, though,

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