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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

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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CHP Names Director of Operations
12:34PM / Tuesday, December 10, 2019

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – Community Health Programs has named Christa Gariepy to the position of director of operations.

Most recently the director of patient relations at Berkshire Medical Center, Gariepy has also worked as program director at Childcare of the Berkshires and at The Brien Center as a human rights representative and case manager.

In her new position, she reports to CHP's chief operating officer, Jennifer Wilkinson.

A graduate of Boston University, Gariepy holds a master's degree in clinical psychology. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Western New England College.

A resident of Pittsfield, she also serves as vice-chair of the

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Harvest Festivals and Craft Fairs 2019
10:20AM / Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Fall has arrived, bringing with it many craft fairs and harvest festivals around the Berkshires. This list will be updated as we get more information. Have an event to add? Email us at info@iberkshires.com.

 

Saturday, Dec. 14

Pittsfield: The Holiday Shindy will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the newly instated Al Khalil Cultural Center (formerly Shire City Sanctuary) with 40 artisan vendors, featuring holiday shopping with food from local farms and the opportunity to meet and watch local makers weave, sew, and whittle. Admission is $3, free for children under 12.

Sheffield: Christ Trinity Church, 180 Main St., will hold its holiday bazaar and bake sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The

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Veteran Spotlight: PFC Giardina Runs Out of Luck on Day 13
By Wayne Soares, Special to iBerkshires
04:28PM / Sunday, December 08, 2019

I met this week's veterans spotlight feature several months ago and I liked him instantly as we really hit it off. He would be described as unequivocally old school — kind, humble, generous with a warm smile and a fabulous personality. 

  Francis A. Giardina served his country in the Army from 1952 to 1954 in the Korean War.    Growing up in Pittsfield, he was the youngest of three children. "We were poor, but we didn't know it ... we always had food on the table and always had plenty to do," he remembered. After graduating from Pittsfield High School, Giardina ran pool halls for a couple of years before being drafted into the Army in November

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Climate Change Expert: Keep Heat on Banks, Insurers
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
07:16AM / Sunday, December 08, 2019

About two dozen protesters demanding action on climate change gather on the steps of Williamstown's First Congregational Church on Friday afternoon.  NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A leading expert on climate change Thursday told a packed house that while big oil is an enemy, it is not the only one.   Big banks and big insurance play their part.   "The four banks in the world that fund most of the fossil fuel industry are big American banks," Bill McKibben said during his appearance at MCLA for the Elizabeth and Lawrence Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture. "Chase Bank is the biggest by far and the biggest with a bullet. Chase Bank lent over the last

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'The Irishman': At 3 Hours & 29 Minutes, it all Depends
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
05:31PM / Friday, December 06, 2019
"Fuhgeddaboudit" was the advice from those who decided against climbing the movie mountain that is Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," all 3 hours and 29 minutes of it. Dilemmas presented themselves. How many times will I have to go to the bathroom? Should we skip breakfast, have dinner now, pack a picnic lunch, or maybe even book a room close to the theater?   The destinies of whole lives were changed for those strict constructionists who wouldn't succumb to the tyranny of their bladders by availing themselves of the small screen, Netflix offering.   Me? Nope. I came this far in my moviegoing ... lived through the days of when films broke in midstream,

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