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MCLA Christens New Veterans Resource Center
By Rebecca Dravis, iberkshires Staff
04:22AM / Thursday, April 17, 2014
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Looking back 50 years to the Vietnam War, Coleman Nee, the state secretary of veterans services, knows that veterans returning home were not greeted with love and support.

"When you came home, we did not meet our obligation to you as a system," Nee said Wednesday.

But maybe some belated appreciation can still help.

"It may be 50 years late, but hopefully it's not too late," he said. "Thank you."

Nee thanked all of the veterans who attended a ceremony Wednesday at Massachusetts College of Liberals Arts marking the opening of a new Veterans Resource Center in the college's Venable Hall that will give all veterans in the MCLA

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Mount Greylock Enrollment Question Still at Issue
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
10:46PM / Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The issue of Mount Greylock Regional School's enrollment projection is not dead yet.   Last week, a special meeting of the School Committee voted 4-2 to send what is called a "study enrollment" to the Massachusetts School Building Authority as the school prepares to begin a feasibility study on a new high school.   The reason for the special meeting was that the MSBA had an April 15 deadline for receiving the school's enrollment projection.   At Tuesday's regular School Committee meeting, Chairwoman Carolyn Greene told the committee the MSBA allowed the district to miss that deadline and may grant an extension to as late as

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Edith Wharton Writing Competition Winners Announced
10:45AM / Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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LENOX, Mass. — The Mount has announced the winners of the 15th annual Edith Wharton Writing Competition.

The Mount and The Berkshire Eagle established the writing competition in 1998 in support and recognition of emerging young writers in Edith Wharton's beloved Berkshire region. This year's writing competition is sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle, Berkshire Life, WSBS and Newspapers in Education.

The 2014 competition invited local and regional students from grades nine through 12 to submit entries in one or both categories: Fiction and Poetry. Marsha Recknagel, former writer-in-residence at Rice University, and Simon's Rock professor Peter Filkins served as judges. The

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What If: Engineer a New Use for North Adams Hospital
By Paul Harsch,
05:29PM / Monday, April 14, 2014
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What if there was actually an exciting new use for the existing hospital building?

What if BMC and decisionmakers determine that the present North Adams Regional Hospital structure is simply too large for the present and declining population in North Adams and Northern Berkshire?

Besides the difficult road to recovery for all of the displaced employees for whom we as a community will need to do our very best to help become either re-employed elsewhere within the region or re-trained for new opportunities, there would then be the enormous task of re-utilizing the existing hospital structure.

What if we as a community and as a county were to re-imagine something radically new, something

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Lanesborough School Sets Budget Target
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
10:32AM / Monday, April 14, 2014
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The School Committee is hoping to keep the fiscal 2015 budget within a 1 percent increase to the town.

The committee met on Friday morning to discuss the budget. Currently, the proposal has been knocked down through drafts from about 4 percent down to a 2.4 percent increase.

The latest draft calls for a total budget of $2,580,135 and the committee is looking to cut $30,000 more out of it.

However, at the same time, the board expressed a desire to add some $30,000 into the proposal to pave the parking lot and upgrade the HVAC system.

"I would like to be able to do those. But that would increase and get us further," Chairman Robert Barton said.

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Mount Greylock Committee Rejects Enrollment Recommendation
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:10AM / Friday, April 11, 2014
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee on Thursday night started on a road that could lead to the elimination of choice and tuition students at the junior-senior high school.   On a vote of 4-2, the committee rejected the enrollment recommendation of the School Building Committee to instead certify a "study enrollment" to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.   The study enrollment provision allows districts entering the MSBA's feasibility study process to do so with two enrollment projections under consideration.   In Mount Greylock's case, the two possibilities are 535 students and 450 students. The School Building

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Williamstown Preschool Finds Church a Good Fit
By Phyllis McGuire, Special to iBerkshires
12:42PM / Thursday, April 10, 2014
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The building that housed First United Methodist Church for 138 years looks the same as ever to the passerby.
 
The steeple, the stately front doors and stained-glass windows are still in place.

But the cheerful preschool sign in front hints at the transformation within.
 
On any school day, the sound of children at play — laughing, bouncing balls and riding tricycles — fills the former sanctuary-turned-gymnasium.  

Williamstown Community Preschool and the Methodist congregation co-existed for 40 years, sharing an addition to the church when it was a house of worship.

When the congregation shrank to the point it no longer needed the

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Williamstown Elementary Sees Enrollment Bump
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:14AM / Thursday, April 10, 2014
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The folks at Williamtown Elementary School may be wondering what all this talk about Berkshire County's population decline is about.   Principal Joelle Brookner and Superintendent Rose Ellis informed the School Committee on Wednesday that the school has about 17 more applicants than anticipated for the 2014-15 kindergarten class.   The news necessitated adding at least one half-time teacher and has the committee planning to revisit the four school-choice slots it already approved for the kindergarten class.   "We were expecting 44 [pupils] based on the census and input from local day cares and preschools," Brookner said. "After

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BArT Gets ZBA OK, But Building Project on Hold
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
06:20PM / Wednesday, April 09, 2014
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ADAMS, Mass. – The Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance Tuesday night from a zoning bylaw for construction of an addition to the Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School.

Unfortunately, BArT’s groundbreaking for the expansion has been put on hold.

Although the school has passed all the permitting and variances for the 10,000-square-foot, two-story expansions, the bids for the addition exceeded the school's budget. The project was estimated to cost near $3.5 million. However, the general contractor bids came in between $3.9 million and $4.9 million.

"We are determined to complete this expansion; however, we must complete it within our budget,"

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Lanesborough Digs Into Police, Fire, Highway Budgets
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:50PM / Tuesday, April 08, 2014
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town department heads of four of the most expensive budget sectors justified their proposed increases Monday night.

Police, Fire, Highway and Mount Greylock Regional High School officials met with the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee. The goal is to get a handle on those high-cost sectors as the fiscal 2015 budget is crafted.

Police and highways are both proposing about a $10,000 increase while the Fire Department is looking for modest $900. Those numbers do not include salary raises because negotiations for all departments are still ongoing, according to Town Administrator Paul Sieloff.

Mount Greylock is expected to see a 2.78 percent

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