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Berkshires Beat: Clinton Zion Church Seeking Proposals for Historic Preservation
12:51PM / Monday, August 27, 2018
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Dedicated in 1887, the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church is significant for its association with civil rights leader and native son W.E.B. Du Bois.


Clinton Church Restoration is seeking proposals for historic preservation, architectural design and engineering services for the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church at 9 Elm Court in Great Barrington. The nonprofit purchased the historic property last year and plans to restore and repurpose it as an African American Heritage Center. The announcement is being sent to a list of recommended firms; women- and minority-owned firms are encouraged to submit proposals. Interested parties who have not received the announcement may send an email.

Dedicated in 1887, the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church is significant for its association with civil rights leader and native son W.E.B. Du Bois, and as a distinctive example of 19th century vernacular church architecture. It also served as the spiritual, cultural and political home of the local African American community for nearly 130 years, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, which was deconsecrated in 2016, has been vacant for several years and suffers from severe water damage.

The historic structure report commissioned by the organization identifies treatment recommendations and an initial phase of work needed to stabilize the building. It includes constructing a new wood shingle roof over the entire structure, improving site and basement drainage and making the church’s basement social hall a usable, code-compliant space. The majority of funds needed for this stabilization phase has been secured from a National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant awarded through Housatonic Heritage, an emergency grant from the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and Community Preservation Act funds from the Town of Great Barrington.


Singers sought

The Berkshire Concert Choir, under the direction of Paula Nuss, invites singers for its fall concerts to be performed on Nov. 17 and 18 titled “Planets, Stars & Airs of Space.” Dues are $40; students are free.

Rehearsals begin Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. in chorus room at Pittsfield High School, East Street. For information, call 413-442-6120 or visit the website.


Herbicide treatment

Onota Lake will be chemically treated with aquatic herbicides on Monday, Aug. 27, to control nuisance aquatic vegetation. The lake will be closed to all water uses (including, swimming, fishing and boating) on the day of treatment.

These uses may resume on Tuesday morning, Aug. 28. Use of the lake water for irrigation (watering lawns, gardens or plants of any kind) is prohibited for 14 days post treatment. Printed posters warning of these and other temporary water use restrictions will be posted around the lake shoreline in advance of the treatment.  For more information, call 413-499-9344.


Learn to swim

The Dalton Community Recreation is registration for Session 1 swimming lessons. Lessons run from Sept. 4 through Nov. 10. A general CRA Junior Membership ($40) is required and everyone must wear a swim cap. For more information and class schedule, call the CRA at 413-684-0260 or visit the website.

The Dalton CRA offers a full range of swimming lessons, including: Parent-Toddler (6 months to 3 years, parent needs to be in the pool with toddler); Pre-School (3-5 years, not in kindergarten); Beginners (5 years and up); Beginners Deep End (5 years and up, no bubble); Advanced Beginner, Intermediate Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer. Cost for lessons is $65 (plus membership) for 10-week session, $58.50 (plus membership) for Monday classes (nine-week session), Parent-Toddler classes on Friday and Saturday are $35 (plus membership).


Food Project update

Due to the heat advisory, the Berkshire Food Project will be operating at a reduced schedule. A cold lunch to go will be served on Tuesday, Aug. 28, for two meals. Berkshire Food Project will be closed on Wednesday, Aug. 29.


Runway closures

Runway closures for pavement work at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport are as follows: Runways will be closed 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, through Friday, Aug. 31, for night operations for surface grooving. Grooving provides forced water escape from the pavement surface under aircraft tires traveling at high speeds; additionally, it reduces hydroplaning to a manageable level.


BArT 'Hamilton' trip

Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School has received a grant from the Gilder Lehrman Foundation that will afford a group of students the special opportunity to attend Broadway's hit musical "Hamilton" at the Boston Opera House this October. BArT is proud to share this remarkable learning experience with students.

American History students were informed of the field trip to Hamilton on their first day of school, Aug. 20.  Only high school students currently enrolled in BArT American History courses will be eligible to attend "Hamilton" after they participate in a three-week course of study on the American Revolution and create an original performance piece. As part of the Hamilton Education Program, one such student performance will have the chance to be shown before the musical in Boston. Students will also have the opportunity to ask questions of the cast members after the show.


Eclipse news

Last summer's solar corona was spectacular at the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, but a team of scientists had predicted its shape pretty well. This pearly white halo of brightness around the sun, normally hidden behind the blue sky, is actually spiky, like a porcupine's quills. During the eclipse, for those in the 60-mile-wide band of totality that stretched from Oregon through parts of 14 states to South Carolina, viewers were treated to streamers to the sides of the sun, starting broad at their bases and coming to points at higher levels, while thin plumes of gas were visible at the sun's north and south poles.

The overall form of the streamers was predicted on the basis of the sunspots and magnetic field on the everyday sun's surface over the preceding month, as described in a scientific paper appearing Aug. 27 in the journal Nature Astronomy. Led by its scientists Zoran Mikic, Cooper Downs, and Jon Linker of Predictive Science, a research company based in San Diego, California, a few days before the eclipse the team posted a prediction of the shape of the corona.

The published Nature Astronomy paper compared the calculated advance appearance of the corona with actual coronal images. However, because the corona falls off in brightness by 1,000 times within the first sun's radius above its edge, dozens of individual photographs must be combined to show the shapes of the corona over a wide range of heights. In the article, high-contrast images composited by Czech computer scientist Miloslav Druckmüller from the Brno University of Technology and lower-contrast images in a collaboration between Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff with computer work by New York electronic-music expert Wendy Carlos both showed successful agreement with the predictions.

Other scientists involved in the published paper are Ronald M. Caplan, Pete Riley, Roberto Lionello, Tibor Török, Viacheslav Titov, Janvier Wijaya of Predictive Science; Lisa Upton of the High Altitude Observatory of Boulder, Colo.; and Duncan Mackay of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Upton's and Pasachoff's work was sponsored by the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division of the U.S. National Science Foundation.  Pasachoff had additional support from the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Science Foundation, and is a visitor at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif.

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