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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

State Guidance on Start of School Year Expected Thursday
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:38PM / Wednesday, June 24, 2020
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — School officials across the commonwealth are anticipating a Thursday announcement of state directives regarding the 2020-21 school year.   But they have been disappointed before.   "We were hopeful we would have the [education] commissioner's guidance," Mount Greylock Superintendent Kimberley Grady told the School Committee's Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. "We were supposed to have it the week of the 15th, now we're in the week of the 22nd. We were hoping it would be released this morning. We received notice five minutes before the governor went on [Tuesday morning] that we weren't going to be receiving an update until

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Report Finds 'Utterly Shameful' Conditions at Holyoke Soldiers' Home
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:08PM / Wednesday, June 24, 2020
BOSTON — An independent report on the outbreak COVID-19 at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke that cost the lives of 76 veterans is "gut wrenching" to read and "utterly shameful," said Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday.    "Today the loss of life is difficult to even think or speak about. The events that took place at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in March, are truly horrific, and tragic," Baker said at a press conference on Wednesday. "COVID-19, as we all know, has claimed the lives of thousands of people in Massachusetts, and has been particularly devastating for long-term care facilities. ...   "But as this report reveals errors

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Berkshires Beat: BNRC Opens New Mahanna Cobble Trail
11:10AM / Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Mahanna Cobble access

Berkshire Natural Resources Council and Mill Town have teamed up to create improved public access to Mahanna Cobble, a conservation reserve owned and operated by BNRC. Mahanna Cobble is free and open to the public, and rests atop the south-facing side of Bousquet Mountain in Pittsfield.

Mill Town, which recently purchased the Bousquet ski resort, is focused on expanding outdoor recreation opportunities at Bousquet and around the Berkshires, including hiking activities. Together, BNRC and Mill Town have placed temporary signage at Bousquet to highlight an access route for hikers from the mountain's base lodge and parking area, up a ski hill, to BNRC's new

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Your Mental Health During COVID-19: When Should You Seek Help?
By Linda Moro,
10:33AM / Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Unusual stress or depression. Anxiety about leaving the house or getting sick. Increased use of alcohol or drugs while isolated at home. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors getting worse. Difficulty creating daily structure for self or family. Trouble concentrating, anger, tearfulness. Suicidal thoughts. 

For many, mental health during COVID-19 can be hard to maintain. Especially if you are hard hit economically by the punch of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be experiencing financial and emotional struggles you never before have encountered. Or, mental health issues you have been managing well may be harder to handle. If you have children at home and must leave home for your job, your

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State's Sales Tax-Free Holiday Set for Aug. 29-30
10:24AM / Tuesday, June 23, 2020
BOSTON — The annual sales tax-free weekend will still be held this year despite the anticipated drop in state tax revenue because of the novel coronavirus.   The Baker-Polito administration said the tax-free weekend will take place Aug. 29-30. This marks the second sales tax holiday held under the new law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018 that made the weekend an annual occurrence.   "The annual sales tax holiday is an opportunity for us to support small businesses and consumers, and this year, it's a great way to support our economy that's been impacted by COVID-19," said Baker in a statement. "This pandemic has created enormous challenges for the

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Ensure You Are Properly Insured
Submitted by Edward Jones,
10:10AM / Tuesday, June 23, 2020

There's certainly been plenty of volatility and uncertainty the past few months, but one aspect of your financial picture has probably remained stable: your need for insurance. And since National Insurance Awareness Day is observed on June 28, now is a good time to review your overall insurance coverage to determine if you and your loved ones are well-protected.

You might be surprised at the lack of protection among your fellow citizens. Less than 60 percent of Americans have life insurance, and just about half of those with insurance are underinsured, according to LIMRA, a research organization. 

Of course, you might think the reason so many people don't have insurance is

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BCC Hires New Staff in Human Resources, Enrollment Services
09:04AM / Tuesday, June 23, 2020

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College has brought on a new staff personnel in human resources and in the Enrollment Services department.

T.J. Karis has joined the Enrollment Services team as an admissions counselor. Karis recently graduated with honors from MCLA, majoring in philosophy and English literature plus a strong minor in Spanish. He also earned an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences with a concentration in world languages from Middlesex Community College. 

Most recently, he worked in Access Services at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Vt. A lover of languages and linguistics, he is fluent in Spanish, proficient in Italian and

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SJC Rules Dangerous Defendants Can Be Held During Trial Delays
11:35PM / Monday, June 22, 2020
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Monday that a trial court judge may extend pretrial holds on some defendants to protect the community and victims because of a delay in jury trials.   Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington's office previously argued for the court to create such a balancing test that emphasizes case-specific circumstances, local conditions, and progression toward resuming jury trials to find the balance between a defendant's due process rights and public and victim safety.   The Supreme Judicial Court took up the matter in Commonwealth v. Scott Smith and consolidated it with two other appeals from in the

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SVMC: COVID-19 Update June 22
12:20PM / Monday, June 22, 2020
  June 19,

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Guerilla Bunny Hides Eggs on Solstice Weekend
11:24AM / Sunday, June 21, 2020

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — For the past 12 years in Stockbridge, Mass., pedestrians out for an early walk on Easter morning have found unusual, hand-painted eggs hidden around town. The delicate works of art, depicting untraditional designs in vivid colors and fine detail, are painted on empty or "blown out" whole eggshells, which are lacquered for strength. Past designs have featured dragons, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water elemental signs, Grecian Urns, Egyptian Papyrus, the Stone Age, the four seasons, plants, and flowers.

The eggs are the work of a single anonymous artist known only as the "Guerilla Bunny." Each individual egg takes two to 10 hours to paint. Once

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Heat Stroke Is No Joke
By Patrick Pickering,
10:38AM / Sunday, June 21, 2020

As states begin to relax stay-at-home COVID-19 restrictions, populations on lockdown are flocking outside -- just in time for summer. As the mercury rises, however, so do reports of heat-related illnesses. Heat can trigger exhaustion and heat stroke, and, like COVID-19, can exacerbate underlying conditions like cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney or mental diseases.

Heat stroke develops quickly and is a life-threatening emergency. The condition occurs when the body is exposed to excessive heat and produces or absorbs more heat than it can release, causing the body's temperature to climb. The condition can affect anyone, but young children and the elderly are most vulnerable.

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Greylock Federal Appoints Escobar to New Immigrant-Focused Role
10:27AM / Sunday, June 21, 2020

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Greylock Federal Credit Union has appointed Gloria Escobar to the newly created role of Financial Wellness Latinx Outreach Coach. 

In this new role, Escobar will expand her financial coaching responsibilities, assist members in obtaining ITIN loans and strengthen Greylock's relationships within the growing Latinx community and its commitment to its designation as a Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) credit union.

"Gloria's commitment to her community and to the mission of Greylock is known by all who meet her," said senior vice president/chief lending officer Jodi Rathbun-Briggs. "I couldn’t ask for a better advocate for the

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