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Williamstown Planners Prioritize Pot, Seek More Community Input
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:27AM / Wednesday, September 09, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board on Tuesday discussed the conditions that led to a protracted town meeting debate with no resolution on a marijuana production bylaw and how the board can help produce a different outcome this time around.   The planners agreed that a redo of the pot bylaw proposal is a priority in the next half year leading up to May's annual town meeting.   And there was consensus that more engagement is needed with the town's Agricultural Commission, which ended up bringing a competing and contradictory bylaw to last month's pandemic-delayed annual town meeting.   Chair Stephanie Boyd argued that the result of that meeting, while

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Northern Berkshire Students Garden Virtually
04:00AM / Saturday, September 05, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire 2020 Summer Youth Works program went virtual this year with a seven-week virtual gardening Program.   The Northern Berkshire Summer Youth program typically places students in paid internships with local companies but, like most things this year, COVID-19 forced the Berkshire Workforce Board (BWB) to adapt.   Through funding from the First Congregational Church of Williamstown and MountainOne, the BWB converted programming to a seven-week virtual gardening program.   The Berkshire Workforce Board partnered with Greenagers, a youth environment group, who supplied each student with a container garden. Greenagers provided lessons

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Chilling Snow Storm Draws Apprehensive Avian Migrants
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
08:00PM / Sunday, August 30, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — If ever there was a snow storm to remember it was that of early May in our Berkshires.   Forewarned by the aggressive weather watchers to inform us of the approaching tempest, one may wonder how our birds reacted to atmospheric signs that animals first perceive. Flocking birds of assorted genera appeared stunned by the daunting freeze that enveloped both the world of people and the spring migrating birds eager to resume nesting and procreation of their progeny.   All night the swirling snow fell in the valleys and foothills, and I felt concern for our cheerful charmers that must outlast the shivering cold swept upon them as they would take shelter

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Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary Nearing Fundraising Goal
09:41AM / Monday, August 24, 2020
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LENOX, Mass. — Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is nearing its Opening Doors to Nature capital campaign goal of $1.2 million to address the sanctuary's aging facilities   Through donations, Mass Audubon's Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is now within $200,000 of its $1.12 million goal to fund the program barn expansion project.   The capital campaign was created to help ensure the sanctuary's aging facilities are brought up to date, with a focus on accessibility and related amenities.   The centerpiece will be an energy-efficient addition to the 18th-century program barn that includes modern restrooms, expanded lobby area, expansive decking,

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Williamstown Ag Commission Argues for Farmer in Dispute with DCR
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
06:14AM / Sunday, August 16, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Agricultural Commission this past week went to bat for a local farm involved in a dispute with the Department of Conservation and Recreation over a leased parcel in the Mount Greylock State Reservation.   Richard Haley of Cold Spring Road and Carl Sweet of Hopper Road in May received a "cease and desist" letter from DCR alleging unauthorized activities on the land which the farmers say they have leased continually since their uncle sold the 31-acre property to the commonwealth in 1990.   On Monday, the Ag Commission met with Haley for the second time in two weeks and agreed unanimously to send a letter to the director of the DCR's

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Williamstown Ag Commission Weighs Tabling of Two Pot Bylaw Proposals
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:36AM / Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Agricultural Commission on Monday floated the idea of recommending town meeting next week take no action on either marijuana bylaw amendment on the warrant.   Faced with the prospect of a meeting with lower than typical turnout because of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a complicated debate over dueling land-use articles, Ag Commission Chair Sarah Gardner asked her colleagues whether it makes more sense for the meeting to table both the article proposed by the Planning Board and the article the commissioners drafted and put on the warrant via citizens petition.   "I'm nervous about voting on something so important with a small

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Massachusetts Residents Asked to Report Receipt of Unsolicited Seeds
Staff Reports,
05:45PM / Tuesday, July 28, 2020
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These seeds arrived in Washington State apparently from China. BOSTON — Random packages of seeds that appear to be from China and other countries have been appearing in mailboxes across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and numerous agricultural agencies across the nation are warning  people not to plant what could be an invasive species.    The state Department of Agricultural Resources has been notified that several Massachusetts residents have received these unsolicited packages that appear to have originated in a foreign country and contain seeds.    While the exact types of seeds in the packages are unknown, the seeds are thought to be

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Pittsfield City Council Recognizes Environmentalist
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
01:20PM / Wednesday, July 15, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council honored local environmentalist Jane Winn as one of the commonwealth's Unsung Heroines   Before breaking into the evening's business Tuesday, the council took a moment to recognize the executive director of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team.   "In regular times, before the world has turned upside down ... I would be with you probably with a full audience to celebrate as we do every year," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who nominated Winn. "I am really pleased to present to you Pittsfield's 2020 Unsung Heroine Jane Winn."   The Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women annually

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State Grant Program Should Help Local Food Producers
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
07:27AM / Sunday, June 07, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As a member of a town committee, an officer with the advocacy group Berkshire Grown and a documentary filmmaker, Sarah Gardner has spent years pushing for a stronger local food supply.   So she was glad last month when Beacon Hill followed suit.   As part of its overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker recently announced $36 million in grants to build up the commonwealth's "food security infrastructure."    "The grants will fund investments in technology, equipment, increased capacity and other infrastructure to help producers distribute food, especially to food insecure

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CET Offers Webinar on Weatherization for Small Businesses
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:31PM / Monday, May 25, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Center for EcoTechnology on Wednesday will host a webinar to help small businesses learn about the benefits of weatherization.   "Right now, due to the current COVID-19 and economic situation, utilities have temporarily increased incentives available to small businesses – in some cases up to 70-100 percent of installed energy saving measures will be covered," said Katherine Butler, the special projects manager at CET.   "This means it’s a terrific time for businesses to pursue these energy efficiency measures. In general, weatherization is a phenomenal way to stimulate the local economy, save businesses money, and help the

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