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News and events in Williamstown, Mass.

Governor Appoints Michael Case to DCR Regional Director Post
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:09AM / Saturday, February 20, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The governor has tapped Michael Case to head the Western Regional office of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.   Case took over the job on Feb. 1 and now oversees 39 parks from Mount Holyoke west, including Pittsfield State Forest, Mount Tom, and Mount Greylock.    "I've been a Berkshires guy all my life. I'm an outdoors guy. I couldn't say no," Case said on Friday.    The position is administrative and manages all of the state parks in the region. He oversees a team of district managers. The goal under Commissioner Leo Roy is to encourage usage of the state parks and "open up opportunities",


Sprinkler System Failure Forces Delay at Williamstown's Highland Woods
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:43PM / Friday, February 19, 2016
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A sprinkler system failure has caused a delay to occupancy of the Highland Woods senior housing project.   Berkshire Housing Development Corp. CEO Elton Ogden confirmed on Friday evening that the 40-unit apartment is closed to tenants after a pipe burst on Tuesday while the first batch of residents were in the process of moving in.   Ogden said most of the residents who were planning to move into the apartments this week have been able to stay in the homes they were vacating. And none of the residents' property was damaged during the incident.   Not so, the building itself.   Ogden said the current plan is to keep the east wing of the

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Feeding the hungry
by buddy 04:12PM / Friday, February 21, 2014

Williamstown Community Preschool Installs New Signage
by Billsville 02:46PM / Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Community Preschool began sprucing up its new home by hiring local sign maker Lindsay Neathawk,

Williamstown Youth Center Thanks Bedard Bros.
by Billsville 02:13PM / Friday, June 22, 2012
Bedard Brothers Chevrolet, through the Chevrolet Youth Soccer Program, has helped sponsor the Williamstown Youth Center's Soccer Program for the 2012 season. In addition to soccer equipment, this

Lanesborough School Officials Want Zero Increase for Taxpayers
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:02PM / Friday, February 19, 2016
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The hope for the Elementary School budget is to use school choice funds to prevent an increase in the appropriated portion of the budget.   "My objective is to bring zero percent [increase] to the town," said Chairwoman Regina DiLego at a workshop meeting last week.    The first draft of the budget called for a total increase to the budget of $79,461 and Business Manager Nancy Rauscher penned in $29,700 in school-choice revenue to bring the town's contribution down. From there, the School Committee found about $15,000 worth of cuts to consider, which would bring the total increase down to $63,564 and with the $29,700 being allocated

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Williamstown's Town Manager Settling Into New Post
By Phyllis McGuire, Special to iBerkshires
03:14AM / Friday, February 19, 2016

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Jason Hoch is living his dream job.

The 43-year-old Williams alumnus assumed the position of town manager in September, bringing 18 years of experience and skill in local government, and replacing longtime Town Manager Peter Fohlin, who retired.

Settling into Williamstown as a resident, and in his official role of town manager, Hoch has "really enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many people here."

"I am the kind of person that works best talking and meeting with people," he said. "I want them to stop me on the street or drop by my office and tell me what is on their mind."

He gained his experience in local government in New

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Williamstown Finance Committee Begins Budget Review
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:18AM / Friday, February 19, 2016
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Finance Committee on Wednesday began its review of the town's fiscal 2017 budget, which calls for an overall increase of about 2 percent.   Town Manager Jason Hoch told the committee the biggest factor in the increase is a 14 percent hike in the cost of health insurance, which adds $110,000 to the bottom line. The town also is budgeting a 2 percent increase in wages for non-union employees.   Those hikes are offset, in part, by a projected increase in revenue, savings due to a change in the benefit plan for retirees and a small dividend from the mild winter of 2015-16.  
Town Finance Director Janet Sadler addresses the

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'Goldberger in Oscarland': Digging Deep for the Winners
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Columnist
04:00PM / Thursday, February 18, 2016

I peered out my window. It was Oscar picking time. But no help seemed forthcoming. Over the years I've depended on the kindness of strangers to help make my selections. Last year the politically innocent squirrels who call my backyard home (a fat bunch since named The Goldberger Squirrels) made the treacherous journey across an angrily blockaded George Washington Bridge to deliver a packet containing the "winners" names.

