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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

Baker: No 'Shelter-in-Place' Planned in Massachusetts
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:46PM / Friday, March 20, 2020
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker said on Friday that it was "heartbreaking" that the commonwealth has seen its first fatality because of COVID-19 and continued to maintain he has no plans to issue the kind of shutdown of nonessential businesses New York's governor ordered earlier in the day.   A man in his 80s from Suffolk County with pre-existing medical conditions became the first resident of the commonwealth to die from the pandemic disease, state officials confirmed on Friday.   "Obviously, it's heartbreaking to say, but this is certainly a day I think we all knew would come," Baker said during a livestreamed 40-minute Boston news conference with


Food Services Continue to Adjust; Fundraiser Set for Williamstown Pantry
Staff Reports,
01:20AM / Friday, March 20, 2020

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry will continue to operate during the COVID-19 emergency, officials announced Thursday, a day after changing its pickup procedures for the first time as a result of the pandemic.

"We as a group are committed, in the time-honored fashion of North Adams and Northern Berkshire pulling together, to do our part to take care of each other," Mark Rondeau, co-founder and board president, said in a statement. "We have hope that after this crisis much better days are coming. Stay tuned."

The next pickup is Wednesday, March 25, from the center's 45 Eagle Street location. Social distancing procedures will be

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Governor Activates Massachusetts National Guard
06:55PM / Thursday, March 19, 2020
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker late Thursday activated the Massachusetts National Guard to support the commonwealth's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.   Baker's order authorizes activation of up to 2,000 National Guard members who will be tasked with supporting requests from state agencies for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and related duties. Local cities, towns, and state agencies should submit requests for support through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.   "Activating the National Guard will help support our administration's efforts to keep residents safe and secure during the COVID-19 outbreak," said Baker in a statement. "The


Berkshires Beat: Local Community Radio Station WBCR Goes Live
04:45PM / Thursday, March 19, 2020
Going live

Berkshire Radio Community Alliance is now broadcasting live from its new location on Main Street in Great Barrington. Passersby will now be treated to both veteran and newly trained volunteer programmers and their guests appearing “front and center” in the station’s storefront window. There, the resurrected and much-loved on-air mixing board’s red and yellow lights are lit to affirm that 97.7FM has come alive again.

"Live" programming — as differentiated from automated music and syndicated shows — requires a specialized, direct connection from the station's fully integrated, on-air mixing board at 320 Main St. to the radio tower


The Independent Investor: An Old Dog Learns New Tricks
04:00PM / Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bill trying to work from home.  COVID-19 has upended my life. Like so many other elderly workers, I am at risk, according to the government, the media and the medical community. As a result, if I want to avoid getting sick or dying, working from home is my only option.   When I made that decision last Friday, I didn't think it would be a big deal. After all, I have worked at home before (when I was sick or recovering from one of my many surgeries).   But as I am in day four of this self-imposed isolation, I am learning that, at least for me, my work habits are going to need an overhaul.   As a self-confessed workaholic, who loves what he does, even the idea of


'Emma': Coming Late to the Party
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
03:50PM / Thursday, March 19, 2020
Point of disclosure: I find no movies more difficult to review than those I've bunched into the category I call: "Film Adaptations of 18th and 19th Century British and American Comedies of Manners, and those More Currently Written Paeans, like 'Downton Abbey,' Emulating said Bygone Style to Please Adults who Grew Up on the Stuff and Just can't get Enough of the Prim, Proper and Courtly."   In other words, stuff with which I never bothered.   It's not that I poohpooh the genre and all that it entails. Oh, that more of our population might attempt just a scantling of the civility so intelligently dissected by the likes of Jane Austen, whose


BRTA Limiting Access to Intermodal Center in Pittsfield
03:10PM / Thursday, March 19, 2020
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is limiting public use of the Intermodal Transportation Center to those utilizing BRTA's bus service, Peter Pan, Greyhound, Amtrak, or buying food at the coffee shop.    BRTA has also instituted social distancing within the ITC, by removing tables and spacing out the remaining chairs to ensure staff and customers' safety.   Bus service remains in effect and all vehicles are cleaned every evening using products that are effective against the spread of the novel coronavirus. The facilities are being cleaned using the same coronavirus effective products multiple times a day, especially in high-traffic,


Local Grocers & Retailers Reduce Hours; Regional Malls Closing
12:39PM / Thursday, March 19, 2020
Shopping centers around the region are closing down, some by order and others out of caution in the wake of the novel coronovirus pandemic.    Lee Prime Outlets is closed until March 29.   TJMaxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls stores are closed globally for two weeks, along with the companies' online ordering and distribution centers.     Dick's Sporting Goods and related stores are closed until April 2 but online ordering and curbside pickup are available between 9 and 6 daily.   The Holyoke Mall was ordered closed by Mayor Alex Morse on Tuesday along with other retailers in the city with the exception of grocers and pharmacies.   Governors in New York,


State Shutting Down Child-Care Facilities, Bottle Redemption
06:37PM / Wednesday, March 18, 2020
BOSTON – The governor on Wednesday issued an executive order requiring all early education centers and child-care providers to close effective Monday, March 23, except for those determined to be critical to maintaining services. The shutdown runs through April 6.    The administration had initially resisted closing day-cares even as schools and preschools were ordered closed across the state. Gov. Charlie Baker has said at several press conferences that the need for access to child care was critical for health workers and front-line responders. Guidance had been issued more than a week ago for child-care facilities.    At a COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Baker said


No Delay for Opening Day in Strat-O-Matic Baseball League
By Stephen Dravis, Sports
03:48AM / Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Xander Bogaerts will have a chance to lead his team back to the playoffs.

Aaron Judge will continue his assault on the home-run record book.   There will be a baseball season in 2020. And it will open sometime in early April.   At least in Cheshire it will.   For more than four decades, the World Baseball League has used Strat-O-Matic Baseball to bring the game home for brothers Jeff and Matt Chaput and a group of friends who have tested their baseball IQs against one another and fate to see who is the best at managing a virtual team of very real Major Leaguers.   Strat-O-Matic, which began in 1961, combines the statistics of current players with


Mount Greylock Schools Working to Keep Kids Fed During Closure
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:34AM / Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Laurie Meehan helps pack lunch bags in the cafeteria at Mount Greylock Regional School on Tuesday morning. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Dozens of youngsters in the Mount Greylock Regional School District were brown bagging it on Tuesday.   But instead of bringing their lunch to school, they were getting a "grab-and-go" lunch from school courtesy of the district's food service staff.   At 7 on Tuesday morning, cafeteria personnel Tammy Jennings and Laurie Meehan were joined by acting Director of Special Education Patrick Priester and Superintendent Kimberley Grady in the cafeteria at the middle-high school.   The quartet prepared bags with a turkey and


Guest Column: The Time is Now to Protect Our Local Hospital Workers
By U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Guest Column
06:27PM / Tuesday, March 17, 2020
It is now clear that we are at war with the coronavirus. While the people of our state need a range of help and assistance, one action we need to take is clear to me: we need a massive wartime manufacturing mobilization for coronavirus testing kits and personal protective equipment for medical personnel. The courageous men and women who are on the frontlines at area hospitals need to have all the tools, equipment, and devices they need to test and treat patients.    That is why I have called on the Trump administration to immediately use existing authorities under the Defense Production Act to increase private production of the personal protective equipment, medical supplies and

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