Previous years saw me kidnapped by aliens and spirited away to their planet where, Elvis, alive and in exile, supplied the cherished picks, graciously served up with a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

However, with no such succor made available this

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The Independent Investor: OPEC's Poker Game
By Bill Schmick,
01:45PM / Thursday, February 18, 2016

The news this week that some OPEC members have at least agreed to talk, and possibly freeze production, had traders covering their oil shorts, sending crude up over 15 percent. But why should simply freezing production at multi-year levels stem oil's price decline?

Naysayers are right when they argue that holding production where it is does not solve the oversupply problem in world energy. At the present rate of production, an additional 330 million barrels of oil (or about 1 million barrels/day) of unneeded oil is flowing onto world markets.

That oversupply has been building for a year or more. It is being stored in spare oil tankers, storage tanks and wherever else suppliers can

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Rep. Paul Mark Opts Out of Senate Run
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
11:16AM / Thursday, February 18, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Rep. Paul Mark will not run for the open state Senate seat being left vacant by Benjamin B. Downing.   The Peru Democrat has spent the last several weeks considering whether he should take on the sprawling Senate district. On Thursday, he said he didn't want to lose the traction he has gained in the House nor did his family think it was the right position.   "There was an overwhelming outpouring of support from people asking me to run ... But, the person I need the most didn't think it was the right race at the right time," Mark said Thursday morning.    He is in his third term representing the 16 towns of the 2nd


Williamstown School Committee Hears About College's Involvement
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
12:37AM / Thursday, February 18, 2016
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College may be known as a premiere liberal arts college, but it's contribution to the sciences at Williamstown Elementary School are significant.   Representatives from the college's Center for Learning in Action addressed the School Committee at its February meeting to talk about the relationship between Williams and the elementary school.   The town-gown partnership was formalized 20 years ago but goes back further than that, CLIA Assistant Director Jennifer Swoap said.   "The Center for Learning in Action connects the college to the community through curricular and co-curricular programs," Swoap said. "I oversee


Williams College to Support Youth Center Solar Project
02:28PM / Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As a part of its commitment to invest in regional alternative and sustainable energy projects, Williams College will provide a bridge loan to the Williamstown Youth Center (WYC) for a solar energy project.

The youth center will install a 100 kWh solar array on its roof to produce electricity that covers the entire need of the facility. Sheila Stone, a supporter of the youth center, agreed to provide funding for the total cost of the project over time. So that the project may proceed now, Williams has entered into an agreement with Stone to provide a $350,000 no-interest loan for the entire project. She will repay the college in annual installments. The array is


Williams College Professor Wins Asian American Studies Award for Literary Criticism
11:17AM / Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Dorothy Wang, associate professor of American Studies and faculty affiliate in English at Williams College, has been awarded the  2016 Best Book in Literary Criticism from the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) for "Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry" (Stanford University Press, 2014).

In her book, Wang focuses on close textual analysis of poems of five contemporary Asian American poets and argues that more attention should be paid to the literary properties of minority writing while also making the broad claim that aesthetic forms are inseparable from social, political, and


Watch for Changes to the FAFSA
Submitted by Edward Jones,
10:29AM / Wednesday, February 17, 2016

If you have a child in college, you’re probably familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which must be completed to help ensure that students don’t miss out on federal and state grants, work-study jobs and loans.

But you might not know that some important changes will be coming to the FAFSA during 2016 – and these changes can affect both the process of filing for aid, and, possibly, the amount of aid your child will receive.

Here are three key changes to watch for:

* Earlier availability of the FAFSA: Currently, you need to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1 – which means you’re probably filling out the form even


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